The Perfect Gift for a Smoothie Fanatic

Bella Rocket Blender

Believe me when I say this: I have absolutely no time. Waking up in the morning, I have little time to get properly dressed let alone cook up a hearty breakfast before I’m bolting out the door trying to get to work on time. And I’ve tried everything from waking up at unsightly hours to cooking something up in advance for the morning to simply eating small snacks throughout the day. Needless to say, the lack of sleep, and even more so, the lack of healthy nutritious foods definitely put a huge toll on my wellbeing. Somedays I would even try packing a bag of baby carrots and Brussel sprouts, but let’s face it: they may be nutritious but they definitely didn’t satisfy my desire for something that was just tasty! After years of going through this routine of carrying to work a bag of tiny vegetables, I decided enough was enough. I definitely felt backed up against a wall as I had a serious choice to make: sacrificing time to eat something tasty and nutritious, or attempting to eat better while being severely unproductive.

This choice quickly disappeared once I started using quick and efficient blenders that were able to make delicious yet healthy smoothies and high-protein, energy packed shakes. And the best thing was that I could just take any leftover fruits in my fridge, plop them into my blender, and in seconds I would have a satisfying shake that could help keep me going throughout the day. But there was still one problem: taking out the time to find an appropriate container to hold everything my delicious creation in.

Bella Rocket BlenderMy dear friend noticed that I was frantic in finding the perfect blender for me and that’s when I received one of the best gifts I could possibly have received. The Bella Rocket Blender came to the rescue, and was definitely the type of reliability, convenience, and efficiency I desired in a top-notch blender. The following is therefore a quick and simple bella blender review.

The first thing I noticed about the Bella Blender, was the sheer efficiency at which it liquefied everything into a luscious, almost creamy concoction of fruity goodness. This in part came from the high quality, dual stainless steel blades that not only is able to liquefy anything I put inside, but chopped up vegetables and grinded up almonds and other crunchy pieces into a smooth powder. Unlike most blenders that I’ve used that leave behind massive chunky bits, the Bella Blender is quick in ensuring a smooth drink every time.

On the weekends, when I do have a bit of time to myself in cooking up some other delicious meals, the small size of my kitchen was also a problem. And having a massive blender taking up table space was always an issue. Luckily, the Bella Blender completely comes apart, letting my store it away and even the tiniest of places. And the best part? Each component is 100% dish washer-safe, saving me even more time when I have to clean up all the dirty dishes!

Lastly, probably the biggest reason why I use the Bella Blender so frequently, is the detachable and sealable cup that it comes with. After blending up a couple of fruits and getting my favorite mango-peach smoothie, I don’t even have to fumble around in my cupboards looking for a reliable, correct sized container to take with me. The Bella Blender comes with a detachable cup and all I have to do is pop on a re-sealable lid before heading out to tackle a long, productive day.

In the end, the days of frantically rushing out the door without something healthy and delicious is long behind me thanks to the Bella Blender.

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What’s the value of 10 minutes?

Agnistambhasana

Even the most important habits are built in the tiniest of steps — a minute, 10 minutes, an hour a day. But because we are often more excited about the big, eventual change than in the daily action, we lose momentum along the way. We’ve been trying a new habit for a week and we haven’t seen any progress, so we give up! Some actions are like that — you have to persist in brushing your teeth for half a year before you get a pat on the back from your dentist — but other actions give you a sense of progress immediately.

When you take time (even just 10 minutes) to really get to the root of an issue and work creatively on it, you’ll see progress.

I’ll share an insider’s moment here at Iha Yoga: we split up into groups to see how much we can improve our peer’s asana in 10 minutes. I’m writing here because the results were extraordinary. In 10 minutes we 1) asked questions about pain and tension, 2) did exercise tests to see which muscles and joints where weaker or tighter, and 3) assigned exercises to lengthen and straighten. With just one round of exercises, we’ve gotten the results below. With daily 10 minute stretches/strengthening for your goal pose, you’ll relax comfortably into it in no time.

What surprise my group was that the double lotus pose and seated wide forward fold (upavishtha konasana) were not an issue for me, ruling out tightness in the IT band (illiotibial band, on the side of the hips, a common issue for athletes), and tightness in the inner thigh and abductors. Those are two common areas that need stretching — with a tight IT band, do more supine twists; for tight inner thighs, try more standing wide-legged forward folds to stretch and strengthen.

This leaves a final culprit for my square difficulties — tight glutes (maximum mostly, but also minimum), and perhaps flexible but weaker inner thighs. To stretch this area, try a variety of pigeon poses such as the one above. My new favorite stretch is the same as above, rotated so I can lie on the ground with my bottom leg pushing against the wall. In this lying down position, one can push against the wall and focus on bringing the lower back down, stretching the glutes fully.

As you can see, in just 10 minutes of proper focus on the right areas, I improved the alignment of this pose by 5 cm, (and thus the flexibility and strength of my body as well!) Focus and measure the right kind of progress to keep your momentum!

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Strawberry Smoothie vs Strawberry Lassi

Strawberry Smoothie vs Strawberry Lassi

Have you ever tried a lassi? It is basically an Indian yogurt smoothie. It contains a mix of yogurt, fruit, cardamom and sometimes rose water. It is the cardamom that makes a lassi unique and special.

One popular lassi is the mango lassi, made with fresh or frozen mango pulp. But you can also find some that are flavored with strawberry, peach, or just rose water. The taste of a fruit lassi is quite different than a regular strawberry smoothie or mango smoothie.

I love lassis, but it is not easy to find a vegan lassi at most Indian restaurants. Making your own at home is fun, and you can simply use soy yogurt or non-dairy milk to make it vegan.

The most traditional kind of lassi is the mango lassi because mangoes are popular in India, and easy to find. So lassis are traditionally made with a fresh mango and homemade yogurt.

If you want to start out by making a traditional (but vegan) mango lassi, here is a good recipe to try.

Vegan Mango Lassi

  • 1 cup soy milk
  • 1 cup mango puree
  • 2 powdered cardamom pods
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup or sugar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice

You can find the mango puree at most local Indian grocery stores. It will give it a real authentic taste. However, you can also use one fresh mango instead.

Simply put all of the ingredients in a blender for about 30 seconds.

Here is another mango lassi recipe, which is based on almond milk and coconut milk.

Almond Mango Lassi

  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 fresh mango
  • quarter cup light coconut milk
  • a pinch of ground cardamom

If you want to get creative, and add other fruits, go for it.

Strawberry banana smoothies are the most popular kind of smoothie, and if you want to turn one into a lassi…. here is how to do it.

Raw Strawberry Banana Lassi

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1 cup frozen strawberries
  • 1 small handful cashews
  • 3 medjool dates
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • a pinch of cardamom

If you want a simpler recipe, with yogurt and without the banana, then try the following one.

Vegan Strawberry Lassi

  • 1 cup soy yogurt
  • 2 cups frozen strawberries
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • pinch of cardamom
  • a few ice cubes (optional)

It is surprising how much just a pinch of cardamom can change the whole flavor and feeling of the drink. If you really like cardamom, don’t hesitate to add a whole teaspoon, or even 2 teaspoons of it to any of these recipes. You can also sprinkle some on top, as a garnish.

Nutmeg is another nice flavor that can be added to these lassis. A pinch of it should be enough, or sprinkle it on top.

If you like your lassi to have a yogurty flavor, try adding a half cup of soy yogurt, or almond yogurt, to the above recipes. The yogurt will make the lassi more filling, too.

None of the recipes above contain rose water, but feel free to add some. Rose water is quite strong, so, one teaspoon should be enough.

Here is a lassi recipe that uses rose water.

Honey Rose Lassi

  • 1 cup soy yogurt
  • quarter cup water
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons rose water
  • half teaspoon cardamom
  • pinch of cinnamon

You can also add a couple of frozen stawberries to this lassi, to give it a beautiful pink color. Adding a bit of mango will give it a golden color and a nice tropical fruit taste. If you like it sweet, try an extra teaspoon or two of honey. Enjoy!

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Yoga for Guys

Yoga for Guys

So the irony of this class is that yoga, a mind/body science and philosophy, was created for and by men. For at least five thousand years until recently, yoga was practiced, philosophized, and propagated mainly by men. One quick glance at the nation’s top yoga teachers, and you’ll find mostly men.

These men, of course, are teaching mostly women. There are lots of reasons for this social imbalance (post your thoughts about it here!), but for several years i’ve waited for DC to be ready for a yoga community, dominated by women, to offer a class only for guys.

This class at boundless, taught by one of our beloved (male) teachers, chaka, is mondays at 7:30 pm.

The fears most men have regarding yoga is that a) they aren’t flexible enough, b) they won’t be able to “best” the class in the same way they do weights at the gym, and c) they won’t get a good enough workout.

Yoga is not exercise, so men, exercise elsewhere and then come to yoga. Yoga is such a holistic approach to the body that it is the best cross-training series of movements you’ll find anyhwere. You’ll learn about your innate flexbilities, even though most of your forward folds will feel horrible in the beginning. You’ll learn about using your natural strength appropriately, instead of from a place of imbalance. You’ll learn why your neck and back are so tight–and, more important, how to unwind that repetitively-built-in tension, letting it go once and for all.

Finally, your partners (whether men or women), will love you more for it.

I’m serious.

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What to Look for in a Quality Yoga Mat

Quality Yoga Mat

For the past year, I’ve gotten up early in the morning to do some relaxing yoga. This routine has been one of the best things for me, as someone who stresses out very easily, meditation and yoga has greatly helped in making me unwind and get into the proper mood before facing the challenges of the rest of the day. However, when I first started out, there was always one thing that made yoga a bit more burdensome than it should have been: the hard, wooden floor. Believe it or not, I used to do yoga without a mat, and when I did begin using a yoga mat, they weren’t the best. Needless to say, I often found bruises on my knees and legs after what was supposed to be an hour of relaxing yoga.

After deciding that enough was enough , I soon found myself scouring stores for a proper yoga matt, one that would help cushion the hard floor so that I could focus entirely on the yoga I was doing. The following are a few of the things I looked for to buy some of the best yoga mats I currently own.

Yoga MatThe first thing I made sure of when buying a yoga mat is ensuring that the material is right for me. And the best material, both in terms of providing great cushioning and reliability has been organic latex. Not only is it soft and comfortable, the material can also easily decompose, so if I choose to have it replaced, I can toss it out without worrying too much.

The next thing I looked for is ensuring that the size was right for me. The first mat that I ever got was a foot shorter than I was, so needless to say, it wasn’t effective in giving me the maximum comfort that I required. So ensuring that a yoga mat is the same size (often, maybe even a few inches longer) as you is extremely important.

The last thing I focused on was the texture of the mat. When doing yoga, I really want to focus on my own thoughts and the actions that I was doing, and not only the “feel” of the mat. That’s why it’s important to buy a mat that is both soft and natural feeling, but also one that provides good traction to support flexible yoga poses.

In the end, a single yoga mat isn’t right for everyone; buying that right mat really depends on a person to person basis so be sure to get one that fits your needs!

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Learning Gratitude with Yoga

Gratitude

Lately I have been trying to focus on the practice of gratitude, and yes, it is a PRACTICE.

The practice is as follows: wake up in the mornings and mindfully take your thoughts to all the things you are grateful for and do your best to carry this through your day. This is more difficult than it seems as I know my mind would prefer to linger over all the other “stuff” in my life…my “to do” list…work…chores…family…pets…and the list goes on and on. But I find that if I set the intention to let go of that thought process and instead focus on the gratitude I carry for all of the wonderful things in my life, not only do my mornings seem more bearable but my day becomes this beautiful way to experience all those things that so enrich my life.

I have heard that gratitude can make what little you have into more than enough and I find that to be true, because on days when the good stuff seems very thin and difficult to find, my practice of gratitude makes the good stuff more prominent.

Some mornings coming to my gratitude practice is more challenging, such as when the pipe under the kitchen sink bursts when I am hurrying to get my breakfast together before work, but then I am reminded of the good again when my husband graciously offers to clean up and fix it so I wont be late.

I have to say my yoga practice coincides wonderfully with my gratitude practice. If I have a difficult time finding or holding on to my gratitude, coming to my mat or even just coming to my breath brings me back. I hope to motivate and encourage my students to find their own practice of gratitude. Everyone has something to be grateful for no matter what is happening in their lives. Sometimes it is easy to find, like when amazing things are happening but other times it is more elusive and THAT is the practice, can you find gratitude no matter what? And if you can, can you hold on to it and let it turn what little you have into more than enough? I invite you to try this practice and see how it enriches not just your day but also your life.

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