Finding balance for me has been the pinnacle of my career change and the most important thing in becoming a yoga teacher. Until just over a year ago, I was living a pretty unhealthy lifestyle. Working all hours as an Assistant Director in TV meant that I never had time to exercise. I didn’t have time to see friends and family, I was so exhausted that I didn’t put much thought into what I ate and wellness just wasn’t a priority. After 8 years in the industry my body began to give up and I suddenly realised that things needed to change. After a bad bout of insomnia I quit my job and decided that what I needed most was to get fit and healthy again. I needed to spend time with the people I loved, I needed to do the things I loved…and I needed to find balance.
In the hectic, high-pressured working-world of today, my story is far from unusual; it seems more and more of us chose to tip the scales in favour of chasing career goals, trying to do it all, often neglecting our own health and happiness in the process. It’s easy to burn out entirely if we don’t maintain some kind of equilibrium.
I always knew yoga would make me feel healthy and exercised but I wasn’t prepared for the immense shift it would bring, towards true balance in my life. Literally; gas bills and shopping lists are the last thing on my mind when I’m negotiating a tricky pose. It’s that much needed ‘Me Time’, I can close off the incessant buzz of London and instead just listen to my body and mind, hear what it takes to nourish those things rather than strain them to breaking point.
My five tips for maintaining balance:
1. Discover that Imbalance. Write down what your perfect day would look like. Then write down what it looks like now. Work out what is missing – are you working too hard? Seeing friends and family too little? Whatever it is, recognizing what you are lacking in your life is the first step.
2. The Value of ‘You-time’. Make sure you have a little bit of time each week where you do something that makes you happy. Giving yourself time for a little bit of self love and self care is super important. So often we are trying to give our time to others we forget to give time to ourselves.
3. Just say no! We often feel obliged to say yes to everything and find that we end up doing exactly the opposite of what we actually want to be doing. Have the courage to say no and make the choice to do what YOU want to do – even if that’s sitting at home watching TV rather than go out with friends. Saying no will actually help your relationships – it allows for honesty, creates boundaries and allows you to be the person you want to be, rather that the person you think you should be.
4. Boundaries, people! Try and give yourself times to switch off and then stick to them. With modern technology we have become available to everyone at all times of the day and this can be exhausting. Perhaps telling yourself that after 6pm you won’t check work emails anymore, or switching your phone off at 9pm, or saying that Monday night is cinema night….whatever it is, make it part of your weekly routine.
5. Take a break. Make sure you have something planned to look forward to. A weekend away, a holiday, an afternoon walk…. Whatever it is, knowing that you have something coming up that will take you away from your daily routine and the stresses of life makes everything a little easier.
Yoga has been such an important part of my journey in finding balance. Yoga has helped me realise that in order to be successful, you must find balance – a balance between wanting to be the best you can be whilst also enjoying life. So many moments pass you by if you are constantly trying to achieve the next big thing. Find your balance and you will be on your way to feeling healthier and happier in no time.
(Image curtesy of Steph on Flickr)
I eat blueberries everyday in my breakfast and here are five reasons why…..
- Blueberries are rich in phytochemicals – in particular flavonoids which are responsible for the deep blue color of blueberries. Flavonoids are bursting with anti-inflammatory properties which help protect against numerous diseases.
- Blueberries are rich in Vitamin C – an essential nutrient that helps boost the immune system, lowers blood pressure, improves the mood and helps repair wounds.
- Blueberries are high in antioxidants – helping protect us against free radical damage that can cause cancer and helps reduces those wrinkles. Blueberries also contain high levels of folate, which helps with DNA synthesis and repair and therefore helps prevents the formation of cancerous cells.
- Blueberries help improve cognitive function – the anthocyanins in blueberries aid cognitive function by improving memory and motor coordination.
- Blueberries help protect against cardiovascular disease – our bad cholesterol (LDL) can become oxidized and damaged – a cause of various cardiovascular diseases. Blueberries lower LDL oxidation, helps lower blood pressure, and the anthocyanins reduce the risk of heart attacks.
Blueberries can be used in a variety of ways – in baking, puddings, breakfasts, as a snack… More reasons to try adding them to your diet!
(Photo curtesy of Darya Pino)
I eat avocados pretty much every single day…there are so many amazing health benefits of eating avocados but here I can only share five reasons why!
- Avocados are full of healthy fats – in particular monounsaturated oleic acid which has been shown to reduce LDL (bad cholesterol) and increase HDL (good cholesterol). Oleic acid also helps reduce blood pressure and alleviates type 2 diabetes. Avocados therefore are good for your heart and may reduce heart disease.
- Avocados are full of super vitamins and minerals – vitamins A (healthy skin), B (healthy nervous system), C (supports immune system), E (healthy circulation), K (healthy bones), potassium (regulates blood pressure) and magnesium (lowers anxiety and stress).
- Avocados contain lots of phytonutrients – these clever little things can help prevent cancer. Carotenoids have been shown to inhibit the growth of prostate, breast and oral cancers. Letein has been shown to reduce breast cancer.
- Avocados are very low in sugars – unlike other fruits avocados have a very low sugar content so won’t cause those sugar highs and lows!
- Avocados protect your skin – the carotenoids present in avocados have been seen to reduce UV damage to the skin. They are also high in antioxidants which help protect against the free radicals that cause those wrinkles!
Avocados are super easy to add to any meal and guacamole makes a delicious dip for any time of day!
Chia seeds are the tiny black seeds of the plant Salvia Hispanica. Chia means ‘strength’ in South America where these little seeds have been consumed for hundreds of years… I eat them everyday in my yogi breakfast and here are 5 reasons why….
- Chia seeds are packed with antioxidants – chia seeds are one of nature’s richest antioxidants. Antioxidants help fight the free radicals that cause cancer and ageing. They not only repair damaged cells but can donate electrons to stabilise free radicals.
- Chia seeds are a super good source of protein – a diet high in protein prevents us from snacking. Protein is also important for muscle repair as well as the growth of hormones and enzymes that are vital to a healthy functioning body.
- Chia seeds are a good source of Omega 3 fatty acids – in particular the alpha-linolenic fatty acid which is known to lower blood pressure, act as an anti inflammatory, increase HDL (good cholesterol) and lower LDL (bad cholesterol.)
- Chia seeds contain Quercetin – which has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antithrombotic and anti-cancer properties. Quercetin also helps boost our energy levels.
- Chia seeds are packed with vitamins and minerals – calcium (healthy bones), magnesium (increases energy), manganese (helps absorb vitamins), zinc (healthy functioning of immune and digestive system), potassium, (enhances metabolism), vitamin B (healthy blood) and copper (reduces cholesterol).
Chia seeds are so versatile to use:
- Sprinkle on porridge
- Sprinkle on meat or fish
- Add to salads
- Mixix with yoghurt
- Add them to your baking – mix with muffins or banana bread
- Soak with almond milk and cinnamon for a yummy chia pudding!
This week I was asked why flaxseeds are so good for you and I didn’t have a particularly good answer so I wanted to do a little research. Here are 5 reasons why….
- Flaxseeds are super high in Omega 3 fatty acids – these beauties are one of the most nutritious fats you could eat. In particular it is the ALA (Alpha-linolenic acid) in the flax seeds that have been show to help prevent heart disease and autoimmune diseases. We tend to eat a much higher ratio of Omega 6 (found in vegetable oils) compared to Omega 3 fatty acids so flax seeds are a really simple way to up your Omega 3 intake.
- Flaxseeds are powerful antioxidants – they contain lignans which help protect against free radicals which can cause cancer and other diseases.
- Flaxseeds could help prevent diabetes – low glycemic index foods (foods that don’t cause a sudden sugar spike) containing fibre have been shown reduce insulin resistance. Diabetes is just one of the many diseases that is caused by insulin resistance.
- Flaxseeds are high in fibre – this not only promotes a healthy digestive tract but also lowers LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol) and therefore helps prevent heart disease.
- Flaxseeds help prevent cancer –there has been significant evidence showing that the lignans present in flaxseeds can protect against breast cancer and prostate cancer by interfering with tumour cell growth.
The best way to get all the wonderful nutrients from flaxseeds is to eat them ground rather than whole. Sprinkle them on your porridge, add them to cakes when baking or to your smoothies.
Click here for my recipe for Flaxseed Banana Bread.