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I love you…and chocolate too! February 8, 2012

Whether you’re single or in a relationship, I’m sure you can’t help but realize that it’s almost Valentine’s Day. It’s kind of hard to miss as it’s probably one of the best marketed holidays of the year…next to Christmas! Whether you’re in a romantic relationship or not, this is a great time of year to think about connection. We could all use a little more love…and ahem…chocolate! So, I invite you to connect with someone special in your life through partner yoga and a few indulgent treats.

The meaning of the word yoga is literally ‘to yoke’ meaning to create connection or union. We create this connection within ourselves when we do yoga. We connect our mind and our body through breath and awareness. When we do partner yoga, we extend this connection with one another. We allow ourselves and our partner to go much deeper into a pose by supporting each other and allowing ourselves to be supported. What better way to deepen your relationship with your friend or lover and with yourself?

It’s so nurturing to feel the warmth and support of another person as we open into and through our bodies. As you practice the following poses with your partner, focus on connecting through your breath. Poses done back to back are especially powerful. You may literally feel as if that person ‘has your back’ as you feel the warmth of their body supporting you from behind.

To begin, spend some time centering yourself as you sit back to back. First, start to notice your own breath as it enters and leaves your body. Then, as you tune into your own rhythm, start to notice you partner’s breath. Notice how fast or slow it is and where you can feel it in their body. Take a few moments to start to synchronize your breath with your partner’s. This creates a connection that goes beyond the physical form of the body. You enter a space with your partner where you come into sync and are intimate with each other. Use your breath to come into and out of each pose that follows. (Thanks to Roz and Dan for the beautiful demonstrations!)

Forward and Back Bend – In this pose you will open through the chest and back as you come into a supported back bend. Sit back to back in an easy, cross-legged pose and link arms with your partner. When you have entered into a rhythmic breath together, inhale to extend through the spine and then exhale to come into the pose.

As one partner bends forward, the other partner allows themselves to be supported as they come into a back bend. Spend a few breaths here as you allow yourselves to go deeper into the pose. Inhale to slowly come out of the pose and then repeat it with your partner.

Back to Back Twist – Begin sitting back to back in an easy cross-legged position. Each person then reaches their right hand back to take a hold of their partner’s left knee. Your left hand can come to your own right knee to facilitate the twist. Inhale to lengthen through the spine and then exhale to twist to the right. Continue to use your breath to extend through the spine and releasing deeper into the twist on an exhale. Exhale to release back to the center and then repeat it on the other side. When you are finished your practice, you can turn and offer each other a “Namaste” which literally means “I bow to you” acknowledging your appreciation of that person in your life.

If you’re a little hungy after all that yoga and you’d like to indulge in some mouth-watering recipes to enjoy with your loved one, read on to discover a delicious Chocoate Pot-de-Creme or some Healthy Turtle BonBons. And of course, keep posted for our upcoming Partner Workshop through Rejuvenate Your Prana!

Namaste to you on Valentine’s Day!

 

Oh the weather outside is frightful January 19, 2012

“…but the fire is so delightful”

I can’t quite sing “let it snow, let it snow” at the top of my lungs with the same holiday zeal anymore. We were blessed with embarrassingly beautiful, mild weather in Edmonton over Christmas and the New Year – then boom! The beginning of this week saw temperatures plummet into the minus mid-thirties and forties. It’s the type of cold that makes your skin feel like it’s being pricked with thousands of tiny pins. It’s almost mind-numbing in that you are reduced to one thought and sole mission when you step outside – how to get from point A to point B in the shortest amount of time possible.

Unfortunately, my old ’96 Toyota Corolla has become a casualty at the hands of winter. She’s been sitting outside the house, covered in snow and refuses to respond. I’ve tried everything to give her a boost but alas, she remains icy and cold like a scorned woman who’s angry with me for neglecting her (which I did, in a way, because I left her outside with less than a quarter tank of gas!). Luckily, my sweet little sister was generous enough to lend me her car for work. Then it’s straight home and into warm socks and sweaters for the night.

Being trapped indoors does lend itself to resourcefulness though. As much as I would love to zip out and get a warm drink, the general consensus in our house seems to be, “Who the ‘bleep-bleep’ wants to go out in this weather?!” Well, I won’t argue with that. So tonight, I decided to revisit a favourite drink of mine that I discovered last winter. It’s a green tea hot chocolate that I made by accident as I was trying to create something else. I’m sure there are other versions of this drink out there; what I like about this one is that it’s dairy free but still oh-so-creamy. I can’t help but smile after every sip.

Vegan Green Tea Hot Chocolate:

Ingredients:
– Chocolate almond milk (sweetened or unsweetened – if you are limiting your sugar intake, opt for the unsweetened version and add your own natural sweetener, such as honey or agave, as desired)
– Your favourite green tea
– Matcha green tea powder for sprinkling on top (optional)

Directions:
Bring one cup of chocolate almond milk to a low boil. Steep green tea leaves into the almond milk for several minutes until desired strength. Ladle into your favourite “I’m having a relaxing night in” mug and sprinkle Matcha green tea powder on top. Slip under your favourite blanket on the couch and enjoy.

Despite the cold weather, we are looking forward to a good turnout for our Vata Workshop this Saturday. We will be working off the winter chill in Alanna’s yoga class and fuelling our bodies afterwards with a home cooked meal made by me. In the spirit of spreading warmth, Rejuvenate Your Prana will look forward to donating a percentage of the proceeds from Saturday’s workshop to Hope Mission in Edmonton to support their efforts to provide meals and a warm bed for those in need in our city.

Thanks for stopping by and please leave us a comment. We’d love to hear from you! Namaste.

 

Vata – you say Whata? January 6, 2012

I don’t know about you, but personally, I don’t like the winter that much. It’s cold, it’s dry and it’s dark. I’d much rather be on the beach but I think the closest I’ll get to that here is a steam room at the local gym! In the winter, my skin gets dry, I’m constantly trying to warm up and I just want to soak in every bit of sunlight we get. Although most people tend to feel these symptoms in the winter months, some do more than others. Why is this?

Winter is the season in which the Vata Dosha is most dominant. So, what is Vata you ask? Well, let’s back up and start with Ayurveda, the ancient East-Indian science of health, literally meaning “complete knowledge for a long life”. Sounds like a pretty good thing to me! According to Ayurveda, there are three main energies or doshas: Vata (Air-Space), Pitta (Fire-Water), and Kapha (Water-Earth). Each of these doshas can dominate our particular body-mind type, the time of day and even the time of year! In the Fall to mid-winter, the Vata dosha dominates because of its characteristics: cold, moving, quick, dry and rough.
Some people have a lot of Vata in their constitution (or mind-body type). When they are balanced, they tend to be creative, vital and have a great sense of health and well-being. However, when out of balance, Vata types tend to be plagued by worry, insomnia, dry skin, constipation and difficulty focusing. Ughhh! Do any of these symptoms sound familiar? Well, if they do and they tend to get worse in the Fall or Winter, you may have a lot of Vata in your constitution!

Vata is sometimes referred to as the ‘king of the doshas’ because it drives the workings of the other doshas. You can imagine it like a fan that feeds the balance or imbalance of the other doshas. It’s responsible for all the movement in our bodies and without it the other doshas cannot move. In Ayurvedic medicine, like increases like and opposites increase balance. Therefore, when the cool, dry weather of fall and winter is here and Vata is strong in the environment, the Vata in our constitution has a greater chance of going out of balance. However, the great thing thing about Vata is that although it tends to go out of balance easily, it also can quickly return to balance. Like the wind, it can simply change directions! So, how do we put things back in balance after they’re thrown off course?

Bringing things back together is a matter of using opposites to create balance. To counteract cold, chilly weather, indulge in lots of warm drinks. I suggest boiling up a cup of steamy ginger tea with fresh, grated ginger, lemon and honey! Ginger, nutmeg and cardamom are spices that are good for warming the body and counteracting an imbalance in Vata. So, go ahead and make some mulled cider, it’s good for your Vata! Eating lots of warm, cooked foods including root veggies is also a good thing to include on the menu in the winter. Who doesn’t love a hearty stew when it’s cold outside?

You can also allow yourself to indulge in warm baths, showers or steam rooms. They’re great for warmth and humidity which is lacking when it is so dry! Getting lots of rest and avoiding overstimulation is also a great way to bring Vata back into balance. Spending time reading, meditating, relaxing by the fire or candle light is very calming to an over-stimulated mind (which Vatas tend to come by naturally!). To counteract dry skin, oil massage is a good idea. In Ayurveda, Abhyanga, or self massage with sesame oil or other oils is believed to be good for health in general.

So, I think that creating balance this time of year comes down to this: Follow your instincts and indulge yourself in things that you wouldn’t normally do during the rest of the year. How will you allow yourself to be ‘pampered’? What kinds of things will you do to feel good and make your Vata happy? We’d love to know!

If you’d like to find out what your dosha is, here are two helpful sites which you can take a quiz on: What’s your Dosha and Doshaquiz.

If you’d like to learn more about doshas and how to create balance and vitality through yoga and delicious culinary creations, check out our upcoming Vata Workshop on January 21st, 2012!