Happy March! I was tempted to say "Happy Spring," as it certainly appears to be in Buffalo, NY this week, but I know better than that. It's still possible that there is a snowstorm lurking around the corner and ready to greet us at any point. That's just how we roll in Western New York. I'm hopeful though that Winter is at least on the way out!
Let's talk about chia seeds. I'm sure you have come across the chia seed craze taking over the world of healthy eating and I have to admit that I am on this train. It all started a couple of years ago with GT's raspberry chia kombucha. Ever since then I have been hooked! Chia seeds are an excellent staple to add to your pantry as they are high in antioxidants, fiber, protein, omega-3s and are a good source of carbohydrates. They are pretty variable and can be used in almost anything, although the most common staples are oatmeal, smoothies, yogurts and puddings. They certainly pack a punch and are safe to consume during pregnancy. As with anything, especially during pregnancy you are going to find pros and cons to topics pertaining to nutrition. If you are feeling unsure about chia seeds I would suggest taking to google or consulting a nutritionist for ease of mind.
My favorite way to consume chia seeds is in the form of pudding and the following is a super easy recipe that you can do overnight in multiple quantities. You may also add whatever topics you enjoy to your pudding after it has set.
3 Ingredient Chia Seed Pudding
3 tablespoons raw chia seeds
1 cup nut milk
1 teaspoon pure maple syrup
Combine all of these in the container of your choice. I love to use mason jars so that I can quickly grab it in the morning and toss into my bag. Stir and refrigerate over night. It will be ready to eat the next morning and should have a very thick consistency as the chia seeds expand and soften. Garnish with you favorite nuts, seeds and dried fruit!
Congratulations, you have made it to the end of "re-entry week!" You know that first full week back to work and real life right after the holidays? That's re-entry week and let's be honest, it can be a tough week! I usually have trouble during this time assimilating back to reality and getting used to life without celebrations, sugar and alcohol. The trouble is that I have a pretty major sweet tooth that for whatever reason often comes on after a vigorous yoga practice or workout. Protein balls are a great fix for that and can be a healthy alternative to granola bars, which are often misleading and packed with sugar. These are great treats to make on a weekly basis to have around as a quick snack on the go, after the gym or class. They are raw, vegan and gluten-free.
On The Go Protein Balls
1/2 cup nut butter of your choice (I chose almond butter)
1/2 cup gluten-free oats
1/4 cup raw honey
1/4 TSP cinnamon
1 TBS chia seeds
1 TBS ground flax seed
1 scoop vanilla protein powder (I used Sunwarrior vanilla protein powder, which is what keeps this recipe vegan)
Mix together and roll into 16 small balls and dust with cinnamon. Refrigerate and enjoy!
I used to be infamous for starting out each new year by making a never ending list of resolutions and things I would promise to do better in the coming year. Like many I would follow along religiously for a few weeks or even months and then inevitably fall into the same routines and habits I swore off. Eventually I realized that I didn't need a new year to make changes to better my life and since then it has been all about intention. To ring in 2015 I kicked off the new year with my yoga teacher training, which really helped me define the difference between a resolution and an intention. A resolution is a firm course of action, while an intention comes from the soul and reflects an inner purpose of what we know deep down will bring us peace and happiness. Intentions allow leeway for personal growth and reflection, while resolutions are often a oneway street. It's no wonder they are so hard to maintain.
2015 was a great year and I gained a lot of clarity to bring with me into the new year. For the first time I can honestly say that there is nothing disappointing or regretful about this past year and there are only things I would like to improve upon. I am very excited to advance in my career as a doula and become a certified prenatal & postnatal yoga instructor this May. I have a few other things up my sleeve that will be announced towards the end of summer. Until then, here's to 2016!
I have always been indifferent to the singer Adele's music. Depending on my mood I have gone from crying along to her first album to being unable to tolerate a single song. Of course my mood is always changing, but today I heard a comment she made about her new album that truly resonated with me. Oddly enough it was during a power yoga class I attended this afternoon that I heard it as the teacher read it out loud during pigeon pose. It stuck so much that I came home and googled exactly what she said.
"My last record was a break-up record," says Adele, "and if I had to label this one I would call it a make-up record. I'm making up with myself. Making up for lost time. Making up for everything I ever did and never did." She goes on to say, "I miss everything about my past, the good and the bad, but only because it won't come back. When I was in it I wanted out. So typical."
This got me thinking pretty deeply about being present. How often am I actually present in my own life? Like Adele I find myself always wishing that I was either somewhere or doing something else. It has always been in my nature to live with my head in the clouds either dreaming about the future or lingering on the past. I seem to be a pro at avoiding the here and now. My intuition tells me we are all guilty of this to some extent or another, but what is the cost of not being truly present?
In the blink of an eye ten, even twenty years have gone by and we are panicking, wondering where the time has gone. I often have trouble grasping the fact that I am 25 years old already when it seems like just yesterday I was graduating catholic school and getting ready to tackle high school. Time will inevitably go by, but what would it mean to make a more conscious effort to be present each day from the moment we open our eyes in the morning until our heads hit the pillow at night?
What would it mean if I was more present each time I step on my mat and listen to my breath guide my body through movement? Maybe I would become a better yoga teacher, more grounded and confident.
It's the easiest for me to slip out of the present during trying times in my life instead of confronting the here and now, but what if I stayed present through the good and the bad? Maybe I would be a better daughter, sister, girlfriend or friend. Maybe not, but something tells me that the world would be a lot easier to deal with if I just tried. Besides, what do I have to lose? What do any of us have to lose really? So here's what I am going to do and I think you should join me. Instead of wanting to be younger, older, richer, more accomplished, married, single, thinner or anything that takes you out of the present moment just remember one thing.
You will never get back this moment in time. Wherever you are and whatever you are doing-practicing yoga, cooking dinner, having coffee, sitting on Facebook. Interesting to think about isn't it?
"Wherever you are, be all there."
I have been holding onto an Ashtanga Yoga manual for over a year now and just recently cracked it open for my morning yoga practice. Originating from Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, I was introduced to it as part of my morning sadhana during a yoga teacher training a couple of weeks ago. Ever since then I have been hooked to the practice, which is much more challenging than my usual practice.
It is not the physical aspect of the poses that actually challenge me, it's the focus and breath work that is required of Ashtanga yogis. As it turns out music is not usually a part of this practice. Practicing with a group made it easier for me to not use music, however, the first time I practiced alone I immediately turned on my Bon Iver Spotify station for motivation. The past few times though I decided to ditch the music and practice in silence.
I quickly learned that silence is a beautiful thing and I find myself practicing alone more and more without music. Here are 5 reasons why my practice is going silent.
Practicing in silence makes you much more aware of your surrounding environment. Create a nurturing environment by lighting incense, display Himalayan salt lamps, diffuse essential oil and invest in indoor plants.
Without music I am much more mindful of the way I am moving my body. Whether it is a faster Vinyasa flow or a steady, focused Ashtanga practice my body is moving at its own pace, rather than to the beat of music.
Practicing in silence magnifies the sound of the breathe and consciously reminds you to breathe. I am guilty of holding my breathe and the silence reminds me of what I am missing as move from one asana to another.
Ever get the urge to dance when your favorite tune comes on in Downward Facing Dog? I'm not much of a dancer, but I will do anything to try and match the beat of the song, like snapping my fingers during a yoga class. The second this happens my focus diminishes and retreats back to the way it was at the start of practice.
Excluding music leaves nothing but you, your yoga practice and the mat. I feel much more appreciative of yoga without music and the benefits my body and mind receive from it.
*See Good Reads section for Ashtanga Yoga Practice Manual by Doug Swenson
YOGA CLASSES with Theresa Church
This beginning level gentle yoga class is designed
with a focus on rejuvenating and healing the body.
Yoga props such as blankets, blocks, bolsters and
straps are often used to enhance the practice,
and to allow the body to fully achieve each
position comfortably while releasing stress
and tension from joints and muscles. This
class is held at a slower pace. Yogic breathing
(pranayama) and relaxation techniques
will be incorporated. No previous experience
is needed. Equipment is provided.
Starting Thursday July 2, 2015
July 2-July 25, 2015
$50/session or Drop in $15
100 Genesee Street
Auburn, NY 13021
For more information contact Theresa Church 315-406-7931 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Moderation is key coming out of a cleanse. The good news is that more than likely you will not have any desire to go back to your old ways, especially after a prolonged cleanse or detox. Here is a good example. I went 14 days straight without caffeine with the intention of ending my morning dependency on coffee. What I realized is that it's not the caffeine I formed a habit to. It was the physical action of having a warm, tasty beverage to start my day. The day after I ended my cleanse I had one cup of coffee and I have not had one since. I wasn't drawn to it like I was in the past and I have actually switched to chai tea, which only has 1/4 the amount of caffeine that a cup of coffee does.
There is nothing wrong with enjoying a cup of coffee just like there is nothing wrong with enjoying a bottle of wine over dinner or dessert. Moderation is the key and completing a cleanse can help you with this. Although results may vary here are three things that you will likely experience.
Decrease In Cravings
I noticed this within the first few days of my cleanse. My usual cravings for coffee and chocolate became numb and I actually did not have cravings for anything. The juice gave me everything I needed including energy and satiation. Even since my cleanse ended I have noticed that these cravings have not come back.
Increased Mind-Body Connection
During the cleanse I noticed just how disconnected my body and mind were. Although I was not physically craving anything my mind was constantly thinking about food! Anything from toast and peanut to macaroni and cheese, which are things that I normally wouldn't even eat. It made me wonder just how many times in the past I have eaten based on what my mind wanted rather than what my body needed. As a result of the cleanse I am much more in tune with my body and only eat when I am physically hungry. For me even just noticing this disconnect was eye opening.
Improved Body Image
Perhaps the most important thing I took away from the cleanse is an overall improved body image. I considered this experience as an opportunity to restart or reset after overindulging on a recent vacation. I did not weigh myself once, in fact I don't even own a scale. The truth is that I felt lighter both mentally and physically and it is possible that I lost a couple of pounds, but most importantly I felt better about myself. I also set myself up for some really good habits, including breaking my dependency on coffee and becoming a more conscious eater.
Looking for a delicious green juice to get you started on your cleanse?
I've got the perfect one for you! Try replacing your morning coffee with this for one week and you may notice increased energy, focus and feeling less spaced out. I realize that this sounds impossible and you're not sure how you will survive without coffee, but go ahead and trust me on this. I have done this for ten days now and although I am a coffee lover I have eliminated coffee from my diet and any cravings that I normally would have in the morning.
Green Morning Juice (makes 2 servings)
2 granny smith apples
1 pink apple (I like to use gala apples)
7 stalks of celery
1 bunch of romaine lettuce
Juice and enjoy!
Considering a cleanse? Whether you are looking to juice, smoothies or an elimination diet for a cleanse there are some things you should know before getting started. Prior to starting a cleanse make sure you do the research and access your body's needs for the cleanse. There are many benefits to doing a cleanse including increased energy, optimized digestion, weight loss and overall detoxification. As with anything, however, there are also many contraindications to doing a cleanse and some people may simply not respond well to it. Be mindful of your body and listen for any warning signs that may indicate you should stop the cleanse, such as nausea, vomiting or diarrhea. If you do decide to go ahead with your cleanse here are some suggestions to getting through it.
Set an Intention
Why are you doing a cleanse? If you don't have a goal or intention then create one. Come back to this throughout the cleanse, especially if you are feeling tempted to cheat or questioning the point of it.
Make Shopping Lists
If you're anything like me going to the grocery store can be very distracting, especially going in blindly without any direction at all. It's even worse if you are hungry, which can lead to impulsive, unhealthy purchases. Do yourself a favor, make a list and stick to it.
This is probably the most important part of any cleanse unless you spend a lot of time at home. Do not wait until first thing in the morning to make your juice or smoothie. You are more likely to fall off the bandwagon if you are running behind or off schedule. Make your juices the night before and store them in a tightly sealed mason jar. Also prepare a large meal and portion it out for all of the days of your cleanse. I liked to incorporate small portions of kitchari or quinoa salads into my cleanses.
Avoid Excess Stimulation
This is a good time to spend some extra time at home. Excess stimulation, such as being in a bar or restaurant can seem extra tempting when you are on a cleanse. Also, cutting down on electronics and social media is good practice. Use this time to brush up on your self-care, take a bath, read a book and relax.
Get Enough Sleep
This one is pretty simple, most of us do not get enough sleep. I have read that sleeping 8 hours a night on a cleanse will yield the best results, but this is even hard for me. Do your best to turn in a little earlier on your cleanse. More than likely you will be more tired than usual as your body adjusts to the changes.
Following through with a cleanse is a serious commitment. The reward is tremendous and your body will seriously thank you if you finish the cleanse. Many positive habits often come from this as well, including portion control and a reduction in cravings. What do you have to lose?
I am a fallible yogi.
Actually, I am a fallible human being, but it's not as bad as it sounds. Things are on the upswing and as I approach my 25th birthday I actually see myself becoming "less fallible." For all of you who don't actually know what fallible means, it is the capability of making mistakes. We are all fallible and this is simply a personal account of a fellow yogi's journey to becoming a more enlightened human being. Namaste!