Be Good to Your Body – Eat Kale Chips!

I’ve been on a cleanse for almost a week now (Tanisha’s on it as well), so I’ve been cooking a lot healthy goodness lately! I just tried a recipe from fitsugar.com for Kale Chips. Usually, I’m not a fan of kale since I hate the strong taste it has when it is fried. However, something happens to this cancer-fighting green as it bakes that makes each bite taste delicious. I kid you not! Your body will thank you because one cup of kale has a whopping 354% of your daily value of vitamin A.


Source: fitsugar

I can’t consume any added salt or oil on this cleanse, so I torn the kale into chip size pieces and baked them on a cookie sheet at 275°F for 30 minutes. The chips have a nutty flavor soI didn’t feel the need to add anything to them. The kale turns out super crispy, just like a potato chip. After I removed the cookie sheet from the oven, I put some aside for my husband and added oil and salt – so he was happy.

The recipe calls for tuscan kale, but I used regular green kale and the chips turned out perfectly. Try the recipe with any type of kale you like.  If you’re craving the crunch that a potato chip gives, but are looking for extra nutrition, bake yourself some kale chips today. Yogis will approve 🙂

Healthy Post-Yoga Snack: Homemade Oat Bars

Have you ever felt famished after a strenuous yoga class or demanding workout? I often do.  Occasionally during savasana while I’m supposed to be calming my mind, I’ll be thinking about what I’m going to eat after class! (I know, so bad right?!)

Usually, I’ll stash a granola bar in my yoga bag in case I get the munchies – always a healthier alternative to grabbing a croissant or equally calorie laden ‘Island Oat Bar’ from Starbucks.

Luckily, I found an easy AND healthy recipe for oat bars from Healthy Foody (who got them from eat, drink & be vegan).  They’re wheat free, have no refined sugars, fast and inexpensive to make, and will fill you up!

I tweaked the recipe a bit and added 1/4 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract, cause I love the aroma it creates as it’s baking.  Also, I used regular honey as that’s all we had in our pantry.  However, they turned out great! Here’s a pic right out of the oven:

They’ll last for at least a week and are so much healthier than store bought granola bars with loads of preservatives.  Plus, I was surprised at how quick they were to make!

Steve Nash Fitness World

I recently joined Fitness World in Kitsilano to add some cardio into my usual yoga routine. It’s great because they also offer group classes like yoga, aerobics, spin, pilates, etc.  Watch out, however, because some ‘specialty classes’ are an additional fee on top of your monthly membership dues.

I had to sign on for 2 years and my membership works out to about $40/month. I live next door, so I have NO excuses not go to the gym!

Now called “Steve Nash Fitness World” because of their recent merger with the NBA star’s company, I can work out at any location around the city.  They offer different membership packages, and if you pay a bit extra you can also go the Steve Nash Sports Clubs in either downtown Vancouver, Surrey, or Richmond.

Watch out for high pressure sales consultants who will try and persuade you to sign up right there on the spot. Ask for a trial pass to check out the club before you make the plunge on a membership.  Remember, you’ll usually be locked in for 2 years, and will have to buy-out the membership if you want to cancel!

How to Start Yoga

Confused with all the different types of yoga? Don’t know where to start? Fret not, Vancouver Yoga Review is here to explain it all!

1. Decide which type of yoga you want to try first: If you can’t decide, most beginners start with Hatha, as it is a slower paced yoga.

2. Find a class: Most studios offer ‘Intro to Hatha’ classes for beginners. Check out Semperviva or Open Door for their schedules, as they offer great beginners classes.

3. What to bring: comfortable, breathable clothes so you can stretch easily. Most studios in Vancouver provide mats, blocks, bolsters etc, so you don’t need to worry about them.  Do bring a water bottle and a light jacket, in case it’s chilly in the studio.

4. What to expect from you first class: Usually, students place their mat facing the teacher’s mat at the front of the room.  Make sure you leave a bit of space around your mat so that your neighbors have room. You can sit cross-legged waiting for class to start. Your teacher will take you through varies poses and will usually go around the room adjusting students’ alignment.

Anytime you feel dizzy or lightheaded, you can take child’s pose: drop to your knees, spread your knees as wide as the mat, keeping the big toes touching, bring your forehead to the mat, and stretch your hands out in front.

Your teacher will finish by saying ‘namaste’, which literally means “bow me you” or “I bow to you.”

Open Door Yoga Vancouver

Tanisha and I have started to get back into yoga again, after a bit a of a hiatus.  She was in Hawaii for December and I was in Phoenix with my husband, visiting family.  I know, I know,  it’s already February, but we’ve been busy!  Plus, a great reason we started back into yoga (almost) daily is that we found an amazing deal from Open Door Yoga: $99 for 9 weeks of unlimited yoga at their 3 locations, to new members. Amazing deal right?!

Their 3 locations in Vancouver are on Main Street, Commercial Drive and the recently opened Arbutus/16th. Since I live fairly close, I’ve only practiced at the Arbutus location.  It’s a really great studio – smaller classes, so lots of room to stretch, great instructors – Brenna (has a great energy-really calming, encourages us to close our eyes to focus within,.  It has a really great vibe, no pretentiousness, just people there to practice yoga for themselves.

The studio itself is always nice and warm, which I love.  I find most studios around Vancouver (unless it’s hot yoga of course) are always quite cool.

Mats are provided free of charge, as well as tea, water and cookies! The studio is carpeted, which is great for extra cushioning.

The only drawback is there is only one stall toilet and a small change room.

YYOGA Flow Wellness Studio

Ahhhh YYoga Flow Wellness studio…If I lived closer and if the membership was a little more affordable, I would seriously attend this YYoga location everyday.  With its spa like atmosphere, infrared sauna, chill out tea-lounge with free wifi, and eco boutique, Flow Wellness is always a relaxing experience.

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Nourish bar including snacks and drinks – try their coconut water for a refreshing boost after a class.

The center is the largest in Canada, spanning an impressive 11,500 square feet, including 3 yoga rooms and a large change room with ample lockers and showers.

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Chill out tea lounge includes free wifi and free ‘happiness’ hot tea.

They offer many styles of yoga and even their own YRide (spin classes that incorporate yoga at the end of each class).

Need some additional services? They offer wellness treatments ranging from Shiatsu, Deep Tissue Massage and Acupuncture.

Check out this video by Technomorph for the YYoga Flow opening: http://vimeo.com/6943161

For more info, visit the YYoga website: http://www.yyoga.ca/

What Yoga is REALLY about…

I have to agree with Devante. Brenna’s Saturday night yoga class at Open Door Yoga in Kitsilano is definitely one of my favorite yoga classes in the city.

I’m a bit worried about saying this now though… I don’t want so many people to start flocking to her classes that it changes them.  The thing about a Brenna yoga class is that it simply is what it is. I love that the classes are uncrowded and unpretentious. It’s not yoga, the trend. It’s yoga in its simplest, purest form. It’s about being in the moment, embracing the moment.

Basically, the best thing about Brenna’s class is what it is not. Brenna’s yoga class is not about trying too hard. It is not about trying to be perfect.

We’ve been to a lot of yoga classes in Vancouver and far too many where the instructor has been beyond obsessed with form. While most instructors say that yoga is an individual journey, and that yoga is for every body, few instructors truly embrace this concept. So many yoga instructors try to define your yoga practice for you. They say they are yogis or yoginis, but they are quite often simply athletes who merely practice yoga. Instead of embracing yoga, they seek to master it, focusing on its form and technique. They push. They correct. They are forever moving around the room, perfecting movements and postures. They tell you how to get the most out of your journey rather than to embrace it. “You need to stretch this way. Or do this. Or put your hand here.”

Is that really how to get the most out of my yoga experience? What about yoga being a personal journey? Don’t I know my body better than anyone else? So long as I am guided through the posture verbally by the teacher, with any safety considerations pointed out, I should be able to take my body to its personal sweet spot during that class. Whatever I can do and feel in that moment is what I can feel and do in that moment. Nothing more, nothing less. That is, after all, the beauty of yoga. It’s all about feeling the moment, seeing where I can go in that moment.

So excuse me if I don’t want to be taken out of my moment by someone else hovering over me, defining my moment for me, telling me how to feel it.  It throws me off focus, gosh dang it! Seriously. Unless there’s a safety concern in the way I’m doing my posture, please just leave me to my moment. And a good teacher knows this.

Besides,  while everyone is on an individual yoga journey, isn’t the idea of practicing yoga in a class about sharing in a yoga practice? So what does it say when the class teacher doesn’t share in the moment?

So, props to you Brenna Coupland for actually embracing the very essence of yoga. Your classes are what yoga is really all about…

P.S. — We did a bit of investigating and Brenna teaches a few weekly classes at Yogacara in Kitsilano as well. She also calls herself the Yoga Bee and has a blog and youtube channel…

(Stay tuned — next week we’ll blog about Vancouver’s best yoga  instructors. Besides Brenna, there are a few worthy of mention here).

My Favorite Yoga Class in Vancouver

The first class we tried at Open Door Yoga a few weeks ago was with Brenna and it was on a Saturday night.  We were at their 16th and Arbutus location, located in the same complex as Meinhardt. I’ve tried quite a few yoga studios in and around Vancouver over the past year – some are awesome, others..well..not so great. But I really love Open Door Yoga!

Open-Door-Arbutus

This particular Saturday night class was one of my favorites for a number of reasons. It seemed like Brenna took into consideration all of our senses: It smelled of wonderful, relaxing essential oils;  the temperature of the studio was nice and warm; class was not full, so there was ample room to stretch around your mat; tea-light candles were lit and placed throughout the room and overhead lights were dimly lit. Also, Brenna has a very calming voice and a patient and peaceful vibe. You can tell that yoga is a true passion for her. The sum of all these parts made for an immensely relaxing yoga session.

If you’ve never tried Open Door Yoga, then now is your chance.  They are offering a $99 unlimited yoga for 9 weeks to new members: http://opendooryoga.bc.ca/. Eleven dollars per week for unlimited yoga! Such a great deal! Bonus: you can use your pass at any of their 3 locations: Main Street, Commercial Drive or Arbutus.

My First Introduction to Yoga

My first introduction to yoga was through my mother, in the early ’90s.  My family and I were living in Brunei, South East Asia, at the time and lived in the same housing complex as K. R. I. Jagadish – an Ayurveda master from India.

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Jagadish, or ‘Jag’ as he is affectionately known as, offered Ayurveda therapy in his home to locals and ex-pats. My mother would sing his praises – Jag could heal holistically, without pharmaceutical drugs. Nutrition, yoga and massage were the main components of his practice, along with herbology and aromatherapy.  Holistic health, nowadays being quite mainstream, was a new experience for many western ex-pats living in Brunei. How fortunate they were to learn from such an amazing practitioner!

During my early teens, now back in Victoria BC, my mother once again attempted to show me the benefits of yoga, but I was resistant.  Perhaps I was too young to understand yoga’s benefits or had too much energy and not enough focus. Now, being in my mid-twenties, I have started practicing yoga as often as I can.  Yoga is truly about being in the moment and listening to your body.  I have listened to my body, and my moment to dedicate myself to practicing yoga is now.

For more information about Jag Therapy, visit the website: http://www.jagtherapy.com/jagtherapy/index.htm

Yoga Conference Vancouver

The Yoga Pilates Conference and Show was held on October 2-5, 2009 at the Vancouver Conference Centre. We attended on Saturday and were able to check out a class by Rodney Yee and his wife Colleen Saidman Yee.

Rodney is quite famous in the international yoga community and has even appeared on Oprah! There was a large crowd that turned out to attend Rodney’s half hour class:

semperviva at conference

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There were info booths set up by local yoga studios such as Semperviva, YYoga, Yogapod, and Exhale.

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Also, there were booths for local fitness clothing lines, organic food, and yoga accesories.  Overall it was a great turn out of yogis! Vancouver Yoga Review is looking forward to next year 🙂

Top 5 Yoga Studios in Vancouver

Vancouver BC has a plethora of fabulous yoga studios to suit everyone’s needs.  Whether you practice Hot, Hatha, or Ashtanga, you’re sure to find the style and studio you love. Vancouver Yoga Review has narrowed down the studios to our top five favorites. Drum-roll please…

5. West Coast Hot Yoga – A pleasant covered veranda is available to hang out and cool down after your class.  Also, they have amazing smelling soap in the bathrooms! Most importantly, they have really great instructors who make everyone feel comfortable – no matter what level.

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4. Moksha – Who doesn’t love free things? This studio offers free parking out front and free apples after you’ve worked up a sweat! Every Friday night, at 8:15pm, they offer a one hour hot yoga ‘karma class’. Donations are accepted (minimum $5.00) and proceeds go to the charity of the month.

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3. Exhale – Their yoga room is surrounded by windows, so you feel like you’re doing yoga in the trees. This sense of being one with nature adds to the zen experience. They also offer an extensive list of dance classes (hip-hop, burlesque, salsa, belly, jazz, swing, nia, etc.) and complimentary almond tea.

exhale

2. Semperviva – This yoga for ‘every body’ company has 4 locations around Kitsilano. This leads to over 115 yoga classes every week! Kits yogis love the convenience of so many classes being offered in their area, almost any time of day. Bonus: no need to lug your yoga mat around, use their yoga mats free of charge.

semperviva

1. YYoga – Six YYoga locations are offered around the lower mainland.  We’ve chosen the downtown YYoga Flow (corner of Burrard and Smithe) as THE best.  Recently opened, this studio is truly a spa-like experience. Some perks of this location are an infrared sauna, a chic and spacious lounge with free wi-fi, a huge change room facility with ample showers, ‘conscious cardio’ classes called YYRide (spin class + yoga), and ‘happiness tea’ – just to name a few!

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Readers of the Georgia Straight agree with us and have ranked YYoga and Semperiva as tied for the #1 spot for Best of Vancouver, 2009.

What do you need for Hot Yoga?

Preparation is key in order to get the most out of your hot yoga class.  The following are some guidelines yoga studios ask that you do:

• Make sure you’re well hydrated: drink 2 liters of water BEFORE you start class.  Don’t forget to bring a large bottle of water to keep you hydrated throughout your class.

• Be prepared to SWEAT like you’ve never sweated before! Wear the least amount of clothing you feel comfortable in, without being naked! Women like to wear tank tops and shorts, men will usually just wear shorts.

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• Try to refrain from eating 2 hours before your class, as it’s best done on an empty stomach.   If you’re starving, have a piece of fruit to tide you over.

• Bring your yoga mat, a towel to lay over your mat, and a hand towel to dab the sweat off your body.  You’ll be glad you have the hand towel when sweat starts dripping in your eyes!

• Hot yoga is always performed with bare feet, so leave shoes in designated areas and all other belongings in lockers provided by your yoga studio.

• Try not to talk during your yoga class.  This will disrupt the flow of the class and disrupt the concentration of other yogis.  If you have a questions, ask your instructor before or after class.

One of the most important things to remember is: don’t be hard on yourself! Your first class will be intense and you may even hate it.  But don’t give up, and try and finish the class. Lie down on your back if you’re feeling over-heated or dizzy. The more often you practice, the better you’ll get and the more adjusted your body will be to the heat.  You even might start to enjoy it!

How do you prepare for your Hot Yoga class?

What is Hot Yoga/Bikram’s Yoga?

Bikram’s Yoga (sometimes referred to as Hot Yoga) is a type of yoga developed by Bikram Choudhury, in California. It is a series of 26 yoga postures practiced in a hot and humid room.  The temperature of the class is normally 40.5°C (105°F) with 40% humidity and classes are usually 90 minutes long.

The 26 Bikram Asanas (Postures)

1 Standing Deep Breathing
2 Half Moon Pose with Hands To Feet Pose
3 Awkward Pose
4 Eagle Pose
5 Standing Head To Knee Pose
6 Standing Bow Pulling Pose
7 Balancing Stick Pose
8 Standing Separate Leg Stretching Pose
9 Triangle Pose
10 Standing Separate Leg Head To Knee Pose
11 Tree Pose
12 Toe Stand Pose
13 Dead Body Pose
14 Wind Removing Pose
15 Sit up 16 Cobra Pose
17 Locust Pose
18 Full Locust Pose
19 Bow Pose
20 Fixed Firm Pose
21 Half Tortoise Pose
22 Camel Pose
23 Rabbit Pose
24 Head To Knee Pose with Stretching Pose
25 Spine Twisting Pose
26 Blowing In Firm

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In Vancouver, companies such a YYoga and West Coast Hot Yoga, and the newly opened Moksha Yoga, have developed their own unique hot yoga classes like “Power Vinyasa” and “Hot Flow” – which are practiced in moderately heated rooms: around 30°C- 32°C (86°F – 89.6°F).

Power Vinyasa integrates the breath with movement and builds strength, flexibility and core stability. Sequences include standing, balancing, seated, twisting and inverted postures that keeps the class fresh and lively.

Hot Flow includes basic sun salutations, standing and balancing postures, yoga-core specific postures, introduction to arm balancing, and hip and spinal awakening postures.

So while Bikram’s Yoga is always hot yoga, not all Hot Yoga is Bikram’s style!

Have you tried hot yoga? What do you think about this intense style of yoga?

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