The best of the past month’s blog posts and more!
Staying healthy in autumn and winter relies on a combination of internal and external immune boosters. Following on from 4 yoga tips for your immune system, let’s look at four immune boosting seasonal foods you can eat more of to feel good!
Onions might be the world’s favourite vegetable, judging by their popularity in cuisines ranging from Indian to Italian to Thai to Turkish. There’s a good reason for it: onion and its relatives are great at fighting bacteria, viruses and inflammation.
Butternut, pumpkin, acorn… all kinds of squash are incredibly good for you. They’re packed with anti-oxidant vitamins like A ,C, and E. The high fibre and water levels in squash help maintain hydration and good digestive function to eliminate toxins.
It’s not a very sexy vegetable, but cabbage is incredibly good for you. Along with vitamins K, C , B6, thiamine and folate it is rich in minerals and fibre. Sauerkraut and kimchee are two of the most delicious ways to prepare cabbage, and have even more health benefits since they are fermented and supply disease-fighting probiotics.
Fresh or dried, herbs like rosemary, thyme and coriander have potent anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and anti-oxidant properties. They are great in wintery dishes like soups, stews and casseroles so stock up!
Seasonal colds and flu are a shortcut to feeling miserable. Luckily yoga can boost immunity and help you resist all the autumnal bugs and viruses drifting around. These four yoga tips for your immune system will help keep you healthy through winter.
Practicing warm Vinyasa flow or hot yoga daily is a fantastic immune boost. It heats your body and detox it from the inside out. Any type of yoga is better than no yoga, though. If you can’t make it to class do 15-20 minutes of sun salutations and stretches at home.
Our lungs are an important defence system so give them extra attention. In addition to breathing exercises in class take a short break two or three times a day and do some extra breathing. Pranayama is perfect for expelling stale air, while Kapalabhati detoxes and heats the body internally.
Beach season is over, but don’t neglect your abdominals. The digestive system is crucial to immunity so take care to do plenty of asanas to strengthen and stimulate it. Try to do simple postures like Pavanamuktasana (wind-removing pose) and Adho Mukha Svanasa (downward-facing dog) for a few minutes each day.
Inversions promote the circulation of lymph fluid. This lymphatic system transports immune cells through the body and works to detox the blood, so it is crucial for staying healthy. You can do shoulder-stands, headstands, or handstands. Or lie on your back with your bum next to the wall and your legs up for a gentle but effective inversion.
What is your favourite immune-boosting yoga pose? Share in the comments.
Stress-reduction is one of the many great benefits of yoga. But we can’t avoid all stress, all the time. Sometimes, life is tough. We face big challenges and difficult decisions.
Since it’s inevitable, what if there is a way to makes stress work for you? I read a great article that suggests there is! I highly recommend reading the whole article but here are three helpful tips you can put into action right away.
Many of the symptoms of anxiety and stress — dry mouth, racing heart — are the same as excitement. And studies have found that when people are put in stressful situations such as public speaking or singing karaoke, telling yourself to calm down can actually backfire.
Instead, those who reframe the situation as exciting and ride the wave of stress are better equipped to handle it.
With a fixed mindset, you believe that the things happening to you or the way you feel can’t be changed. This fatalistic approach holds you back from being able to change the way you see a situation.
On the other hand, people with a growth mindset see potential failure as a chance to learn. They’re the ones who can turn stress into excitement and find that sweet spot where stress actually enhances performance.
So, rather than letting your negative self-doubt run wild, you need to recognize when you’re going down this negative path and stop yourself.
Write down all of the things that counter your self-doubt. Writing strengthens memory, and the more you commit to reframing doubt as confidence, the more you’re able to veer off that ski course you’ve been on.
What is your best tip for using stress to your advantage? Share in the comments!
An amazing story for you today! My friend Puneet is a long-time yoga student. He recently brought a box of delicious organic apples in all shapes, sizes and colours to share at the yoga studio.
Why apples? It turns out this dedicated, modest yogi runs a very special orchard.
“We have more than 400 trees, 20 varieties and all the apples are grown with no chemical applications at all. We just pick the good ones,” he explained. “My main job is working in a GP practice so we always give them for free to our patients, this year we gave away nearly 3,000 apples. We also provide them to food banks, local coffee shops and charitable events. Picking apples is a good way to bring people of all ages together. Everyone is happy to be a part of it and they really love making all those pies and juices. The kids always want more.”
The orchard is just the beginning. Puneet, inspired by his late father who he describes as “truly a kind man who always put generosity first” also grows commercial crops on the farm and reinvests in the community. He started making films of the farm and his travels, and has created an uplifting collection of films on Vimeo from The Film Artist.
‘Our Orchard’ made when the orchard was very young
His motivation is always to spread encouragement and enlightenment. For a small sample of Puneet’s work, check out the following links
Where does yoga fit? Puneet says, “I am very proud to have found yoga and kept with it for all these years. As I practice more I have learnt new thing and have found an inner strength to support me in all the things I do. I regard yoga as an integral part of my life and something I will always have regardless of what material possessions I have. It has given me hope and made me more disciplined.”
The essence of yoga is to go beyond dedication to the physical practice and share kindness and compassion with those around you. Regardless of what we do, we all have “apples” — some gift of time, talent or material goods that we can give generously to others.
What’s your “apple”? Please share in the comments.
Backbends are a challenging element of yoga. They require us to do the opposite of what feels comfortable and “normal” — at least at first. As we grow in our practice we experience the positive effects of backbends and build mental and physical flexibility.
Relieve anxiety and stress
One of the most notable benefits of backbends is relief of anxiety and stress. As I mentioned earlier, a daily backbend routine can do wonders to eliminate chronic anxiety that racks our bodies and minds. By opening up the front of your body, you release and break through stress. To do so takes mental determination, discipline and dedication.
Approach each backbend with a can-do attitude and tell yourself you will stay in the posture and breathe. Breathing is one of the most important elements to a properly executed backbend. If you’re experiencing chronic anxiety, increase the number of days you practice yoga each week. I’ve found that a more consistent practice keeps anxiety in check.
Opens your mind and heart to new possibilities
By releasing and countering some of the tension on the backs of our spines (think shoulders and lower back) we can open up the front of our bodies to new people and experiences. Increasingly, flexibility in the body mirrors itself in our minds.
Relieves insomnia and restlessness
If your mind is racing when you lay in bed, get out and do camel pose. Just a minute in this posture will help release the mental chatter and tension in your body. I’ve done this several times and it’s amazing how fast it works. Make sure to breathe while doing the posture and do a few sets if you need to. It’s so simple, and so effective.
Questions about backbends? Ask in the comments!
autumn recipes, British food, butternut squash soup, clean eating, food for yoga, healthy eating, hydration, seasonal eating, seasonal food, soup recipes, vegan recipes, vegetarian recipes, yoga, Yoga With Paul
Autumn is the perfect time to retreat to the kitchen. Nights are longer, days are chilly, and a home-cooked meal is so comforting. Soup is a staple of mine. It is easy, you can make a big pot and freeze the extra, and it delivers a hit of nutrients and hydration that is perfect before or after yoga.
I like to add a few new recipes to my soup collection every year, and this one caught my eye because of the addition of toasted cashews to an old favourite, butternut squash. Adding nuts boosts the protein, fibre and healthy fat content of the soup and makes it filling enough for a meal.
The original recipe from What A Girl Eats calls for dairy but I might substitute coconut milk or soya cream diluted with a little water. I’m tempted to add some spice too — either fresh chopped birds’ eye chillies or a dash of hot sauce.
What would you add? Share your variations in the comments!
Read the full recipe at What A Girl Eats
I read a touching post recently on 4 Things to Remember When Life Feels Hopeless.
As I grew stronger in handling life’s curve balls, I was grateful that I had developed this invaluable life skill at a young age so I can have the rest of my life to benefit from it. While maintaining a thankful heart, I realized that even in dark times there are stars we can gaze upon.
Every life, however blessed or fortunate, has tough patches. This article reminded me of periods of grief and uncertainty where I really wasn’t sure how to move forward. In those times, yoga became a comfort and a tool to find stillness.
My yoga journey, like yours, began as a student. It was new, challenging and even frustrating, but intensely rewarding. For every posture I struggled with there were ones where I could feel my mind and body aligning in a profound way.
This spurred the curiosity to study. Bikram yoga teacher training, Dharma Mittra teacher training… Different practices illuminated different aspects of the mind-body dynamic. Learning became teaching, which is the biggest learning experience of all.
Right now I am doing Sangyé teacher training. It is a vigorous, meditative, spiritual practice that is pushing me to develop in new directions. I’ve started teaching as well, which has brought a joyful new challenge to my practice.
Yoga has taught me that there is always a path through difficult times — and it lies in learning. Learning to stretch, learning to ask for help, learning to commit to daily practice, learning to have perspective and grace.
Share your experiences of finding hope in hard times in the comments.
Headlines like ‘Clean eating trend can be dangerous for young people’ are designed to get your attention, and it worked!
I know from first-hand experience, and countless stories from friends and students, that clean eating is an important part of wellness. Can it really be dangerous?
Reading the article I discovered the “dangers” are far from clear-cut. The writer muddles together several examples: young people at risk of eating disorders, adults whose OCD-type behaviour extends to food, and people who lose weight due to excessively strict diets — then lays the blame at the feet of “food bloggers”.
Ursula Philpot, a dietitian at the British Dietetic Association, said a fixation with eating healthily had been a noticeable route into eating disorders for vulnerable individuals in the past couple of years.
She identified social media and the rise of healthy food trends and blogs as key drivers of the trend
From my point of view, this is linking unrelated topics. Eating disorders are a genuine, serious mental health issue. Blaming the actions of “vulnerable individuals” on “healthy food trends and blogs” makes as much sense as blaming alcoholism on craft brewers.
Far from being “dangerous” clean eating is a sensible alternative to the processed, fat and sugar-laden foods that have made almost two-thirds of Brits overweight.
Like everything else, healthful eating should take place in the context of a balanced life. Obsessive, anxious or compulsive attitudes towards food are typical of “clean eating”. They are a sign of something wrong that needs to be addressed. But let’s not blame healthy eating for unhealthful behaviours.
Share your thoughts on clean eating in the comments!