Canggu, Bali, August 2016

Buddhist Monastery, Banjar, Bali, August 2016

Yogi at Hindu Monastery, Kauai, Hawaii, March 2014

We can choose to calmly breathe through the storms - whether the storms are within our own being, our relationships, our environment or in our world.

That is the practice. In those times we get to choose love over fear & calm over chaos. That is the practice. That is life. What will you choose? Practice on.

Exerts taken from

brain function age mindful mindfulness yoga yogalign learning re-wiring brain youth clarity memory

by Dr Roger Landry, 8 November 2015

When I was in medical school in the 1960s, the prevailing belief was that once we reached physical maturity, our brains ceased to make new brain tissue. Therefore, all of the conditions associated with aging gradually depleted the neurons in our brains, causing them to atrophy until we eventually succumbed to dementia … Depressing, right?

Fortunately, we were wrong. We’ve since learned that our brains are not the static organs we once thought they were. They are actually dynamic and have the incredible potential for growing, rewiring, and healing.

Neurogenesis, or the ability to make new neurons, and neuroplasticity, the ability of the brain to reorganize and build new neural pathways, continue well into old age, which means that we are, in fact, "architects" of our own brains.

With that in mind, and in honor of November's National Alzheimer's Disease Awareness Month, I'd like to share the two most important things we can all do to prevent brain decay:

1. Keep learning new skills (they're a virtual fountain of youth).

Think of the brain as 100,000 miles of interconnected roads, or neural pathways. Every time we learn something new, recall a fact, or recognize someone, messages travel like cars along these pathways at nearly 300 miles per hour to get us to our destination (i.e., enable us to perform a task).

For example, say you want to learn something new, like the list of presidents or how to play a song on the guitar. Think of that skill as a destination, like Boston. Once you’ve learned that skill, you’ve built a neural pathway to the city. Keep doing it, and you’ve soon created a better, faster freeway to get there.

But stop using that road, and eventually potholes develop and you won’t be able to get there as fast or at all.

Atrophy of the brain used to be viewed as a side effect of aging. Now, we know this may simply be a lack of use.

In other words: Use it or lose it! When we use the skills and knowledge we have, the many connections in the brain remain in the best shape they can be. Don’t use them, and they become more difficult to use through a process known as synaptic pruning, in which the brain atrophies in areas where these functions are rarely used.

So what do I recommend? Continue doing those Sudoku puzzles, playing the guitar, speaking a second language, and cooking new recipes. Neuroplasticity and effective neurogenesis can only occur when the brain is stimulated by environment or behavior.

And the added benefit of learning something new? When we are fully focused on a task, we become mindful and less stressed. Which leads me to my second point:

2. Use mindfulness to manage stress and protect your brain.

Stress, quite literally, rots us from within. The chronic stress that is accepted as part of our modern world is destructive to our cognitive function and raises our risk of dementia.

Within the hippocampus, the memory area of our brains, new cells appear. However, not all survive because stress and depression decrease neurogenesis. The hippocampus, in fact, is one of the first areas affected by Alzheimer’s disease, bringing into question just how large a role depression and stress are in the development of the disease.

Sadly, we as humans are the only mammals (as far as we know) capable of self-inducing the stress-producing “fight-or-flight” mechanism with our thoughts.

In other words, we can get ourselves worked up over a missed deadline and trigger the same bodily responses as though we were suddenly trapped in a cage with an angry lion. And we can maintain that level of stress for days … weeks … months … even years after the threat is gone.

How can we combat this? Rather than let your thoughts become the driver of your emotions, observe your mind as it begins to get wound up with worry and negativity.

Simply practicing mindfulness and observing your thoughts puts you back in control so that your emotions don't trigger the stress response. Don’t judge your mind; just notice. Wow, look how my mind is getting itself all out of joint over this thing. This reminds you that you are not your mind — and that you can control what you think. This will result in lowering your stress.

The bottom line: By keeping your mind engaged and managing the self-induced stress response, you can help your brain continue to function at high levels for a lifetime.

Interesting stuff ... no harm in adding it to your daily routine, at the very least your body will love the nice deep breaths.

Plant your feet firmly into the floor, about hip distance apart (comfortable for you to squat), maintain natural spinal alignment, cross the left arm over the chest and take hold of the right earlobe, squeezing it between your thumb & forefinger, then right arm crossed over taking hold of the left ear lobe.  Take a deep inhalation going down into a squat and then exhale as you stand.  Repeat for 1-3 minutes.

The exercise needs to be done at least 5 days a week to be beneficial.

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friends family anxiety yoga friendship listening love support yogalign mount maunganui new zealand

by Shannon Kaiser

When I was plagued by choronic anxiety, I woke up every day with a weight on my chest. I had trouble breathing, broke into cold sweats constantly, and would burst into tears with no warning. To make it through the day was truly a challenge.
Many people suffer from Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and, fortunately, the problem is slowly being destigmatized. Being open about our struggles is the best way to start healing them. If you have a loved one who’s dealing with anxiety, your support and acceptance can make a huge difference in their recovery.

That said, it can be easy to derail someone’s progress or alienate a friend if you aren’t aware of and sensitive to their struggles. With that in mind, here are seven common statements you might think are helpful, but really aren’t — plus what to say instead.

1. Don’t say: “You have a lot to be grateful for.”
Anxiety is attack on self — fear manifested into projected outcomes. Most people with anxiety have spent an enormous amount of time focusing on gratitude. When you say “you should be grateful,”the anxious person hears, “I am not doing enough to be happier. I’m not grateful for enough in my life.”

People who suffer from anxiety are already dealing with guilt and shame. This statement implies that you think they aren’t doing enough. If there’s one thing you can count on, it’s that anyone suffering from chronic anxiety is trying with every fiber of their body to be happier.

Instead, try: “I appreciate you.”
When I was in the clutches of anxiety, my mother told me, “We are so happy you live close by, and we appreciate you.” Hearing those words reminded me that I was enough as I was, and that I was valued. Appreciation is stronger than gratitude, and everyone needs to know they are appreciated.

2. Don’t say, “You should meditate.”
This goes on the list of things that every anxiety sufferer has tried, and probably does regularly. Just because something works for you, don’t assume it will be a magic bullet for someone else.

Instead, ask: “What brings you peace?”
Meditation is one path to peace. It's not one-size-fits-all, and the goal is to find peace, however you can. Telling an anxious person what they should do is never going to make as much of a difference as much as helping them

3. Don’t say, “Everything will be okay.”
This is not helpful to someone who is suffering from anxiety, because anxiety projects illusions.

Instead, try: “I am here for you. I will support you.”
Anxiety is an incredibly isolating experience, so reaching out to say, “I am here to help you and be a friend” makes a world of difference for sufferers.

4. Don’t say, “Just be happy.”
This implies that the disease this person is dealing with is actually just a matter of willpower and personal focus. That’s disheartening and condescending.

Instead ask, “What can I do to help you feel happier?”
This gives the power back to the person feeling stuck, and communicates to them that you’re on their team. It’s incredibly reassuring to feel that someone is there for you, helping you move forward.

5. Don’t say, “It’s all in your head.”
Yes, it’s a mental issue, but this statement suggests that you just need to handle your irrational thoughts. It totally trivializes feelings that are crippling.

Instead, try: “Let’s go have some fun.”
The less you get stuck in your head, the easier it will be to feel more joy in the moment. Walk in a park, visit a bookstore together, or take a yoga class. Engaging in activities together helps keep your mind present, pushing anxiety out of the prime spot.

6. Don’t say, “What do you have to be anxious about?”
This is an incredibly common thing for anxious people to hear, but it’s also terribly condescending. It suggests that you think the person doesn’t deserve to feel anxious based on the limited information we have about their life.

Instead, try: “How can I help you feel less stressed?”
You have to assume you don’t know what’s really going on with someone. We almost never know the deepest struggles people are facing. Rather than operate based on the surface knowledge you have, offer to lend a hand. Show you’re there and willing to lighten their burden.

7. Don’t say, “There are people with much bigger problems.”
Anxious people generally know this, and already feel guilty about the anxiety they are suffering for that very reason. Being reminded of it actually makes them feel worse.

Instead, try: “I’m really sorry to hear that. Do you want to talk?”
Are you sensing a theme? What anxious people don’t need is prescriptive advice that most of us aren’t actually qualified to give. The most helpful thing anyone can do is be encouraging, offer support, and withhold judgment.

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older — that’s 18% of the population.

If you or someone you know is suffering from chronic anxiety seek professional help and support from loved ones.

If you want to go deeper on this topic and heal anxious tendencies, check out my book Adventures for Your Soul.

love lungs breath breathe balance calm restoration libby weaver leonie main yoga yogalign exhausted to energised thanks gratitude

The following exerts are taken from Dr Libby Weaver's new book "Exhausted to Energised" - a fascinating read.

"The nervous system makes countless decisions about so many things each day. And night. Fundamentally, we are hardwired for survival. However, in this day and age, the messages from our environment can easily signal to our nervous system that our life is in danger when it isn't. And that can have significant consequences for our energy.

The autonomic nervous system

The ANS "runs" our body behind the scenes and its not under our conscious control.

There are three parts to the ANS. They are the sympathetic nervous system (SNS), the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS), and the enteric nervous system (ENS).

In general, the SNS and the PNS have opposite functions. When we are under stress, the SNS raises out heart rate, increases our respiratory rate, releases stress hormones, and shunts blood away from the digestive tract to the muscles so that we can run away from or fight whatever is threatening us.

If organ systems in the body are unhealthy and therefore stressed themselves, or if we are mentally or emotionally stressed, that increases the sympathetic load as well.

The SNS by its very nature is catabolic, meaning that it breaks down muscle tissue due to the increased amounts of secreted cortisol (a stress hormone). High-intensity exercise is also sympathetic in nature.

The PNS is able to do its wonderful work overnight, provided we go to bed early enough, because cortisol - a hormone linked to energy, body fat and inflammation, naturally starts to rise around 2am.

The SNS and the PNS are designed  to balance each other out. We are not supposed to be "stuck" in SNS dominance, yet far too many people today do live in SNS dominance, which is damaging their heath and energy.

Adrenalin - one of the hormones behind SNS dominance - is one of the major hormones that drives humans to feel anxious, and decreasing its production is key to shifting this.

What activates the SNS? Caffeine and our perception of pressure and urgency. What activates the PNS? Lengthening the exhalation of breath. And from PNS activation, energy is sustained, even, centred, focused and yet calm. Constant SNS dominance is draining and unsustainable because of the hormones involved.

Reducing the sympathetic load is essential for great energy if the SNS is dominant. Movement is important, but it is best approached from a gentle angle and with a nurturing attitude, rather than at a go-go-go speed. Far more effective exercise for SNS-dominant people is breath-focused and restorative, such as t'ai chi, qi gong, yoga, or any exercise this is done slowly and while being conscious of the breath.

Once the nervous system is better balanced, energy, sleep and mood quality will all improve, and you will most likely find that this concept is game-changing to the way you approach your body, your health and your energy."

balance movement hormones stress peace rest restoration breathe libby weaver yogalign yoga

nature spring 2015 connection one breath breathe yoga yogalign michaelle edwards gratitude love healing peace thankfulness

"We often forget that we are nature. Nature is not something separate from us. So when we say that we have lost our connection to nature, we’ve lost our connection to ourselves." Andy Goldsworthy

beach dance body interconnected balance fascia muscle support  breathing relax alignment yoga yogalign beachpod mount maunganui leonie main michaelle edwardsIdeally, balanced tensile forces in our fascia & musculature structures work together to support our body with movement that is comfortable & efficient.

However, by adulthood, dysfunctional alignment & faulty breathing can become ingrained in our neuromuscular patterning, making this ideal hard to realise.

When these bad habits are adopted, people work themselves to exhaustion just moving through the day, because it takes double the effort to slouch that is takes to stand & move from the centre of their bodies.

Culture & lifestyle reinforce these weaknesses, because it has become commonplace to sit & exercise with misaligned, compressed spines.

Good posture is effortless, arising from deepening of the breathing process, the balance of tensile forces, & relaxation in the nervous system.

Above text exerts taken from Michaelle Edwards, YogAlign - Pain Free Yoga From Your Inner Core

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Michaelle Edwards
August 10 2015

Here is another excellent article describing why static stretching does not contribute to functionality in real life movement.

think different yogalign yoga mount maunganui tauranga Michaelle Edwards Kauai Hawaii

Too Loose Too Much

by Vern Gambetta

Perhaps the most misunderstood and controversial component of training is flexibility. Much of this controversy has arisen because of the cult of flexibility that would lead us to believe that our athletes must become contortionists in order to prevent injuries and perform athletic movements. This is a gross misapplication of the importance of flexibility. Flexibility is both an anatomical quality as well as a physical ability. As an anatomical quality it is determined by the shape of the joints. As physical quality it is the ability to perform movements through a large amplitude. We all know that flexibility is necessary for efficient movement, but we are less sure how much is needed, where it is needed and how it is most efficiently developed. How much of flexibility is determined by joint structure and body structure? Is one particular method more advantageous than another? What is the best time in the workout to develop flexibility? What are the flexibility requirements for various sports? Is it possible to be too flexible?

The conventional definition of flexibility is the range of motion that is available at a particular joint. We must move beyond this and recognize that flexibility is not a static, but a dynamic controlling quality that allows the joint to go through as large a range of motion as can be controlled. The controlling nature of flexibility governs the range of motion used in skill performance and controls the length of the movement available for force production and reduction. Conceptually it is best to use the term "Mostability." Mostablity is a synergistic combination of motion and stability. According to Gray it is "The ability to functionally take advantage of just the right amount of motion at just the right joint in just the right plane in just the right direction at just the right time." (Gray 1996) The opposite of this is instability which is any degree of mobility that cannot be controlled.

Dynamic range of movement as expressed in sports movements is significantly greater than what can be expressed statically due to the elasticity of the involved tissue and reciprocal inhibition which allows the opposing muscle group to relax. That is why a pitcher can externally rotate at the shoulder beyond ninety degrees when pitching, but statically may not be able to get within ten to fifteen degrees of that dynamic range.

Perhaps the reason flexibility is thought of as a static quality is that it is often measured statically by tests such as the sit & reach test. Experience as well as research has shown that there is no relationship between static flexibility and dynamic performance. Some of the fastest and most explosive athletes that I have worked with have been "tight." Conversely some of the most often injured athletes were the individuals who were most "flexible" in the conventional sense. We must remember performance is not a stretching contest. "...While there is no proven connection between joint looseness and overall athletic performance, too much looseness can be a real liability in sports that require rapid changes of direction and acceleration, such as basketball, tennis, and soccer, while too little of it would seriously restrict a gymnast or a figure skater; and so the quality of joint looseness or flexibility is largely sports specific." (Arnot and Gaines, 1984) The goal of flexibility training is not a "gumby" effect where the athlete has no joint integrity. "Flexibility, then, is an important factor in prevention of injuries and in efficient skill performance, but to satisfy these purposes, flexibility must be accompanied by ligamentous and muscular stability surrounding an articulation." (Kreighbaum and Barthels, 1990) Joint integrity must never be compromised for range of motion. When this occurs the athlete will be predisposed to injury. Observing this concept will give the control and range of motion necessary to efficiently and safely perform the required skill. The goal of flexibility training is to functionally lengthen and strengthen. According to Kreighbaum and Barthels: "Adequate strength in extreme joint positions also is necessary to prevent joint structure damage by the outside force." (Kreighbaum and Barthels, 1990) Therefore it is impossible to talk about flexibility without talking about strength. Improper strength training can impair flexibility, not because the athlete becomes too muscular or muscle bound, although that is a possibility, but because of improper development of a muscle or a group of muscles that results in restriction of motion around a joint. My personal experience is that a properly designed strength training program will enhance flexibility rather than retard it because of the control and stability factor that strength lends to the movement.

Many of the problems with flexibility begin with it's placement within the structure of the workout. Stretching is not warm-up. Too many people equate stretching with warm-up. You must warm-up in order to effectively stretch to gain flexibility. Stretching should occupy a small part of a well designed warm-up. Static stretches before warm-up or competition cause tiredness and decrease coordination. They have a calming effect therefore are best used as part of the cool-down.

Static stretching improves static flexibility. Dynamic stretching improves dynamic flexibility. Therefore it is not logical to use static stretches to warm-up for dynamic action.

There are five factors that determine flexibility:

  • The elasticity and the length of the involved muscles and tendons. This is determined genetically but can be altered through a well designed strength training program.
  • The structure of the joints. The shoulder is inherently more flexible than the knee or hip because of structure of the articulation.
  • The level of basic coordination in order to allow motor control of the involved joints.
  • The fitness level of the athlete.
  • The psychological/emotional state of the athlete. The athlete who is 'up tight' or tense by nature tends to be less flexible.                                                                                                                   Functional flexibility is best exhibited by economy of movement in the desired sport skill. The athlete who is too "tight" does not have this economy of movement. Assessing flexibility is best done through observation of the athlete in their respective sport activity. Are they smooth in their movements? Can they get in the required positions dynamically? Has there been a pattern of injuries? After these questions are asked and there is a deficiency then it is time to do a more formal functional assessment. Flexibility is a dynamic controlling quality then it should be tested as such. The tests should be functional and dynamic that make comparisons intra-individual rather than inter-individual. Compare left to right and identify any deficiencies. Observe the movement and see if the deficiencies identified on the tests are manifested as performance deficiencies or in any way impair performance. The results are highly individual therefore we should not compare flexibility norms. What about the traditional sit and reach test? Fundamentally it is a mistake to have the sit & reach on the Presidents Physical Fitness Test battery for the previously mentioned reasons. What makes it even more fallacious is to have norms set that make inter individual comparisons on what is a highly individual physical quality.

What are better ways to test flexibility? Consider the tests in the book "Lower Extremity Functional Profile" by Gary Gray With Team Reaction as a start for you to develop your own functional flexibility profile. I do not think we should try to come up with universal flexibility test that address all populations. It is more useful and practical to develop test that measure mostabiliy in positions that the athlete will have to perform in competition.

The optimum time to develop flexibility is post workout. At that time the temperature of the involved tissue is highest, consequently the greatest gains can be made at this time. Post workout flexibility work also has a restorative regenerative effect by calming the athlete and restoring the muscles to their resting length, stimulating blood flow and reducing spasm. Unlike other physical qualities flexibility can be improved from day to day. Once range of motion is increased or developed to the desired level it is easy to maintain that range of motion. Less work is needed to maintain flexibility than is needed to develop flexibility.

Kurz in "Stretching Scientifically - a guide to flexibility training" presents a convincing argument for including an early morning stretching session. This session consists of a few rhythmic dynamic stretched to lubricate the joints. Kurz recommends that no isometric static stretches be done in the morning because they are too exhausting to the nervous system. "The purpose of this stretching is to reset the nervous regulation of the length of your muscles for the rest of the day." (Kurz, 1994) This session should take ten to fifteen minutes. It is an interesting idea, give it a try. the athletes that I have used it with have felt that it helped them better prepare for workouts latter in the day.

The work of Drabik highlights the growth and development consideration for development of flexibility. At Preschool age there is no need for any development. Natural play and movement will take their joints through full ranges of movement. Elementary school - At the ages of six to ten the mobility of the shoulder and hip is reduced. Therefore to prevent any permanent reduction in mobility at these joints it is necessary to do dynamic stretches at the hip and shoulder. Drabek recommends that children of this age "Avoid static stretches of all kinds (passive, active, isometric) in training preadolescent children because excitation dominates over inhibition in a child's nervous system. This means that it is hard for children to stay still, relax and concentrate properly on feedback from their muscles for periods as long as static stretches require." (Drabek 1996) The middle school ages is the developmental stage where flexibility should receive an emphasis. With rapid growth that occurs in this age range flexibility should focus on the muscles made tight by the rapid growth of bones. If this is not done the ultimate effect will be bad posture and susceptibility to injury. After the growth spurt flexibility training can be increased and become more sport specific, very similar to an adult program.

In summary it is important to consider the following flexibility training principles when incorporating flexibility into the total training program.

  • Use moderation and common sense. Flexibility is only one component of fitness do not overemphasize it. Do not force a stretch. If it hurts don't do it.
  • Flexibility and strength training should be combined.
  • Be joint specific in the development of flexibility.
  • Emphasize dynamic flexibility.
  • Do not use bouncing ballistic stretches.
  • Orient the body in the most functional position relative to the joint or muscle to be stretched and relative to the athlete’s activity.
  • Use gravity, body weight, ground reaction forces as well as changes in planes and proprioceptive demand to enhance flexibility.
  • Develop a flexibility routine specific to the demands of the sport and the qualities of the individual athlete.                                                                                                                           ReferencesArnot, Robert B. and Gaines, Charles L. (1984) SportsTalent. New York: Penguin Books.
    Dominguez, Richard H. M.D., and Gajda, Robert S. (1982) Total Body Training. New York, N.Y: Warner Books.
    Drabik, Jo'zef Ph.D.( 1996) Children & Sports Training, Stadion Publishing Company, Inc. Island Pond, Vermont.
    Hartmann, Jurgen. and Tunneman, Harold. (1989) Fitness and Strength Training. Berlin: Sportverlag. Kreighbaum, Ellen and Barthels, Katharine M. (1990) Biomechanics - A Qualitative Approach For Studying Human Movement., Third Edition. Macmillan Publishing Company, New York, New York.
    Kurz, Thomas. (1994) Stretching Scientifically - a guide To Flexibility Training. Stadion Publishing Company, Inc. Island Pond, Vermont.
    Kurz, Thomas. (1991)Science of Sports Training - How to plan and control training for peak performance. Stadion Publishing Company, Inc. Island Pond, Vermont.

berry love skin glowing hormones balance health wellness yogalign yoga foods produce mount maunganui beachpod Michaelle Edwards

by Robyn Srigley, July 26 2015

7 Hormone-Balancing Foods For Glowing Skin

Our skin is the protection we have against the elements. For those with glowing, smooth and clear skin, it's also a source of pride. For others, plagued with acne, eczema and other skin conditions, showing their skin can be a source of anxiety. This is especially true if you're a woman with a hormonal imbalance.

Be it teenage acne, PMS-related breakouts or dry skin from menopause and hypothyroidism, our hormones can wreak havoc on our skin.

No need to fret! Mother Nature provides us with everything we need to be glowing, inside and out. When combined with a healthy diet, exercise plan and a positive attitude toward stress, the following seven superfoods can help create the glowing skin and balanced hormones you’ve always wanted.

1. Berries

Berries of all types — blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, etc. — are fantastic for glowing skin and balanced hormones. Since they contain high levels of antioxidants, they're packed with free radical-fighters that will fight aging on the skin and internally. Berries are also a low-sugar, high-fiber fruit, making them perfect for balancing blood sugar and therefore, our hormones and PMS-type symptoms.

2. Turmeric

This supreme superfood is getting a lot of positive attention recently, and rightly so. Not only does is reduce pain and fight cancer, this wonder spice is fantastic for our skin. Like berries, turmeric is very high in antioxidants. It also decreases inflammation, a leading cause of skin problems.

It's easy to use topically: just mix it with yogurt, milk, water or honey for a DIY mask. Of try it internally to combat oxidative stress that can lead to PMS and problem skin.

3. Walnuts
Walnuts are often thought of as a brain food, but their high omega-3 content also makes them a wonderful addition to any glowing skin diet. Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to balance the depression, anxiety and mood swings associated with hormonal imbalances. These healthy fats also reduce inflammation and balance insulin, a leading cause of acne in women.

4. Liver

Don’t run away! Although many of us dislike (or downright hate) eating liver, there are still ways for you to get this powerful superfood. Liver is full of fat-soluble and skin-glowing Vitamins A and D, as well as minerals like iron, calcium, magnesium and zinc. Zinc is an essential nutrient for both hormones and skin with its immune modulating effects.

Try mixing ground liver into meat sauce or taking desiccated liver tablets if you don’t want to eat this organ meat.

5. Oats

High in fiber and full of silicon, oats are a no-brainer addition to the skin-brightening diet. Silicon is a trace mineral that promotes firmness and strength in body tissues, while also helping skin retain elasticity, slowing the signs of aging. Just make sure to choose a gluten-free source of oats — these grains are often contaminated with potentially inflammatory wheat and/or gluten, not a good thing for balancing hormones.

6. Avocado

Avocados are full of healthy fats that help stabilize blood sugar. Packed with skin-calming minerals like potassium, magnesium and calcium, avocados are also a potent source of antioxidants that help your body squash free radicals. More good news for women with estrogen dominance or related conditions like PCOS, endometriosis and fibroids? This little powerhouse contains a plant sterol with anti-estrogen properties, making it an important part of a hormone-balancing diet.

7. Broccoli

Broccoli is a member of the delicious and extremely nutritious cruciferous vegetable family. It's full of blood sugar-balancing fiber plus anti-aging Vitamins C and A, and contains estrogen-balancing molecules sulforaphane and DIM. Both molecules have proved to be helpful balance hormones as well as diffusing hormone-related skin conditions like acne.

Honorable mentions

While this list is by no means exhaustive and almost any nutrient-dense food will help with skin woes, here are a few more worth mentioning:

Sweet Potatoes
Raw, unpasteurized sauerkraut
Green Tea
Kale and other leafy greens
The basis of any good diet, whether you're eating for the health of your skin or now, is whole, real foods and clean water. Regularly adding these foods to your diet will have a big impact on your skin and hormones over time!

spice life love yoga mount maunganui yogalign

by Dr. Eva Selhub - 15 July 2015

6 Powerful Spices That Can Boost Your Energy

Whether you’re looking to better your performance in the bedroom, boost your brain at work, or improve your stamina at the gym, adding powerful plant substances to your diet can help you get there.

While Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurvedic Medicine have known this for thousands of years, Western science is now catching up to discover that many spices provide powerful anti-inflammatory and energy-boosting effects, even in small doses. Bonus: They also offer antioxidants that can help you become healthier.

From curry to cloves, here are six of my favorite herbs and spices to help boost energy. They’re even easier to remember: they all start with “C"!

Curry Powder

This flavorful mixture of spices contains turmeric, which gives it its notable yellow color, and fenugreek.

Turmeric is composed of curcumin, known as a powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. In fact, studies show that it may even have cancer-fighting benefits, can reduce pain, and can improve brain, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal and lung functions.

Meanwhile, fenugreek also contains potent antioxidant properties and has been shown to increase both the male and female sex drives.

How to Use It: Add curry to soups and stews, or sprinkle some over vegetables with a dash of olive oil before roasting.


This classic spice does more than help create a festive feel around the holidays.

Studies have shown that it can also help lower blood sugar levels and improve heart health. Plus, it has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and assists with anticancer and antimicrobial (anti-infection) activity.

Traditionally, this spice has been used to improve libido in both men and women, though that hasn’t yet been scientifically validated.

How to Use It: Take a teaspoon of cinnamon in your morning coffee or tea, or add it to apples and oatmeal.


Though a main component in curry powders, cumin can also pack a punch when used on its own. It’s a powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, cumin has also been used to help with low sex drives.

How to Use It: I love throwing a tablespoon into soups or stews, and on my sweet potato mash.

Cayenne Pepper

This spice’s active ingredient is capsaicim, which is good for the heart, arteries, blood and digestive system. Not to mention that it’s also a potent anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant, has strong anti-cancer activity, and helps boost metabolism.

How to Use It: Add a teaspoon to spice up your breakfast eggs. Or, combine a tablespoon with a teaspoon of paprika to punch up tomato sauce.

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This aromatic spice was used by the ancients to improve libido and sex drive. Today, it’s also known as a powerful antioxidant, aiding in digestion, reducing inflammation and helping with wound healing.

How to Use It: Cloves can be a great addition to tea or hot cider.


Coriander comes from the dried seed of cilantro. It acts as a detoxifier and can aid with digestion, hormone and mood balance. Plus, it also has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and is a good source of minerals like magnesium, iron and manganese.

How to Use It: Add coriander to your soups, stews or meat dishes. In the form of cilantro, this herb can also be used in salsa, salads or as a way to spice up any dish.

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Happy 80th Birthday, Dalai Lama!

17 Wise Quotes To Change The Way You Think

by Allie White, MBG Editorial Team, July 6 2015

A very happy 80th birthday to the Dalai Lama! The spiritual leader of his people and religion for 65 years (he assumed the role when he was 15), he's an author, philosopher, Nobel Peace prize winner and prolific speaker.

To honor his wisdom and years of knowledge, we've compiled 17 of his quotes that speak to love, compassion, peace, humanity, humility, violence and the environment. We hope they make your day a little brighter and bring new perspective to your life.

"My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness."

"It is very important to generate a good attitude, a good heart, as much as possible. From this, happiness in both the short term and the long term for both yourself and others will come."

"The root of happiness is altruism — the wish to be of service to others."

The mind is like a parachute. It works best when it’s open.

"I feel that the essence of spiritual practice is your attitude toward others. When you have a pure, sincere motivation, then you have right attitude toward others based on kindness, compassion, love and respect. Practice brings the clear realisation of the oneness of all human beings and the importance of others benefiting by your actions."

"Human happiness and human satisfaction must ultimately come from within oneself. It is wrong to expect some final satisfaction to come from money or from a computer."

"If there is love, there is hope that one may have real families, real brotherhood, real equanimity, real peace. If the love within your mind is lost and you see other beings as enemies, then no matter how much knowledge or education or material comfort you have, only suffering and confusion will ensue"

"I call myself a feminist. Isn't that what you call someone who fights for women's rights?"

"Compassion and tolerance are not a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength."

"Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive."

"I believe all suffering is caused by ignorance. People inflict pain on others in the selfish pursuit of their happiness or satisfaction. Yet true happiness comes from a sense of inner peace and contentment, which in turn must be achieved through the cultivation of altruism, of love and compassion and elimination of ignorance, selfishness and greed."

"Everyday, think as you wake up, today I am fortunate to be alive, I have a precious human life, I am not going to waste it.”

"When I meet people in different parts of the world, I am always reminded that we are all basically alike: we are all human beings. Maybe we have different clothes, our skin is of a different colour, or we speak different languages. That is on the surface. But basically, we are the same human beings. That is what binds us to each other. That is what makes it possible for us to understand each other and to develop friendship and closeness."

"Because we all share this small planet earth, we have to learn to live in harmony and peace with each other and with nature. That is not just a dream, but a necessity."

"Happiness is not something ready-made. It comes from your own actions."
"Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck."

"If you don’t love yourself, you cannot love others. You will not be able to love others. If you have no compassion for yourself then you are not capable of developing compassion for others."

Photo Credit: Pinterest

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Plant Pockets

Craft Collective


Tue 7 Jul 2015, 6:00pm–8:00pm
Thu 9 Jul 2015, 10:00am–12:00pm
Sun 12 Jul 2015, 10:00am–12:00pm

Where: Craft Collective, 85 Twelfth Avenue, Tauranga

Restrictions: R13
General Admission: $40.00

Oxygen making, toxin removing, all round good guys - Vertical Gardens are trending right now both indoors and out. We can teach you how to create Plant Pockets, which you can then connect to build this stunning feature.
Using felt and a sewing machine, your living wall will start to take shape in no time.
We also teach you how to maintain and install at home.
Bring the outdoors in and new life to your living space.
All our classes are 2 hours and $40pp including materials.
Grab a friend and make it a creative catch up!

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June 15, 2015

How To Let Your Spirit (Not Your Ego) Be Your Guide

by Margaret Paul

Did you know you can connect with your spiritual guidance at will — any time you want?
In order to do this, you need to understand the concept of "frequency" — the level at which your energy vibrates. Our bodies vibrate at a low frequency so that we can actually see one another. If we vibrated at the rate of a hummingbird's wings for instance, we would not be able to see each other through the naked eye.
And while our bodies vibrate at a low frequency, we actually have the ability to raise the frequency of our energy. This is what is necessary to connect with our spiritual guidance. The spirit vibrates at a very high frequency, which is why most of us are unable to see spiritual beings.

Imagine how it feels to be in a room full of closed off, angry, judgmental people. This is a low frequency. Now, imagine the feeling in a room full of open, loving, and joyful people. This is a higher frequency.

So how can we begin to connect with Spirit?

The Key To Raising Your Frequency

Your intent is the driving force behind raising your energetic frequency. Your frequency is low when your intention is to control others, control outcomes and control your own feelings. When your intent is to control, you might resort to behaviors that lower your frequency, such as anger, judgment, withdrawal, compliance and resistance.

When your intent is to learn to love yourself and share your love with others, your frequency is high. Your spiritual guidance is here to lead you toward what is in your highest good, so when your intent is to learn to love yourself and others and support the highest good of all, you raise your frequency high enough to connect with your guidance.

Our intent is the most powerful choice we have in life. Given that we have free will, we get to choose our intent, moment-by-moment. But when our intent is to control, we close off our heart and are cut us from Spirit. Our intent to learn and love opens our heart and thus, opens us to Spirit.

And once you've connected to Spirit, then other choices can help raise your frequency even higher. Practices like meditation and prayer, being in nature, playing with animals, listening to beautiful music, movement and dance, creative endeavors and so on, can all help to raise your vibration.

What Gets In The Way?

The "wounded ego" part of our mind fears losing control and therefore, this part of us also fears opening to Spirit. To connect with Spirit, we have to be in a place where it is more important to us to evolve in our ability to love, rather than avoid pain with various forms of control.

Food can also get in the way, as it also has frequency. Clean, organic fruits and vegetables have the highest frequency. Keeping my frequency high has been a huge motivation for me to eat really well!

Processed and packaged products, sugar, and GMO foods have a very low frequency. These low frequency food-like products are very hard on the body, and make it hard to raise your energy high enough to connect with Spirit. I call these products "ego foods," since they lower our frequency and revert us back to our ego-wounded state of self.

Lack of sleep and a sedentary lifestyle can also make it hard to raise your frequency. So does stress.

Connecting with Spirit is simple, but not always easy. If you want at-will spiritual connection, then you need to stay open to learning about loving yourself and others, learn to lovingly manage your stress, get enough sleep and exercise, and eat clean non-processed organic foods.

It's when we connect with Spirit that we are more freely capable of manifesting our dreams. Can you think of anything more important than being guided by your loving Source? All aspects of your life will improve — physically, emotionally, financially, relationally — when you allow Spirit to guide you, rather than your ego.

inner peace meditation yogalign yoga beach pod mount maunganui love compassion kindness gratitude Michaelle Edwards

Notes taken from - Meditation for the Modern Life

Learn to Meditate course Saturday 4 October 2014

Teacher, Kelsang Richog, Buddhist Nun

  • First obstacle to meditation is our distractions. These obstacles are our enemies
  • A mind that sees others as special – very beneficial
  • Freedom from pain, freedom from problems
  • Approach needs to change to achieve happiness. The obstruction is your mental attitude
  • Cherish yourself. Change views and intentions
  • Open ourselves up so we have the capacity to cherish others
  • The more we are able to do this, the happier we are going to be
  • When we recognize others kindness, we cherish them
  • Think about benefits of considering others
  • Contemplate the kindness of our Mother
  • If we take away everything people have given us (directly or indirectly), we are left with nothing, not even our body
  • To develop patience, we need an irritating person
  • To develop love, we need some to love
  • We need an object for our mind to develop these positive qualities
  • To develop compassion, we need to develop love and we need to observe suffering
  • We can use suffering to develop powerful minds to motivate us to do things and make changes 


Object: determination/intention

Focus: kindness of others, appreciate others

“The less we focus on ourselves, the less pain we have.”

Everyone has his or her own sufferings.



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Via Syma Kharal on May 5, 2015 spiritual materialism
Before you speak, let your words pass through three gates:

At the first gate, ask yourself “Is is true?”

At the second gate ask, “Is it necessary?”

At the third gate ask, “Is it kind?”

~ Rumi

I recently found myself removed from a Facebook group I had joined that describes itself as “a loving community of spiritual lightworkers intended for sharing spiritual growth, support, information, resources and other helpful tips and tools.”

I believed I participated accordingly by “Liking” others’ posts and sharing helpful resources to support fellow members, such as articles I published with elephant journal and free worldwide distant healing events I offer monthly. I thus figured the removal was an error and requested to join again, but the request was surprisingly denied.

Unsure of what led to this, I contacted the administrators asking if they could share what happened. A few days later I received a reply from one of the two explaining that while she herself didn’t remove me, only admins are allowed to post events. This confused and disappointed me on several levels. First, as there were no community guidelines beyond the group description, I wondered how loving it was to abruptly remove an unsuspecting member who unintentionally broke an unwritten rule. Second, as a community aiming to foster support and the sharing of resources, I wondered how reserving the exclusive the right to post free healing events served the over 10,000 members. And finally, I wondered how kind it was to essentially ban the sensitive healer types the group is meant to serve.

While this isn’t a particularly drastic example, it did get me thinking of other experiences of snubbing in the “spiritual community.”

There was the raw-vegan yoga student who asked me if I was vegetarian and stopped attending my classes—which he had claimed were really helping his back issues—after I replied I wasn’t.

There was the popular yoga studio owner who stated that if I was interested in practicing “real yoga” (instead of attending classes at a local gym with some of the most grounded, loving and inspiring teachers I have had), that I should join his studio instead.

There was the cosmetician at my first and only visit to a Sephora shop whom I had simply asked about a tinted moisturizer for my yoga teacher training in Thailand. Instead of suggesting a product, she took it upon herself to lecture me what yoga is and isn’t about: It’s not about having clear skin, you shouldn’t care how you look, you shouldn’t try to impress others, you need to let go of your ego and just let your skin detox and breathe for once. It wasn’t even so much what she said, but the highly condescending tone she used that took me aback.

My clients, students and friends have expressed similar observations and disappointments in the spiritual community. A friend who started taking yoga classes sadly expressed that after months of trying to befriend fellow students she felt a camaraderie with given their mutual love of yoga, that her efforts were never reciprocated because she perhaps just wasn’t “hippie” enough for them to fit in.

Interestingly, my own inner spiritual snob came out when I met such “hippies” during yoga teacher training. The training was set on a secluded Thai beach with several yoga, meditation and detox retreat centers, as well as the only bars on the island that sold drugs and held night-long raves. At the time, immersed in reading sacred teachings, in awe of the natural beauty all around me and high on the love within my group, I couldn’t understand how or why these “bohemians” could meditate, do beach yoga and sing kirtans (call-and-response devotional chanting), while simultaneously smoking marijuana, doing hard drugs, raving all night, drinking and screaming in the ocean at sunrise and comparing who had sex with more strangers at the party.

Thankfully, I was able to realize what my real problem was: I somehow thought it was my place to look down on them for their “unspiritual” behavior, which in the very moment I did, disconnected me from my own spirit.

While getting on the “spiritual path” can be completely transformational and open us to profound healing, wisdom and miracles, the tools and teachings we practice—no matter what tradition or trend they follow—usually share the same ultimate aim: inner peace and the perfection of love. But when we get so caught up in what we are practicing rather than why, we can slip into the temptation to judge rather than discern, condemn rather than love and exclude rather than accept.

Even with the best of intentions, it’s all too easy to identify with being a “lightworker” and succumb to darkness.

We may guise a condescending remark by ending it with “Namaste” or “love and light.”

We may gossip about someone and say we are simply “honoring our truth.”

We may say things like, “I am not religious, I am spiritual” in an attempt to disassociate ourselves from what we might perceive as the dogmatic and judgmental nature of organized religion, and yet turn around and exhibit the same exclusivity and rigidity that we think have risen above of.

We may share our love for animals while inwardly calling a meat-eater a murderer.

We may gracefully flow into the most physically advanced yoga pose and yet find those bending their knees in forward fold just not good at or committed enough to yoga.

We may think of ourselves as old souls with many incarnations and then deem someone we think isn’t as evolved as us a “new soul” who clearly has not lived many lives.

We may begin our mornings with a loving-kindness meditation and then resent our “totally unconscious” corporate employer the rest of the day.

These are just some examples of how we may be more attached to the idea of being spiritual rather than practicing the universal spiritual values of love, acceptance, compassion, peace and oneness. The thing to remind ourselves of in these dark moments is that everyone is spiritual because everyone has a spirit. We are all seekers whether we know it or not. We are all lightworkers because the spark of the Divine shines within each of us.

To keep myself in check and monitor any spiritual pretentiousness that creeps up in me, I have developed a three-step process that helps me stay centered in my spirit rather than caught up in my spirituality:

1. Observe Consciously

One of the greatest gifts of spiritual teachings and practices is to help us become aware of our natural human reactions and emotions. We may not be able to control our inner reactions, but if we can catch ourselves as soon as thoughts like, “They are so (fill in the blank)!” come up, we become a witness to our reactions rather than bound by them or identified with them.

2. Accept Compassionately

Once we realize we have slipped into judgement and made ourselves better than or superior to another, instead of condemning ourselves for condemning, we can practice compassion for our own humanness. We can take a deep breath, process our feelings and welcome what we might learn about ourselves.

3. Respond Lovingly

Now that are aware of whatever has come up for us, we can go beyond accepting our human reactions and transcending them by asking one simple question: “What would love do?” The moment we ask this, we bypass our ideas and ideologies and get right to the heart and soul—where all spiritual paths are trying to lead us anyways and yet getting there does not require any specific path at all.

Sometimes the heart will tell us to accept, connect, invite, open and include, and sometimes it may tell us to walk away, speak up, draw a boundary, discern and be firm. But no matter what the heart says, it will always do it from, for and with love.

Whatever spiritual path we follow, how we treat others along the way says nothing about them but only defines us. So the next time we are about to say “Namaste” to someone, let us be mindful of whether we are truly intending to honor and connect with their inner light, or simply trying to outshine them with ours. We can then take a step back, reconnect with our hearts and speak and act from our spirit rather than our spirituality.

Because the world doesn’t need our lightworker lifestyles. It needs, more than anything, our kindness and love.


Author: Syma Kharal

Editor: Caroline Beaton

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When the body is only relaxed, you are lost in the relaxation. This is a passive or lazy state. But the light body is awareness. In this awareness there is a transference from the object, the body, to the subject, awareness. Then the body, freed from its objectivity, appears in awareness as light, pure energy.

In observation free from reaction, you will act intelligently. Where you feel a lack you will make an addition of certain elements, and where you feel a heaviness you will omit certain things, until you come to the organic body, where the expanded, light, energy body is freed. No system can bring you to know yourself in this way. Only reaction-free observation, seeing the facts as they are.

All this is on the level of observation. Simply observe in openness, and you will come to the right way.

Extracts from Open to the Unknown - Dialogues in Delphi by Jean Klein

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