Reflections on Day One of Yoga Teacher Training

Reflections on Day One of Yoga Teacher Training (#1 TriYoga)

TriYoga is meditation. It is slow. It is breathing. It is me, finally moving at a slower pace. Finally coming into being……It’s driving me freaking nuts! Studying at home, I thought possibly I was insane, that time had stood still. I thought possibly it was just the videos. I believed that classes would somehow be…different. All of these, I guess, were possibilities; but the slowness is not just the videos and I’m not insane, at least not completely. This is slow meditative deep yoga. Here I am. I had better get with the program and slow down!



I arrived a small rural Pennsylvania town, with it’s upright and crowded buildings, and a measure of run-down-ness. I sat in the lot until enough yoga-ish women had come and entered the repurposed school building, so I was not first or last arriving, even though I got here an hour earlier.   I entered the old school house.  It looked just like the schools that I had gone to while growing up, which was comforting. Upstairs one of the converted classrooms was a nice modern day yoga studio. While, it’s always intimidating to meet a new group of people, the stranger’s were all women who greeted me like friends.

Once we got started, I was unsure if I was ‘doing it right.” I had taken this system of yoga for about 10 years with a teacher back home. Now, I wasn’t getting much correction. I didn’t know what that meant.

During the yoga practice, a part of my inner self wanted to protest: She was grumpy with direction. She was grumpy with lack of direction. She didn’t like the fact that there was a structure in the training system or the fact that there was a hierarchy. She was rebelling against anything authoritarian. Speaking of hierarchies, she started feeling bad about getting me getting second degree black belt. She/I also felt guilty teasing Eddie Sanky when I was in kindergarten. I sniffed myself. I wondered if I smelled bad like Eddy smelled. I wondered, did Eddy actually smell bad, or what wasn’t it just that his last name sounded like ‘stank’.  Is that why we called him smelly.  OMG!  It was!  How could I’ve been such a horrible child? How could I’ve been so mean? I felt just awful! I was a bully! I had not even known it.  I had probably scared poor Eddie, who was actually really pretty nice.  How horrifying! Why couldn’t I have been nicer as a child. Why did I dislike hierarchical authoritarian systems? I’m the one who signed up for them. Was I was so clearly clueless, so bad at yoga, that they weren’t even going to talk to me?  Why did I have to be so aggressive and hurried on the road?  Why couldn’t I be a better driver?  Or at least be a nicer adult? How did these behavior still show up in my life?  I think my armpits smell………

It was a long evening.

After about an hour and a half of this sort of backtalk from what I like to call “my inner roommate,” the one in my head that never shuts up, the volume went down; down all the way to mute.  I slowed down enough to pass by the room-mate, and leave her behind. I blessedly entered a meditative space.

The peace I experienced was everything I’d come for, it was what I drove eight hours for. The slowness was everything I was looking to do with my life.

Will I find this yoga is “my” system, go for certification? I’m not sure. But I do know that I’m here in PA now. I’m going to go tomorrow, and do some more breathing. That’s really all I know, and that is just fine.


by Tama Cathers, DVM, MS, BA Biology and Sociology, 2nd Degree in ToShinDo,  Threshold Choir Director, TriYoga Teacher Training Student, Sangha Yoga Teacher Trainee, Poet,  2000 miler Appalachian Trail hiker, Gardener, Herbalist.…


Photo by Igor Ovsyannykov on Unsplash


A ramble about traveling with my teen through Europe

A ramble about traveling with my teen through Europe in  July:

I really haven’t been able to  write about anything during my trip, as I’ve been too busy being a tourist. Just making sure that we get to the right places at the right time has engaged my entire being. However, I am traveling with my teenage daughter. That should engage my whole being as well. And it does.

Right now I’m sitting at the top of a 30 foot high henge (read ‘mound’) looking across the large ditch that is part of the henge. Across the ditch, under a raised stone, my daughter lies in the grass, building her own miniature Stonehenge.

It’s beautiful. The whole thing is beauty.


Not the miniature Stonehenge, that’s fairly average, but that she is putting a ton of work into it. It’s beautiful that my daughter is engaged in play and engaged in the natural world. She still picks up stones and holds them in my pockets for later use, just like when she was seven, and five, and three…

From my vantage point here on the hill, it’s amazing to look at the next generation kneeling in front of work done by generations that existed 6000 years ago. The thing that has impressed me with my visit to Stonehenge and the Roman baths and Bath, is the worldliness of people at those days and ages. In Great Britain at those sites, at those times, there were people from around the known world, including Africa, Syria and the Mediterranean

As I sit here on the hillside in the hot sun, our schedule goes out the window. Playing with rocks, building your own Stonehenge, sitting in the grass, enjoying England – all those take precedent! That’s what we’re here for. That and the tea.


But,  I was going to write about traveling with my teenager.

As we’ve traveled together, we become more of a team. She’s learned how to travel together with me – through the underground of London. She’s the boss about where we go on the under ground. Now I’ve had to learn how to be a team for car travel. Where she is the navigator. And I’m the driver who needs a lot of soothing.

I keep getting reminders that she’s becoming a complete, competent person. In many ways she already is – particularly the ones that she reminds me about..


She holds my hand when we walk through the city.

I feel so proud.  That she does this is a boon, I believe.

For both of us.


It may be the very best part of the trip!


Art and Blog by Tama Cathers





Summer is over – Not so with my Stories!

The Summer is Over – All that is left is Zucchini.

All of my travels are finished, much like our garden. All the growing is done, most of the picking and processing has happened. There is still a lot happening out there, and we are cleaning up and tying up the loose ends. The only thing left is the endless zucchini. Its season seems to keep going on and on.

Like the zucchini, I have left the stories of my summer mostly unfinished, they have not been told and packed away.

This blog is part wisdom I have gained. It is also the story of my remaking. To me it is more important that the stories are told in order, more than in season.

I have to go back in time to get forward to today. In that way, I can keep at least the story in one continuous stream. I hope you will bear with me if you are here solely for the recipes. (Sometimes they won’t even be WISE recipes! Ha!) I hope you will continue to follow me if you are here for the soul.

So, I will leave you a few recipes, which may be out of season, and a few stories. First, I believe I mentioned a poem about eating the early fruit on the vine….







Budding Squash, Onion and Rhubarb – A Midsummer Recipe

Budding Squash, Onion and Rhubarb –  A midsummer recipe


I got home from a long week of varied types of work…   I had a whole week off. Wait, no – not really: my mother was coming to visit. But that is another story.

Anyway, back to the story of getting home after a long period of working and traveling. I unpacked the car, then, feeling a bit pickish, I went to the garden to inspect the weeds. We have really nice weeds this year.


I was hankering something fresh, but not heavy. Vegetables! First stop is always the berry bushes. We have nice white raspberries. I also got to eat the first 2 blueberries of the season. With all the travel, it had been several days of low vegetable intake. I looked under the copious amounts of squash my handsome fiancé planted, and saw a few cute little babies, too small to even lay down yet. So CUTE!


So cute I wanted to eat them, blossoms and all. Isn’t that what we do – nibble up our babies cute ones. (Of course, when they are human/animals babies we just nibble their toes etc.) I have a poem for that.


So I picked 3 and wandered over to check on my nettle, saved from mowing at the other house. Then nettles live by the rhubarb. The rhubarb I have steadfastly ignored for a couple years. Then I knew.

I was going to eat squash and rhubarb.


I didn’t care. I don’t care. In the previous recipe, I felt I’d been given the green light on odd pairings, so I added some of our copious rhubarb. I think this is pretty good. It may benefit from some spice changes – but try it out.

In addition, it is good as a cold salad as well. Use less oil for a lighter finished product, and cool or chill.




½ T olive oil

½ T ghee or butter

2-3 Baby Squash with flowers still attached if possible/ per person, sliced

1/3 of a large sweet onion/person, coarsely diced

1 large stalk of rhubarb/person, thinly sliced

¼ teaspoon salt/person

to taste – cracked black pepper



My Spices for Today

1 dash curry powder

1/16 teaspoon caraway seeds




Place the onions, olive oil, and ghee in a skillet, heat on medium to medium-high, stirring occasionally, until onions start to soften or brown. Add the rhubarb, cook together stirring occasionally, until the rhubarb soften starts to slightly lose its color. Add the squash, salt, pepper, and caraway seeds or spices of your choice and cook 1-2 minutes stirring as needed. Serve warm.

The rhubarb ends up tasting like lemon, and the onion/squash and caraway go together nicely. I really enjoy the meatiness a little caraway gives this dish. Too much and it tastes too much like rye bread for my liking, but just a little is very….interesting.

I will try it again with different spices. Let me know what works for you, when you try it.

by Tama CathersIMG_4487IMG_4492IMG_4491IMG_4494IMG_4496IMG_4495IMG_4497IMG_4498


One Week into England

Eight days into our trip, what do I say?

Last night we stayed in a garden shed. A magical garden shed. Bunk beds, a sunny deck, a tree house in the little sunny orchard outside the door. Complete with a hammock.  Large gardens of bee friendly plants fill a 1/3rd of the yard, with 1/3 devoted to this little paradise, and 1/3rd to a forested area, complete with a dry composting toilet, something I’ve been wanting to see for a while!  The house in front has passive solar heat, solar panels, etc. They make their own bio-diesel, and used to raise their own food. It’s maybe an acre lot. Magical and amazing. Rather like this whole trip. I knew it would be when the falcon circled all the way around us in the hills of the Cotswold’s, on our hike.

What can I say – we are lucky that way.

My luck does not come in winning lottery, but rather in these simple very practical ways. I wouldn’t change it!

The first 8 days of the trip, I had an itinerary, with items to be seen and done. A checklist of
“To Do’s.”  Today, that ends.

While it has been amazing, I am ready to let the trip design itself from here on out. We have accommodations each night, but between the nights, it’s all open!


Traveling with my daughter has been …good.  Our only areas of conflict are generally over her reading voraciously.  Occasionally, I have to stop her to join in dinner, or to read our book on England – Sarum.  Oh, and the tempers over having left the book behind, or not having access to the next book.  Really – how can I complain?  She has been a tremendous navigator.

My joy has been to see the small things.  She packs her bag for the day efficiently and without prompting.  She builds a miniature Stonehenge in the dirt behind the rocks of Avebury. She adds herself to stories of Vikings and English history, amazing them with her knowledge of science, etc.  She learned that she loves riding horseback. We are making lists of zany English-isms, like road signs stating: Oncoming traffic occupying the middle of the Road. (Thank you – and what am I supposed to DO about this?) She is only scared of English Pubs, everything else is no problem!



Today, I learned that you can eat the giant thistle Cardoon, but you eat the stem.  I think I knew this, but today I met a Cardoon for the first time. It’s rather amazing and – intimidating!  We learned that, here in England, wheat is sprayed with a quaternary chemical to keep it short.  It looks a lot like crab grass when it is short!  We also learned that the field of odd beans we walked through was broad beans, grown for shipment overseas.  We wondered about that odd potatoe like plant with pods from the stems.

Our hostess, a wonderful gardener, identify many of the plants I recognized but couldn’t identify: the parsley like weed I had seen so often on our walks. I had thought it was a parsley, but poisonous. It is. It is hogweed. The hedges with gooseberry-like leaves and sour blueberry like fruits; sloes – I had sloe gin when I was young. Too young!  And the hawthorn berry bushes.  Wonderful information. It’s been interesting to walk through landscapes with many similar but different plants than my native home.

I had been partially identifying these items for days. My daughter and I talked about how one could do that, and the question is hard to answer.  Mostly I recognize their family, have some knowledge about poisonous cousins within families, have flipped through books on toxic plants once every couple years, in my profession. However, it is more than just the large lexicon of plant knowledge gained from books and garden experiences.   As foragers, or rather for us, forager-wanna-be’s, we develop a keen instinct and a sharp suspicion. Everywhere we go, we are identifying, comparing, then asking questions about the plants around us, confirming our suspicions, solidifying our knowledge. I admit to quite a bit of tasting, of those plants I identify as having no toxic cousins or look alikes. Sloes are very tart and astringent.  I also begin to think the plants talk to us as well. Maybe the vibrate “Don’t eat ME!” or  “Hey, I am tasty!”  We talked about the systematic ways peoples have had for identifying edible plants in a foreign environment. It is amazing to me how people have found things to eat. There are those things that ‘just’ need to be boiled twice, with water changes, and mixed with ashes, then rinsed and then are okay…. Wow! But here we are. Enough of us survived and passed on the knowledge.


I am not encouraging you to go eat plants you can’t identify. But I am encouraging us all to be curious and ask questions.


In the next few days, we hope to visit the poisonous plant garden at Ainwick Castle – we just can’t wait!!


by Tama Cathers



Check In #2 – Crash and Reboot

Check In #2 – Crash and Reboot


Well, it’s been another couple weeks. I had a pretty bad time for a couple weeks around the most recent holiday. No, it wasn’t the holiday itself. I think it was the pizza.

Yes. Pizza. I had been on the right track. The nettle tea was immediately helpful. However, I’d slacked off drinking the herbal tea. To be honest, I was mostly drinking cocoa, see previous blog for Yum! Not that it’s bad, but it’s not GOOD, like the nettle tea. I was eating well, and I started to slide, which always becomes an avalanche. I know that. Carbs lead to Sugar, leads to Coffee (my gateway drug), which leads to Latte’s…..soon I am drinking a Carmello a day…..and not sleeping.

There was pizza. And I ate the pizza. It was Mother’s Day! Then we had potatoes. Then we had hotdogs. Hotdogs aren’t even on my list as a food product, and normally I would eat without the bun – if I were forced to. However, we were running late – so I ate the hotdog and I ate the bun, then some crackers, and then ice-cream. I ran out of Walking Oatmeal for breakfast. Before I knew it I was getting latte’s on the way to work.

I stopped sleeping very well.

Well, that is no surprise!


I feel that we have to break down. It helps us define what is not working, or not working as well as we would like. Only through our failures do we learn about our successes. We learn what to fix. We re-tinker and make things work better. Where are the fragilities in the life-system I am trying to create? What are the behaviour patterns I fall into, which are not supportive? Say -why do we have so many carbs and lectins in the house?

I had already stagnated. I did not have all the pieces together. I knew one big piece I wasn’t doing. I wasn’t exercising. I was being sedentary, as per the CDC definition of >2.5 hours of moderate intensity exercise per week.

Yes, my stress had increased. Yes, yoga was nice, meditation was important. For me, however, herbs, diet, sleep….and exercise are my foundation. I was without one of my main supports. It’s hard to rebuild, while missing such an important piece.

Having started the process of actually changing my life, i.e. I’ve taken actions that will eventually pay off. I am however, still waiting for those changes to go into effect. This has actually increased my external stressors. I found myself going through periods of anger, then sadness, then calm, then…..the awful lethargy.

I started gently adding some exercise to my routine. Immediately I quit feeling cra-cray. Finding a way to change my habits, to allow myself to live healthier and more fully – that is the challenge.

Serendipitously, I later talked to a friend of mine. He is a researcher, by training and heart, and had put many of these things, and much more, into what is really a coaching program. He markets it to parents of autistic children, but it is applicable in any crash-and-burn situation. (Contact info at the bottom of the blog.)

This whole thing – It’s not Rocket Surgery, as my handsome fiancé likes to say. You know what to do – Rest, Eat a healthy diet, Exercise, Meditate, Drink some Water, Go Outside, Get some Sunshine, Be with People whom you like (Community), Sing.

You know the stuff… Me too.

We just have to do it.

That’s the only hard part.


So….. let’s go do it!


by Tama Cathers


For more information regarding my friend Chad Hinkle and his programs, contact:


For Coaching/ Autism: http://peopledecoder.com

For Marketing and Research: http://www.chadhinklemarketingresearch.com



Food Medicine, herbal medicine, Uncategorized

Red Raspberry Leaf Tea

Red Raspberry Leaf Tea

My daughter has just turned into a teen, a cycling teen-aged female, but still has the palate of a child (rather like me!). Those facts are important. We have to be able to make our herbal consumption part of regular life!

There are so many lessons to be learned as we grow, and our body has much to teach us. The transitions between childhood and adult, between listening and hearing, are hard, but vital. Listening to ourselves is a skill that takes decades to develop, and longer to hone. Listening to our bodies, listening to the little voice inside our minds. These are all really important tasks to maintain balance.

*   *   *

Tea Recipes:

Basic Red Raspberry Leaf Tea

1 tsp to 1 Tbs of loose leaf red raspberry leaf

1 cup of boiling water.

Pour boiling water over leaves and steep for 10-15 minutes. Strain the tea and drink.


To make a gallon, just 3/4 to 1 cup of Raspberry Leaf per gallon of boiling water. Leave overnight before straining for a strong tea. Refrigerates well.


For Adrenal Fatigue

4 parts Raspberry Leaf

1 parts Nettle Leaf


For Morning Sickness

Add 1 part Peppermint Leaf for help with nausea during early pregnancy.


Disclaimer: Ask your doctor before consuming any herbal supplement during pregnancy. If you experience cramping, either discontinue use or reduce your intake.


The tea does NOT taste like raspberries, but my daughter is willing to drink this. The taste is pleasant, a little like black tea, but without the caffeine. I can often convince myself for weeks to months at a time, that it is ‘tea.’ When I get bored, I mix it with green tea or toasted rices green tea, or better yet, toasted rice green tea and nettles.

By drinking Red Raspberry Leaf Tea 3 times a week I was, previously, able to totally stop all menstrual pain. It was quite amazing.

Did I do it regularly – No – But I should have! At the time it felt easier to suffer and then swallow a pill, than to make a cup of tea a couple times a week. I am hoping to teach my daughter a different way.

*   *   *

Red Raspberry Leaf is wonderful in many ways. First, it is so common and easily identifiable. In North America, most wild raspberries are red raspberries. They spring up in almost any sunny disturbed area. They grow around the edges of the soft ball fields, the parks, the cow pastures, the forest edges, etc. They are easy to identify, even without the berries. My favorite identification is eating the Red Raspberries! My second favorite way is the back of the leaf. The underside of the leaf is whitish. Blackberry bushes look similar, but the underside of the leaves are green. Umm – and they have blackberries! (Yum, yum, yum…In my mind, I am stuffing my face with little berries borne of sunshine! Black, red – who cares! Well, I do if I am making tea, but not if I am eating berries!)

In the fall the leaves blush red, instead of black, like a blackberry. There are many good websites for further identification, but I suggest you have a person who knows Red Raspberry introduce you to the plant. I think we learn best from the plants and people, and books are a far second contender, especially for identification.

For those science geeks like me: red raspberry, is Rubus idaeus – the Eurasian red raspberry.   The eastern North American black raspberry is Rubus occidentalis. Most propagated berries are combinations of the two. Common Names include Red Raspberry, Dewberry, Bramble Fruit, Thimble Berry. Like an old time thimble, these berries do not have a core in the center, that is a differentiating trait between raspberries and black berries.


Red Raspberry leaf is easy to harvest, but gloves or scissors help you avoid the small thorns. I rarely have such devices handy when I come to a rich stand of summer happy Red Raspberry, and I just make do. I usually snap the compound leaves of at the cane, as the junction is easy to snap. Dry the leaves, generally this is accomplished by hanging bundles upside down in a dry non-sunny area. I spread them to dry, in a well ventilated area. They can mold easily, so be sure to take care of them, so they do not stay moist. The oven often seems too harsh, but a few hours in a dehydrator should work well too. Next, shred them/ crumple them in a sac. Pick out the stems. Now you have Red Raspberry Leaf tea. If you decide to purchase it as a packaged tea, use 100% red raspberry leaf. Other teas may be labeled “raspberry,” but often are blends of rosehips, hibiscus, raspberry leaves, and…raspberry flavor (Gasps of Horror!) That is not what we want!


Red Raspberry leaf is loaded with vitamins: Vitamins C, E, A, B including niacin. It is also a good source of macro-minerals: magnesium, iron, potassium, phosphorus, and calcium, as well as essential trace minerals such as zinc, iron, chromium and manganese.

Plant constituents include: polyphenols; like tannins and flavonoids, like quercetin and kaempferol. Polyphenols act like antioxidants, and may help slow aging and diseases such as cancer. In addition, raspberry leaves contain phenolic acids and plant alcohols. All of these likely contribute to the effects the plant has on humans.


Red Raspberry Leaf has so many wonderful traits:

As an herb it is astringent, anti-inflammatory, diuretic, Antioxidant, Anti-Cancer, Anti-inflammatory, Emmenagogue (helps your period start). It has been historically used for antiseptic and anti-microbial properties. It has been used in Chinese herbal medicine for thousands of years (Fu-p’en-tzu = Rubus strigosus) Red Raspberry Leaf was also extensively used by Greeks, Romans, Chinese and Ayurvedic physicians.

For Reproductive health, it is good for managing menstruation, for heavy periods, for lack of periods, and for menstrual pain. I can attest to that! It increased fertility in men and women, During pregnancy, it is used to prevent or decrease morning sickness, to reduce miscarriages and to ease labor and delivery. Postpartum, raspberry’s astringency is used to help with bleeding and swelling as well as to restore tone to the uterus.

While considered a women’s herb, it is good for the whole family. Red raspberry leaf tea helps support the prostrate health, may lower unhealthy blood pressure and support control of blood sugar levels. Due to its high mineral content, it also may help reduce leg cramps, and improve sleep, for women, men, and children. For teens consider that is used to treat acne, canker sores. In children it is used to treat diarrhea, vomiting or the flu. As a whole family herb it is used for cold and fevers, sore throat, gingivitis, anemia, and adrenal fatigue. (Hence we circle around to hwy it is on my blog today!)

The tannins in raspberry leaf give it astringent properties which make it soothing both internally and externally. Made into a strong solution, raspberry leaf tea or tincture can sooth sunburn, eczema, and rashes.  Other external uses include: poultice, irrigation for sores, minor wounds, burns, and ulcers and varicose veins.

*   *   *

Controversy = Safety in Early Pregnancy

According to research there is some controversies about the safety of this herb in early pregnancy. One source says

 “Some medical and popular media make reference to raspberry leaf tea as something to avoid during pregnancy for risk of miscarriage. This notion stems from a study conducted in 1954 where fractions were isolated from Rubus sp. and applied in vitro to the uterine tissues of guinea pigs and frogs. The scientists discovered such things as one fraction acted as a spasmolytic whereas another caused uterine contractions. Herein lies the risk of isolating the parts of a whole. When used as a whole plant, neither action is exacerbated and the herb is deemed safe. If a mother is prone to miscarriages she may feel safer avoiding raspberry until the third trimester. This is an herb with centuries of safe use behind it, there is usually little cause for concern.” – Mother and Child Health, Dec 7, 2016

As always, it is important for you to do your own research. Most sites I visited discussed the theoretical safety issues, some of the women even gave it up during their first pregnancy, only to use it and become believers later. You have to use your judgment, listen to your body, and ideally, have some relationship with the herb to use it well. In everything, moderation. I want to encourage you, however, to investigate this friendly, helpful, common herb.

by Tama Cathers





http://www.gardenguides.com/127831-raspberry-leaf-identification.html and




= good identification sites


https://www.mamanatural.com/red-raspberry-leaf-tea/ – a blog like mine, with really good recipes for teas!!!


http://www.herbwisdom.com/herb-raspberry-leaf.html -Good references of studies on red raspberry leaf.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10754818 – excerpt of study on effects of RRL


1 – quote on safety

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10754818 – excerpt of study on effects of Red Raspberry Leaf tea


– Romm, Aviva. (2015).


General Info:

https://www.eastwesthealingacademy.com/herbs/raspberry/ Chinese herbal medicine properties.




Weed, Susun. (1986). Wise woman herbal for the childbearing year. Woodstock, NY: Ash Tree Publishing.

Gladstar, Rosemary. (2001).

Rosemary Gladstar’s family herbal. North Adams, MA: Storey Books.




Ask your doctor before consuming any herbal supplement during pregnancy. If you experience cramping, either discontinue use or reduce your intake.

More disclaimer:

Information offered on my websites is for educational purposes only. I make neither medical claim, nor intend to diagnose or treat medical conditions. Links to external sites are for informational purposes only. I do not necessarily endorses them nor am in any way responsible for their content. Readers must do their own research concerning the safety and usage of any herbs or supplements.