Harvest time is here!

The harvest - Yoga for Mental Health - how to practice yoga while harvesting and preserving food

The harvest and yoga and mental health go hand in hand. The best yoga you can do for your mental health is whatever you DO that connects your mind to your body, your spirit, and your environment.

The essence of yoga is connection.

Connection allows for relaxation, receptivity, and integration. We learn these principles from the natural world and can apply them in our practice – whatever it looks like!

Direct knowledge and experience with our food, its sources and processes are some of the most powerful ways that we connect, on a daily, sometimes hourly basis! It is one of the most reliable things that we can do to right things when them seem wrong! Nourish.

Yoga, mental health and permaculture best practices all share a core assumption that we ARE interconnected and will feel best when we realize and encourage this sense of belonging.

I’ve been steeping in the smells and feels and sounds of fall. So many of them are connected to my garden and the whole world of experience that is there. It can be a chore, it can be a delight. It is my state of mind (and my schedule) that usually makes the difference. Because I know how valuable this connection is, I keep trying to find ways to make time for growing, harvesting, and preserving food.

The harvest - Yoga for Mental Health - how to practice yoga while harvesting and preserving food

Harvest for mental health and connection!

I thought I’d share a few of my favorite ways to honor what the garden has provided. The harvest and yoga for mental health are wonderful companions!

If you don’t have your own garden (and I don’t blame you – like with any commitment it comes with all the joys and sorrows) you can support your community by grabbing some goodies at the farmers market or even just looking for local produce at the grocery store. It matters, not only for the local economy but the closer your food is to its source, the more alive and more nutritious it is!

Mindful harvesting, yoga, and processing…

Try your best to process things as soon as you can after harvesting to preserve all those nutrients (and forgive yourself when it just takes a little longer to get around to… sorry parsley… )

The harvest and yoga for mental health together give us opportunity to pay attention and to find balance.

Be mindful of your posture and avoid unnecessary tension, especially while chopping, harvesting, and eating.

Pay attention to the color, smell, texture, and taste and let all of your senses be nourished! Move slowly and mindfully through each stage in the process and pause frequently to orient yourself to where you are in the process. Avoid, when possible, the temptation to do too many things at once. Try to complete one process before beginning the next. Yes, including the dishes… 🙂

The harvest - Yoga for Mental Health - how to practice yoga while harvesting and preserving food

Herbs (dried or frozen)

  • To dry: Tie a bunch together at the stems and hang them upside down (inside a brown paper bag works well) until they’re completely dry then crumble them up with your hands or scrape/sift them over a screen and save in an airtight container. I like to put several different kinds of herbs together for a custom blend (and to save time!)
  • To freeze: Blanch fresh herbs (submerge for a couple of minutes in boiling water and then in an ice bath) and then run through a food processor with a generous amount of olive oil. Pour the mixture into ice cube trays and freeze. You’ll get yummy little herb packs ready for soup, dressing or sauce.

Harvest - Yoga for Mental Health

Greens (frozen)

  • Beet greens, kale, chard, spinach all work well…
  • Rinse, chop and blanch your greens (submerge for a couple of minutes in boiling water and then in an ice bath)
  • Lay them out to dry on a towel and then transfer to a cookie sheet and freeze
  • Transfer the frozen greens to an airtight container and keep it in the freezer
  • Grab handfuls for smoothies and soups!

The harvest - Yoga for Mental Health - how to practice yoga while harvesting and preserving food

Berries (frozen, dried or jammed)

  • Harvest ripe berries. We have currants and raspberries in our yard, and blueberries are abundant in the mountains around Anchorage.
  • To dry: use a dehydrator or the lowest setting on your oven (with the door open) to dry berries – I love them in my granola. I’ll share that recipe another time!
  • To freeze: rinse, dry on a towel, and the lay on a cookie sheet to freeze, store in an airtight container for smoothies, baking, and to add to your oatmeal.
  • To jam: Huge harvest + sweet tooth? Jam!
    • You’ll need a LOT of berries (usually about 8 cups), a package of pectin, sugar (about 1/2 as much as berries). You may also need a little lemon juice and/or butter depending on what kind of fruit you’re processing.
    • Use mason jars with new lids. It’s ok to reuse rings if they’re not damaged but always best to use new lids for preserving. You’ll also need a pot deep enough to submerge the jars for processing, tongs for handling, and a saucepan and spoon.
    • Follow the instructions provided with your pectin. (It’s not going to work if you try to reduce the amount of sugar or make other substitutions. You can buy a low sugar pectin if that’s your preference.)

The harvest - Yoga for Mental Health - how to practice yoga while harvesting and preserving food

Carrots (fermented)

1 bunch of carrots, a knob of ginger root, 1 tsp salt, 1 cup of water, a bowl for mixing, 2 jars for storing, and a towel

  • and beets too if you like… scrub them clean and then shred them. I add shredded ginger too- about 2 TBL
  • add 1 tsp salt to about 1 lb of shred and massage with your hands until juicy
  • transfer into a couple of pint-sized mason jars and press down until air bubbles are gone and veg are completely submerged
  • make a mixture of 1 c water + 1 tsp salt to add to the jars if not submerged
  • cover with a cheesecloth or t-shirt and keep in a dry, dark place
  • check periodically to see that there’s still enough liquid to cover (add from water/salt mix if not) and to see how it tastes
  • once sufficiently soured, cover, keep in the refrigerator and use scoops for salads, side dishes and snacks!

Yoga for Mental Health - harvest

Carrot top pesto

1 bunch of carrot tops, 1 clove of garlic (or more), 3 TBL olive oil, 1 TBL lemon juice, 1 tsp lemon zest, salt and pepper to taste (*optional – 1/4 cup nuts/seeds, 2-3 TBL  of hard cheese like parmesan or nutritional yeast)

  • I like to roast nuts/seeds – lay on a cookie sheet in a 350°F oven until fragrant (about 10min)
  • Rinse, chop and blanch carrot tops (submerge in boiling water for a couple of minutes, then in an ice bath)
  • Set on a towel to dry
  • Add everything to a food processor and process until it’s a chunky paste
  • Devour some immediately (with sourdough crackers is my favorite), freeze some for later

Sorry, I couldn’t stop eating long enough to get a photo of this last one! 🙂

Follow my stories on Instagram to see what I’ve been harvesting and processing on the regular: http://instagram.com/yogamargi

Check out our Resources page for other ways to practice and our Event Calendar to join me in real time!