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vegan coffee

Being fit does not have to be as hard as people make it sound.

You can still eat delicious, filling food.

 

There is a yoga type and a workout for everyone to love!

EAT

TO

THRIVE

TRAIN

TO

EXCEL

Hey, this blog page is geared toward my personal side- making a better self through training and food. I share recipes that I love and training of the mind with meditation & body with exercise and yoga.

You can contact us, otherwise I’ll be

        enjoying the sunshine in my garden while planning my next hike.

— Dropkick

The One Goal of Yoga

The meaning of yoga from Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras

(The Yoga Sutras are the most read yoga text. It was written approximately 2,500 years ago from a collection of ancient yoga knowledge that Patanjali gathered.)

The meaning of yoga from Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras is not the same as Hatha Yoga. According to Pantanjali’s sources, yoga means concentration or samadhi. These full practices of yoga lead to samadhi. Yoga concentration is not on an object but is a quality of the mind. You move beyond to a state of no mind. Yoga does not begin until a person is able to concentrate. Asana is just stretching and pranayama just breathing exercises perhaps with the intent of trying for concentration.

Hatha yoga’s definition is another Sanskrit language breakdown meaning union. We can not have union because Prakruti (creation energy) must be separate from Purusha (consciousness/soul). However, it is true that we need union of the mind, body, and soul; so, the definition is correct in that way. We begin yoga with concentration and have the end goal of concentration.

Instant Pot~~~ I am now a Pot Head

Finally, after years of debating I got the Instant Pot. I love it. What was I thinking waiting? I can now throw food in the Pot, go outside for 20 minutes, and my food is ready without fear of burning down the house or ruining a pot. I already had a pressure cooker which I used often. I did have to be in the kitchen while it was on. My kitchen does not get hot from this like a stovetop cooker or oven. That is really great on hot days (February to December in Florida).

Beans that normally take hours cook in 20 minutes. (I do not buy canned beans for frugality reasons and I prefer fresh.) A good Thai curry cooks in a few minutes will all the flavors melded perfectly.

 

Broth, kale, super firm tofu. Manual setting for 1 minute.

There is now no excuse for not having time for a healthy plant-based meal, and driving to get crap restaurant food instead of cooking.

I cook halved sweet potatoes in 10-15 minutes. This alone was worth the purchase because we eat tons of sweet potatoes at my house.

It does take an extra 10 minutes to build pressure to start time for all food. This makes cooking rice in it kinda pointless. A trick I have learned is that if I am cooking anything with tender veggies to just turn the machine off after I can hear the boil. Then, I let it sit a couple minutes before releasing the steam out.

There is a keep warm function should you need it kept warm until you get home after work.

If I do not have 15 minutes to wait for the Instant Pot then I snack on a protein bar or smoothie while waiting. I do about half my cooking in the Instant Pot. I only use the stovetop if it is a 5 minute item.

Ideal would be making meals for the week ahead and putting them in the fridge or freezer.

Garland Pose

Yoga teacher with dogGarland Pose – Malasana- Deep Stretch Pose

Garland Pose is a great yoga pose for weight lifters to stretch. I love doing it to stretch in a squat workout or during yoga. It feels like it decompresses my spine after holding heavy barbell squats. I have been doing it for many years, so it does not offer me a deep stretch. It is almost like a rest pose now. That is a good goal since people in India and Asia use this as a resting seated pose for hours every day. Most westerners can not even get into the pose, and if they can they can only hold it for 30 seconds. Do we want to do garland pose when we are able to try or one day be an elderly person who can not get in and out of a chair without help?

In Tantra Yoga, This pose helps relieve tension in the sacral and hip area to get energy moving. It is said to help increase sexual energy in everyone due to how it relieves tension compressed around the sex organs, lower back, and hips. You may notice more of this benefit if you are skilled in breath work or Qi Gong/Tai Chi.

A deep squat requires flexibility of the ankles, knees, spine, and hips.

Contradictions to this pose are recent knee surgeries or injuries. However, it does help stretch and strengthen the knees for those without major problems. Everyone should attempt this pose even if they are only squatting a few inches, and holding onto something for balance or support. Pregnant women probably want to skip this pose.

How to: Start by getting into the pose from standing. Spread your legs slightly wider than hip width with toes pointed halfway out. Everyone’s body is different, so your toes may need more in or out. Do what feels best for you. Squat down as low as you can go. Hopefully, you are able to sit slightly resting on your calves.The knees should point out. Placing your hands in prayer pose and elbows above your knees will help lengthen your spine and push your knees outwards (the elbows can also be resting in front of the shins like the image as long as your back is straight). Stay here for as long as comfortable. You can tilt your chin slightly down if you desire a neck stretch as well. Come out by standing or sitting.

In garland pose, if you have tight calves or weak glutes then your heels will end up off of the ground. If they want to come in then you have tight inner thighs or glutes. Be mindful if you lean to one side because this can be because you are compensating for an injured knee or weaker leg. A curved back indicates a weak core, tight hip flexors, or just not paying attention to good posture. Do not worry too much about where your weaknesses are. Keep practicing this along with complementary stretches, and your body will get more flexible quick.

Abdominal Stretching

The front abdominal area is typically overlooked in stretching. We get the side abs, but you do not see much stretching of the front. I enjoy stretching it to release tension and help posture. It also is a good way to unwind after a challenging workout. I feel like these stretches build the six pack more, but that could be wrong and wishful thinking.

The front abs tend to hold muscular stress particularly just below the ribs. Over the gallbladder and spleen can get overly tight. You may even notice popping of the ribs if you have extra stress here. Thankfully, the middle is a quick and easy area to stretch. Try these at least once per week to improve your posture and balance.

 

Ball stretch  

At the gym, you should be able to find these giant exercise balls. Using the arm of a comfy sofa can work as a replacement.

Try different arm positions. Sometimes just having your arms out to the side can feel better than the overhead backbend stretch.

Take as much time as feels good.

Upward Dog  

Start from a relaxed lying position or low pushup. Press into your hands lifting your chest and shoulders. Roll your shoulders back. You should be able to breathe deep. Feel your entire ribs expand. Hold for 2 deep breaths. Relax and repeat once more.

In the yoga pose version of this, you would be on the tops of your feet not toes. Do not worry about form only about which feels easier for stretching the abs.

Chill in child’s pose after if you desire.

Going Outside Your Comfort Zone

Malinois of unknown name

Think through how your days and weeks look? How routine is it? Is it full of variety and excitement or is it stagnant? Do you feel like the months are passing you by with little new happening in your fun time and work growth? Do others around you look to be having more fun? When was the last time you did something out of your comfort zone?

Living a boring life will only cause us to get more and more boring and unfulfilled.

Today, do something small that it is out of routine. You can find something to switch it up even if it is dancing around your living room or trying a new ethnic food. Plan something for your weekend that is even more exciting. Perhaps this new variety in life will lead to finding your purpose in life.

MeetUp, Parks, Volunteering, Festivals, Yoga studios, Backroad drive, Learning an instrument

An area to stretch everyday

Hip Stretches for tight hips:

Many people have tight hips. These are caused by things like sitting at desks all day, wearing heavy equipment, martial arts, and cycling. Even stress gathers in our hips making them tight. Women tend to hold more stress there than men. 

The hip area is the origin of many body problems- sciatica, psoas, hip flexors, lower back, sacrum, and perhaps worst of all sexual problems for men and women. Problems here send additional problems up our spine and down our legs. Often times a knee problem originates in the hips. The hip muscles are ready to be easily activated for “fight-flight-or-freeze response. Most of our fight response muscle power comes from the hips. If you are not stretching then you are lowering your ability to fight and respond. 

Tight hip muscles can reduce your range of motion throughout the hip, tilt your pelvis, and tighten the quads and hamstrings. Hip stretches are important for everyone. They are especially important for martial artists and athletes. 

Here’s some yoga poses for hips:

  1. Balasana (child’s pose)
  2. Butterfly
  3. Standing side stretch
  4. Eka Pada Rajakopatasana (one-legged pigeon pose)
  5. Anjaneyasana (A low runner’s lunge)
  6. Frog pose

Hold the poses for at least 30 seconds. Several minutes is better. If you only have time for one pose then choose pigeon.

Are stretching and yoga the same?

“I tried a yoga class and I hated it. Can I skip yoga and just stretch or meditate?”

Nope. Stretching and yoga are different. To meditate effectively we must have a yoga practice. It allows the body to be flexible enough to sit long periods.

There are dozens of types of yoga. Just because you did not like one class does not mean that yoga is not for you. Actually, the first time I ever did yoga I did not like it. It was too slow and the teacher was too chill for me. Thankfully, I found an Ashtanga teacher that was a better fit. Over the years I have changed what I like, and now I enjoy many types of yoga. I stay away from those power yoga classes that feel like fast aerobics or cheerleading in 90 degrees though. Some love that style because they sweat heavily and poses are only held for 2 seconds. I prefer traditional yoga with long holds for a deep stretch or difficult strength. I also really love Kundalini yoga. You do have to enjoy teacher’s voice and personality. Thankfully, it is easy to test out teachers these days with by watching videos instead of meeting everyone in person first.   

Just stretching is different than yoga because it does not create that union of the body and spirit. It is not done as mindfully. It is unlikely in simple stretching to get deep stretches especially of the ribs and back. We also work on balance, strength, and twisting in yoga. Nothing beats a good twist to wring out the organs and spine. Remember that even though yoga has many benefits, we first do it for expansion of ourselves.

The best way to practice is at home alone doing poses that are right for your body each day instead of in a group class. You do have to learn how to correctly do the poses first. A teacher giving in-person adjustments is best. There are some material and videos that give very specific instructions for each pose that are good. Not everyone has the discipline to practice at home… or like me they have dogs and cats wanting to join or other distractions. You do still want to have a teacher(s) as a guide sometimes as you progress. Around 99% of the time, I do not go to classes since my city is all power yoga or beginner yoga. I do catch a Kundalini yoga class when I can or a Yin yoga with good live music. An online yoga website is a good resource for a variety of yoga classes or try YouTube’s most popular teachers. 

Chocolate chip macadamia cookies

 

Recipe for half a batch

  • 1/4 cup coconut oil (or other light flavor oil/vegan butter)
  • 1/4 cup (50 g) organic sugar
  • 1/2 cup  gluten free baking flour *I used King Arthur that includes multiple flours and gums
  • 1 tb agave
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • approximately ⅛ cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • approximately ⅛ cup macadamia nuts

Mix dry and then add wet. Form into six cookies. Bake 375 for 8 minutes

Removing distractions–Making time for the important things

Originally published on my Eksta Training program site

No one has time anymore. It is funny when people tell me that they do not have time to exercise or meditate yet they already said that they watch 4 hours of Netflix a day. That is where priorities are. When people say that they do not have time, they really mean something else right? You can fill in the blank. Aside from the person that works not stop and sleeps only 3 hours per day, we have time. We especially have time for things like exercise and training that will improve our health and happiness. I like hearing excuses get changed to saying, “I will make time.”

Now, let’s take a look at where your time goes. This should be fun.

  • What are your distractions? Can you cut back time on social media, flipping through apps, shopping, or surfing the web for articles or videos? Do you watch a movie you’ve seen dozens of times just so that you can escape?
  • Can you hire out some of your chores or errands? Can you cut down on cooking time? How about driving time?
  • Do you need to cut out social media completely because you are addicted? Do you need to cut out porn because you masturbate 5 times a day? Be honest about how you spend your time.

Where you can put time?

  • What do you love to do? Think about things that allow you to feel more like yourself and having clearer thoughts.
  • What did you enjoy doing as a child that you would like to do more of today? This can also help with looking at your career choice if you have questions around that.

Now, let’s look how we can start scheduling and planning.

  • Aside from putting these things in your schedule, you can join a group, Meetup, or online class that can help hold you accountable. Be cautious starting with just one friend unless your friend is very, very motivated and has no drama going on. A teacher or coach is also great.
  • Is there waiting time you can spend reading training materials?
  • Do you have an achievement goal for several months or a year from now?
  • Do you have any dream vacations that you actually want to start planning?
  • By joining this training, what do you see yourself becoming? What does your life look like?
  • Make space in your home if that is where you are going to practice things like meditation and yoga.

 

Another thing to think about is not sharing your new plan with those that will make jokes about it or be negative. Typically, they are just afraid of you changing or making them feel unproductive.

This is the day to write out some of these. Find what will make you happy and go for it.

Emergency food and backpacking food

Hurricane coming? Snow storm? Better rush off and buy canned food. That’s what the news says. If we use our own brain to think then there are other options. Healthier and cheaper options. Since when do apples not last a few days so we must buy canned apples? As convenient as canned beans or chili are, I prefer other options for Meals Ready to Eat. If I am backpacking for more than a day then I definitely thinking about being as light as possible- which means no heavy cans. Just a few options to get you thinking:

Instant refried beans- just add hot water and let sit. How simple. Perhaps have cayenne powder available.

Regular nut butter jars or peanut butter powder+water

Store bought MRE entree packages (Indian, Thai, American chili). These are pricey but light in weight and delicious.

Edamame nuts

Jerky

Meal replacement powders

Protein bars or meal replacement bars

Trail mix

Bread or cornbread cakes

Instant oatmeal or quick oats

Dried fruit or freeze-dried fruit. (These are too delicious for me to keep around for an emergency.)

Dried veggie snacks

Instant MRE packs of rice

Instant coffee (or do like me and buy a camping percolator for grounds)

Kale chips (Can make these yourself ahead of time to save $$)

Fresh fruit

Options that take a bit longer:

Quinoa or quinoa with dried veggies 20 minutes on a campfire or butane cooker

 

If you are just stuck inside then there are more options. Fresh veggies last awhile and there are many that are good raw or that cook quick over a campfire or a kitchen gas stove. Backpacking with veggies can take up more room and if there is any extra water on them then it can get rancid.

Get creative and also look at what you already enjoy eating. Online stores and some bulk warehouse stores offer options for buying huge amounts of MRE and freeze-dried meals in tubs or cases if you want to get serious about stocking up.

About Me

I am a personal trainer and yoga teacher. I have been gluten-free (Celiac) since 2008 and vegan since 2000. CPT, RYT & untrained chef. I have a love of good knives, martial arts, meditation, fitness, herbal remedies, and reading books. I am a big animal lover with a retired Belgian Malinois and cat.