19 Apr 2013

WEDDING DAY YOGA


Written by Phalyn Powell (née Turcotte) - a prairie yogi living + loving in Whistler, BC

Choosing to do yoga the morning of my wedding day was an easy decision.  It wasn’t a “nice little extra”- it was a must. I knew that I was going to need some help to remember to breathe deeply, and be in the moment for the big day. I also thought that it would help my wedding party and close friends to connect on a deeper level, and share an experience that would be remembered forever.  For me, getting ready for my big day needed to consist of more than a shower and a cup of coffee, I needed to get on to my mat.. Followed, of course, by a big cup of coffee! 
In 2005, during a stressful time of my life, I began my practice at Hot Yoga Winnipeg, a Bikram studio that had emerged during the hot yoga craze that came to Winnipeg. I was hooked from the get-go, practicing four times a week and loving it. After a few months, I noticed changes not only in my body, but in my mind. My thoughts changed. Moving meditation was something I had never heard of before, but it resonated with me. While focusing on what my body was doing - and trying not to fall over - I could think of nothing else. It wasn’t until my teacher mentioned “moving meditation” during a class that I took notice of my mental state, and realized that yoga was so much more than a workout. I finally understood the mind + body + soul connection that I heard yogis speak of.

Yoga has since become a constant in my life. Turning to my mat - a safe place, a happy place, a place to laugh or to cry - over the past eight years has been an incredible gift.  Exploring my practice has made me a better person, and I knew that doing a class on the morning of my wedding day is just what the yogi ordered.

The week leading up to the wedding was hectic, as to be expected. And having my bachelorette party two days before did not help put me in the calm state I so badly desired. My monkey-mind kept me up all night the night before the big day and I set foot into the studio the in morning frazzled and sleep deprived. Laying in shavasana and breathing deeply for the first time, beginning to feel revitalized with breath, I instantly felt grateful for being there with my closest friends, and just breathing.  The yin based class was the right mix of deep hip opening with a few vinyasas thrown in, getting the built up energy of the day flowing though us all.

In the final shavasana I laid there in my last moments as a single woman, feeling at peace with all that was about to happen.

The day went off without a hitch, but I was ready for anything thanks to my morning practice. Starting my wedding day with yoga helped to calm my nerves, settle my mind, and  reminded me to breathe and enjoy every single moment of the best day of my life. 

Now I just need to convince my husband to start practicing. :)

Top photo courtesy of: Sweet Heirloom Photography

16 Apr 2013

RAW CHOCOLATE BLISS

by Carly Chivers - a Prairie Yogi living + loving life in Nicaragua.



While travelling or living abroad, ideally one begins to slip into the pace of life of the new place. Adopting the customs, the habits and lifestyle of a new country is surely one of the reasons why we travel.  While travelling we are presented with the opportunity (often due to neccesity) to let go of our grasp on the comfortable habits and routines of regular life. Everything moves at a new speed, smells are foreign, air feels different.

This means naturally your diet will change too. You may not be able to eat that same organic, pro biotic Greek yogurt every morning, or have a raw kale salad at your fingertips for lunch.  That is all part of the adventure, breaking habit, letting go and opening your-self to new energies.

This has all been part of my adventure while living in Nicaragua the past year and a half. Letting go, softening to a slower pace of life and slowly dissolving the rigid practices of my diet at home. This was more challenging than I expected it would be. For the first few months  I mourned the absence of a health food store around the corner, to stock up on super food treats and bottles of Kombucha.
Rice and beans or “gallo pinto” is the go to dish in Nicaragua, served with every meal, or serving as the meal depending on your resources.  When it comes to diet and cooking here in the tropics of Nicaragua, we improvise. We become resourceful and use what we have in creative ways, because we have to.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not complaining. There are many benefits to eating in a tropical climate. We have fruit in abundance. It doesn’t get much better than a sweet, fresh banana after your morning surf session. And the creamy avocados can come in sizes larger than your head!
Another benefit in this climate is the access to nutrient rich super-foods, grown fresh and locally. Among these super stars are the Chia Seed, Flax Seed, and my personal favorite, Cacao!
Cacao is a powerhouse among super foods, dubbed the “food of the gods,” in Ancient Aztec culture. Cacao is the purest form of chocolate. It can be used in many different forms, a ground powder, or shaved nibs, or for a quick burst of energy you can munch on a cacao bean, with a strong flavour much like a coffee bean.
 The cacao bean has one of the highest concentrations of antioxidants available in food. Antioxidants are so important to incorporate daily into your diet, as they serve to protect your cells from cancer causing free-radicals.  Packed with vitamins and minerals of all kinds, Cacao is one of the only natural sources of magnesium, which is an important vitamin for a healthy heart. On top of all of that, Cacao is an endorphin releasing, feel good, brain food; it’s CHOCOLATE- in its purest form!
I wanted to share with you my favorite, RAW CHOCOLATE recipe, which you can make with ingredients from your local health food store, or from the tropical jungles of Nicaragua. Simple, healthy, full of enzymes, vitamins and minerals, and they take about 5 minutes. We love that!
Keep in mind with all recipes, and especially in raw food preparation, quality and freshness of your ingredients are most important, and where you can make substitutes for locally sourced ingredient, do!

Raw Chocolate Bliss:

-1 cup Ground cacao powder
-
2 Tablespoons- Coconut oil (high quality, cold pressed)
Can substitute for high quality olive oil
-
2 Tablespoons sweetener (agave, honey, maple syrup- I opt or local honey)
-
A pinch of salt
-1 Tablespoon of chia, or ground flaxseeds, or any nut butter (optional)
Can add to taste: cinnamon, chile oil, peppermint oil, orange zest, or fresh ginger (basically any flavour you would like to add to your chocolate, get creative!)
Put all ingredients into food processor, mix until smooth. If mix is too dry, add more oil or liquid sweetener, if too wet add more cacao powder.
Form into balls. Decorate: topping with your favorite nuts, chia seeds, or fresh coconut, again creative opportunities are endless. Put in freezer to let set for 2-3 hours. Enjoy!