My journey of discovery

Coming to yoga teacher training course with a special agenda of mine… to find out how yoga can help me in having healthy, glowing and flawless skin. This journey allows me to explore more in depth about what I can do to make this happen.

It’s undeniable that toxins in our body, free radicals and hormone imbalances would hinder us from getting a good healthy skin. Environmental factors such as stress, diet, UV exposure, climate can cause major skin problems such as rashes, acne, pimples or even hair fall.

Skin being the largest organ of our body will naturally be affected if is not well taken care of.

Proper diet plays an important part to attain good healthy skin. Sattvik diet is a pure vegetarian diet which includes seasonal fresh fruit, ample fresh vegetables, whole grain, pulses, sprouts, dried nuts, seeds, honey, fresh herbs, milk and dairy products which are free from animal rennet. The word sattvic means “pure essence,” and sattvic foods are thought to be pure and balanced, offering feelings of calmness, happiness, and mental clarity. I have learned more towards sattvic diet preference and cut down on rajasic diet. This diet allows me to see the change in my complexion. Having said all, It’s vital to consume the right amount of Vitamin C; particularly from fresh fruits. Enough fibre intake of veg and fruits is also essential. One should also expose more to early morning sun ray before 9 am as it has tremendous healing elements.

When we incorporate them into yoga practice, it actually help in improving the digestive system. This will also enhance the blood flow in our body and thus every part of our body is sufficiently oxygenated hence a better skin. Yoga asana pranayama helps in regulating oxygen flow in our body too. Irritants and pollution in the atmosphere are some external factors for damaging our skin. For example, pollen from flowers causing allergy. By Increasing/building our immunity perhaps may lower the chances we will be affected by them. Of course undoubtedly, skin should also be attended to and should be cared for externally. Part of my findings was to use a towel to exfoliate my skin just like what my granny used to do… more like the ancient way of scrubbing your skin without the use of chemicals to remove dead skin and unclogging the pores. Using milk or coconut oil instead of commercial skin care.

Dermatology and psyche are inter-related. If you are stressed and tensed or overwhelmed with anxiety. This will affect your body. Mind plays an important role in skin health. Psychodermatology has always been used to address skin problems related to the mind. Yoga is however, always focused on the root cause of all disease related to the mind. For example, letting your body repair and work on the hormone that responsible for your skin by having good night sleep and relaxed meditation. It is believe to sit in a quiet moment for 10 mins a couple of times a day and to have music and mantra in your mind will destress and calm your mind immensely. Doing a good amount of shavasana or makarasana is also beneficial to soothe and tranquillise the mind.

This is just some findings of my discovery journey and I am sure there are a lot more for me to discover. I will definitely make this yoga practice a long life learning journey and be part of my life 😉

Food for thought

The nutrition is directly linked to the performance of asanas and our lifestyle in general. The yogi diet is based on Ayurvedic teachings. Some products are strictly forbidden by them, others are consumed in small quantities and in a certain period of time, and third yogis eat constantly. Three types of food in yoga According to Ayurveda, even the best and cleanest foods are not always healthy. So, there is food that should be consumed only in winter or summer. Some foods should be eaten in the morning, because they excite and give energy, others in the evening, as they calm and set you up for a long sleep. Yoga  divides all food into three types:

       Sattva, which means “purity.” This includes all fresh vegetarian food. Mostly seeds and sprouted grains, fruits, wheat, butter, milk and honey.

      Rajas is a food that excites the body. It is better not to use products from this category or to reduce their amount in the diet to a minimum. This includes citrus fruits, tea and coffee, as well as spices, fish, seafood, eggs, alcohol, soda, garlic and onions.

     Tamas is a rough and heavy meal. It is difficult to absorb by the body. It does more harm than good. Relaxes, after eating it makes you want to sleep. These are root vegetables, red meat (beef and pork), all canned foods, mushrooms, food with a heavy taste (roach, etc.). This includes frozen food and one that has been stored for some time. These are also considered dishes that are reheated, alcohol and food that has been cooked in a restaurant or store.

 Doing yoga, you will feel what products you will not need. Changes in the body will occur harmoniously and in accordance with the needs of your body. The gradual process of rebuilding the habits of the body is very important.

Many (and not only in yoga) make the same mistake: they abruptly begin to change their diet (completely abandon meat, fish, eggs, switch to the most sophisticated diets, such as raw food diet, etc.). With this development of events, in a few months you will face a series of ailments, such as colds, exacerbation of all previously existing sores, and digestive upset. And then it could be worse. Naturally, there can be no question of doing yoga.

Beware of this mistake!

  • never abruptly change your lifestyle, especially in nutrition, non-compliance with this rule leads to big trouble;
  • a complete rejection of meat food does not always bring positive results. If you abandoned the meat, you need to replace it with another animal protein: milk and dairy products, eggs, fish;
  • in your diet should always be present in large quantities vegetables and fruits;
  • food should always be fresh and harmoniously selected.

It must be remembered that the body will never tolerate abuse of itself both in the diet and in the mode of activity. And with the right approach to yoga, you become as independent as possible from environmental conditions, feeling great in any situation, with any set of food products.

 

Spinach Power Smoothie

Blog 1 (Spinach Power Smoothie)

I have always been a fan of activities that get me on the go – rollerblading, swimming, windsurfing and stand up paddling. Yet it was really only after I embarked on my yoga journey one year ago, that I started to pay good attention to the nutrition I was taking in pre and post workouts that demand a lot from my body.

 

Here’s a great pick-me-up that I would love to share that you can readily whip up, for a nourishing, refreshing and replenishing meal in a jar.

 

The Spinach Power Smoothie is so easy to make, so deliciously sweet and so hydrating – it’s not called a power smoothie for nothing! And because it’s liquid, your body absorbs all the nutrients quicker and better.

 

  1. Almond milk gives you vitamins and protein
  2. Flax seed and spinach are packed with vitamins, minerals and proteins
  3. Bananas are filled with potassium and fibre
  4. Avocado is a magic fruit with vitamins, minerals, proteins, good fats, dietary fibre
  5. Coconut water is a natural isotonic drink filled with electrolytes

 

Need I say more to get you started?

 

Ingredients you will need are :

  • 1 cup of almond milk
  • 2 tablespoons flax seed
  • 2 firmly packed cups of spinach
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1 fresh coconut (all water and coconut flesh scrapped from the husk)

 

Instructions :

Because I have slight OCD (yes, it’s true) and I like the smoothie to blend well, the above is literally the order in which I place the ingredients into the blender. I just find that it gets the ingredients mixed in the right way.

 

Otherwise, it’s still ok to just put everything into a blender, mix it all up, pour and slurp away!

 

For where I got the original recipe from, you can go to this link :

http://www.marinmamacooks.com/2012/03/spinach-power-smoothie/ from food blogger Marin Mama Cooks. Her real name is Jackie Grandy and she also has a ton of other healthy, wholesome recipes you can check out. In her version, she doesn’t use the coconut water and flesh but I like to add that in to make the smoothie less thick. Also she uses nut butter which I sometimes use (my preferred is Maranatha’s Organic Almond Butter) in place of the avocado if I prefer more grit and less creaminess for my smoothie that day.

 

And yes, you will also see the picture of my smoothie in my jar right at the bottom of her recipe page!

 

So go ahead, power up your hardworking, yoga-toned body today!

 

Posted by :

Marian Ang

200HR TTC (Jan/Feb ’14)

Sattvic Foods

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Quinoa and Raw desserts are sattvic foods I enjoyed during the course. I have included some information and recipes below.

Quinoa:

One topic discussed during the lunches of our 200hr teachers training course was the availability of vegetarian sources of protein other than soy. As it is the Year of Quinoa in this post I explore this grain. Organic quinoa may be considered as a sattvic food as a healthy, natural, nutritious product.

Quinoa is a grain grown in South America, and while it does not necessarily have the protein content of beans or legumes, it does contain the 9 essential amino acids, making it a complete protein (like soybeans), which is rare for a vegetable source of protein (often a combination of vegetarian proteins are combined to ensure complete proteins are consumed). Essential amino acids are not synthesized in the body and thus need to be consumed. Quinoa also a good source of iron, calcium, dietary fibre, magnesium and phosphorus and is gluten free.

Recently quinoa has been in the media with media outlets questioning the ethics of the consumption of quinoa. It is noted that with its increased popularity in the West, less people in the Andes are consuming quinoa. The questions raised in articles encourage those who consume quinoa to think about the product they consume and its origins, and as Tom Philpott writes not ‘take it for granted’.  

Two of my favourite ways of eating quinoa are:

Raw desserts:

Raw desserts when eaten in moderation may be considered as sattvic due to the fact that they contain natural sweeteners, fresh and or dried fruits, and nuts.

The two raw recipes we have enjoyed during our yoga adventure are from the blog My New Roots by Sarah Britton. This blog has a range of vegetarian and vegan recipes and really useful nutritional information. My two favourites are:

 

Vitamins Alert!

Do we get enough vitamins from the food we eat? How much vitamins do we need and how do we know if we have enough? These are the common questions that are running through our mind, especially the health conscious.
Being a vegetarian, a large part of my diet is vegetables, beans, pulses and toufu. But after reading articles and having some feedback from other vegetarian friends, they gave me the impression that Vitamin B, especially B12 may be lacking in our diet. So I googled on Vitamin B and here it goes, thought I should share with more people:

What are the Vitamin Bs?

The primary group of the B vitamins include B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6 (pyridoxine), B7 (biotin), B9 (folic acid), and B12 (cyanocobalamin). In addition, there are numerous sub-groups of the Vitamin B family which are considered less pertinent to human needs, but important to other organisms and some animals.  These include B4 (adenine), B8 (inositol), B13, (orotic acid), B17 (amygdalin), B20 (carnitine), and more.

Food sources

Some foods which are considered to be high in some of the Vitamin B group are chili peppers, lentils, bananas, potatoes, and tempeh (soy based).  In addition, molasses and brewer’s yeast are good sources of B vitamins.
Oats, barley, wheat bran, avocado, salmon, Brazil nuts (and other nuts) are more good sources of B vitamins.
Dairy products and eggs are high in vitamin B12. For vegans, fortified cereal, fortified soymilk and brewer’s yeast are sources of B12 which are required in trace amounts.

The Need for Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is needed for cell division and blood formation. Neither plants nor animals make vitamin B12. Bacteria are responsible for producing vitamin B12. Animals get their vitamin B12 from eating foods contaminated with vitamin B12 and then the animal becomes a source of vitamin B12. Plant foods do not contain vitamin B12 except when they are contaminated by microorganisms or have vitamin B12 added to them. Thus, vegans need to look to fortified foods or supplements to get vitamin B12 in their diet. Although recommendations for vitamin B12 are very small, a vitamin B12 deficiency is a very serious problem leading ultimately to anemia and irreversible nerve damage. Prudent vegans will include sources of vitamin B12 in their diets. Vitamin B12 is especially important in pregnancy and lactation and for infants and children.

Importance of Vitamin B

The Vitamin B group is beneficial and even necessary for healthy bodies in numerous ways, including (but not limited to) the following:

  • Supports healthy metabolism.
  • Helps maintain healthy skin and muscle tone.
  • Improves immune system function.
  • Improves nervous system function.
  • Helps promote cell growth and division, including red blood cells.
  • Helps combat symptoms of stress, depression, and cardiovascular disease.

Deficiencies in certain B vitamins can result in such illnesses as beriberi, anemia, heart disease, and birth defects.