It helps to have a lean body in today’s society. Here are steps to have a lean body that we all can follow…
It’s no secret that modern life makes it tough to ignore popular food trends and lead a healthy lifestyle. Today, being sedentary and consuming the food industry’s addictive combinations of fat, salt, and sugar is simply easier than being active and preparing or procuring healthy food.
It doesn’t help that we are continuously subjected to double messages about body image and health that are disheartening and confusing and result in either a desperation to change or passivity. The message to look like a model clashes with the fact that being out of shape is the new normal.
It’s easy to be seduced by the latest fast fitness or diet plans that are peddled in the guise of a real solution, even though, as is widely known, these programs are rarely effective and sometimes even harmful. The highest goal of a wellness plan needs to go beyond just losing pounds to learning the lifestyle that will improve your health and keep weight off for good.
Here are four steps to have a lean body:
1. Embrace a holistic lifestyle.
A holistic lifestyle focuses on health first, weight loss second, and is the only sensible approach to lasting results. Creating health needs to be a conscious process, a lifestyle, not a short-lived program.
Holism is about balanced living. It is the necessarily slower approach that works better than ‘fast fitness’ because it gradually brings more of you on board with a realistic plan and teaches you how to sustain your results.
2. Stop living in Overdrive Mode.
Rushing and multitasking are stressful and too often result in reactive and unconscious, unhealthy choices. Slowing down encourages a deeper self-connection that in the long run helps you identify problematic habits, make more conscious choices, and ultimately overcome obstacles.
Take a minute to ask yourself whether how you typically spend your time is moving you towards health or in the opposite direction.
3. Support Yourself.
When it comes to reaching health goals research shows that supporting yourself with a ‘kind to self’ approach is more effective than a ‘tough on self’ approach. So don’t make the harsh mistake of withholding self-love and acceptance until you’ve arrived at what you consider to be an acceptable body size or fitness level.
There is much to be learned about your self from where you are currently, and a compassionate ear is more likely to be open to receive that important wisdom.
4. Do Yoga.
Often underestimated as a weight loss tool, yoga is the epitome of holistic living and therefore a viable path to sustainable weight loss. The ancient, yet, accessible practice offers both challenging fitness and a body-mind-spirit integration system complete with pragmatic guidelines for balanced living.
As yoga strengthens, stretches and twists you into amazing shape, the “on and off the mat” practice combination aligns you with your strongest Self to provide a slow but sure pathway out of old habits toward healthier, new ones.
Most get fit quick workout and diet plans end in frustration, rebound weight gain and a compromised metabolism. Accept that there are no short cuts to true health, but that there are wise paths. Holistic living is one of them.
We all want to have a lean body. A lean body means a healthy body. These steps here will help us realize our ideal lean bodies. We can follow these steps daily and get a lean body easily.
Original article by Shannon Leavitt, M.S., R.D. Based in Minneapolis, Shannon is the founder of Yogalift®, a holistic wellness program, and author of Learn to be Lean: A Yoga-Based Approach to Healthy Weight Loss. She is a licensed dietitian, hatha yoga instructor, NASM-certified personal trainer, and a professional health coach with a certificate from the University of Minnesota’s Center for Spirituality and Healing.
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How To Build Your Fitness Brand With Instagram
Instagram is a platform for sharing photos, videos, and stories that appeal to audiences globally. Instagram posts are attractive and engaging & delighting the customers, further seeking for more. Posting pictures of your Zumba sessions and keeping them excited about your upcoming trends in the industry can be a great way to personalise and promote the brand.
Posting photos of a yoga pose or aerobics and posting real sessions where customers are having fun paves the way to interact with audiences and initiate their action to enroll for the classes. Fitness is the need of the hour as it becomes difficult to lose weight due to a sedentary lifestyle.
Being fit, accompanied by nutritional modifications can do wonders for the body. This can reduce various lifestyle ailments such as diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, PCOD (hormonal problems), further decreasing the chances of cardiovascular diseases.
Having a healthy body can be a boon to flaunt on Instagram, as it can be an inspiration for many who are longing to lose their extra pounds. A methodical approach with step-by-step instructions can instill hope in the audience by converting them to customers.
Posting videos from free video ad creators can be an excellent way of posting videos with any fitness sessions. Sharing useful tips on fitness can attract the audience, like posting movements that are less tiring which can increase metabolism, which can bring a sparkle to the audience’s eye.
There are myriads of fitness programs these days which not only help in being fit but also help in psychological wellness. Exercise releases hormone endorphins, resulting in the release of feel-good hormones that prevents depression and is beneficial in maintaining psychological health.
Fitness can be achieved through dance, which is ample in number, in different forms from different regions. Bharatanatyam, Kathak, and a variety of forms increase the skill of a person in a variety of art forms. The skill developed can be implemented by performing on various stages in India and abroad. If you are a popular dancer, you can conduct classes and can brighten the prospects of your students by educating them on the skill.
Though fitness can be accomplished by dance and other exercises, the need for a nutritional diet calls for a healthy mind and body. Sharing useful nutritional information like the nutrients present in the food they eat, helping them in getting the body they desire, and the absorption of essential nutrients for a hormonal balance can be impactful tremendously.
- Share the upcoming events on the sessions to inspire and motivate them.
- Add success stories of people who have lost weight and are fit.
- Post photos of their inspiring journey from being obese to fit.
- Appreciating your customer’s working online can be encouraging.
- Value your customers by regularly updating them about time management, setting goals, and educating them on nutritional information.
- This fascinates them enough to enrol for the program with enthusiasm.
- Keep the videos interactive and fun by striking a two-way conversation.
The ability to connect with the audience with human emotions is a nice way to help people with difficulty in losing unhealthy pounds for maintaining the same. Sharing ideas, knowledge, and information would imbibe transparency along with sharing the values, practices, and culture of the brand. This emphasises the authenticity of the brand. The image to video converter can be an additional asset that gives a chance to convert an image to video. This inspires us to craft Instagram stories on the video, enhancing the brand value, and getting subscribers if the stories are genuine and impressive.
People who are skilled in karate and other martial arts can have their own Instagram stories for self-defense as the safety of women is in question most of the time. This would be a great way to create compelling stories for brand recognition, trust, and promotion.
Video content with stories and well-written content to support the message can have a significant impact on the audience globally. This can bring about many followers on Instagram and can spread the message on Instagram or other social networks in building a team. This helps in connecting with global audiences from any part of the country. Ensure there is flexibility in the timings of the session and information on conducting online classes. This will help many professionals who are working, further inspiring, and thus resulting in enrolling for online classes.
Updating the posts regularly with nutritional information on food that must be consumed during fitness sessions can help boost their weight loss goals. Regular updates on the session can be a perk for audiences who are eager to see recent trends in the fitness industry.
The techniques involving specific body movements can ease their tension in taking the session. These techniques can create a positive effect on the audiences for taking a decision. The ability instill hope in people who are obese and are having various other problems, because of their weight can motivate them in being attentive in the session.
Instagram stories with videos and inspirational stories are a boon for many entrepreneurs who have ventured into the industry with a reason to spread smiles and laughter in people across the globe.
Instagram influencers are people spreading happiness, people with their unique and innovative niche catering to audiences from a wide variety of backgrounds and different cultures, accruing immense value to their brand, and helping people lead their dream of the achievable target.
The stories, videos, and photos can be impressive and gain attention; however, the goals and the patience to reach the goal are attributes as weight loss is not a one-day journey. It takes effort and practice with pertinence and patience in achieving the goal while gaining self-confidence and triumph over cravings in attaining a fit and healthy body.
Fitness journeys are a real-time motivator for some of us who are trying hard to lose and maintain a healthy weight. The fitness session conducted is a boon of technology as many people get to interact with each other sharing their own storie
5 Natural Ways To Relax & Get Centered
5 Natural ways to relax and get centered.Yes, there are plenty of ways you can de-stress, unwind, enjoy time with your self and get centered. Getting centered, it sounds a little offbeat to those of you who don’t meditate or practice other self-awareness rituals. Maybe the word mindfulness is better. Either way, hear me out.
We all have a busy and hectic life, throw in kids and it gets even crazier. So how do you destress? I know you have a girls night or even guys night out to unwind and blow off steam. Aren’t their ways to do this without the potential use of alcohol and a hangover? The next morning is never any fun.
No need to be wary this doesn’t require guru knowledge on meditation, yoga just open-mindedness. Being centered merely means being at peace with who you are, in every moment. Stillness and quiet are what that means for me. To thine own self be true.
These five things will help you to de-stress and allow you to exhale. The key is to be in the moment and let your feelings, energy and mind flow in all of these exercises.
5 Natural Ways to Relax and De-Stress
First, let’s discuss journaling. Yes, we are going back to the “dear diary” days but a more grown-up version. Pick out a journal or notebook, whatever you like. You may ask “what do I write once I open the notebook (love that movie BTW, the book was even better)?”
To start, looking at a blank page can be intimidating if you’ve never journaled before. The first thing I like to do is start by writing the date at the top of the page. On days you have a lot of feelings to get out just start writing. You’re not getting graded on these entries so don’t worry about how to properly get started and use correct punctuation and grammar. Just let yourself flow.
Start with “I feel…” and go from there. The entries can be short or long. I’ve written pages upon pages before and then only a single page other times. Really allow yourself to be in the moment and let your emotions flow. Something happens during this process that is therapeutic. You’re able to self reflect and analyze a situation better, step back and see things differently. Read how to do automatic writing or journaling here.
You can do this at the end of my day, or when the mood strikes you. I believe getting emotions out and not holding them in helps to heal your spirit. At the very least, it helps you to be calm and learn about yourself.
So pick up a pen and notebook and start de-stressing. Journaling is for your personal use only. No one ever has to read it or see it, unless you want them to. Over the years I’ve used many different kinds of journals. I’m currently using this moleskin journal. I love the feel of the paper and smooth writing.
Walking in Nature
Nature is an all-encompassing cure for feeding the soul. A simple walk in nature can alleviate stress, calm you down through exercise, and feed your soul. Listening to birds chirping, wind rustling through the leaves of tall pine trees, water gently waving in the lake as the reflection of the sun bounces off the water.
That my friend is relaxing and total de-stresses the best of us. Nature almost forces you to be still and quiet. Listen to the sounds around you and lookup. Oh my gosh, the joy of just looking up! We don’t take the time to just look up and observe.
Look at the trees swaying in the wind, geese flying over information, clouds moving pass. Do this and take a breathe and exhale. The simple things we don’t pay attention to because we look down, at our devices. Busy rushing through from one stop to the next.
Take that walk in the park, listen to the sounds, and breathe. Breathe and walk with intention. It’s more of a stroll rather than a timed fast walk. Try not to have your headphones in the entire time. It’s tempting, and some days I do it myself. Or I listen to audible but nonetheless I’m still observing nature and taking it in. If you live in a busy loud city then turn on calming music.
Taking the time to do this a couple of times of a week or more, if you can, helps bring you back to being centered. Quiet on the inside to where you can hear your true self. Not the restless chatter that you hear all day. Give yourself a break and take a walk.
There are so many different types of meditation from mindfulness, transcendental, guided, sound and the list goes on and on. I’ve tried a lot of these, read about it here, to see if there was one that worked best for me or that I connected to most.
As I mention throughout my blog, no two people are the same therefore no two people will meditate or do anything for that matter the same. We will all have different experiences with meditation. Trying different types will help you not only learn what you like but also allow you to practice meditation itself.
I have found that mindfulness of breath meditation is best for me. It is bringing awareness to your breath. I prefer to be in a quiet room where I will not be interrupted, hard to find these days with 2 little shadows. Don’t be surprised if you catch me in the closet trying to get some meditation time in, just sayin’ do whatcha gotta do.
You can use an eye mask, to make it dark, I find this helps me to relax and focus. You’ll have to try again and again before you learn to really quiet the mind.
This is a learning process so please keep on the path and don’t give up. Start with a few minutes at a time and build up from there. You’ll notice over time you can meditate a little longer each time, and it becomes easier to get into that state.
Everyone should practice yoga, at least once. You have to try it to know if you like it. My yoga journey started around 16 years ago or more. I will admit that I haven’t done it continuously during those 16 years. There were some years that I didn’t practice at all. Other times I would attend a yoga class 4-5 times a week. Currently, I practice yoga in my bedroom with my favorite yoga youtube channels.
Just like meditation, there are many types of yoga styles. As a result, I’ve tried many of them and learned which ones I like best. You do the same.
Yoga has many physical benefits such as increased flexibility, muscle strengthening, lower blood pressure, reduce stress and the list goes on. As far as de-stressing, well this helps with that too.
You don’t even have to leave your own home to try, especially if classes aren’t your thing. With that yoga classes have a different environment than other “gym” type classes. Everyone is focused on themselves and their own practice. There isn’t that feeling of everyone is watching me.
The flow of the poses is very soothing once you learn the salutations or sequences. That word mindfulness comes in again. It’s hard to not be during yoga. You become very focused on your pose and breathe that this, in turn, becomes its own meditation. It never ceases to amaze me how quiet the mind gets when you are practicing yoga. It’s almost effortless.
5 – HTP
5–Hydroxytryptophan (5–HTP) is an amino acid that your body already produces. It’s derived from an African plant known as Griffonia simplicifolia. It helps to increase the serotonin levels in your body thus boosting your mood. Allowing you to be more mindful and less stressed and preoccupied.
It’s a natural supplement that offers numerous benefits including a calming effect. To learn more about 5-HTP as a natural stress reliever read the article that goes into more depth.
There you have it 5 natural ways to relax and take a moment for your self. Self-care is a buzz word that we’re hearing everywhere right now. Don’t think its not for you or you don’t have time. Making time will only improve your daily life and mental health.
Being mindful during any of these activities will bring you to a more relaxed state and bring you into alignment. Find what works best for you and continue to develop your own self-care routine.
This article is republished by https://inspirehealthandspirit.com/ under Creative Commons license. Read the original.
Rock Your Boat Pose with These 7 Fun Navasana Variation
Boat Pose (Navasana) strengthens both the front and back body and core, works the hip flexors, and provides a nice test of your balance and stability.
Boat Pose provides a range of benefits, so it’s good to incorporate as a regular part of your yoga practice.
But let’s be real – Navasana is typically not a fan favorite. It’s not a pose that students request very often, and certainly not one that brings a feeling of bliss while in the middle of it.
Let’s change that! With these fun, creative, and challenging Boat Pose variations, you can bring a fresh spin to a classic pose, test your strength and mobility, and maybe even find a new appreciation for this strengthening yoga pose.
- Here’s How to Practice a Traditional Navasana:
- Now You’re Ready to Try These 7 Fun Boat Pose Variations:
- Have Fun Playing With These Navasana (Boat Pose) Variations!
Before moving onto variations, make sure you have a solid grasp on a traditional Boat Pose first.
Let’s try it:
- From a seated position bend your knees and put the tips of your toes on the ground
- Bring your hands to rest on the outside of your thighs
- Lean back slightly, finding your balance on your sit bones
- Inhale as you lengthen your spine and lift your chest by broadening across your collar bones
- Pull your belly button in and up to engage your core and stabilize your lower back
- Engage your pelvic floor by activating Mula Bandha
- On your exhale, lift your feet and bring your shins parallel to the ground, finding a modified Boat Pose
- Squeeze your inner legs together
- Keep your breath slow and full
- Activate your feet by pointing or “flointing” (pointing your feet and flexing your toes)
- Gaze at one spot ahead of you or at your feet
- Extend your legs out straight to find traditional Boat Pose, use your core to help with this (not just the strength of your hip flexors and legs)
- Play around with your hand placement: plant your hands behind you or grab your thighs for a bit of extra support; extend your arms parallel to the ground; or lift your arms up overhead for an extra challenge
Now You’re Ready to Try These 7 Fun Boat Pose Variations:
Once you’ve mastered Boat Pose, play around with these fun Navasana variations for an extra challenge.
1. Boat on a Yoga Block
Add an extra balance challenge by sitting on a yoga block. It’s harder than it looks!
Let’s try it:
- Place a yoga block on the floor on its shortest height
- Perch on the block, making sure both of your sit bones are resting on the block. You can use two blocks next to each other for a bit more support
- Balance is much harder on a block, so you may want to stick with a modified Boat Pose for the first few times you try
Add a twist to your Boat Pose to increase the difficulty and work your obliques. This is a great pose to use in a sequence preparing for a twisting arm balance such as Side Crow (Parsva Bakasana) or Grasshopper Pose (Parsva Bhuja Dandasana).
Let’s try it:
- From traditional Boat Pose, loop your right big toe with your left peace fingers
- On your exhale, twist to the right, extending your right arm to open across your chest
- Bring your gaze toward your outstretched right hand
- Add an extra challenge by crossing your ankles. Loop the big toe of your bottom foot with your index finger when trying this version
Occasionally called Canoe, this pose is deceptively challenging and seems to find core muscles you didn’t know you had.
Let’s try it:
- Start in traditional Boat Pose
- Slowly lower your mid-back and legs toward the floor until they are hovering about six to eight inches off the ground
- Keep your legs firm and together
- Hover your arms by your hips with your palms facing up or sweep them long overhead
- Keep your core muscles drawing in toward your spine
- Transition between traditional Boat (Navasana) and Low Boat (Ardha Navasana) several times to really work your core
- If you feel any strain in your neck, you can bring your hands behind your head to gently cradle your neck
4. Both Big Toe Pose (Ubhaya Padangusthasana)
This version of Boat Pose combines core and balance work with a deep hamstring stretch.
Let’s try it:
- Start in Butterfly Pose (Baddha Konasana)
- Loop both big toes with your peace fingers and thumbs
- Shift your weight into your sit bones as you lift your knees up toward the ceiling
- Lift your feet off the floor and find your balance
- Slowly stretch your legs out in front of you
- Keep your spine long and straight while broadening through your front body to prevent rounding in your back
- Lengthen your legs from your pelvis through your heels and flex your feet
- Gaze slightly upward toward your toes
5. Wide-Legged Boat Pose (Merudandasana)
This option is similar to Both Big Toe Pose, but it can be a bit more challenging on your balance. If you start to fall backward, stay relaxed and roll with it.
Let’s try it:
- Start in Butterfly Pose
- Loop both big toes with your peace fingers or grab the outside of your feet
- Shift your weight into your sit bones as you lift your knees up toward the ceiling
- Extend one leg at a time out wide to the side of your mat
- Once you’re stable with extending one leg at a time, try extending both simultaneously
- Gaze forward or up toward the ceiling for an extra balance challenge
6. Boat Pose With a Yoga Strap
Try this variation for a supported Navasana. The yoga strap and block combination helps you to find lift through your spine and chest. It’s also a great tool to use when working toward L-Sit (Brahmacharyasana).
Let’s try it:
- Start in Staff Pose (Dandasana)
- Make a large loop with your yoga strap
- Bring the strap around your upper body, placing it under your armpits and around your shoulder blades
- Bend your legs, bringing your knees close to your chest
- Place a yoga block width-wise at the base of your feet and loop the other end of your strap around the block
- Press your feet firmly into the block as you extend your legs out and up
- Use your hands as needed and find your balance
- Extend your arms parallel to the ground or overhead when you’re ready
- Push out through your feet toward the block as you lift up and back with your upper body
This beautiful variation is based on a standing forward fold, Half-Bound Lotus Pose from the Ashtanga Primary Series.
Looking to improve – 3 Ways to Improve Your Advanced Yoga Practices Quickly
It may cause strain on the knee due to the foot placement, so you might want to skip this variation if you have any knee issues. Make sure your body is warm and stretched before trying this pose.
Let’s try it:
- Start in Staff Pose (Dandasana)
- Bend your right leg and guide your right foot to the crease of your left hip
- Extend your right arm to the front, and turn your palm away from you so your thumb is facing down
- Sweep your right arm around your back and grasp your right big toe or foot with your right hand
- Bend your left leg, placing your foot on the ground as you find balance on your sit bones
- Lasso your left big toe with fingers from your left hand
- Extend your left leg in front of your chest
- Gaze toward your extended left leg
Next time you’re feeling bored with your core work or your traditional yoga postures, try one of these Boat Pose variations. Your core will very likely thank you!
This article is republished from https://www.yogiapproved.com/ under a Creative Common license. Read the original article.
Have An Active Life & Boost Your Immune System With Exercise
Having an active life is beneficial to your health. Regular exercises help boost your immune system. Here are some points you can learn from boosting your immune system.
How Exercise Strengthens the Immune System
As we confront the difficult, enduring nature of COVID-19, finding long-term habits of immunity is becoming more important than ever. By now, we’re getting pretty good at social distancing, mask wearing, and handwashing.
But what else can you do to strengthen and vitalize your immune system? Exercise. In a study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, participants who exercised for 20 minutes or more at least five days per week experienced 43 percent fewer cases of infection in their upper respiratory tract than those who were sedentary.
They also had milder symptoms when they did get sick. Many similar studies repeatedly find that getting the blood flowing strengthens the body’s defense against illness.
Effects of Exercise on the Immune System
More blood circulation means cleaner blood. Not only does the heart provide life-giving oxygen to the body, but it also plays a role in fighting infection and neutralizing toxins. Immune cells, also known as white blood cells, continuously circulate the body and ward off potential bacteria and viruses.
When we increase our heart rate, our heart pumps blood faster and circulates these immune cells through our system faster, giving them more chances to locate and dispose of threats.
This increased circulation also encourages the body to produce even more immune cells, which consequently strengthens our ability to manage dangerous bacteria and viruses. After a moderate period of increased heart rate, the body enjoys a boost to the immune system for a few hours.
While any single instance of this boost may be fleeting, a daily habit of exercise will repeat this process, thereby cleansing your system on a daily basis.
Indirect Benefits of an Active Life & Exercise for the Immune System
In addition to increasing the strength of your immune system, exercise provides a host of other positive side effects that also lower your chances of getting sick.
Exercise correlates with reducing stress and anxiety, improving sleep quality, and reducing fat and cholesterol content in the body, all of which support the immune system in their own way.
There are many benefits to being active—and not just to help boost your immune system. As a general rule, people who sustain habits of regular exercise have happier bodies and happier lives.
Just Do It!—But Don’t Overdo It
While regular exercise can strengthen your immune system and enhance your overall health, you need to be careful to not strain yourself.
Per the old adage: “It is not requisite that a man [or woman] should run faster than he [or she] has strength.” Making high demands on your energy without supplying the necessary sleep and nutrition can do you more harm than good.
The benefits of exercise come most abundantly when paired with other healthy routines of balance and nourishment. If you push yourself too hard, your body may lack the energy it needs to support your immune system.
Exercising for Immune Health During the Pandemic
Currently, with the danger the pandemic presents, you should also be careful about how and where you exercise.
Certain kinds of exercise make maintaining social distance more difficult. For these reasons, a walk or a jog in the park, or some time in nature, may be a better option than attempting to go to a gym or a health club.
Dr. James Turner, who recently studied exercise and immune function, says: “People should not overlook the importance of staying fit, active, and healthy during this period. Provided it is carried out in isolation—away from others—then regular, daily exercise will help better maintain the way the immune system works.”
The Bottom Line: Get to Boost Your Health
Our bodies crave exercise. The body rewards you with more peace of mind and better health when you give it what it needs.
In this time of fear and worry, you should heed the subtle hints your body gives you and give it what it needs.
Find time to exercise in your daily routine. an active life helps boost your immune system. Having an active life does not mean you do not rest. It only means to have balance. Have an active life with a dose of exercise and the right amount of rest time.
Additional good reads:
7 Easy Ways To Conscious Cooking: Preparing Meals with Mindful Awareness
There are several key elements to conscious cooking that transform it into a mindful experience. Consider these tips as you set out to create your next meal.
“A recipe has no soul. You as the cook must bring soul to the recipe.” —Thomas Keller
Many of us are familiar with the practice of eating meditation, or a mindful approach to consuming your food with reverence, deliberate attention, full sensory embodiment, gratitude, and present-moment awareness. Mindful eating is a great way to infuse a deeper awareness into one of your most fundamental daily activities.
However, before your food reaches your plate, it must be prepared or cooked. Enter the practice of conscious cooking, or preparing meals with full awareness.
Conscious cooking is about being totally present in the act of food preparation. It brings a deep awareness to the unique details of the cooking experience and a deep, in-body sense, of creating a nourishing and healing meal with attention, compassion, gratitude, and love.
While it may sound simple, there are several key elements to conscious meal preparation that help it to be a truly mindful experience. Consider the following as you set out to create your next meal.
Begin with Intention
To begin your conscious cooking practice, pause and set a clear intention. Close your eyes, take a few deep breaths, and declare to yourself that you are going to use this time to prepare your meal with your full attention.
Visualize the end product of a delicious, nourishing meal. Have the clear recognition that you are a channel of pure awareness and allow yourself to be the instrument through which the meal will be prepared. Consecrate the experience as an opportunity to deepen your journey of awakening.
Focus on Service
Preparing meals is an act of service; you are either nourishing your own mind and body or the mind and body of others. You are delivering love and attention to those you cook for through the food itself. Surrender yourself to bringing the fullness of your being into an act of selfless service. This is an act of Karma Yoga; performing the action acknowledging that those you serve are gods and goddesses in disguise.
Deliberately Prepare the Space Of Conscious Cooking
Before starting, take the time to methodically prepare your environment. Lay out your recipes, tools (knives, spoons, cutting boards, saucepans, etc.), along with your ingredients. In culinary school, one of the first lessons taught to new chefs is known as Mise en place, which means “putting in place” and refers to both the kitchen setup as well as the chef’s state of mind.
Like a tea ceremony, take time to arrange everything beforehand so you don’t have to scramble for an item once the cooking has begun. This is also the perfect time to take a moment to cultivate gratitude for everything set before you. Recognize the web of relationships that have to exist (farmers, workers, drivers, grocery clerks, and countless others) to bring these ingredients and tools before you.
Remember also to choose ingredients that are sattvic or pure, nourishing, essential, and filled with vital lifeforce or prana.
Proceed with Care and Attention
As you begin to follow a recipe or cook, bring reverence toward each step of the process. Follow each step in the directions with full awareness; don’t just muddle through and lob ingredients together into a bowl without tuning in to what you’re doing. Move as slowly and deliberately as possible given the required steps and cooking times involved.
Relish in a Full Sensory Experience
Cooking is a wonderful experience that involves all your senses. Take note of how these gateways of perception help you have a deeper experience of the moment:
- You can see the colors, watch steam rising off the food, and notice the freshness of each ingredient.
- You can smell the food and the spices, and become aware of the blending of unique aromas into the larger fragrance of the dish.
- You can taste the individual ingredients, diving into the sweet, salty, pungent, bitter, and astringent qualities of each.
- You can hear the rolling boil of water, the rhythmic pace of a knife on the chopping block, the sizzle of cooking food.
- You can feel the texture of the ingredients, the thickness of a mixture, the grains of salt as you sprinkle them into a stew.
Embrace Total Presence
Allow the experience of cooking to be one of complete and total being. Let your mind slip beyond past or future and just experience this moment, this action in its complete fullness. Of course, it’s important to be safe and aware of cooking times, proper sanitization, hot burners, and sharp knives, but to the extent possible release any non-cooking related distractions. Put down your phone, avoid multitasking, and work to do just one thing at a time. It may be helpful to use a mantra to keep your mind anchored to the present moment. Consider either of the following:
- Om Vardhanam Namah – the mantra of the Law of Giving and Receiving which means, I am the nourisher of the universe and the universe nourishes me.
- Om Sri Danvantre Namaha – the mantra of the Celestial Physician, often chanted when preparing food to infuse it with healing energy, meaning Salutations to the being and power of the Celestial Physician.
These mantras, when used during repetitive tasks such as stirring or chopping vegetables help to entrain your awareness into a state of total absorption or Samadhi. We become one with the task, with the cooking, and the meal.
Serving and Blessing the Meal
Once the meal is prepared, it’s time to serve it to yourself, friends, family, or guests. Presenting the food with a mindful spirit of service and gratitude again helps to honor the divine in the food and those who will eat it. This is also an ideal time to offer a blessing for the food, either silently or spoken aloud, in such a way that gives thanks as well as recognizes how fortunate we are to be able to share in a meal together.
A traditional blessing often used by monks and yogis is to reflect on this passage from the Bhagavad Gita Chapter 4, verse 24:
The process of offering Brahman; that which is offered is Brahman. Brahman offers the sacrifice in the fire of Brahman. Brahman is attained by those who see Brahman in every action.
Which might be interpreted into a formal blessing as:
May I remember that the cooking of this meal is divine consciousness; the food itself is divine consciousness, and the process of consuming the food is divine consciousness. Therefore, may the act of cooking, serving, and eating be performed with full awareness that leads me to the awakening of my divine nature. Om, peace, peace, peace.
In serving and blessing the food, you surrender the practice of conscious cooking to all those who enjoy the results of your efforts. Or as Buddhist Monk Thich Nhat Hanh keenly observes: “When you prepare a meal with artful awareness, it’s delicious and healthy. You have put your mindfulness, love, and care into the meal, then people will be eating your love. People can fully enjoy the meal with body and mind, just like you enjoy a beautiful work of art.”
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7 Ways to Be Fit & Get Healthier Without Dieting
Counting calories won’t make you healthy. Here are ways to be fit and get healthier without dieting.
Pop quiz. How many diets can you name off the top of your head? If you are like most people these days, you can probably rattle off at least half a dozen without breaking a sweat. Some of them may dominate TV advertisements, and others may tend to be passed around by word of mouth. Still others tend to survive in the pages of self-help books and are splashed across the internet.
In fact, diets in general are rarely a good way to improve your health. This is because most diets focus on losing weight, not promoting health. While you will need to alter your daily diet in order to improve your health if you are living off Chinese takeout and Big Macs, traditional dieting is rarely a sustainable path when it comes to your overall health. Here are seven ways to get healthier without dieting.
Drink Water & Be Fit
One of the easiest ways to simultaneously get healthier and lose weight is to stop drinking anything but water. Drinks of every sort are filled with what most people refer to as empty calories. In other words, they are calories that do nothing to keep you feeling full or energized but do contribute to weight gain. Stop drinking soda, juice and bottled teas.
Skip the sports drinks as well. Unless you are a long distance swimmer training for an open water race, a runner preparing for a marathon or you spend multiple hours in the gym sweating like a dog, plain water will fulfill your hydration needs. If you desperately need flavor in your water, stick a bit of fresh fruit in the bottle.
This will give you the desired flavor without all the sugar in packaged flavors. Alcohol, of course, is packed with sugar and calories, but the biggest offender, after soda, is usually your morning coffee. Those flavor shots, bits of cream and sugar turn a light drink into a calorie bomb. Drink your coffee black, or at least use skim milk if you need a little dairy.
Cook at Home
Avoid Junk Food
You have likely noticed that some people simply seem to have more willpower than others. They manage to avoid eating junk food and instead snack on carrot sticks or celery. Their willpower may seem incredible, but if you looked inside their cabinets, you would probably find that they do not have chips, candy or cookies in the house.
More Sleep to Be Fit
When it comes to staying healthy, sleep is perhaps the most commonly ignored requirement. Almost everyone is aware on some level that they need to get enough sleep in order to remain healthy, but that does not stop most people from acting as if they are convinced that they can teach themselves to go without sleep entirely.
If you read any sort of health columns, parenting advice or technology news, you have almost certainly heard that spending too much time using your electronic devices is terrible for your health. Overuse of electronics tends to keep people sitting down for even longer periods of time than they were already prone to doing.
There is nothing wrong with wanting to shed a few pounds so that your jeans are a little less tight or so you can look fabulous in a tight shirt. Dieting, however, is not necessarily the answer to your weight woes. If you pay attention to your overall health by sleeping enough, eating right and exercising regularly, you will likely find that the pounds melt away without any sort of artificial assistance.
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