Wellness Yoga

Always on the Lookout…

February 17, 2018

for a yoga bag…

Whether you are a yoga teacher or a yoga student, chances are you are lugging more than just your mat to class.  The basics in a yogi’s bag are: phone, water bottle, towel, car keys, house keys, money.  As a teacher I carry a little notebook with my class plan, belts and sometimes even blocks.

Most of us have a yoga bag and also lug around our mats.  That might be fine for you, but I’ve been doing it forever and it’s getting a tad bit tedious.  Just as I was browsing online for a bag which could work for me, Meraki Decors contacted me!  Megha, the woman behind this quirky venture spoke to me at length about her journey and passion, and the connection was instant.

And, Meraki Decors decided to customize a yoga mat for me and send it for review!

When I looked up the term Meraki, I found out that it’s one of those words in a language that can’t be literally translated.  They describe a mood or a behavior.

You can bring Meraki into pretty much whatever you’re doing, be it cooking, decorating your home or your table, and (in my case) creating a life based on holistic health and conscious movement.

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, I was excited to receive this mat and below it is for your viewing.  Needless to say, it serves me perfectly.  It’s roomy enough for even really thick and big mats.  I use a thin mat, and that leaves enough room to put my jacket into the bag too.  And even my water bottle!

There’s a really convenient pocket in the front where I usually keep my phone, car keys, notebook, spare change etc.  And the best part is that Meraki Decors put my name with an inspirational quote on the mat.  Because #postiiveaffirmations.

I’ve been using this bag for a while now and I like the way it looks and the convenience.  Meraki_Decors has so much other stuff that you’re going to love (I certainly do!)

 

And I got lucky on Valentine’s Day because Megha gave me a beautiful handmade candle stand.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Check out their Facebook and Instagram pages for other offerings.  Some of the stuff I really like:

Megha at an exhibition with all her artwork.

 

 

 

Travel Wellness

Of Manifestations and Fitness Resolutions

February 8, 2018

Happy with the tees we earned.

Many years ago, before I started running, I would dream about going on vacation and having fitness as an integral part of the plan.  I moved to a new house and dreamt that I would start a weekend running group that would meet to run around the lake.

I’m one of those who believes that if you really want something, it manifests.

Both these fitness desires have manifested for me right at the beginning of this year!  Last year around this time an old acquaintance of mine moved back to Bangalore and started coming to class.  Somehow the bond grew deep and when I tentatively suggested we go to Lovedale for a run, to my utter surprise I said yes.  We got two more friends together, another student offered us his cottage, I tanked up my car and off we drove into the hills.  We spent three days re-visiting the hills and exploring new joints.  We bought comfortable pajamas at the factory surplus shops.  I bought some Eucalyptus oil.  The night before what would become our first 10km, we affirmed to ourselves that we would complete the run successfully.  We would give it our 100%.  In the morning as soon as we woke up, I said, ‘We shall do it.’  And we did!

From the 4 of us who went to Ooty, to the 12 who went to Hampi last weekend, we have grown consistently.  Hampi was our fifth run together and we got special bibs and tees with our names on it.  It may seem like a small achievement, but to those of us who get together every weekend to pound the pavement, it was a moment to be proud of how far we’ve come.  To change old habits and adopt a new lifestyle is no mean feat.  And what they say is true – nothing tastes as good as fitness feels.

 

 

 

 

Food Wellness

Carrots – Eat Clean and Green

January 31, 2018

Most days between classes you’ll find me writing.  Always on the lookout for calm, quiet and interesting places, nothing works better for me than a cafe where I can have some delicious tea, and some lunch.  Last week a friend of mine and I decided to go to Carrots in Koramangala to get ahead on a bit of work.  Note to writers: Change your location.  I find it kills writer’s block instantly.

Eating at a vegan restaurant ensures that most of the stuff available is also ‘clean’.  We ordered a Greek salad and a pizza, and as I write this I’m hungry again!  The salad and pizza are to die for.  The vegetables are fresh and smell of healthy goodness.  Those who know a bit about veganism will know that vegans don’t eat cheese.  I’ve met many a pizza lover who won’t believe that it’s possible to have extremely yummy pizza sans the cheese.  Go to Carrots and taste just how delicious a vegan pizza can be.

Luckily Susmitha, one of the owners and a vegan for the last 15 years, dropped by our table for an informal (and informative!) chat.

We spoke about how Operation Flood (White Revolution) completely changed the way we consume dairy.  We concurred that cases of childhood obesity, various gut diseases, skin problems etc can be directly linked to the consumption of milk and other dairy products.  As an aside I have to mention that I love the fact that I can eat/drink anything at Carrots and not worry that it contains dairy.

Interestingly, there are several products manufactured by Amul which are vegan by accident.  Such as their dark chocolate.  Amul, the biggest participant in Operation Flood, ‘accidentally’ manufactures several vegan chocolates too!  This called out another assumption I had – vegan and healthy aren’t necessarily the same thing.  As a vegan I might eat the Amul Dark Chocolate, but as me (yogini trying to eat clean), I wont touch that stuff. (#nosugar)

Honey is also not vegan nor whole.  Susmitha had the explanation.  From a technical standpoint honey is basically bee vomit.  Bees collect pollen and then regurgitate what we know as honey.  She also told us that it takes forty thousand bee flying miles to make 1 tsp of honey!  Which is why commercially available honey is so suspect (for those of you who use honey as replacement for sugar).  Also, many farms clip the wings of the Queen Bee so that she doesn’t fly away.  That way, the worker bees are tricked into staying (and therefore making honey) in the same place.  The natural behavior of bees is to fly from place to place building their hives and doing their work.  By clipping the Queen Bee’s wings you ensure that the worker bees stay in the farm and work only for you.

As it often happens, those of us who are seriously into wellness have compelling personal narratives.  Susmitha and I share the same reason – both had gained unhealthy weight!  I asked Susmitha if she had experienced any internal changes; such as on the emotional and mental front; after she started living the vegan life.  And she said yes!  Her fear of stray dogs has evaporated and her Reiki and meditation practices have improved.  And all of us who practice wellness will agree that your physical and your mental health are connected.  If compassion drives your actions, it’s not long before compassion infuses your entire being.

Carrots has actually become a hub for holistic health.  All kinds of events related to health, lifestyle and wellness happen here and its actually become a meeting place for like minded individuals.  We can certainly vouch for that.  We met like minded individuals and had the most delicious and healthy food.  Looking forward to returning for some more healthy food and nourishing conversation.

Do check them out on their Facebook page and drop in for some vegan latte :).

 

P.S. I’m honored to say that I will be holding a talk on Valentine’s Day at Carrots.  On the day when we celebrate relationships I thought it would be great to talk about the relationship we have with ourselves.  Promises to be an awesome session and it is absolutely free, so do drop in!  You can book your spot here: http://bit.ly/2Fb5dy8

Wellness

It Starts With You

January 22, 2018

A few days ago a friend of mine showed me a video clip that she found inspiring.  It was about being interested in your goals vs. being committed to your goals.  The video was a montage of footage of a man talking about the pursuit of his goals and a people busy in physical pursuits.  As this man speaks about commitment we see a boxer practicing.  As he speaks of doing whatever it takes to achieve your goals, we see someone surveying the terrain, presumably to run through it.  As he talks about upgrading your knowledge, we see a someone running through the snow.

When the video finished I said that it’s quite interesting that they’ve used fitness to illustrate the main idea of the video.  There are many ways to depict smashing and achieving goals.  We can show people in a boardroom bagging a successful deal.  We can show an actor executing a scene perfectly.  We can also show a student getting an acceptance to a prestigious university.  So why is fitness the preferred approach to depict motivation and dedication?

Associating fitness with achievements in other aspects of life is not a coincidence.  Think about it, when you think of that friend of yours who works out regularly, is on track with the diet and exudes a sense of wellness, don’t you get a sense of awe?  If you’re not on the path yourself don’t you feel a tinge of jealousy or pride (depending on your relationship with said friend and the kind of person you are)?

A healthier lifestyle, a fitter body, a cleaner diet, more strength, more stamina, more flexibility, glowing skin, luscious hair, clear eyes – all these are more than skin deep.  These don’t translate only to a physically well-proportioned human being.  These translate to a human with a confident gait and an easy smile.  A person who wears their clothes and skin well.  A person who is involved daily in self improvement more than in passing judgment on others.

A person who works out daily depicts the wholesome personality that we all aspire to.  A person who is dedicated to making things happen.  A person who creates life, rather than one who responds to it.  A person who doesn’t sit in a corner crying about a missed opportunity, but someone who moves confidently towards the next challenge.  After all, you win some and you lose some.  Someone who lives rather than exists.

And taking care of your physical and mental health is the first step to demonstrating that you care.  That you can commit to changing yourself before you change an empire.  That you can first bring a revolution within yourself, before you revolutionize the world.  If you can commit to yourself, then you can commit to anything.  If you can change yourself, then you can change anything.

It starts with you.

And below is the video that got me thinking.

Wellness

Think Women Think Sheroes

January 15, 2018

It’s the middle of January and by now it would be pretty clear to you whether you are on track with your fitness goals or not.  Face it, if you haven’t started working out already, then you aren’t on track.  Staying on track, smashing your fitness goals, sticking to your New Year’s resolutions is easier said than done, and I do understand that.  But I’m also a huge fan of staying on your game with some help.  I find that what helps me is my own personal fitness group.  A group of like-minded people with whom I can discuss fitness related news and ideas and who can answer my queries and give me new insight into my interest.  I feel it’s a great idea to cultivate a group of like-minded individuals because it helps you stay motivated.

I recently came across sheroes.com, a platform specifically for women.  I browsed through the site and through its various communities and realized that it’s a great platform for women from all walks of life.  There are communities dedicated to writing, for career advice and even for relationship advice!  It’s definitely a useful platform where women will feel supported and empowered.  The community that I promptly clicked in to was the ‘Health Tips’ community and below is what it looks like.

What I really appreciated was the fact that the community was dealing with real questions from real people.  Just like you and me.  You can get advice from your peers about any health problems you are facing, and even tips of what other women have tried and tested.

In addition to this, sheroes.com also has qualified doctors who are on call to respond to medical queries.  This ensures that you’re not getting inaccurate or half-baked information.  You have access to expert advice from doctors for a wide range of medical issues.

A more valuable use for this platform is to address personal issues that we sometimes don’t have anyone to speak to about.  This is a platform through which you can get answers for intimate queries private and anonymously.  For instance:

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Intrigued?  Check out their health community here.

You can also download the SHEROES App here.

SHEROES has really done a good job of coming up with a portal valuable for all women.  It’s a one stop destination for any query or advice a woman might need.  They’ve really proven their words “THINK WOMEN THINK SHEROES” true!

Do check it out and let me know what you think.

Food Wellness

Fat Phobia is Ending – It’s Not the Fat That’s Making You Fat

January 13, 2018

Gympik is running a fitness contest and as I scanned the list of topics I casually dismissed them as too obvious to write about or not interesting enough.  But blog contest topics are finite and I had to choose one from what was available.  As someone who has fat phobia from time to time I thought it’s a good idea to revise why it’s not the fat that’s making us fat.  And that’s reason enough for us to stop obsessing over the fat.

The thing is, there are many reasons why you may have a few extra kilos, but fat is not one of them.  Here’s what I think.

  1. It’s easy for a lot of people to just blame it on the food. On the unavailability or inaccessibility of healthier options when it comes to food.  Maybe you are a frequent traveler, but that means it’s more important for you to devise ways that you can cook for yourself or ALWAYS go for the healthier option.  Maybe you don’t have time to cook a healthy meal for yourself in the morning before work.  Well then invest in your health and get a cook who can do it for you.  Can’t afford a cook and don’t know how to cook?  LEARN!
  2. Your lifestyle is making you fat. The most used excuse is, I don’t have time to work out.  Do you watch TV?  Cut that out and go work out.  Using the snooze button to stay in bed for half an hour longer?  Cut that out and go workout.  Plonk yourself in your chair post lunch and stare mindlessly at mails you don’t feel like responding to?  Cut that out and go for a walk.  If you have to sit all day because of your job then take frequent water breaks.  And that will ensure frequent pee breaks.  And that amounts to more movement.  If your idea of a good weekend is to sleep until noon to recover from the rigors of a seated job, or to get piss drunk to recover from the rigors of said job, then…there are a lot of variables that need changing.  Basically, it’s not the fat that’s making you fat, it’s your complacency about your lifestyle.
  3. You have a medical condition that makes it difficult to lose weight. Certain conditions are beyond our control.  But what is in our control is managing them.  If you have a medical condition then don’t compound the problem by eating crap and vegetating the entire day.  Above all, don’t use a medical condition as reasons to have a pity party for yourself when it comes to your weight.  Don’t allow yourself to feel that it’s OK to feel sorry for yourself.  It is an uphill climb, but do it so that you can feel better.  And eventually you will feel better.  No two ways about it.

And at the end of the day, fat is essential.  That is, good fat. So blaming your weight issues on fat is just wrong.  Good fats are important to keep your bones and joints strong.  Your skin supple and glowing and your hair vibrant.  Good fats result in a good, optimistic mood which is essential if you want to be happy, healthy and energetic.

[*Note:  This article is written as a part of Gympik Fit-A-Thon contest and should not be repurposed, republished or used otherwise.  The content herein is owned by the blogger.  Gympik is not responsible for any kind of infringement caused.]

Yoga

5 Random Facts About Me

January 9, 2018
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Enjoying the cold weather at @ Hauz Khas Village.

Happy New Year!!!!

I hope 2018 is amazing for all of us and brings us only the best in health, wealth and happiness.  Actually, since wealth and happiness come from good health, I should ideally only wish that for you.  In any case, this blog will help you with all aspects of your health.

I thought the first blog of the year should be one through which you can get to know me a bit better. A lot of new people subscribed in the last couple of months, and they might not know me too well.  So below are a some random facts about me that will help you get to know me better.

1. I’ve lived in 6 different countries and visited three times that number so far in my life.

2. I’m actually a software engineer and even worked as one for 8 years.

3. As a kid I wanted to be Nancy Drew when I grew up.

4. I’ve been journaling extensively since second grade.

5. I never thought of myself as a cook.  But as and when I started looking for healthy recipes I realized that my friends actually like the taste of my experiments and that I’m actually a very good cook.

And now for a bonus random fact about me:

6. Kolhapuri chappals and Birkenstocks are my favorite shoes. This completely irrelevant fact is probably very typical of a yogi.

 

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A collage of pictures that hangs in my house in Delhi.  Can you spot me?

Yoga

Year End Musings

December 28, 2017

 

Hello Friends/Subscribers/Yoga Enthusiasts/Family (virtual & otherwise)/Students!!!!

The year started with my hair dark, long and straight.  As the months went on I got bored and decided I wanted to add depth to otherwise staid hair.  I got some streaks put in.  After a couple of weeks I decided the streaks needed something more and I added fuschia (Manic Panic Hot Pink).  This is the perfect analogy for the year.  What started as another year of classes turned into much much more.

This year has been about immense growth both on and off the mat.  Two months in Pune were challenging and difficult.  The teachers remembered me from last year but that didn’t stop them from literally swatting me into correct alignment.  It’s true, there’s no success without a bit of hardship.

The Dengue fever which followed soon after was my first experience with illness.  The weeks after that recovering was a time full of experimentation, a bit of fear and slowly getting back on track.

My website went live and brought all my interests under one roof.  So if you want to read what I have to say you’ve only got to click on a link.  If you want information about classes, you can just scroll to that page and if you want to drop me a line, you can do that very conveniently too.  From blogging/vlogging with no clear plan, I started to look for a clear structure.  The task became easier with a friend of mine coming on board and encouraging me to use my grey cells to focus on growth.  All the new content on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube (which I hope you’re enjoying) is a result of that.

As students we’ve seen excess weight shed, clocking more running miles, making long term diet changes, instinctively making better food choices, taking ownership of your fitness, introspection, more meditation minutes.  Together we’ve done runs, 108 Suryanamaskars on chilly mornings, post class breakfasts.  We’ve done an amazing and one of a kind retreat away from the rigmarole of life deep in the heart of nature. We have inspired each other and been inspired by each other.  We have watched each other collapse on our mats and then also watched as we pushed ourselves up to move ahead.

This is my last blog for the year and I’m so grateful that we’ve made a connection/continued being in touch this year.  This past week has been about reviewing the year and making plans for the next year.  I hope 2018 brings lots of good health, positivity and abundance into your life.

See you next year!

 

 

 

Travel Yoga

Three Offbeat Things I Did in Coonoor….

December 21, 2017

…and you should too.

I love the hills.  I love the weather, the vibe and the people in the hills.  I feel my skin takes on a special glow and my mind a rare calmness when I smell the hill air.

So it was only inevitable that I would take my parents for a vacation up in the hills.  Although we are from the Uttrakhand hills, I haven’t spent much time there.  But I’ve spent quite a bit of time in the Nilgris.  I was in Coonoor a couple of months ago to participate in a run.  This past weekend Coonoor was colder, quieter, prettier.

 

We didn’t have many days and I wanted my parents to love the place as much as I did. So I wanted to do something different and memorable.  Also, I have an affinity for all things weird, offbeat and quirky.  So, without further ado, here are three offbeat things to do in Coonoor.

  1. Hit up a local and badger them for information.  There’s no better way to really get the vibe of a place than by hanging out with a local.  You end up hearing fascinating personal anecdotes and hopefully getting an interesting story or two.  My favorite kind are the scary ones and I was #sorrynotsorry to find out that there aren’t any ghost stories in the hills around Coonoor.  In fact, the lone deserted house that I was so sure was haunted was only up for sale…and not because it was haunted.  We were lucky to meet Zubin Contractor, resident and Coonoor expert.  From tea factories to how Eucalyptus oil is extracted.  From the history of the five tribes of the Nilgris to scenic walks around town, Zubin had us covered.
  2. Visit Acres’ Wild, Mansoor Khan’s cheese making farm, complete with its own gowshala and geese in a pond.  I had been to this property years ago on a cold and foggy day.  This weekend it was nice and sunny and we were there to find out how cheese is made.  We were given facts and figures, shown the apparatus and the equipment and had our questions patiently answered.  We came away with a few packets of their delicious cheese.  (You know what you’ll be served if you drop in for a visit.)
  3. Visit the cemeteries.  We went to two cemeteries and they were beautiful.  An old one with centuries old tombstones and a beautiful statue of an angel.  The other one we visited had graves from World War 1 and was maintained by the Commonwealth Graves Commission.  Although slightly creepy, its in cemeteries that you get a sense of an era long gone.  Of the aesthetics and beliefs of the time.  You actually get a sense of the individuals that lived and walked in the same pathways centuries ago.  It brings history to life.

Also, we go on vacation to take a break from the frenzy of city life.  A cozy little nook helps. It is important to find a comfortable home away from home to stay in.  Coonoor has many options and when dusk falls all you feel  like doing is putting on some comfortable socks and crawling under a soft blanket with a good book.  Luckily, I had the home away from home, the socks and blankets, a good book and family.

Food

You Really Wanna Drink That?

December 14, 2017

My parents have been visiting with me for the past couple of days and we’ve been going around sight seeing and exploring the Bangalore food scene. Before I leave the house I always double check that I’m carrying my water with me. You’ll never find me carrying those ridiculously small purses which can only hold a chapstick and a Rs. 5 coin. My bag needs to hold a large bottle full of water.

We don’t know conclusively how long a person can survive without water, but we know that its less than the time without food.  You’re are likely to die of thirst before hunger.

I’m surprised when I find out that some students haven’t had a full glass of water by the time they show up to class.  Which is 8 am!

  1. Start your day with a little warm water.  It kick starts your system, flushes out toxins and increases metabolism.  Hello weight loss!  Hello glowing skin!  Hello luscious hair!  Plus warm water is easier to ingest so you will feel like drinking more of it.
  2. Add a little something to your water for a little zing.  You can add: mint, ginger, cinnamon, lemons/limes to your water to increase the immunity boosting properties.  Make the H2O really work for you.
  3. Now, make drinking this healthful, flavourful water a calm, meditative morning ritual.
  4. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink up.  When your body actively indicates thirst, it means that the water volume in our body has already fallen below a certain threshold.  Basically, you’ve already started to dehydrate.  So if you find yourself drinking water only when you’re thirsty, your body is not happy.
  5. Have a sweet craving?  You might just be hungry.  Down a glass of water.
  6. Absolutely do NOT use a plastic water bottle if you hope to imbibe healthful stuff.  Plastic in water bottles contains many chemicals and these chemicals seep into the water over time.  You don’t want to be drinking this water because these chemicals will actually interfere with the hormonal balance of your body.
  7. Get a metal water bottle and never leave home without it.  I’m actually suggesting a good grade metal water bottle, not a bpa-free, environment friendly water bottle made of some-percent recycled plastic.  Get a metal water bottle.  In fact, I’ve been considering getting a copper water bottle for myself.  I’ve been seeing them everywhere and don’t actually own one.

The thing I see people defaulting on most?  It’s the water bottles.  It’s simply horrifying to see people chugging water from a ratty old plastic Bisleri bottle to quench their thirst.  Bottles that have been sitting in their car for days, with water of questionable integrity.  With all you do (or don’t do) for your health, do you really want to drink that?

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need a glass of water.