Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Heart Chakra Nutrition - Eat Your Greens

This is a guest post by the wonderful holistic nutritionist, Teri Mosey. She has been a much valued contributor to fitness and wellbeing journals and media, especially in the US. 

The Food Chakra Connection

When most people think of food, the conversation commonly goes towards calories, carbs or protein. What if a different conversation arose and you asked how does food nourish all of me; body, mind and soul?

Welcome to the world of holistic nutrition.

Holistic nutrition, practiced for thousands of years, sees food as a healer, nurturer and way of life. Foods goes beyond the calorie, having energetic characteristics that interact with your bio-field; more specifically, the chakras. Chakras are vortexes of Universal energy that run up and down your spine regulating your life force energy or qi. This energy is what gives the gift of life. With that said, chakras are the link between your energetic and physical beings, and the universal consciousness.

What does that mean? Each chakra vibrates at a particular frequency that impacts specific biological processes. For example, your heart chakra energy influences the health of your heart, lungs, cardiac nerve plexuses and thymus gland. Each chakra has a level of consciousness it reflects; with underlying universal life lessons. Your personal journey, all that you are meant to experience and learn in this lifetime is tucked into your biology!

A way to identify these lessons and discover your true nature is through your relationship to food. The link between food traits and chakras comes from sharing the same vibrational energies, corresponding physiological systems and your behaviors around the act of eating. Let’s look at the heart chakra; surrounded around the theme of love. Universal life lessons in love can be experienced through gratitude, acceptance, compassion and forgiveness; of yourself and others. These lessons around love manifest in heart and lung illnesses, making food choices that nourish the heart and strengthen the lungs at the forefront to foods for the heart chakra.

Food and eating strategies to nourish the flow of energy to the heart chakra begins with emphasizing a plant based dietary pattern. Plants are loaded with phytonutrients; health promoting compounds that assist the body’s self healing abilities while altering gene expression. Begin by adding colorful root vegetables, legumes and the grain quinoa to your dietary pattern. Two qualities that specifically vibrate with the heart chakra energies are green color foods and the flavor bitter. So add cruciferous vegetables such as Brussels sprouts, cabbage, rapini and bok choy into your weekly meals. Add those bitter leafy greens like arugula, watercress and lacinato kale to the mix. Daily! Instead of raw, place them under a little heat, wilting them. This makes nutrients more bioavailable and keeps your digestion happy. In recipe terms, explore a soba noodle soup, an adzuki bean stew, roasted root vegetables, a wilted green salad or a grilled veggie quinoa salad. The options are endless. Just keep in the plant family with a heavy presence of greens! And while you’re at it; add a little pungent flavor to these dishes, in the form of scallions, garlic or leeks. They help keep the lungs clear!

Observe if you have an aversion to the above mentioned foods; especially the bitter greens. That’s an underlying message that your heart chakra is asking for your attention! Take a moment to contemplate, “am I willing to live with an open heart?” It can even invite contemplation on questions like, “Do I have underlying resentment? Or “Are the majority of my decisions intellectual, keeping my heart out of the conversation?”

While in the kitchen which can become your space of active meditation, put on your favorite tunes and hum along as you cook! Humming deepens your breath and lowers your heart rate; perfect additional nourishment for the heart energies. Cooking a meal for yourself shows self-love, share it with others and you are expanding the vibration!

The chakras become a bridge between your soul and physical being, with an invitation to use your relationship to food as a way to discover your most authentic self. What an amazing opportunity.  Are you up for it?

Teri Mosey

Here's a VEGAN, heart chakra nourishing Spinach & Artichoke Pizza with garlic sauce. If that's not your cup of chai, have a Quinoa and Potato Crust pizza (also vegan!) You're welcome!

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Vital Glow - Melbourne Made

Having determined that no sleep and coffee guzzling at 3pm is not conducive to a well and happy body, I did a bit of online research to find some natural support for my body.

Turns out, there's a lovely young naturopath in Melbourne making herbal supplements of the highest quality. Organic, clean, potent and delivered in gorgeous glass bottles in old school apocathery style.

In each bottle, nestled amongst the herbal capsules, is a note on what the benefits are and what the recommended dosage is. Excellent idea. I've been taking Ginseng for energy as well as Digest & Soothe and Nourish & Strengthen (great for liver and skin!)

I have been skipping the coffee in the afternoon and getting through my new evening classes with energy to burn. Sure, it's not entirely dependent on herbal supplements, but I definitely feel better and results are real.

Check out Vital Glow online store and also Danika's Instagram.

Danika is currently completing a bachelor of health science, majoring in naturopathy. She became interested in herbal medicine after struggling through numerous health issues the first years out of high school. "At that time I was actually completing a Bachelor of Arts majoring in media and communication and I felt so unhappy and lost," she explains. "I left that degree and travelled through Europe and Canada. It was when I was living in Canada in 2013/14 that I had some sort of epiphany and realised that I could actually turn my love of natural medicine into a career! As soon as I came home I started my degree."
Danika started to make her own capsules and teas for her personal use. "It started as a hobby but then I thought hey, why not create a business! And here we are!"

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Get Nude - Not Rude

Makeup looks on the runway change from season to season. You only need to look at Riccardo Tisci's incredible lace face masks for Spring/Summer 2016 to see the latest magnificent manifestation of makeup artist Pat McGrath. She has previously done sequined and latex eyebrows, gothic, Victorian and punk rock inspired looks.
What doesn't change is that there will be designers who want to keep the makeup pared back to emphasise the clothes and the natural beauty and features of the models.
Your interpretation of the "nude" look is going to work along a spectrum, just as the shade "nude" is not a single pale, pink bottle of foundation anymore.
Makeup brands and artists recognise that there are a range of ethnicities and skin tones and textures to work with. Lancome is one of the best for doing foundations for dark skin.
Here are the essentials and if heavy contouring appeals to you, work that bronzer! Just avoid harsh lines. Blend. Blend. Blend.

  • Take care of your skin. No amount of makeup can disguise super tired, blemished and flaky skin. A combination of supplements (silica, fish oil, flaxseed oil, zinc) and high quality, natural skincare is going to serve you well.
  • Exfoliate. I love Aveda's Botanical Kinetics Exfoliant for sensitive skin. It is non abrasive so won't aggravate redness or dry skin. Exfoliating removes surface oil and dead skin cells to allow skin to breathe and be radiant.
  • Spend on your base. By all means, stock up on $2 eyeshadow and glitter but think about the Cost Per Wear equation. This is going to cover your face MOST if not EVERY day! I am blemish-prone and also have dry skin. I need breathable coverage that will last through a sweaty yoga session followed by meetings and appointments. I swear by:
  1. Dior Nude Air (gorgeous, light texture and fabulous coverage) @ David Jones
  2. Dior Skin Forever Fluid (slightly heavier formula but great shades for my skin tone) @ David Jones
  3. L'Oreal Lumi Magique (excellent coverage, radiant dewy finish) @ Priceline
  • Use concealer. Even if you don't use foundation, a concealer magically revives sad, no-sleep skin. Just as you would match your foundation perfectly IN THE LIGHT to your face colour, make sure your concealer is a perfect match. Try:
  1. Dior Nude Skin Perfecting Hydrating Concealer @ Sephora
  • If you are a lipstick junkie, like me, you will go crazy for a nude range that actually really flatters your face! No chalky, zombie lip effect here! I am totally addicted to Rimmel's Kate Moss line of nudes. Not only housed in peach coloured bullets, these shades can work alone or blended and they are beautiful.
  1. Rimmel Kate Moss Nude Lasting Finish Lipsticks @ Priceline

Saturday, 12 September 2015

Chakra and Holistic Nutrition - An Ayurveda Exploration

I don't prescribe diets or subscribe to any particular mode of eating so please don't think this is going to be a "This is how to eat" post! It's just an introduction to the ideas around traditional Ayurvedic approach to the body and food and also to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) ideas on meridiens in the body and how certain areas and organs have emotional and spiritual significance.
In both traditions, there is a belief in food as both nourishment and medicine, with the capacity to heal physically and also to address cravings, restrictions and anxieties.

Teri Mosey wrote a fabulous introduction to the idea of Chakra Nutrition in Fitness Journal last year. This is what awakened my interest in the idea. I had already seen the popularity of ayurvedic consultations in Bali and read a little. I can't claim to be an expert at all! But if it gets you thinking and curious...I'd love to know if you visit a practitioner or even study or practice Ayurveda yourself!

According to Chinese philosophy, the universe is made up of two energetic forces: yin and yang. The interplay between these forces creates the five elements:
Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water.
A universal energy enters the human body through the crown of the head and becomes "prana" or "qi".

Along the spinal column, spinning vortexes receive and manifest this energy. Each vortex is a chakra with a defined role and relationship to the body.
While Wesern nutrition is very focused on the macronutrients and calories, the chakra nutrition approach is much more holistic and respects that food is more than a physical fuel. The colours, tastes and source of food have a physiological consequence and also an emotional and energetic one.
Practice forward head to knee bend (Janu Sirsasana) to connect physical movement with the primary, or Root Chakra

We can judge by our cravings or feelings what we are lacking, what needs attention, and how we are affected by the seasons, our emotional state and our physical world. Right now, it's the red chakra - or The Root Chakra - for me that is my primary focus. The root chakra is about balancing, grounding, needing a strong foundation. When it is blocked, the immune system suffers, there is overeating, rigid and anxious thinking, fearfulness and rigidity in routine.
According to Teri Mosey, foods that nourish and support the root chakra are rich in protein - primarily bone, blood and immune supportive nutrients. Root vegetables and red-coloured foods such as tomatoes, apples, beets and radishes are also ideal.

By no means do I suggest you base your entire diet and choices on your chakras. But this is a way to think about food as nourishment for the soul as well as the body. Perhaps it is a way for you to be more mindful of what you desire to eat and how you feel or function as a result.

Sunday, 6 September 2015

Being In The Moment

There is no harsher critic than the voice in my head. My family has a history of OCD and I see it in my anxious thoughts over what I HAVE done and what I MUST do.
By no means are yoga, meditation, dance and fitness a "cure", but I know I am a calmer, more aware and more content person when I'm practicing.

As part of my yoga course, I am required to do classes on top of teaching my own. While I struggle with the scheduling of this, I have been gaining so much from listening to, watching and absorbing the methods and delivery of the instructors. From the actual poses, sequencing and cues to their tone of voice, introduction and ending, and their relationships with regulars and new class participants. While some of this is lost in doing online classes, I am still really enjoying the diversity of instructors and classes on Yoogaia.

I have been doing yoga and pilates at local YMCAs and this week I'll be checking out Australian Yoga Academy in Northcote and Xtend Barre in Hawthorn. If you're a Melbourne yogi, let me know what classes you love and where you do them. I have done Power Yoga at MSAC and that was fantastic.

Just as I dipped into Kahlil Gibran's The Prophet for inspiration and soul nourishment, I'm currently flipping open the pages of Rumi's poetry and seeking nuggets of wisdom to hold onto. Not only does this herald the start of Spring, but it also reminds us to be right here, right now because every moment matters. Just because you're here.

Don't flounder in the preambles of the past
Wounded with regrets; don't let autumnal
Nostalgia blind you to the sounds and scents
Of the present's Spring; you're a native of 
The pellucid moent, make it infinite beyond
The curving snake of passing time and space.
Learn to die in the infinitely elusive moment.


Thursday, 3 September 2015

I Stole My Spring Scent

Spring heralds newly sunnier days thank god (Melbourne weather has been so dismal). It also means lifting out of the dark focus when it comes to makeup, heavier scents, a lighter mood. I first discovered my favourite scent at Fitness First six years ago. I used to do BodyPump with a few regulars and I always knew one of them was there because I could detect the slightest hint of frangipani near the barbells.
Such a blissful fragrance - it suggests Hawaiian beaches, sun on tanned skin, endless cloudless skies.

However, I am not a signature fragrance stealer. I couldn't have worn it at the time knowing it was hers. Six years have passed. I believe that's fair! It was in an airport mid-way to Paris recently that I got talking to a fellow crime novel enthusiast and we discussed how overwhelming the Duty Free area was. "I just really, really want Michael Kors," she said. "It's the only fragrance I'll wear."
Knowing she was going home to Berlin, and I would be safely Melbourne bound, I know we can both adopt this as our signature fragrance. In fact, it binds us across continents!

Fragrantica describes it thus: Top notes are freesia, incense, chinese osmanthus and tamarind; middle notes are tuberose, iris, peony, orris root and arum lily; base notes are musk, cashmere wood and vetiver.

What's your signature fragrance? Did you first smell it on someone else?

There are three new Michael Kors fragrances just released. He does fresh, sexy and feminine, just like his catwalk shows and his campaigns. I also love Michael Kors WHITE. Available at Myer, David Jones and Sephora.

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Online Yoga Classes - Let's Do It Together

Most of you know I'm currently doing my Yoga Teacher Training. This requires 3 extra classes a week, which doesn't sound like much, but I'm already teaching 10 barre classes a week and it's physically exhausting!
Then there is the financial and logistical issues. As you can imagine, there isn't a yoga class every hour of the day at a convenient location. Most of them are running at the same time as I'm teaching. SO.
I admit online yoga classes do not have the same communal atmosphere of a real yoga class, with the awkward smile you get when you almost trip over someone's mat or the teacher gently adjusting your hip or foot... but:

  • there are a diversity of classes from "Relax" through "Energy & Sweat" options
  • there are  Master Workshops
  • instructors are highly qualified, experienced and come from all over the world
  • if a class doesn't work for you, stop and change without causing any offence!
  • your dogs, cats, rabbits can stay for class
Most of all though, it's super convenient. Do it before work, after work, in the middle of the night or the early hours of morning. There are live classes you can book for as well as pre-recorded classes

It's much cheaper than signing up to a studio too. In fact, you could do both in an ideal world. Being able to do your meditation at home, in your own time and space might suit you best. Perhaps you're not much of a team player and you'd prefer to do pilates in your loungeroom. Perhaps you'd just prefer to do it in your loungeroom on Tuesday and go into a busy class on Thursday. That's the beauty of Yoogaia. I have signed up for the length of my teacher training.

I am aiming to go to actual classes the majority of the time, but when I'm struggling to fit it into my schedule alongside recovery time (essential for body and mind!), I will be using my Yoogaia membership to explore meditation, power yoga, core strength, pilates and Yin yoga. In fact, I did my first Yin Yoga class last week! It was difficult, as a restless soul, to hold long poses (4 minutes...of stillness...) but it became easier with every minute and actually, time passed pretty quickly once I got past the first 10 minutes. I did Heidi Poon's class. I'd love you to try some classes and give me your recommendations! I started with the free 7 day trial. Do it! Yoogaia.com

Denise Payne: Fearlessness And Mercy

In the 1970s, as a teenager, Denise Payne was introduced to Kundalini Yoga by her teacher Sat Jiwan Singh. It became more than “a life...