Yogi Living: Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is one of my favourites. I have coarse curly hair which just loves natural nourishment. It is good for skin, hair and insides.

I use it as a hair conditioner. It’s very rich so you can melt it and let it down by adding an almond oil – so it goes on more easily. That said, on curly hair the fact it is hard at room temperature gives you better curls.

As a body butter you can let it sink in or you can put just a touch on after a shower to keep your skin happy.

It’s quite alkaline which can be good to complement your diet if it’s very acidic. Last year I made Christmas cakes with coconut oil rather than butter. This greatly pleased a chef friend who didn’t usually get to eat Christmas cake – coconut oil is one of the only ones he can have due to a health issue.

Along with all it’s benefits it’s also relatively cheap. The photo above is just for inspiration, choose any coconut oil that is 100% coconut oil and nothing added, and favour organic to help the environment as well as yourself.

Pose of the Moment: Triangle

Triangle pose is a fundamental yoga pose. It’s a classic. It works the legs, gently twists the spine and increases strength. Traditionally taught you draw your front hand forwards and then do a graceful flowing tilt. This very delightful tilt is the cause of classic yoga injuries of the sacroiliac joint. That’s not to outlaw this way of finding triangle pose, but it definitely makes exploring other ways vital. Bending the knees, starting from the floor, extending the arms after coming forwards – all of these variations help us to find ourselves within triangle pose. This variation starts from the floor.

  • Face your feet forwards
  • Take an easy breath out
  • Step forwards and bend both knees
  • Fold forwards with your knees very bent so both hands easily find the floor or a chair
  • Keep the knees very bent and enjoy the work in your legs
  • Keep your front hand on the floor and rotate your back shoulder upwards
  • Think of rotating towards vertical
  • Now allow your back elbow to lift, then wrist then fingers
  • Think of your arm naturally unfurling
  • Notice how the movement of the arm expands the movement in the torso
  • Consider lengthening your legs if the whole of your back is comfortable
  • Consider allowing your front hand to skim the floor as you open into the pose
  • Breath and enjoy the pose
  • Gently sink back to the floor
  • Shoulders face straight forwards
  • Press into the feet to come back up
  • Stand steady and breath

 

  • Now do the same on the other side

 

  • Stand and notice how it feels right now

Enjoy Triangle pose and find your edges… how many triangles can you make? And how much life can you bring to the pose?

Yogi Living: Cetaphil

 Living a low toxin life can feel very hard work. It takes time to source products you like and can feel like a big financial challenge. My aim is to let you know about products that I rate, are affordable, and are easily got.

Cetaphil make great face cleaning products – from cleansers to moisturisers. They are designed for highly sensitive skin and can be used after face operations as they are so cleansing and gentle at the same time. A moisturiser is about £12, and cleanser £11. And it can be ordered from your local chemist or bought on Amazon.

The down sides of Cetaphil for me are the rather cheesy packaging and ideally Id like super healthy products without paying quite so much. So I’ll keep searching for more lovely things to enjoy and share.

New Year with Warrior 1

 

 

Warrior 1 is also known as Virabhadrasana 1.

It’s a lovely pose that will help you steady and focus – so perfect for starting the New Year well!

I did this Warrior 1 on a rock in Elie with the low sun streaming over the water – how lucky are we to live in beautiful Scotland!

Back to yoga…This is pose ideal if you are outside or can see outside. Feet need to be steady on the ground, even if the earth is uneven make sure that you feel well grounded. This is of course important for every yoga pose – but when you want to see the bigger picture and make plans you need to be set up well. First ease you way into the pose, allowing hands to come up. This may  be overhead or slightly  in front of you. Breath your way into the pose, feel your breathing, feel the effect on how this moment feels. raise and lower your hands to get settled in a good way for you. Maybe you will want to reposition your feet. Once you feel ready allow your hands to come up and use your out breath to see far into the distance. As you breath in feel energy gently peculating up from the ground. As you breath out look steadily at the distance. You may find thoughts arising, try to let them come and go. This pose works on an energetic level rather than a logical problem solving one. Allow the your experience to be whatever it is. Do this until you no longer want to.

Its that simple, now go on to what you want to do next. Maybe you will recall your steady overview, maybe things will flow more easily for you… maybe you’ll want to do it again. Enjoy it!

Yoga Life

Living lightly, being gentle on the environment and staying healthy are very important to me. For me it is a part of yoga – finding things that feel great and are healthy as well.

I found a super website ‘EWG Skin Deep‘ in my search for natural products. This website guides you through the maze of toxicity and healthful products. You put your product into the search bar and it will tell you how it fairs from 0 -10, with 10 being pretty offensive and 1 being clean as a bean! Below you can see that Pampers baby soap rates a 5 with limited data, whilst Dr Bronners magic soaps rate 1 with fair data.

You can also click on the item and find out the ingredients which give the product its rating.

I find this fascinating and reassuring as sometimes a green/eco/baby label can make you think a product is going to be gentle: sometimes it is sometimes its not. Also not all the low toxicity products are high price. I just love being an informed buyer!

 

Yoga in IKEA

 

Doing yoga at IKEA was really inspiring.Sometimes people think yoga is only for the flexible ones and I was excited to be invited to do this as it gave the possibility of taking yoga to those who might not otherwise consider it. I spent 2 days hanging out with the mood lighting and meeting some wonderful people. IKEA wanted a safe space for people to come and restore. This involved a range of yoga related things.

Anne, who is studying to be a yoga teacher, came with her daughter. We did a chocolate relaxation and talked about becoming a yoga teacher. Kittaya, who is on the yoga foundation course, came with her husband and children. We explored headstands in the ‘kitchen’ and ways to make a safe space… even in IKEA!

There was a great range of issues people came with from anxiety, back pain, postural issues and just the need for a wee stretch. I enjoyed meeting people where they were and helping as best I could. It was very humbling and honouring to work with a couple who had experienced some profound life changing events in the last year, and specifically to teach them

 

I think I enjoyed the relief on parents faces most of all, as their children got some fun just for them. I would help the children to play with the coloured lighting and then give them a relaxation story. This was important as you could see many families ‘on a mission’ with the children tagging along.

This day really highlighted that in a hectic schedule or a busy place even 5 minutes of yoga can be enough to recharge and refocus. Even if you set a timer for yourself – do what it is your body and soul would really like.

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Surfing the yoga wave

Some of you may know I have some loves, and one of my other loves is surfing. Yoga keeps me flexible and healthy, it soothes my spirit and focuses my attention. In short it makes me happier and more patient. Yoga is feet on a steady sticky mat, in the warmth where movements are free but controlled. Surfing is different, everything is moving, its bitterly cold in scotland and you have to be very spontaneous.

p1410501Waves come, waves go, breath comes in, breath goes out. Some waves and breaths are deep some are short. Emotions feel settled and get rangy. For me there is a place they meet: alert attention, body awareness, feeling joy and being challenged. Awareness of the feet and the movement of the hips is as important in surfing as yoga. Finding your edge whilst keeping your body safe.

Surfing takes me out of my comfort zone and back to being a beginner, it also takes into the freezing cold grey sea!  This October was the first time Id surfed in Scotland as Im not keen on getting cold, however with the help of a nice 5mm wetsuit and socks it really was excellent.

p1410481When Im standing in the water and a big wave comes  and I don’t know whether to duck and escape or meet it I use my yoga. I feel my body’s reaction to the wave whether its tension or tummy excitement and I hear the chatter of my mind or the stillness. My yoga practice has helped me develop a philosophy of waiting, being patient, then seizing the moment. It has helped me enjoy the moment and kept my trying new things.

Yoga is a helpful tool in mastering a new sport or refining your skills. The even steady way of working means you will get an all round body workout whilst some sports are high impact on a few joints and muscles. Yoga will train your breathing so that you can breathe more freely under challenging circumstances. How could yoga help you develop further? Or surfing? What do you fancy, but don’t try because its too this or too that? What would get you just on the edge of your comfort zone just now? What could bring you to feeling your body in a new way? What could make you feel thoroughly alive?

 

practising with your breath

imgresYour breath is probably the most useful thing you have to guide you in your practise. It will tell you to push further and when to hold back, It will tell you when you’ve got a pose just right and when to leave a pose out.
Your breathing should move freely during your whole yoga practise. If you find yourself holding your breath it will do you no harm, but it is an indication that you are trying too hard. If you find yourself holding your breath, find some support, make the pose easier and remind yourself to enjoy what you’re doing! If your breathing stutters or becomes high it also means it’s time to back off and take it easier. When we keep pushing beyond what is healthy we may be doing good cardio vascular exercise or building determination, but we wont be doing yoga anymore.
When you are doing a pose and your breathing feels flat, dull or lifeless this is a message to expand your body and your boundaries. If you find you can’t feel your body moving as you breathe then its time to take a deeper challenge.
Yoga is ultimately about finding harmony between body and mind. It is finding your bliss, your peace and your steadiness as well as finding your wings. Be prepared to challenge yourself, to rest and to BE in the moment.

Happy New Year

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2016 has greeted us, so far wet, windy and mild. At this time of year I like to review the previous year and think of aims for the following year. Creating resolutions is fun! Of course trying to stick to them or transform the 10 year old resolution into reality is something else. This year I plan to do what I did last year – make my resolutions, and then completely ignore them for the next year. Then 2017 comes I will have a good laugh at my intentions, I find humour is the best way to deal with shortcomings. There is nothing like a good laugh at naivety, what didn’t go to plan and misplaced vigour. Letting go of my expectations to have succeeded, and to achieve goals in the future clears me. Then I can be honestly grateful for the year and all it has brought. Health, love, friendship, food, a beautiful world with beautiful people, leaves blowing in the wind, shards of sunlight and more. Wishing you the feeling of being truly alive for 2016.