How to Give Mother Nature a Helping Hand

“Live in each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influence of the earth.”
- Henry David Thoreau

Feel the nurturing arms of Mother Nature’s embrace, listen to her music, feel her energy, see her beauty and witness her power. Our beloved Mother Nature, our home, carriers all that is precious for life.

“Mother Earth allows us to live and to walk on her surface, not the other way around.”
- Lawren Leo

Our actions bear consequences that ripple throughout our world. Ours, our families, our community and the wellbeing of Mother Earth lies in our responsibility to honour, respect and protect her.

“Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.”
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Whizzing around in fleeting moments of mundane existence can dampen our sense of purpose. It breeds ignorance and increases our contribution to climate change, pollution, endangered species and food shortages.

“Wisdom is the power to put our time and our knowledge to the proper use”
- Thomas Watson

Debates on human environmental triggers will continue, but how much evidence do we need before taking responsibility and conscious action?

“No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path.”
- Gautama Buddha

The present is a precious gift, learn from the past but don’t dwell too long, neither ponder extensively on the future, it has yet to be written. Now is the time to be present, be mindful, be and lead the inspiration.

“Great things are not done by impulse, but by a series of small things brought together.”

- Vincent van Gogh

Children hands holding young plant. Take care concept.Slowly but surely the little things equal bigger things. Sharing becomes caring and by thinking in terms of “us” rather than “me” we begin to cultivate seeds of change.

“What you take from the earth, you must give back. That's nature's way.”
- Chris d'Lacey

Yogis, you know the drill, “Do good, be good” practice your Karma Yoga. There’s no need to rattle off yet another list of ways to change the world. You got it, you know what to do. But, if you want some friendly inspiration here are 50 helping tips.

“Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's needs, but not every man's greed.”
- Mahatma Gandhi

There is a fragile beauty in our world which is faltering. It is within you to look beyond one’s self and cultivate the seeds of change, for a more nurturing and fruitful place to call home.


6 Powerful Truths About Your Next Hug

[tweetable alt=""]“We need 4 hugs a day for survival. We need 8 hugs a day for maintenance. We need 12 hugs a day for  growth.”
- Virginia Satir[/tweetable]

Hugs are an expressive way to give and receive love, trading energy between us all. Hugs can be tender, strong, short and long. I find Brits (myself included) uncommonly reserved and to a fault socially awkward. However, the privilege of a multi-cultural upbringing, a Yogi and earthy outlook has bestowed within me the importance of both physical and emotional connections. So, when I feel the need, I throw open my arms wide open for a cuddle whenever and wherever the moment arises. I’ll hug trees, my dog and cat, a cup of good old English tea, even a candle in a meditative moment, or a book to wonder and ponder a compelling passage. I even invite students to embrace a self-love hug in class to open up their shoulders during the warm-up or energise their spine in Apanasana, knees to chest pose.

The importance of hugs exceeds the realms of our emotional state and here are some reasons why.

1. Feel happy

A good long hug (about 20 seconds) will get serotonin levels in your body flowing which will boost your feeling of happiness.

2. Feel warm and fuzzy

When we embrace our oxytocin levels increase, stimulating a gush of oxytocin which is also known as “the cuddle hormone” or “love hormone”.

3. Feel relaxed

The healing touch from another is registered by the Pacinian corpuscles nerve endings. These in turn send signals to the vagus nerve which controls many things including the heart and digestive track and is responsible for lowering blood pressure.

4. Sleep easy

Cortisol (the stress hormone) is lowered when you hug it out. It helps balance the nervous system to empower a better night’s sleep.

5. Care and Share

A hug may not always dissolve a wounded soul, but if you have the grace to embrace, sometimes that’s enough. Hugs teach us to share and care in equal balanced measure because it flows both ways.

6. The Essence of Yog

Hugs are a form of Yoga and Meditation and for a few precious moments we are connected and surrendering to the moment of the present.

yogi bear hugsHugs can express what words cannot say. Embrace a hug, give a hug. Go full power by adding a smile, laughter, a thought of intention or gratitude and see what hugs can do for you and others today.

 

 


The Sophistication of Simplicity

We survive, strive and thrive on communication, a beautiful instrument which connects and permits us expression. Yet, in this so called modern day and age, we live in a world saturated with unlimited information and all the stuff to go with it. Compelled by our nature to belong, aspire and accomplish, are we focusing too much on our material layers, thus not being able to “see the wood through the trees” and connect with our tree of life?

Some say I had it all, a peeking career along with all the so-called stuff to match. I worked hard, played even harder. In the end it wasn’t enough, it was simply too much. So, I threw caution to the wind, gave it up and now pursue a Yogi path. I didn’t elope to the forests or go live in a cave. The reality is that I’m part of our modern world. I love my family and urban roots. The difference is that now I practice (and I mean practice) the art of creating space, investing my energy in what really matters.

All effects well-thought-out, leading a life of simplicity is no mean feat, but here a few things I’ve learned so far:

1. Don’t hold back, let it go

  • Be prepared to make ordered fundamental shifts and let go of what’s holding you back
  • The biggest step is always the hardest. Your perception cannot compete with reality; so on reflection is it really that bad?
  • Too much work, social media, TV, food, distracts you from getting involved, living your life, facing your challenges
  • Learn to say no. Overcommitting can get in the way of doing what matters
  • You have the right to change your mind, so long as you are true to yourself
  • Honesty really is the best policy, lying creates tension and unnecessary complication
  • If it doesn’t make you happy long term, it’s a quick unsustainable fix

2. Patience is a virtue

  • Take it one step at a time. Start with small, simple tasks to ease you into your flow
  • Making lots of changes too quickly can disenchant you
  • It won’t happen overnight, but if you stay true and focused you will get there
  • Show humanity to others, they to have a story which they haven’t told you, yet

the sophistication of simplicity3. Create space

  • Clutter-free space can help declutter your mind
  • Less stuff can prevent distractions in so many ways
  • If you aren’t using it, lose it, better still, give it to someone who will
  • If you can’t remember your agenda, was it that important?
  • Going shopping? Do I need to? Or, do I need it?
  • Frugality can fuel the imagination
  • Bringing order to your finances reliefs your minds niggles
  • Why say many words, when only a few will do?
  • Silence is a virtue worth having
  • A good night sleep is invaluable

4. The present is a gift

  • Setting an intention is a healthy way to start the day
  • A blissful morning will help set the tone
  • Eating wholesome, seasonal, food is a pleasure to savour and honour
  • Taking breaks to enjoy a moment helps
  • A smile goes a long way and a good attitude goes a lot further
  • Make time to do something you love, with love
  • Share time with someone you love
  • A random act of kindness is good for the soul and can change the fortune of time
  • “Stop and smell the roses”, there’s always a beautiful moment to be had in nature
  • Focus on one thing at a time, at pace, with devotion
  • Show gratitude at the end of your day

5. Stand up for your rights

  • Know and believe your motivations, you will be judged
  • Some people just won’t get it, that’s ok, as long as you yours do
  • Every day you have the chance to practice your art of mindfulness
  • Sometimes you will need to defend your beliefs, sometimes, walking away is better

 

“Possessions, outward success, publicity, luxury - to me these have always been contemptible. I believe that a simple and unassuming manner of life is best for everyone, best for both the body and the mind.”
― Albert Einstein

 


Understanding and Overcoming Tension

Tension, what does this forceful word conjure up when you stop and take a moment to think about it? Negativity, stress, suffering . . .

Tension impacts our state of well-being rupturing our existence affecting others. Tension can cloud our judgement and impair our ability to see and think clearly. Pressure builds up in our muscles and our breathing can shudder. Just as I write this, I'm spurting out loud and hammering the keyboard!

Breathe moment . . .

Young lonely woman on bench in park

Time and again, I find that tension originates from life’s challenges, which in truth, I often am the generator of. However, it is the accumulation of tension over time, without a reflecting pause which causes upsurges from within, like a deadly volcanic core, threatening to erupt and destroy.

A volcano is a force to be reckoned with, but it is also essential, enriching the soil, cooling the earth and providing water. It is a perfectly natural and integral part of our planet. So is tension, we were built to react to it and survive with it.

Ponder this. When we practice Yoga we dutifully place our body in a state of tension. We do so with awareness in order to elevate our self, whatever our motivations. As long as we understand the driving force we can appreciate the cause and effect.

The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, describe maladies referred to as The Pancha Klesha, or five tensions which are widely considered the roots of all suffering that afflict every material being. These tensions drive behaviour producing and perpetuating our karma.

 

1. Avida, Ignorance

“What is the truth?”

To be ignorant is to be oblivious to truthful knowledge. When we disregard the origin of our inner presence and true-self, we fail to understand meaning and purpose.

2. Asmita, egoism

“I am this”

The ego is a self-centered perception, mutable in all human beings. It is the inflated belief and feeling of the self in relation to others, when it may not be truthfully so.

3. Raga, unlimited desire

“I want”

When our emotional yearning is embedded in external factors, it is superficial, unsustainable and boundless.

4. Dvesha, aversion/dislike

“I hate”

A repugnant belief that external circumstances are responsible for the cause of our unhappiness. It is driven by emotional agitation when we express our aversion to certain things or beings without justified cause.

5. Abhinivesha, fear of death

Deep seated anxiety linked to death which can be over stimulated by our will to live, by avoiding and not making peace with the inevitable truth that everyone will die.

 

overcoming tensionThe hardship we endure through tension and suffering can be used as a symbolic triumph in the face of adversity. Beauty, understanding and peace can always be found for those who have the courage to seek it. Whilst tension will perpetually surface to challenge our existence, we should not forget that it can be an elemental natural force, designed to aid our elevated state by helping us reach a greater sense of self-awareness.  It is through awareness that we may strive for self-realisation which we can practice to root ourselves in the present moment. So live with openness and take comfort that through your practie of Yoga, Pranayama and Meditation you are dedicated to becoming present, reflecting and distinguishing between the extremities of disorder and order.

 


Exploring the Foundational Yoga Pose, Tadasana (Mountain Pose)

Exploring Mountain PoseYou may have heard Yogis hail Tadasana, mountain pose as a “neutral”, “beginners”, “foundation” or “blueprint pose”. Feasibly Tadasana is all these, yet so much more. Tadasana, instils a sense of grounding, being centred and balanced. Tadasana helps improve our posture, strengthening our legs, reducing flat feet, toning our abdomen and buttocks, whilst keeping our spine straight to enable us to breathe more deeply. It is the beauty and the simplicity of Tadasana that peaks in sophistication.

Once the mantra has been chanted, the intention set, rhythmic breathing observed, warm-up completed, I love nothing more than beginning asana practice in Tadasana. As I acknowledge this moment standing tall, I surrender poised. I affirm to follow the guidance of my teacher, the flow of my breath, the beating of my heart and the meditation of my mind. It sets the nature for all that follows. Returning to Tadasana during practice feels like coming home. I sense the movement and shifts within, taking a moment to honour them. For these reasons, it is with passion and good intention that I invite you Yogi, to honour your Tadasana throughout your practice.

Tadasana guidelines

  1. Stand elevated with your toes together and heels slightly apart or hip distance apart. Either way, your second toes should be in alignment
  2. Engage your Yogi feet, raise your toes, increasing the natural height of your foot’s arch. If possible place your big toe on the floor. Distribute your weight evenly on your heels, balls, inner and outer edges of your feet
  3. Tighten and pull your knee caps up, contract your hips and pull up the muscles at the front and back of your thighs
  4. Squeeze your gluts and roll your pelvis down, towards your navel
  5. Pull your stomach in, open and expand your chest lifting your heart
  6. Elongate your spine and neck, keeping your chin parallel to the floor
  7. Activate your Drishti, focused gaze on a fixed object straight ahead or close your eyes to challenge your balance
  8. Roll your shoulders up, back and down, pulling your armpits towards your torso
  9. Engage your fingers, hands, wrists and arms, bring them to life. Your middle finger should face the earth, in line with your ear. Now turn your palms out in front of you
  10. Rest your tongue of the roof of your month to help relax your facial muscles
  11. Take deep inhalations and exhalations through your noise
  12. Be still, be centered, be grounded

Throughout the world, mountains surround us, standing the test of time, ruling the land, piercing through clouds and reaching towards the sky. To be present amongst nature’s giants can invoke feelings of adversity, devotion and resolution. To emulate the metaphoric representation in asana practice can be majestically sublime.

 “We are now in the mountains and they are in us, kindling enthusiasm, making every nerve quiver, filling every pore and cell of us.”
― John Muir


Yogi Surprise energy bomb bites

It’s always an inspiring surprise and delight receiving my Yogi Surprise gift box and this month is no exception!

Like many Yogis, I live a fast paced life. I buzz through the heart of a pulsating, vibrant city taking Yoga classes, teaching, meeting and greeting, the to-do-list is endless. Still, I’m very mindful about what I eat, and I'm a huge fan of the Ayuvedic Sattvic diet. I adore the surge of energy that fabulous food can provide. I adore home cooked food. For me, the preparation process is a form of meditation , plus I can control the ingredients, knowing that each meal has been made with care and love. So when the little purple and white Yogi Surprise gift boxes landed on my doormat, filled with super-duper edible foodie delights, a flood of inspiration took hold and I whizzed up some scrummy energy bomb bites.

They are simple to make, great for sharing, an all-round fabulous energising treat for Yogis on the move and groove.

Ingredients

Makes about 16

Method

Place all dry ingredients in a food processor and whizz until the Sunbiotics chocolate almonds have formed a flour like powder.

Gradually add the dates and mashed bananas, continuing to whizz until the texture is smooth and sticky.

Using a table spoon, scoop out the mixture and rolls into balls.

Coat in a variety of your choice such as chia seeds, coconut, smashed pumpkin seeds, dried fruits, if you wish.

Now your energy bomb bites are ready to go in the fridge to set for an hour or so.

 

Did you know that using an overripe banana doesn't just help the consistency, it’s loaded with extra antioxidants too? These energy bomb bites are rich in nutrients, fiber, omega-3, probiotics, basically all the goodness to help boost your Agni, digestive fire as well as getting sustainable energy throughout your day.


Honoring your agni, the fire within

Just as a campfire provides energy and warmth, so does our agni, “digestive fire”. It breaks down food into nutrients, converts energy, aids growth, cell repair and eliminates toxins. It assimilates what is useful and eliminates the rest. Our fire can serve as a beacon to all aspects of our vitally, playing an illuminating role in our physical and emotional well-being. Is it the Manipura, solar plexus chakra “City of Jewels” which represents our confidence and control in our lives.

These powerful Ayurvedic principles will help create a spark and set your life on fire.

Fuel your agni mindfully

The Sattvic diet. Developed for higher state of consciousness, Sattvic foods are bountiful in Prana, the universal life-force. They are pure, constructive, clean and wholesome; whole grain, seasonally obtained, non-meat, prepared with love and awareness.

Eat the right amount. Find what’s right for you. Consume enough food to strike a balance for strength whilst avoiding indigestion. As a guideline, fuel your tummy at mealtimes with 25% liquid, 50% food, leaving 25% to activate digestion, remembering that all fire needs space to breathe.

Enjoy your largest meal at lunchtime. Our sun and agni are most active during the heat of midday, which is also generally when we need the most energy to power through.

Chew, chew, chew. Digestion begins in the mouth so lend your gut a helping hand (or mouth) by chewing food properly and making it easier to digest.

Eat in peaceful surroundings. Just be present and give yourself space to relish life-giving energy, avoid distractions from phones, TV’s, books etc.

Don’t eat when you’re “in a mood”. It leaves a bad taste in your mouth and can antagonise your digestive tract by causing tension.

Take your time, sit and be present. Take a time-out moment to savour and appreciate food. By siting down our muscles relax, soothing the stomach. It will be more satisfying than scoffing a sandwich on the run.

Invoke all your senses. Make the experience one to enjoyably remember. Inhale the delightful smell of flavours. See the “rainbow” on your dish. Enjoy the chewy, sticky and crispy texture sensations. Tickle your taste buds with foodie goodness.

Limit your ingredients. The expression “too many cooks spoil the broth” bears meaning to our digestion too. Some foods just don’t work together such as starch and protein, which need different enzymes and acidity to be digested.

Eat warm meals. Not too hot, not too cold, just right and it won’t antagonise or smother your digestive fire.

A rhythmic eating regime. Nature's seasons, day and night, move in timed cycles, so adopt the pace of nature. Our digestion actually craves regularity, it is built for it.

 

Stoke your agni, get it moving

Exercise. Regular exercise helps to keep food moving through our digestive system. The levels of hormones which send signals to our brain telling our stomach that it’s full increases immediately after exercise, according to research published in the Journal of Endocrinology.

Fire to the core, Yogi Surprise Sequence. The combination of asanas in this sequence targets your core to help stretch and massage your abdominal organs.  At the same time they will help increase your stamina, ease bloating discomfort, and leave you feeling re-energised.

Surya Namaskar. Yoga pros say that practicing our beloved Sun Salutation cycle for 12 – 15 minutes, is equivalent to doing 288 powerful Yoga asanas. The mantra spoken at the end of practicing Surya Namaskar alludes to the potency of this timeless Yoga sequence; “For those who salute the sun every day, life expectancy, conscious, strength, courage and vital power shall grow.”

Breathing. Yogi breathing exercises such as Kapalbhati Pranayam help to oxygenate the body, improves circulation and digestion whilst strengthening the muscles in your stomach and abdomen.

 

Give your agni breathing space

Mediation. The powerful art of meditation exists in countless forms. Whatever you identify mediation as, it’s about finding and creating space, surrendering and being at one in the moment. Regular committed and mindful practice can liberate tension, leaving you with a sense of inner peace. Mediation can aid digestion and coupled with Vajrasana, Thunderbolt pose (a traditional seated and meditative position) also helps purify functions of the immune system and digestion, is a powerful combination.

Cut it out. Vices including alcohol, coffee and cigarettes can inhibit the effect of your digestive fire, as well as leading to problems such as stomach ulcers.

Let it go. Undesirable “gut feelings” such as nausea, loss of appetite or a desire to supress emotions by over eating, all harm our digestive fire. By observing emotions, being mindful and finding the right path of action, you can prevent your agni from going into overdrive or crying out in pain.

Fasting. Before moving too fast and getting carried away, the act of fasting doesn’t simply mean total abstinence from food. It is a wilful cleansing technique promoting good health to bring back balance. It may just be elongated periods between meals, no food 2 hours before sleeping, cutting out a certain type of food… Please, don’t go to fast without due care under a professional's guidance.

Slumber time. The list is endless when we get a good night sleep. Wow, don’t we feel it when our sleeping pattern is disturbed or irregular? Our digestion, the food we eat and our vitality are deeply connected to sleep. Simple techniques such as avoiding food before bedtime, keeping your head elevated, allowing gravity to keep acid and gas in the stomach from moving up your digestive tract and sleeping on the left to aid removal of stomach acid all help in some way to keep your fire moving.

Fire is a force to be reckoned with. Too much fire can cause devastation, too little and it will perish.  Fire is a hypnotic wondrous thing, and you have the power to honour the fire that burns inside you.


6 Superfoods for a Healthy Summer Glow

At this time of year many of us set off to hit the beach, chasing the summer rays to get sun-kissed skin. However, what we put in our body can permeate through our skin. This makes the food we eat, just as important as our precious sun, plus all those lotions and potions we grab to help make our skin look and feel radiant.

Can that healthy summer radiant glow really, really truly be achieved from the inside out? Well apparently so; by eating more superfoods containing high levels of carotenoids.

News flash! In a recent study, scientists from Leeds and St Andrews university (that’s where Prince William and Kate went) have discovered that eating fruit and vegetables rich in carotenoids can make people look more attractive than a sun-kissed tan.

Carotenoids contain naturally occurring pigments. It’s in these richly coloured molecules where sources of yellow, orange and red pigments increase the skin's yellowness. But that’s not all! Carotenoids are loaded with A vitamins and antioxidants that fight free radicals, the unstable molecules in the body that contribute to a ranging set of conditions from heart disease and cancer.

Here are 6 superfoods which carry the highest level of carotenoids.  These foods will make your skin glow thanks to their abundant levels of carotenoids, to bring out an attractive tan from within.

Organic Raw Sweet Potatoes on a Background

some fresh carrots on the groundred tomatoes grow on twigs. Ripening organic tomatoes on a vegetable bed into the garden. Bio product.

Fresh green spinach leaves on a wooden table

Pumpkins

Purple sprouting broccoli a winter vegetable high in nutrients

So the age old sayings do bear truth, that you really are what you eat, and what you do on the inside really matters on the outside.


3 Powerful Ways the Sun Can Light Up Your Life

The benefits of getting a little sun go further than just skin deep; vitamin D, enhanced mood, increased oxygen and better sleep.

Humans and so many other species have evolved under the loving warmth of our beloved sun, our core energy and life-giving force for Mother Earth. Without it, we couldn’t survive. Yet, we now we live in a world flooded with information on how detrimental sun exposure can be.

Our sun is so dearly cherished, the ancient Yogis worshiped our sun through the timeless practices including Surya Namaskar, Atapa Snana, and Sun gazing.

1. Surya Namaskar

Perhaps the oldest if not the most known and loved Yoga sequence. Surya Namaskar translates to Sun Salutation. Comprised of 12 powerful Yoga asanas, one round is practiced on the right then left which equates to 24 movements, representing 24 hours in a day. Surya Namaskar heats the body from head to toe, provides a cardiovascular workout and tones core muscles including your abs. The Rishis, sages believe that the body is governed by Devas, divine light and that the Manipura, Solar Plexus chakra, located behind the navel is connected with the sun which increases creativity and intuition, which is activated by practicing Surya Namaskar.

2. Atapa Snana

Atapa Snana is the yogic phrase for the healing science of sunbathing. Using solar energy, a sun-bath is taken during the hours when the sun index is low. Diseased parts of the body, usually skin ailments are exposed to the sun’s rays, whilst the remaining parts of the body are kept in the shade. Once the affected area becomes hot, it is brought into the shade and the part of the body is massaged with oil such as neem oil, and then cooled down.

3. Safe sun gazing

Safe sun gazing is a simple practice where you watch the Sun. It’s imperative to practice mindfully, and only during safe hours when the UV index is either 0 or 1. Generally the first hour within sunrise and the last hour before sunset. Beginning with no more than a few seconds a day, and gradually building up your ability to gaze over time. Yogis believe this ritual improves vision, induces spiritual awareness and invokes peace, calmness and clarity.

 

Like the best things in life, our sun is freely beaming life-giving rays upon us. So sunshine, go on and soak up a little healthy dose of sun, just remember be mindful of practicing safe sunlight exposure.

 


Win a 5 Night Surf & Yoga Retreat in Costa Rica

This August, one lucky Yogi Surprise member will win this fantastic 5 night yoga and surf retreat in Costa Rica!

Win a 5 Night Yoga & Surf Retreat in Costa Rica from Yogi Surprise this August!

Pranamar is located in Playa Hermosa, the most beautiful part of the Santa Teresa area and the Nicoya Peninsula, with amazing tide pools and a white sand beach right in front of the property. It's an enchantingly peaceful, restful, and harmonizing environment, providing the perfect place to relax, unwind, and center yourself in your practice.

The package includes:

  • Accommodations for 5 Nights in a Poolside Villa
  • 4 Surf Lessons - with professionals
  • One Yoga Class each day
  • Daily A la Carte Breakfast
  • One Massage treatment of 1 hour

Pranamar Yoga

In addition to the package above, you'll also have access to a host of incredible amenities, which Pranamar can help book and schedule, including:

  • Traditional Horseback riding in a 7000+acre farm in the nearby rural town of Manzanillo
  • Canopy tours
  • Cabo Blanco Nature Reserve Hikes.
  • Birdwatching.
  • Additional Surf lessons for all levels
  • ATV tours
  • Fishing Tours
  • Additional Yoga classes for all levels
  • Massages, Spa Treatments and more

Pranamar also has a very experienced team that will gladly assist you with all your logistical plans within Costa Rica.  Pranamar's expert staff can arrange land transfers, local flights, private charters, car rentals or whatever you need to make your travels the most convenient.  They can also arrange a VIP service at the international airport where a representative will greet you as soon as you exit the plane and will escort you through customs!

 Learn How to Win this Retreat >