Healthy Halloween Rice Krispy Treats

Eating healthy on Halloween can be tough. It’s hard not to buy those big bags of candy bars at the store filled with Caramilk, Twix, Kit Kat, all the good ones! One of my favorite treats on Halloween are rice krispy squares. They are so moist and crunchy at the same time! But, marshmallows and a ton of sugar don’t help your waistline at all.

So, instead of loading up on tons of sugar and calories, I’ve got a great recipe for you. It’ll satisfy your sweet tooth, it combines chocolate and peanut butter (you can’t beat that) and you won’t feel like you are denying yourself any treats on the most treat-filled day of the year! Everyone loves rice krispies, they are easy to make, and these ones can be homemade with healthy, organic ingredients and NO marshmallows! What! How does that happen? Oh it does, and its still incredibly satisfying and delicious. So, without further adieu here is my Healthy Chocolate Peanut Butter Rice Krispy Treats!

HEALTHIER CHOCOLATE & PEANUT BUTTER RICE KRISPIES TREATS
PREP TIME
COOK TIME
TOTAL TIME
A healthier version of chocolate-topped peanut butter Rice Krispies treats made without any marshmallows at all.
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 16
INGREDIENTS
  • 3 cups puffed rice cereal
  • ½ cup natural peanut butter
  • Pinch salt
  • ½ cup rice malt syrup (honey or agave will also work, but will lend a different flavor)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 250g milk, semisweet or dark chocolate (your choice, or a mix!), chopped
  • 1 tablespoon natural peanut butter
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Grease and line an 8×8-inch baking tin.
  2. Place cereal in a large bowl and set aside. In a small saucepan, combine peanut butter, salt, rice malt syrup and vanilla. Heat gently and stir until thoroughly combined and melted.
  3. Pour the peanut butter mixture over the cereal and stir until all the cereal is coated.
  4. Transfer the peanut butter cereal to the prepared tin and spread out evenly. Place a piece of parchment paper on top of the cereal and use another pan, or your hands, to flatten the top.
  5. Place the tin in the refrigerator to set for around 30 minutes.
  6. Near the end of the 30 minutes, place the chopped chocolate and 1tbsp peanut butter in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of gently simmering water (water should be about 1-inch high and the bowl should not touch the water), ensuring no water comes in contact with the chocolate mixture. Stir occasionally until melted and smooth.
  7. Take the peanut butter cereal from the refrigerator, pour the melted chocolate on top and smooth the surface. Return to the refrigerator for another 30 minutes or until chocolate is set.
  8. Cut into squares with a sharp knife, cleaning the knife after each cut.
  9. Store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator; let them warm up to room temperature to soften up the chocolate before serving, if desired.

Thanksgiving Quickie Fat Blast Holiday Workout

There is always a thin line during the holidays of maintaining your healthy lifestyle, including your diet and workout plan, but still being able to enjoy yourself and spend time with the people you love.  I know that for a lot of my clients its really tough to still eat well and have a large spread in front of them, candied yams calling your name! I also can attest to the fact that I have had many an anxious phone call from clients, mostly along the lines of “I won’t have time to do my workout all weekend!” First and foremost, relax. You won’t gain 20 lbs in one weekend or lose your nicely toned 6 pack in one weekend, save for maybe a little water weight, which can come off easily in the days following the feasting. In addition, there is no possible way that I would ever tell someone to forego spending time with your family so that they can pound it out on the treadmill or get to the gym. During the holidays, please remember, we are North Americans after all, and for the most part, we work, A LOT. I personally know that means that we don’t spend as much time with the people we love as we can and its these moments that you are going to remember, and not want to regret, because you were at the gym.

So, whats the fix? Well, HIIT is probably your best bet. A quick, at-home, fat blast workout that will help you sweat it out so you don’t feel guilty, but also you don’t have to spend 30 minutes getting ready to go to the gym, getting there, doing your workout, coming home, etc. forget it! If you are like me, and cooking a turkey dinner, then you also don’t have time for this. So, here it is! A Thanksgiving workout, be thankful and grateful and most importantly, have a wonderful time with your loved ones this weekend.

Thanksgiving Fat Blast Workout

Warm up
25 body weight squat
20 hip thrust on bench or chair
20 reverse lunges
15 track start toe taps each leg
10 jump squats / modification: plié squats
5 burpees/ modification: walk out up/downs
4 T stand push-ups
20 hip thrusts on bench or chair
3 plank jacks / modification: 6 plank hold leg lift
2 burpees
1 30 seconds plank hold
Main Set
10 body weight squat lunge squat
10 walking push-ups
30 seconds plank hold
10 static lunge each leg
10 tricep dips (on bench or chair)
30 seconds plank hold
10 reverse lunge karate kick
10 push up with leg lift bum squeeze each leg
30 seconds plank hold
20 bum up leg lift each side
10 one arm tricep push-ups each side
20 side plank dips each side
10 single leg bridge each side
10 plank jack/modification: plank hold and reach forward
30 seconds each side plank hold
20 fire hydrants each side
10 frog legs
25 dead bugs
25 V sits
25 starfish
25 straight leg pulse
10 plank hold reach forward

STRETCH!

Pumpkin Spice Latte Pilates and Yoga

Occasionally, when I am meeting a client for the first time they will be slightly skeptical about how possible it is to get a great kickass workout purely from Yoga and Pilates moves. By the end of the first session, they quickly change their tune. On top of the physical benefit, they also feel better. Because in one hour they raise their heart rate, work on their mobility, challenge their stability, and increase their flexibility, with no pain. Yoga and Pilates also works to detox the body and increase your metabolism by wringing out the organs and increasing blood flow and lubrication to the joints. On top of all of this, you activate your glutes and your core, which helps spine health and works to give you a killer 6 pack and bubble butt without killing your knees your or low back in the gym. Still skeptical? Here’s a Jax approved workout that incorporates simple moves you can do at home. Try it this this weekend and burn off some pumpkin spice lattes while also increasing mobility, stability, and flexibility.

Warm up

20 hip thrusts (no weight! do these on a bench or chair with proper positioning and then you can add some light weight)

20 down dog to plank

10 each side downdog to plank with leg lift (same as above but lift one leg up while you are in downdog as if going in to pidgeon pose and then pull your knee in to your chest as you slide in to plank and then drive back again in to downdog)

10 sun salutations with chair pose progressions (Move from sun salutation standing directly in to chair pose and then again into Standing Forward Fold (Uttanasana) and then back in to the sun salutation sequence)

30 seconds plank hold

10 of each side donkey kicks (maintain neutral spine and keep hips stabilized (parallel to the floor throughout the exercise, including the lift…this should be quite challenging!)

10 T stand push ups

10 floor angels  (keep low back flat and make sure you maintain abdominal brace throughout)

10 bird dog each side (you can choose to hold a pilates ball or put on ankle weights to make this weighted)

30 seconds side plank hold each side

10 each side fire hydrant

10 dead bug to reverse crunch

20 hip thrusts

20 downdog to plank flow

10 downdog to plank with leg lift

Pilates side leg series (hip stability here is the most important)

10 plank hold leg lift bum squeeze

10 sun salutations

STRETCH!

There you have it. You can repeat this a couple of times if you like or not. This is just an example of a quickie Yoga/Pilates workout that would be a typical session. It’s really important that when you are trying out these moves for the first time you do them properly and establish the correct patterns in your movement so that as you progress, you are progressing properly. You should feel a lot of this stuff but you should feel it in the right places, not the wrong ones. Hip stability and core and glute activation is the goal! I love this workout because you can do it in your living room on a random afternoon or evening. It’s so great for rehab as well as for overall conditioning. So, go grab a pumpkin spice latte, your yoga mat, and get to it!

 

Glow From the Inside Out

Lifestyle is extremely important when it comes to healthy skin. Your skin’s ability to react to outside stress, sun damage, and your environment (city vs country life) relies a lot more on your daily choices than your daily sunscreen or skin creams.

Everyone spends crazy amounts of money, or at least some, on the latest anti-aging cream or gel, botox, cosmetic surgery, the works! This is how the medical and pharmaceutical world not only makes its money but also see’s the general population; eager for the next easy fix. However, its not so easy. Your face isn’t just your face. It is your liver, kidneys, heart, blood cells, blood vessels; everything is interconnected and that is not something you can change (there are no loop holes!). That being said, glowing skin and your skin health are related to the same things that will help your heart, control your weight, control your hormones, lower your risk of obesity, heart disease, cancer, and lung disease among other things. You need to exercise, get enough sleep, ditch the junk food, and cut back on the booze. If any aspect of your health is suffering, it means your body as a whole is suffering, including your skin! So, how do we help? Well, as one famous philosopher once said, “let food be thy medicine.” Here are some of my favorite skin improving, glow inducing, beauty foods.

1. Chia Seeds – super rich in omega 3 acids, which help production of collagen and elasticity of your cells. Omega 3′s help with wrinkles and keep you well hydrated!

2. Coconut Oil – great for both internal and external organs (yes, your skin is an organ!). Coconut oil is anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, a natural spf, and a great natural moisturizer.

3. Carrots – A huge source of vitamin A from carotenoids. This helps the over production of cells, which can lead to clogged pores and wrinkles. Carrots also have a tendency to give you a semi-orange glow if you eat enough! The real natural fake tan!

 
4. Olive Oil – Omega 6 fatty acids, which keeps the skin moist and supple. Do not use in cooking though! Olive oil has a low smoke point and should not be heated.

5. Almonds – Natures Vitamin E. This anti-oxidant protects against sun damage. Almonds also help maintain a healthy weight, they are filled with good fats and boost metabolism! Have only one handful a day.

6. Blueberries – Filled with flavanoids, which prevent ageing by protecting the body from free radical harm. Also delicious frozen.

7. Grapefruit – Any citrus is great as its a wonderful source of vitamin C, which prevents cancer, as well as acne, and oily skin. Grapefruit is also cellulite busting! However, please be careful and talk to your doctor before consuming grapefruits as they could interact with a number of medications.

Banana a day Keeps the Doc Away

“A banana a day will keep the sadness away!” I didn’t really think anything of this quote, until I started to focus more of my research on nutrition. Whether or not this person knew it, what they said is actually partially true. Bananas are a great source of many nutrients and the combination of some of these do help to make you “feel better.” How does this work? Well, bananas are the only fruit that contain the amino acid tryptophan and vitamin B6 together. In combination, these two nutrients help to produce serotonin, which is a naturally produced hormone in the body that helps to alleviate mental stress.

To help you relax even more, you can sleep easy at night knowing that bananas are also one of the best sources of potassium and an awesome source of energy! They are great for both pre and post workout energy and are delicious; they are a great alternative to traditional desserts. With sales at around 100 billion bananas per year, they sit in the Top 5 most consumed agricultural products in the world.

Some great ways to have your na-na’s are:

- On your oats in the morning

- With a little organic peanut butter or hazelnut butter for dessert (rolled in fresh coconut or cacao nibs is outta this world!)

-  Chopped up, frozen, and then used to make green nana ice cream in a food processor

- In a smoothie with kale or spinach, your favourite protein powder, ground flax, chia seeds, and coconut water

Here is my favourite seasonal banana ice cream recipe (with pumpkin!!!)

Pumpkin Pie Banana ice cream

3 chopped and frozen bananas

1/2 cup pumpkin purée (fresh made or canned but be sure not to buy pumpkin pie filling!)

1/8 cup full fat coconut milk

1 tbsp pumpkin pie spice

Optional: tbsp of raw honey or maple syrup to sweeten it up

Directions:

Put it all in a food processor and process until smooth and creamy! You can also top with maple syrup and crushed pecans. For a chocolate antioxidant omega kick add cacao nibs! Enjoy!

 

Revisited: Modern Meditation For Daily Life

Meditation has always meandered the line between physical and spiritual. While detachment can be a nice idea, it usually only lasts until the rent is due, the baby is sick, your boyfriend/girlfriend won’t text you back, your pay cheque is late, etc. While enlightenment is a beautiful thought, it can get lost in the 24/7 shuffle that is modern life.
It’s a balancing act that puts you in an odd predicament. So what do you do?
Well, the first step is to realize that it has always been this way. There has always been a struggle between even the basic need for food and housing and the desire for spiritual enlightenment. In fact, 2,500 years ago, those seeking enlightenment still had to worry about food and water and a place to sleep—only then, the lack of food and clean water was a much more immediate concern than it is for most today. And beyond this, lets not forget about all of our first world problems, which relatively speaking, can be quite large ordeals in our everyday life. Even I get upset when the line at Jimmy’s is too long in the morning for me to get my AM roast.
So, how has meditation evolved? Well, our concerns aren’t limited to the sight line of a village anymore, but they have expanded to the global village we now live in.
This is why meditation, like all things, has evolved to become modern. Modern meaning, we can still practice it today, reach out and adapt mediation to fit our own needs and lifestyle (including the line up at Jimmy’s).
Even if  you’re not doing it perfectly, you can gain from the practice. So, what the heck am I talking about and what does all this mean?
Well, it means that modern meditation isn’t just for the Yogi, eating at the vegan restaurant down the street, its for you too! And not only that, it will also be highly beneficial for you too, if you’re just willing to do four simple things…
1. Take a breath. 
Do not worry if you’re doing it right or not, just take a long, slow, deep breath. Allow yourself to feel the calm flowing into you, expanding you, surrounding you. I like to imagine this as a blue light, filling my every being with relaxing, cooling, calm.
Your parasympathetic nervous system will take this as a sign to relax. Your mind will see it as an opportunity to quiet your brain. Simply allow yourself to slow down for five minutes and breathe. That is the start to any meditation practice.
2. Give yourself permission to stop. 
That’s right, before you can stop you have to give yourself permission to stop.  Simple, but not easy. Just keep at it, whenever a distraction comes up, acknowledge it and let it go. This way you can become aware of the world around you. Give thanks and appreciate what you hear, smell, taste and feel, before you continue on with your day.
3. Let it go. 
I say this all the time and to everyone. Whatever you are loading onto your back, whatever you are dragging from room to room, whatever you are carrying with you, just set it down and let it go. Emotions, fears, comments others have said, LET IT GO. That is just your 40,000 year-old brain doing what it does. It’s time for you to take over and LET IT GO. This is the hardest part. I like to imagine putting all those things in to one of those lanterns they light in Thailand, and letting it go up in to the sky, past the stratosphere, never coming to my world again.
4. Fill it with love.  
Whatever you let go, don’t leave the space that is left behind empty. Remember to fill it up with something or your brain will fill it up all on its own. Love is always a good place to start.  It may sound pedantic, but every time you start to put someone down, every little comment you make to yourself, every spiteful thought that comes to mind is a seed you plant. Stop yourself from those thoughts and plant a little seed of love. They add up quickly and grow even quicker. Also, Karma and The Secret is real. Negative thoughts, feelings, and actions will breed and manifest negative thoughts, feelings, and actions. Positivism will always produce greater results.
That’s it.
Four simple steps to creating your own path to your own enlightenment; one that will happen right here, right now. Not in the next lifetime. Not by shooting energy from the top of your head.
It will happen in a car, in a bus, at the beach, on the street. It will happen in your everyday life. I know. It has happened in mine in that line at Jimmy’s; and that is Modern Meditation.

My 4 Day Juice Cleanse with Greenhouse Juice Co. Review

In my life, I have done a variety of “cleanses.” I am the girl who has done the juice cleanse, the cabbage soup cleanse, the master cleanse, the water cleanse, the cucumber cleanse, name it and I have done it. For the most part, I try it out of curiosity and not really because I have any sort of weight specific goal. To be honest, if I want to lose weight, I usually just decrease my carbohydrate intake significantly, increase protein, drink a ton of water, 6 small meals a day, stop eating  4 hours before bedtime, the usual prescription. Oh, and if you wanted the secret to rapid weight loss, there you have it! Hard work, persistency, and consistency go a long way.

So, why am I doing this juice cleanse now? Well, first of all, the lovely people over at GOOP approved this particular brand of juice, and since Gwenyth is the celebrity go to for health and diet, I figured if I am going to do ANY sort of juice cleanse since my last one (which was terrible), it would have to be Greenhouse juice Co. I also really love that their juice is cold pressed, which means all of the valuable antioxidants are kept intact since no heat is used to press the juice. On top of that, their cleanse program is A LOT better than most on the market, they include an E3 live shot, alkaline water, and aloe vera.  All things that are not usually included in most juice cleanses in Toronto, and all things that are super important for maintaining a healthy GI during a juice cleanse.  For the purpose of comparison, and because not all juice cleanses are created equally, the last juice cleanse I did was the Total Cleanse. I did it for three days and I felt  as if I would faint most of the time (seeing stars on the stairs up to the bedroom does not make for the picture of health, per se) my blood sugar levels were out of control, and the juice was all given to me on the same day, and not very fresh (they have no guarantees when it is made and the girl at the front desk couldn’t give me an answer). I also encouraged a friend to do it at the same time, and her juice was rancid so she didn’t even end up following through, she threw it out and went on living her life. So, I am hoping for a better experience this go around.  So, what I thought I would do is share my experience, the bare bones truth of it, with you.

I said goodbye to food on my two days before the cleanse by eating lots of fresh vegetables and lean protein (sashimi salad is so delicious). I should also be as candid as possible in that I am doing this cleanse while confined to my bed. I sprained my ankle and what better time to do a juice cleanse then when you can’t cook or clean, it’s a long weekend, you can’t leave bed, you are in pain, and you are sleeping for most of the days. Seriously, I didn’t think I would be able to maintain 4 days on juice with my normal lifestyle, at least not after my last experience. Please note, this is also something one should consider before they embark on such a cleanse. Make sure you aren’t about to run a marathon or something like that.

My cleanse starts with a two day pre-cleanse, which is essential to help your body get ready and not shock it by all of a sudden only consuming liquids. I am basically following the same diet for two days, frozen fruit and raw plant based protein smoothies (spinach, almond milk 1 scoop sun warrior protein, frozen banana), green salads (arugula, cucumber, watercress, spinach), steamed kale, lots of lemon water, and green tea in excess (its just so good!). This isn’t very hard for me to maintain and I actually love eating raw fruit and vegetables in the summer, it always makes me feel so much lighter! I recommend this to anyone before starting their own cleanse, it will make their juice experience A LOT easier!

Day 1 Juice Cleanse:
I start at 8am with the Clean-Zing juice and its incredibly spicy! The liquid cayenne literally burns my mouth and I possibly look like I just had lip injections but it tastes good otherwise. This  juice actually tastes exactly like the master cleanse, which I have done in the past. I usually start my day with alkaline water with lemon and cayenne (no maple syrup though) so I am used to this. I also have a big mug of green tea. The rest of the day goes pretty smoothly. I have never had an E3 live shot before and I actually liked the energy boost I got from it immediately after; it also doesn’t taste as bad as I had predicted it would.  I must say that raw aloe doesn’t taste very good, but the almond milk on the menu is the BEST I have ever had and could easily be mistaken for a vanilla milkshake or melted down hagen dasz vanilla bean ice cream. WOW. I am counting down the hours until my almond milk for tomorrow.
The  last juice of the day, alkaline water with chia was actually incredibly filling and I am glad I was able to get some fiber and omega 3’s in my body on this cleanse. Like I said earlier, since most juice cleanses don’t have this included it is a welcome part of the detox and so good for your hair, nails, skin, and circulatory system. This juice cleanse is unique in that they provide all the basic macro nutrients for you so that your body isn’t missing anything, I love this part so much and it was one of the reasons I chose Greenhouse for my detox.
photo (16)
All in all, the day was good. I am so glad that I did my pre-cleanse as it readied my body for the days ahead and the first day wasn’t so bad. No fainting spells, no stars, and my blood sugar never went wacky on me! I think a huge reason for this is that none of the juices have too much fruit and are mostly vegetable based, this is really important because although fruit is great for you, the sugar in fruits can mess with your blood sugar levels, especially if you aren’t eating too much protein or fiber to help level it off.  I went to sleep eager for the next day ahead.

Day 2
Still totally fine and I have enough energy to do a core workout and mat Pilates that my ankle is allowing (along with crutching around the house, which is an insane workout in itself). As always, I look forward to the almond milk part of the day and although I miss the texture of food and chewing, I think I can get by for a couple of days. I am noticing that I am sweating a lot though, and a little bit backed up. I decide to make myself some peppermint ginger tea (fresh mint leaves, ginger, lemon, hot water, maple syrup), not only to help with the inflammation from my ankle but also to help with my GI. I was kind of tired today but it wasn’t that bad, I am actually really enjoying this cleanse. I debate if this is something I could also do in the winter, during the cold weather. The jury is still out on that one.

Day 3
I have lots of energy. I am not really missing food at all and I love the structure and schedule of this juice cleanse. My whole life I have really responded well to structures and schedules; having something on the menu every 2-3 hours gives me that. If you have food control issues or an eating disorder I could also see how this could either go either very well or very badly. At the end of the day, I won’t lie, I miss having food to chew so badly! I wish I could eat an apple or something crunchy but I promise myself not to break the juice cleanse! The chia water helps because the little seeds are almost like tapioca balls in my mouth. I chew on those. One more day to go, but really, this is not difficult at all. I can’t believe I even wasted my time doing the Total Cleanse. Greenhouse is much better.

Day 4
This is the best day yet, which is strange. On the last cleanse, I was half dead by the third day and my boyfriend almost made me quit. Now, I am on day 4 and sort of sad that it’s my last day. I even cook chicken and make a chickpea salad for him for dinner and I have no desire to eat it at all. All I want is my juice, and I get excited as the clock ticks to 3pm, which is almond milk time. Now I am regretting only doing 4 days and I wish I had done 5 or 7 instead.  At the end of this last day I am a little hungrier than the other days but I have some lemon water before bed that I make myself as well as some peppermint tea and the hunger goes away. I am going to miss the almond milk, that’s for sure. I feel absolutely incredible, light, and full of energy. I am so glad I could continue with my mat Pilates workouts as well and maintain my energy levels.

Final thoughts
Honestly, on day 5 and day 6 I wished that I had continued the cleanse for a full 7 days. I never thought I could feel so good only consuming juice, especially after my terrible experience with the last one and the state of my swollen ankle. The entire menu by Greenhouse is so perfect that your body can keep running and you can keep fueling yourself with the proper nutrients despite not eating “normal” meals. I really think that this cleanse also made me a lot more focused, less emotional, less moody, I went to sleep earlier and woke up earlier, I was more productive during the day, I looked forward to not only the juices but also the E3 live shot and the raw aloe, my skin is softer, my eyes are whiter, and I feel all around great. I was backed up for a little while but that all changed and it all came out. My stomach is totally flat despite it being that time of the month (females can understand this HUGE positive), and I also experienced NO PMS! This is a huge thing for me. I am not sure if it was the detox that did this but it must have been; I haven’t had a PMS free month since I was 15.

I think if you are someone who is looking to detox your body, if you find you are drinking too much, maybe eating out too much, or just generally not feeling great, this is something that you should consider. You don’t have to do 4 days like I did. I think 1-3 days is a great start for anyone. I also think that transitioning in to this cleanse is very important. I am so thankful that I took two days to only eat veggies and fruits before jumping in to just juice and shocking my system totally. I also took two days after the cleanse to do the same thing. I read and did a lot of research and coming off a juice detox is the most important part of it. You don’t want to hurt yourself or your stomach by going right back to eating junk or consuming too much, too fast. Coming off the cleanse I was almost sad to leave it. I looked forward to those juices every day and I still find myself missing them! I definitely plan to do this cleanse again very soon and will probably do it for 5-7 days next time. I think it was a great clean out for my body and obviously also for my mind. After completing this cleanse I also now know you can definitely do a juice cleanse and maintain your regular active lifestyle and workout routine. My clients, my close friends, and my boyfriend also noticed a huge difference not only in my appearance but also in my moods and general temperament. As a fitness professional, a former national level athlete, a nutritionist, and a kinesiology grad, I have done A LOT of research on diet, nutrition, meal plans, weight loss, etc. and I am still learning. I love using myself as a guinea pig and testing out the latest trends and latest research on myself. I can say with full confidence, I would recommend this cleanse to anyone and everyone, including clients, friends, family, and general population. photo (15)

Yoga Treatment for Serious Illness

The 5 Unexpected Health Benefits of Yoga
Practitioners tout yoga for its mind-body benefits—flexibility, toned muscles, reduced stress, among others. More recently, scientists have begun to test yoga’s effect on serious medical conditions. The results have been impressive enough that investigators expect yoga will soon become part of the standard treatment for a number of disorders.
Yoga
Photo: Thinkstock
Depression
Low brain levels of the neurotransmitter GABA are often found in people with depression; SSRIs, electroconvulsive therapy, and now yoga, it seems, can boost GABA. Preliminary research out of the Boston University School of Medicine and Harvard’s McLean Hospital found that healthy subjects who practiced yoga for one hour had a 27 percent increase in levels of GABA compared with a control group that simply sat and read for an hour. This supports a growing body of research that’s proving yoga can significantly improve mood and reduce the symptoms of depression and anxiety.Heart Disease
Several trials have found that yoga can lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and resting heart rates, and help slow the progression of atherosclerosis—all risk factors for heart disease, says Erin Olivo, PhD, director of Columbia University’s Integrative Medicine Program.While almost any exercise is good for the heart, experts speculate yoga’s meditative component may give it an extra boost by helping to stabilize the endothelium, the lining of the blood vessels that, when irritated, contributes to cardiovascular disease. Since the lining is reactive to stress, and meditation can lower stress hormones, yoga may be causing a cascade of events that could reduce your risk of a heart attack or stroke.

Breast Cancer
Research is becoming clear on this: Women who do yoga during and after treatment experience less physical discomfort and stress. In 2007, Duke University scientists reported results of a pilot study in which women with metastatic breast cancer attended eight weekly yoga sessions. The doctors found that the women had much less pain and felt more energetic and relaxed.

Menopause
A preliminary study at the University of California, San Francisco, found that menopausal women who took two months of a weekly restorative yoga class, which uses props to support the postures, reported a 30 percent decrease in hot flashes. A four-month study at the University of Illinois found that many women who took a 90-minute Iyengar class twice a week boosted both their energy and mood; plus they reported less physical and sexual discomfort, and reduced stress and anxiety.

Chronic Back Pain
When doctors at the HMO Group Health Cooperative in Seattle pitted 12 weekly sessions of yoga against therapeutic exercises and a handbook on self-care, they discovered the yoga group not only showed greater improvement but experienced benefits lasting 14 weeks longer. A note of caution: “While many poses are helpful, seated postures or extreme movement in one direction can make back pain worse,” says Gary Kraftsow, author of Yoga for Wellness, who designed the program for the study.

Jax’s Recovery Water

 Recovery Water
 
This vitamin water is ideal for recovery post-workout or after a large bout of physical activity.  Blackberries and Cherries aid in replenishing oxygen in the blood while pomegranate and glutamine help to restore and repair muscle tissue damage.
 
 
 
 
Ingredients:
 
1/2 Pomegranate Seeds
1/2 Cup Blackberries
1 Cup Cherries (pitted)
5ml Glutamine Powder
Pinch Himalayan Crystal Salt
750ml – 1 litre Filtered Alkaline Water (or Purified water + 1 Tsp Fresh Lemon Juice)
 
Directions: 
 
1. Muddle blackberries, cherries and pomegranate in a small bowl and add to a large 1 litre glass or mason jar, add remaining ingredients and stir
2. Refrigerate for 4-6 hours

 

 
 
 

Yoga For Arthritis

When we say arthritis, you probably picture a crotchety old grandma with puffy knuckles bemoaning the weather. Guess again. Eight point four million adults under the age of 44 suffer from the disease, and swollen joints are a tiny part of the experience. Arthritis is actually an umbrella term covering more than 100 conditions that cause joint pain, stiffness, inflammation and more, according to the Arthritis Foundation.

The most common? Osteoarthritis: the wear and tear of the cartilage that cushions bone joints, causing pain in these areas. “Even when you’re young, you may see the beginning of wear-and-tear arthritis,” says Charles Matkin, director of the Satsang Yoga Center in Garrison, New York, and co-creator of the Healing Yoga DVD series. Symptoms include popping and snapping in your joints, sharp pain during movement, and resting aches. Yoga can’t cure osteoarthritis, but—with poses that help you realign your joints, reduce stress on these areas and improve your posture, all while developing and maintaining a full range of motion—it can prevent the disease from getting worse and also help relieve pain, Matkin says. “By stretching the muscles, yoga can provide physical relief of symptoms around the affected joints,” write authors.

“Yoga reduces stress which is known to exacerbate arthritis. Yoga can improve coping and by altering perspective toward life provide spiritual solace.”

yoga

The findings, published in Journal of Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, drew upon nine previous studies published between 2010 and June 2013.

Study participants performed yoga at different regularity: some twice a day for one week, others once a week for up to 16 weeks.

Six of the nine studies found a positive correlation between yoga practice and patient quality of life, while the remaining three saw mixed results.

Authors concluded that “self-management and increasing physical activity is of paramount importance in management of arthritis” and recommended that more studies explore the link between yoga and arthritis.

A recent study by Arthritis UK exploring the benefits of yoga for low back pain, confirmed that the practice has various health benefits.

Chief investigator Professor David Torgerson, director of York Trials Unit who carried out the study, said: “Our results showed that yoga can provide both short and long-term benefits to those suffering from chronic or recurrent back pain, without any serious side-effects.”

Here are some poses I recommend:

Forearm Balance Variation

This variation is good for osteoarthritis in the hands, neck and shoulders. It helps realign your joints (when they are misaligned, the cartilage wears down more easily) and also opens up your upper body, helping you reduce stress on the neck and shoulder joints.

Using a strap, make a large loop and stick your arms through up to the elbows. Adjust the strap so it holds your elbows shoulder distance apart or a little wider. Put your hands in a prayer position and place your elbows on the edge of a counter or on the back of a chair that is waist-height or a little higher. Step your feet back as you bend forward at your hips. Keep your feet hip-width apart and parallel to each other. Bend your knees slightly and send your hips back (away from your elbows) to stretch your shoulders. Try to keep your hands pointing straight up, but if that causes pain, stick to an angle that works for you. Keeping your feet hip-width apart and parallel, walk them back, stretching your hips back away from your elbows in a straight line to open your upper back. Go only as far as you can breathe comfortably, making sure to keep shoulders away from ears so they don’t pinch into your neck. Hold for 10 to 20 breaths, then walk your feet back in. Repeat once.

Low Lunge Variation

This targets osteoarthritis in the knees, engaging and stretching your quadriceps and hip flexors, which will help prevent painful misalignment of the knee joints.

Roll up a plump blanket and carefully kneel down on it, pressing the tops of your feet into the floor to take weight off of your knees. Step your right foot forward, keeping it pointing straight ahead, until you start to feel a stretch in the front of your left thigh (about half a leg’s distance or a little more). Slide your left knee forward just past the edge of the blanket, keeping the blanket under your shinbone as an aid for leverage. Keep pressing the top of your left foot into the floor so your weight is on your shinbone, not on your kneecap. Keep your hands on either side of your front foot and walk your elbows or hands up onto your front thigh to deepen the stretch in your back thigh. Make sure that your front knee lines up with your ankle and hip (front foot still pointing straight ahead). Tip your hips up toward the ceiling, sending your tail down, only as far as you can breathe comfortably. Hold this for 10 to 20 breaths. To finish, walk hands back down and step your right knee back to where your left knee is. Repeat with left leg in front.

 

Single Leg Forward Bend

Try this for arthritis in the lower back. It stretches your hamstrings while strengthening your lower back muscles to improve arthritic-driven slouching.

 

Holding the back of a chair, step your right foot forward with a bent knee, and step your left foot back one leg’s distance while keeping your back heel grounded on the floor and your foot turned forward at a 45-degree angle. Make sure you don’t look like you’re standing on a balance beam—your feet should be hip-distance apart and your knees should align with the center of each foot. Press down into your feet. Remove your hands from the chair and place both hands on your hips, getting your spine as tall and straight as you can. Maintain that as you tilt forward with your hips, keeping your weight evenly distributed between both feet. Bring hands to the chair and, keeping your spine straight, straighten your front leg just a little, so you feel your hamstring muscles stretching in the back of your front leg. Hold for 15-25 breaths. Bend your front knee and use your legs, not your neck and shoulders, to step up out of the pose. Repeat with left leg in front.