Yoga@Home: Yoga & Life with Becca

Next in my Yoga@Home series is fellow Canadian, Yoga & Life with Becca!

Yoga & Life with Becca - Screengrabbed from 25min Happy Hips Vinyasa Yoga Flow (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4L8Ckm_41RY)

Yoga & Life with Becca – Screengrabbed from 25min Happy Hips Vinyasa Yoga Flow (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4L8Ckm_41RY)

Though Becca isn’t as consistent at uploading as some other Yoga YouTubers, her flows are designed in a way that are completely unique and incomparable to other instructors. Becca designs interesting flows where she combined asanas in a way I could never imagine, which makes practicing with her constantly refreshing and fun!

Unfortunately, she doesn’t have pre-designed playlists so you have to sift through her many videos to find what you would like to do, however each video is titled with the length of the video and the type of practice it will be. Becca not only posts short 10min flows (like 10min Flow for Butt & Legs) but also films her full length in-studio classes, so you can get an in-studio type of practice from your own home! Not only that but she breaks down difficult poses into isolation and teaches them thoroughly so you can safely practice them at home (for example, headstand). Finally, she often leads retreats and will film flows from the gorgeous and exotic locations, making you feel like you’re on a retreat with her.

Another reason I love Becca is that she is constantly uploading inspirational videos that help with staying positive and true to yourself.

I urge you to check out her YouTube channel and play around with some fun and creative flows with Becca!

Namaste.

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Natarajasana (Dancer's Pose) - Om Shanti Life

Natarajasana (Dancer’s Pose) – Om Shanti Life

If you’re enjoying what I’ve been posting here maybe you’d like to follow me on social media!

I update my Instagram and Twitter daily and Pinterest weekly.

I’ve been updating my Instagram with lots of yoga poses, yummy food and daily holistic fun! I post inspirational messages, link to interesting natural articles and website. Pinterest has tons of healthy recipes, yoga inspiration and natural DIY.

Let me know what you’d like to see on the blog! What are you liking? What could be improved upon? What do you want to see more of?

Namaste.

Opening the Heart Chakra: Practicing Back Bends

Backbends; they may seem exclusive to contortionists, but not only can you practice them, you should be practicing them as they’re extremely beneficial! If you’ve read my Welcome page, then you may know I have back problems; six slipped discs to be exact! Because of this, backbends are definitely my weakness in yoga class but instead of avoiding them, I try to practice as much as possible because every backbend brings tons of benefits!

Dwi Pada Viparita Dandasana (Upward Facing Two-Foot Staff Pose) - Om Shanti Life

Dwi Pada Viparita Dandasana (Upward Facing Two-Foot Staff Pose) – Om Shanti Life

There are three types of backbends; traction, contraction and leverage. Traction backbends are when you use gravity to pull you into the bend, your front body remaining active. Ustrasana (camel pose) and urdhva dhanurasana (wheel pose) are great examples of traction backbends. Contraction backbends are the opposite. Usually, contraction backbends occur while you are laying on your stomach, your back body activates pulling you off the ground. Salabhasana (locust pose) is a contraction backbends. Finally we have leverage backbends. Leverage backbends are named so because you use the strength from your limbs to help further pull you into the bend, such as danurasana (bow pose) and bhujangasana (cobra pose).

Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose) - Om Shanti Life

Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose) – Om Shanti Life

Salabhasana (Locust Pose)  - Om Shanti Life

Salabhasana (Locust Pose) – Om Shanti Life

Now that you know about the different types of backbends, you’ll want to know why you should be practicing them! It’s a fact of life that we spend a lot of time hunching and turning inwards. We’re sitting at our desks looking at screens, craning our neck down to play iPhone games on our daily commutes, curling inwards to avoid the cold winter, most of the day is spent hunched forward! It may seem natural for the spine to move into forward bends, but a daily backbend reverses the effects of this hunching, opening us up and making us available to the world around us. All that hunching means that most of us are walking around with some sort of pain, regularly practicing backbends can alleviate that back pain by bringing a rush of new blood and flexibility to the affected areas. Backbends aren’t only beneficial physically but mentally as well. BKS Iyengar believed back-bending to be a remedy for depression and would recommend them not only as cure for sadness, but also would suggest them to open up the front body and heart. Stretching the heart (as we naturally do in a backbend) releases all kinds of tension and emotion and even releases a flood of natural painkillers into the bloodstream! Backbends not only help to improve posture and ease pain but they build lots of strength in the back body, stretch the hip flexors and chest, build flexibility in the spine, ease symptoms of insomnia to let you sleep and help with mood disorders such as anxiety and stress!

Ustrasana (Camel Pose) - Om Shanti Life

Ustrasana (Camel Pose) – Om Shanti Life

When we bend backwards, we naturally broaden across the chest and open up the heart chakra. The heart chakra (or anahata) is the fourth chakra, located in the middle of the chest. When the heart chakra is blocked you can feel shy, unworthy of love and alone; pretty unpleasant feelings! Opening up the heart chakra opens you up to the idea and possibility of love! Clearly backbends open us up to a flood of emotions. It is not uncommon to find a wild release of anger, frustration, sadness when working within a backbend practice. This is natural and you don’t want those feelings bottled up inside anyhow!

Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (Upward Facing Dog Pose) - Om Shanti Life

Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (Upward Facing Dog Pose) – Om Shanti Life

Urdhva Dhanurasana (Wheel Pose) - Om Shanti Life

Urdhva Dhanurasana (Wheel Pose) – Om Shanti Life

Backbends are great to practice because spinal health is such an important thing! Though backbends are an excellent and important addition to your practice, it is always important to work within a pain-free range (especially if you have back problems!) Pushing or pulling or forcing yourself into poses that you aren’t ready for is a recipe for disaster. Be safe! Make sure you are ready to backbend before jumping into them! And speaking from experience, make sure your mat is nice and sticky! (I attempted urdhva dhanurasana while breaking in my new Manduka Pro mat, it was too slippery and I fell on my head!) Always begin a back bending practice after your body is nice and warm! Practice some cat/cows, twists and gentle back bends before trying more advanced poses. Remember also to have fun!

Namaste.

(Note: If you are new to the practice or new to backbends, work with a yoga teacher and check with your doctor. Though I’m starting my teacher training in May [!!] I’m not a professional [yet]. Be safe! Listen to your body! Have fun!)

If 2 ingredients are good, then 3 are better! Delicious, easy-to-make pancakes!

One thing I love to do when I have some time on my hands is search the internet for healthy updates of favourite foods. I have tried everything; chocolate avocado pudding (amazing), cauliflower mac and nutritional yeast “cheese” (decent), banana nice-cream (the best!). If you can name it, I have tried it, which is why 2 ingredient pancakes really piqued my interest! You may have seen this recipe floating around; pancakes made with just one banana and an egg. I tried this recipe multiple times and kept ending up with scrambled banana mush, it was gross. Now I love finding recipes, and then tweaking them to fit my tastes but nothing was working with these darn pancakes! I tried baking powder, adding berries to give more flavour but I kept ending up with an ugly, unappetizing mess. Until now! The key: oats!

3 Ingredient Pancakes - Om Shanti Life

3 Ingredient Pancakes – Om Shanti Life

3 Ingredient Pancakes - Om Shanti Life

3 Ingredient Pancakes – Om Shanti Life

Oats are great because they provide tons of heart healthy fiber, protein and little fat. They will keep you full for longer, protect from heart disease and keep your blood sugar nice and steady. They cause the pancakes to lightly fluff up, keeping a regular pancake-like consistency and prevent scrambled banana mush from happening.

The recipe itself isn’t much of a recipe!

3 Ingredient Pancakes - Om Shanti Life

3 Ingredient Pancakes – Om Shanti Life

For 4 servings (3 pancakes a serving) you will need:

– 4 eggs

– 4 bananas

– 1 cup oats

3 Ingredient Pancakes - Om Shanti Life

3 Ingredient Pancakes – Om Shanti Life

3 Ingredient Pancakes - Om Shanti Life

3 Ingredient Pancakes – Om Shanti Life

1) Heat your skillet to medium-high and lightly coat with coconut oil (or non-stick spray).

2) Throw your ingredients into a blender or mash them by hand until there are no lumps.

3) Add in any extras (blueberries, goji berries, cacao nibs, etc).

4) Spoon pancake mixture onto skillet. After a few minutes (3-5mins) the pancakes will be ready to flip. Make sure they’re cooked enough to be flipped in one piece (I have ruined many pancakes by being too eager!)

5) Cook on other side for 2 mins and you’re ready to eat!

3 Ingredient Pancakes - Om Shanti Life

3 Ingredient Pancakes – Om Shanti Life

I love topping my pancakes with a little cinnamon and maple syrup but have been known to put a dollop of organic 100% peanut butter in between the pancakes and let it melt! A delicious combination of salty and sweet!

What are your favourite pancake toppings? Do you like to add blueberries like I do? Let me know how much you enjoy these light, fluffy and healthy 3 Ingredient Pancakes!

Namaste.

Yoga@Home: Lesley Fightmaster Yoga

If you are familiar with my Yoga@Home series or are a regular practicing yogi, then you know sometimes you cannot make it to your studio. Maybe you are having a very busy day, other times you may want to have more control over your practice (What will your peak pose be? How much time do you have to practice?) than you would taking a class in studio. YouTube channels lead by regular yoga teachers are a great way of trying new things and learning more about your practice. You’ll have time to press pause and try poses over and over, and if you fall out of a pose, no sweat! Get back up and try again! Today with Yoga@Home, I’m sharing with you Lesley Fightmaster.

Lesley Fightmaster - Screengrabbed from: Yoga with Contentment (Santosha) Day 73 Yoga Fix 90 with Lesley Fightmaster (https://youtu.be/RlDeut3umos)

Lesley Fightmaster – Screengrabbed from: Yoga with Contentment (Santosha) Day 73 Yoga Fix 90 with Lesley Fightmaster (https://youtu.be/RlDeut3umos)

Lesley Fightmaster’s YouTube channel is incredible, she has numerous different videos broken into well organized playlists so you can find anything you could possibly want! The playlists range from beginner to intermediate with more advanced flows under a full playlist for inversions! So fun! Many YouTube yogis shy away from including headstands, handstands and forearm stands from their practice, but with Lesley Fightmaster’s smart cues and encouragement to begin by a wall, you’ll find yourself upside down in no time!

Lesley Fightmaster is a committed yogi, she is currently finishing up a program called Yoga Fix 90 where she has released a video a day of different yoga routines. There are power yoga routines, fun play-time classes and yin yoga for relaxing! With 90 videos in just one playlist you know that you will not run out of different asanas and flows to practice!

One of my absolute favourite things about Lesley Fightmaster’s videos are her complete post-practice savasana. While other YouTubers guide you into savasana then end their video, Lesley Fightmaster includes a full savasana at the end of each class! These savasanas are accompanied by a quote that pertain to the just finished practice and help you finish feeling refreshed, calm and accomplished! This small detail may be something you didn’t realize you needed, but make what is an online class feel so much more personal!

I encourage you to try Lesley Fightmaster’s online yoga practices at your earliest chance. Try those advanced poses! You may find out that an asana you thought was out of reach is right there. Remember, you can always press pause and play as much as you want!

Do you enjoy practicing yoga on YouTube when you cannot make it to the studio? Which videos do you love?

Namaste.

Sweet & Spicy Chicken Stir Fry

Stir frys are a delicious, simple, (nearly) one pan dinner. They’re a good way of finishing any vegetables that may be nearing their expiration and piling veggies into a yummy meal. Stir frys are super customizable, you can use any type of protein you like, any vegetables or greens you love and can use any sauce you can think of!

Today I’m sharing with you a super flavourful Sweet & Spicy sauce for your favourite stir fry!

Sweet & Spicy Chicken Stir Fry - Om Shanti Life

Sweet & Spicy Chicken Stir Fry – Om Shanti Life

You only need six ingredients (that you probably already have in your cupboard) for this sauce.

Sweet & Spicy Chicken Stir Fry Sauce Ingredients - Om Shanti Life

Sweet & Spicy Chicken Stir Fry Sauce Ingredients – Om Shanti Life

– 3 tbsp sesame oil (or olive oil)

– 3 tbsp tamari (or soy sauce)

– 2 tsp honey

 – 2 tsp ground ginger

– 1/2 – 1 tsp crushed red pepper (use your best discretion, 1 tsp is spicy)

– 3 cloves crushed garlic

1) Measure out all ingredients into a bowl and whisk until they’re all mixed.

Now, you can marinate your protein or veggies in this sauce and add to your favourite stir fry or you can give this Sweet & Spicy Chicken Stir Fry a try!

Sweet & Spicy Chicken Stir Fry - Om Shanti Life

Sweet & Spicy Chicken Stir Fry – Om Shanti Life

For two servings you will need;

– 1 large chicken breast

– 1/2 ea red, orange and yellow pepper

– 1/2 red onion

– 1 carrot

– 1/2 cup wild rice (or noodles if you prefer)

– green onion & sesame seeds (optional topping)

Sweet & Spicy Chicken Stir Fry Veggies - Om Shanti Life

Sweet & Spicy Chicken Stir Fry Veggies – Om Shanti Life

1) Bring a wok or large frying pan (coated with a bit of oil) to medium-high heat on the stove.

2) Begin cooking rice or brining a pot of water to boil for noodles. Cook according to box instructions.

3) Cut vegetables into match-stick pieces.

4) Put onions and carrots into the wok. Set peppers aside.

5) Cut chicken breast into bite-sized pieces.

6) Once the onions and carrots have softened (about 5 minutes), add your chicken. You may have to add a bit more oil. Allow chicken to brown on all sides.

7) Add peppers. Cook another 2 minutes.

8) Add your sauce. Stir your stir fry so that everything is evenly coated.

9) Bring the stove down to medium heat and continue cooking until the sauce has been fully absorbed. About 10 minutes. Make sure you are watching your stir fry and continuing to stir so that chicken cooks through and vegetables do not burn.

Sweet & Spicy Chicken Stir Fry - Om Shanti Life

Sweet & Spicy Chicken Stir Fry – Om Shanti Life

10) Once your sauce has been absorbed and your rice (or noodles) are done cooking your dish is ready to serve! Spoon rice into bowls and top with chicken and veggie mixture.

Sweet & Spicy Chicken Stir Fry - Om Shanti Life

Sweet & Spicy Chicken Stir Fry – Om Shanti Life

11) Now you can add any of your favourite toppings. I used chopped green onion and sesame seeds for a little extra flavour.

Sweet & Sour Chicken Stir Fry - Om Shanti Life

Sweet & Sour Chicken Stir Fry – Om Shanti Life

Now all there is left to do is enjoy!

This sauce works nicely with a beef, broccoli and snap pea stir fry as well!

Let me know if you enjoy this recipe! What’s your favourite stir fry combination?

Namaste.

Quick Healthy Tip: Turn Workouts into Play Time

Today’s Quick Healthy Tip may seem like a no-brainer but it bears repeating; find a workout that you love! We know there are numerous benefits to regular exercise; increased energy levels, better sleep, improved mood, better self-esteem, boosted immunity, the list goes on and on… So why aren’t you exercising regularly? Maybe it’s because you aren’t motivated by your workout!

Visvamitrasana - Om Shanti Life

Visvamitrasana – Om Shanti Life

If you’ve read my “about me“, then you may know that I grew up figure skating competitively. However, when an injury took me out of the game, my health, fitness and self-esteem took a plummet. I toyed around with so many different workouts knowing that I had to start moving my body, but not knowing what I wanted to do! I tried HIIT, zumba, kettlebells, weightlifting! Anything and everything I could think of that may be fun, guess what? I hated all of it. I had been practicing yoga regularly at a beginner level and realized how much I loved it, so instead of practicing the same routines and the same asanas, I decided to begin pushing myself. One day I woke up and decided I was going to work on headstand, so I brought my mat to the wall and did a headstand. That was the spark of my true love for exercise re-igniting.

Enclosed Egg Headstand - Om Shanti Life

Enclosed Egg Headstand – Om Shanti Life

Look for clues from your childhood, what games or sports did you like to play? Once I started practicing daily, I realized how natural of a fit yoga was into my life! The main components of the physical yoga practice are balance, strength and flexibility all the same important components of my daily figure skating! Make this work for you! Did you love playing soccer growing up? Try signing up for a neighbourhood league. Did you enjoy karate? See if your local gym offers muay thai! Not everyone loves lifting weights! And if you do, that’s okay too! Find what works for you!

Natarajasana Variation - Om Shanti Life

Natarajasana Variation – Om Shanti Life

Once I began regularly practicing yoga, I realized it was time for me to add cardio back into my routine. Inspired by friends who always seemed to have just come back from a jog, I decided to try running… I loathed it! I pushed myself to run for 6 months before I knew it was time to start something new, so I looked into spinning and fell in love. Like yoga and figure skating, I loved that spin class intervals were similar to the sprints I would do in middle and high school track and field.

Side Plank Variation - Om Shanti Life

Side Plank Variation – Om Shanti Life

Play around with exercise and turn it from a chore into something that you look forward to! Do not be afraid to try different classes (many gyms and studios offer discounted rates for first-timers), to get sweaty or to look silly, that’s what makes it fun! When you find yourself humming in anticipation for your next workout and you’re smiling despite working hard, feeling workout discomfort and sweating like a pig, then you know you have made the right choice! There is no one size fits all! Find what you love, practice often and reap the rewards!

Let me know what you’re favourite exercises are!

Namaste.

Himalayan Salt Lamps: Purifying the Air You Breathe

Nowadays we are surrounded by screens. Our phones are no longer just phones, they’re lifelines with games, photos and apps. We wake up and watch the news. We read articles on our computers or iPads. These screens and other electronics are essential to our everyday lives, but do we stop to think how they affect the quality of our air?

Computers, phones, televisions, microwaves, even vacuums (!!) are devices that emit positive ions when in use. Thinking back to high school chemistry, we know that positive ions (or cations) occur when electrically charged atoms lose an electron. In our environment, positive ions pose a danger because they can cause feelings of excess stress, nervousness, problems sleeping and concentrating as well as free radical damage (an excess of free radicals can lead to diseases such as cancer). Airborne moulds, infections, allergens and bacterias are known to carry a positive charge!

We know that this cannot be good for our bodies, so how do we prevent positive ions from flooding our space? Himalayan salt lamps!

Himalayan Salt Lamp - omshantilife.wordpress.com

Himalayan salt lamps are lamps made from large pieces of himalayan salt! Yes, the same pinkish salt that you may use at the dinner table! Himalayan salt is mined in Pakistan and these large pieces are slightly hollowed out (to allow for a bulb) and used for their incredible healing powers! We know that positive ions are bad for us, so it shouldn’t be surprising then that negative ions are good! Negative ions occur naturally in waterfalls, ocean waves, sunlight, lightning and even wind. Have you ever noticed the feeling of utter calm serenity during a warm summer breeze or on a day at the beach? That would be those negative ions at play.

Himalayan salt lamps are negative ion generators (this is why you want to assure that you have a pure Himalayan salt lamp instead of a cheap imposter), they work to cleanse the air by emitting negative ions that bond to positive ones, effectively neutralizing the air. Salt naturally attracts water to it’s surface (that’s why salt lamps can appear almost wet in moist environments), the light warms the water enough to evaporate off of the salt and this evaporation process is when the production of negative ions occurs.

Himalayan salt lamps are great to have all over your home and office, anywhere you have lots of electronics muddying your air. I like to keep mine by my work space and choose to keep it on all day to maximize the benefits. Another great place to keep a salt lamp is in a bedroom or child’s play room. The great thing about Himalayan salt lamps is their relatively low cost. You can also find Himalayan salt candle holders, which provide the same benefits, with the addition of gentle candlelight. Himalayan salt lamps promote a healthy immune system, improved health and wellness and feelings of calm and renewal. Not only that, but they look like little sculptures! Why not fill your home with them?

Himalayan Salt Lamp - omshantilife.wordpress.com

Do you use Himalayan Salt Lamps? Do you enjoy and feel their feelings of renewal and overall wellness?

Namaste.

Spicy Roasted Pepper Pasta

Today I want to share with you a delicious Spicy Roasted Pepper Pasta! A delightful dish that is great for hiding vegetables from fussy children or sneaking veggies into your dinner on a day when you’re craving pasta! The combination of roasted peppers, veggies, spices, pasta and greek yogurt makes for a balanced meal full of protein, healthy fiber, spicy metabolism boosters and essential vitamins. The best part of this meal is how easy it is to make!

This recipe provides enough sauce for 4 servings. It will take 50 mins to make.

Spicy Roasted Pepper Pasta - omshantilife.wordpress.com

Spicy Roasted Pepper Pasta with Spinach – http://www.omshantilife.wordpress.com

You will need;

– 4 large peppers (red, orange or yellow)

– 1/2 onion

– 2 cloves garlic

– 1/4 cup plain greek yogurt

– 1/4 cup olive oil

– 1 tbsp red pepper flakes

– 1 tsp dried parsley

– salt and pepper to taste

– 4 servings whole wheat pasta (or rice pasta)

– 1/4 cup nutritional yeast, goat cheese or parmesan cheese*

– 2 cups spinach*

(* optional toppings)

Olive Oil, Roasted Peppers, Onion & Garlic for Spicy Roasted Pepper Pasta - www.omshantilife.wordpress.com

Olive Oil, Roasted Peppers, Onion & Garlic for Spicy Roasted Pepper Pasta – http://www.omshantilife.wordpress.com

Greek Yogurt, Dried Parsley, Red Pepper Flakes, Black Pepper for Spicy Roasted Pepper Pasta - www.omshantilife.wordpress.com

Greek Yogurt, Dried Parsley, Red Pepper Flakes, Black Pepper for Spicy Roasted Pepper Pasta – http://www.omshantilife.wordpress.com

1) Start by preheating your oven to 400F/200C.

2) Lightly grease a baking sheet, put peppers on sheet and roast in oven for 30-40 mins. You will know they are done when their skin is blistered. It does’t matter if the skin looks slightly blackened.

3) Begin boiling a large pot of water for pasta.

4) Allow peppers to cool. While the peppers are cooling, heat up skillet on mid-high heat with some olive oil. Chop up onion, and garlic and sauté until onions are translucent (about 5 minutes).

5) Cook pasta according to box instructions.

6) Now that your onions are cooked through, take them off the element and allow them to cool down. Start peeling the skin off of the peppers and removing the stems and seeds.

7) In a food processor (or even a magic bullet), add peppers, onion and garlic, olive oil, greek yogurt and spices. Pulse until smooth.

Spicy Roasted Pepper Pasta Sauce - www.omshantilife.wordpress.com

Spicy Roasted Pepper Pasta Sauce – http://www.omshantilife.wordpress.com

 8) Drain pasta, put pasta back into pot and combine with sauce.

9) If you want to, now is the time to add any additional toppings. I personally love to add spinach, but you can also add grilled chicken, crumbled bacon, tofu or any other favourite protein.

10) Plate pasta and add nutritional yeast, goat cheese or parmesan cheese.

Spicy Roasted Pepper Pasta with Spinach - www.omshantilife.wordpress.com

Spicy Roasted Pepper Pasta with Spinach – http://www.omshantilife.wordpress.com

Enjoy this delicious, healthy and simple meal, I’m sure you will love it! Let me know how you enjoy this pasta and what you’re favourite topping is!

Namaste.