I have had digestive issues and anxiety since I was a teenager, and it's been a long, painful journey trying to find the cause. After years of tests, seeing various GP's and natural practitioners, I feel I'm getting somewhere at last and have nailed down most of my food intolerances (a lot!) and emotional triggers with a regular yoga and meditation practice. But, it wasn't until I started drinking Kombucha daily that I've felt the freedom that comes with a non bloated tum, so much more energy and, well, other benefits relating to ones toileting which I won't go into because I am a lady (??!!).
Our 'second brain' is housed in our gut, where serotonin (happy feel-good chemicals) are produced. The gut is the only organ with it's own nervous system with an intricate network of 100 millions neurons embedded in the gut wall (1.) Stress can affect gut bacteria, disrupting digestion and creating a vicious cycle of psychological and physical reactions feeding back to the nervous system. For me it has been a bit of a question of chicken and egg - did the anxiety cause the gut distress or did the gut distress and lack of serotonin production cause the anxiety?
I think it's probably a bit of both, but what I am sure about is feeding my gut with probiotics and prebiotics has helped amazingly, and thanks to Karen from The Yoga Social who donated me my first Scoby baby (more on that below!) I am now perhaps just slightly obsessed with prebiotic filled Kombucha!
Below you will see an alien like substance which are the Kombucha scoby's in some of the tea. DELICIOUS! The Scoby (is this not the best word ever??) is actually an acronym for Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast. That might sound like some form of venereal disease (mmm yum), but the good bacteria in the scoby helps to seal off the fermenting Kombucha tea of the outside air and bad bacteria.
The results are not as disgusting as you fear, and I find the tea can actually be quite refreshing. See below for basic instructions, there is also a lot of info online. To start out you will need to either purchase a SCOBY or get one donated (as Karen did for me and now I have Scoby's coming out my ears!)
Step 1. Preparing the tea (this recipe is for 1 Litre to start out)
Step. 2 Fermentation
Step. 3 Flavouring & Second Ferment (optional)
If you are not so keen on the natural taste of the Kombucha and would like an extra fizz you can go for a second ferment.
Written by Polly Wilson
1. American Psychological Association By Dr. Siri Carpenter September 2012, Vol 43, No. 8
We asked her a few questions about her Yoga journey.
Sasha, in just one paragraph can you tell us a little about yourself?
I am a positive, honest and fun loving Yogi. I adore colourful leggings, my dog Mr Foxy (and pretty much all dogs in general!), food, healthy living, the outdoors, sunshine, my husband, family and friends. I also love music, travelling and connecting with like-minded people.
What made you want to be a Yoga Teacher?
A combination of 3 things: 1) encouragement from my Yoga Teacher/mentor Ambika, 2) my huge passion for Yoga and wanting to share this with everyone I come across, and 3) to continue my journey of transformation.
Yoga has many paths; The four main paths being, Asana and Meditation (Raja), Philosophy (Jnana), Chanting and Prayer (Bhakti), Selfless Service (Karma). Which path do you connect with most, and why?
I would say Raja (Asana & meditation) as I find an incredible amount of peace and calmness through this path. Asana is where I started my Yoga practice some 17 years ago, and Meditation is something I have incorporated into my practice since completing my 200hr Teacher Training. To me, Asana was always my “moving meditation” and still is to a certain degree, but I now find sitting in stillness focusing only on the breathe and what is happening in that moment to be very liberating and cathartic.
What is your favourite Yoga Asana at the moment and why?
Oooooh, it’s a very close one between 2 poses!!
Adho Mukha Vrksasana (Handstand) because it’s just so damn fun, reminds me of being a carefree child and I have a slight obsession with balancing on my hands! :-)
Pincha Mayurasana (Feathered Peacock pose) because I find it a very strong yet graceful pose.
Advice for the beginner?
Have patience & compassion for yourself (physically & mentally), and practice, practice, practice!
We know you love to cook healthy food, do you have a favourite recipe and would you like to share it with us? Mmmmm, I certainly do love to cook!
Wow, so many recipes I could share with you!! But since I have a big love of chocolate, this is what I am going to share:
SIMPLE CHOCOLATE FUDGE:
1 cup organic Raw Cacao Powder
1 cup organic extra virgin Coconut Oil
1/2 cup organic honey
Pinch of sea salt (optional)
Handful or 2 of frozen raspberries OR Macadamia Nuts
1) In a small saucepan on very low heat, melt the honey and coconut oil,
2) Stir in the cocoa and a pinch of salt if using, whisk until smooth,
3) Pour carefully in to a small slice tin lined with baking paper (you could also use a small plastic container or kids shoe box lid) - add raspberries and/or nuts if using,
4) Place in the freezer for 1-2 hours to set,
5) Remove from the freezer and transfer to a chopping board. Carefully peel off the baking paper, then cut in to bite size pieces.
Makes 30-35 pieces, you can easily half the recipe to make a smaller quantity. Oh my goodness, soooooooo delicious!!
Do you have a favourite Yoga book and why is it your favourite?
'A Life Worth Breathing' by Max Strom. So much amazing wisdom and knowledge of Yoga, he (Max) has defied the odds and difficulties of his childhood to become a well-respected international Yoga Teacher. I have post-it noted half the pages in the book to refer back to often! :-)
Are there any Yoga teachers in the world you would like to practice with (or learn from)? Tell us about them.
Kathryn Budig – an internationally renowned Yoga teacher, she studied under Maty Ezraty, who is the founder of YogaWorks and this is the school I completed my 200hr YTT with. I find her incredibly passionate, inspirational, strong, and knowledgable, yet I love her playfulness and feel I can totally relate to her.
Jason Crandell – he is another internationally renowned Yoga teacher who is known for his YogaGlo classes. Jason has a deep knowledge of anatomy (which I love) and the attention to detail in his teachings are what I aspire to, yet he comes across as extremely down-to-earth, grounded and humble.
In one sentence, what is Yoga to you?
Yoga to me is a beautiful connection between body, breath & movement; it is strength, belief, honesty, truth, happiness, acceptance and love.
Now you know a little bit about Sasha, our awesome new Assistant Manager. You can check out her classes on a Wednesday night at TYS. She also has her own website/blog SashaYogaLife
If you bump into her at the studio, don't be afraid to give her a high five (oh, and seriously try her fudge! She really is a guru in the kitchen)
The Yoga Social Team