Exploring Self Through Yoga

GingerIf you have ever been to a yoga class you have probably heard your teacher say “listen to your body” or “pay attention to your breath” or “honour your body” or something of the like.  To be honest when I first started participating I had no idea what these nutty teachers were talking about.  Listen to what? who? where?  I was so focused on looking the way everyone else looked or figuring out how to do one of those crazy push-ups (chaturanga) to realize that I had no idea how to listen to my body.

I approached yoga like I approached my running. Grin and bear it to get to the end! Initially it was more important to make it through a class and get a good sweat on than it was to pay attention to any of those “fluffy” things my teacher was saying. I mean really how do you  “listen” to a body anyways it can’t say anything.  Then one day it happened I heard it! I was doing my best at forcing my body into some crazy hand balance pose (Bakasana or crow) when I realized I full on wasn’t breathing. I was holding everything in so tight that I didn’t realize it was this misdirection of effort that was continuously knocking me out of the pose. I wasn’t listening to my body!

Many years later I began teaching yoga myself. I would find myself giving the same direction about listening to your body and your breath, while encouraging my students to find their personal edge.  Then it occurred to me…do they have any idea what it feels like to listen to their body? do they know what I mean when I say “find your edge”? or are they doing the exact same thing I was doing trying to do…win at yoga?

It was through this realization that I allowed me to modify my queuing, and *fingers crossed* this has helped my students. Yoga has afforded me the opportunity to not only explore through my solo practice but I have also been given the gift of teaching others and learning through their experience, breath and postures.  It is during these times of exploration and learning that I have found yoga to open me up to exploring alternative ways of absorbing new material and allows me to actually understand what my body is saying.

Now after that huge lead up…time to explain what I mean by our bodies talking.  Through my life as a runner and a poor food choice maker (is that a thing?) my body has told me things weren’t right but providing me with achy knees, eczema, a sore stomach, irritated bowels, and now you probably know more about me than you probably ever wanted to.  It was by not listening to these discomforts that I drove myself down deeper into this spiral of pain and unpleasantness. However, not sure if you are or ever have been on one of these spirals, over time my body stopped telling me what it didn’t agree with (probably because I told it to shut it so much with the use of antacids, anti-inflammatory drugs, etc.).  After my body found its equilibrium again I started to feel “normal” so the next time I had some type of unpleasant flare up I once again blamed it on my body instead of what I was doing to my body.

How did yoga help with this? It gave me one single second.  It gave me a second here or there to just sit with my body.  It gave me the opportunity to learn that pain isn’t some type of punishment that my body is dealing out, but it is more like a memo. Once I was able to start slowing down, getting out of the mind set of winning at yoga I was able to listen.  Now, please don’t be mistaken, I am still a fairly competitive person (and in the worst way…you know one of those people that says they aren’t competitive but are) but I respect that part of me and use it to motivate me but understand that it isn’t always the right voice to listen to all the time.

So what, right? Who cares if I can understand what is up right? Well for one really care.  It is awesome to know that when my stomach acts up I should probably lay off the dairy or that when my yoga teacher is telling us to push deeper but listen to our breath I know what my breath should sound like for me.  It is awesome and empowering to know that achy knees means I need to build strength, that low energy means I should check how many veggies I am eating, that moving deeper into a pose might be right for some but it’s not right for me.  Yoga has taught me how to use those precious seconds in my life to learn a little bit more about myself and what my body needs.

So next time your yoga teacher says listen to your breath or your body use those seconds to listen and hear what your body is throwing your way, and then ride the wave of the positive benefits of the new connection.

Happy Thursday Everyone!

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Food Friday – PB&J Treats

So I know last week I said I wouldn’t have much time to post recipes but after making these delicious treats there was definitely no way I couldn’t share them with you.

With Easter happening and aisles and aisles of chocolate eggs, jelly beans and other tasty sweet treats my Digestive Clean Up challenge was well challenging. So I did some looking around and eventually concocted a treat that would satisfy my sweet tooth and not derail all of my effort over the past month.

So here they are some tasty clean eats in the form of PB&J cacao cups.

20140417-214845.jpgMakes approximately 10 minis or 5 large.

1/3 cup organic coconut oil
1/2 cup organic caco powder
Splash (about 2 tbsp) maple syrup*
Jam
Organic peanut butter or nut butter of choice

Method:

1. In a sauce pan melt coconut oil and stir in cacao and maple syrup. Melt slowly, there is no need to boil.

2. Line a muffin tin with paper or tin cupcake liners. If you have a silicon tray that will work great too and no liners will be required.

3. Take 1-2tsp of the coconut/cacao mixture and poor into muffin tin. Depending on the size of muffin tin you have selected you may need more or less. You just need to coat the bottle of each muffin liner with the mixture. Place in freezer for 15 minutes.

4. Once “chocolate” bottom is set add a dollop of PB and jam and cover with the remaining “chocolate”. Place in freezer for at least 2 hours.

5. Serve and enjoy.

*maple syrup…I did put this in my recipe but upon reflection I wouldn’t do it again. The coconut oil has its own sweetness and it would have definitely been more than enough on its own. Also if you like dark chocolate you will be a happy camper.

Note: the jam doesn’t have a load of sugar in it so it will freeze completely. I loved this however my husband wasn’t such a big fan. If you aren’t a fan of biting into something frozen place your treat in the freezer for 20 minutes before chowing down.

Also the chocolate is made of coconut oil so it will melt quickly so don’t leave it out on the counter for too long.

Well I hope you like these tasty little treats. And remember although they aren’t filled with processed sugars, preservatives and chemicals they are still treats so do your best to resist eating them all in one sitting. I found keeping them freezer where I wasn’t likely to look often helped with this.

Happy Easter and have a great weekend everyone.

Food Friday – 6 Reasons to Eat more Apples

So we have all heard the saying an apple a day keeps the doctor away, but what does that mean. What is it in an apple that keeps the doctor away?  What makes them so great for you?

Well today I hope to answer that question for you, and besides pointing out the obvious and saying that “apples are delicious so you should eat them anyway” I will try and give some solid reasons as to why you would want to up your apple intake.  So here I go…you should eat more apples because:

appleCollage

  1. They will help to keep you regular.  Apples are full of deliciously helpful fibre, fibre helps to “keep things moving” as well as bind things together, so if your problem is going too much or not going enough apples might just be the thing your body is waiting for.
  2. They help to lower cholesterol, the pectin in apples helps to lower your cholesterol levels by lowering insulin secretion.
  3. They are low in fat.  Coming in at 50-80 calories an apple these fibre filled treats are a great way to satisfy hungry and cravings while sticking to your weight loss or management goals.
  4. They are full of vitamins.  This is definitely something to consider during the winter months, apples are full of vitamin A and C which will help to keep your immune system strong and you healthy.
  5. They can help to prevent cancer – some of you might be seeing a pattern here, it seems that most natural fruits and vegetables have, in some capacity, the ability to curve the likelihood of cancer. Well that is no different for apples, studies have shown that the peel of the apple contains several compounds which may help reduce the risks of liver, breast and colon cancer.
  6. They may help you breath better, it is most likely caused by the antioxidant called quercetin found in the skin of apples. It is suggested to see potential lung capacity benefits from apples that you would need to eat at least 5 a week.

I hope these six reasons are enough to get you out there and buy some apples to work into your meal plans.  Apples are one of my favourite mid-morning snacks. I always find that they give me an extra boost and they keep me satisfied until it is time for lunch.

Speaking of apples I recently dropped my phone in the toilet (classy I know) and dispite my best efforts it looks as though it may be on its way to phone heaven.  I have one last stop at the apple store to see if they will take pitty on me and cure it or maybe just from the kindness of their hearts give me a new phone.  So wish me luck!

Happy Friday everyone, I hope you are a looking forward to a great weekend. I know that I am!