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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 an exercise plan for everyone.

EAT

TO

THRIVE

TRAIN

TO

EXCEL

Hey, this blog page is geared toward my personal side. 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

Couples Yoga

I have been a teacher of Couples Yoga for many years now. I really love teaching and practicing it. When I mention it to people, they often confuse couples yoga with Acro yoga. Acro yoga is similar in that you have two people doing yoga together: Acrobatic Yoga. In Acro Yoga, the person on the bottom is holding the lifted partner while they do a pose. In couples yoga, both people are doing a yoga pose. Acroyoga can be friends, lovers, or strangers practicing together in a class. The main difference is the intimacy involved in couples yoga. (and no let’s not bring up the hippie dippie talk that intimacy in friendship can be just as intimate as lovers). If you are still confused: couple’s yoga is for two lovers that have a sexual relationship (hopefully) who want to feel romance and connection. They can be male/female or a LGBT couple; monogamous or polyamorous.

The purpose of couples yoga is to develop a deeper connection to your partner and perhaps ignite the libido. As you stretch together you melt away stress. Couples yoga has very few strength building poses. It involves nice deep stretches held for an extended time. We may warm the muscles up with some moving stretches. Doing a seated wide-legged bend while see-sawing is an example of how to warm up the muscles. It also helps to synch the partners movement and breath with one another. Being fully present in the moment, synching breathing, and making eye contact we feel closer to our partner on far deeper level than before. Troubles will disappear. Hormones will be produced. Of course, do not try this if you are in the middle of a big fight.

Some poses are more challenging. If a certain pose seems too difficult then wait for a group class/retreat to learn it or until you both advance in your yoga practice. Injuries would not make for a good connection.

An easy way to start practicing couples yoga is by doing meditation while breathing in sync. If you have difficulty sitting up straight during back-to-back meditations then both partners may want a cushion under their butt. This makes sitting straight easier. Otherwise, one partner can end up leaning back putting excessive weight on their partners back. Pressing is nice, but having to hold up 50 pounds is not. As a teacher, I notice that one partner will lean more and the other supports more. This is not ideal. It is fine to do. It is just something to think about because it can show you something about the relationship as well. Meditate for a few minutes. Many benefits can happen with your chakras in line.

Other easy things to try are simple side twists, balancing boat poses and double forward bending. Go with the flow with what feels right to do. Above all, enjoy yourselves and do not get upset if your lover is not as flexible as you are. The biggest reason I see people come to class or privates is because they have problems arguing while trying to learn this new thing alone. Practice patience and do not be afraid to step away.

Doga

There is this trend that has been going around for over a year called Doga- Dog Yoga. It came from goat yoga and then cat yoga. While I like promoting animal adoptions and rescue facilities, the doga is getting a bit much. I know someone that teaches doga, so I am open to the idea… for fun. It is a fun experience with your dog or rescue puppies. I can’t see it being a real yoga practice because you are not centered in yourself at all. I won’t imagine what Indian yoga schools think. You can not even get halfway into the pose because you must either watch the dog cuteness or for paws in eyes or ponytail biting. I have a large dog, so if he is on my mat then I only have about 4 inches left to do my pose. Maybe. I do practice this way sometimes when he wants the attention (plus he has been doing downward dog since birth which is more than I can say). Actually, the yoga mat makes all my pets really excited. Pet yoga does not normally allow for me to get deep into a forward bend when I am sharing. I have worked out some poses that he can actually help me stretch more into and that we can do together (e.g. wide leg side stretch). Just do not try headstand or any slightly risky pose. Perhaps, I am just weery of the doga after a dog urinating on my mat at my doga teacher’s house. That was not the most relaxing yoga experience, but at least there were spare mats.

I will still skip the insanity of group doga class at a studio. However, I can see a room of cute dogs and cute people being appealing for the singles.

 

 

 

 

 

I do have a YouTube video on yoga with pets. It mentions how I have a mat for my dog. My cat has a bolster. I mostly have my mat. Now, how do I choose music that all three of us agree on

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 text. 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

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.