TeaTime Treat: Classic India Spice

In the winter there is nothing better than sipping a hot mug of tea. Today’s TeaTime Treat Yogi’s Classic India Spice is the perfect warming herbal tea for those cool winter days.

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Yogi’s Classic India Spice is a delicious herbal tea blend inspired by traditional Ayurvedic medicine. Ayurveda is a 5000 year old system of natural healing with origins in the Vedic culture in India. Ayurvedic medicine believes that optimal health is when all parts of the body, mind and spirit are balanced. Classic India Spice is a combination of warming spices; ginger, cloves, cinnamon, carob, chicory root, black pepper and more that works to rid the body of toxins while supporting the nervous system.

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There are numerous benefits to drinking Classic India Spice tea due to all the different spices used. Ginger is widely known to decrease feelings of nausea, including discomfort after eating, travel sickness, stomach cramps, bloating and gas. Ginger also boosts circulation, warming you up from the inside! Chicory root has recently become popular as a caffeine-free antioxidant substitute for coffee. It also purifies blood and the liver (supporting good liver health) as well as increases the liver’s production of bile, supporting optimal digestion. Carob also improves digestion, while also lowering cholesterol and fighting osteoporosis (due to high levels of calcium and potassium). Our friend cinnamon works to fight bloat, raise mental awareness, control blood sugar and fight off foreign bacteria! Cinnamon has also been known to improve blood levels of glucose in persons with type 2 diabetes (though it should me mentioned that too much cinnamon could be a bad thing). Like many of the other spices in this tea, clove improves digestion and reduces inflammation. Clove is often used in Ayurvedic medicine as it is antifungal, antibacterial and antiseptic. Clove bud is not just used in pies and black pepper isn’t just used to spice your dinner! Black pepper is high in dietary fiber again aiding with digestion. Black pepper is also an Ayurveda star is it is often used to treat cough and colds. Because there are so many spice superstars in Yogi’s Classic India Spice tea, it shouldn’t be shocking that the tea has antibacterial, antiseptic, antiviral, antioxidant and analgesic properties.

Although Classic India Spice has all these great health benefits, my favourite thing about drinking the tea is how delicious it is! I love winding down after dinner, reading a book and wrapping my hands around a warm delicious mug of tea. The tea smells incredible because of all the lovely spices and I love that it helps my digestion after dinner without riling me up with caffeine!

Have you ever tried Classic India Spice tea? Do you have another favourite you would like to recommend for my next TeaTime Treat? Would you like to read more about Ayurveda? Let me know below and enjoy a cuppa yourself!

Namaste.

(Note: I am not sponsored by Yogi Tea. I was not asked or being compensated to make this post. I purchased the tea with my own money. It is just super yummy!)

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Yoga@Home: Yoga by Candace

Do you ever have those busy (or let’s be honest… lazy) days where you just can’t make it to your yoga studio for your regular class? I’ve had a hard time this week scheduling in my classes so I started doing something that I used to do all the time; yoga flow YouTube videos at home. Full disclosure: before I started a regular studio practice, I practiced at home with the help of these videos several times a week, they are incredible! I have had multiple friends ask me which online teachers I liked because I moved from never having done yoga, to beginner, to intermediate and then playing with advanced poses all through YouTube videos! Because of this, I thought it may be fun to begin a new series called “Yoga@Home” where I could introduce you to all my favourite online yogis!

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Yoga by Candace – Screen-grabbed from: 50 Minute Power Yoga Class for Upper Body and Arm Balances (http://youtu.be/ad6NwWNjLGg)

Today’s channel is the amazing Yoga by Candace. The Yoga by Candace YouTube Channel is full of incredible and fun routines! Candace is one of my favourites lately because her routines tend to be fast paced and challenging! Her YouTube playlists are extremely well set up as she separates her routines not only by length (depending how much time you have), but also by body part, time of day or type of yoga you are interested in practicing. Because of this it’s extremely easy to find something no matter what you are looking for! Candace is a great teacher because she thoroughly explains poses so that you don’t feel confused or risk the chance of injuring yourself. Candace reminds you to “move within a pain free range” and always encourages you to remember that every day is different, to find your healthy edge and not get discouraged if you find yourself struggling one day more than another! Her flow sequences are super creative and different, meaning you don’t feel like you are going through the motions of the same class over and over. Candace provides thoughtful and interesting routines that will revitalize your home practice regardless of your yoga “level”.

Do you practice yoga at home? Are you looking forward to the Yoga@Home series? Let me know how you enjoy Yoga by Candace!

Namaste.

When Life Gives You Lemons…

We are still in the beginning of the New Year, therefore people are still working on their resolutions. Today, I have the perfect simple addition that you can make to your daily morning routine that will bring you loads of health benefits!

When life gives you lemons make… lemon water!

You may drink lemon water already just to jazz up the taste of plain old tap water, but here is why you should heat that water up a bit, drink it in the am (before you eat or drink anything else) and revel in it’s numerous health benefits (psst! there are more than just good hydration!)

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I start my day with a warm cup of lemon water, and you should too! First thing in the morning, I put on my kettle and wait for it to boil while doing my morning yoga routine (just 10-15 minutes) and morning meditation. By the time I’ve completed my other tasks, the water has boiled and I can pour it into a mug with the juice of half (or full – depending on the size) of a fresh lemon! You want your water to be warm – not hot – so I often pop in a few ice cubes to cool it down before taking my first juicy sips!

You may be thinking to yourself, “Great Kait, lemon water but there no chance that I will give up my morning coffee!” Before you dismiss it, take a look at all the ways warm lemon water first thing in the morning will help out your body and your mind!

Warm lemon water first thing in the morning will help cleanse your system. You’ve been in bed for 7-9 hours, and have not been eating or drinking, lemon water will keep your urinary tract healthy by increasing your rate of urination, preventing UTIs and allowing you to eliminate whatever has been building up overnight, keeping you regular. Not only will the lemon water hydrate you, but it will also hydrate your lymph system by replacing lymph fluid lost by the body throughout the day. Lemon water will also stimulate liver function, encouraging it to produce bile which will aid in your digestion once you start eating breakfast. The citric acid found in lemons maximizes enzyme function which aids in cleansing your post-sleeping system. Lemon water effectively flushes toxins from the body, improving any indigestion.

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Your daily morning mug of lemon water will boost your immune system! Lemons (an anti-inflammatory) are high in vitamin C, a vitamin well known to fight pesky colds (especially important in winter!) Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) also promotes healing, drinking your lemon water can even help heal any cuts or wounds you may have! Cool, isn’t it? Also high in potassium, your daily lemon water will also stimulate your brain and nerve function and help you regulate your blood sugar levels. Lemon water will work to strengthen not only your bones, cartilage and connective tissue, but also keep the eyes and brain healthy! Lemon water will remove any build up of uric acid in the joints, relieving any pain or inflammation from the sensitive areas. Had a tough workout the day before? Your warm water will help replenish all the salts lost during your workout and will ease the muscular aches and pains that follow from all your hard work!

Troubled skin? Lemon water can help with that too! No matter what your skincare issue, lemon water is a skin saver! Because lemon water is an antioxidant, it will work hard to combat any free radical damage that might show on your face or other areas. This means, any fine lines or wrinkles will be decreased, along with blemishes or dry spots! Lemon water is also antibacterial and will kill bacteria known to cause acne, leaving your skin fresh and glowing!

Though one may think they are acidic, once they are metabolized, lemons are super alkalizing! What does that mean? Diseases are known to thrive under an acidic environment. Your body’s pH becomes out of whack (and very acidic) after eating lots of unhealthy foods, drinking alcohol, etc. Because lemon water is so alkalizing, it brings your body back into a healthy pH. You can receive these benefits after a night of drinking (I definitely go back for more lemon water after a long night) or you can regularly drink your lemon water and it will constantly work remove that acidity from your body!

Finally, why do you want to start your day with warm lemon water? While lemon water is great to sip throughout the day (especially if you find the taste of plain water bland), drinking it warm first thing in the morning can replace coffee and caffeine from your morning routine! Think about it, if you are exercising regularly and sleeping enough hours that your body is well rested, you really do not need caffeine in the morning, it may just be an addiction! Drinking a warm mug of lemon water will give the body the same cozy feeling as wrapping your hands around a large mug of coffee! Lemon’s scent is known to energize the body, wake up the mind and lift one’s mood! Once digested, lemon water can actually provide energy to the body! It’s true! Not only that, but lemon can reduce feelings of anxiety, depression and dread which will help start your day on the right path! If you are so looking forward to your day that you forget to brush your teeth before running out the door, don’t worry! That lemon water will not only freshen your breath, but also lessen any tooth pain and prevent gingivitis! However, do not brush your teeth immediately after drinking lemon water, the acidity can hurt tooth enamel. Instead, wait until after eating breakfast, or drink and swish a large glass of water around your mouth before brushing!

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It’s obvious now that you should be starting your day with a big warm glass of lemon water! Make it a habit! Starting your day on a healthy note will help you make smart choices throughout the day! Cut out the coffee and enjoy your fresh skin, quick mind and uplifted mood!

Do you start your day with a warm glass of lemon water? Have I inspired you to kick the caffeine?

Namaste.

(Note: I’m not sponsored by lemons… they’re just awesome 😉 )

An Aloe Miracle: Review of The Body Shop Aloe Products

If you’ve read my Natural Nighttime Routine, then you may know that while the rest of my skincare routine is pretty precise, I have yet to stumble upon a holy grail nighttime cleanser. I like to use something gentle enough to soothe my sensitive skin but strong enough to remove any makeup and impurities left over from the day. While Christmas shopping last month, I stumbled into a Body Shop for the first time in ages and picked up two of their products for sensitive skin from the Aloe Vera Line; Aloe Calming Facial Cleanser ($14.50/200mL) and the Aloe Gentle Exfoliator ($15.00/75mL). They were buy one get one free and I figured why not test them out!

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Aloe vera comes from a short stemmed bush-like plant with thick leaves. The aloe vera that is used in our skincare is found within these leaves! One may cut open one of these leaves to find a cool gel inside; our miracle ingredient, aloe! You may be familiar with aloe as a soothing balm for after a sunburn, this is because the aloe gel is extremely cooling! Aloe has been used in herbal medicine for thousands of years because it has numerous beneficial properties depending how it is used! Today however, we will focus on skincare… Aloe is incredible for dry and sensitive skin! Aloe is hypoallergenic so it will not aggravate psoriasis, eczema or other dry spots and flakes! In fact, aloe removes dead skin cells while reducing inflammation and redness! Aloe vera contains hormones (axim and gibberellins) and anti-oxidants (vitamins C, E and beta-carotene) that actively firm skin, keep it hydrated and prevent breakouts. Not only that, but applied to the skin aloe can actually restore the skin’s natural pH balance and provide oxygen and moisture to under-loved skin cells!

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I first started using the Aloe Calming Facial Cleanser mid-December. My skin was looking pretty good pre-holiday craziness and I had nothing to worry about other than my skin’s notorious sensitivity. I began using this cleanser at night, after removing all makeup with Garnier Clear + Nourishing Cleansing Oil. I felt that the cleanser did a great job at removing any excess makeup while also being quite gentle. The Aloe Calming Facial Cleanser is quite odourless, if anything there is a small “fresh” smell, nothing offensive or scary to those with sensitivities. I noticed after using this cleanser for about a week that my skin looked extremely bright and clear which was fantastic! I continued to use the cleanser throughout the Christmas holiday and in fact, swapped out my rougher morning cleanser for this after my skin started showing lots of wear and tear from the constant large meals, sweets and alcohol over the holidays!

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After loving the Calming Facial Cleanser, I began playing around with the Aloe Gentle Exfoliator. As a rule, I tend to shy away from exfoliators that may strip my skin of what little moisture it naturally has, but decided to go ahead and try this after having so much success with the cleanser. I do not use the exfoliator nightly, I tend to use it 2-3 times a week depending on what my skin needs. I found that this Body Shop Aloe Gentle Exfoliator was exactly that, gentle. I was extremely pleased to learn that the microbeads in this exfoliator are made from jojoba oil, meaning they aren’t the damaging plastic beads that find themselves in our oceans! These microbeads are environmentally safe and fantastic at lightly scrubbing away dry and flaky skin.

After the holidays my skin reacted quite badly, I had eczema all over my eyelids and the entire eye area, on my forehead, neck, nose and cheeks. That redness remained for 3 days, but throughout the entire time, I was able to use the Calming Facial Cleanser to cool down my skin and calm the burning, itching feeling. After the redness went away, I was left with dry patches that began to peel. It was then that I turned to my Gentle Exfoliator and would calmly scrub those unsightly patches nightly. I often find products that tote themselves as being for sensitive skin, only to bring them home and have them react. I was extremely pleasantly surprised to find that these two products from The Body Shop lived up to their name!

Though these products did not react with my skin, I have found myself frustrated with the Calming Facial Cleanser as it is in by far the worst packaging possible! The Facial Cleanser is quite thick and moisturizing but is packaged in a right-side-up squeeze bottle made of extremely tough plastic. I’m about a quarter or third through the product and am already having to fight with the bottle to squeeze the product into my hands. The cleanser should have been packaged into a pump bottle or a squeeze bottle similar to that of the gentle exfoliator.

On a whole I was extremely pleased and surprised by how gentle and fantastic these products were on my skin! I wholly believe that they sped up the healing process with my temperamental skin after the holidays and continue to greatly improve the look of my skin every time that I use them! I swear I feel like my skin is glowing! The only issues that I found were the aforementioned packaging of the Calming Facial Cleanser and that I didn’t love all the chemicals in the ingredients list (though there were no parabens, which I like).

The Body Shop has a full Aloe Vera skincare line for sensitive skin and I am looking forward to trying some more of their products! I would highly recommend The Body Shop’s Aloe Foaming Facial Cleanser and Aloe Gentle Exfoliator if you have eczema, psoriasis, redness or any type of skin sensitivity!

Have you tried any of The Body Shop’s Aloe line? Is there something else from this line that you would recommend to me? Do you enjoy these reviews? Let me know!

Namaste.

(Note: I purchased The Body Shop Aloe Foaming Facial Cleanser and Aloe Gentle Exfoliator with my own money. I was not asked to make a review, I am not being compensated for my review. I do not work for The Body Shop in any capacity. This review is my own opinion.)

Meditation Proclamation!

When my yoga practice became a daily one and restorative yoga became such an important part of my practice, it was only natural for the next step in my routine to be a daily meditation. From the rhythmic breathing through asanas in flow classes to the five minute savasana, yoga and meditation go hand in hand.

I began my daily meditation with the coming of the New Year. Though I practice restorative yoga at least twice a week, I never thought to slow down and meditate… I just didn’t think that I would be able to do it as my mind travels a mile a minute. However, with meditation becoming a booming presence throughout the world and the health benefits showing up in magazines, on television and obviously in the yoga studio, I felt that it was time for me to get into the swing of things.

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As it turns out, meditation isn’t as difficult as I thought it would be, I just needed to find my way of meditating. There are numerous different ways of beginning a meditative practice; mindfulness, repeating mantras, focusing on the breath, practicing a body scan or guiding the mind through imagery. Mindfulness is the focus of the mind on the present. Instead of worrying about the past or fretting for the future, you pay attention to the now. Repeating mantras can be done with mala beads (Buddhist/Hindu prayer beads with 108 beads, used to count the number of times the mantra has been repeated) or simply to oneself. Mantras can be whatever you need for the day, you can say “I am strong”, “I am focused” or “I am light” or you can simply chant (“Om/Aum”, or another mantra of your choosing). Focusing on the breath is just as it sounds, you pay attention to the breath entering and leaving the body. Body scans and guided imagery can both be practiced by following a recording (there are many apps, albums and YouTube videos available to help guide you through these meditations) or you can practice by oneself. I practice body scan meditation in a guided restorative class on Saturday mornings, but most of the time I have found that breath focus and mindfulness are the meditative practices that work the best for me! You can test out all these different types of meditation to discover which one(s) work the best for your practice!

The key to beginning a daily meditation is to start small. My personal goal is to be meditating for 20 minutes in the morning and 20 minutes before bed, however that is definitely not where I am starting. I began my meditation with 5 minutes in the morning. That’s it! You can do it too! Afterwards, we build from there. After practicing daily for 5 minutes in the morning, I will work to 5 minutes at night, then to 6 minutes each, 7 minutes… Adding a minute every other week until I have worked up to my goal! It is so simple and not threatening if you break your goal into baby steps!

Another thing to remember when starting a meditative practice is that the mind will wander. While the “goal” of meditation is to be free of thought, do not worry if the mind floats from thought to thought, gently guide it back to the practice that you have chosen and you are succeeding at meditating!

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Once you have decided to bring meditation into your life, it is time to set up your meditative space! As you can see mine is quite simple, a couch cushion on my yoga mat after my morning yoga practice. You do not need anything fancy, though if you feel that you would like something a bit more special, there are numerous websites to purchase beautiful meditation cushions online! Once you have found a quiet place to meditate, you want to sit as comfortably as possible. You can sit on the ground, in a chair, wherever you feel that you will be able to sit calmly for your designated amount of time (it helps to keep a timer so that you are not constantly opening your eyes to check the clock). I choose to sit on the floor in half lotus position with my hands upright on my knees if I need help receiving energy, facing down if I need grounding or upright in a mudra (Buddhist/Hindu ritual gesture of the hands and fingers, common in meditation) if I need something a little bit more that day! Once you are comfortable, sit up straight, gently close your eyes or soften your gaze, unclench your jaw, peel your tongue from the roof of your mouth and focus on your chosen type of meditation. Breathe in and breathe out. Great! You’re meditating!

There are numerous benefits to meditating that range from physical to mental to spiritual to all around lifestyle! Physically, meditation improves heart health (by lowering blood pressure, cholesterol and the risk of cardiovascular disease) and benefits immune health. Meditation also works as an anti-inflammatory which in turn decreases tension pain, providing relief for such problems as insomnia, muscle pain and even headaches! A regular meditation practice can soothe chronic problems such as allergies and even asthma by improving air flow into the lungs! By improving blood flow throughout the body and systematically slowing the heart rate and relaxing the nervous system, meditation causes the body to go into further levels of physical (and mental) relaxation, meaning less energy wasted while moving about your day! Less energy wasted means more strength, energy and improved performance in your day-to-day and even your yoga practice! Finally, meditation aids the body physically by coordinating the endocrine system (responsible for hormone control), balancing weight and slowing the aging process!

Though meditation can do a lot for us physically, the mental benefits to meditation are even more fantastic! A continual meditation practice will work wonders against stress! Stress is a monster to the body and mind and meditation both removes stress from the system and prevents it from re-entering. There is a decrease in overall anxiety (including a restless mind and constant worry) when practicing meditation regularly, as meditation lowers levels of blood lactate! Meditation also improves concentration, mental clarity, emotional stability, creativity and overall happiness and sense of well being! Meditation will also help you develop will power (some have used mindful meditation as a way to kick a cigarette addiction!), strengthen your intuition, memory (by fortifying the communication pathways between brain hemispheres), focus, listening skills and even empathy! Meditation can also lessen the need for sleep! Though I strongly believe in the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep a night, meditation can help you function if you tend to oversleep and has even been shown to help cure insomnia!

Overall, meditation is definitely something phenomenal! There are many improvements that you won’t necessarily be able to “see” but there are so many changes that will be made to your everyday lifestyle! Meditation will help encourage you to make other healthy choices in your life! Meditation will improve your base levels of happiness, increase your self-awareness, tolerance and maturity! You will have a much easier time keeping things in perspective (no more frustrated anger when something doesn’t go your way!). Meditation will help you look inwards, you will feel a sense of one-ness, an understanding of yourself that you perhaps didn’t have before you started a daily meditative practice! You will also have a higher understanding of those around you, you will feel a change in attitude, perhaps a feeling of being enlightened! Meditation unites all parts of oneself, the body, the mind and the spirit just as yoga and moving in the asanas does!

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As you can see, the benefits to developing a daily meditation practice are many and guess what? There are absolutely no side effects! Meditation is free, you need no fancy equipment or things, you just need yourself! There is no “right” or “wrong” way to meditate, there is only your way!

I have fallen in love with meditation as it naturally goes hand-in-hand with my yoga practice. Together, these practices have benefitted my life in a way that I could not explain in one post. I enjoy meditating because it allows me to be mindful in the everyday. When I find myself anxious for the future, or upset about the past I remember to live in the moment. That those moments have either happened, or won’t and that happiness is in the here and now! Yoga and meditation have helped me see my purpose, they have helped me feel a harmony in my life and have greatly improved my self confidence and sense of self!

I greatly encourage you to try meditating if you have not already! You will not regret it!

Namaste.

Welcoming the New Year!

The turning into a new year is always a time for reflection. Looking back on the year that has passed and gazing forward to what may come. While in yoga, meditation and life it is important to remain in the moment, the new year is a good time to set goals and review what you could improve from the year before.

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I had a really great 2014! My partner and I have been living together for over 3 years, our cats are healthy and we are happy! I found out my passions in life, yoga and living holistically and took the steps to make these passions my careers! I began this blog, applied (and got accepted) to a 200hr yoga teacher training program, made new friends, achieved huge yoga goals I never thought were possible and became happier and happier with each passing day!

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If you have never set new year’s goals, this just may be the year to start! Goals are not necessarily the same as resolutions, you aren’t aiming to change anything about yourself, rather you are pushing yourself to achieve something new! I think one thing that is very important while setting goals is to pay attention to what is achievable and what is not, you do not want to disappoint yourself or get down on yourself if you cannot accomplish something that is too “lofty”. You can also break down goals into smaller mini-goals. There is no elevator to the top, only stairs!

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If you do choose to make resolutions, don’t worry about making them life-changing, work towards making them life-improving. For 2014, my resolutions was to wear sunscreen every day! This year’s resolution is to meditate for 5 minutes every day. Eventually, I’d like to be able to meditate for 20 minutes, but this is a good example of breaking down goals into mini-goals.

Remember that resolutions, goals and reflection don’t just have to happen once a year. You can make positive changes whenever you see that they are necessary!

With that being said, some great things that you can do to improve your 2015 are to drink warm lemon water every morning, write down in a journal a few things every day that you are grateful for (try to think of things big and small, find the beauty in the day to day), try and practice yoga every morning for at least 10 mins, practice mindfulness and make healthy food choices (always leave a little room for a splurge… see my belated birthday dinner below).

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I will be bringing you posts all about healthy goals and improvements for the new year in January and have many posts ready for the new year! However, I’d like to know what you would like to see on this blog. Do you have any suggestions? Any idea for posts? How was your 2014? Are you looking forward to 2015? Or have any goals/resolutions? I cannot wait to hear from you and hope that your 2015 will be spectacular!

Namaste.