As part of Six Petals' commitment to Pilates and Plants education, enjoy a serving of Red Clover!
Plant Ally: Red Clover (Trifolium pratense)
Parts eaten: flower, leaves, stems. Height: 6-16 in. May - September.
Red Clover is part of the Pea family, and can be found starting now and into the fall. I drink at least a quart of Red Clover infusion per week (see my recipe below), because it's been found to be helpful in preventing cancer. Look for a purple-red, rounded flower with leaflets that often show pale chevron markings. When cooked or made into an infusion, this valuable herb provides protein, trace minerals, and large amounts of phytosterols. Phytosterols are substances found in many plants that can be converted into important anti-cancer and anti-stress hormones in the body. Garnish salads with the chopped flowers or cook a handful of them them into any vegetable dish.
For a refreshing and nourishing infusion, lay the plants spaciously in a basket for two weeks to dry, then place one ounce of dried herb in a one quart mason jar and fill with boiling water. Lid tightly, steep for 4-8 hours, strain and pour over ice for a refreshing herbal iced-tea. This nutritious drink can also be enjoyed warm with honey. If you need more Red Clover than you can forage, order it organic in bulk from Frontier Herbs or Jean's Greens and enjoy a quart per week.
As always, take care to practice the ethics of foraging by not harvesting more then 10% of the plant colonies, and never harvest more than what you'll use. For safety, it's best to have an experienced forager help you positively identify all plants before you set about gathering and eating them.
Whether or not you have a desk job, it's common in our fast-paced lives to go an entire day without taking a few minutes to stretch, move and breathe consciously. The three exercises described below provide an easy and enjoyable way to incorporate Pilates, renowned for it's core-strengthening and spine lengthening capabilities, into your busy day. These moves are so subtle that you can slip them in at the office or while watching your child's soccer game.
"The Hundred" Breathing
Place your hands on your lower ribs, with the heals of your hands near the side seam of your shirt and finger tips facing forward. Breathe in and out three times, noticing your natural breath - the subtle rising of the ribs and belly on your inhale, and the gentle falling of these areas on the exhale. Now, using the placement of your hands for feedback, inhale deeply, expanding the side and back ribs even more, feeling your hands travel away from one another. This time as you exhale, add a gentle pulling in of the navel towards your spine. Keep the belly "buttoned" to your back body as you continue the lateral movement of the ribs, inhaling fully through the nose for five counts and exhaling fully through the mouth for five counts, making sure to empty your lungs completely, or as Joseph Pilates said, "... squeeze every atom of impure air from lungs until they are almost as free of air as a vacuum!" Repeat the inhale and exhale cycle 5-10 times.
Sit on a chair or bench, perched near the edge of it, both feet firmly planted on the floor with the legs glued together. Inhale to reach your left arm up by your ear, exhale to side bend to the right, keeping your left sitting bone firmly grounded. Take a deep inhale, opening the left side body, and exhale to return to center. Change arms, inhaling to reach up, and exhaling to side bend. After doing this a couple of times you can fluidly move from one side to the other, inhaling through center and exhaling on the side bend. For a super subtle version, do the exercise exactly as explained but without the lift of the arm.
"The Wall Roll Down"
Stand with your back against a wall or, if you're outdoors, a tree trunk works wonders! Place your feet about one foot in front of you and in the Pilates stance: heels together, toes apart in a small "V" shape, inner thighs hugging together. Your back should be long and tall against the wall to begin. Take a deep inhale to prepare, and as you exhale, deepen your navel in towards your spine, finding your "scoop." Drop your chin down towards your chest and begin to peel off the wall, one vertebrae at a time, feeling your breastbone hollowing into the back of your body as you allow the weight of your head and arms to lead you down towards the floor. Keep your legs straight and your low back connected to the wall as you hang over you legs, very gently shaking your head side to side. To round back up, hollow the belly in towards your back, imaging each vertebrae as a stamp, imprinting the surface behind you as you return to vertical. Repeat 3 times.
We had the pleasure of having a quick Q&A with our own resident massage and spa therapist, Chantal David:
Welcome Chantal. What kind of massage and spa services do you provide on Six Petals Retreats?
I provide relaxation massage treatments, sea salt scrubs, and detoxifying clay wraps. This summer I'll introduce the Universal Contour Wrap, hopefully in time for the Cortes Island Retreat in July! It's a HIGHLY effective compression clay wrap.
How long have you been practicing massage therapy?
I have been practicing massage and spa therapy for 11 years, since 2004.
What are the health benefits of the treatments you provide?
These types of self-care treatments provide many therapeutic benefits, allowing the body to heal itself. Massage improves circulation and brings increased oxygen to the tissues for repair. The minerals in both the clay and sea salt scrub stimulate a detoxification process as well as nourishing the skin itself.
What's your advice for someone before and after they receive a massage or spa treatment?
It is important to be well hydrated before and after any of these body treatments. This will help you achieve optimal results and support your body with the detoxification that occurs from your session.
Where are you currently based?
I'm currently based out of an incredible integrative medical clinic, North Nanaimo Medical Clinic in British Columbia, where we provide both naturopathic and medical care under one roof.
When you're not at your massage table or in the clinic, how do you like to spend your time?
In my free time I enjoy being physically active, working in my garden, preparing nutritious food, reading, learning, and cultivating healthy relationships with those I care about. :)
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