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Practicing Your Yoga: 9 Hacks For Building a Yoga Habit
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Find out why you (and everybody you know) needs yoga!
Even before joining the Kulae Family, Jeff always found himself surrounded by a large and loving community. He was born and raised just south of Boston, the middle of 5 children and a member of an expansive extended family. Growing up, his parents had an “open-door policy” in their home, always welcoming friends and family to come over and spend some quality time with Jeff’s family and whoever else might be dropping by.
Jeff took his family’s open-door policy to heart and carried it with him everywhere he went – sports teams, work life, and wherever he called home. Some years after a bad knee injury ended his college sports career, a coworker introduced Jeff to yoga, which created an outlet that helped Jeff to heal and grow both physically and mentally. Jeff came to recognize yoga’s potential benefit for any person anywhere, athletes and otherwise. Yoga was immediately a perfect fit with Jeff’s community-driven spirit – after all, yoga means “union” in the ancient language of Sanskrit.
Soon, Fate came knocking in the form of a job opportunity as Sales Director at Kulae, a small startup company that sold colorful, eco-friendly yoga gear. The minute he stepped through the door, he fell in love with the business and everything it stood for. Family, community, team, good karma, and giving back – it was a match made in heaven! “Kulae yoga” translates to “community union” in Sanskrit. He could combine his passions for community, fitness, yoga, health, team, self-care, family, and athletics into one business and bring them to the world. He finally felt at home in his work and that he was in control of his own destiny.
Here at Kulae, we love yoga just as much as the next person. But let’s face it, no matter how big of a yogi you are, sometimes it’s good to shake things up a little. In fact, trying a new fitness class can work parts of the body that you don’t normally use during your asanas, making your yoga practice that much stronger when you return to the mat.
There’s nothing like Kulae’s Elite Hybrid yoga mat towel to keep you dry and slip-free during your hot yoga class. It absorbs moisture like no other, and is completely machine washable. But how do you keep it looking good class after class, and wash after wash? Here are a few tips:
In the spirit of starting the new year off on the right foot, I have been making a serious effort to to get back to my clean eating habits. This week, I share a recipe for a Pumpkin Pie Chia Pudding that meets my clean eating requirements. Not only is this delicious treat gluten, dairy and sugar free, it is packed full of vitamins, due to the nutrient dense chia seeds. On top of providing a hefty dose of fiber, protein, calcium, manganese, magnesium and phosphorus, these tiny little seeds also contain a substantially high amount of brain healthy omega 3 fatty acids. The coconut milk in this recipe adds a boost to your immune system, due to the presence of anti-microbial lauric acid and the anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-viral properties of the capric acid found in coconut milk. I like to have this as a mid- morning or mid-afternoon snack because it gives me a serious boost of energy. The energy comes from all of the amazing vitamins and nutrients present this simple dish. It is also cleanse, candida and elimination diet friendly. How awesome is that?
So you’ve decided to embark on a new adventure and try yoga, which is great. But first you need a mat. There are so many choices available, how do you even know where to begin? Here are a few tips to help you sort through the options and find the perfect yoga mat for you.
As a busy health coach, who also works as a hair stylist and is taking my yoga teacher training, I am often asked what I eat on those days where I am just too busy to cook. Even on my busiest days, I try to resist the temptation of eating out. I know that it’s just not worth getting a quick meal in if it is going to cause me to have a stomach ache or to feel lethargic. Same thing goes for those days where I am craving comfort food, but don’t want to pay the price. I have found that it is impossible to know what, exactly, is in my food if I don’t make it myself. The biggest problem when it comes to craving comfort foods is finding a pizza recipe or restaurant that meets all of my elimination and candida diet requirements. After living with these food restrictions on and off for years, I have come up with a candida and elimination friendly, tasty, quick and comforting, gluten, dairy, sugar, yeast, vinegar and mushroom free pizza. Now I know, this probably sounds too good to be true, and to be honest, if you don’t have to adhere to these restrictions, I doubt you’ll be impressed with the end result, but for those of us that have had to live pizza free for some time, this might just seem like magic! If you are not dairy free, use real cheese instead of the Daiya vegan cheese. You can also alter the recipe to include any veggies you like, and if you omit the chicken, this is recipe can be vegan as well! The other great thing about this recipe is that it only takes about 15 minutes to make. Having this in my healthy eating tool kit really does save me on those nights that I don’t get home until late, need to eat, but just don’t have the time or energy to cook. This is also a great example of something you could eat for lunch or dinner while on the elimination diet that my new e-book called The Path describes. The Path is a road map to learning exactly what your food allergies or food sensitivities are, how they affect your mood and health, and how to finally take control of your energy and well-being for the long term. Click on this link to learn more about The Path and how it can help you find true health and vitality.
Essential oils and yoga are a natural combination, and using them during your practice can enhance your performance, calm your mind, and relax your muscles. All it takes is a little information and a willing nose to find the right combination for you.
So what exactly are essential oils?
Essential oils are botanical extracts collected from flowers, herbs, trees and other plants and are commonly used for healing or aromatherapy. Herbalists and others interested in natural medicine have been using essential oils to treat common ailments for many years, and they can be wonderful when used correctly. Essential oils are very concentrated, and should not be used undiluted directly on the skin. Always consult a doctor, certified herbalist, or an aromatherapist before attempting to use them.
Warming Tomato Dal
This dish does exactly what it’s name implies. It is simple, satisfying and warming. Perfect for a cold winte’s night. One of the things I love about this dal is that it is so easy to make. I used my slow cooker to prepare it. It took all of 5 minutes to put together, and when I got home from work last night, I had a delicious home cooked, healthy, vegan and gluten free dinner ready and waiting. The trick to making this dal creamy is to soak the lentils over night. Another time saving tip is to make your winter spice blend ahead of time. I got this recipe out of the book The Everyday Ayurveda Cookbook, written by Kate O’Donnell. Kate is an Ashtanga yoga teacher at Down Under Yoga, the studio that I am taking my yoga teacher training at. She is also somewhat of an expert on the ancient sister science to yoga, called ayurveda. Ayurveda teaches that we are all comprised of varying degrees of energy fields, or doshas. The three Dosas are: Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. The doshas are biological energies found throughout the human body and mind. They govern all physical and mental processes and provide every living being with an individual blueprint for health and fulfillment. Ayurveda also states that we should eat specifically for the season and our doshas. This recipe does this perfectly. Try it out. I promise, you will love it!
Looking to invigorate your yoga practice? Or maybe you’re new to yoga and looking for some advice on how to start. Or perhaps you’re an old pro and you just need a little motivation to reconnect to the essence of your practice. Wherever you are on your yoga journey, check out these six books for some inspiration.
When in Rome.........
Here I am in Rome visiting my husband's family. My way of eating is very strange to them. They drown all vegetables in olive oil while cooking them within an inch of their lives, put cheese on everything and eat tons of carbs (like I needed to mention that last part).
When I first met my husband and I would offer to cook at Christamstime but they would never let me. I am sure they thought "what does this skinny American girl know about cooking?". Since I have been coming here for 7 years now and cooking my own food they have tried a few things. Turns out they actually enjoy my food "senza olio" but still think eating raw vegetables and eggs for breakfast is "strano".
This morning I made my usual Protein Pancakes but added chocolate vegan protein to appeal to the Italians.
Here is the recipe for 6:
12 egg whites
2 cups of oats
2 scoops of chocolate protein
1/2 cup of almond milk
Mix it all up in the blender and cook in a non-stick pan.
Each pancake has: protein 11 gms, carbohydrates 25 gms and fat 3 gms.
If you are in my Shape Up program this would be perfect for breakfast with a side of 1/2 cup Greek Yogurt. It is 1 fruit, 1 starchy carb and 1 lean protein.
Ever start an exercise program and 4 weeks in feel like you are suddenly in a rut? Everything started out so strong; your eating was on track, you were getting up earlier and exercising everyday then BAM you hit a wall. You are not alone. Whether you are in my Shape Up Program or starting a new routine of your own here are a few of my tips to help you get over the slump and stay on track.
Track Your Progress
In my Shape Up Program I suggest taking pictures and measurements every 3 weeks. Doing this keeps you accountable and also gives you a benchmark to measure against. When you look at yourself day in and day out you may not see changes. It is only when you compare these numbers and pictures that you get a true view of your progress.
Try not to get obsessed with watching the numbers on the scale. An exercise and diet program will help you lose fat and build lean muscle. It is a fact that muscle weighs more than fat. Use the pictures, the way you feel and the way your clothes fit to be your best guide to your progress.
With so many oils lining the shelves of the grocery store, from Olive OIl to Coconut Oil, how do you know which to choose?
First you should probably know that oils have different characteristics that make each one good for some cooking techniques and not so much for others. Choosing the right oil can add more flavor to a dish and also help you control cooking time.
One of the most important elements in an oil is its "smoking point". This is the temperature at which the oil starts to break down, smoke and the flavor even changes. This is also the point that the chemical make up changes and what started as a healhty fat can be turned into something thats not good for you at all. For these reasons it is important to know which oils to choose for the cooking method you are using.
How many times do you start a diet, get to the 4th day of eating salads and want to die of boredom?? This is what I like to refer to as the Salad Slump! It doesn't have to be this way. There are so many ways you can get creative with your meals so that you don't feel like a rabbit!
Here are items I keep on hand to keep it fresh:
I buy a variety of different greens: arugula, spinach, romaine, kale or baby greens
I mix it up with colorful veggies: tomatoes, peppers, corn, peas, carrots, zucchini, red onion, celery
For morning salads I add some fruit: blueberries, grapes, strawberries, apples, watermelon, oranges or grapefruit or dried fruit
I never forget the Healthy Fat: olives, seeds, nuts, avocado, oils or cheeses
I keep yummy flavored vinegars or condiments in the house to make dressings: strawberry balsamic, coconut vinegar, rice vinegar, dijon mustard
Spice it up with fresh herbs and spices: mint, cilantro, rosemary, oregano and thyme
NOW don't think that salads have to be just lettuce. Try my Cajun Shrimp Salad with Corn Salsa recipe.
Ever pick up a box of cookies at the store and read "All Natural" and think: "oh, this is a healthy cookie"?
You are not alone! There are several phrases that food manufacturers use to market their products but the Food and Drug Administration has not created strict definitions for these phrases.
I took a Barre Core Fusion class at Balance at Urbanity, a cute little studio in the historic South End of Boston. Tucked away in a little back alley, this studio is warm and welcoming.
How many of you pop a handful of almonds in your mouth and think "protein=CHECK"? Or throw some avocado on your salad and count it as the protein serving??
I think this is a very common thought process. Nuts and avocados (naming just these because they are the ones I most commonly hear people talk about as a protein source) have amazing health benefits. They are a great source of "Healthy Fats".
Below is a list of what is in each category:
Eat a variety of different foods so that you are getting all of your nutritional needs!!
Last week I posted for my Shape Up groups some of my favorite smoothie recipes. They are not only delicious but a perfect blend of protein, carbs and healthy fats.
When I first start working with clients often times they say
"I eat very clean: I have a smoothie for breakfast......" WOAH, stop right there! "What's in it?"
is my next question and the list gets SOOOO long: honey, agave nectar, chia, flax, coconut oil, TONS of fruit, milk, yogurt. Basically its a mish-mosh of whatever was in house without really understanding how to create a balanace. None of the above ingredients are bad, it is just the quantity of these items that really is important.
What I generally find is that most people have a mason jar (because it is so hip to drink your smoothie out of a mason jar) full of carbs and fats.
If your goal is weightloss you may want to consider to add more veggies instead of fruit. As much as fruit has amazing phytonutrients in it, it is also high in sugar. (Have you read my blog post on CARBS?) Also, add some good quality protein in there: greek yogurt, egg whites or a protein powder. (Have you read my blog post on PROTEIN?)
Here are my favorite smoothie recipes:
(1 Lean Protein, 1 Fruit, 1 Healthy Fat)
2 C baby spinach
(1 Lean Protein, 1 Fruit, 1/2 Starchy Carb)
1 C kale
(1 Lean Protein, 1 Fruit, 1 Healthy Fat, 1/2 Starchy Carb)
1 scoop vanilla protein powder
Banana-Coconut-Green Tea Smoothie
(1 Lean Protein, 1 Fuit, 1 Healthy Fat)
1 scoop vanilla protein powder
(1 Lean Protein, 1 Fruit, 1 Starchy Carb)
1 scoop vanilla protein powder
Directions: Place ingredients in your blender and turn it on! I LOVE my Cuisinart Blender. Because I am clearly not hip, I pour it into a tumbler. I am obsessed with these Aladdin Tumblers right now because not only do they have fun straws, but they have a leak proof top and you can unscrew the whole thing and actually get your hand inside there to clean it!
For my Shape Up group members you will see what each smoothie counts towards for your Food Log.
Want to try Shape Up for FREE? Download my 2 week Start Up>>>>> CLICK HERE!
CARB.....it was at one point one of "those" 4 letter words.
When most people hear this word they think only about Starchy Carbs: crackers, pastas and bread. BUT all veggies, fruits and even legumes fall into the carb category. AND carbs are our friends!! There was a huge low carb fad for a while where people ate very carb restricted diets in hopes to lose weight. I am not saying this type of diet is not good for some people, but when you are participating in an exercise program such as Shape Up you want to be sure you have ample energy.
Carbohydrates provide the body with glucose, which is converted to energy used to support bodily functions and physical activity. What's most important is the quality of the carbohydrate.
Good quality sources of carbohydrates are unprocessed whole grains, vegetables, fruits and beans.
This type of carbohydrate promotes good health by delivering vitamins, minerals, fiber, and a host of important phytonutrients. If you are in my Shape Up program refer to the Fruits, Veggies and Starchy Carbs list for more good quality options.
You may be wondering why the timing of the Starchy Carbs is important. In my Shape Up program I suggest the first meal of the day and post workout meals include Starchy Carbs:
For the morning meal you have just spent 6-8 hours (hopefully you are all getting your beauty sleep) fasting while you were asleep. You need this portion of Starchy Carb to help satiate you, help you feel full and at this point your glucose tolerance is at its highest.
For the post workout meal your body is primed and ready to absorb these nutrients back in for recovery and energy replenishment.
WHY fruits only in the am?? I suggest fruit in the morning only because fruit is made up of both glucose and fructose. The glucose portion is great, it helps fuel the body, its the fructose portion that can be problematic if consumed in a high volume. It can actually lead to increased cravings, increased bacterial growth in your gut and can lead to inflammation among other things. Also, because it is higher in sugar, eating it earlier in the day gives you the time to use it as energy as opposed to storing it as fat.
I'm Kate, the Marketing Director here at Kulae! I'm excited to announce a new blog segment, "Kate does Chatarunga" where I'll be going around to Boston studios trying out their yoga and fitness classes and talking about them here on the blog. Here at Kulae, we want to bring some exposure to all the wonderful boutique studios around Boston in the spirit of our #KarmasReal mantra. I hope you enjoy the posts and are inspired to go out and try some new locations yourself!
First up, Core Fusion Yoga accompanied by the Grass Gypsys at Exhale Spa in the Back Bay.
Last week was a bit of a doozy. I had gotten back from my bachelorette party in Ann Arbor (my alma mater was U of M so we decided to go to a football game and re-live the good ol days) and was feeling a little under the weather because, well, my body just can't handle college extracurricular activities like it used to. I decided to give myself a little break from my daily pre-wedding workouts and took a few days off. Going to Exhale on Thursday snapped me back into my routine.
In my work as a health coach, the biggest challenge I see people have when it comes to making healthy food choices, is being prepared. What do I mean by that? Being prepared means carving out a little time each week to make sure you have all of your healthy meals and snacks, not only on hand, but prepared and ready to grab when you are pressed for time. Last night, I made a lovely quinoa salad. The salad itself only has 5 ingredients, took less then 20 minutes to make, and is enough food to make sure that I have at least three lunches covered for the week. I also made a large garden salad, some chicken cutlets and some summer berry chia jam so that I had a little variety to chose from during the week. All of this prep work took about an hour, and I’m set for the week. I won’t have to cook again until Friday! As usual, everything I made is gluten, dairy and sugar free. The quinoa salad also happens to be vegan. This is clean eating at it’s prepared best ;)
I sure do, but I am always hesitant to order this dish because it is so high in carbs and fat. Some versions have anywhere between 25 gms to 55 gms of fat per serving and (if noodels or rice are used) anywhere between 40 gms to 97 gms of carbohydrates.
I am always trying to find ways to clean up recipes especially since members of my Shape Up group constantly are looking for new clean dishes. I came up with the following recipe where I substituted regular peanut butter for Powdered Peanut Butter. If you haven't tried this yet its a MUST! It is dry roasted peanuts that all the oils and fats are pressed out of. You can add water to it and make it back into peanut butter or add it to smoothies or pancakes, but back to the matter at hand! I also substituted Shirataki Noodles for regular rice, noodles or pasta. Shirataki noodles are gluten and soy free, they have very low carb content (some brands even have less than 1 gm per serving). Give it a whirl and let me know what you think!
Makes 4 servings.
I got this gem from one of my favorite food activists/bloggers, the Food Babe. This smoothie has only five ingredients, is super refreshing and is loaded with anti-inflammatory properties and anti-oxidants. Did you know that celery aids in digestive health by reducing inflammation in the digestive tract? Celery is also high in vitamin K, which plays a key role in blood clotting and bone health. This smoothie also contains dark leafy greens and anti-oxidant rich berries. The protein source in this smoothie is hemp seeds or powder-whichever you have on hand. Hemp seeds are an excellent source of essential fatty acids, including 3, 6 and GLA, are a very digestible vegan source of a complete protein, and are rich in vitamin E. With all of this goodness in 5 ingredients, why not try this smoothie out? It works really well with helping to cool down in this summer heat!
Some of my Shape Up members have asked me "why so much protein?".
Here are the top 5 reasons that increasing protein during the Shape Up 12 week program or any new fitness regime is so important.
1. Protein is very satiating. Protein helps you feel fuller for a lot longer and it helps to slow digestion making you less likely to go for round two.
Make sure you get your protein from local, organic farms or wild caught fish. When your intake of protein increases you want to be sure you have a good quality source.
I am a huge promoter of eating whole foods, but that doesn't mean that I am opposed to protein powders/supplements.
With so many protein powders on the market how do you know which one is right for you? The types you will see most often are whey, soy and casein. Whey is the most commonly used because it easily dissolves in water and it is a complete protein having all 9 essential amino acids. Whey is a milk protein, if you can not tolerate dairy well there are other options out there for you. My favorite non-milk protein powder is Jay Robb's Egg White Protein.
When looking for a protein check out the ingredients list, if its a mile long then choose another. You want a protein powder that is clean with out a lot of fillers or added sugar. I always aim for one that has at least 20 gms of protein per serving, with low carbs coming from sugar.
When starting Shape Up you may have a hard time getting all the protein servings in from whole foods. A smoothie made with protein powder is a great option. If you are on my Shape Up program and have a protein powder that you are unsure about whether or not it fits in with your goals send me a picture of the nutrition label and I will help guide you!
This week, I thought I’d share with you a recipe that my boyfriend’s mother forwarded to me. It is a simple, yet delicious way to use those fresh summer berries that are in season right now, as well as finding another way to incorporate omega-3 rich chia seeds into your diet. I thought this would be an appropriate time to review just some of the amazing health benefits of including berries in your diet.
The Incredible Edible Egg
I eat A LOT of eggs. I often times get asked if I am worried about cholesterol content in eggs. My answer is always "NO". I know that in years past eggs have gotten a bad rap due to their high dietary cholesterol. Many people opted just for the whites and also for liquid egg substitutes. High blood cholesterol is associated with heart disease, so blaming this on food high in dietary cholesterol seemed only natural. But now after 25 years of study it is shown that saturated fat has a much bigger effect on blood cholesterol than does dietary cholesterol.
With this news lets all eat some eggs again! This little powerhouse has 75 calories -7 grams of high-quality protein, 5 grams of fat, and 1.6 grams of saturated fat, along with iron, vitamins, minerals, carotenoids and zeaxanthin for eye health.
Here is a little breakdown of the words you will see on your egg carton and what they mean:
Grade- Eggs are given a gread by the U.S Agriculture Department. There are 3 grades depending on the quality. Grade AA- these are the highest quality with thick and firm whites and round clean yolks. Grade A- these are close to AA but just not as firm whites. Grade B- these are rarely sold in stores and are used for mostly egg products or commercial baked goods.
Cage-free or Free-range- This give you some information on how the hens who laid these eggs were treated. Cage-free- The hens were not kept in cages and allowed to roam around in a barn to stretch their little legs. Free-range- These hens were also not kept in cages and given the additional freedom to go outside.
Vegetarian-fed- These hens were fed no animal biproducts.
Organic- The carton must have the USDA Organic seal. These eggs came from hens that were Free-range and fed organic food.
Pasteurized- Eggs that have been heated to a point to kill any Salmonella bacteria which makes them suitable for recipes that require raw eggs such as Caesar Salad Dressing and Eggnog.
Hormone-free or Antibiotic-free- These are claims that don't mean anything since hormones and antibiotics are not used in egg production.
Farm-fresh or All-natural- These are marketing terms that really have no relevance to the way hens are treated and fed or the way the eggs are produced.
So don't just boil eggs for Easter; eat them as a snack, put them on your salad or make an egg salad sandwich!
As someone who needs to be dairy free, but loves cheese, it has truly been a struggle. I have tried every dairy-free version of cheese on the market, and to be honest, I have not been able to find one that actually tastes like cheese, satiates my craving, is free of all allergens, and feel that I could serve to company… until now that is! Most dairy-free cheese alternatives taste bland, actually contain lactose, and are comparable to eating melted plastic. That’s just my humble opinion. That is why I was so happy when I stumbled upon this new cheese alternative. The company’s name is Tree Line Tree Nut Cheese. So far, I have tried the herb-garlic and also the scallion , French-style, creamy soft flavors. They are absolutely delicious.
As someone who lives a clean lifestyle, has a sweet tooth, and doesn’t like to bake, I am always looking for quick, healthy and sugar free recipes to help satiate my sweet tooth. This recipe meets all of the above requirements. It is gluten free, dairy free, sugar free and vegan, and takes about 10 minutes to put together. Next time you are looking for a healthy treat, consider throwing some of these cuties together. You might even have all of the ingredients on hand! On top of being addictively delicious, these guys have the added nutritional benefits of anti-oxidents, protein, fiber, potassium and vitamin E.
Food Prep 101
Fail to prepare, then prepare to fail!
When it comes to eating clean a good habit to get into is taking one day to cook in bulk. Having things cooked and chopped ahead of time helps make your daily meal prep a breeze!
I usually reserve Sunday morning for this ritual. The first thing I do is prepare a menu for the week, then write my grocery list and do the shopping.
Items always on my list are:
ground grass fed beef*
When I return back home with all my goodies I immediately start the preparation process:
-hard boil the eggs
-wash and chop the veggies and fruit
-marinate the chicken breast, grill it and chop it
-make salad dressings and salsas to top my salads
-roast the spaghetti squash
-brown the ground turkey
-cook the brown rice or quinoa
I make sure I have plenty of food storage containers on hand.
Doing all this ahead of time makes my mornings really quick and easy (especially since I make all my husband's meals too). In the morning I can just assemble the meals and be on my merry way!!
*If you are in my Shape Up program there is a recipe included which will utilize this prepped food!! If you would like to join Shape Up CLICK HERE.