8 Post-Holiday Party Yoga Stretches for Your Feet and Body

It’s holiday party season and you are going to look fab in your outfit and party shoes. But your feet are going to hate you. Why? High heels, baby, high heels. There’s a reason your feet sigh with relief when you kick your shoes off. But I’ve got you with a quick, effective post-party yoga stretch routine for all levels that will decompress you from head to toe – and counteract the negative effects of your skycrapers.

(And gents, you aren’t necessarily wearing heels, but your dress shoes are also making your feet cry. Just saying…)

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My First Facial and 13 Ideas for Giving Experiences this Christmas

Yep, you read that title correctly – I just turned 35, and two months before that, I had my first proper facial at the Wedgewood Hotel & Spa (845 Hornby Street, Vancouver). I was told by my esthetician, Anny, that, technically, having had microdermabrasion and doing my regular facemasks can be considered a facial, but this was a proper facial and I was going to love it. And I did!

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5 Reasons Why You Should Meditate and My Visit to Bodhi Meditation Vancouver

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When I did my yoga teacher training in 2013, one of my goals was to ‘figure out’ how to meditate. I had been practicing yoga for many years, but there was a piece of my practice missing. And I was so desperate to calm my mind the **** down and find some stillness for myself after a couple years of health issues and and overall stress.

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How to Stay Healthy & Happy While Travelling

Travelling is wonderful. But if you get sick in any way while there or right after you get back, not so fun. Some of this can be attributed to jet lag and recycled air on the plane. But over the years I’ve realized that the biggest reason much of the above happens is that while we are doing ourselves a favour by taking a break to go away (for however long), we tend to stop mindfully looking after ourselves when we travel.

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Airport R&R

Flight delays. Or long layovers for connecting flights, usually involving flight delays. Not very glamorous and inevitable realities when travelling. There’s a lot of hustle and bustle and then you’re left a bit worse for wear in your gate area and having to kill however many hours.

(Click here for some flight delay survival tips for when things get fraught and chaotic at the airport.)

With energy levels incredibly low, I was recently walking to my gate area in London Heathrow’s Terminal 3. I needed food and a strong cup of tea, stat. And then I saw a sign that made me want to weep with gratitude: The rest and relaxation room near Gate 24. Yes, please.

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This was a happy discovery for me, as I had a few hours to while away before my connecting flight home – the third of three flights. I had just dealt with 24 hours of not being able to check into all of my flights to get myself back to Vancouver from Barcelona; being on hold and then frustrated when talking to the airline – 60 minutes of my life I will never get back; initially cursing what turned out to be the very smart decision of not sleeping before my 3:30 am Barcelona taxi pickup, and watching my taxi driver nearly get dismembered by another taxi whose driver was WRITING AND DRIVING as he was pulling into the airport taxi stand at a fair click (and then blaming my taxi driver for being in his way). Zurich Airport was a less chaotic experience, but that airport’s version of relaxing is a smoking room – of which they have at least two. No, thank you. (Although the idea of rolling out my mat to meditate amidst all the fancy watch and chocolate shops was tempting…)

But I digress. Back to Heathrow and me hot-footing it to Gate 24. The R&R room is decorated very much like the waiting room in a doctor’s office (if more brightly) but it was a sanctuary for me. Blessedly quiet with comfy couches, chairs and chaise lounges so you can lie back and put your feet up; outlets to charge your phone, a selection of books, and the all important flight info board. And most importantly, it’s free. So if you’re not an airline elite member with lounge access, or a day room is not in your budget, this is the place for you.

Everyone in that room is there for the same reason you are: peace and quiet. No keyboards clacking, phone calls or speaking loudly. (Except for the loud woman who didn’t quite understand the purpose of the room until she got shushed by those of us not impressed with her volume. Yes, we shushed her.) From what I remember, there aren’t any speakers the room, so if you do want a nap, make sure you set yourself an alarm for when you need to go to your gate!

I got cozy on a chaise lounge with my blanket scarf and spent an hour and a half with relaxing music on my headphones and a good book on my e-reader. I left that room feeling like a normal human being and I hadn’t even taken a nap. Not being on my phone or computer felt amazing.

As a usually solo traveller, my laptop and phone, or perhaps a book, tend to be my go-tos, which got me thinking about the Yoga Room in SFO Airport’s Terminal 2 (which was a much needed and amazing way to spend some time when I was there in January). And then about other ways that one can decompress and kill time before a flight – that don’t involve hunching over blue light electronics. Massage chairs (a nice #GetThrifty option and a great way to get rid of foreign coins!), mani-pedi, retail therapy. Enjoying a meal or a glass of wine while people watching – which is incredibly fun at the airport. If you’re with someone, conversation is a novel idea.

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Google tells me that there are a few more airports with quiet rooms like Heathrow’s, as well as yoga rooms. Airports are always under some kind of update construction these days, so hopefully the amenities follow suit!

It’s a wi-fi signal world out there. How do you keep yourself occupied and at ease while in transit? Share your tips in the comments section!

Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.

~ Gustave Flaubert ~


Travel Yoga: Legs up the wall (Viparita Karani)

Travel is hard on your body. Considering what you are doing (seeing amazing things) I know this sounds a little boo-hoo-ish, but the struggle is real. No one’s body feels good after sitting on a plane, train, or in an automobile for a long period of time.

You know what I mean. Stiff neck from sleeping at a weird angle. Sore back and shoulders from sitting in the awkward seats. Tight legs and hips from the same. Hands and feet feeling heavy. The interesting thing is that you can feel much of the same after playing tourist and being on your feet all day.

So what can we do about it? When we were on our girls’ trip, any time one of my friends said their legs hurt, I would say four words: legs up the wall. Usually, while I was about to do the exact same. It feels amazing when you’ve been out and about all day, or even just after a day at work.

Legs Up the Wall

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Traditionally called Viparita Karani, Legs Up the Wall is one of my all-time favourite yoga poses. It’s great restorative posture that opens the chest and stretches the back of the neck and backs of the legs. It also helps release tension in the lower back and increases circulation by flowing blood from your feet back to your heart. Your heart won’t have to pump as hard and it’s an excellent way to relax weary legs after a day of exploring and the copious amount of stairways that seem to always be part of my travels.

What You Need:

  • Wall and floor space (No adequate wall/floor space combo in your digs? Use your bed.)
  • Yoga mat or towel (optional, but nice when on the floor)
  • Cushion or pillow for lower back support (optional)
  • Rolled up towel for neck support (optional)

Method:

  • Place your mat or towel with the short edge right against the wall. If using a cushion, place it at the wall.
  • Lie down on your side, with your head away from the wall and knees. Sit on your mat/cushion with your left or right side flush with the wall and use your opposite hand to support you as you lie down on your side.
  • Roll on to your back and extend your legs your legs up the wall. (There’s no way to be graceful about this. Don’t worry about it.)
  • Bend your knees as much as needed to support the lower back. You may need to scooch your hips away from the wall a bit.
  • Arms can be by your side with palms facing up, or hands resting on your belly. Whatever is comfortable.
  • If your neck needs some support, roll up a towel and place it so your neck can rest comfortably in alignment.

 

  • If the feet get tingly, bend the knees a bit more.
  • To feel the same circulatory benefits in your arms while in this pose, loosely extend the arms up and reach for the ceiling.
  • To come out of the pose, gently bring the knees into the chest and roll to your left side.

5-10 minutes in this pose does wonders for my legs and my mind. I hope it can be helpful for you, too!

Looking for a travel yoga mat? Here are some great options that I use and have been recommended to me:

  • B MAT Traveller (2mm) – ($56 CAD) This is my current travel mat and I love it. It folds up nicely in my suitcase and it irons itself out within half an hour of my taking it out after a flight. It also feels quite cushy despite being only 2mm thick. It has more than paid for itself in the last two years
  • Halfmoon Yoga Travel Mat ($38 CAD) – I’ve heard so many good things about this one, and it’s a great price point. Also, it’s a Vancouver based company! 🙌🏻
  • Manduka® eKO® SuperLite Travel Yoga Mat – ($42 USD) My Kundalini teacher uses this as her travel mat, and she travels A LOT. Available online in the USA here and in Canada here.

If you are wanting something a thicker, check out this very thorough and well-researched list from Reviews.com of the best mats out there. You might also want a mat bag or strap and you can find some good options here. My current home mat is a Gaiam Premium print option (available in Canada at Indigo.ca and Amazon.ca and in the US on Gaiam’s website), and I love Halfmoon Yoga’s studio mats.

Happy legs = happy travels! x

To keep the body in good health is a duty… Otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear.

~ Buddha ~

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And on Sunday, I rested + Healthy Protein Power Muffins

It is Day 9 of Cleanse Lite (CL) and in theory, I should be on Day 2 of three days of nothing but vegetables and maybe some white fish. But you know what? It’s Sunday (and isn’t that the day of rest? I say this with absolutely no disrespect, but if God took a break…) And the French toast I had brunch with Sean and some friends was spectacular. (The fact that Sean was at brunch on a Sunday is the result of a very rare couple of weeks off. (I think they miss him at the theatre, but he’ll be back soon, I promise!)

We walked to the Quay – long but nice walk – had iced tea the Great Wall tea Co., bought some wine at my new favourite wine shop, did some grocery shopping at the market… Nice normal things that I do all the time on my own. So nice to share that with my guy today.

As I had previously mentioned, I’m being nice to myself on CL. On Tuesday, we went out for dinner at one of my favourite places, Joey Burrard, and I had my Ahi Tuna Club. Cleanse calls for white fish but I had my tuna, and I had it without the bun and with no bacon.  I also had a glass of red wine and poked at the chocolate sauce on Sean’s dessert. (Extreme will power was demonstrated considering that chocolate lava cake is a personal weakness.) We went to Earls on Friday and I had goat cheese on my salad (which as I have discovered doesn’t really count as dairy) and a glass of wine. But then I had a small hot fudge Sunday and that was definitely a cheat. (Gasp!) I suppose CL has turned into Yasmine Eating Even More Healthy Than Normal But With Treats Allowed at Dinner, but it’s been a good exercise in discipline for my breakfasts and lunches.

This has made me think of a food writer named Mark Bittman,  who I first learned about a while back while watching a show called “Spain: On the Road Again” . When I read his bio, the thing that stuck out the most was that he considered himself vegan until 6:00 pm. I am going to go buy one of his books called Food Matters tomorrow. There is also a cookbook – because I really need another one. Really, I do. We are going to need another bookshelf soon… 😉 To be totally honest with you, I have no interest, whatsoever, in being a full-on vegan. I admire people that are, but I really like grilled chicken and I love me a good omelette or beef burger every now and then. (There’s also the fact that I don’t think I could give up my my leather jacket or any of my lovely leather purses and shoes.) But that doesn’t mean I can’t make the effort to find out where my food comes from try to only eat organic and fairly traded/treated products. At the end of the day, I just want to be a conscious eater and have a healthy body without depriving myself.

It’s been pretty funny to be in the kitchen at work and having people come peek while I am chopping vegetables for my salad and asking me questions about quinoa. People are so in awe of healthy eating – I’ve never been UN-healthy, but since January, I have noticed a difference in how I digest and feel when I eat a certain way. It takes a lot of prep, which is probably what makes some shy away. I went to a movie matinee with my friend Liss yesterday afternoon (we saw “The Help” – awesome movie based on an even more awesome book – see it/read it. It was painful to close whenever I had to get off the train. Best book I have read in a while.) and there was me with a healthy protein muffin, a container of snap peas, chopped celery and cucumber, and a baggie of these great multi-grain chips from a company called Food Should Taste Good.

Not going to lie, in that moment, I much rather would have had some of Liss’ popcorn, but I was good and I ate what my friend Alison would call my hippie food. I should mention that Liss is also a very healthy eater who believes in treating herself. We will be recipe exchanging soon because she has some fab recipes. In the world of the Alternative Baking Chronicles, I found and tweaked a recipe for the about the above mentioned protein muffins during the NHL playoffs that make a great breakfast muffin or afternoon snack. The original recipe was not totally cleanse friendly, so it became the below in several variations.

HEALTHY PROTEIN POWER MUFFINS

  • Servings: 12 regular or 6 jumbo muffins
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose spelt or Kamut® flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup oat bran
  • 3 tbsp ground flax seed meal
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 1/3 cups unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries (or raspberries; or 1/2 cup chocolate chips, 1/4 cup walnuts, and 1/4 dried cherries (my favourite!); or really whatever you like) 

METHOD:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease a muffin tin or fill tin with paper muffin liners.
  2. Whisk together flour, baking powder and baking soda, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl. Mix in bran and flax.
  3. Whisk almond milk, olive oil, honey and vanilla in another bowl. Mix in quinoa. Add to dry ingredients and mix together with a wooden spoon until just mixed. Fold in blueberries (or desired substitute).
  4. Divide batter into muffin tin (it will fill them right up). Bake for 25-28 mins. Tops of muffins should be slightly cracked and will bounce back when lightly pressed.

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On a totally unrelated subject, we have finally started using some of our wedding presents and one of my favourites has been the Trudeau Olive Oil and Vinegar Dispensers that I got at my bridal shower. I’m done typing for the day (lazy, I know), so the picture will just have to be self-explanatory about how it works, but one of the best kitchen things ever. Julie – I’m still in awe that you remembered that random conversation and gave me that gift. Thank you! 🙂