- By Caitlyn Borowsky, Student & Karma Yogi
What have we been up to so far this Spring at Niwas?
Planting, dreaming and preparing Annapourna Garden.
We began this season with planting onion seeds in mid-February followed a few weeks later with a variety of flowers. So far, we are grateful to be nurturing four types of onions, three varieties of lavender, viola, lupins, ornamental oregano, two varieties of snap dragons, portulaca, asters, chilli peppers, and petunias. On the Piscean New Moon we sowed the seeds of basil and tomatoes, which will become delicious Niwas tomato sauce in the last weeks of Summer.
In addition to planting and tending to the seedlings, we are thoughtfully setting the garden and ourselves up for success for the growing season. We are not only tending to the Land in anticipation, we are also tidying up our own actions and energies to make space for the manifestation of abundance and beauty, so we may spend this next cycle offering from a place of simplicity and full-hearted love.
We are preparing the garden beds to hold and nurture new life by clearing the remnants of last year’s crops and using those remnants to feed the compost which will cycle back to the Earth. Currently, 'Niwas feels much like a space of transformation, regeneration and preparation. Personally, I am am feeling Spring’s frequency of optimism and opportunity, especially as I walk through Annapourna Garden, hearing and dreaming of the possibilities that are on the horizon.
The Awakening of Possibility and Opportunity
Although nothing truly dies in Nature, Spring does bring about a tangible experience of vitality and life compared to the quietude of Winter, where activity is slower and beneath the surface. We see new life emerging everywhere, from the fresh tips on the fir trees, geese making their way back home, and all of the onion and lavender seedlings thriving towards the Sun. We hear the various melodies of birdsong among the treetops where silence once hung, and we smell the aroma of pine sap beginning to ooze to the surface of their bark. The potentiality of this new growth would not be possible without the offering of what has come before.
At 'Niwas this regeneration is witnessed most tangibly via…compost! Last years' pea shoots, buckwheat stems and oat straw have been broken down and mixed with a generous amount of cow dung all winter to become a vibrant heap of nutrients for this years crops. This regenerative re-cycling shows us the opportunity of letting go of what has served its purpose and to utilize the breakdown of this ‘death’ to fuel what is to come, what is to be birthed and brought to life.
Today, in Annapourna Garden there is a sacred sense of vacancy and as I walk along the dormant strawberries and hibernating garlic, the crunch of fallen pinecones and the last remnants of snow beneath dirt covered boots treading where bare feet will soon dance again awakens a sense of joy and optimism within me. At first glance, the garden plots may appear bare and empty but if we take a moment to truly listen, we can sense the vast possibilities that await. Those rows of bare dirt and rotten leaves will soon be transformed into an environment bustling and blooming with calendula, cabbage, tomatoes, honeybees, pumpkin, foxgloves, lupins, chili peppers, and bushes heavy with raspberries and groundcherries. This is what I think of when I imagine explaining what 'Niwas feels like. A home for opportunity and growth and abundance for all living beings, not only reserved for Yogis but also for the insects, the dark eyed juncos and crows, chipmunks, goats and the plants themselves.
The medicine of Oregon Grape teaches us to stand in our own power, and not rely on our environment or others to bring us happiness. This is especially poignant in the month of February when society tells us that, on Valentine’s Day, we must seek happiness and love outside of ourselves.
The root of Oregon Grape, taken as a tincture or tea, can help with digestion, and can balance many issues that cause stomach and GI upset. The flowers and berries are edible, but should be consumed sparingly.
Immense gratitude to all of the plant wisdom found throughout Ktunaxa Ɂamakis wherein Ishtadev Niwas Ashram and Farm is so blessed to find itself.
“Uva-ursi” is Kinnickkinnick’s Latin name, which directly translates into “Bear Grape" or "Grape of the Bear”. Potent medicine for January, as we ourselves sit in Winter's grape/egg-like tamasic state of inertia, or unrealized potential and hibernation, dreaming of Spring and new growth into being.
Kinnickinnick likes sunny, dry slopes, sandy & rocky soils, riverbanks, and is ground-cover in coniferous forests. The thick, evergreen leaves of bearberry can be gathered early spring through late autumn. In the winter, if needed, they can be harvested from under the snow. When harvesting, give thanks and be mindful to take only what you need.
In terms of medicinal uses, Kinnickinnick's are manifold. The leaves can be made into a tincture and are predominantly used as a urinary antiseptic for urinary tract infections. The leaves' anti-microbial actions help to kill bacteria in the urine. The leaves are infused by steeping them in water just above the boiling point to make a tea and then is drunk as a tonic. This infusion could also be used as a mouthwash for canker sores or weak gums.
It has also been made into a decoction by boiling the plant material in water, and then drunk for colds and Tuberculosis. This decoction could also be used as a wash for broken bones. Moreover, decoction of Kinnikinnick has also commonly been used as an eye medicine for sore eyes.
There are many ways that the Kinnickkinnick is/was used by First Nations, from dried leaves smoked as a part of a ceremonial smoking mix in Indigenous pipe ceremonies, to the leaves being chewed on to suppress thirst. In daily living, Kinnikinnick fruit berries were also mashed to create a sealant on baskets.
Living Yoga Blog
Learn to LIVE YOGA! Welcome to our collective blog with Ashram life and traditional Yoga articles, musings and recipes for living Yoga every day.