Thursday, October 24, 2019

Aedificamus: Yoga and Chimarrão: #HealthyTech30 Day Two

I think I'm going to enjoy this feature :).

At this point, in case the hashtag picks up some new viewers, and if current viewers are wondering about the hashtag, I should probably explain for people who might be curious:

- "Aedificamus" is Latin and it (somewhat) means "building through practice". Latin aficionados will probably take exception to that but it's how I'm using it, so deal ;)!!! It is a tag and post title marker that I use here on TESTHEAD any time I talk about health or fitness.

#HealthyTech30 is an initiative that Saron Yitbarek mentioned on Twitter with the net goal that tech people like me get up and do something healthy for 15 minutes, at least, and then eat or drink something healthy and share it. If that's not screaming for blog post series, I don't know what is. Even if it isn't, I thank you all for indulging me ;).

OK, let's get to the exercise portion first.

Exercise: Fightmaster Yoga on YouTube

First off, I think anyone can benefit from doing a regular Yoga practice. Second, I particularly like Lesley Fightmaster because, though she is a good instructor, she doesn't present herself as polished or perfect. She has a laugh when her cat interrupts or people stop to watch what she is doing and that is just so human, endearing, and wonderful.

For those who want to try out her approach, she has a 30 Day Yoga for Beginners course that is terrific. I did the whole thing and yes, I would recommend. I'm currently going through her Playlist of 20 Minute workouts (because there is a lot of them and I find that length to be about perfect for me).

This is the one I did today.

Note: I have this playlist set to shuffle just to make it interesting, so I never quite know what I will end up with. You are welcome to play along with me or you can start at the beginning and work through in sequential order.

Food: Yerba Mate: Chimarrão

I hadn't consumed much Yerba Mate before my daughter moved to Brazil to serve her mission. A number of her companions are from the southern part of the country (Porto Alegre area), and they turned her on to "chimarrão" which depending on where you are is a blanket term for mate or this particular style of preparation.  She, in turn, turned me on to it and it has fast become one of my favorite beverages.

This is a unique drink with some technique and ceremony behind it. It took me a while to learn how to prepare it properly in the traditional style using a "cuia" (the gourd it is served in) and a bomba (a straw with a filter at the bottom).

Cuia and bomba. Image courtesy of

For those interested, I've included some pictures and an explanation of two ways to prepare chimarrão. The first is the traditional way with a cuia and bomba, the second way is with a French press.

Disclaimer: I am not pretending I know how to do this "right", just that this is the way that was communicated to me and it seems to work effectively. Also, I'm sure the French press method will be seen as borderline heresy to some. Your mileage will certainly vary :).


For me, the traditional way is the most enjoyable because there's a set up that just looks neat and is fun to go through. First, you need a mate gourd or "cuia" that has a wide mouth and that tapers down to a more narrow neck before opening up to a larger bowl underneath. This taper is important for this preparation as I have discovered. If you have a more circular gourd, this process doesn't work quite as well.

The second item you will need is a bomba and the best way to describe this is it is a metal straw that has a strainer on the bottom to keep out larger mate leaf material. To finish the drink, you need chimarrão style mate leaf (chimarrão is a finely ground powder, I should add, though there are larger pieces of material included, at least in the kind I use).

We will also need hot water. That's it :).

First, take about half a cup of dry chimarrão and place it in the cuia. Put your hand over the end, turn the cuia upside-down and shake hard. This will compact the chimarrão mate leaf material towards the top of the cuia. This is important as the next step will help to hold it in place.

Next, take some water (about 1/3 - 1/2 a cup) and pour it into the cuia, then set it on its side, packed mate side down, so that the water will seep into the packed material. This will make a sort of "mate clay" that will hold together on the side of the cup. Take the bomba and use the wide end at the bottom to push the packed mate leaf to the side. This will make it so that the leaf stays compressed and provide a cavity so that water that you pour in later will not get "silted up" with fine ground mate leaf.

Then take hot water and pour it into the cavity. Let the cuia sit upright for a few minutes as the mate steeps. If you have done this right, you will be able to drink from the bomba and pull in the liquid mate without any of the gritty leaf material.

I love my daughter's description of the flavor of chimarrão. She says, "it's so clean and refreshing. It's like you are drinking a tree!" There is a definite leafy and earthy quality to it. Once you finish the liquid in the cup, just add more hot water. Keep refilling as often as desired. A cup's worth of packed chimarrão should last a person all day, though at some point the "pack" will start to break down and collapse back into the cuia. From experience, I will say it will take quite a while before that happens :).

French press

For those that don't want to go the traditional route (though seriously, I suggest you try it, it is so cool when you get the process down :) ), you can also use a French press the same way that it is used for preparing coffee (or similarly at least).

With a French press, the first step is to drop in about a 1/2 cup of chimarrão mate leaf. Add about a cup of hot water and stir. let sit for a couple of minutes. Add near-boiling hot water to the fill line and then give the contents anther stir. Take the top of the French press and put over the top to conserve heat. Let the mixture sit for five minutes.

Next, after letting the mate steep and settle, push the plunger on the French press and separate the leaf material from the liquid. The push-down should be fairly easy. If you feel much resistance before it reaches the bottom, wait several seconds to allow the contents to settle and push the plunger again.

If you will be pouring these into a cup to drink immediately, I suggest using a tea strainer to decant the liquid (it will stop the larger items but the really fine-grained chimarrão will pass through). From there, drink as you wish :).

I should also add that the French press method will also yield a strong enough liquid that you can keep adding hot water, stirring and repeating the pressing process all day if you wish. At some point, you will reach a maximum dilution but it will take a while, I can assure you :).

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