Namaste- all damn day! 

One of my favourite things in the world is yoga, so much so that it is one of my goals to get my yoga instructors certificate. I already have my Pilates instructors certificate but there is just something about yoga, its more than just working out, it’s a lifestyle, its magical.

Yoga has so many benefits for the body and mind.

For the body: 

  • Increases flexibility
  • Can result in healthier blood and lower blood pressure
  • Improves posture
  • Reduces the risk of chronic disease
  • Enhanced fat loss
  • Improved balance
  • Better breathing
  • Reduces soreness
  • Enhanced muscle strength, tone and core
  • Improves digestion
  • Body detoxification
  • Relieves pain & tension
  • Increased immunity

 

For the mind:

  • Improves intuition
  • Increases self acceptance
  • Improved concentration
  • Improves mental fitness
  • Neutralises stress
  • Improves memory
  • Increased mental awareness
  • Helps you to focus on the present
  • Increases confidence
  • Allows you to unlock energy flow
  • Helps to balance brain hemispheres

Simple, Yoga makes you happier!

Yoga allows you to rediscover a sense of wholeness in your life, where you do not feel like you are trying to fit together broken pieces.

There are so many difference styles of yoga, each with their own focus and benefits.

Anusara: An uplifting and flowing style of yoga. Classes tend to be friendly and fill of laughter. Founded by American Yogi John Friend in 1997.

Who is it for, Those seeing a positive and lighthearted environment and people wanting an emotional yoga experience. Benefits of this style of yoga are improved core & muscle strength and balance and conditioning. The meaning is ‘to flow with grace’ and it aims to connect practitioners with their inner joy, creativity and playfulness. There are over 250 asanas , known as poses in the syllabus. There tends to be music during the classes and the teacher will talk more than in other types of yoga.

‘Yoga is about awakening, Yoga is about creating a life that brings more beauty and more love into the world’– John Friend

*Tips: Do not take yourself too seriously and embrace your playful side.

Ashtanga: Classes tend to be fast-paced when a series of poses are performed in a precise, sequential order, linked together with breathing. Developed and popularised by Sri K Pattabhi Jois in the late 1940’s.

Who is it for, The routine and strict guidelines appeal to yogi’s who like a sense of order and accuracy, people looking for  a physical challenge. Benefits are core strength and flexibility. This is a vigorous and demanding practice and aims to synchronise breathing and movement to produce an internal heat to purify the body. The practice incorporates audible throat breathing known as ujjayi, which should sound like the ocean when done correctly. Classes are often taught in Sanskrit, the language of yoga.

‘Ashtanga yoga is 99% practice 1% theory. Practice, practice and all is coming’ – Sri K Pattabhi Jois

*Tips: Be patient, it takes a lot of practice to perfect all the poses in the Ashtanga sequence.

Bikram: Every class features the same 26 poses and takes place in a 105 degree Fahrenheit room with 40% humidity.

Who is it for, Yogis who want a physically demanding class, people who do not mind heat. Benefits are improved circulation and toxin release. This is a great yoga for weight loss and it aims to move fresh oxygenated blood to 100% of your body. It was introduced by Bikram Choudhury in 1973 and most classes are 90 minutes long and you can burn as many as 700 calories per class. Many yogis claim it is an addictive practice which explains the devoted following.

‘You are never too old, never too bad, never too late and never too sick to start from scratch once again’ -Bikram Chourhury

*Tips: Dress Lightly and bring plenty of water and a towel.

Iyengar: The practice of precision, Iyengar focuses heavily on structural alignment of each posture. Developed by B.K.S Iyengar in 1975.

Who is it for, Perfect for beginners and detail oriented yogis because of its focus on alignment, anatomy and movement. Benefits are that it can help with neck or back problems and it alleviates anxiety and fatigue. Poses tend to be held for long periods allowing the practitioner to relax, balance and breathe in the posture. B.K.S Iyengar was a favourite among celebrities and taught Queen Elizabeth of Belgium how to do a head stand when she was 85 years old. You can expect lots of standing and balancing poses, often with the aid of props such as blocks, chairs and straps.

‘It is through the alignment or the body that i discovered the alignment of my mine, self an intelligence’ -B.K.S Iyengar

*Tips: Be creative with your props. If you do not have a yoga block, use a pile of books. If you do not have a strap use a belt.

Jivamukti: A lifestyle rather than a form of exercise. It is based around the compassion and kindness for all beings and the main teachings revolve around animal rights and environmentalism. Emerged in 1984 from David Life and Sharon Gannon’s famous New York City studio.

Who is it for, Vegans & Vegetarians people ready to apply yogic philosophy to their daily lives. Benefits can be a sense of community and promoted a healthier and kinder lifestyle. A spiritual practice. It Means ‘liberation while living’ which is the ultimate aim of the practice. Classes typically follow a theme drawn from the ‘focus of the month’ (set by the founders) explored through music, chanting, meditation or breathing exercises. it is an intense flowing practice so get ready to challenge yourself.

‘You cannot do yoga. Yoga is your natural state. What you can do are yoga exercises, which may reveal where you are resisting your natural state’ – Sharon Gannon

*Tips: Take time to learn the principles and philosophy being this practice.

Kundalini: Although all yoga styles have a spiritual core, Kundalini is one of the schools with the strongest focus or spirituality and mindfulness. Yogi Bhajan brought Kundalini to the west in 1968.

Who is it for, people seeking a deeper spiritual experience, Nearly anyone regardless of age, fitness or experience. Benefits of Kundalini are enhanced mind and body awareness and it helps connect with ones inner self. Features constantly moving and invigorating poses. Aims to release Kundalini, the untapped energy believed to sit at the base of the spine. Teachers and practitioners are encouraged to wear white clothing to nourish light and divinity. Expect spirituality and slow paced, back-centric poses.

‘The mind become(s) a monster when it becomes your master. The mind is an angel when it is your servant’ -Yogi Bhajan.

*Tips: Keep your head and spine warm during meditation with a wrap r shawl to help release the Kundalini energy and keep your mind focused.

Power Yoga: A fitness based practice with poses moving swiftly for a physically challenging cardio workout. The term was developed in the 1980’s by Bryan Kest and Beryl Bender Birch.

Who is it for, Intense exercisers including runners and endurance athletes. People aiming to lose weight. Benefits are an increase of cardiovascular circulation and lower cholesterol levels and blood pressure. This practice is physically demanding and fast-moving and aims to challenge and relax the body and mind. It is grounded in Ashtanga yoga but is more flexible, allowing teachers to teach poses in any order.  Expect classes to likely be accompanied by upbeat music.

‘Everybody wants to be pretty because that’s what they’ve been told will make them feel good even though there is no proof that people who are prettier are healthier and happier. So why don’s we just cut to the chase and go straight to what makes us feel good‘ -Bryan Kest

*Tips, As the poses move more rapidly, it can be beneficial to have some previous yoga experience.

Restorative yoga: A slow-paced practice. A class typically only involves a handful of poses and props such as bolsters, blocks and blankets are often used to eliminate unnecessary straining. Founded by physical therapist Judith Hanson Lasater who has taught yoga since 1971.

Who is it for, Anyone seeking respite from a high pressure lifestyle, it can be for people with injuries or illness also. Benefits of this style are it calms the body and can lower the heart rate and blood pressure and is ideal for injury or stress rehab. Restorative yoga allows practitioners to completely relax and rest. It aims to heal the mind and body through passive stretching poses. Each pose can he held for up to twenty minutes, allowing the practitioner to drop into a stress free state. In class, the lights may be dimmed and calm music played. Do not be surprised if the teacher covers you in blankets for extra warmth and comfort during certain poses.

‘Yoga is not about touching your toes, it’s about what you learn on the way down‘ -Judith Hanson Lasater

*Tips: If you are easily distracted by surroundings, use an eye mask during practice.

Vinyasa yoga: Vinyasa is an umbrella term for a range of yoga styles, but more commonly describes classes focusing on matching movements with breath. Indian Master Krishnamacharya (1888-1989) known as the ‘father of modern yoga’ is widely considered the architect of Vinyasa as we know it today.

Who is it for, Classes tend to be fast paced with little focus on the finer points of each pose. Therefore it is best suited to experienced yoga. A constantly moving practice, so perfect for people struggling to sit still. It builds lean muscles throughout the whole body  and calms and purifies the mind and body. With its smooth and almost dance-like movements, it’s also known as flow yoga. The emphasis is on linking each pose with an exhalation or inhalation. It has a lot in common with Ashtanga, but its much more flexible as it allows teachers to freely mix up the order of the poses. It can be physically challenging,  flowing practice so expect to get your heart pumping.

‘Teach what is inside you, not as it applies to you, to yourself, but as it applies to the other’ -Tirumalai Krishnamacharya

*Tips, Do not give up if a class does not work for you. Classes can vary greatly, so you might have to try a few before finding the perfect one for you

Yin Yoga: A passive, slow-paced style focusing on seated and supine poses that are held for longer periods of time. Introduced by martial  arts expert Paulie Zinc in the late 1970’s.

Who is it for, People wanting to compliment an active life with relaxed practice, Athletes looking to stretch without exhausting themselves for future training sessions. This practice calms the mind and rather than strengthening the muscles (Yang) the style targets deep tissues such a fascia  and connective tissues (Yin). Typically practised sitting or lying down on the floor this practice aims to find stillness and cool down the body. Yin aims to compliment more vigorous yang exercises such as running or cycling. If one focuses only on the yang, it is believed that the body can suffer burnout. Yin = Passive Yang = Active. Poses are typically held between two and twenty minutes .

‘The most important thing to me is not a static posture, but the essence of the posture’ -Paulie Zinc

*Tips, It can be challenging for both mind and body to hold each pose for a long time, so if you are new to the practice, start holding each pose for one minute and gradually extend the time as you progress.

Now how many of you recognised benefits you thought you could enjoy in your life? I know which type of yoga appeals to me, which do you think will suit you?

Give it a try, I guarantee if you don’t love it you just need to try another style.

Yoga is a lifestyle not just a workout and practising yoga can enhance your life, health and wellbeing.

Pura Vida!

Natalie

Nature is so smart, it put medicine inside of the food! 

Food is not just calories, it is information, it talks to your DNA and tells it what to do. The most powerful tool to change your health, your environment, your entire world is a fork – Dr Mark Hyman.

How many of you eat for the sake of it, because you are hungry or bored? How many of you think about what you are putting in your body in the form of food and the benefits it may have for you?

In this blog i want to talk about creating some healthy habits not restrictions in your life.

First i want to take a look at swapping out some of the unhealthy items for a more nutritious choice.

Fizzy drinks – Fresh juices: Fizzy drinks contain two mood busting ingredients, sugar & caffeine, both can give you a spike in energy followed by a crash, leaving you lethargic.

Cereal – Oatmeal: Just one serving of children’s breakfast cereal can contain more sugar that 3 cookies: all that sugar can lead to a mid morning energy crash, lack of concentration, irritability and fatigue.

Crisps – Dried seaweed: Crisps are cooked in oils that are high in omega 6 fatty acids, which when eaten in excess  can actually increase the risk for mood disorders.

French Fries – ChickpeasFrench fries contain refined carbohydrates (which can have the same negative effects on your body as sugar), tones of sodium and unhealthy fats – all of which can leave you feeling bloated and lethargic.

Hot Dogs/Processed meats – Turkey: Hot dogs and other processed meats are full of preservatives such as nitrates, which can cause tension and migraine headaches.

Sugar can actually cause your skin to age faster, and who wants that!

So lets look at some foods that actually can improve your mood.

Salmon, Eaten 2-3 times weekly can lower the rate of depression.

Coffee/Green tea, Decreases depression in women & green tea has a calming effect.

Air popped corn, Raises Serotonin levels which can help you relax an improve your mood.

Shellfish, Rich in Vitamin B12 it can boost energy and motivation.

Leafy greens, 1-2 servings daily is recommended,of spinach, kale, romaine lettuce, collared greens, chard. These are all high in folic acid which is linked to relieving symptoms of depression.

Dark chocolate, Reduces stress and hormone levels.

Raw peppers, High in Vitamin C these can reduce stress and hormone levels.

Water, one of the first signs of dehydration is fatigue, and even mild dehydration alters mood and energy levels.

Portion control is another issue many of us face, not knowing how much our body needs and eating till we are full.

Protein, the size of your palm is the amount of protein you should have with each meal.

Cupped hand, Is the amount of carbs you should have per meal.

Fist, Is thee amount of vegetables you should have per meal.

Thumb, Is the amount of fat you should have per meal.

You always have your hands with you as a judge of potion size, so there is no excuse to not eat the correct amount.

Even if you don’t see the results right in front of you, every single effort you make to change your habits is changing your body from the inside out.

The best 6 doctors are sunshine, water, rest, exercise and fresh air. Teamed with a healthy balanced diet you can improve the quality of your life.

I hope this has been helpful.

Pura Vida!

Natalie

Feed your soul! 

It’s such a prolific saying, the idea you can feed your soul and feel content, happy and full.

But you really can do those things, we get so caught up in living and making a living that we forget to nourish your soul, take time out and feel good about ourselves. Life really can get so busy, work, family, friends, that we forget that it is ok for us to do something for ourselves. It’s not selfish by any means and it can actually sometimes be necessary to take that time.

So what is it that makes you happy? Write a list, right not write out a list of all the things that make you happy and content, the things that bring a smile to your face and warm your heart (no matter how simple those things could be) Now right next to that list write down how many of those things on that list you actually practice or allow yourself to do….. big difference right!

So why aren’t you doing those things? I get that some things on that list arent a part of every day life but how many of them are, how many of them are simple pleasures you could easily fit into your life. You really do have access to so many things so why arent you allowing yourself the luxury? No matter how simple some of these things I want you to try to find a way of fitting them into your life and know that its ok, that you deserve it.

Take a long bath with candles, get your hair or nails done, ready a book, watch a movie, even something as simple as doing your make up a little different or wearing an outfit that makes you feel special. When you do the things that make you feel good your body releases serotonin (the happy hormone) Seratonin flows when you feel significant or important, when you feel happiness or satisfaction.

You can increase your serotonin levels in so many simple ways, eating right, getting active, getting outdoors, getting a massage. All of these things are simple and easy to fit into your life and will release ‘the happy hormone’.

Do things that feed your soul, not your ego and you will be happy. If you are doing things you love every day the universe will gravitate towards you, this is how the world works, don’t waste time impressing others or doing something that doesn’t make you feel good.

So from today I want you to do at least 3 of those things on your list that make you happy, release the happy hormone and ‘feed your soul’

Pura Vida!

Natalie