True Nature Travels Blog

If you are reading this article, you are probably at least vaguely aware of the benefits of meditation. Whether you are interested in using meditation to reduce stress, increase focus, or delve into spirituality, it is a worthy practice. According to Project Meditation, practicing meditation can help decrease heart rate, blood pressure, and anxiety. Meditation can also help improve sleep habits, self-confidence, and relaxation. It has even been proven to help regulate hormones. Basically, meditation rocks. So why don’t we all do it?

Well, mostly because it is hard. Sitting still with little to no stimuli is not something we are used to doing, so building a habit of meditation can be challenging. It can be… but it does not have to be. This article will help you learn how to meditate and teach you how to make meditation a part of your day-to-day life.

Get started first thing in the morning

morning meditation

(Source: Wikimedia)

It is easy to say we will meditate lunch or when we get home from work, but when those times come around it is just as easy to say we are too busy and do not have time. Early in the morning, before our day has begun, is the easiest time to introduce a new habit. If you set your alarm fifteen minutes earlier, there are no excuses. You would usually just be sleeping for fifteen more minutes, so you do not run the risk of having things you should or could do get in the way. Try waking up a few minutes earlier every day and setting that time aside to practice meditation.

Make it short, simple, and comfortable

meditation practice

(Source: Flickr)

The first time you sit down to meditate, try to throw out whatever preconceived notions you have of how to meditate. If you are convinced that meditation has to be a certain length or that you have to sit in a full lotus posture, think again. These conceptions are just another barrier between you and a regular meditation practice. Instead, start small. Even five minutes of meditation can make a huge difference. And find a comfortable position that you can stay in for that long. If that means sitting in a chair or lying down, so be it! It is better than not meditating at all. If you are uncomfortable or try to meditate for too long right away, you are just giving yourself more chances to get distracted and discouraged. Make practicing meditation as easy as possible.

Determine your motivation   

      learn how to meditate

(Source: Flickr)

Why do you want to start meditating? It may not seem like an important question, but when it comes to forming a habit, motivation is everything. If your only motivation for meditating is because you want to be the kind of person that meditates, you are likely going to have difficulties maintaining the habit. Instead, take some time to think about how meditation is going to impact your life and what your core motivation is. Remind yourself of this motivation every morning. It will make it easier to stick to a meditation practice if you have a clear outcome that is of some deeper significance motivating the habit.

Meditation comes in many styles

meditation styles

(Source: Flickr)

While a couple of minutes every morning is a simple and beautiful way to integrate meditation into your life, it is not by any means the only way. Our life is full of opportunities to meditate. When you are stuck in traffic or standing in line at the grocery store, take a few moments to focus on your breath. If work is stressful or someone says something that makes you angry, pause, breath, and allow yourself a mini meditation before moving on. It is these simple daily practices that will allow you to live a more stress-free life. Practicing every morning will teach you how to meditate, but it is in our day-to-day lives that meditation can help the most.

True Nature Travels Blog

italian-food-rules-imageItalian cuisine has a history of passion, simplicity, and an ever evolving taste with the social and political climates,with roots stretching to antiquity.

It is characterized by its simplicity, with many dishes having only four to eight ingredients. Italian cooks rely chiefly on the quality of the ingredients rather than on elaborate preparation. Ingredients and dishes vary by region, depending what is produced and in season. Many dishes that were once regional, however, have proliferated with variations throughout the country. (Read More Here)italian-restaurant-sunshine-coast

When I think Italian food I instantly crave a homemade and hearty pasta dish followed by a glass of nice red wine. And then I realize, the food coma is always lurking around the corner. Do not get me wrong, there is nothing more appealing than a well rounded, fresh, comforting, and filling Italian dish. However, sometimes with our active lifestyle our bodies crave food more light in nature.

So why not take a traditional Italian dish and put a healthy spin to it?

And that is exactly what you will get to experience on a True Nature Education Yoga retreat to Italy. Our partner center has a fantastic view on Italian cuisine. Offering an authentic, yet healthy twist on some fantastic dishes.

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The diet for the community is extremely important, as much as the yoga practice. The cuisine follows the ph alkaline diet philosophy whose goal is to bring back to balance our organism through a healthy vegetarian diet mainly raw, organic, with low gluten, no dairies and wheat free. They serve their own fresh, organic and seasonal products from the garden; they produce their own goat cheese and milk and make their own bread, pastries and pastas with spelt flour or no gluten flour like buckwheat. The dishes are from the Italian tradition but revisited by us following this diet by introducing some raw dishes at lunch and superfoods in the recipes. You won’t miss the Italian cuisine, simply you will taste it in a healthier way!

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Drooling yet? Cause I sure am. You want to experience the food first-hand? Be sure to sign-up for one of our Yoga Wellness Trips to Italy here!

Since, I can’t jet off to Italy this very moment, I decided to channel my inner cook and whip up something delicious. I am pleased to share a lovely and simple dish that reflects the decadence of Italy. Healthy and light, this is great to serve as a main dish or anti pasta.

 

Lightly fried eggplant with honey and rosemary:

1 each medium eggplant

2 cups whole milk

1 cup all-purpose flour

¼ cup local honey

1 sprig fresh rosemary

Salt to taste

1 quart vegetable oil

The day before:

Cut tops and bottoms off the eggplant and peel with a vegetable peeler or knife. Slice eggplant into rounds that are ½ inch thick—you should get about 12 slices from 1 medium-sized eggplant. As you slice the eggplant, put it into a large container or bowl with enough milk to cover. You will likely have to weigh the eggplant down with a plate to keep it submerged in the milk. Soak overnight in the refrigerator.

Heat a large frying pan with vegetable oil about 1 inch deep until approximately 350 degrees or when a drop of water sizzles. Make sure there is enough oil to cover the eggplant slices when you put them in. Drain the eggplant from the milk, dredge them in the flour and tap off excess flour. Drop into oil and fry until golden brown but not too dark, about 2-3 minutes. Don’t crowd the pan: you want 1 layer of eggplant frying at a time. Flip the eggplant slices during cooking for even browning.

Sprinkle each piece of eggplant with a pinch of salt as it comes out of the fryer. Drain on wire rack. Drizzle some honey onto each piece of the fried eggplant while on the wire rack. And top each piece of eggplant with 2-3 rosemary leaves. Serve immediately.

eggplant

True Nature Travels Blog

white roof tops

From sprawling mountains, sparkling coastlines, rolling countryside, ancient history and sumptuous cuisine Italy is a destination not to be overlooked.

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True Nature Education is ecstatic to announce we are now offering yoga, wellness, and adventure retreats to Italy! And our center we are partnering with has us swooning…..
Quietness, Peace, Nature, Yoga, Sharing, Heart, Love: these are the key concepts to convey the spirit of our Italian retreat center, set by the countryside at about 5.6 miles from Martina Franca, in Apulia, the place is immersed in the splendid nature of Valle d’Itria.

The center is located on a hill at about 10 yards of height, halfway between Adriatic and Ionic Sea, a place that is totally immersed in peace and quietness.

exterior

It’s an ancient 17th century “Masseria” (farmhouse), recently restored and renovated by keeping its original structure intact, thus meaning to convey a good perception of space and time absence and better awareness of the present, here, now.Pool

As of four years ago, a small community of people gathers here in order to opt deeply for a life made of sharing, far from traditional systems and life schemes: a merge arising from the awareness for the importance of life as spent together with others, based on freedom, heart, love and yoga as a discipline and a lifestyle, a chance for merging one’s inner universe and the others.

Partake on meditations, yoga practice, sight seeing, mindful cuisine, and immerse yourself in the passion of Italy!

Staff

Where do we sign-up??? Be sure to check out our retreats and book your adventure today! We would love to have you.

Be sure to take a look at our retreat video for more information.

Interested in learning more on why you should travel to Italy? Check out Huffington’s post on some sights and outings not to miss here! http://www.huffingtonpost.com/minube/21-reasons-to-finally-tak_b_4910139.html

True Nature Travels Blog

l-View to San Pedro volcanoGuatemala is a magical land that is so rich in tradition, culture, and natural beauty. Heavily influenced by it’s Mayan background, everyday life in Guatemala still keeps that authentic vibe. History is living, and the people truly embrace their ancestry and honor those who have come before.

So it is no surprise the food in Guatemala reflects these values. Many traditional foods in Guatemalan cuisine are based on Maya cuisine and prominently feature corn, chilies and beans as key ingredients.
There are also foods that are commonly eaten on certain days of the week. For example, it is a popular custom to eat paches (a kind of tamale made from potatoes) on Thursday. Certain dishes are also associated with special occasions, such as fiambre for All Saints Day on November 1 and tamales, which are common around Christmas. (See here for more info)

The food is diverse and rich. And everything is made with love, soul, and tradition. And did I mention yummy?

As much as sound so very tempting, I wanted to share something on the sweeter side. I have to admit I have a sweet tooth and these little desserts are a delicious snack.

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Empanadas de Leche are among the most popular street foods in Guatemala, especially around the time of Semana Santa. These are made with a buttery, achiote red-tinted dough that is filled with creamy milk custard and baked to flakey perfection. I discovered a fantastic recipe for these little guys at thelatinkitchen.com

INGREDIENTS
For the Dough
3 tablespoons very hot water
1 1/2 teaspoons ground achiote or achiote paste
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour plus extra for rolling
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon fine salt
4 3/4 tablespoons cold butter, cut into pieces
1 large egg
1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract For the Milk Filling
1 1/2 cups milk
*
Zest strips from 1/2 orange
1/4 stick cinnamon
1 large egg yolk
2 tablespoons sugar
1 3/4 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon fine salt

DIRECTIONS
Make the dough: Stir the hot water and ground achiote or achiote paste until dissolved. Add an ice cube to cool the water and set aside. Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a medium bowl. Add the butter cubes and toss to coat in flour. Using your hands, press butter between your fingers into the flour, so butter pieces become smaller and mix well with the flour. Add the egg, 3 tablespoons of the achiote paste water and extract. Mix until just combined. Cover dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or until ready to use.
To make the filling bring the milk, orange zest and cinnamon stick to a slow simmer over medium heat. Watch the milk carefully so it doesn’t scorch or boil over. Simmer for 10 minutes; remove cinnamon stick and zest and reduce the heat down to low.
Mix together the yolk, sugar, cornstarch, extract and salt in a small bowl. Add 1 tablespoon of hot milk into the egg mixture, stirring constantly. Repeat with another tablespoon milk. Add the egg mixture to the milk pot and whisk over low heat constantly until the mixture begins to thicken, about 2 minutes. It should be the consistency of mayonnaise. Allow mixture to cool to room temperature for 30 minutes before using.
Preheat oven to 350 F. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and, on a well-floured surface, roll until 1/8-inch thick. Using a 3-inch biscuit or cookie cutter, cut out circles from dough. Collect dough scraps, reroll, and repeat until all the dough is used. You should have about 24 circles.

Description/Descripción > AntiguaDailyPhoto.Com Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Guatemala License. Bajo licencia Creative Commons: Reconocimiento-No comercial-Compartir bajo la misma licencia 3.0 Guatemala. Photo: Rudy Girón/antiguadailyphoto.com Foto: Rudy Girón/rudygiron.com If you would like to use this photograph, please get in touch with me through my contact form at LAGDP. Si le gustaría usar esta fotografía, por favor ponerse en contacto conmigo a través del formulario de contacto de mi sitio personal.
Fill each circle with about 1 tablespoon cooled filling. Carefully fold the dough in half, taking care to keep the filling inside the pocket. Press the edges shut and then seal using the tines of a fork.
Place the sealed empanadas on a cookie sheet and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, taking care not to let them burn. Serve warm with coffee or tea.

Interested in visiting Guatemala? Reconnect to yourself and your yoga
practice? Explore a new and exciting land? Try new foods? Well you are in luck. True Nature Education has some amazing retreats happening! Click here to learn more!

Room 4 - JaguarMaya RoseVery Spacious Patio AreaRelax in a Hammock!

True Nature Travels Blog

By Alana Roach
Alana is a part of our 2015 True Nature Education Faculty. She is leading her first retreat January 17th – 24th in Santa Terest, Costa Rica. First published on her blog.

Pura vida or PURE LIFE holds true in Central America for me. It was a big reason why I came back after visiting for the first time only 6 months ago. Despite my best efforts on the East Coast in the US, I still had some troubling symptoms that led me to believe I was less than healthy. Costa Rica inspired me to redesign my life because running from errand to errand to then sleep and dream about errands was not conducive to my well-being. My body and mind revolted. I would be so often tired by the end of the day that I had no time to even share my day with loved ones. I would fall sick from exhaustion. My mind felt fogged over. A general haze seemed to be engulfing every fiber of my being. I would get covered in tinea versicolor. I would have what they call, “Teacher burn-out,” and there is seldom serenity coming from within when a teacher is running on E. My hips hurt. My digestion got blocked up from God knows what because I ate as organic and healthy as I could.

During our vacation visit in March, I experienced my first dose of PURA VIDA. My mind started to de-fog, I slept more soundly, the food here felt more nutrient dense, I had energy despite rigorous hikes, I felt like I could BREATHE, omg… the air quality here is so magnificent, you should smell it! I became fortified and purified by Costa Rica. It became even more pronounced to me as soon as I left this paradise, that I needed to come back asap. When I left Costa Rica the haze crept back in, my energy body immediately felt sludgy, my mind felt chaotic, my digestion returned to it’s sensitive state, I got sick a week later, and I got consumed by consumerism once again. No longer than a month back in the US and I knew I had to come back to Costa Rica for my health.

So here we are in paradise, and I am here to share with you 5 Ways Moving to Costa Rica Improved my Health!

1. Vibrant skin. Tinea Versicolor Gone!

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I am prone to what dermatologist call Tinea Versicolor, which is a long term fungal infection. I have had it since I was 13 . TV breaks out in humidity and in being a yoga teacher that means I was covered in them. 2 weeks after arriving in HUMID Costa Rica, eating the local grown fruits and veggies, breathing the air, drinking the water, they went away. I have heard this is the case for some others who suffered from this fungal annoyance. It is gone, it is humid here, those two factors don’t usually line up for Tinea, but apparently PURA VIDA wins in this case. I won’t try and figure out the mystery, I will just enjoy (Thank you, Costa Rica).

2. Cardio Heaven.

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There is so much raw beauty here that I can’t stand being inside for more than shut eye, it is incredible how nature draws you out when there is a beautiful symbiosis between you and it. Since moving here we are surfing almost every day and walking EVERYWHERE. My body is thanking me for it. I would squeeze in 20 minutes on the tread mill when I could between errands before and now my whole day is rich with heart healthy activity.

3. Improved Digestion.

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Maybe it’s all of the locally grown fruits and vegetables that you can buy at any and all of the markets in town (There are about 5 to chose from.) Maybe it’s the quality of the water. Whatever it is, my digestion hasn’t felt so smooth in years. I am seriously boosting this as a reason why you should consider visiting here because I feel like digestion is KEY to leading energetic, happy, healthy lifestyles through all ages. I barely take any vitamins here and I don’t feel like I need them (I used to take about 20 vitamins a day) because everything has so many vitamins naturally.

4. Freedom.

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In the town I live in there are no McDonalds or shopping malls to speak of. There is no reason to bring your phone with you everywhere because the island life won’t allow for it. There aren’t tabloid magazines hanging in a checkout line. There are no sounds of traffic or sirens whirring by every second. There is mostly the sound of nature, ocean waves, and silence if you chose it. I can’t express adequately with words how freeing this all is, but you have to experience it for yourself or perhaps meditate with it in mind to get a taste. It is truely ineffable. I have found a new way of being and my body, mind, and spirit feel renewed by it.

5. Happy mind.

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I get to wake up everyday knowing that I am painting my life the way God intended it to be. I had a lot of, “What ifs,” “Can I really do this,” and “Am I worthy of this?” When I sat in silence and tapped deeply within the resonance of my Higher Self, the answer was always, “Yes.” Yes, I am taken care of. Yes, I can do this. Yes, I am worthy.” Moving to Costa Rica is another leap in my saying YES to my soul’s deepest yearning. I am co-designing my life with the Creator, sharing my passion for love through yoga with the world and let me tell you, my health is reaping the rewards more and more everyday because of it.

I look forward to resonating with you here in Santa Teresa, Costa Rica in the New Year, January 17-24 for Explorations of Self:A Costa Rica Yoga Experience. Register Here.
I’ll see you on your mats and in the ocean, PURA VIDA!

Love and light, and pura vida!

Alana Roach
CYT, E-RYT, Reiki, Retreat Leader & Travel Blogger
www.alanaroachyoga.com

alanaroachyoga@gmail.com

Follow me on facebook/twitter/instagram @alanaroachyoga

True Nature Travels Blog

Trish Carty is a part of our 2015 Teaching Faculty. She is leading an incredible retreat, Fermentation for Your Mind, Body & Spirit on an amazing bio-dynamic farm February 7-14, 2015. Her blog, Keep the Beet keeps you on the cutting edge of the wonderful health benefits of fermented foods. This great summer salsa recipe is perfect keep on hand for a post yoga snack!

fermented-salsa-verde-edit1-300x225Last summer, at the Farm To Fermentation Festival I taught a digestion seminar. I demonstrated three fermented salsas. One of them was a Fermented Tomatilla Salsa Verde. Here is my recipe. I had just picked up these fresh tomatilla’s at my local CSA down the street from where I love. It was in the height of the season for tomatoes and tomatillas’s in our area! It was so wonderful to highlight my recipes from the season!

Fermented Tomatillo Salsa Verde

Prep time: 15 mins Cook time: 1 min Total time: 16 mins Serves: 4-8

Ingredients
Fermented Tomatillo Salsa Verde
1lb Tomatillo’s- prepare by drop in boiling water to blanch first cool in ice water and remove husks then proceed with salsa recipe. Cool and chop medium dice
2 garlic clove crushed
1 cup cilantro washed and chopped
½ of one red onion Diced Or substitute these for ! med.shallot
2 TB. extra virgin olive oil
Same proportions just more lime Juice.
One of the following: 2 teaspoons unrefined sea salt or
1 teaspoons unrefined sea salt and ¼ cup water kefir OR
A vegetable starter- follow directions on box

Instructions
Mix all together and put into jar with proper fermentation lid, proceed as above for the fermentation process. I personally do use an air lock fermentation vessel.

To learn more about Trish and her upcoming retreat with True Nature, click here.

True Nature Travels Blog

183212_4066559055946_2027869845_nTrue Nature Education co-founder “Luna” Kristin Ray balances her days between being a full-time mom, wife, musician and whipping up yummy and amazing recipes in her kitchen to keep her family healthy, clean and green.   Her super easy (and very yummy) dahl recipe is one you might find yourself choosing to make a staple in your own kitchen, making some at the start of every week to keep and have for lunch each day.

f0c6e9c0c549217307dfc5922e476bd8Luna’s Super Easy Dahl with Coconut Rice

1.5 cups of pink lentils
5 cups water
3/4 tsp of turmeric
5 tbsp olive oil
5-6 cloves of garlic
1.5 tsp salt

Put turmeric, dahl and water in pot, and bring to a boil.  Then simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Turn heat off and with a fork or mixing spoon beat the lentils so they break up and get soupy.

Cut the garlic cloves lengthwise but thin, and then flash fry the garlic in the olive oil in a separate pan.  (high heat, and the garlic cooks for about 1-2 minutes and turns brown) Add the garlic and oil to the lentils, and add salt.  SO YUMMY~

BASAMATI RICE
1cup of rice
1.5 cups of water
1tbsp cumin seeds
1.5 tbsp of coconut oil
1/3 cup of shredded coconut
salt to taste

Combine rice, water, cumin and coco oil, and cook until rice is done.
Add coconut and salt to taste.
Enjoy with your dahl!
Love,
Luna
OSHAlbumCoverFinalRGB2-274x243p.s. Here is a FREE download from Luna’s new CD, One Shared Heart.  Enjoy this mindful music for the heart while you make this food for the soul!