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5 Simple Yoga Poses to Aid Digestion

Nausea, bloating, flatulence, heart burn and abdominal pain can all point to poor digestive health. Regardless how sensitive your system is, we’ve all experienced one or more of these problems and there are plenty of ways we can influence improved digestion with better lifestyle habits, such as exercise and diet.

Whether you already have an established yoga practice or simply experience frequent digestion issues, these simple poses can help combat digestive discomfort. Each of these yoga poses combines deep breathing with stretches that focus on abdominal muscles and organs to help relieve a wide range of common digestive upheavals.

upward abdominal lock
Photo by Fotolia/fizkes.

Upward Abdominal Lock (Uddiyana Bandha)

This pose is best done at the beginning of your asana sequence. Upward Abdominal Locks benefit digestion by massaging abdominal organs, stimulating blood flow and improving elimination to relieve constipation and indigestion.

seated twist
Photo by Chris Hornbecker, via

Bharadvaja’s Twist (Bharadvajasana I)

This simple, seated pose can help with a number of health problems, including digestion and menstrual pain. It’s also easily modified for those who may have limited joint mobility; simply sit sideways in a chair, rather than on the floor.

head-to-knee forward bend
Photo by Fotolia/fizkes.

Head-to-Knee Forward Bend (Janu Sirsasana)

Head-to-Knee Forward Bend stretches the legs and spine, but can also stimulate the liver which aids digestion by increasing the body’s ability to digest fats and absorb essential nutrients.

fish pose yoga
Photo by Fotolia/dadima.

Fish Pose (Matsyasana)

For beginning yoga practitioners, Fish Pose can be modified by supporting the back with a rolled towel or blanket, bending the knees with feet flat on the floor, or keeping legs straight pressed against the floor. Like Bharadvaja’s Twist, this pose can relieve pain associated with menstruation, fatigue and constipation.

reclining hand-to-big toe pose
Photo by Rory Earnshaw, via

Reclining Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose (Supta Padangusthasana)

Stretch hips, hamstrings and other leg muscles while improving digestions, relieving back pain and menstrual discomfort with this relaxing, low-impact pose. If you’re muscles are particularly stiff, try this pose with your heel against a wall or by using a yoga block.

Digestive health and gut bacteria have been popular topics of scientific studies in recent years, and have been linked to everything from mental health to weight control. Learn more and discover more ways to improve your inner ecosystem in The Vital Importance of Healthy Gut Bacteria.

Simple, Post-Holiday Detox

chopping fresh veggies for detox
Photo by Fotolia/V&P Photo Studio.

Holidays are all fun and games until someone comes home with a few extra pounds, and it’s easy to understand how we end up with the gift we never asked for. No matter how hard you try to maintain portion control, holiday meals are loaded with carbs, fats, sugars and salt that you might usually forego in your diet. All of these indulgences can leave you feeling bloated and tired, as well as a little guilty.

Most Americans gain 1-2 pounds during the holiday season—from Halloween to New Year’s—with the bulk of weight gain occurring around Christmas, so you’re not alone. Rather than turning your holiday remorse into a resolution to lose weight in the coming year, try shedding the pounds with a few simple daily detox practices.

Drink Plenty of Fluids

Start your morning with a full glass of water, hot tea or hot lemon water to help rehydrate and flush toxins from your system, along with reducing any bloating. Throughout the day, continue to drink plenty of water or tea with the goal of drinking 64-100 ounces.

Healthy Breakfast

After you’ve had your morning glass of water, cup of tea or lemon water, follow it with a breakfast that supports healthy digestion. Oatmeal, a natural diuretic, is a light yet filling option that will help reduce bloat even further.

Have a Hot Lunch

More specifically, have a hearty soup for lunch for a few days after holiday eating. Choose a low-glycemic recipe, such as lentil, tomato or miso soup, to curb sugar cravings. Soups will also give your stomach and intestines a break from hard-to-digest foods.

Aside from these simple ideas, choose nutrient-dense and fiber-rich foods for all of your meals. Consider eliminating unhealthy snacks from your own kitchen to further reduce temptation. If you’re a grazer, replace them with fresh fruits, veggies, yogurts and nuts to ensure you have plenty of healthful options to choose from.

Shedding post-holiday weight doesn’t have to be painful or difficult. A few simple ingredients, most of which you may already have in your kitchen, can be combined to create this simple post-holiday detox plan. Now you can make your New Year’s resolution something much more exciting than losing weight!

The Importance of Self-Care

Work followed by dinner or cocktails with friends. Kids and after school activities. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and numerous other digital media outlets sending you notifications—all day, every day. Modern life can become stressful all too quickly, and sometimes we just need a break.

Regardless of the stressors in your life, self-care is a crucial part of maintaining the best version of yourself possible. Although some may consider it selfish, self-care benefits, not only you, but everyone in your life. Particularly for women, who spend a large portion of their lives nurturing others—from caring for children to elderly parents and everything in between.

happy girl on city bench
Photo by Fotolia/javiindy.

What Is Self-Care?

Self-care is “identifying your needs and taking steps to meet them…about taking proper care of yourself and treating yourself as kindly as you treat others.” This sounds like a no-brainer, right? Yet, when we’re stressed or feeling down, it’s easy to set ourselves aside and focus our attention on the needs of others.

Benefits of Self-Care

Avoid or reduce the effects of stress. Extended periods of stress begin to wear on your mind and body. Signs of prolonged stress can result in insomnia, anxiety, hair loss, muscle pain, indigestion and more.

Refocus. We take breaks during difficult projects and tasks to help us refocus, and come back to it refreshed. Self-care acts in the same way, and helps us perform better in life.

Improve physical health. Continued practice of self-care may make you less prone to stress in the future, and boost your immune system.

Boost emotional well-being. It also promotes feelings of calm and relaxation.

Ideas for Your Self-Care Routine

- Make time for things you enjoy. Whether its reading, watching movies, painting or taking a hike, make sure you set aside time for these activities—daily or weekly.

- Exercise. We’ve heard it, time and time again—exercise boosts mood. And it’s true! Regular exercise releases endorphins and other uplifting brain chemicals, relieves tension associated with stress and improves concentration. Your workouts don’t have to be intense to reap these benefits. Activities as simple as walking will work, and help you clear your head.

- Pamper yourself. For me, self-care often includes taking a bath or painting my nails. Whatever makes you feel relaxed, a little luxurious and special…do it!

- Eat well. Diet plays a huge part in our physical and mental well-being. Nutrient-dense meals can provide a sense of emotional stability, while less nourishing meals can leave you feeling anxious, sluggish or some other less-than-good sensation.

- Meditate or journal. Both activities give you a chance to unplug, even if briefly, and spend a little time with yourself. It’s also a good way to check-in with your inner self, remind yourself of your goals and purpose, or take notice of what you’re grateful for.

Whether you’re overwhelmed and stressed from life’s daily grind or you’re preparing for the upcoming holiday and a house full of guests, taking the time to care for yourself is just as important as your to-do list. Rather than foregoing the things that bring you joy, make sure you keep your self-care habits in your routine during times of stress.

What are some of your tried and true self-care acts? Let us know in the comments below!

Meet Moringa: The Most Nutrient-Dense Plant on Earth

Photo by Fotolia

You may have heard the buzz of a new green superfood with endless health benefits: moringa. But do you know what it is? Native to India and Africa, the moringa tree flourishes in warm, temperate environments. Moringa has been used for thousands of years in eastern countries, but its health benefits are now becoming better known in America.

Moringa has been used for thousands of years in eastern countries, but its health benefits are now becoming better known in America. Traditionally, the entire tree has been used to support health, however, most Western nutritional uses center around the leaves, and with good reason. They pack a lot of punch! The vibrant green, oval-shaped leaves are loaded with vitamins, minerals and all 18 essential amino acids–the building blocks of protein.

Also embedded in the leaves of this feathery tree are a surplus of nutrients:  

• Minerals and trace minerals
• Bioflavonoids
• Beta-carotene
• Magnesium
• Iron
• Fiber
• B12
• Vitamin E

Gram for gram…

• 4x the vitamin A of carrots
• 7x the vitamin C of oranges
• 3x the protein of lentils
• 4x the calcium of milk
• 3x the potassium of bananas

More Moringa Nutrition

Moringa has been used in Indian culture for thousands of years, and has helped combat malnutrition. Deemed India’s “Miracle Tree,” moringa trees often grow naturally in rural areas where poverty and malnutrition are more prevalent. Many people rely on moringa, using all parts of the tree as medicine.

Regular consumption of greens, vegetables and superfoods is known to strengthen the immune system and help shield the body from illness. But it can be tough to squeeze in the recommended 8 to 10 servings per day of vegetables. Adding a superfood green like moringa into your regimen is an easy way to increase your daily veggie intake.

Loaded with antioxidants, this plant most commonly comes in a powder form, ready to add to smoothies, food or beverages. This functional food provides essential nutrition, helps with cleansing and weight management, and supports stable energy and vitality. Higher nutritional content translates into more natural energy to do the things you love.

Daily consumption of moringa may have a positive effect on:

• Relieving stress
• Reducing fatigue
• Rejuvenating skin
• Improving immunity
• Enhancing energy levels
• Building muscle
• Promoting digestive function
• Supporting eye, teeth, and bone health.

ORGANIC INDIA  and Moringa

The benefits of moringa are no secret to ORGANIC INDIA, who harvests moringa trees year-round on small family farms in Northern India. ORGANIC INDIA practices sustainable, ethical wildcrafting, upholding seed to shelf transparency. Moringa is grown on many farms, and farmers use it for their own consumption as well. Ever versatile, moringa is also used to purify water, feed animals, enrich soil health and repel pests on the small family farms.  

While the current trend is to isolate compounds for their specific therapeutic quality, ORGANIC INDIA promotes whole herb solutions rather than extracts and concentrates. Their commitment to whole herb is founded in a belief that the sum of the parts of the whole plant is more balanced than any one main constituent. Restorative properties of herbs are derived from the synergistic quality of plants.

In honoring the divine intelligence of the earth, ORGANIC INDIA keeps herbal formulas as close to their original form as possible, bringing you the potency and balance of whole herb moringa. Their moringa is sold in powder-form, via bulk canisters, convenient packets and vegan capsules.

ORGANIC INDIA is a mission-driven company with a commitment to providing genuine, organic products and solutions for healthy, conscious living. ORGANIC INDIA’s Tulsi teas and herbal supplements are lovingly grown by small family farmers using regenerative agriculture practices to restore vibrant health to the environment and ensure high quality harvests.

All ORGANIC INDIA herbs are certified USDA Organic, Non-GMO Project Verified, and free of gluten, additives, and preservatives.

By choosing ORGANIC INDIA, you are not only investing in your health, but also in small family farmers, environmental stewardship, and a heart-centered company set to prove that business and values can peacefully coexist.

Tips and Products for Healthy Winter Skin

Photo by Fotolia

Winter is tough on skin. Freezing temperatures outside, dry, forced heat inside, holiday air travel, festive drinking and more can leave skin dull and dehydrated. To maintain soft, smooth skin and keep it from drying out in winter, the goal is to hydrate well and keep moisture in.

Yogi Tea

Drink a lot of water, herbal, and green teas to hydrate throughout the winter season. Many people forget to hydrate in winter because they are not hot, don’t let this happen to you! Always carry a water bottle with you and herbal tea bags.

My drink of choice besides warm water with lemon or lime in winter is green tea. This Yogi Blend is my new fave: green tea with rose petals, red clover, and burdock.

Photo by Fotolia

Soup’s On! In winter, soup is my go to meal. My personal favorite is chicken rice vegetable. Whenever there is a sale, I stock up on chicken and vegetable broth so I am never without it should the mood strike to make soup. Broth base soup is a great way to stay hydrated and nourished in winter. Pureed veggie soups are second on my list- think butternut squash soup or potato leek. Yummy!

Hydrate the Air in Your Home - For an easy environmental moisture boost, hydrate the air in your home with a warm mist humidifier. Add a few drops of lavender or rosemary essential oils in the water for added health benefit both physical and mental. Make sure to clean the basin of the humidifier weekly depending on the model. If you have a wood-burning stove you can put water in a pan and add essential oils that way. An old fashioned take on the aforementioned.

Nourish the Outer You:

Are you using the same skincare line you were using 5, 10, 20 years ago? Time to try a new line! Skin craves balanced nutrition just like the rest of the body! Here are a few of my absolute favorite never-fail winter beauty heroines, old and new!

Sacred Ways Apothecary

Sacred Ways Apothecary is my 2016 winter pick for most healing, magical skincare line. Handcrafted in small batches in Asheville, NC, Lorin, founder and crafter, creates essences and sacred skincare with wildflowers, trees, crystals, and gemstones, including the elements and power spots. Her Cacao Sugar Scrub contains raw and wild crafted old strains of cacao and Appalachian honey, and Purifoy Spirit Essences. A little goes a long way and leaves you hydrated and glowing. Radiance Body Butter is a base of shea butter, kokum butter, jojoba and rosehip seed oils. It enhances collagen production and gives firmness to skin. Smooth some on hands and see and feel an immediate difference. So silky! Straight love from the elemental world in this line makes it stand out; your being will react with a luscious sense of deep calm.


This trio from Organic Trevarno Skincare is another great choice for staving off Old Man Winter Skin. Their Rosewater & Chamomile Skin Toner is a great travel companion to refresh and revitalize. Rose Jojoba Moisturizer is a thick, protective day cream delivering deep nutrition with herbal infused oils like jojoba infused with rose buds, olive infused with calendula, and sesame infused with carrot. This amazing stuff lasts all day. At night, wash your face and get your night cap on with Sunset Salve, a nurturing night balm lightly scented with ylang ylang and sweet orange.

Botanical Bombshell

Botanical Bombshell is a lush, exotic spa quality line that smells and feels delicious and elegant, and is soooo good for you. Start your home spa experience by applying Virgin Coffee Beam Exfoliating Butter all after a shower (the ultimate treatment for dry skin). It's so rich and thick you can turn it upside and never spill a drop! Then apply Rose Berry Exfoliant to a clean, washed face. Massage in and rest for a few minutes. Rinse off to reveal smooth, radiant, moist, grateful skin! Finish by applying Blueberry Opulence Dry Body Oil all over your body, and moisturizer of choice on your face. The Dry Spray provides awesome protection without the greasy feel. All Botanical Bombshell products are chock full of essential fatty acids and antioxidants for a real winter wonder - your skin fresh, youthful, glowing!


Herbivore Botanicals

Herbivore Botanicals Blue Tansy AHA Resurfacing Clarity Mask is my go-to glow boost before holiday parties and events. It delivers softer, smoother, clearer skin in under 20 minutes. Aloe and Blue Tansy’s superb anti-inflammatory properties perfectly balance the alpha hydroxyl acid (AHA) resurfacing action of papaya and pineapple fruit acids. (I wore it while writing a portion of this article.)


Finally, my old winter standbys, Weleda Skin Food and Lip Care Stick.  I've been using these products for years! Thick, rich, protective, Weleda has been sustainable, organic, fair trade, and cruelty free, since 1921! These are the products I keep in my bag every day.

There you have it my beauties. You are all set for a lovely winter season. There is no excuse to go dull. Be the ones to glow!

Shar VedaShar Veda, Southern Oregon’s Premier Alternative Therapist, offers deep healing through loving touch and compassionate counsel. She is an Ayurveda Lifestyle Counselor & Health Educator, yoga therapist and herbalist. Shar has been blessed to study with leading teachers in Ayurveda, Yoga, and herbalism for 20 years. However, it was her adopted grandma, Doe (English-American and Blackfoot Native), who instilled within her profound appreciation for the supreme power of loving touch, healing arts, and world family. Visit her website for a video, full bio, and photos or find her on Facebook and Instagram!


Avoiding Holiday Air Travel Health Risks

Photo by Fotolia

According to USA Today, more than 27 million passengers, a record number, will fly U.S. airlines worldwide November 18-November 29. How many people of those people do you think will be sick? An Auburn University study revealed MRSA bacteria can survive on an airplane for four to seven days and E. coli can survive up to four days. That is risky business!

As an adult with no small children, the only times I’ve been sick in adulthood is after airplane travel. So this year when I get on the plane to visit my family in Philadelphia, I am going in armed. Pledge to avoid getting sick this year with me!

Here’s our plan:

Before the flight

Go for a brisk walk outside in fresh air and sunlight the day of or before the flight. Vitamin D is the body’s best defense against sickness.

Get a good night’s sleep; the immune system thrives when it is well rested.

Take Vitamin C and Zinc supplements every day for one week before the flight.

Drink warm water with lemon and lime as its alkalizing effect helps the body maintain a higher pH. The higher or more alkaline-rich your pH, the more your inner terrain is resistant to minor and major disease.

If you are not taking a probiotic already, start taking one! I do this year-round.

During the Flight

Keep your tray table up! According to CNN, airplane tray tables contain the most bacteria on an airplane, with 2,155 colony-forming units (CFUs) of bacteria per square inch. Bring along your own antibacterial cloths so that if you must use your tray table, you can wipe it down.

Open the bathroom door with a tissue and wash your hands afterwards. Lavatory flush buttons and door locks have considerably fewer CFUs per square inch (265 and 70 respectively), but they can still be a danger.

Bring your own pillow and blanket.

Stay hydrated. Drink warm water and green tea instead of coffee, soda and alcoholic beverages on the plane.

Bring some Emergen-C Immunity packets along and drink one or two. (2000mg of vitamin C is the recommended max dosage)

Avoid sugary snacks as sugar dramatically weakens the body’s ability to fight of bacteria and flu viruses.

Here’s to a happy and healthy holiday season to you all! Enjoy family and friends in good health!

Shar VedaShar Veda, Southern Oregon’s Premier Alternative Therapist, offers deep healing through loving touch and compassionate counsel. She is an Ayurveda Lifestyle Counselor & Health Educator, yoga therapist and herbalist. Shar has been blessed to study with leading teachers in Ayurveda, Yoga, and herbalism for 20 years. However, it was her adopted grandma, Doe (English-American and Blackfoot Native), who instilled within her profound appreciation for the supreme power of loving touch, healing arts, and world family. Visit her website for a video, full bio, and photos or find her on Facebook and Instagram!

5 Yoga Poses to Beat Insomnia

Yoga’s benefits have been touted by natural health enthusiasts, holistic health practitioners and yogis for decades. But in more recent years, research has proven some of these many benefits—from longevity to improved mental and physical health. There are a number of ailments that yoga can alleviate or, at times, even cure. One such health concern that yoga, and most exercise routines, will help you beat is insomnia. Yoga’s focus on breathing helps relieve stress, calm the brain and lead to better sleep at night.

We all know that sleep is a crucial part of health and wellness, but for some it can be quite elusive. If you’re among those, try these five relaxing poses so you can rest easily.

fire log pose
Photo courtesy Martinez.

Fire Log Pose (Agnistambhasana)

Although simple, Fire Log Pose will release tension that may have built up in your hips throughout the day—especially for those who stand or sit for long periods. This release will prompt other areas in the body to relax, as well.

seated spinal twist
Photo by Fotolia/fizkes.

Seated Spinal Twist (Ardha Matsyendrasana)

Seated Spinal Twist, also called the Half Lord of the Fishes, stretches the spine and promotes relaxation throughout the body. You can keep your bottom leg tucked in, like the photo above, or outstretched for this pose.

locust pose
Photo by Fotolia/AntoniaDiaz.

Locust Pose (Salabhasana)

If you suffer from anxiety or depression and the racing thoughts that can accompany these disorders, Locust Pose can reduce these to aid in a good night’s rest.

yoga forward bend
Photo by Fotolia/djoronimo.

Seated Forward Bend (Paschimottanasana)

Calm the mind, relieve stress and alleviate headaches and anxiety while stretching your spine, hamstrings and shoulders. A relaxed body and mind will help you ease into sleep!

corpse pose group yoga
Photo by Fotolia/Jacob Lund.

Corpse Pose (Savasana)

End your yoga sequence with this super-calming and relaxing pose. Corpse Pose allows you to focus on your breathe and let go of the day’s worries before heading to bed.

If yoga, on its own, doesn’t improve your sleep significantly, try meditating for 5-10 minutes before bedtime to help clear your mind.

Want to learn more about the importance of sleep? Check out 11 Things You (Probably) Didn’t Know About Sleep to discover just how necessary quality sleep is for your health.