Top Yoga Tips for Beginners

Top Yoga Tips For Beginners

Catherine Bicknell 

 November 6th, 2017

My Top Yoga Tips;

Do you look at pictures of Yogi’s doing headstands & think “yoga is not for me?” Please believe me, yoga is for everyone, you don’t need to be a contortionist or a certain shape or size to enjoy & benefit from a regular yoga practice. 

Why not have some fun trying yoga this week with your family… even my dog, Wellington, likes getting in on the action! 

 

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Here are my Top Tips for starting your yoga practice.

1. Breath

Take a deep breath, Yoga is not about touching your toes, it’s a simple process of uniting your breath, body and mind to help you reconnect with your Self.

Whether you're starting yoga in your 50’s, have a bad knee, or feel you have too many secret love handles to practice, remove all those niggling doubts, hop on to your mat, the only person watching you is you - so relax & enjoy.

 

2    Find a teacher you connect with.

Ideally it is best to start your yoga practice with an experienced & qualified yoga teacher so you can learn the postures properly and avoid possible injuries. 

But as well as experience & qualifications you have to connect with your teacher, you need to feel relaxed enough to fall over, to laugh at yourself, to ask your teacher anything & have fun as you are more likely you are to stick with your practice & ultimately that is the goal - a lifelong practice :)

 

3. Patience

Yoga is not competitive (or shouldn’t be) especially with yourself,

Going slightly beyond your comfort zone will keep the yoga practice interesting and will encourage body adaptations, progression & development but pushing yourself too far leads to injuries. So give yourself that time and be patient. Certain postures take years!

 

5. Avoid comparing yourself to others in class. 

Remember everybody is unique and different & at different levels of expertise. Some might easily perform a particular posture, whilst others may need a little more time and practice to get there. Therefore, don't feel pressurised to exert yourself.

 

6. Mindset - Decide to have fun!

Don’t be too serious about your yoga practice, yoga can and should be a space where you can leave your busy, overwhelming life & reconnect with your breath and your body. Take the pressure off and let yourself enjoy it. We may feel clumsy & stiff as we try new poses but with a bit of gentleness & self love we can have a giggle at ourselves too.

 

7. Wear loose comfortable clothing

As you will stretch in all sorts of directions, wear clothes which wont restrict your movement or expose more that you wish to expose! Tops regularly fall down over our heads so a loose top over a tighter fitted stretch top is a good idea!

 

8. Practice Daily

15 minutes a day of yoga positively effect your physical, emotional and mental well-being. This is much better than one long weekly yoga session. Regular practice will reap more benefits, as the body becomes more comfortable & familiar with the process, gradually becoming more flexible, so hop on your mat as often as you can even for a few minutes!

 

9. Adaptations & Variations

The perfect postures we see on instagram may be unrealistic right now. Try using yoga props (blocks, bolsters, a belt) to help together with easier alternatives & variations of the pose.

 

10. Talk to your teacher!

Many yoga teachers will assist students during class. A touch may help support you however, unless a teacher knows your yoga practice very well and is fully aware of any historical injuries, they should not be pushing you into a posture. Equally, a lot of clients feel very uncomfortable being touched so don’t be afraid to say you don’t want to be adjusted, teachers wont mind!!


11. Relax

After your practice allow your body to completely relax, lie on your mat for a few minutes just focusing in on your breath. This allows stillness for both the mind and body after the yoga workout.

 

  xxx

 

I do hope this has been useful to you. If you have any questions about getting fitter, more flexible, managing your weight &/or finding some headspace, then reach out I’d love to help. 

 

In the meantime try some of my 15 minute downloads at home (under ‘Online’ on website or follow my Facebook page: www.facebook.com/theyogimums).

 

Transformational Yoga in Autumn

 Online yoga for mums. Classes & private sessions in Westbury Park, Redland, Henleaze, Bristol. Yoga for mums, beginners, weight loss, fitness, pregnancy & postnatal mums.

 I love autumn (“Fall”), a time of dramatic transformations, beautiful colours, bountiful harvests, oh and long boots and snuggly jumpers! However, as the temperatures fall and the evenings draw in, I notice a change in energy, the energy of summer slowly begins to fade away and is replaced with a need to slow ourselves down, to rest more and to do less vigorous activities. Just as nature is experiencing change, so are we, it becomes harder to motivate ourselves to exercise, often preferring to curl up in the evenings, watching a movie rather than going to a yoga class or the gym!

I know exactly how you feel, we all feel like that sometimes, but there are 3 things I do which help me transition from hot, balmy summers in to the cooler months of autumn & the harsh reality of winter.

First, be aware of the changing seasons, actually acknowledge the shift in energy, Mother Natures and you own, take time to understand how you physically & mentally respond to dealing with these changes. Maybe you get tired & run-down, get more colds & virus's or maybe you become more stressed & argumentative at this time of year. However your body reacts to this change treat yourself with kindness, allow your body to be nurtured and show yourself some love & compassion.

When exercising try not to fight against these seasonal changes by performing challenging or complex yoga sequences instead acknowledge and accept how your feeling and nurture these feelings with a more balanced practice. If you are feeling rundown don’t ignore these initial warning signs & continue with your hectic lifestyle, it will only increase your stress and anxiety & your immune system will weaken and fatigue & illness may set in. In other words, listen to your body & look after yourself, so that you can in turn look after those around you (i.e.. your kids who will pick up every bug going in the playground!!)

Instead of constantly challenging yourself, try to include more grounding poses within your practice, these will help stabilise your body & your emotions. Try to focus your attention towards your posture, keeping your heart space open and not allowing your shoulders to slouch. Try practicing Trikonasana, commonly known as Triangle Pose, for a few minutes each day, to help open up the chest & heart space. During Autumn Trikonasana is my favourite posture, it develops my strength, balance & flexibility & provides me with a sense of well-being by grounding me to the earth. As well as relieving stress and helping me to be calmer with the kiddies(!) it also warms my body up & gets my heart pumping so I feel the endorphins kick in without having to push myself too much when my body needs a bit of down time.

Online yoga for mums. Classes & private sessions in Westbury Park, Redland, Henleaze, Bristol. Yoga for mums, beginners, weight loss, fitness, pregnancy & postnatal mums.

 

I try to draw my attention inwards a lot more at this time of year which I believe helps prepare my body & mind for the shorter & colder days of winter & as a result my practice becomes far more reflective. I am also very aware to eat seasonal foods, the traditional science of Ayurveda teaches us to change our diets according to the seasons and I strongly agree with this philosophy. My body needs a lot more nourishing this time of year far more than just the wonderful salads of the summer months so roasted seasonal veggies are always a welcome accomplishment to any meal in my house at this time of year.

Therefore to summarise, having acknowledged that the closer we come to winter the slower and more gentle our practice should be, try & make minor adjustments to your yoga practice and to the foods you eat so that you can hopefully improve your physical and mental well-being in the colder months. Essentially making only a few small changes will help with the transition from summer to winter.

Now pour yourself a cup of hot cinnamon tea and welcome in those beautiful autumnal days!  :)

Good Luck, I hope this helps xx


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Mindfulness in our Digital World!

How and why should we be mindful in today's digital world? Check out the article I recently wrote for the new online woman's magazine @Socialbutterflies in full here;

Mindfulness in our Digital World

It’s 7am your alarm goes off, you fumble for your phone and through squinted, sleepy eyes you check your Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat and Pinterest accounts! Maybe even before you say ‘good morning’ to your partner! Sound familiar?

If ever there was a time we need to get better at switching off it’s now, the age of digital media is amazing but our #fomo (fear of missing out) has become obsessive possibly even affecting relationships with friends, family and colleagues. So what can we do? Do we need to change and let’s be honest – do we really want to? We live in a fast moving society that allows us to have instant access to pretty much anything. That is definitely progress, isn’t it?

Today, life should be so much easier, with just one click we can get all our shopping done (and have it delivered), get news from around the world as it happens, check the weather and do our kids homework without having to trek to a library. So why do we often feel so overwhelmed? After all, we don’t have to brave the supermarket, the shops, the banks, we can even meet friends online. So why do we never have enough time these days? Welcome to the world of the working mum where you run at 100 miles an hour, 100% of the time yet still feel like you haven’t done enough. For digitally savvy mums it is often harder as we are constantly bombarded with people posting pictures of beautiful cakes, elaborate home-made dresses and dolls their little one has had for their birthday, not to mention the sickly sweet family photos of the perfect family and the amazing holiday photos taken by professionals. God forbid you put up an image of your family arguing in the UK on a cold, wet and quite frankly dull campsite (made worse as there is no internet connection!).

Stress levels run high, energy levels are often low, juggling kids, relationships, family and work isn’t easy and quite possibly many of us are running on empty. But our mental & physical well being is vital to keep everything running smoothly. I absolutely love this quote by Anne Lamott: She is so right – our brains need a break too.

My 12-year-old suffers from anxiety and I’ve put this image on her bedroom wall to remind her to ignore Snapchat just for a few minutes every morning. No doubt you’ve heard some friends, colleagues or celebrities rave about the wonders of mindfulness and how it helps them but what exactly is ‘mindfulness’ and what are the benefits for working mums in today’s digital world?

The ancient practice of mindfulness

Mindfulness originated as a spiritual practice involving rhythmical chants, mantras and meditation to transcend emotions and live in a calm present state. Today in the West mindfulness is practiced to reduce stress and improve our health and wellbeing. It is done by focusing on ‘being in the present moment’ as opposed to worrying about our future, or being consumed by our past. Just as Lao Tzu father of Taoism famously said:

 

Mindfulness is a form of meditation, where you bring your full attention to an object such as your breath, a candle, a flower a cup of tea, anything you chose which you can really focus on. It is a fantastic way to find inner peace in your busy life, it calms your frenzied mind allowing you to function better and with more clarity of thought. All sound a bit airy-fairy, a bit too good to be true? I completely understand, when do we have time for more activities in our day? But mindfulness is simply awareness, it doesn’t have to take time as you can be mindful anywhere, anytime without changing your daily routine. Being mindful of your breath is a common form of mindfulness used during meditation and yoga. Try the breath awareness exercises below to help calm any anxiety, initially try for just one minute and see how you feel, maybe build it up to two minutes tomorrow.

Mindful meditation

Where to meditate: anywhere quiet and relaxing (bottom of your bed, if early morning is good so you don’t wake anyone up). What to wear: wear warm and comfortable clothes. How to sit: sit up straight so you are ‘actively’ sitting rather than slumping but use a wall if sitting up unaided is uncomfortable. Soft focus: or close your eyes. How is your body feeling? Take awareness to your sitting bones and then move your awareness up through your spine. How does your back feel? Now move your awareness to the rest of the body. Once you have done a full body scan take awareness to your mind. How settled is your mind? Is it busy, anxious, tired, relaxed? Breath: notice your breath, breathing in and out through the nose. Feel what’s happening within your body as you inhale and exhale. Which parts of your body move, and which parts feel stiff? What is the temperature of the air you inhale, hot or cold? Notice your breath moving in and out of your nostrils. Pick up on the subtleties of the sensation. Be aware of your breath: as you breathe more deeply you will feel calmer and more relaxed. Notice your shoulders dropping in the exhalations. Slow the breath down but don’t force it. Wandering mind: your mind will wander from time to time, try not to get frustrated with yourself but just notice when it happens, smile at yourself and gently bring your attention back towards your breath. Perfect technique: don’t worry that you’re doing it wrong. There is no perfect way of doing it – just do it regularly. Regularity: try and practice each day, even if just for a few minutes and build it up to longer.

Mindful walking

Try this anytime, anywhere (even better if you’re barefoot). Pay attention to the sensation as you walk. Take awareness to your whole foot, feel your heel touch the ground, then the ball of the foot. Notice if you put more weight on the insides or outsides of your feet? Try to feel and engage all your toes. Take note of how the ground feels beneath each foot: is it wet, dry, bumpy, smooth, warm or cold? Notice all the sensations and try not to worry what you are walking on. I did once step on a bee whilst mindfully walking across the Downs! (it certainly made me mindfully aware of the sting!).

Mindful eating

Being mindful of your food is an amazing technique to have, it makes your food taste even better. Try bringing your awareness to the taste in your mouth, the smell, the temperature, the texture and weight of your food and drinks, truly tasting it, and when your mind starts to drift off, don’t get angry with yourself simply return to the awareness of tasting your food. I like to completely focusing on drinking my morning coffee, taking awareness to its scent, warmth, and taste and how it warms my whole body. I try not to focus on the day ahead until after my coffee as then I feel calmer and ready to work, before that I am rather scatty! Challenge yourself to eat without looking at your phone, TV or computer. This is an important rule in our house (there aren’t many rules but we all try to follow this one! - Not easy with teens though!!).

Hopefully these mindfulness techniques will help you connect with yourself and heighten your senses. By learning to become present, letting go of our past and not worrying about our future we start to find a little space between our thoughts, and a little more stillness in our lives. Learning to just be (especially now in our digital world) without constant stimulation from our devices allows us to be more present for ourselves and those around us. This I believe is vitally important not just for our health and wellbeing but also for our children. They need to see life and genuinely experience living their lives and not just through Insta-filters or Snapchat stories!

As always I would love to hear your thoughts. How do you stay mindful in our digital world?

Kindest wishes

Cxx


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6 Ways For Mums To Lose Weight & Keep It Off This New Year! :)

It's that time of the year again, feeling guilty about overindulging on mince pies, chocolate, and far far too much alcohol! We all do it, especially us mums, combining Christmas & motherhood is a lethal combination! Wine or chocolate (or both) is often consumed in LARGE quantities to get us through the festive (but let's be honest stressful) period!! Then just as we all start to reduce our alcohol and food intake BAM we are hit with the excesses of New Years Eve!!

Jeans now have become a teeny bit tighter than before, depressing if you'd worked hard to lose those pounds before Christmas to get into that beautiful, sparkly black dress!

Waking up on New Year's Day with a thumping head, kids demanding attention and that feeling of dread, remembering that today is the day (along with the majority of the population) for starting some crazy diet! Whether you've opted for the Cayenne Pepper Diet, the Apple Diet, the Cabbage Soup Diet (definitely the yuckiest of all) or God forbid, calorie counting (Calorie counting actually drove me insane, hunger and maths definitely didn't go well together!) they all are restrictive when really all we want is something to fill us up quickly to take away the affects of the night before! Most 'diets' involve eating teeny tiny portions, depriving yourself of important nutrients & to be quite honest making us mums damn right miserable & grumpy! To add insult to injury, after completing the diet many mums end up putting the weight back on & often more!

This cycle of yoyo dieting can go on for years, combine this with motherhood; weight creeping on through pregnancy, then the postnatal struggle against the bulge, followed quickly by the constant bombardment of yummy children's snacks & finishing off our little munchkins left overs that a quick fix often seems like the answer.

Society conditions us to believe losing weight involves putting ourselves through hell but it doesn't have to, thankfully, understanding the cycle of yoyo dieting & emotional eating has enabled me as a nutritional councillor and yoga/fitness trainer to help my clients realise the problem & take control of their eating & maintain a healthy weight without the need to constantly "diet".

Now I can't giving you a miraculous weight loss tablet however, if you want to lose weight, the best tip I give clients is to change their mindset first. Your goal isn't just to lose weight but more importantly to keep the weight off. As soon as you acknowledge and accept this your view on weight loss will change for good, after all we can't sustain those crazy diets forever can we? Therefore, if you want to slim down and remain that weight for life your diet must be sustainable, fullfilling and enjoyable, for example swap triple fried chips for jacket potatoes.

My 6 top tips for achieving a yummy lifelong "diet".

1. There Is No Rush

Remember  how long it took you to get to your present weight, therefore don't give a deadline as this can be depressing if don't make ideal weight and encourage you back to those crazy diets.

It is far more important to take longer to get to ideal weight and keep if off than fall back in to yo-yo dieting trap again.

 

2. Don't Make All The Changes At Once

Ensure the changes are small to start with, for example eat a good breakfast to start the day, reduce your portion sizes or introduce 2 more pieces of fruit/vegetables every day.

Start with cutting out just one or two of your bad foods/habits each day, this will make it easier to make changes longer term. The problem with diets is that they often cut out everything at once making it painful and miserable as you feel deprived and hungry.

 

 

3. Ask Yourself If You Are Happy With The Changes

Do what you enjoy and what suits your lifestyle, as you want to encorporate these changes for the rest of your life.  If you love healthy salads, great eat them regularly, if not, don't force yourself to eat them every day as it will be unsustainable for life and you may feel more inclined to rebel and eat junk food.  Instead make healthy changes you are happy with. The same goes for exercise, don't convince yourself you will run 5 miles every morning for the rest of your life if you don't like running instead think about a walk each day or a swim or something you could see yourself doing regularly and enjoying.

 

4. Have Compassion For Yourself - There Will Be Slip Ups!

A lot of diets are really strict, therefore allow yourself some compassion if you slip up. The change in your eating patterns and behaviour is often quite dramatic so allow yourself some slack. Remember just learn from it and move on.

 

5. Get Your Family/Friends Support

Support from family and friends, especially at the start is vital. Talk to the people you live and eat with and explain why you are dieting and why it is important for you to lose weight and become healthier. Hopefully, they will be more inclined to help you and will hopefully start eating similar foods (or at least hiding the rubbish they eat from you so as not to tempt you) and positively encourage you.

External help may also be a good option, knowing you can recieve advice, reassurance and support from a local group is a valuable tool on your weight loss journey.

 

6.  IGNORE "No Pain, No Gain"

As you are looking at long term weight loss rather than a quick fix, the "No Pain, No Gain" rule definitely does not exist. You need to avoid the painful feeling of missing out at all costs otherwise you wont sustain your long term goal, instead focus on what you like that is good for you. This also applies to your fitness, never push yourself so it hurts, this is all about life changes and sustainability, it has to be doable for the long haul!

Good Luck, I hope this helps :)

Till the next time

Catherine xx


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Healthy Living in Celebs'ville

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Hi Ladies, Each month, in my blog, I will post about the latest healthy lifestyle images from the land of the rich & famous  & calling  it "Healthy Living in Celebs'ville".

I'll take a recent image of a celebrity, analyse it and give you the real low down on its benefits & question if it really is all that! And, of course, give you realistic alternatives that you can do without being a billionaire & having personal trainers & dieticians living in your house!! In other words it's for real women & girls :)

I'm so excited as it combines my love of yoga, fitness & clean eating with my insatiable appetite for snooping into the world of the famous!

I'll discuss their diets, fitness routines & lifestyle habits & look at trends which really work & those that don't!

So to kick start this new post, here is a recent instagram image posted by Miranda Kerr practicing yoga on a beautiful beach.

Miranda Kerr is a great role model, as a 32-year-old mum she manages to fit a healthy lifestyle around working, being a mum & looking great!

As I looked through images of her for this post I found photos of her resistance training, practicing yoga, hiking, going for bike rides with her son & many others but I chose this image as not only is it beautiful but we could all try this posture (or a variation of it) without the need of any equipment :)

Her clean eating diet is also well documented advocating egg whites with avocado or oatmeal for breakfast, avoiding junk food, drinking fresh juices & carrying around healthy snacks such as fresh fruit, nuts and seeds to avoid sugar cravings.

Top tip; Nuts & seeds are your pick me ups throughout the day, don't be put off by their high fat content, they will keep you full for longer, helping you to avoid the sugary cravings of biscuits and chocolate.

 

Ok, so back to this image - yes, she looks amazing but of course she does, she has been styled beautifully with gorgeous clothes and a stunning backdrop but what is she actually doing & why? (apart from looking fabulous!)

Children call it a "Crab", in yoga we call it "Upward Bow, Wheel or in Sanskrit Urdhva Dhanu" but whatever you call it, ultimately it is a back bend.

So why is she doing this? Well apart from looking great the benefits of this posture can be amazing, fundamentally, it stretches out your chest & helps facilitate the expansion of your lungs to allow for deeper breathing. It also strengthens your arms, wrists, legs, buttocks & spine. It can stimulate the thyroid and pituitary glands & increase your energy levels, it's even been suggested that it counteracts mild depression. Furthermore, it's said to be therapeutic for asthma, infertility and osteoporosis, so all in all pretty powerful stuff ?!

Probably worth trying it but it is an intense pose so before you all attempt the full 'Wheel', check out these points......

1)If you have a back injury or heart problems, avoid this posture.

2)If your back is ok, start off in bridge pose, keeping your arms & shoulders on the mat & lifting up your hips and chest. (Stick with this pose if you have carpal tunnel syndrome).

The photo below is of two of my postnatal clients doing a supported back bend over a yoga ball. Not quite the glamorous backdrop of the Caribbean but with such gorgeous babies this photo wins hands down!! Hopefully it gives you a visual idea of the alternative postures you could try which still give amazing benefits! If bridge pose feels ok move on & try Wheel.

3) If in Wheel pose & you notice that your armpits or groin feel tight, try using blocks under your feet or arms (pop bricks by a wall to ensure you don't slip!)

So to follow in Miranda's footsteps & lets be honest she does look great, balance as always is key, mix up your weights routine with some yoga and mums get out and play with your little ones :) Combine this with a great breakfast of oats or eggs to give you the necessary energy to start the day, pop some nuts in your bag and your good to go!

Hopefully this has given you a taste of what is to come each week.

Thank you for subscribing to my blog & please like & share with anyone who also loves seeing whats trending for the rich & famous health wise right now.

Take it easy,  lets catch up next week

Catherine xx


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Meditation for Busy Parents

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How & more importantly why should we meditate? This is something I am really passionate about & when the online mums magazine "Britmums" approached me to write an article on it for them, I was overjoyed. Read my article in full here; http://www.britmums.com/2016/05/meditation-busy-parents/

As always, I love hearing your thoughts... have a wonderful week.

Much love


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Superfoods To Combat Common Post Natal Complaints

SuperFoods To Combat Common Post Natal Complaints

If you are postnatal the chances are your currently surviving on cold tea, soggy shreddies & eating pureed parsnips? (I'll never know why I always made so much puree?) Now, lets be honest, trying to keep up with your hungry newborn or weaning your baby is hard, you are probably just about functioning, albeit in a haze of nappies, washing & overwhelming fatigue! Stumbling to the local Costa to meet your new NCT friends for coffee, where you all inhale the largest piece of carrot cake whilst discussing how to lose your baby weight and the joys of constipation & fatigue!

Therefore, I do appreciate, preparing healthy, nutritious meals comes a long way down the to-do list for many new mums, especially when sometimes finding the time to get dressed is a challenge! (I taught early morning postnatal spin classes where mums & babies used to come in their PJ's!!)

However, postnatal cooking doesn't need to be time consuming or complicated, just continue to eat a good-quality diet just as you did during your pregnancy. Generally, it is recommended to have an extra 500 calories if breast-feeding, or if you are anemic or recovering from a cesarean delivery, you may require special nutritional management so check with your GP or midwife.

So what foods are great for helping combat these common postnatal concerns & what lifestyle changes should mums realistically try a make?

Constipation

Constipation is a common and unpleasant post-natal complaint. The following advice can help relieve it:

  • Get some form of daily exercise, such as walking.
  • Make sure you have adequate dietary fibre. Bran muffins, high-fibre cereals, and lots of fruits and vegetables are good fibre choices. (Be sure to increase your fluid intake as you increase your fibre intake.)
  • Drink to fulfill your fluid needs. 8 glasses a day is generally recommended-drink even more if you are  breastfeeding.
  • Drink four ounces of prune juice on an empty stomach followed by several cups of hot water, decaffeinated tea, or other hot beverage.
  • Avoid the regular use of laxatives. If you use a laxative more often than every third or fourth day, you may have problems moving your bowels without the use of the laxative.
  • Try fibre-containing stool softeners such as Meta-mucil, Fiberall, and Fibercon. They can help relieve constipation without the problems associated with laxative use.
Dealing With Fatigue
  • Let your family and friends help you by doing laundry and other household chores :)
  • Avoid caffeine to improve your rest and sleep.
  • Restoring Your Iron Reserves - Some women learn they are anemic after childbirth. If your doctor prescribes an iron supplement, you need to help your body absorb it. To do this, eat a meal that includes a food rich in vitamin C when you take your iron supplement. Excellent sources of vitamin C include citrus fruits, tomatoes, baked potatoes, and steamed broccoli. It also helps to include a food that contains iron.
  • Egg yolks can be an excellent source of iron, but you should limit your intake to three to four a week.
  • Food sources of iron include lean red meats, organ meats, spinach, egg yolks (limit to three to four a week), and cream of wheat. Avoid taking your iron supplement with any significant source of calcium because calcium interferes with iron absorption. Calcium sources include milk, yogurt, cheese, and antacids. Since low-fat dairy products are of significant nutritional importance, don't cut these out altogether; include them in meals other than the ones that accompany your iron supplements.
  • Protein and Complex Carbohydrates - Complex carbohydrates (Wholemeal bread, pasta,  rice , potato, Quinoa) increase serotonin levels in the brain.(which helps regulate moods) The best ways to fight fatigue through diet is by eating mini-meals throughout the day in order to regulate your blood sugar.

The best mini-meals are those that combine complex carbohydrates and protein:

  • High fibre cereal with milk
  • Yogurt with sliced fruit topped with almonds, walnuts, or pecans
  • Chicken salad on whole wheat toast
  • Hummus and whole wheat pitta bread
  • Dried fruits, nuts, and seeds
  • Porrige with raisins, nuts and oats
  • Vitamin B3 - Niacin, also known as B3, is a water-soluble vitamin that plays an essential role in energy metabolism. Increase your intake of foods like beef, pork, died beans, chicken, and fish like mackerel or salmon to get vitamin B3 in your diet.
  • Vitamin E - This antioxidant increases energy and stamina. Fill up on almonds, asparagus, nuts, seeds, vegetable oils, and olives
Depression
  • Zinc - Zinc is important in supporting different processes in the brain and body. Lack of zinc in your diet can lead to irritability and depression. Good sources of zinc include eggs, fish, turkey, oysters, beef, wheat germ, and yogurt.
  • Vitamin C - Vitamin C deficiencies have shown to be linked to depression. Get your vitamin C from citrus fruits, broccoli, green leafy vegetables (especially kale), tomato puree, peas, raspberries, spring onions, and turnips.
  • Omega 3 Fatty Acids -  Omega 3 fatty acids have been shown in numerous clinical studies to combat depression as well as bi-polar disorder. Add servings of omega-3 rich fish like herring, sardines, tuna, and salmon to your diet. Walnut and canola oil are also excellent sources.
  • Calcium - Adding servings of calcium-rich foods may help ward off depression and anxiety. Your best bets for calcium are yogurt, cheese, sardines with bones, milk, salmon with bones, sesame seeds, or calcium-fortified juices.
  • Folic Acid- Research from Tufts University in Boston, Massachusetts found that levels of folic acid (folate) were much lower among people suffering from depression than in people who were not depressed. Folic acid is plentiful in avocados, leafy green veggies, grapefruit, black eyed peas, orange juice, and most fruits. It is important to avoid food that will zap your energy like alcohol, fats, caffeine, white flour products, and simple carbohydrates like sugar, honey, or sugary soft drinks. Remember to include healthy snacks between meals or eat five or six mini meals each day. In addition, keep yourself hydrated as one of the largest causes of fatigue is dehydration.

So mums, to help with those common postnatal complaints remember keep it simple and choose nutritious foods which require little or no preparation. Snack on fresh fruit, raw vegetables, natural unsweetened yogurt with raisins & granola & just grill your meats and fish, so much faster to prepare than casseroles & who knows you may even be able to eat it whilst it's hot!!

Let friends and family help you by providing nutritious meals during the early months after childbirth, freeze some of them so you can pull them out of the freezer for use on stressed out or suer busy days.

Nurture yourself, (you are always looking after your family) so take a moment & sit down to eat & enjoy your meals, even if on your own. Eating on the run or standing to eat makes you feel you have not had a meal; this habit contributes to fatigue and may even contribute to overeating. It's also not very good for your digestion. Place your baby in a swing or in an infant seat so your hands are free. If your baby needs to be close to you, an infant backpack or sling is helpful. Or you may wait to eat until your baby's quiet time or when she is asleep.

Remember, foods alone can't  relieve fatigue or other post natal complaints it is a good-quality diet combined with sleep and gentle exercise & great nutrition, but food is a great place to start!

Good Luck xx


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Pose of the Month - Rabbit Pose (Sasangasana)

Stressed out, overwhelmed? Let's be honest, most mums are, especially around the holiday season. Perhaps we bring it on ourselves, inviting the whole family for Easter weekend whilst simultaneously trying to maintain our lives/ jobs/relationships/houses etc & of course keeping our little darlings happy, God forbid they might get bored! As mums we tend to forget that caring for children is both physically and mentally demanding, a labour of love you might say! But we need to look after ourselves too. Not many jobs require so much physical and mental multi-tasking. Physical and emotional stress coupled with festive anxiety (planning, cooking, having family to stay etc.) can often lead to headaches, upper back & neck pain. Therefore we need to stretch out our whole spine & what better posture to focus on during the Easter holidays then than Rabbit Pose (Sasangasana in Sanskrit)

Rabbit pose (Sasangasana) has many benefits, it's fantastic for relieving tension in your neck, shoulders & entire spine as it stretches the spine out, nourishing & re-aligning it & helping to loosen the areas notorious for holding tension and stress especially in us mums. It also helps alleviate colds, sinus & other congestion problems, great at the moment as those pesky winter bugs still seem to be lurking around! Then, before we know it it will be the hay fever season, Oh joy, more snuffles and running eyes! 

But perhaps for many of us one of the greatest benefits of Rabbit Pose is that it stimulates your thyroid and parathyroid gland, the gland which helps you lose or gain weight! The thyroid gland is responsible for producing hormones controlling your metabolism, very useful if you have eaten too many Easter eggs over the Easter weekend or like me drunk too much prosecco!

Finally, this posture is believed to greatly help with depression & post natal depression as it helps to balance out our hormones.

To Perform this posture sit on your heels & then grab your heels with your hands. Exhale, tuck your chin into your chest & draw your stomach in towards your spine. Round your spine down so that your forehead is touching your knees & the top of your head is touching the floor. Pull on your heels, straighten your arms & lift up your hips. Be aware it does constrict your throat which may feel awkward to begin with.

This pose is contraindicated for recent or chronic injury to the knees, back, neck or shoulders.

Give it a go, personally I love this posture, although I'm not that great at it!

ps. I've just booked an appointment with the chiropractor, my right shoulder is about inch higher than my left - shall I blame it on my children, or the family who came for Easter? Who knows but on the plus side having 14 for lunch on Easter Day meant I was able to sneak off & teach one of my favourite hot yoga classes without anyone noticing!.....Yep, the studio was open & my 6pm class was packed!!...everyone had eaten too many Easter eggs I suspect!! :)


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Family Fun Meditation

Family-Fun-Meditation.jpeg

With new government guidelines & ridiculous expectations for our infant & junior school children, I feel that meditation is now more important than ever as we are expecting more and more from our little ones.

Meditation is equally important for our tweens and teens too as not only do they face increasing academic pressure but also the pressure of growing up with the constant presence of social media in their lives. (Sophie, my 12 yr old is forever on SnapChat or Instagram!)

Therefore, last weekend, I tried a new form of meditation with Sophie & my younger daughter Alice (6) and her best friend. - Egg Decorating Meditation!

All we used were cooled down boiled eggs, colouring pens, paint, nail varnish & glitter, but I'm sure you could be far more creative than I was!

Egg Decorating Meditation

Start by spending a few moments with your eyes closed & just acknowledge your posture. Be aware of how your body connects to your chair.

Take your awareness to your breath, breathe slowly through your nose & notice your shoulders relaxing. Now open your eyes and look at your egg, take note of its shape, its colour & how it catches the light.

Pick up the egg, notice its weight, how it feels in your hands, its texture & smell.

Look at your pens, nail varnishes and paints, enjoy the variety of shades and colours, are you drawn to one colour?

Pick up that colour & start decorating your egg.

Now the tricky bit, let go of any concerns about making your egg perfect, this meditation is about enjoying the process, think of it as making marks rather than making a piece of art !

I noticed this was far easier for the younger children who got lost in the meditation & enjoyed the process of mark making whereas the 12 year olds and myself found it much harder, we got cross if we went 'wrong'. If this happens to you simply smile at your inner critic (the voice telling you it's no good) and bring your awareness back to decorating your egg.

If your mind wanders, just acknowledge where it goes & gently bring your mind back to your egg and your breath.

When you've finished take time to mindfully enjoy it, close your eyes, come back to your awareness of your body sitting in the chair and an awareness of the flow of your breath.

Notice how you are feeling now and congratulate yourself for doing the meditation.

I hope this gives you some ideas for introducing meditation into family life, have a great Easter.

Much love xx


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Yoga to Combat Parental Exhaustion!

Are you often exhausted? Do you regularly feel overwhelmed, drained & burnt out? Whether you have teens, toddlers, babies or are pregnant more than likely you've experience parental exhaustion at some stage & appreciate how it can be physically, emotionally & mentally draining. Why do we get it? Perhaps our society has got it a bit wrong - 'The Super Mummy' theory which expects us not only to manage but excel in multiple roles whilst looking a million dollars has put a lot of pressure on mums, especially new mums with magazines airbrushing celebs straight after giving birth & constantly bombarding us with unrealistic lifestyle images.

Then there is the pressure to enrol our little darlings into every possible activity, we are constantly running around after children, micro managing every playdate to fit in with every club possible because God forbid they will miss out and somehow not match up to their peers, or even worse..... get bored! I must say, I remember being bored a lot as a child, it was great but now I am guilty of ensuring that my three monkeys never get bored & I'm constantly taking them to activities or doing things with them. (I am trying to reduce this!!)

So together with micromanaging kids social lives, often working long hours, all the housework & desperately trying to look amazing it is little wonder that our bodies and minds have mini-meltdowns and need a break from time to time from feeling feed up, burnt out & defeated with the endless to-do lists.

Like you, I know all about exhaustion, being a single mum for my three very active children, running an online yoga business, lecturing & teaching classes, has effected my energy levels over the years. Last week my Facebook group & I discussed parental exhaustion, one mum said she gets uncontrollably emotional, another mum gets really angry, I tend to get migraines but most of us agreed that when we're exhausted we go into a numbed state of existence and just function day-to-day without really feeling present or connected. So try focusing more on living in the present, worrying less about what happened yesterday or what may happen tomorrow.

So we can be mindful about living in the present but what else can a mum do to beat exhaustion? Although I generally recommend exercise for tiredness, as it's actually increases our energy levels, when we are utterly exhausted a vigorous exercise or yoga practice will have the opposite effect and deplete our remaining energy stores. So leave the hardcore exercises until you feel both mentally and physically stronger, instead try restorative yoga, it soothes your senses & relaxes your mind & nervous system. Oh and it feels fab!

Restorative postures quieten the mind & body and together with the use of props (blankets, cushions, balls, bands)  allow you to completely relax & rest. Try holding each posture for 5-10 minutes & it will leave you feeling nourished and well rested. It further helps us disconnect from the continual activity of our busy daily lives helping to heal and nurture us together with being a functional way of releasing muscle tension and gently moving our bodies.

The first restorative posture suitable for everyone shows Katie 9 months pregnant relaxing fully supported in Supta Baddha Konasana (Butterfly pose. This is a great pose for stressed out mums as it opens up the hips (an area where the subtle body is said to hold emotions), it enhances flexibility within the inner thigh and groin muscles. Start with feet together and let the knees fall open. Support your upper body with cushions and relax, just focus on your breath keeping it slow, controlled and through the nose.

 Pregnancy Yoga - Restorative Butterfly Posture - (Supta Baddha Konasana)

Pregnancy Yoga - Restorative Butterfly Posture - (Supta Baddha Konasana)

The second photo shows the Leg Up the Wall pose. It quickly rejuvenates the lower back and legs, easing tension & tired legs, helping blood circulation & furthermore helps to reduce edema in the legs and feet. It is a nourishing & grounding posture as it is so calming for your nervous system, I often do this when I'm feeling overwhelmed, tired or stressed. As Katie is 9 months pregnant I have given her cushions to elevate her upper body so she doesn't get breathless however whether pregnant or not using the cushions encourage the body to relax as it's so comfy!!

Pregnancy yoga. Restorative yoga

So mums lets find a balance, we don't need to be supermums we need to be happy, energised & chilled out mums! Take care of yourself, go to yoga but also go out for drinks ...it's all about balance!


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10 Simple Things Your Healthy & Happy Friends Do Every Day

How many of these simple things do we really do every day?

1.   Healthy Eating.

Do you often eat nothing all day and binge at night? Do you feel hungry all the time? Do you find losing weight is an uphill battle? Remember healthy eating isn't all about diets, counting calories & eating low fat foods (many of which are laden with sugar!) its about eating a balanced, healthy and appropriate diet for your lifestyle which will naturally incorporates all the major food groups but none to excess. Try to watch your portion sizes & sugar consumption, regularly check out how high the fat content of your food is & pay attention to how much processed & convenience food you are consuming? If we look at healthy eating as a lifelong journey, rather than dieting & freaking out when we have a treat now and then, we will feel more in control of our eating & body weight & ultimately our health.

My attitude to food is generally very healthy but as a busy mum of fairly fussy eaters I do often fall back on the same meals throughout the week. My goal is to vary my childrens food more, not always sticking to what I know they like. (Easier said than done, when you know the probability of having tantrums at the table!!)

2.  Walk

Walking is so simple, good for you and free! I force myself to walk my dog daily, but I certainly wouldn't brave those rainy, cold & windy days for a long walk if I didn't have to! That said when my children were babies, I would walk in any weather just to get out of the house and have some peace!! So borrow a dog, borrow a baby (giving your mummy friend a break), grab a friend or just walk alone but walk, walk, walk!

 3.   Yoga & Meditation

Yoga has been part of my life for so long my body gets grumpy if I don't do any, however I have to ensure I do the postures my body needs not the ones I like! Yoga is (in my opinion) the best form of exercise for the majority of us, it can help an injured body heal, can help heal an overwhelmed mind and soothe your soul, it can also be a damn good workout!! Meditation however takes a lot more will power, I love meditating when life is good but as soon as I'm stressed out or have too much on my mind, I find it very difficult to sit still & meditate- this is of course is the time I need to meditate the most! So I hear your struggle with this one but keep with it, I promise it is worth it :)

4.   Positive Thinking!

Trying to think only of positive thoughts throughout the day is tough isn't it? Especially when we continually have those nagging & negative thoughts popping in & out of our heads!

5.   Love & Accept Your Body!

Perhaps like me, many of you at some stage will have struggled with this one - loving & accepting your body. In theory, this should be easy, if our bodies function as they should and we are in good health, then why are we so hard on ourselves & dislike our bodies so much? The best advice I could give on loving our bodies is to be thankful for them and everything they do for us, as soon as I started to love and accept my body for what it was rather than what I wanted it to be I started to take greater care of it (eating well, drinking lots of water, breathing properly, meditation & exercising etc.) it was only then that I realised how amazing my body actually was, regardless of its shape or size :)

6.   Let Go of Resentment!

Letting go of resentment can take a long time and like many people I found letting go quite a painful journey, however, in the end feeling lighter, happier & not carrying around negative emotions & baggage was definitely worth it!!

7.   Trust Your Heart Over Your Head!

"Sometimes your heart defies everything you know is right. Sometimes it overrules your head and it wins the battle between love & logic. Let it happen, love will always be more important than logic." Anonymous

8.   Have Compassion Towards Yourself!

Be kind, gentle & understanding to yourself especially when your suffering, be mindful and observe life as it is without being judgemental, try not to suppress your thoughts & feelings, let them go.

9.   Listen To Your Body & Trust Yourself!

Slow down, relax & breath deeply allowing your mind to free itself from the constant chitter-chatter of day to day tasks. Close your eyes and take your focus inwards, continue with your slow, deep breaths for at least 5 minutes, now continuing with your slow deep breathes take your mind to the problem what is your gut telling you to do?

10. Focus On How You Feel Rather Than How You Look!

Oh, this is a difficult one isn't t?!

It has taken me many years to be compassionate to myself, listening to my body and trusting my own instincts, yoga & meditation have really helped me come closer to achieving some of the points on the list above.

I am now mindful of this list, my intentions are set to try and focus on one or two daily, why not try this too, so that you can become that Friend who is Healthy & Happy.

Good Luck, I hope this helps!


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Nutritious & Delicious For The Whole Family

I've just returned from a weekend of eating delicious, raw vegan food, on a wonderful yoga retreat in Devon.

I'm really keen to try and incorporate a lot of the recipes and ideas in to my families diet, however, the obvious problem is ........how will I get my three children to be as keen?

I think subtlety is the key! And maybe a few white lies!!!

So for breakfast today the health stakes were definitly up'd in my house, no more sugary cereals causing energy slumps, irritability, frustration and other long term problems instead we were are all on porridge, but not any old porridge!

Obviously leaving behind these sugary cereals in favour of cold porridge would have been a step too far but I did manage to encorporate wholesome yummyness in to everyones bowl, without anyone knowing!

How?....

1) Last night I soaked porridge oats in almond milk before using them this morning, the soaking activates the enzyme content of the grain, therefore increasing the protein content and making the porridge easier to absorb and digest, it will also lower its glycaemic index.- No one noticed this change!!

2) To further increase the protein content I mixed the oats with quinoa, which is really high in protein, high in calcium and a gluten free grain. - I only used a little today as I thought they may complain but I intend to add more each day!

3) To make it super healthy use any nut milk such as macademia, which has lots of essential fats and zinc, rather than dairy (especially if your children are phlegmy!!), I used almond milk today which is another great source of calcium.

 I must confess I told my 5 year old that it was a special Devon milk from the special Devon cows! She happily ate all her porridge! (If I had said it was a nut milk I don't think she would have even tried it!.)

4) I added strawberries, raspberries & goji berries this morning for a blast of beta-carotene (an anti-oxidant) and they looked yummy and colourful!

5) I also added a handful of mixed toasted seeds to add more protein, calcuim, magnesium, vitamins A, B-complex, D, E and K, zinc, manganese and omega 3 & 6. (Again I lied and told my youngest they were her favourite nuts chopped up!!)

6) To sweeten it up (rather than the gallons of honey they normally have) I added a mix of frozen fruit, fresh fruit and dried fruit. -Delicious.

Suprisingly, they loved it and it kept them full for ages - Almost until lunchtime!!

I am now mindful of ensuring my whole family eat healthier, my intention is to try and include one or two new foods each week and regularly use them throughout that week, why not try this too :)

Yesterday's lunch was also a success ..... fingers crossed the enthusiasm lasts!!

 

 

Good Luck, I hope this helps :)

Till the next time

Catherine xx


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Postnatal Pose of the Week - The Sphinx.

The Sphinx Pose also known as Salamba Bhujangasana in Sanskrit.

There are many benefits of the Sphinx pose, these include strengthening the spine & glutes, stimulating the abdominal organs, stretching the chest and shoulders which become very tight during and after pregnancy and stretching the abdomen & improving circulation of the blood.

It is a great pose as it is accessible for most people and especially great for postnatal mums (don't do it too soon after a C-Section).

It is a gentler version of the more common pose, The Cobra (Bhujangasana), but with far less of an arch in the back and therefore less pressure on a weakened postnatal spine.

Babies can do it effortlessly as beautifully demonstrated here by Rowan!

Give it a go :)

Till the next time

Catherine xx


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FUSSY EATERS

FUSSY-EATERS.jpg

Does this image look familiar? 

Fussy is the understatement, I hear you cry! He wont eat green or red coloured food, food which touches other food on his plate, he wont eat hot food, food that has been cut, ...........the list goes on doesn't it!

I bet you have tried all the tricks in the book; making shapes with the food, making aeroplane noises, having pretend names for the different foods, but nothing seems to work.

 

It gets embarrasing doesn't it? When he is on a play date, or at friends, especially at Grannies, when she has spent hours producing wonderful replica's of what ' Mummy' used to eat!'

But more than embarrassing, it's really frustrating and at times worrying, you spend hours trying to make a meal which you know is good for him and have even carefully adapted it to look like a train in the unlikely hope he may actually try something new!

Naturally you worry, is he getting enough food and enough of the right food?

The official NHS Guidelines suggest we should be more concerned about what our children eat over the course of the week rather than what they consume on a daily basis and only to worry if they are not active, growing and gaining weight. The NHS recommend children eat something from each of the main food groups (carbohydrates, proteins, healthy fats, dairy and fruit & veg) and obviously not too many treats!!

According to the NHS guidelines, it is normal for toddlers and young children to be very fussy and have irrational fears about certain foods, their advice is to introduce new foods gradually or re-introduce foods slowly that they have previously disliked.

So we spend an extortionate amount of money on food which regularly ends up in the bin, when we feel guilty about wastage so we finish it off rather than seeing it wasted.

I understand, my oldest son was that fussy child too!!

He lived on frubes for years, I think I probably turned into a master chief with all the different meals I prepared for him, God knows how much food was thrown in the bin - maybe thats why our dog loves him so much!! Or maybe that's why I put on so much weight - I didn't like to see it all go to waste!

For my son, the real break through was when he started growing his own tomatoes & potatoes, slowly he became more willing to try other produce we had grown. (nothing fancy just basic garden veggies!)

A strange thing happened then, as his interest in food grew (still limited to tomatoes and potatoes, but it was a start) I stopped worrying so much about what he was eating at each meal , as I took less and less notice of him at meal times, not overly praising him for a tiny nibble of something or getting stressed if he hadn't touched his food he slowly & carefully started to try new foods.

Looking back, possibly it was all about attention (mixed with a little fear of unknown foods) as soon as I stopped responding to his demands for attention and just got on with eating my food and so did his younger sister, without a squeek, he started eating!!

Now, I must say, there were other techniques I believe really helped too, we went shopping together each week and he chose his basket of food  (Not treats!), it was mainly veg and fruit he ate, never meat. So I also took him to whole food shops where I pretended nuts, seeds, dried fruits were really special/naughty foods and he soon wanted to go there all the time and scoop up his own selection which he nibbled at throughout the day, a particularly useful trick to get protein in to fussy eaters! I also avoided huge supermarkets as the choice seemed to overwhelm him.

My two daughters have never had any problem with food, eating pretty much anything I put in front of them!! Whereas my son, even now at 12, still only eats fruit, veg, dairy, cereal, pasta, fish & nuts. He hasn't had refined sugar in well over a year (no sweets, biscuits, chocolate etc.) his only treat is the odd packed of Prawn Cocktail flavoured crisps!!

Infact, this blog has really highlighted to me that Ben only eats whatever I eat! I'm Veggie but have always cooked meat for my girls, whereas Ben has never enjoyed meat, always favouring a plate of veggies with nuts and seeds sprinkled over it, or maybe a boiled egg!

Over the years Ben's eating has always been a bone of contention in my family, however, as he has never enjoyed meat, processed or sugary foods, and his diet is very healthy, nutritious & balaced, why rock the boat making him conform to eating traditional childrens foods such as sausages, chips etc.which he detests?

I hope this helps as over the years Ben's eating has caused my whole family to worry, however, he is by far the healthiest, nutritionally conscious and most physically active of us all!!!

Top Tips For Fussy Eaters

Ensure your child sits with you at all mealtimes and talk a lot, so it's not just about the eating

Get their friends over or siblings friends for mealtimes so they see other children eating

Don't give them too many snacks & tactfully ask Grandparents/friends the same!

Give them time - may just be a slow eater - Try and arrange tea so you have time

Children's taste change so keep trying foods

Don't use food as a reward

Give small portions

Try not to feed them too late as tiredness and real hunger can cause tantrums

Grandparents for many work wonders, as often they have more time to sit and relax over a meal with your child, and children often want to impress them.

Good Luck, I hope this helps :)

Till the next time

Catherine xx


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Yoga With Children

Is Christmas approaching just a little too fast?!

Have you already stopped your weekly yoga/fitness classes?

There is hardly time for anything; Christmas shopping, Carol Concerts, School plays, Works Christmas Drinks, Friends Christmas Drinks, The annual family get together (involving copious amounts of vino just to get through it!) and planning the dreaded Christmas lunch.

Oh and if you are like me, crazy enough to have a four legged addition to your house, God help you! I have just finished picking up the remnants of chocolate coins Wellington has scoffed  from under the tree and have also just, rather poor, re-wrapped the destroyed Christmas present, addressed to me, from my 11 year old! I'm not sure my writing 'Mum" on the front look like hers, but I tried!

But this is when you NEED yoga the most. I know, I hear you cry, BUT HOW & WHEN???, with the children breaking up from school this week?

I completely understand, I have 3 little monkeys who will all be demanding my attention along with the rest of the family, but you will be surprised how much children of all ages will really appreciate doing something with just you, real Mummy time around the festive period.

Here's the biggest tip of all - doing anything is better than nothing, it doesn't have to be perfect, your pose doesn't even have to have a name, make it up, just have fun with your children - do what feels good!

Doing yoga with them is so much fun, you don't have to do anything properly, just get them to be your teacher. Younger children get in to poses naturally, copy them, they love to feel they are teaching you.

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Happy Christmas from Yogimums xx


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Look How Far You've Come!

It is so easy to focus on what we haven't achieved in life, that we often forget all the wonderful things we have done! How often do you celebrate your achievements, however small, rarely I'm guessing?

Do you give yourself a hard time for not doing certain things?

Do you really acknowledge & appreciate how wonderful you are when you have achieved something or done something well?

I am willing to bet you have come a long way (much further than you think) in the last 5 years, but perhaps you spend too much time focussing on what you still haven't achieved.

 

The combination of Yoga & Mindfulness can help you celebrate your growth, focussing on you achievements, however small & appreciating and understanding yourself. Allowing you to praise yourself for all your hard work and the challenges you have overcome to be where you are now.

Why not give it a go, it will make you feel wonderful, thankful & happy.

Here is short mindful self-appreciation practice which allows you to have balance and perspective so that you can see yourself without distortion. 

A short mindful self-appreciation practice: 

  • Closing your eyes and becoming aware of sitting
  • Bringing your awareness to the sensations in the soles of your feet, and then slowly to your bottom on the chair
  • And then becoming aware of the movement of your breath in the body – perhaps at the chest or the belly, feeling the body expand and contract with each in and out breath, allowing attention to rest here with the breath for a moment or two
  • And then, when you’re ready, thinking of one thing you appreciate about yourself, that really deep down, you like about yourself (could be your sense of humour, loyalty, kindness, creativity, courage, friendliness)
  • Now considering….are there any people who helped you develop this quality? (friends, family, teachers, authors of inspiring books)
  • If so, sending them some gratitude and appreciation
  • when we appreciate ourselves, we’re also appreciating all the people who have helped us become who we are today
  • Letting yourself savour feeling good about yourself…letting it soak in for a few moments
  • And then, when you’re ready, opening your eyes and end the practice.

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Anxiety & Panic Attacks

The recent Mental Health Awareness Week #MHAW17 really encouraged people to share information & talk about mental health issues whilst raising public awareness & break existing taboo's. So I thought I would blog about my experiences raising a son with severe anxiety and panic attacks.

Worryingly, The World Health Organisation estimates that one in four of us will experience some form of anxiety during our lifetime! I'm sure we all have close family or friends who are suffering right now, often in silence....so let's be there for them by listening, taking their fears seriously & letting them know they are special, loved & important.

 

Although it is normal & indeed natural to feel anxious from time to time, if you regularly experience these symptoms start addressing your lifestyle before the anxiety really starts to dissabilitate you. Chest pains, dizzyness, feeling faint, breathing becoming laboured, breathing becoming faster and shallower for no reason, faster heartbeat, sweating, sheer panic for no apparent reason and unable to focus or concentrate are all symptoms of anxiety.

Over the past 20 years, I've worked with clients suffering with anxiety, eating disorders & other mental health issues, indeed my son has suffered with terrible panic attacks since the age of 7 (he's now 14). Yoga & breathing exercises have been a great tool & have really helped.

But do you know how to breath correctly? This may seem a ridiculous question, but most of us need to re-educate our bodies to breath correctly, especially if you are or have suffered from anxiety, panic attacks or any other mental health issues.

Acknowledging when you feel anxious & using breathing techniques as a tool to prevent the anxiety developing is the first step in taking control over your fear & anxiety.

On a very personal note, seeing my son suffer with dissabilitating panic attacks was incredibly upsetting, luckily his school was very supportive & so were his friends. When attacks did happen, he would sit on my lap in the rocking chair and we would just sit in silence, breath & rock often for over an hour! (even at 12, he was much bigger than me!)

If your child is suffering from anxiety there are fun techniques to help them learn to control their breathing & ultimately their anxiety. With my daughters, I regularly do mindful colouring & have recently tried egg decorating meditation with them, even though they don't suffer like Ben did, I believe it is so important to have the toolkit ready, just incase they ever need it. Here is a link to mindful colouring for kids. http://www.yogimums.co.uk/family-fun-meditation/ ‎ 

During times of stress, we tend to take shallow breaths from our chest, often resulting in hyperventilation, it's paramount that we re-educate ourselves to breath correctly. Yoga places a great emphasis on breathing correctly & controlling our breathe so we don't hyperventilate.

Hyperventilation or over-breathing occurs when our breath is too shallow and quick and as a result we breath out carbon dioxide quicker than our body can produce it (therefore taking onboard too much oxygen). Another problem with hyperventilating is it actually makes us feel like we need more oxygen, so we start to breath faster and shallower which is the worst thing to do!

As yoga and breath have a direct link with your mind and emotions it can empower you when you are feeling nervous or upset, therefore when you feel your breath is becoming more shallow and laboured, you can use techniques to ensure a full panic attack will not occur. It is therefore vital to ensure you have the right techniques to deal with anxiety before it flares its ugly head.

Breathing from your belly (Belly Breath) is a great technique to use, click on this link for details. http://www.anxietycoach.com/breathingexercise.html

Read my newsletter for regular breathing tips and suggestions to help you ground yourself and take back control of your anxiety or follow my Facebook page for regular updates. http://www.facebook.com/theyogimums

Good Luck & keep up the deep breathing :)


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Top 10 foods To Eat During Pregnancy

Eating whilst pregnant can be tricky with so much information out there. Here's some advice from the best nutritional experts on their top pregnancy foods. You don't need to like or eat them all, but pick and choose your favorites to give your pregnancy a nutritional boost.

Eggs

"It's amazing what you get in one egg for only about 90 calories," says Elizabeth Ward, dietitian and author of Expect the Best, Your Guide to Healthy Eating Before, During, and After Pregnancy.

In addition to more than 12 vitamins and minerals, eggs contain lots of quality protein, which is essential for pregnancy.

"Your baby's cells are growing at an exponential rate, and every cell is made of protein," Ward explains. "Plus, as a pregnant woman, you have your own protein needs."

Eggs are also rich in choline, which promotes your baby's overall growth and brain health, while helping prevent neural tube defects. Some eggs even contain omega-3 fats, important for both brain and vision development. (Brands that have omega-3s will probably state it on the label. Look for DHA-enriched eggs because those contain the most beneficial form of omega-3s.)

As for the egg's bad rap about cholesterol? Not warranted, says Ward. It turns out that eating saturated fat does much more damage to your cholesterol level than eating the cholesterol naturally found in food.

And while eggs are high in cholesterol, they're also relatively low in saturated fat, with only about 1 1/2 grams per egg.

"Healthy women with normal blood cholesterol can consume one to two eggs a day as part of a balanced diet low in saturated fat," Ward says. But if cholesterol is a concern for you, substitute egg whites for whole eggs.

Need more convincing? Eggs are cheap, easy, quick, and versatile. When you're too exhausted to cook a full meal, a couple of hard-boiled or scrambled eggs are just the ticket.

Salmon

 

Not only is salmon rich in high-quality protein but it's also an exceptionally good source of omega-3 fats, which are good for your baby's development – and may help boost your mood. And unlike swordfish, king mackerel, tilefish, and shark, salmon has low amounts of methylmercury, a compound that can be harmful to your baby's developing nervous system.

Just remember that even for salmon and other low-mercury fish, such as canned light tuna and pollock, the FDA recommends eating no more than 12 ounces per week to avoid ingesting too much mercury.

Beans

 

Navy beans, lentils, black beans, pinto beans, chickpeas … there are so many to choose from. Beans contain lots of fibre and protein & can be delicious & fill you up for hours! For veggie's, vegans & mums who have a low protein rich rich diet, beans are fantastic but they are also great even if you eat lots of protein as they have lots of fibre. Fibre is vitally important during your pregnancy as your gastrointestinal tract slows down, increasing your risk of constipation and hemorrhoids. Fibre helps to prevent and relieve these problems.

In addition, foods that contains fibre tends to be rich in nutrients. This is certainly true of beans, which are good sources of iron, folate, calcium, and zinc.

Sweet potatoes

Sweet potatoes get their orange color from carotenoids, plant pigments that are converted to vitamin A in our bodies. Although consuming too much "preformed" vitamin A (found in animal sources, such as liver, milk, and eggs) can be dangerous, carotenoids are a different type. They're converted to vitamin A only as needed, so there's no need to restrict your consumption of vitamin A-rich fruits and veggies, says Ward.

Sweet potatoes are also a great source of vitamin C, folate, and fiber. And like beans, they're inexpensive and versatile. It's always worth cooking up a little extra and saving them to slice up later as a snack.

Popcorn and other whole grains

Yes, you read that right. Popcorn is a whole grain. Clients love it when I tell them that!  Whole grains are important in pregnancy because they're high in fibre and nutrients, including vitamin E, selenium, and phytonutrients (plant compounds that protect cells). But don't stop at popcorn: There are lots of other whole grains out there, from oatmeal to barley. Fluffy, nutty-tasting quinoa is definitely one of my favorites. Whole grain quinoa is easy to make and is very high in nutrients, particularly protein, making it a superfood itself.

Walnuts

"Walnuts are one of the richest sources of plant-based omega-3s," says dietitian Kate Geagan, author of Go Green, Stay Lean. "A handful of walnuts is a great choice for an on-the-run snack or an addition to a salad."

While plant-based omega-3s don't provide much of the DHA that will benefit your baby, they're still good for both of you. Walnuts are also a good source of protein and fiber.

Greek yogurt

Greek yogurt typically has twice the protein of regular yogurt, making it one of Geagan's favorite pregnancy foods. And any kind of yogurt is a great source of calcium, which is vital in a pregnancy diet. If you don't take in enough calcium, the limited amount you have will go to your baby, says Geagan, depleting the calcium in your bones.

Remember, the goal during pregnancy is to make sure you provide everything your baby needs without sacrificing your own health and nutrition. Calcium will help keep your own bones intact while laying down a healthy skeleton for your baby.

Dark green, leafy vegetables

Spinach, kale, Swiss chard, and other green leafy vegetables are loaded with vitamins and nutrients, including vitamins A, C, and K, as well as the all-important folate. They've also been found to promote eye health, Geagan says.

Lean meats

Meat is an excellent source of high-quality protein, says dietitian Karin Hosenfeld of North Dallas Nutrition. "Look for lean meats with the fat trimmed off," she says. "When buying red meat in particular, look for cuts that are around 95 to 98 percent fat free."

Beef and pork stand out among meats because they contain choline in addition to protein, says Ward.

Don't eat deli meats or hot dogs, though, unless they're heated until steaming hot. There's a small risk of passing bacteria and parasites, such as listeria, toxoplasma, or salmonella, from the meat to your baby, says Mayo Clinic obstetrician Mary Marnach.

Colorful fruits and veggies

 

Eating plenty of green, red, orange, yellow, purple, and white fruits and vegetables ensures that you and your baby get a variety of nutrients. "Each color group provides different vitamins and minerals," explains dietitian Jodi Greebel, owner of Citrition, a nutrition counseling service in New York.

Hosenfeld points out another advantage of eating across the fruit and veggie spectrum: "During the later stages of pregnancy, the baby 'tastes' the foods you eat through the amniotic fluid," she says. "So if you expose your baby to a variety of healthy fruits and vegetables in the womb, you'll increase the chance that your baby will recognize and accept those flavors later on."

I hope this blog has given you some ideas to inspire a delicious, nutritious & healthy way of eating during your pregnancy.


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10 Simple Things Your Healthy & Happy Friends Do Every Day

10-Simple-Things-Your-Healthy-Happy-Friends-Do-Every-Day.jpg

1.   Healthy Eating.

2.   Walk (a dog, a buggy, a friend or alone).

3.   Yoga & Meditation

4.   Positive Thinking!

5.   Love & Accepting Your Body!

6.   Let Go of Resentment!

7.   Trust Your Heart Over Your Head!

8.   Have Compassion Towards Yourself!

9.   Listen To Your Body & Trust Yourself!

10. Focus On How You Feel Rather Than How    You Look!

How many of these simple things do we really do every day?

I force myself to eat healthily and walk my dog daily (but I certainly wouldn't brave those rainy, cold & windy days for a long walk if I didn't have to!)

I love the third point (obviously!!) but the other points aren't quite as simple as they look!

Trying to think only of positive thoughts throughout the day is tough when negative thoughts continually pop in & out of my head! But perhaps for many of you, like me, number 5 is one of the hardest of all, loving & accepting our physical body!! In theory, this should be easy, if our bodies function as they should and we are generally in good health, then why are we always so hard on ourselves & dislike our bodies so much? I found once I started to love and accept my body I started to take greater care of it; eating well & drinking lots of water, breathing properly & exercising, it was only then that I realised how amazing my body actually is, regardless of its shape or size :)

I found letting go of resentment took a long time and was quite a painful journey, however, in the end feeling lighter, happier & not carrying around negative emotions & baggage was definitely worth it!!

It has taken me many years to be compassionate to myself, listening to my body and trusting my own instincts, yoga & meditation have really helped me come closer to achieving some of the points on the list above.

I am now mindful of this list, my intentions are to try and focus on one or more a day, why not try this too, so that you can become that Friend who is Healthy & Happy :) xx

Sun Salutation Yoga

 Online yoga for mums. Online yoga for beginners. Online yoga for weight loss. Online yoga for fitness. Online yoga for pregnancy. Online yoga for postnatal mums. Yoga classes & private 1:1 yoga in Bristol. Yoga in Westbury Park, Henleaze, Redland, Stoke Bishop.

 

Sun Salutation (Surya Namaskar, in Sanskrit) is a set of 12 postures put together in a flowing sequence to help calm your mind, improve concentration, reduces restlessness and anxiety.

When performed at pace it is an excellent cardio vascular workout, helping with weight loss, endurance levels and improving the strength and vitality to your body, the flexibility of the spine and when performed at a slower pace it is an excellent way to help unwind & relax.

I practice Sun Salutations every day, it encourages a sense of peace & calm in my mind and helps develop a strong & flexible body. Here is a diagrammatic image of how to practice your sun salutations.

 Online yoga for mums. Online yoga for beginners. Online yoga for weight loss. Online yoga for fitness. Online yoga for pregnancy. Online yoga for postnatal mums. Yoga classes & private 1:1 yoga in Bristol. Yoga in Westbury Park, Henleaze, Redland, Stoke Bishop. Sun Salutations, Surya Namaska

Or check out my video on my Facebook page (www.facebook.com/theyogimums)  which shows me practicing the 12 postures of the Sun Salutations on a beautiful beach in Africa!

Give it a go, you will soon get the hang of it & start to feel the wonderful benefits :)


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