Let’s Talk: Getting Back on Track

Why is it that setting good habits takes so damn long but losing them takes about a day and a half? The day and a half may be a slight exaggeration but staying on track with good health, choices and habits can be a challenge.

At the beginning of this year, my goal was to have a proper morning routine. I would wake up, get on my mat (even if it were just for 5 minutes), meditate, wash my face, drink lemon water and read before making breakfast. It was only after making breakfast that I would allow myself to check any screens. That meant no TV, phone, computer or tablet for at least an hour and a half after waking up. I had an awesome track record for this routine (and felt amazing) up until the summertime when I started my teacher training, then it all turned sour. You see, I am not naturally an early riser. I love sleep. Love it. No matter what time I go to bed, I find myself sleeping at least 10 hours if I don’t set an alarm. So when I had to be awake at 6.00am in order to have the time to fulfill my routine (even 6 was a time-crunch) and be at the studio by 7.30, I knew I was going to have some problems.

The first day went alright, but I think a lot of that had to do with the fact that I barely slept from anticipation. The second day, I was already exhausted by the full days of training so the rest of the 200hrs I was lucky if I woke up with enough time to make tea and grab a muffin on my way out the door.

The rest of the summer was no better seeing as it was basically a long vacation at the cottage so when we closed up the cottage for the season and came home I felt that fall was when I would finally get back on track, only to find that habits are way harder to make than they are to break.

There’s a study that says it takes 21 days, or 3 weeks to make a habit. I’m here to tell you that’s a lie. There is no way that it’s only 21 days to make an unbreakable habit form in your bones. Maybe a 6 months, maybe even a full year, but 21 days? I dispute!

Nothing would make me happier than to get back into my morning routine but every morning without fail, I somehow reach for my phone, check Instagram, tell myself I’ll meditate when I’m in yoga class, make breakfast and immediately plop myself in front of the TV (Gilmore Girls is calling!).

So here’s the challenge. Did you make yourself a resolution at the beginning of the year? Well it’s New Years isn’t the only time to make resolutions! In fact, we can make them any time we want. Isn’t that a revelation? Therefore, I invite you to revisit any habits you want to change, develop or break and resolve to work on them with me this month. We can do it together and we will definitely feel better once we get back on track. I’ll keep you updated and you can check in with me at any time if you need some support! I’ll be up at 8am, on my mat, meditating, ignoring my phone in no time. Remember, you can get back on track at any point of the day, just cause the morning wasn’t great, doesn’t mean that your afternoon or evening won’t be. Take it day by day! Good luck!

Namaste.

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Healing Crystals

I grew up always being interested by rocks and stones. I vividly remember swimming in the lake at my cottage, putting on goggles and looking for favourite stones. When I was much younger, a friend of mine showed me her “pretty rock” collection and I was immediately enamoured. I know now that they were crystals, but at the time I had no idea how she found such pretty stones at the bottom of the lake or on the side of the street! Once I found my passion for holistic living and yoga, it was only natural that my childhood love for “pretty rocks” would find me again. Earlier this year, a dear friend of mine gave me a beautiful purple-pink stone and so began my new hobby of finding and collecting meaningful crystals.

Crystals

Crystals

Crystals are used in conjunction or as an alternative to less traditional healing remedies. Crystals can be used for a myriad of different reasons and typically are used as some sort of protection or healing. Shamans, healers, even priests have been known to use crystals for their healing powers. Though there is no science behind crystal healing, those who use crystals believe in their benefits. With the huge uptake in natural and holistic living, many people look to crystals to help live their best life.

Though my collection is newly growing, I thought it may be interesting to share with you what I have in my collection. I believe in cleansing the crystals by smudging them with sage to insure that they are pure and fresh. I like to choose a crystal to take with me when I go about my day and need something extra to get me through. I know that there are people who hesitate to believe in the crystal’s healing properties but I feel more in-tune with myself, those around me and the earth when I’m carrying one.

Jasper (Polychrome), Jade & Calcite (Angel Wing) - Clockwise from top.

Jasper (Polychrome), Jade & Calcite (Angel Wing) – Clockwise from top.

There are many types of Jasper (just as there are many types of other crystals), but Polychrome is used to promote stability and a sense of grounding. Though Polychrome Jasper can ignite passion and vitality, it is also used to balance emotions.

Jade is famous for being a gemstone that brings love, attraction, prosperity and good fortune.

One of my favourites, Angel Wing Calcite is used to promote relaxation and is often used in meditation.

Quartz (Rose), Agate and Lepidolite. (Clockwise from top)

Quartz (Rose), Agate and Lepidolite. (Clockwise from top)

Next are the beautiful purple and pink gemstones.

Rose Quartz is very well known as it is a loving stone. Rose Quartz helps you open up your heart to give and receive love.

Agate is one of my absolute favourites, not only because it is beautiful but because it promotes self-confidence, strength, luck and can protect.

Lepidolite is the beautiful stone gifted to me by my beautiful friend. Lepidolite reduces stress and stabilizes mood swings, making it a great choice if you suffer from anxiety.

Jasper (Rainforest), Tourmaline (Black) and Citrine. (Clockwise from top)

Jasper (Rainforest), Tourmaline (Black) and Citrine. (Clockwise from top)

Rainforest Jasper also pairs well with meditation as it promotes change and progress.

Black Tourmaline is a protective gemstone and will stave off negativity and unhealthy external influences.

Finally, we have bright and sunny Citrine. Citrine brings prosperity, joy and abundance!

Box of Crystals

Box of Crystals

In choosing your crystals it’s best to go with your gut feeling. If you are drawn to a certain gemstone, then go for it! There is a reason it is calling to you! I like to keep mine safe in a small box where I can pick them out on my way out the door, or grab them for meditation; somewhere they feel special and secure. Though you may read that certain crystals do certain things, what is important is your belief in what they do for you, perhaps citrine protects you, that is fine! Enjoy them, they’re yours!

If you would love some more information about these beautiful stones, I have a Pinterest Page all about them!

Do you use crystals? Which gemstones are your favourite and when do you like to use them? Let me know in the comments below!

Namaste.

Follow Me!

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.

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.

Living Tea: All About Kombucha

Let’s talk kombucha! Perhaps you’ve seen kombucha in the grocery store or have seen someone drinking it at a restaurant, maybe you have no idea what it is! Kombucha is one of my absolute favourite drinks in the entire world! This delicious fizzy beverage not only tastes great but is also chock full of incredible health benefits!

Kombucha is a yummy probiotic tea beverage that contains amino acids, enzymes, antioxidants and polyphenols. Kombucha is made by fermenting tea with the help of our friendly SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast). SCOBYs look like strange tan coloured, gelatinous frizbees that are a starter culture that turns plain tea and sugar into our carbonated kombucha beverage. SCOBYs are referred to as “the Mother” and after each new batch of kombucha, the SCOBY will regenerate and create a new “baby” SCOBY. Kombucha has been around for thousands of years, in fact kombucha tea’s origins are found in China in the 3rd century BC. A heck of a long time! Kombucha can be made from black, green or white tea (any tea from the camellia sinensis shrub), and is made by brewing tea with sugar, adding it to a large jar with a SCOBY and allowing the tea to ferment for a week or more.    IMG_0824

Kombucha is a probiotic drink, meaning it is full of beneficial bacteria that supports healthy digestion and a strong immune system! Kombucha is also full of glucuronic acid (GA) which binds to toxins in the body and transforms them into waste that can effectively be voided by the body; highly detoxifying! The antioxidant behaviour in kombucha tea is much higher than can be found in regular brewed tea! In fact, kombucha contains high levels of vitamins C and E, polyphenols and other carotenoids. Those high levels of vitamin C (over 100x the amount of vitamin C found in regular brewed tea) are extremely effective at strengthening your immunity! Those antioxidants fight against free-radical cell damage and inflammatory disease! That high vitamin and antioxidant content protects numerous tissues from toxicity such as the liver and kidneys and can prevent such ailments as kidney stones! Kombucha also contains a multitude of B vitamins, including folic acid, which helps prevent headaches, migraines and dizziness. Because kombucha is a tea it shouldn’t be a surprise that kombucha increases energy! Kombucha tea works to improve iron absorption in the body (low iron can make you groggy and is also the cause of anemia), boost the flow of oxygen to tissues and increase blood levels of hemoglobin (protein found in the blood that is in charge of carrying oxygenated blood from the lungs to body tissues and organs). Kombucha is also incredible for gut health! Kombucha protects both the lining of the gut and the mucin content of the stomach (a protein responsible for gel and lubricant-like functions in the body, for example; saliva), protecting the stomach from developing ulcers. Did you know that your gut is linked to your mental health? The kombucha probiotics helping our your stomach health will work their way to your head reducing feelings of anxiety and depression, lifting your mood! Kombucha has also been successful at lowering levels of bad cholesterol (LDL) in the body, while systematically increasing levels of good cholesterol (HDL)! Not only that but kombucha has been associated with lowered cancer rates! It’s incredible! Kombucha can slow or prevent tumor growth at early stages of development due to it’s antibiotic properties and high content of glucuronic, acetic and lactic acids! Finally, kombucha can ease asthma, relieve arthritis pain, decrease blood sugar levels, balance the metabolism and combat infection! Not bad for a delicious fermented tea!

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Kombucha’s growing popularity means it is easier to access these benefits than ever! You can find kombucha in a wide variety of flavours and brands; my favourite flavour is Rise Kombucha’s Mint & Chlorophyll, it is extremely refreshing! When you’re looking for your favourite brand, you do want to find a kombucha that is organic and raw to get the most benefits! I drink kombucha several times a week and find that it can heal in an instant! Unfortunately, kombucha can be expensive so if you do not want to make it at home (I’m excited to tell you I have a post coming about that soon!), it can be a fun drink to indulge in on occasion. The fizzy taste works well as a substitute for soda and kombucha is special enough to enjoy if you are abstaining from alcohol! Though I have no problem drinking kombucha several times a week, there have been instances of people becoming sick after drinking kombucha. Because kombucha so effectively releases toxins from the liver, the body can react by getting overwhelmed and sick. If you don’t normally drink kombucha, it is recommended to start drinking slowly (once or twice a week) to allow to liver to rid of those toxins without flooding the body. However, once your body is used to it enjoy all the myriad of health benefits you will start to see immediately! I find that enjoying kombucha lifts my mood, re-energizes me and gets the digestive juices flowing! I love to treat myself to a kombucha with my after-yoga snack to reward myself for a tough practice and for making the right choices for my body, mind and my soul!

What is your favourite type of kombucha? Do you have a favourite brand or flavour? Do you make your own at home? Are you looking forward to my upcoming post about brewing your own kombucha? I can’t wait to hear from you!

Namaste.

(Note: I was not asked my Rise Kombucha or GTS Kombucha to make this post. I am not being compensated for this post and all yummy bottles of kombucha were purchased with my own money!)

Quick Healthy Tip: Morning Meditation

I’ve already talked about one of my favourite Quick Healthy Tips; Morning Yoga! If you have started a morning yoga practice, perhaps it is time to add a regular morning meditation to your daily routine!

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You may know that meditation is incredible for the body; physical, mental and spiritual. Regularly meditating encourages a healthy lifestyle, increases self-awareness, improves sense of self and confidence, lowers high blood pressure, reduces anxiety and increases overall happiness, among countless other benefits. One might think that because of all these incredible health benefits, a regular meditation practice would be difficult to start but it isn’t! I began my meditation practice by carving out the time in my mornings, before the activity of the day could sweep me off my feet and distract me! 5 minutes is all you need! You may think that it will be difficult to meditate and simply do nothing but focus on your breath for 5 minutes will be boring or challenging and that’s why I suggest starting for such a short period of time. Eventually you will be able to work up to 10, 20 maybe even 30 minutes of uninterrupted meditation, but that’s certainly a daunting place to begin! You will find that once you’ve begun practicing daily, you’re 5 minutes of meditation will fly by! You will begin craving that time just for yourself and will find yourself adding a couple more minutes to your meditative practice here and there.

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I added meditation to my morning routine in an effort to make every day start on a positive note. That is why I complete my meditation after at least 10 minutes of morning yoga, and bookend my meditation with a warm mug of lemon water and Journey to the Heart by Melody Beattie. I stumbled upon this book after a yoga class, when the instructor read one of Beattie’s daily meditations to close the class. The words were so inspiring and relevant that I immediately ordered the book to include in my morning routine. I include this book in my Quick Healthy Tip because you can use these daily meditations or mantras as something to focus on while you are meditating if you prefer to chant than to focus on your breath. I also strongly believe that starting your day with inspiring words, introspection and physical movement will help you wake up every day on the right side of the bed feeling beautiful, creative and radiant. Your light will shine outwards and warm everyone around you!

Do you take the time to meditate in the morning? Do you have a favourite morning routine that gets you energized and excited for the day ahead?

Namaste.

(Note: I purchased Journey to the Heart with my own money. All thoughts and opinions are my own, I was not asked to or paid to mention this wonderful book!)

Quick Healthy Tip: What are you Grateful for Today?

One of the favourite changes I have made in my life this past year is ending my day by listing what I was grateful for that day and I would definitely coax you to do the same! Grab a journal and end your day by writing down and taking into account anything and everything that made you feel grateful, happy or warm and fuzzy inside that day! These Gratefulness Journals are great if you do not have a daily diary because instead of writing paragraphs about your day, you just jot ideas! I personally like to write grateful “lists”. Your list may have more on it one day than on another and that is okay! One day may be filled with big moments (I ran a 5k! I conquered an advanced yoga pose! I baked a pie all by myself!) or filled with small moments (I had a nice cup of tea! I talked to my Mom! I read my book!) and all of these moments are valid and important.

Gratefulness Journal - www.omshantilife.wordpress.com

Gratefulness Journal – http://www.omshantilife.wordpress.com

I use a pink “Princess” journal because I associate happy memories with it (my Grandpa called Princess when I was a young girl) so I encourage you to choose a journal that makes you feel happy and excited to open! Maybe decorate your journal with favourite pictures from a magazine or pictures from your life that you enjoy and inspire you to open your journal and think about the little things that make you happy every single day!

Since ending my day in this positive way, I have seen numerous changes to my life and general outlook. I have found that even on the seemingly “worst” days there is always something that I can feel grateful for, sometimes there are even several things! I have learned to appreciate the little things, to savour each moment and understand that even if there are storm clouds eventually the sun will come out (even if it’s just for a moment!)

Do you keep a Gratefulness Journal? Have I inspired you to end your day on a positive note? Let me know in the comments below! I’m grateful for this blog and all of you lovely readers!

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 😉 )

Heart Over Head: Practicing Inversions

Inversions are probably one of the most interesting and difficult types of asana that one can practice in yoga. Thinking about inversions may lead you to think of crazy yogis balancing on their head, hands or forearms, bending into poses that you think are unimaginable! However, not only can you do them but practicing inversions regularly is an extremely beneficial for overall health and wellness.

You may be thinking, “That’s great, but what is an inversion anyway?” Inversions are asanas where the heart is placed higher than the head. They can be gentle such as downward dog, legs up the wall or standing forward bend or they can be heating and advanced like wheel pose, headstand, handstand, forearm stand or shoulder stand.

headstand

There are numerous benefits to practicing inversions, both physical and mental. Physically, one of the largest benefits provided by regularly inverting is increasing blood flow back to the heart and giving the heart a break. As you know, the heart is responsible for pumping blood throughout the body, quite a taxing job! Inverting causes the blood from the lower extremities to flow back into body. Being upside down also improves digestion, drains mucus, benefits the nervous system and increases immunity by reversing the lymphatic system and the movement of lymph in the body (liquid that carries cells that fight infection and disease). The tremendous blood flow to the brain even improves concentration, cognitive function and gives memory a boost all while promoting a calm feeling in the brain. Practicing inversions can strongly benefit the cardiovascular, lymphatic, nervous and endocrine systems by encouraging proper flow throughout all four systems.

As previously mentioned there are two types of inversion; energizing/heating inversions (these tend to be more advanced such as head-, forearm- and handstands) and relaxing/cooling inversions (these are more tame, such as downward dog, happy baby, legs up the wall) and they both benefit the body in different ways. As one can imagine, energizing inversions can give you quite the boost! These advanced inversions increase blood flow to the brain at a faster rate than cooling inversions and can be as effective as an afternoon cup of coffee for a pick-me-up! Relaxing inversions do the opposite, not as many muscles are involved which benefits the nervous system and encourages the parasympathetic nervous system to activate, calming the body and mind. Some of these inversions even massage the thyroid (legs up the wall, plow pose, shoulder stand) which boosts metabolism and boosts thyroid function.

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Inversions, especially advanced inversions, are fantastic at building strength, lengthening the spine and improving balance. It takes an incredible amount of core strength to lift the legs above the head and balancing with the legs in the air greatly improves upper body strength!

Not only are inversions excellent for the physical body, but they’re great for the mind as well because balancing on the head, forearms or hands greatly shifts perspective! You’re literally upside down! Inversions build confidence; nothing feels as good as accomplishing something that you didn’t quite think was possible! Inversions are fun! You’ll fall and struggle, but you’ll find yourself laughing and trying again and again!

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Inversions are an important, entertaining practice but it is crucial to go over a few things before jumping into a handstand! Always check with a Doctor and/or your yoga teacher before starting an inversion practice. Inversions should not be practiced if you’re pregnant or menstruating, have glaucoma, a detached retina, high blood pressure, slipped disc, cardiovascular or kidney disease. However, once you have the go-ahead from a professional the fun can start! While you may see some fun shapes to try on Instagram or in class by your favourite yogis, there is absolutely no shame in starting by a wall! (I learned my headstands, and am working on handstands that way!) Work carefully and move within your own body and your own boundaries. Balance is different from day to day so if you’re falling out of headstand, instead of getting upset move onto a different asana and come back to it tomorrow, they’ll always be there! And remember, most importantly to have fun!

Have you practiced inversions? Do you have a favourite pose? Let me know if you’ll be trying to add some inversions to your practice (or if they’re a regular part of your practice) by leaving a comment below!

Namaste.

(Note: Do not add advanced inversions to your practice without first running it by your Doctor first! They’re fun but safety is always first!)