Blog

Pause. Be in the now...


ASHTANGA LOVE…

ASHTANGA LOVE…

Posted September 28, 2011

Are you wondering who the guy is in the picture? Well that’s Pattabhi Jois, the modern day Guru who introduced the Ashtanga Yoga Vinyasa system to the world. A man I now pay my deepest respect and gratitude too. Why? Because he has brought me Ashtanga Yoga Love… It didn’t happen overnight, but it did happen. I can just see my Ashtangi friends smiling broading from ear to ear when they read this. Most likely thinking ‘I told her so!’ But it’s true. It’s time to confess. Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga and I, well, we are lovers. AVY followed me around for a couple of years, nagging at me, trying to woo me, entice me into a little affair. But I was too loyal to my beloved Iyengar. So much so that I actually feel dirty writing this post. But, I do believe its time to put it out there, tell it like it is and hope for the best. So after much nagging (and encouragement from earlier mentioned friends) I embarked on a relationship with AVY. You can read all about that here. I won’t lie – the first month at Yoga Moves (you can see Pattabhi Jois above wearing a YogaMoves tshirt. His student, Eileen Hall, is my teacher) and on my the mat I spent fighting the voices in my head. I sound crazy, right? Sometimes it felt that way. But the voices went something like this: “Oh F#%*! I hate this, WHY am I here. My body isn’t designed for this kind of practice. I am not designed for this…” And then swinging to moments of pure elation and joy… there aren’t voices to transcript here, because when there was bliss and joy, there was peace, quite… no thoughts except a soft, lulling sensation. But, I am dedicated. As it says on the Yoga Moves website, ‘Transformation through Dedication’. And I really beleive that. So I am dedicated to everything I embark on. If not forever, for long enough to feel confident that I tried, really, really hard. And so it was. I persisted and somewhere in that persistence (read:  5:30am starts in the middle of winter, driving in the pitch black with eyes still puffy, entering the warm and cosy cave-like Shala  and well, moving) without realising it, the voices become much quieter… almost non-existent and the joy started to wash over me. Now, I see the beauty of the practice. I’m still so new to it and moving slowly through the primary series, but with each new pose I receive I am faced with a whole new set of challenges, including asanas I never really knew about. This week Eileen, my teacher, gave me two new poses. Garba Pindasana and Kukkutasana. The first one I can get into… although let me tell you, I need alot of humour and calm breathing to do it. It involves a spray bottle for lubrication, trust that my arms can actually fit through the non-existant space between my lotus and alot of core work. The second pose is where the humour really kicks in. Imagine holding this pose and then rocking back and forth, 9 times, in a clockwise position only to reach the finale – Kukktasana – where you live your own body weight off the floor. Let’s just say this is still definitely a work in progress. The final few poses that really get the heart pumping and push me to my boundaries are these poses (in order) Bhujapidasana Kurmasana Supta Kurmasana Tittibhasana Garba Pindasana Kukkutasana Other people at the shala make it look so easy… but I’m only 3 months into Mysore practice so I’m trying not to place pressure or judgements on myself. Either way, even when I fall flat on my face, struggle to get the pose, or when I nail it, I feel the same thing – elation. Just trying leaves me with this buzzy feeling… and I love it. What I love even moreso is savasana – because AVY is such a dynamic practice I give my little airy, vata body a loooooong relaxtion to properly settle my nervous system. I never used to do this with other yoga methods. Now I take rest, properly. I loll about, languidly in my mind, letting everything settle – the breath, the body, the mind. It’s just like that long, delicious sigh that you let out as you hit your pillow at night. Now, I haven’t totally ended my relationship with Iyengar, that’s probably considered a little disrespectful to some – such as those purists out there. But I still have a deep affinity for the practice and find it benefits my own teaching ability more than any other style can. Plus, i’m not a purist. Never have been. I’m a melting pot in everyway – I like to throw everything in the mix and see what comes out at the end. For me… what I’ve learnt the most since starting this practice, besides a set of challenging postures, is that not all things are love at first sight. Sometimes, we just need to peel away the layers, look beneath, scratch the surface – see what’s below and we may just like (or love!) what we find. This is definitely something I’ll carry off the mat. How can I not? It makes sense when you think about all the different people and experiences in our life that we are so quick to judge, only to find out that, hey, its not so bad. In fact. I really, really like it. Signing off with an exhale. Pause. Listen. Live Cx *Pictures kindly borrowed from http://www.clasesdeyoga.info/ Read more

The Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen

The Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen

Posted September 26, 2011

Sorry for the lil break between posts. I was too busy enjoying Spring! Now, this might seem like old news to some, but I know this is a list that I appreciate. The Environmental Working Group creates an easy quick reference guide to the fruits and veggies with the highest pesticide residue. Handy huh? Especially considering the toxicity levels in our bodies. We are exposed to so many chemicals each day – think about it for a moment. Shampoo/Conditioner, skincare products, haircare products, perfumes car fumes, pesticides, smog and pollution and so it goes… On, and on and on. So anything that helps us reduce that toxicity, even just a little will have an affect on our health. I know some people think that’s total bollocks, but hey – I don’t, so here it is. The Dirty Dozen 2011 – choose organic instead Apples Celery Strawberries Peaches Spinach Nectarines  Grapes  Sweet bell peppers Potatoes Blueberries  Lettuce Kale/collard greens As my beautiful sister also pointed out,  (thanks G!) unfortunately we need to add the brassicas to this group (cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower etc). In Australia these vegies are sprayed for the cabbage moth about 16 times in the growth cycle! Sorry, what?! Anyway they slow down your metabolism (store more fat) and are best eaten alongside foods that need a slower metabolic rate for absorption such as pork and fatty meat. But that’s a whole other story. But, don’t fret too much. The EWG also creates the Clean Fifteen list. These are the fruits and veggies with the lowest levels of pesticides. Which means, less dosh spent on organic.     How’s this for a fun-fact. The EWG has noted that if we choose to eat five servings of fruit and veg from the Clean Fifteen instead of the Dirty Dozen list then we can reduce pesticide ingestion by 92%. Now that is a whopping figure. Clean Fifteen 2011 Onions Sweet corn Pineapples Avocado Asparagus Sweet peas Mangoes Eggplants Cantaloupe  Kiwi Cabbage Watermelon Sweet potatoes Grapefruit Mushrooms Now, in no way am I saying organic and only organic. I’m realistic, I get that it’s expensive and it’s hard to include in your diet. So I’m all about picking and choosing what you can and can’t do in order to live healthier and happier. If this list gives you a little more direction, then great. If not, make sure you scrub/wash your fruit and veg as much as possible. It won’t get rid of all the pesticides but it’ll help somewhat.    The other option is to keep it local. If you can hit the markets, like Eveleigh in Sydney, you can actually meet the farmer’s themselves and ask questions. Perhaps avoid being really blunt – ‘ Hi, do you use pesticides?’ may not go down to well. But you could quietly approach them and suggest that you are really working on your health and trying to avoid toxins, ask if they would mind sharing how they pest control their crops.    I hope this helped!   Do you opt for organic? Or do you like to keep it local?   Signing off with an exhale.   Pause. Listen. Live.   C x  Read more

MEDITATION 101…what can happen + how to make it work for you

MEDITATION 101…what can happen + how to make it work for you

Posted September 19, 2011

A while ago I posted on meditation and the type that I practice – Primordial Sound Meditation. I also posted five different meditation styles, here. I’ve been meaning to write again about meditation and break it down a little further – what you can expect in a meditation session and the benefits you may reap. In my romantic vision of meditation I used to think that by simply closing my eyes and gently repeating my mantra that I would enjoy the stillness and reach some form of enlightenment. Wrong. So wrong. Let me walk you through a typical morning meditation experience. Now this is going to sound like I’m trying to convince you not to meditate. But quite the contrary. I’m trying to de-mystify the experience, mostly to demonstrate that meditation isn’t this inaccessible experience nor is it only for the truly enlightened and spiritual’. It is, however a skill that needs to be learned, practiced and approached with dedication. Here’s a snapshot of a standard meditation session: Wake Wash face + brush teeth Light candles Sit in meditation chair Set timer to 20 minutes (I keep this on really low, with a gentle alarm tone and no vibrate!) Close eyes and begin gently repeating mantra Battle non-stop with the words and thoughts whipping around my head – continually steering back to my mantra Fight the urge to give up early, open my eyes or feel frustrated at every single distraction/sound! Alarm goes off – stop repeating mantra Rub hands together and then press palms into eyes Gently open eyes As you can see – hardly enlightened or blissful, right? My morning session is usually the hardest one. Being a Vata dosha I am the most active – mentally – during the morning. I struggle to tame the monkey mind. Generally the 50 things I have to do before getting to work are simmering underneath the surface. Each ‘thing’ wants to be acknowledged and set free to run rampant through my mind, banging into each other and generally causing a mess. Even though it’s a struggle, that AM session is actually the most necessary. Without it, the monkeys in my mind multiply throughout the day and that’s when the struggle truly begins. I battle to find stillness, and just sitting and ‘being’ with the experience, whatever that may be. It feels impossible to formulate my day, act with patience, stay clear and maintain ‘big picture’ thinking. Over time I’ve slowly found a routine that helps me domesticate the wilderness messing about in my mind. These usually happen before I settle into my meditation chair. I don’t always do each one but pick and choose depending on how I am feeling. Stretch – a few gentle sun salutes and long held hip openers connected with ujjayi breathing (a gentle whisper/ocean like sounding breath created by contracting the glottis in the throat and breathing in and out of the nose) Journal– I take some time to note down my intuition for the day, expectations, goals and desires, or simply just a stream of consciousness to help me get ‘stuff’ down onto paper and out of my mind. Affirmations – I have a written list of affirmations. Really they are desires written as if they have already come into fruition. This helps me remember the ‘bigger picture’ and makes me feel a little more connected to myself. It reminds me of what I’m working towards without getting too micro, as we do most days with our ‘things-to-do’ lists! Pranayama – practice a few yogic breath-control techniques. My favourites are Nadi Shodana (alternate nostril breathing) and Kappalbhati (forceful breathing) My advice, if you struggle with your morning meditation session don’t be afraid to find a routine for you that works. You could try the above or even some other options such as: Rise Drink hot water + lemon to cleanse the body Morning exercise – sometimes a run or workout really , pen the body + mind allowing you to go deeper Shower, dress and get organised before sitting down to meditate. I know alot of people would disagree and they believe it’s important to move into meditation not long after you rise but some people wake with a really active mind and need to find ways to help them along the way For me, things have changed a bit. Now that I am practicing Ashtanga-Vinyasa every morning at 6am (out the door at 5:45am) my morning meditation practice has taken a bit of a battering. At the moment, I make sure my meditation and savasana (relaxation) session at the end of my yoga practice is at least 15-20mins. I use this time to totally bliss out and let go. Previously, savasana would only last 5 minutes at the moment and I was always so aware of my surroundings. Now, I let the sound of the breath as students flow through their practice wash over me like a wave, lulling me into a deeper state. By changing how I meditate in the morning it has placed a greater focus on my midday and evening meditation session. Which can only be described as delicious. The slight wear and tear of the day is still in my body – you know, that residual tiredness – and that makes it so much easier to slowly, languidly slip into the warm bath of mental stillness. Sometimes I meditate at lunch, sitting in the park, or even in my car. In the evenings I meditate in my yoga room with a candle lit, wrapped in blanket – the snug, cosyness makes me feel safe and protected. The energy is much more subdued and my mind almost seems eager to be rid of its thought-shackles to hang out in ‘the gap’ – the place between your thoughts, the pause button where you can let out a big exhale. And when I am there, it is so soothing and blissful. My mind wobbles between the gap and thoughts, so it is still […] Read more

POST CLEANSE MENU

POST CLEANSE MENU

Posted September 13, 2011

Can I just start by saying how much I love Spring? Yes, right now it’s not as warm as it was last week… but hold the phone, it’s 27 degrees this Saturday! Beach day, beach day! Ok… now I’ve got that out of my system, I’m here to talk about life post Urban Remedy Detox and I’d just like to say there was a whole host of reactions. I felt GREAT during it. Not very tired, light, alert and strong. My yoga practice was beautiful… at least it felt that way and I was in a (literally) joyous mood for most of the time. Towards the end I started to feel a little flat but powered through – went to Yoga each morning, the day after and even on the Friday night at Future Sound of Yoga (I’ll blog on that soon!) But, come Saturday morning I woke up feeling, well, hung-over! Maybe the combination of cleanse + too much yoga + work + full moon left my energy depleted. Maybe eating again after 3 days on such a clean, light diet left my body a bit flat, OR maybe it was the burrito I ate on Friday night! WTF? What was I thinking? I rarely eat Burritos on a normal day let alone the day after a detox. But it was post FSOY, it was late, we were all in yoga gear and I couldn’t think clearly. My boyfriend had come along to FSOY (first yoga experience) and I was pretty happy he gave it shot. He loves Burritos – so me thinks maybe it was my way of saying thanks? Errr. whatever. Either way. It was the perfectly example of what NOT to do post cleanse. Essentially, I ate something heavy and taxing on the digestive system when my body was still detoxing. After being sick I wouldn’t be surprised if my body had a lot of waste to clear out. Let alone without that added junk thrown in. So to all those cleansers, whatever you do keep it clean for at least 3 days after! Trust me on this one… Either way I came good over the weekend after focusing on eating lots of yummy, nourishing foods to aid my body in it’s detox/retox. That wasn’t without a little effort. I felt a little hungover on Saturday and then slowly but surely started to feel light and bouncy again. Here are a few examples of the meals I devoured. But these are perfect suggestions for breakfast/lunch any day of the week, not just post cleanse. 1)   Brown rice, oats, quinoa + barley porridge. I’ve blogged this recipe here, before – it’s such a delicious wholesome meal 2)   Avocado, tuna + walnut cup Stuff half an avocado with activated walnuts, scattered butter beans and tuna (sustainably caught tuna called FISH4Ever) around, drizzled olive oil + lemon juice and voila! A super tasty lunch that is sooo filling. 3)   Baked eggs in fresh tomato  In a large ramekin/quiche dish chuck in died organic tomatoes, garlic, smoky paprika, pepper and red onion. Crack a few eggs on top and put it into the oven, 160degs for 20 minutes. Served with a side of steamed silverbeet + asparagus, drizzled with himalayan rock salt and lemon juice. 4)   Seafood extravaganza – fresh baby octopus and tuna steaks from the fish markets The octopus was marinated in garlic, lemon + olive oil. Panfried for 3-4minutes. Tuna was rolled in toasted sesame seeds and threaded onto skewers. Grill for 4 minutes each side. Served with a spanish style tomato salad + lots of fresh herbs! 5)   Poached eggs with a mixed herb salad Poached eggs with parsley, a heap of mixed greens and herb salad of basil, mint, parsley. So there you have it. 5 easy, simple, fresh meals that worked perfectly to ease my body out of the cleanse and put some life-giving energy back in. Do you have any post-cleanse recipes to share? Signing off with an exhale. Pause. Listen. Live Cx Read more

SPRING IS HERE… TIME TO (JUICE) CLEANSE!

SPRING IS HERE… TIME TO (JUICE) CLEANSE!

Posted September 07, 2011

After being sick (I am SO much better now) and because it’s spring, I decided it was time for a little cleanse. After all, spring is the season for cleaning – mentally and physically, not to mention your home. According to Ayurveda, Kapha is the dosha associated with late winter and early spring. Kapha energy is all about lubrication and structure responsible for keeping our tissues strong and supple. However, Kapha is increased by heavy emotions, excess food and lack of physical movement – otherwise known as WINTER! Leaving us with mucus (not my favourite word) and a slow, lethargic, heavy mind and body.  So to shake Kapha out of our systems we need to melt out all that heavy, mucousy yuk.  BUT… as Kapha slowly releases out of our system in the transition between winter to spring we have to be careful of not disturbing our digestion and leaving ourselves open to various imbalances – colds, flus, hay fever. Have you ever noticed how at the change of season you are feeling great – light, happy, open and then BAM! You are knocked down with a cold/flu? Well that is Kapha releasing, but it’s also Kapha releasing without any boundaries. So, Ayurveda (and me) recommends cleansing safely, staying dry and warm and keep moving. In winter we focused on heavier, oily foods that were nourishing and grounding. Now, slowly we start to introduce more light, bitter (greens) and fresh foods.  Spring is all about new birth – so fresh produce like dark leafy greens, berries and spring fruit are important in helping the liver and kidneys release and detox safely – removing the accumulated Kapha build up from winter. Coming back to my own ‘Spring Cleaning’. Yesterday I started a Juice Detox. This is my fourth time doing the 3-day Urban Remedy Cleanse. I absolutely LOVE it. I only do the cleanse at season change-over – winter to spring and summer to autumn – as a way to help my liver + kidneys to safely detox and provide my digestive system a break in order to cleanse out my gut.  And before you have a coronary over the fact that I am just drinking juice for three days, know this. There is a ridiculous amount of fresh fruit and veg in each day. The juicers used ‘press’ the fruit/veg rather than crush, which means they are fresher for longer and retain more nutrients. AND, It’s only 3-days. We aren’t talking a marathon cleanse here. I’m so against 10 day juice detoxes  out there that ask you to live off lemon + maple syrup (they make me angry!) but this one is about giving your system and break whilst ensuring you are absorbing a heap of nutrients and antioxidants. Check out the cleanse: It includes 6 juices – packed with a heap of veggies, fruits, natural antioxidants and good fats. You receive each days worth of juices in a mini-cooler bag so it’s super easy and there is no messing about with juicers (who can be bothered?) There are different levels depending on your needs. Level 1 has more fruit = more sugar. Level 3 more veggies = less sugar!  Now, Urban Remedy also sends you emails to keep you on track and lots of information on what to do pre, during and post-cleanse. Day 2 and I’m feeling amazing. I had a spectacular practice at yoga – I sweated like a mo’fo but felt so light and free! I’m drinking herbal tea like it’s going out of fashion. I’m pee’ing A LOT – I think I went 8 times yesterday. I slept like a baby last night – waking at 5:25am before my alarm went off feeling so fresh and revived. I miss food for all of a minute or two and then remember that it’s such a short time and food is always there. We live in abundance. I’ll never go without. I don’t drink coffee so I’m lucky that I am avoiding a caffeine withdrawal, which makes it a lot harder. I’m well and truly on my way to ridding that crappy pneumonia from my system and melting Kapha away too. I’ll update again post Day 3. If you haven’t considered a spring cleanse, then hop to it. Otherwise, the below list includes a few non-juicey ways of cleansing in case only drink juice for 3-days freaks you out! Other tips to help you with your Spring Cleaning: Yoga – asana really helps on an emotional and physical level to detox. It’s especially helpful to focus on twists and backbends – helping the internal organs to open and release Focus on lighter meals with plenty of fresh, whole foods – go as GREEN as you can Try a big morning smoothie for breakfast – a great way to get your sustenance and energy without too much effort for your digestive system. Check out these recipes Dry body brush – start at the base of your feet and move in upward strokes. This assists the lymphatic drainage system to cleanse the body through the skin. Sip on ginger, cinnamon or fresh lemon tea. Thyme tea is also great for congestion Maintain a routine – focus on staying balanced here, even though you might want to quickly shake things up because the sun is out and shining. Meditate regularly – spring clean from within! I’d love to hear if you have other spring cleaning tips – please share. Happy cleansing! Signing off with an exhale. Pause. Listen. Live Cx Read more

YOGA VILLAGE OPENS THIS WEEK

YOGA VILLAGE OPENS THIS WEEK

Posted September 05, 2011

I’m excited. This week is the start of new beginnings. And, being spring, which is all about new beginnings, it makes this even more appropriate. My beautiful friend and amazing yogi, Nadia is opening her beautiful new studio, Yoga Village, in Potts Point, Sydney, which I will be teaching at. The doors open this Wednesday 7th September. I’ve watched Nadia slowly water the small seed of an idea – to open her own studio – from the beginning into a fully-fledged yoga space. Nadia is the kind of woman who seems fearless. Every human being is filled with doubt and insecurity but Nadia, perhaps through her dedicated yoga practice, finds a way to overcome them and jump in the deep end. And, here she is, a true inspiration, jumping straight in to make her dream a reality. I am filled with inspiration and excitement for Nadia and am so chuffed she has asked me to teach at Yoga Village. I asked Nadia to choose three words that describe her relationship to yoga… she chose passion, freedom and presence. Simply beautiful. Three words that I think perfectly encapsulate the yogic practice and three words that I hope inspire you to experience yoga if you haven’t done so already. But, instead of trying to convince you to do yoga or try and bring to life Yoga Village here is an interview I did with Nadia instead! Hopefully this gives you a little more insight. 1. So Nadia, Yoga Village sounds pretty special. Tell me a bit about Yoga Village – where is it, what is it like, what is it about? Yoga Village is a welcoming Yoga space opening this week in Potts Point. We are an experienced group of yoga teachers who wish to share this life changing practice with a new community of students. 2.What kind of yoga does Yoga Village specialise in? Yoga Village is dedicated to the practice of Hatha Vinyasa, a flowing style of Yoga linking the breath to movement in and out of sustained postures. With these flowing sequences, breathing techniques and yoga philosophies, students will find not only a beautiful physical experience but also tools to apply to the ebbs and flows of life. 3.What can a student expect from a class at Yoga Village? Classes are relaxing yet dynamic so students can expect to work a little but feel amazing afterwards. In each class an experienced teacher will guide you through a dynamic sequence of asana designed to challenge, energise and revitalise your body whilst quietening your mind. Classes are similar in format and style so you will feel a sense of improvement and progression with each class attended. While maintaining this familiarity and consistency, we will regularly introduce new and challenging postures to aid you in your development and expand your personal Yoga practice. 4.What makes Yoga Village different? We are dedicated to creating a community, a space where students feel welcome, no pressure and free to experience this practice for exactly what it is. Our classes aren’t huge so students will receive individual attention and adjustments to get more out of their practices. Our classes are also all drop-in (i.e. no booking and no courses) because we understand that committing to a timeslot can be difficult for most people! 5.Tell me about the Yoga Village teachers? We have some amazing teachers from a range of backgrounds and also from all over the world! I was attracted to them each for their energy and love of the practice; but you’ll need to come along to discover that for yourselves! 6. Tell me about yourself and why did you decide to bring Yoga Village to the Sydney people? I began casually practicing Yoga after finishing university as a way to escape the pressures of a corporate job. After quickly feeling the benefits of Yoga I began practicing every day and gradually Yoga became a bigger and bigger part of my life; that was when I realised that I wanted to dedicate all of my energy to this practice. I undertook teacher training with Trevor Tangye and have since trained with many more great teachers in Australia, India and America who have helped both the development of my practice and teaching. Although I was content teaching in various schools I wanted to create a space that was dedicated to the style of yoga that I truly love and believe in. I felt that there was a distinct lack Hatha Vinyasa studios, especially in the inner city area and felt that Potts Point was the perfect location. 7. What do you love about yoga? Everything! I love the way it challenges me, the way it can turn a bad day into a good day almost instantly, the way it bonds people together, the way my troubles disappear the moment I step on the mat and most of all the discovery that our bodies are capable of doing so much – this has transmitted all through my life and I know believe the possibilities are endless! 8. What inspires you? Seeing a student progress and change and the delight on their face when they can first do a pose that originally they had thought was impossible. I am consistently inspired by my students, and really feed off their energy and commitment. 9. What are the three most obvious changes you’ve undergone through your yoga practice? The biggest change would be my ability to handle stress. I used to fly off the handle a little as soon as things went wrong I now process it and find the breath really helps me to reassess situations before I start to panic! As well as this I have experienced a huge lifestyle change and met some amazing friends who I never would have met without this practice. 10. What are some misconceptions about yoga? The main one I hear is that you need to be flexible to do yoga, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Everyone can do yoga, just […] Read more

LIGHT ON YOGA…uttanasana

LIGHT ON YOGA…uttanasana

Posted September 02, 2011

Uttanasana aka Standing Forward Bend. Such a deceiving pose. So simple…. Stand. Bend forward. Yet there is so much more happening in this pose. This pose is challenging. It simply brings you face-to-face with your limitations and immediately asks you to be patient. To breath and surrender. No amount of pushing or pulling (except, perhaps, by a really forceful teacher) will get you any lower or deeper into this pose. It happens when it happens. And then, sometimes, you lose it. Like I have recently. The hamstring tear that has recently graced me with its presence has made Uttanasana a challenge. It is the pose I spent years cultivating – working slowly as my hamstrings softened and opened – gradually falling in love with it. But now, I have a different relationship with it. It’s become my indicator – It tells me when my injury is playing up, when I should listen to my body and when I should pull back, modify and go easy. But irrespective of the difficulty in achieving this pose, or how my relationship with it has changed it is still such a beautiful, nurturing, calming pose. It can be strong if you ask it, but usually the joy in this pose lies in its soothing effects. Benefits of Uttanasana: •Calms the brain and helps relieve stress and mild depression •Stimulates the liver and kidneys •Stretches the hamstrings, calves, and hips •Strengthens the thighs and knees •Improves digestion •Reduces fatigue and anxiety •Relieves headache and insomnia •Therapeutic for high blood pressure How to: 1. Stand in Tadasana (mountain pose) with hands on hips. 2. Exhale and bend forward – hinge from the hip joints, not from the waist. 3. As you slowly fold down lift the chest up and over – creating space between your pelvis and the sternum. 4. As you move into the position keep lengthening the front torso 5. If possible, with your knees straight, bring your palms or finger tips to the floor slightly in front of or beside your feet, or bring your palms to the backs of your ankles. 6. If this isn’t possible, cross your forearms and hold your elbows. 7. Ground the heels firmly into the floor and lift the sitting bones toward the ceiling. Turn the top thighs slightly inward and up – engaging the quads. 8. With each inhalation in the pose, lift and lengthen the front torso just slightly; with each exhalation release a little more fully into the forward bend. 9. To come back up, bring your hands to your hips and as you exhale maintain the length of the torse, draw the tailbone down towards the pelvis. Uttanasana is a beautiful pose to practice between standing poses. You can slow down the breath and find your centre again. It’s also used a lot in Sun Salutation and Vinyasa flow practices. However, as pose itself it marries the active and the passive deliciously. Calming the nervous system down and slowing the breath, Uttanasana is both restorative for the internal body and lively for the external body. If you have a back injury keep your legs bent as you enter and exit the pose. Avoid full Uttanasana is you have a bulging disc and practice Ardha Uttanasana at the wall – hands pressed into the wall, arms parallel to the floor and the body at a right angle. It’s also nice to practice Uttanasana by leaning the sit bones against the wall to support you and take the pressure off your hamstrings. I hope you enjoy Uttanasana. Signing off with an exhale. Pause. Listen. Live Cx Read more

11 WAYS TO GET BETTER, NATURALLY

11 WAYS TO GET BETTER, NATURALLY

Posted August 31, 2011

So it seems that when I wrote this post about flu fighting yoga poses, it was much more than a premonition. I definitely spoke to soon when I said I don’t really get sick anymore because get sick I did! It’s now almost two weeks since I came down with pneumonia. Ouch. Maybe you are thinking the same thing my friend Monique said…”But, your body is a temple!?” Well… If some inconsiderate person traipsed about inside a temple, dragging in rubbish and unsavoury characters then said temple would look a little worse for wear. I guess that’s what happened to me – I let a virus get inside when it really had no place there. Pneumonia, or anything similar like influenza is viral. Sometimes, no matter how healthy you are it’s impossible to step out the way fast enough. If it’s got you in its sight, then you better brace yourself. Let’s just say this. The past week wasn’t pretty, or fun, or easy. I was the most ill I have been in close to 10 years. Why? Well, in all my alone-time, recovering confined within the four walls of my home I realised something. I am an active person. Yes. I don’t like to do ‘nothing’. True. But, maybe, just maybe (I hate admitting this) I need to slow down a little, do less. Even though I don’t know how to do that. When I rattle off a normal week in Claire’s world – 6 mornings of yoga practice, teach 4hrs of yoga, work full time, studying, social life, blog writing and all the other life /house stuff within that – it does seem a bit much. That is just what I do though, that is how I like it. Anyway, besides that realisation, getting sick presented an opportunity (ever the optimist) for me to really walk my own talk. What’s the talk? I don’t like antibiotics. I don’t like quick-fixes (as much as possible) because I don’t think they bring anything but temporary relief. As a child my memory of them is this; get sick, take drugs, get better then get sick again. So this time, with the Doctor and my sister ‘s blessing (who had the same illness a few weeks earlier), I decided to see how much healing I could perform, sans drugs. The doctor didn’t see much point in antibiotics in this instance anyways. In fact, since I was a kid he had always said antibiotics were useless in viral situations but our poor, exhausted parents nurisng their children lose patience and sanity to ride it out for longer than 3 days! So, we made a deal that if I didn’t see any improvement by the 4th or 5th day then I needed to give in to the penicillin gods. It worked. I am well and truly on the mend without the help of pharmaceuticals. It didn’t work straight away, but it worked. And it was the best feeling to round the corner 4 or 5 days later and realise it had all been through a little effort, alot of text messages to my sister and a heap of natural remedies. I should also say here that my instinct told me that due to the healthy lifestyle I’d led for so long that I should be able to fight it and come out relatively unscathed. I’m not saying this to toot my own horn, but to highlight that I don’t recommend everyone that comes down with pneumonia or even the flu go sans antibiotics. Each to their own. No judgements. But for me, healing myself naturally was important on a physical/health level and on an ethical level. I thought I’d share some of the things I did (naturally!) to help my body heal thyself. This list is what I did each day and will keep on doing as much as possible. 1) 2 litres of Thyme tea: Thyme helps calm the non-stop coughing, soothing the throat relieving headaches. Thyme is an expectorant, which means it helps to shift the mucous build up in the chest. Don’t reuse the thyme, use a couple of fresh sprigs for each boil. 2) 4-5 litres of hot water, lemon + raw/manuka honey tea: I hardly went a moment without a cup in my hand – except when I was visiting the loo, again! 3) Supplements: Vitamin C, echinacea, zinc, olive leaf extract and andrographis – all in one magnificent product called ArmaForce Propolis – rich in amino acids which help the immune system and is a natural antibiotic. Fish Oil 4) Thyme steam: Boil a big pot of fresh thyme for 15 minutes. Then I’d sit at the table with a towel over my head to help release the mucous in the chest. I’d do this two-three times a day. 5) Steamy showers: Only in the AM when the sun is out. I’d lay my clothes out in the bathroom so I could towel off in the heat and dress quickly to avoid changing temperatures. This was mostly for my sanity but the steam in the shower also helps open the airways. 6) Chicken soup: It sounds cliché, but really, nothing else works! Packed with veggies -spinach, leak, kale, carrots, pumpkin, red capsicum, barley, chicken, parsley, thyme and a touch of chilli and coconut oil. 7)Sleep with the chest propped up: This helps to prevent all the crap you are trying to get out from going straight back into your chest. 8) Essential oils: Every night before bed I’d mix three drops of Thyme and Eucalyptus into paw paw ointment and rub it all over my chest and thoracic spine. The Thyme oil helps to boost the immune system whilst the Eucalyptus is a decongestant. And to help me sleep at night, Lavendar oil in paw paw massaged into my temples. 9) Fruit: Fresh orange juice, bananas, kiwi fruit, stewed apples, lemonades. Not alot, but just enough and always on their own – never with any other meal which […] Read more

Join The Wellness Project

Get free weekly insights & inspiration
  • Get your FREE ebook: 21 Days to Free Your Mind, Fuel Your Body & Feed Your Soul