Tag Archives: health

Santosha and the Attitude of Gratitude

With Thanksgiving in the US coming upon us, we start to plan out our holiday celebrations: who are we inviting to the big Turkey dinner, what stuffing am I going to make, what’s the menu, etc. More importantly, however, we start to reflect on what we are grateful for; which after all is what this holiday is all about.

There is a concept in yoga called “Santosha” which is part of the “Yamas and Niyamas”, which I often describe as the Ten Commandments of Yoga; they are basically yogic codes to live by. Santosha is Sanskrit for “contentment” and/or “satisfaction”, but we often look at Santosha as “gratitude”. Santosha is all about finding contentment and gratitude for who you are and what you have in the present moment. I often weave “Santosha” into my yoga classes as a theme and encourage students to find their best expression of a challenging posture, then I ask them to find contentment with whatever layer they get to in that posture without harsh judgement of themselves or lusting after a deeper expression; I ask them to find gratitude for where their bodies are at and be grateful that they have bodies healthy and strong enough to be in a 100̊F room attempting such a challenging practice. Basically, it’s about adopting the Attitude of Gratitude as you move throughout your day with whatever life throws at you.

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Seasonal Eating

Have you ever heard this concept of “seasonal eating” mentioned and wondered what it’s all about? Have you ever heard a health coach talk about the importance of eating seasonally for a balanced diet and overall health or been to a restaurant that boasts a seasonal, local menu and been curious about what the point is? Well, in recent years I have done some research on seasonal eating; enough to know that eating seasonally is something we should all strive to practice a bit more than we currently do. Now, I am by no means an expert on eating seasonally, I’m really just an explorer on the subject, but I know enough to give you a brief background on the idea of seasonal eating and provide you with a direction of how to eat more seasonally.

The most basic definition of seasonal eating refers to eating fruits and vegetables at their peak time of harvest for the best level of freshness, flavor and nutritional benefits. Ayurveda, the sister science to yoga that focuses on the importance of balanced and seasonal eating, tells us that we should eat the fruits and vegetables that naturally come into harvest in each season. Why? The belief, and there is evidence to back this all up, is that the Earth provides us with the produce that our bodies need to be most sustained in each season.

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REI Inspires Change and Balance this Holiday Season

On Wednesday October 28th, national outdoor and sporting goods store, REI, announced that they would go against the grain this upcoming Black Friday by closing its stores across the country. Instead of opening early with major door busting sales like most retail stores do on Black Friday these days, they are encouraging Americans to #OptOutside on this day which normally marks the beginning of the crazed-holiday-shopping season. They are promoting friends and family to stay out of the stores and instead be outdoors; or at least spending more time with family and friends instead of mowing strangers down with shopping carts for the chance to save $20 on low-quality clothing and toys that have been imported from China for our consumerist enjoyment.

When I heard this news, I literally exclaimed aloud in triumph. A move like this from a major and well respected company is long overdue. In this past decade, I have been consistently saddened by the greedy fiasco that Black Friday has become in this country. First of all, the concept of Black Friday is twisted and morphed to begin with: immediately after we express our gratitude for the blessings in our lives on Thanksgiving, we rush out to the stores to buy and consume more and more goods, most of it that we don’t need, and are willing to be rude and even violent to others in order to do it? I mean, really people? There have been “Black Friday Deaths” where shoppers have been trampled by other shoppers in their rush to find their savings; there was even a shooting at a TOYS R’ US one year when two shoppers were fighting over the last toy that was apparently a hot commodity that year. Are you kidding me? This is the country and culture we’ve become?

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Build, Hold, and Flow Yoga Class

The pace of our lives constantly changes; in one season of your life you are moving quickly as you flow from day to day, and then suddenly you find yourself frozen in a position that you may or may not enjoy. The truth is that we cannot always control the pace of our lives; at times it will be too fast, at times too slow giving you a sensation of being stuck, and at other times it will be just right. No matter what, we must learn to adapt, we must learn to be able to go with the flow as well as be able to remain still with a sense of peace.

To reflect this, I have a yoga sequence that I teach in my advanced power vinyasa classes when I feel like myself and those around me might need to practice stillness contrasted by flow and vice versa. I call it my Build, Hold, and Flow Yoga Class.

In this challenging class, we build the main section – the Sun B – one posture at time: one posture for 5-8 breaths, then a chaturanga, then the first posture again for 1 breath, then we add another posture and hold for 5-8 breaths again really highlighting the new posture, and so on and so on. In this way, we must pause in each posture that we add and hold still for a challenging amount of time. I encourage the students to find their best expression of the posture and then focus on their breath and just be okay holding still with where they are at in their practice. Finally, we flow the entire Sun B to contrast the slow build of the sequence. The strength series later on in class is also slowly built, but constantly moving forward with little to no breaks. Overall, the class alternates from very slow to quick flow and mirrors the paces we experience and different times in our own lives.

This sequence has helped me when struggling to adapt to the changes in pace of my own life and my students seem to like it too, plus it is a killer work out! I hope you enjoy my Build, Hold, and Flow Yoga Class!

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Build, Hold, and Flow Yoga Class

*Start with Right Side first always

*Practice at your own risk

Integration:

  • Child’s Pose – Balasana – (several breaths)
  • Table Top – Inhale- (1 breath)
  • Cat & Cow Flow – Inhale for Cow and Exhale for Cat -(3 rounds of breath)
  • Down Dog – Adho Muka Svanasana -Exhale – (hold for several breaths, walk out your dog, etc.)
  • Rag Doll – Exhale – (3-5 breaths)
  • Roll up to standing – Inhale
  • Equal on All Sides Pose – Samastitahi – (3-5 breaths, set intention here)

Sun A:

  • Mountain Pose – Tadasana – Inhale – (several breaths)
  • Quarter Moon Right then Left – Exhale – (1 breath each side)
  • Mountain Pose – Tadasana – Inhale – (1 breath)
  • Back Bend – Exhale – (1 breath)
  • Mountain Pose – Tadasana – Inhale (1 breath)
  • Forward Fold – Uttanasana –Exhale – (1 breath)
  • Halfway Lift – Ardha Uttanasana – Inhale – (1 breath)
  • Squat and Curl – Exhale (1 breath)
  • Repeat Twice more flowing breath to movement

Sun B:

  • Chair Pose – Utkatasna – Inhale – (3-5 breaths)
  • Forward Fold – Uttanasana – Exhale – (1 breath)
  • Halfway Lift – Ardha Uttanasana – Inhale – (1 breath)
  • Chaturanga – Exhale – (1 breath)
  • Upward Facing Dog – Urdhva Mukah Svanasana – Inhale – (1 breath)
  • Downward Facing Dog – Adho Mukah Svanasana – Exhale – (1 breath)
  • Low Lunge – Exhale – (1 breath)
  • Low Lunge Twist – Inhale – (Hold 5-8 breaths)
  • Chaturanga – Up Dog – Down Dog with breath cues above, repeat other side
  • Chaturanga – Up Dog – Down Dog with breath cues above
  • Low Lunge – Exhale – (1 breath)
  • Low Lunge Twist – Inhale – (1 breath)
  • Low Lunge – Exhale – (1 breath)
  • Warrior 2 – Virabhadrasana 2 – Inhale – (Hold 5-8 breaths)
  • Chaturanga – Up Dog – Down Dog with breath cues above, repeat other side
  • Chaturanga – Up Dog – Down Dog with breath cues above
  • Low Lunge – Exhale – (1 breath)
  • Low Lunge Twist – Inhale – (1 breath)
  • Low Lunge – Exhale – (1 breath)
  • Warrior 2 – Inhale – ( 1 breath)
  • Extended Side Angle – Exhale – (Hold 5-8 breaths)
  • Chaturanga – Up Dog – Down Dog with breath cues above, repeat other side
  • Chaturanga – Up Dog – Down Dog with breath cues above
  • Low Lunge – Exhale – (1 breath)
  • Low Lunge Twist – Inhale – (1 breath)
  • Low Lunge – Exhale – (1 breath)
  • Warrior 2 – Inhale – ( 1 breath)
  • Extended Side Angle – Exhale – (1 breath)
  • Reverse Warrior – Inhale – ( Hold 3-5 breaths)
  • Chaturanga – Up Dog – Down Dog with breath cues above, repeat other side
  • Now the sequence is built, flow through Twice more moving breath to movement!

Core:

  • Boat Pose – Navasana – Lowers and Lifts – (30 seconds)
  • Bicycle Sit Ups – (1 minute)
  • High Plank – ( 1 minute)

Strength:

  • Chair Pose – Utkatasna – Inhale – (3 breaths)
  • Prayer Twist – Right Side 1st – Exhale – (3-5 breaths)
  • From Prayer Twist
    • Shift weight into right foot
    • Bring left heel to glute
    • Extend left foot to back of the room, parallel to mat
    • Step into Revolved Crescent Lunge
  • Revolved Crescent Lunge – Inhale – (3-5 breaths)
  • From Revolved Crescent Lunge
    • Open arms to fly – Inhale – (1 breath)
    • Rise up into Crescent Lunge Vertical Twist
  • Crescent Lunge Vertical Twist – Exhale – (3 breaths)
  • Exalted Warrior – Inhale – (3 breaths)
  • Crescent Lunge – Anjaneyasana – Inhale – ( 3 breaths)
  • Airplane Crescent Lunge – Exhale – (1-2 breaths)
  • Warrior 2 – Inhale – (1 round of breath)
  • Straighten Front Leg – Inhale – (1 breath)
  • Triangle Pose – Trikonasana -Exhale – (3 breaths)
  • Triangle Pose with Uttitha – Inhale – (1 breath)
  • Standing Separate Leg Stretch – Proserita – Exhale – (3 breaths)
  • Halfway Lift Proserita – Inhale – (1 breath)
  • Forward Fold Proserita – Exhale – (1 breath)
  • Rise up with arms at a T and flat back – Inhale – (1 breath)
  • Warrior 2 – Exhale – (1 breath)
  • Reverse Warrior – Inhale – (1 breath)
  • Chaturanga – Up Dog – Down Dog
  • Repeat on the other side

Hips/Cool Down:

*Right leg then left

  • Half Pigeon – Eka Pada Rajakapotasana – Exhale- (1-3 breaths)
  • Sleeping Pigeon – Exhale – (10 breaths or a little over a minute)
  • Repeat on other side

Spine:

  • Cobra Pose – Bhujangasana – Inhale – (3 breaths)
  • Bound Locust Pose – Inhale – (3 breaths)
  • Bridge Pose – Setu Bandhasana – Inhale  (3 breaths)
  • Reclined Angle Pose – Supta Baddha Konasana – (rest, easy breath)

Folds/Rounds:

  • Legs up the wall – Inhale (3-5 breaths)
  • Plow Pose – Inhale- (3-5 breaths)
  • Shoulder Stand – Inhale – (3-5 breaths)

Finals:

  • Happy Baby Pose – Ananda Balasana – Inhale – (3-5 breaths)
  • Supine Twists right side then left – Exhale – (3-5 breaths per side)
  • Final Savasana – Exhale – (rest for 2-5 minutes)

NAMASTE FRIENDS!

Lemon Herb Quinoa with Greens

Quinoa has really made it big these days; and I am ALL about it! Quinoa is often described as a grain, but it is technically the seed of a grain. As a seed, it packs a ton of protein, making this a great choice for a carb/starch side in place of the usual rice, pasta, and potatoes. I am often asked how to prepare quinoa; and I always tell people that it is kind of absurdly easy.

Here is the basic formula for cooking quinoa:

  • 1 part quinoa to 2 parts water
  • Bring to a boil over high heat in a small sauce pan, then reduce heat to low and cover
  • Cook for 15-20 minutes
  • Fluff with a fork and Done!

Now, that you know how to cook quinoa through, you can basically do ANYTHING with it. Still, you might want a starter recipe; this Lemon Herb Quinoa with Greens recipe is for you! It makes the perfect side to almost anything. Hope you enjoy!

Lemon Herb Quinoa with Greens

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: absurdly easy
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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups water
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon crushed garlic
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil, julienned
  • 1 tablespoon fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1 cup spinach, kale, or power greens mix, roughly chopped.

Directions:

Place the quinoa, water, and salt in a small pot. Bring to a boil over high heat. Cover, reduce heat to low, and cook until the quinoa has absorbed the water and the quinoa has puffed, 15-20 minutes. Fluff with fork.

While the quinoa cooks, mix the lemon zest, juice, olive oil, pepper, and crushed garlic in a small bowl.

Once you’ve fluffed the quinoa, add the basil, parsley, and chopped greens. Mix until the greens are wilted. Add the lemon and oil mixture into the bowl and toss. Season with additional pepper and serve.

Tell me, how do you make your quinoa?

Being Whole On Your Own

The world of relationships and love is a strange and confusing one; this we all know to be true. I myself have not had an exuberant amount of luck in this area. While I have dated and have had partners, I have not been so lucky as many of my friends who have found young love that would appear to be the kind that will last. Even though my time in the relationship and dating world has not been extensive and I have spent most of my early 20’s single, I feel I have made some important observations about relationships based on the ones I have seen and paid attention to as well as my own relationships. I believe that I have found a common theme in my relationship studies that can make or break a couple – whether or not the two beings involved in the relationship are whole and complete on their own.

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Balsamic Glazed Salmon

I love salmon, it really is one of the greatest fishes; it’s incredibly healthy, it’s decently affordable, and it’s freaking delicious. One thing I love about salmon is that it can be ABSURDLY EASY to make. Take my Balsamic Glazed Salmon. Minimal prep, no active cooking, and only a few minutes until it is s ready for you to plate and eat. I am always getting questions about how to make salmon; this is the best way to start! Hope you enjoy!

Balsamic Glazed Salmon

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: ridiculously easy
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Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ pounds boneless, skinless salmon slab
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon crushed garlic
  • 1 teaspoon Herbs de Provence
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons Trader Joe’s Balsamic Glaze or similar product

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400 ̊F.

Spray or oil a 9×13 inch baking dish. Place the salmon in the baking dish. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and Herbs de Provence. Spread the crushed garlic all over the salmon. Drizzle with olive oil. Drizzle the balsamic glaze all over, and with a pastry brush, spread the glaze until even and the salmon is covered.

Bake for 12-15 minutes depending on the thickness of the salmon. Cut into fillets and serve.

Recipe Review: Tyler Florence’s Watermelon Gazpacho

Ciao friends! Are you a fan of the tasty, chilled Spanish soup known as gazpacho? Personally, I am a HUGE fan! Gazpacho is packed with fresh vegetables, is amazingly refreshing, and doesn’t even require cooking! For as much as I love gazpacho, however, there is one variant that I put off trying for a long time: Watermelon Gazpacho. This past Meatless Monday, I finally put myself up to the challenge and gave it a shot!

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New Remedy for Cooking Burns? I think Yes.

So the other night, I placed some cooked quinoa that I prepped earlier in the week into a glass bowl to reheat in the oven. After all the components of my meal were done cooking or reheating, I pulled everything out of the oven and began to plate. During the plating process, I absent mindedly grabbed the glass bowl that I reheated the quinoa in without remembering that it had just been in a 400 degree oven and BURNT THE CAPITAL F out of my thumb on my left hand which had the most contact with the bowl.

I immediately ran my hand under cold water for a good minute, as you are supposed to do, but the burn was already bubbling and blistering. As soon as I pulled my hand out from under the cold water, I experienced agonizing pain as air hit the burn; I think the only way to describe what it felt like would be HELLFIRE.

I couldn’t believe how stupid I had been; I knew that the bowl had just been in the oven, how could I forget and pick it up like that!? I cursed myself as I felt like I had just ruined the upcoming weekend ahead; I’ve had burns like this in the past and they can be all consuming for days on end, depriving you of sleep and stripping you of enjoyment of anything as you are solely focused on the pain.

HOWEVER, there are home remedies to help with cooking burns that can help to minimize the aftermath, and I sought to combine two of them; and I think I’ve discovered something. I proceeded to fill a large bowl with cold water and then mix a cup of Extra Virgin Coconut Oil into the water; I then soaked my hand in this concoction for the next two and a half hours. Here is what happened:

The cold water soothed the burn and allowed my skin to prune which counterbalanced the stretching of the skin that happens on burn blisters. The coconut oil, seemed to seep into my skin, into the burn, and further sooth and also start the healing process.

Coconut Oil, in my opinion, is a magical substance. When it comes to skin, coconut oil is rich in Vitamin E which has skin healing properties. I use coconut oil on sunburns and it prevents discomfort, itching, and peeling. With this more severe burn, my thumb seemed to become super saturated with the water-coconut oil mix and kick the healing process into high gear! I couldn’t believe how much relief I was experiencing at such a quick pace!

By bedtime, I could barely feel the burn anymore. I lathered it with more coconut oil and wrapped it in a damp wash cloth, and that is how I slept. When I woke up, the burn was much more mild and the pain minimal. Once I wrapped it in gauze for the day, it never bothered me in the slightest. Today, it is still wrapped in gauze, but it seems like it is almost completely healed.

And so, I am thinking that if you can super saturate a cooking burn with a mix of water and coconut oil, it will act as a remedy to provide relief and quicken the healing the process! I felt compelled to share this because cooking burns are terrible and when they happen we all need ways to cope, maybe this one will work for you! So next time you are unfortunate enough to obtain a burn, give this a shot and let me know how it goes!

What are your home remedies for burns? Tell me in the comments!

Disclaimer: I am not a medical or health professional. My comments are based on my speculations and experiences. 

More Herbs, Less Salt Day

August 29th is unofficially celebrated as More Herbs, Less Salt Day. There are lots of “Food Holidays”, but I am particularly fond of the one’s that promote healthier living, like today! So what is More Herbs, Less Salt Day all about? It’s quite simple: it’s a day dedicated to raising awareness around the simple healthy swap of using more herbs to flavor your meals rather than salt.

In many countries, and especially America, people rely on obscene amounts of salt to flavor their meals. Salty fries, salty chips, salty meat, and even salty vegetables; it’s no wonder so many people have struggles with their sodium levels. Now don’t get me wrong, I love salt and good sea salt is a staple ingredient in my kitchen; but I know to add just enough to give the food a salty hint without stopping the blood in my arteries. Instead, I infuse flavor into my food through herbs and spices.

By including more herbs, fresh or dried, in our meals we are able to add even more flavor to our food, and get some health benefits along the way. Fresh herbs in particular all have really great health benefits. For example, fresh basil is packed with vitamin K and has anti-bacterial properties. Fresh parsley is rich in almost all of your essential vitamins, helps to detox the body, and strengthen the immune system. So each time you add fresh herbs to your meal, you’re benefiting your body and overall health! And bonus, you’re adding little to no calories to your food in exchange for tons of flavor! Who’s winning? You are!

See if you can start incorporating more herbs into your meals rather than salt and rejoice in the great flavors you will experience and the sense wellness you will experience afterwards!

What are some of your favorite herbs to use in your food? Tell me in the comments below!