Don’t miss your round-up of the best of the blog from April!
Revolved abdomen pose (Jathara Parivartanasana) is one you may not be familiar with if you stick with the 26 postures of hot yoga, but it has many benefits. It is an on-your-back floor pose, so you can include it before savasana at the end of your practice.
Benefits of revolved abdomen pose include greater flexibility of your spine and abs, relaxed hips, better circulation and improved digestion. The twist wrings out your internal organs, improving their function, while strengthening your abdominals.
Here’s how you do it:
Afterwards, your core and spine should feel flexible and energised. This is a great posture for end-of-the-day practice to fully revitalise your internal organs and expel tension from the belly and spine.
Questions? Ask in the comments or Tweet @YogaWithPaul
We often think of giving purely in terms of being the giver. We’re taught that “it is better to give than to receive” but what about the other half of the equation? We can’t give unless there is someone to receive. Which means that receiving is equally important, and equally worthy of being celebrated. Being a good receiver, though, takes practice.
We can cultivate the gift of receiving through yoga, which teaches us three key steps: mindfulness, openness and unity.
The first step in being a good receiver is knowing our own minds. There are many beliefs and fears that hamper our ability to accept gifts. We can feel we are unworthy, not like the gift, dislike the giver, or worry that there are strings attached. When we feel any resistance to a gift, we need to practice mindfully seeking why that is. We need to challenge our knee-jerk response of non-receptiveness.
Through mindfulness we can achieve the openness we need to be a good receiver. We cannot hold a gift in a closed hand, and we cannot receive if we have a closed mind and heart. Opening up means setting aside our insecurities (“I don’t deserve it”), ego (“It’s rightfully mine”) and fears about reciprocity (“I can’t repay this”). It allows us to look at the gift itself and the intention behind it. With a mindset of openness we are able to accept things in the moment and in the spirit of kindness.
Yoga means unity and it guides us to understand that there is no separation between “giver” and “receiver”. As long as we think of them as opposites, we will not give or receive in a true, heartfelt way. The truth is that giving and receiving are united; they are simply different expressions of a single interaction. They are like inhale and exhale: both parts form the breath, the breath could not exist without both.
Received a beautiful gift? Share in the comments!
Since my last post was on the importance of B12 I wanted to share this B12-rich vegan mac’n’cheeze recipe from a friend. It is free from dairy and gluten, packed with B12 from the nutritional yeast, and seriously rich and tasty while being low-fat!
You can also top this with grilled tofu, avocado, or crumbled roasted nori seaweed.
Share your best topping tip in the comments!
Clean, plant-based eating is one of the best things you can do for your body (and your wallet). One thing I often hear, though, is the importance of getting enough B12 if you are vegan or near-vegan.
Most vitamins are found in abundance in plants, but B12 is only in animal products. So if you eat meat, eggs, poultry, cheese, and so forth, you’re fine. If you’re a vegetarian who eats eggs and dairy regularly you should get plenty of B12.
But if you’re vegan and/or have coeliac or Crohn’s disease, which prevent your body from absorbing nutrients, you need to think about how to get enough B12.
Why? According to the Harvard Health Blog a B12 deficiency has some pretty serious consequences:
Eventually, severe deficiencies can cause neurological damage.
It is not a chance worth taking!
Vegan food sources of B12 include fortified breads, cereals, nutritional yeast and plant-milks. If you follow a gluten free diet that eliminates most breads and cereals, which makes it tricky. Unless you’re happy to eat nutritional yeast every day, or guzzle a lot of fortified plant milk, you probably want to take a supplement. There are lots of multivitamin, B-vitamin and specific B12 options out there.
If you have a preferred brand to recommend please do so in the comments!
At the beginning of May I am going on a very special trip. I’ll be visiting the tiny Buddhist kingdom of Bhutan which is tucked away in the Himalayas between India and China.
It is a unique country. The only one I’ve ever heard of that measures its success in a National National Happiness instead of a Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
The paragraphs below are from a terrific National Geographic article about its history.
Bhutan’s third king, had begun opening up the country in the 1960s, building roads, establishing schools and health clinics, pushing for United Nations membership. King Jigme Singye Wangchuck would go much further. With the self-confidence of a ruler whose country has never been conquered, he has tried to dictate the terms of Bhutan’s opening—and in the process redefine the very meaning of development. The felicitous phrase he invented to describe his approach: Gross National Happiness.
For many Bhutanese, this idea is not merely a marketing tool or a utopian philosophy. It is their blueprint for survival. Guided by the “four pillars of Gross National Happiness”—sustainable development, environmental protection, cultural preservation, and good governance—Bhutan has pulled itself out of abject poverty without exploiting its natural resources (other than hydropower, sold to India as Bhutan’s main source of foreign funds). Nearly three-quarters of the country is still forested, with more than 25 percent designated as national parks and other protected areas—among the highest percentages in the world.
I will be attending a Buddhist yoga retreat there. Needless to say, I’m thrilled. The culture, belief, landscape and spirit will be unlike anything I’ve ever experienced.
Cannot wait to return and share my experiences and what I learned with all my lovely friends and students. Stay tuned for updates!
Experienced a life-changing retreat or holiday? Tell us about it in the comments!
Mark your calendars for Saturday, 22 April, 2-4PM so you don’t miss a one-of-a-kind Yoga With Paul Vinyasa Workshop at Hot Yoga South in Balham, for all levels.
The Vinyasa workshop is a chance to go deeper into the practice and understanding of poses, allowing your body and mind to experience a new level of awareness. They are also a lot of fun. In keeping with Saturday schedule we approach it with a playful attitude. Hey, it’s the weekend! We focus on enjoying the moment and appreciating these two hours as a time dedicated to our well-being and happiness.
We’ll do standing postures and flow to the floor; meditate; practice the breath; and settle into deep relaxation at the end so you leave refreshed and ready for anything.
The workshop is all about connection and interaction. It is for all yogis, at all levels. Just come, participate, and let the good Vinyasa vibes flow!
What we do in our daily life can seem inconsequential. It’s just boring, ordinary, everyday stuff that doesn’t make any difference. Or does it?
The butterfly effect is the idea that the tiniest action can have unforeseen consequences. This video explains how the butterfly effect can influence history and human lives.
Why does it matter? Because it means we have the opportunity to change our lives, to change the world, with every single action. When we choose to go to yoga we are choosing to do something that will benefit our mind and body, so we have more energy and awareness to share compassion. When we smile at a stranger, help a friend, or make time for a family member, it spreads positive vibes.
We may not always see how things end up but that’s the whole point. Our small actions do have a big influence. It is up to us to do them, and let the universe unravel the result.
Share your story of a small action with a big result in the comments!
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Olives are possibly the most delicious, nutritious natural snack going. If your only association with olives is as tiny, chewy black rings on cheap pizza, think again. Olives come in all shapes, sizes and colours; all equally good for you. Here are four reasons (science stuff courtesy of World’s Healthiest Foods) to eat more olives:
Antioxidants help repair the cellular damage done by stress, pollution, exercise and less-than-perfect diets. Olives are a good source of antioxidant vitamin E, and they also contain small amounts of antioxidant minerals like selenium and zinc. However, it’s the phytonutrient content of olives that makes them unique. Perhaps the best-studied antioxidant phytonutrient found in olives is oleuropein. Oleuropein is found exclusively in olives, and it’s been shown to function as an antioxidant nutrient in a variety of ways.
Inflammation is our body’s response to stress. Even beneficial activities like yoga can cause inflammation as our bodies adapt. Extracts from whole olives have been shown to function as anti-histamines at a cellular level. By blocking histamine receptors components in whole olive extracts provide with anti-inflammatory benefits. Whole olive extracts have also been shown to lower risk of unwanted inflammation by lowering levels of leukotriene, a common pro-inflammatory messaging molecule.
Healthy fats are essential for vitamin absorption and metabolism. Olives are unusual because they provide almost three-quarters of their fat as oleic acid, a monounsaturated fatty acid. (In addition they provide a small amount of the essential fatty acid called linoleic acid, and a very small amount of alpha-linolenic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid.) The high monounsaturated fat content of olives has been associated with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.
When our cells get overwhelmed by oxidative stress, that is damage to cell structure and function by overly reactive oxygen-containing molecules, and excessive inflammation, our cancer risk is increased. By providing rich supplies of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrients, olives can help avoid this dangerous combination of chronic oxidative stress and chronic inflammation.
What’s your favourite type of olive? Share in the comments!