Category Archives: Yoga and Health

Post-Detox Reflexions

While I was doing my detox, I had several reflections about food. I wrote some in a previous post, that you can read here. However, after completing this intense detox, my reflections continued. Because sure, you detox to eliminate toxins from your, to re-balance your system, re-balance your doshas and to have a general feeling of lightness (not to loose weight) and so… then what? What is left from your detox experience? How else has it served you and what can you apply to your daily habits?

So, I decided to share some of my post-detox reflexions with you:

– It’s not always about food. Taking a step back made me reflect about our attachment to food. And I love the social part of it: cooking while having a glass of wine and talking, sharing recipes, etc. I just needed this experience to realise how much of my life revolved around food, and that is o.k.

– I appreciate the small things even more than before: my cup of coffee in the morning, a glass of wine, cheese. And these things are not to be completely eliminated (ever!!! Ahaha). Actually, most people might have found the detox or the diet requirements I am still on very difficult to maintain. But the truth is, they were not very far from my normal eating habits. So, yes, coffee, wine, and cheese were the harder ones to let go (and for now to reduce).

– I realise when I am full, or when I am satisfied. I am not a fast eater, which allows my body to know when I have had enough. But, after the detox, I feel like I have slowed down even more. As for wine, I seem to also have slowed down, enjoying every sip, and also realising when I have had enough: just simple awareness and appreciation.

-I don’t get in a bad mood because I get hungry. I used to wake up and right after brushing my teeth, I would make breakfast because I needed to eat within the first 30 minutes, otherwise I would get cranky. My meditation practice has changed this lately (10-20mins before breakfast) and my recent detox included additional morning rituals: pranayama, oil massages, tongue scraping etc etc. I do not get frustrated because I get hungry, I just acknowledge the feeling and am more patient.

Has anyone else done a detox before and had similar or different experiences or reflexions?

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Detachment From Food

I have been feeling low energy and very tired, even when I sleep 10 hours a night. I saw my Ayurvedic doctor and she recommended I do a detox to balance out my kapha dosha, which is very high right now and shouldn’t be.

The detox’s total length is 5 days, plus another month during which I have to avoid certain foods. On the first day, I was getting familiar with the supplements I needed to take, and doing groceries (which was hard when you can’t eat most of it and your husband wants everything in the store!). I also started cooking the basic recipes I was sent. The first day went well overall. I had a few moments when I would open the fridge and see the beautiful, red strawberries right in my face and had to avoid them (ahaha).

On the second day however, after certain morning rituals (regular ones and also others appointed by my doctor), I made the second pancake recipe I was given. The maca pancakes were absolutely horrible, I literally spat out the pancake and couldn’t eat it. I felt bad throwing the batter out, but even after trying to “fix” the recipe, it just didn’t come out right.

And so, on this second day, I started thinking a lot about food, and my relationship with it. I made 3 salads for my husband, and some mashed potatoes, and took out some meat (which I don’t care about because I don’t eat it anyway). It was weird not tasting the potato mash to make sure that the salt and pepper were ok, or to make a salad and not grab a small bite of tomato or cucumber.

Then I started thinking… about how much of my day revolves around food. Maybe this is because I work from home, so it is always around me: I always have a cup of coffee or tea with me, and enjoy baking between translations or editions I am working on. So I started calculating and realised that I spend so much time looking for (or at) food recipes online, grocery shopping, organising food for the week, making new recipes, adjusting old ones, changing ingredients to make healthier versions of everything, taking photos to post on Instagram or on my blog, having meetings at coffee shops, post-workout smoothies in between meals… I mean, the list just goes on and on.

DETACHMENT
So my second day, is all about detachment: opening up the fridge and seeing the strawberries right in front of me, not being able to have one, and not letting it affect me or my mood whatsoever. Detachment is also what yoga teaches us after all, is it not? The practice of acknowledging certain thoughts and feelings, but not going deeper into them, and being able to let them go. Maintaining our state of inner peace, or of inner contentment no matter what external events.

I normally get into a bad mood when I am hungry, I sometimes cannot control it. On another day, those horrible pancakes I tried to make this morning would have made me angry or frustrated. I had been up for over an hour (doing my other rituals such as tongue scraping, cleaning my sinus, oil body massage, pranayama exercises, my daily meditation practice etc, etc). But no, I did not get mad at the pancakes, or at myself, for tasting horrible. I did not get desperate when I saw the bananas on the counter and couldn’t have one to just calm myself and the hungry down. Instead, I made the other pancake recipe I am allowed to have this week, it took me double the time to make breakfast, and in the end, I enjoyed it.

So far, not being able to have the food in the kitchen (it does help that I am avoiding opening up the huge cabinet will all the delicious stuff I can’t have), or not being able to prepare and eat food I make, or just the fact that I am on a mono-diet and eat the same thing every day, has made me appreciate the simplicity in what I am eating, as well as the extra time I have to do other things (like writing this long blog article).

We will see how things go on my third day. My craving for cooking is kicking in, but I do get to cook a new recipe for the last days of my detox.

I will keep you posted and follow my Instagram stories for more insights on my day-to-day detox experience @lacholaahabibii

Anyone else ever done an Ayurvedic detox? Any tips, thoughts, or comments you would like to share?

Thank you for reading

Namaste

Feeling the Difference: 40 days of meditation.

“Our emotions, moods, and bad character traits are just temporary and circumstantial elements of our nature” (Matthieu Ricard “The Art of Meditation”, p.13).

My story with Meditation

It took me quite a while to get my meditation practice going. When I did my yoga teacher training in 2016, we had meditation every day and I found it so challenging. Sometimes, I would leave early, I felt uncomfortable seated for so long, I was bored, etc. After the training, I was not motivated to maintain this practice and I left it aside for several months.

So then, in February, after organising my first yoga retreat (to read more about it, click here), one of the girls was using Headspace. Every day she took 20 minutes aside, she had brought her own meditation pillow, and would put her big headphones on. I admired her for being so determined and dedicated to her practice. She seemed so blissful and mentioned how she absolutely loves it.

Thinking back, I realised that meditation had been surrounding me for years. So I started to wonder: why haven’t I been able to really practice it?

My trip to Nepal and Bhutan was coming up, where I would learn more about Buddha and his teachings, visit monasteries and temples, and be surrounded by a culture completely different from my own. I used this as my excuse, or maybe my motivation, to really try meditating.

I re-downloaded Headspace (I had done it before, so I tried it again) and did the free 10-day trial. Although 10 days is a nice way to initiate yourself to meditation, I knew that having the membership would help keep me going. Having a tool like this one makes it easier to keep the practice constant, especially when it is not a habit yet.

Now, I can say that I am on my meditation journey, and every day I learn something new.

Small meditation facts

First of all, meditation is NOT trying to blank out your thoughts. Let’s face it, that is impossible.

As athletes train the body and muscles, every single one of us can train our brains. Meditation is a practice that teaches you how to “re-program and re-wire your mind”. It is scientifically proven that different parts of our brains (like the hippocampus, the amygdala and the prefrontal cortex for instance) are al positively affected by a regular meditation practice. Repeated thoughts and actions create circuits in our brain that allow for the brain’s function and structure to change.

With only 20 minutes a day, you can feel benefits like reduced stress and anxiety, reduced tendency towards anger, and increased attention, emotional balance, and inner peace.

Differences I have noticed after 40 days of daily meditation

  • I am more relaxed, calm
  • I am not so easily affected by situations, people, or things around me.
  • Perspective
  • A more positive attitude towards everything.

If after only 40 days I can already observe these little changes…. what will it be like in another 40 days? or in a year? I will keep you posted!

Have you meditated before? Share your experiences in the comments below 🙂

Check out my instagram account @lacholaahabibii for a contest to win a 1 month voucher for Headspace.

4 Restorative Yoga Poses

I have selected 4 restorative yoga postures that can be done on a yoga mat or on your bed. They are a great to calm the nervous system down, and also to help your muscles and tissues recuperate.

The sequence lasts about 25 minutes and will relax your body and your mind. It is perfect do to right before going to sleep, or after running (or any other physical activity!)

What you need: bolsters or pillows (make you as comfortable as possible so use many!), soothing music, any incense or essential oils to burn while you relax (optional).

What you do NOT need: your cell phone. Put it on airplane mode or turn it off.

Balasana (Supported child pose)

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–> Bring your toes together, open you knees mat width apart. Place a bolster or a few pillows so you can lay on them (like in the picture). Place another pillow between your heels and your gluteal muscles. You can bring your arms along each side of the bolster, or towards the back like in the photo, whatever is more comfortable. Stay 2 minutes and then turn your head to the other side. 

Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclined goddess pose)

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–> Bring the soles of your feet together. Fold both pillows in two and place one under each knee for support. Lay down on your back and place your left hand on your heart, and your right hand on your belly. Stay here for 3-4 minutes. Make your exhales twice as long as your inhales.

Supta Matsyendrasana (Supine Spinal Twist)

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–> Hug your knees to your chest and slightly bring them to one side. If needed, you can place a pillow between your legs. Stretch out the opposite arm. You can turn your neck towards the stretched arm, or keep it straight. Hold this posture for about 3-4 minutes on each side. 

Viparita Karani (Legs up the wall)

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–> Place a pillow under your lower back and bring your feet up the wall. You can place your hands on your belly, or on the side of your body. This posture is ideal especially after a marathon: it will help your blood flow, and eliminate the lactic acid from your muscles. Keep your legs up the wall for 8-10 minutes.

Good night! ZzzZZzzZZzzz

Yoga and Travel

This is a hard one. I wish there was a secret formula I could share with you and then everyone could just practice anywhere and every day.

Even when I am back home, it can sometimes be tricky to maintain a constant, regular, daily yoga practice. Sometimes 2 hours go by so quickly, it feels like i have been practicing for only 20 minutes. Other days, those first 20 minutes feel like two hours. Having a daily yoga practice just has to become part of your day, like brushing your teeth. But that is always easier said than done.

When traveling, it can be even harder to maintain a constant yoga practice. There are many factors that can affect this: Early flights, late nights, jet lag, lack of a space (for example, super small hotel rooms, no outdoor spaces, too visible/public space).

During this trip, I tried to find tricks that would help me maintain a daily yoga practice. Here, I have decided to share the ones that helped me the most:

  • When you arrive at your hotel, ask where the common areas/terraces are. You can also just go explore and search for an area yourself that would be good for your practice. For instance, this space might have a view, or be free of people, it could also be indoors or outdoors. This all really depends on what you want.
  • Make a small daily objective. For this trip, this was mine: 5 sun salutations a day. That way, if I was short on time, it was very feasible. And some days, I would do a longer practice.
  • Choose a time of the day that you know will not be too occupied. Mornings are probably the best since you have the whole day to explore afterwards. But if you are taking a tour and know you will be back at your hotel around 4pm, this could also be a good time.

The idea here is to move your body, keep stretching and not letting that extra fascia set into your body. It is also great for your mind, and to keep the connection between both.

Since I travel so much, I need a yoga mat that I can fold up and carry along with me anywhere I go. Mine comes from Halfmoon Yoga, and it is thin, light and perfect to fit in a suitcase or backpack. I even hesitated to bring it on a few hikes, and regretted not having it when I got there. So really, there is NO reason to NOT bring this one along!

What are your yoga and travel tips? Please share any you may have!

4 Post-Running Yoga Poses

It’s true, sometimes we may not have the time to stretch after a run. Or we want to just hop in the shower and go to work, or eat, or start the day. Sometimes, life gets in the way of stretching and it is left aside to be done later and then, later never comes.

I cannot stress enough the importance of stretching when you are running/working out frequently (or even daily).

The muscles, as well as the muscle tissues need to be stretched. It is important to free our body of the lactic acid that is created when we exercise/run and to release any tension.

Here are my top 4 (standing) stretches I like to do after a run and when I am short on time:

  1. Side Body Stretch: Reach your hands up towards the sky, interlace your fingers as you breathe in. On your exhale, stretch towards the left (or right). Repeat this on the otherside and interlace your fingers the other way (the way that feels Weird/funny). Repeat this 2-3 times.
Side body stretch
Side body stretch

2. Wide legged forward fold: Open your legs wider than your shoulders. Lower your hands to the ground if you can, but make sure your back is straight and that your shoulders are back. Hold this for 3 Longhorns breaths.  Then, let gravity do it’s magic and release your upper body, let your arms and torso dangle. You may also grab the opposite elbows and swing lightly from side to side.

Wide legged forward fold
Wide legged forward fold

3. Pyramid pose: Place one leg in front of the other, at about shoulder distance, with all of your toes pointing forward. Keep your legs straight, and start lowering your chest towards your chin. Make sure you keep your back straight as well, and that your hips are facing forward. Do not worry so much about touching your toes, instead, focus on your hamstrings getting the stretch they deserve!

Pyramid pose
Pyramid pose

4. Garland Pose: This one I do ALL THE TIME. The Yogi squat is really great for the inner thighs and for the hips. Make sure there is a double movement between your legs and your arms. As your elbows push your legs to open more, your legs also push back into your arms. Your back must also be straight and your chest open. Putting your hands in prayer will help in this position.

Malasana Garland Pose
Malasana Garland Pose

There are a TON of other poses that can be done after a run. What are some of your favourites?

Stay tuned for my top 4 Yin Yoga inspired post run poses.