Green is the color of the sphere of energy that is our Heart Chakra. Our Anahata, heart chakra, is associated with breathing, lungs, and the circulatory system, just as green plants produce the oxygen that we breathe they also aid in making our blood and heart healthy.
As the fourth and center of seven chakras, our Anahata unites and integrates the upper and lower chakras and is considered to be our center of equilibrium. It is associated with compassion and deep caring for others. Oftentimes, a vegetarian or vegan diet is associated with this chakra center as well. Individuals who choose a lifestyle full of vegetables and greens are said to be more sensitive and caring.
Both the color green and our Anahata represents freshness. When I walked 200 miles on El Camino de Santiago in 2014, I was introduced to the refreshing cup of cold gazpacho soup during a long trek on a hot summer’s day. Just as the Anahata represents lightness and softness, this cold, smooth, and complex puree had an incredible mix of flavors and satisfied my appetite without feeling heavy. It gave me the perfect amount of energy to keep trekking with a soft smile. Throughout the rest of the journey, when I would approach a café or restaurant that served gazpacho, I was in heaven.
Further, the Camino de Santiago has a community of love. Throughout the trail, hearts can be found hidden around the trail. These hearts remind us of our relationships with others and the world around us through the heart chakra and the divine presence of empathetic connection that brings stillness and peace. Imbalances within the heart can throw the whole system off.
Many people seek this pilgrimage for healing of past imbalances. Fortunately, every being is capable of healing themselves. I decided that I wanted to make this trek after watching the film, The Way, a film about hiking this trail to overcome loss and addictions. I accompanied my dear friend, JoAnna, as she had made a pact with God to make this journey.
My intention was for adventure, culture, nature, exercise, and possibly some self-discovery. Through self-discovery, we learn to love ourselves through self-awareness, self-knowledge, self-empathy, and self-discipline. You can read more about my journey here: http://www.halfmoonyogaandart.com/blog/the-way-of-aparigraha-on-el-camino-de-santiago
This summer, instead of reaching for the ice cream on these hot afternoons, I’m creating my own green gazpacho to feel refreshed and nourish my heart.
Dark Leafy Greens
I threw in dark leafy greens of arugula and cilantro to add a hint of spice as well as good amounts of antioxidants, essential oils, vitamins, and dietary fiber, which may help reduce bad cholesterol levels in the blood and therefore keep a healthy heart.
Arugula is among the top 10 most nutrient-dense foods including very low calories and substantial amounts of vitamins A, K and C, folate, iron, and several beneficial phytochemicals, a substance found in certain plants which is believed to help prevent various diseases. Getting enough vitamin A in your diet promotes good vision, particularly at night, which is essential to your ability to see in low light. Arugula also contains significant amounts of calcium, magnesium and potassium that help control your blood pressure, relating to the healthy circulation of the Heart Chakra.
Cilantro is one of the popular Mediterranean herbs and is one of the richest herbal sources for vitamin K which has a potential role in bone mass building through promotion of osteotrophic activity in the bones. It’s also rich in potassium which is an important component of cell and body fluids that help regulate heart rate and blood pressure (again…Heart Chakra).
Fibrous Fruits and Antioxidants
Cucumbers are now known to contain three lignans, co-passengers of dietary fiber (lariciresinol, pinoresinol, and secoisolariciresinol) that have a connection with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease as well as several cancer types, including breast, uterine, ovarian, and prostate cancers. Cucumbers also contain numerous flavonoid antioxidants, including quercetin, apigenin, luteolin, and kaempferol as well as vitamin C, beta-carotene, and manganese.
Sweet Yellow Peppers
Research has shown that capsaicin, found in peppers, boosts our metabolism by keeping immature fat cells from developing into full-fledged ones. Adding peppers to daily meals may protect against the buildup of cholesterol. Further, including both folate and B6, eating daily peppers lowers the risk of death from stroke, coronary heart disease and cardiovascular disease for women.
Beneficial Fatty Fruits
Avocados provide nearly 20 essential vitamins and minerals, as well as fiber, potassium, Vitamin E, B-vitamins, and folic acid. They offer some unique fat qualities through phytosterols, that have been shown to provide a wide variety of antioxidant and important anti-inflammatory benefits to our body systems, with our cardiovascular system (Cirulatory), including beta-sitosterol, campesterol, and stigmasterol. Further, avocados comprise conventional nutrients like manganese, vitamin C, as well as phytonutrients like unique carotenoids, flavonoids, and phytosterols. Avocados improve carotenoid absorption from other carotenoid-rich foods as well.
Almonds have been valued since ancient times as one of humanity’s most beloved nuts. They were popular in the diets of ancient Egyptians and Indian people. Ancient Indian Ayurvedic advisers even believed that almonds were capable of increasing brain capacity, intellectual ability and longevity. Almonds are actually very small stone fruits that contain key nutrients to heart health (Anahata), including arginine, magnesium, copper, manganese, calcium, potassium, monounsaturated fatty acids and vitamin E to help prevent heart disease and heart attacks.
These energy dense healthy fats and dietary fiber aid in weight loss because they help you feel full, which curbs overeating and unhealthy snacking. They slow the rate at which glucose (sugar) is released into the bloodstream, in addition to managing blood sugar and preventing insulin resistance. Further riboflavin and L-carnitine are two key nutrients capable of positively affecting neurological activity and preventing cognitive decline.
Green Olives and Oil
Olives are rich in antioxidants, with health benefits ranging from fighting inflammation to reducing the growth of unwanted microorganisms. They are low in carbs, but high in healthy fats. Olives and olive help regulate cholesterol and protect LDL-cholesterol from oxidation. They may also help reduce blood pressure. The high monounsaturated fat content of olives has been associated with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. Olives are also a remarkable source of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory phytonutrients.
A serving of mango juice contains two-thirds of our daily recommended vitamin C requirement which encourages our white blood cells to work more efficiently at destroying germs and bacteria. The deep orange color of mangos provides beta-carotene to make vitamin A, which keeps our eyes healthy and work in unification to promote good skin and skeletal health.
Mango assists the Anahata through our blood circulation. One cup of mango fruit contains about 325 milligrams of potassium, one tenth of our daily recommended intake. Potassium is an electrolyte that keeps fluid balanced in and around cells, a function that makes your heart beat, regulates blood pressure and the balance of fluids in our body, and helps nerves and muscles to function properly. Further, mango is also rich in iron, and a great natural solution for people suffering from anemia.
Granny Smith Apples
Antioxidants from Granny Smith Apples neutralize harmful free radicals, while lessening your risk of heart disease, diabetes and stroke (Heart Chakra). These apples are rich in soluble fibers which delay absorption of sugar in our small intestine and may lower our risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. Biting and chewing the tough, fibrous skin of the apple stimulates saliva production. High levels of saliva decrease bacteria in your mouth that attack teeth and cause cavities.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple Cider Vinegar helps help keep our blood sugar levels balanced as it aids health concerns including diabetes, cancer, heart problems, high cholesterol, and weight issues. This acetic acid suppresses our appetite, increases our metabolism, and reduces water retention. Scientists also theorize that apple cider vinegar interferes with the body's digestion of starch, which means fewer calories enter the bloodstream. Further, it boosts our energy.
Lemons are a true friend to the heart chakra and our breathing. Lemon juice assists in relieving respiratory problems and breathing problems, such as its ability to soothe a person suffering from an asthma attack. Being a rich source of vitamin C, lemons help in dealing with more long-term respiratory disorders. Diseases like cholera and malaria can be treated with lemon juice, because it acts as a blood purifier. Drinking lemon juice is helpful for people suffering from heart problems, because it contains potassium. It controls high blood pressure, dizziness, and nausea, because it provides a calming sensation to both the mind and body.
Further, lemon is a fruit that contains flavonoids, which are composites that contain antioxidant and cancer fighting properties. It helps to prevent diabetes, constipation, high blood pressure, fever, indigestion and many other problems. Lemons contain many more nourishing elements like vitamin C, vitamin B6, vitamin A, vitamin E, folate, niacin thiamin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, copper, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc, phosphorus and protein.
I hope you listen to your heart and through love and compassion for yourself, regularly create your own green blend of nourishment to heal your center and restore balance.
Further, you can be reminded to eat heart healthy with these green yoga leggings!
Hannah seeks to find relationships between nature, cultures, yoga, and art through her writing.
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Lessons from Abroad