Saturday, 31 December 2016

Time for the dreaded New Year's Resolutions

                          Image result for new year resolution lists

Confession time

I cannot remember one single year when my New Year's resolutions: 

  • manifested
  • were followed through
  • or even remembered. 
I have come across scraps of paper, & notes scribbled in my appointment diary (I have a new one each year, & yes, mysteriously, I do keep them), where I've made a wee list of Things That I Want (that I really, really want!) to achieve:

  • Not have
  • but more do
  • & arrive at a goal. 
I am one of those people who truly think that it's more rewarding to do something/s to achieve something/s.

And, often, I look at those wee lists, & frequently find that I did indeed end up achieving what was on those lists. Not everything, but most things. 

And, usually when I read those lists, I have by that time, forgotten all about those goals. And, because I've been so slack, they have manifested in a later year. 

Writing out our goals is what works

However, I have found forgotten lists 10 years old, which were not New Years resolutions, and that I (mostly) achieved. I can't actually figure out how it works, but apparently, when we write out our goals, we are more likely to achieve them. 

But, I do think that it would have helped to remember them, & follow through. 

So, this year I am intending to:

  • do a goals list, put it up on my bedroom wall
  • & also put up post-its with goals etc written on them, at eye level
  • maybe even splash out with a vision board for my goals

The beginning of each year is when my life always changes....

What does happen instead of working on my resolutions, is that my life changes, every year, in the 1st week of January. I kid you not:

  • marriage break-up
  • leaving another bad situation very, very quickly
  • rent going up by a lot of money, so that I have to urgently find a new place
  • friend, work & family stuff....the list goes on. 
I am sure that an astrologer would look at my chart, nod sagely, & enigmatically say something that explains it all, like "ah...yes". And leave me wondering just what the heck those 2 words mean in context of my dramatic new year happenings.

But this year, in the midst of it all, I shall keep working on my new year resolutions for 2017. Which, incidentally, I intend to be a great year.

And I wish for yours to be great & fantastic & happy, too.

Thursday, 22 December 2016

Hands & expression

Image result for vintage french woman beautiful hands drawings

Expressive Hands

I went through a brief o.c. (obsessive-compulsive) moment of googling Ines de la Fressange, who is of course the epitome of Parisian chic, a while ago. 

What totally fascinated me....actually everything about her fascinated me....but in particular, it was the expressive way she has of waving her hands around as she talks. It's quite mesmerising, & of course, everything about Ines is indeed mesmerising.

My Ladylike Hands

I was taught to speak The Queen's English, & to be ladylike with it. And of course, there is no hand waving involved. This does have it's advantages. It enables one to appear to be quite composed, even when one actually isn't. Very sneakily helpful when one is dealing with a difficult person, or situation. 

It can denote an air of quiet confidence, which, for a shy person like myself, is very helpful. One can even appear to know what is going on, even when one is feeling quite clueless. Ah, yes, definite advantages.

So I would never be expressive with my hands...because, well, I just wouldn't. I might like to...but I wouldn't. Because I don't know how. And also, because I have not been blessed with exquisitely long fingers. I have medium fingers, with very short nails. 

As I am a healer, it just would not do to dig my nails into a client, nor would it do to accidentally scrape them with my talons. So short nails it must be. And I don't wear nail polish, so that's another reason for not waving my hands around as I talk.

My supple hands

But my hands & fingers are very supple. I don't have joint pain, & my wee wrists are strong. These are great pluses. As a yoga teacher, I have regularly done hand exercises, over the years. 

Making a loose fist with your hands, & then rotating them around the wrists, one way, then the other, is an excellent exercise. We need to be able to move our wrists!

How To Have Supple Hands

  • Touch your palms & fingers together & push them against each other
  • then do the same with the backs of the hands touching each other
  • bend each thumb & finger forwards & backwards
  • shake your hands & fingers releases tension. 
Such easy little ways to keep good movement in your wrists & fingers. It is far more important to me to have flexible & useful hands, than stiff hands with nail polish. (I secretly would love to have beautiful hands with manicured & polished nails, though)

Special Care For Our Hands

And I do look at yoga clients' hands as I am teaching. If there is damage, or arthritis, there are so many poses that won't be good for them. If I had arthritis, I would gently stroke my hands & fingers, often. This releases oxytoxin, the love hormone, & damaged hands surely would appreciate this.

Some of the other ways to look after your hands are: 

  • wear rubber gloves when washing anything (except when washing people, of course), & when using cleaning products
  • if you can, put oil, lotion, cream or vaseline on first, & do this too before putting on any gloves for any reason. Use hand cream, or indeed, any cream, often, massaging it in well
  • I often do this just before sleeping. I feel most virtuous doing this. And I feel absolutely pompous when I use balms or vaseline under cotton gloves as I sleep. You wake up with soft beautiful hands when you do this.
  • When I rub in kawakawa balm, from my friend Carolyn here, my hands just drink it up! Kawakawa is so restorative for skin. (When I go to her place & there is a tester in sight...then, as her friend, I do feel that I must test it....)
  • If you use any creams rub them well into your cuticles too. That way, you won't need to buy cuticle oil/cream.  And any face scrubs are good for our hands too. I often feel than some body scrubs are a bit much for the delicate skin of our hands.

You can also rub in bits & pieces of food, eg:

  • the inside of an avocado skin
  • or the inside of a piece of fruit skin
  • a touch of your fresh juice
  • a dab of milk or yoghurt
  • a few drops of oil. 

It's like feeding your skin, giving your hands a beauty mask.  Leave your rub, or dab, on, for a wee while, then rinse off

                          Image result for hand exercises


Thursday, 8 December 2016

image:attractiveness/8: arms & hands & sun damage

                                 Image result for french beautiful arms drawings                           

Sun damage

I have resisted this post, for weeks. Why? Because I don't like the shape of my arms, and sun damage has been rapidly showing on my arms and hands. I guess that's what one eventually gets for childhood and teenage years spent frying for hours in the sun. Yes, I too have emulated a roasting spit by oiling up with coconut oil before cooking in the sun. I spent a day on a boat in Bali a couple of years ago, well actually heaps of the time I was downstairs trying to handle seasickness. And when we got back that night, I had a massive sunspot on my face. When I spent a week in Samoa, despite being real careful regarding the sun, I came back black (according to one of my kids), as I tan very easily.

Cumulatively, pay-back time is here for me, obviously, regarding sun damage. Despite many years of being so careful. Despite being naturally olive skinned.

Use our SPF

Over the years, I have learnt to apply sunblock to my arms (and exposed area of my chest) before stepping outside. So, that's some prevention, and remember, it's never too late to slow down, or halt, and in many cases, reverse, signs of ageing and/or, neglect.

Diet helps our skin

Wee tips for handling the sun in regards to your skin: look to your diet. 

  • green tea, red, orange & yellow fruit and vegetables reduce sunburn intensity
  • omega 3 fatty acids (fish oils & flaxseeds) guard against sunburn
  • dark chocolate is also good
  • some of these foods, eg carrots, are also believed to reverse sun damage
  • and I do recall how years ago, the B vitamins, in particular B3, niacin, are recommended during summer as preventing photoaging (sun damage). You can cause a real B vitamin imbalance by taking not taking all the Bs together, so look for foods that contain the Bs. Wheat germ, nutritional yeast, if you can handle them (I love them!) and dairy yoghurt, are all good sources.

Push ups for arms

What about the shapes of our arms? I do push-ups against a bench, quite often, keeping elbows in close to graze the sides of my ribs, for the triceps. You can also turn your hands in a bit, with thumb tips touching, and index fingertips touching, palms flat. This will create a triangle shape, and will make your elbows point out sideways. Do push-ups, against the wall or a bench, or on the floor, in this position for triceps toning. Our triceps are the bits of arm that store fat, get flabby. Ugh!

More arm exercises

There are many exercises for the triceps. A very good tip for arm tone is to do a few quick arm exercises, one after the other, without lowering the arms, not even in between the exercises, keep the arms up. This "exhausts" the muscles & is very effective as our muscle fibres then have to do repair work on the affected areas, & this repair work helps build up the muscles.

                            Image result for arm circles

  • take arms out sideways, stiff, palms up, then twist them so that palms turn up, but the opposite way to when you started, keep repeating. This confuses the muscles & it's this confusion that creates the fibre repair
  • then keeping your arms up sideways and stiff, make fists with your hands, and do circles with your arms, go one way, then do the other
  • keep the arms up high, take them behind you with palms up, then lift your arms up and down to tone triceps
  • you can also do any of these arm exercises with light weights
  • if you start with a couple of each, doing your desired number for one exercise, then going straight onto another, you will feel it!! 
  • you can increase the number of each that you do, as you are able
  • do all this about 3x a week, on alternate days, so the muscles have a chance to do their repair work

Easier arm exercising

Alternately, you could just choose one of the above exercises or push-ups, and do 20 every day. Your arms will thank you by developing lovely tone.

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Food Matters: portion distortion

                              Image result for portion distortion

Portion distortion is so real

I was reading a post about how much food portions had changed over the years. What a shocker!

A mocha coffee with whole milk is .... 350 calories. Or, 1464.4 kilojoules. That's enough for a whole lunch! Add to it a muffin.....500 calories/2092 kilojoules. That's another whole meal. But, this is a usual wee "snack". I had a very social day last week where I had 3 small flat whites, a brioche, & a toasted sandwich. I don't even want to count that all up.

We end up eating too much food

Some researchers are now saying that when we eat more than 600 calories/2510.4 calories in one sitting, it messes with our blood sugar. And this can set us for becoming pre diabetic, later in life. It is now very easy to consume that many energy units in one sitting. Mostly because our serving sizes have become so big, & these big sizes have become the norm.

                   Related image

People say to me: how come people were thinner in the (for example) 1950s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s? Portion distortion is one of the major reasons why. We now eat bigger meals. And monster snacks. A pasta meal eaten out can have 2 or more cups of pasta.....& that's before we add sauce, maybe garlic bread (seriously? when we're already having pasta?) An "older" serve of pasta was about 1 cup. 

I found an earlier book of the famous New Zealand cook, Alison Holst..... I cannot remember a time when Alison was not in my life. She was big on feeding people with nutritious, normal foods, & I have never forgotten reading one of her very old cookbooks (I search op shops just to read them!), how she would choose root vegetables over grains like rice, pasta. Because the vegetables had more nutrition. And it's hard to eat 2-3 cups of spuds!

                    Image result for portion distortion

We can eat off smaller crockery

Our plates are bigger. To me, they are ugly & vulgar. But that's just me..... Our bowls are so big, too! And coffee mugs! 

I went to our local op shop & got some old crockery, in smaller sizes: 

  • a floral dinner plate
  • 1970s coffee mug, which is so-o-o much smaller than the monster coffee cups we now use
  • a teacup, saucer & side plate
  • a cereal bowl
 The teacup is so small compared to the now normal coffee mugs, but I love it. You can't actually fit much on the side plate, & the cereal really tiny. I had been having porridge in a modern bowl. It's more of a mixing bowl, really. But now I just use the smaller, older dish, & of course, my portion is way smaller, because I can't fit too much in the bowl. And the dinner plate is plenty big enough. It's just not oversized.

Have smaller food

I have downsized to Vogels very thin bread, & now get grumpy when I can't find it, because even the sandwich slices are too much now. And I got really excited at a recent party when I saw small strawberries! Instead of those giant (vulgar) ones. I was getting a bit miffed that my favourite bought biscuits, gingernuts, & shortbread, had gotten really small. But now I'm pleased.

I was in Bali for 5 weeks a couple of years ago. I don't do well on peanuts, but there I had peanuts in some form every day. They were tiny, compared to the peanuts that we buy in New Zealand. And I really felt that because they hadn't been messed about with, by the growers, that was why I didn't react to them. 

And that to me, is a valid point. When I see our food getting bigger & bigger, such as apples & carrots, I get a bit sad, knowing that more & more people will not handle them so well.

It helps to say "no"

I haven't really ever mastered the polite art of refusal. I had a coffee with a friend on my above mentioned social day, & she had a piece of cake, cut it in half, ate one half, & wrapped up the other half to take home. 

I have to learn how to ignore politeness, & eating what's on the plate, & instead learn how to do this, too.

We get offered a piece of cake, or a slice, & they are so big! You could almost use a bakery biscuit as a plate, & eat off it, they are so big (& awful....). 

I want little food to come back! It was really nice. 

I nearly always have poached eggs for lunch out because big, heavy lunch meals make me instantly sleepy, & that's not a good way to be. But now I notice that eggs are often size 8. So even they are bigger. 

I would like to indulge in a cream doughnut occasionally, but they are the size of a small loaf. Half the day's calories/kilojoules, no doubt.

And make better choices

Sometimes I'll get a fresh vegetable juice when I'm out, because I love them, they are nutritious, & you can get a small size. And I feel so virtuous ticking all those boxes. 

And I once found an old-fashioned cafe, more of an old style caff, where they had wee sandwiches. What a treat. Nice carbs that don't make you sleepy.

I guess, really, that we need to re-educate ourselves as to portion sizes. Or, is it really un-educate ourselves. 

I love nice little food. It's delicious & you end up eating mostly good, untampered food. With the occasional small bit of rubbish. I think that when we are advised to snack on carrots, apples, celery, etc, we don't realise that it becomes a laborious task of endlessly munching, just because they are so big!

I am also now thinking to educate myself about units of energy: calories &/or kilojoules. I think that having a bit of knowledge about this, & combining this with portion sizes, & small crockery, is a much smarter way to eat.

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

image: attractiveness/7: bone building

Why worry about our bones?

It can be a real problem with some people, losing bone mass as they grow older. And it's not so good, as it makes people shrink when their bone density lessens. 

So, what can we do to prevent this, stop it to the best of our ability, and is it even possible to reverse it? And if so, how?

Teaching yoga, I have become acutely aware of some less than positive signs of ageing that could be prevented. One was that I have often seen is how curvature of the spine seemed to accompany shrinkage, getting shorter.....& this leads to a ton of problems, including back pain.

                                    Image result for woman good posture

It's really beneficial to practice good posture

So the 1st thing to do is to learn how to stand up straight. Rather than training our bodies to know what it feels like to always slump, train it so that we know what it is like to have an upright spine. 

We get into a habit of slouching....for whatever reason, & over the years this leads to a wee hump....known as dowagers hump, in the "days of yore".

 So, try to put some time, everyday, into standing up straight. Push your feet into the floor, lift up through your crown, shoulders back & down, just a bit. Softly drop the tailbone (stops us poking out bottom out at an unsightly angle), lift our ribs a bit.

Keep practising this. Everyday. Until it becomes 2nd nature. At first it will feel strange, but after a while it will become "normal". You would be surprised to find out how much our mood improves with good posture. We also feel more confident.

What can we do for healthy bones?

But we also need to build strong bones so that our bones don't get smaller. There are actually several things that we can do. One of the easiest is to do exercise with lots of repetitions with light weights. 
Usually exercise with weights is done 2-3 times a week, & not on consecutive days. 

Using, say, 500 grams to 1kg in each hand is not a lot of weight, & is doable. You can also use cans of food. You do more repetitions of an exercise with light weights, ideally until the muscle getting worked gets tired. Latest research has found that this is extremely effective for bone health.

Yoga has been found to increase bone mineral density... whether its the stretch type of yoga (Iyengar) or the faster moving styles. So that's another option.

Walking & activities that involve a lot of movement like golf, dancing, tennis, hiking - these are all under the umbrella of weight bearing exercise, & it is the weight bearing exercise that builds bone & keeps it strong & healthy.

We can also use our own body weight, with exercise: yoga; planks; push-ups; tricep dips; lunges; squats - all are effective. 

If you do power yoga, you do heaps of these exercises in a class or session. This is quite difficult for most people to maintain on a daily basis, due to time....& also due to the effort required.

 Beginner exercises for bone health and posture

                Image result for squat holding a chair

Easy ways to build bones

 What we can do to fit in these movements is: do chair squats, fast. Hold onto a bench for stability & do as many as you can in a minute. Squat as though you are aiming your buttocks towards an imaginary chair behind you, using weight on your heels. Push back up to upright, squeezing your buttocks. This firms & shapes legs & buttocks. And it's okay to do beginner moves.

Surprisingly, this move has a direct effect on brain cognition. This means that we keep using our existing knowledge & faculties (rather than deterioration of our mental processes), plus....we learn better. An absolute bonus.

                Image result for kitchen bench push ups

                               Denise Austin: she is awesome

For the upper body, use a bench for as many push-ups as possible in one minute. Have your body in a straight line, abdominals tight, hands on bench under shoulders. Push down towards the bench, bending your elbows, &, if you can, keep them in close to the body to firm your triceps/back of the arms. Then straighten back up. Just do the best you can, & work towards doing them in style. Even if you can only do a few of these moves, it's a start.

                       Image result for easy crunches for beginners

You can also do crunches, lying on your back with knees bent & flat on the floor. Fingers interlaced behind your head, elbows wide. Do as many as you can in one minute, breathing out & pulling in, squeezing, your abdominal muscles as you lift up your head. Actually, holding a still position that works the abdominals is the most effective way to tone this area, such as in a plank, or an elbow plank. But, it is much harder.

                            3 minutes a day, for bone health. Priceless.

Thursday, 10 November 2016

image/attractivesness/6: moisturising our skin

                        Image result for La Vie parisienne

Give Your Skin A Drink

aka as putting on body lotion, oils, whatever. 

I'm currently ploughing my way through some oils & a body lotion, wanting to use them all up before I resume making & using my love oils. I think it's uncool & unchic to waste things, so I'm methodically doing the right thing here.

But, the mousse-type Palmers cocoa butter spray that I have is just awful. I will probably bin it, albeit sneakily. 

Using oils

Currently, I've added baby oil to thick, guggy, Palmers cocoa butter lotion (which smells delicious) to make it spreadable. I've also added olive oil to a fancy natural oil with rosehip to extend it's life, & when that's finished I'll do the same with an exotic vial of coconut oil. Then it's back to using my love oils.

I used to make love oils, & loved making & using them. I charmed them, continued the charm overnight, did them on the "correct" day. It was so enjoyable. I stopped doing them only because I was too busy to sell them, but I'll now do them for gifts, & for moi. I'm at a wee village market about once a month, so I can also sell them there.

There are several ways to use oils:

  • using them to extend your lotions is a good way
  • you can use oils from the kitchen, baby oil
  • you can apply an oil at the end of your shower whilst the shower is still going. Then pat dry after.
  • or, when you step out of the shower, before you dry yourself, apply the oil then....pat yourself dry after. 

Both are messy methods, but very effective, as the oils are sealing in the water, or moisture. Often people don't realise that we need moisture under our oils, in this case, water, for the oils to work well on our skin. 

Another method which I often use, is with a wet flannel. I tip some oil onto it, & just wipe it over my skin after I've dried myself. 

As lovely as it is to use expensive oils, there are other options:

  • kitchen oils like olive (great for sore muscles)
  • or grapeseed (contains vitamin E)
  • I love almond oil
  • & apricot oil has vitamin A, so is excellent
  • but...I have also used baby oil when I have had to watch my money

And Our Face

We can do similar on our decollete, neck, & face, by adding water. 

  • After your have cleansed your face, spray on a toner before you add moisturiser, night cream, whatever.  
  • Another method, when you have more time, is to hold a very warm flannel to your face to add water, then use your moisturiser. 

What I have been doing lately, is:

  1.  clean
  2. do the above "flannel thing"
  3. then I add just a few drops of oil to my face. The idea is to add just a light covering. I'm currently using a rosehip oil, which does seem to be lightening my sunspots. 
  4. Next, spray with your toner on top of the touch of oil, & I use rosewater, to which I add a few drops of essential oil.....& I have the correct crystals for my skin in my rosewater. At present my rosewater is from an Indian supermarket, so it's food grade. And I must say, it is excellent. 
  5. The next step is to add moisturiser. 
You will be amazed at the difference that all this hydration & layering makes to your skin. Even if you just did it once or twice a week.

Face steaming

So, how else can we moisturise our skin? Steaming our face is a good way. And a very old fashioned way, but if my secret mentor Elizabeth Hurley does can we. 

  1. clean your face first
  2. put some boiling hot water in a container
  3. you can also add herbs: a chamomile tea bag, some lavender, whatever! And, or, essential oils. Like lavender, ylang ylang, chamomile, tea tree. 
  4. put your head over the pot & allow the steam to settle onto your face. 
  5. you can use an exfoliating mask or scrub after, or any mask, really.

More moisture tips

  • Drinking water is, of course, the ultimate skin hydrator
  • And so is eating water filled foods, like most fruit & vegetables.  
  • And, another great hydrator, which I don't do, because I dislike doing such things when it's cold, is to splash cold water onto your face after cleansing. Do it at least 15 times, more is better.

Friday, 4 November 2016

image/attractiveness/5: little & often; regularly

                         Image result for vintage french woman beauty

Little routines are the key

I cannot stop thinking about this: "little but often; regularly". In attractiveness context, basically it means:

  •  that you do what you do that you can fit in & maintain fitting it in
  • you do it often: over & over
  • and regularly: like clockwork.

I know that I am always seduced by the latest & greatest. I just know that if I have the latest:

  •  skin care
  • make-up
  • food regime
  • new age beliefs
  • the latest exercise
  • the newest wardrobe must-haves

I know, I really do know...that my life will be so much more wonderful. Which is strange because my values are actually none of these things. My values in this area are to have small doable routines. For everything, really.

Values and image

I know that in reality I do not, will not, buy products whereby animals have suffered in the production, which is most hi-tech skincare & make-up. 

I rely on dear friends & one of my kids to sort me out with make-up & skincare, & it's usually organic. 

I also know that food fads, in the form of food beliefs, change regularly. Which is totally vexing, for me. 

I still prefer yoga exercise & also would rather do 10-20 yoga squats, a bit faster than you would do in a yoga class, than do the latest keep fit moves. And I cannot handle having too many clothes, as, for me, that's a stressor. My libra sun & moon find it just too hard deciding what clothes to wear if I have too many. (As all librans know....those sort of decisions are not our strong point......)

So, what I always actually end up doing, is.....the same things over & over. Things that fit in with my values. Things that, for me, have proven to work. And even more importantly:

  • I can do them easily
  • I can do them regularly. Like clockwork
  • they fit easily into my life
  • occasionally, I do change something, just to see how it works, but, if it's a stressor, doesn't fit easily into my life - out it goes.

My criteria

I realised quite young, that it was better to do one thing my case it was yoga, rather than chop & change whatever interested oneself. My criteria was that what ever I was looking at doing:

  • it had to have a feel good factor
  • it had to be beneficial
  • fit easily into my life
  • be affordable. 
And yoga ticked all of those boxes.

I find it helpful to still follow this attitude. So my skincare routine has to be:

  • easily doable (meaning simple)
  • make me feel good
  • affordable (as well as be cruelty free

Le diet

And, occasionally I change my diet, to do with the seasons. Cold food in winter makes me feel "down", so I have porridge nearly every morning. (no decision needed) but I'm also sure that as the warmer weather sets in....I will want to change this. 

I also have changed my at-home evening meal: protein & a steamed green vegetable. It suits me fine, & I just use whatever protein I've got, whether it's eggs, legumes, fish or similar. I like it & because I can do it little & often, & regularly, I find I just automatically do it.

The problem with too many choices

The thing being, when we are always making choices about things, we seem to get choice fatigue & run out of just easily making good choices, as the day wears on. Therefore, I like to "save" my choices for important things. Because I notice that it just is easier to make a good decision then.

And with:

  • diet
  • skin care
  • exercise
  • what we drink
  • sleep habits 

these are all maintenance things, rituals. It's these habits that keep us keeping on. They keep us feeling good, looking good.

So what can we do to tweak our routines so that they are easy, so that we can do little & often? It's easier than you would think.

Thursday, 27 October 2016

image/attractiveness/4: Sculpting

                   Image result for french beautiful legs drawings


We have been looking at leg exercises. As we go through life, we naturally start off with muscle tone as children, teens, & young adults. Some people never seem to lose their muscle tone, & these are women who are naturally active, who keep their weight stable, don't drink too much alcohol.

The hair thing

There are other things that we can do to have nice legs. Removing hair by shaving, or waxing, regularly. If you shave, a man's hi-tech razor is fantastic. It's easy to do this in the shower, or after. A cheap hair conditioner makes it really easy, as does a body wash. You can also use body lotion if you're shaving after having a shower.

The Tanned Look

We can also add a light tan, through some careful sunbathing, gardening, etc, or by using tanning lotions, all of which help hide a multitude of marks & blemishes. And it also gives us what I call definition.

How to look vital

And one of the best visual ways to look & feel better, is to have definition. This is hard to explain, but basically if you think of how a healthy young person has a strong outline to their face & body, whereas a much older person who is not so vital, has far less outline. 

This outline has to do with our life force, which you could also call prana, mauri, or chi. We have so much life force when we are young, healthy, fit & vital. To still have it as one moves through life, is such a blessing. 

We can do this by building up our life-force with diet, exercise, rest & state of mind. It can be done.

Define Your Body

We can also add extra definition by body sculpting. Not in the body building sense, although that is good to do. no, this is a bit different. 

Whenever you apply anything to your body, whether it's:

  • dry brushing
  • scrubbing with a mitt or exfoliating
  • smoothing on tanning lotion, body lotion or oil
we can do all of these knowing that we are sending extra circulation to the skin, & thereby helping us get more of a glow to the skin. We can have a system of using all this. 

All movements go towards the heart.

  • start by doing brisk strokes on the sole of your foot, then the top. 
  • work up from ankle to knee
  • then knee to hip
  • firm strokes up, softer strokes down. 
  • now circular moves around the hips & the buttock
  • up the lower back
  • do big circles on the abdomen, up the right side, above the navel to the left, down the left. Do this several times, making the circles smaller & smaller. 
  • you can also rub the abdomen from base of torso up, right to left
  • then grab around the waist & do pinching or rolling moves there
  • upward strokes from waist, up ribs, to under the breasts. 
  • around the breasts in big circles
  • stroke down from collarbones to chest
  • arms & hands are done the same way as the legs: backs of hands, wrists to elbows, elbows to shoulders
  • down the upper back
  • in the areas that you think need extra effort: knead, pinch, roll, slap, these areas as you see fit.

All of this need only take a couple of minutes. If we learn to do something like this systematically, then it becomes second nature.

Sculpting extra

So that's for circulation. For the sculpting aspect, visualise each body part exactly as you would like it to be, whilst you are brushing, washing, applying lotion, whatever. Make it a habit. An effortless one.

Friday, 14 October 2016

walk, squat and lunge to stay young

                            Image result for vintage french women beautiful legs drawings                                                                  
Legs and Strength 

Studies have been done to study effects of leg strength on brain function, in particular cognition: thinking, learning and memory. These studies were done over 10 years, using twins.

All physical activities help with our muscles releasing hormones that encourage our nerve cells to grow. We have nerve activity that sends messages via impulses all through the body - including muscles. 

Yes, muscle tone can & does improve with the help of our nerves. And this could be part of an explanation as to how muscles have memory, as nerve impulses which create "tracks", seem to create memory.

We Don't Have To Do Much

One of the important factors was that we only need small improvements for cognition. So it's ok if we start  small with exercise. 

As a yoga teacher, even with only a weekly class, I can see dramatic improvements for newcomers, in muscular strength, which of course includes the ability to balance. And it may only be simple moves that we are starting with!! And I also notice that concentration improves fast. And that people are just looking better.

How it all works

Any physical movement that we use, even as simple as reaching for something, works our muscles. Because our muscles are doing the work, from brain impulses telling them what to do. Of course, this all goes on within the secret language of the body. We are unaware of it happening.

Start easy with fidgeting

If you have been unwell, or are very unfit, one of the very first things to do, is to simply start moving your body. If you can only sit: 

  • shake your arms
  • then shake 1 leg at a time
  • move your extremities up & down
  • turn your head from side to side
  • get up and put something away
  • walk to the letterbox
  • if you are recovering from illness or injury, do a wee spurt here and then, as you can.

Every bit helps, & it's also called "fidgeting" doing this. It can burn up a couple of hundred calories a day, doing "fidgeting". Your body will be grateful for these little moves. I have done all this myself, to start recovering from severe illness.

Body - mind connection

I'm very conscious of  people getting their body to move, so that they can easily improve their quality of life, & improve their physical strength. Early on as a yoga teacher, I noticed that there was a direct relationship between physical strength & emotional strength, which I guess can be translated as : 

                    "healthy body = healthy mind"

And, of course,  I know it for myself. If I don't move....I don't feel good.

And as a yoga teacher, I actually don't think that yoga is the only way to keep fit. I truly believe that whatever suits you, your personality, the time that you have available, & your life, is the best way.

But for cognition, & general muscle tone, we need to move

  • Squats are great because you can just pause & do 10-20 without taking up much time
  • Holding a yoga warrior pose is good because your muscles have to work a bit differently to keep you in that pose
  • Walking briskly as you move around your day is good. 
  • Moving creates an energy, & uses muscles
  • Going for a walk improves cardiovascular health, & helps clear the head.

Move To Stay Young

If you watch children at play, they are always moving. To stay young, we need to move too. Another important thing: exercise thickens our skin which means we get less wrinkles. (just saying......). When I had a long period of inactivity from a damaged foot, I started to get wrinkles. It was actually disheartening.

Sunday, 9 October 2016

image: attractiveness/ 3/ legs

                                         Image result for vintage french beautiful legs drawings

looking at legs:

Thighs are the last place where I put on weight, but I have a sister who puts weight on there, first. And I put weight on my calves fairly quickly, whereas my sister doesn't. I'm sure that everyone else has body quirks like this. Either way, our legs actually need only a bit of looking after.

Start with ankles

An ankle exercise, three variations are here, also gives great muscle shape to our calves. They can be used for our calves, knees, thighs, buttocks & abdominals, too. If you can do them on a step (hold onto something for balance if needed), it's actually better. As you go up onto the toes, pull up from your ankles to your waist. Pull up and tighten simultaneously. Relax the muscles as you lower the ankles. To really tighten everything, you could keep the tension on throughout, but you would need to do hamstring, quads, buttocks, calves & abdominal, stretches afterwards. If you are doing these on a step, finish them by dropping the ankles over the edge of the step, and holding to stretch out your calves. Even if you don't do this, do a standing forward "hang" with arms either dangling down, or arms folded, or holding onto legs, ankles or big toes, to stretch out the hamstrings. If you are not keen to do all three variations, just do the up on toes, then heels to floor.

Develop balance

Our ankles are intimately connected with balance, so they are a key area to keep strong as we get older, as balance can decline with age. However, as a yoga teacher, I can truthfully say that almost everyone when they first comes to yoga, has bad balance.  Standing on one leg at a time, for a short period at first, then for maybe twenty to thirty seconds each, is the way to learn to balance. There are tricks to doing it: do not do it when you are hassled in any way; push the standing foot firmly into the floor if you can; and gaze at one point as you go into the balance, and as you hold it. I know that there are people who balance on one leg whilst brushing their teeth, or similar, but that is too frenetic for me. Balance poses are supposed to induce calm.

Yoga makes legs nice

The standing poses of yoga, including leg balances, are excellent for shaping, strengthening, and lengthening leg muscles, as is downward dog/mountain. Hold each pose three breaths each if you are doing them everyday, or five to ten breaths if doing them a couple of times a week.

Squats are #1

To be honest, the best legs that I ever saw in my life, were from two women who each did squats each day. One did twenty squats with feet hip width apart and facing forwards (for thighs and buttocks). She also did twenty squats with feet further apart and toes turned out like little plies (for thigh, inner thighs, buttocks) If you push into the feet to come back up, the buttocks are more firmed. They were done fairly fast, with either no weights, or baked bean cans. Easy peasy.

The other woman was a yoga teacher. She also walked, a lot. In her class we did so many different types of squats, to start the class. We did each one far less times than the previous lady, and of course in yoga, one moves a bit slower. The yoga teacher used other poses also. Of course. But mostly squats. When we do the up and down on the toes, and the squats already described, it greatly magnifies the effects if we also visualise our legs and buttocks being in perfect shape. This amplifies the body-mind connection, and is very effective.

There are excellent reasons to do squats, and I personally prefer them to the big wide legged standing yoga poses such as triangle, warriors. Next we shall look at why.

rewriting your life

                                    a difficult time I have been unwell and then managed to get the flu, too.  My immunity was so low f...