Souping is the New Jucing

If you’re a fan of juicing, you’ll definitely be on board with souping, the latest detox trend. Why drink cold juice in the winter? Go for warming soups this time of year! A soup-only cleanse offers a number of nutritional benefits while keeping you satisfied. Packed with vitamins, minerals and fiber, soups are filled with super foods that can help you battle inflammation, cleanse your colon and reduce oxidative stress. Plus, most soup recipes are versatile, allowing you to swap in different ingredients and seasonings according to your taste.

Forward Head Posture Correction

My bambino is so young and starting to get forward head tilt.

Should be corrected soon with new computer set up, awareness and this technique of pushing back of head into pillow (to lengthen and strengthen back of neck).  

Done with back against wall bent knees strong legs press feet and press back of head into pillow hold for a bit repeat.

If you look at your kids posture don't be surprised to find this issue as many kids now have it (adults too) from looking down at electronics. 

Strengthening the rhomboid muscles (muscles next to upper spine between scapularis also known as shoulder blades) will further help.

Namaste,

Suzanne

Tapas for Wellness

Discipline in yoga is called "tapas". The word “tapas” comes from the Sanskrit verb “tap” which means “to burn.” The traditional interpretation of tapas is “fiery discipline,” the fiercely focused, constant, intense commitment necessary to burn off the impediments that keep us from being in the true state of yoga (union with the universe). 

THE CHALLENGE:
☆ 8 hr sleep
☆ 30 min run
☆ 1 hr yoga
☆ 30 min meditation
☆ 30 min sutras study

What do you need?

Every year I take a solo time out for travel (usually there is yoga and nature involved). I have done this for years. I leave my work, family, friends and I go out into the world by myself to "recalibrate". No pressure, pure "me time".

We go to work, interact with others, with our kids, colleagues, our families, clients - whatever and we do our best to keep things smooth and to please the people in or lives, to support others, to make money, be good parents and partners, etc. It can happen that we stop paying attention to our own needs. 

There is this thing that I have done over the years. I learned it from author Louise Hayes, the great healer. This is my version of it, anyhow. 

Walk to a mirror. Look yourself square in the face, dead in the eyes and have a conversation with you. You can speak your mind freely and say whatever you want, out loud. No need to edit, just speak directly to yourself. Notice this person in front of you (yourself). You might feel ridiculous and want to laugh. No, you are not a lunatic. You might see how lovely you are and just how worthy you are of your own love and acceptance and find some answers to your questions as to what you want to do or need in your life and information for moving ahead with more clarity. 

I am going for a massage, an early night's sleep. I leave for a 4 week pilgrimage in India soon. That's what I need most right now so I am giving it to myself. 

And you? What do you need and how can you best support yourself at this time in your life?

Why not go to a mirror and ask yourself. Because no one knows better than you. 

Happy New Year :) 

10 yoga-inspired healthy food habits

While many people would agree that a good fitness regime helps keep fatigue, weight-gain and stress at bay, it may just not be good enough. Choosing and following a good and healthy diet can help you there. Even with a hectic lifestyle, one can minimise the risks by choosing the right food to eat. But is choosing the right food enough? No. Along with the right type of food, we must also learn how to eat it the right way. The following 10 yoga-inspired tips should help:

1. See what you are eating

Observe your present diet. What is it that you eat most of? Are you consuming too many calories in your diet and don't have enough time to burn them off?

2. Choose green leafy vegetables

They are a rich source of proteins, iron, calcium and fiber. Green leafy vegetables are easy to prepare and quite appetising too.

3. Know when to drink water

Drinking plenty of water helps detoxify the body as well as gives you a glowing skin. Although, we should avoid drinking water during meals as it slows down the digestion process.

4. Include enough proteins in your diet

Proteins are vital for the body. Broccoli, soybeans, lentils, asparagus, spinach and low-fat dairy are some commonly found protein rich foods.

5. Chew your food

The more you chew your food, the easier it becomes for your stomach to digest it and the more calories you burn moving those jaws.

6. Keep away from fast food and soft drinks

Fast food is addictive and loaded with unhealthy trans-fats. Carbonated soft drinks have a high sugar content, which may lead to obesity, diabetes and dental caries.

7. Cook at home

Instead of ordering pizza from the joint around the corner, stay home and make that dish, adding health tweaks (feta instead of mozzarella cheese) along the way.

8. Focus on your food

Most of us have our food while distracted and don’t keep count on how much we eat. Though your stomach might be full, your busy brain tells you to eat more.

9. Never skip your breakfast

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day as it prepares the body for the whole day ahead. Eat a wholesome dish before you step out of the house.

10. Digest your food better

Sitting in Vajrasna (adamintine pose) for a few minutes after having food helps with digestion. This particular yogic posture enhances blood circulation in the lower abdomen.

A balanced diet helps keep the body fit and active. Yoga combined with good food habits can make you become more energetic, dedicated and focused person in all spheres of life. Remember, what you eat is what you become. So choose wise and eat better!

 

Santosha to Ahimsa!

Life is such an incredible, crazy journey. I enjoy the intensity it brings at times - the spaces of calm and challenge along the way. I have been on a mission to be more patient and accepting of myself and others, which has been paying off.  

Being an avid practitioner these past few months of “Santosha”, meaning contentment, my mind often ponders the fact that we are all so beautiful and perfect, regardless of our imperfections and challenges. We are incredible creatures, capable of so much love, filled with creative genius. I am eternally grateful for my teachers who have helped me down my yogic and meditation path.  

Layering on top of Santosha (the practice of acceptance and contentment), today I want to touch on one of the Yamas - the practice of Ahimsa, which means non-harming.

The yamas and niyamas are yoga’s ethical guidelines laid out in the first two limbs of Patanjali’s eightfold path. They’re like a map written to guide you on your life’s journey. Simply put, the yamas are things not to do, or restraints, while the niyamas are things to do, or observances. Together, they form a moral code of conduct.

Ahimsa: nonviolence

I will never forget the day my teacher Ana asked us, “How are you self-mutilating?” She is a warrior of a teacher and does not mince her words. I found my time studying with her to be intense, conflicting and often confronting. To this day, I am grateful to her for being such a courageous teacher who cared enough about her students to raise the difficult issues that many yoga teachers avoid.

My mind felt resistant and a lot of emotions came up as I wrote in my journal the ways I self-harm. Yikes, Ana.

Since childhood I have had this habit of biting my cuticles when I am under stress or pressure. This is very personal, what I am sharing and to this day I notice this old habit creeping back when I am feeling afraid, over excited or stressed. When I notice myself doing this, it sends me a signal that I need to check myself to see why it is happening.

I am often challenged by habits pertaining to my body so as I focus more attention on Ahimsa, I am looking to see how I can love and treat my body a little better. Baby steps are great and I am okay with going slow. It is just a process and processes can take time.

I am aware of a few other habits that I have been unsuccessful in squashing lately, and am gently asking myself why. Just being aware can lead to greater self-understanding, which is helpful. Higher consciousness in these areas will come in due time.

Today, I am doing my best to go slow and stay calm. By not taking on too much, by allowing myself to experience my natural state of being moment to moment, with awareness and acceptance (Santosha), even when I feel I could or should be doing better. It has been interesting working this Niyama so intently and this particular practice has set the stage, I feel, for taking me now back to the practice of Ahimsa. Let’s be as patient and understanding towards self and others as we can be as we all learn along the way.

Wishing you peace. Happy Ahimsa practicing.

Shanti Time

Attitude adjustment?

I love checking my attitude. And being aware so I am not adversely affected by someone else's attitude if it is negative (sometimes I hit it, sometimes I do not- it's all good, just gotta keep on trying).

I really like to egg on positivity and bring out the best in others. This feels "right". Our instincts and our bodies are always giving signals. It is so good to pay attention. If I miss it, so be it. But I aim to keep this practice of checking my attitude. I just want to be the best I can be which for me means being kind, supportive, patient, understanding, open and loving. 

Santosha

It has been such a gift to be able to teach all these years. It keeps me close to practices I hold dear to my heart. Yoga philosophy is an important element for any serious student of yoga. These past 2 weeks I have been diligently working on one of the Niyamas- Santosha. This is a simple practice of acceptance. Of contentment. Of meeting ourselves and others as are, without undue judgement. It is a practice. I don't always hit it. But making this a practice is becoing more habitual. I have a lot to learn, we all do.

Santosha is rocking my world right now, as I keep reminding myself often to stop, notice when I am being self critical or critical of another, or of a situation, to check in and practice contentment (Santosha). This lets me and others off the hook and allows situations in my life or in my head to soften instead of escalating. It is such a beautiful practice, and this is so good to remember. It's a practice. We don't need to always get it right. But if we make a sincere effort to practice this beautiful Niyama (set out by Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras as a precept for living well and with less suffering), it can truly change your life.

We don't always have to like what is going on. But if we can practice acceptance (because often times we are just trying with futility to control a person or a situation or make ourselves feel better somehow by judging another or just accidentally judging ourselves out of habit when we are not paying attention), we can feel way more calm and chilled out. It's a nice practice.

Put this all through your system and set out to practice Santosha this week. You won't regret it. 

The Mind

In the course of a day, we are perpetually deciding what to do – to eat, to wear, to say, to think. Most of these choices fall towards the easy end of the spectrum – but what happens when we come up against the hard ones? When the available options we see are so unappealing it feels that we have no real choice? When you’re stuck and there seems to be no solution whatsoever?

Some situations you simply cannot think your way out of, you must feel your way through. These are tremendously challenging - and equally rewarding - opportunities.

Our minds, with their problem-solving capabilities, love to work overtime, helping us out to fix things here and now and definitively. And while quick, clear, linear thinking is a wonderful capacity in times of routine or urgent crisis, the more nuanced evolution of big issues and dilemmas can rarely be dispatched solely by logical equation or direct attack. Frustrated with the failure to reach an immediate resolution, the mind tends to convert its overactive energy into stress - magnifying the pressure one already feels.

When the mind becomes a hindrance, rather than help, the best thing you can do is to thank it. Recognize that it just wants to set everything straight for you so that you can move away from discomfort. Thank it, acknowledge it, and dismiss it, so you are free to turn inward and grow.

Shift from your headspace to your heart space in whatever way best suits you. Yoga and meditation are great options, but consider also anything that sparks your spirit: spending time in nature, enjoying a good book, laughing with friends, playing with your children, caring for a pet, working on a creative project.  

Be prepared for discomfort. You may have to exist in a state of uncertainty for some time, allowing internal or external circumstances to shift naturally. You may have to trust in the inherent goodness of this life experience, in the absence of any current supporting evidence. You may have to go against your natural yang inclination to actively force a conclusion and instead embrace your yin nature to allow the situation to unfold.

Remember those brain teasers, made up of colorful repeating patterns in which there is an image or message that will pop out, the longer you stare at the whole, without focusing on any one spot? Often the impossible situations we face must be approached in the same way, in order to find the hidden answer. Relax the brain, connect with yourself and allow the right resolution to make itself known.

Connection

One of the driving considerations of my yoga practice is connection: connecting with breath, connecting with my internal landscape, connecting with my physical body. Going within during meditation, feeling the expansion within after stretching and breathing through a practice – these are fundamentals that I love to incorporate into my daily experience. 

But today I’m thinking about external connection. As important as connecting with self is, it is no less necessary or important to enjoy connection with others. I am so blessed to have a multitude of friends in my life – near and far. Some with whom I have bonded long ago and currently have less in common, some who are there for the daily ups and downs, some who naturally comfort, some who challenge me, some who never fail to crack me up. Time you share with a friend allows you the chance to relax into yourself and into vulnerability, both your own and that of others. I encourage you all to make hanging-out time with a friend a priority this week!

Sometimes I overlook the myriad opportunities I have for connection in my daily experience. When we allow ourselves to really see and acknowledge a stranger or acquaintance, we author a beautiful exchange of energy that benefits each person and essentially so. Neuroscience recognizes that when we lack a sense of connection with others, our bodies respond with increased stress hormones, and decreased immune and cardiovascular function. (see Loneliness: Human Nature and the Need for Social Connection, John Cacioppo). 

Cacioppo also suggests that the difference between lonely and nonlonely adults is not in having more or fewer social skills, but in how it is that we use them. People who tend towards loneliness often feel threatened and lack trust, unsure of whether they are included when positive things happen to others. 

If we choose to observe and act from a place of commonality, even if based only on that we are each sharing this gift of life, this human experience in time and space, wouldn’t we bask in connection at every turn? Both externally and internally, as our participation in the larger community reasserts our own unique role in the tapestry of the whole. 

For today, why not see the person rather than their role in our own plot? The amazing story behind an unknown face? All the brothers and sisters that surround us on our journey … and take the time to make a real connection. 

Breathing

What is the relationship of breath to life? At its simplest, breathing is life - without the in and out flow of air, we cease to be. In yoga we see prana as the vital life force and focus on breathing fully and deeply, bringing that force to all parts of the body.

Consider for a moment if the natural, even involuntary, act of breathing might not be in itself an expression of love.

Breathing in, I receive love. Breathing out, I give love.

Everyone of us has been gifted with a life, and our breath is an embrace of that gift. Our acceptance of the tapestry of circumstances through which we make our path. Our love song to this moment, this world, this shared dream.

Breathing in, I receive love. Breathing out, I give love.

By continuing to participate in this human experience, by continuing my breath, I am expressing love for what is – no matter how reality might fail to match up to my expectations. Even when things are going wrong. Even when I don’t feel wonderful.

When we see our breath as an expression of love, we become an energetic force of love.

Breathing in, I am love. Breathing out, I am love.

For today, why not try this simple and beautiful meditation. With focus mindfully on the breath, think, say, or feel love with each inhale and exhale. 

Time

There is enough time for me. 

The other day I caught this phrase in a list of suggested mantras at just the right time. Not only did it speak to me in that moment, it sparked a thought that has shifted my life. 

My immediate reaction was dismissive. I’ve long been scheduling time for me – whether for yoga, meditation, self care, being with friends, etc. I have made a rigorous practice of ensuring there is time for me amid the obligations and flurry of life. And suddenly I saw how doing exactly that was counterintuitive to the underlying concept of time enough for me. 

We are our own wellsprings of energy, attitude, and service in this world. Tending to ourselves is the essential foundation that enables us to participate fully and effectively in our relationships and our lives. Treating that care as yet one more thing to be scheduled into life may be missing the point. I saw that time enough for me is not simply a construct in my daily schedule; it is an essential element of the lens through which I perceive life. 

Time enough for me means much more than reserving 30 minutes to get into that book I’ve been meaning to read, an hour to spend doing a favorite yoga sequence, a weekly mani-pedi. (All wonderful things!) Time enough for me means letting go of the autopilot relay race from one appointment to the next, giving up the self-imposed pressure of getting it all done, rejecting the sense that I must be doing something purposeful. Every. Single. Minute. 

Time enough for me means allowing as many moments as feels good doing absolutely nothing. Staring into space. Musing on life. Daydreaming. It means mindfulness in the daily routines I typically rush through without thought. Enjoying my senses, enjoying my environment, enjoying the incredible reality of existence as a sentient creature. Because in so doing I am affirming to myself that indeed there IS time enough for me. Just to be. If we aren’t actually experiencing the simple being of ourselves, what exactly are we doing? 

Certainly there are events and responsibilities that call for our timely participation; I’m not advocating a habit of keeping the people in your life waiting. But I urge you to consider a shift of perspective and notice how when this assurance is part of your approach, and not merely part of your schedule, you can find that there was time enough for you all along.