Extra! Extra! It’s the Yoga With Paul November newsletter.
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Light is one of the biggest influences on our mood. Even if everything is going fine, the short, drab days of winter can leave us feeling sluggish or sad. We’re less than a month away from the shortest day of the year, and the lack of light can be oppressive.
If you can’t afford to move to the tropics, how do you cope?
Here are four ways to cheat the clouds and light up your life — and mood.
You need yoga most on cold, dark days when you just don’t feel like moving. Getting out of bed for morning yoga can be tough, but the practice will energise your body, refresh your mind, and lift your outlook for the entire day. Evening classes are a great way to get a dose of light, warmth, and positive energy, helping you extract more from your day.
Not all light is created equal. You’ve probably heard of seasonal affective disorder (SAD) lamps that give off special, high-power light that mimics sunlight. These are designed to be used for brief periods of time, specifically to treat seasonal mood disorders. For regular use, smart lights such as Ikea’s Tradfri range offer a spectrum of shades. This means you can adjust the light “temperature” for a mood-boosting natural effect.
It is tempting to hide indoors as much as possible this time of year, but it just increases the feeling of being confined and muffled. Bundle up on your lunch break, when daylight is brightest, and go for a walk. Even 15-20 minutes of fresh air and natural light will lift your spirits and help you feel refreshed and energised.
Adding mirrors to your home is a fast, inexpensive way to brighten it up without burning extra electricity. Look around your living room, bedroom and bath for places where a strategically placed mirror will reflect extra light. They will also make your home feel more spacious, which is a mood-enhancer in its own right.
Have a great tip for bringing more light into your life? Share in the comments!
There are probiotic and prebiotic foods. What’s the difference?
Probiotic foods contain friendly bacteria that can help promote health. Prebiotic foods are foods that support the action of probiotics, meaning your body gets more benefits. It sounds a bit confusing, but the point is, the two types of foods are thought to work together to improve your digestion and overall wellness.
According to One Green Planet:
Prebiotic foods are like fuel for good bacteria. They have certain fibrous carbohydrates that nourish the good bacteria to help it to grow. This process helps build a healthy microbiome, which is our defense system against toxins we encounter from animal products, the environment, poor quality tap-water, and common yeast and viruses or other types of fungi.
So, get out your grocery list and make note. Here are six super prebiotic foods to add to your eating plan.
This is the perfect time of year to enjoy lots of fresh, crisp seasonal apples — and it will do your gut a world of good. Apples are rich in a fibre called pectin which feeds good bacteria. They are also high in vitamin C, to help boost your immunity in cold weather.
Everyone’s favourite smoothie starter is also a great prebiotic. Bananas are high in fibre but gentle on the stomach. They are a great source of potassium, making them ideal for topping up your electrolytes after a sweaty hot yoga session. I like to chop up a few ripe bananas and keep them in the freezer to add to smoothies.
The complex starches in beans feed the good bacteria in your gut. Some people find them hard to stomach at first, but you can ease any problems by soaking them overnight and cooking them till they are very soft. One of my favourite ways to eat beans is whizzed up in a dip like hummus, which is even easier to digest.
It’s the main ingredient in sauerkraut and kimchi so it’s no surprise cabbage is good for you, even un-fermented! Shred it up in salad or coleslaw, or add it to hearty autumn soups or stews. You can even use whole leaves to make gluten free wraps.
Garlic & Onions
Garlic and onions have so many health benefits, they should practically be on prescription. Their antibacterial properties help defend your gut against bad bacteria while promoting the growth of good. Yogis also benefit from their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Another autumn staple, sweet potatoes are can be roasted, fried, baked, boiled, mashed or made into crisps. They are packed with soluble fibre which is important for your gut health. Hot yoga fans take note, they are another great source of potassium for post-studio refueling.
Have a seasonal recipe or food tip? Share in the comments!
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Journalist and yoga regular Maroulla Paul wrote a piece about YogaWithPaul for City Solicitor — a magazine for lawyers.
In it, I talked about how yoga teaches us to focus and helps clear our mind.
I see daily the positive impact yoga has on those who practise it. It seems really beneficial for lawyers. It gives them greater clarity, a quality that is essential in their work. In the time they are in a class they have to focus on listening to me, and doing their practice. They can’t think about anything else other than being in the room on the mat. And that means cutting off from their cases and all the decisions they have to make. But they come out strong, refreshed, and more capable of clear thinking.
This is true no matter what you do. Whether arguing legal cases or chasing kids around the house, we all have stress and strain in our lives. Yoga is a healing, energising tool that helps put things in perspective and keep us in balance.
You can read the whole article online at City Solicitor.
How does yoga help you cope with work? Share your thoughts in the comments!
Go deep in your practice with my Bikram masterclass at Bikram Yoga Fleet this Saturday, 20 May, 11AM-1PM.
Come join in! Don’t be intimidated by the term “masterclass” — all levels are welcome and you will benefit no matter where you are in your journey as a yogi.
We will focus on key elements such as the breath that initiates the movement and deepens the posture. We will also explore the bandhas and how important they are to the Hatha yoga practice.
See you then!⠀
I’m partial to chocolate, especially when it comes with added comfort and health benefits! This “Mayan Spiced” vegan hot chocolate is packed with good-for-you ingredients. Chocolate itself is rich in antioxidants; cinnamon helps regulate blood sugar; cayenne has anti-inflammatory properties; coconut milk has medium-chain fatty acids which your body can easily burn for fuel (valuable on chilly winter days!) As a bonus, adding a pinch of salt replenishes electrolytes lost through sweat in the hot room. This is a simple, indulgent treat that is great for your body.
Thanks to Minimalist Baker for the recipe + photo.
Creamy, sultry vegan drinking chocolate made with dairy-free milk, dark chocolate and a blend of Mayan spices. An indulgent, dairy- and -gluten free dessert in 15 minutes.
Cuisine: VeganServes: 4Ingredients
- 2 cups non-dairy milk (I use 1 cup full fat coconut + 1 cup unsweetened almond milk)
- 5 ounces (~1 cup) dairy free dark chocolate, chopped (70% cacao is best)
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp cayenne (more or less, depending on preferred spice)
- Pinch nutmeg (optional)
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 1-2 Tbsp raw cane or coconut sugar (optional)
- Coconut whipped cream for toppingInstructions
- Add coconut and almond milk to a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Add dark chocolate and whisk to combine.
- Add spices and whisk vigorously to combine.
- Once chocolate is completely melted, remove from heat and add vanilla extract. Whisk to combine. Taste and adjust flavors as needed, adding sugar or sweetener of choice if not sweet enough. Add more cayenne for kick.
- To serve, top with coconut whipped cream, a dusting of cocoa or cacao powder (optional), and any additional spices and/or chocolate desired.
- Store leftover drinking chocolate covered in the refrigerator for up to a few days. Freeze for longer term storage, though best when fresh.
Share your favourite winter treat recipe in the comments!
Head-to-knee pose, aka Janushirasana with Paschimotthanasana, is the next-to-last posture in the Bikram sequence. Which makes it easy to check out during, especially if you’re new to the practice and all you can think about is getting to the final sivasana.
There are only 26 postures in Bikram yoga, however, and each one is important and part of the sequence for a reason. Head to Knee has many specific benefits. It is good for digestion, immune system and thyroid, as well as boosting liver and pancreas function. Remember: it is a compression posture, like separate leg head to knee. It has the added benefit of being seated so you don’t have to worry about balance and can concentrate on perfecting the posture. It also provides a fantastic secondary stretch for your back and legs – especially the Achilles tendon and hamstrings.
Here are five tips for getting the most from head to knee pose:
Questions about head to knee posture? Ask in the comments!
The essential practice of Bikram, or any yoga, is simple: never quit.
We all have moments, days, or even weeks sometimes, when we think “I want to quit.” Yoga is too hard. Life is too busy. We have jobs, partners, kids, debts, commitments, houses, pets and our sanity to look after.
Sometimes yoga feels like one more line on a never-ending to do list. In those moments it can be tempting to quit. But yoga teaches us that quitting is not a solution. If we quit yoga when the going gets tough we are putting down the one tool that can help us hack through the jungle of stress and strife and come out smiling on the other side.
Yoga is where we hone our minds and bodies. It is where we return to ourselves. It is where we learn to breathe, be in the moment, and let go of external things. Yoga is also where we find community. Even if we dash in and out of the studio, we spend 90 minutes in a room with people who share positive energy and affirm the power of our practice.
Quitting is a temporary fix, like getting drunk after a bad week. But you wake up with a hangover, and feel worse than before.
If you are truly struggling for time and energy to practice yoga, it is better to modify, adjust, reschedule, or practice at home. Don’t quit on the one thing that will, over time, build a stronger mind, body, and spirit.
Have you ever quit yoga? What did it feel like?