Yoga in the Workplace (week #1)

I have already broken my New Year’s resolution and did not blog last week.  That means that this week I will be posting 2 blogs to catch up…

This past weekend I had yoga on my mind… I will be back to teaching yoga at work this week for my co-workers (800 employees) and I had to start thinking about my sequences.  The biggest challenge is that the classes will be 30 minutes long (during lunch breaks), since I am no longer able to stay after work due to picking up the baby from day care.  But I think that this will also be a great opportunity for more people to be exposed to yoga in the workplace.  This week we will start off with a very gentle practice because I don’t want to scare away any new students.  I’m actually going to try doing a little bit of Kundalini mixed with my regular style.  According to Wikipedia, Practitioners call Kundalini yoga, the yoga of awareness.  It is based on active exercises, pranayama (breath), and meditation to release Kundalini energy and the activation of energy through the chakras (focal points for the reception and transmission of energies).

I took my first Kundalini class this weekend and was amazed at how challenging it was…  To be honest, my yoga practice over the past 6-months has pretty much been dwindled down to only meditation.  I take small moments of my day to reflect on my life and what I am grateful for (which is so much these days!)  Having a baby has changed my life in so many ways.  My favorite meditation time is when I do baby massage with Bode.  We listen to soothing music and both he and I relax/reflect as we bond during this time.  I have to say it is one of my favorite times of the day (just before bedtime).  I’ll talk more about this subject in a future blog…  This Kundalini class happened to be one of the first classes I had taken for myself in a long time.  I found the link between breath (pranayama) and movement (asana) energizing and awakening.  I walked out of this class feeling confident and empowered.  These are 2 things that I want my students to feel this week when I teach.  I’ll let you know later this week how my first class back went!

Namaste

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Yoga Pose – Downward Facing Dog

Since returning to asana (body positioning or postures in yoga), I have once again learned to appreciate the poses that are building blocks to the rest of my practice.  I will break down the poses and let you know what the benefits are to your practice.  The first pose I will break down is downward facing dog – Adho Mukha Svanasana:

Come to the floor on your hands and knees.   Place your knees directly below your hips and hands slightly forward of your shoulders. Spread your palms, and press down into your mat evenly with your fingers and palm.

Push the floor away with your hands.  Press the thigh bones back.   At first keep the knees slightly bent and the heels lifted away from the floor.

Firm the upper inner arms. widen across the collar bones, melt the trapezius, move the shoulder blades down and into the back, and lift the sternum.
Inner thighs roll back, outer hips hug in.  Make sure your legs are parallel and that the four corners of the feet press down and the heel is lined up with the 2nd toe.

Keep the head between the upper arms; don’t let it hang.  Hold this pose for 5 full breaths.

Adho Mukha Svanasana is one of the poses in the traditional Sun Salutation sequence. It’s also an excellent yoga asana all on its own. Stay in this pose anywhere from 1 to 3 minutes. Then bend your knees to the floor with an exhalation and rest in Child’s Pose.

The benefits of this pose are that it calms the brain, stress reliever, energizes, and improves digestion, therapeutic for asthma and sciatica.  Contraindications, caution if you have high blood pressure or late-term pregnancy.  Some beginner tips are to use blocks under your hands, wrap a strap securely around your arms just above your elbows and press the outer arms out resisting the strap and push the inner shoulder blades outward, or place your hands wide on the top of your mat.

Namaste

Locally grown, organic produce in a box – YUM!

My new dinner inspiration(s) are coming from my new favorite purchase – Abundant Harvest Organics… Fresh, organic, local produce boxed up and delivered weekly.  Each week I get to enjoy some new and some old favorites both fruits and vegetabales.  This week I received:

1A-Mandarin Oranges
1A-Oranges
1A-Tangelos
1B-Potatoes
1B-Spinach
1B-Artichokes
1B-Carrots
1B-Lavender
1B-Winter Greens
1B-Winter Squash
1B-Shallots

Beautiful Greens

I can’t wait to teach Bode about the importance of color on our plates!  How many different colors did you have in your last meal?

Namaste

Cheese-tastic!

I love cheese because it tastes good on almost anything but regular cheese made from cow’s milk isn’t the best choice for our diets.  I’ve been reading a lot of articles about how we shouldn’t eat dairy.  Yes, I have a degree in Nutrition but since it is such a new science, new studies come out every day.  This was one of the things I loved about college because I was growing as a student along with the science that I was learning about.  Studies show that about 75% of the population cannot genetically digest dairy (lactose intolerance).  Many people might say, “We need 2-3 servings of dairy in our diet, the USDA recommends it in the food guide pyramid, to help prevent diseases like Osteoporosis”…

My little model with both cheese varieties

However, recent studies have shown that the  truth is, there has been little or no success in preventing osteoporosis by eating dairy products. As Americans, we consume excessively large quantities of calcium, yet the risk of osteoporosis continues to threaten millions of Americans. Most people are not aware that the US already has one of the highest calcium intakes in the world. Calcium deficiency caused by an insufficient amount of calcium is not known to occur in humans, even though most people in the world don’t drink milk after they are babies. In fact, nations with the highest levels of dairy consumption are the same nations with the highest rates of osteoporosis.  So you might say, “why not try soy milk or soy cheese?”  I disagree with that choice as well because soy can cause problems to our hormone levels.  Soy is one of the largest genetically modified foods and has one of the highest percentages contamination by pesticides of any of our foods.  Soy has now been linked to cause cancer, lower libido, cause thyroid problems in babies, and many other side effects.  So I went on a quest to find a good cheese not made from soy or dairy at whole foods I found the following two choices (I made 2 separate quesadillas with whole wheat tortillas):

Sample #1 made from tapioca

tapioca cheese alternative

Brand Name:  Daiya

Flavor:  Mozzarella

Melting consistency: very good and it even stretches like real cheese

Smell: it smells like cheese but in a way that you can tell its not REAL cheese

Taste: yummy, not too strong but a nice flavor

Cost: $5.99 for the package (pre-shredded)

Overall Grade: B+

Sample #2 made from almonds

almond cheese alternative

Brand Name:  The Original Almond Cheese

Flavor:  Monterrey Jack-Jalapeno

Melting consistency: it melts and sticks to the tortilla but isn’t stretchy like real cheese

Smell: no smell except for the Jalapeno flavoring

Taste:  delicious, especially because of the flavoring

Cost:  $3.99 (on Sale) for the package

Overall Taste: B

Overall I would not eat these cheeses by themselves but they each have their own taste and flavor to add to a meal.  I could see baking some yummy casseroles or even trying some homemade pizza with the tapioca cheese alternative.  Although I didn’t grade either cheese with an ‘A’ I think its about changing mindset regarding ‘cheese’ and I think both of these are a hit!

Namaste