Feeling low in energy? Here's Ambika's top 5 tips.
1) Rest! Instead of that dynamic flow class, opt for a restorative yoga class and give yourself the rest you deserve.
2) Heart opening postures and backbends like cobra pose and camel can help to invigorate the body and increase energy.
3) Smile. When we smile, even if it's forced, we release 'feel good' hormones which can also have an effect on our energy levels.
4) Drink water! (hmmm .... most of us just don't do this enough!)
5) Breathe. Breathing exercises, or pranayama as we call them in yoga, are super beneficial for reducing stress and increasing energy and focus.
By John Nield
I just noticed that the title could be totally misinterpreted... bonus :)
This is gonna be trippy, so queue your fave Doors or Bob Marley jam...
You know how an orchestra conductor uses a tuning fork at the start of the symphony?
The fork produces a tone. All the musos tune in, and away they go.
Well, the vibration of Om, well... it is yoga. Say what? True story, and no, I haven't been tokin' up.
Remember in a prev post how we determined that yoga is the stilling of the mind?
Well, what is the stilling of the mind exactly? Answer: it's a vibration. The vibration of Om.
Think of life as vibrations (you were warned that this was gonna be trippy).
In your hectic life, the vibrations are fast, high, low. They switch frequencies all the time. The more crazy your life, the more the vibrations swing about.
Now Om is a long, strong, low, deep, slow vibration. It is very calming (remember: yoga is the stilling of the mind).
So when you Om at the start of class, make it a vibration in your chest.
Tune into it and modulate you breath with the frequency. Also, focus your mind on the vibration. I know this sounds like a crock, but it actually works.
Now, remember this all starts as soon as the Om finishes. You should be tuned in and ready to roll.
Deep, modulated breath and focus at the frequency of Om will take you deeper into poses and you will hold harder poses longer.
It'll make your balances steadier and hair grow on your chest. Ok, not the last bit. That was a test to see if you're still awake.
Gimme a freakin' break...you try to make a post about Omming interesting. This shite is hard.
Om on, J.
About John - in his words - John Nield is redneck yogi wannabe tryhard
Humans are capable of discerning 5 tastes: sweet, salty, sour, bitter and umami.
As we all know, the modern day diet is lavishly laden with sweet and salty foods – we seem to be forgetting about one of our fundamental (and functional) tastes: Bitter. Many of us regard the taste of bitter as …yuk! We scrunch up our faces and reach for something to wash it down with. But bitter foods have a rich history, especially in the healing arts.
They are extremely useful medicinally and many cultures still revere bitter foods, wines and elixirs as an effective remedy for a range of ailments, as well as an essential part of a healthy diet.
It all centres around digestive health:
In a nutshell, the benefits of bitters are due to one main action: Their the ability to ‘kickstart’ digestion.
By stimulating digestive secretions the functioning of the entire gastrointestinal tract becomes more efficient. Starting right from the mouth – bitter constituents stimulate taste receptors and the vagus nerve which increases saliva production (think about what happens in your mouth when you taste something bitter). This has a knock-on effect throughout the digestive tract; stimulating the release of the acids, enzymes and hormones from the stomach, pancreas, liver, as well as bile from the gall bladder. These digestive juices are needed for the breakdown and absorption of nutrients from our food. Just 1tsp of bitters, or a lovely bowl of bitter green leaves before a meal has the ability to prime and prepare your body for the process of digestion.
You may find bitters beneficial if you suffer from some of the following symptoms:
1. Constipation, pain and bloating: If you feel full and bloated shortly after eating you may have issues with not digesting properly. Getting your digestive juices working properly before a meal makes for more efficient digestion; and therefore less chance for fermentation of food in the bowel (and painful bloating!).
2. Occasional heartburn/reflux: Bitters my help to alleviate symptoms of reflux by improving lower oesophageal sphincter tone and stimulation of gastric emptying.
3. Support healthy liver function: Most bitter tasting herbs are also great for liver. The liver is the unsung hero of the body – performing so many vital functions. Bitters stimulate production of bile from the liver. Bile is stored and released from the gall bladder, and carries the toxic load from liver to be excreted. Bile salts are an essential step in the emulsification, breakdown, and absorption of fats (including essential fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, K). This may be significantly beneficial for people who have difficulty digesting a fatty meal, and help to lower high cholesterol.
5. Skin irritation: Due to the liver action, bitters have the ability to ease inflammatory conditions on the skin (eczema/psoriasis) caused by digestive problems.
6. Gut dysbiosis: The extremely acidic environment of the stomach is an important line of defence for the body. Bitters help to maintain the hydrochloric acid secretions in the stomach, which kill off many potentially harmful bacteria, viruses, parasites or fungi we may be ingesting – helping out our friendly gut flora further down the intestine and colon.
7. Hypochlorhydria (low stomach acid): We need this acid in order to absorb many nutrients. If you are seeing undigested food in your stool, have bloating or reflux after a meal, you may be suffering from hypochlorhydria. Bitters help to increase these acidic gastric secretions.
Fantastic! How do I take them?
Firstly …. you’ve got to taste the bitter:
**When considering herbal medicine, the synergistic actions of the herbs and interactions with medications should be carefully considered. Always consult a Naturopath.
Karen is a Yoga Teacher and a student of Naturopathy. You can currently find her teaching Yoga at The Yoga Social.
Home practice can be daunting (sometimes). What to do?
General vs Specific Practice
Let's break it down into two categories: general and specific.
General is a bit of everything: forward bends, back bends, side bends, standing poses, one leg balances, arm balances, hip and shoulder openers.
Specific is say when you want to work on your back bends because they are your weakest category of Asana (and you should be specifically practicing your weakest areas).
When to Practice Specifically
Yoga classes tend to be general. So if you are hitting the mat in class a couple of times per week, then you've got this covered. Supplement this general practice with specific home practice in your weakest area(s).
Create an A4 page of 10 stick figures targeting your weakest areas. Make sure to work upwards in difficulty.
Practice the poses a couple of times each, going deeper each time. Remember, you are trying to gain in strength and flexibility or to balance better, so repetition is key.
When to Practice Generally
If you aren't getting to class enough, then you need to run through a general practice at home.
Bang out some Suri A, B and C. Add in some standing and balancing poses, and finish with some back and front bends.
30 - 45 mins and you are done and dusted. No biggie. Keep it simple. Maybe write it down to keep you honest and on track.
Always Finish Hungry for More
When I boxed, the trainer would always finish us off when we were still hungry for more training. This kept the training interesting and us coming back. Same with a home yoga practice.
Keep it tight and practice generally or specifically depending on your class attendance.
About John - John is (in his own words) a redneck yogi wannabe try hard.
You can check out his blog here 'How To Be Your Own Yoga Messiah'
As The Yoga Social’s OM into Spring continues, both Sasha and I are enjoying the diet changes we are making as part of our commitment to let August hear our OM at full resonance! So what’s gone for us? Coffee, alcohol, sugar, dairy, gluten for a start and instead we have a better sense of listening to our bodies to hear what it really wants for nourishment. To support us in our change of increasing protein and healthy fats into our diet we are using coconut oil in our cooking. It’s tasty and staves off sweet cravings.
As yogis we know that the practice of yoga incorporates the philosophy of food as life affirming medicine. We begin to review our food choices and look for products that provide us with real nourishment on a physical level, and nourishment on an environmental and social level. Coconut oil has a versatility of uses and health giving properties. Check this list out for some of them. Generally used as a food product, the oil is safe to use in a range of settings away from the kitchen. I take mine into the bathroom for use on my face and body and into the bedroom. I eat a teaspoon when I feel like something sweet and it suffices to take away any cravings.
You might have noticed as you come into reception at The Yoga Social that tucked on a shelf above, are a couple of jars of coconut oil, and not just any old coconut oil. The Yoga Social has been stocking and selling Niuguini Organics Coconut Oil for the last four months, with buyers delighting in its deliciousness. Due to the purity of the product, this particular oil does not have a strong flavour, so your food is not going to taste like coconuts in a major way.
We love Niugini Organics at The Yoga Social, not only because the oil is incredibly pure compared to other oils on the market, but the food miles are low – it comes from our neighbours in Papua New Guinea, its organic, raw and best of all, fair trade. Coconuts are sourced from local farms, which are regularly checked to maintain organic certification. No plantation farms, with coconuts picked by monkeys (yes this happens elsewhere), but local farms which employ local workers and deliver profits back into the local community. Just knowing that back story of Niuguini Organics, nourishes me.
Sasha has put together a little recipe or two to help you see how you might integrate coconut oil into your life.
x Leonie & Sasha
SOME FAVOURITE DELICIOUS RECIPES
Simple Chocolate Fudge
Makes 30-35 pieces, you can easily half the recipe to make a smaller quantity.
Best kept in the fridge, or even in the freezer for a fudgey frozen treat!
Almond Joy Fat Bombs
Optional: Once firm, use a toothpick to grab and dip each ball in a thin layer of melted dark chocolate. Place on wax paper and put back into the freezer for 5 minutes.
These fat bombs store well in the fridge and freezer.
Homemade All Natural Deodorant
1. In a medium bowl, mix the baking soda and arrowroot flour until well combined. Baking soda can be quite irritating on some skin, so if you think you may be sensitive to it, use less baking soda and more arrowroot flour – or you can substitute arrowroot flour for baking soda completely.
2. Add the coconut oil (room temperature works best) and mix until you reach a smooth consistency – there shouldn’t be any leftover powder. If you feel that your mixture is too dry, add a bit more coconut oil and mix some more.
3. Almost done! Add your essential oil mixture – this is totally optional, but it’s a great addition to smell great.
Happy Om'ing :)
This awesome image is of me interpretive dancing. Yep, I said awesome, cos that is how I feel whenever I pull out a contemporary 'So You Think You Can Dance' move. It's what I do to release stress. Dance around and be a goober!
About four months ago I was sick. Sick for at least two months (or more) with a cold/flu I just couldn't shake. It was hard to teach, hard to work, hard to laugh. I went to the doctors to have all of my bloods checked and surprisingly they came back exceptionally healthy, which was also a surprise for my doctor as I've been a lacto vegetarian for over 20 years. My iron levels were actually slightly higher than normal. So my diet wasn't the problem.
Anyway, this got me thinking. Why am I sick? The only thing I could think of was stress. My stress seemed like normal stress to me, stress because I'm the owner of a relatively new business and finances were always in my mind, stress because I was doing a lot, and stress because I was thinking about the future of my business and always trying to create ideas on marketing etc ...
After lots and lots of reflection it dawned on me that It was actually worry.
It was worry which was making me sick and not stress. It was my reaction to my stress. I chose to worry. I chose to attach to these thoughts and dream of them, make up 'failure' scenarios as to what 'could' happen and dwell on them. My reactions to my stress were so powerful they made me sick.
Things needed to change. I was anxious and sick.
So, how did I turn it around? Firstly, I observed my stress, broke it down, and I got myself out of the stressful situations I could get myself out of, the simple, realistic ones like cutting the stuff the business couldn't afford. I looked at my current situation and chose to praise myself and what I'de accomplished, and saw my thoughts of jealousy, anger and fear as a chance to 'self study' and mostly didn't attach to them. Notice I said 'mostly'? I'm only human right :)
I also realised I couldn't do everything. And my business couldn't be everything. A few years ago I got super excited and thought my yoga business could be a studio, a school, a mentoring service, an art gallery and an online resource. Realistically, this couldn't work. So I chose one thing the business was good at, and one thing only, and let the other stuff go. I chose to take time out even when I had stuff to do, because I knew that If I didn’t, I wouldn’t have time off at all ... and things can wait, and I also acknowledged that every single worry I had was a choice.
Stress is normal. Worrying is not, and it can be so harmful, it can make you ill and can prematurely age every cell in your body. Our reactions to our experience mean everything. They shape who we are and determine where we are going. Everybody experiences stress. We are not alone, although our reactions can make us stand out from the crowd ... and sometimes not in a positive way. Some people lash out in fear, some of us (me) worry instead. Both of these are not healthy reactions.
I now feel healthy and finally have energy again. This wasn’t about changing my diet, or my lifestyle, it was about changing how I reacted.
There are meditation / mindfulness exercises we can practice for this. When you are feeling stressed out, try sitting and focusing on your breath. Feel your breath enter and exit through your body and observe your stress instead of reacting straight away, then make a conscious effort to not attach to it and simply watch it pass. Make a decision to not react in a negative or harmful way to yourself or to anyone else. This decision, this choice, will change everything and it could take less than five minutes. Check out this cool animation.
Or, next time you're feeling stressed, get out your ghetto blaster (okay ... maybe your iPod) and dance around to 'Flashdance, What a feeling', Seriously, turn it up and pull some moves, dance and jump around the room like you're on so you think you can dance, or better still, dance for no competition and just do it for yourself. It works every time for me and it feels so good!! :)
Just one more thing. A few of my friends have looked at the image of me above and seriously have almost wet themselves laughing. So, if the meditation or the dancing doesn't quite work for you .. there's always my photo .... just saying.
Namaste. Ambika x
Introducing our guest blogger, Aileen David
Aparigraha: Having Joy in what you Have
I bought this gorgeous Esprit bag as a post-Christmas present for myself. It is tan in colour, soft suede, stylish flap-over design, spacious and really, really gorgeous. I have a bag obsession. Not any kind of bag though; I prefer slings and back packs. Big enough that I can stuff everything I need and, of course, it has to be cute. I also tend to only buy from specific brands. So when there's something new, I start reasoning the purchase to myself and start obsessing over it. It would always feel so good when I finally get it. But after, the bag would wind up getting stuck in storage with all the other bags that I really, really wanted. Needed, even! Where am I going with this, you ask. I'm painting you a picture of my psychology when it comes to buying "stuff".
Sometime last year I saw a unique oil burner. It was a laboratory flask attached to a wood stand with wing screws to keep the flask aloft. It was cute and it made sense to me. No boiling over, no spillage, aesthetically pleasing and I found it in a shop at Melbourne Central! I wanted it and clearly, finding it was a sign from the Universe that I was meant to have it. But it was expensive; $130 for the small one and $190 for the larger. But I wanted it. I didn't have the money to throw at it. But I wanted it. I could have asked my husband to buy it for me, and he would without hesitation. Because I wanted it.
But I didn't get it. I left it on the shelf and walked away. Why? It wasn't pre-purchase buyer's guilt. That wouldn't have made me let it go. It was this simple sentence that rang through my head: "Don't be wasteful". It was then that I remembered one of the Yamas (self-restraints) of Patanjali, Aparigraha: the practice of non-greed, non-avarice, non-covetousness. But my definition was, as I said, simply being non-wasteful.
I don't think anyone would disagree that we live in a highly commercialised world and being part of this world, we participate in this practise of near constant acquisition. We buy stuff regardless of whether we need it or even whether we can afford it. And more often than not, these stuff end up in storage or as clutter or as contributions to the landfill, all a big waste in the end.
Apart from minimising adding to the strain on our little planet, I believe practising Aparigraha can help us appreciate the material things we already have. I'm not saying we can't buy new stuff or replace some of our old or broken things. But wouldn't it be better to use what we have to their fullest service thereby increasing their value and the value of the replacement. I'm not merely talking about monetary value either. We work hard for the money we use, so what we use it on should match that effort. We honour ourselves and the ones who support us by being wise about our purchases and possessions. Aparigraha can also make our spirits feel lighter because we free ourselves from digging our mental and emotional claws into an obsession, any obsession.
So, going back to my oil burner, I decided to make one (it's the photo above). While making it, I was telling myself "Restrain yourself from being wasteful. Make rather than buy, give rather than throw, create rather than destroy, and have joy in what you have rather than want what you don't need."
Aileen David holds an advanced Diploma of Yoga Teaching, and a Masters in Yoga. She has attended numerous workshops and trainings throughout the years including a certificate in Ayurvedic healing, and from this, She has developed her own flowing style of Yoga called Dosha Vinyasa, which has strong elements of Ayurveda as well as Yoga.
You can enjoy her blog Discover Yoga HERE
And her Facebook page HERE
"I want to stand as close to the edge as I can without going over " Kurt Vonnegut
In Yin Class tonight we explored the hips and I used this quote to support the wisdom of finding our personal edge in a practice and that is certainly something you find when sitting with the discomfort of strong hip openers that Yin offers as an experience.
But what is our edge and what is this part of the practice that we are looking at? The edge could be our physical limits where we are pushing our body to extremes or perhaps a deeper emotional edge where we don’t want to go that far into the movement.
What I was wondering when I came home is, “What is this edge and what would happen if we went over it?”. There is a sense that as we teeter into facing the abyss perhaps the letting go would allow us to find freedom or release. In a physical sense this push beyond our limitations may not be a wise move, causing pain or even injury however do we have an emotional or psychological edge that we dare not cross?
Is there something that holds us back from feeling a more direct encompassing and freeing experience of existence.It may not be the body but the mind that holds us to the edge looking at the view and wondering.
I have had digestive issues and anxiety since I was a teenager, and it's been a long, painful journey trying to find the cause. After years of tests, seeing various GP's and natural practitioners, I feel I'm getting somewhere at last and have nailed down most of my food intolerances (a lot!) and emotional triggers with a regular yoga and meditation practice. But, it wasn't until I started drinking Kombucha daily that I've felt the freedom that comes with a non bloated tum, so much more energy and, well, other benefits relating to ones toileting which I won't go into because I am a lady (??!!).
Our 'second brain' is housed in our gut, where serotonin (happy feel-good chemicals) are produced. The gut is the only organ with it's own nervous system with an intricate network of 100 millions neurons embedded in the gut wall (1.) Stress can affect gut bacteria, disrupting digestion and creating a vicious cycle of psychological and physical reactions feeding back to the nervous system. For me it has been a bit of a question of chicken and egg - did the anxiety cause the gut distress or did the gut distress and lack of serotonin production cause the anxiety?
I think it's probably a bit of both, but what I am sure about is feeding my gut with probiotics and prebiotics has helped amazingly, and thanks to Karen from The Yoga Social who donated me my first Scoby baby (more on that below!) I am now perhaps just slightly obsessed with prebiotic filled Kombucha!
Below you will see an alien like substance which are the Kombucha scoby's in some of the tea. DELICIOUS! The Scoby (is this not the best word ever??) is actually an acronym for Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast. That might sound like some form of venereal disease (mmm yum), but the good bacteria in the scoby helps to seal off the fermenting Kombucha tea of the outside air and bad bacteria.
The results are not as disgusting as you fear, and I find the tea can actually be quite refreshing. See below for basic instructions, there is also a lot of info online. To start out you will need to either purchase a SCOBY or get one donated (as Karen did for me and now I have Scoby's coming out my ears!)
Step 1. Preparing the tea (this recipe is for 1 Litre to start out)
Step. 2 Fermentation
Step. 3 Flavouring & Second Ferment (optional)
If you are not so keen on the natural taste of the Kombucha and would like an extra fizz you can go for a second ferment.
Written by Polly Wilson
1. American Psychological Association By Dr. Siri Carpenter September 2012, Vol 43, No. 8
We asked her a few questions about her Yoga journey.
Sasha, in just one paragraph can you tell us a little about yourself?
I am a positive, honest and fun loving Yogi. I adore colourful leggings, my dog Mr Foxy (and pretty much all dogs in general!), food, healthy living, the outdoors, sunshine, my husband, family and friends. I also love music, travelling and connecting with like-minded people.
What made you want to be a Yoga Teacher?
A combination of 3 things: 1) encouragement from my Yoga Teacher/mentor Ambika, 2) my huge passion for Yoga and wanting to share this with everyone I come across, and 3) to continue my journey of transformation.
Yoga has many paths; The four main paths being, Asana and Meditation (Raja), Philosophy (Jnana), Chanting and Prayer (Bhakti), Selfless Service (Karma). Which path do you connect with most, and why?
I would say Raja (Asana & meditation) as I find an incredible amount of peace and calmness through this path. Asana is where I started my Yoga practice some 17 years ago, and Meditation is something I have incorporated into my practice since completing my 200hr Teacher Training. To me, Asana was always my “moving meditation” and still is to a certain degree, but I now find sitting in stillness focusing only on the breathe and what is happening in that moment to be very liberating and cathartic.
What is your favourite Yoga Asana at the moment and why?
Oooooh, it’s a very close one between 2 poses!!
Adho Mukha Vrksasana (Handstand) because it’s just so damn fun, reminds me of being a carefree child and I have a slight obsession with balancing on my hands! :-)
Pincha Mayurasana (Feathered Peacock pose) because I find it a very strong yet graceful pose.
Advice for the beginner?
Have patience & compassion for yourself (physically & mentally), and practice, practice, practice!
We know you love to cook healthy food, do you have a favourite recipe and would you like to share it with us? Mmmmm, I certainly do love to cook!
Wow, so many recipes I could share with you!! But since I have a big love of chocolate, this is what I am going to share:
SIMPLE CHOCOLATE FUDGE:
1 cup organic Raw Cacao Powder
1 cup organic extra virgin Coconut Oil
1/2 cup organic honey
Pinch of sea salt (optional)
Handful or 2 of frozen raspberries OR Macadamia Nuts
1) In a small saucepan on very low heat, melt the honey and coconut oil,
2) Stir in the cocoa and a pinch of salt if using, whisk until smooth,
3) Pour carefully in to a small slice tin lined with baking paper (you could also use a small plastic container or kids shoe box lid) - add raspberries and/or nuts if using,
4) Place in the freezer for 1-2 hours to set,
5) Remove from the freezer and transfer to a chopping board. Carefully peel off the baking paper, then cut in to bite size pieces.
Makes 30-35 pieces, you can easily half the recipe to make a smaller quantity. Oh my goodness, soooooooo delicious!!
Do you have a favourite Yoga book and why is it your favourite?
'A Life Worth Breathing' by Max Strom. So much amazing wisdom and knowledge of Yoga, he (Max) has defied the odds and difficulties of his childhood to become a well-respected international Yoga Teacher. I have post-it noted half the pages in the book to refer back to often! :-)
Are there any Yoga teachers in the world you would like to practice with (or learn from)? Tell us about them.
Kathryn Budig – an internationally renowned Yoga teacher, she studied under Maty Ezraty, who is the founder of YogaWorks and this is the school I completed my 200hr YTT with. I find her incredibly passionate, inspirational, strong, and knowledgable, yet I love her playfulness and feel I can totally relate to her.
Jason Crandell – he is another internationally renowned Yoga teacher who is known for his YogaGlo classes. Jason has a deep knowledge of anatomy (which I love) and the attention to detail in his teachings are what I aspire to, yet he comes across as extremely down-to-earth, grounded and humble.
In one sentence, what is Yoga to you?
Yoga to me is a beautiful connection between body, breath & movement; it is strength, belief, honesty, truth, happiness, acceptance and love.
Now you know a little bit about Sasha, our awesome new Assistant Manager. You can check out her classes on a Wednesday night at TYS. She also has her own website/blog SashaYogaLife
If you bump into her at the studio, don't be afraid to give her a high five (oh, and seriously try her fudge! She really is a guru in the kitchen)
The Yoga Social Team