Beach Yoga & Choco Energy Balls

Throwing it back this Thursday to last summer’s beach yoga. Practicing barefoot in the mud during low tide took me right back to happily playing in the mud when I was a child.

And what is summer all about if not keeping your inner child happy?

Another thing that keeps my inner child happy is chocolate. Here’s a grown-up, healthy and vegan chocolate snack that will make your inner child smile and do your body good:

Choco Energy Balls

  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup raw cacao
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup

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Watermelon Smoothies

When I feel like practicing yoga in a place where I can sink into the lush green beauty of nature; a place filled with towering trees, pretty pink lily pads, ribbiting frogs, still herons focused on catching a fish for their lunch and ducks gliding through the forest of lilies, I stroll through Stanley Park’s tree lined trails to a little hidden oasis called Beaver Lake.

Beaver Lake is a stunning and serene setting to meditate and practice yoga.

Bird chirps fill the air, frogs ribit happily from their watery home and the calm, peaceful lake is bursting with fuchsia lily pads.

I can easily spend an afternoon soaking up the beauty of the lake, meditating and practicing poses.

And after a few hours of practice, peace and meditation, I head home to replenish and rehydrate with a sweetly simple watermelon smoothie.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups watermelon, cubed
  • 1 T fresh mint
  • Big squeeze of lime

Place all ingredients in a blender, blend thoroughly and enjoy the hydrating and antioxidant ingredients that will do your body good.

Sup Yoga & My Fitness Journey

Here are a few photos of the first couple of time I tried sup yoga.

And these pics also document the beginning of a very happy obsession.

After taking an unintended fitness break for about a year, this class rejuvenated my love for keeping my body fit, healthy and happy. The full body workout of the class feels amazing and core muscles definitely get an intense workout as you try to stay stable on the board during yoga poses.

Sup yoga also sparked a love of regular stand-up paddle boarding (and a summer of sore but happy muscles) and rekindled my 18 year on again, off again love affair with yoga.

My activities this summer have inspired me to finally get my personal trainer certification this fall and I couldn’t be more exited (and scared). I know that studying fitness will take me further along my own fitness journey and I am excited to learn how to keep our bodies healthy and functioning at an optimal level, especially as we age.

I’ve changed the blog name to “Fit Life with Laurel” and future posts will focus on fun ways to get your body moving and delicious, clean food with the occasional scrumptious cheat meal thrown in.

New direction in life?

Sunset Yoga

Yoga is not just repetition of few postures – it is more about the exploration and discovery of the subtle energies of life. ~ Amit Ray

Yoga is a light, which once lit, will never dim. The better your practice, the brighter the flame. ~ B.K.S lyenga

Yoga is the journey of the self, through the self, to the self. ~ The Bhagavad Gita

Namaste

Beach Yoga & Energy Balls

 

The feeling of freedom I get from doing yoga and meditating in nature keeps me balanced, happy and somewhat sane.

I practice yoga in a studio over the winter but when spring hits and I can do a few Sun Salutions gazing at the Pacific Ocean and the mountain range behind it, well nothing indoors can really compare to that. Going barefoot in the sand and letting my feet, usually imprisoned in some sort of high heel, sink into the cool, grains of dark sand feels better than the most luxurious spa treatment. And if you believe in earthing, it is better than the most luxurious foot treatment.

The beautiful ocean air, the sweet sound of the waves lapping the shore and my own little yoga practice on a deserted beach is my recipe for re-balancing and relaxation.

Then I like to go home, chilled out and stress free, to work on some other recipes.

This week I have a raw energy ball recipe that’s full of nutritious ingredients and easy to pack in your bag when you’re in the run. Clean eating approved and delicious, here it is:

Almond Oatmeal Energy Balls

 

  • One cup oatmeal
  • One cup almond butter
  • 1 T honey or maple syrup
  • 1 T flax seeds
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips

Mix all ingredients together. Form into balls. Refrigerate.

 

Beginning a Meditation Practice

I tried meditating once about 7 or 8 years ago. All I remember about the experience is sitting in a candlelit room with a bunch of strangers and having the instructor softly tell us to “empty our minds” over and over again. Every time she instructed us to do this, my teeth clenched a little tighter. You see my mind was full of random thoughts that were ping-ponging all over my brain and refusing to go away, no matter how hard I fought against them. It was a very frustrating experience so I proclaimed myself “bad at meditation” and didn’t try again. Until now. I’m not sure what sparked it but I have become fascinated with meditation recently and I now know that emptying our minds is not necessary, or even necessarily recommended, for a fulfilling meditation practice.

Why have I finally started flirting with meditation? For so many reasons but I guess a few of the main ones are these:

  • The feeling that so many of us live in our heads, cut off from the signals that our bodies are valiantly trying to give us.
  • Sleepwalking through so much of my day, not feeling present and not fully experiencing my life.
  • Internet addiction. The opposite of being mindful and present. Next time  you’re out in public, on transit or just walking down the street, really observe how many people are glued to their phones, missing out on the real world around them.
  • I’ve heard it can be anti-aging (anything to keep the botox and fillers at bay!)

And I’ve been practicing on my own in my little living room. I’ve been lighting candles and playing rainforest music in the background to set the stage. Every time I meditate, I find it easier to sink into my body. Memories of old pain come up once in awhile and I sit with it and accept it and listen to what it has to tell me. Sometimes the pain comes up several times before it goes away. I’m patient and loving and stay with it until it transforms into something else (even if this takes days or weeks).

Also, I’ve recently learned how to do a Loving Kindness Meditation and I’ll like to share it with you:

Loving Kindness Meditation

This practice involves silently repeating phrases that offer good things to yourself and to others.

  1. You can start by thinking about your own goodness—remembering things you have done out of good-heartedness and celebrating the potential for goodness we all share.
  2. Silently repeat phrases that reflect what we wish most deeply for ourselves (and others). Traditional phrases are:
    • May I live in safety.
    • May I have peace and joy in my life.
    • May I have good health and freedom from pain.
    • May I live with ease.
  3. Say the phrases with enough space and silence between so they fall into a rhythm that feels natural to you.
  4. Each time you notice your attention has wandered, be kind to yourself. Notice the distraction and either let it go or realize that it is here for you to stay with and, think about. When you’re ready, come back to repeating the phrases without any judgement toward yourself.
  5. After some time, visualize yourself in the center of a circle composed of those who have been kind to you, or have inspired you because of their love and guidance. They are your circle. As you visualize yourself in the center of it, experience yourself as the recipient of their love and attention. Keep gently repeating the phrases of loving kindness for yourself.
  6. To close the session, let go of the visualization, and simply keep repeating the phrases for a few more minutes. Each time you do so, you are transforming your old, hurtful relationship to yourself, and are moving forward, to a presence full of love.

And that is it. A simple, loving-kindness meditation. If you try it, please let me know how it goes in the comment section. Namaste xo

The perfect yoga pose

A friend and I took a break in our Sunday beach run to do a few yoga stretches today. Here is one of the pics.

When I look at this photo I see a woman being goofy, maybe dancing in the rain, but what I’m actually doing is falling out of a yoga pose. A pose that I couldn’t quite master, no matter how hard or how many times I tried. I remember thinking, after failing again and again, that I had two options, get angry with myself or laugh at the situation. Clearly I chose the latter.

Thinking back to when I started practicing yoga about 15 years ago, I approached my practice with a humourless quest for perfection ~ hyper-extending my legs and frequently checking my neighbors with a sideways glance to see if I was doing better than them. I couldn’t have been more misguided if I tried. It took years for me to realize that yoga wasn’t at all about perfection or even form sometimes. It was about showing up regularly and making a commitment to starting a journey with myself. It was about relaxing into and accepting myself ~ my body, my limitations ~ and even laughing at and learning to love myself. And when I realized this, that is when my yoga practice finally opened up and became a source of joy for me. So here’s to falling out of crooked, imperfect yoga poses and loving it because every stumble is an important part of the journey. Your journey. Namaste.