Fern’s Fables… on Urinary and Pelvic Health

This month, I’d like to talk about urinary health, along with the importance of properly supporting the pelvic floor to prevent urinary incontinence.

Urinary Health
Firstly, I was excited to learn there are fruits other than cranberries that contain the special sugar called D-Manose, which helps with urinary health. D-Manose works differently than refined sugars, as it does not interfere with the regulation of metabolism or blood sugar. Pineapples, apples, blueberries, oranges and peaches all contain this special sugar. You can learn more about how our body uses D-Manose here.

It also occurred to me that these fruits, being sweeter, would work very well together in a smoothie, along with cranberries, or in addition to your regular smoothie ingredients. You could also juice them, which is a nice way to introduce this healthy choice to children, who may be prone to bladder infections.

Pelvic Health
Here’s a great little overview on Dr. Mercola’s website that includes a three-minute video from Katy Bowman. It is a wonderful visual to what our alignment teachers at Yoga for Today have been working with in our classes.

A wealth of information follows the video. It corroborates what we have been learning about the knee squeeze exercise, as well as the fact that Kegels must only be done with a neutral pelvis. I think we all find a challenge with that old habit of a tucked tail!

I personally find that, if I only took time for one exercise in a day, the knee squeeze would be it. Do it anywhere, even sitting at dinner, or at a computer.

Do it right now!

Have an awesome April ~ Fern

Fern’s Fables… Digestion Suggestions

Many people have issues with digestion. Here is just a skimming touch of a few suggestions that I have found helpful.

Go for Good Bacteria
Number one on my list would be eating raw probiotic ferments and cultures, such as sauerkraut, kefirs, kombucha, yogurts, etc. These will provide good bacteria for your gut, which greatly assists digestion, as well as neutralizes bad bacteria and boosts immunity.

Try Soured Grains
Here is a great link for soured grains. She has the starter recipe for porridge, as well as how to feed it.

I just add a tsp. or so of either kefir or yogurt culture starter powder to 3 cups of water and 2 cups of grain (steel cut oats), to make the starter mix. This gets the ferment going, since I do not have whey like she suggests. Leave it covered on the counter to ferment for a few days, until it gets a bit bubbly. Then you can put it in the fridge in a glass jar.

To use it, add a cup or so to your porridge mix (grain and water) in the evening and let it ferment on your counter overnight. Cook it in the a.m. You will want to also replenish and feed the culture starter to keep it going.

Yogurt or kefir starters can be purchased in the cooler section of a health food store, or natural food section in the regular grocery. Of course, everything soured, like sourdough bread, soured milks such as yogurt, kefir and cottage cheese (if you tolerate milk), are easier to digest.

Avoid Improper Food Combining
Improper food combining is a big challenge for most of our ways of eating!

Basically, the rule is: never eat animal proteins with complex starches. You can sometimes get away with cheese, butter, eggs or milk products, as opposed to any kind of meat.

The stomach needs a real acidic environment to digest meats and an alkaline environment to digest starches. Because these cannot be present at the same time in our stomach, it wreaks havoc with digestion if you eat starches with meat.

So lots of greens, salads and most non-sugary or non-starchy vegetables digest well with either starches or meats, but never with starches and meats together.

Learning how to make vegetarian dishes is often helpful, when you have things that mix meats and starches (lasagna, pasta, rice casseroles, etc.). Remember that quinoa, chia, and hemp seeds, are all complete proteins.

Fruits only go well with greens or non-starchy vegetables. Here is a great chart that will give more details.

Pre-Soak Your Beans, Nuts and Legumes
Always pre-soak your legumes, beans, nuts etc., and throw out the soaking water since it has enzyme inhibitors and phytic acid in it. I soak almonds, beans and legumes 12 to 24 hours and other nuts and grains just 1 to 4 hours according to hardness. Flax and chia seeds would be the exception to soaking, since they create a gel, which is beneficial. Here is a link with more complex information on this topic.

Happy March,




Enzymes and Yoga as Conductors of Light

By Tami Hay

“Germinated and sprouted seeds are instinctive, primeval foods of man, with many millions of years of phylogenetic (evolutionary) affinity.” Edmond Szekely

Everything requires enzyme activity in order to access divine higher dharma. An enzyme is a bio-active protein that serves as a catalyst responsible for absolutely everything our body miraculously does for us.

Sprouts are the number one provider of these magical life-giving enzymes. When a seed turns into the sprout there is a magical transformation of enzymatic action that converts complex carbohydrates into easily digestible compounds. Sprouts maintain their enzyme power and provide us with nutrients 300 to 1,200% greater than raw conventional veggies.

Sprouts are an economical way to have delicious fresh food all year long, even in our climate. Many people who have taken my classes are amazed at how sprouted mung beans taste like fresh peas out of the garden, and are one of the easiest things to replace for a satisfying and rejuvenating snack of substance. Raw, uncooked sprouts allow the optimal uptake of nutrients for the human body.

As a paleo-vegan coach, I often hear people’s concern for safety while spouting. I can assure you that there’s been no record of food poisoning associated with home sprouting and proper handling.

If we are not harnessing our enzyme power then we are depleting our health. When we are present to our yoga practice, we move energy and conduct flow. When a body’s enzyme stores are full, it allows us to move freely and beautifully. When we embrace live food rich in minerals, and enzymes intact, we do not deplete our metabolic enzymes. Cooked food is void of all enzymes; therefore, we borrow from our enzyme stores to assist in digestion.

Enzymes allow food to extract nutrients needed and provide the hydration to become part of our body electric. Learning how to add more live food to our life by taking a one day, five day or one week challenge to eat live food has the potential to support a happy focused and agile yoga practice. Raw plant food helps the average person develop superior health.

If you’d like to learn more, Yoga for Today has an upcoming workshop on sprouting, and the preparation of live food.


iRest® Yoga Nidra for Health, Healing and Wholeness

By Anne Douglas

It seems barely a week goes by before I find another study being published or quoted about the healing power of yoga and meditation practices.

While one can walk away from a yoga or meditation practice feeling calmer, less stressed and more balanced, it can be highly motivating to establish a regular practice. Studies continue to show the efficacy of a regular practice with specific conditions such as chronic stress, high blood pressure, immune dysfunction, addiction, anxiety, depression and more. One need only do a quick Google search to find a myriad of relevant studies.

iRest Yoga Nidra is an excellent case in point. It is a research-based meditation, relaxation and healing protocol that deeply calms the nervous system, supports the integration of negative emotions and thoughts, and helps to build resilience with everyday challenges.

Current research shows that iRest Yoga Nidra effectively reduces stress, insomnia, anxiety, depression, chronic pain, chemical dependency and post-traumatic stress. If you would like to see examples of the current research on iRest, follow this link: https://www.irest.us/research.

Not all forms of Yoga Nidra are created equal. iRest has taken the basic structure of Yoga Nidra and enhanced it by adding several therapeutic steps to heighten its effectiveness for our western lifestyle and world view.

Much of the research that has been done on Yoga Nidra in the west is on the iRest Protocol, specifically. It is an excellent personal practice as well as adjunctive practice for those in the health and healing professions. It is currently being used in yoga and meditation studios, hospitals, clinics, hospices, homeless shelters, community programs, and schools.

iRest is also a path of meditative self inquiry.

  • At a basic level, it provides the initial building blocks for a mindfulness practice in which one learns to stay present and alert.
  • At an intermediate level, one learns how to meet challenging experiences, emotions or beliefs in order to integrate and go beyond them.
  • At the highest level, iRest offers the teachings of the “end path” of direct realization into one’s true nature as abiding peace, infinite calm, and interconnected wholeness.

If you would like to learn more about iRest Yoga Nidra, Yoga for Today is hosting Anne Douglas to lead a beautiful collection of iRest practices that range from balancing the chakras, to working with stress and negative emotions, and awakening to your essential wholeness.

April 29 – 30, 2017
Saturday – 12 – 8 pm
Sunday – 8:30 am – 5:30 pm
$350 ($295 before March 27)

This workshop qualifies as a short retreat for those who are in iRest Certification.

To learn more about Anne Douglas you can find her website at www.anahatayogatherapy.ca


Fern’s Fables…on Dryer Sheets, Fabric Softeners and Some Options for Static Cling

Did you know…

  • the chemicals released by dryer sheets and fabric softeners are toxic?
  • your fabric softener may contain compounds that release formaldehyde with use?    

A study published in 2011 found over 25 different air pollutants in these products, including those known to cause cancer. Here are a few highlights about this subject from Dr. Joseph Mercola’s website:

  • Manufacturers develop their fragrances by mixing a chemical cocktail to produce a scent.
  • There is no regulation for the long-term consequences of exposure to those chemicals. Exposure; vented into our air, and worn on our skin.
  • Manufacturers of these products are not required to disclose the ingredients and are self-regulated.
  • The company must only identify “fragrance” on the label without listing the ingredients used to make the fragrance

How to Get Rid of Static Cling

Fabric softeners work by leaving a residue on your fabrics that never completely washes out. At this point, it might be noted, that whatever is absorbed through your skin can be more harmful than what you ingest. This is because our skin is highly absorbent and what it takes in bypasses the liver (the organ that filters out toxins).

More natural options are safer, less expensive and less toxic to your family and the environment. (You might add up the cost of dryer sheets for the year and find that you could purchase essential oils instead for that lovely smell.)

Some tips and more natural options:

  • Launder your natural and synthetic fabrics separately since nylon and rayon fabrics develop the most static electricity.
  • Take clothes out of the dryer and hang them up when they are still slightly damp.
  • Make up a spray bottle, using distilled water with a few drops of essential oils. Spray on clothes as you take out of the dryer. You can even use this mix to spritz lightly on your clothes before putting them on. Lavender is great for children. Some citrus oils are uplifting. Men often like patchouli or cedar type oils. Be creative and experiment.
  • I have woolen dryer balls from Earth’s General store in Edmonton. They can be sprayed with your spray mix, too, five minutes before taking the clothes out of the dryer.
  • You can dampen a small towel and throw it in to the dryer for five minutes or so before clothes are dry.
  • Ball up a piece of aluminum foil and put it in the dryer.

DIY Fabric Softener and Dryer Sheets

You can also make your own fabric softener or dryer sheets at home with natural ingredients, and still enjoy a fresh scent on your clothing.

  • Combine 6 cups of white vinegar, 1 cup of baking soda and 15 to 20 drops of essential oil in the scent of your choice in a large bowl.
  • Once the combination has stopped foaming the oil should not be floating on the top of the liquid and won’t stain your clothes. Pour the liquid into a glass container and use up to 1 cup in your fabric softener dispenser in your washing machine with each load.
  • If you prefer dryer sheets, or want to use both, you can use the same fluid to make reusable sheets. Simply soak clean washrags in the fluid and wring out the excess. Next, hang the washrags until they are completely dry. Toss one in the dryer with your clothes; use up to 10 times before you have to get a new one.

For Your Hair

And lastly for your hair; brush with a wooden brush. Wood does not release electric charge easily. Or you may spritz lightly with a water/essential oil mix. Moisturize your skin well, before putting those clingy clothes on. However, pay attention to what you are putting on your skin. Just some coconut oil, (softened) mixed with castor oil and some essential oil of your liking could be an option.

Read Dr Mercola’s full article

Fern’s Fables…on Gluten-Free Pie Crust

crumb-crustNow that you’ve likely eaten your pie; I would like to share a tip about an alternative crust. A bit healthier, gluten free, and easier to make!

I stumbled on this and found that it works quite well. Basically you can use the same idea as you would for a crumb crust.

  • Use 1/4 cup of softened, coconut oil or butter for the fat
  • Substitute the crumbs for 1 cup of either almond or coconut flour
  • Add a pinch of salt and 1 tsp. of sugar. I only use dark brown sugar (it is actually cane sugar, rather than the GMO beets used for white sugar); or palm sugar, or raw honey, for sweetening.
  • Mix togeither and press into pan
  • Bake about 10 min. @ 375 F.
  • From here you can put in whatever cooked filling you wish. Fruit-type fillings that are cooked & thickened can be used and then you will want to return them to the oven for about 1 hr. until it’s bubbling. If you are doing any kind of custard type pie, such as pumpkin etc. or even quiche, then you can put it in an unbaked version of this crust and bake it all together.

I have even found that with these custard-type pies, you can just coat the bottom and sides of the pan heavily with the coconut oil (maybe 1-2 Tbsp of oil), then put about 1/3 cup of coconut or almond flour in the pan. Shake it all about, like flouring a greased cake pan, coating sides & bottom. There will be more at the bottom and that’s OK.  Pour in custard type filling & bake as usual. The crust is thin, healthy and comes out fine.

You may want to experiment with the bit of salt and sugar in the crust, depending on what the filling is. Also, you can increase the amounts of fat to 1/3 cup with 1 1/4 cup of flour, if the pan is larger.

A short tip for good pumpkin pie is: put in enough spices! If you have boys to eat it, then do experiment! Have fun!

Here is an old family recipe for Sour Cream Raisin Pie that is delicious, easy and could be put in this crust!

Sour Cream Raisin Pie
Beat together 1 1/2 cups of sour cream, 1/2 cup of brown sugar, 2 eggs, 1 Tbsp flour (can be gluten free), 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp of nutmeg and a pinch of salt. Stir in 1 1/2 cups of rinsed raisins then pour the mix into the pie shell. Bake at 375 F for about an hour.

Happy new year!

Fern’s Fables… on Gluten-Free Flour

fern-1Gluten-free flour is something many people are trying now in hopes of improving their gut and immune response. It is widely available in many stores; however, if you read the label, you’ll discover it’s a mixture of many starches (or at least includes a large portion of starch), such as corn, tapioca, potato and possibly white rice flour.

These ingredients have a very high glycemic index, which convert easily to simple sugars when consumed. So they are really, for the most part, a poor choice.

What to do? You could make your own!

Handy mix: I have found it handy to have a basic mix on hand, to use for everything. Sorghum, quinoa, brown rice, amaranth and perhaps teff or gluten free oats can make a nice blend; mixed in that order of significance. Do not overdo the amaranth, even though its glycemic effect is lower, since it has a distinctive flavour.

Breads, muffins, etc: If you are making breads, muffins, pancakes or waffles, then millet and buckwheat, or even garbanzo bean flour (chick pea), make great additions to the mix. These have a more distinct flavour that adds to those products.

And most of us have heard of the black bean flour brownie. It does go as a great addition to chocolate products as long as you do not want a fluffy, duffy effect, which these flours won’t produce anyway for the most part.

Play with it: You will want to play a bit with your baking since it seems that you may need less with a gluten-free mix. It tends to produce a drier product. Some folks even add a tablespoon of psyllium husk to bring in more moisture.

You will also find that breads will want some xanthan gum beaten into the batter to hold yeast breads together. About one tablespoon per two to three loaf recipe. You can also add a smaller amount, (half a teaspoon) to more cake-type things.

Where to find it: I have found some of these flours at organic groceries (Planet Organic, Blush Lane Market, Earths General & even the organic delivery options; like Spud as well as The Organic Box). You may also find them at Bulk Barn.

Enjoy, if you find this helpful; or just blow it to the wind if not 😉 fern

Fern’s Handy Gluten-Free Flour Mix

  • 5 cups sorghum flour
  • 3 cups quinoa flour
  • 2 cups brown rice flour
  • 1 cup amaranth flour
  • 1 cup teff flour
  • 1 cup gluten-free oat flour

Remembering Friedel Khattab…..November 2016

By Chris

tonyaA year has almost come and gone since the passing of our dear teacher and friend Friedel.

Nearly 92 years old, Friedel spent a large part of her life travelling abroad to study the science and practice of yoga. Teachings learned Friedel generously shared with her students. She believed in the value of age old yoga poses, breathing techniques, mudras, meditation and the science, system and practice of these ancient traditions.

Every moment we were able to share with Friedel was wonderful and practice times together deeply embedded in every cell of our body. We were grateful for it all and we appreciated Friedel, the teachings, the practice and coming together as a community.

Friedel had her usual September Yoga of the Old Masters clinic booked at the studio and we had an Okido workshop in the planning stage for last November when she thought she’d be out of the hospital. All of us planned life as if Friedel would always be here. That’s why her passing felt so unexpected. Friedel was older yes, but she was doing amazingly well. Living on her own, coming out to teach workshops and share what she loved, still spry, wise, with a keen sharp eye that missed little and stop watch always in hand. Friedel used to joke in classes that she only buys ripe bananas. It was always tough to hear her wry joke. The thought of her not being here with us was hard to embrace. Read more >>

Living Yoga with Tonya

tonyaAt the spiritual center I attend we partake in a “White Stone” ceremony every January. It’s a beautiful practice where one is, in essence, “renamed”. The ceremony itself is taken from a tradition as far back as the teachings of Jesus. During those times, when a man was released from prison he was given a white stone upon which he would write his new name. The past was in the past and he would move forward with a clean slate and a new name. In our more modern era we use this ceremony to summon forth a quality and/or and belief we desire to step into. This year mine was ALLOW. I have come to realize that I spend a lot of time organizing and orchestrating my life and the lives of those around me so that everything is the way I like it. It just feels better. I like everyone to be happy and in a good mood. I like everyone to process their drama and get over it quickly and I always like things to be smooth and easy. It dawned on me that perhaps I might be missing out on some of the rich gifts life has to offer with my constant need to have everything the way I like it! For lack of a better example, suppose you spent your entire life never eating ice cream. Someone told you once that it was no good and without trying it for yourself decided that they were right and ice cream was bad. Then one day you accidentally try this odd looking dessert and someone tells you its ice cream and you love it! How sad that you’d spent so many years not enjoying all the flavors and deliciousness this treat had to offer. You’d missed out on so much! Are you starting to get where I’m going with this…….? What if, behind the heartbreak, the trauma, career change (the list is endless) there were amazing opportunities awaiting us, but because we never “ALLOW” ourselves to go through those experiences we never receive the rich gifts on the other side? We also don’t “ALLOW” the universe to unfold the way it desires to. So that became my practice. To allow everyone to be and behave how he or she needed to be in that moment. To be ok with how people and myself showed up in the world in that moment and to ALLOW experiences to unfold in my life without trying to manipulate them in any way. Whewww! It was fascinating to navigate to say the least.


Meet Our Instructor: Katherine Jensen

Katherine JensenWe are excited to have Katherine on our May/June schedule with Spine & Postural Therapeutics. Although Katherine is taking a hiatus during the summer, she will be back in the fall with two weekly Therapeutics classes and her ever-popular Kick “Asana” Yoga (stay tuned for details in our August newsletter).
Please read more about Katherine as she shares her story with you.

Get out of pain and get back to living. This story is not really about me, it’s truly about you! For years I looked for a therapy that would help me through tight body tension and pain in my low back and hips and I found it through Critical Alignment Therapy®. This therapy has allowed me to get back to what I love to do and I have made it my mission to work with those suffering from chronic pain. Injuries, stress, repetitive strain, athletic injuries, car accidents and pain from scoliosis or other spinal issues such as degenerative disc disease (DDD) are just a few on the list of conditions that can be helped by this therapy.