“Sitting for prolonged periods has health consequences, including an increased risk for obesity and chronic illness” Mayoclinic.org
The average office worker spends around 7 hours seated at their desk, and there is tonnes of research that shows our sedentary lifestyles are having a negative effect on our health, contributing to high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, back pain and obesity.
But there is some good news, as research also shows that taking short breaks throughout your day can significantly reduce these risks.
Standing, walking or stretching for just 5 minutes, is like pressing the reset button for your body, encouraging blood circulation through the muscles, which causes an increase in certain enzymes that break up fat in the blood stream. This flexing of the muscles will also improve concentration and reduce stress.
This quick 5 minute desk yoga routine is extremely beneficial, and easy to incorporate into your day, without having to leave your desk!
www.feelgreatbreaks.com yoga holidays and health retreats in the sunshine
Feel Great Breaks turns 4 this month, and we had a little chat with our friends at Book Yoga Retreats about how it all began. A HUGE thank you to everyone who has made it possible for us to have had such an incredible journey. And here’s to the next 4!
The word mandala comes from the Sanskrit language and loosely means a circle or shape with no beginning or end. Circles are a powerful symbol found in many cultures, in halos, architecture, prayer wheels and in nature.
Mandalas can be used in meditation to help centre the body and mind. As many studies have shown, meditation helps to reduce stress, boost the immune system, combat depression, lower blood pressure, and promote sleep, so they can be used as an important tool to improve well-being.
They are not just something to look at and meditate on, however. Colouring mandalas can be incredibly soothing and create a deep sense of calm. They not only centre your body and mind, but they also allow us to express our creative side, which is often neglected in our day to day lives.
Colouring mandalas has been proved to be particularly beneficial for children, allowing them to deal with emotions and cope with stress. Psychologist Barbara Sourkes has carried out a number of studies using mandalas with children, highlighting how they express themselves through colour and art. ( Source: psycnet.apa.org/psycinfo/1992-06589-001)
Find a quiet spot, put on some chilled music, and light some incense. Take some colouring pencils and choose your mandala (or let the mandala choose you!) Allow yourself to become engrossed in colouring the pattern.
www.feelgreatbreaks.com – life changing vacations in Spain for mind, body and soul.
As difficult as it may be to tear yourself away from the beautiful grounds of the Beachsider hotel, the charming town of Denia awaits you, and is well worth a visit. Whether you choose to bike into the town to experience the sites and sounds first hand, or hike up to the Torre to take a birds eye view of the castle and port, here is a little bit of background on our wonderful Denia.
The first recorded history of Denia dates back to the Arab occupation between the 8th and 13t century. The 11th century castle in the centre of Denia, which was initially started by the Moors, and has been rebuilt and fortified many times since, is worth a stroll through to see the different architectural styles.
Manoeuvre you way through the hustle and bustle of Marques del Campo, before winding up the old town streets to reach the castle.
Denia had a thriving raisin industry, from 1800 up until the Spanish Civil War in the 1930’s., which included a colony of English raisin traders.
The wealth created by this raisin industry was used to fund various projects in the area including the railway to Alicante and the telegraph links. (Those who have taken the train from Alicante to Denia, may well joke that the network has not been updated since then!).
To sample what the raisins are used for today, take home a souvenir of some local muscatel wine. Pop into the indoor market to see where the locals buy their fruit, veg and muscatel wine.
The glorious raisin days came to an end when an outbreak of the pest phylloxera, destroyed the grape vines and the region was plunged into an economic decline.
The fishing fleet kept Denia a float (excuse the pun) during the hard times that followed, along with a small toy making industry, which is documented at the toy museum. This was up until the arrival of tourism in the 1960s when the Northern Europeans began taking their holidays here.
www.feelgreatbreaks.com – yoga and well-being holidays in Denia, Spain
This is the fourth of our mini-blogs on the chakra system.
The fourth chakra is the heart or Anahata Chakra and is associated with the colour green or pink and the element of air. Its physical location is the heart, upper chest and back.
Signs your heart chakra may be blocked include feelings of jealousy, you are also quick to judge, suffer shyness, loneliness, you find it hard to forgive and lack empathy.
An over functioning heart chakra and you may have feelings of codependency and look to others for acceptance.
Rebalance your heart chakra and let go of repressed emotions. Whether it’s as a result of a traumatic event stemming from childhood that you can’t even remember, or a grudge you’re holding so tightly from last week, if you repress your feelings, your heart chakra’s balance gets out of kilter.
Yoga poses that enliven the heart chakra include passive chest openers in which we arch gently over a blanket or bolster; shoulder stretches such as cow face, eagle and backbends.
Doing backbends develops the trust and surrender we need to open the heart fully. When we feel fearful, there is no room for love and our bodies contract. When we choose love fear melts away and our practice takes on a joyful quality. In many back bending poses the heart is positioned higher than the head and hence we lead with our hearts. P
ranayama practice helps balance and tone this chakra. All forms of Pranayama can help you use more air, more prana to increase your vitality and enthusiasm for life. To have this fourth chakra energy fully touch our daily life requires practice. This begins within our self for without the ability to love ourselves we cannot truly experience love from another or give it truly to another. In loving ourselves we allow the intent to generate the feeling of unconditional love within and around us, and then to share this feeling with others.
Whatever we send out is returned to us. Love is the drug!
‘A flower cannot blossom without sunshine, and man cannot live without love.’
www.feelgreatbreaks.com – yoga and wellbeing holidays in Spain.
One of my New Year’s resolutions is to have a juice a day. But another is to create a better work/life balance, and find time in the mornings for a regular daily yoga practice.
So, rather than setting myself up to fail, one of my resolutions had to budge…. and I decided to bulk juice and freeze daily portions, so that I am less likely to fail at my daily morning yoga practice!
Below is a recipe for a refreshing green juice, which makes enough for 6 days. The total cost for the ingredients was around €4, so wont break the bank either.
- 1 bulb of fennel
- 2 handfuls of spinach
- 1 handful of parsley
- 2 sticks of cucumber
- 4 green apples
- 1 lemon
- 2 limes
The alkalising ingredients in this juice will help to re-balance your immune system and keep you fighting fit!
Chop and juice the fennel, spinach, parsley, cucumber and apples, and then hand squeeze in the lemon and limes.
Divide up into freezable containers. Ive used plastic cups as I have space in my freezer to let them stand and freeze without them being spilled. But, you could put them in plastic bottles, so they are more transportable.
Remove from freezer and let them turn to slush and then back to juice, and enjoy!
www.feelgreatbreaks.com – yoga holidays in Spain
This is the third in a series of seven mini blogs about your seven major chakras following on from the First Chakra and the Second chakra .
The Manipura or Solar Plexus Chakra is yellow and is located two or three inches above your navel. It is associated with the digestive system, the stomach, spleen, liver, gall bladder and the adrenal glands and pancreas. It deals with issues of self-esteem, fear of rejection, willpower, ambition and action and is where we feel anxiety in the pit of our stomach. It is weakened by shame, embarrassment and self-consciousness. Every time you judge or criticize yourself you deplete this chakra and weaken your willpower. Self love, self acceptance, and acknowledgement of your own worth are the building blocks of the third chakra. People with excessive third chakra energy react to life circumstances. They have emotional outbursts and are often stressed out. People with blocked or deficient third chakra are passive and inactive allowing life to pass by while they do nothing. A strong third chakra reflects the ability to move forward in life with confidence and power. It reflects the ability to make conscious choices, to choose and to act. You can choose to achieve your life purpose or you can live out your karma or past experiences.
To activate the third chakra recite the mantra RAM whilst focusing on this centre. The best solar plexus chakra yoga poses are those that strengthen your core and help you to feel more powerful and confident like Warrior I pose, the bow, the boat and Lion’s Pose. Repeat affirmations like: “I love and accept myself”, “I seek opportunities for personal growth” and “I am free to choose”. Burn incense with fragrances of saffron, musk or sandalwood. Third Chakra foods are grains, pasta, bread, granola, cereal, flax seed, rice and sunflower seeds. Plus dairy foods like milk, yogurt and cheese and spices such as cinnamon, ginger, cumin, turmeric and fennel. Drink mint and chamomile teas.
Caramel Slices are one of my all time favourites. But….I’m on a mission to ban refined sugar and general rubbish laden foods from my diet for the next 4 weeks….and hopefully beyond.
Those who know me, will be aware of my incredibly sweet tooth, so a cold turkey 4 weeks with no sugar will be a toughy for me, so I’m finding some sweet, but not too naughty treats to help me on my quest.
So here’s one for an emergency craving:
• 125g dates
• 75g almonds
• 1 tsp coconut oil
• 125g dates
• 120ml coconut oil
• 1 ½ tbsp tahini
• 100ml pure honey or agave
• 125g raw cashews
• 80ml water
TOP CHOCOLATE LAYER
• 60ml coconut oil
• 60ml pure honey or agave
• 60g raw cacao powder
Pulse dates, almonds & coconut oil in a food processor until it resembles fine crumbs and sticks together when pressed. Pour mixture into a slice tin lined with greaseproof paper and press it down to form the base. Place it in the freezer.
Put dates, coconut oil, tahini, honey/agave, cashews and water into a blender and pulse until completely combined and smooth (you may need a little extra water to help blend it but try and keep it to a minimum). Pour caramel mixture on top of the base and return it to the freezer to set.
TOP CHOCOLATE LAYER
Add the coconut oil, honey/agave and cacao to a small saucepan on really low heat and stir until it is combined and resembles chocolate sauce. Ensuring the caramel layer is set, spread the chocolate sauce on top. Pop it back into the freezer for an hour and then remove it from the tin, slice it up and store it in an airtight container in the fridge.
Future FG Breakers be warned, this recipe just might be in my top 3 for 2015
Thanks to Organic Sisters for the recipe.
The second mini-blog on the seven major chakras. The second major chakra is called Svadhistana and is located at the tailbone, two finger-widths above Muladhara. It is also known as the sacral, pelvic or spleen chakra. It is orange and is related to the element of water, the sense of taste and tongue. It is connected with the pelvis, reproductive system, kidneys, bladder, all liquids and sexual energy. It symbolises imagination, creativity, ideas, impulses and desires. It is about optimism, self-confidence, enthusiasm and courage. It involves money and power and who rules your relationships and boundaries. A person with a lot of Svadhistana energy is very creative, joyful, sexy, attractive and inspirational. They are enthusiastic, contented and open and inspire that in others. When energy is not flowing freely from this chakra we lack creative drive and negotiation skills. By working with this centre we can learn to take control of our own needs and learn to be less dependent on gratification from others.
If this chakra is blocked a person may feel emotionally explosive, manipulative, obsessive or may lack energy. Physical problems may include kidney weakness, stiff lower back, constipation and muscle spasms. To improve your Svadhistana energy, get creative and take great care of yourself. Take responsibility for yourself and learn to say no. Nobody is perfect so accept your weaknesses. Drink more water including herbal teas like jasmine, hibiscus, chamomile or orange spice. Gaze at the night sky and listen to running water and birdsong. Wear orange and eat more orange foods like tangerines and clementines. Use aromas ylang ylang and sandalwood. Practise yoga poses like forward bends, the camel pose and supine hero to stimulate this area. Svadhistana’s mantra is VAM. You can chant this slowly as you focus on the lower back and sacrum regions.
www.feelgreatbreaks.com – live, laugh, love. Life affirming vacations in Spain.
If you have gone to a yoga class, chances are you´ll have heard the word chakra. Chakras are believed to be psychic energy centres that govern the human body. Chakra comes from the Sanskrit word for wheel. There are said to be seven major chakras that run from the base of the spine up to the crown of the head, and that through the regular practice of various techniques, visualisations and meditations we can improve their functioning and create peace, harmony and well-being.
Whether you believe in the existence of the chakras or not, why not practise the suggested techniques and see for yourself. Even in this century with the amazing advances we’ve made in technology and medicine, we’re still warring, we’re still getting ill and we’re still getting depressed. So, we need to work on ourselves.
In the next seven mini-blogs we’ll look at the chakra system, and suggest simple techniques you can try to improve their functioning and your personal well-being. Maybe if you feel that something rings true for you, you can further your study and make your own investigations into where you might need more balance in your life.
There is no standard system of chakras. It appears that every school and sometimes every teacher has their own view of the chakra system. What is common is that they form part of the body along with the breath channels, or nadis (na-dyes) and they are located along a central channel called the sushumna. Two side channels called Ida and pingala cross the centre sushumna channel at the location of the chakras which possess a number of petals and are associated with a mantra and often with a variety of colours, aromas, gemstones and deities.
The first chakra the root chakra or muladhara chakra is located between the anus and the genitals and connects with the coccyx. An active muladhara chakra shines in a fiery red colour and is associated with the element earth. It is also associated with the sense of smell and its symbol is a four petaled lotus flower. The root chakra connects us with the physical world and one’s need for survival so we feel like we’re on solid ground. When functioning harmoniously you will feel grounded and stable. You feel secure, trusting and grateful. It is easy for you to achieve your goals and you are rooted in life and in yourself. When the root chakra is not functioning harmoniously your thoughts and actions revolve around material things and sensual indulgences like food, alcohol and sex. You want to possess yet find it difficult to give or take freely. You are distant and may suffer with constipation and are overweight. The needs of your body may be overlooked and you become easily upset and aggressive. You are defensive and find it hard to trust. An insufficient functioning root chakra means you worry and feel lost. Life is a burden and you long for an easy life.
To cleanse and activate your root chakra watch or simply visualise the sunrise or sunset. Or simply sit on the ground breathe deeply and listen to nature. Listen to songs of the sounds of nature or to tribal music. Repeat the vowel u as in ooh which sets off a downward movement of energy ( try it ) and also chant the mantra LAM. Wear red and try cedar or clove aromatherapy. Wear garnet or ruby or have them by your bed. Grow more aware of and stimulate your body with lots of walks or a physical hatha yoga practise along with breathing exercises.
www.feelgreatbreaks.com – Life changing yoga and….holidays in beautiful luxury surroundings.