Friday, September 7, 2012

Septmeber is YOGA MONTH

To celebrate yoga month I have been leading my students into gaining an awareness for the poses that they are doing in class. The first week of the month we revisited the idea of TREE POSE, Vrksasana.

Too often we enter, hold, and exit a pose in our yoga practice but forget WHY we are there. Once we progress past the "beginning" stages of a pose, we often go into it through muscle memory.This month we have been CLOSING OUR EYES in the pose. Often, we must lower our elevated leg to assist us with balance. Our eyes play a LARGE part in our ability to balance. When we take away our vision and ability to focus on a point, we end up swaying in the wind...perhaps swaying like a tornado is going through the space.

When we revisit tree with our eyes shut, we must use the muscles in our feet to help keep us upright. The muscle activation in our feet spreads up our legs and we do find ways to become tuned into our muscles and how they must work to make the pose happen. An option in this experiment is to place a hand on a wall or chair, some support.

Many people and organizations have set "challenges" for yogis during the month of September. A popular one is to complete 30 classes in the 30 days of the month. My challenge is both personal and professional. I am going back to basics and making sure that I approach my practice with awareness. I am sharing those subtle nuances with my clients as well. Together, we can work on deepening our yoga practice through awareness of the movement we are asking from our body, rather than just "going through the motions". We need to be concerned with muscle activation rather than how we look in a pose. As we shut our eyes, we look from the inside out and learn to use the muscles the way they were intended to be support the bones!

Yoga is part of a HEALTHY BODY AND HEALTHY LIFESTYLE. We must find ways to get the most out of our practice and reinvigorate our practice from time to time. September is a GREAT time to go back to basics so we can grow!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Do It Yourself Projects .. Feel Satisfaction From Your HARD Work

I happened upon a blog recently that listed DIY projects that one could do around the house! Read the 7 Summer DIY Projects for your backyard that inspired me to write this post and to accomplish a few things around my home this summer! From that list, create a raised garden bed is still on my "To-Do" list.

A Healthy Body and Healthy Lifestyle includes challenging one's mind and body. The challenge includes not only physical labor but also research to figure out the proper steps to complete each task...and to understand when NOT to tackle a DIY project if it is beyond the scope of our abilities!

Some rather simple DIY Projects that many people can tackle, rather than have to pay someone to do the work include:
washing the windows and screens 9depending on HEIGHT and style of windows)
painting home interior
changing the knobs on cupboard doors to update the look in a kitchen or bathroom
sealing the grout in tile floors
finding new recipes and cooking more from "scratch"
establishing a garden (bed, container, or raised) to grow more of your own vegetables

You could enlist SOME assistance ...
Use the website LULU to turn YOUR photos into a customized calendar (a great gift idea)
Use Createmycookbook to turn your new recipes into a book (another gift idea)
Find a community garden and trade your excess with others

While you are in the mindset of DIY, think of others...
If you are organizing a closet, donate the clothes and shoes you find you have not worn in a while, or no longer fit but are just collecting dust. Your trash is another person's treasure!
Do you still have CD's sitting around the house? VHS tapes? If you no longer use them, take them to a library where they WILL have a greater chance of being used.

DIY can take on many names ... spring cleaning, "honey do list", and many others. The more we can accomplish on our own, the more satisfaction will will have from the project. Do your research and only tackle what you are capable of yourself, or with the help of a good friend! Injuries are NOT a badge of success!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

How can I use CELERAIC?

I happened upon celeraic root at the farmer's market earlier this summer. I did not purchase the root but came home to look up uses for celeraic. I found that there were several that I was eager to try. Last week I purchased celeraic and made my version of two of the recipes I found online.

why would I wish to use this unattractive root? One reason, I can get it at the farmers market, a place where I know I can get food close to the source so it is as fresh as possible! Another reason, it's always good to try new foods to round out our diets. I AM A PICKY EATER so I tread carefully when trying something new.

I purchased a celeraic root that was approximately the size of a softball. The root was dense and the stems and leaves were a vibrant green.

I removed the leaves and put them in a bag. I washed and chopped a handful and added them to salad.

I used a potato peeler and cleaned the roots off the celeraic. I was careful to only remove a thin layer as I read that the MAIN nutrients are just below cut the root. I cut the root in two pieces...thinking I would use half of it in two different recipes. I modified the recipes I found online in the following ways:

Recipe 1: SOUP
1. I took a 1/2 celeraic root and 3/4 of a white onion. I sauteed them in olive oil in a pan
2. When the onions were translucent I added 2 cups of vegetable broth and brought it to a boil. After it came to a boil I turned down and let it simmer until the celeraic was soft.
3. The recipe called for adding parsley, sage, thyme, or chives to the soup for seasoning. I added green onions, and about 1 tsp of dry parsley, sage, and thyme to the blender. THEN I added the contents of the put.
4. I blended on "liquify" until the onion and celeriac created a thick liquid.

Add salt and pepper to taste at time of serving.

Recipe 2: Roasted Vegetables

I cut carrots, potatoes, and celeriac into small wedges and placed them on a sheet of nonstick aluminum foil
I added a small amount of olive oil to coat. On half of the mixture I added tarragon and on the other half paprika.
I roasted at 400 for about an hour

A great side dish. Serve with poultry, pork, red meat, or a sandwich.

For more information, read and watch the NPR story about Celeraic


Friday, July 27, 2012


I was visiting my mother-in-law in June and we discussed an unusual plant in her garden. It looked similar to celery. She did not plant it and assumed that a bird must have dropped a seed into her garden. This plant was large and healthy. It grew well in her soil. We did not know what it was, we were curious.

Last week I was visiting Mackinac Island in Michigan and was introduced to the same plant. She called it lovage and said it could be used as a substitute for celery. The woman at the historical home was using it as a celery substitute as she was making pumpkin soup (period costumes, period cooking, and period foods were being used in this venue).

Two "happenings" related to the same plant in two months made me curious to learn more about it. Is it something I wish to grow? Is it the same as celery or are there different nutritional benefits?

I first went to wikipedia to learn about the plant. It's a good starting point, not an ending point for research. I found that the seeds can be used as a spice, the root as a vegetable and the leaves in soup. Sounds like a plant that packs a punch.

Digging deeper I found out that this plant has lost its mystique. WHY? it appears to be 100% edible? Seems like a good use of soil and water to me! Recipes using lovage are found at I am excited to try to chilled lettuce, lovage, and green pea soup ... after all, it is the middle of a HOT summer...sounds refreshing!

For more information, read

Sciatica - Steps to Relief!

I was reading the current issue of Yoga Journal Magazine yesterday and happened upon an article about sciatica. BACK PAIN is NOT what anyone is looking for ... it is one of the reasons why people exercise. Let's look at ways we can strengthen our backs to ward off or relieve sciatica pain!

The PIRIFORMIS MUSCLE needs to be strong to assist us in movement. This muscle can get irritated and rub against the sciatic nerve, thus causing the condition known commonly as sciatica. Yoga Journal has a list of poses that can assist in relieving sciatica, check out the full list when you have a moment.

A great YOGI stretch the piriformis includes tree pose.

TREE POSE can be done seated or standing. Standing is traditional BUT seated is an option if you are just starting or inflamed. To modify into a seated pose, sit with your legs as they would be in the standing position. If your right knee is bent, then place your hands on the floor behind you and open your right hip slightly to the right. DO NOT attempt to square your hips - the focus is to externally rotate the hip of the bent knee leg. Do the same for the left side. What do you do with your hands you may ask? Well, you can keep them in prayer and focus on your breathing and posture, aiming your shoulders in opposite directions, rather than rounding them (which is how we tend to sit in a chair or in the car - fight the urge!). You can take your hands in prayer behind your back or lift your arms into a "goal post" to open your shoulders. Tree pose is great for sciatica as it strengthens the piriformis muscle and stretches the "glutes" as the hip externally rotates. If you need support, place a hand on a wall or a chair to help the lower leg stay strong!

Another YOGI stretch for the piriformis includes padangusthasana and its variations. This pose allows the glutes to stretch, which in turn, make the piriformis work a little bit less as it will encounter less resistance. Variations for this pose exist. One variation is to approach this pose from a seated position and another is to bend your knees (seated or standing) enough to accommodate the length of YOUR hamstrings. Not everyone can touch their toes with straight what you not hurt yourself to look like the "picture perfect pose". The picture gives you a mental picture of where your practice is growing.

This pose can be taken to another level with full engagement of the piriformis and, thus, an external rotation of the hip. Again, this can be done supine and with a strap or towel to help you reach your toes/foot. EXTENDED HAND-TO-BIG-TOE POSE is a deep stretch...engage your abdominals by drawing your navel to your spine so you keep your back strong as you work through your glutes and piriformis.

Keep working each day to maintain a healthy body and a healthy lifestyle.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Gluten Free and TRAVELING...Tips to make the trip easier

If you are flying and maintain a GLUTEN FREE diet you may face challenges in the airport or on the flight with teh small selection of snacks afforded to you. Why not pack your own!

Depending on the length of your travels you could pack a snack mix of your favorite nuts, dried fruits, and gluten free pretzels. You could make a sweeter snack mix using gluten free CHEX cereal, nuts, and dried fruit.

You could pack a plastic storage container with leftovers ... just be mindful of the choice you make ... scents can overwhelm people in closed spaces!

Vegetables and hummus will provide you with a healthy and nutritious snack ... and fill you up.

Apples and peanut butter are a good selection as well.

Nature Valley Almond Crunch is a prepackaged Gluten Free product you can carry with you to tied you by while you travel.

Pack up what you need to travel in COMFORT ... you will have a much better experience!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Flaxseed Meal ... What Do I DO With It?

As a yoga and pilates instructor I find it important to not only be fit through exercise but also to eat healthy. I love going to the farmer's market and exploring new fruits and vegetables. Last week I saw celery root ... cannot wait to get it next time and try it!

What I have fallen in love with integrating into my cooking is FLAXSEED MEAL (Bob's Red Mill). Ground Flaxseeds are high in fiber and Omega 3s and help keep cholesterol in control as they act as a digestive aid. You only need TWO TABLESPOONS a day - a small amount packs a punch! From my research I have found that flax seed is very low in carbohydrates, therefore it is great for people who limit their intake of starches and sugars. With diabetes in my family, I try to stay cognizant of foods that may help relatives have a healthy diet. Flaxseeds also include B vitamins, something my physician said I needed to include more of in my diet.

How do I integrate them into my daily life? A few simple ways:
1. Sprinkle on cereal or yogurt with your breakfast
2. Add to baking mixes (muffins, breads, scones, and cookies)
3. Add to homemade granola bar recipes instead of wheat germ (great for those on a gluten free diet)
4. Combine with peanut butter and jelly for a bit of extra fiber
5. Sprinkle on rice, quinoa, or other grains just before will never know it is there!

Two Tablespoons in not much ... BUT you do not need to start with the full serving. Try a pinch here or there ... then add more if your body responds well to the addition!

Bob's Red Mill has a list of recipes that integrate FLAXSEED MEAL ... perhaps you will get a few ideas from the company that you can incorporate into your cooking! The FIRST one from this list that I will try is the Peanut Butter Oatmeal Granola Bars.

It never hurts to try something new on a small scale. A bag of flaxseed meal goes a long way. Experiment with the product and you may find that it is one that you will want to always keep on hand in the pantry!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Work Bringing You Down? Try These Scapular Retraction Exercises to Straighten Up!

At the start of each yoga and pilates class I teach, I ask those in attendance what part of their body they wish to focus on that particular class. The most common request is the upper back and shoulders.

So many people spend a large majority of their day sitting in a chair or driving a car that they find themselves losing track of "good posture". Their shoulders appear to round in toward their chest. The muscles on the back of the body are over stretched and those in the front body are too short. Since quitting the job that causes the problem is not a possibility, daily stretching can combat the daily wear and tear on the body.

If you have an opportunity to attend a pilates or yoga class, that would be a great way for an instructor to guide you and give you in-person attention. If you are unable to attend a class and are wondering what you can do on your own, there are many stretches, both passive and active.

Yoga Journal has a variety of poses (in a variety of levels of difficulty) that can be done to stretch the shoulders.

One of my favorite poses to start a class when people have asked for a chest opener is to do a SLOW seated twist. My instructions are a modification of this image, although the stretch can be done from this position. At the start of the class I ask students to sit in a simple cross-leg pose with their ankles under their knees and shins in line with the front of the mat (fringe benefit: hip opener!). Students are reminded to stack their spine one vertebra on top of another as if they were stacking Lego blocks (imagine the length that comes from the interlocking Lego spaces). I ask them to extend their shoulders in the direction of opposite walls and allow the crown of the head to float to the sky. (In classes where the same group comes often and knows one another...sometimes we sit back-to-back)

To perform the twist to start to open the upper spine, take the left hand to the ground behind you and take the right had across the left thigh. Start with a deep inhalation and draw the shoulders to the ears. Exhale and draw them down your back, imagining holding a quarter between your shoulder blades as they descend. Inhale and lengthen the spine, exhale and turn JUST the belly button to the left. Inhale a second time and turn the belly a bit more then turn the hear to the left. Inhale a third time and turn the belly a bit more, thoracic spine a bit more, and finally turn the gaze in the direction of the left shoulder. Inhale in the twist and use the right hand to help twist more, wringing the belly like a washcloth. REPEAT the process on the other side.

This seated twist is not only a good way to start a yoga class but a way to restore while sitting in a chair at work or recovering at home after a long day. If you are sitting in a chair, the hand that goes on teh floor can rest on the back of the chair.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Stained Teeth? Food CAN help!

Coffee and tea stains on the teeth get removed, or lightened, at one's semi-annual dental visit. While there are products you can buy to whiten teeth, I have been searching for natural remedies. I try to use as few chemicals in/on my body as possible.

Looking high and low I have compiled the following list of FOODS THAT HELP WHITEN TEETH NATURALLY.

STRAWBERRIES A great product in the spring when the berry is abundant and the prices low. The enzyme malic acid helps break down the stains on your teeth.

APPLES, CELERY, and CARROTS. These crunchy vegies help whiten teeth by increasing saliva production. Apples are usually in season and found at reasonable prices in the fall (opposite strawberries). HARD CHEESES do the same thing!

. The tart fruits increase saliva productions which helps your body "wash" out your mouth.

BROCCOLI, SPINACH, and LETTUCE add a film to your teeth which helps protect them from stains.

DARK CHOCOLATE strengthens tooth enamel so stains have less of a chance to "set".


is not a food, many people have some in the kitchen. Have you noticed it is a main ingredient in many commercial toothpastes? You can add some water to a dab of baking soda to create a paste and brush your teeth with the HOMEMADE toothpaste.

If you like the taste of coffee and/or tea, or just need the caffeine to accomplish your "To Do" list, consider finding a natural way to clean your teeth. A natural cleanser to remove a natural stain.

Some good sources for continued reading:

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Gluten ... JUST SAY NO!

I have suffered from ECZEMA since I was a teen. For several years friends and family members have dropped hints that I should try to eliminate GLUTEN from my diet to see if it helps my skin. Their thought, if medications still were not helping after over 20 years, perhaps another avenue needed to be taken to try to make myself less uncomfortable (itchy/raw/infected skin).

I listened to skin cleared up...the awful "aftertaste" in my mouth went away...I gained back energy and a zest for life!

AFTER I did the experiment I started to read up about the connections between ECZEMA and GLUTEN. Numerous stories exist that one can find doing a simple search on any database.

My diet has always included MANY MANY MANY fruits and vegetables. I love rice,potatoes, and quinoa. I do not eat meat with every meal. What have I had to eliminate? Not much. There are Gluten Free snacks like pretzels, granols bars, and crackers. Gluten free pastas, bread mixes, and cereals are manufactured.

What I have reduced from my diet is packaged snack foods. Perhaps they will be eliminated one day. Eliminating processed foods from one's diet is a good thing anyway!

If you think that you may have a sensitivity to gluten, I suggest you try eliminating it from your diet for a few weeks then testing a few food items back in to find your personal level of tolerance. This piece of advice was given to me by friends and I have read in numerous places online. You can also see your doctor about getting tested and setting up a meal plan.

There are numerous resources out there. I have spent HOURS researching. A few I suggest you look at include:
Celiac Disease
Gluten Free Info web

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

SlimKicker Website and APP

If you are having trouble staying motivated to lose weight, try the website and/or APP. The program allows you to set your diet and fitness goals and invites you to check in with progress reports.

You can earn prizes and communicate with a virtual "coach". If you like competition and a team atmosphere, this is the right way for you to find that extra motivation!

Check out Slim Kicker to see if it is right for you. It does not cost you anything, just a bit of your time!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Kohlrabi...What is it? How do I use it?

A few months ago I met a new friend, kohlrabi. This vegetable has become a friend in the kitchen. It has an odd shape but it tastes good!

One of the local farmer's at the Farmer's Market had this round bulb for sale. Never seeing the bulb with leaves before, I inquired as to what it was. He told me is was a cross between a cabbage and a turnip and could be used in soups AND the greens could be cooked like collard greens. I took a chance, AM I GLAD I DID!

I love to use the KOHLRABI in soup. I cut a small onion, a few carrots, and a stalk or two of celery (carrots and celery are in proportion to the size pot of soup you wish to make). I saute them in a put with just a bit if butter until translucent. While I am doing that I cut the kohlrabi bulb into small cubes and add to the pot. I have found the entire bulb to be edible when the outer layer does not appear fibrous. When it is, I trim that part of the outer layer. (The purple variety has appeared to be a bit more fibrous when I have purchased it.) I add low sodium chicken broth and a bay leaf and bring to a boil. Then I add potatoes, diced to the size you prefer. Let simmer until kohlrabi and potatoes are tender.

HINT: I add carrot greens to the pot as it is simmering. Adds flavor and nutrients! I take the leafy portion off the stems. The stems are stringy and chewy. It's WORTH the extra five minutes!

Why do I like this vegetable so much? Not only dies it taste good and is it a two for one (bulb + greens are edible) but it is nutritious! It can be eaten raw in a salad or cooked. It is a low calorie food too! touts the benefits of Kohlrabi providing one with Vitamin "C" and "B" Vitamins.

Kohlrabi health benefits include:

Good for the skeletal and digestive system.
Great for protecting cells and DNA from free radicals.
Great source of antioxidants.
Help the body to absorb iron better.
Improves oxygen circulation which increases energy.
Good source of fiber.
Help stabilize blood sugar imbalances.

The addition of the carrot greens provides the body with Vitamin "K" which is not found in the carrot itself. has several recipes for using Kohlrabi ... Try A FEW ... You Will Like This Vegetable Too!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Eat Well to Improve Quality of Life During Cancer

Thanks Guest Blogger Jillian McKee for this great article!

Patients with cancer usually have one thing on their minds—they want the cancer out of their bodies. Treatments for mesothelioma, skin cancer, breast cancer, and prostate cancer are all examples of plans that can cause appetite losses. Even cancer patients in remission often don’t feel up to preparing or eating nutritional foods because they are simply exhausted. Although adequate nutrition might be the furthest thing from your mind when you are battling cancer, healthy foods will not only give you the right kind of energy, but they can also improve your overall quality of life.

Nutrition and Cancer
Proper nutrition gives your body the energy it needs to carry out everyday tasks. Having adequate energy is critical in fighting cancer. You will undergo treatments, some of which can be painful and will subsequently zap your energy levels. It is important to maintain strength from nourishing foods to improve the outcome of your cancer treatments.

Eating good foods throughout your life reduces the chances of getting cancer. However, once you are diagnosed, these types of meals will not reverse your condition. There are no miracle foods to cure cancer. On the flip side, eating nutritious foods can improve your odds of remission. If you instead continue to eat unhealthy foods, then you could decrease your chances of improvement. At this point, you shouldn’t be concerned with excess calories, but rather eating foods that taste good to you, and provide you with energy.

Back to the Basics
When choosing the right foods to eat during cancer, you should get back to the basics of nutrition. Remember that you need a healthy mix of carbohydrates, protein and fat to have adequate energy. Healthy carbohydrates are found in whole grains, as well as fruits and vegetables.

Many cancer patients lack protein in their diets because they cannot stomach cow’s milk and red meats. Instead, choose lighter sources of protein that you will actually enjoy. Chicken, turkey and fish are great alternatives to meat, as well as eggs and tofu. Concentrate on healthy fats, such as fish, olive oil and nuts.

For the best results, the Mayo Clinic recommends that you eat small meals throughout the day. During times in which you actually have an appetite, feel free to eat just a bit more while you have the chance. This will help to ensure that you have enough calories to energize you.

Nutritional Alternatives
Advanced stages of cancer can wipe out your energy for several days at a time. Some people who are first diagnosed with cancer also temporarily lose their appetites from succumbing to the high stress involved with their conditions. With your doctor’s consent, you might consider taking a multivitamin to ensure that you are getting the essential nutrients you need. Keep in mind that this kind of supplement is a temporary solution for nutritional gaps, and you should not intentionally trade in food for a vitamin.

Stay Hydrated
Not only is it important to nourish your body with healthy foods during cancer treatments, but you also need to make sure that you drink plenty of water. The Mayo Clinic recommends a minimum daily fluid intake of 64 oz, unless your oncologist instructs you otherwise. If you are rapidly losing weight, you might consider beverage choices with some calories, such as fruit juice or lightly sweetened tea. Dehydration can make you feel weak, and it can actually hinder any positive treatment results.

Visit Jillian McKee's Blog for more information.

Eating Healthy can be EASY

More and more I stumble upon restaurants, recipes, and websites that promote healthy eating. I like to frequent local Farmer's Markets to purchase produce as close to the source as possible. (My husband and I enjoy growing a few vegetables in our small year, but cannot grow enough to feed ourselves.) I have done MY BEST to become more adventurous with foods that I encounter at the Farmer's Market. After engaging the farmer's in conversation, I have come to appreciate kohlrabi (the bulb and greens), carrot greens, beet greens, collard greens, and kale. The year 2012 has been a year of learning about the health benefits of these new foods and finding FUN ways to use them in my weekly cooking. Yesterday I stumbled upon Food Network's Website and found a new page called HERO FOODS. I am eager to check out the recipes and find out additional ways to use my new add to my diet.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

How can you include YOGA in your TRAVELS?

If you have an internet connection where you are going, visit the site doyogawithme for an opportunity to take a class along with the online teacher. You can pick the style of yoga, level of intensity, and length of class that fits your schedule.

You can always do yoga without a mat. BUT the mat does add cushion AND cleanliness. Gaiam has a new product of lightweight and mats that are perfect for travel. I have been packing my yoga towel when I travel; I look forward to purchasing this mat and using it instead!

Check out the Gaiam Sol Bhakti Ultra-Light Yoga Mat (1mm) - it may be just what you need to take your yoga with you while you travel!

Go Green...Buy or Donate Clothes

I read about Clothes4Souls in the May 2012 edition of Yoga Journal Magazine. The advertisement was for Tie Socks, a product I LOVE TO USE WHEN TEACHING YOGA AND PILATES! Therefore the advertisement caught my eye. The ad said, "for every pair purchased online through May, ToeSox donates a pair to those in need through the charity".

When I looked up Clothes4Souls I was opened to a WORLD of opportunities to donate and help others.

Remember what we have been told ever since we were young, "one person's trash is another person's treasure". Find the right place to donate your used goods so that they have the greatest POSITIVE impact on the community.

Eat Local...A "Spring CLeaning" Idea...

Try out the website to check out what is FRESH in your area RIGHT NOW!

Support local growers, obtain food at the peak of freshness, and cut down your carbon footprint.

The more we can eat seasonally, the more we will be able to obtain the optimum nutrients form our foods.

Visit a Farmer's Market...try a new fruit or vegetable today!