It’s the most wonderful time of the Year! Why I love Autumn and my favourite root veggie soup!

I think we can all agree that Fall is the best season right? The beautiful colours, crisp and cool breezes and crunchy leaves under our feet are just some of the reasons why Autumn is my personal favourite season. Environmentally everything is changing all around us and this year I experienced a lot of personal changes moving into and through this season. The beautiful weather and scenery of Zürich helped me through the transition. I’ve been practicing using my breath to stay aware and not let any stunning scene pass me by without full appreciation.IMG_8236

There’s this house across the street from my apartment and it is the most beautiful building in all of Zürich. I might be a little bias because it’s on my street but really it’s extraordinary. A simple, square, four story brick building that is covered in vines. Over the wintertime the building is barren but as the spring arrives so do the little green buds. The leaves grow lush throughout the summer and by August all you can see is a massive green bush with windows. Come fall the leaves change in the most spectacular ombré. Starting from the top with bright yellow, then smooth orange, then deep red hues and slowly the colours creep down to the earth. I am always a little sad when the leaves fall as they always do but I know what next year the magic will happen again and I am truly thankful for that.IMG_8421

Growing up in central Canada we never really had much of a Fall season (and still don’t) so I guess that’s why I try to make the most of it now. In Saskatchewan, my home province, the Summers are hot and the Winters are cold. There is no real Spring or Fall, welcome to the Prairies. You see, the Winters are so cold, average minus 30 degrees Celsius but can be much colder still. The worst I’ve experienced was minus 42 degrees and with the wind chill it felt like minus 62! The air was literally frozen. The winters are not only terribly cold but unforgivably long and this is where Spring and Fall get cut out of the picture. After August ends the cold already begins to creep in on September, freezing the ground and almost immediately killing everything. I remember one day years ago the leaves were starting to change and there was a nice Autumn atmosphere going on. Then suddenly a storm blew in, 60 km winds and a temperature of minus 10. The next morning Fall was over, the leaves were all dead, wet on the ground. That was it.

I suggest too all you Prairie folk out there that you skip the Summer holidays next year and fly on over to Europe in October to experience the true delight that this season has to offer.

Now it’s soup time 🙂 I never cooked much at home in Canada (Momma always had that under control) but now living here in Zürich (most expensive city ever) I’ve had to teach myself to cook and I gotta say it’s gone pretty well!

I am a major soup lover because they’re delicious, cheap, healthy and heart warming.

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In Fall we obviously want to make use of all the hardy root vegetable available to us so this here is quick, easy, healthy, gluten free and vegan Fall Soup recipe that everyone I’ve fed it to loves…You’ll need

  1. 1 small butternut squash (or half of a medium sized butternut squash) – cubed
  2. 1 medium sized sweet potato – cubed
  3. 5 regular sized carrots – cubed
  4. possibly a yellow pepper if you like sweeter soups (optional) – cubed
  5. 1 yellow onion – finely chopped
  6. 2 garlic cloves – finely chopped
  7. olive oil
  8. white wine (optional)
  9. salt (to your taste)
  10. nutmeg powder (1 tspn)
  11. vegan bouillon
  12. almond milk

Peel and cube butternut squash, sweet potato, carrots (and yellow pepper if you choose to add it for a little sweetness). Place cubed vegetables in a bowl and glaze with olive oil and a bit of salt. Then place on a lined baking sheet and put the in oven on 200 degrees Celsius (390 F) until they are soft, about 20 minutes.IMG_3753

While the root veggies are roasting away warm up the olive oil in a pot on medium heat and add in your finely chopped onions, garlic, nutmeg powder and a splash or two of white wine. I added the white wine just because it was already sitting open in my fridge. It gives the soup a really nice flavour but it’s certainly not necessary to go out and by a bottle just for this.

Cook onions and garlic until they’re translucent and fragrant. Now add in 1 liter of water and bouillon, crank the heat and get boiling!

IMG_8420 Once root veggies are done roasting

add them into the pot as well and let it all cook together for about 10 more minutes. Then turn off the burner and set pot to the side to cool a bit.

We want to cool the soup down before we mix it because a scolding hot soup explosion is never fun.

I only have a hand blender so what I do is ladle cups of soup into a 3 cup measuring cup then I blend by hand, add blended mixture back into the pot and take a new cup of veggies until the entire soup is blended. It can get kinda thick here and hard to blend so feel free to add a little more water.

Finally we stir in a bit of our almond milk for more creaminess! Use your better judgment here and if you really love almond milk use a lot! It’s your soup after all.

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Serve with garlic toast or fresh bread or rice or just eat it alone.

Happy cooking and most importantly happy Autumn! Don’t let any turning leaf or crisp breeze go unappreciated!

Much love,

Katelyn

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28,500 steps, 2,085 meters above sea level, 7 women and 1 amazing day.

When a friend mentions she’s planning a hiking trip to the Bernese Alps, you should always invite yourself along! These stunning mountain peaks and mystical forest trails are something that one can only really appreciate in person, photos just don’t do it justice. It is a place where you feel truly liberated being surrounded by pure, open sky and deep valleys. It’s a place where you feel extremely strong in body and mind because to be up there you kind of have to be.IMG_8351

I met two of my friends and another car full of strangers in Zürich Altstetten at 8:15am on Saturday October 12th. We piled in the car and drove to Interlaken, a stunning town that connects two turquois blue lakes in central Switzerland. The group of seven women (Franzi, Melina, Tu-Anh, Mel, Marina, Maxi and I) first met all together in a parking garage basement in Interlaken. We gathered our things and headed to our starting point, a little chalet called Lombachalp near Habkern. We enjoyed a light lunch and small talk then started the trek up, up and up some more, 800 meters straight up. Out of the seven women we had two pro hikers, four intermediates and one brand new mountain adventurer. We discovered early on that this group was one that belonged together. Everyone was patient, understanding and would do anything to help when they could. There was not one minute of stress, which was almost unbelievable. I’ve been with many groups in many situations and locations and no matter what there is always someone who cannot wait for others or needs to have things exactly their way. But these ladies, oh no!IMG_8388

In the first hour we had already opened up so much talking about our lives, jobs, boyfriends, homes and even ones divorce. We struggled to breath as we made the ascent up to the mountain top, if only we could’ve stopped talking, but I found these women much to interesting to let a minute go by without conversation.IMG_8389

I told Mel about the Eight Limbs of Yoga, about how Yoga is much more than asana. It involved doing no harm, self study, journaling, concentration, meditation, pranayama and so on. In the first few hundred meters up I introduced her to the practice of inhaling deeply through the nose, she noticed the calming effects right away.

Close to the top we saw a herd of mountain goats grazing and napping in the warm October sun. They were so peaceful and I couldn’t help but be grateful for the fact that they let us, all the hikers and tourists, into their home with such grace. They could do a lot of harm to us with those massive, curled horns but they didn’t. They were totally at peace as we respected them and they respected us.IMG_8260

After about two hours walking and talking our way up the mountainside we came to the peak, well the first peak. With panoramic view of the most beautiful scene you’ve ever seen in your whole life. Blue skies but even bluer lakes. Yellow burning sun reflecting off snowy mountain tops. IMG_8285

We had a nice long rest there, a drink and some snacks. This is when we found out that Mel was afraid of heights. The way ahead of us was a walk along a mountain ridge with falling sides straight down. She was not aware of the intensity of the hike as we changed the plan last minute, but she was a trouper and pushed through. Maxi and Marina helped lead Mel for about an hour over the ridge to the next peak where we had reached 2,085 meters. Mel sat down as fast as she could and was an absolute warrior facing her fear of heights at 2,085 m on a literal mountain peak. If you didn’t already know of her fear it would’ve been hard to tell, she really kept her cool.IMG_5852

As we made our slow decent down our new hiker Tu-Anh was having some problems with her feet and hips. The shoes she purchased were not quite the right fit and were causing her a lot of pain especially as she walked down and her toes curled to the end of her boots (lesson here is to always get a professionals advice when buying hiking boots!). Half the group waited at the bottom of the peak while the others continued down. Here some real magic happened. In front of us was another long ridge where both sides seemed to just fall down straight beside you, a nightmare for anyone afraid of heights. IMG_8291Mel stood there and it was obvious in her body language that she was really truly afraid. I asked her if I could give her a hug and she agreed. I gave her the best Burner Hug I could possibly give. Heart to heart, five deep breaths and a real human connection, I felt her tense body melt like butter in my arms. The things that humans can do when we just connect with each other are insurmountable. We left our embrace and she was smiling, a beautiful smile. She told me that the breath I showed her earlier had been helping the whole time but this hug was a game changer. Shortly after this she ran, literally RAN down the mountain ridge, by herself, free as a bird for the best photo op imaginable. I was so proud of her! From then on she was ok. She no longer needed help; she was calm and relaxed and really enjoyed herself. How could you not after conquering a fear like that, she showed her fear whose boss!20181013_161431

At this point we still had two to three hours to go (thinking it was maybe an hour more.) Tu-Anh was struggling but never once stopped smiling. I’m not kidding, she literally always had a smile on her face. Despite the pain and frustration, bucking knees and bleeding feet she pushed on like no one I’ve ever seen. I stayed back with her, walking with her tempo for a while. It gave me time to really slow down and enjoy every breathtaking view, every sappy tree and every beam of light projected through the colourful fall leaves. It gave me time to experience real gratitude. I am usually in a hurry when it comes to walking in general so when I hike I tend to try to get the hard parts over with as soon as possible by sprinting and then taking 5 minutes to regain my breath. Walking with Tu-Anh taught me to slow down in the mountains. It is better to take it easy, sink into the struggle and have the time to enjoy and appreciate it instead of hurrying to the peaks and eventually to the bottom. It’s about the journey not the destination! Life lessons learned in the mountains.IMG_8377

By this time we were on our trek for a good six hours I’d say, all pretty tired and a little confused as we thought the hike only took about four and a half hours. We were descending down through lush, colourful forest and a tremendous view of the sunset reflecting off of the Jungfrau, one of Switzerland’s grandest mountains. IMG_8376We met two young men, Luki and Benny, with a drone who filmed the sunset over the tree line, I joked with them about where I could see the video “Do you have a YouTube channel?” I asked, they said no, so I straight up asked if they would share the video with us and they agreed. I’ve learned in life that you never get anything without straight out asking for it, so they airdropped the stunning video to us, so sweet. The first half of our girl group hiked with them, hurrying our feet as the darkness was quickly approaching. Only one of us girls had brought a light with us because we never imagined we’d still be hiking at 8 o’clock at night, thank god for Luki and Benny. The first group stopped and waited for the rest to catch up, it was literally pitch black and we all had a bad feeling about continuing without the others, even our random new friends. These men could have kept going without us, stuck to their own agenda, but they waited with their lights and calming conversation. They were our guardian angels. I honestly don’t know what would’ve happened if we hadn’t have met them.

After what felt like an eternity hiking in the dark over massive tree roots and loose rocks we made it to our final destination Harderkulm, where we arrived back to civilization, had a delicious mean and of course bought our guardian angels a round of beers.IMG_5905

It was a crazy thing trying to come down from that mountain trek, not just physically but mentally as well. That night I laid in bed unable to fall asleep despite all of the physical activity I’d done that day. I couldn’t stop reliving the day in my head, reflecting on all that had happened, all that I had seen, smelt, heard, and felt.

It’s inspiring to me how much support and love was shared by seven women, friends of friends of friends, who randomly came together for such an intense experience. It just goes to show that you never know what might happen and that you should always invite yourself along to a hiking trip in the Bernese Alps.

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Also all pictures posted here were taken by everyone! Thank you ladies for sharing not only your photos but your hearts with me!

Conscious Breath: Full Yogic Breathing

Have you ever forgotten how to breathe? Have you ever found yourself suddenly gasping for air or feeling light-headed? I know I have.

As a child (especially while playing) I found myself randomly panting and gulping down air as fast as possible. I think this occurred because I would get excited about something, hold my breath and then suddenly Ahhhhh need air!

Breathing comes to us naturally but if you can believe it, most of us breathe incorrectly. In this day and age most people are running around from one task to the next. We can barely find time to sit down and eat a proper meal never mind find time to slow down and take some deep breaths, which is not so surprisingly, very important to our health.

Longer breaths = Longer life! It’s a simple concept that we can easily see in nature but somehow still overlook. Take the Tortoise for example. They move very slowly and this movement coincides with their long, slow breaths. A tortoise is said to live anywhere from 175-225 years. Incredible! A Hummingbird on the other hand has a total lifespan of around only 5 years. Just think about how fast they move, how much energy they use, and how hard that would be on their little bodies.

The exact same principle applies to humans as well! Those who run and rush through life often are shallow breathers, meaning they breath using only the upper lungs. Unfortunately these are the ones who are more often becoming sick with any number of diseases at an early age. Those people who can find just a few minutes everyday to slow down and breath properly tend to live long, health, disease free lives. When I say “breath properly” I mean they breath with their abdomen and entire lung capacity.

Try it now. First a shallow breath using only the upper part of your lungs and slight rise of the collarbones…not so relaxing right. The inhales and exhales are equally as short because there is just no space for a long smooth breath. Breathing this way tends to make us feel anxious, often sending us into Fight or Flight mode.

Now try a deep breath beginning by expanding the stomach, moving up through the lower lungs to reach the upper lungs and collar bones. Now exhale by lowering the collar bones as the air leaves your lungs and push all of the air out by contracting your stomach muscles.

How did that feel? Much more satisfying right! This is known as A Full Yogic Breath. This simple deep breathing practice has so many positive side effects including calming our nervous systems and steading our minds. By focusing on our breath in such a way we are able to feel a connection between mind, body and spirit. Seriously just close your eyes for 5 minute everyday and breath deeply. I bet you’ll notice an immediate sensation of calm and best of all when we practice this for just a few minutes everyday it will start to become a part of your everyday routine without even noticing!

Hope this read and 5 minute a day breathing practice has helped bring a little bit of calm into your busy life.

Namaste, Katy.

New to it All: the Yamas of Yoga pt. 5

Good Morning Monday. Hope you all had a great weekend 🙂

Today we will talk about the very last of the 5 Yamas, which is Aparigraha: Non-Possessiveness. But what were the first 4 Yamas again?

Review:

The Yamas are 5 basic ethical principles to live by. Things we can do everyday to improve our happiness and the happiness of the people around us.

– The first principle, Ahimsa, is Non-Violence. It means more than just not being cruel to those around us. It means we should always be considerate of those around us. Those around us and actually every little thing on this earth including ourselves!

– The second principle, Satya, is Truthfulness. Speak your truth with good intentions. Be honest with yourself about how you feel, you are allowed to feel however it is that you do. When we are first honest with ourselves it becomes easier to speak our truth to the world.

– The third principle, Asteya, is Non-Stealing. This means of course to never take something that doesn’t belong to you. But that “something” does not just mean a physical possession. That “something” also means time, moments, energy etc.

– The fourth principle, Brahmacharya, is Moderation and Use of Energy. Meaning that we should moderate the enjoyable things in our lives, because too much of anything isn’t good. This way we can save our energy and use it on our path to enlightenment.

Aparigraha: Non-Possessiveness. Take only what you need. Take only what you’ve earned. Share what you have! Similar to Brahmacharya we need to learn how to rid this need for possessions by keeping our senses in check. Our society is constantly telling us that we need more and more to remain happy. That is just some rich person in a tall tower trying to get richer by brainwashing us into buying their crap.

The truth is we need less to be happy. Minimalism is key! If something you have in your home doesn’t give you an obvious feeling of joy, its just clutter, so get rid of it.

This is a very hard thing to learn how to do because we are used to having so much. Believe me once you start to declutter your home, your office and your life in general you will begin to feel lighter. Your mind will automatically declutter as your surroundings become more peaceful and turn into a space that you can truly feel happy in. Living with only necessities can really help one find a sense of freedom in their lives.

Aparigraha also implies that it is important to be non-possessive not only of objects but also people and moments and thoughts and energies and traditions and pretty much everything in life because nothing ever stays the same.

So often when things change we become crippled by emotions of sadness or fear of this change. If we begin by practicing detachment from outside stimuli we never have to go through the difficult process of dealing with the changes. We can simply feel grateful that we had the opportunity to experience that thing even though it is now gone.

As I mentioned above practicing detachment by living a minimalistic lifestyle is not easy at first, but it is so worth it!

Well as a first time blogger I had great time writing about the Yamas of Yoga. I sure hoped you enjoyed the read! Any comments or helpful tips would be very much appreciated!

I hope you all have a great start to your week 🙂

Namaste, Katy.

New to it All: the Yamas of Yoga pt. 2

Good day everyone, I hope the sun is shining on you wherever you are and that your heart is full of love!

Yesterday I started talking about the Yamas, or step 1 of Patanjalis 8 Limbed Path to Yoga, which are ethical guidelines of how to live everyday purely! By applying these 5 disciplines to our every day lives we can begin to cultivate compassion for others, we become honest and we feel gratitude. And when we are compassionate, honest and grateful we are simply happier! And why not be happier?

Review: Characteristic 1 of the Yamas is Ahimsa (Non-Violence). Ahimsa tells us not to harm or be cruel to any living thing, including ourselves. Not even that annoying mosquito that is about to bite you, or that scary spider in the corner of your bedroom. We show compassion to everything no matter if we particularly like it or not. We must always be considerate of the feelings of others.

Moving on to characteristic 2. Satya: Truthfulness! How exciting 🙂

Satya simply means to speak the truth. But we all know that the truth can hurt sometimes therefore balancing Ahimsa and Satya can be tricky.

We need to first think about what we will say aloud. Consider what, how and when we say things and if we decide that it will unnecessary harm someone we keep it to ourselves. “If you don’t have anything nice to say don’t say anything at all” wise words from Disney’s beloved Thumper.

But what if you have something honest to say that could hurt someone’s feelings now but in the long run will help them out? For example telling a girlfriend she is being too needy with her new boyfriend and that she should back off and live her own life. No one likes to be told they’re needy, aka annoying, but if she were to take this advice, take her life back and stop catering to him, she would end up a lot happier! Some say this is going against Ahimsa and therefore you should keep your mouth shut. I think do it, hurt a friend to help them. Just be sure that your intentions are good! It sucks at first but they will thank you later. Remember to always always be considerate of HOW you bring up these problematic issues. Sometimes just how one says something is hurtful, when the message itself is actually not so bad.

Satya is also about finding your own truth. What is important and meaningful to you? What do you believe in? Do you believe what others tell you or do you formulate your own beliefs? What are your morals and priorities? Try your best to find your truth by doing the things that make you happy, for example, spend time with those you truly care about or take time to enjoy your hobbies. Most importantly be honest with yourself without judgment of your thoughts, wants and needs!

What could the third Yama be? Come back tomorrow to find out 😉

Now go out and enjoy this beautiful day and find your truth!

Namaste, Katy

New to it all: the Yamas of Yoga pt. 1

There is so much about yoga that I never knew! Even after attending classes in studios all over the world for the last 3 years I was unaware of mostly everything that yoga is. Of course I knew yoga was spiritual and that’s one the reason why I fell in love with it. To connect your mind, body and spirit through the moving meditation that is the posture practice really feels incredible. To be separate from your thoughts for even a moment can give you so much clarity. You learn that you are not what you think; you are the observer of your thoughts. With this knowledge you can see your thoughts more clearly, objectively and without judgment.

Anyways that is something I already knew about yoga. Something that I didn’t know is that the posture practice that we in North America think is yoga is actually only 1 of 8 steps to achieving the balance and good health that yoga offers. In fact the postures or “asana” in Sanskrit are only step 3 out of 8, not even high up on the list! But that doesn’t matter because in the end all of the steps work together to create the harmony in us that I believe we all long for. These 8 steps are known as The 8 Limbs of Yoga and were written by a person (not sure if they were a man, woman or possibly a whole group of people) known as Patanjali in a sacred text called The Yoga Sutras in around 200 A.D.

The 8 Limbs are really a lifestyle choice. A lifestyle choice that makes the connection between man and God, or man and a higher power, or man and the universe, or whatever you want to call it, possible!

In my teacher training course at Marina Yoga and Reiki in Ao Nang, Krabi, Thailand we dove especially deep into the first 2 Limbs of the 8 Limbed Path known as Yamas and Niyamas which can be explained as basic ethical principles to live by. They are fairly simple concepts that should come to us naturally but that we all struggle with everyday.

In the course we spent a great deal of time taking only about the Yamas, which can be outlines as Virtues of Universal Mortality. I see them as the things we should all strive to do everyday to make the world a better place! There are 5 characteristics of the Yamas, which are Ahimsa (Non-Violence), Satya (Truthfulness), Asteya (Non-Stealing), Brahmacharya (Moderation) and Aparigraha (Non-Possessiveness).

Let’s focus now on Ahimsa, Non-Violence. Should be obvious right? Don’t be violent, don’t be mean, easy peasy. No, no, no my friends it’s a little bit deeper. Ahimsa means more than simply not hurting or being cruel to those around you. It implies that we should consciously be kind and thoughtful of others. In every situation we must adopt a considerate attitude toward every living being. This includes that mosquito buzzing around your bedroom at night. I’m not saying let the mosquito bite your face all night long, but instead of hunting it down to kill it, hunt it down to shoo it back outside where it belongs, be considerate of even the smallest, most annoying lives. Ahimsa is also the reason why you’ll find that a lot of yogis are vegan.

Ahimsa also goes deeper than physical action, here’s a quote straight out of my YTT manual “Any thought, word, or action that prevents us – or any other living being – from growing or living freely is harmful”. Non-violence starts inside each one of us with our thoughts! It means practicing compassion and love towards ourselves first, notice how this quote states “us” before “any other living being”. I think this is the trickiest part of practicing Ahimsa. Non-violence towards ourselves! It is so easy to think badly about ourselves, unfortunately it is natural and we all do it.

Imagine if we spoke to ourselves like we speak to our best friends. You would never hear me telling my bestie “you’re so stupid” or “you could have done that better, try harder next time”, things I often think to myself. Instead you’ll hear me telling her things like “No matter what You Am Enough” or “Good try, you’ll get it next time”. If we can stop the violence as it starts in the mind we can move through life as peaceful beings and the world would truly be a better place.

Give it a try! And be aware that breaking old habits is not easy, it takes time, patience and love. So be gentle with yourself. Talk to yourself like you would your best friend, with understanding and compassion because you deserve it.

Keep reading for more about the rest of the Yamas 🙂

I wish you the best day possible filled with love, compassion and joy!

Namaste, Katyyoga pics 1