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Wednesday, 2 September 2015

I Stole My Spring Scent

Spring heralds newly sunnier days thank god (Melbourne weather has been so dismal). It also means lifting out of the dark focus when it comes to makeup, heavier scents, a lighter mood. I first discovered my favourite scent at Fitness First six years ago. I used to do BodyPump with a few regulars and I always knew one of them was there because I could detect the slightest hint of frangipani near the barbells.
Such a blissful fragrance - it suggests Hawaiian beaches, sun on tanned skin, endless cloudless skies.


However, I am not a signature fragrance stealer. I couldn't have worn it at the time knowing it was hers. Six years have passed. I believe that's fair! It was in an airport mid-way to Paris recently that I got talking to a fellow crime novel enthusiast and we discussed how overwhelming the Duty Free area was. "I just really, really want Michael Kors," she said. "It's the only fragrance I'll wear."
Knowing she was going home to Berlin, and I would be safely Melbourne bound, I know we can both adopt this as our signature fragrance. In fact, it binds us across continents!

Fragrantica describes it thus: Top notes are freesia, incense, chinese osmanthus and tamarind; middle notes are tuberose, iris, peony, orris root and arum lily; base notes are musk, cashmere wood and vetiver.

What's your signature fragrance? Did you first smell it on someone else?

There are three new Michael Kors fragrances just released. He does fresh, sexy and feminine, just like his catwalk shows and his campaigns. I also love Michael Kors WHITE. Available at Myer, David Jones and Sephora.

Monday, 31 August 2015

Online Yoga Classes - Let's Do It Together

Most of you know I'm currently doing my Yoga Teacher Training. This requires 3 extra classes a week, which doesn't sound like much, but I'm already teaching 10 barre classes a week and it's physically exhausting!
Then there is the financial and logistical issues. As you can imagine, there isn't a yoga class every hour of the day at a convenient location. Most of them are running at the same time as I'm teaching. SO.
I admit online yoga classes do not have the same communal atmosphere of a real yoga class, with the awkward smile you get when you almost trip over someone's mat or the teacher gently adjusting your hip or foot... but:

  • there are a diversity of classes from "Relax" through "Energy & Sweat" options
  • there are  Master Workshops
  • instructors are highly qualified, experienced and come from all over the world
  • if a class doesn't work for you, stop and change without causing any offence!
  • your dogs, cats, rabbits can stay for class
Most of all though, it's super convenient. Do it before work, after work, in the middle of the night or the early hours of morning. There are live classes you can book for as well as pre-recorded classes


It's much cheaper than signing up to a studio too. In fact, you could do both in an ideal world. Being able to do your meditation at home, in your own time and space might suit you best. Perhaps you're not much of a team player and you'd prefer to do pilates in your loungeroom. Perhaps you'd just prefer to do it in your loungeroom on Tuesday and go into a busy class on Thursday. That's the beauty of Yoogaia. I have signed up for the length of my teacher training.

I am aiming to go to actual classes the majority of the time, but when I'm struggling to fit it into my schedule alongside recovery time (essential for body and mind!), I will be using my Yoogaia membership to explore meditation, power yoga, core strength, pilates and Yin yoga. In fact, I did my first Yin Yoga class last week! It was difficult, as a restless soul, to hold long poses (4 minutes...of stillness...) but it became easier with every minute and actually, time passed pretty quickly once I got past the first 10 minutes. I did Heidi Poon's class. I'd love you to try some classes and give me your recommendations! I started with the free 7 day trial. Do it! Yoogaia.com

Friday, 28 August 2015

Heal Your Gut with Supercharged Food

There has been much research into the mind-gut-hormones connection and the science is compelling and convincing. What, when and how you eat directly affects your hormones and your immune system. Constantly getting infections? Feeling lethargic? Rashes and allergic-type reactions?
There are so many ways that poor diet can manifest in your body. This doesn't just mean eating bags full of jelly snakes during the afternoon slump. This means restricting food groups, severe calorie restriction, binge eating, eating processed and packaged food as replacements for whole foods (vegetables, fruit, legumes, grains).

I am not perfect, just as you (probably) are not perfect. I don't allow myself to read the "latest celebrity diet tricks" in magazines. I don't subscribe to any particular dietary regimen, although I respect ELEMENTS of some! I am not paleo, or vegan, or pescatarian...
There are weeks I will not eat meat at all, or times when that's exactly what my body craves. One thing I can definitely say I'm guilty of is overdoing the caffeine. I know it is behind my poor sleep and ability to get anxious in a heartbeat! So I will aim to reduce my caffeine and heal my gut. What will you do in the aims of healing your gut?

I've got Lee Holmes' (Supercharged Food) Heal Your Gut for inspiration, information and recipes galore. It's not only super informative and well-researched, but gorgeous to look at. Definitely one for the kitchen AND the coffee table.

The book is designed to assist in restoring gut health with 90 anti-inflammatory recipes to heal and nourish. These include warming drinks with ingredients such as turmeric, chamomile and ginger, sustaining vegetable and meat broths & soups and deliciously delicate desserts like baked blueberry custard.
Heal Your Gut: Supercharged Food by Lee Holmes (Murdoch Books)

Just because I love your guts, I'm going to share some recipes with you. Enjoy.

CUMIN DIGESTIVE AID (JEERA VELLAM)

SERVES 4
Jeera is Hindi for ‘cumin’ and vellam in this context means ‘water’. Cumin is 
a powerful digestive aid and a detoxifier for the kidneys and bladder. Drink this shot after eating to improve digestion.
250 ml (9 fl oz/1 cup) filtered water
1 heaped teaspoon cumin seeds
2.5 cm (1 inch) piece of ginger, peeled and cut into thin sticks
Put all the ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 2 minutes.
Remove from the heat and set aside for 2 minutes before straining. Cool to room temperature and divide between four glasses to serve.

Garden-fresh Asparagus Soup
serves 4
I just love the healthy snap of a bright-green new-season asparagus stalk. Enjoy their uniquely grassy, sweet flavour and their healthy-bacteria-boosting proteins in this fresh and uplifting soup.
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus extra to serve
2 spring onions (scallions), finely chopped, plus extra,
curled in cold water, to serve
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1/4  teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 medium turnips, peeled and diced
750 ml (26 fl oz/3 cups) vegetable stock (see page 151)
270 ml (91/2 fl oz) tin additive-free coconut milk
175 g (6 oz/1 bunch) asparagus, cut into 1.5 cm (5/8 inch) pieces
1/2 teaspoon Celtic sea salt
freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
Melt the butter with the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the spring onion and cook, stirring frequently, until soft. Add the curry powder, ginger, turmeric, lemon zest, juice and turnip and cook, stirring frequently,
for 5 minutes.
Add the stock, coconut milk and asparagus, and simmer, partially covered,
for 15 minutes or until the turnip is tender, then add the salt.

Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly, then purée the mixture in batches in a food processor or blender until smooth. Reheat gently if necessary, then drizzle with olive oil, grind over black pepper and garnish
with curled spring onion.
Almond Milk Jelly Cup
makes 250 ml (9 fl oz/1 cup)

Gelatine is a good source of protein and contains eighteen protein-building amino acids. It’s a great ingredient to include in your gut-healing arsenal, as it seals the digestive tract to help boost nutrient absorption.
250 ml (9 fl oz/1 cup) almond milk (see page 123)
2 teaspoons powdered gelatine
1/4  teaspoon vanilla powder
1/2 teaspoon powdered stevia
Put half the almond milk and the gelatine in a small saucepan over low heat. Whisk briskly until the gelatine is dissolved. Remove from the heat and add the remaining almond milk along with the vanilla and stevia, and whisk to combine.

Pour into one or two glasses or jelly moulds and refrigerate until set. The jelly can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for 1–2 weeks.

Monday, 24 August 2015

Magnesium for Muscle and Mental Stamina

I read today that LeAnn Rimes downs 40 supplement pills a day.
40.

I feel extraordinarily tame in comparison. I have staple supplements that I stick to on a regular basis, and then there are supplements I will take for particular times when I know my diet or my health require the extra boost.

Magnesium is a staple. Not only is it vital for muscle recovery, but it also calms the nerves and aids in sleep. It is a vital ingredient in calcium absorption so to ensure your bones, muscle and nervous system are all in top shape, you want to be getting sufficient magnesium. It is estimated that approximately 80% of adults don't get the Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) of magnesium. Wholegrains, spinach, nuts and legumes are magnesium-rich but no food is especially high in magnesium .The rise of paleo and high-protein diets are also seeing imbalanced diet contribute to lack of vitamins and minerals in adults.


I can't spoon-feed you potatoes and almonds, but I can recommend that if you're not eating these foods daily as well as calcium rich greens and dairy, you source a high quality magnesium supplement. My choice is the bioavailable, marine-sourced magnesium in lifestream Natural Magnesium ($24.95). Because it's in powder form, you can add it to smoothies or take smaller or larger doses depending on requirements.

I'm also a big fan of supplements that support digestive health. I take probiotics, which I've featured previously, and I also take Vitamin B and when my gut needs some TLC after I've been particularly ill or even just indulgent, I'll drink aloe vera juice or chlorophyll (beware the green tongue!). I like a spirulina or supergreens supplement too - but I tend to do this when I'm especially busy and need the extra immune support. Check out Planet Health for stockists.

#Snoopette - Jen Crescenzo, Yoga Teacher & Power Lifter

My name is Jennifer Crescenzo and I’m a full-time yoga teacher in Melbourne Australia. I’m very passionate about Yin Yoga but when I arrived in Melbourne five years ago everyone was practicing Hot Yoga and Power Yoga so there wasn’t a lot of enthusiasm for a slow, deep stretching practice that emphasizes meditative stillness! Today I teach, write and facilitate Yin and Hatha Yoga teacher training, and travel to lead yoga workshops, trainings, and retreats.   
I think people envision the yoga teacher lifestyle as really relaxed - teach a few classes, spend lots of time practicing yoga, drink some kombucha, talk about chakras - that kind of thing.   But it’s really more like running your own small business with a research and development department, a sales and marketing team, and people who need to get out and deliver the product. Oh - and you are the head and sole employee of all those departments :)  I am often up early to write - whether that is developing material for new workshops or writing content for teacher training.  I don’t like to go straight from bed to sitting at my computer so I move around a bit first.  Some mornings that means sun salutations but other mornings I go straight out to the garden and dig around in the dirt a little.  It sounds a bit yoga cliche but it changes my perspective when I start the day caring for other living beings rather than seeing who has liked me on Instagram.  Also I have discovered that my plants like coffee as much as I do! So, we share a morning ritual.  I make coffee in my French Press  and enjoy my morning cup and then pour the grinds over the plants.  


Part of my job, like any other job, is meetings.  And that means having some cosy meeting spots near my home or the studios where I teach.  Current favorites include Urban Projuice in Albert Park because it’s a family affair run by a mother and her daughters and they make delicious vegetarian and vegan food.  This winter I am especially fond of their Turmeric Latte because it’s earthy and spicy and warming and Turmeric is a potent anti-inflammatory and boosts your immune system. 
Because I don’t have a car, I’m often on the go and I carry everything I might need for the day in my bag, a beautiful hand-sewn creation from my last trip to Thailand.  Inside you’d find whatever book I am reading (currently it’s Connectome: How the Brains Wiring Makes Us Who We Are), my iPad, a scarf (I collect them from all over the world!) some sort of refreshing spray for my face (I picked up Yuli Cocoon Elixir in LA a few months ago ) jasmine essential oil from Jamal Kazura Aromatics in Singapore, YSL Touche Eclat, and usually a random piece of fruit (this week it's mandarins)  

Since I’m on foot or on trams a lot, I’m a big fan of podcasts.  I spent 10 years as a documentary filmmaker so I’m passionate about storytelling.  On my podcast playlist you’d find RadioLab, 99 Percent Invisible, Serial, Invisibilia, Planet Money, and This American Life.  I love how a good story can grab you and turn you in a different direction, compelling you to see the at the world from a totally different perspective. And I think that’s what yoga offers - twisting your body into different shapes gives you different ways of seeing yourself and the world around you. 

Although I have built a reputation as a Yin Yoga educator, those who know me best know that I embrace the cooling, contemplative nature of Yin to balance my fiery, Irish-Italian Yang side. Whether it’s powering across the finish line of a race or facing an opponent in Kung Fu, I love to move!  This year I found a new passion, Olympic Lifting.  Although lifting something big and heavy sounds more brutal than mindful, it’s actually a delicate balance of the two.  Like Yoga, it is all about a union of opposites!  You have to be patient but violent.  You have to be willing to fail but determined to succeed. The moment you put your hands on the bar, you have to coordinate all of your power and intention to lift it.  But, when you take your hands off the bar you have to relax and let go.   My Olympic Lifting coach, Luke Bryan of CrossFit 3000, said I was being “too zen” in a lifting session and that I needed to get a little more violent.  So we created “Nej”, my lifting alter-ego who resembles the fierce Indian warrior goddess Kali. Kali holds a severed head and wears a necklace of skulls made from her fallen foes. I know - it doesn’t sound very yogic.  But Kali represents the erradication of ego.  She cuts through the illusions, forcing us to see things as they are rather than as we want them to be.   And I would describe Olympic Lifting in much the same way.  It quickly reveals where you lack coordination, power, or precision - like the parts of you where electricity doesn't flow. And if you are willing to work on those parts of your body and mind, you can electrify them! 


I wear a lot of yoga clothes - comes with the job!  Since I can spend all day in a sports bra or pair of yoga pants, I need things that are durable but feel good on my skin and can transition from the studio to dinner with friends.  When I’m not in yoga clothes, I’m either in jeans or Melbourne-made Nevenka.  Designer Rosemary Masic blends lace and edge.  It’s like Stevie Nicks meets Lauren Bacall...

Jennifer teaches weekly classes at Ohana Yoga, MOVE Yoga, and Power Living South Melbourne and runs yearly retreats at Le Yoga Daylesford. For more about Jennifer, visit her website yoga.jencrescenzo.com 

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Braids, Buns & Twists at the Barre

We're off the barre! Or the bar.
Really, you can wear your hair in buns, braids, intricate plaits and twists either to the gym, yoga studio or bar. Or the office. A waterfall plait says "I'm creative but I am in control here. Don't mess with me!"
I am loving this book by Christina Butcher, Braids, Buns and Twists! Step-by-step tutorials for 82 fabulous hairstyles
I discovered it on a Google hunt, naturally.


 I also discovered Power Yoga For Athletes that gives pictures and instruction on 100 poses that are intended to improve sporting performance. It can be difficult to gain the confidence to go to a yoga class for the first time, especially when you are skilled in a particular sport and you have to face being a beginner BUT starting out with a book and streaming online classes is a great introduction. Author, Sean Vigue is a skilled and notable pilates and yoga instructor who also runs online classes and writes for various yoga and pilates journals.

Friday, 21 August 2015

The Good Oil on 3 Budget Buys for Banishing Blemishes, Laundry, Stress Free Sleep and Cleaning

It amazes me that not everyone has cottoned on to the wonders of this cheap, versatile supermarket buy. Eucalyptus, tea tree and lavender oil are all super cheap, potent, easily available, NATURAL and multi-use.
If you only choose one oil - eucalyptus is your friend. I have a bottle that has lasted 6 months. I use eucalytus oil:

  • to dab into my nostrils to prevent inflammation from dust pollens and cold/flu symptoms
  • added to saline solution for a nasal spray
  • dabbed on blemishes to reduce inflammation and blitz spots
  • added to floor cleaner
  • to wipe down bathroom surfaces
  • to wash gym clothing - out, out damn germs!
  • diluted as a spray for the yoga mat. Trust me.
Then there are two more that will go the distance. They have multiple uses and because they are so potent, you'll use only a tiny amount at a time. This is going to be magic for your budget and your health. I use lavender oil:
  • rubbed gently on my temples to relax
  • spritzed on my pillow and bedding before sleep to de-stres
  • added to boiling water for a facial steam (just hold a towel over your head!)
  • added to fragrance-free, basic moisturisers for scent and anti-inflammatory properties
  • massage oil for the muscles
Finally, though the smell takes me back to my teenage years, teatree oil dabbed on spots will blitz them. It's also great for cuts, abrasions and also for cleaning duties.

It's worth buying 3 at a time and saving around 15% - I order online at Bosisto's but these are also easily available at chemists, pharmacies and supermarkets.

Monday, 17 August 2015

#Snoopette : Cat Woods

I’m Cat Woods [@cat13gram] and I author Core Integrity With Cat, teach barre, do some freelance writing and editing, and I’m also doing my yoga teacher training at The Yoga Social in Melbourne CBD. I have been doing yoga for the past 15 years and it is the one thing that remains a constant passion in my life, besides writing, and I know I will never know everything or master every aspect of it. I love that. I will always be a student! Being a writer and a barre instructor means I am not confined to conservative fashion or beauty. That said, I don’t feel like myself with a full face of makeup or shunning makeup completely out of some idea of yoga Puritanism!
I had terrible acne as a teenager and went through two courses of Roaccutane. It cleared up my skin, but it made me extremely conscious of using products that genuinely hydrate, cleanse and nourish skin as opposed to stripping it of natural oils or clogging it and causing spots. My favourite brands for skincare are natural and I flit between using different ones from day to day and week to week. I love Kiehl’s toners and eye creams. Thalgo does great cleansers and serums. At the moment I’m using their Foaming Marine Cleanser (smells ocean fresh) and Hydra Marine Serum. I also love a weekly exfoliation with Goodness Every Week Facial Scrub. It’s a new range that is all about chia seeds. Smells fab and the pastel coloured packaging makes me smile.


I am all about a great sports massage, even though it’s so expensive, which is why I figure if I’m teaching and talking for work – why can’t I find a facial massage therapist? So I did my Google research and contacted the most highly rated Australian facialist, Jocelyn Petroni for her local recommendation. Jocelyn only works in New South Wales, but she said there was no other option than Valli Shubere if I wanted the ultimate facial massage. Valli operates from Herbario and has been doing herbal beauty and health for over 30 years. Valli, Marcel and herbalist Vito Cozza take traditional European Botanical Medicine and apply it to internal and beauty treatments. Unlike most, the herbal preparations are totally pure and potent. It is a little like being pummelled – I won’t kid you, it can hurt to have your cheeks and jawline massaged when you’re a typical tooth-grinder, but it is worth it for the glow you get later. Valli does nutritional assessments and programs too but I haven’t tried these.

I am all about nail colours since I am looking at my fingers and toes all the time as an instructor. I love OPI and Orly in particular. They have great colours and they are paraben, sulfate free with cute names. Especially loving the new Purple Palazzo Pants. I also love Orly Nailtrition as a paint-on treatment for broken, brittle nails that have seen too many colour changes and too much remover! It gives a really shiny, glossy finish too. I paint it on while I’m binge watching The Americans or Game of Thrones.

Daily, I wash and tone then after a few espressos, I apply L’Oreal Lumi Magique because it’s the perfect shade and it lasts through my workout and class without caking or dripping or clogging my pores. It is lightweight but it covers any redness.
I am all about the glow so I love Physicians Formula Powder Palette Mineral Glow Pearls applied with a big brush. I’m an amateur but I know how to wield a brush when it comes to blusher and bronzer. Definitely not with a heavy hand! I don’t spend a lot on brushes. The Real Techniques Bold Metals Collection is available in chemists and beauty shops. It looks much more expensive than it really is! The Flat Contour Brush is my most used. It’s super soft and does triple duty on bronzer, blusher and highlighter.
I love Lancome Blush Subtil in tawny 011 Brun Roche as a bronzer. I sweep it from the top of my ear lobe under my cheekbones then apply a bit of blusher (Urban Decay Afterglow in Crush for true pink or the paler ballet pink of Youngblood Mineral Blush in Zin.
I love lip colours and I find them in my glovebox, my bathroom, my loungeroom, under the bed, in the kitchen, falling out of my iPad carry case... literally, I have lipsticks, lipliners and lipglosses everywhere. I’ve just discovered Bite Beauty from Canada. They do food-quality, all-natural lipsticks that are highly pigmented so they last through a lot of talking and coffee. My new addiction is Luminous Lipstick in Cassis, a deep fuschia.

I find that my eyes get red and sensitive if I wear much eye makeup beyond a simple slick of liner. I don’t make it a regular habit, but I do indulge in eyelash extensions a few times a year because it means I look glammed up without having to do anything! If I’m careful not to use oil-based cleansers and don’t fiddle with them, they last around 3 weeks. I am super fussy about where I get it done though because I don’t want any messing around near my eyeballs! I go to The Lash Beauty Bar in North Melbourne. Aniya started this tiny, gorgeous salon a few years back and has since introduced massage and facials. I had a massage there years ago that was wonderful, but now I’ll just go for lash extensions on the rare occasion. When I flutter them in the mirror, it reminds me of classic film actresses of the 1930s and 40s. theatre actresses and ballerinas.. That big, dramatic eyed flutter that says ‘I’m costumed and I’m bold. Bring on the stage.’

Onzie Ahimsa Tank Top
Having said that, I am not able to be anything or anyone other than entirely myself when I’m teaching. I don’t become any louder or stricter. It’s not a performance, after all. I am really fortunate to share my love and knowledge of pilates and body awareness, barre, dance and soon yoga too. I love it. I love doing it, I love researching and choreographing, practicing and correcting and empowering people to feel flexible, strong and balanced.

Since I spend every day in gym clothes, I have amassed a wardrobe of outfits that is like a rainbow of lycra. There are some $10 Kmart singlets in there but mostly it’s OmShanti , Onzie, and Mika Yogawear for leggings and crop tops.
Purusha People Leggings
I have also just discovered Purusha People for mermaid print, iridescent, highly original yoga pants and there’s also some amazing iridescent, very Australian Gothic “Black Opal” leggings at DivaFit.

Finally, my unruly and naturally curly (but mostly just frizzy) hair responds best to the Pureology brand. They don’t use sulphates, parabens, lots of preservatives and chemical ingredients. My poor scalp reacts to most products by getting dry, itchy and flaky. So I’m careful to stick to what I know works! My latest haircare addition is Pureology Serious ColourCare Strength cure Cleansing Conditioner– it leaves my hair soft and non-greasy or heavy. Smells divine.

The Best Herbal Facial in Australia

Like a sports massage for the face, Valli Shubere applies her adept fingers and palms to the face and kneads and caresses to reshape and release tension.
In her 30 years of treating the body with herbal medicine, and applying purely herbal based tonics to the face, Shubere has mastered her technique to the point of being in constant demand in Australia, America and Europe.

I discovered Valli when I asked the queen of celebrity facials in Sydney, Jocelyn Petroni, who she'd recommend in Melbourne. It was without hesitation that she gave me one name: Valli Shubere.

Valli operates from the Prahran Herbario clinic (222 Chapel Street). Downstairs is the store and this is where the herbal tonics for body and face are expertly concocted by herbalist of 37 years, Vito Cozza. Upstairs, the treatment room is warm, simple and welcoming.
Treatments are tailored - anything from 1.5 to 2.5 hours depending on the needs and nature of the client. Valli sees many actors, models and presenters who are posing and pulling faces for hours daily. Her treatment is designed to release tension that can cause facial muscles to tense and cause anything from sinus blockages to undereye bags or tight jaws.

The Herbario Dispensary downstairs offers dry herbs, fluid extracts, herbal tablets, essential oils and nutritional supplements. A nutritional assessment can determine your needs.

I'm sworn to secrecy on the names of Melbourne models, actors and athletes who attend, but I can assure you there are some very fine faces who rely on Valli's massage and nutritional herbal expertise for their wellbeing and beauty.

Herbario website 
Book an appointment 

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Scholl Be Right!

The issue of hygiene in the gym and studio is confronting when you end up getting a nasty case of athlete's foot. Those shared yoga mats really should be cleaned but I have been to countless gyms and studios where they get stepped and lunged and sweated all over and then thrown in a heap.
However.
So, a little request please. Consider a trek to the supermarket to pick up a Hard Skin Remover, Anti-Perspirant for the feet and...if you need, Anti-Fungal treatment. I can personally recommend Scholl's but if you are going to get a pedicure at a salon, choose a VERY VERY clean and sterile one!

BEFORE Gym Time is Pedicure Time!

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Yoga Books For Inspiration

I start my Yoga Teacher Training this weekend, and I won't lie, I'm nervous about launching into it. I'm excited, too. And mostly, I feel that it's the right choice. As someone who questions herself constantly, to feel so sure about something speaks volumes to me.
I want to be practicing, exploring, teaching and sharing yoga for the rest of my life. Flowing, vinyasa, meditation-on-the-mat yoga.

With that in mind, I've added to my bookshelf. Three different but inspiring yoga books.

Yogavataranam: The Translation of Yoga is intended for those studying yoga. It is an exploration of Sanskrit intended for university courses, yoga students and self study.
The Indian method of learning Sanskrit is by memorising texts and then learning what they mean. The Western approach is to learn the alphabet, grammar, syntax and then build the vocabulary (like all language lessons of my school years!). This book by Zoe Slatoff-Ponte incorporates both methods. It promises

  • step-by-step instructions on writing the alphabet 
  • sidebars on Indian philosophy and culture
  • a glossary of Sanskrit terms
  • original translations of passages from classic yoga texts including Yogasutra, Bhagavadgita and Upanisads
There's web-based audio files linked to each chapter so that you can perfect your pronunciation too. I know this is a book I'll be returning to...a lot.
The Eight Limbs of Yoga looks deceptively slender and thankfully, it fits in my handbag so my guilt over not reading what is on my bookshelf can accompany me every day, everywhere. This is "a handbook for living yoga philosophy".
This little volume shows how to apply the principles of yoga to everyday life and our perspective on the big and small issues. This is not designed to be academic or deeply investigative. Perfect for yoga students and also just the mildly curious. 

The Eight Limbs of Yoga are:
  1. Yama: The first limb, yama, deals with one’s ethical standards and sense of integrity, focusing on our behavior and how we conduct ourselves in life. Yamas are universal practices that relate best to what we know as the Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
  2. Niyama: This has to do with self-discipline and spiritual observances. Regularly attending temple or church services, saying grace before meals, developing your own personal meditation practices, or making a habit of taking contemplative walks alone are all examples of niyamas in practice.
  3. Asanas: These are the postures practiced in yoga, with the ultimate aim of caring for and nurturing the body. Through the practice of asanas, we develop the habit of discipline and the ability to concentrate.
  4. Pranayama: Generally translated as breath control, this fourth stage consists of techniques designed to gain mastery over the respiratory process while recognizing the connection between the breath, the mind, and the emotions. 
  5. Pratyahara: This means withdrawal or sensory transcendence. It is during this stage that we make the conscious effort to draw our awareness away from the external world and outside stimuli.
  6. Dharana: As each stage prepares us for the next, the practice of pratyahara creates the setting for dharana, or concentration. Having relieved ourselves of outside distractions, we can now deal with the distractions of the mind itself
  7. Dhyana: Meditation or contemplation, the seventh stage of ashtanga, is the uninterrupted flow of concentration.
  8. Samadhi: Patanjali describes this eighth and final stage of ashtanga, samadhi, as a state of ecstasy. At this stage, the meditator merges with his or her point of focus and transcends the Self altogether.


Do Your Om Thing is a memoir by Rebecca Pacheco, better known as @OmGal . Bec challenges the idea of the perfect yogi - flawless in their intentions, integrity, every living breath and perfectly executing every pose every time. It is an exploration of what it is to love yoga and to approach it as it ought to be approached, as a road to wisdom that isn't about striving to be the best, or to master everything, stop and pin a badge on yourself... Yoga is going to be different things at different times of life and circumstances. The idea of yoga off the mat is really explored. How to merge ancient philosophy and traditions from an Eastern world into a hectic, constantly evolving Western world is the cause of much angst for yogis (isn't it? I find it is!) and to read Bec's memoir is to find humour and joy in being imperfect but deeply curious and passionate about yoga as a practice and a school to learn about your everyday self and your infinite self.

Mulga's Magical Colouring Book Finally! This one is for fun. An exercise in mindfulness, this colouring book is by Sydney artist Mulga, a freelance illustrator, poet, mural painter, t-shirt designer and market stall master. He draws quirky animals, zombies and bearded ragamuffins. I am starting with the seahorse, because...well, why not start with the seahorse?



Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Crazy over Coconuts - 100% Coconut Water

I am coming to this whole coconuts for health thing a little late in the game, sure, but I'm going crazy for coconut water. The paleo peeps can keep their bone broth but they are definitely onto something with this pre yoga, post barre tonic. So fresh.
The selling point for me is the purity. I don't want any sugared up, chemical additives and flavours loaded mass-market junk. Raw C coconut water is 100% pure green coconut water, totally natural and no added sugar or sodium.

Pete Evans bought into Raw C as part owner and has since had his name and image associated - but coconut water is not just for the paleo and superfood geeks. It is a great basis for smoothies and it is a much smarter alternative to diet drinks, soft drinks and sports drinks which are often full of sodium and preservatives.

Most supermarkets and health food, organic stores and cafes are stocking Raw C - but to save yourself the hunt, you can look up stockists by postcode or buy online.

This recipe is republished from the Raw C website. Happy digestive system, happy brain, happy days. Mint, cucumber, coconut water are the basis. Substitute the kale for spinach if you prefer. I like kiwi fruit rather than mango. Have fun working out your own signature blend.

Minty Fresh Green Smoothie

1 big handful of Spinach
1 big handful of baby Kale leaves
3 inch piece of Cucumber, peeled
6 (or more if you like) Fresh Mint leaves
2 Mango Cheeks
1 Frozen banana
1 Cup of Ice Blocks
2 Cups Natural Raw C coconut water
Blend, Drink and Enjoy!
Recipe by: @cookcleancusine

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Sunday, 2 August 2015

Bite - Vegan Beauty from Canada

So you thought Canadians were only fabulous for Degrassi Junior High and double denim? Wrong!
Turns out there's more to those northern stars than just lovelorn teenagers and jean genius.
After 16 years of formulating beauty products, Susanne Langmuir founded BITE Beauty in 2011 as the result of developing sensitivy to non-natural ingredients and cosmetic chemicals. BITE is made from food-grade, antioxidant ingredients that are technically healthy and natural enough to eat. Don't though.
From 2011 to today, BITE cosmetics are handcrafted one at a time in Toronto, where they are milled in small batches and heated at low temperatures to retain the integrity of the organic ingredients. Totally vegan, totally cruelty free.
I've got the deep, daring Cassis which is a burgundy wine and the purple-hued, violet vision that is high pigment pencil in Violet. Everything from nude to radical red. Not widely available - I went to Ry.com.au (Recreate Yourself.)
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