Weight Loss

Best Morning Detox Routine for a Healthy Life

  There is undoubtedly an overwhelming flow of advancements in medical fraternity that aims to heal and cure sickness; however, it seems to me that our society is sicker than ever. You have to understand, toxins affect us daily. These harmful toxins are present everywhere from the air we breathe, the food we consume, white goods we use, and so forth. The point is, living without a toxic buildup is impossible. But, we can surely develop an effective detoxification process to help our bodies’ release toxicity within.

Luckily, there are several known detoxification protocols who claim to provide you with the natural cleansing. If I were to recommend, I would encourage you to employ the below mentioned morning detox routine for a healthy life.

Start your morning with warm lemon juice

In order to clean the system and have healthy digestion of foods, it is strongly advisable to start your mornings with a glass of warm lemon juice. Unlike, regular lemon juices, this is a bit unconventional as it involves a few cups of warm water and not cold water. So start your day by squeezing the juice out of a lemon into warm water, and drink the lemon juice before having your breakfast. Stick to this warm lemon juice schedule for at least a month before you start seeing the results.

Exercise and Detox Yoga

It is a good idea to exercise for at least an hour every morning. We are not talking about just any form of exercises, but instead, exercises that make you sweat. Perhaps hitting the gym, walking uphill, hot yoga or boxing should be considered. 

Hop onto your yoga mat and start doing some detox yoga poses. By performing these yoga poses every morning, you are letting yourself have a wonderful start to your day. Yoga detoxifies and cleanses your entire system remarkably well.  You can start doing “Side Boat Pulses”, “High Lunge Twist Repetitions”, “Seated Twist”, “Shoulder Stand” and “Seated Heart Opener”.  All these detox yoga poses will help you eliminate toxins from your body and give you a thorough cleansing of your body from top to bottom.

Get your breakfast right

Breakfast is going to be the first meal of your day and it better be right.  Wholegrain is known to be the best to help in the detoxification process. Moreover, you can also think of adding asparagus in your breakfast menu since asparagus contains prebiotics and probiotics, which are pertinent to maintaining a healthy digestive tract.

In juices, you must include a green juice or a smoothie as it can help you in fetching essential nutrients required on a daily basis.

Detoxifying the mind

Enough said and done about detoxifying the body, now let’s focus on the mind. Just like the body, your mind too needs a lot of detoxifying and removing of clutter. One of the best ways to help your mind detoxify is by meditation. All you need is a 15-minute schedule in the mornings for meditation.  Or, you could even try breathing exercises. Acquire the right breathing skills and follow this technique consciously every morning. Breathing and meditation only for 15 to 20 minutes in the mornings will immensely help your mind.

Dry brushing your body

You cannot forget skin detoxification as the skin is the largest organ of the body. Dry brushing has gained a lot of popularity in the last few years. Dry brushing involves brushing your skin in a particular pattern with the help of a dry brush, generally before taking a shower.  You brush your skin toward the heart, start brushing from the feet and hands.

Dry brushing is known for improving blood circulation, stimulating the lymphatic system and for overall rejuvenation of the nervous system. In addition, it is also useful in treating or at least reducing cellulite.  

Clearly, in the beginning, our skin is not used to feeling the roughness of brushes. But, over time, it will get used to dry brushing and will start producing enormous results.

 

The process of detoxification can be overwhelming, and rightfully so! It takes time and efforts to cleanse the toxic build up of so many years. However, don’t give up and wait for the results to finally start showing. Your efforts for detoxifying the body and mind will, slowly and gradually produce impeccable results. Start slow and consult a qualified health care expert to guide you at every step of your detoxification process.

 

Author Bio:

Hi! I am Jorge Gonzales. I am a blogger, sports lover and a fitness enthusiast who believes in healthy living. Through my write ups, I share my knowledge about health, fitness and muscle-building too.

How I Lost 100 Pounds in College

My entire childhood and teenage life was spent being "the fat kid".  Always picked last for sports in gym class.  Always the butt of any fat joke.  Always the one who must have farted in class!  I was a fan of midnight burrito runs with my friends, and I always took seconds and thirds around dinner time.  Never once would you catch me on a treadmill, in a gym, or godforbid a yoga class!  (funny how that changed...)
I think the main reason I stayed overweight for so long was due to how overwhelming and complicated losing weight seemed.  When I began noticing my weight affecting more than my appearance (I was on the fast track towards juvenile diabetes) I tried the first thing that came to mind.  At the time, slimfast was rising in popularity, so I began substituting meals for these chalky, weird tasting nutrition shakes.  Needless to say, this didn't do much in the long term.  I graduated high school in the dark about what I could possibly due to shed the excess weight from my 302 pound self.
 How I Lost 100lbs in College - www.YogaTravelTree.comHow I Lost 100lbs in College - www.YogaTravelTree.com
If I could go back in time, I wish I could give my high school self a no BS summary on how to lose 100 pounds.  There's so much crap out there today, what with all these magic pills, weight loss programs, special diets, crazy fitness contraptions...Losing 100 pounds was the easiest and the hardest thing I've ever done in my life.  I'm gonna give you the secrets to how I managed to go to a Big 10 University, party like a rock star, eat greasy dubs (GO GREEN) at 3 in the morning, and at the same time go from 302 pounds down to 190 in about a year and a half.  No special diet BS.  No special p90x crossfit mango tango routine.  After I lost this weight 4 years ago, I've since graduated college and am in my first career.  I feel like I have a whole new life ahead of me and you know what?  It feels pretty damn awesome.  Here we go.

1. REALIZE that this is't going to happen overnight.

 It just isn't.  Sorry.  But I'm being REAL with you.  You need to understand that if you're carrying 50, 60, 70 pounds or more of excess weight, that stuff took years to pack on.  If you're determined enough, anything is possible.  I had about 110 pounds of excess weight on me.  I was eating crap food for as long as I can remember, and I never exercised.  Once I changed a few things in my life, I had lost all excess weight in less than a year and a half.

2.  Make small changes.

 When you lose 100 pounds of excess weight, it's not due to some Hollywood fad diet, Dr. Oz pill or magic workout system.  It's due to pure, simple, LIFESTYLE changes.  The changes you need to make to get rid of that weight need to be changes you are prepared to commit to for the rest of your LIFE.  How do you do that?  You make these changes small, simple, and easily attainable.  For example:  When it was time for me to embark on this voyage to a new life, the absolute first change I made was that I was going to eat an apple and a banana before every meal.  Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner.  It all started with an apple and a banana.  Thinking back, the only reason I did this was because I thought fruit was healthier than some of the other dining options available in the mess hall.  Now that I dig deeper, I've realized that the fruit I was eating was filling my stomach with healthy fiber and carbohydrates thaHow I Lost 100lbs in College - www.YogaTravelTree.comHow I Lost 100lbs in College - www.YogaTravelTree.comt were going to fill me up and keep me energized, so I didn't need to eat as much other food afterward.  The other small change I made was that I was going to get more active.  No, I'm not talking about joining a gym or purchasing a fitness DVD (although later on, those are incredibly valuable tools).  I made a promise to myself that I was going to start jogging 4-5 nights a week.  No speed goal.  No distance goal.  Just get out and go for a jog.  Once I began jogging, I started to challenge myself and go further each week.  The first jog I ever went on must have been for 3/4 of a mile.  By the end of my journey, I was running 4 miles a night, 5 days a week.  Start small, and dream big.

3.  Consistency is KEY

 This is by far the most IMPORTANT point.  If you want to change your life for the better, you need to COMMIT to it.  So you just got invited to a party Thursday night, and you know that the cute girl from your Biology 110 class is going to be there.  Guess what?  You're going to arrive to that party a half hour late.  You have your jog to fit in.  Nobody is going to go anywhere.  The party will not stop because you aren't there, trust me.  Maybe you have a jog scheduled for Saturday, but you just know that the football game and tailgating is going to take up most of your day.  Guess what?  Set your alarm clock baby.  Get up a half hour earlier and get your jog in, or walk, or whatever you may be starting out with.  You have to be consistent.  On the flip side, you also need to know how to enjoy life.  If you get invited out for pizza or wings, get on out and go enjoy.  But be mindful.  As long as you aren't eating that stuff day in and day out, a little splurge once in a while is healthy and fine!  Just get back on track with your new lifestyle the next day.
That's it folks.  A new life doesn't happen in one week.  Or one month.  You WILL however start noticing a difference in your body, mind and spirit after you commit to these small changes.  A week into your new lifestyle, you'll start to feel more energy, and maybe a month in you realize clothes start to fit better.  It's an incredible experience.  What are you waiting for?

   

[wp_ad_camp_2]

Stay in the Groove: 8 Tips to Keep Motivated and Be Healthy

The holiday season tends to be a hectic time for most people as each weekend is full of parties, outings, dinners, and other plans. Usually a lot of traveling, cooking, baking, drinking, eating, and hanging around talking are involved. It’s a really great time of year to connect with friends and family and to express your love for them. Amidst all of the craziness, you might find it hard to express this love for yourself, as there’s just too much to get done, it seems. Similarly, if you live in area that gets very cold during the winter months, it can be tempting to snuggle up with hot chocolate and watch movies all day, versus sticking to your usual routines. Here are some tips to help keep you motivated to stay happy, healthy, and fit during the holiday season and cold, winter months.

1. Set Goals for Yourself

Setting realistic exercise goals can go a long way in keeping you on track. The workout goal may vary from your typical routine, but simply committing to a certain number of minutes a day or week of exercise will help you stay focused. Even 15 minutes of yoga poses in the morning can aid in getting you centered and present, circulating breath and fresh blood throughout your heart, lungs and veins, detoxifying your body, loosening up your muscles, and giving you a boost for the day. Maybe the goal is setting the alarm 15 – 30 minutes early and getting a practice in before the rush of the day starts, especially if you know you won’t have time for a full practice later in the day. Putting it on the calendar is a sure way to keep you honest. [wp_ad_camp_1]

2. Short Practices Throughout the Day

Though it’s not ideal, you can do yoga almost anywhere. Standing in line at the grocery store is a great time to explore some shoulder stretches. There are 1000s of way to incorporate yoga and mindfulness into your everyday life: forward folds in the shower, sitting mindfully in a hip opener (sukhasana, for example) and remembering to switch sides every few minutes, circulating energy with a few half or full sun salutations when waiting for food to finish cooking, or wrist, finger, and ankle stretches while watching a movie with the family are all ways to stay present, to keep fresh breath circulating, and to keep the energy flowing through the body while getting to tasks of the day done. Feel free to get creative but always be safe and mindful of what your body is telling you and of how open you are at any given time. Without proper warm-ups, your muscles won’t be as warm and you won’t be able to access poses as deeply as when in a full practice, so be aware of not pushing yourself too far here. The purpose is more of a mindfulness activity to stay aware of the body and stay present in the moment.

 3. Invite Family Members to Practice with You

Chances are you have family members that know nothing about yoga. They may not pursue it on their own but they might be interested in connecting with you in a different way than usual and on having you show them the benefits of yoga. Having a family yoga session can be incredibly fulfilling, as you’re sure to laugh together and share energy in new ways. Make an official or unofficial invitation, depending on the structure of your family, to join together for a group yoga session. You will be sharing a very valuable gift with your loved ones that they could take into their own lives moving forward. If you’re not a yoga teacher, there are many on-line yoga classes that are superb (like www.Udaya.com) that you can use for the class. There are free sites as well. Throw some of your old mats into the car, round up the family, plug the computer into the television and broadcast the session for the whole family to enjoy.

4. Enlist a Workout Buddy

Screen Shot 2014-12-05 at 8.56.12 AM

Having a friend on the journey with you of staying healthy during the cold, holiday months is a great idea because, in addition to keeping one another honest, you will also enrich your relationship. It’s so much more fun to run on the treadmill alongside a friend or to accompany each other to a yoga class followed by a lunch date. You will be more likely to show up to the gym or studio if someone is meeting you there at a set time. Plus, it’s a great way to stay connected to your community, which will keep your mental and emotional health in tiptop shape.

5. Consider Booking a Yoga Retreat

If you live somewhere extremely cold and tend to get depressed from the lack of sunshine and outside time, consider booking a yoga retreat abroad in a tropical climate. You will be amazed at how good you will feel after a week in the sun, full of yoga and fun. You will go home recharged, ready to take on any challenges that come your way, and armed with new skills and techniques to staying healthy.

 6. Control Your Food and Alcohol Intake

This might seem obvious, but it takes a lot of effort for most of us to not binge eat during the holidays. It tends to be societally accepted and perhaps even expected that everyone stuff themselves during the holidays. Our families work hard to prepare lots of good food but the fact is it tends to be on the unhealthy side for most families during this time of year (not in all cases, of course!). Avoiding all the delectable treats of this season can seem like torture, especially if you have cravings for such foods. A great way to help you avoid things you don’t want to eat is by committing to it before you leave the house. As a vegan, it’s easy for me to avoid most unhealthy holiday foods and baked goods as I can’t eat them anyway, but before I was vegan, I had an extremely difficult time saying no to certain sweets, even if I wasn’t hungry. If you’re not vegan, pretend that you are and that you simply cannot eat most of the unhealthy crap, and it gets a lot easier to avoid. Eat a nutritious breakfast, drink a fresh juice or smoothie early in the morning to fill you up, and supplement with nuts and fresh fruits and veggies throughout the day so you’re not starving during the ominous mealtimes. Then look in the mirror and practice telling your mother, “No thanks Mom, none for me this year.”

7. Supplement with Vitamins, if Necessary

Let me preface this by saying loudly: I AM NOT A DOCTOR. Not even close, however, as a therapist, I know that lack of sunshine can cause deficiencies in vitamins, namely Vitamin D. These deficiencies not only impact our physical health but can leave us feeling depressed or melancholy as well. If you notice that you’re not getting enough sun and that it’s starting to affect your wellbeing, consider talking to your doctor about supplementing with vitamins during this time, and see what she or he recommends for you. You might even consider having a blood panel drawn up to see exactly what you need.

8. Bring Dishes that are Healthy and Filling

Take matters into your own hands and set examples for your friends and family by recreating traditional recipes in healthy and delicious ways and bringing them to the party. I never feel deprived as a vegan during Thanksgiving or Christmas if I ensure I bring some dishes I love, as literally every recipe can be made vegan (and usually tastes better, in my opinion). You can eat more because it’s not bogged down with filing animal fats and you won’t feel gross afterwards. Your family will try it and surely love it and you might have an impact on moving your whole family in a healthier direction. Just make sure to bring plenty so you’re not upset when they gobble up all your vegan green bean casserole!

[wp_ad_camp_2]

Image via, via

Which Type of Yoga Burns the Most Calories?

[wp_ad_camp_1]  

Many yogis are initially drawn to their yoga mats for health reasons, with a primary focus on breaking a sweat, burning some calories, getting some energy and learning some kick ass yoga poses. As time progresses, most yogis start to realize or, even better, feel that they are gaining far deeper reaching benefits such as a combination of a calmer mind, calmer body, and calmer lifestyle gains. They come to their mats for mental and physical benefits that transcend far beyond the workout value.

They start to become curious about meditation, about the gentler styles of yoga, start to delve into new areas such as Yin Yoga and Yoga Nidra, for example, and their focus shifts away from simply the fabulous physical benefits towards the outstandingly amazing mental benefits that a well-rounded yoga practice invites.

If you ask any fabulously committed yogi why they love yoga so much, weight-loss and calorie burn would more than likely be pretty far down their list of wonderful reasons why they practice. However, while you don’t want to take away from the mind-body connection that people join the yoga world to experience, we are all naturally from time-to-time a little curious as to how many calories our favorite yoga class helps us to burn.

Yoga is not often considered to be in the same category as calorie torching, sweat-inducing activities like running, swimming or kickboxing. While some yoga practices offer physically challenging, cardiovascular workouts, more often the focus of classes is on flexibility, presence of mind, breathing, balance and strength. Yoga’s unique blend of mental and physical work may not be a calorie-burning powerhouse, but it can still offer some level of value in weight management. I will come onto this in more detail a little later…

So which type of yoga burns the most calories? The answer might just surprise you!

Type of Yoga Calories burned (1hr/150lb yogi)
Hatha Yoga 189
Ashtanga Yoga 351
Bikram 477
Vinyasa Flow 594

Stats via HealthStatus.com

Which Style of Yoga Burns the Most Calories? - www.YogaTravelTree.com

The highlights of each style of yoga

Hatha Yoga

This is the most popular and generic style of yoga class that you may find at your gym or local studio. Hatha yoga combines physical exercise and mental discipline, with the goal of integrating and invigorating both body and mind. It consists primarily of poses, to increase strength and flexibility, and controlled breathing (pranayama).

Ashtanga

Ashtanga yoga is a particularly intense and physically athletic form of yoga, with challenging, rapid movements. It is both cardiovascular and meditative, and relies on the strength of your own muscles to perform the movements. The postures performed in Ashtanga are always the same and are done in a specific order. Ashtanga yoga is meant to purify the body by cultivating an “internal heat,” which burns off toxins. It also builds incredible strength, flexibility and is well known for reducing stress and keeping the mind focused.

Bikram

Vinyasa helps your muscles stay warm and flexible, but some people find the sequence tiring and would rather just do individual poses, one after another, without the transition. Bikram yoga allows this opportunity with a set structure consisting of 26 poses and two breathing techniques. Heated environments increase your pulse rate and metabolism. Although you get hot, the act of sweating helps to control the internal body temperature, and also assists in ridding the body of toxins and enhances flexibility in the muscles.

Vinyasa Flow

Vinyasa is a flowing style of yoga that also links the breath with movement. It serves as a strength-training process and the different poses especially the standing, arm balances, backbends and inversions utilize body resistance. Many yogis love Vinyasa because of its diversity. There is no single sequence that teachers follow, so every class will be different, but intense to a varying degree. The body does not have time to learn, adapt or come to expect what comes next.

 

Other factors to consider

As we can see above, we shouldn’t rely simply on the sweat factor as a gauge on how intense an exercise is. While a higher heart rate does correlate with a higher calorie burn, other factors can play a role in increased heart rate without the corresponding caloric expenditure.

As in any physical activity, the ultimate number of calories burned in a class depends on your size, gender, intensity, efficiency, heart rat, perceived effort and body composition. These factors are much more accurate indicators or how hard you are working and how much energy you are expending.

Looking for ways to increase the intensity of your yoga class?

We will burn more calories when we engage the larger muscles of the body, so simple changes to your practice such as deepening our warrior poses, yoga squats and chair poses will increase the demand on our large muscles, therefore burning more calories.

Healthy body, healthy mind

Regardless of how many calories you burn in yoga, a regular practice offers an element of other weight management benefits. Yoga teaches us to listen to our bodies, take care better care of ourselves and naturally avoid unhealthy behaviors or eating patterns.

Yoga practice also helps reduce stress and the resulting overproduction of certain hormones that can contribute to weight gain. Improved breathing, digestion regulation, and increased focus resulting from regular yoga practice may also discourage weight gain.

Yoga can also help to make you stronger, more flexible and injury-free, allowing you to persevere longer and harder when running or cycling and thus burn more calories in your other sporting activities.

Which Style of Yoga Burns the Most Calories? - www.YogaTravelTree.com

Here are a sprinkling of the wonderful effects of yoga for all who come to their mat:

Yoga works the entire body

Yoga will help you gain strength in muscles that you never even knew you had! Training sessions in the gym or other sports tend to work isolated muscle groups. Yoga requires you to use the complete strength of your body in each and every pose, which in turn helps you to develop and tone all of the muscles in the body as you engage them throughout your sequence.

It builds power and heat while moving through a series of poses. Yogis discover strength in warrior and planks; challenge themselves with inversions, funky arm balances and other mind and body twisting poses. All of this is done in a calm and mindful way, creating stability and strength within the body and mind.

Doing yoga gives you energy and focus

Yoga restores and increases your energy levels. Yoga boosts your system to release energy, and all of those happy endorphins. So after your practice, you will notice that you have increased energy and a sharper mental focus.

Yoga helps to removes stress from your world!

Awesome right?

Yoga provides you with a sense of clarity and balance within the mind. By paying attention to your breath, you stay present paying attention only to the details of that very moment. After you practice you will feel more grounded and calmer.

 

Complementary Practice

Try to take your focus beyond just the calorific burn and be aware of some of the factors to consider when exercising, which include how the class makes you feel, how passionate you are for the activity, and which one better suits your body you’re your mind. Recognizing that these factors can change hour-by-hour, day by day or week by week, and being ok with that.

Yoga makes you stronger mentally and physically. It provides you with a constant challenge to be a better version of yourself each day. It helps you to find comfort and a sense of ease in some of the most uncomfortable positions. These lessons go far beyond the yoga mat and extend readily into your day-to-day life.

Images via: @onyxmindbody, @yogabeyond, @faifaiaziz

Gluten Free Morning Glory Muffins

[wp_ad_camp_1] When you're gluten-free, finding healthy, on-the-go snacks can be difficult—or expensive. I can't remember when I discovered the recipe for Morning Glory Muffins, which first appeared in a slightly altered form in Food to Live By: The Earthbound Farm Organics Cookbook, but they've been a breakfast, snack, and sweet present go-to ever since.

The beauty of these muffins is you can add or subtract ingredients as you'd like and they'll still be delicious. Looking for a low-glycemic alternative? Use coconut flour instead of your typical rice-heavy gluten-free mixes. Want to go egg-less? Check out these alternatives.

Make this recipe your own, then enjoy, and best of all—pass it on!

Ingredients:morning glory muffin

  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 2 1/4 cups gluten-free all purpose flour mix (I use garbanzo bean or coconut flour, but if your mix contains xanthan gum or guar gum don't add the additional 1 teaspoon gum to the recipe)
  • 1 teaspoon guar gum OR xanthan gum
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups grated carrots (approximately 4 large carrots)
  • 1 large peeled and shredded apple
  • 2 bananas, diced
  • 3/4 cups raisins
  • 1/2 cup shredded, sweetened coconut
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • Optional: 1 c. gluten-free granola or 2 tbsp. flax seeds for topping

Prep Time: 30 minutes Cook Time: 25 minutes Total Time: 55 minutes

 

Preparation:

1. Preheat oven to 350° F
2. Grease standard muffin pan or line with paper muffin cup liners.3. In large mixing bowl, combine sugar, gluten-free flour blend, guar gum OR xanthan gum, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Use a whisk or fork to thoroughly combine.
4. In a separate large bowl combine shredded carrots, apples, bananas, raisins, coconut and nuts. Stir to thoroughly mix.
5. Add the fruit, vegetable, nut mixture to the dry ingredients followed by eggs, oil, and vanilla. Beat the mixture to thoroughly combine ingredients.
6. Fill muffin cups about 3/4 full. If desired, top each with a sprinkling of gluten-free granola or flax seeds.
7. Bake in preheated oven for about 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Yield: About 2 dozen standard size muffins

Images via: @kmspin

Superfoods: The Chia Seed

[wp_ad_camp_1]

Ch-ch-ch-chia!

Remember those chia pets of the ‘80s? Well, these tiny sprouting seeds are making a comeback. But don’t grab your pruning sheers just yet. You won’t find them in the gardening section. They are with the groceries! These edible nutlike seeds are packed full of nutrients and other benefits!

 

Where did they come from?

Chia seeds originated in Mexico and Central America and were a staple of the typical Aztec and the Mayan diets. A Mayan word for “strength”, chia seeds were believed to increase stamina and sustain energy. People ate them ground up as flour or pressed for oil, drank them mixed with water, and used them medicinally for joint pain. They were banned in the 16th century by Spanish conquistadors because of their use for Aztec religious ceremonies, but don’t worry! You can find them at almost any supermarket today.

Feeling gloomy? Need something to sustain you through yoga class? Want to get more fiber or omega-3s? Reach for some chia seeds!

 

Eat Like a Yogi: The Chia Seed - YogaTravelTree

 

What’s so great about chia seeds?

  1. Fiber. Remember when we told you about the benefits of fiber in flax? Flax isn’t the only thing with lots of fiber. Chia seeds have 11 grams of fiber per one-ounce serving. That’s almost 50% of your daily-recommended intake!
  2. Tryptophan. Okay, so normally when we hear this we think of Thanksgiving and turkey and NAPS! But tryptophan doesn’t just help you sleep, it also regulates appetite and has been proven to boost moods.
  3. Calcium. One serving has 17% of your daily-recommended calcium intake.
  4. They regulate weight. Chia seeds absorb liquids and can expand up to 10 times in your stomach, making you feel full longer.
  5. Plant source of omega-3 fatty acids. With five grams per ounce, chia seeds have more omega-3 fatty acids than a serving of fish!
  6. Protein. One serving of chia seeds has 4.7g of protein. That’s almost as much as is in an egg!
  7. They keep your heart healthy. Studies have shown that chia seeds improve blood pressure and lower bad cholesterol.

 

How can I eat them?

  1. Jam. Yep, you heard me right. Chia seeds form a gel when mixed with water and allowed to sit. Bring a pot with 1 lb fresh berries, 2 T. maple syrup or sugar, 3 T. chia seeds, and a drop of vanilla extract to a boil. Mash the berries. Simmer for about 10-15 minutes, or until the mixture thickens. Put into a sealed glass container (I like to use mason jars for this) and let cool. Once cooled, store in the refrigerator.
  2. Sprinkle them onto your cereal or salad.
  3. Toss them in your smoothie.
  4. Mix them into your drink. In Mexico, you can order a “chia fresca” which is water, lemon juice, and sugar.
  5. Bake with them. Chia seeds can be easily added into baked goods like breads and muffins.

 

Did you know?

Chia seeds are packed full of antioxidants, which means they can last without refrigeration for two years!

 

Image via: @muckl_fitness

 

10 Yoga Poses for a Kick Ass Core

It is coming close to summer time now and our bodies are screaming to come out and play in the beautiful sunshine and blue skies.  It’s at this time of year that we start to get thinking about our bikini bodies, and panicking over how quickly we can get back into shape after a long drawn out winter of covering everything up in the darker shades of colder days. Or maybe it is just that you have set yourself a kick ass goal of getting uber fit for a triathlon, marathon or some other personal challenge and you recognize the value in having a strong core. I dare any one of you reading this article to say that you have never given a seconds thought to how awesome it would be to have a fabulously lean and toned stomach. We are all guilty of thinking there’s nothing sexier… even if only for a nano-second. I don’t mean a showy 6 pack, you know the guys who parade up and down the beach flexing their muscles to show off what they have under their shirts… those 6 packs only work on a superficial level. What I mean is that we want the kind of 6 pack that combines the rectus abdominus, transverse abdominus, external, and internal oblique’s, and allows our bodies to move in all possible directions through its sheer strength and flexibility. Strength and flexibility that comes from yoga.

 

“Engage your core….”

So, what does a 6 pack have to do with yoga? In yoga everything comes from our core.  Every action, movement, thought, and intention comes from the very center of our being – whether that is literally our core muscles, or the center metaphorically speaking.

You will often hear your teacher tell you to “extend you heart”, “engage your core”, “use your core to” move from Warrior 1 to Warrior 3 or when moving between the boat series, for example. The core is the center of a yogi’s world. The teacher is always, always reminding their students about the importance of engaging their core in a whole range of poses, or transitions between poses.  All the time! And, have you noticed how as soon as you do actually firm up your belly, it completely changes your pose? That’s the absolute power of core strength!

[bctt tweet="The core is the center of a yogi’s world."]

Core strength = chakra strength

As a bit of an aside, there is also research to suggest that the core is connected to our third chakra – Manipura. This chakra is connected to our confidence and self-esteem. The more robust our confidence, the more likely we are to be able to survive the curveballs that life can sometimes throw at us. The more readily and easily we will overcome obstacles, self-doubt, fear and our deepest, darkest, inhibitions. The outcome of this is that we become lucky enough to live an extraordinary and empowered life that allows us to follow our goals, our dreams and start to move in the direction that makes us come alive.

 

Why is core strength important in yoga?

10 Yoga Poses for a Kick Ass Core - YogaTravelTree

 

Stop for a moment and think about just how many poses on your yoga mat require you to activate your core.

When you go into Tree pose, activating your core at the start of the pose enhances the stability that you feel, which guides you to a safe and secure place in which you can raise your hands to the sky and find a sense of balance. Chaturanga requires core strength to keep your body aligned as you form a perfectly straight line to support your torso as you lower yourself towards the ground.

I could go on, but I think you get my point.

You can truly think about the impact that a strong core has on every single posture practiced in a yoga flow. A strong core adds grace and stability during simple transitions from Warrior 2, to extended side angle, and back to reverse warrior. And that’s nothing compared to the core strength needed for arm balances and inversions like crow pose, or headstand. Poses that would be virtually impossible without engaging the core.

 

Reasons to work your core:

If you regularly read my articles, you know that my stance on yoga is most definitely that yoga is more than just stretching and relaxation!  Daily yoga practice includes a comprehensive system that builds strength in the body and mind.  And as all of that strength is from the core, guess what ends up looking like a kick ass core? Yep, you got it, your stomach muscles. Without even realizing that you are working half of the muscles in your core, yoga significantly tones and strengthens your belly region.

Strengthening your core also has knock on effects and benefits for the rest of your body and mental well being too. Toning the abdominal muscles is vital for good posture and protection from lower back pain.

If you introduce a regular practice of these key poses into your yoga practice, you will experience a steady development of strength that will last your entire life. Strong, flexible muscles help keep your body youthful and your mind energetic.

[bctt tweet=" Strong, flexible muscles help keep your body youthful and your mind energetic."]

The Routine

The 10 postures outlined below will help you develop the strength and stamina needed to truly build core power in your yoga practice. You can easily sprinkle them throughout your class to spread them out, or go for an all out killer core session and attack them one after another.

1) Superman Holds (Tabletop extensions and curls)

superman

Begin in tabletop pose with your hips above your knees, and shoulders above your wrist. Lift the right leg and extend behind you, flexing the heel. When you feel stable, raise your left arm and extend it forward (keeping both limbs and your core parallel to the floor).

Inhale the extended limbs away from each other, and then draw the right knee and left elbow towards each other on your exhale.

Complete 10-20 times, and then switch to the other side.

Navasana – Boat Pose Variations

boat

One of my favorite core exercises in my personal practice! A combination of core strength, hip flexion and mental steadiness, this posture has many different variations so that all levels can practice it. Holding for a minimum of five breaths daily builds powerful core muscles and aligns the spine.

2) Boat pose and lower boat pose  

 boat and lower

Every little (and big) muscle in your abdominals is engaged during boat or low boat pose. Low boat engages the transverse abdominals particularly well as well, those ones that contribute to a super flat belly.

Starting in boat pose, bringing the legs straight up to a 45-degree angle (or keeping knees bent to modify).  The torso will naturally fall back, but try not to let the spine collapse. Bring the arms out straight in line with your shoulders.

Lower halfway to your mat with your inhale. Then rise up and return to boat pose on your exhale.

Continue for 10-20 reps. To challenge yourself try to extend the hover period between breaths, and complete this exercise as many times as you can.

3) Boat Twist

boat and twist

Starting in boat pose as above, bring your hands together interlacing the fingers except the index fingers.

Inhale at center, exhale take the hands and twist to the right (hold for 2-5 breaths), inhale back to center (hold for 2-5 breaths), and exhale to the left (hold again for 2-5 breaths. Your inhale brings you back to center.

4) Plank

Plank is a key pose within our yoga flow classes, as it is one of the basic tools for combining our core strength with our upper body power as we power between poses in our vinyasas. Directing the mind to remain steady and calm in plank helps calm the nervous system in even more arduous movements. Try to hold plank for one minute to really build strength.

Challenge Variation: Try lifting one leg from the floor while you hold plank, then move to the other side after 20-60 seconds.

side plank

5) Side Plank

Here's a fabulous arm-balancing pose that will target the oblique’s, the sides of the torso, making them uber lean, slim lined and gorgeously toned. Side plank strengthens the obliques, while the abdominals work to stabilize the entire body.

From plank, bring your weight onto your right arm as you roll onto the outside of your right foot.

Keep both feet flexed and stack your left foot on top of the right. Slowly raise your left arm towards the sky and let your gaze follow your fingertips, or the side of the room.

Modify: Simpler: Bend the knee of top leg and resting sole of foot in front of straight leg. To intensify take hold of the toe on the top leg and extend the leg towards the sky.

Hold for 3-5 breaths then move to the other side. Keep the hips and shoulders stacked on top of each other.

6) Forearm Plank

forearm

This pose is similar to the plank pose, except you bring your forearms onto the ground and stack your shoulders right above the elbows.

Hold for 1-3 minutes before moving to the next side.

7) Forearm Side Plank 

As above but resting on right forearm, while raising left arm to the sky. Hold for 1-3 minutes before moving to the next side.

8) Bicycle Flow

bicycle

Begin by lying on your back, with your fingers interlaced behind your neck.

On your exhale bring your right elbow to meet your left knee as you twist to center lifting your right shoulder up. Use your inhale to come back to the starting position. Continue the flow from left to right for 30 second to 2 minutes.

9) Pilates Core Taps

pilates

Lying on your back, extending both of your arms over-head. On your exhale, peel your arms and torso off the floor, lifting your right leg at the same time. Bring your fingers to tap behind the right leg. On your inhale slowly lower yourselves down to your mat.

Continue this flow for 10-25 times each side.

10) Double Leg Raises

legs 90

legs 60

 

legs 30

Lying on your back, extend both legs towards the sky with both feet flexed. Bring your arms alongside your body

On your exhale slowly lower both legs to 60 degrees, holding here for 2-5 breaths. On your next exhale lower both legs to 30 degrees, holding again for 2-5 breaths.  Then lower both legs to hover just above the floor as you exhale, holding for 2-5 breaths.

Continue this flow 5-10 times.

Counter Pose -  Half Bow

bow

This is a fabulous tool as a counter pose to all of the poses above, which primarily targets the abdominals. This pose strengthens the muscles that surround the back of the spine and helps to create a super strong core – both front and back.

Begin by lying on your stomach. Place your arms alongside your body. Inhale here, and then on your exhale lift the chest from the mat, and draw the hands towards the feet turning your palms to face outwards with the thumbs lifting to the sky. Gaze follows to the front of your mat.

Hold for between 30 seconds and 2 minutes.

A strong core is the center of a strong, healthy and happy yogi

A strong core stabilizes your entire body, both in yoga and outside of your practice in your daily life. Our core is what holds it all together – our physical and mental strength. So roll out your mat and get started on this kick ass core workout!

Want to build the ultimate yoga bod? Read our other articles on how to get an amazing legs, and butt, as well as beginner and (coming soon) advanced poses for back strength!

 

[bctt tweet="Our core is what holds it all together – our physical and mental strength."]

Images via: @laceytcufitchick

Spring Yoga Poses for Your Summer Bikini Body

[wp_ad_camp_1]

Last week while taking my dog child out for his morning stroll, just when I was about to slip on the ice and give up on the prospect of this winter ever ending, I heard the most beautiful sound - the birds chirping! Ah, the first sign of spring! It was such a welcome addition to our morning ritual I couldn’t help but smile, even though I still had to dodge piles of snow and pull my hood over my ears.

After I returned to the warm cocoon of comfort that is our apartment, I got to thinking: what would be the harm in taking my flip flops out of storage?  Not to wear, but just to look at.  They can sit next to my boots and wait their turn.  Even though I know its going to be weeks - probably months - before I can use them, what’s the worst that can happen?  The worst that can happen is that they collect dust or that my aforementioned dog child chews them up, but the best that can happen is that my little bit of intention puts a spring in my step and makes for a more optimistic day.

But why stop at flip flops? Why not incorporate some summer optimism into my fitness routine and get the ball rolling on a bikini body?  Now’s the time to start prepping folks, because once summer is here, you’re not going to want to waste time planking and push-pressing when you could be beach-side with a margarita in hand.

 

Yoga Poses for Your Summer Bod

 

Abs

Yeah, yeah. You knew I had to start with this. If you’re being smart about your exercise, you’re engaging your core actively throughout workouts, weight lifts, or yoga poses.  Many people confuse “engaging your core” with “sucking in.”  When I ask people to stabilize their core throughout a movement, what I am really looking for is the conscious contraction of the whole core, not just the rectus abdominus (the “six pack” muscles).  When someone is struggling to get the hang of this, I (gently) poke into the side of their abdomen below their ribs. Then, I give them the cue to bear down a little bit (like they are lifting something heavy) and if I feel their abs contracting against my poke, they’ve got it.  This is what I have been referring to when I say “if you can’t maintain core stabilization in a difficult pose, you shouldn’t be holding it.”  If you’re not accustomed to this movement, this addition alone to your yoga practice will be a challenge for your abs. Once you get the hang of it, many poses will come much more easily to you.  In the meantime, if you’re looking for a little more challenge, consider focusing on the following poses:

 

High Plank Pose and variations

High Plank Pose

Boat Pose

Boat Pose

Bird/Dog

Bird Dog

 

Butt and Thighs

The Warrior Series, Extended Side Angle and Triangle Pose are all absolutely excellent ways to improve endurance in the legs and butt. Many of these have the added bonus of giving your arms and shoulders a good challenge, too! Chair Pose is s fantastic way to gain strength and tone your lower body, and it should be challenging! This is an easy one to slack off in, so check in with yourself that the weight of your body is in your heels and you are sinking deeply into the squat with a proud chest. Bridge Pose is just an all-around great glute workout and there are many options for variations, including leg raises from a bridged position or bridging with your feet on a wall or stability ball.

 

The Warrior Series

Warrior II yoga pose

Extended Side Angle

Extended Side Angle pose

Triangle

Triangle Pose Yoga

Chair Pose

Chair Pose

Bridge Pose

Bridge Pose yoga

 

Arms and Shoulders

Low Plank or Chaturanga is an obvious choice for this. My first few Chaturangas involved a couple of choice four-letter words. But once I got a feel for what its like to hover in this position, I realized it’s such a perfect pose to use as transitions in Sun Salutations or on its own as a gold standard for arms and shoulders. This is an excellent core exercise, too, but just make sure your butt isn’t hiked up in the air! Side plank and Down Dog (or Down Dog push-ups), are also awesome challenges for your shoulders.

 

Low Plank

Chatauranga yoga

So get after it, make the pseudo-spring more exciting, uplifting and use it to make yourself even better than ever!

##

Rachel Wiegand has been an athlete her whole life but yoga has been the only constant throughout moves and life changes. A former personal trainer, she is now a practicing chiropractor in Sheboygan, Wisconsin and enjoys helping patients find a physical activity that fits their lifestyle best. In addition to yoga, she practices Pilates and is an avid Crossfitter. On her weekends you can find her teaching yoga at CrossFit Sheboygan, with her hubby at Lake Michigan on her paddleboard, or at the dog park with her boxer, Dug.

##

And be sure to check out our founder's latest guest post over on HotelsCheap.org all about how Yoga Travel Tree got started and how you can #findyouryoga all over the world. Check out the interview here!

Images via: @alohayogasusan, @badkukie

Yoga and CrossFit: 6 Poses to Improve Your WOD

I was introduced to CrossFit about four years ago, while sitting in the class “Neuromusculoskeletal Diagnosis and Treatment.” It wasn’t much of an introduction - our instructor was actually just making a passing reference - but since I’d not heard of it before I asked a friend for clarification.  “It’s the workout the guys from 300 did,” my friend said.  Well THAT explains it, I thought.  Then later, after I’d started my Master’s degree classes, I was further exposed to the concepts of CrossFit and Olympic lifting. I joined our local gym (or “box”) last July and began teaching yoga there in October. [wp_ad_camp_1]

 

In the past several years CrossFit has exploded in popularity, with boxes popping up everywhere and the increasingly popular CrossFit Games claiming to crown “the fittest in the world.”  For those of you non-CrossFitters, March is of particular importance to CrossFit because during this month yearly, standardized “open” Workout of the Days (or “WODs”) are introduced and used to help athletes qualify for regional matches.  Last week’s workout, or “14.1” involved 10 minutes of as many rounds as possible of the following movements:

30 “Double Unders” (a jump rope move during which you jump once and the rope makes two revolutions)

15 Snatches (Olympic weight lifting move)

 CrossFit doesn’t have a particular muscle “focus;” there are no “arms” or “legs” days and that’s kind of the point. Muscular “confusion” is at the core of the CrossFit philosophy. Quite frankly, that made implementing yoga at our local box pretty easy. But, of course, there are problem areas for CrossFit athletes just like any other type of athlete.  Below are some of the poses I have found to be most beneficial for members in our box.

 

Downward Facing Dog

downdog Yoga pose Yogatraveltree

A classic move, when done correctly this pose can target commonly tight areas such as the hamstrings, back and latissimus dorsi (“lats”).  To get the full benefit of this pose in your shoulders, make sure you are keeping your shoulders down and retracted.

 

Eagle 

Eagle pose yoga crossfit yogatraveltree

This pose has several benefits for our athletes: it helps improve balance, the importance of which cannot be understand for some Olympic lifting moves (the snatch being one of them), and it also targets shoulder mobility.

 

Pigeon 

pigeon pose yoga crossfit yogatraveltree

After a hard day deadlifting or squatting, nothing feels better than this pose for your hips and butt.

 

Chair 

chair pose yoga crossfit yogatraveltree

This pose challenges the legs in a different way than any weight lifting move. It is also a good way to open the chest and improve squatting form.

 

Bridge 

bridge pose yoga crossfit yogatraveltree

This pose is present at the beginning and end of almost every yoga class we do at our box. It is a great way to warm up, work on core stability and engage the glutes. My favorite version of bridge is to add the single-leg component with a lift (both leg lifts and repetitive lifting of the hips are good challenges).

 

Plow

plow pose yoga crossfit yogatraveltree

In the words of Chris Traeger, this is literally the best thing I could think to do after pull-ups or back extensions.  It is an excellent way to both invert and improve low back flexibility.

And the list goes on.  Yoga doesn’t just offer the prospect of improving balance and flexibility for athletes, it also offers the opportunity to train proper breathing patterns, improve core stability and regain mental focus. In CrossFit, as in many other workout programs (I’m looking at you Insanity and P90X), it is easy to lose these fundamental principles in the rush of the workout.  So whether you’re a regular CrossFitter, a weekend lifter or just getting started on the weight machines, take time to come back to your yoga roots and your body will thank you for it.

 

Images via: @ndlanae, @Jbindrum, @annazoke, @hercreativespirit, @yogawithnikita, @primal_neenzzz

 

[wp_ad_camp_2]

Go Green and Leafy: The Perfect Healthy Breakfast

The power of a Healthy Breakfast. 

 

One the best things you can do for your health is include plenty of green leafy vegetables in your diet, and a great way to get them in is first thing in the morning. Rich in important vitamins, minerals and health promoting antioxidants, these nutritional powerhouses are one of the most nutrient dense foods around.

6 Crazy-good Benefits

 

  1. Consuming green leafy vegetables regularly as part of a healthy well-balanced diet will help reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer, degenerative eye conditions, osteoporosis and even type-2 diabetes.
  2. These veggies are also an excellent source of B vitamins, including, folate, B6 and B12.
  3. Eating plenty of green leafy vegetables can help lower homocysteine levels in the body, a natural compound that can contribute to clogged arteries and heart disease if it reaches high levels. The body uses folate, and vitamins B12 and B6, to keep homocysteine levels under control.
  4. They contain carotenoids, lutein and zeaxanthin, that act as powerful antioxidants that protect against cataracts and age-related macular degeneration, as well as having cancer-protective properties. Antioxidants such as these, act by neutralizing damaging free radicals before they harm the body.
  5. They are also rich in calcium, needed for strong healthy bones. A cup of dandelion greens contain more calcium than ½ cup of milk. There are some varieties however, such as swiss chard, collards, spinach and beet greens that should not be relied on for their calcium content as they contain high levels of oxalates, compounds that block calcium absorption.
  6. Many green leafy vegetables, especially spinach and swiss chard, are good sources of iron, used to produce red blood cells and transport oxygen around the body. Green leafy vegetables are also an excellent source of vitamin K, which helps regulate blood clotting, and may help protect the body against osteoporosis, atherosclerosis and inflammatory diseases.

 

Sneak them in!

go green with the perfect healthy breakfast yogatraveltree

A great way to get all the benefits from green leafy veggies is to hide them in your morning smoothie.  Weather you love the taste of kale, or if green drinks creep you out, there's a smoothie out there for you. The fruit included in the smoothie overpowers the taste of your leafy greens, so you get a hydrating, nutritional boost that you won't even know is healthy. Try the following recipe for a great start to the day, or for a pick-me-up snack in the afternoon.

Super Green Juice Smoothie

  • 2 Cups Spinach
  • 1 Cup Kale
  • 1 Banana
  • 1/2 Cup Frozen Pitted Cherries
  • 1/2 Cup Blueberries
  • 20oz Water, Almond or Hemp milk
  • 1Tbs Cinnamon

In a high speed blender, combine all ingredients and blend until creamy.

This delicious smoothie is packed with green goodness. It is rich in vitamin C and antioxidants so it will help alkalize the body, reduce inflammation and boost immune function. It also contains sulfur compounds that help support healthy liver detoxification, which will help cleanse and protect the body from toxins. It also contains magnesium to help calm and nourish your nervous system, and iron to help improve energy levels and help transport oxygen around the body.

Go green!

go green with the perfect healthy breakfast yogatraveltree

##

Lisa Guy is a respected Sydney based naturopath, author and passionate foodie. Lisa owns a clinic called 'Art of Healing' and has a particular love for treating babies, children and helping support women through pregnancy and beyond. Lisa writes for a variety of health magazines, websites, and newspapers and has written books including 'My Goodness: all you need to know about children's health and nutrition, 'Heal Yourself' and 'Pregnancy Essentials'. Visit her website and find her on Facebook

Images via: YogaStage,  Tattooed Martha, @xociah