Almond Butter Balls

As a busy mum I need easy, healthy and tasty snacks to go, for me and my family. I love munching on these little morsels of yumminess on the way to school pick up, in-between teaching classes or relaxing at home with a cuppa. Best of all the kids love my ‘chocolate balls’ as well.

For some reason my kids prefer them to be in balls, but if I am really pressed for time I just throw the mix into a silicone baking tray, place in the fridge to set, and then slice it up into popping into your mouth portion sizes.

INGREDIENTS

  • ¾ cup dried coconut
  • ¾ cup Medjool dates (you can also use dried pitted dates, just add a splash of water)
  • 2 tbsp of almond butter
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1/4 cup puffed rice or quinoa puffs (you can also use rice bubbles or even oats)
  • 1 tbsp 100% cacao or cocoa Method

METHOD

  • Place dried coconut and dates in a food processor. Process until finely chopped. Add the remaining ingredients and process to a fine crumb consistency. Transfer mixture to a clean bowl.
  • Use your hands to form tablespoon sized balls (or roll to your desired size). If needed add in an extra splash of water. Store in the fridge for 3 – 4 days or freeze.

Roasted pumpkin and quinoa salad

I love whipping up this salad for a BBQ with friends or just keeping it in the fridge for an easy lunch or dinner. Enjoy hot or cold as is, or with grilled chicken or some greens.

INGREDIENTS

  •  500g butternut pumpkin, peeled, cut into 2.5cm cubes
  •  1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  •  2 teaspoons Moroccan seasoning
  •  3/4 cup quinoa, rinsed, drained (option to use brown rice)
  •  2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup fresh coriander leaves
  • 1/2 cup almonds (or any other nut on hand)
  •  Salt, to season

 METHOD

  • Preheat oven to 220C/200C fan-forced.
  • Dry roast nuts until golden. Meanwhile prepare pumpkim.
  • Remove nuts from oven. Place pumpkin, oil and seasoning in a bowl. Toss to coat. Transfer to a baking tray lined with baking paper. Roast for 20 to 25 minutes, turning once, or until golden and tender.
  • Meanwhile cook quinoa or rice according to packet instructions.
  • Place quinoa or rice in a bowl. Add pumpkin, lemon juice, nuts and coriander. Season with salt and pepper. Toss gently to combine. Serve.

Is Hot Yoga the Same as Bikram?

One of the most asked questions I get from new clients is ‘Is hot yoga the same as Bikram?’. While both styles are done in heated rooms, and this has many benefits (more to come on this!), there are some key differences:

  • Bikram classes are heated to the high 30’s – low 40’s with 40% humidity. In our studio we heat our room to the low 30’s. It’s a dry heat, enough to bring up a good sweat, but most people do not find it uncomfortable.
  • Bikram uses the same 26 poses and 2 breathing exercises in the same sequence every class. Some people prefer a set sequence for various reasons. Hot yoga does not have a set sequence. Many different poses are practiced and the classes can be altered to suit the needs of clients.
  • Bikram yoga classes go for 90 minutes, hot yoga classes generally go for 60.
  • Mirrors must line the front wall (at the very least) for Bikram yoga. I personally think mirrors are great! They help with attaining correct alignment. We have mirrors lining our front wall, but this is not essential in a hot yoga studio.
  • Bikram floors must be carpeted, have bright lighting (dimmed for savasana) and no music is to be played. Most hot yoga studio’s have non-carpeted practice rooms. Teachers also have creative freedom with lighting and music.
  • Bikram instructors are required to recite a set dialogue every class. Hot yoga teachers are not required to do this.
  • There is no hands-on adjustment permitted in Bikram classes.
  • Students in a hot yoga class are permitted to ask questions, interact with the teacher and with other students.

There is no doubt the amazing effects that yoga has on the body, mind and sou, and one cannot say that one style is better than another. But no matter what style of yoga you are into when you practice in a heated room there are some considerations:

  • Drink plenty of water before class and take a bottle into class with you.
  • Try not to eat for a few hours before a heated class. If you really need to just try something light, like a piece of fruit.
  • Wear comfortable clothes that you can move in. Tights, shorts and singlets are good options.
  • Bring a towel to place over your mat to absorb sweat and improve traction.
  • Heated classes are not advisable when pregnant.
  • If you are concerned about any medical issues please discuss them with the studio prior to class or consult your doctor.

 

What’s with the name?

I get asked all the time, “Why did you name a yoga studio Voodoo Yoga?” The short answer is I didn’t, it was the name when I bought the studio! The next question that usually follows is “Um, well why didn’t you rebrand? Voodoo is bad magic”.

And I get it, Voodoo certainly has that reputation thanks to Hollywood. When I have been at local festivals and community events spreading the message of peace, love and yoga I have had people come up to me specifically to tell me that there is no way that they would visit a place with Voodoo in its name. But if they had researched they would know that Voodoo is good! It is not black magic, not devil worship, not a cult.

Originating in Africa it has spread through the slave labour trade. At a time when slaves were considered less than human, the religion was ridiculed, feared and clouded with racism. So let’s clear things up a bit.

Voodoo has no set scripture to draw meaning from, but put simply, Voodooists believe in a single supreme God, called Bondye, and believe in lessor beings, called Iwa, who support humanity. Iwa are involved day to day life, sacrifices, including animal sacrifices, are made to them to aid in their assistance and they are called on during ceremonies. Voodoo practices are community-centred, supporting healing, individual empowerment and experience. Voodoo dolls were made in the likeness of the recipient with the purpose of drawing on Iwa’s to bestow gifts and love upon the recipient.

The religion has many parallels to Catholicism, in fact in 1993 Pope John Paul II participated in a Voodoo ceremony and praised the religion for the “fundamental goodness” in their practices, teachings and belief system. Like Catholicism, Voodooists also believe that you transition to an invisible world after death and watch over the living in spirit.

None of this sounds like devil worship to me. At the very core of Voodooism is good. We also believe that yoga is good magic for the body, mind and spirit. So that’s why we chose to stick with the name Voodoo Yoga. It’s good magic!

Are Props Just for Beginners?

Ah the humble yoga block. Often considered to be in the realm of beginners, yoga props are important tools that can help yogis of all abilities deepen their practice.

The most obvious reason why all yogis should use props is assistance with alignment. Bodies are made in all different shapes and sizes, and props can help us tailor our practice to our own body. Too often we see people struggling to achieve that perfect pose, what they think it should look like, that perfect Instagram shot. And whilst some discomfort can be experienced while we deepen our practice, when we struggle to achieve how we think it should look we are not honouring our bodies or our practice.

Props can also be used when ‘experimenting’ and trying new asanas, and in injury prevention. So what props can you expect to use in your standard yoga class?

Blocks

Blocks will be made from wood, cork or hard foam. The most commonly used tool, they can be used to ‘bring the floor to you’, to help attain correct alignment or to help take the pressure off joints. As demonstrated in the picture above, when used in Balancing Half Moon I have brought the floor to me, worked with the shape and size of my body, increased the safety of this pose and have focused on developing more strength. I can also focus more on my breathing, enabling me to relax into the pose and reap the full benefits of it.

Straps

Straps can be used to increase resistance, to aid with holding poses and relaxation, or to increase flexibility and strength. A buckle at one end allows them to form an adjustable loop, or they can be used loose as a single piece of strap. Several straps can also be connected together.

Bolsters

My most favourite prop. Bolsters are used more in our Yin and Restorative classes and can be used to open up the body, support joints, and safety navigate poses. They also allow for a deeper relaxation of the body, as in placing a bolster under the knees during Savasana or along the length of the spine in Supported Fish.

Blankets

More often used in our Yin and Restorative classes, as with bolsters, blankets can provide cushioning and can be used to slightly elevate the pelvis during seated asanas. Don’t get surprised if you get draped in a blanket during Savasana in a Yin or Restorative class. Blankets are super comfy and can help us relax into meditation.

Yoga is for everyone, so whether you are a beginner or advanced yogi, never shy away from using props. Blocks and straps are available on the way into the practice room, and if you feel like you need something else ASK! As teachers it is our job to help you get the most out of your practice. Don’t by shy to use them and don’t be shy to ask.

See you on the mat!

A simple and easy 10 minute yoga sequence to help you sleep – suitable for all abilities.

Can’t sleep? I’ve been there, more times than I care to remember. I know my mother will testify that I had a really hard time getting to sleep as a child, and as an adult I still do but for different reasons (these days its more like stressing over work, kids, family, house etc etc!).

So here is a quick 10 minute sequence to help you relax and drift off. Do this before bed, or if you are laying there staring at the ceiling get outta bed and do it! It might seem a bit funny at first but it will be well worth it.

Child’s pose

 

 

 

 

How: Sit back on your shins and fold your torso over your body. Bring your head down and arms can go either pointing out in front of you or running down your body, pointing behind you.

Why: It opens up the hips where we tend to hold a lot of our emotions. As it gently compresses our organs this improves digestion, a function that our bodies continue while we sleep. By placing our forehead on the mat our third eye is activated, bringing peace and calm.

 

Upward dog

 

 

 

 

 

How: Lay on your tummy with legs straight behind you. Push up through the arms, lift your torso from the ground until your hips have just left the mat. Gaze goes upwards.

Why: This pose releases tension in the lower back and hips. It opens up our heart chakra and shifts our awareness to feelings rather than thoughts.

 

Downward dog

 

 

 

 

 

 

How: From your hands and knees push up to form a triangle shape. Keep your hips as raised as possible, arms and legs as straight as is comfortable (but not locked). Head will be in align with your arms.

Why: Stretches and lengthens the whole body, releasing tension from our hips and sends blood to the lungs, heart and brain. Improves digestion.

 

Wide legged forward bend

 

 

 

 

 

 

How: Take your legs as wide as is comfortable. Hands on hips, and bending from the hips take your head down as far as possible. You may want to rest your head on a block.

Why: Releases the hips and encourages blood circulation.

 

Supported bridge

 

 

 

 

How: Lay back with knees bent and heels as close to your bottom as possible. Lift your pelvis and place a block under your sacrum. If you do not have a block experiment with books, cushions or rolled up blankets. If the block is uncomfortable adjust it until it is.

Why: Releases tension from our lower back and hips and sends blood to the lungs, heart and brain. Also improves digestion.

 

Supine spinal twist

 

 

 

 

 

How: Lay on your back with knees bent. Slowly drop knees to one side of the body, extending out your arms to support yourself. Keep both shoulder blades on the mat. Gaze can come to the opposite arm or to ceiling. Repeat other side.

Why: Releases tension in the back. Compresses one side of the body, stretches and sends fresh blood to the opposite side.

 

Supported fish

 

 

 

 

How: Lay a bolster or a rolled-up blanket from the base of your back and running up the length of your back. Lay back, let the head fall back onto the bolster or bolster.

Why: Opens up the front of the body, reversing the hunched shoulders we usually hold in our day jobs. Opens up the heart chakra.

 

Legs up the wall (my all time favourite)

 

 

 

 

 

 

How: There is no graceful way to do it, just shuffle your bottom up to the wall and swing your legs up! Arms come down by your side, palms facing up.

Why: Any inversions send blood to the head, heart and lungs, improving circulation and having a positive effect on almost every function of your body.

Savasana

 

 

 

 

And hopefully by now you are ready for savasana…in bed!