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GET THE BODY YOU WANT WITH BARRE

GET THE BODY YOU WANT WITH BARRE

Posted September 14, 2012

I have many talented, inspiring friends. I’m not saying that to sound cool. I’m saying it out of gratefulness that my life has been blessed with such down-right awesome individuals. One such friend is the delightful, open-hearted and gorgeous Emma Seibold. Here’s some background for you…  Emma and I (and a third, very special friend) lived together for 2 years. That home was coined the house of love. And in that house of love my life changed. Emma was an integral piece to my puzzle. She helped me explore the ideas, concepts, dreams, hopes and epiphanies I was having in a time of deep self-exploration. Her guidance and love allowed me to realise that anything is possible and I owe a huge part of where I am  today to the darling Miss Emma. Emma is one amazing woman. Like I said, she is a talented, inspiring and awesome person. Nothing is impossible once she sets her sights on a task. She was the founder of Urban Remedy, who I now have the pleasure of working with. After giving birth to her gorgeous little boy, Emma then moved to Melbourne where (only 6 months after her bub was born) she launched the hugely popular Barre Body in Melbourne. Did I mention she is driven, motivated and smart? On a recent trip down to Melbourne I had the absolute pleasure (and pain) of attending one of Em’s Barre class. Wow. I felt muscles that I hadn’t felt since my first yoga class. Deceptively difficult, Barre is a fusion of yoga, pilates and ballet. Emma turned to Barre post-baby in an attempt to regain her pre-bub body. And, hand on heart, her bod is better than ever. She is one smoking hot mama! Barre Body isn’t in Sydney yet, but to my Melbourne peeps, if you haven’t already get your booty down to Barre Body if you want an even tighter, toned booty! For everyone else Emma has made some amazing videos for body+soul which will take you through a few Barre sequences. This post is my way of saying thank you to Emma. But it’s also to share Barre Body with you lovely readers and give you the chance to experience it for yourself – even if it’s only from your living room. These sequences will give you long, lean, toned muscles – toned arms, legs, butt and belly. Who doesn’t want that? Barre Body Long and Lean Routine Pt 1 for Body + Soul Barre Body Long and Lean Routine Pt 2 for Body + Soul Barre Body Long and Lean Routine Pt 3 for Body + Soul In the name of research I actually did these sequences the other day just so I could share this with an honest opinion – and let me tell you this, long + lean will definitely be in your sights if you did this everyday. I’d love to hear your thoughts – have you done Barre before? Or even better, have you been to Barre Body in Melbourne? If you’d like to connect with Emma you can check out her website and blog, visit her on facebook or say hi via twitter! Saha to you, Claire x Read more

SPOTLIGHT ON KUNDALINI YOGA

SPOTLIGHT ON KUNDALINI YOGA

Posted September 12, 2012

I love experimenting with yoga… we (yoga teachers) call it yoga-slutting. We rendezvous with a different practice. Sometimes just once, other times we enjoy a little love affair. Part of my love for skipping about Sydney (and further afield) trying different teachers and styles is that it broadens my concept of yoga. It teaches me, as a teacher, new was of bringing yoga into my student’s lives. But it also encourages me to step out of my comfort zone and not get too attached to my own practice. So recently I started attending a few Kundalini classes and I’d love to share some info on it with you today. Kundalini is, in a nut-shell, a very powerful spiritual practice. Originally taught by Yogi Bhajan, it is now an ever-growing popular style of yoga. In this transformative yoga practice you will work on your physical, spiritual, and mental layers of being and this can be done in a number of ways. What does the word, Kundalini mean? Well, in Sanskrit it means coil. Kundalini is the energy within every human being. And it lives at the base of your spine, a coiled, snake-like energy naked to the idea but well documentated by spiritual seekers and yogis for centuries. It is believed that by awakening this dormant energy, which travels up the Shushumna Nadi (the energetic channel which is the spine on the physical level), slowly opening and unlocking each chakra, and helping the individual reach spiritual enlightening and divine union. For some of you, this might be the first time you’ve heard of Kundalini – and perhaps you are thinking what a whole lot of of voodoo crap. And that’s cool – I’m not here to convince you. But bare in mind this isn’t a concept just concocted last Thursday – we are talking thousands of years of information shared and passed down from yogi to yogi. So, if Kundalini is about awakening an energy for enlightening, divine union – how does this happen? What can you expect in a Kundalini class? Powerful breathing exercises. Chanting – mantras Meditation Postures includes mudras (gestures/seals) ++ Sometimes you might do ONE downward facing dog in a 75 minute class but have a stronger energetic reaction that if you were doing a dynamic class. A kundalini yoga class is based on Kriyas – also known as a ‘set’ of exercises. This basically works to focus in on specific areas allowing you to experience quite deep and profound reactions, changes and responses. For me, Kundalini usually brings me to tears at some point – I don’t practice it all the time because it often makes me feel quite raw and open. But every now and then I feel I need that – to have my heart space cracked wide open. It is believed that practising Kundalini yoga keeps the body, mind and spirit in shape – preparing you to maintain clam, focus and happiness in the face of adversity, stress, change, pain, troubles – LIFE basically. ++ The KM Yoga school in Bondi Junction, Sydney says this about Kundalini: The effect (of Kundalini) is a heightened self-awareness and vitality that allows you to harness mental and emotional energy. Individuals feel more in control of themselves, with enhanced peace of mind, concentration and a deeper inner calm and self-confidence. No matter what your age or physical capacity is, Kundalini yoga and meditation can have immediate benefits. Sounds powerful huh? Well it is and if you are ready and willing you can enjoy Kundalini for all it’s worth. There’s not much more to say than get to a class and try it. It’ll rock your world and potentially open you up to something incredible. Maybe I’ll see you on the mat? If you practice, or have tried Kundalini I’d love to hear your experience and if not what do you think of Kundalini Yoga? Cx Read more

5 YOGA POSES TO SPRING CLEAN YOUR BODY

5 YOGA POSES TO SPRING CLEAN YOUR BODY

Posted September 02, 2012

Welcome Spring! I was actually in Melbourne as we switched over to spring this weekend gone by and  it certainly was a different experience to Sydney. Nevertheless you can sense the spring-cleaning in the air – the flowers are blooming, the wind and air has changed. The temperature slowly rising. Not to mention the actual cleaning going on inside many homes – dusting, clearing, scrubbing, dumping. There is a reason why we feel the need to clean our homes post-winter. There is alot of dampness, mould, dust and general waste that builds up when we are in a confined space taking shelter from the cold. Our bodies do much the same. There is alot of gunk stored within us that needs some detoxing. We cleanse through three of the body’s main systems. The circulatory system pumps blood throughout the body – taking oxygen to cells whilst carrying the waste away. The digestive system processes the food we eat – absorbing the nutrients we need and eliminating anything we don’t. And then we have the lymphatic system, which collects fluid from our cells and sends it to the lymph nodes to ditch any harmful bacteria.  The eliminatory organs (lower digestive system, liver, kidneys, lungs and skin) then help us to expel all of those nasty little toxins. That’s a pretty good system when it comes to detoxing! However, over the winter season, our diet is a little heavier, we’re a little less active than usual, and our eliminatory organs may be feeling a little sluggish. When Spring arrives, we often need a helping hand to assist the natural detoxification process. Yoga, like most forms of exercise, stimulates the three systems of cleansing, but it packs a little more punch. The systematic stretching and compressing action, coupled with calm breathing, is particularly good at enhancing waste-removal from the deep tissues and extremities (which some forms of exercises just can’t do). I was lucky enough to have some shots taken by my very talented friend and photographer, Titus Pengelly so I’m able to share a few of my favourite cleansing yoga poses to help you banish those winter cobwebs and kickstart detoxification. Here are our 5 cleansing yoga poses: Standing Forward Bend – calms the nervous system whilst gently compressing the abdomen to stimulate digestion and elimination   Downward Facing Dog – gently tones the belly, aids circulation of blood and lymph and stimulates digestion   Lunging Twist – strengthens the legs whilst deeply twisting through the abdomen to squeeze and release the digestive organs   Seated Twist– releases the hips whilst squeezing the abdominal organs   Meditation– helps you calm your breath, centre your focus and quieten your mind to reduce stress and enhance detoxification   I hope you enjoy these poses and start to feel light, open and clean! Saha to you Cx  *Originally written and published for Urban Remedy where I am the Resident Health Coach. Read more

L.S.D TRIPPING AT A YOGA CLASS

L.S.D TRIPPING AT A YOGA CLASS

Posted August 27, 2012

Did that title get your attention? I hope so. But you might be disappointed to find that this post isn’t about illicit drug use at a yoga class… although, I’m not entirely fibbing either. Just this weekend gone by I had the pleasure – I use that word loosely – of taking a trip down the L.S.D lane. And by L.S.D I mean a long, slow, deep yoga practice. It was fascinating and intense, for want of a better description. Let me set the context first. Bryan Kest, a renowned Power Yogi, was visiting Sydney to host a few masterclasses. In all honesty, I actually wasn’t that interested when I first heard he was coming…mostly because I have a little stigma towards Power Yoga. I have tried it many times and often enjoyed the practice but the ‘power’ behind the yoga – meaning the attitude – doesn’t always sit well with me, but that is another story! Despite not being that keen, after hearing that a few friends were going I decided to get involved with the Kest Fest and booked into two of his three masterclasses. The first being his Long, Slow, Deep class and the second being Power Flow. Let’s just say this, I didn’t make it to the flow class… What I did make it to was the most profound, intense experience on the mat in which my tooshie never actually left. In an almost three hour class some 70+ students never actually performed one warrior, salute, backbend or a simple standing pose. There was no flow. There was minimal movement. There was no talking. We spent every moment within the intense grip of very deep hip, hamstring and shoulder stretches for a very long time, in a very slow way. In short, it was a form of torture. Imagine this… you are asked to hold a very deep hamstring for 2 – 5 minutes straight. No fidgeting. No adjusting. No eye contact with your friends. No distractions. No excuses. Simply you. Your deep almost primal breath and journey into a place in your mind you don’t often face. This trip down the L.S.D lane most certainly wasn’t fun. But it was profound. We were challenged to push past our ego – the one tempting us to quit, to notice the itch, to respond to the struggle, to huff, puff and pander to distractions. We were asked to play at our edge and a little past it whilst still enacting loving-kindness towards ourselves – knowing how to challenge yourself whilst knowing when to ease back is a true test in self awareness, compassion and insight. I’ll be the first to admit that I was truly tested. Injuries flared up, the ego tapped away enticing me to give up or push harder and frustration arose from all sorts of places. I even got overwhelmed, anxious and a little emotional. But each time the breath brought me back. I was astounded, even as a yoga teacher who teaches and practices the art of the breath, at its ability to take me to my centre and create some stillness. By the end of the practice, as promised by Bryan, we were all literally yoga stoned. The pure relief from exiting the final 10 minute forward bend had fresh blood and oxygen flooding our system in reaction to what was surely a release of toxins. It wasn’t an easy drive home and my body opted out of his next class. Once I finally felt less stoned I got to thinking about how we constantly react to things (situations, people, experiences, thoughts, ideas) in our life by habit. We move habitually. And that is neither wrong or right – Bryan spoke alot about it – but we don’t always have to react in the way that we do. We are so busy, going, doing, being, everything is so important! We don’t just sit with it, what the experience or situation is, whether it is  good, bad or ugly. We always find a way to cut corners, rationalise, avoid, deflect, change. What’s wrong with just sitting with our frustration, our pain, our anxiety, the unknown? Why do we always have to react? What do we think we are avoiding…what are we afraid of? Whether I liked, loved or hated the LSD class is a moot point, because it got the wheels turning. It shook things up and gave me an entirely new perspective. I loved being challenged to think differently and I most certainly developed a deeper respect for my mind and breath. But mostly I discovered through Bryan’s guidance that we are so often wrapped in fear… despite the reality that being afraid is often worse than what we are afraid of. It’s fear that holds us back, and in turning and facing them we can watch them shift, change and melt away, revealing something we didn’t expect. I’d love to hear your thoughts on having to face fear, sit with pain in any form and being tested? Signing off with an exhale. Pause. Listen. Live. Cx Read more

3 WAYS TO ENJOY YOUR TIME IN THE SUN

3 WAYS TO ENJOY YOUR TIME IN THE SUN

Posted August 24, 2012

Recently I went to a yoga class at Yoga Village –  I don’t normally attend and I’m so glad I did. The beautiful teacher, Rachel Coopes, told a story about two cats. Stay with me here… this isn’t a homage to fluffy felines (although they are pretty sweet). It’s about how two cats taught me to stop trying so hard. Picture this. A tomcat – big, fluffy, ginger – sitting curled up in that cat-like way. Just chilling. And in front of Mr Tomcat was a pretty little Burmese cat. She wasn’t chilling, in fact, quite the opposite. Parading herself in front of the tom cat was all Miss Burmese cared about. ‘Look at me, look at me’…she purred as her tail swished, meowing and wriggling about trying to get Mr Tomcat’s attention. Do you think he noticed? Of course not. He was stoic, still and simply kept staring ahead. Unflappable. After much effort Miss Burmese eventually figured it out. She paused. Stretched out and curled up next to Mr Tomcat in a little patch of sunshine. And only then did the tomcat respond to his new companion. As the teacher told this story I couldn’t stop smiling. I could see myself in that Burmese. How many times had I ‘paraded’ myself around, trying to seek other’s approval, or my own? Often trying too hard to fill the hours, to be busy, to feel important and special. Working up a sweat, busting myself to achieve ‘something’ when all along the real achievement was right in front of me. Just let go. Stop. Be still. Find a little peace and quiet and just sit in the moment. Enjoy the patch of sunshine, just because… There are so many moments in our life when effort is needed – we have to put ourselves out there, raw and unashamed, ready to grow, evolve and achieve. I’m a huge fan of ‘effort’… it’s my middle name in fact. But lately, I’m starting to understand the profound power of letting go and trying less. And I’ve noticed when I do try less that some things come to me with a lot more ease. Mostly though, it’s those moments of pause and respite, soaking up the sun where we I refuel and keep on going. After this class I went home and wrote down three ways that would help me channel my inner tomcat. 1)    Consciously do nothing when I have a long list of to-dos – snooze, read, stare out the window, lay in the sunshine. 2)   Let someone else make the decisions for me. Stop trying to control the moment and literally go with the flow. 3)   Laugh at myself. Whenever I feel heavy with the weight of my own effort make a point to be irreverent with it and laugh at little at the ‘seriousness’ of it all. Give it a shot, be like the tomcat  – chill out a little and enjoy your time in the sun. Cx *Note: this was originally published on MindBodyGreen Read more

SPOTLIGHT ON: WIDE LEG FORWARD BEND

SPOTLIGHT ON: WIDE LEG FORWARD BEND

Posted August 10, 2012

I’d love to introduce you to one of my love-hate poses. Prasarita Padottanasana. Wide legged standing forward bend. Why love-hate? Well, having had two hamstring injuries this pose has been challenging and frustrating. Also, it’s taken a while to work my way down to the ground. But I love it, it’s strong yet passive and restorative at the same time. So, here is a how-to – it’s a great one to do at home. On your way, step the feet out wider (wider to begin with and over time you can inch the feet in closer) Make sure your heels are in line (use the back edge of your mat) Ensure toes are pointed in and heels are out Bring your hands to the waist. Lengthen the tail bone and draw the lower belly in. Inhale and open the chest towards the ceiling – look up. As you exhale, draw the lower belly in and begin to hinge/fold at the waist. Try not to round the spine, but lengthen forward, out and down. Bring the hands to the floor (use books or blocks if you can’t reach), shoulder width apart and press the palms down, spread the fingers Release the head and soften the base of the neck Keep your weight evenly distributed and move slightly forward so you aren’t leaning too far back into your heels. Stay here for 30 seconds to a minute. As you release lower down, you can slide the hands back, bringing them in life with the heels. To exit. Inhale, bring the hands to the waist and length the spine and head forward. Exhale here. Inhale, come all the way up and step out of the pose.  Benefits of this posture include: Strengthens and stretches the inner and back legs and the spine Lengthens hamstrings Tones the abdominal organs Calms the mind Relieves mild backache Great for headaches and fatigue Helps to calm the nervous system Please avoid if you have serious lower back problems such as bulging disc. Otherwise, enjoy the stretch. Signing off with an exhale. Pause. Listen. Live. Claire x Read more

THREE INGREDIENTS FOR MY NOT SO NAUGHTY SWEET TREAT

THREE INGREDIENTS FOR MY NOT SO NAUGHTY SWEET TREAT

Posted August 06, 2012

Sometimes a girl just needs something sweet. After a long day of teaching and coaching there is nothing like a bit of comfort food to soften the edges and wrap you up in some sweet love. I am not perfect. I’ll eat ‘no-no’ foods every now and then if I really feel like it. But I don’t beat myself up over it nor do I feel like I’ve broken some sort of secret pact to myself. Being healthy is about balance. Mostly though, if I can satiate and satisfy myself and still do so in a healthy way, then I actually feel a little smug. Do you know what I mean? Like I outsmarted the junk food that is always trying to tempt us to eat their sugar laden crap. There is nothing smart about it, though. Eating healthily and still enjoying yourself is easy once you know what to look out for. So I’m going to share my fool-proof sweet treat. That most definitely isn’t naughty. All you need is three simple ingredients Tahini Raw honey/maple syrup Cacao (p.s this is NOT my favourite brand of tahini – I prefer Carwari {organic, unhulled and not broken with cheap oil} but this is all left in the shops. Simply mix up 1-2 tablespoons of tahini with 1 teaspoon of honey and 1 tablespoon of cacao. You can play around with the measurements here to taste. What you are left with is your own natural homemade nutella. I then enjoy this – a nice big dollop – over oven-roasted (pre-activated) nuts and coconut flakes. Sometimes I add in goji berries. Other times, straight off the spoon. It’s decadent. Moorish. Feels so naughty. But isn’t… oh no! A hot tea (english breakfast with a teaspoon of coconut oil and a dash of raw milk soothes the soul) and some sweetness can work wonders in the afternoon. It just doesn’t need to be crappy refined sugars and junk that works as an anti-nutrient. Eat and enjoy. Saha to you. Signing off with an exhale. Pause. Listen. Live. Cx Read more

11 INFLIGHT YOGA POSES

11 INFLIGHT YOGA POSES

Posted July 20, 2012

It’s at this time of year when the winter blues kick in that sees so many Australian’s seek out the sunshine in some far, exotic destination. Ditching the beanies for the beach is all well and good but considering how far Australia we have to deal with the long-haul flight first before our tootsies touch the sand. Recently someone tweeted a request for a few easy poses to do when traveling. So I’ve compiled a list of pre, during and post flight tips if you are flying the coop in search for some Vitamin D to prepare your body and mind  for the long-haul. By performing a few simple, easy exercises in-flight you will stretch out your body, massage your internal organs, improve circulation and relieve anxiety and stress. Staying calm and comfortable during your flight will lead you to a more relaxed state of being post-flight. Which means arriving at your destination, energised and ready to go. Pre-flight: If you have an afternoon or late night flight then it’s a good idea to fit in a yoga class beforehand. If you plan properly you, hopefully, will have enough time. I highly recommend this. Simply stretching, strengthening and opening up the body prepares your nervous system for the stress of travelling, helps calm and destress you but also warms the body up for the ridiculous number of hours confined into a tiny space and uncomfortable seat. Flight: Once you are on the plane it’s important to move and stretch. Deep-vein thrombosis is more common than we realise (I’ve suffered from it before) and maintain circulation within the body will prevent this but also make it alot easier to recover once you reach your destination. Here are a few easy exercises you can do in your seat, within the aisles. 1) Walk – simple and we all know how to do it. Get up every hour and move those legs by gently pacing up and down the aisles.  2) Neck rolls – sitting upright in your chair simple roll the neck gently from left to right, up and down and in 180 degree movements – sliding the chin to one shoulder and then back to the other. 3) Eagle arms – a deep upper back and shoulder stretch. Cross your right arm over your left and, bring the palms to touch and then lower the shoulders away from the ears. Move the hands away from your face and hold for 10 breaths. Switch sides, cross your left over your right and continue.  4) Shoulder stretch – slide to the edge of your seat and clasp your hands behind you. Draw the hands away from the body to stretch and release deeply into the shoulders. Hold for 10 breaths. And then as you exhale dropping the chin to the chest and then inhaling raising the chin up to the ceiling – keep alternating like this on the breath for 5 – 10 rounds.   5) Cat/Cow stretch – staying at the front edge of your seat bring your hands to your knees. Inhale, look up to the ceiling and puff the chest up. As you exhale round the spine and draw the belly in, look down to your navel. Repeat this at least 10 times. 6) Tricep stretch – rest your forehead and elbows onto the seat in front of you. Press your palms together and then slide your hands down the centre of your back, along your spine. Lean the chest forward but ground back into your sit bones – hold for 10 breaths 7) Seated twists – keep the knees square. Gently twist to the right, take the left hand to your right knee and the right hand behind you. Use your breath, exhaling to twist deeper by looking over your right shoulder. Repeat on the other side 8) Hip rotation – take your right foot and rest it on your left knee and the left foot planted firmly to the floor. Keep the spine straight and with each deep exhale, gently press down onto the right thigh to release the groin and hip. Repeat 5- 10 breaths. Finally, to finish, hold onto your right shin and squeeze the knee into your chest. Repeat on the other side.  9) Thigh stretch – come to standing either by your seat or at the back of the plane. With your right hand resting on the chair seat or a wall, take hold of your left foot and slowly draw the heel towards your buttock. Hold for 10 breaths, releasing into the quad. Repeat on the other side 10) Forward bend – step the feet out hip width apart, or wider. Inhale, hands to the waist and exhale, fold forward. You can bend the knees softly if needed. This is easier to perform with your buttocks resting to a wall (try near the toilets) to support you 11) Downward facing dog – for those wanting to go a little deeper and who don’t care what people think – find a slightly bigger space near the exit/bathrooms. Come down onto all fours. Spread the fingers and press the palms down – hands are shoulder width apart. Inhale to raise the hips and begin straightening the legs (slightly bent is fine too!) Make sure the feet are hip widths apart, or wider. Hold for 10 breaths or more for a deep front and body stretch. A variation  – take the hands to the wall and step back. Bring the chest parallel to the floor and create a right angle with the body and legs 12) Seated meditation – sitting upright, with feet firmly planted to the ground. Bring the palms, open, onto the lap, or on top of each other. Close your eyes and focus in on the sound, quality and texture of your breath. Gently breath into the belly, then the rib cage and then the chest. Slowly exhale from the chest, the rib cage and finally releasing the belly back towards the spine. […] Read more

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