Workout #W #AtoZChallenge

It’s a beautiful feeling. To get out of your comfort zone, experience something new, feel hurt as you figure it out, recover from it, and go back to where you began.

Fitness blogs, fitness posts, insta videos are all a thing these days. It has become a digital swag. But there is more to these than just the swag factor that meets the eye. As part of W in this challenge, I am going to write about “Workout”. Fitness should never be underestimated. I used to be a give-up person. Flexing yourself despite all of that pain, dint make sense to me. I mean, why should you suffer, really! All of this was happening until I realized what came after pain.

As a result of consistent, sincere efforts, you develop endurance. Your body starts to enjoy the regime and sets itself into a rhythm. Workout is the music of your muscles. Now, what had dramatically happened to change my view to get back at it? It was the whole process! It also emphasizes the importance of a Guru. I joined a yoga class a few years back and the instructor was amazing.

Apart from encouraging us to push our limits(read limitations), she would voice-out for our body. To explain this in simple words, for every asana or movement we did, she’d count in the beginning and let us continue the count for ourselves. She’d fill this gap with lots of information about the benefits of doing that particular exercise. In our minds, we’d be enduring so hard to get it right, and stay oblivious of the pain, and right in the middle of the climax of this stretch, the veins would thank us, in her voice. She’d explain how the lazy muscles get enthralled and oblige to keep us strong and healthy, lest we showed our due diligence and perseverance.

It used to create a lot of pressure in the beginning. But all of the endurance paid off! In real, it was eye-opening. It’s all within us, until we choose to see and understand them, and put them to much-needed work! Watching pregnant women, just delivered (also include complicated birth surgeries and conditions) mommies, and accident victims stretch at ease, gives me immense positivity, apart from the respect I have for such spirited people. And the best part of it all, is the process of healing.

You’d just heard your body begging you for rest, and attention. Listen to it. Give it what it asks for. But be a responsible owner, and gear up the next day for your workout, yet again! Growing pain will gradually subside and with every workout, you will start to feel fresher and stronger. They key lies in challenging yourself better than yesterday. Once you get a hang of this cycle, you will start to appreciate the healing process. And why am I writing all of this? Because writing is the workout I give my mind.

It’s a beautiful feeling. To get out of your comfort zone, experience something new, feel hurt as you figure it out, recover from it, and go back to where you began.


This post is 23/26 of AtoZChallenge

Naarthangaai #AtoZChallenge #N

Out of the 26 options available in the English language, at least one ought to be a food post right? This is the one. Did you ever experience a food coma after some cheesy oily pizza and pasta? All you parent mommies out there, I am sure you would have had morning sickness during your first trimester (at least). Did you feel the need to have something that would give you instant relief from your gastric and bloating? Travel bugs, senior citizens, pregnant women, indigestion cramps, who else and what not? There is an angel out there who answers everyone’s calls and that’s Naarthangaai aka the citron. It is a mandatory item in South Indian shelves, and is considered a dead lift agent in every household.

The aroma is medicinal and inviting. It looks and tastes very similar to lemon, but the citron has a unique flavor that works on call for all of the troubles thrown by the stomach. Greenish skin that peels off in ease, dry epidermis, and a juicy interior flaunts its flavor upon cutting it open, citron is our dear mitron (if you do not know the significance of this word mitron, I urge you to – Mitron ). Yes Citron is a favorite friend. Ironically, we don’t want to hang around Citron all that often because Citron’s continued demand means there is an ongoing trouble in the system. Now that we have an idea about it, let us look at some lip smacking citron recipes.

Naarthangai saadham [Citron Rice]

Very similar to the traditional lemon rice, wash and rinse the rice pellets before pressure cooking. Upon release, temper the rice with mustard seeds, lentils, curry leaves, Asian Indian green chili, hing powder, turmeric and salt. Once the rice cools to lukewarm, squeeze the citron cuts on the rice and mix it to homogeneity. Those who have tasted this recipe should have already conquered the mild citron sweetness in addition to a lemon rice’s sour that haunts them right now.

Uppu Naarthangai [Salted Citron]

This is a go to snack for the in-digested souls. Yes. You read it right. Upset stomachs can afford snacks? Remember citron is our mitron, so the answer is an undisputed yes. The beauty of this recipe is its simplicity. Citron balls are cut to pieces, and sun-dried after adding turmeric and salt to the juicy flesh. That’s about it. No oil, no tempering, flavoring or detailing. All the flavors get imbibed in its tissues, on exposure to sunlight. It is dried to an arid outer skin and is believed to stay edible for several years when it is maintained cold. Ceramic pots are known to be the signature citron containers in traditional households. Be sure to always have a back up at home. It can cure diarrhea and constipation alike. Pregnant keep smelling this magic ingredient to relieve themselves of the morning sickness. With yogurt rice, this is typically a go to medicine without side effects.

Naarthangai Oorugai [Citron pickle]

Now this is a luxurious version of the previous recipe. There is room for some glamor in the name of gingelly oil and spices. With glamor, comes a price and that is the preparation. Fenugreek and hing are dry roasted and powdered to finesse. Aroma is waiting to be added. Meanwhile, salt and spice blinks at the citron from inside the jars. So take them both and grind them to fine powder [dry red chilli and sea salt]. Mix the aroma and the spices together and set the stage for some absorption. Similar to the previous recipe, cut the citron to pieces, and add the prepared powder. Make sure to mix them well for an unbiased mixture. Warm the gingelly oil to mild heat, and pour it over the flavored citron. Of course watch the delightful seeping of the hot oil into the crevices and cracks of the citron forest. Allow it to settle down for 3-4 days, or more if you like it well immersed in the bath. Some people add more heated oil just as a preference. More oil preserves it longer. Relish the pickle with snow-white yogurt rice or piping hot plain rice. Citron redefines heaven.

Naarthangaai Pachadi [Citron side]

There are two variations to this dish. A spicy and a sweet version. In the spicy version, tamarind water bath filled with citron pieces, is brought to boil on the stove. The full becomes half, by thickening of the tamarind pool, and injecting the flavors into the citron flesh. Oil tempered mustard seeds, urad dal, curry leaves, and hing are added to the reduced mixture and salted to taste. For the sweet version, jaggery could be dissolved in the tamarind bath and brought to boil. Without jaggery, the sour n spicy version tricks the taste buds into eating until the finish line. A perfect side to any bland main, a healthy option not to be missed.

A husband’s sister is a naathanaar to his lady. As a gesture to honor sister-in-laws’ relationship, this name, similar to naarthangai, is a metaphorical reference to a medicine like bond that needs to preserved and savored eternally. Apparently, Google requested a dessert’s name for Android last OS, and naarthangai was a favorite among the Asian Indian options. A bunch of other interesting recipes and memories can be savored, for citron is always a mitron.


This post is 14/26 of AtoZChallenge.

Unearthing menstrual wisdom – Why we don’t go to the temple, and other practices

Mythri Speaks

On the second year of the world menstrual hygiene day on May 28th, I write this blog. I write it as I read articles, posters and materials dismissing cultural practices around menstruation, calling them Menstrual Taboos. I write it as I read about organizations deciding for Indian women based on what they think is superstitious beliefs which need to be uprooted. I write, for all the women across India, who follow menstrual rituals and have asked me what these practices signify. I write for the men who have never known what to make of menstrual practices – to support them or to dismiss it. I write because I feel responsible for reviving what has been lost. I write with the learning and the realization that none of these practices were originally meant to suppress women.

Over the last one year, my team has traveled to 8 States across India to…

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Tea Tree Oil

You wouldn’t be blamed if you assumed this to come from the beverage’s plant. But that is not true. This essential oil’s aroma is nowhere close to the beverage. Rather, it is staunchly toxic. It is close to camphor’s odor and the color is close to pale yellow/clear. This oil is isolated from the leaves of the tree melaleuca alternifolia. Claimed to be a native of southeast Queensland, it is considered ideal for external uses.

Counter intuitive to the name and the unrelated common belief, tea tree oil is an excellent skin toning agent. Tea tree can heal sunburns and add smoothness to the skin. In mathematical terminology, it is an eliminator. In life, it is not only important to be positive, but also necessary to negate the evil. Tea tree is a negating agent. Once you get rid of the allergens and their side effects, the skin is fresh and fine. Tea tree oil is known to cure a lot of skin issues such as acne, irritation, insect bites, infections, and rashes.

Apartment from the dermal benefits, it is known to be a cleanser. It is an all-purpose cleaner that keeps the pets fleas away. It is an extraordinary atmospheric cleanser. In combination with rosemary oil, tea tree oil can treat foot odor and eliminates toe nail fungus. It is brilliant how this essential oil is still consumed by common people for a range of skin diseases.

There are over 100 components in tea tree oil, but it is mostly made up of terpene hydrocarbons: monoterpenes, sesquiterpenes and their alcohols. Light, heat, exposure to air and moisture can affect TTO’s stability, so make sure to place it in an airtight container and store it in a dark, cool and dry place. This oil could make a perfect laundry detergent and insect repellent. Steam inhalation of tea tree oil is helpful in alleviating chest pain and head congestion.

To be honest, the patent should go to the natural aborigines of the east coast of Australia.Tea tree is a classic example of a precious find that they left behind. Our yesteryear generations, did have a knack of figuring out everything organic and natural. We as the torchbearers of humankind, should ideally take the entire good forward, and discover and preserve better. I am not really sure about the latter, unfortunately. We, as a generation, race and species are bent towards setting trends, glamorizing the tiniest of things, in comparison to embracing simpler and safe lifestyle.

I mean I am not a nihilist. It is definitely okay to dress up and make up for an occasion; but it is important to be wise to understand that it is only skin deep and does not last long. Until we get over the realm of this enigma surrounding fashion, trend and glamor, and begin to look at things for their DNA and the essence, we will not only lose what we deserve, but also compromise on our rich, diverse and glorious past.

Again here, I don’t dwell in the past. But I do love the forethought they possessed. Irrespective of the times and the people, I think it is a complimentary attribute to appreciate the good in all. Our ancestors never saw the need to patent things, for they always believed that everything belonged to this world. Well, I think they indeed owned this world by the virtue of their thoughts and actions. It is now in our hands.

Disclaimer – Usage for different applications might demand specific mixture and composition with specific compounds that may not have been discussed in this blog. All of the above information has not been evaluated by the food and Drug Administration or any other qualifying entity. All of the content above is from various sources on the web. The medicines and the recipes discussed, are proven to be effective based on the experiences and other blogs on the internet. Not all of these have been personally tried and tested by me. I am no expert in this oil’s usage. Good luck trying!

This post has been written in collaboration with the IndianSuperHeroes. They have these oils purely extracted from the herbs. You can find them in their store right here.

Citriodorum oil

I fail to understand. My vision is blurred. Nausea peaks. The voices around reverberate in my head. I feel like putting off all the surrounding lights. The throbbing and the hammering seem to progress exponentially. If I attempt to swing my head to the mellifluous music, I am consumed by fear. No. Dread. I dread my head. And dread the pandemonium that deafened my mind. The white silence inside my head was too loud. The loud music outside my head silenced the hall. The combination of extreme music and endless silence pounded my being. I can’t hold up anymore. I will need to leave right away or I might throw up and black out. If there is one demon that I am vulnerable to, it is definitely the migraine attack. I acknowledged the well thought saying, to each their own – from fever and headache, to love and life.

Am I hallucinating? Or am I thinking straight? I have read on google results about hallucination as aside effect of migraine. I am probably hallucinating. The music did not have me anymore. I started to walk towards the flashing red exit sign in the aisle’s darkness. I do not quite like the black and red combination right now. My! How much longer would this last? When will I reach the end of this? The walkway. Ouch the pink jeweled dress of that kid reflects in the row seat lighting, and I just can’t begin to explain how annoying that sight is, to my eyes, my mind and my migraine. My migraine. Yes. Why do I own it? Don’t I only have it? I am just beginning to. But I am definitely hallucinating!

The music from the dais is fading more and more and I hear it less and less. Ah the exit is here! Now what are these booths? Oh man, I am not in the slightest mood to meet or hangout with anyone. Please and please spare me. Tada… here arrives my friend. As we exchange pleasantries, I am dragged to the sponsor booths lined up at the hall reception. I try to plead sick but I am not heard well right now. I am told there is this ayurvedic booth that has ‘interesting’ stuff. Seriously? Now? The booth did not have pompous banners or ads. It seemed very simple and to the point.  As we went closer, the smell of medicine seemed intriguing. My friend started asking for Citriodorum oil. I had no clue of this joke. My head is screaming in pain. I am longing for a headache balm and a sound sleep. Should I really put up with all this? Here interrupts the stall person; and begins explaining about this “essential oil”.

Eucalyptus citriodorum, a genus of the plant family of Myrtaceae has a history of wide applications. The essential oil of the lemon-scented gum mainly consists of citronellal (80 percent), produced mostly in Brazil and China. The refined oil’s citronellal is converted into cis- and trans-isomers of PMD, a process that naturally occurs as the leaves of the plant age. Pure PMD is synthesized for commercial production from synthetic citronellal.

It is considered effective for body aches and sores. A drop of this oil in warm to hot bath water is known to relieve sprains and muscle spasms as a result of routine fitness or physical activities. It is used in preventing mosquito and deer tick bites. It can be used to get tar off of clothing. As the voice kept going on, my friend interrupted to cut out and asked if it could help migraine. I was taken aback by a bit of a surprise. I never confessed about migraine. Yet. Well, good. I thought to myself and lifted up my head to listen intently. A drop or two of eucalyptus citriodorum oil in combination with a headache balm in boiling hot water pot gives soothing aroma. Do not let the vapors escape. Rather inhale and go through one round of steaming. And I promise your friend will feel a lot better. We looked at each other and exchanged the exact same question. So would it be possible for you to give us a demo? Uttered my friend. Definitely. The stall keeper blurted in response. I have never been a fan of experimenting with health. Especially such stalls. Humph. I have to try some medicine now. I was confident of the fact that nothing could worsen my headache since it has already peaked. So this should not hurt much.

I was taken behind a green screen where water was boiled and the solution was being prepared. All I remember about the next ten minutes was pristine inhaling of the medicinal oil. At the end of the mild treatment, my face was perspiring with the vapor. I felt a sense of relief. My migraine seemed less pronounced.  I was still feeling weak but at least the pain had mitigated. I smiled for the first time in the last hour. My friend re-assuredly smiled and showed me the ride back home. As I took the ride, I rested my temple on the car door. The breeze calmed my senses and I slept in exhaustion. As soon as I got home, I took the bottle I had bought at the booth and prepared the solution. I need one more round of the medicine. For once, I did not feel averse taking a medicine. Instead, I was looking forward to it. That’s the power of nature. As we move closer to nature and natural products, betterment of health is a reinforcing side effect that we most definitely enjoy. I knew what I needed to do after my next sleep. I woke up. Grabbed my phone and called up my friend; and expressed my thanks for letting me try this organic essential oil. Don’t mention. You do not need to thank me.

Disclaimer – Usage for different applications might demand specific mixture and composition with specific compounds that may not have been discussed in this blog. All of the above information has not been evaluated by the food and Drug Administration or any other qualifying entity. All of the content above is from various sources on the web. The medicines and the recipes discussed, are proven to be effective based on the experiences and other blogs on the internet. Not all of these have been personally tried and tested by me. I am no expert in this oil’s usage. Good luck trying!

This post has been written in collaboration with the IndianSuperHeroes. They have these oils purely extracted from the herbs. You can find them in their store right here.

Citronella oil

A close relative of the highly citrus lemongrass oil, citronella was extensively found in tropical East Asia. It has deliberately cultivated and grown in many areas for the extraction of the aromatic oil. Citrus oils are my top favorite for their zesty lemon flavor and the aroma. I guess that’s what you get from a plant that chases sunlight no matter how you plant it. Now having learnt about sharing the roots with lemongrass, how different is this from the lemongrass oil? This essential oil is obtained from the leaves and stems of different species of Cymbopogon genus plant family.

It is extracted through steam distillation of Cymbopogon nardus (Jowitt), the Ceylon type and Cymbopogon winterianus (Rendal), the Java type. C.nardus a native product of Sri Lanka, has a woody scent with pale to dark yellow color; While the C.winterianus has a fresh lemon scent and is considered a superior quality, among the two. It is considered mildly or not toxic, and thus used as an insect repellent. This makes Citronella oil, a fond household as well.

Being so close to lemongrass, citronella is so different and unique in comparison to its cousin. This amuses me looking at the various benefits Citronella can provide us with; only if we know how to use it. So I decided to research up a little about Citronella and this is what I found! The difference in geraniol percentage is what marks the difference between the Ceylon and Java type of C oil. The underlying advantage of Citronella is the natural detoxifying and anti-inflammatory characteristics.

It is a top-notch aroma-therapy agent that is known to relieve stress and pain in arthritis. It is widely used in fragrances, soaps, household cleaners and detergents. Combined with coconut oil, it is used to massage the swollen joints, tissues and muscles.

Citronella oil can act as a digestive aid. It helps in detoxification and cleansing of the liver, stomach and gut. It is considered a potential medicine for infections of the colon, urethra, bladder, gastrointestinal tract, prostate and kidneys.

Being a natural diuretic agent (helping urination) and diaphoretic (inducing perspiration), it helps in several ways of letting the toxins out of the body. In combination with honey and lemon with hot water, citronella oil can improve elimination of excess fat in the body.

In food and beverages, citronella oil is added as a flavoring agent since it is considered safe for ingestion, in mild percentages. There are not specific dishes or cuisines that specialize using Citronella oil, in my knowledge and research.

In skin care, it is known to heal dermatitis, eczema, aging skin, bug bite scars and fungal infections. The citrus flavor enhances smooth and soft facial skin, and it is a reliable agent for dry skin. Also it blocks damage from sun exposure. Dryness and warts and acne boils caused due to dryness and infection could be cleanly removed by using Citronella oil.

Overall, it is the mildness and the effectiveness of the citrus flavor of this essential oil that is a clean chit lure for all organic lovers out there. Don’t miss this zesty classic!

DisclaimerUsage for different applications might demand specific mixture and composition with specific compounds that may not have been discussed in this blog. All of the above information has not been evaluated by the food and Drug Administration or any other qualifying entity. All of the content above is from various sources on the web. The medicines and the recipes discussed, are proven to be effective based on the experiences and other blogs on the internet. Not all of these have been personally tried and tested by me. I am no expert in this oil’s usage. Good luck trying!

This post has been written in collaboration with the IndianSuperHeroes. They have these oils purely extracted from the herbs. You can find them in their store right here.

Camphor oil

It was a lazy Saturday morning as I rolled in the bed. The job-lag (similar to the jet-lag) from the Monday to Friday routine does not understand the demands from laziness. The body clock refuses to go dormant on Saturdays and wakes me up sooner than I wish. Sundays are a consolation as I prove to my body that it is indeed okay to sleep in a bit longer. The turmoil would go on until I regret this on Monday mornings when the weekend seems to have wrapped up too soon. The body clock betrays puts up a strike on Monday mornings and I sleep in, rushing to work in frenzy and haste. Why dint I just wake up naturally on Saturday?

As I reluctantly got out of my bed, the homely soot choked my already dry throat and mouth. I forced opened my half closed eyes as I rubbed them to clear my line of sight. Thanks to the ringing bells from the prayer room. They totally aided the waking up process. It was not too long when my dad came out of the room and my escapade was condescendingly acknowledged. I quickly disappeared out of his zone and gave a disciplined entry after a shower. I was offered the incense from the lamp holder. It is a common practice to inhale those flames as part of our prayers. And the reason I’m told, is that the acidic aroma of camphor kills germs and insects apart from destroying the microbes in the air.

Unlike most other essential oils, camphor is not a herb. It is a waxy,  flammable, solid, organic, white colored substance with a strong aroma. It is a terpenoid with the chemical formula C10H16O. It is found in the woods of the karpur tree originally found in Asian countries. The word camphor comes from the original Sanskrit word ‘karpuram’ which was well-known in ancient India during the Vedic period. The naphtha balls and the moth balls are derivatives of the toxic camphor and are still used in houses as preserving agents. Camphor oil is extracted from the leaves as well apart from the woods and is steam distilled for production. Camphor plant belongs to ‘Lauraceae’ family under Botanical name ‘Cinnamomum Camphora.’

Camphor oil is an important component in ointments and balms that are known to relieve viral infections such as common cold, and sinus headaches. Its toxicity repels tiniest of insects. Moth and naphtha balls could protect old and new clothes for years, when packed tight in a suitcase. It can act as an anesthetic since the incense of camphor could block the sensory nerves in the skin.

Due to its toxicity, warning has been issued not to use this oil for aromatherapy. It can be used for external vapor therapy nevertheless. However, in combination with few other essential oils, it could be used in aromatherapy. This kind of vapor therapy relieves respiratory problems. The anesthetic benefits of the camphor essential oil can be extended to use it as a narcotic to take advantage of its de-sensitizing characteristic.

Camphor essential oil is known to strengthen hair roots, boost hair growth, kill lice and bugs and fight hair loss. The obvious catch here is the tolerance to the toxicity and the strong smell of the oil, mocked my aunt as I inhaled the mild smoke from the lamp holder. As I walked away after my prayer session, the incense and the flames, cleansed all over the place, outside, and on the inside. I remember taking one last deep breath before I set out to start my day.

 Disclaimer – Usage for different applications might demand specific mixture and composition with specific compounds that may not have been discussed in this blog. All of the above information has not been evaluated by the food and Drug Administration or any other qualifying entity. All of the content above is from various sources on the web. The medicines and the recipes discussed, are proven to be effective based on the experiences and other blogs on the internet. Not all of these have been personally tried and tested by me. I am no expert in this oil’s usage. Good luck trying!

This post has been written in collaboration with the IndianSuperHeroes. They have these oils purely extracted from the herbs. You can find them in their store right here.