Saturday, 5 August 2017

Ecological laundry solutions pt. 2: Ivy as a natural and cheap laundry detergent

In February 2016 I already blogged about ecological laundry solutions. Today, I want to revisit that post. I talked about soap nuts or soap berries (reethay) as a great alternative to store-bought laundry detergents. Unfortunately, just this week I read how the popularity of soap nuts (which grow mainly in Asia) in the West has had a profound effect on Asian communities that were still using the soap nuts themselves. As prices have gone up because of the rising demand in the West, locals themselves can no longer afford them and have started resorting to chemical laundry detergents instead as they are often cheaper -- so what we're trying to avoid using here has now for economical reasons become the preferred option in countries where we source our soap nuts from. (Plus it has to be imported here, which adds to our ecological footprint.)

As that profoundly goes against what I want to achieve with a more natural, balanced, sustainable and nurturing way of living, I had to look for an alternative. A home-grown alternative.

And I have found one. Right on my patio. 

Ivy. Good-old common or English ivy. Growing in abundance, difficult to tame even.

(And yes, that's a Sikh Khanda, overgrown by the ivy -- we have two of them decorating our patio).

Absolutely free of cost.

And just as effective as soap nuts! Just like soap nuts, ivy contains a high amount of saponin, a natural soap-like substance with great cleaning power.

Ivy is poisonous in nature, but it is perfectly safe for cleaning uses as it's not ingested. Just make sure you use English or common ivy, and not poison ivy. 

There are 2 ways of using the ivy to do your laundry:

1. Shred a handful of leaves and put them either in a sock (which you tie up at the end), or in a cloth bag or wash bag (I simply re-use the cloth bags I also used for my soap nuts). I add some vinegar in the detergent compartment too, to decalcify my washing machine, and it also adds a boost of cleaning power.

2. Take about 60 grams (2 ounces) of common or English ivy leaves. Shred them and put them in a big pot with 0.6 litres (3 cups) of water, and add half a tablespoon of washing soda to improve the cleaning effect and kill any germs. Bring to a boil and let this mixture simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. After 5 minutes remove from heat and allow to cool completely. Let the mixture sit until it foams when stirred vigorously. Then strain the mixture through a cheese cloth or sieve, and pour into a mason jar or other glass container. 
This mixture should be used fresh, within a few days; you can store it in the fridge or a dark cupboard to make it last longer. You'll need to add about one cup (200ml) of the liquid to the detergent compartment of your washing machine. promotes this same liquid also as a natural dish washing detergent (very much like you can also use soap nuts as a dish washing detergent) but because of its poisonous nature I prefer not to use it on anything I eat from or cook in...

Feel free to come and get some ivy leaves or vines from my patio if you don't have access to any - but the plant grows so abundantly everywhere that you'll probably won't have to look for too long...

This is plant number four from the 'weeds' on my patio that is now being put to great use! (the abundantly growing dandelions, mint and sticky weed are all used for cooking and herbal teas...) No actual gardening being done, yet so much abundance from Mother Nature...

Saturday, 22 July 2017

August 7th 2017 - Full Moon in Aquarius affecting the gallbladder meridian - Visualise a new direction

The next full moon on Monday August the 7th will activate the gallbladder meridian. This is the longest meridian in the body and is a yang meridian. The gallbladder is the organ where, according to yogic anatomy, our frustrations are stored – twin organ is the liver, where anger gets stored. The gallbladder's functions include secreting and storing bile, and it affects spleen and stomach functions. 

In below illustrations you can see the path of the gallbladder meridian through the body, with details over the foot.

Frustrations might arise in the days leading up to the full moon and just after and our tolerance may be (severely) challenged. The test is to stay mindful and present throughout, take a breath, and look for any opportunities to expand your patience and exercise your abilities to accept and surrender.

When prana (life force) is stuck in the gallbladder meridian, one can have difficulties making decisions, or on the contrary make very rash decisions. The indecisiveness can lead to emotional frustration in yourself and those around you (family members, colleagues, …). The gallbladder works closely with its twin organ the liver in taking plans and bringing them to realisation. This is an excellent time to visualise the ideal life situation, partner, workplace, travel or whatever.

Physical symptoms of a blocked gallbladder meridian:
  •         Headache on one side of the head
  •      Neck tension
  •         Hip & lower back pain
  •         Nausea & indigestion
  •         Pain in the shoulder blade
  •         Outside leg pain, sciatica 

  •         Visualise the colour green
  •         All physical activity is beneficial in this time, especially if it causes you to sweat
  •         Lose extra weight

Things that are good to eat:
  •         Green & sour foods
  •         Homemade yogurt
  •         Drink warm lemon water or apple cider vinegar water
  •         Spelt with vegetables
  •         Sprouts
  •         Corn silk tea

Foods to avoid:
  •         Sweets - they weaken the will
  •         Heavy, fatty or oily meals

Yoga for the Gallbladder meridian:

  •         All postures to strengthen the navel point/3rd chakra.
  •         Stretch pose 1-5 minutes with breath of fire
  •         All pranayama/breathing exercises
  •         Meditation 1: Sitting in easy pose, left hand on the heart centre, right hand rests on the right knee in gyan mudra. Focus on the third eye. Start breathing in a 4-part breath: Inhale through the nose, exhale through the nose. Inhale through the mouth, exhale through the mouth. Inhale through the nose, exhale through the mouth. Inhale through the mouth, exhale through the nose. Continue for 11 minutes.
  •         Meditation 2: Sitting in easy pose, again with the left hand on the heart centre and the right hand resting on the right knee in gyan mudra, focus on the third eye. Long deep breathing through a rounded mouth, whistling on both the inhale and exhale. Continue for 11 minutes or more.

Yoga kriya for the gallbladder meridian:

(Expansion of the information on

Friday, 21 July 2017

Natural pregnancy testing: dandelion root

I love the small golden nuggets of ancient health lore that yogic science brings us back in touch with... My go-to resource for this often forgotten knowledge is The Ancient Art of Self-Healing, taken from lectures, notes and classes by Yogi Bhajan, compiled and edited by Amir Arberman, D.C. (aka Siri Amir Singh Khalsa). You can buy it here. It contains such a vast treasure of information on countless different topics -- a must have in every household in my opinion.

Today I want to share one of these nuggets with you. It is one for women wanting to verify whether they are pregnant. Nowadays we have (more and less expensive) pregnancy tests, but what did women do in days when there weren't any pregnancy tests in drug stores, pharmacies and supermarkets available, or before they had access to testing done by their GPs? If you have been trying quite unsuccessfully to get pregnant, you might by now have spend a lot of money on these tests that you could have saved yourself spending... Plus you're creating ever more waste for mother earth to deal with, and all that plastic will be here for hundreds of years to come...

Well, enter the wonderfully versatile dandelion. I cook with its leaves, I blend its flower petals into my honey, I freeze its buds to be used stir-fries, and I use its roots for tinctures. But Yogi Bhajan pointed out how you can also use its roots as a pregnancy test: simply a dandelion root in a urine sample. If it turns purple, you are pregnant.

Should you need help with conception or information on pregnancy, I offer nutrition information & yoga sessions for fertility, pregnancy, childbirth and the postpartum period too:

More health information from The Ancient Art of Self-Healing will be shared here in future.

Saturday, 1 July 2017

Homemade products now also for sale (made upon order)

In the post that started off this blog I explained why I find it so important that Sikhs take a leading position in taking care of our environment, and that, as Sikhs, our choices on all levels should be inspired by our higher consciousness rather than us choosing to take the easy & often less conscious route. In my personal life, this has taken me to making nearly all of my own household & body care products. 

In this blog I have been sharing several of my recipes, but I kept getting asked if I couldn't just start making these products and offering them to others. And I have finally caved in to the pressure :)

I have decided to start offering a range of homemade products, to help you drastically reduce the amount of chemicals in your home and take better care of your own health and that of your family, while being conscious of the environmental impact of the products you use. By using these products, you are not only reducing your ecological footprint, you are also taking care not to disrupt your hormonal balance nor fill your body with toxins and chemicals.

All products are made upon order by dr. Japjeet Rajbir Kaur, certified aromatherapist.
All ingredients used are organic, and blended with essential oils.
No preservatives are used and each product is made upon order to guarantee longest possible lasting time.
The products contain added Vitamin E for skin health.
No soaps are used, only saponified oils (‘castile soaps’).

Please mention any allergies to me when ordering or whether you are pregnant. Also mention if you intend to use products on children (and their age), as extra caution needs to be taken re: essential oils & children.

I strongly promote reuse and sustainability. So if you reuse your bottle or container a next time or you bring your own, the price of the container will be fully deducted off the price!

Sikhs(') Nurturing Nature Price List : Please see our website

Aromatherapy blends

Aromatherapy blends can come in 10ml roller bottles, 10ml dripper bottles, 50ml dripper bottles or personal inhalers. Prices depend on the specific blend.

Many different health problems and imbalances can be addressed by aromatherapy. Possible blends I can make you include, but are not limited to: 

  • PMT/period-ease
  • PCOS blend
  • fertility-enhancer
  • menopause-ease
  • hot flashes blend
  • migraine-ease
  • headache-relief
  • thyroid-balance
  • relaxation-aid
  • sleep-easy
  • depression-lifter
  • beat the winter blues
  • anxiety-ease
  • fatigue-buster
  • adrenal-aid
  • anti-inflammatory blend
  • no ticks 
  • no bugs
  • anti-histamine blend (bug bite soother)
  • varicose-vein & spider vein blend
  • heavy legs
  • scar  & stretch mark healer
  • digestive-ease
  • arthritis-relief
  • tired-muscle relief
  • breathe-easy
  • sinus-relief
  • cough blend
  • cold, congestion & flu blend
  • stop smoking 
  • vertigo blend
  • pick-me-up (uplifting)
  • nausea blend
  • motion sickness blend
  • grief & sadness blend
  • focus & attention blend
  • toothache-ease
  • ...
I am also an Independent Consultant for Neal’s Yard Remedies, so for any products that I don't make myself, you can buy through my NYR Organic webshop, or you contact me for products I have for sale at home (no delivery costs in that case).

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Full moon in Capricorn on July 9th, affecting the triple warmer/burner which controls our prana (lifeforce)

Sunday July 9th will see a full moon in Capricorn, affecting the triple warmer/burner meridian. This yang meridian begins on the backside of the ring finger and runs along the arm, before terminating at the outer corner of the eye. The triple burner meridian controls our prana (lifeforce -- what in Chinese medicine is called Chi) as well as the distribution of energy in three main areas: 1) the chest, which is responsible for breathing; 2) the abdominal cavity which controls digestion; and 3) the pelvic area which is in charge of elimination as well as reproduction. It's partner meridian is the pericardium meridian.

The triple warmer is a fire element (agni). Fire energy goes up, against gravity. The fire tattva is concerned with moving from the material realm to the spiritual realm through purification (alchemy through fire). But guidance is needed to succeed, which is why we need a guru. The triple burner also controls appetite, thirst and body temperature.
Importantly, Capricorn and the triple burner meridian rule the glandular system, the guardians of health and emotional well-being, and of stability in infinite consciousness. Our glandular secretions determine the blood chemistry, which in turn determines traits of our personality, our moods and our emotions, including surges of pleasure and displeasure. If, e.g. your thyroid is not functioning well, you will likely find yourself lacking in patience and tolerance.
Physical symptoms:
  • Weak prana
  • Low energy
  • Shoulder pains
  • Ear problems such as pain, eczema and waxy ears
  • Pain in the corner of the eye
  • Pain and stiffness along the arm and wrist
  • Arthritis and nails with ridges or white spots on the third finger, as well as the fourth finger
  • Glandular imbalances playing up
  • Problems with the adrenal glands and thyroid in particular
  • Excess mucus
  • Digestive problems
  • Elimination problems
  • Ishnaan (cold shower) daily keeps your glands healthy and functioning properly -- see here for a blog post on how to take yogic cold showers correctly.
  • Eat more healthy foods and in more relaxed and quiet environments. How you prepare your food and how you eat is just as important as what you eat. Yogi Bhajan would say: if you cannot eat in a graceful and relaxed environment, then don't eat that meal.
Things that are good to eat:
  • Red & bitter foods: red beets, brussels sprouts, radicchio, rucola, rosemary, oregano, basil, paprika, turmeric, grapefruit, watermelon, quinoa, rye, buckwheat. Cherries, red grapes and strawberries are not included due to their sweet taste.
  • Drink green tea (washed first) and (dark) chocolate in moderation, and best in a moist environment.
Yoga for Triple Burner:
  • Back platform with the toes pointed away, fingers facing back and long deep breathing. 3-5 minutes
  • Long Deep Breathing. 
Some Kundalini Yoga kriyas for the Glandular System:

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Neal's Yard Remedies Independent Consultant

As a lot of you guys know, I am very passionate not only about physical, mental and emotional health but also about our environment. As I strive to live in harmony and balance with my surroundings, I make a lot of my body-care and cleaning products myself. This helps me to eliminate toxins from my house and my family's life as well as reduce my impact on the environment. My motto is: 'if you wouldn't eat it, don't put it on your skin'.
For the products I cannot make myself, I have found that Neal's Yard Remedies products are the next best thing as they are 100% certified organic, chemical-free and made from very high-quality ingredients. Moreover, they are not owned by a larger business but are an independent, ethically operating company.

While I blog about my own recipes for certain products, not everyone finds it easy to make everything themselves, and as I want to help anyone who is passionate about doing so make that change towards a healthier and more sustainable way of living, I believe Neal's Yard Remedies offer an excellent way of doing so.
From now on you can order Neal's Yard Remedies products directly with me or through this link: and pick them up at yoga class or have them sent to your home.
I have some products at my house for you to look at too. Feel free to ask me any questions.

This is the current offer!

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Full moon of 9th June in Sagittarius, affecting the Pericardium (heart protector)

Friday the 9th of June - incidentally the first day of our 3-day "Worrier or Warrior" retreat in Belgium - brings us a full moon in Sagittarius. The June full moon is commonly known amongst many American Indian tribes as the 'Strawberry Full Moon' or the 'Big Leaf Moon'; in the Celtic calendar it's known as the 'Oak Moon'.

The June full moon will be affecting the Pericardium meridian, also known as the meridian of the 'heart helper' or 'heart protector' as the pericardium is the protective sheath (layer) that surrounds the heart organ. Together with the heart and the blood vessels, the pericardium runs the circulatory system.

The pericardium meridian is the mediator between the water tattva and the fire (agni) tattva -- between our emotions in the second chakra and our passion in the third chakra. The fire tattva is purifying and transforming - its energy is not bound by gravity but rises up towards the heavens.

A balanced pericardium meridian allows us to be generous, warm, kindhearted, loving and compassionate to those around us, and allows us to be able to receive both criticism and love from others. An imbalanced pericardium meridian makes us feel unprotected in the heart centre and will cause us to look for other ways to protect the heart (e.g. by rounding off the shoulders, keeping our distance from others, building protective walls around us which are meant to keep others out but only end up making us feel separated and isolated within that fortress we have built).

Physical symptoms of a blocked or imbalanced pericardium meridian:

  • the inability to smile
  • problems with or pain in the hips
  • cold extremities (hands and feet) due to poor blood circulation
  • low sexual joy
  • rounding off the shoulders to try and protect the heart
  • many stress-related problems.
Things that are good to eat & drink for this meridian:
  • oatmeal (contains silica which is good for the pericardium)
  • a drink of boiled oatmeal. Recipe: boil 1 cup of oats in 3 litres of water for 20 minutes. Strain. Drink 4 cups a day.
  • red and/or bitter foods: beetroot, Brussels sprouts, kale, karelay (bitter gourd), bitter melon, radicchio, rucola, rosemary, oregano, basil, paprika, turmeric, grapefruit, watermelon, quinoa, rye, buckwheat, dandelion leaves
  • dark chocolate, green tea (washed first), matcha tea, Yano or another grain coffee.

Yoga postures for the pericardium:

  • Any hip opening exercises
  • Sit in butterfly pose.
    Do some butterfly stretches first (bouncing the knees up and down for a few minutes) to stretch the hips open. Then bend the torso and head slowly all the way down, leading from the navel, with long deep breathing.
    Slowly allow the hips to open up.
  • Alternate leg stretches.
  • Archer pose is the best posture for this meridian. It helps to develop a clear and powerful vision. Do 3 to 11 mins on either side with long deep breathing or breath of fire. Chanting can also help to keep up.

Kundalini Yoga meditations for the pericardium (with links):

(Expansion of the information on