RUE (botanical name : RUTA GRAVEOLENS) is a small, evergreen shrub with woody stems and bluish-grey-green leaves.  It is used as a flavouring agent in Greece and other Mediterranean countries.  The leaves have an astringent or bitter taste, especially when dried.  RUE can be used with sour, acidic foods, which help to tone down its bitterness such as tomato sauces and dishes with olives or capers.  RUE leaves and berries are an important part of the cuisine of Ethiopia.  Sometimes, RUE seeds are used to flavour porridge.  In Italy, the young branches of the plant are dipped in a batter, deep-fried and consumed with salt or sugar.

rue-plantRUE is one of the herbs mentioned in the New Testament.  In some countries, holy water is sprinkled from brushes  made of RUE at the ceremony usually preceding the Sunday of High Mass, for which reason it is called the HERB OF REPENTENCE and the HERB OF GRACE.  RUE has a long history of use in both medicine and magic, and is considered a ‘protective herb’ in both disciplines.

The hardy evergreen shrub is mentioned by writers from Pliny to Shakespeare and beyond, as a ‘herb of remembrance’  of ‘warding’ and of ‘healing’.  RUE was once believed to improve eyesight and creativity, and no less personages than Leonardo Da Vinci and Michelangelo regularly ate the small, trefoil leaves to increase their own levels of creativity.

Since olden days, RUE has been used to ward off contagion and prevent attacks of fleas and other noxious insects.  RUE juice is used to treat earache.  It is believed that RUE is helpful in the treatment of hypertension, diabetes and allergic reactions.  Tea made from RUE leaves is used to treat nervous headache, griping stomach ache, dizziness, cough, vertigo, palpitation, anxiety problems and high blood pressure.

————— (Sacred Space)

Take it easy


A Yogi walked around the room bare-footed, wearing his white robe.  He was in stark contrast to his audience, who were all executives from a large corporate.

The Yogi looked at his audience benevolently and then took out a stone from his bag.  He asked his audience how heavy they thought the stone is.  The room rang with answers ranging from 2kgs to 8kgs.  A few people asked to hold the stone before they could answer the question.
The Yogi smiled and said they are all correct as the absolute weight of the stone does not matter.  He said,” If I hold it for a minute, it is weightless.  But if I were to hold it for 10 mins, my hand will ache.  If I held for a day, maybe my hand will go numb.”  He then continued, ” The stress that you have is just like that stone.  Think about it for a short while and nothing will happen.  However, if you cling to it all day long, you will go numb and won’t be bale to do anything.  Remember to put that stone down before you go home.”
Yogi meditating paintingThis Yogi’s word rings true for all of us as well.  Stress may be a fact of life, but being stressed is not.  Stress can not only impact you mentally, but can have an effect on your physical well-being.  Eliminating stress from your life is a matter of choice and the good part is, you get to choose.
Effective management of stress requires balancing between work, rest and exercising.  While we do rest to recover from the fatigue, we forget the importance of exercise.  Being physically active reduces the stress hormones and increases your endorphin levels.  Cycling, running, yoga or a work-out in a gym  ——– just choose your favourite activity and get busy.
Practise relaxation techniques such as progressive muscle relaxation.  Consciously and progressively work through your body to tense every muscle for ten seconds and then release.  Take your mind to a nice and happy place.  Think about happy thoughts.
Whenever you get extra tensed, remember ———– THIS TOO SHALL PASS. 
—— William James.

Reading before bed

In today’s social media world where one usually spends time on their phone before going to bed, here are a few important points to keep in mind.  This will surely make you ditch the phone and go for a book.
reading-before-bedWe scan, we skim, we browse but rarely do we read.  Our eyes Ping-Pong back and forth from Facebook posts to open chat boxes, unclicked emails to GIFs of dancing cats, scanning for key words but barely digesting what we see.  Average time spent on an online article is 15 seconds.
In 2014, the Pew Research Centre revealed that one-quarter of American adults hadn’t read a single book in the previous year.  And that’s a shame, because those who read exhibit significantly greater memory and mental abilities at all stages in life.  They are also better public speakers, thinkers and, according to some studies, better people in general.
 Cracking open a book before you go to bed could help combat insomnia, too.  A 2009 study from researchers at University of Sussex showed that six minutes of reading reduces stress by 68%, thus clearing the mind and readying the body for sleep.
The reasoning by psychologist and author Doctor David Lewis is that a book is “an active engaging of the imagination”, one that “causes you to enter an altered state of consciousness”.  It doesn’t matter if your book of choice is by James Patterson or James Joyce, fiction or fact, so long as you find it fully absorbing.  Because when the mind is engaged in a world constructed by words, tension evaporates and the body relaxes, paving the way for sleep.
———– Source : www.


COLOCASIA (Hindi : ARBI or ARVI), a “powerhouse vegetable” is one of the oldest vegetables of the Indian Subcontinent.  —————– Much before that nouveau upstart, the POTATO taking over the Subcontinent kitchens in such a comprehensive manner, COLOCASIA was the “preferred tuber.”  In fact, Colocasia is not just indigenous to India, but large parts of Eastern Asia as well.  In the Philippines, it goes under a name similar to our ARBI/ARVI ——– ABI, and is a popular veggie.  Besides, of course, it is most popularly used as TARO everywhere.

ColacasiaCOLOCASIA was always the go-to-veggie in homes.  The aloo-meat curry, one of the most basic ways of combining goat meat and potatoes in a spicy thin gravy in Northern India may be deemed “home-style” today, but it was quite likely to have been preceded by ARBI-MEAT curry as the original starch-protein combination.  Fried Colocasia fingers make for an interesting textural counterpoint in this style of gravy dish, popular in U.P., primarily in Muslim but also KAYASTHA homes.
The favoured way to cook the tuber is, of course, to FRY IT.  Since Colocasia is also a “monsoon ingredient”, this makes sense given the fact that the Indian kitchen, whose functioning was based in AYURVEDA, preferred a switch to “heat-inducing” foods gradually as the monsoon cooled the Subcontinent and to fried foods to keep diseases at bay.
That is also perhaps why ARBI & AJWAIN make for such a perfect marriage.  AJWAIN (carom) is known for its digestive properties, and a perfect recipe to use the “monsoon spice” (carom), warding off stomach infection, common this time of the year, to coat fried Colocasia.
Even the leaves are fashioned out into PATODE in UP, Bihar & Gujarat use a sprinkling of carom in the masala spiking gram flour (BESAN).  PATODE is a recipe for the rainy day : The leaves of the Colocasia need to be cleaned and washed, spread out and then coated with a thin batter of spiced gram flour.  They can be layered, folded and then rolled (like a Swiss Roll), before being steamed.  Cut into rounds and deep fry for a tea-time snack.  You may not find more exotic PAKORA anywhere.
Arbi Masala FryColocasia is an invaluable source of dietary fibre.  The CORMS have more calories than potatoes, and these come primarily from “complex carbs”, which are slow-digestive”, will thus help fill you up more and also help elevate blood sugar levels gradually —–unlike simple, easy-to-break- down carbs.
The leaves, on the other hand, have antioxidants beta-carotenes and a significant amount of Vitamin A that is good for your eye-sight amongst other things.  And the CORM has some essential minerals as well —- zinc, magnesium and potassium that help regulate heart rate and BP.  So, Colocasia is actually a “powerhouse of nutrients” ——- a “super food”  —– in its own right.
Colocasia is trending as an ingredient, especially at “modern” Indian establishments.  ARBI TUK, for instance, has suddenly made an appearance on many menus, including at “The Bombay Canteen” in Mumbai, pegged on local gastronomy and a re-invention of forgotten regional recipes.
Arbi dishesTUK is a Sindhi term, essentially for deep frying vegetables and then tossing them in dry masala.  For ARBI TUK, all you need is boil the Colocasia, flatten it and the deep fry till it is crisp and golden.  Then toss in a masala of dry coriander powder, red chilly powder and dry mango (AMCHOOR) powder.  This recipe is essentially the same as followed in many parts of UP as well, where, one other spice is added to the crispy ARBI / ARVI, and that is AJWAIN (carom).  It elevates the dish to another level.
In Punjabi-influenced cooking, ARBI may of course be cooked in a generic onion-tomato masala.  But its charm can be better appreciated if you use the spices discerningly and selectively.  Dried fenugreek (METHI) is another ingredient that goes well with Colocasia.  Pan-roast the tuber and then coat it with a masala that includes a whiff of KASOORI METHI.  You won’t forget the flavour.
———–Anoothi Vishal.    

Fat and fabulous

FAT. It’s a beautiful word made ugly in a “thin-inspired” world.  It is important to keep your fat consumption under control, but eliminating fats entirely results in eliminating an extremely key nutritional component your body needs.  It adversely affects your efforts at getting fit.  Your body needs a healthy combination of protein, carbs, vitamins and fats for you to burn fat., because “fat burning” is a high metabolic activity.  Simply put, YOU NEED FAT TO BURN FAT.
Some fats are bad for you, pile on the cholesterol and cause problems and some fats are good.  Fats like MUFA and PUFA and Omega-3 fatty acids aid your overall weight loss and weight management goals.  Include these fabulous fats in your diet. —-
(1) Fat : AVOCADO  Fabulous : Avocado is loaded with vitamins (vitamins K, C, B5, B6 and E), fibre and antioxidants.  It is not alien to health and well-being and can be eaten in the form of a dip (like guacamole), in a salad or even on its own.  Go green
Avodaco(2) Fat : ALMONDS  Fabulous : An Almond is  a nutritional boon, combating health issues like high cholesterol and osteoporosis.  It’s also good for your heart, brain and immunity  Get a daily handful of this nutritious ninja (5-6 almonds per day if you are not on a weight loss programme)  to derive the best to offer.  Unsweetened almond milk is also a good  substitute for cow or buffalo milk if you are lactose intolerant.
(3)  Fat : WALNUTS.  Fabulous : Walnuts brim with nutrients.  Having 2 to 3 a day is enough to help your heart, bone health, mood and weight loss.  It also helps fight insomnia, gallstones, diabetes.
(4) Fat : FLAXSEEDS.  Fabulous : Flaxseed is an understated  power-packed fat.  Not only does it act as a natural laxative, it decreases cholesterol and has been known to put up an impressive fight against diabetes.  A teaspoon a day of toasted flaxseeds is all you need.
(5) Fat : GROUNDNUT.  Fabulous : Groundnut oil has a  great balance of MUFA & PUFA.  This oil is especially good because it has the antioxidant “resveratrol”, and is a good source of Vitamin E.  Those with peanut allergies need to avoid this though.
spanish-olives(6) Fat : RICE BRAN.  Fabulous : Another oily option is rice bran oil.  This is packed to the hilt with vitamin E and antioxidants.  It melds well with whatever you cook, be it Indian or Continental.  Its relatively low price makes it an extremely economically-viable option.
(7) Fat : SALMON.  Fabulous : Salmon fights heart disease, protects joints, improves mood and boosts cognition Cured or grilled salmon can be  apart of your plate in many different avatars.
(8) Fat : EGGS.  Fabulous : With just 16 calories per egg white, it is a 100% reference protein.  All the protein you get from an egg gets fully absorbed by the body, with none going to waste.  It is also cheap.  Eat it daily to keep your energy battery on auto recharge mode.
Baked Salmon(9) Fat : OLIVES.  Fabulous : Olives are great fats, and have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer benefits.  Pop it in salads, slice it in pasta or just have it as it is.
(10) Fats : SESAME SEEDS  Fabulous : Sesame seeds not only work to give you the good fats you need but are also an excellent source of calcium.
Whatever you choose to eat, all fats should be kept to about 10% in total of your daily recommended calorie intake.  Remember —– Good fats are not always less calorific but they can nourish you like few other things can.
—— Pooja Makhija (Nutritionist)   

Yoga on the go

Travelling for long hours means stiff joints and poor blood circulation.  Prepare your body, mind and spirit for travel fatigue.
You could be on a long road journey, a train ride or a two-hour flight ……… the seats are small and constricted and your legs are cramped in a tight space.  Travelling for long hours also means loss of blood circulation to the lower body.  One must straighten the legs and move the feet forward and backward periodically.  Feel the tension in your calves.  Rotate ankles, clockwise and anticlockwise.  Flex and stretch your toes too.
Gyan mudraSTRENGTHEN NECK MUSCLES :  While a neck-pillow works well in cushioning your spine during travel, some basic yoga steps only make your travel more comfortable.  ** Look up and bend your head back.  Then bend your head down and look downwards.  Move only your neck, breathing normally.  Repeat this three to five times.  ** Now turn your face as far right as possible.  Then turn to the left.  Repeat three times.
BENEFITS : Removes stiffness of the neck muscles and counters spasms, corrects the neck posture and aligns the joints.
LOOSEN UP :  ** Take your hands behind your head.  Place your right hand on your left shoulder and your left hand on your right shoulder.  Your elbows should point upwards.  ** Interlock your fingers.  Cover your forehead with your palms.  Exert force with your hands and neck in opposite directions.  The palms should force the neck back while the neck forces the palms forward.
BENEFITS :  Removes all traces of stiffness in the shoulders and neck muscles.
ARM STRENGTH :  ** Outstretch your arms, at shoulder level.  With all your strength, clench your hands into fists and then unclench them.  ** Rotate your fists in both directions.  ** Keep your hands on your shoulders and rotate elbows clockwise and anticlockwise.
BENEFITS :  Removes weakness in the arms, cures stiff shoulders and neck, alleviates joint pains.
yoga-reflectionsGYAN MUDRA :  ** Sit in a comfortable position in your chair folding your legs, keeping your back and neck straight.  ** Form the Gyan Mudra by touching the tip of the thumb with the tip of the index finger, the other three fingers straight and joined together.  Place your hands on the knees, palms facing upwards.  Close your eyes gently and focus on your breathing.  Hold this position for 10mins.
BENEFITS :  It improves concentration and reduces negative thoughts.  Regular practice eliminates insomnia, migraine usually associated with long travel.
POST-TRAVEL ASANA :  Stand erect, heels together and place both hands on your chest, fingers interlocked.  Stretch your arms ahead and slowly raise them up while breathing in.  Raise your heels, stand on tiptoe and stretch your entire body upwards.  Repeat two or three times.
BENEFITS : Strengthens the spine, ankles, knees, thighs and abdomen.  Relieves physical exhaustion.
———- Inputs by Yogacharya Dr. Surakshit Goswami.

Benefits of essential oils

Want to de-stress yourself at home without going to the spa ?  Essential oils are here to give you a similar soothing experience.  Extracted from various flowers and plants, these body oils help to unwind both physically and mentally.  Some of these oils have anti-microbial, antiseptic, anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.  BT talks to aroma therapists to know more about the ” benefits of essential oils”.
Naushad, an aroma therapist at a spa in Bengaluru, says, ” Body oils help the skin glow.  Lavender, eucalyptus and cinnamon oils are used as stress-busters.  The aroma of these oils improves blood circulation and also improves the texture of the skin.  A combination of lemon and rosemary oils and anti-cellulite oils helps to reduce body fat”.
Ajay, another essential oils expert, says,” Extra virgin olive oil contains a good amount of minerals, which are good for hot oil massage.  It helps to reduce body pain.  Harmony oil, made from flower and leaf extracts, is also good for mental health”.
So, how often should one go for massage and what should be the ideal duration of the therapy ?  “People who have a


sedentary lifestyle should go for aroma therapy at least once in a week, while for others once in every 15  days or a month is good enough,” Ajay adds.

LAVENDER : Lavender oil as the quality of providing good sleep and helps to improve your nervous system.  This oil also helps to remove dandruff, and tackle eczema and hair loss.
CINNAMON : Cinnamon oil is rich I manganese, iron and calcium.  It improves brain function, purifies blood and helps to ward off diabetes.  Application of the oil on the body during winter nights keeps us warm and protects us from cold, cough and breathing problems.  As other oils, this oil is also used as room fresheners.
EUCALYPTUS : This oil helps to keep respiratory infections, body pain, wounds, burns and ulcers at bay.  It is also used in toothpastes, cough drops and lozenges.  It is beneficial for mental health and used in many medicines.
OLIVE : Olive oil is considered good for dry skin.  It brings out the skin’s natural texture and acts as a conditioner for the hair and nails.  The oil is rich in Vitamin E and A, which also helps to regenerate skin cells.  It can be used as body lotion, eye makeup remover, lip scrub as well used as used in homemade face packs.  Aroma therapists mix olive and lavender oils for a cooling effect in summers.
ANTI-CELLULITE : Regular massage with this oil helps to remove toxins from the body.  It burns fat and reduces cellulite.  The different varieties of this oils include hazelnut, juniper, citrus and jojoba.
—————— and Tessa Adeline Nelson.

Some salad basics

Not all salad greens are equally healthy.  Just because there are fresh fruits and vegetables on your plate doesn’t mean you’re eating healthy.
avocado-mango-salad-fgWe all know that Salad is health and well-being tossed in a bowl.  But how to get that right balance, proportion, colour and flavour out of your crunchy meal is a question that still daunts most of us.  Here are some “salad basics”. ——–
* THINK OUTSIDE THE BOWL : Give up on predictable staples like chickpeas and sprouts and spruce up your salad with new entrants every week.  Go for fresh herbs, beet slices, avocado, low-fat goat cheese or power-packed pumpkin seeds.  This will not only keep you interested in the salad regime, but also pack in different nutrients and flavours.
* DAKER THE BETTER :  Not all greens are equally healthy.  Iceberg lettuce is crunchy and attractive on a salad plate, but not very high on the nutrition metre.  Go for darker leaves instead, like baby spinach, rocket leaves, red and green leaf and Romaine lettuce or kale as they pack in more vitamins and minerals.  These plant-based wonders may help protect you from heart disease, diabetes.
*DON’T FALL FOR CRUNCH :  Adding those crispy noodles or croutons to your Thai or Asian salad might up the yummy spring pasta and chicken saladquotient, but it doesn’t favour your waistline.  Croutons are made from processed white bread, which equates to empty carbohydrates and high calories.  Walnuts or water chestnuts are a much healthier way to get the crunch you want.
* EAT SALAD FOR DESSERT :  There’s an on-going debate about when to have your salad ……….. before or after the meal ?  Well, in Italy and France, they have it after aperitifs and the main course.  Not bad, say health experts, since salad improves digestion after a long and heavy meal.  If your after-dinner snack is high in fat, it can lead to indigestion that makes it difficult to sleep soundly.  Salad, however, is lighter and is less likely to affect the quality of your sleep.
* DON’T PILE ON MINDLESSLY :  Keeping the ratio right, in a salad, is the key thing.  Try to take up about three-fourths of your plate with greens, so you’ll have less room for high-calorie stuff.
* MUNCH BEFORE A RUN :  Salad in the morning helps your body re-hydrate after a mad night-out and provides enough antioxidants and slow burning carbohydrates for a run.  ——— So, are you having your salad right ?

Samarth Namaskar

Surya Namaskar

While the country is gearing to celebrate WORLD YOGA DAY, an innovation on the SURYA NAMASKAR ———- christened SAMARTH NAMASKAR by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is sitting at the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) awaiting a National Launch.

The new routine, that has added 9 postures to the traditional 12, has been  essentially developed by a Pune-based orthopaedic surgeon, Dr. Pavan Kohli, with the blessings of the late yoga guru BKS Iyengar and in collaboration with offshore branches of a yoga institute and the Sports Medicine Association (Singapore), SAMARTH NAMASKAR is an attempt to woo over people.  The PM’s astute selection of the name SAMARTH was to signify capable of benefitting all.
Samarth Namaskar“I faced a lot of resistance within the country to my efforts to innovate on the iconic SURYA NAMASKAR, so I chose to involve foreign institutions in my endeavour,” Dr. Kohli told Mirror.  It took him over a year to develop the routine, during which time BKS passed away.
“BKS was already in a frail state of health when I began.  After him, I have been guided by his son Prashant Iyengar,” Kohli recounted.  However, Prashant Iyengar told Mirror, “It is completely designed by Kohli and all the credit for it should go to him.  We only approved his innovations as they were brought to us.”
Dr. Kohli took up the experiment to address the needs of modern life-styles.  “Most people these days suffer from backaches and neck pain due to long hours of sitting.  The problem has become almost epidemic.  SURYA NAMASKAR lacked the sideways movement and could not relieve these issues.  I have made additions to take on these modern-day physical demands with SAMARTH NAMASKAR.”
Early this year, Dr. Kohli submitted his research report to both ICMR and the Union Ministry of Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy (AYUSH).  Vouching for the efficacy of SAMARTH NAMASKAR, Dr. Ravinder Singh, senior scientist at ICMR said, “SAMARTH is definitely more powerful  and energetic.  Its back and neck postures are helpful.  PMO was to launch it on the eve of International Yoga Day, but the plan was held back due to various reasons.  Now, at ICMR, we will do a controlled study of SAMARTH on different subjects to establish stronger evidence of its efficacy.”

94th birthday Celebration of B.K.S. Iyengar

Confirming that SAMARTH NAMASKAR has found acceptance with the Modi government, Union Ministry for AYUSH Shripad Naik, added, “The file is pending with us and a date for the launch of this “innovative routine” will be set on Sunday after the celebrations of International Yoga Day wind up.”  Director of the finance department of PMO also told Mirror, “PM will soon be launching SAMARTH NAMASKAR through AYUSH.”

Given that the research had BKS Iyengar’s backing, not many yoga experts are contesting the efficacy of SAMARTH.  “There are several SURYA NAMASKAR variations some with more than 12 poses.  SAMARTH NAMASKAR has 21, of which 10 are from the classic sun salute.  I think the additional poses, which seem to “have a beautiful flow”, will make SAMARTH NAMASKAR more intense and involving,” opined Mumbai-based  yoga guru and author Shameem Akhtar.


“SAMARTH NAMASKAR seems to have incorporated certain movements of the body that were missing in the traditional SURYA NAMASKAR like the Trikonasana, Marjariasana and the Virbhadrasana kriya.  Since, it has been developed by medical experts, it must have been done keeping in mind the musculoskeletal system.  And if there is an easy flow from one posture to another —— that is the most crucial aspect —– it should work fine,” certified Asheet Ambekar, yoga teacher who has trained under Iyengar.

———with inputs from PM Features team.

Smile, breathe deep, live long


At 97, TAO PORCHON-LYNCH is the world’s oldest yoga teacher.  Here, she talks about how she keeps a body of a 30-year-old.
She says, “In my head I’m still in my 20s.  I don’t feel my age”.  She is a French-Indian Yogi from the US, who is a Guinness World Records-certified Yoga Teacher at 97.  She takes classes every day, even after going through a hip-replacement surgery.  When she is not teaching yoga, Porchon-Lynch gets busy making “fitness videos”.  One of the oldest yoga teachers apart, she has been an actor, couture model and a producer.  In her memoir : Dancing Light : The Spiritual Side of Being Through the Eyes of a Modern Yoga Master, she says, “There is nothing you cannot do”.  The former MGM actress had studied with BKS Iyengar and K Pattabhi Jois.  Here are her lessons from living with yoga for 73 years.
(1) BEING AGELESS : “We can renew ourselves.  I look at the trees and know that even though they are thousands of years old, some of them are reborn every spring”.
(2) YOGA & INDIA : “I started yoga when I was eight years old, on the beaches of Pondicherry.  It shaped me mentally, physically and spiritually”.
(3) LESSONS LEARNT : “Don’t procrastinate.  Whatever you want to do in your life, do it today”.
(4) WAY OF LIFE :  “Don’t look at life as if it was some dreary thing.  Learn to see the wonders of nature —– and know that the wonder of nature lies within you too.  Be constantly on the move, enjoy every experience.  Don’t wake up with fear in your mind”.
(5) SECRET OF A SHARP MIND :  “Tell yourself an know that within you lies the power to do anything.  Don’t just sit there — go out and do it.  Go out and practise what you preach”.
(6) SETBACKS IN LIFE :  “They are a sign that something better is coming along.  If something didn’t work out there’s something that is even better that’s on its way.  I look for the good in everybody and everything around me”.
(7) HAPPINESS IS …… : “All sorts of things make me happy ……. seeing the birds fly or animals around me”.
(8) HEALTHY HABITS : “Eat light, eat slow.  Breathe deep.  Do shoulder stands at night.  It helps with blood circulation.  Eating fruits in the morning cleanses your system”.
** Don’t everything so seriously —- laugh at the world.
** Tune into your breath.  ** Breathing is life.
**Smile and you will send good energy out and bring good energy to you.
** Practise Yoga.