FOOD FOR THOUGHT: SAUCHA

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Saucha is one attitude included in the Niyamas, the self observances “recommended” by Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras.

Nurturing these niyamas can help us live in harmony with our inner self and others.

Within the Niyamas, there are five attitudes to cultivate so that we can work towards emotional stability:

– shauca or purity (more on that topic in the following text),

– santosha or contentment

– tapas or a strong desire to commit to self-transformation (being eager to sweat to purify our inner thoughts and our body for instance!)

– svadhyaya (being eager to know who we are deep inside, reflecting on ourselves)

– Ishvara – pranidhana (surrendering to the universe, trusting life)

All these behaviors and attitude patterns are linked somehow. Observing at least one of them helps us observing another one.

 

 

Saucha can be translated as purification or cleanliness.

We can consider the physical aspect of purification :

  • keeping the body clean inside by eating healthy. We should all become more aware of what we put in our body : Can we really call a coke a drink? Why is this cookie made of more than 50 ingredients (most of them being preservatives, additives and crappy sweeteners)?? Just start by paying attention to the ingredients listed in the food you eat. Avoid eating too many ingredients you cannot pronounce… That’s already a good start!
  • keeping the body clean out as well by taking showers and taking care of oneself (“pampering”, keeping the body fit and strong). It’s the same thing here: The things you put on your body matter! So many cosmetic products are made with hazardous ingredients. Here are some clean and easy tips : What about using pure coconut oil as a body moisturiser or maybe this more sophisticated DIY body cream recipe? Is your face dry? Try this natural honey and aloe vera mask or this DIY carrot and calendula mask. Do you need a body scrub: Mix together powdered coffee, sea salt, coconut or sesame oil and an essential oil… hellooo rejuvenated skin!

Believe me … it matters. We rarely nurture our health until a disease comes and slams us in the face!

 

But we should also consider the cleanliness of our mind.

Let’s strive and work on developing our own positive state of mind:

  • Be kind to yourself and to others. Kind words often lead to a peaceful mind. Small displays of caring goes a long way: So do not hesitate to send a card to your mum, to call a friend, to give a back massage to your partner, to keep the door open for a stranger, to help an old lady go up the stairs, etc.
  • Be optimistic. Stay positive. It’s said that people who have confidence in life and in themselves can really act on their own potential. They dream big and do believe that anything is possible. And you know what… they are often up to magical stuff! I know I have to work on that one… but I’m sure it’s really worth it! What could we achieve if we knew we could not fail?
  • Be patient an enjoy the ride. No need to rush!
  • Strive to keep an equanimous mind.

 

 

A third aspect of Saucha that can be regarded is the cleanliness of our surroundings.

Keeping our home clean and free of clutter. Cluttered surroundings often offer too many distractions! And this often leads to a cluttered mind.

Buying buying buying… vs decluttering… mmm… this is tricky in our consumer society. We should maybe start small: Next time you want to buy a white T-Shirt, ask yourself ‘Do I really need this fifteenth white tee-shirt?’. If the response is ‘well… not really… but…’, do not even bother listening to your ‘but’, just move along and forget about this T-shirt.

Turn off your phone at night. Turn off the wifi when you sleep. Do not charge your phone next to your head. Minimise the exposition to all the waves created by electronic devices. I am even considering investing in an Himalayan Salt lamp for its air purifying properties and as its negative ions are said to neutralise the positive ions created by devices such as TV, phones, computers, etc. (NB : Please notice that I wrote “invest in”… and not “buy”… ahah!).

Try to disconnect from social media (Facebook, Emails, Instagram, etc) from time to time: You will be able to connect with your inner self, tune in with your creativity and better connect with the people next to you as well.

And well… also… be aware of the people you surround yourself with. Don’t let toxic people drag you down. Wait wait! It does not mean that you should disregard friends asking for help or going through a difficult time in your life! No. It means that you should not let anyone tell you that you are worthless. You should not let anyone push you into doing things you do not want to do. Don’t let anyone destroy yourself.

Nurture honest and healthy relationships with your family, friends and partner.

 

To sum up: stay heathy, stay simple and stay happy!

BEAUTY RECIPE: HONEY AND ALOE FACIAL MASK

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Natural beauty at its finest…

Ingredients:

1 teaspoon of organic honey (for its repairing and moisturizing virtues)

2 teaspoons of Aloe Vera gel (for its healing and soothing properties)

1/2 teaspoon of rose hip oil (for its rejuvenating and nourishing effects)

1 drop of lavender oil (calming for the nervous system)

1- Blend all the ingredients together.

2- Apply this mask to your skin.

3- Leave this beautifying potion for about 30 to 40 minutes (meanwhile… dance in your bathroom, read a good book, call your bestie, etc).

4- Wash it off with lukewarm water.

5- Leave the bathroom with a supple, glowing and rejuvenated skin!!

OIL PULLING

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Oil pulling… How does it sound to you?

To be honest, the first time I heard about that, I was quite disgusted by the technique… Yep.. you heard me right!

But, then, I convinced myself to try it out as I have sensitive gums and one of my yoga teachers advised me to try oil pulling with sesame oil to soothe them. Sesame oil is indeed often used in Ayurveda to reduce the Vata Dosha that can lead to having a dry mouth and also a dry skin (I love massages with sesame oil: It also has a warming and calming effect on the whrilwind of the mind).

So how to now?

1- Choose a good quality oil (sesame, virgin coconut oil for its antibacterial properties or sunflower oil – I often pick the sunflower oil because of its neutral taste).

2- When you wake up, start your day by rinsing your mouth with a tablespoon of oil for about 20 to 30 minutes (that is.. if you are patient and if you are not late for work of course!).

3- After those 20 minutes washing your mouth with the oil, spit it in your toilets (not in the sink to prevent obstruction from happening!).

4- Rinse your mouth with warm luke water and finally scrap your tongue.

Oil-pulling addicts will say that it gives you an amazing holistic body detox. They will claim that it clears the skin, relieve you from headaches, etc.
But, to be honest, I haven’t noticed these benefits so far (after 1 year and a half of oil-pulling).
The only thing I can tell you is that:
– I have the impression to have clean teeth and gums afterwards.
– I feel fresh this is why I’m keen on doing it first thing in the morning!
– And my gums have been hurting less since I started oil-pulling.
But, hey! Never forget that everybody is different.
We all react in various ways.
So just give it try and let me know how you feel after 1 or 2 months (don’t try only for one day, ok?).

SKIN CARE IN A GLASS

Green juice

When I have time (often: during the weekends) or when I feel tired, I start my mornings with nutrient-rich juices.

I have two favorite and beautifying combos: My green monster juice and the pink lady one.

 

For the Green Monster, juice 1 organic cucumber with the skin, 1 organic fennel, 1 huge handful of fresh organic mint, 1 big handful of organic baby spinach, 1/2 lemon and 1 organic green apple with the skin.

 

Pink juice

For the Pink Lady, juice 2 raw beets, 1 fennel, 1 finger of fresh ginger and 1 grapefruit… Pour in a glass and enjoy! Sweet and tasty!

 

As always pumpkins, try to use organic products as often as possible…

 

Health Benefits:

– Mint is not only rich in chlorophyll but is also often used to soothe an upset stomach.

Cucumber and fennel are hydrating, nutrient dense and low calorie veggies. Should I say more? Still not convinced to eat or drink your greens? Ok then. A green diet is said to help boost your immune system and keep your body running thanks to the enzymes. As they are also really rich in vitamins and minerals, they will nourish exhausted and stressed bodies. And greens are alkalizing foods: they will help balance your PH. And of course green veggies are beautifying food: the vitamins inside should help your skin clear out and glow!

Lemon is said to help alkalize the body and help flush out the toxins.

Ginger has stomach-soothing and anti-inflammatory properties and is rich in antioxidants. It should help with digestion.

– Beets are high in antioxidants (which help protect against free radical damage) and can support with detoxification. They are a good source of manganese (which can protect against free radical damage) and folate (or vitamin B9, which helps with tissue growth and cell function). They may also help your hair and skin look younger and healthier.

– Grapefruits are rich in vitamin C, which will boost your immune system and… should help enhance collagen production (= happy skin!!)

 

 

Tips:

Do not wait too long before drinking your juice. Try and consume it as soon as you strained it. Otherwise the live enzymes and the vitamins will deteriorate once exposed to air. You will then lose a lot of the nutritional benefits of the juice…

For the lucky ones out there who have a slow masticating juicer, you can store your juice for up to 24 hours  in a refrigerated container.

It’s up to 72 hours for the juices made with a press juicer!!

 

 

Tips to get winter ready

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Hey lovelies! I hope you’re well during the holiday season! For this article, I was inspired by the article I wrote for the blog of the French yogawear brand YUJ: here is the article in French.

 

Christmas is here! Chocolates, gingerbreads, champagne and cookies are everywhere. December is so tempting! And this is also often why we feel so heavy and uncomfortable by the beginning of January.

This year, let’s say no to hangovers and regrets and welcome the holiday season the healthy way instead! Let’s indulge in beautiful and wise treats so that we stay well and happy throughout the celebrations! Let’s get our body winter ready…

Winter time is the Vata season according to ayurvedic principles: cold, dried and windy. The cold weather dries out our skin as dries out the land. To balance this feeling, it’s interesting to favour warming, hydrating and nourishing dishes such as good fats, nutrient-dense and comforting food. Hep hep hep! No I’m not saying you should be eating all the chocolates or all the creamy cakes! Nop! It’s not what I’m talking about! I’m suggesting eating more nourishing but healthy foods such as bananas, avocado, nuts, good fats (my favorite = cold-pressed virgin coconut oil), squash and root vegetables that will keep us grounded. (sorry about the croissants and cappucino by the way…)

In Ayurveda, it’s suggested to favour sweet, salty or sour flavors to pacify the aftermath of a tough season. So let’s eat delicious and warm dishes such as soups or steamed veggies and good fats to soothe the Vata dosha.

The salt will warm and mineralize an exhausted body (try to choose a good natural sea salt or the pink Himalayan salt or seaweed). My favorite “sea-inspired” reicpe is the seaweed pesto made of  virgin olive oil, a mix of seaweeds, garlic, capers, lemon juice and apple cider vinegar. Perfect combo since you have your good fats, iodin and some garlic to fight against a bad cold.

Sweet tastes that you can find in root veggies -such as sweet potato or turnip- will nourish and ground a stressed body.

Sour food -such as capers, apple cider vinegar, citrus fruits- will stimulate the digestive fire.

During this season, I also love to spice my food with cardamon, anti-inflammatory turmeric, cinnamon, ginger or cloves.

 

Here are some recipes:

For a spicy and comforting breakfast, let’s combine a cup of oats, a cup of almond milk, a table spoon of coconut milk, 2 spoons of warm water, a handful of raisins, a dried fig, some spices (cardamon, cinnamon, vanilla, nutmeg), some pecan nuts or hazelnuts and a teaspoon of good honey or maple sirup if you feel like it.

For a sweet and grounding dinner: The cauliflower soup with vanilla and coconut milk. In a pan, let’s stir the cauliflower and an onion with some coconut oil. Add 200 ml of coconut milk, a little bit of water and let it cook for about 10 minutes. At the end, you can sprinkle some vanilla, salt and pepper on top. Yummy and creamy!

For a delicious chai-inspired tea: Boil a rooibos tea with cardamon, cinnamon, ginger, chili, cloves, vanilla, stevia with a coconut-rice milk. über-toothsome!

 

 

For an extra cocooning feeling, don’t forget to massage body and feet with sesam oil; nourish your lips with shea butter and protect your face from the wind with some jojoba oil.

DIY WINTER FACE MOISTURIZER

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Fall is here… Wintertime is approaching. That means we’ll be less exposed to the sunlight, ie that our skin will go whiter and whiter. I’m not used to it. I grew up on an island and even if I’ve no longer been living there for more than 6 years, I cannot get used to not having a tanned skin!

So during winter time, I’ll try to get a natural tan look anyhow.

The beta-carotene in carrot, sweet potato and urucu(m) is my best friend during this time of the year! Ok, well… I usually eat them… but today, I’ll suggest another way to get your beta-carotene shot. We’ll devise a beta-carotene-rich facial oil. Yay to a natural tanned skin!

 

 

Ingredients:

– 25 ml of carrot oil (I used Melvita’s organic oil which consists of macerated carrots in sunflower oil)

– 25 ml of jojoba oil ( I used Melvita’s organic one)

– One or two drops of tea tree essential oil

– One handful of organic dried calendula flowers

– 5 urucum seeds (I bought Sol Semilla’s urucum)

 

How to: 

It’s what I call an easy-peasy preparation!

First mix both carrot and jojoba oils.

Then, you have to infuse the calendula flowers and the urucum seeds in this oil mixture. To do so, let the calendula flowers and the urucum sit into the carrot and jojoba oils for about 10 days (keep it in a dark and cool place).

After those 10 days, you can strain your -now- golden oil and add the drops of tea tree essential oil.

Voilà! It’s done.

 

Happy pampering!

 

 

Beauty Benefits:

– The carrot oil -which consists of macerated carrots in sunflower oil- will provide your skin with plenty of pro-vitamin A (you will be grateful for its reparing properties and grateful for the natural golden tan that will be left on your skin!) and E (say hello to a nice and moisturized skin).

Jojoba oil moisturizes the skin very well and softens it. Jojoba oil is also known to be compatible with the skin as its composition is similar to our sebum.

– Tea tree essential oil is said to purify the skin and to balance the skin sebum production.

– Calendula flowers may help repair your skin. Scares seem to be soothed and neutralized after applying calendula oil on it.

Urucum is high in beta-carotene and has anitoxidizing properties. It may slow the ageing process of the cells. Adding it to this facial treatment will also contribute to the natural golden tan effect.

 

 

GENTLE AND EASY AYURVEDA-INSPIRED FALL CLEANSE

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Hey psss! Did you read the article I wrote for YUJ’s French blog?

It’s about getting our body ready for the transition from summer to fall. I was inspired by some ayurvedic routines and tried to build a gentle and easy routine to follow, in order to cleanse the body before entering the new season. For those of you who want to practise their French, please, go ahead, and have a look at the post. For the others, you will find the translation of the article below.

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Cold weather is approaching! How to get ready for the change of season?

Dear Yoginis, we know you dread the coming fall, the coming cold and the coming rain! We do too at YUJ!

But come on! We should not feel dejected since fall can also be a “warm” season with the nice twilight, the pumpkins’ warm colors, the cosy sweaters and the steaming herbal teas…

Fall can be a likable time of the year! All the more so as YUJ is launching a new series called “Fall in The City”. You will read 4 episodes in which you will find tips to reenergize the body despite the greyness and the cold.

In this first post, we will share some Ayurveda-inspired tips to get our body prepared for the coming gloomy weather… in a gentle way!

According to the Ayurvedic medicine, external factors -such as climate and seasons- affect our internal balance and our wellness. During these changes of season, it is very important to listen to our body, to cocoon and to be nice to ourselves.

Here is a fall routine we can follow to feel good and grounded:

–      First and foremost, we should use a tongue scraper after waking up to get rid of those bacteria that built up during the night.

–      Then, on an empty stomach, we can drink a big glass of warm filtered water to rekindle our digestive fire… and help eliminate the toxins.

–      For breakfast, we should try to eat some sweet fruits instead of the ones that are too tart.

–      Throughout the day, we eat some light spices such as ginger, fennel, cinnamon, turmeric, cumin and coriander. We can consume these spices in an herbal tea, on our morning fruits or on our evening soups. That’s to say, we can use them with and on everything!

PS: Our favorite easy-peasy combo is grated apple + grated pear + cinnamon +  ginger + cardamon.

–      We do not forget to drink, as always! Herbal teas, filtered water -our best friend for a life full of vitality-  or cold-pressed and organic fruit&veggie juices. Your call!

–      With the coming cold, we try and curb our consumption of frozen products and drinks as they slow the digestion process (especially during cold seasons).

–     At night, before curling up in the bed, we can massage our feet and body with sesame oil. In Ayurveda, sesame oil is said to help get rid of the toxins caused by stress, anger, alcohol and pollution.

–     And finally, for those of you who are keen on detox and cleanses, Ayurvedic medicine recommend to clean our body thanks to a 3-to-5-day “fast” (during which we could consume nothing but liquid and nutritious products). Or we could also decide to set one day of detox per week during the whole season. And you know our favorite Detox brand: Nubio. We love their “Intense Cure” which consists of green juices rich in chlorophyll. This cure always does miracles for the complexion!

NAMASTE #yujgirls!

DIY “Chococo” Body Cream

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For about 2 years now, I have been trying to stay away from industrial beauty products that are full of chemicals and hormone disrupters.

I switched to gentle, all natural (and often homemade) beauty creams. And I am really happy with those body care treatments so far.

Natural ingredients smell good, are harmless and are really soft on the skin.

 

Ingredients:

– Organic raw cacao butter (you can buy it on Sol Semilla website)

– Organic virgin coconut oil

– Organic pure shea butter

– Organic dried calendula flowers

– Organic sunflower oil

– Lavender essential oil (good to preserve the preparation) or orange essential oil (it will smell like chocolate orangette… so yummy)

 

How to: 

First, prepare your infused calendula sunflower oil by letting calendula flowers sit into the oil for about 10 days (keep it in a dark and cool place).

Then, in a double boiler, you will have to melt and stir together the cacao butter, coconut oil and shea butter. Be careful NOT to overheat the butters and oil.

When these butters are mixed together, you can slowly add (while stirring) the calendula infused oil.

Pour finally in the essential oils (which are sensitive to heat, so be aware of the temperature of your preparation when adding the essential oils).

 

Health Benefits:

– Organic raw cacao butter is rich in antioxidants that can help to soften and reduce stretch marks on the skin.

– Coconut oil moisturizes the skin very well and smells oh so tasty!

– Organic shea butter contains phytonutrients that can help scars to heal. It may also prevent future stretch marks to appears thanks to its high moisturizing properties.

– Sunflower oil will provide the skin with vitamin E (say hello to a smooth complexion!).

 

 

 

Tips For A Good Night Sleep

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When I was anxious or worried, I used to take 2 to 3 hours before being able to sleep! And then it would become a vicious circle: Less sleep, more exhaustion, more worries, less sleep, etc.

But…

During my yoga teacher training, I learned some “life changing” tricks to fall asleep in a softer and natural way… I tried them several times… and it worked!!! (despite all the fuzzy noise of thoughts that were passing through my mind!).

Here are the tips:

1- IF YOU CAN, avoid using a computer or a phone just before going to bed (ok… that one is the most difficult one… Confession: I can never manage to do it since I need my computer for my work and studies.. that I can only perform late at night).

2- IF YOU WANT, you can set a cosy routine. Eg: Drinking a warm herbal tea before lying down in your bed.

3- TRY to sleep in a dark room since the melatonin hormone (that helps regulate sleep) is allowed in darkness (but inhibited by light).

4- Now… the tricks that really worked for me: First, check that the LEFT NOSTRIL is the active one before going to bed (you can check it by putting your hand in front of your nose and see through which nostril you are exhaling).

If the right nostril is the one working… you have to open the left one.

To do so: Place a soft tissue under the right armpit. Inhale through the right nostril (at the same time block the left one with your right pinky). Exhale through the left one (at the same time, block the right one with your right thumb). (This is one breathing technique that we learned in the Pranayama class… And it really worked for me! Such a simple way to unblock a nostril!!).

5- Then, fall asleep on your RIGHT side. Not the left one.

I hope it can help some of you!

Sleep tight!

PS: Tell me if that worked!

Recipe: Morning Glow Juice

Carrot Orange Turmeric Ginger Juice

 

 

I love spending time in the kitchen: Experimenting with “unknown” vegetables or fruits, juicing, designing new recipes… and of course tasting my creations.

When I have some time ahead of me (during weekends or on vacation for instance), I love juicing first thing in the morning. Juices are so refreshing, filled with vitamins and so… yummy!

 

To create this delicious morning juice, you will need:

3 carrots

1 juicy orange

A piece of ginger root (or less if you think that the taste of the ginger is too pungent – I love how it tastes, so I throw 1 big stalk of ginger in there)

A piece of fresh turmeric root

You can now juice your ingredients.

Or, if you don’t own a juicer (like me), blend the ingredients together and then strain them.

 

PS1: DO NOT THROW THE PULP AWAY!!! You can reuse it to make some delicious dressing, dipping sauce, cold soup, “carrot cake” oatmeal, etc (or you can even use the pulp as a face mask! More on that in a future post…)

PS2: As always, try and buy organic or local food whenever you can.

 

Health Benefits: 

Carrots are rich in beta-carotene. Well hello bright complexion!!

Oranges are rich in vitamin C, which will boost your immune system and… will help enhance collagen production (= happy skin!!)

Ginger has stomach-soothing and anti-inflammatory properties and is rich in antioxidants.

Turmeric is a potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant root. No wonder that it has great immune boosting qualities!

All in all, this juice may improve your metabolism and help your blood circulation. Drink this juice for a while and you will notice that your skin is more glowing and dewier!

 

Tips:

Do not wait too long before drinking your juice. Try and consume it as soon as you strained it. Otherwise the live enzymes and the vitamins will deteriorate once exposed to air. You will then lose a lot of the nutritional benefits of the juice…

For the lucky ones out there who have a slow masticating juicer, you can store your juice for up to 24 hours  in a refrigerated container.

It’s up to 72 hours for the juices made with a press juicer!!