Herb Spotlight: Cardamom for a Happy Belly

ayurveda, Herb Spotlight

Cardomom seeds add such a vibrant, deeply wooded flavor to stews and other dishes. It’s always a surprise when I’m struck with a big seed in my spoonful of kitchari but the flavor is kind of refreshing. Which is why I’m not surprised that in some Asian cultures chewing a cardamom seed is a remedy for bad breath. It also helps the gassy people get it all out, which is beneficial for everyone!

Scientific Name: Elettaria cardamomum Cardamom Illustration[aka: brown cardamom, Java cardamom, Bengal cardamom, Kravan, white cardamom, Siamese cardamom, and red cardamom]

Magickal Stats: Elementally air, ruled by Mars, Mercury & Uranus

Parts Used: Seeds, essential oil

Improves Function of:

  • Liver & Gallbladder
  • Digestive System

Aides in Relieving Symptoms of:

  • Flatulence & Colic
  • Nausea & Stomach Issues
  • Bad breath, tooth & mouth issues

Assists Spiritually With:

  • Promoting the combination of love, attraction and a union of equals
  • Enhance inspiration in a project

How Does It Work? 

Cardamom has a lot of antioxidants which makes it great for healing skin and bulking up the immune system. It also contains a volatile oil that aides in digestion and treats intestinal spasms and other stomach issues. This oil also helps to move blocked food through the intestines and digestive tract. I commonly use these seeds in kitchari, an Ayurvedic and Indian stew that helps regulate the digestive system.

What Do I Do With It? The seeds can be cooked or made into a tea just as long as the oil is extracted from them before taking orally. Essential oils can also be put into a bath for stress and depression relieving aromatherapy. Also simply chewing the seeds can remove bad odors from the mouth.


The Irony & Bliss of Instagram Yoga

Lifestyle, Yoga

Life is balance guys. Every single thing can be detrimental to you if you indulge too much, right down to fruits and veggies. The reality is that we are always walking a sharp sword between two lakes, enjoying their beauty and indulging in their fragrances as immensely as possible with out falling in. With this key balance in mind, I’d like to talk about Instagram Yoga. You see, there is an entire world on Instagram of amazing people practicing yoga, taking snapshots and sharing them with each other. This has developed into challenges where a couple of people will give a key pose and then thousands will throw the pose back through a photo, the winner receives fun yoga clothes, bracelets, aromatherapy sprays and even privately roasted coffee beans. I got involved about 2 years ago on and off, after getting on my mat daily it felt natural to jump back into @carajuanabends and start making shapes.


Many yogis look down on this practice, afterall yoga isn’t about getting likes and approval from others. It’s about calming your mind and bringing gratefulness into your life, but #igyoga can do that too… if you maintain a balance. I don’t make a lot of female friends, recently I’ve been working really hard at it because powerful women are just that, and I want that power in my life. But on InstaYoga I found beautiful wonderful women who support me and that is pretty magical. Aside from that I’ve also learned new poses and learned more trust in myself from the wonderful yogis in my InstaFeed. But I have seen some things that worry me for other people’s health and I am using this little soap box to cite these warnings.

  • Try not to compare. I’ve been there, 2 hours deep in Insta stalking and you’re wondering why you don’t have a six pack and then eat a ball of cookie dough. I’ve been there. But try your hardest to change the behavior, if you are going to compare in that realm of your life you’re going to do it elsewhere. Use Instagram as an opportunity to change your thought process when it begins to compare and instead learn to love yourself and others.
  • Don’t do poses that are too advanced, ever. If you’re thinking of attempting a new pose don’t do it with out physical help from an advanced instructor or yogi. You will hurt yourself eventually if you’re dangerous with yoga practice, it is imperative that your posture is correct or your skeletal structure will become irregular and eventually painful.
  • My most hopeful request, please also go to yoga class and get professional instruction. Don’t only practice at home because it is possible to learn something wrong and repeat it enough to cause pain. Get a gym pass or some classes at a local yoga studio to supplement your home practice, this will ensure that you’re safe in your endeavors. Making the pose look good is fun but doing it RIGHT is imperative.

Last but not least, YOU’RE BEAUTIFUL, YEAH, I’M TALKING TO YOU, and so are all these wonderful yogis on Instagram. Try not to get down on yourself or others, if you think it’s lame or defies “What Yoga Is” then just look the other way because it is a community full of love and harmony that nestles comfortably into precisely what yoga is, simply designed for a modern age.


All the Yoga Everywhere, Always

Existentialism, Religion, Yoga

Yoga has been intertwined with my life for the last 10 years but it wasn’t until February  of Screen Shot 2016-06-14 at 7.38.56 AMthis year that I started intently practicing every single day. Before then I would take time in my life to fly off of the rails and have existential crises where yoga was no longer something I made time for. Practice every day makes me stronger and allows me to achieve more advanced levels of posture. But what it also does is give me the ability to maintain joy, gratitude and balance in my mind & life even in the toughest moments.

As a former athlete, my practice was a way to stay in shape when I couldn’t run, lift or cross train because of my injury. After a couple of years I got more interested in the spiritual and scientific aspects of yoga in my life. From meditation & breathing to Ayurvedic eating to our fabulously interesting chakra system; it was all absolutely fascinating to me. There are so many intertwined aspects of yoga that I could confuse you and myself with, but instead there is one simple idea that I’d like you to take away from this post. Yoga practice teaches us how to find balance in breath, how to find stillness in motion and how to create a fantastic realm of calm despite the storm.

I’ve been wanting to explore this idea on the blog for awhile but I wasn’t able to get the words out, until this week that is. For some reason this week has been the worst, but it’s only Tuesday. Yesterday, for no reason, I was completely and horribly angry right at the getScreen Shot 2016-06-14 at 7.38.40 AM.png go of waking up. Sometimes there is something that sets me off, like an excessively dirty kitchen or some animal vomit to clean up that really grinds my gears when I stumble out of bed to make my coffee. That wasn’t the case yesterday, it was just one of those days that my intense empathic soul needed to flush out anger it had accrued over time as I sponge emotions off of passersby. I was angry ALL DAY except while I was in a gentle yoga class and while I was helping out with kids yoga camp. These hours spent were full of gratitude, excitement and wonder; but this bliss isn’t only accessible while you’re in a studio or on your mat. The moments we spend in the studio or on the mat are points of training for all of the times that we need to access pure unadulterated bliss in our daily waking lives.

Today I woke up after about 10 days trying to get my bills across different states and credit unions all settled up for the month to find that I incurred an unnecessary overdraft fee. You know what I did you guys? I cried. I cried so hard, with open mouth breathing and everything. I cried like this right on the phone with the sweet, gentle Southern woman who works for PayPal. Starting off the first moments of your day with a rollercoaster of disappointment, regret and open mouthed sobbing doesn’t generally prove a recipe for success. But I am confident that if I’m kind to myself, if I show gratitude in the right places and if I get on my mat for at least 20 minutes; I’ll be able to find my balance again amidst the sea of bleh my emotions have me sailing on this week. Because yoga can be my constant, my mat can be my reset button. Every moment can be yoga. Only then can we learn to understand the deep facets of our mind and step away from these days of rage or sorrow to look at the feelings themselves from an objective perspective. We can access our witness body to observe our emotional body and engage with the triggers instead of the effects. This is necessary in order to grow and shape ourselves into better humans through our practice.

This is how we heal. This is how yoga heals. This is how we heal ourselves with yoga.


A Strange Trip to the Chiropractor

Body Image, Existentialism, Yoga

Healthcare hasn’t been readily available to me since I turned 26, I probably could have been more proactive but I really didn’t trust Western medicine and decided I’d instead turn to herbs and Eastern medicine to solve my issues. At the end of the day, whichever side of the spectrum that you lean towards should be balanced out with the other. But anyways, the reason that I write this post is because I’ve been consistently let down by doctors. From the dentist charging me for a deep cleaning that I didn’t need when I was 19 to the veterinarian that gouged me for $170 of steroid shots that my kitten didn’t need to get better; my trust in doctors has been fully revoked.

I still had a shred of ability to believe in their wily ways when I walked into a chiropractor appointment last week. I had to visit to renew my cannabis card through the state of Arizona and was really excited because with all of the yoga that I do I know that there is something bad going on in there. We had a nice long talk about my background in athletics, my hip injury that took me out of the game and my current aches and pains. Well, I’m guessing in relation to my biceps but he told me immediately to stop working out. That I needed to stop doing yoga altogether and just go on long walks. This made me really, really bummed. I feel convinced that he gave me this advice and called me “big” and a “maniac” consistently throughout my appointment to reiterate that I have a muscular build, which I’m already very aware of.

Perhaps he’s from a different generation. Perhaps I am being too sensitive. Or perhaps I missed an opportunity to call a misogynistic old man out on his oppressive medical advice based on his opinions of what a woman’s body should look like. Don’t get me wrong, his assessment of my hip injury being related to a spinal issue that has caused sciatica was dead on. But I will never go back to him because he could not remove his own subjective life from the session that we had, and that is un called for. I was offended and I share because maybe someone just like him is reading, and realizing that they’re offending when before these words they had no idea. Maybe a person is reading this and now has the courage to stand up for themselves and their right to have their body. I guess the moral of the story is that when it comes to other people’s bodies you should just stay out of it.

4 Tips for a Yoga Beginner

how to, Yoga

People are kind of sick of me sometimes because I am always preaching things to them that have changed my life. I just get so passionate when I find something new that makes me feel good inside and out, when these rituals and practices find me I want to shout out about them on the rooftops. Yoga is most definitely one of those things. But after my 9 years of trying to get people to try out a class I’ve learned that not everyone thrives within the same experience. It kills me that sometimes people are completely turned off by yoga because they didn’t find themselves in the right capacity for their first yoga class ever. I compiled these tips in hopes that a beginner yogi will find their way into their practice with joy and ease.

  • Never, Ever Push Yourself Too Hard

After being a competitive athlete it was really difficult for me to understand that you can’t just push yourself into a final pose in yoga. My sheer willpower isn’t enough to make me Screen Shot 2016-03-28 at 7.50.23 PMan advanced yogi, the only way to achieve that is with consistent practice. Being athletic can help but a lot of times in yoga being an athlete can work against you. Mostly because in American athletics we are focused on pushing ourselves all the way to the limits of our comfort levels. Yoga is quite the opposite, you can really hurt yourself if you use this mentality when approaching your practice. Your mind can be pretty loudly telling you to force yourself into a posture as you look around to these strong, bendy yogis around your class, ignore it. Keep working, slow and steady like a turtle. Eventually it will come, but it will take way longer if you pop your MCL or pull your abdominals. Take your time, listen to your body. Confront your instructor with any new sensations during the class to confirm if it is something to be worried about.

  • Go to Many Different Studios

I’ve had countless experiences at different yoga studios, often times 2 studios right down the street from each other are completely different. Don’t go to a studio and buy a month or tons of sessions; try out just one class before committing yourself to a huge payment. It is possible that you might not like the first studio that you try. Before even going in for a class its smart to check out the schedule with a couple of things in mind. First off assess your own level; for the purpose of this article I’m pretty sure that you’re a beginner. So only choose classes that are Level 1 or marked for beginners; this will ensure that you’re not terrified by a class way past your beginner skill level. Next decide the type of class that you’re looking for. Here are a couple of classes that are common in the yoga world, there will also be classes that are simply labelled Beginner Yoga; that is always a good option.

Hatha: This style of yoga focuses on holding poses for around 5 breathes, it combines some movement with focus on deepening into poses.

Ashtanga: Enjoy a fast connection of movements that really ramp up your cardiovascular system, this is a great class for upper body strength.  My arms have never been as in shape as they were when I practiced Ashtanga 4 times per week. Beginners who are quite strong or athletes that needs more movement to stay focused should try this mode of yoga first. Beginner yogis that aren’t naturally athletic might want to steer clear of Ashtanga first thing.

Yin: Oh man, I tell everyone that will listen about Yin yoga classes. My first yin class I was Screen Shot 2016-03-31 at 2.00.43 PM.pnga little bit out of my element but it started a journey that led to soaking up as much yin as possible. Yin is the opposite side (Yang) of the yoga styles that are fast paced and build muscles. Yin helps to repair connective tissue through laying in supported poses (using pillows and blocks) for 3-5 minutes. The muscle can repair itself and the mind can actually take time to purely STOP. This is one of my favorite modes of yoga because those who say they’re too hurt to develop a practice can’t be, they just need to use props and eventually they will find the ability to heal themselves. 

Iyengar: I won’t go too much into the story of Iyengar after my spirited Yin rant but basically BKS Iyengar’s story is amazing and every yogi should know it. This yoga class will feature a vinyasa (faster) movement style using props to assist your body in feeling the pose with out the full expression being unlocked in your body. Use a combination of straps and blocks to truly feel with your body may not allow you to do alone just yet.

  • Develop a Home Practice

I don’t think I went to a real yoga class until after I’d been practicing for more than 6 months. My first yoga experiences were with my living room and Namaste Yoga for FitTV by Kate Potter. Having an understanding of rudimentary poses before going to a class that I paid for made me kind of feel like I was getting the most for my money. Over the years my home practice has developed, I generally don’t use videos anymore. Now with my knowledge from regular classes I just get on my mat and create an entire flow from the feelings and movements that pour from my body. Developing a home practice helps a new yogi to understand the meditation and relaxation within the movements of yoga because there aren’t any distractions around. Check out The Bad Yogi for really great videos to help structure a positive home practice. I’m also a big fan of Kino’s youtube channel for Ashtanga heavy theory and practice.

  • Don’t Give Up, Yoga is a Daily Practice

I’ve been practicing for almost 10 years on and off, there were full years where I wouldn’t get on my mat. I’m sure that it goes with out saying that those yoga-less years were often the ones where I was going through painful, existential crises where I just wasn’t myself. I joined Instagram’s thriving yoga community and started to notice that yogis that had practiced only 2 years were able to accomplish poses that were just so beyond me. I started to get down on myself, to feel less than while I lurked around different photos comparing myself. It’s often these times where I quit things, where I give up because it’s easier than putting in the actual work to step up my game and rise above self pity. This time I decided that I wasn’t going to sabotage myself like that, that instead I would be inspired by these Insta-Yogis to dedicate my knowledge to the mat. Now I practice every day for AT LEAST 20 minutes and I’m unlocking arm balances and binds that were just impossible to me before. I share this portion of my egotistical comparing competitive mind because yoga isn’t something that people are just good at.

Yoga is a journey where you slowly release the light in your spirit through mastery of poses, calmness of the mind and growth in the soul. Everyone starts somewhere, don’t get discouraged just be inspired to continue.

RESOURCES These are a few of my favorite studios in the couple of places that I’ve visited.

Flagstaff, Arizona: Northern Arizona Yoga Center

Dana Point, CA: I Heart Yoga in the Park

San Francisco, CA: Yoga to the People

Indian Bean and Rice Stew or Kitchari

ayurveda, Carajuana's Kitchen, Recipes

Two people, one milk allergy. Well, I guess it’s 2 milk allergies because we’re both allergic. We also like to eat at restaurants from time to time but hate bothering the chef and server with changing their recipes. This means we often walk out with full bellies that don’t digest very well. After a couple of days of uncomfortable movements I always turn to kitchari.

I know it’s probably not wise to mention bowel movements when writing up a recipe but shoot, that is one of the beautiful things about eating it. Ayurvedic thought systems like to cleanse by eating kitchari for 3-5 days 3 meals a day so that the digestive system can regulate itself. This mode of healing stems from the belief that the stomach was the center of the body, that if the digestive system was regular and enjoying itself the body would be freed up to heal itself more readily. This is all the more prevalent in our modern GMO, pesticide, additive ridden food system. Our body likes to digest kitchari and because of that it works sort of like a zamboni. If I still have your attention despite all the talks of BMing, here’s an amazing stew that can make you feel like a million bucks.


2 TB ghee (coconut oil, olive oil and other fats work as well)

1 TB ground cumin

1 tsp fennel seeds

1 tsp turmeric

1/2 tsp ground coriander

a dash of cinnamon

1 cardamom pod

1 clove

3 carrots; chopped

2 celery stalks; chopped

1/2 white onion; chopped

2 garlic cloves; diced

6 cups water or stock

1 TB tomato paste

1/2 cup brown rice

1 cup mung beans

1/4 cup red cabbage; chopped

1 cup kale; chopped

Directions: In a large stockpot heat the ghee or other fat that you chose. Put the cumin, fennel, coriander, turmeric and cinnamon in the pot and stir while they toast. When the spices have released their aromas put the carrots, onion, celery and garlic into the pot. Stir regularly until the onions are translucent and spice mixture coats the vegetables. Now add the stock or water. Add in the mung beans (soak overnight to help digestion) and brown rice and stir. Now slowly pour in the water, bring to a boil stirring regularly. Boil for about 5 minutes then turn down to a simmer and cover for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes add chopped up kale and cabbage, cook for about 5-10 minutes longer. Cook and stir until the kale is wilted and before the cabbage loses it’s color to the broth.


I hope you enjoy this recipe, it’s one of my favorites for kitchari as we move into a new season. <3<3



What’s In My Cup? Golden Milk Tea

ayurveda, Recipes, What's In My Cup?

This is a good time of year to get into Golden Milk tea if you haven’t already. That’s because it improves your immune system, aside from this Winter friendly effect it has countless other amazing health benefits. I like to drink golden milk before bed because it helps me sleep. The first time that I tried it I was skeptical that it would help me sleep as I sat on my bed to enjoy my bright orange cup of warm milk. I woke up confused 2 hours later because all of the lights were still on.

This is legitimately my favorite pre-bedtime drink, it works for me every time. Because I have so much trouble relaxing I re-shaped this recipe from the usual golden milk tea. Usually this Ayurvedic beverage  is made with honey or maple syrup along with ginger and cinnamon. I take those ingredients out because I’m mainly using this to sleep and I have a lot of trouble with sleeping, but they have a lot of medicinal properties. I just add them to my hot lemon water in the morning to keep them in my daily routine. Turmeric has countless benefits among which are immune building, relief from the common cold, relaxation, anti-depressant and pain relief. There are more benefits I’m sure but I’ll save that for another post.


1.5 cups of oat milk (use whatever milk you prefer to drink)

1 tsp ground turmeric

1 grind of black pepper

I like to heat up the milk and then add the turmeric and black pepper. Continue heating until the desired warmth is reached and remove from the heat. Whisk thoroughly to ensure all of the turmeric is mixed in. You can heat the mug filled with almond milk in the microwave or on the stove. If mixing on the stove keep the heat medium to low and whisk constantly to ensure it doesn’t burn. I like to snuggle up in bed with my warm golden milk and a good book without too much suspense or adventure in the plot. Drink the milk and just resonate with the one word mantra: Relax.

Monday Night Dinners Dessert Hour: Lavender Whoopie Pies


Nom Nom Nom I am a sugar fiend. Ever since I quit dairy and tobacoo I’ve let my other vices go wild. I get seriously weird on the sugar and the caffeine on a regular basis, which has seriously messed with my sleeping and mood patterns. But whatever, dessert is luxurious and if I learn moderation it’s all good. Which is why I baked the most decadent dessert yesterday that I have under my belt.

It all started when one of my favorite patients at work brought me fresh lavender, I immediately knew that I wanted to bake with it. I found a recipe online for these lavender whoopee pies and history has been made. I shifted the recipe to be natural and dairy free for my and the lover and pulled out a truly delicious piece of heaven.


Whoopee Pies:

  • 1/2 cup coconut milk yogurt, unsweetened
  • 1/4 cup almond milk, unsweetened
  • 4 tsp dried lavender
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup earth balance soy butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs

Vanilla Frosting:

  • 1 cup earth balance soy butter, softened
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 TB almond milk; unsweetened


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a food processor combine yogurt, milk, dried lavender and vanilla. Blend for 1 minute, scraping the mixture from the sides once. Pour the mixture through a fine mesh strainer and diligently rub spatula against strainer to get all of the oils out of the lavender. Make sure you empty all of the contents from the processor to ensure all of the lavender is used. Set the bowl aside and reserve for later.
  2. In a medium-large mixing bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt for 30 seconds. For about 2 minutes in a separate mixing bowl whip butter, oil and sugar on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy. One at a time, blend in the eggs. Slowly add the flour mixture in three parts, only adding the next phase of flour when all is incorporated. Be careful not to overmix, balance is a virtue.
  3. Transfer batter into piping bag fitted with 1/4-1/2 inch round tip. I’ll be frank with you, I don’t have a piping bag and I made mine out of a plastic baggy. Just cup the tip off of the corner. Pipe little cakes onto parchment paper covered cookie trays. Start in the middle and let the dough expand, making each about 1 3/4 inch rounds about 2 inches apart. Bake in preheated oven 7 minutes, or until tops of cookies appear cooked. Remove from tray immediately to cooling rack.
  4. In an electric standup mixer combine butter and vanilla until white and fluffed. Next add in the milk and slowly add powdered sugar until desired texture is reached. Mix about 5 minutes. Once cookies are cooled spread frosting on the bottom of two cookies and press together. Store refrigerated in airtight containers, they do best placed with wax paper between them.

Bohemian Island: The Pants that Give Back


I recently received my first pair of Bohemian Island harem pants and I’m truly in love. They are lightweight and a really beautiful Uthitta Hasta Pandanghasanapattern which makes them day or night time pants. My favorite part about them is that they aren’t skin tight but I can still practice all of my yoga wearing them! Seriously, go from Utthita Hasta Padanghasana to Narajanasana without even a rip of the crotch. 

These fabulous yoga pants are 100% cotton, you can barely feel that you’re wearing them. They are simply but efficiently designed with a pocket on the right side perfect for your cell phone or car keys. There are countless adorable patterns, I went with the psychedelic paisley … obviously :D. Enjoy anything from lazy days around the house to ashtanga at the studio in the Bohemian Island anytime Thai harem pants.

Lastly, and probably one of my most favorite reasons to purchase these amazing pants: they donate to the Soi Dog Foundation of Thailand. That’s correct my friends, 10% of all proceeds from sales at Bohemian Island go directly to the foundation to help vaccinate and care for over 30,000 stray dogs of Thailand. Yep, you heard me right, they not only manufacture fantastically comfortable harem pants but they help our little puppy friends who have fallen on unfortunate times. I am a huge fan of their products and a very satisfied customer. Check out their site to scan through the beautiful prints from the new season.

Monday Night Dinners: Salad Edition


I love vegetables, now. My mother used to make only frozen veggies and generally overcook them to mush status. As I have grown and now cook my own food, I spend most of my time trying to do super duper delicious stuff with my veggies. Since Summer has rolled around it seems all of our vegetable intake is from the grill or from a big bowl of delightful salad. It is such a wonderful way to hit multiple nutritional needs with very, very little work. Salad craft is all about the textures you’ve created.

This salad is inspired by the Flagstaff Farmer’s Market since I bought most of the ingredients there. I love the sprouts and pumpkin seeds for crunch and the red bell peppers and tomatoes for rich flavor profiles. The combination of greens lets us get used to kale fresh while having our familiar spinach leaves strewn about. Whip it up ahead of time for a killer at a neighborhood BBQ.


3 cups baby spinach leaves

4 large leaves of kale

1 yellow tomato

1 persian cucumber

1/4 large red bell pepper

1/4 cup pumpkin seeds/pepitas

1/4 cup sunflower sprouts

salt and fresh pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients in large bowl and toss. I put my dressings on the side to avoid any over/under dressing for my guests. But I generally ALWAYS use Goddess dressing :D. Enjoy your veggies!