A natural Cure for Insomnia

This blog comes from the delightful Cora Geroux who teaches at Yoga Village and takes a personal interest in natural stress reduction techniques.

Over the last few months so many of you have reported to me that you have trouble sleeping but are not sure why. Broken sleep or insomnia can be caused by a number of things, but regardless of the cause, seem deprivation must be one of the most frustrating things ever.

As someone who suffered from insomnia for much of my life, I understand first hand how much it can affect your day to day functioning. Now that I have my sleeping patterns in order it is like getting through the day is just so much easier and there is an energy injection in everything I do that just wasn’t there before.

For this reason I have asked our relaxation guru, Cora Geroux for some tips to share with you all about sleeping more soundly each night.  There are many things you can do including pranayama, yoga poses, eating certain foods, all of which can help or hinder your chances of sleeping through the night.

Read what Cora has to share below:

Sleep is crucial for our well-being. Without a proper nights rest our whole system goes out of whack. Our bodies get fat, our relationships suffer and our IQ actually goes down.

In my very first yoga teacher training I learned one simple technique that changed my life forever. It's so simple and easy I just had to share.

If you have trouble sleeping try this breathing exercise when you settle into bed tonight.

Extended Exhale Breath (Pranayama)

Repeat each step 3 times before moving onto the next. Breath through the nose the entire time.

1. Inhale for a count of 4, exhale for a count of 4
2. Inhale for a count of 4, exhale for a count of 5
3. Inhale for a count of 4, exhale for a count of 6
4. Inhale for a count of 4, exhale for a count of 7
5. Inhale for a count of 4, exhale for a count of 8

Cora is also teaching a yoga workshop in a couple of weeks on how to cure insomnia naturally.  Click here for details. 

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A Berry Yogic Muffin

Berry & Almond Muffins

Lately I have fallen in to a trap of having something sweet every day. I have been getting to 3 o'clock and indulging in a muffin or a brownie. So today, instead of trying to fight the urge for a little something 'naughty' I decided to make myself a batch of healthy Berry & Almond muffins. It also helped that I made almond milk to go with my breakfast this morning so had a heap of pulp left to use for something yummy.

These took me about 10 minutes to prepare and then another 30 minutes to bake. The pulp I used was wet though so think that took them a bit longer than they normally would, if you are using dry almond meal (almond flour) then just bake for around 20-25 minutes, checking regularly.

Ingredients

  • 1/3 Cup of Rice Malt Syrup or Raw Honey (I used a combo)
  • 4 Tbs of melted Coconut oil
  • 3/4 Tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/2 Tsp Salt
  • 1tsp Vanilla Powder (I accidentally dropped more in and it made it even more delicious)
  • 2 Free-range Eggs
  • Juice from half a lemon
  • 2 1/2 Cups of Almond Meal
  • 1/2 Cup of chopped nuts (I used Pecans)
  • 1 Cup Berries (I used frozen blueberries and raspberries)

Method

  • Preheat Oven to 160 C and if you need to grease or line your muffin tray then do so (mine is silicon so doesn't require greasing)
  • In a bowl combine the top six ingredients from the list and whisk together until well combined
  • Add Almond Meal, Nuts and Berries and fold together using a spatula or spoon
  • Divide evenly amongst the muffin holders and then press down on the top with a spoon
  • Bake for 20-30 minutes, checking regularly

These will need to cool before eating because the almond meal doesn't stick together so well. Enjoy with a cup of tea and try not to eat them all too quickly!!

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How to create a Yoga Retreat in Your Own Home

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I am so happy to be settled in the new space which feels so amazing! That said, for me the last 6 weeks incredibly demanding so I took myself off to Byron Bay last weekend for a self made yoga retreat for a bit of time out.

Anyone who has ever been on a yoga retreat knows that when you are on retreat you feel on top of the world. The magical combination of nature, yoga, mediation, pranayama and genuinely healthy food being prepared for you is the magical ticket towards a clearer, healthier mind.

Every time I have left a retreat I feel incredible, my energy levels are such that I spring out of bed in the morning and have consistent energy levels until I sleep soundly at night. And the sleep! As someone who has long suffered from insomnia, sleeping soundly at night is no easy feat. So it is no surprise that every time I leave a retreat (and now it is what  I hear from almost everyone who attends a retreat) I have told myself "this time, I am going to do all that stuff at home".

The truth is, there are so many things that we do on retreat that are unique tools to use for those who have the luxury of time. But if you don't have that luxury then it doesn't mean there is nothing that you can do. Something is ALWAYS better than nothing when it comes to trying to maintain a healthy, balanced lifestyle.

Although now I feel I have the formula just about right for maintaining this feeling, it has taken me many years to learn how not to fall straight back in to old habits.
 
  • Be realistic. Don't tell yourself you are going to get up 2 hours earlier than normal to get through an hour of meditation, and an hour of pranayama each morning. Change it to 20 minutes early (which should be achievable) and just do 10 minutes of each. 
  • Be prepared. The food is such a big part of a yoga retreat, because not only is it healthy and organic, it is incredibly relaxing not having to think about the preparation or purchasing of food. We don't realise how much brain time our eating decisions take up. So, be prepared. Prepurchase your vegetables on the weekend and dedicate 2 hours on a Sunday to soaking, baking, cooking etc. You can have lunches and dinners made up for a whole week in that time. (Suggestions of blogs & apps that I reference for easy, healthy recipe inspiration include http://juliaandlibby.com/, http://www.angieglutenfree.com/recipes/, http://thewholepantryapp.com/ and http://www.greenkitchenstories.com/)
  • Be Prepared Part 2. Pack your yoga gear or walking gear the night before, even if you aren't going to the morning class. Take it with you to work if you are attending an evening class. If you don't make it to class then why not walk home from work instead?
  • Switch off for half an hour a day. I usually do this the hour before I go to bed. I turn off the computer, my phone, my iPad, my TV, my music or anything else that could be a distraction and I just sit and relax. If you can't do it each day then try and do it for a whole day on the weekend, or half a day. But do give yourself some time where you have nothing at all to do. Zilch, Nada, Niente! You don't need to meditate, you could just look out the window, or enjoy your meal without watching TV or looking at Social Media. It is crazy how much time we waste on our devices that when you take them away, suddenly you are relaxed! 
  • Detox your mind. One of the only rules I have when I run a retreat is that we detox our minds by eliminating the following - Gossiping, Complaining, Comparisons and Negativity. It is amazing how much energy these things sap from your brain, so when you remove them all you have left is positivity or silence. Which is much nicer, right? 
  • Treat Yourself. Have a massage, give yourself a pedicure, have a bath, a foot soak, a facial mask. Do something special each week that is just for you.
  • Come on a retreat every year or two. Retreats are an amazing opportunity to learn how the above suggestions can make you feel a million times better.  Each time you attend a retreat you pick up new tips not only for your yoga practice but on meditation, pranayama and relaxation. It is also a great chance to meet like minded people who are looking for less stress in their lives. On Yoga Village retreats we have cooking workshops too so you learn some simple recipes that you can make at home.

Next retreat with being held by Myself and Cora Geroux for three nights from October 31st. The early bird special runs out tomorrow so if you are keen please book by midnight October 1st to take advantage of the discount.  The details and bookings are available here.
 
Check out some pics of my time in Byron Bay below....

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New Timetable From August 24th

timetable
With only a few days to go until we move I am so excited to launch our new yoga class schedule!

Thanks to everyone who sent us requests for yoga classes, I have tried my best to fulfil them!

You will notice new class times and that the 6:15am time slot has moved to 6am, we have also launched a new 7am time slot.

There are two new class styles on the timetable

Advanced Immersion

Held Monthly, advanced classes will focus on more challenging poses and technique required to move in to them with strength and grace.

Slow Flow Vinyasa Yoga

A beautiful fluid practice, Slow Flow incorporates Hatha Yoga Poses and and flows gently between poses. This class is less vigorous practice that Ashtanga Yoga and Hatha Vinyasa Yoga and is appropriate for all levels.

View the new Yoga Class Timetable  for the Darlinghurst Yoga studio here.

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Open Day @ The New Yoga Village

We are so excited to be opening our doors in our beautiful new home on Darlinghurst Road and on August 31st we invite you and your friends to free yoga classes at Yoga Village.

No bookings are required but please come early to secure your space in the classes - last year some late comers sadly missed out.

The schedule for the day is as follows:

8:30am Hatha Vinyasa with Kendall

9:00am Ashtanga with Charmaine

10:00am Foundations with Jess

10:30am Prenatal Yoga with Alex

12:00pm Restorative Yoga with Jess

2:00pm Advanced Masterclass with Nadia

4:00pm Hatha Vinyasa with Sarah

4:30pm Ashtanga with Nadia

There will be specials on class passes and giveaways so please join us and help celebrate the opening of our new Yoga Village!

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Yoga Village is Moving!!

Yes the rumours are true!

After an amazing weekend retreat just finished I returned back to some exciting news confirming that that the rumours are indeed true. Yoga Village is moving home!

After two incredible years on Bayswater Road, it started to become clear that Yoga Village would soon outgrow its little nest. So I started looking around and as luck would have it I found the perfect new home just a 2 minute walk away. So in around 6 weeks we will be picking up all our things and moving in to 18-20 Darlinghurst Road. The new space will have two yoga rooms, separate foyer, bathrooms and showers and a lot of light and love!

I purposely chose a new premises that would keep our class sizes intimate and decided that as the studio grows we would add more classes as opposed to trying to add more students to the existing ones. So basically this means, the same teachers your love, same classes, just more of them.

If you walk past the new building you will almost certainly see that there is no front door yet; but don't worry – it will be built soon enough and we can invite everyone up to have a little poke around when we have a launch party.

Accompanying the move comes a few changes on the timetable so please do write to us with any suggestions.

I hope you are as excited as I am about these changes! I know you will love the new space as much as (if not more than) the current home on Bayswater Road. It has a very similar feel with high ceilings and lots of light, and most importantly, a really warm energy.

Please make sure you like the Facebook page as over the next few weeks I will be posting photos of the new space as it all pulls together.

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Eating for success By Angie Cowen

food
It is with excitement that I publish the first blog by a guest blogger. Angie from Angie's Gluten Free knows all about mindful eating and eating for success.

Angie is going to be catering for the Winter Yoga Retreat in July 2013 and will be giving a wholefoods workshop for all who attend.

Please welcome Angie.... server One of the biggest things I have found when it comes to nourishing myself is to consider the whole of me rather than just my stomach. What is wanted? What is desired? What is needed?

Thinking of an empty rice cake as being a quick, light snack to satisfy my hunger and believing it will also help me stay nice and slim won’t actually help in my overall feeling of satiety and wellbeing. In fact, it does quite the opposite. I end up needing to eat more of those empty foods to reach nutrient and emotional satisfaction. This empty food is wrapped in plenty of wasteful plastic. The end result is very little value for me and plenty of drain on the planet.  No success.

Asking what I want and need to achieve in my day (and my life) and how my food is going to help me achieve my goals allows me to practice being more present with myself at more points in my day. It also, by joyous default, gives me more energy to complete my daily tasks, give more, and feel  more fulfilled at the end of it (because I achieved what I set out to). When being present with myself and the food I am eating, I generally experience a greater sense of nourishment and daily satisfaction.

This, of course, is a practice of total presence and it’s encouraged to be done so with a gently curious and loving approach. So how do I get there?

When hunger sets in and it’s breakfast, lunch, dinner or snack time, start with how you actually feel on an emotional level – stressed, sad, relaxed, content, apprehensive. By connecting in with the feeling, you may be able to understand how it could affect what you choose to eat. Next, look at how your body is feeling – energised, tired, acidic, strong, hyperactive. This will help you decide what you need to be eating.

If after acknowledging that you are feeling a bit tired and knowing that sometimes you feel tired after eating heavy carbohydrates, you may choose a lighter vegetable rather than a heavier one. Or if you were feeling somewhat toxic in your body you may choose a fresher, more cleansing meal.

What time of day is it? Breakfast and lunch need to be of a decent size and nutrient dense as these are the main hours activities need to be achieved. Dinner is the last meal of the day and there is less digesting time before sleep, so it works well for the body to have the smallest meal of the day here. Less food in the stomach when resting means a more restful sleep.

Last but not least, look at how hungry you are – super hungry, a little hungry, not very hungry at all. Choose the amount you think you need and eat your meal slowly, with awareness in and on your body. Stop yourself from thinking about plans, events and work.

So the ultimate question is, what is your focus in this life? What are your dreams, plans, desires? By eating from the perspective of connecting to your whole self and seeing what is needed, you should feel more energised, satisfied and empowered, and have plenty of energy to focus on enjoying life and fulfilling your dreams and desires. Success!

For more on Angie visit her website http://www.angieglutenfree.com/ or come along to our upcoming Yoga Retreat
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Creating the Perfect Post-Yoga Meal in 10 Minutes

Easy Peasy Quinoa Scamby Eggs with Greens eggs Don’t you love it when you experiment and it totally pays off? Although I love to cook I usually follow or slightly change recipes. Today I went out on a limb and threw a bunch of things together and enjoyed the meal so much I felt compelled to share it with you.

I came home from practice absolutely starving this morning! I had some leftover cooked quinoa in the fridge that had to be used by tomorrow but really felt like eating eggs so decided to combine the two. And this is what I came up with – it took a total of 10 minutes including prep time.

This is what you need:


Approx one cup of cooked quinoa (I used white quinoa)

Green Veggies (broccoli and Kale), Chopped and washed

Grape or Cherry Tomatoes

Three Eggs

Milk

Spice of your choice (I used Garam Masala)

Coconut Oil or butter for cooking

Fresh Herbs (I used Parsley)

Start by preparing the eggs, crack them in to a bowl and whisk, then add some milk, salt and pepper and whisk it all together again. Set aside in the fridge.

In a fry pan or wok heat some coconut oil or butter and heat it up on medium. Add half a teaspoon of your favourite spice and stir for a few seconds until fragrant. Then add the green veggies. Stir fry the veggies for about 3 minutes (I prefer mine a bit crunchy) then throw in the tomatoes and fry for another minute. Add the quinoa and once it is warm pour egg mixture on top and stir constantly until eggs are soft and fluffy. broccoli   Remove from the pan and top with fresh herbs. I also added hemp seeds on top . Yum!!

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Introducing one of my favourite teachers...

yogapose Dan is one of the teachers who inspired me to teach yoga.... I still remember my first yoga class with him. I had been practicing yoga for about one year, and I thought I was pretty damn good actually! But there were still so many things I struggled with, Jump throughs, holding arm balances and more.

Enter Dan Fanthorpe.

A friend recommended I attended his classes, she said I would like the challenge of them and she wasn't wrong. His class was more challenging than any other I had attended, but at the same time it so much fun and I learned a lot. In the first class with Dan I was able to hold some of the poses I had been attempting for a whole year. After that first class Dan quickly became one of my favourite teachers and though he no longer lives in Sydney I regularly attend his retreats in Australia and abroad. This is why I am so excited to be hosting Dan’s workshop series ‘The Art of Flying’ at Yoga Village this weekend and his 'Backbending Masterclass' in July. I am so often asked about how to jump forward and back to standing and to sitting, how to jump in to handstands and how to find lightness in your yoga practice. This will be the focus of the weekend workshop which will hopefully transform your practice. There are still a few places left so I would highly recommend booking in if you are interested.

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My Confession: Even Yogi's Get the Blues

tears
I have a confession.

 
Despite the fact that I do yoga I am not brilliantly happy 100% of the time.  Another confession, I am completely ok with not being happy ALL of the time.

When I check my Facebook and read blogs by other yoga teachers and people working in the health and wellbeing space I am often shocked by the façade of perfection that so many people are trying to portray. To me it doesn’t seem healthy or human. And most of all, it doesn’t seem yogic.

I think it is important for us to remember that although we do this practice, life can still be hard. Life is great, amazing, wonderful and so many other things – including hard.
 
After returning from another trip to India four months ago, life has been all of those things, especially hard. I will openly admit that I have had a really challenging time settling back in to the swing of things here. And more difficult that settling back in has been the challenge of how I should act when I am going through a hard time. Should I just pretend that it isn’t happening and walk around with a big fake smile on my face and say ‘good’ when people ask how I am going? Or should I be grumpy all the time instead?

Yoga can change your life, but it doesn’t mean that everything in life becomes easy once you start it.

Yoga teaches us to take the good with the good and the bad with the bad and to act with grace and strength through any circumstance. Yoga teaches us to live in the moment and be present in whatever is happening, even when what is happening isn’t good. Yoga teaches us to live a balanced life – and that means balancing the good with the bad.

When we are in a pose that is difficult or confronting and we have to hold it, and we can breathe and just be there, even if holding it is even more difficult and confronting, it is in those moments that we are really practicing yoga. If we apply that principle in life, then when times are tough and we need to cry or laugh, then do it, embrace it, and don’t try to deny that you are feeling what you are feeling. By being present in our own sadness we are more likely to move in to happiness – just like they say (I am not sure who ‘they’ are but I have certainly heard this many times before) ‘you have to see the darkness in order to see the light’.

So I am not ashamed to say that in the last four months there have been a number of days that I have spent in tears, literally lying in bed and just letting them flow down my cheeks. Once I started to let it happen it didn’t seem so bad. I didn’t try to stop it; I didn’t try and tell myself to ‘pull it together’. The truth is that I needed to cry those tears; they were coming up for a reason. After a few of these days, strangely enough, I started to realise that in those really dark moments I was really living and feeling my truth more closely than I ever had before. I mean I was REALLY feeling, not only that, I was giving myself the freedom to feel sad.  By allowing myself to really feel, I started to appreciate the tears as much as the laughs. They are both amazing practices and should be equally embraced and equally accepted.

It is true that being happy is amazing, but being sad can be amazing as well if you change your approach to it. So next time you are sad, why not let yourself be sad and see what it brings up for you. I think if anyone else has a problem with it or finds your honesty uncomfortable, and then simply let it be their problem; maybe it is something they need to address themselves. And surely you have enough to deal with; I mean you are busy embracing your inner sadness! I am not saying we should take our problems out on other people, or walk around being grump, rather I just believe we should be free to express whatever our current truth is; and especially express that to ourselves. What could be more beautiful?

So Accept me as I am, and I accept you as you are.  Aum Shanti Aum

PS- I promise not to cry while I am teaching

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