Raw energy balls

It's often trickier to make healthy decisions when out and about without preparing something to eat in advance.  Recently I have been making these delicious raw energy balls of goodness to keep my energy levels topped up on super busy days.  These are great as you can pretty much add what you fancy, and use different coatings to change texture and flavouring to keep things interesting! Wishing you days filled with energy! 

Ingredients

  • 1 cup raw cashews (you can substitute any other nuts you like here, almonds also work well)
  • 1 cup fresh dates (stone removed)
  • 1 tbsp nut butter
  • 1 tbsp raw virgin coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp raw cacao powder
  • 2 tsp cinnamon 
  • 2 tbsp hemp seeds
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
  • Desiccated coconut/raw cacao/bee pollen for coating

Method

  • Ground the nuts, hemp and chia seeds until you get a consistency that binds and meets your taste.
  • Add everything else and blend together until mixture binds.
  • Divide into bitesize balls and coat with your favourite toppings. 
  • Leave in fridge to set for a while and then enjoy!



Yoga Book Sangha

Yoga is so much more than physical postures. There is a wealth of philosophy underpinning the physical practice. If you are anything like me, you have shelves of books on the vast subject of yoga and all it encompasses, from sutras, pranayama to specialist anatomy tomes. I have wanted to create a forum to share ideas and discuss yoga books for a few years and have finally collaborated with Yoga with Heenal to create a Yoga Book Sangha, a community of like-minded yogis, and we will be meeting for our first discussion on May 9th at Ethos cafe near Oxford Circus. 

Follow us on facebook to stay in the loop. We will be posting discussions online and can't wait to start sharing. 

 

Entering the new year with ease

This week is my first week back at work and in class we are focusing on starting the new year with ease. With talk of new year resolutions we can feel like we have a lot to achieve and put our mind to in 2015. It can be tempting to dive head first into being busy and doing. However, there is another way and our yoga practice is a great place to begin. Let's put our focus this week on being, rather than doing, and moving with ease through our practice and life as we get back into our working routines. Let us allow our resolutions, hopes and dreams to spur us on and not be sticks that we beat ourselves with. Let us find ease in working towards where we want to be. 

Here are a few of my favourite quotes to remind us of the importance of being and to help us to start the week and year with ease.

"We are always getting ready to live but never living" 
Ralph Waldo Emerson

"We are free to be at peace with ourselves and others, and also with nature" 
Thomas Merton

"Gentle is that gentle does"
English proverb

Blueberry Breakfast Bowl

Start a new habit. A healthy breakfast sets up your metabolism for the day and helps you to make healthy choices throughout the day.  Here you can see a healthy breakfast can be fun! This breakfast is inspired by bowls I discovered on a recent trip to sunny California. I decided to bring some of the sunshine fun to my diet and experiment with breakfast bowls of my own. Join me in two simple steps! 

Step 1

Step 1 

Blend 1 cup of frozen fruit with 3/4 cup of water or for an extra creamy bowl add almond milk or coconut water.

Step 2

Step 2

Add toppings. 

Granola for crunch works well.  Extra fruit; strawberries, banana and blueberries add extra zest.  

I added Munchy Seeds and organic cacao nibs for an added anti-oxidant hit.  Coconut shavings are also the perfect way to finish the bowl - the icing on the deliciously health superfood cake if you will!  

Enjoy!  Leave a comment and let me know how you get on!  

 

Finding Balance

We all go through times of calm, and contrasting times of upheaval.  It is often easy to find balance when all around is calm.  What is more challenging is maintaining this sense of calm and balance when in the midst of challenge, times of change, or when we find ourselves caught up in the busyness of life, with conflicting deadlines and commitments.

This is when we are called to dig deep and commit to our practice.  Yoga provides us with a toolkit to come back to our natural balance. One such tool is the pranayama practice of ‘Sama Vritti’.  This translates as ‘sama’, same and ‘vritti’, fluctuation. In terms of the breath this involves giving both the inhalation and exhalation equal length and attention.

This technique can be done at any time: on the tube, waiting in line, during a yoga practice in a seated posture, lying down in savasana or any comfortable position that allows us to steady the mind and bring awareness to the breath.  I like to rest one hand on my chest and one on my abdomen to focus my awareness on the movement of breath in the body and to anchor the mind to the breath.  Here are a few tips for cultivating this practice.

Find a comfortable position and begin to draw the mind to the breath. Allow the breath to be natural.  Find ease in the rhythm of the breath.  When ready, start to breathe in and out of the nose.  Allow the inhale and exhale to be of the same length.  At first it might be useful to mentally count to 4 or 5 on the inhale and then count to the same number on the exhale.  Continue this way, for a few moments or for longer if you have time. Allow the mind to synchronise with the breath.  In finding a balanced breath we are not forcing or pushing the breath; simply allow the breath to flow with ease, let go of resistance and go with the flow of the breath, building a steady cadence and pace to the breath. In this way we invite calm to the body and mind and find a steadiness to continue with our day.

Wishing you days of balance as we move effortlessly from summer to autumn.

Namaste,

Jen x

Daily Intentions

In our results-based society it is often unpopular to speak of finding joy in every moment. But whilst we insist on pushing full speed towards the finish line, with blinkers on, we risk missing the opportunity to find joy along the journey. Wouldn’t it be better to enjoy each step along the path? If you would like to live with more joy, follow these simple steps to tap into your inner resource of abundant joy. After all, ‘it’s good to have an end to journey towards, but in the end it’s the journey that counts.’  Read my latest article on YogaMoo to access 5 suggestions towards living with more joy.  It’s not always easy, but all we need to do is do the work and take little steps, one foot in front of the other.

Go with the flow! Happy Weekend all.

Keep it simple! Yoga doesn't have to be complicated!

Tips for keeping yoga simple!  Five key considerations.

1. The breath

The first thing to bring our awareness to when we step on our mat is the breath. Start to lengthen each breath, aiming to equalise the length of the inhale and exhale.  Balanced breathing allows us to tap into the calming qualities of the parasympathetic nervous system.  Incorporate at least 5 minutes of focused breath work, sitting or lying still, before moving into an asana practice.

2. Focus

In yoga, the spot where we focus our gaze is referred to as the ‘drishti.’  The drishti is an outward focal point for an inward gaze. By focusing our eyes on one spot in each asana we can cultivate a one-pointed focus, improving the quality of our practice. Using the drishti enables us to stay with the breath and quietens the mind.

3. Intention

Practice with intention.  Take a moment to set an intention at the start of a session. An intention doesn’t need to be complicated and can be as simple as committing to follow the breath for the whole practice.  Another great way to work with intention is to offer the energy of the practice to someone in our lives that needs an extra boost of positivity. Setting an intention is a powerful tool and acts as a reminder to spur us on when we are finding our postures challenging.

4. Cultivate kindness

Often the temptation is to push our bodies into the furthest expression of an asana in order to emulate the cookie cutter asanas we see in magazines, online, or on a neighbours mat in class.  In doing this however, we miss the real benefits of the practice and may even be doing more damage than good.  Avoid this temptation and notice when you are pushing too far in your practice.  Instead of forcing it is far better to back off, cultivate kindness and see if we can soften in the pose. Remember that yoga is the combination of strength and surrender.

5. “Practice and all is coming.” Don’t give up.

Pattabhi Jois coined this well-used phrase. The more we practise the deeper we go. Whatever our practice looks like, if we commit to continually coming to our mats, even when we don’t feel like it, we will reap the benefits. Our practice doesn’t have to be perfect, we simply have to put in the work.

Happy New Year! Out with the old, in with the new!

Happy New Year

January is well on the way but I would like to take the opportunity to wish you all a very happy 2014! I hope the year brings all you wish and more, including deepening your yoga practice  I hope you have your goals set for the year ahead! Intention setting is a wonderful practice to embrace at this time of the year.  The start of a new year is the perfect opportunity for new beginings and starting a fresh. Make a note of what really matters to you; writing down our goals and setting our mind towards a focused manageable goal is much more powerful than setting grand new year’s resolutions that don’t make it much beyond the new year.  What do you want to manifest this year?  If you are interested in getting serious about goal setting I can recommend Lululemon’s goal setting workshops.  The idea is that you meditate on where you hope to be in ten years time.  Where are you?  What are you doing?  You then ‘trickle back’ to see where you need to be in five years time to reach the ten year you.  And then, take it a step closer to the present day to set your one year goals.  The beauty of this is that you can set small, achievable goals that take you closer to your dreams!  #Ready, set, goals! Looking forward to seeing you on your journey over the year.

Learning to be patient, turning frustrations into acceptance and surrender

Wow, my patience has been tested recently.  Along with patience, comes its cousin, frustration, and I have been yo-yo-ing between the two over the past few weeks.

Despite this, and as much as I have been feeling frustrated and have had my patience tested, waiting, waiting, waiting and waiting some more, I am grateful for the reminder to practice yoga beyond the mat.

I thought it would be useful to note a little about how yoga provides a tool that can be called on in times of frustration and can aid us in digging deep to find patience to move through challenges with ease. I am grateful that yoga allows me to observe these feelings of helplessness and frustration, take note of them, whilst not being overwhelmed.  Practicing yoga helps to keep things in perspective. If you start to feel overwhelmed, take a step back and note that this is just a passing experience.

Whenever you feel frustration rising take a step back and place extra emphasis on the breath.  Allow your mind to follow the breath, as you inhale fully and exhale fully.  After a few rounds (or longer) of conscious breathing your perception may start to shift and you may see the situation more clearly, without the additional layer of emotion clouding your judgement.  Such action is a choice.  Situations and challenges that we find ourselves in cannot always be controlled, no matter how much will or sheer force we throw at it.  We can however, take a step back and note that we do have a say in the matter.  The only thing we really can control is how we allow the feelings to dictate our responses.  We have the tools to pick out of the box whenever we feel challenged.  Whenever the heat of frustration rises we can remember our practice and come to the breath. From frustration we can move to acceptance and surrender. Remember to have faith that the you are on the right path and all is as it should be.

For now, there is nothing to be done, except to reaffirm the faith that we are where we should be.

Turn your frustrations into acceptance and find peace.  Find a space to sit, soften the gaze and come to the breath.  Note the rise and fall of the chest as you inhale and gently exhale.  Repeat the mantra:  ”I am where I am supposed to be” on the inhale and “everything happens when it is supposed to happen” on the exhale.

“How many a man has thrown up his hands at a time when a little more effort, a little more patience would have achieved success.”
Elbert Hubbard 

“You’ve done it before and you can do it now. See the positive possibilities. Redirect the substantial energy of your frustration and turn it into positive, effective, unstoppable determination.”
Ralph Marston 

Namaste, Jen x