During our classes we have been enjoying a cooling, cleansing blend of waters to stay hydrated while we practice and rehydrate after class. Try these at home to refresh your body -an oasis in a glass!
Lime-mint, lime-mint-cucumber, lemon-berry and berry-mint. Mint is naturally cooling and soothing to digestion and almost too easy to grow. Cucumber mitigates swelling from heat and late pregnancy. Of course berries are tart and full of antioxidants. Play with your own blends and tell us your favorites for health and taste!
I am sitting here inside my mostly cozy house and looking out into a sunny winter wonderland. I thought this an ideal time to remind myself and you that during these drier, colder months we need to support our natural bio rhythms and keep our systems moist so that we can maintain physical and mental balance. Take care of the body by drinking lots of water and light juices, herbal teas, and eating soups, to warm and nourish. No amount of lotion or cream can hydrate. Those do soften and smooth the cuticle but we need inner hydration even more. Try Jala Neti – using a neti pot- to keep the nasal passages moist and clean so they can better filter dust from our interior environments. And try a humidifier to moisten the air around you to keep the body and nose more comfortable.
Since the light fades earlier and the colder temperatures make us want to slow down and bundle our bodies while we are forced to maintain busy schedules and active lives, we can use meditation to maintain breath and balance. Think of five minutes of stillness and deep breathing as a retreat into your own private bear cave or cozy den. Set a timer, settle the body into a comfortable seat and observe the deepening of your breath. If your children are home for extended holidays due to extreme weather know that learning to quiet mind and body in noisy or chaotic environments may be the very best skill that parents can develop! Enjoy your practice and let me know your favorite ways to retreat!
Ok, folks, Here’s the deal. Losing weight is one of the hardest things to do. But the cold hard truth is that being disciplined is the key and that is even harder. I want to offer the world a short list of easy habits that should help with the process. Your body is God’s vessel on Earth just as your soul is His/Her agent so choose accordingly!
Step One: No eating in the car. This creates a mindless intake of calories. You cannot be aware of what you are eating while you are occupied with driving so you will eat more of whatever it is automatically. Buy a stick shift – this makes it impossible to steer and snack simultaneously! Same goes for eating in front of the TV. An equally bad idea for all the same reasons. Ok, pig out on Super Bowl Sunday or World Cup Finals if you must – but use a plate. Otherwise, drink some tea or juice and respect yourself in the morning.
Step Two: No eating out of bags or boxes. Instead make a serving in a bowl or on a small plate. You will eat much more without realizing the quantity if you snack from the package. SEEing your food is part of conscious eating and part of the stimulation of the saliva glands i.e. jump starting your digestive process which leads us to-
Step Three: Chew for crying out loud! Digestion begins in the mouth. The yogis tell us to chew each bite 32 times! I aim for 27 when I remember to do it. You will not overeat and your digestion will be hugely improved. Much of the work is done already when the nutrients hit your stomach so you will literally GET MORE OUT OF YOUR FOOD by way of absorption. Swami Rama told us to “Chew your liquids and drink your solids.” Got it? Even yogurt should be “Chewed!”
Step Four: CLOSE THE KITCHEN AT 7PM. Unless you are out for a special occasion, avoid eating after dinner and/or after 7pm. Going to bed on a “light” stomach will help you to sleep and wake up feeling more revitalized since your digestive system will be resting and not working all night. This one is especially difficult for me since I got into a granola-at-bedtime habit during pregnancy and all those years of nursing. I would wake famished at 2 am unless I ate something in the evening. Let’s try this one together for better, more effective sleeping!
Step Five: Give thanks before you eat. Besides being good for your spirit this simple act gives you a chance to pause, smell your meal, relax so you can enjoy it and gets your digestion going before your first bite (which you will eat off of a plate sitting at a table and chew 27 times before finishing by 7pm!). You are sacred, so should your food be.
I wish you vitality and an easier shedding of pounds so you can stay on the planet living healthier for longer 😉
Try this plank with knee drop to tone and strengthen your core. From all fours, move into a plank with hands splayed and fingers pressing into the mat. Press back through your heels to distribute weight more evenly between arms and legs. Without dropping your hips, lower your knees to the floor and then straighten your knees again. Exhaling as you lower the knees and inhale as you straighten. Repeat this until you feel the deep work happening in your core.
This pose is the counter-pose for, setu bandhasana, the bridge pose. In Bridge we squeeze the throat in a deep forward bend, massaging the thyroid and lengthening the neck muscles. In Fish the throat and thyroid are opened along with the chest in a nice back-bending pose.
To achieve this pose: Lie on your back with legs together and enough muscle activity to keep the knees pointing up. Place your hands, palms down, under your body with wrists together and elbows straight. On an inhalation, press your elbows down into the mat and lift your body off the floor. You can bring your head back and rest on the crown or the back- whichever is best for your neck. Hold for 5-8 breaths or half the time you held the bridge. Rest in savasana (relaxation on your back) pose before moving on.
It may take a few tries to get off the ground but the benefits of this pose are well worth the effort. Enjoy!
Bridge pose is therapeutic in several areas of the body. It is a supported back-bending pose, an extreme forward fold to lengthen the neck and massage the thyroid as well as a shoulder opener. It especially tones the back body and thighs.
Lying on your back bring your feet in close to your body. Tighten your abdominal muscles to draw the tailbone off the floor. Press your heels down into the floor and slowly peel your spine up off the floor. You’ll feel the gluteal muscles and hamstrings engaging as you lift and hold. Stay 5-8 breaths and slowly lower down letting each back bone touch the mat as you uncurl. Repeat and rest in flat on your back in savasana or other relaxation pose.
Sage’s Twist is a lovely way to unwind the spine, wring out tension, breathe in length and correct imbalances in the back. Sit on your knees, padding under you ankles if needed for comfort. Slide over to one side. Inhale to lengthen the spine, exhale and use the core and abdominal muscles to move you into the twist. Then support with one hand on your knee and the other arm like a second spine behind you. Inhale to settle into the pose and exhale the head and eyes around to continue the twist if comfortable. To deepen the twist in a healthy back try pressing the front knee away from your body as you exhale.
From all fours exhale firmly, lifting the belly up towards your spine. Draw one knee in toward your chest and then, with the lower leg relaxed, extend your leg behind you. Hold the leg out or keep moving it in and out with your breath. You should feel muscle activity in your gluteal and upper thigh. To challenge your balance, add the opposite arm, lifting it as your leg extends. This can help balance and strengthen the muscles in your back. Try 8 repetitions on each side and then rest in child’s pose.