Monday, 31 October 2011

Happiness is an inside job

Ways to improve your life don't necessarily have to include starving yourself to a size zero, getting your tits inflated to the size of a babys head or having Hugh Heff as your boyfriend to buy the whole of the Lulu lemon range. Guys you don't have to have a girlfriend like that or a big wallet to fund her happiness, to essentially find your happiness either. Its all fake! You can find happiness much more easily than this, and it will be so much more satisfying. Its what on the inside that counts...seriously!

Eat a healthy wholefoods organic diet!!!!! Nutrition is the key to feeling good about yourself and looking after our health. Being aware of the need for our nourishment via hunger and then relaxing and preparing the body to receive wholesome food in a comfortable setting are important prerequisites for healthy eating. All together now... TURN OFF YOUR TV!!! When we change our attitudes we change our entire lives. Repeat after me: It matters what I put into my mouth; it becomes who I am and what I think and do. Therefore Im going to treat myself with love and feed myself more natural vital foods. 'The greatest discovery of any generation is that human beings can alter their lives by altering the attitudes of their minds'

Quietly watch yourself in as objective a manner as you can. Watch your reactions, and also interactions with others. Watch your thoughts, don't become your thoughts. Don't beleive everything you think. Can you step outside your body and look at yourself? What observations can you make? Make a connection with who you are.

Change up your routine! Do something different. In order to be the change, you have to begin somewhere. Tomorrow, sit in a different spot on the bus to your usual comfort zone, pick a different mat in yoga. See how it makes you feel, you'll gain strength from changing up your routine. Try shaving your hair off just for the sake of it. Things wont feel as mundane :)

What exactly are you afraid of? Do something that makes your heart beat a little quicker, gets the adrenalin racing. Our fears trap us sometimes, fight the fear and do it anyway! It could be anything from skydiving to getting a spider out of the apt. Check in with how you feel at the beginning and how you feel at the end. Was the fear bigger than you thought? Do you feel more alive for having done it?

Be organised and write your daily plan, and more importantly write yourself 'The Bigger Picture'.  Moving forward can feel easier with a plan, or a goal,  you could keep a diary. When you write your plan down, it’s a form of commitment to complete! Its really satisfying to cross off your To-Do list with all your great accomplishments. Blocking out your schedule into 2hrly chunks can be helpful, you can chart in your time for chopping veggies, work, yoga, YOU, and more YOU seeing what free time you actually have each day and week for 'The Bigger Picture' goals, and those interesting workshops you say you never have time for. TURN OFF THE TV.

Surround yourself with positive people and you will be more positive, its true! Your friends should have similiar zests for life and interests, and also want to improve and jump off the negatron track. The company of friends with goals and interests in common with yours is a wonderful way to stay on track, to keep moving forward, to help you over the bumps in the road, and to stretch yourself like never before. This doesn't mean dump everyone else in your life, but maybe you can create some inspiring middle grounds for friendships to blossom and bloom for both parties.  Keep your heart open to those who at first your eyes have been quick to judge!

Do Yoga and meditate Daily. Your thinking is the propellant into success. It needs quiet time to stay focused and directed. Train your mind to become a tool to be used when you need it, not to be hinderance that makes you unecessarily suffer.

Have great sex!!! Taking the advice from above will immediately increase this potential!! You will ooze confidence, feel good about yourself, be clear headed, healthy and focused. If you don't have a partner, then have great sex on your own! DEFINATELY TURN OFF THE TV :)

Let me know what you did today to improve your life, I would love to hear!

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Outreach Yoga Challenge - Day 21 Balls of bliss

Yep. Karma still dodgy, but I'm gonna ride it out, resistance only make things worse right? Working backwards here...

Ever heard of Taoism? Its a philosophy which seeks to achieve great things by ‘going with the flow.’ Lao Tzu was a mystic philosopher of ancient China and his wisdom is now contained in the Tao Te Ching (introduced to me by a warrior). The way, natures way.

The path of least resistance.

'By letting it go it all gets done. The world is won by those who let it go. But when you try and try, the world is beyond winning.'

In the world there is nothing more submissive than water. It seeks the low ground and always yields to resistance. Yet water can, over many years, wear down sharp rocks into small, smooth pebbles and carve wide, deep channels through a landscape. Smooth with POWER. Electricity always takes the ‘path of least resistance,’ finding the earth as easily as possible, yet the power of electricity has transformed our lives.

Like a reed in the wind, if we can bend down low and yield to the pressures of life, letting go and allowing the natural course of events to shape us, we can survive and prosper. But if we refuse to yield and remain firm and upright, the world can break us. We are like a ship on the ocean: rowing against the wind is difficult and pointless. Let go and let the wind do all the work. It may take you to wondrous new shores.

We can't avoid our periods ladies (grrrrr...hang on is this my 'bad' karma?) but we can feed them with bliss! Successfully making one batch of thirteen LUCKY for some raw one bite 'Bliss Balls', I then successfully ate the lot. With pleasure and gratitude! Here is the delicious recipe: 1.5 cups of walnuts, or pecans, or cashews. Walnuts are great for the brain, take a good look at one, what does it look like?? 14 medjool dates, pit them and make into heart shape, can also use raisin or apricots. 0.5 cups of cacao powder, yeah we all know what this does for you :) Half teaspoon of vanilla, or cinnamon, pinch of salt (Himalayan preferable), coconut flakes. Process the walnuts in a blender until fine, add in the remaining ingredients. I had to take my nuts out and add the dates, as old school blender, then add in the rest. Pinch for stickiness, if its not sticky enough add more dates. Roll the contents into balls, then roll them in coconut flakes, you can make balls or squash into brownies and add raw cacao beans into them. Put them into the fridge until firm, or you could cook them below 120, for about 5 minutes.

These are great for energy surplus, lots of fructose in those dates, so make good use of it and feel good. My energy found a free futon on Craigs List, (gotta love the kind people of Vancouver, think RECYCLE) and after getting it back to my apt with the help of a very nice Frenchman (Delboy you) successfully put it together,all ready for you to come stay. YES THAT MEANS YOU JOSH and everyone else of course, maybe at different times of year too! Point is, COME VISIT me people! Don't just say you will, or air talk that trip up, DO IT!
It took me a good blonde hour of concentration to get the futon together, concentration of any form is a great way to settle your mind into the present moment, we shut out everything else and the mind is able to focus on one thing. Can we try shutting out everything again? Maybe go take a look at the stars, but don't ask yourself any questions, just BE.

'Sometimes a thought has a magnetic pull, as if it wants more of your consciousness. It wants to grow, because it's a little entity. It wants attention and it tries to get it in subtle ways. It might even use a bodily feeling. "I'm hungry suddenly." Then presence is gone, and you're gone, looking for a restaurant in your mind…'

If you would like to understand more of the present moment, check out Eckhart Tolle, his books include The Power of Now, and a New Earth, both equally inspiring and worth reading. You can also sign up to his website and get free present moment reminders which are simple words, that will feel familiar and we all capable of . How much more enjoyable is life when we live here, now, in this second, rather than wishing our lives away, or dwelling on the past, creating conversations, recalling incidents, and much more madness all of us put ourselves through. Time to wake up? There is no time like the present so lets go!

Some great yoga poses for period pains (and too many bliss balls) are camel pose (utrasana) and butterfly (baddha konasana). For camel pose with your knees hip width apart, thighs perpendicular to the floor and hips open, tuck your tailbone towards your pubis and lift up through your spine, place your hands on lower back and start to lean your shoulders and upper torso back opening your chest and pushing forward with your hips. Exhale and drop back pressing pelvic upwards, elongate your spine, grab your right heel with right hand, and left heel with left hand. Push your thighs forward and centre your weight lifting chest into the arch, drop your head back and relax your throat. This stretches out your spine, thighs, hip flexors, chest and abdominal, stimulates digestion and helps with cramps. Avoid compressing your lower back and rushing into the back bend. Breathe! Hold for 20 seconds to a minute and contract your abdominal to lift your chest forward to come back out of the pose. Take child's pose to relax.

Butterfly is great for stretching inner thighs, groins and knees and provides great relief for period discomfort. Sit up tall with your legs extended in front of you, bring your knees towards your chest with feet flat on floor, exhale and open hips, use your hands to press your feet together and keep the outsides of feet on the floor. Draw your torso upwards and focus on keeping the spine neutral. Weight should be heavily balanced on sit bones, allow hips to open further and thighs to drop to the floor, inhaling lengthening your spine and exhaling start to fold leading with your chest, bringing your head, and your arms to the floor. Just for fun, massage your forehead with your toes, feels nice :) Breath.

Thanks for following the challenge and all the messages so far, its been really supportive and good to know I can share some love and tips! Would welcome all feedback if you'd like to email me privately Additionally if you'd like to make a donation to Outreach, you can simply click here

Goodnight bliss ball heaven, goodnight karma, goodnight silverfish!

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Outreach Yoga Challenge - Day 20 My Karma stinks

''Thats karma for ya!''

Ever caught yourself thinking that you've got some bad karma, especially when you've essentially been positively skipping along helping others and living by the 4 agreements and more A few hiccups along the walk of life the past couple days have got me thinking that I'm doing something wrong, and The Universe' is telling me so.
I got some bad karma going down man. So what do I do about it?? Look up what Karma actually is, and understand it.

'The word Karma comes from Buddhism but is so used these days in the West, but is the most grossly misunderstood. The idea that everything is a product of karma is simple-minded in the extreme, yet is accepted without question and even taught and transmitted by otherwise “respected” teachers. The commonly accepted usage of karma to represent the universal law of cause and effect, is often misused in a manner that serves to define a deterministic universe. In this way, karma is used to make logical sense of difference on social levels, providing a rationale for the varying degrees of pain and suffering different individuals experience. The idea shifts responsibility for such disparity from the “unknown” or “the will of God” to individuals who, according to the “the law of karma,” are held responsible for their own circumstances. This logic places blame upon people who experience hardship, and praise upon those who enjoy fortuitous circumstances, irrespective any direct knowledge of specific actions, particularly those allegedly committed in “previous lives.”

The idea that karma is the only force operating in the universe feeds into this determinism—in most cases subconsciously—resulting in social attitudes in many Buddhist societies that are far a field of the compassion taught by the historical Buddha. In many cases, the idea of karma perpetuates the status quo, reinforcing preexisting hierarchical social orders in ways that are reactionary, discriminatory, sexist, and racist.

The tendency to blame the victim is in no way isolated to Buddhist countries. Oppression veiled by wrongheaded ideas of “karmic retribution” mirror the way “the Protestant work ethic” has been used in the United States to scapegoat poor people for their circumstances. By rationalizing that, by virtue of their unwillingness to work hard, “the poor” are to blame for their own poverty, Americans can comfortably ignore economic injustice. After all, if “those people” are unwilling to lift a finger to help themselves, why should any of the rest of us? And, in a broader sense, why should the government support those who have only their own shiftlessness to blame for their situation? This position, of course, assumes that everyone who “works hard” will be economically fulfilled. The “rags to riches” mythology is a pervasive part of the American subconscious, while the stories of those who work their guts out all of their lives, yet never realize any economic gain, are conveniently glazed over. Those people and families are marginalized, and their life experiences forgotten, because they occur outside of the accepted “work ethic” ideology.

The message of Buddhism is to awaken compassion by courageously confronting reality.  The word karma, itself, carries many connotations. The word karma derives from the Sanskrit “karman” (“action” or “act”) and, in turn, the Pali “kamma.” Literally karma denotes action—specifically, “volitional action,” or deliberate, willed action. Colloquially, however, the term has come to refer to “the law of karma,” a concept the historical Buddha borrowed from the pre-Hindu religious cosmology that prevailed in India during his lifetime. The derivation of the term karma originates in the Upanishads, a portion of the massive body of Hindu religious writings known as the Vedas.

In India, the term “karma” has been used for millennia to rationalize the differences between people in their birth-status as male or female, short or tall, and a myriad of other differences, including whether or not people are born into slavery or are born free, what social and economic circumstances people are born into, what race they are born, and whether or not they are born with some birth defect or congenital handicap, among other issues. Karma is the foundation and rationale used to support the oppressive and repressive Hindu caste system.

It’s important to recognize that models, and even laws of the universe, are mere intellectual concepts of what is; they are not “tathata,” or “suchness,” itself. Buddhism is not about concepts. No concept can trump the pure experience of reality as it is.

In a community that has been devastated by a passing tornado, some houses are completely destroyed, some are damaged, and some are left completely untouched. A pseudo-Buddhist understanding maintains that whether one’s home is destroyed or passed over is a result of one’s “karma.” But how can one’s prior actions, volitional or otherwise, affect the path of a future tornado? Buddhist doctrine answers such questions by pointing to Irthu Niyama (physical inorganic order or processes, such as seasonal change phenomena, for example, winds and rains), natural chaos, as the causal agent in such circumstances. That the Jones family lost their home and the Smith family didn’t, does not mean that the Jones’ were guilty of some horrible transgressions in some past life. Although “karma” and the notion of “justice” are commonly viewed as intertwined, we do not live in a rigidly deterministic universe; chaos functions quite well where we live.'

Basically sometimes shit just happens!

So I dust myself off after a morning Hatha class with Camerons tattoed arms, eyes wide shut of course, I ignore my newly broken parts, and feel the air on my face as I freewheel down the hill home as parts of my bike fly off and smash, just great, I keep going. Free from TV slavery, Im dumped for one, fine. Grateful for new opportunites especially for yoga and nutrition but worn out from losing out on others, give it up. Body aches and feels sore, but I'm healthy! Aside from that weird rash....its fine. Its just life man, and my body knew that today my karma, my something, my toxic load, had definately had enough. Good food, some self love, reading, eating coconuts and golden berries (which are so lovely, another superfruit some Viking post, a little French and a good cup of earl grey in my reading window (just like home hey?) all remind me to GET A GRIP, life is great :) Good bed patrol is therapy for sure, but my own meaning of karma knows this isn't finished yet. Do I really have to start liking the silverfish??? Is that really what my karma is telling me??? URGH. Its my own free will to hate or to like them I suppose, but how is my life anymore important than theirs, why do I get to decide if they get washed down the plughole, is my life more important? 

How's your 'karma' doing lately?

Outreach Yoga Challenge - Day 19 Tantric Zombie

Friday morning and Kundalini, what a way to start your weekend. Each time I go to this class, I enjoy the repetative movements with cleansing breaths more and more each time. A feeling of immense europhia flooded my cells today, almost knocked me off balance, a feeling of space arousing at the bottom of my spine and then heat, more heat. Just as more heat was coming, from sitting in easy pose churning and spiraling the stomach and spine in an almost erotic circular motion, hot and sweaty from dancing around your mat for the last three songs (in fact most of my dancing was done on my neighbours mat with her, great way to make friends), more heat and then Joe Cocker....not personally.... but over the speakers in a steamy studio, with 50 euphoric yoginis 'You can leave your hat on' I just love how Gloria, the owner of Semperviva and instructor of this class keeps throwing out these classic quirky non yoga type tunes but TOTALLY on the money for how you FEEL and its always what your body wants! I spent the whole time smiling. It was sensual, it was deep, it was tantric, it was HOT, it was FUN! If the cocao bean had been involved too I would have been finished. Climaxed and off for a sleep.

Don't be afraid of trying new things, seek out a Kundalini class, or if you're reading this and you live here in Vancouver, come with me and dance on my mat and get euphoric. If you are travelling or you are new in a city, everything is brand new, exciting and fresh and even going to the store for your 'coconut milk' is an adventure, the leaves falling as you ride through the streets feel magical, the people you meet seem exciting. However, when you have become familiar with a place, or a location, or even a person, why do we have to lose that feeling of adventure? Can we still make things a mystery, still get goosepimples watching the season change, watching the Vancouver skyline twinkle at dusk, and the first snows on Grouse Mountain and Snowdon. Everyday is different, everyday we can be grateful for the simple pleasures in life, see your routine with new eyes and smile.

This is from Outreach: What yoga philosophy and all the great Buddhist teachings tells us is that solidity is a creation of the ordinary mind and that there never was anything permanent to begin with that we could hold on to. Life would be much easier and substantially less painful if we lived with the knowledge of impermanence as the only constant.

Sauca is often thought of in terms of orderliness and structure. It can be found in the ways in which we organize our lives so as to have things run as smoothly as possible. As with many aspects of yoga, there is an interesting balance to be found here. How do we create enough structure so that our lives (and posture!) are safe, stable and grounded but not so much structure that we become stifled by our need for organization and/or predictability? We can think about this in terms of whether our need for order is serving us in our lives or not. For example, does our preference for creating routine allow us to achieve our goals effectively, or does it become so strong that we don't allow for any variance and spontaneity in our lives? The recognition of impermanence can be both difficult and helpful, all at the same time. Our routine might work very well for weeks or even years, but at some point, it's likely that we will need to alter it to flow with the changing rhythms of life. In the acceptance of impermanence, we find a willingness to create order or form but also a willingness to let it go when the time comes.
I checked out Organic Lives last night with Mark and tucked into a Pad Thai made from coconut meat and kelp, followed by a pumpkin pie, all vegan and stacked with flavor and goodness bliss. If you are interested in checking them out, I would highly recommend them. They have an open display kitchen so you can watch your dishes being prepared to ensure they use fresh produce and enjoy the art of preparation, remember we start disgesting foods with preparation, our mouths fill with saliva and enzymes that we need to breakdown the food in our stomachs easier. This is done with the smells and the visuals of cooking which is why in general takeaway food isn't as good for you, its great to be able to watch the chef's at work. You can also take a workshop here, and they have a deli and small supply of foodstuffs like Himilayan rock salts, spouted nuts, and natural make up and cleaners. Yeah, check it out! Prolly wasn't a good idea to wear my full on 70's sheepskin coat to a raw vegan joint, but everything in a balance right?? (gulp) Give me a bbreak I haven't eaten meat for 28 years. (gulp)
I taught two private Yoga classes today which was great to keep up my Yoga teaching practice. Marcus and Del came over for a megathon 90 minutes class focusing on some lower back stretching and strengthening. Always warm up the back before doing any poses involving using our spine, which is almost all asanas! We incorporated some cat/cow, some seated curves and heart forward breaths, some seated ballerina twists, and some downward dogs. Their request to stretch the back, was using each other in some partner yoga, they both sat legs apart pressing feet to each other and holding opposite arms with a grip, whilst one leant to the right pulling their own hand over their head towards their foot, and their partner pulls gently on the other arm twisting their upper body almost through. Then rotating the arms. Its a great stretch for lower back and side, aswell as the hamstrings, and really helps you feel responsible for your partner and its fun! After a long savasana and some lunch at Naam, I taught my next class with Tamsin my landlady, it feels so good to share my practice with others, I can feel their energy and mine bouncing back and forth, and I love to be able to help and align. Thanks for your support students, you all did great! Triple thanks to Del, who made the amazing raw NY cheesecake (recipe posted in Day 17) and is currently torturing me in my fridge begging me to eat the whole thing, its simply divine, check out more of Del's cooking here Plus I got to take Tamsin's cute dog Jake for a walk to the waterfront and play with my camera, whilst Jake pee'ed on every bush leaf around, is that organic? Its great to have access to a dog, and get to go for walks, me and Jake need some beach time to help me get back into running. Its time! Woof!
I'm a really hands on tactile person, and Im happy to make the body feel good in Yoga with adding some pressure to tailbones in childpose, massaging feet with my own, shaking out the hips in savasana, its all a great way to be connected with your students and add to that good feeling they've already created for themselves. I LOVE YOGA!!! I'm just touchyfeely, give me a hug will YOU!!! YES YOU!!! Tamsin is a good student, good posture and questions me, which makes me think on the spot which is great and just what I need to get better at knowing what Im teaching. There maybe an opportunity to teach on donation basis at her this space... YAY! Just have to learn to speak French, double YAY!
Halloween weekend has arrived and I'll be representing this charity Outreach as a Zombie Yogini, as that is what brought my attention to this challenge to begin with, check out the great clip Please help me raise some money for their great causes, and to be able to continue helping people through yoga and nutrition. If you have anything specific you'd like to know or for me to include in a blog, please leave a comment or you can send me a private email. Enjoy your halloween weekend, Canada encourages slutty witches everywhere!

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Outreach Yoga Challenge - Day 18 Making babies

Inspired by someone I love dearly, I dedicated my Vinyasa Flow practice today to her. Sending all of my energy and focus into the air we breathe and the oceans that part us, hope you felt those vibrations of love. Dedicating your practice to someone, is a great way to feel repsonsible for a good practice, its for someone elses benefit right? At the end of our practice we can sit in easy pose, palms facing up and send that energy out to that person, with a smile. Start a reciprocal vibe, send our your positive vibrations, smile at a stranger, see what happens :) Flow is difficult and a huge challenge, especially if you carry ego, but its inspiring and beautiful once you let go of everything. Letting go is more rewarding each time we're able to bring ourselves back to the 'Bigger Picture'. Doesn't matter where we could reach to last week, or what we might be capable of tomorrow. All that matters is right now, so enjoy :)

Living life in the moment rather than in a memory.

Now you've all turned off your TV's, just what is there to do with your time I wonder? Make a baby? If you are planning to start a family, bringing a new heartbeat into this world here are some mind body and soul connections to help you on your way. If you would like some specific nutrition advice, I have lots so please email me I'd be happy to help, start with folic acid (b9)!!

Controlling stress levels and keeping calm in mind when making a baby is really important to your health and well being. Negative expectations, worry and threat can be solved with simple principles like hope, loving relationships and positive expectations. Take the pressure off yourselves and remember your free will to do what you want. You are in charge of your own body, and what you decide to do with it. Create a safe environment of open communication between each other, lose any ‘blame’ and be willing to accept, love unconditionally and agree on each others sense of purpose. Understanding the situation, relaxing not resisting. Reduce any stress factors that are associated with other relationships, working environments, lifestyle choices like excessive travelling or watching junk on the TV. Make some pamper time for your body to relax.  Be in control of your emotions J

Practice gentle partner yoga together., it could be as simple as sitting in between your partners legs and gently stretching from one foot to the other It will strengthen your relationship and connection with each other and distract the focus from making your baby. The benefits that yoga can also provide are endless of course, it strengthens your minds, body and spirit aswell as bringing focus to the present moment via the breath. Yoga is one of many sadhanas that would be strong tools for bringing your bodies back to a more mindful balance, gentle yin yoga would be my recommendation. Here a  link to 1st trimester poses, but please be careful with exercise during your 1st trimester.

Meditation, a practice done together can just incorporate 5 minutes in the morning and in the evening. Focus on your breath, clear your mind of negative and discursive thoughts, keep counting the breath and visualise. Cooking is so nourishing! Thinking/making/feeding/smelling/tasting flavours and foods are a great connection to your body, its nurturing, nourishing, mindful, interactive and yummy! Get back to nature and take some walks together, be gentle on yourself if you have just got pregnant. Look at the trees, collect some leaves, splash a puddle and hold hands, breathe in the fresh air. The physical benefits are good for keeping fit and active, but more importantly your body will TUNE into Nature, look around and just BE. Be creative! Sing! Sing in the shower! Sing everywhere! Play instruments, write a poem, paint a picture, read out aloud. All of these things are great for our vitality and spirit, and bring joy and happiness to every living cell in our body, including those starting to just grow.

ENJOY HAVING SEX AGAIN! Take the pressures of only having sex to make a baby. Forget the ‘project’ and love each other again spontaneously, passionately and adventoursly! J Always finish with an amazing massage, or maybe that’s how it starts? J Connect with each others bodies again emotionally and without purpose. Just from the heart and loins!

Visualisation, intentions, contemplation, mantras. Find a quiet peaceful environment alone and ask your heart what having a baby means to you? Clarify your values, close your eyes and visualise seeing yourself the way you want to be, be kind to yourself, keeping the goals and outcomes positive. Feel yourself successfully achieving getting pregnant, trust yourself, and generate this good energy and positive vibrations from within. Set your intention and repeat them to yourself. BE KIND TO YOURSELF. Mantras can be as simple, yet high effective as:
I am a healthy human being.

I am loved and I love.
My body is strong and my heart is open.

I will be a loving mother.

Your body, as a whole, is one organism. However, many, many parts make up that whole. As you consider the various levels of the body, you understand that a large number of parts are within parts. It's akin to looking at a pine tree. At first, you notice the entire tree — a whole organism. However, as you look closer, you notice the branches. Looking at the twigs on the branches, you notice each needle on the twigs. Thousands, if not millions, of needles exist on that one single pine tree. The same analogy holds for the human body or the body of any animal. First, you notice the entire body. Next, you see that the entire body is made up of parts and organs, and each of those organs is made up of a variety of tissues. And if, as a pathologist does, you examine a magnified sample of one of the human body's tissues under a microscope, trillions of cells become visible. Yet you can turn up the magnification for an even closer look: Cells contain molecules that are made up of even smaller components, atoms. Ever looked up to the sky at night and smiled at the stars, maybe even looking beyond them to the Universe? Stars are powered by a process called fusion, where hydrogen atoms join together to form helium — and give off a lot of energy. A star begins its life in a dense molecular cloud called a nebula. I'm not talking rocket science, or something everyone doesn't know, but actually really thinking about it, WOW it blows me away! Check out the stars tonight, they are a part of you, you are a part of them, we are all one?

Thanks for following the challenge, not just in yoga, but also in life. Make it count.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Outreach Yoga Challenge - Day 17 Are you looking at my tits?

Ladies! How are your boobs?? Guys do you like boobs??

October is 'Healthy Breast Care Month'

Healthy breast care begins & ends with a healthy lymphatic system. The lymph does its job best when it is stimulated through breath & movement.
Remember! Your attitude counts for a lot…
Finding the good in life gives energy to every cell!

1. Breathing: deep breathing and breath of fire (see Day 9 Blog)
2. Yoga & exercise! Check in here daily for tips on poses, create your own sequence for home.
3. Massage breasts and armpit area (see boyfriend or a friendly stranger or Al Green and bath!)
4. Dry brush massage: from feet upward, also for circulation (see Day 6 Blog)
5. Hydrotherapy: Cold showers with massage or alternate hot (3 min) and cold (1 min) showers (get boyfriend to take cold shower also after helping with point 3)
6. Rebounder: jump, jog, dance, & move arms! Do this especially when going for a run and see how many friends you make!
7. Healthy Diet: organic & plant-based, including cruciferous veggies (broccoli, cauliflower)
8. Avoid toxic products: pesticides, aluminum in deodorants, environmental toxins.
9. Unrestrictive bras: avoid underwires, have some braless time each day! Release your hippy!
10. Meditate for emotional balance and positive attitude towards self. (see Day 10 blog)

Seriously, breast cancer is a killer, and we all need to look after the health of our boobs and check for lumps each month regularly. If you are unsure, there is a really helpful video from a UK series, don't be shy ladies, its our bodies, so lets take care of ourselves. Guys breast cancer isn't just diagnosed in women, men also are diagnosed with breast cancer each year, so look after your health and be aware of how to spot anything different. Stay connected with your MBS.

Learnt about Superfoods in school today, check out my classmates and the photobomber, nice work Erica :) After volunteering at the Feast of Flavor I'm much more interested in these holistic foods, and of course will share some great information on realistic superfoods you can incorporate into your life.

Acai berry: this blueberry size Amazonian fruit is loaded with antioxidants, it reduces growth of leukemia cells in a lab by upto 86%. Contains fiber, amino acids, oleic acid and a SUPERDOSE of antioxidants - more than most fruits including pomegrante.

Green Tea: Fights cancer by reducing tumor size and growth. Lower risk of mortality, lower risk of cardiovascular disease, contains antioxidants. A great brand on the market is called MATCHA, its the Emporer of Green Teas, 1 cup of Matcha is equivalent to 10 cups of normal green tea. It detoxifys your liver, increases concentration, physical energy and focus. Matcha uses the tips of leaves only and forced the plants Chlorophyll into the tips, its shade grown and steamed. You can buy from health food stores, and ditch the trip to Starbucks and embrace the Japanese art of tea drinking ceremonies and live a healthy longer life.

Red Wine: Like green tea and dark chocolate (see Day 13 blog) red wine contains falvonoids, aswell as some anti-cancer fighting properties, thanks to the natural antioxidant resveratrol, mainly found in red wine because it comes from grape skins. Drink organic wine only, it doesn't leave you with a hangover caused from the pesticides used in vineyards.

Spirulina: I first tried this on the organic farm I mention in the last blog Centre Hill. It was about 4 years ago and Ian the farmer gave me a green smoothie to which I turned my nose up at at first, GREEN smoothie???? Now I can't get enough of it. Its a significant source of protein, B and E vitamins and antioxidants. Fights fatigue, anixety and depression, promotes weight loss in a healthy way, and enhances immunity. You can buy in supplement form (power) and add to your own smoothies, and health food shops also sell smoothies based on spirulina. Its a descandant of the worlds first photosynthetic life form, blue-green algae, a rich source of nutrients indeed.

Raw Food: (see Day 12) If you try and incorporate some raw food into your life, you are maximising the nutrients gained from foods. They are many enzymes in raw foods that aid digestion, and these are mostly killed when cooking above 120 degrees. If anything thinking about raw food will definately help you incorporate more fruits and vegetables into your diet.
Raw Food isn't all about nibbling on a carrot all moody and alone drinking cold green tea, here is another recipe from my raw foods class for a great dessert YES thats right thats GOOD for you!
NY-Style Lemon Cheesecake! Crust:
2C Macadamia nuts
2 pinches of salt
1t vanilla bean (optional)
Method:Place all ingredients in the food processor and process until 70% combined.
Press the crust in to the bottom of three 4″ spring form pans.
1+ 1/2 C Cashews (soaked for 24+ hours)
1C lemon juice
1/2C coconut sugar
1/4C coconut butter
2T lemon zest
2t lime juice

Method: Blend all ingredients in a high speed blender until smooth, aerating as necessary. Pour mixture into two 5" spring form pans. Freeze for 1 hour.
Serving: Remove the cake from the freezer 25 minutes prior to serving. For an extra creamy
texture this cake may be stored in the fridge.
Garnish: 1 cup of seasonal berries, frozen, then thawed. Spoon the berries on top of the cake.
Please note: Strawberries provide the most sweetness; balancing the lemon best. Agave nectar can also be added to the berries for sweetness. Enjoy!

This cake tastes just like the traditional cheese cakes made with "real" cheese.

Todays yoga was Hatha with Cameron and his handsome tattoed arms, BUT to challenge myself I kept my eyes shut. NOOOOO not to stop myself from perving at Cameron, but to trust in my balance and core. Closing your eyes during yoga can really help stabilise you internally, and emotionally aswell as being just an all round physical work out. It creates focus from the inside, and you can really take your breath deep to those places within, visualising it running through your body like a light swirling around every cell and igniting you. Try smiling :)

It’s a bit of a yogic paradox: Closing your eyes can actually help you see better—at least from a metaphysical point of view. :) Balance isn’t just visual, its from our core, and when you shut out the distractions (especially Camerons handsome forearms), you’re able to listen to your body and breath. If you’re not keen on spending your whole practice in the dark, shutting your eyes periodically can be amazingly helpful, just try it and wobble and laugh. Falling is a part of learning, and learning is a part of laughing. It’s fun to let your ‘feeling mode’ take the lead over your ‘seeing mode'. It empowers you to feel your way into the movements without second-guessing whether you’re doing them right, I'm personally not constantly checking my big toe alignment with my right ear, or ensuring my hip is pulled to my chin and anything else that our eyes distract us to in a pose.  Loosen up, lose the ridgety of the pose and float, incorporate a little Tai Chi into how you sit in the pose. Feel the energy run to your finger tips and tingle! When you’re more connected with how you feel, you’ll naturally breathe deeper and feel calmer. Which can help you look at the world around you in a whole new way, so close your eyes anyway. Doesn't have to be in a yoga class, you could be on a bus, walking on the beach, in a busy restaurant, close your eyes and feel. Its amazing how we lose judgement once our we have our eyes wide shut.

Peace out man.
Open your eyes now and make a donation if you enjoyed the tips today, or just incorporate them into your daily life and start healing, and living, and finding more joy!

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Outreach Yoga Challenge - Day 16 Kundalini Pumpkin head

Kundalini was mega intense today, no Enrique, no raving on the yoga mats. But equally as rewarding. Lots of powerful repetitive movements with breath and focus, including plank pushing back to squat keeping hands in the same position, so just pressing back with bum and bending knees to meet feet, breath into plank, and out to squat, 4 minutes. Move back to plank, lower down to the floor (don’t collapse like me) push back up to plank (you can use your knees if necessary, I do) flowing upto downward dog. Back down to plank, lower down, push back to plank to downdog, 4 minutes. Walk your feet to your hands, keep folded, hold your ankles and then squat down bending the knees looking up, then straighten legs and fold, keeping hold of ankles, repeat over and over, breathing in on the leg straight, out on the squat knee bent, 4 minutes. OK only an hour left of the class to go! J

In Hindu mythology, Kundalini is a serpent goddess who lies asleep at the base of the spine, coiled three and a half times around the first chakra. Her name is Kundalini Shakti, and she represents the unfolding of the divine Shakti energy, the energising potential of life itself, a living goddess who enlivens all things. Under certain circumstances the Kundalini energy awakens and begins to rise through the body, piercing and opening the chakras as she moves in her undulating and snake like fashion. as Kundalini releases stored and blocked energies, her movement can be quite intense, sometimes painful, and often leads to mental states that seem out of this world.

Circumstances that can stimulate Kundalini awakening are many and varied, but are usually triggered by such things as extended periods of meditation, yoga, fasting, stress, trauma, psychedelic drugs and near death experiences. Kundalini is a condensed primal force, similar to the potential energy found in water. When released it creates a vertical connection between the chakras by opening the subtle channels known as nadi, most specifically, the central channel that moves up the spine, called sushumna. If we put water through a small hose at very high pressure the end of the hose will undulate like a snake. Similarly, the intense energy of Kundalini undulates in the body as it rises through the chakras.

Kundalini can also be seen as a result of the chakras connecting to each other. Theoretically, as the chakras enlarge, the spinning of one can enhance the spinning of the one above or below it. It’s a healing force, explore your goddess within! Claire a fellow yogi friend of mine shared this beautiful song, enjoy the vibrations, it’s great for kundalini chanting, but it’s just great for calm and feeling love inside you see if you don’t smile and feel warm and gooey J

Using my organic food swag donated from the Feast of Flavour I spent the rest of the day cooking up some amazing pumpkin soup, carving out my pumpkin for Halloween and singing along to the beat of good vibrations and feeling grateful for the sunshine.
 I also made some chilli kale chips (Kale is a dark leafy green vegetable that tastes amazing after a quick blast in the oven with some olive oil and chilli flakes). Don’t forget to scoop out your pumpkin seeds and bake them up in the same way for a great snack that’s packed with nutrients.

Pumpkin is on the list for the worlds healthiest foods as mentioned in previous blogs, and whilst we've become accustomed to thinking about leafy vegetables as an outstanding source of antioxidants, we've been slower to recognize the outstanding antioxidant benefits provided by other vegetables like winter squash including  pumpkins. But we need to catch up with the times! Recent research has made it clear just how important winter squash is worldwide to antioxidant intake, especially so in the case of carotenoid antioxidants. No single food provides a greater percentage of certain carotenoids than winter squash. The unique carotenoid content of the winter squashes is not their only claim to fame in the antioxidant department, however. There is a very good amount of vitamin C in winter squash (about one-third of the Daily Value in every cup) and a very good amount of the antioxidant mineral manganese as well. Recent research has shown that the cell wall polysaccharides found in winter squash also possess antioxidant properties, as do some of their phenolic phytonutrients. To put it more simply it's the combination of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds in winter squash that have shown this food to have clear potential in the area of cancer prevention and cancer treatment. Prostate cancer is the cancer type that has been of greatest research interest in this regard, followed by colon cancer, breast cancer, and lung cancer. We have yet to see cancer-related studies that involve everyday amounts of winter squash consumed in food form. Still, given the clear antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits of winter squash, we expect to see cancer studies in humans eventually identifying this food as a risk reducer for certain cancer types.

The amazing phytonutrient content of winter squash and their seeds makes us realise that this food is not just a starchy vegetable. Carotenoids found in winter squash include alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, lutein, and zeaxanthin. Pectin-containing cell wall polysaccharides found in winter squash are important anti-inflammatory nutrients provided by this food, as are its cucurbitacins (triterpene molecules). Winter squash is an excellent source of immune-supportive vitamin A (in its "previtamin" carotenoid forms). It is also a very good source of free radical-scavenging vitamin C and manganese and heart-healthy potassium and dietary fiber. In addition, winter squash is a good source of heart-healthy folate, omega-3 fatty acids, niacin, and vitamin B6; energy-producing thiamin and vitamin B5; and bone-building copper. This information is all taken from

So get carving out your pumpkins for Halloween but use the meat and seeds inside to make a great nutritious meal that you can freeze up, and snack on those seeds and ditch the Doritos! See if you can spot them again in your poo to check if your digestion system is working properly J Lemme know!!!

There is nothing more important than a mother’s love. This is for all the mums out there, you’re pretty amazing, especially mine.

Life began with waking up and loving my mother’s face ‘George Elliot’

Thanks for letting me know I’m loved Fifi.
I love you.

Just a few dollars away from my target if you'd like to throw a few bucks to the charity. More importantly, explore your body through yoga and eat pumpkin!

Outreach Yoga Challenge - Day 15 Moooooo!

If you are a student like me, you can soak up exam worries in an Epsom Salt bath, candles and good old Al Green. Dry body brushing helps eliminate dead skin but also stimulates your lymph glands to secret toxins picked up in the system called our daily ‘toxic loads’. Soaking in epsom salts will also draw out these toxins from your body and soak them up, leaving you feeling amazing. This is great for long hours spent in front of a computer, radiation, flying, driving long distance, pollution, anything thats nasty, the Epsom salts will draw out of your body, and you can shower after your shower to rinse away any residues. Candlelit baths, and Al Green go hand in hand really, sing your ass off, feel good and spend some time with yourself, being kind on yourself and loving yourself, it’s great for our mind, body and spirit connection, it’s just good for us!

I’m drinking a lot of organic almond milk and organic coconut milk lately. I stopped drinking dairy a while ago mainly for environmentalism reasons and the quality of milk available, and had been using soy instead. I’ve also stopped consuming soy now, 90% of soy available on the market is ALL genetically modifed. Here are some facts about both these products if you don’t need more of a reason to swap to yummy almond and coconut milk (coconut has so many amazing nutrients for our body, its a superfood packed with antioxidants and growth hormones)

 Milk: Does it do a body good? This is what the dairy industry and marketers say: Milk is necessary for strong bones; Milk is a wholesome ‘good-for-you’ food.

The Reality: Living conditions for cows are generally poor – they are kept in confinement in individual stalls, on hard cement floors, hooked upto milking machines for ten months of the year. Cows kept in this way only live for 42 months on average as opposed to 12-15 years for a pastured cow. Cow’s are essentially kept pregnant to produce the milk, and most bobby calves don’t live past 2 days old as they are not profit in the dairy world. They are slaughtered for waste, or animal feed.

Environmental concerns: The massive amount of waste produced on a factory farm can have a devastating effect on the surrounding environment. Much of that waste is forced unnaturally into the environment, polluting lakes, rivers and streams YOUR DRINKING WATER. A small farm with pastured cows is able to recycle manure back into the earth to enrich the soil.

Diet: A cow’s natural diet consists mostly of grass. A factory farmed cow eats mostly corn and soy which receives 80% of the herbicides and pesticides used in the US. Animal feed manufacturers regularly add garbage, fats emptied from restaurant fryers, newspapers, human sludge, cattle and hog manure, bakery wastes, undigested proteins and aflatoxins from mouldy grains.

Aren’t cows vegetarians?: At the time of the BSE scare (mad cows disease), the FDA ordered a halt to feeding euthanized dogs and cats, slaughterhouse wastes like blood, bone and viscera to dairy cows, who are naturally vegetarian. At that time 75% of the nations 90 million cattle had been eating feed containing these products. URRRGGHHHHH!!!

Trying not to take antibiotics?: Over 50% of all the antibiotics produced in the US are mixed directly into animal feed. Due to the sickly nature of factory farmed animals, they are fed a constant supply of antibiotics from birth to slaughter. If you drink commercial milk or eat commercially raised meats and poultry, you could be consuming antibiotics on a daily basis. Milk alone contains traces of upto 80 different antibiotics. Fancy a biscuit with that glass of milk???

Hormones: Monsanto has just announced that they will stop making rBGH, a hormone that was routinely injected into cows so that they would produce more milk. (google Monsanto and buckle in for the horror show here is a quick one This increased more sickness in cows and produced many dead calves, increased need for more antibiotics and increased udder infections. It is more likely that milk from treated cows contains more pus and bacteria than milk from rBGH free cows.

Pasteurisation: Pasteurisation is a process of heat treating milk to kill bacteria. It also kills friendly bacteria, enzymes, antibodies, lipase, amny of the vitamins, and greatly diminishes the nutrient content of the milk. Phosphatase, which is essential for the absorption of calcium, is completely destroyed during pasteurisation.

Gasp! – Raw Milk!: There are far more risks from drinking pasteurised milk than raw milk. Raw milk contains healthy bacteria that inhibit the growth of undesirable and dangerous organisms. Modern equipment such as milking machines, stainless steel tanks and refrigerated trucks, make it entirely possible to bring raw clean milk to the market.

Homogenisation: This is the process of breaking up the fat globules in milk to an unnatural size. The body does not recognise these particles as fat and does not deal with them correctly. Homogenisation unnaturally increases the surface area of fat increasing the exposure to air and causing oxidation. Homogenisation is linked to heart disease and atherosclerosis.

Alternatives: Remove pasteurised milk from your diet – use good quality organic rice (soy if its organic) almond or coconut milk. Use better dairy products like raw cheese, good quality whole yoghurt, butter and cream BIN THE MAGERINE. Find a source of raw milk or even a cow share, head to your local farmers market, or a local farm and find out more about dairy in your area. DRINK RAW MILK! Support your local farms, turn off TV and find out the info for yourself. We are actually only meant to drink milk during our building years as a baby... BUT we need good probiotics from organic live yoghurt, and good fats from raw cheese (goes well with a glass of vino yah!)

Alternative Calcium sources: sesame seeds, almonds, collards, broccoli, nettles, salmon, homemade stock, blackstrap molasses, sea vegetables.

Industrialised agriculture does not provide a healthy life for cows. How then, can their milk or their meat be healthy. This isn’t limited to cows either, chickens all over the world are kept in far worse conditions.... Know your product, buy organic, question where you food is from and what’s in it! I worked on an organic farm in New Zealand called Centre Hill Organic Farm, check it out they operate WOOF scheme  which gives you an opportunity to learn all about organic farming, ITS AMAZING!!! You work for free and get your board and food and MORE LEARNING that you could ever imagine. Centre Hill also have a private cottage you can stay in and help out on the farm too. The farm was mainly organic spuds and eggs! But the organic farmer also grazed dairy cows for other farmers too, they do exist, and they are healthy loved cows fed on organic grass and rotated around the 32 paddocks daily. The farmer had rescued a bobby calf from the slaughter house, and it was fed on dairy milk from other cows through a babies big bottle CUTEEEEE! My job involved taking the tractor out  (and playing silly games with the controls) and moving the cows daily to the fresh paddocks of lovely grass, alternating them over 32 fields of fresh organic grass. Yeah I may have given them a bit of love too, everyone deserves to be loved and to live a happy life right, dairy cows included, they are such timid animals and follow you as you walk across the field :) So if you do drink milk, think about where its from, a happy cow living a natural life or one that gets 42 months living on concrete in a factory pumped with hormones, antibiotics and has its kids slaughtered???

Somehow in the milk scare everyone, including me started drinking soy! It’s everywhere we go now, including all of those rainforests that produce the oxygen we breathe, have been chopped to grow the genetically modified ‘Soy’ plantations. Here’s some truths about Soy, turn off the TV and make up your own mind?
All soy is industrial growth, it carries the same issues for environmentalism, it is always a refind end product, and 90% is genetically modified allowing farmers to use large amounts of herbicides creating toxic runoff. In 3rd world countries soybeans replace traditional crops and transfer the value added of processing from the local population to multinational corporations.

Babies fed soy based formula and milk have upto 22000 times more estrogen compounds in their blood, that’s the equivalent of 5 birth control pills a day. Baby boys undergo a testosterone surge as high as an adult male, disrupt learning and develop attention deficits. Girls show signs of puberty before the age of eight, and some show sexual development before the age of three.

Soy disrupts the endocrine function (hormones) and has the potential to cause infertility and promote breast cancer in women. Women with high levels of estrogen in their blood had the lowest levels of cognitive function. Soy foods increase the bodys requirement for Vitamin D. Toxic synthetic vitamin D2 is added to soy milk. Foods also contain high levels of aluminium, which is toxic to the nervous system and kidneys. MSG, a potent neurotoxin is formed during soy food processing and additional amounts are added to many soy foods to mask soys unpleasant taste. Processing of soy protein results in formation of toxic lysinoalanine and highly carcinogenic nitrosamines. The soy phytoestrogens are potent antithyroid agents that cause hypothyroidism and thyroid cancer. High levels of phytic acid in soy reduce assimilation of calcium, magnesium, copper, iron and zinc. Its not neutralised by preparation methods like soaking, slow cooking. High phytate diets cause growth problems in children. Trypsin inhibitors in soy interfere with protein digestion and can cause pancreatic disorders.

Just as an experiment, pick up some almond or coconut milk, warm a little bit and add to your breakfast porridge with some cinnamon and dried cranberries, a perfect winter warming get up and go tasty and healthy, safe alternative to a bowl full of antibiotics and birth control pills?

With so much talk of digestion, I stayed home for my yoga practice and concentrated on some deep stretches, which are perfect to stimulate digestion, and also for period pain. Reclining hero pose (Supta Virasana) loosens thighs, knees, hip flexors, and ankles. It stimulates digestion, alleviates arthritis and respiratory problems and is also great for period pains too. Begin in heros pose (Virasana) which is kneeling on bum with feet and calves pushed to the sides of your thigh. Be comfortable here first, then lean back gradually putting your hands on the floor behind you for support. Lower yourself onto your elbows. Recline all the way back until your back reaches the floor, move your arms to the sides and relaxing them palms up or rise them above your head holding onto each elbow. Squeeze your knees together so that they don’t separate wider than your hips and don’t allow then to lift off the floor. Hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute, deep breaths. You can also place folded blankets underneath your back and neck for support. Avoid sliding your knees beyond width of hips, and pushing yourself down – just relax and breath through the reclining action.

Autumn is such a beautiful colourful time, and I get to ride my bicycle on one of the friendliest bike roads home each day from school, called west 8th Avenue in Kitsilano. Its hard to avoid crashing when you’re constantly looking up at the leaves and grinning like a crazy person J