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Green+Aquamarine: June 2016

Thursday, 30 June 2016

Om Yoga | Balance vs Burnout

In our modern day lives, with work, education, health, family and other commitments all vying for our time, it is hardly surprising that many of us describe ourselves as frequently stressed. Whilst stress can be a good thing -it motivates us and stems from the burst of adrenalin that removes us from unsafe situations -over a long period of time, stress build up can cause havoc. Combined with fatigue and a build up of negativity such as frustration or irritability, this can lead to a burn out. According to one study, stress-related illness contributes to a massive 43% of all sickness leave at work.

We all know that mental and physical health are linked, with cortisol affecting the ways that our body functions and how even fundamental things such as digestion can be affected. However, it can be hard to recognise where to draw the line between productiveness and stress overload -surely cracking on with work over taking a break is a positive thing? Unfortunately, according to this month's Om Yoga author and life coach Janice Haddon, the brain is then forced to seek pleasure and coping mechanisms in the form of caffeine, alcohol, sugar or cigarettes. These substances provide us with a temporary hit, but do not provide us with essential nutrients to bolster energy and in some cases (think sugar, alcohol and cigarettes) also load our bodies with a dose of toxins that needs further energy to be cleared.

Another article by Jill Lawson focused more particularly on how to deal with hunger. In particular, she focused on meditation and mindfulness to separate emotions from the physical self. This awareness allows us to make more rational choices and be less swayed by fleeting emotions and impulses.

A more tangible method to avoiding burnout and balancing stress is also simple: exercise. Admittedly HIIT workouts and other high intensities exercise may exaggerate stress by raising cortisol, but resistance training, cardio and yoga will all provide endorphins that promote wellbeing. Of course, sometimes we need to leave the gym or hot yoga studio behind and engage in a slow mentality. Taking the time to relax, indulge and just switch off can be easily pushed aside or marred by guilt, but will help to replenish your energy -literally and metaphorically -and can actually boost performance and productivity. When stress can slowly build up upon us without us noticing, taking the time to restore ourselves is pretty vital to avoid a crash and burn.

Also in this month's issue is an interview with seriously inspirational yogi Eleanora Zampatti, who embraced her own vulnerability and strength through yoga -definitely worth a read!

Disclaimer: I am an Affiliated Blogger with Om Yoga Magazine. Each issue I will write a post on an article from the magazine and share it with you. Have a look here to find about the other lovely affiliated bloggers. 

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Thursday, 23 June 2016

The Health Blog Awards 2016

Last Friday, I attended the first-ever Health Blog Awards, hosted by the Health Bloggers Community and That Protein at The Collective. In case you missed it on my social media channels, I was totally blown away to find that I was awarded best yoga blog! I was as pleased as punch to be shortlisted and had absolutely no expectations on winning so this has really made me sit up and realise that pursuing yoga and wellness is really what I want to do and so now is the time to really throw myself into developing Green+Aquamarine. Also, I'd like to give a huge well done to everyone else in my category (especially Natasha from Dance Flow Lift who has just become a Sweaty Betty ambassador!) and all the other winners -you can see the full list here. All photos in this post were taken by the talented Marie Claire of Fluke Photography, who was absolutely lovely (as well as being a self-proclaimed happiness ninja!).

Natasha and I got ready for and went to the event together, which was held at the work/living integrated space of The Collective Hub, which is exclusively rented out to young London professionals in the aim of building a like-minded community. Amanzitea, who were the sponsors of the yoga and spirituality awards, kept us all hydrated with healthy mocktails. I started with and elderflower and rose mar-tea-ni with real rose buds and later had a spicy lemon and matcha drink, which really hit the spot. Food was supplied by Soulmate Food and was so flavoursome. I saved my flapjack for the next day on the coach, and since I had run out of time to buy lunch it was a lifesaver!

The whole event was led by the HBC's boss lady Fab, with Zanna Van Dijk, Hazel Wallace,  Pixie Turner and Darlene McCormick as judges. We started with a Q&A session with the judges, which was so helpful for getting those niggling blog tweaks answered. The most interesting suggestion was, when working with brands, is the get an agreement down in writing. I don't think many of us had even considered this, but it came highly recommended to protect yourself and your finances. When the questions were opened up to the audience, I took the opportunity to ask Pixie for her advice on choosing a nutrition course. Her suggestion? Stick with universities, and look for proper accreditation to make sure that your course meets scientific research standards. Pixie kindly spoke to me after in a bit more depth. Other Q&A points included not undervaluing yourself as a blogger when charging fees, and how both Hazel and Zanna have made the move to working with an agency to help them when working with brands.

After a short interlude, we move on to the award ceremony itself. To my slight alarm, the yoga and spirituality award was the first to be called out, judged by Fab herself. Because of the spirituality element, my category was quite varied, with all of the blogs being very individual from each other. When Fab described the winning blog as "having it all" or "covering all bases", I figured it wasn't me as I don't really touch on the spirituality side of things. But when "scientifically-backed" and "speaking about ethical issues" and the environment were mentioned, Tash whispered "It's you!" and the next thing I knew my name was being called out! I had my photos taken with Antonia of Amanzitea, before the rest of the awards were read out. A bonus award for the Health Blogger of the year was unveiled, and the amazing Rachel of Healthy and Psyched won. Rachel (who will forever be the first person to recognise me from my blog!) is the nicest person and has such a professional looking blog and photography style, especially as a new blogger. I was rooting for her and she so deserved to scoop the top award.

After further mingling, sharing of business cards and a cheeky glass of prosecco, we all headed back home. If someone had told me that I would be in a room full of 100 like-minded people, collecting an award and growing as a community of health and wellbeing bloggers, I wouldn't have believed it, even a few months ago. With attendees from as far afield as Denmark, it is truly amazing to be part of such a group of creative and inspiring people. Getting on the coach home certainly brought me back to earth with a bump, but now I am so excited to keep growing and exploring new avenues.

All the Details

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Monday, 20 June 2016

Chocolate and Cherry Paleo Parfait

Granolas are something of a staple in the breakfast cupboard, being useful for adding to smoothie bowls, crumbles and baking besides merely the traditional bowlful with milk. I decided to embrace the flavours of the 80's with a chocolate and cherry combination and shake up the breakfast parfait with a healthy twist. Planet Organic has released a range of paleo granolas* including a rich chocolate flavour, which is disappearing way too quickly! Whist I have no fear of grains -my Instagram account is a testament to my love of porridge! -having a granola was something I was more than happy to try, especially when it promises a high protein content. It is also full of goodness including sunflower seeds, cashews, chia seeds, coconut, cacao and dates rather than being packed with high sugar, refined ingredients. The recipe here is more of an assembly job than exact science, so use the quantities as a rough measurement based on how hungry you are feeling.

Black Forest inspired parfait, using Planet Organic's paleo granola. Via @eleanormayc

Adding chia to a fruit compote is an easy way to create the set of a jam without adding lots of sugar -it is the pectin in sugars that helps a jam to solidify. The chia jam becomes more solid as it sets, so you can either make this breakfast the night before for a speedy morning, or make it fresh and serve warm and runny. The lemon juice and small amount of sugar from the honey gives the cherries the additional sharp, bright flavour that marines beautifully with the dark chocolatey granola. Alternatively, you can check out Meridian's range of jams which use apple puree instead of refined sugar.

Black Forest inspired parfait, using Planet Organic's paleo granola. Via @eleanormayc

Ingredients -for the jam

  • 2 cup cherries, stones and stalks removed
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
  • 2 tbsp honey or other sweetener, to taste
  • Juice of 1 lemon
For the parfait
  • 2 tbsp cherry chia jam
  • 40g (about 3 tbsp) chocolate granola*
  • 100ml yogurt -coconut (paleo, vegan), Greek or natural all work
Black Forest inspired parfait, using Planet Organic's paleo granola. Via @eleanormayc

Grab a glass or jar and sprinkle over your first tablespoon or so of granola, followed by enough yoghurt to cover it, and finally all the jam. Add a further layer of granola and yogurt, and top with fruit, extra granola and anything else that you fancy. Eat straight away, or leave to allow the flavours to mingle. And that's it!

*Denotes PR sample. All thoughts, opinions and work is my own.


Friday, 17 June 2016

Inspiration: Heather King of Yogging

This week I am really excited to introduce you to Heather King, founder of Yogging, a blend of yoga and running. I spotted an advert for Yogging in Om Yoga Magazine last summer, and was delighted to find that it was based near me. If you attended the London or Manchester shows, you may have spotted Heather leading Yogging taster classes. I had to miss the shows this year, but it turned out that Heather and I not only have mutual friends and went to the same university, but are also so close that I now have the pleasure of being one of Heather's yoga students. Her playful Hatha classes are so enjoyable to be in, and I am looking forward to trying Yogging myself when I have a free Sunday.

First, thank you for speaking to me today! Could you explain a little bit about what Yogging is, and why it is distinct to, say, running with a few stretches, or simply practicing yoga and running separately?

Yogging is loosely based on the science behind Bikram/hot yoga in that we are using the heat from our own muscles through jogging rather than the heat of a sauna to help the muscles become stretchy and more flexible. The formula behind Yogging is one that starts just with getting the body warm through jogging and sun salutations and then incorporates active and dynamic yoga movements covering all muscle groups and joints. Instead of static asanas, we make the posture move and flow making it quite challenging at times.

The lovely thing is that you really can yog in all weathers and we have! All you need is appropriate clothing... and a great pair of ski-gloves for winter. Doing yoga outside is bliss and unfortunately not always possible in the UK but Yogging and the way it keeps us warm, enables us to be outside and experience nature whilst focusing on our yoga. The beach is my favourite place to do yogging.  

I was influenced by a lot of PT moves which often have yoga techniques or postures at their heart... plank for example and sumo squats.  I try to make the classes challenging but loyal to yogic movements. We don't really run long distances, but if we do, it is broken up with yoga. It is great for people who are new to runnning or yoga in many ways as it is a good taster of both but nice because you know you are going to stop. People also tend to like it if they normally find running a bit boring. Doing anything as a group is always fun and I love the element of camaraderie and team spirit that emerges when yogging. I have found that the people it attracts are quite 'hard-core' people who don't mind getting muddy!   

Guest interview with Heather King, founder of Yogging, a yoga and running class. Via @eleanormayc

You trained as a hatha yoga teacher. What caused you to found your own dynamic blend of yoga and running?

I was always sporty and enjoyed endurance running and team sports but I think when I started to study anatomy as part of the yoga course and learning more about yogic beliefs, I took on board some aspects of how running can be detrimental to your body, certainly knee joints and learned about the benefits of yoga for helping to improve running. Even little things like thinking about weight distribution when running or posture and positioning of the hips when running have all helped me. I believe yoga goes hand in hand with yoga as they are both breathing orientated and in many ways, meditational and good for the mind! It somehow just clicked together when I was working and living in London and jogging around Brockwell Park and doing lap after lap and I thought it would work well in parks with people who have little time and can't decide between focussing on the more remedial yoga or fat busting cardio. I thought it was a little like wash and go - 2 in 1! Great for busy people... the perfect combination!   

What is your favourite yoga pose/asana, and why?

I go through phases! I think the dancer pose always feels good but I have a little 'go-to' sequence I do which involves high lunge, Warrior 1, Warrior 2 and side stretch and Trikonasana (not forgeting a reverse trikonasana) which I love after a run because it just opens the chest out which has just been working hard and helps the legs recover. 

What inspired you to turn yoga into a career?

It wasn't a plan and really is just a passion! 

Do you have a top tip for living well? 

If you listen to your body and get 'tuned in' (which yoga can help with) I think it tells you what it needs! I try to have minimum processed food and minimum sugar and pretty much 'eat clean' and fresh! I am not veggie but LOVE veggie and vegan food - I go through phases but will generally always order fish when I eat out just like my farming Granddad!   

Have you always been interested in healthy living?

Always! My recent trip to Australia made me realise how ahead of the game they are out there, I loved having chlorophyll water on tap, alpachinos (almond milk cappuccinos) and chia seeds everywhere and all kinds of amazing fruit! I wish there were some more cafes in rural Yorkshire which offered raw/vegan and fresh, sustainably sourced treats! 

Where is your must-see travel destination?

I really want to go to New Zealand, Canada and Patagonia!  All the outdoorsy mountainous places! I do think Japan, Borneo and Bali and the Maldives look brilliant too for a different type of adventure!  

Who, or what, inspires you the most?

My family as a unit. I think they are all incredible. So optimistic, generous, loving and full of energy, enthusiasm and adventurous spirit - nothing is ever impossible when they are around. 

Name a favourite healthy meal.

SLAW! I love different slaws such as red cabbage, lime, onion, carrot and apple with coriander! Perhaps with a fillet of grilled sea bass!?! 

Finally, what makes you happiest?

I think my family, boyf, friends, yoga time, the sun and the sea, everything you can have for free!

Thanks so much for your great answers Heather! For more information, head to the Yogging website or Facebook page and keep an eye out for future developments and classes!

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Monday, 13 June 2016

Chocolate Peanut Butter Smoothie Bowl

This week, I am getting all geared up for the Health Blog Awards. Thanks so much to everyone who voted; it really means the world to me! I know my blog really is a small corner of the internet, but I'm so proud of it, so grateful for the love and support, and I am excited about the future for Green+Aquamarine and my own journey into wellness. I would love to know your thoughts -what do you like, what would you like to see more of? In the meantime, I have a delicious chocolatey smoothy bowl, made heavenly with a generous dollop of peanut butter. I used Meridian's coconut peanut butter and it really was like dessert for breakfast, without being insanely high in sugar. Nativa adds a little extra sweetness without the need for extra fruit or honey.

Healthy peanut butter and chocolate flavoured smoothie bowl, using cacao. Via @eleanormayc

With the unpredictable weather, I find myself switching between summery meals and comfort food frequently. For days when you really don't know what kind of food mood you are in, or for indulgent healthy dessert, this smoothie bowl really fits the bill. It's cooling and uses tropical bananas, yet is rich and comforting in flavour. I've included 1/2 an avocado as an option, but as there is already a bit of fat coming from the peanut butter, you may wish to omit it depending on your diet and goals. The avocado can be replaced with either a scoop of oats or an extra 1/2 banana, if you wish.

Healthy peanut butter and chocolate flavoured smoothie bowl, using cacao. Via @eleanormayc


  • 1 banana, frozen
  • 1 tbsp peanut butter
  • 1 tbsp cacao powder
  • 1/2 cup nut milk
  • 1 tsp Natvia*
  • Optional: 1/2 avocado (see alternatives above)
  • Optional: handful of spinach
To make, simply blend all the ingredients together. Use more or less liquid as needed to achieve a thick consistency. Pour into a bowl and add your toppings as preferred. I used extra banana, coconut flakes, strawberries, blueberries and chia seeds. Enjoy!

*Denotes PR sample. All thoughts, opinions and work is my own.

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Thursday, 9 June 2016

Spiced matcha and cucumber cooler

Cucumber, matcha, lime and ginger drink recipe, perfect for summer mocktails. Via @eleanormayc

Matcha really has become the drink of the moment, appealing to health-conscious people all over. Being served as a tea, latte or form of iced drink, matcha really is versatile and has grown greatly from it's origins in Japan, where it was drunk by monks. Eat Clean Tea is trying to get you drinking iced matcha instead of sugary cocktails and fruit juices, and so set the #summerofmatcha challenge of creating a drink using their premium matcha powders. What I love about Eat Clean Tea is that they offer a choice of flavours, currently pure matcha, mint, or ginger. I selected the matcha and ginger flavour to get experimenting with, wanting to create an uplifting drink that will make you feel great, inside and out. Matcha, made from green tea leaves, is energy and metabolism boosting. Ginger is anti-inflammatory and it's spicy flavour lifts the mellow matcha beautifully. Inspired by my favourite green juice, I paired the matcha with cucumber, and added some fresh lime for a zinging light drink that is low in sugar but high in flavour. If you don't have a juicer you can blend the cucumber and strain it through a sieve, so anyone can make this!

Cucumber, matcha, lime and ginger drink recipe, perfect for summer mocktails. Via @eleanormayc

Cucumber, matcha, lime and ginger drink recipe, perfect for summer mocktails. Via @eleanormayc

Ingredients -serves 2
  • 1 tsp ginger matcha powder*
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 lime
To dissolve the matcha, mix with a small amount of hot water and mix vigorously. Juice or blend the cucumber, and squeeze out the juice of the lime. Combine all three, add ice and serve. That's it!

*Disclaimer - a sample sized matcha powder sachet was sent to me as part of a blogger recipe competition. All work and opinions are my own.


Monday, 6 June 2016

Chaga Chai Latte

I've been hearing about the powers of mushroom extracts for a while now (Gwyneth Paltrow's super smoothie anyone?) so was interested to give one of these powders a try. Including mushrooms varieties into our diet (so long as they're edible!) is useful nutritionally, as they contain different compounds and nutrients to other aspects of our diet, being fungi rather than plants. Chaga is thought to be especially rich in health-boosting compounds, being dubbed the "king of mushrooms" in parts of Russia and Siberia where the mushroom has been used for many years. It is found on mature birch trees throughout the Northern Hemisphere, so you can actually go foraging for it. Luckily, it is also widely available in a variety of forms, including powder, which I received from Indigo Nutrition. What I like about Indigo Nutrition's products is that they are from mushrooms harvested in Scotland and Estonia rather than from all four corners of the globe.

Recipe for chaga mushroom flavoured chai tea. Via @eleanormayc

I was surprised to find that the chaga extract has a pleasantly malty taste and smell to it; I was expecting something much more pungent. Mixed with nothing but hot water, the chaga "tea" makes a great alternative to a cuppa or a coffee, so I decided to blend it with chai spices for a warming drink that can be enjoyed year-round. To make the chai tea warm, add all the spices to the milk and leave in the fridge at least overnight, and either add the chaga powder to drink cold, or gently heat to just below 40 degrees before drinking.

Recipe for chaga mushroom flavoured chai tea. Via @eleanormayc

Chaga Chai Tea - Ingredients

  • 1 cup almond or oat milk
  • 8 cardamon pods, crushed beneath a knife
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • Half a vanilla pod, seeds removed (reserve and use for baking or making almond milk!)
  • 1 star anise
  • 1/2-1 tsp chaga powder*, to taste
  • Optional: honey, maple syrup or other sweetener
Over a low heat, infuse the milk with the spices for between 30 minutes and an hour. When the milk tastes sufficiently spiced, remove or strain out the spices. Whisk in the chaga and serve, adding honey or maple syrup if desired.

Recipe for chaga mushroom flavoured chai tea. Via @eleanormayc

*Donotes PR sample. All thoughts and opinions are my own, and I will only positively feature or recommend products that I would use myself.

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Friday, 3 June 2016

Fierce Medicine by Forrest Yoga's Founder

Last week I had a bit of a yoga book haul, finally getting my hands on the nigh-on essential Yoga Anatomy alongside Kino MacGregor's the Power of Ashtanga and Ana Forrest's Fierce Medicine. Fierce Medicine was published in 2011, but it really caught my eye recently. Unlike Yoga Anatomy, which is very much a factual textbook, Fierce Medicine is partly autobiographical, taking you through Ana's life in her journey towards founding Forrest Yoga, alongside yoga tips and short sequences.

Review of Fierce Medicine by Ana Forrest, founder of Forrest Yoga. Via @eleanormayc

Forrest yoga has become a global form of yoga with a large following. It is described as a powerful form of yoga with an emphasis on emotional and external healing. Whilst influenced by traditional healing practices and has certain spiritual connotations (Ana refers to the "Great Spirits", with religion or faith being ambiguous), Forrest Yoga has been designed with the modern yogi in mind, helping to heal addictions and modern ailments in a way that appeals to a wide audience. Ana's life's work is to "heal the loop of people", referring to a Native American way of thinking. I have associated the style with practitioners of all ages usually able to perform strong physical asanas.

Whilst any international yoga teacher is likely to have an interesting story, I was not prepared for the wild, transformative journey that Ana had been on. From a childhood of alcohol, smoking and drugs, Ana became a yoga teacher at the tender age of 18, which enabled her to find sobriety. It wasn't plain sailing from there unsurprisingly, but over the intervening years Ana travelled as she studied yoga and healing, largely influenced and taught by Native American groups.

The starkness of Ana's younger years, followed by the richness of her life really took my breath away. Far from gaining a few qualifications and then opening up a new studio (not that that is easy, either) Ana has really grafted and grown to become an experienced, intuitive teacher with a unique insight. I found myself totally hooked, and the book cover to cover on my train journeys to and from London last week. The yoga sections are focused on postures to help with specific ailments of target areas, which I found to be in useful bitesized amounts, especially as I was keen to read more of Ana's story as the book went on. There's also a couple of sections that are based around meditation or really getting into your own head, but I've left these book marked as I felt they needed a more private and safe space than a busy train carriage.

Until now, I hadn't really considered practicing Forrest Yoga, but now I would be really keen to have a go. I kept wanting to come back to the book for the first few days after reading it, as if there would be more stories to captivate me. This book is as much a telling of a story as it is an explanation to the concepts and philosophies behind a powerful form of movement and connectivity. Read it if you want to lose yourself for a while in the honesty of someone else's life, but leave if you want a more straight forward yoga book with many series of postures. Ana does talk about her spiritual, or other worldly experiences, so do pick up the book with an open mind (or pinch of salt, depending on your scepticism and personal beliefs). There's little I can fault the book with, hooked by it as I was. Reading about how Forrest Yoga came into being whilst listening to Nahko and Medicine for the People totally transported me far, far away from the stretch of railway I was travelling along. It changed my way of thinking, enlivened my passion for yoga and, for a moment, took me into another world, and I couldn't ask for more than that.

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