5 Benefits of Stretching Everyday

“I should stretch more” 
“I need to do more yoga”
“It’s time to book a massage…”

Sound familiar?
Then read on…

Stretching is the new hot topic in the health and wellness sphere.
But WHY?
Because it is a life-long habit that provides endless benefits. From better digestion to full-body flexibility, say goodbye to lower back pain and repetitive stress injuries.
The best part is that now there are places like Stretch Studio in Sydney’s Double Bay, where you can have a professional stretcher called a Flexologist assist you with a full body stretch! They are specially trained in the art of assisted stretching (um, cool?), and taught how to match the resistance of each client, knowing how far to stretch them and when to stop (which I highly regard).

It honestly is the best way to achieve a deeper, more controlled stretch that just feels so damn great!

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  1. Flexibility

Sounds obvious, but there is more to flexibility than simply lifting your leg behind your head! Flexibility can help to reduce constant muscle pain, and decrease your risk of injury. Tara Romeo, CSCS, assistant director of the Professional Athletic Performance Center in New York says “believe it or not, back pain may come from tight hamstrings”. Tight hamstring muscles can affect the status of your lower back and spine health, causing repetitive pain and discomfort.

On the other hand, flexibility can help to reduce your risk of injury. Whether it be through playing sport, a gym class, Pilates or a run on the beach, the more flexible you are, the softer and more supple your muscles are. Whereas tight muscles mean less room to move, increasing the chance of tearing when overused or overstressed.

  1. Posture

We all want to age gracefully on the inside AND the outside. So many of us spend lots of dollars on skin products, hair and nail treatments, all the effort to keep our outside looking fresh and clean! However, so often we forget the importance of posture and how much it impacts our ageing process – physically AND mentally.

Posture is more than simply sitting up tall with your shoulders rolled down your back – it is about correctly aligning your spin to allow the free flow of oxygen, proper functioning of your vital organs and muscle activation. Bad posture is the result of tight muscles, which is ultimately the result of muscle weakness.

  1. Increased Energy levels

There is a reason why people attend health and yoga retreats – the days are full of relaxation, moving meditation, stretch sessions – leaving you feeling energised and reawakened. Stretching, whether it be assisted or on your own, helps to soften the muscles, allowing for extra blood flow and oxygen to travel around the body. The oxygen and blood can move more freely around the muscles and internal pathways, getting rid of any unnecessary dust that might make you feel drowsy, tight and overworked.
Stretching first thing in the morning also helps to wake up the nervous system, gently shocking the body after being reclined and still for a solid 8-9 hours. Our body naturally slows down over night as it concentrates on the important internal tasks such as digestion, recovery and cell rejuvenation. However, this means that it needs an extra bit of “oomph” in the morning to get going, hence why a morning stretch as you first wake up feels so damn good! It is also why practicing a stretch session such as yoga on an empty stomach when you wake, is the best time also!

  1. Better Digestion

Sooooo many of our digestive issues can stem from a tight and unhappy muscular system. Tight hamstrings can lead to belly issues, a sore back can aggravate your gut and tense shoulders will cause you to hunch over, which may also disrupt digestion.

Forward folds with a gentle bend to your knees can help to relieve trapped flatulence (glamorous word for gas), that essentially causes sharp pain, hard bellies and unwanted bloating. Laying supine (on your back), hugging your knees into your chest either simultaneously or one after the other, can also help to stretch our the lower back, relax the belly and relieve the muscles that surround the digestive tract.
3 years ago, I found the practice of Yoga – originally, it was for 2 reasons: to help clear the mind, and to help stimulate my digestive system after multiple years of issues, pain and irritation. Yoga has seriously changed my life, especially when it comes to my digestive health. If I ever feel my belly becoming aggravated, bloated or gassy (sorry not sorry), I perform a few sun salutations that involve a stretch of the entire system, specifically in my front and back side body.

  1. Decreased Water Retention

Have you ever noticed your face and fingers puff up whenever you are stressed, overworked and tired? That may be your body holding onto the water within your system, rather than circulating it around.
Stretching, like it does for oxygen and blood, helps to soften the muscles and surrounding tissues, allowing for an easier movement of water around the body. Water retention in the body can make us feel uncomfortable in the skin we are in, causing you to feel puffy, heavy and sluggish – no thank you!

Assisted or individual stretching helps to alleviate any blocked pathways that inhibit a smooth flow of water around your internal system – which may also help to circulate the nutrients and vitamins that we consume, ensuring they get to the necessary places!

 

 

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Home-made Hazelnut Spread

Move over Nutella, no room for you here.

Home-made Chocolate & Hazelnut Spread, using nothing but the beauty of natural ingredients.

Whenever I am walking home from the bus stop, I always detour via Scoop Wholefoods in Mosman. I browse for about 10 minutes, as I source out at least $5 worth of goodies due to the Eftpos minimum ha!

However it is worth it. Each time, I leave with different ingredients, eager to get home and whip up a storm in my kitchen!

Today was a Nut Day; hazelnut and macadamia 

Something a little diverse, and certainly something a little tasty.  

When you buy nuts, you can do one of 2 things.

  1. Store them in an air-tight jar in the fridge for snack purposes
  2. Blend up a Nut Butter Creation!

I always choose 2.  



Not-ella Spread

Ingredients

  • 1 cup hazelnuts
  • 1 heaped tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 2 heaped tbsp cacao powder
  • 2-3 tbsp water
  • Cacao nibs

Method

  • Blend the hazelnuts in a food processor until finely chopped
  • Melt the honey and coconut oil, adding into the Nut mixture
  • Add 1 tbsp water, blend
  • Add the cacao powder, blend
  • Add the rest of the water & cacao nibs
  • Blend until a smooth, rich and fluffy texture forms – depending on your blender, you may need more wet ingredients for a smoother consistency. However, if you like your nut spread crunchy, then adapt to suit your preference!

Enjoy xx

Saucha Sundays

A touch of purity and an element of clearness… awaken your inner mind through bringing ‘Saucha’ into your life.

But hold up…  “what even is Saucha?”
Put simply, Saucha is one of the five Niyamas, stemming from Patanjali’s Eight Limbs of Yoga. It often translates as ‘cleanliness’, however not only physical cleanness (like a tidy room), but also an awakening of your inner mind.

Saucha is much more than just #YogaTalk… Incorporating Saucha into our everday life allows us to arrive on our mats with focus, but also aids us towards being healthier, happier and more aware.

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HOW TO bring some Saucha into your life this Sunday…

Fresh & Clean Food

  1. Clean out the pantry of any processed, sugar-overloaded, expired CR@P!
    • Your body is your body, and we were only given one, so treat it well. Toxins and chemicals in our food can severely impact the way we feel physically, but also the way we think (for example, certain additives in food can create imbalances with our hormones, causing unnecessary mood swings).
  2. Clean out the fridge, and stock it with FRESH produce;
    • Like I suggested with the Pantry, clean out the fridge of any sauces, take away meals, high sodium foods that you know deep down your body will not enjoy in the long run.
    • Before you restock it, give it a good wipe down! All you need is a warm sponge, some white vinegar, eucalyptus oil or natural soap. Kill that bacteria – your body has enough of it growing inside you already.
    • Load it with fresh produce (organic where possible) from your local market, rinsing and storing it in such a way that keeps it preserved and fresh/alive for as long as possible.
  3. Cook once, eat twice;
    • Prep for the next day(s), depending on your weekly schedule.
    • The best way to preserve your perishable goodies is by ‘partially cooking’ them, and storing them in the freezer in freeze bags or glass containers. This means baking or steaming things like sweet potato, beetroot, pumpkin etc so they’re about 70-80% cooked. Allow to cool before storing in the freezer for later. This also makes it super easy and quick to whip up a delicious dinner dish when you come home from work (and cooking is the last thing on your mind…)
    • Making a salad, vegetable curry, soup or even loaded a quiche with lots of vegetables is another perfect way to utilise your goods. But don’t simply cook for one nights meal, make enough to last 1-3 days maximum (as leftovers are not only the easiest, but also the tastiest ‘next-day’ lunch option!)

A clean SPACE

  1. And by space, I emphasise your Bedroom;
    • It’s a place where you not only sleep, but hopes and dreams are also made and created. Lets start by OPENING up your windows, your balcony door, your bedroom door… allow fresh, clean and pure air to enter your room.
  2. See all those clothes on the floor, or on that chair?
    • Are they even clean, or are they dirty? How about all those tea cups or snack plates from the apple you ate earlier this morn… Yep, lets get rid of it all! Toss the dirty clothes in the wash and fold the clean ones up and pop in your wardrobe. Take the dirty dishes to the kitchen to be washed by hand (or a dishwasher if you’re lucky). Whilst you’re at it, grab the vacuum, broom, dust pan and/or duster, and give the entire place an old classic wipe down! With more space to work with now that all your junk is gone, you can thoroughly rid yourself of that excess dust gathering on the books sitting on your bedside-table.
  3. Change your sheets;
    • Even if you washed them a few days ago, lets be extra ‘Saucha’ today and pop them in the wash alongside your clothes. A dirty pillowcase is a strong contributor to troubled skin, especially if you’re someone who is prone to breakouts and has oily skin. I recommend changing your pillow case every 3-4 days, and sheets at least 1 or 2 times a week.
  4. Candles, incense, essential oils, flowers;
    • These are all great options to bring beautiful smells and clean air into your room naturally, without the nasty chemicals. They not only smell fantastic, but they really jazz up the interior of your room too!

A clean BODY & a clean MAT

  1. Take a shower before yoga, and wash your hair;
    • It may sound silly, especially for anyone practices in a heated room or just gets super sweaty, but trust me, it feels amazing. Clean sweat is much nicer than dirty sweat, especially when you’re wearing clean yoga clothes! Rocking up to yoga with freshly clean, wet hair has an incredibly cooling and purifying effect on you whilst you practice… it’s also better for your hair follicles to dry naturally than applying heat from a blowdryer, so it’s technically a win-win situation.
  2. Clean your mat;
    • We often wipe down our mats before and after practice, but the sponges we use are often communal, and therefore your mat is not necessarily getting the proper clean that it needs. Today, let’s give your mat a proper scrub before you leave home to practice – natural disinfectants like eucalyptus oil diluted in warm water works like a charm.
    • If your mat is at the studio, be sure to give it a sponge with the communal tools on offer, but after class today, let’s take your mat home. Take time this week before you next practice to give it a thorough clean, and clear away any built up muck and not-so-nice smells.

A clean MIND

  1. End your day with some self-love;
    • Whether that be a solo evening walk listening to relaxing tunes, or a bubble bath with essential oils and soothing fragrances, be sure to take the time to rest and unwind.
  2.  Meditation;
    • Bring your focus on affirmations such as “I am healthy” or “I am happy”, as these can really help to cement this new Saucha aspect into your daily life. Focusing the mind through Pranayama (breath work) is also another way to reach inner clarity.
  3. An early nights sleep;
    • Sleeping is where the magic happens – where our body soaks in all the goodness of the day, and makes way for new great opportunities to enter. So give your body all the time it needs in order to recharge for the week ahead.

 

Happy Saucha Sunday xx

 

 

 

 

 

 

Morning Rituals: Day in the Life

Do you have a morning ritual?
A particular way you like to spend those early hours of the day that help to start your day right?

A Typical Morning in the life of #flavourfoodflow

I wake up to the sound of a super obnoxious alarm, pounding from my phone that’s about two metres away from my bed.

Whilst no doubt waking me up, having the phone parked far from my bed means I have to physically get up to turn it off. And once I’m up, well, there’s no reason to get back in bed.

I then quickly get changed into my workout gear, motivating coloured tights, and head out the door for my morning walk. I listen to a lot of nostalgic music, so I pretty much reflect on incredible memories for a whole hour. It’s amazing!

As mentioned in yesterday’s post on Morning Walks, I like to always have an end goal. For me, it’s a hot morning coffee from The Boathouse in Balmoral. I give myself 30 mins to enjoy the coffee, and write my daily blog post. Talk about an incredible office space…

Once I arrive back home, feeling rejuvenated and energised from the fresh air and post-exercise endorphins, I begin my routine.

Liquid Stapels:

  • Hot water and lemon
  • Big glass of water
  • Herbal tea

Supplements:

  • Probiotic
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin B
  • Magnesium Citrate (dissolved in water)

Common Breakfast Choices:

  • Green Smoothie (with protein)
  • Oatmeal
  • Chia Seed Pudding
  • Eggs & veggies

  

I then enjoy my food with no distractions, as I’m super big on digestion and ensuring that each mouthful is mindfully eaten.

  • TIP: I know it sounds silly, but aim for about 30 chews per mouthful… At least! This will help you to slow down, and also reduce that post-feed bloat.

I attend to all my social media tasks on Instagram and Facebook whilst I’m finishing off my hot beverages.

  • TIP: save all your old jars. They make smoothies, teas and even water that much more enjoyable to drink!

By now, it’s about 8/8:30am and I’m ready to get changed and get moving!

So.  What’s your new morning ritual? 


Morning Walks: why? 


I really regret waking up for that morning walk… Said no one ever. 


We are constantly being told about the benefits of morning exercise. 

Boosts your metabolism… Wakes you up… Starts your day right… We are fully aware.

But how many of us are constantly reminding ourselves of the benefits of morning exercise, then staying up late at night and pressing the SNOOZE button the following morning before it ends up being too late. You’ve “ran out of time… places to go, people to see.”

University, work, appointments, coffee dates…
Don’t get me wrong, I’m a morning person, and so I certainly find it a lot easier than most. But it’s never easy. No one who wakes up at 5/5:30am is genetically blessed with early-rising genes that make it effortless to jump out of bed. No way! They almost selfishly understand that it’s their chance to spend 30-60 mins of doing something that will provide endless benefits, and make the entire day a whole lot better!

Now that’s my rant on morning exercise… But if you’re still stuck for motivation, here are some simple tips:

  • Go to bed early – one thing you don’t want to start doing is losing your sleep. Sleep is precious, and we must look after our body after a busy day. So plan ahead, put your phone on silent, finish your homework an hour earlier, record that late night TV show for the weekend..
  • Invite a friend. I know it sounds simple and everyone says it, but if you know you’re meeting someone at an odd hour of the morning, the chances of you standing them up are slim (I hope). Make sure you text and call each other when your alarms go off, and scream motivating chants down the phone…
  • Find a purpose or end goal. For me, I promise myself a coffee. Whether it be at the half way mark of a morning walk, allowing me to hold something warm for the second half, or maybe it’s a healthy breakfast with a friend after a workout. Don’t let anyone take that away from you either – I always say to my friends when they come on a walk with me “but I have to get a coffee after. It’s my promise to myself!”
  • Invest in some awesome workout gear! This is something I swear by… So many people think that gym gear is ridiculously expensive, and sure, maybe it is. But I can promise you it has the potential to be the clothes most worn. I’ve spent $100’s of dollars on dresses that I have worn once. I also love wearing colours that reflect my mood – bright tights seriously get me moving of a morning. I even own a pair with a sun rising…


So it’s time to get up and get moving!

Stay tuned for the next 30 Day Challenge!

#flavourfood