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Green+Aquamarine: August 2014

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Asana of the Week #6 Wheel Pose

Each week, on  Tuesday I will share a pose and explain how to get into the position correctly. Then, I challenge you to try the asana, and tag me on Twitter (@EleanorMayC) or Instagram (@EleanorMay_C) using the hashtag #AsanaoftheWeek Comment below if you have got involved, and have fun!

We're practising backbends this time! This week's asana is Wheel Pose/Upwards Bow Pose, Urdhva Dhanurasana. Wheel pose strengthens and lengthens the spine, improving flexibility and reducing some back pain. The chest is opened, strengthening the lungs, which aids those with breathing problems. It is a whole body posture that strengthens the wrists, arms, legs shoulders and abs, particularly the obliques, producing a slimming and toning effect when practised regularly. Its is also a good hip opener.

Lie on your back, and place your feet flat on the ground, as close to the hips as possible. Place your hands just above your shoulders, splayed fingers pointing down the body. Ground the feet and lift the hips and lower back off your mat. Use your arms and shoulders to push your upper body up with the hips, until the arms are extended fully. Make sure that the neck is relaxed and down. Readjust your feet and hands if necessary. Build up to hold for three minutes, or even longer. Gently bend the arms and legs to come back down, tucking the neck against the chest as you do so to protect it.
Play Around 
Try straightening the legs so that the chest moves up above the shoulders. Or place the feet flat and move them closer to the arms -for me this is somewhat reminiscent of my gymnastic days, when I could get my hands inbetween my feet in wheel pose!

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Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Asana of the Week #5

Each week, on  Tuesday I will share a pose and explain how to get into the position correctly. Then, I challenge you to try the asana, and tag me on Twitter (@EleanorMayC) or Instagram (@EleanorMay_C) using the hashtag #AsanaoftheWeek Comment below if you have got involved, and have fun!

This week I am introducing a balance, Crane Pose, or Bakasana, which is one of my favourite poses. It strengthens the forearms, wrists and abdominal muscles while helping to stretch the upper back, while improving balance. 
To start, squat down and ground the hands, with slightly bent arms and fingers splayed., between and slightly in front of your knees. Press the knees against the outside of your upper arms, and begin to tip forward, transferring your wait onto your hands. Exhale, as you lift your toes off the ground and move into the balance. Aim to hold this for twenty to thirty seconds.

Level it up:

If you feel confident, start to adjust the position of your legs at the start of the pose so that the knees on the triceps. Slowly start to straighten your arms as you hold the balance. Again, hold for up to thirty seconds, and continue practicing until your arms are totally straight.

Next, try a side crow pose. Start with your hands in the same position of Bakasana, but twist the hips around to one side so that your inside leg rests on one arm. Take your time transferring your weight onto your bent arms until your legs are held above the ground. Play around with your balance until you are happy with the pose. Then, extend one or both legs out to one side. Repeat on the other side, and take a photo. Tag me, and use the hashtag, and don't forget to smile!,

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Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Asana of the Week #4

Time for Asana of the Week again. Each week, on Monday or Tuesday I will share a pose and explain how to get into the position correctly. Then, I challenge you to try the asana, and tag me on Twitter (@EleanorMayC) or Instagram (@EleanorMay_C) using the hashtag #AsanaoftheWeek Comment below if you have got involved, and have fun!

Following from last week's Warrior 1 pose, the next Virabhadrasana is Warrior 2 pose. This strengthens and stretches the legs, chest and shoulders and increases stamina. It relieves back aches and stimulates the abdominal muscles.
 From Warrior 1 pose, open your hips so that the left foot only points slightly towards the front of the mat and hips are sideways on. Bend the right leg so that the thigh is parallel to the ground, and raise the arms to be directly following the line of your legs. the shoulders should be stacked above the hips. Look over the right shoulder to face forwards. Hold for five slow breaths. Repeat on the left hand side.

Variations: Reverse Warrior
From Warrior 2, move your back hand down to rest, palm down, on the back leg. Reach as far as you can. Raise the front arm up into the air with splayed fingers. The hips are in the same position as Warrior 2, but the chest is turned upwards to follow the front arm. You may need to move your legs closer together or further apart to hold as deep a bend as comfortable, without the front knee bending beyond the toes. Hold for five to ten breaths and then swap sides. 

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Friday, 8 August 2014

Superfoods Summary: Wheatgrass

Wheatgrass has been a popular health suppliment and all-round superfood for a while now, but what does it actually do? The plant itself simply is the youngest blades from the common wheat, and can be grown at home to be juiced fresh. Alternatively, it can be bought as pre-made juice, powders or tablets.

Wheatgrass contains some 70% chlorophyll. What I was interested to learn is that the chlorophyll molecule is near identical to our hemin molecule (the pigment which forms haemoglobin to carry oxygen within our blood). As a result, ingesting chlorophyll is reported to increase haemoglobin quantity, and therefore oxygen capacity, in the blood. This is essential for brain function, as well as keeping all tissues healthy and able to respire at optimum rates.
 Chlorophyll is also anti bacterial and binds to toxins, so acts as a natural detoxifyer.Wheatgrass is popular as a source of chlorophyll, because it also contains all essential amino acids (the protein building blocks that we need to get from food as we cannot synthesise it ourselves). Along side this, wheatgrass can contain up to 92 out of the 115 soil minerals. This means that wheatgrass is a nutritional powerhouse, and in trials has been shown to keep herbivores alive indefinitely. (check out The Chalk Board for more info)

I have been taking wheatgrass for the last few weeks, so I thought that I would share my experiences of it:

I have been taking it in organic powdered form, because this seems to be the easiest and most readily available form. The powder smells very "green" -I honestly can't think of another way to describe it -and has a strong taste. I've been diluting wheatgrass with a fair bit of water, having a teaspoon with a full glass rather than a shot of liquid. It weakens the taste and ups my water intake, which seems like a win-win to me! I've also added to smoothies, although in slightly less generous amounts so that it doesn't alter the taste too much.
Since I feel pretty healthy anyway, it is hard to pinpoint exactly if I have noticed any effect, but you certainly feel cleansed after taking some. Slight nausea after having wheatgrass (which I have experienced once) is supposedly a sign that it is taking any lurking junk out of your body as part of the detoxifying process. Maybe it is a mental placebo, but I feel better for adding this into my diet. You can pick up Naturya wheatgrass powder from many health food shops including Holland and Barrett for around Ā£7.99.

If you've tried wheatgrass before, comment below to share your experiences!


Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Asana of the Week #3

It is the third Asana of the Week! Each week, on Monday or Tuesday I will share a pose and explain how to get into the position correctly. Then, I challenge you to try the asana, and tag me on Twitter (@EleanorMayC) or Instagram (@EleanorMay_C) using the hashtag #AsanaoftheWeek Comment below if you have got involved, and have fun!
This week we are moving into the Warrior Poses, Virabhadrasana. Today is Warrior 1 Pose. Warrior 1 pose stretches the chest, shoulders and core. The shoulders, arms and calves are strengthened. Stand on the front edge of your yoga mat, then step your left back by around three feet. The left foot should turn outwards lightly to point toward the mat corner. Bend the right leg so that the thigh is parallel to the floor. Rest your hands on your hips to make sure that they are pointing straight forward. Now raise your hands above you, palms inward. Hold this position for five slow breaths through the nostrils. 

Tune in next week for Warrior 2 pose and Reverse Warrior! Click here to see last weeks Upwards Dog pose.

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Monday, 4 August 2014

What to do Without Any Internet

Your screen goes blank. Failure to upload messages start flashing. It's every blogger's nightmare. The internet is down. In a generation where the need to be constantly connected to the online world is starting to hamper our real life relations, we are all starting to get used to campaigns telling us to Turn the Gadgets Off!! But as bloggers and people accustomed to staying in touch and on the pulse, saying bye bye to the WiFi is, well, a scary thought.

Now, it's easy to go offline on days when you're out and about with friends and family, doing things and enjoying yourself. But, what about the times when you're -gulp -alone? What the hell did we used to do with our down time? Last week, I lost access to broadband, the landline, and nearly my mobile, all at once. And it kinda sucked. But it also gave me time to catch up on things that I had wanted to do and hadn't been able to, because the lure of social media had got in the way. It has inspired me to take an evening or so off the internet each week. I have compiled a low-cost list of things to do without internet to help you do the same.
Scrapbooks and Photo Albums
When was the last time that you actually printed a photo? You remember that one,hidden in the depths of facebook that made you smile so much? When was the last time you actually looked through those online albums to look at it? It is all so easy to lose precious memories by not making a physical note of them. I like to use scrapbooks from Paperchase to stick in photos and the odd memo. I hadn't updated my albums in ages, and to look through them all again, and add another couple of years of memories was lovely. Photographs are so cheap and easy to print out, and it is a lovely way to spend a few hours.
Pursue a Hobby
So my mum has really been bitten by the Great British Sewing Bee bug recently. She spends her evenings off making home furnishings, tops and dresses, and is now receiving requests from colleagues to make more tops for them (to my somewhat annoyance since it means that my items get pushed down that waiting list....)
On the other hand, I like to jot down ideas for stories, get into the kitchen, and practice yoga. Whatever it is that you are passionate about, make more time for it, and for yourself.

Okay this one is a slight cheat unless you write a letter or pick up the landline (both perfectly acceptable; remember when it was the only way to communicate from afar). Instead of sending the daily flurry of 160 character messages with people that you know, have a proper conversation. Even if you have to go online to do it, shut off any distractions and only focus on the person for a while. Its important to catch up properly with friends, or to start to know people that you've met over Twitter.
Get to Know Your Camera
Play around with settings. Read through the manual properly. Don't worry if your shots are worthy of posting, just have fun!

Schedule Posts
If you're a blogger worried about losing blogging momentum by not being online, make Buffer your friend. Get your posts for the week written up and scheduled, and the use the Buffer app to schedule tweets advertising your blog. While live tweets are more authentic, having a few scheduled posts fitted in for when you're not around will help to keep the blog traffic running smoothly.

Go Outside
Instead of jumping onto missed notifications as soon as you're home, think about taking a late afternoon or early even walk around your home. It is a good way to disengage from work and relax, as well as practising Mindfullness. And it goes without saying, but if you do have a sedentary work life, every bit of movement afterwards will do you a world of good.

Now, I challenge you to switch off for one evening a week. Have fun...


Friday, 1 August 2014

Clif Builder's Protein Bars Review

After a workout, or during prolonged exercise, getting protein back into your system is really important. There are lots of types of foods that address the issue -shakes, bars, and in unprocessed raw foods like nuts. A few weeks ago, I was sent some of these Builders' Bars by Clif (via a BodyFit magazine giveaway), so I thought that I'd do a review.

Clif Bar & Company is an American brand that produces organic products for the health and fitness market. The concept of their original protein bars was founded when Gary, the founder, was on a bike ride and decided that he could do better than other companies that made artificial tasting protein bars. The company is also a member of 1% For The Planet, which means at least one percent of the net annual revenues are donated to environmental organisations.

The Builders Bar are a take on the original with even more protein added, totalling a whopping 20g. The bars themselves are quite large -so much so, that I have only been eating half a bar at a time following a workout. They come in three flavours: chocolate, chocolate and mint, and chocolate peanut butter. I liked the mint bar best, as it took away some of the sweetness of the bar, which contains around 20g of sugar. I'm not a peanut butter fan personally, so I left those bars, but I imagine if you are partial to peanuts that this bar would be pretty good.
The bar has a smooth protein layer and a crunchy layer beneath it, which reminds me of the Double Decker chocolate bars that I used to love. The protein is made from soya, which does have quite a distinctive taste. I have been having these bars after a gym session, so have found that the amount of protein, sugar and calories (264 Kcal in the peanut bar) are much more than my 5'2" body needs after an hour or so working out. If you are doing endurance exercises such as bike rides, or are into heavy weights then these would be perfect.
While I'm not sure that I would buy these bars again, I would be interested in having a try of other Clif Bar & Company products design for less intense activity. The white chocolate Luna Bar looks yummy! I have also been impressed by the ethos behind the brand; it is so good to see fitness companies get involved in supporting the environment, both in funding projects, and in sourcing responsible ingredients.

Apologies for the dodgy photos, all mine have mysteriously disappeared from my computer...