Wednesday, April 2, 2014

How to start a yoga practice at home

At home Yoga practice for Beginners 

HOW TO START PRACTICING YOGA AT HOME

Interval Yoga friend and yoga practitioner Vesela Savova has an excellent new post on How to get started on a yoga journey at home. She offers tips and suggestions on how to improve and further one's practice just by using videos at home. Her journey into yoga is very inspiring and can be a great motivation for both new and seasoned practitioners.
HERE IS A LINK TO HER POST
http://cherryblueberry.com/2014/04/02/advance-with-your-yoga-practice-at-home/
I would also suggest to check out my complete beginners classes and make sure to put effort into learning alignment. Alignment can seem boring and frustrating at first but think of it as laying the foundation for a great yoga practice down the line that will perfect your practice, shape and strengthen you body and mind and and help avoid injury as you advance. 

COMPLETE BEGINNERS YOGA CLASS



A power yoga class for beginners 



NAMASTE

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Smooth legs. How to remove hair

This is a quick Q & A on hair removal. Someone asked what do I do to remove hair and my opinion on shaving and hair removal.

STANDING TWISTED LEG EXTENSION

Whats the best way to remove body hair


There are a few main options when it comes to body hair removal. 

Shaving 

Shaving is the most popular and seemingly the simplest way to remove hair. The reason why I  prefer not to shave my legs is because shaving only feels smooth for the first few hours. On top of that you have to shave daily which is time consuming.
There are positives to shaving: it's fast, easy, quick "results", cheap and effective. Another plus in my opinion is that shaving is a form of exfoliation so it's great to do every so often just so we can exfoliate our skin. But the rough skin factor is a turn off for me.

Waxing 

I am not a fan of waxing at all. It is painful, takes a long time to do, you have to wait a while for the hair to grow out before it can be waxed and it can cause varicose veins and broken capillaries. If you are doing it at a salon I would be concerned about hygiene and safety as there is exposed open skin (essentially mini woulds) when you get it done. 
I don't know about you but I can't wait for a week for my hair to grow out so I can go to a place and have it removed. Seems very time consuming, expensive and inconvenient.... not to mention very painful.


My most favorite way of removing unwanted hair and keeping my legs smooth all the time is 

Using an Epilator 

The advantages are great I have been using an epilator for probably almost 10 years now and I prefer it over any other type of temporary hair removal. I have never done laser so I can't speak about that. 
Epilators are relatively inexpensive considering they last about 2-3 years. 
Your hair grows at a different rate so you only need a few minutes every other day in order to keep your legs clean and smooth. The epilator pulls the hair out with the root so it takes a month or so for the hair to grow back out. When it grows out it has a thin tip so your legs are never coarse even if you skipped a week of epilating. Plus there might be a long term hair thinning effect to this method but I am not very convinced of that. 
My current epilator is Panasonic. It's pretty old. I think it's around 3 years old but the battery is still relatively strong. I am due for a new one soon as they start to get weaker over time. It's a wet/dry machine so you can use it in shower or in the tub and it's much less painful under hot water. I hardly ever use it in the shower just because it's pretty easy to do it on dry skin. 

Epiglide™ Ultra Women's Wet/Dry Epilator Panasonic ES2045P


It's my second time buying this same epilator because it's rechargeable, affordable and it does a great job. You can take it with you when you travel and use it without an outlet. 
The pain factor- it is virtually painless once you get used to it and you are removing short hairs. You will never be removing all your hair at the same time so that makes it easier to deal with. That being said the first time you use it it will be painful because all your hair is grown in at the same rate. Another word of caution is to try to avoid epilating before your period. Pain tends to be much worse then. 

I do use it sometimes for the armpits and the bikini area but more often than not I shave there. 

Ingrown hairs. 
For the most part it doesn't seem to be a problem but if you are prone to ingrown hairs just exfoliate often and you can get some epilators with gold plated metal parts so that there is less irritation and infections. 

Let me know if you have any thoughts and tips on hair removal.

Love 

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Current Skin Care Routine

I have been getting a lot of questions about my skincare routine. I used to have a minimalist approach to skin care - oils for cleaning and removing makeup and oils or organic creams during the day; or plain bare skin during the day and night. Jojoba oil (actually a wax) used to be my favorite make up remover and I still recommend it for anyone with an acne prone skin. I actually purposely avoided "packaged products" for years.  Nowadays I find I need a bit more than that. I live in a sunny and dry city year round and my skin gets a lot of beating form the sun and dry weather. I am still on the fence about most sunblocks. There is a lot of evidence that there are carcinogenic effects from certain sunblocks as well as some studies have shown that sunblocks do not protect from skin cancer and have a skin damaging effect. "Malignant melanoma has been found more frequently in sunscreen users compared to non-users in some studies." source
"Sunscreen ingredients can damage DNA" source
 If I am going to be in the sun I will wear something like a Larenim face powder or a more natural sunblock such as Dr. Hauschka, but as a whole sunblocks are not a part of my routine. Zinc Oxide and physical blocks are a better choice. The one thing I have been consistent about has been to make sure that I get greens, fruits and veggies in my diet because antioxidants in the diet can and do have sun protective effects on the skin. In addition greens are essential if you need to build muscle, support the right bacterial flora in your gut and maintain proper mineral balance; as an added benefit the carotenes in greens and orange colored produce give you a nicer skin tone. I did notice a huge change in my skin tone when I switched to a "Rainbow color" diet. As a teenager my skin was very pale.
A good thing to know is that citrus (excluding limes), greens and buckwheat in your diet can protect your skin from sun damage from within. photo-protective properties of buckwheat SOURCE


My morning skin care routine RIGHT NOW:
I do not use a face wash in the morning. I find it to be drying, harsh and unnecessary for my skin type. (my face skin is normal and the skin on my body can get dry if I take long hot showers so I try to keep that to a minimum and I stick to quick showers. I also use a shower filter!!)
I wash my face in the morning with water and some days I do a mask or a sheet mask.

KARUNA FACE MASK

SIBU Purifying Mask 

SIBU BEAUTY is a skin care line based on Sea buckthorn extract and oil.


Or a homemade DIY vitamin C mask that is very potent and effective. Recipe HERE 
You DO NOT need to buy masks at the store. Honey, coconut oil, olive oil, tomatoes, green tea powder, clay, potatoes, etc are all wonderful ingredients for a homemade mask.

 Followed by a face serum- Lumene Time Freeze Serum (right now) - It's very light, absorbs into my skin within seconds and it doesn't leave an oily film. The downside is that it has a fragrance but I am OK with it considering I love the serum that much. (USUALLY PRODUCTS WITH FRAGRANCES ARE CHEMICALLY DERIVED IN THE LAB AND TEND TO HAVE A LOWER RATING ON SKINDEEP.COM
Keep in mind this serum may not be good for dry skin. Lumene is not an expensive brand but it is cruelty free and I like it more than some of the fancy organic brands that I have tried. Most creams make me look oily and I end up avoiding them so this serum is light as if I didn't put anything on yet I feel it is very moisturizing.
LUMENE TIME FREEZE SERUM
LUMENE is a Finish Skin Care line that uses a lot of arctic berries and plants in their ingredients.  The products are also vegan friendly. 

I am currently adding a few drops of Carrot Seed Essential Oil (therapeutic grade) to my face creams and serums. It has an anti-ageing, anti-wrinkle effect. Great for dry skin, irritated skin. It can soothe rashes and eczema. It can lighten liver spots and if taken internally it has a diuretic and a liver cleansing effect. I am using it to boost my store-bought creams and serums. 


The second bottle of Lumene is being re-used for a Vitamin C serum and treatment that I make.   


Night time routine currently:
I take my make up off with Sea Buckthorn oil or a creamy make up remover. No brand worth mentioning here. Oils do just fine. Sometimes I use make up removing pads or a creamy soap after the oil cleansing to get the remains of the mascara off. 
Sea Buckthorn oil is a favorite of mine. I learned about it years ago from Tonya Zavasta- a gorgeous raw food and beauty author.  The oil is bright orange and that's part of why it is so good for your skin. However it will stain your sink :) 
SEA BUCKTHORN OIL

SEA BUCKTHORN OIL- BRIGHT COLOR

The color does absorb into your skin so if you just put a drop on your skin it will not stain your face. 
As a night time cream I am either using a heavier moisturizer or pure Argan oil, Rose hip oil, Shea butter that I order from Mountain Rose Herbs
LUMENE RETINOL NIGHT RECOVERY


OTHER CURRENT PRODUCTS I AM USING

SIBU HYDRATING SERUM AND ALVERDE CARROT CREAM
Thats my daily routine. Other honorable mentions are face brushing to exfoliate and improve circulation, jade stone massager, dermaroller, microdermabrasion and glycolic acid.

I am not using self tanners often but I do have a few by Lavera, Alba Botanica, etc. 
I use Alverde deodorant (not skin care but worth mentioning for the European readers that have access to this brand) 

Angelica Essential Oil for breast massage. It has hormone regulating properties and overall a good thing to add to your health care routine. 


Lavera tanner, angelica essential oil, Alverde deodorant. 
Although this is not related to skin care I have to mention this blush.  I have tried most of Larenim's blushes and this is hands down is the prettiest blush I have ever tried. It's very light and seamless yet it makes a huge difference.
Larenim Angel's
Let me know if you have any questions. And PLEASE do share things that work for you! 

LOVE AND BLESSINGS 

Saturday, March 15, 2014

DIY VITAMIN C ACTIVES MASK WITH ROSE WATER



This is a quick mask that can brighten and beautify your skin. 
PROPERTIES:
Anti-oxidents 
Can lighten dark spots
Vitamin C has a UV protective function
Anti-ageing 

INGREDIENTS:


L ASCORBIC ACID AND ROSE WATER MASK

L ascorbic acid powder (this form of vitamin C is used in the expensive name brand serums and it's proven to be most effective for topical use)
Rose Water
Aloe Gel (optional)
Glycerin (optional) 

Mix Half a teaspoon of the Vit C Powder with a dash of Rose Water or Pure Water or Aloe or Glycerin and apply for 5-10 minutes. If your skin is sensitive you might need to reduce the quantity of Vit C powder dramatically. I find that even in high concentrations it doesn't burn my skin but it's all personal so be mindful and don't burn yourself :) 


Rinse with water
Apply your serum.

BAM! DONE!

OM SHANTI OM 

Friday, March 7, 2014

What I ate in a day. Anti-inflammatory, antioxidant rich Liver & Kidney Flush Challenge




Good Morning Beauties,
I started a little challenge that I am excited to share with you in a few days. Its a 30 day morning liver and kidney flush. So first thing in the morning I made a power juice shot.
ORGANIC BEETS
CELERY, TURMERIC, CUCUMBER, BEETS, CILANTRO, ASPARAGUS, LEMON
YUMMY LIVER CLEANSE JUICE :)

TURMERIC JUICE
TURMERIC IS A GREAT ANTI-INFLAMMATORY FOR DOGS
GALANGAL
TURMERIC
TURMERIC & CARROTS


Today's teas were simple yet delicious and healing.
Orange peel tea made with the left over organic orange peels. Orange peel in Chinese medicine has been used for centuries to improve digestion, bloating, heartburn, GERD, HIGH CHOLESTEROL; also used as an anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and an immune system boosting herb. The essential oils contained in the peels is great for insomnia, depression, nervous tension and anxiety.
ORANGE PEEL STEEPING IN MY PAN

Later on I had some turmeric tea. Great for joint inflammation and a skin beautifier. Indian women have been traditionally using turmeric as a brightening face mask. I tried mixing turmeric and L ascorbic acid and resveratrol to make a turmeric Vitamin C treatment and I have to say that my hands turned yellow from handling it but my face did NOT. hehe :D
HEATING UP FRESH TURMERIC BLENDED WITH WATER AND ALMOND MILK


 A FEW HOURS LATER - BREAKFAST






 I mix cacao powder with coconut milk, mesquite powder and stevia and pour this over the frozen bananas. I had maybe 5-7 baby bananas.

Frozen Chocolate Bananas with Grated Coconut 




Some hours later I did a short but intense Interval Yoga Sequence. I had to run out of the house right after that. If I can, I make sure to eat within a few minutes of working out. Otherwise I feel it the next day.

Lunch
I went to one of the healthiest places in LA, Erehwon and picked up a salad.

GARLIC SPROUTS, PEA SHOOTS, GUACAMOLE SALAD

I put some green salsa on top, I think it was salsa verde and OH GOD! The heat got me! The top sprouts are garlic sprouts and they were more than delicious, underneath there are a bunch of pea greens and radish greens, mushrooms, lentils, guacamole, hemp seeds and chipotle dressing.
Later on I managed to make two stops at Whole foods and in Thai Town.




Driving through Hollywood.
SEVA MAPLE SAP WATER


This is the first time I have seen or heard of Maple Water from the Maple Tree Sap so I got a carton at Whole foods. It tastes pretty much like subtly sweet water with a slight maple aroma to it. Seva is a Canadian company that just started exporting it from what I can gather. It's said to be really healthy full of polyphenols, peptides, plant hormones, inulin (pre-biotics), amino acids. (BTW I am drinking it as I type this)


















I had a busy day and didn't get home till 5 which is Sofie's walk time. She practically kicked me out of the house with her leash in her mouth. ;)

DINNER TIME


2 CARTONS OF BLUEBERRIES BEFORE DINNER

MACRO CAM BLUEBERRY 

ORGANIC BLUEBERRIES

LEFT OVER FROM LUNCH SWEET POTATOES AND VEGGIES
ORGANIC ASPARAGUS AND CHERRY TOMATOES

ROASTED KABOCHA SQUASH WITH MUSTARD, SCALLIONS AND MINT.

I have also been loving raw brussel sprouts with dip. (no photo of the brussel sprouts- that's proof of how much I LOVE them :P )
This dip was a beautiful orange color. Made with tofu, coconut, aleppo peppers, carrots, turmeric, barberries.

Barberries are a new favorite superfood, super-herbal ingredient of mine. Very healing. Great for high cholesterol, epilepsy, high blood pressure; used as a liver cleanser, antibacterial, anti-hystamine (for allergies) and the list goes on and on. They are sweet and sour in flavor. Known as Zereshak in Persian cuisine. Persians use them to decorate and add sour flavor to rice dishes. It's also used in some Indian chutneys. Funny thing a lot of the indian chutneys remind me of my dip recipes haha :D



DRIED BARBERRIES 
For my Bulgarian readers I think the name in bulgarian is berberis (Berberis vulgaris)
 and it's been researched in Bulgaria as an effective treatment for rheumatism and inflammatory diseases. 


I think that was a lot of nourishing food for one day :D 

LOVE AND BLESSINGS 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

How to naturally exfoliate and brighten your complexion, diminish inflammation and acne for only a few cents



by VESELA SAVOVA


A yogi friend and fellow health, fitness and beauty blogger from Luxembourg Vesela Savova's post on beautiful skin.  

A HOMEMADE SKIN BEAUTIFIER THAT DOES WONDERS


Lemon tree




Lemons are an excellent source of vitamin C, one of the most important antioxidants in nature. And while vitamin C is important for the immune system (remember the hot tea with lemon and honey?), it also fights free radicals and can help reduce the aging signs of your skin. Lemons also have the most protein of all fruits and are high in collagen, the protein that gives structure to your skin.  Hello healthy looking skin!
So what can lemon do for your skin?
  • It diminishes scars and skin blemishes. The vitamin C can help the skin become more firm and strong.  Applying lemon juice on your skin can really reduce skin redness and pimples, as it brightens and lightens the skin. Its anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties fight pimple build up.
  • It can help win the acne battle. Skin experts believe that lemon juice can effectively remove blackheads and speed up the process of acne healing.
  • Lemon juice helps reduce wrinkles. The moisturising and toning effect of lemon juice can help reduce the wrinkles on your skin.
  • Exfoliate the skin naturally. The citric acid in lemons acts as a mild peel for the skin that removes the top layer of dead skin cells.
How to use lemon juice for skin care?   
VIEW FULL THE ARTICLE HERE

by Ali: In addition something I used to do is after juicing a lemon to rub the inside of the half of a lemon on the face and leave it for 5 minutes before rinsing your face. Stay out of the sun as lemons can increase your sensitivity to sunlight. 


ORANGE BLOSSOMS AND A BEE
Meyer Lemons that preserved in salt water for recipes

Mayer Lemons and Kumquats 


Sunday, February 23, 2014

What I eat in a day High Carb Vegan




Blog number 3 (I think) on What I eat in a day :)

Most of my food made it in the photos :)

Good morning Beautiful Yogis. The day here was bright and sunny. Sofie loves 15 minutes of sunbathing in the morning. She gets her vit D :) One other thing Sofie LOVES is kumquats (always cut and deseeded). I can't take a kumquat photo without her getting her little self ready to jack me out of my kumquat :)

My day started with Some Reishi "Coffee" Reishi Coffee Recipe Video HERE
BTW I have been getting a lot of questions in regards to knee pain. This recipe nourishes the kidneys which govern the knees in Chinese Medicine. Generally kidneys and knee pain is almost always related. So definitely check it out and if you can source the herbs indulge in its grounding, nourishing, earthy goodness.
I added cardamom and ginger to make it easy on the digestion. Rehmannia can be a bit heavy as its prepared traditionally in a reduction of wine and black bean juice. This is a deeply rebuilding herb that supports vitality and fertility, it can regulate the menstrual cycle and reduce inflammation.
Rehmannia, Reishi mushroom, astragalus, cardamom, ginger brew

After I left it simmering for a while I was ready to enjoy a few mugs.
Reishi coffee with hazelnut stevia and Dream Blends Hazelnut Cashew milk
The first brew is always bitter and intense and I have to add vegan milk to it. The subsequent brews are milder and I have them with no add ins.
I was working while drinking my reishi so an hour or two later I made some GREEN COFFEE as I was quitting black coffee.
Kumquats, Persimmons and Green Coffee with non dairy milk
Notice Sofie in the background. You couldn't script this if you tried to haha


FOR MY TAKE ON GREEN COFFEE, HOW TO QUIT COFFEE, HOW TO PREPARE IT AND THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF GREEN COFFEE YOU CAN CLICK here

Later on I had some baby bananas.

I am not sure why I prefer them over regular bananas but the taste is pretty close. The baby bananas seem to have a lower water content and taste more like banana bread, banana dessert or something. Also they are less hybridized.
On some days I have 5 of them (we split with Sofie of course) on others 15. Depends what quantity makes me feel satiated for the moment.

A big baby banana - size reference (Yes!! She thinks she is getting sum lol) 
I worked on a L Handstand & Legs Routine for 20 minutes. This workout was very intense and a ton of fun for the advanced yogis. I am hoping to shoot it this week and upload it as soon as I can. Then I made some of the celery lime drink from my chaturanga challenge class, the link to the class is here. A few of you asked for the ingredients so I remembered to photograph them.  If you want to join the chaturanga challenge this is the link to the video. There is nothing more important for arm balances than mastering chaturanga dandasana perfectly.
Cilantro or parsley, celery, jalapeno, lemon, garlic(optional) and some savory and other dried spices.  Blend with water!


A few hours later I had some of this stevia sweetened sparkling water.
SPREE with vitamin B12
Followed by some more Kumquats
Kumquats
This is how much she loves kumquats! She is all business around them.

Oh but she wants them!
She actually knows to never grab anything from the table, trash or grocery bags! Phew! 
Dinner time. As usual I had raw and steamed/roasted veggies and dip. Salad and dressing.
I made the best salad dressing ever! This was an incredible combination of flavors. I combined tangerines, kumquats, wasabi, chipotle, sesame seeds, tofu, flax seed, ginger, pomegranate seeds and a few more ingredients to make something that tastes out of this world. Recipe here


Some veggies and dip

Pumkin tofu dip

As a rule adding mashed pumpkin, peanut butter, carrots, tofu and sesame seed to dips makes them amazing. This dip was made with pumpkin, tofu, chipotle, cinnamon and a few other ingredients.

Sauteed (no oil) carrots for dipping. Glazed in orange, pomegranate molases base.
Glazed carrots (orange juice, pomegranate molases glaze)

Tofu tomato carrot dip with sumac and raw brussel sprouts

I ended up eating around 1500 calories and around 15% of the calories from fat. Why I don't eat more calories? I have changed how I train in the past 4 years quite a bit. I think I mentioned in my BIO that I used to teach up to 20 classes a week. Most of which were power yoga classes lasting an hour and a half. So I know quite a bit about being very physically active. I am a person that needs balance in certain areas of my life. Yes, certain areas only. Knowledge is off limits. There! I allow myself to be on the extreme side. Overall I follow what I consider for me a middle path. So if I eat 3000 calories as promoted by many health gurus then I will have to exercise more which is not optimal for me. I prefer to exercise enough to be fit, strong, flexible and balanced and that's not that much exercise. :) 
Why I dont believe in low sugar, low carb diets - that's a future post. I have eaten the same way pretty much since the age of 15. Meaning mostly fruits and veggies with some other additions such as beans, grains, nuts and seeds. Superfoods to me are a fad. Herbs however are Natures Superfoods! As far as dry powdered superfoods most of them are not bad for you but extremely overprised and of average health promoting efficacy compared to the local varieties of FRESH veggies and fruit in your area. Herbs however are a truly powerful medicine. I turn to Nature when I need to heal. I love herbs more than I love yoga. Sorry Yoga you are still my second biggest love :P Yoga is a way to connect with the human soul. Herbs are a way to connect with the soul of Mother Nature. They are the expression of her genius. 
Time to walk the little monkey!