Ten Things I Learned at The Sedona Yoga Festival

Sedona is a magical place, and when I learned that there was going to be a yoga festival taking place in Sedona, I immediately signed up! This was actually the fifth annual Sedona Yoga Festival which generally takes place in February/ March time frame. The festival lasts for 4-days and includes over 200 workshops on a variety of topics, besides yoga, that included spiritism, meditation, communication, sound therapy, healing, nutrition and more.

I have read many books on spirituality, explored different practices, do yoga off and on, and am always open to trying new things. I was excited to be hearing from the 100+ speakers coming to the festival from all over the world and eager to learn more.

Here are my top takeaways from the sessions I attended. Note, a lot of it is my own interpretation of what the speakers might have said.

There’s nobody here or out there who can hurt you more than yourself.

Heather Shereé Titus, Director of the Sedona Yoga Festival advised at the opening ceremony to love yourself, and be the love you want to see in others. It is only your own practices, behaviors and reactions that can cause you the greatest pain. You yourself allow the negative or positive energies to flow into you.

Nourish yourself with asana, meditation and inquiry before helping others.

This applies more to people who teach, help or care for others. Gina Garcia,  500-hour certified Baptiste Power Vinyasa Yoga teacher and founder of Yoga Across America (YAA), a non-profit corporation that teaches yoga and wellness educational programs across the country, conducted this extensive workshop.

Avoid prescription medication and alcohol to protect yourself from fallen angels. 

I did not know much about unwanted spirits attaching themselves to human bodies in the time when we are most vulnerable. Professional Energy Cleanser Herman Petrick talked about keeping a clear and balanced energy field, and how it can help with depression, anxiety, sleeping disorders, re-occurring nightmares, chronic headaches, etc.

Sound is an important vibration that helps relax and quietens the mind.

“Like a dinner bell, the sound of bowls can alert you for meditation,” said Ashana in her hands-on workshop with quartz crystal singing bowls. Though I did not buy any bowls, I have started playing flute, tabla, gamelan, meditation and yoga music during meditation, before sleeping and while lounging, and it has had profound effects.

Make superfoods part of your daily diet.

Until now, I knew what superfoods generally are and tried to eat them now and then. But Jeff Breaker, who represents Purium Health Products, emphasized that eating real food can make you feel better, help recover faster and enhance the spirit. He recommended eating organic greens, whole grains, soaked nuts, and filtered water. Also, eat as much vegan as possible and add a superfood shake to your diet. I have started making my own granola with organic oats, chia, flax, almonds, dried blueberries, agave, honey and coconut.

Energy flows through the gaze of the eyes.

In the session on Drishti by Sara Elizabeth Ivanhoe (yoga spokesperson for Weight Watchers), I learned how to focus on a still image to improve my yoga postures with fluid transitions. The same can be applied to everyday life by working on the third eye to see beyond time and space.

When you want to connect with someone, look into their eyes.

Leah Misty and David Tietje of Thai Love Yoga did an interactive seminar on enhancing communication, which included Sacred Space Ritual, Soul Gazing, Thai Massage, Laughter Yoga, Connection Trio and Affirmation Circle. My husband and I gazed at each other’s eyes, gave each other gentle massages and exchanged words of gratefulness. I found this exercise very useful and repeat it every time I want to convey my message to another person in an assertive yet gentle manner.

Everyone is born with spiritual gifts. Learn to recognize and appreciate them.

I found Sunny Dawn Johnston’s workshop on intuition to be the most interesting as she talked about connecting with the spirit world. Every person has intuition, but sometimes cannot distinguish between mindless chatter and the angelic voice. To exercise receiving guidance we can raise our vibrations (through music, yoga, dance, nature), play intuitive games, and start trusting ourselves.

Chocolate is good for the soul.

Some of you may be delighted to hear that (good quality dark) chocolate heightens your sensations. In Yoga of Chocolate session, instructor Jyl Marie combined yoga poses with 100% organic Chocolate Tree chocolate tastings. Her aim was to use chocolate as a way of encouraging people to slow down and really taste, savor, and enjoy their present moment experiences, whatever they may be.

Hopefully, you have enjoyed reading this post and will come back for more!

Chocolate Bread Pudding with Clear Caramel

Here is the delicious chocolate bread pudding recipe that SOHO American Bistro has generously shared with you readers. It is by far, my favorite dessert in Atlanta! The moist rich bread pudding has a velvety texture and melts in your mouth. It is served warm with a dollop of cold vanilla ice cream and rightly balanced caramel sauce. If you don’t believe me, try it for yourself. Continue reading “Chocolate Bread Pudding with Clear Caramel”

What to do with leftover Easter chocolates?

Ever had a problem with too much chocolate left over from Easter? I do! Every year, I am left with certain varieties that I don’t particularly enjoy and end up with a stock in my pantry.

Like everything else, chocolate too has a shelf life. If stored properly, it can last as long as a year. But who wants to wait that long?

Use your chocolate in baking. You don’t always need to buy morsels or baking chocolate, most candy bars work fine. Here is a simple recipe that takes only a few minutes to prepare. You will find most, if not all ingredients at hand already. It makes a special treat and your guests would think you have spent hours making it.

Easiest Chocolate Soufflé (serves 4)

¾ cup chocolate (chopped up) You can use semi sweet, milk or dark as you prefer.

4 oz butter

2 eggs

¾ cup sugar

6 tablespoon all purpose flour

In a microwave safe bowl, mix the butter and chocolate. Microwave on high for 1 minute. Gently stir and let cool. In another bowl, combine eggs, sugar and flour. Add the chocolate mixture and mix well. Spray 4 small ramekins with cooking or baking spray. Fill each ramekin with chocolate mixture dividing evenly. Don’t fill more than 2/3rd of the way. Bake in oven at 400F for 20 minutes. The soufflé will rise up. Sprinkle powdered sugar, decorate with berries and serve immediately.

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Chateau du Sucheta

On March 20, my neighbor Daniel Sklar wrote: Sucheta served a lovingly prepared three-course meal for four. 

She began the evening with an aperitif of red wine.  Her husband, Dipak, served as sommelier.  She expertly had on hand a nicely chilled non-alcoholic cold duck (a type of sparkling wine made from Visit SmileyCookie.com!burgundy and champagne) for the non-drinkers.  This was a nice touch.

A tasty salad was served as the first course.  Fresh baby spinach leaves were mixed with baby carrots, golden raisins, walnuts, almonds, pistachios, dried cranberries, and shredded cheeses.  The salad was tossed with a dressing made of apple vinegar and three cheeses.  A sliced avocado, ripe and of just the right softness, was added to give a wonderful creaminess to the starter.

The second course was a Sucheta specialty:  homemade roasted butternut squash ravioli.  A filling of pureed butternut squash, mascarpone cheese, parmesean cheese, and cinnamon was prepared.  Next, fresh pasta was made with semolina, rolled out with a pasta maker, and used with the squash filling to make individual ravioli.  The ravioli was cooked quickly in boiling water, drained, and immediately served with a light sauce of sage-infused olive oil and toasted walnuts.  Scrumptious!

The third course was a homemade chocolate mousse tart served a la mode with homemade dulce de leche gelato.  The bittersweet chocolate was a perfect compliment to the flaky crust.

The verdict:  elegant, tasty, and fully satisfying.  Sucheta has done it again!

 

Best Friend’s Chocolate Cake

I attended high school in a small town in northern India. It was an all-girls Catholic Convent school, right across the street from where I lived. Our school was considered to produce polished, well-spoken, and smart girls who were quite successful in whatever path they chose after graduation.

From sixth grade until now, I have been best friends with two of my classmates. We use to hang out together all the time, be it sitting in class, having lunch during break, going for movies on the weekends, to spending all festivals and holidays together. All three of us moved to different parts of the world after college, but still managed to remain in touch and keep the friendship alive.

When my friends would come over, my mom would sometimes bake cakes and make noodles (my two favorite eats growing up). Since she could not find bags of chocolate morsels in stores, she would buy bars of Cadburys chocolates and melt them into the cake batter. It would be so delicious and rich!

One of my best friends from high school came to visit me at my home in Atlanta, back in 2005 while she was in New York for an assignment. Needless to say, I showed off my culinary skills by baking a chocolate cake for her. She fell in love with it and asked me to make it every time she visited then on.

It’s a very simple velvety chocolate cake with no layers or icing. I like it because it’s not too sweet and can be had at any time of the day. It serves well at tea or snack time so you don’t have to wait for dessert to enjoy it.

Chocolate Cake RecipeDan's Chocolates

1 ½ cups semisweet chocolate morsel

½ cup butter, at room temperature

16-oz brown sugar

3 eggs

2 cups all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

8-oz sour cream

1 cup hot water

2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 teaspoon powdered sugar

Melt the chocolate in a bowl in the microwave for 1 minute or until smooth. Stir gently.

Beat butter and sugar in an electric mixer at medium speed for 5 minutes, and then add eggs, 1 at a time. Beat until just blended. Add the melted chocolate and beat for another 30 seconds.

Mix together flour, baking soda and salt in a separate bowl. Now, gradually add the flour mixture to the chocolate base, alternating with sour cream. Beat at low speed during this process. Add the hot water in a low steady stream still blending on slow. Stir in the vanilla.

Spoon batter in a prepared (floured and greased) angel cake or a 10-inch round pan. Bake at 350F for 55-65 minutes or until wooden toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely, sift powdered sugar on top and enjoy.


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