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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!

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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.

 

…3, 2, 1 Happy New Year! December 31, 2011

2012 is swiftly approaching and since I am a glutton for punishment, I usually like to review my New Year Resolutions from last year to measure my progress. Oh, right – um, save money, lose weight, eat less junk and exercise. Oops! Forgot about those ones!

To borrow words from one of my favourite writers, Robert E. Howells, “New Year Resolutions are sewn with the seeds of their own demise. Why bother?” I know we’ve all been there. But Mr. Howells suggests that although goals are important, right now we should focus on…well, right now. My interpretation is that somewhere between penny pinching and spending my money with reckless fervour, or swearing to go on a no-carb diet to living on ice cream and bagels, or whatever dichotomies prevail in your own life, there exists a peaceful balance. Just as somewhere between mourning the goals we could’ve or should’ve achieved four years ago and the ambitions we could or should accomplish next year, there is simply “right now”. I think, at least for me, the real resolution is discovering the “balance”, the “right now”, the “today”, the “this moment” and loving it, imperfections and all.

These days, I come to that place of balance by revelling in therapeutic cooking. There’s nothing like preparing great food that can simultaneously draw out the methodical mad chemist and the free chaotic artist in me. At any given moment, I am the child licking cake batter off the spatula, or the teenager cooking dinner for her boyfriend for the first time, or the woman carrying out a labour of love for her family. This is my place of balance and of “here and now”. What’s yours?

While we’re on the subject of cooking, I’m still on my chocolate train (yup, gonna ride this one ‘til the wheels fall off! Then it’s straight broccoli and celery for 2012!) Oh right, no more extremes – I forgot! Here is the latest recipe, “Passion Pot de Creme” from our Rejuvenate Your Prana Kitchen (an egg-free, no bake version with cashew cream). Simple and delicious – just the way we should aim for our lives to be in the New Year.

Photo courtesy of Martin Phung

Recipe:
For the chocolate pot de crème:
8 oz. of good quality semi-sweet chocolate (I used Callebaut semi-sweet chocolate chips – use your favorite kind)
2 tsp of orange zest (other options: ground coffee, cinnamon, etc.)
1 C of plain almond milk
½ C finely ground almond
1 tsp of vanilla extract

For the cashew cream:
1 C raw cashews (soaked in water for 30 minutes)
3 oz dates (soaked in water for 30 minutes)
1 tsp vanilla extract
Water as needed (use soaking water from the dates)

Directions:
1. For the pot de crème: melt chocolate in heat proof bowl (e.g. I placed the bowl in a shallow pan filled with water to create a double broiler)
2. Mix orange zest in melted chocolate. Remove from heat.
3. In a separate bowl, mix the almond milk, vanilla and ground almonds. Pour mixture into melted chocolate and whisk until evenly blended.
4. Pour into 4 small ramekins. Place in the fridge for at least 2 hours. The pot de crème should be thick and rich like pudding after refrigeration.
5. Make the cashew cream: Drain water from cashews and place in a blender, add with dates and the soaking water and the vanilla (the amount of water added should be just enough to cover the solids). Taste and add more sweetener if desired (remember that the chocolate will be quite sweet so the cashew cream should have a milder taste).
6. To assemble: Dollop cashew cream on top of chilled chocolate.
7. Garnish with berries or chocolate shavings and serve chilled.
8. Enjoy!

Oh, and if you’d like to get some of Alanna’s tips on centering and finding balance through Yoga, you can read her post on December 30th over at The Edmonton Tourist (a blog by our friend Robyn, which is thoughtfully composed with healthy doses of real life and humour).
Happy New Year from Rejuvenate your Prana! If you are in the Edmonton area, be sure to check out our upcoming workshops in 2012, where we will be providing “wellness escapes” from everyday busy life through yoga and nourishing foods. Namaste.