VEGAN AND GLUTEN FREE COSMETICS

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If you are vegan like me or have gluten sensitivity you may not want to use personal care products or cosmetics that contain ingredients of animal origin or gluten. Finding cosmetics can be difficult because many companies use wheat, animal products, and an ingredient called carmine which is obtained from the carminic acid of scale insects and is often used in lipstick.
I wanted to recommend some of my favorite natural lines that carry vegan and gluten free cosmetics. Of course, always make sure you read all ingredients when shopping.

• Gabriel Cosmetics
• Neal’s Yard Remedies
• Jane Iredale

BEDTIME YOGA POSES

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According to the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, Asana (physical yoga posture) is described in Chapter Two, sutra 46, as “Sthira Sukham Asanam.” This sutra is translated as meaning “Asana is a steady, comfortable posture.” With the explosion of yoga fusion classes here in the West, the basic idea of finding grace, ease of movement, comfort, and a calm, steady focus in hatha yoga classes can sometimes be lost.

In light of this, I enjoy teaching yoga postures that are simple, so that students can focus on breath and alignment. To help in creating a steady, comfortable posture, I would like to offer a few of my favorite postures that can be done from the comfort of your own bed. The sequence of postures below will help you relax before bed and it doesn’t get any more comfortable than practicing yoga on your mattress.

• Apanasana (Wind Relieving Pose) – Lie in a supine position with your knees bent and gently bring your knees toward your chest. This pose stretches the lower back and can aid in digestion
• Jathara-Parivartanasana (Stomach Revolved Pose) – Lie in a supine position with the knees toward the chest and simply twist to each side.
• Supta Padangushtasana (Reclining Hand to Big Toe Pose) – Lie in a supine position and gently reach behind your thigh, knee or lower leg and slowly straighten the leg to stretch the muscles of the posterior thigh/ leg.
• Viparita Karani (Legs up the Wall) – Lie in a supine position and lift your legs up, resting your feet against the wall. This pose has a calming effect and can help relieve insomnia and anxiety.
• Savasana – Lie in a supine position and simply relax and focus on your breath
• Hand on your Heart – In Savasana, place your hand on your heart and breathe deeply into your chest and focus on thoughts of gratitude.

I was inspired to write this post in collaboration with caspersleep.com. Relaxation exercises, yoga, and a comfortable mattress will help you sleep like a dream.

SPICE UP YOUR GRAINS

Blackbeans and rice

Grains are a great source of vitamins, protein and healthy carbohydrates that we need to sustain energy. Some people shy away from grains because they fear gluten sensitivity. Truth is, for most people, gluten is not an issue. It is an problem for the one percent of Americans who suffer from celiac disease or approximately six percent of the American population who have gluten sensitivity.

If you are sensitive to gluten you want to avoid wheat, barley and rye. Here are a few gluten free grains to try: amaranth, buckwheat, corn, millet, oats, quinoa, sorghum, teff, and rice

Below are a few tips on how to spice up your grains:
For brown rice – long grain brown basmati is good, healthy and fairly quick to cook.
• Instead of using water, use a vegetable broth or stock. Either low sodium or regular.
• Add any or all of the following dried spices to the pot (a few shakes are fine): Paprika, garlic, minced onion, red pepper flake, cayenne, turmeric or chili powder.
• For more depth of flavor consider a squeeze of lemon or lime and a dash of tamari sauce.
• You don’t need to add any oil or fats – it doesn’t do much for the dish except to add completely unnecessary fat and calories.
• To make a simple Mexican inspired rice add a few tablespoons (per cup of rice) of your favorite red or green salsa

Source: http://www.pcrm.org/health/diets/ffl/newsletter/question-of-the-month-may-2013

RHYTHM AND FLOW

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As a dancer, I’ve always been aware of the magic of music and how moving to different rhythms can transport my body and mind to an altered state of being. This is one of the many reasons that I gravitated toward the hatha yoga style “vinyasa.” There are different interpretations of the meaning of the word vinyasa, but two popular definitions are “to place in a special way” or “breathing movement system.” In essence, just like a precisely choreographed dance, vinyasa sequences take the yoga practitioner through a series of yoga postures (asanas) designed to create balance in the body and link the movement to the breath. By uniting the rhythm and flow of the breath with the movement the yoga practitioner opens up and taps into a deeper flow of consciousness. I find this to be true. My own vinyasa practice not only helps my body, but it becomes a movement meditation. The practice helps me release any stresses that may have occurred in my body and transports my mind to the present moment. Vinyasa, like any hatha yoga class, is great to practice before you sit to meditate. It helps clear the mind and free the body.

BURN THE FLOOR WITH CARDIO DANCE CLASSES

Dance fitness group

As a wellness coach, I am always looking for fun ways for my clients to stay healthy and active. I recommend cardio dance classes all the time because they are fun and you don’t even realize that you are working out. I have danced my whole life and absolutely cannot live without music and movement! To satisfy my dancer soul, I stay fit with a dance based cardio routine, yoga, and a barre method workout. One dance fitness workout to try is a Zumba Fitness class and I’m not just saying that because I am a dance instructor. It really works. You can burn an average of 369 calories per class.

Read the Zumba Fitness Study conducted by American Council on Exercise.