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KALE CHIPS… A BIT UGLY BUT A FLAVOUR SENSATION FOR YOUR MOUTH!

KALE CHIPS… A BIT UGLY BUT A FLAVOUR SENSATION FOR YOUR MOUTH!

Posted May 28, 2012

Last week I had been working from home all day. Despite having a beautifully nourishing breakfast and energy packed lunch I knew that I’d need something to tide me over during my evening yoga classes. I quickly whipped up a batch of Kale Chips – having just received our Food Connect order I was so excited to find Kale in there. (It’s been hard for the farmers to grow it over the wet summer we had) After posting a picture of my Kale Chips on facebook I enjoyed seeing the different reactions. A few people weren’t so impressed, and others wanted the recipe. So here it is… you decide. Don’t judge a book by its cover, EAT them first and then judge. If you are still aren’t convinced, then fair game. What you’ll need A bunch of Kale – as little or as much as you want to make Himalayan Rock Salt (or any other pink salt) Any other seasoning – Cumin, Pepper, Turmeric and Sumac are all faves of mine and work well here! Coconut Oil What to do: ‘Shear’ the Kale – important to not eat the stalks. I slightly tear the leaves either end of the stalk at the end and then drag my fingers down to shear off the leaves Hand tear – don’t be precious, just break the leaves into smaller more ‘chip’ like shapes Toss and rub in 1 tbls coconut oil Toss in seasoning of choice (for those salt and vinegar fans you can add in a little vinegar here if you want Lay down on baking paper – evening spread out – in a baking tray Slower options: Bake below 100degrees for a good while – check in to make sure they are firming up and going crispy Faster option: Crank it to 170/180 and bake for 15 minutes Alternative option: place under your griller You want crunchy, crisp but not burnt chips. Eat and enjoy! Saha to you. Signing off with an exhale. Pause. Listen. Live. Cx Read more

HOW TO BECOME A MORNING PERSON

HOW TO BECOME A MORNING PERSON

Posted May 21, 2012

As I sit here writing this post at 7:30am, I realise how grateful I am to naturally be a morning person. By this point I’ve already meditated, drank tea in bed journaling, done a few morning stretches and made a smoothie to sip on whilst working. I feel alert, I feel ready for the day and I know that come 9:30pm my body will sound its sleepy time call and I’ll curl up until 5:30am the next day. I know that having minimal trouble getting out of bed, even on sleepy days, is a blessing considering the kind of ‘schedule’ our world is in. But also because I’ve found myself on the yogi path, early mornings come hand in hand! I get asked all the time by clients, friends and even strangers how to become a morning person. I understand that for those of you with a strong pull towards night owl behaviour that after a certain age (when you are young and partying being a night owl works in your favour) sleeping in just gets in the way of soaking up your day. There are a few easy ways to start morphing into a morning person. It is possible, but for some of you who have been in a long habit of sleeping very late and rising late, this will be hard to break. I will stress though, that being a morning person isn’t just important for functioning in this world, but mostly, the benefits of rising early are health and wellness related. The philosophy for jump-starting the day with an early rise comes from Ayurveda. The focus is on creating morning rituals that align the body with nature and its rhythms, to bring you into balance and to foster self-disciple and confidence. Personally I need routine and especially a morning one. It helps me to feel grounded and stable. Two things that are vital to my overall wellness. When I feel earthed I find feelings of stress, anxiety and insecurity don’t torment me as much as they do when I’m flighty and un-anchored. Try adopting just one or two of the following practices for a decent period of time – try a month. Give it some time to form and solidify into a new habit. You might come to find that your experience of each day radically changes. Oh, and don’t be surprised if you view mornings in a new light! 1) Have an intention There is no point saying you want to become a morning person if you don’t have a clear intention as to why you are creating this shift. Is it because of your current life schedule? Do you feel frazzled in the morning as you madly get ready for work? Do you want to get a puppy that will need morning walks? Whatever your reason, write it down/journal it and be clear. Set the intention and put it out there 2) Look at your sleeping pattern How many hours do you currently get and think you need? Most of us need between 7-8 for the body to restore. If you are currently sleeping from 12am – 8am then over the next few weeks ease yourself into a new pattern. For a few days try 11:30 – 7:30am. The next few days go to bed another 30-45mins earlier and wake earlier, respectively. Hopefully by the end of a 2-3 weeks you would have shifted your pattern slightly. Eventually you want to aim to be in bed by 10pm at the latest and rising at 6am. Vata energy, according to Ayurveda, fills the pre-dawn hours of the morning. Vata is known for movement so this is the perfect time of the day to wake the body and mind. I can vouch for this. If I rise by 6 at the latest I am alert and focused. Anything after 7 and I start to feel heavy and groggy (Kapha period which is a slower and heavier energy). 3) Use tricks to trick yourself away For some of us once our alarm goes off it’s a no-brainer. No thinking, just doing. We rise and the routine commences. For others, a few little tricks can help fool yourself awake. Put your alarm on loud and far away from you – annoying, but it’ll get you out of bed. Stop thinking… the moment you kick into rationalising your way ‘out’ of waking up, then you are in danger zone. Just sit straight up and get on with it Switch the light of straight away – this helps to reset your circadian rhythm and makes you a little more alert Brush your teeth and wash your face with cool water straight away – it’s hard to go back to bed once you’ve done these two, but also cooling the face and eyes is an Ayurvedic practice that helps balance the doshas and reduces the warm, pitta energy Make the bed – less inviting that way Turn on some music 4) Use your time wisely The key to not undoing your hard-work when changing your sleeping pattern is to fill the free time you create in the morning. How do you want to enjoy the time you have in the morning? If you have nothing to ‘do’ then sleeping in will just seem like the obvious solution. Perhaps you could try: Meditating for 20 minutes, enjoy the silence before the world wakes up Do a few breathing exercises Journal in bed, write down your dreams, goals for the day or what you are grateful for Stretching helps to open the body and prepare the mind – a series of gentle yoga stretches is a perfect, unless you already have your own regular daily practice Go for a sunrise walk – experience nature’s rhythms first hand 5) Eat a nourishing breakfast From 6am – 10am is the Kapha period, a time when it’s best to exercise and move to counteract the heavier energy of Kapha. It’s important to ‘eliminate’ before eating, so activate […] Read more

GET GROUNDED WITH AN AYURVEDIC SELF MASSAGE

GET GROUNDED WITH AN AYURVEDIC SELF MASSAGE

Posted April 02, 2012

Last week I posted about Autumn Eating. Clearly (in Sydney at least) we are moving slowly into Autumn as the weekend was amzing ( beach day!) But nevertheless the changes are upon us.   The weirdest thing happens to me/my body during the colder months, which I’ve started to notice since practising Ashtanga. My body cracks. Literally. In Urdhva Mukka Svanasana (Upward Facing Dog) I can literally hear and feel the bones in my rib cage stretch and crack. I hear it in my joints – the knees, elbows, hips. It’s also around the time that I start feeling a little un-grounded and anxious. All because the year is well and truly underway and the change in season throws me off balance.   I mentioned this to my beautiful friend and yogi Nadia from Yoga Village last year and she reminded me of the Ayurvedic self-massage. My dosha (nature) is vata…and with that comes alot of dryness, especially in the body – joints, bones, skin. And then with Autumn (the vata season) it compounds the dryness.   So… the answer? Oil. Lots of it. And not just in the diet. Literally lathering yourself up with oil does wonders.   Now, this isn’t just for anyone who is a vata, or a bone-cracking yogi. This is for everyone, especially during the colder months who are looking for some nourishment for the body.    In Ayurveda this is called Abhyanga. Self massage.   According to the Chopra centre the skin, when stimulated through touch or massage, releases a concoction of healing chemicals that have positive health effects on the physiology. It assists in detoxing the body’s tissues, increases circulation, calms the mind, and enhances immune function. First, what you want it to determine your dosha. Next, once you know your dosha you want to be using an oil that balances and pacifies you. Not aggravates or throws your dosha out of balance.    Vata types – Choose calming oils, including sesame, olive, almond, wheatgerm. Pitta types – Choose cooling oils, such as coconut, sandalwood, almond, and sunflower seed. Kapha types – Choose burning oils. These include mustard, corn, and safflower. Now…it’s time to massage. First, warm the oil. I place the bottle into hot water Using 1tbls of warm oil, massage it into your scalp, working the oil in with small circular strokes (like shampooing) Move down to gently massage your face and ears Vigorously massage the front and back of the neck, then down to the arms in an up-and-down motion. Then circular motions at the shoulders, elbows Massage gently in a circular motion at the chest and stomach. Get some extra oil and reach out to massage your back/spine (as much as your can without hurting yourself) Move down to massage the legs and repeat the same as the arms (up and down and then circular at the knees and ankles. Once you reach your feet, sit down and spend time time there. Massage the sole of the foot with your palm in back and forth movement. And work between the toes and into the heel. If you can, leave on for 30 minutes before shower – if in the AM. Or if this is before bed, go to sleep with a thin film of oil on you.   For an easier/quicker version. You can repeat the above but delete the scalp massage and do only the arms, legs and feet. I find this massage is really quite soothing and even a little decadent. It only takes 10 minutes and it feels pretty awesome to do something nice for yourself. It’ll leave you feeling warm, grounded, balanced. A little more saha in your life. Enjoy.   Signing off with an exhale. Pause. Listen. Live. Cx Read more

DO YOU KNOW HOW TO BE ‘BAD’?

DO YOU KNOW HOW TO BE ‘BAD’?

Posted March 28, 2012

It’s not easy being bad. I don’t mean being a ‘baddie’… in the sense of doing bad things to people. When I say bad, I am referencing doing things outside of the ‘should/shouldn’t’ list. I should answer that email by today. I should vacuum the floor. I should see my parents every week. I should go to work even though I’m sick, exhausted and need to rest. I should just pretend everything is ok. I should stay at home and work even though I just want to read my book at the beach. Should. Should. Should. Think about your life? We often live according to others. We don’t say or do certain things because we care what other people might think. We live by routine (which I see the merit in too!). So many of us feel guilty for taking a sick day, so instead we work through a flu, or we don’t tell people when something has upset us because we don’t want to ‘rock’ the boat. So many boundaries, rules, restrictions. And sometimes I think we spend so much time trying to put out ‘perfect’ to the world (hello facebook, twitter, instagram!) that we are lacking in authenticity, freedom and spontaneity and connectedness to what we really need in that moment. Have you ever just called in sick because you needed a day alone? Have you ever told your friend that, honestly, you can’t catch up today just because you want to do nothing and not talk crap? Have you ever deleted a bunch of new emails in your inbox, just so? Or turned your phone off for a day? Or not instagrammed even though people are expecting to see what pretty pictures you’ve taken? Have you ever not gone to the gym/yoga in the morning and just slept in, without guilt? Have you ever done the exact opposite to what you normally do and been surprised by how much fun it was? Like drinking, when you don’t normally and actually enjoying yourself? Or not drinking and having a great night? Have you ever not gone to a friend’s not-so-important birthday party (after 30 doesn’t a huge bash become a bit ridiculous?) because you’d rather see a friend for dinner than pretend to have a good night and blow lots of cash? I’m not writing this encouraging us all to become super selfish, ignoring the needs of our friends, work, family, partners. Far from it. I’m asking, do you often put all those people well before your own needs and have you become a little disconnected with what you really want/need in the moment? Can we all just break a few of the tiny little rules we’ve imposed on ourself and just stop. For a moment. And like it. Accept it. Enjoy it. Relish in it. Can you be bad? Just a little bit? Signing off with an exhale. Pause. Listen. Live Cx Read more

YOGA FOR INSOMNIA

YOGA FOR INSOMNIA

Posted March 09, 2012

I don’t really drink coffee anymore. I’ve posted before on how it makes me feel and since tapping into this I’ve tried to avoid it. Every now and then I dip my toe into the caffeine pool again – only to regret it! Last Saturday was one of those days. I indulged in an ice coffee from Balmain’s coffee powerhouse, Bertoni’s. Boy, did I pay for it. At 10:30pm after staying home to do some work (exciting life at the moment) I was still wide awake, but I took myself off to bed because that’s just what I do. 10:30 is way past my usual bed time! Come 2am, I was still awake. Crap. My initial instinct was to shut my eyes, curl deeper into a foetal position and secretly pray for the sleep gods to have mercy on me. Then I had a moment…which seems to be happening a lot to me lately. Moments that is, not insomnia. I realised that If a friend came to me and asked what they should do when they are having trouble sleeping I would probably prescribe a few quietening yoga postures that would settle the nervous sytem. Lying there in bed, trying not to disturb Chris, I thought, well, up you get Claire. Let’s put these postures to the test. Did they work? Yes, they did. Did I fall asleep and settle into dreamland like a baby. Not quite as picturesque but eventually it happened and this little sequence worked a treat in ceasing the merry-go-round in my mind and helped me calm down enough to fall asleep. Check out the below restless night sequence. I held each one for around five minutes. The images (thanks to yoga journal!) are very self explanatory. Where necessary I’ve added in a couple of necessary tips. Hopefully the next time you are having a restless night this sequence might help to calm your nervous system and stop the repetitive thoughts long enough to send you off to sleep. Signing off with an exhale. Pause. Listen. Live Cx 1) Marjaryasana to Bitilasana (Cat/Cow) 2) Padangusthasana (standing forward bend) Spread the feet hip width apart Ground down evenly through the feet Bend the knees slightly if the hamstrings are tight. Trigger grip the big toes with index and middle finger 3) Balasana (child’s pose) Knees and feet are together, sit bones to heels Fold over, arms by the sides, palms facing up Lightly press the forehead to the mat or use a cushion if your head doesn’t reach the floor 4) Uttanasana Similar to Padangustasana however let the hands fall to the floor, behind the feet or even just hold the elbows and hang the body forward 5) Pachimottanasana (seated forward bend) Sit on a folded blanket or cushion to raise the hips and pelvish Extend the legs, bend the knees slightly (usually they are active and straight, but this is a more restorative version) Let the hands come to the shins/ankles/feet You can place a cushion on the legs to support the body as you fold forward 6) Halasana (plough pose) Use a folded blanket underneath the shoulders (not the neck) Kick the legs over head , supporting the back with your hands Slowly lower the legs over head Keep lifting the spine, trying to elongate and straighten the back Do not attempt if you have a bad neck, or if this is your first time 7) Salamba Sarvangasana (supported shoulder stand) From Halasana set-up start to raise the legs up Ensure you are on your shoulders and not the neck Support the back with hands, squeeze elbows close together 8) Viparita Karani (legs up wall) 9) Savasana into sleep! Read more

IT IS WHAT IS… ACCEPTING THE MOMENT

IT IS WHAT IS… ACCEPTING THE MOMENT

Posted March 05, 2012

It’s all in the reaction. I’ve noticed through the years of reading, studying and talking with others that often the bad days in our lives are actually more about the way we react and less about the actual reality of that news, experience or situation. Let me explain.  I’ll use yoga as an example here, because this is how I first opened my eyes to this concept. Imagine you are in a pose. It hurts. Alot. Mostly, it hurts in places that you’ve never felt before. So your mind starts to turn. “This is uncomfortable. No, this really hurts. Why is the teacher making me hold this. I wish she’d just shut up and let me out of this pose. Maybe if I move my leg here it’ll feel better. Nope. Still bad. Oh god. I can’t bare it” And on it goes. You can see in that moment there is alot of chatter. Alot of back-chat, even, to the experience, the situation. There is resistance. Resistance is key. How much do we resist the things in our lives that are unchangeable, unavoidable… the things that just are? Do we accept and find the silver lining, or make the most of it? Yes, often we do. But mostly, we resist. Now I don’t mean we should lay down and just take it… no, that would be defeatist. I mean, do we ever truly just soften, let go and move in to the situation. Why do I ask this question? Well, because if you go back to that moment, in that painful yoga pose, imagine the situation and how different it would be if you just stopped. Stopped the fidgeting, the internal abuse, the resistance. And maybe just found a little stillness. Breath into the moment, focusing simply on that breath. The inhale and the exhale.  Do you imagine, then, that the moment would be a little less anger-fuelled?  I think so. I try and live by a little concept that I appropriated from Eckhart Tolle. In every moment, conversation, situation that brings about a feeling of anxiety, confusion, tension… I ask myself these three questions. 1) Can I leave this moment? Yes? Then as skillfully as possible, I make that happen. If no… onto the next question then! 2) Can I change this moment? Yes? Well then I change it!  But if no… the next is a question with an answer I already know. 3) Can I accept this moment? There can only be yes. Because if I choose to not accept, If I choose to react with resistance, with annoyance, with frustration, I then invite the suffering and further deepen the annoyance and frustration.   So it has to be yes. I have to take a moment, take a breath and ask myself – did that person really upset me? Well yes, but I can’t change it. I’ve now left that situation. So let it go and accept it. This is what I mean about reactions and the fact that our reactions make a mountain out of a molehill. I am not saying you need to rise above your human emotions, feelings, responses. We live in this world, we are part of this world and are susceptible to all the trimmings – good, bad and ugly. But, just because we are part of it doesn’t mean that we have to be a slave to every emotion. We are not our emotions and nor do we have to be governed by them. I find it quite liberating to realise that I am much more in control of how situations and experiences will pan out for myself. I don’t want to live a frustrating, angry, unhappy life. And I certainly don’t like it when something comes along to challenge my attempt at happiness, contentment, balance. But I realise now, that they do come along to show me that happiness is all in my hands. It’s all possible, no matter what I have (material or otherwise) that I believe will bring me happiness.  Do you find that some things are often ‘worse’ because of your reaction or resistance? Or have you practised the art of acceptance? Wishing you a week of living in the moment and accepting, open-heartedly, all that comes your way.  Signing off with an exhale. Pause. Listen. Live Cx   Read more

BACKBENDING FOR JOY

BACKBENDING FOR JOY

Posted March 02, 2012

I remember back when I first started practising yoga, I found backbends to be so painful. I had spindly, weak little arms that could barely lift a grocery bag let alone my own body weight off the floor. My shoulders – particularly the rhomboid/trapezium area – were so tight and blocked; I couldn’t straighten my arms for nothing or no body. I eventually started to work with blocks, which are a great tool for those with less flexibility in the back. Once I had built up some arm strength I could start to straighten my arms and feel an amazing release in the shoulders. At that stage something pretty amazing started to happen. I would arrive to work after class on a Friday with this overwhelming sense of, well… joy, really! I know it sounds so lofty and a bit hippie, but I would just feel light and floaty and spontaneous. I would also feel a lot of love for the people around me, maybe for the beautiful day… anything, anyone really. I just felt happy. Once I started my teacher training we discussed backbends a lot – anatomically and energetically. Anatomically backbends encourage circulation to the heart and lungs – something that rarely happens. Backbends also nourish the nervous, lymphatic and digestive system, as well as the kidneys. They also work to stretch and strengthen the quad, shoulders and chest. Whilst building energy, opening up and strengthening the wrists, arms, legs, spine. They are pretty phenomenal poses. From even the more gentle versions like bridge pose to the more dynamic such as wheel or even full drop-backs. Working against gravity they act as an invigorator – reenergising the body and mind, refreshing the systems and reversing the forward, slumped posture that so many of us have from working on computers. Energetically speaking, cracking the heart space wide open, tilting the head back and moving into a new perspective does profound things to our perception and awareness. Firstly, overcoming a lot of fear is a practise that is important on and off the mat. But mostly, the sensation of literally opening and releasing the body has much the same effect on stored emotions, memories and tension from the past or simple stagnant and stuck energy. I have often noticed that backbends release not only my body but help to dissipate any depressed or anxious feelings I might be carrying. Now that I am finally at a stage where backbends are my friend (we still have fall outs though!) I am experimenting with moving into deeper backbends, such as drop backs that are testing my sense of courage, once again. The main photo is me giving it a shot! Unassisted, the fear kicks in and my ego gets in the way – I find a way to chicken out of it. With my teacher there to hold or guide me, I can’t back off so I fully let go and drop back. I’m not placing any time limits on when I should crack this, because it’s not about the pose, it’s about the experience into it. However, I am enjoying watching myself in this experience. Seeing what comes up, what emotions rise, how I react. If you are keen to try a few backbends, I do recommend giving these a shot at a yoga class with a teacher, and definitely ensure your body and spine is warmed up. Here is an easy how-to to practice bridge pose at home: Lay on your back Bend the knees and bring the foot to the mat, heels close to the sit bones and stacked beneath the knees. Draw the tail bone under and tilt the front of the pelvis up – protecting the lower back. Press the palms into the mat and inhale through the nose Lift up the pelvis, starting at the tailbone, working up from the base of the spine to the base of the neck As you lift higher, inch your shoulders into each other, so you are coming up onto your shoulder blades – this allows you to get more lift through the spine. Clasp the hands together underneath your body and press the hands and arms down to the mat. Ground the energy down through the feet, keep the quads strong and active and lift the chest high, up toward the fact. Hold for 10 slow, smooth breaths and then release the hands and peel the spine down, from the base of the neck to the tail. Release the legs out straight for 10 breaths Draw the knees to the chest for 10 breaths. Feel the joy! Signing off with an exhale. Pause. Listen. Live Cx NB/ Sorry about the crappy pictures. I don’t have alot of me in certain poses and these were taken on holidays during my morning practice – a bit rough, but you get the idea! Read more

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