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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

7 THINGS NOT TO DO IN A YOGA CLASS

7 THINGS NOT TO DO IN A YOGA CLASS

Posted June 25, 2012

This list of no-nos is most certainly shared by fellow yogis and teachers alike. Now, let me just say this is not to scare you out of yoga, in fact, I’m always trying to do the opposite (it’s taken me 5 years but my fiance has finally caved and started practising!) but, some things just need to be cleared up for seasoned and new yogis. Yoga classes are unique in that you are sharing space with the people around you, but really, it is a very personal and private experience. One that allows the individual to explore their own body and breath in their own way. That being said, because you are sharing space it’s important to find the balance between interacting with others, respectfully, and understanding the kind of space you are in. It’s not a gym, boot camp or a social situation. These 7 essential tips are mostly from my years as a student and perhaps a few from my teaching. Etiquette or the rules of polite conduct are just as important on the mat as off. 1) Be on time. Yes, it’s a personal practice but if you run late you disturb everyone else in the class (including the teacher). And you miss out on the benefits of the early warm-up and relaxation 2) Watch where you step. Nothing used to irk me more than fellow students walking on my mat as they crossed the studio. Your mat is your home for however long the class goes for. You wouldn’t want someone trudging all over your home, would you? 3)Mobile phones off. Silence and moving the attention inward is really, really hard when someone’s mobile phone is ringing, beeping or vibrating. Not to mention as a teacher it does throw you off your focus. 4) Mind your manners. With all that deep breathing, a yoga class is not the place where you should be coughing and sneezing without covering your mouth. Simple manners really – just be mindful that your fellow yogis are happy to share their energy with you, but not your germs. 5) Keep it down. If you enter a studio and there are already a number of people set-up in a relaxtion postures, fight the urge to gossip and talk loudly amongst your friends. It’s fantastic that yoga brings people together and creates a community but you never know why someone has come to class that day – that might really need some quiet space. And, would it kill you to talk a little less? 6) Less is best. In confined spaces breathing in strong perfume whilst trying to balance on your head isn’t much fun. If you can, avoid strong scents (perfumes, body products etc) as some people find it really difficult to breath freely without irritation. 7) Stay awhile. Nothing is more frustrating than almost slipping off to a deep, quiet space during savasana (corpse pose/relaxation) than being disturbed by a fellow yogi, unable to settle for 3 minutes, jumping up and leaving class early. Yoga is about finding comfort in the uncomfortable, so yes, if it happens try not to be distracted. But, for those that are serial savasana-skippers, if you can avoid it, stay awhile. It’ll go faster than you think and before you know it, class will be over. Oh and it’s a tad disrespectful to the teacher who has shared their energy and knowledge during the class to have you skadaddle because you can’t WAIT to run off to work/breakfast/life. I hope that doesn’t deter you, but instead make you feel clear on the best behaviour in a yoga class. Hope to see you on the mat soon! Signing off with an exhale. Pause. Listen. Live. Claire x Read more

YUMMY COCONUT, CACAO + CASHEW SQUARES

YUMMY COCONUT, CACAO + CASHEW SQUARES

Posted June 22, 2012

These make for a delicious treat, after dinner sweet hit, running out the door snack… anything really! You can play around with the ingredients to make them more cacao flavoured, or more tahini, nut flavoured! Eat and enjoy! Ingredients: 1 cup Cashews 2 tbls Cacao 2 tbls Coconut Oil 2- 3 Medjool Dates 2 – 3 tbls Date juice 1/2 cup Organic Dessicated Coconut  1/4 cup sesame seeds 1 tbls Coconut Crunch 1 tbls Chia Seeds 1 tbls Tahini Method Blend cashews and coconut oil first until soft. Add in dates, date juice, cacao. Blend again. Next add in chia seeds, coconut crunch and tahini blend again. At this stage test the consistency. If it’s too sticky (hard to shape) then add in more cacao or coconut crunch. When you get the right consistency (sticky but not too goopy) spread dessicated coconut and sesame seeds on a plate. Take 1 spoon of the mixture and quickly shape into a ball. Next, roll it in the coconut and begin to shape into little squares. Once you’ve finished them all lay on baking paper in tupperware and place in the freezer. Ready to eat when you are! YUM. Signing off with an exhale. Pause. Listen. Live. Claire x Read more

MAYBE YOU JUST NEED A GLASS OF WATER?

MAYBE YOU JUST NEED A GLASS OF WATER?

Posted June 18, 2012

Water is the foundation of life – we are mostly made up of water.  In fact, around 75% of the human body is water, the other 25% is solid matter. But, what also might be surprising is that our brain is 85% water – that’s alot of water! Not to mention your blood is 82% water,  lungs that carry oxygen are 90% water, your bones are 25% water. Are you reaching for a glass right now? During my health coaching studies I was exposed to Dr. F. Batmanghelidj, a researcher, author and advocate of the healing powers of water. I remember thinking, oh please, we all KNOW that water is important. But I didn’t expect to find out HOW important. With that much water making up our entire system, it shouldn’t be a surprise that we literally need water. But, I am shocked by how many clients/friends confess to barely drinking 2 glasses of water a day. These are the same individuals who might also struggle with cravings, migraines, lethargy, crabbiness. I can definitely vouch for unusual mood swings, headaches and exhaustion when I haven’t had enough water throughout the day. Now, Dr. F. Batmanghelidj takes it a little further. Through his research he goes as far as saying that water can be a cure for many degenerative diseases. Big statement, but one that he backs with countless studies and scientific documents. Amongst the degenerative diseases Dr. F mentions are: Heartburn Migraines Angina Arthritis High blood pressure Cholesterol Whether you choose to accept that water can prevent and cure serious diseases, it doesn’t matter, the reality is we need water to sustain life. Water generates life, in our bodies, but also around the planet. Food is necessary but we can definitely hold out a little longer without it. Water, is vital. We are what we eat, but we are mostly what we drink!  Unfortunately, alot of the time we see thirst as hunger, and treat it with excessive eating, especially sugar, to jack up on and fight the feelings that dehydration can cause such as headaches, mood swings, fatigue, excess acid in the body, sluggishness. Or maybe you do identify that you are thirsty but reach for the wrong type of drink. In lieu of water if you are slugging back tea, coffee, soft drinks and juices you aren’t getting the necessary hydration your body and brain needs. In fact, you are only exacerbating the problem and leading to further dehydration. So, what happens when you starve the body of its most vital life-source? Lots of unhappy things! It seems that we can avoid all of that if we just treat our thirst with some water. The next time you crave something you know isn’t right for you, (food or drinks!) try this first: drink water! Simple, huh? Or even better, realise that by the time you feel thirsty you are already dehydrated. Make water a normal part of your daily habit. Water will sort out whatever your body was craving for. So, how much water should we drink? This is where it gets a little confusing. 8 cups a day, 2 litres, a % of your body weight? There are a zillion different theories. But honestly, I believe this answer comes down to a few things – your weight, the climate you are in, the amount of exercise you are doing, if you are pregnant, the altitude and so on. As a guide, at least 1.5 litres per day as a minimum. And of course, more if it’s hot, you are exercising or you know you need more. An easy tip – add a sprinkle of pink salt to your water to aid absorption when you feel dehydrated. Try not to over drink as it can deplete minerals in the system. Whilst drinking too much towards the end of the day/evening can make you feel too awake and active which makes it difficult to settle and fall asleep. You want to enjoy a really deep sleep without having to rouse yourself for a toilet break! It’s important to not disrupt your natural dream cycle to process the day and allow the body to rest, digest and revive. Finally, don’t drink just before, during or just after a meal – allow your enzymes to digest and do the job they are supposed to. When it comes to what type of water, well there are lots of different options and theories – this is going to be a whole separate post! Filtered, tap, bottled, hot, cold. Me, I’m not too fussy. I use a filter at home but I’m not afraid to drink from the tap. Really, if you are not drinking alot of water, just by increasing your consumption you will make the world of difference. Personally, I tend to reach for warm water in winter, or at least at room temperature so it doesn’t shock my system. I always start everyday with a big glass of water followed by hot water with lemon. From an Ayurvedic, starting off with a big glass helps kick-start the system and nourish your organs. Also, in winter Ayurveda believes that really ice, cold water in winter can exacerbate your vata and lead to colds and flu. So drinking warm water is recommended to cleanse and nourish the system and aid digestion. Also, according to Ayurveda, normal drinking water can take about 6hrs to be absorbed. However, hot herbalized water takes about 1.5hrs and a half hours, and the addition of the herbs helps open the channels, clear mucous and toxins and cleanse the body as it hydrates it. Here’s an easy way to enjoy water that will hydrate, nourish and cleanse the system: Boil up 2 litres of water on the stove-top After a couple of minutes add in: 1/2 tsp whole coriander seeds, 1/2 tsp whole fennel 2 x 1inch slices of fresh ginger root Drop the heat to a low simmer for 10 minutes. Take off the heat, strain and keep […] Read more

WHAT IS IYENGAR YOGA + HOW IT CAN BENEFIT YOU

WHAT IS IYENGAR YOGA + HOW IT CAN BENEFIT YOU

Posted June 12, 2012

Although I now mostly practice Ashtanga, my love affair with yoga began a few years back with Iyengar. A class and experience that profoundly affected me. You can read all about my very first class here. I tried yoga in my early 20s, I believe it was a flowing hatha vinyasa style. And although now I love this style of yoga it really didn’t resonate with me at all. The combination of a weak, tight body, lack of self-awareness and a disconnection from my body meant that my attempts at yoga never really cut through. But, Iyengar is a unique style and experience. And that coupled with a little more ‘openess’ had me hooked from day one.Iyengar is a very popular style of yoga created by B.K.S Iyengar, who, after sustaining an injury decided to find a way to make yoga accessible and therapeutic. I love Iyengar because of the detail and the focus it requires. It forces me to fully connect with my body, creating such a deep level of self-awareness. Iyengar doesn’t focus on ‘flow’ or vinyasa, but it is what I would describe an intellectual practice. Some people find the detail in Iyengar yoga to be distracting, however for me it really helps to shut off everything else in my mind as I move into the present (body and breath). This allows me to focus on where i am in space, what I am doing in the posture and how to move deeper. The practice of Iyengar focuses on a few main aspects: 1) Correct body alignment – in an anatomical way 2) Props – using blocks, chairs, blankets and belts to help you adjust or support the body in different postures – to work within a range of motion that is safe and effective, but also to show you what the body needs to do within the asana 3) Therapy – using asana, the postures and pranayama, the breath to eliminate physical and energetic ailments (including stress!) 4) Sequencing – correct sequences that encourage the practice of postures in an order that creates a strong effects on the body and nervous system. E.g. a headstand always comes before shoulder stand 5) Timing – postures are held for a longer period of time to let the effects of the pose penetrate deeper within the body and mind – sense of awareness, strength, flexibility, stamina, understanding. Downward Facing Dog – Iyengar yoga wall A typical class will see the teacher focus on a particular set of asanas – Standing Poses, Twists and Forward Bends, Backbends, Restorative etc. However, in each class there will always feature a long-held headstand (sirsasana) and long-held shoulderstand (sarvangasana) at the end. The kind and queen of the asanas and two poses revered in Iyengar (all yoga in fact!) Unlike Ashtanga, where ladies not practice during their menstrual cycle, in Iyengar you can still attend but your teacher will set you up for a restorative sequence using blankets, bolsters and props to settle into soothing postures for 5-10 minutes each. This leaves you feeling so blissed out and calm. One of my favourite books is B.K.S Iyengar. It is a brilliant book. And as expected, incredibly detailed. Whether you are a teacher, new practitioner, or intrigued yogi from a different style this book is a must! If you are injured, recovering from pregnancy, find hot/flow styles of yoga make you feel anxious, need some grounding, like to experiment, or are totally new to yoga I strongly recommend trying Iyengar. I especially think starting out with Iyengar before transitioning is the most brilliant set-up for a fantastic yoga practice. After sustaining a hamstring injury and back injury I have started to incorporate Iyengar back into my yoga regime. Nothing else teaches you structure, alignment, understanding like Iyengar does. All yoga creates awareness, but Iyengar does so on a deep level, very quickly! If you are intrigued and want to give Iyengar a shot check out Iyengar Yoga Australia. Signing off with an exhale. Pause. Listen. Live. Cx Read more

MY YOGA WARM-UP + A SHORT VIDEO

MY YOGA WARM-UP + A SHORT VIDEO

Posted June 01, 2012

I’m not a naturally flexible person. I make sure I tell this to my students often. Why? Because when I first starting practising yoga (I was constantly in throws of frustration towards my body and its limitations) I would’ve LOVED to hear from my bendy, strong teachers that they, like me, weren’t flexible, or a gymnast, or a dancer. It would’ve reminded me that if I believe in myself, dedicate to this practice and persevere with mind and body that anything is possible. And it is. But, my naturally inflexible body has come a long way. I probably will never be able to do everything that yoga offers. It doesn’t matter though, because each day something different happens, my body evolves, my understanding deepens and my love affair continues. Because of that, everyday I dedicate myself to it. Even if it’s just for five minutes each morning, or 20, or 2 hours, whenever I can get on my mat, I do. Especially when I am busy. And last week, that is what happened. I was busy, but I reminded myself what I say to my students all the time. It’s the busy moments when we need to hit the mat even more. Just for a moment or two. So I filmed my morning warm-up practise to demonstrate the simplicity in taking 20 minutes to hit the mat, to stretch and move in anyway your body asks you to. If I don’t, my body feels stiff for hours, it’s not happy and I don’t blame it. In this video, despite feeling a little stiff after two days off and with a lower back injury I find that my warm-up still made me feel realigned and open, corrected even.  Yoga corrects me. It reminds me to stand tall, to think and feel with lightness, to respect my body and breath and to realign me – energetically, physically, mentally, emotionally – each and everyday. I sped the video up so it doesn’t take long to watch. [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MK8_WdTe4_0?version=3] Yoga isn’t about demonstrating flexibility. Yes, as some point flexibility is required for some poses. But, you don’t need flexibility, or strength, or co-ordination to feel how yoga can ‘correct’ you. In fact, just being on the mat, trying, dedicating to it and embracing it, therein is the act of yoga. And, it’s not just the asana that literally makes your body realign, the self-awareness and understanding born from yoga practice literally corrects, changes, reshapes the way you view the world, people in, situations, attitudes. It brings you into a clear state of being – mind, body and breath. I understand that yoga might not be for everyone. Fair enough. But if you even have a small inkling that it might, hit the mat. Try it. Just once. You might stand corrected. Signing off with an exhale. Pause. Exhale. Live. Claire x Read more

HOW TO TURN INJURIES INTO A BEAUTIFUL THING

HOW TO TURN INJURIES INTO A BEAUTIFUL THING

Posted May 30, 2012

My beautiful partner, Chris, has unfortunately torn his hamstring. Been there, done that! I have also been is the anxious place he is in – knowing that for a short period of time he has to hold back from doing the things that brings him happiness. Having been injured more than once during my yoga practice, I’ve learnt many things that I am now grateful for. Firstly, each injury has made me a better teacher. I now teach from a deeper understanding of the body and its anatomy and a deeper respect for its limitations. Each injury has also taught me that my ego is constantly at play. Always trying to override my best intentions and always tricking me into doing, thinking, being in someway that doesn’t benefit me. This ego has made me, unknowingly, push myself past my limit, driving me to obsess over a pose and ignore clear signals my body has been sending. This ego is no friend of mine. An enemy of sorts, but the reality is I couldn’t live without. Because without it, I wouldn’t be learning and growing. Chris asked me today – “What am I going to do? How am I going to do this?’ By ‘this’ I know he meant not go insane, lose my motivation and end up blobbing on the couch. Our solution? Let’s find a new way. I remember when I injured my hamstring last year I had to hold back in every single yoga pose. Asanas that I could normally practice with ease felt raw and new, like unchartered territory. But it was the holding back that helped me really switch in to my body and be honest with where I was at. I also had to come at poses from a different angle – truly redefining what structure and alignment meant for myself. When faced with anything, injury or other, we have to learn how to slow down, give yourself space and time to accept, become aware, to heal and also override the fear of not ‘doing or being’ in a way we believe defines us. Because it doesn’t. We are not our yoga practice. We are not our football game. We are the way we respond to our yoga, our football. We are the way we absorb and learn from those practices. Not the doing and being within it. Together, Chris and I are coming up with a game plan – a new way of ‘being’ whilst he steps back from the old way. And in that I know he will learn more than he did before. I know he’ll come back to his game with respect, drive, motivation and mostly awareness. 1) Grieve for a moment then pull your socks up, accept and move forward 2) Review the situation 3) Let go of what you ‘usually’ do and embrace a new pattern, even if it’s just for a short time 4) Do something, anything to fill your time that’s safe and works with you and your injury 5) Enjoy the opportunity to take a step back and slow down, you’ll be surprised by what comes out of it 6) Stay focused on your goal, but give yourself time – accepting that your ‘goal post’ might change along the wayHow have you been ‘injured’ – physically or emotionally – that has made you reassess and review. Did you find beauty in it? Signing off with an exhale.Pause. Listen. Live. Cx Read more

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