Welcome Winter

 

The change in season always, always throws me into a flurry, usually I’m mourning the sudden ease that comes with getting out of bed in Summer or lamenting that didn’t go to the beach enough once Autumn arrives or get a chance to wear my favourite coat enough come Spring time.

As the seasons shift it honestly feels as though I may never swim again, ridiculous, I know, especially as my husband and I will be escaping to India during winter’s coldest part this year!  Come September, the anxiety of not being able to wear boots and a skirt (one of my favourite things) will soon come. 

It shouldn’t be like this, a change in season like all changes offers us a fresh start, a new beginning, renewal and a chance to live a different life for a while. This post is part celebration of Winter time’s glory, part survival guide from a Yoga and Ayurveda perspective. 

Food and Drink

My little habits change with the seasons in summer I love to drink water with torn mint leaves in it for its cooling and refreshing properties in winter this is swapped for warm water with a knob of fresh ginger for its cleansing and warming properties.

Ginger is imperative in winter, not only will you need it for endless cups of chai but, I like to use fresh ginger for all day hydration, a 20 cent sized piece in a mug with hot water, if you prefer dried ginger (bought as loose ginger tea if you are unsure of what I mean) is also good, much stronger in flavour and therefore warming and if you know which mind/body constitution you are in Ayurveda and are Pitta (fire) dosha, I would stick to the fresh stuff and reuse the same piece of ginger it becomes weaker the more you use it.

 If you feel you are fighting off a cold or flu try drawing a bath and adding 1/3 cup of dried ginger and 1/3 cup of baking soda and take a soak, watch your eyes though! 

Avoid cold drinks, drink even plain water warm (this helps remove more toxins from your system) and use warming spices such as cinnamon (perfect on porridge) cloves, turmeric and black pepper. Eat warming, slightly spicy foods such as curries and soups, we need more food in winter than we do in Summer, so try eating a larger than normal lunch and keep the evening meal the same size for better night time rest. 

I know we always say not to eat 2 to 3 hours before a yoga practice, you may find that in winter you need some nuts or dried fruit closer to your practice. (or even a cup of hot cacao or sweet milky, chai, unless you are Kapha (water) dosha as dairy is mucous producing and in winter we are trying to minimise mucous in Kapha.

Prepare meals mindfully, I particularly love meals in winter that take all day to cook such as slow cooked soups and curries that fill the house with warmth and delicious smells. Have a go at making chai- it is beautiful to look at and there is nothing quite like homemade chai!

Mornings

Sleep in a little later, in Ayurveda, yoga’s sister science, it is said in winter to not rise before 7am. Winter is a time to be more withdrawn from the outside world, sleeping in is totally fine, I generally find that while in Summer it is easy to get up and practice yoga, I prefer to practice later in the day, usually after work. There is less chance of injury then, too much movement on freezing mornings can be dangerous for the body, a later afternoon or  evening practice can also be quite a nice way of flaming the digestive fire before the evening meal and warming up before winding down for the day.

If you a prone to stiff joints and for all round health, massage warm sesame oil all over your body in the mornings. Sesame Oil is known as the “king” of oils due to the levels of antioxidants present. I cover myself in sesame oil each day and leave it on but you can massage it in and leave for 20 or so minutes before showering. It is warming, grounding and fabulous for those sore parts. 

*with all oils always by cold pressed, organic oils not just sesame oil from the supermarket any health food store should be able to help. 

Yoga/Pranayama

I like to start winter practices with Surya Namaskar (sun salutes) or another type of vinyasa (flow) creating heat and opening up the heart, 6 x repetitions each side. While in Summer I would favour longer holdings and more cooling asana in winter I practice much more dynamically and leave time for a long savasana under a thick yoga blanket, make sure you rug up as it’s always surprising how fast and how much we cool down with the stillness of savasana. (any blanket is of course fine but the blankets found at most yoga schools are really snuggly available at yoga prop stores or  a little tip- camping stores). 

Practicing pranayama which builds heat and gets rid of mucous and toxins on the lungs is ideal in winter, practices such as Bhastrika or Kapalabhati creates energy as well as detoxifying the respiratory system especially if you know you are prone to coughs, colds and other Kapha disorders.  

Enjoy the opportunity to spend long days in front of the fire, relish in the cups of tea and wear skirts and boots as much as you can before the swimming season hits!

 

With warmth, Namaste xxx 

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Skin Deep…

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I love that being healthy is becoming trendy, I hate seeing people all over social media longing for ‘thigh gaps’ ‘box gaps’ and bony collar bones. Sure, we have been conditioned to think that super skinny is the epitome of beauty but to be honest, I think that the epitome of beauty is health. I see so many shapes and sizes in yoga classes and the thing is, I think everyone is beautiful. Big bellies are lovely, bony hips are gorgeous, wrinkles are sweet, pimples nice because they are but also because when I see people doing yoga they are doing something wonderful for themselves and I think think health and self care is really sexy!

If you ever see someone after a yoga class they are positively radiant. My husband met me for a date after class last night and exclaimed how beautiful I looked. It had been an incredibly humid day I had hair to rival Diana Ross, I was sweaty, stinky and lacking my usual face of make up- but I had my yoga glow. 

Which had me thinking about beauty last night or more so commercial beauty products, in our Western culture we spend so much time cleaning and grooming our exterior, how often do you think about how clean your insides are? We use lotions, creams, make up, things to mask our scent, I admit 100%, this includes me too. Do you ever think about what these products are made of, or what happens when you put them on your skin? We know that our skin is our largest organ, everything we put on our skin is absorbed into our bodies- what happens then? 

I am writing this post to share some of the information that I have come across about commercial beauty and personal care products and three of the biggest nasties.

There is so much information about diet and nutrition out there but these creams, make up etc. too go into our bodies too if you had to eat your deodorant I’d bet you’d like to know what it was made from. This post I hope, is a thought provoker for you if these are things you hadn’t really considered. I am what i consider a girly girl in that I like to wear make up and so on and I’ve learnt there is a safer way to do this that is just as luxurious. 

First nasty up, parabens, parabens are a group of chemicals that are mainly found in cosmetics and personal care products such as shampoo, creams, lotions, face wash, shower gels, soaps etc. They exist to extend the shelf life of these products and stop the growth of microbes it is important to understand what happens when these are absorbed  through our skin into our bodies. The greatest concern with Parabens is they mimic the hormone estrogen leading to hormonal disruption, fertility issues, immune dysfunction, skin irritation but worse and most distinctly, breast cancer. In fact, a 2004 UK study found traces of five different parabens in breast cancer tumors in 19 out of 20 women studied.(Darbre PD, Aljarrah A, Miller WR, Coldham NG, Sauer MJ, Pope GS (2004). Concentrations of parabens in human breast tumors. Journal of Applied Toxicology 24:5-13.) 

Meaning that Parabens are absorbed into the skin where they stay and become toxic, scary right? Even more scary Parabens are found in just about every adult urine sample in the Western world. There is lots of information on parabens on the internet but looking at your personal care products ingredients; you can see them listed they end in ‘paraben’ for example; methylparaben, proplyparaben etc. 

There are many different products available that are completely paraben free, as i don’t have a lot of money to spend on cosmetics I use an inexpensive brand available at health food shops and some chemists called Nature’s Quest a face wash or moisturiser are around $10 each and to give myself a feeling of luxury I mix a couple drops of cold pressed coconut oil to my face wash and a couple of drops of rose hip oil to my moisturiser. Using a cold pressed oil as body lotion is an excellent way to go and a wonderful way for your body to absorb the nutrition in the oils my favourites are; coconut, almond and the King of oils sesame, be sure they are cold pressed otherwise they run the risk of being rancid and they lack nutrition. We all use toothpaste, parabens and other nasties are often found in toothpaste a good herbal, mineral and flouride free toothpaste is the way to go, I like Red Seal herbal and mineral toothpaste. There is an ongoing debate whether flouride is necessary in dental hygiene, what we know is flouride is a by product of aluminium, iron and copper. Flouride assists the body in the absorption of aluminium, which can be incredibly detrimental to our health, aluminium is what is found in the brain of Alzheimers patients. Excessive flouride has a detrimental effect on our musculoskeletal and nervous system. Various studies have linked flouride to 10,000 cancer deaths each year. Flouride is necessary for strong teeth, yes, but it is also naturally occurring in small amounts in plants, animals and natural water sources and it is thought we receive enough through our diet for dental health.  Deodorant is also rife with parabens and aluminium as we put deodorant so close to our breast tissue and lymph glands I like to err on the side of caution when it comes to my pits and use an aluminium, paraben free one. There are strong links with aluminium and prostate cancer too, so men be warned, it’s not just breast cancer!

I know not strictly about yoga but it is the self love that yoga has given me that has made me interested in all areas of my health and well being. Before I began yoga I was familiar with words such as parabens, flouride and aluminium but I didn’t care to know. Our planet and lifestyles can be incredibly toxic, if you can implement easy changes that can have a profound effect on your future…..why not?

As always, please feel free to email me at lotushealth@me.com if you have any questions, if I don’t know the answer, i’ll try to find out for you!

 

Namaste

xxxx

 

Finding the routine

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This can be a really hard time of the year to get back into the swing of things. Often 6 weeks into the the new year, the resolutions we made in the fresh excitement of New Years have fallen down the wayside or perhaps you are like me and are trying to find a steady routine so you can really capitalise on those resolutions!

I have felt as though I have been neglecting my yoga practice until I began re-reading Judith Lassater’s fabulous book, Living Your Yoga. I get so caught up in my own ego thinking I need a solid yoga practice of 1.5 hours a day…(shesh, I should be so lucky to find that hour and a half!) In her book Judith writes of her judgement of a coworker who says she meditates for 5 minutes a day and goes on to explain that its the quality and intention of the practice not the time you set. In fact in the book there are activities for spiritual growth and they are for short spaces of time 5 or ten minutes. 

Yesterday, after a long Monday at work I wanted to crawl home and hide from everything Monday related but I didn’t. I ducked into my yoga school before the evening class and had a beautiful solid 20 minute practice. It was only 20 minutes but that’s all I had. My practice did everything I had hoped; i had sweat, i felt lighter and longer and my mind was quieter. What happened next was amazing, I was content, I was happy with the practice and I let it go i didn’t nit pick about the sequence what I should have done first what could have been a better finishing pose etc. and when I got home I had the desire to clean my house, so I did unheard of for a Monday night, I know!

I’m learning that a routine doesn’t have to be set in stone and it certainly doesn’t have to have a set time limit. It should always be quality over quantity- thanks Judith Lassater! 

I think it is BKS Iyengar who said “we must cultivate what we want to grow” so find 10 minutes set your intention and  then let it go. 

 

Namaste xxx

Day 1 Yoga Intensive

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I was so excited to get back on the mat this morning, I couldn’t sleep last night! I finished work at 9pm last night and raced home showered and painted my toes bright orange (my favourite colour, does anyone else like to have nicely painted toes when they are doing yoga??!!) before oiling myself in sesame oil and hopping into bed. I kept waking up worried I’d missed my 4:30am alarm. The Yoga Intensive runs for 7 days, 6:30am classes, it runs each new year and is a chance to set an intention for the new year through a series of early morning classes.

When it was time to get up I sprung out of bed, here in Adelaide it was 45C degrees yesterday(113F) we are smack bang in the middle of a heatwave, my house was hot (my poor cats can manage a few steps before having to lie on the cool floorboards!) I opened the windows and let the dawn cool breeze inside the house- it was so lovely. I kissed my husband a sleepy kiss goodbye and set off at 5:30am. The world was cool and the birds good morning chatter warmed my heart- they sounded so animated and happy and it really seemed like they had so much to catch up on after their sleep! The world was covered in a cool blue shadow, the roads quiet and there is something really nice about being awake when all around you sleeps. I had found yoga before getting to yoga 🙂

I feel so inspired at the moment by my own health, I am trialing a Gluten Free diet to see if it improves my costchondritis (inflammation of the rib cartilage) as well as a course of pro-biotics and the best thing ever liquid chlorophyll! (Chlorophyll is what give green leafy’s their green and it is so easy to add a couple of teaspoons to a juice or mineral water or just have it straight to boost the nutrients in your diet, there is some really interesting research out there into the treatment and prevention of cancer with chlorophyll)

I can really feel a connection between what I eat and the chatter in my mind, by the time I got to yoga and laid down for pranayama, I was there I was in my body and it was so wonderful. The first asana we did were repetitions of adho mukha virasana and adho mukha svanasana, it felt so wonderful to be in my body the sun rising as I moved.

 

I can’t wait for tomorrow.

Namaste xxx