health

Infographic: 10 Yoga Poses to Make You a Better Runner

Runners are notoriously inflexible human beings, forever ever envious of other rubber-jointed athletes. Flexibility and running may seem unlikely partners, but adding in a short yoga routine to after your daily miles can help prevent injury and hurtle you over training plateaus. The following infographic outlines one such routine that should take about 15 minutes and can vastly improve a your health and wellbeing.

10-Yoga-Poses-to-Make-You-a-Better-Runner-1456136021481

Infographic courtesy of Life Yoga Center

Feature image via: Daniel Chandranayagam

Using Yoga and Meditation to Cope with Addiction

Addiction is a brain disease, but the repercussions of addiction affect much more than just the brain. Biologically it affects your brain, it affects your body physically, and it affects your soul emotionally. For those who are recovering from addiction and working to remain sober, it’s important to be hyper-aware of your body and mind in order to get healthy. Overcoming substance abuse is a marathon, not a sprint, and requires constant inventory of emotions, feelings, and your body. Utilizing yoga and meditation can be a great tool in this endeavor since these activities also affect the mind, body, and soul and keep a full body and mind inventory in the process.  

For the Mind

Ultimately, addiction starts in the mind. There are many factors that come into play when dealing with addiction such as environment, biology, and brain development. A person’s environment and social surroundings has a lot to do with the beginning of substance abuse. Living in a home with substance abuse or in an area where substance abuse is common increases the chances of addictive behaviors. Some addicts are also predisposed to addiction due to having a history of addiction in their family or if they were young when they began using. Not only does substance abuse become a natural behavior if they start using early, but since the brain isn’t quite developed yet, the chemical compounds of the drugs being used and their role in the brain alter its development.

Yoga increases both serotonin and dopamine, which is also what happens while using drugs. They affect the reward centers and mood, which is why using substances make you feel good and are difficult to quit using. When dealing with addiction recovery, yoga can be used in place of this craving. Once the brain connects serotonin and dopamine release with yoga instead of drug use, it’ll really help the brain to recover more effectively.

Using Yoga and Meditation to Cope with Addiction - Yoga Travel Tree
Using Yoga and Meditation to Cope with Addiction - Yoga Travel Tree

For the Body

Addiction is also a very physical disease and it can have a negative effect on almost every system in the body. Addiction can have an effect on body weight, muscle mass, strength, and stamina. Tooth loss, gum disease, lung disease, heart disease, liver damage, kidney damage, stroke, convulsions, and infection are all physical risks that can stem from substance abuse.

In recovery, it’s important to focus on both physical and mental health. Yoga might not be able to help many of the more serious ailments caused by addiction, but it can help with overall health and wellness. In terms of obtaining a healthy body weight, regaining muscle mass, and increasing strength, and stamina, yoga improves these aspects of health that may have been negatively affected by substance use.

Whereas a more intense cardio or strength workout might be more difficult for those recovering from addiction, yoga is a great low impact exercise that focuses on strengthening the body as well as the mind. You’ll build muscle mass and flexibility while increasing heart rate and lung capacity. The physical damage done by substance abuse may not be able to be repaired, but focusing on relaxing and adaptable exercise like yoga can help to work towards a healthier lifestyle that doesn’t involve substance abuse at all.

For the Soul

Addiction affects the soul. There are many aspects to addiction that involve emotions and self-worth that are incredibly difficult to heal from. Not only is the brain recovering from addiction, but so is the body, and the soul. The brain recovers biologically and learns to rewire its communication and reward centers. The body recovers by detoxing and flushing out toxins and rebuilding physical health. The soul recovers by being held accountable for actions, asking for forgiveness, and forgiving yourself.

Many things happen in the brain when recovering from addiction, and some of the things that can be the most difficult to recover from are the shameful aspects of addiction. Recovering addicts tend to suffer from anxiety and depression stemming from guilt associated with using. Coping skills are extremely important to obtain in addiction recovery and yoga and meditation can be a vital aspect to this part of recovery.

Yoga offers so much more than just the physical perks of exercise. Unlike many workouts, it offers a mental piece of mind as well. Meditation can be a major aspect to yoga and many classes focus on clearing the mind and focusing on positivity. Those practicing yoga will focus on understanding the things their body can do and watch the progress being made, which can be incredibly empowering to those battling addiction. Seeing positive change that you’ve created is really rewarding for those working hard to change the mistakes they may have made while using or questioned their ability to stay clean.

Yoga is an exercise for both the body and the mind which are two things that are in a sensitive state during recovery for many addicts. Yoga and meditation keeps you healthy while focusing on living a healthy and positive life. While maintaining sobriety, it’s essential to focus on these positive aspects of recovery that may help the negative side of recovery. Utilizing yoga as a coping mechanism during this time will offer another tool towards recovery for the mind, the body, and the soul.

Author Bio
Author Bio

Author bio: Chelsy Ranard is a writer from Montana who is now living in Boise, Idaho. She graduated with her journalism degree in 2012 from the University of Montana. She enjoys yoga, talk radio, and cold coffee. Follow her on Twitter!

Yoga for Every Body: Inspiring Yogis Come in All Shapes and Sizes

Maintaining positive body image in a sea of slim women can be a astronomically difficult task. Not all “clubs” and “cliques” are as accepting as others. However I have found growing support, acceptance, and inspiration in the yoga community regarding more bodascious girls participating. I first became interested in yoga and Pilates after my first daughter was born. I wanted to tone my midsection and lose weight and so I joined a local gym. While I was one of the larger women in the class I never felt out of place or “less than” anyone else. In yoga, I have found that many serious practitioners are more impressed by what you can physically do and what personality changes you accomplish than your general physical appearance. When I first joined my first yoga class I definitely looked different than many of the other bodies in the group. There were also people who were thinner, but far less flexible than I. This gave me the courage and strength to keep working on improving myself – regardless of my size and fitness level.

As I matured in my practice I found many other inspirational women on my journey. Women like Jessamyn Stanley, practicing and teaching yoga in South Carolina, around the US, and even internationally. Not only is she not afraid to do yoga, she accomplishes some of the more difficult poses with a bit of “junk in the trunk”. It’s even more impressive to me, as a big girl, to know that she is contorting herself into positions that few beginners can even dream of mastering –all while getting suffocated by her boobs in the process – just like the rest of us – and she doesn’t let that hold her back, or become an excuse to quit.

Anna Guest-Jelley of curvy yoga in Nashville, Tennessee is another inspiring example. She’s a woman who offers the kinds of classes and trainings that many of us normal-sized people crave, but are still learning how to seek out. We usually end up creating new niches and making our own spaces – which is what Anna is doing with her teacher trainings for Curvy Yoga. Yoga should be accessible to all physical and mental abilities – not just the most agile and fit amongst us. It’s humbling and inspiring to have role models speaking out for our right and responsibility to follow our heart and engage in our passions – regardless of what others may think of us. Inspirational role models also help break down stereotypes and show us that whatever perceptions we hold of what our bodies can do is often the result of our own self-limiting beliefs.

Role models like Anna and Jessamyn are narrowing the gap between what classes should look like, and how they actually are – aiming to make more of us feel comfortable to go out and practice in public and learning to love our bodies for what they can do in the process. Whether we’re wearing a baggy t-shirt and sweatpants, or a tight tops and workout leggings, these women give us confidence to just be ourselves, and work on being the best version of ourselves we can be each and every day.

 

Image Via: Yelp Inc.

Stay Loose: 4 Stretches to do During a Long Flight

We all know that sitting still for too long is terrible for our bodies and when we add air pressure and different time zones, it’s no wonder we start our holiday or business trip foggy headed, tight and sore backs, and fatigued. We want to arrive refreshed and limber. The only way to do this is to always remember to keep hydrated and to keep the blood flowing through the body. Even if you are not prone to Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT), it’s always a good idea to move your body during a long haul flight. With Qantas and Singapore Airlines offering 19 hour flights, you could do with some help!

I’m going to give you some airplane exercises to help prevent DVT and to keep the blood flowing to your body and your mind, allowing you to arrive alert, loose-limbed and ready to roll. Please listen to your own body and only do an exercise that feels good.

 

1. Reach forward and place your hands on the chair in front of you. Inhale and bring your chest forward, exhale and curl your belly in. Repeat for 5 slow breaths.

2. Place your hands either side of your chair. Inhale, lift your shoulders slowly, exhale and lower slowly. Repeat 10 times. Add in some shoulder rolls if you're still tight.

3. Balance your body on the chair with a straight spine. Raise one knee and place your hands underneath. Roll your ankle both ways x 10. Swap sides.

4. Sit straight in your chair. Cross your left ankle over the right knee. Gently press just above the left knee. Hold and breathe for 5 slow breaths. Swap sides.

 

I hope you have a wonderful flight and arrive safe and refreshed.


 

 

Victoria is a Yoga/Mindfulness and Meditation Teacher. She is passionate about bringing Yoga to every body, every where, no matter their circumstances. Victoria is an Author and designer of the Yoga Card Deck series, including a plane yoga card deck.

 

 

Image via: Sara Adkins

 

 

 

 

 

How Yoga Helps Heal the Whole Body

Your mind and body are intricately connected, so it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that they influence one another. Even the daily stressors you experience as a regular part of life have an impact on your mind, body and soul. In some cases, it simply can’t be helped that you get sick, such as with influenza, but the state of your mind can certainly have an impact on your recovery. One of the best ways to strengthen your body and mind is through yoga. Yoga has been proven to help with a variety of conditions, including:

Aches and Pains

You’ve probably heard that stress gives you gray hairs or wrinkles, and basically ages you before your time. That may be true, but the more surprising thing is that meditation and moving meditation like yoga has the opposite effect. It signals to your genes to stress less and age more slowly.

Yoga also reduces inflammation, which is a major factor for different kinds of pain. The effects may help diminish things like tension headaches, backaches and even arthritis. It may not be the Fountain of Youth, but it might keep the hair on your head its natural color for a few more years.

Parkinson’s

There are many different kinds of yoga. Aerial yoga is challenging, hot yoga is intense and smells, and aquatic yoga is a smooth, relaxing experience. A person that suffers from Parkinson’s disease will benefit greatly from aquatic therapy, which should include some yoga.

Parkinson’s sufferers have several symptoms, including things like difficultly balancing, tremors, rigidity or stiffness, a weak voice and small movements, among others. Aquatic yoga has several benefits. It helps increase strength and balance, both of which are affected by Parkinson’s. It’s usually held in a heated pool, which relaxes muscles and, even if you do fall, you’re cushioned by the water.

Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is a chronic disease that creates widespread pain and tenderness all over the body. It also contributes to a large amount of fatigue, which can be disabling in its own right. It’s thought that part of the reason fibromyalgia flares up and sticks around is because the body has trouble regulating stress. As a result, the muscles stay tense and the nervous system remains in the stress response mode.

Yoga, however, switches that off and gets the nervous system to calm down. It’s referred to as a relaxation response and is measured by a lower heart rate, calmer brain waves and ease of breathing. It lengthens and stretches the muscles, working out cramps and alleviating some of the pain. Since there is no known cause of fibromyalgia, we can’t say yoga will cure it. It will, however, help to alleviate the symptoms, and for sufferers of a chronic illness, that can be worth its weight in gold.

Cancer

In a really amazing study, researchers found only benefits from having cancer patients practice yoga as part of their cancer treatment. The yoga didn’t make the cancer go away, of course – that was a job for medication. However, it did help to reduce their stress and cut down on many other symptoms that go along with cancer treatment.

Plus, yoga in a group setting is a social event. People who are suffering with cancer often feel very isolated, and this can help contribute to depression. The yoga classes helped to prevent that, and keep them in a better frame of mind.

Cardiovascular Disease

Heart disease is the No. 1 cause of death in America. According to the CDC, approximately 25 percent of all deaths are due to heart disease. When you consider what can happen due to heart disease, like heart attacks and stroke, you have some pretty significant reasons to try and reduce your risk. Even though yoga isn’t usually considered aerobic exercise, in a large study, it was found to have the same effects on cardiovascular disease as classic exercise, like jogging or cycling.

One of the reasons people fall in love with yoga is because it helps to attune your body to your mind, making you more aware of yourself. Making an effort to check in with yourself is an important part of maintaining both a healthy state of mind and a healthy body.


 

JenPic (1)Jennifer Landis is an avid yogi who loves ginger tea, any and every nut butter, but mostly being a mom. She writes about her adventures in parenting, yoga, and clean eating at her blog, Mindfulness Mama.  You can follow her on Twitter @JenniferELandis.

 

Feature Image via: We Are Social

Exhale 2015 and Inhale 2016 with the Help of Yoga

Like many people, you probably made one or more resolutions for the New Year. After all, the prospect of changing for the better by letting go of the old and embracing the new can be very appealing. It's easy to get caught up in it – sometimes too easy. As you probably know from past experience, the most difficult part is making those well-intentioned resolutions stick. You might be surprised to learn that yoga can help.  

An ancient discipline that is widely used for health and relaxation purposes, yoga incorporates controlled movements, gentle stretches and diaphragmatic breathing techniques. The practice is known for strengthening the connection between the mind and the body and for bringing on a variety of wellness benefits, including a renewed sense of mental strength and resolve. This is precisely the mindset you need to keep your New Year's resolutions. As you achieve a sense of balance, you will naturally shed negative thoughts and behaviors and feel more prepared to take on new challenges, whether those challenges are physical, mental or emotional.

 

Right now, you might be thinking about your track record and shaking your head. Maybe you've resolved to participate in fitness programs before, only to find that, for whatever reason, you were unable to maintain your dedication. The fact is, when it comes to working out, life often gets in the way. Also, it can take time to see results, and frankly, exercise can become boring in the meantime. How can you expect yoga to be any different from your prior good intentions, many of which you began with gusto at the start of a year, only to abandon them well before the first day of spring?

 

One reason that you're more likely to stick with yoga is that is doesn't require a big commitment. There are many ways that you can fit it into your life without having to travel to an intimidating studio full of beautiful people clad in the latest yoga wear, or juggle family and work responsibilities to carve one to two precious hours out of your busy day. Because any amount of yoga "counts," you won't have to participate in a formal class or dedicate a significant block of time each day in order to achieve benefits. You can practice yoga virtually anywhere, on a schedule that works best for you, and see progress relatively quickly.

 

Also, while yoga can be very effective, it is also considered to be generally safe. In fact, the experts at Laser Spine Institute sometimes recommend yoga as a complementary treatment for patients who are seeking relief from neck or back pain. However, before you begin, it's a good idea to consult with a physician just to make sure that yoga is appropriate for you.

 

If you've received a green light from a physician and you're interested in giving yoga a try, one easy way to get started is to practice Laser Spine Institute's Seven-Day Yoga Challenge. This simple but well-rounded program incorporates a series of seven effective poses that are suitable for almost anyone, including beginners, and full descriptions and instructions are available online. Each day, you can try a new pose, such as...

 

·         Child's pose

·         Downward-facing dog

·         Cobra pose

·         Warrior II

·         Seated twist

·         Chair pose

·         Tree pose

 

These poses can be performed in any order and are easily incorporated into a more extensive program. Try to practice at least one a day to enhance your sense of ritual and establish a habit. To gradually increase the intensity of your workout, you can hold the positions for increasingly longer periods of time. Also, if you use social media, you may want to post photos of your poses on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram to share your experiences and connect with others.

 

Among other things, the regular practice of yoga can help you achieve the fortitude you need to better yourself. You can rely on this strength any time you feel tempted to ditch your New Year's resolutions, whether you're being lured by a new pair of pricey designer shoes, a slice of warm pecan pie topped with ice cream, or an urge to hit the snooze button instead of the gym. Give it a try, and you might find that you've turned a page in your life and adopted a healthier perspective that endures throughout 2016 and beyond.

 


 

Bio:

Spine-Exercises.com is a website dedicated to sharing spine health, back pain, and post-surgical exercise tips. You can find videos with tutorials for effective body mechanics to help in post-surgical recovery processes. Twitter, Facebook

 

 

Image via: Yelp Inc.

4 Surprising Reasons Why Drinking Tea is Great for Your Health

Some people drink tea on a regular basis and others claim they are not "tea people." There is a huge selection of types, flavors, and strengths of tea with a large selection of health benefits. Once you learn some of the proven health benefits and hear the claims of health, happiness, and wisdom touted by avid tea drinkers, you may decide it is in your best interest to venture into the world of tea. Black, white, and green tea are the most pure and natural forms, but there are countless types of herbal teas touting all sorts of health benefits.

Increased Mental Clarity and Focus

Extensive research has proven that tea increases mental clarity, memory, and focus. A combination of caffeine and theanine, an amino acid found in green tea, black tea, and white tea, help increase overall mental awareness. Some even claim that the mental benefits of tea are so far reaching they can help reduce the risk of heart disease in regular tea drinkers. Try to sip a cup for your mental wellbeing before your next big meeting or study session.

Decreased Cancer Risk

Different types of teas contain a variety of antioxidants containing polyphenols. Antioxidants are responsible for helping eliminate cancer-causing free radicals from your body. To receive the highest cancer prevention benefits, choose whole leaf, non-processed tea. Even processed tea still contains some polyphenols, but many are damaged and eliminated during processing. Many suggest that white tea, uncured and unfermented, is most beneficial in preventing cancer.

Anti-Inflammatory

Tea has many anti-inflammatory benefits to the body that lead to reduced swelling, decreased pain with arthritis, increased cardiovascular health, lower cholesterol, weight loss, and lessened water retention. Decreased inflammation due to the flavonol quercetin helps allergy sufferers by limiting allergic response and diminishing swelling. Add some locally sourced honey to your tea bought with Discountrue coupons for an added anti-allergen response.

Reduced Risk of Neurological Disorders

Studies suggest that regular tea consumption helps reduce the effects various neurological disorders such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. Green tea contains very high amounts of EGCG, a powerful polyphenol. This phyto-chemical aids in keeping the neurological synapses of the brain healthy and functioning properly. Many people enjoy the soothing aroma and taste of tea, but are unaware of the numerous health benefits. Next time you cozy up with a hot (or relax with a cold) cup of tea, do so not only for your enjoyment, but for your health as well!

How to Make Travel as Rejuvenating as Possible

As an international yoga teacher most of my travel is for work, but I’ve found a few key things that help me stay stress free while traveling for work or for pleasure.

Food

Irene13This is a big one on my list, because when I eat well I have more energy and find it easier to demonstrate poses while teaching. This can mean staying at a resort that cooks healthy and organic meals, or finding a hotel near a marketplace where you can shop for yourself and stock up on healthy buys. When choosing vacation spots or places to host yoga retreats healthy food is definitely a priority.
 

Exercise

Since we all enjoy different forms of exercise, it is important to find a place that suits your needs. Whether this means choosing a hotel with a pool or gym, or a resort near a beach or that offers yoga classes. Even if you don’t normally exercise, taking time to walk and sight see can be a great way to tire yourself out, making sure you rest well even with a time change.

Rest

Irene8When it comes to traveling for vacation many of us try to pack in as much as possible, but remember to leave time and space to relax so that you can really enjoy yourself. I need time alone in order to clear my mind. Sometimes I read or write, other times I just nap, but it’s important for me to book my time wisely, leaving time for me.

Ease of Travel

When traveling for work I don’t always have a lot of say in how or where I travel, but when I do I make sure to choose wisely. This means direct flights whenever possible, adding an extra day when the time change is more than 7 hours, picking cities that are easy to navigate, and researching the places I travel before I go. When I travel for pleasure, depending on the duration of my trip I try to limit overall travel time (to and from airport as well as time on the plane) whenever I can so that I can spend my time off on the beach instead of in the car or on the plane.

Location 

Irene3One of my favorite places that I have been to in the last year is Vista Celestial in Costa Rica. This boutique hotel is perfect for a luxurious retreat with an active lifestyle. The food is all locally sourced and organic, much of it being grown on site. Locally grown coffee is roasted and ground fresh every morning, which is a huge plus for me! With a pool, jungle trails, yoga platforms, and a private beach nearby, there are tons of activities to stay fit whether you like to surf or practice yoga.

The Great Outdoors

Nature has its special way infusing us with energy and instilling in us a sense of wellness and relaxation.  I live in a busy urban environment so when I travel I try to pick destinations that offer the chance to escape and explore the wilderness, hike, meditate, and of course, practice Yoga.

Fun

Irene7 Although it seems obvious, remember to enjoy yourself and have fun! Put your cell phone away and just be present and enjoy every moment. Use your time to try new experiences, meet new people and enjoy life to its fullest. Making memories that last a lifetime will leave you feeling like a new person and you will return feeling recharged and ready to take on life’s challenges.

Irene Pappas - As a lover of movement, Irene is passionate about her practice. She practices both Ashtanga and Rocket yoga, as she enjoys both a traditional practice as well as a spontaneous one. Not only does she practice yoga but she studies with hand balancers, circus performers, and contortionists to expand her own knowledge and explore the capabilities of her body.

Flexible Strength - Red Bank, NJ

How Spending Time with Nature Can Boost Your Awareness

  Sometimes answers we are looking for are right in front of us, but in a busy daily life, absorbed in routines and habits; it is easy to become blind.

When is the last time you have really listened to yourself?

When was the last time you allowed yourself to do nothing but observe?

To cultivate a deep awareness of your surroundings?

To surrender yourself to the present moment?

 

If you now tell yourself that you do not have time to sit still and cultivate awareness, you are among those who need to do so the most!

Taking time to meditate, will give you that time.

A useful meditation exercise is to find a quiet place in nature.

 

Look around you.

What do you see?

What are you drawn to?

When you have found that thing that attracts you, ask it, “What is your secret?”

Then listen with your heart.

What are the sounds, what are the shapes, what are the feelings that reach you?

Observing nature can grant you more than just a pretty view for the eye. Nature is full of wisdom.

 

Take for example the ocean.

Let’s ask the sea together, “Dear ocean what is your secret?”

The answer of the ocean:

“I have so much to give from. There is enough of me to be of service to all: plants, animals, and human beings. I invite everybody in, and surround them with my presence. I am a source of life, a source of food, a source of joy. I cool you down when you are warm, I let you ride me, and I let you explore my endlessness. You can float on top of me and use me for transportation, or you can dive into me and feel me more closely. You can stare at me as long as you like. I share my beauty with you, and keep nothing for myself.

I am the glue that holds the world together. I touch all continents, and without judgement, I offer everybody what I have to give. I reach up and fade into the infinity of the sky.

My waves will sing you a lullaby to keep you calm, but sometimes they play heavy metal. Opposites must be balanced.

Though I can be caring, and carry you far, I forge respect.

I show my essence in various disguises. I take on many forms. I can be still as a mirror. I can be powerful. My strong waves can carve out the sand of beaches with my force. I can turn into playful rings. I can sway softly, or wave brutally. I can even go through the body of a whale, be blown into the sky with force, fall back home and return to the shape I had. I can be dark, blue, turquoise, green, brown, white, and red. Sometimes I mirror the colors that surround me. Sometimes I put on my silver dress and dance in the moonlight. Yet, it is always me. I am the same, no matter how I look and what I act like.

You can likewise take on different shapes, and still be you. Your outer can change, whilst your inner essence stays intact. As I can, you can embrace and be valued for all the forms you take on. Each form of you has a specific quality, you just need to figure out which.

And like me, you can make yourself available to the world. You can without judgement give what you have to offer. Make yourself useful, appreciated and limitless.”

 

Thus, dedicating a bit of time in nature with nature can be very rewarding.

If you're lucky, you become aesthetically recharged, learn about yourself, and find guidance to live rather than just moving along through life. Natures greatest gift is awareness.


 

Screen Shot 2016-01-15 at 9.46.52 AMMaria is a RYT200 and Reiki II practitioner from Yandara Yoga Institute. She has practiced since she was a teenager, but as she moved to a bigger town in 2011 she discovered that yoga is much more than asana practice. In 2014 she began to practice daily, which transformed her life. To Maria yoga is philosophy, mantras, meditation, and ethics. Yoga is a life style. It is a choice to be a happy and loving person. Last but not least, yoga is an art form. It is a way to find elegance and to connect with the inner self.

Besides from being a yogini, Maria is a master student of social anthropology, a travel enthusiast, and an amateur cook and blogger. Connect with Maria on Facebook!

Featured Image via: Clare Jim

10 Simple Kitchen Rules to Live By

With all of the information about food constantly coming across our news feeds, how are we to know what to do in the kitchen? We want to make healthy food choices, but we just can’t keep up with the ever-changing trends and best practices. 

“We are drowning in information, while starving for wisdom,” said E.O. Wilson. And while we can certainly argue that this nugget applies to many areas of our lives, the overabundance of information about food has led many of us into a state of confusion in the kitchen.

The best approach? Return to simplicity. And when you can’t be luxuriating in the beauty of a wellness retreat, here are 10 simple rules to keep things healthy- and delicious- at home in the kitchen.

 

1. Fill your kitchen with foods and ingredients that you understand- and can pronounce.

We know what beets are. And brown rice. Ready-made mixes and sauces can be helpful in a pinch, but do your best to keep things in their most basic form: whole.

2. Get friendly with your spices and condiments.

Food is supposed to be a sensory experience that goes beyond just filling a function. So play around with vinegars, tamari, lemon and lime juice, and all of the many spices you can find at a well-stocked store to take a simple vegetable dish to the next level of tasty.

3. Choose a single-sourced oil.  

Olive oil, coconut oil, and other seed oils can be extracted just with pressing or extracting naturally. Vegetable oils often have to be chemically removed and treated to become the odorless final product, making it one of the sneakiest processed foods around.

4. Plan to shop regularly.

The thing with good, fresh foods? They’re best eaten good and fresh. So although it takes a little more time to shop regularly, your food will taste better and be more nutritient-rich if you stock up a few times a week.

5. Shop smart.

If you have the pantry space, 10 pound bags of brown rice, quinoa, or oats are usually cheaper and will mean one less step on your next… ten shopping trips. Or more.

6. Conduct a regular clean-sweep, without the guilt.

If it’s been hanging out for a while, and you haven’t eaten it? Trash it. At least once a month: if it’s non-perishable, donate it. If it’s been hiding in the corner of the refrigerator, good riddance. It’s probably lost most of its nutritional value anyway.

7. Focus on adding in more good stuff, rather than vilifying the undesirables.

When you add in more veggies, more fruit, and more whole ingredients, you’ll have less room- literally- for the processed stuff, and it will naturally be crowded out of your kitchen… and your meals.

8. Eat sitting down.

Take time with your food. Enjoy it, taste it, experience it. And give your digestive system a chance to do what it does best, slowly.

9. Make it colorful.

Rather than constantly worrying about getting enough vitamins A-Z, focus on a colorful, varied diet. If your plate is really a work of art, you’re likely taking good care of your nutritional needs.

10. Rules are meant to be bent.

We all strive to eat as healthily as possible, but there will be times when time constraints or resources say otherwise. So as in all things, every meal should be served with a side of compassion and topped with love.


 

Kai Woolner-Pratt is the editor at Retreat Guru [blog.retreat.guru]. He practices Ashtanga yoga, is grateful to his teachers, and counts himself lucky to have been in retreats. His home is Nelson, BC, Canada. You can find him on LinkedIn