13 Tips for Overcoming Cravings

Many of us can’t resist desserts, sweets, french fries or ice cream. And, many of us succumb almost immediately to our cravings and often feel bad about it later. This often becomes a cycle that is repeated over and over again and those of us who can’t overcome cravings often struggle with weight, health and are not living as optimally as possible. However, it is possible to overcome cravings.

Here are 13 tips for helping to beat cravings. Enjoy!

1. Question the craving. Before digging into something deemed not quite healthy, like that second piece of chocolate cake, ask yourself if this is really something your body needs or wants. Chances are that if you have to ask, you don’t need it.

2. Consider the impact on your health. It is important to think about the nutritional benefits of everything you consume. You don’t have to be a nutritionist to know that a handful of cashews is better than a donut.

3. Be aware of the vicious cycle. If your diet or cravings consist mostly of processed foods rich in fats and sugar, then you will most likely only want more. These types of food do not have an adequate nutritional value so the body will crave more. In order to break the cycle, you have to make healthier decisions and give the body what it needs.

4. Take your time. Remember to not only breathe and take your time while eating, but also take your time when choosing what to eat. If you only have a few minutes to decide, use that time wisely or choose a healthy snack to hold you over until you can consume with peace of mind.

5. Use self-control. You know what it is, you own it and it’s always there. Learn to channel it, manifest it and use it. You can do it.

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6. Get physical. Yoga and exercise have many great benefits for the body and mind. Getting the body in good physical condition will positively influence you to make good choices.

7. Keep it simple. Don’t get caught up making rigid regimens or a bunch of rules in order to be healthy. You know what is healthy and what is not. Just relax and make awesome decisions.

8. Listen. You can learn to listen to your body to differentiate between hunger and cravings: to know when your body needs to be replenished or if it’s just nerves. You can also learn to identify when you are craving in order to fulfill an emotional gap versus an actual physical need.

9. Limit the amount of alcohol. Cut back or eliminate alcohol. Most of us have experienced that being intoxicated or hung over does not help us make healthy decisions. Enough said.

10. Get enough rest. A rested mind and body helps us feel more at ease with life. Not enough sleep makes us stressed and intolerant. Rest helps the body heal and refuel. It helps the mind be more calm.

11. Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water, herbal tea and fresh fruit and vegetable juices. Often times our hunger can be triggered when in fact we are only thirsty.

12. Want what is best for your self. Having a positive mind set will help motivate you to make good decisions. You deserve it. Believe it and want it.

13. Be sincere. Commit to wanting to be your optimal self. Don’t treat being ’healthy’ as a diet or fad. Make it a life change. Make it who you are right now.

Unhealthy cravings can develop into repetitious, poor habits that last for years and can have adverse effects on the body and mind. It’s never too late to change and develop better, healthier habits.

Delve a Little Deeper

So perhaps you want to delve a little deeper into your yoga practice, learn more about the history and the philosophy behind yoga or perhaps even teach, what do you do?

http://www.exhalestudio.com/

We are lucky to live in such a huge yoga community with endless options on styles, studios and teachers so how do you decide where to take your training? I’ve come up with a Top 5 List of questions that you should ask yourself before taking the plunge.

  1. Availability – How much time do you have to commit yourself to training? The first part of teacher training is 200 hours, or you could go for the full meal deal & do all 500 at once. Do you work full time, go to school, only have weekends, evenings available or maybe you only have weekdays available? Do you want to get it all done in a month or would you prefer to take a few months to complete your training?
  2. Style – What style of training do you want to take? Vinyasa, Hatha, Hot, Bikram, Anusura? Make sure that you determine what style of yoga the studio offers before signing on the dotted line.
  3. Location – Maybe you live in the Fraser Valley or maybe you live right downtown, where you live will also determine on where you take your training unless you are planning on relocating for the duration.
  4. Cost – Since teacher training is certainly not a cheap affair, make sure you research what the studio has to offer. Do they offer payment plans or want it all paid up front?
  5. Teachers – After narrowing your studio selection down, make sure that you take classes with the instructors of the teacher training program before you sign up. Do you like their style and personality, remember you will be spending 200+ hours with them.

Even if you have no intentions of teaching, you can gain so much from a Teacher Training Program with benefits to your life and your yoga practice.

To Break or Not to Break During Your Period

There are many different opinions in the yoga world as to if a woman should practice yoga while on her period and if so, how she should practice.

On one end, some say to avoid inversions such as shoulder stand, headstand, plough pose and handstand. Others say to only do restorative poses. And, on the opposite end of the spectrum, some say to completely refrain from yoga practice all together.

The fact is that every woman experiences her period differently making it difficult to make a definitive rule that applies to everyone. However, listening to and understanding what is going on inside the body during this special time of the month can help us make intuitive decisions about our practice.

[cnyhealingarts]

Why it could be a good idea to avoid inversions:

An inversion refers to a posture where the lower body is above the heart. During menstruation, the body is using energy to cleanse the reproductive tract from the inside out. Doing powerful inversions at this time such as headstand, shoulder stand or handstand divert the energy from the reproductive system to the muscles necessary to do these postures. And, why is this bad? It’s not necessarily ‘bad’, but it does stress the reproductive system and can be taxing for the body. The result could be a running out of energy and fatigue.

Philosophically, the downward flow of menstruation represents ‘apana vayu’ or downward flowing energy. This energy is said to nourish reproduction elimination and digestion. Some say that doing inversions during this time disrupts the natural flow of this energy.

Restorative poses that could be helpful for alleviating menstrual symptoms such as lower back pain, cramps and mood swings:

  • Reclined bound angle pose: for stress relief, grounding and helps sooth menstrual cramps.
  • Cat and cow pose: provides a gentle massage to the vertebrae and belly organs.
  • Sitting forward fold: relief of menstrual discomfort, stretches spine and helps headaches.
  • Legs up the wall pose: helps relieve minor backache and helps calm the mind.
  • Child’s pose: calms the mind and helps alleviate cramping.
  • Supported corpse pose (with pillow under knees): provides relaxation for the entire body.

Why it could to be good to refrain from doing yoga during your period:

If you happen to have a very heavy flow or are extremely tired during your period, perhaps the best pose is rest and relaxation. There’s absolutely no shame in it and your yoga mat will be patiently awaiting your return.

I have experienced both the desire for a more active yoga class while on my period and have sufficed with gentle sun salutations, and I have also felt my period was the perfect time to slow down and completely rest. So, the best advice I can think of is to sincerely do what is most optimal for you and your body.

Namaste.

Be Good To Your Bones

Last year in January, I decided to visit my lovely doctor in London, because I had been carrying a knee injury for too long. As I was pointing at my tibia, she instantly thought I had vitamin D deficiency. I protested, saying that I had a good diet and took oily fish supplements. She explained that Vitamin D deficiency is mainly due to lack of sun exposure.

I went for my blood test and the results were quite a revelation, I was severely deficient in vitamin D and also in calcium. It’s really common nowadays she said, there is a mini epidemic, and people don’t realise it until they experience bone pain.

[source: liveinternet.ru]

The pain in my tibia was due to my tendon pulling on a soft bone. In order to avoid further injuries, I decided to stop going to yoga classes until my vitamin D was back to normal. I practised a bit at home but I could feel how tender my back bone had become, so I stopped for good. My immune system was low as well and I caught a terrible flu. I felt like an eighty year old woman, very fragile.

The problem is that it takes several months of supplementation – almost six months in my case – to see levels of vitamin D rise to normal, which can be incredibly frustrating.

How did that happen? – I wondered. It’s quite simple, my skin is pale and over the last few years, I’ve hid from the sun as much as I could in the summer.

We’ve all heard that sun exposure is damaging to the skin, but due to this new outbreak of D deficiency, doctors are now recommending to get from 10 to 15 minutes of sun everyday, or as the NHS mentions in their website time “typically short and less than (…) needed to redden or burn”.

Vitamin D can also be found in oily fish, liver and eggs, but absorption by food is not as efficient.

I’ve noticed it rains quite a lot here :), so each time there is a ray of sunshine if you want to be good to your bones, go and sit on the beach for a while to stock up on vitamin D!

Also, if you want to read more, here’s the link to the NHS article on sun and vitamin D as it is recent and helpful.

The Sea Studio At Night

Now that I’ve practised in all the Semperviva studios, I think that my favourite is possibly the Sea Studio on Granville Island. I don’t go there as often I would like because I currently live a bit far out, but next month I’m moving to Kits so I’ll be able to go more.

For now, I try to go once a week for a Yin yoga class with Bernie on Thursday at 7.15. So far because it’s winter, I’ve seen the studio at twilight or night, and I find it quite magical. It is on the corner of a building overlooking the river and facing downtown, and the wall-to-wall windows offer the most beautiful views.

Before each session, Bernie takes time to light up a myriad of candles around the room by the windows and their reflection mirror the lights of downtown and of the boats that occasionally float by.

The interior, on two levels, feels organic and cosy, with natural fibre carpet and big wooden beams.

[source: www.yoga-gene.com]

One of my best classes there was when it was really cold outside and we were in savasana. It suddenly started to rain heavily and the drops were pounding against the windows. I lied there listening, in the natural darkness of that November night, and it felt like the most wonderful sound to accompany me in meditation.

I can’t wait to practice at the Sea Studio in spring or in the summer when it will be flooded in bright daylight!

Groovin’ Yogis!

Yoga Music http://yogasuper.blogspot.com/2010_03_01_archive.html

People have a strong like or dislike for the music that they hear in their yoga classes, I’ve even heard people comment that they won’t take a class BECAUSE of the music. People seem to find a strong connection to music, whether its something that triggers emotions, lets them let go, or dance or smile or even sing a little, there is a “type” for all of us.

One of my most favourite parts about attending a class is to hear the tunes that role through my head as my breath guides me from pose to pose. I find an escape in the music, maybe it’s something catchy or something that has a positive message just when things get a little tough that makes you push on or something that I can sing along to, whatever it is, I find that the majority of teachers have created play lists with perfect timing in relation to their class.

I’ve yoga’d to the likes of Pearl Jam, the Beatles, Snatam Kaur, Krishna Das, Florence & The Machine and the list goes on and on including various genre’s from Folk, to Rock, to Kirtan or Reggae. Where can you get the tunes you may ask? Well iTunes of course, but also many studios generally have copies of CD’s that frequent their play lists.

It has been said that music plays a great part in our brain development and stress management. Check out this video Good Vibrations; The Power of Music on the Mind about how music plays a role in our brain functions and therapeutic benefits to our health.

Good Vibrations; The Power of Music & the Mind

What type of music or songs do you like to hear in your yoga class?

Couch Potato Yoga

Couch Potato Yoga

So the holidays have ended and you’ve probably over indulged at a few of your Christmas and New Years parties. Or, maybe you’ve been hibernating indoors during these winter months and have been neglecting your fitness. Here are some exercises you can do while you’re lounging in front of the TV: Couch Potato Yoga.

The following video shows that squeezing in 5-10 minutes (even if it’s only during commercials) of yoga into your day is as easy as sitting on your couch:

Living Room Yoga – Getting the Most Out of Your Living Room from Jim Ford on Vimeo

Danielle Hoogenboom

I’ve only started taking Danielle’s classes in the last month or so. Since the departure of one my favourite instructors (Violetta Pioro) I’ve been searching for another mellow soul to fill the void. Danielle’s hatha classes function more like yin than anything, and I personally couldn’t have been more thrilled. The postures and the transitions she fields are slow and soft, and such methods are important to balance out those hardcore classes. Taking power everyday isn’t a bad thing as long as one knows to find slower and gentler classes for balance.

Danielle is soft-spoken, with a hint of lisp, and packs her dreads around like they’re clouds that float her around. Before each class she sifts around the room, asking every yogi if they have any injuries or any postures that they’d personally like to go into. I like the fact that almost all instructors ask their classes for requests, but Danielle’s one by one inquiries seem rare to me. For those that may wonder, I normally ask for twists.

I do have to say that her slow hatha classes are exceptionally effective. It’s only in her classes that I’ve caught myself at the beginning of a snore, twice, during heart-openers and such. It got to that point after she came by and lifted my chest even higher as I was lying on a bolster for Savasana; with everything supported and opened I guess my insides just melted outright. I distinctly remember one night that I relaxed so much I actually didn’t remember who I was, where I was, and how to drive home for about 10mins after the end of class.

www.lovelightyoga.com

Many of the postures in her classes are seated or in low lunges and I haven’t done any crazy inversions or arm balances with her yet. It’s a welcome change of pace after hitting up Anila and Liv’s power classes (of whom I will talk about in a few weeks) as my muscles could really use some laziness. I always get thrown off by powerful/aggressive instructors in slow classes since their strong voices seem to push me faster and further, but Danielle’s demeanor matches her class style perfectly to turn everything down.

She likes to explain every step, though always with a lull that really gets you to move the same way: slowly. Sometimes we all get caught up in the flow of a class and we really do forget to be aware. Her speed makes it so that there’s really no way to not realize the exclamations of the body. Since her movements aren’t sharp, and in our tendencies to match the instructors, the whole class claws around. I was still enough at the end of one class to end it in a sitting meditation. She later came up and said that she could see from my eyes that I had disconnected and rebooted. I didn’t deny it since it did indeed feel like that.

She has a way of making one feel like that they’re in the clouds with her, just swaying around shifting along with the vapours themselves. Like most instructors she offers food for thought, though she normally talks about the interplay between what we see to what we feel. It’s a bit different than taking a snippet from a yoga text and transposing it, rather drawing very clear lines to connect different aspects of our life.

From what I know she lives on Commercial Drive, has a roommate that digs astrological spiritualism, and sports her staple dreadlocks all the time. She even joked at how she seemed stereotypical to herself, which she then said wasn’t too far off the mark if her roommates didn’t rub off on her so much. She has her own sites, Danielle Hoogenboom and Lovelight, and teaches at Unity Yoga Tea House and YYoga.

Book Review: 1001 Pearls of Yoga Wisdom by Liz Lark

Book Review: 1001 Pearls of Yoga Wisdom by Liz Lark

I don’t know if you have thought about your Yogalutions for 2011 yet but one of mine is to read more books about yoga. I have now registered for my yoga teacher training starting end of January so I’m sure I’ll have plenty to read! In the meantime this is one book that I would definitely recommend. Along with The Yoga Bible, it is my favourites everyday ‘off the mat yoga’ quick-fix. Actually I would say both books complement each other. While The Yoga Bible focuses more about the physical practice, 1001 Pearls of Yoga Wisdom comes back to the mind and the infinite forms of meditation. Liz Lark has structured this book so that it can accompany your daily life from waking up to going to sleep. This gives her the opportunity to explore a whole array of situations and challenges you might encounter during your day at work and at home such as : relating to others, finding time for yourself, in times of trouble, joy and celebration, encouraging vitality and winding down.


[source:www.chroniclebooks.com]

You can open 1001 in any section that corresponds to your mood, dilemma, need for inspiration or time of the day. One of my favourites features is the wonderful quotes that she has collected from a vast range of sources.  You can find pearls of wisdom by Mahatma Gandhi, The Buddha or B.K.S. Iyengar but also by American or English writers like William Shakespeare, Herman Melville or Shelley. Here are a few to give you a taste of their wisdom: “Act with a spirit of detachment being equal to success or failure. Such evenness of mind is called yoga.” – Bhagavad Gita “…oil your mind and your manners, to give them the necessary suppleness and flexibility; strength alone will not do…’ – Lord Chesterfield “To the mind that is still, the whole universe surrenders.” – Lao Tzu

What Is Acroyoga?

Acroyoga blends the spiritual wisdom of yoga, the loving kindness of Thai massage, and the dynamic power of Acrobatics.

There are 7 main elements to acroyoga: circle ceremony, asana, partner flow, Thai massage, therapeutic flying, inversions & spotting, and partner acrobatics. There are three primary roles in an acroyoga practice: base, flyer and spotter.

This dynamic artistic expression has incredible therapeutic qualities for the entire being. The practice cultivates trust, connection and playfulness. The goal of acroyoga is to bring people into a state of union with themselves, with each other, and with a higher power. From this place of mutual support the true self can be realized, celebrated and shared for the benefit of all. Through partner and group movement a conscious community develops through nurturing of confidence, communication and self acceptance.

Yoga + Acrobatics + Thai Massage = Acroyoga!

Background:
The term ‘acroyoga’ has been used at Santa Monica Muscle Beach informally since the ’90s. However, the physical practice itself was first documented with young kids as ‘flyers’ in 1938, by Krishnamacharya. In the early 2000s, the word AcroYoga was claimed to promote the specific school.

www.seattleacro.com

Vancouver:
Official Instuctor: Emelia Symington Fedy
Contact: [email protected]

Workshops with Emelia:

Jan 2, 2011 Vancouver, BC AcroYoga Inversions & Acrobatics With Emelia
Jan 16, 2011 Vancouver, BC AcroYoga Fundamentals With Emelia

Acroyoga
More acroyoga in Vancouver:
Contact: [email protected]
Location: 4th Avenue and Macdonald Street, in Kitsilano

Join us as we glide gracefully surpass the limitations of the mind. You may find yourself taking more risks in your daily life as we release fear into a centered new world cultivating joy and loving kindness, with new friends.

Victoria:
Live on Vancouver Island? You can connect with other acroyogis in Victoria on the Acroyoga Victoria Facebook Page.

Official Acroyoga website: www.acroyoga.org

Are you involved with acroyoga? Is it a style of yoga you would be interested in trying?

Yoga Teacher Review: Reno Muenz

‘Smile, it’s just yoga’ as one of my teachers in London used to say, especially when we would all be grimacing during an intense squatting series.

Reno’s Vinyasa Power Flow classes remind me of that statement. One of Reno’s greatest abilities is to help students step out of the drama during the most trying asanas.

It feels good to go to class with the reassurance that it will be dynamic enough but that Reno will get us through it with his calming voice and his inspiring music choices. I don’t know about you, but when confronted to a challenging sequence, my fight-flight response is triggered and for a split second, I can easily feel that the teacher is the enemy. I don’t think I would ever feel like that in Reno’s class. He knows how to diffuse this defense mechanism by offering warm empathy, and by finding a cue that will make you smile.


[source: Yoga for the People]

In addition, Reno’s love for yoga shines through clearly, and he’s all about sharing that love. He quotes his teachers, tells plenty of anecdotes from his experience or his readings, but also stories of ancient Indian mythology that speak of courage, dedication and humility. This all contributes to bringing mental and physical lightness to the practice.

Reno follows quite closely the Ashtanga’s primary series and also regularly works on handstand and headstand preparations. He always invites students to modify in a more or less challenging way, so this class suits every level of yogi.

Reno teaches at Semperviva on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, at Yyoga Yaletown on Friday and at Yoga For The People on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday. So give this class a try and remember: ‘smile, it’s just yoga!’

How To Stay Limber On An Airplane: In Flight Yoga

I’ll be making a long-haul flight this holiday season – over 13 hours of flying time, one way. Whenever I fly, I always try and drink lots of water to stay hydrated while traveling. I try and get up at least once an hour and walk up the aisles of the airplane. Also, I like do yoga early in the morning, and hit the gym to get in some cardio before my flight.

To stay limber in the air, here are 5 great exercises to do on a plane:

  • Knees Lifts – These are great for engaging your abs, without the need for a yoga mat. Place your hands on the armrest and lift your knees up slowly while you exhale — pulling your navel to your spine. Try to scoot a little bit away from the back of the chair and keep your torso still as you lift your legs. If you are worried about your back, do it one leg at a time. Do this motion about 15 times.
  • Calf Raises – Stand in the aisle, while holding on to the back of a seat. Begin with feet parallel and stand with your feet directly under the hip joints. Your feet should really only be about four to five inches apart. Lift your heels up in a controlled motion, taking two counts to get to the top of the motion. Don’t pop up. Then lower down in two counts.
  • Twists – To avoid rounding your back, sit at the edge of your seat with both feet flat on the floor. Bring your right hand to your left knee and left hand onto the seat behind you. Inhale and lengthen your spine then exhale, twist to your left using your obliques. Do this for 10 breaths and then switch sides.
  • Shoulder Rolls – Sit at the edge of your seat with both feet on the floor. Inhale and lift shoulders up to your ears then exhale, roll shoulders back and down. Do this for 30 seconds to one minute.
  • Neck Stretches – Again, sit at the edge of your seat, both feet on the floor, inhale and bring right ear towards right shoulder then exhale, bring your head back to center. Do the same for the other side. Do this for 30 seconds to one minute.

Are you traveling for the holidays this year?

Safe travels this holiday season!

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