Keeping your body healthy is an expression of gratitude.

March Reader’s Challenge of the Month

Posted March 5th, 2012 by Linda with No Comments

I hope last month’s love meditation left you feeling all warm and fuzzy. This month marks the beginning of Daylight Savings, St. Patrick’s Day, and spring! Depending on where you are, maybe you’re seeing the signs already.

This is the perfect time to start planning your garden! Here are some of the basics to consider in your planning:

  • How big will your garden be? Containers? Raised bed? Small plot of land?
  • What are you going to plant? Flowers, herbs, fruits and vegetables, or maybe a mix?
  • Will you start from seed, bulb, transplant?
  • Annuals or perennials?

  • I know for me, I never know what to plant when, so this year I’m going to try using SproutRobot, a website that tells you when to plant and, if you sign up for a subscription, sends you the seeds. I’ve opted to go with just the email route, since I’m cheap, and I prefer to buy my own seeds and transplants locally.

    So, our challenge this month – let us know what your gardening plans are this year! Comment below and tell us about your garden and we’ll update you on our progress as well!

    Tilapia Corn Chowder

    Posted February 24th, 2012 by Linda with No Comments

    Here’s a healthy, delicious fish chowder for those observing Lent or just for those of you who enjoy tasty soups!

    1 teaspoon canola oil
    2 stalk celery, diced
    2 carrots, diced
    1/4 cup red bell pepper, finely chopped
    ½ yellow onion, finely chopped
    1/2 teaspoon sea salt
    1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    1-2 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
    2 tbls. fresh parsley, minced or 1 tbls. dried parsley
    2 large Yukon Gold potatoes, diced into half-inch pieces
    2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels
    1 pound tilapia fillets, cut into bite-size pieces
    1 cup half-and-half
    2 teaspoons lemon juice
    4 cups of chicken broth, 2 cans
    Parmesan cheese (optional)

    1. Add oil to your stock pot and heat to medium-high. Add celery, carrots, pepper, onion, salt and black pepper and cook until the vegetables just begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add in the garlic and cook another 3 minutes.
    2. Add broth, potatoes, and corn. Bring to a gentle simmer. Cook until the potatoes are just tender and the corn is cooked through, about 15-20 minutes.
    3. Stir in tilapia and parsley; return to a gentle simmer. Cook until the tilapia is cooked through, about 4-6 minutes more. Remove from the heat.
    4. Stir in half-and-half and lemon juice. Garnish with grated Parmesan cheese.

    Tip:For more flavor try adding cooked, chopped turkey bacon or using herb-infused broths.

    February Valentine’s Day Reader’s Challenge of the Month

    Posted February 14th, 2012 by Linda with No Comments

    So how did everyone do with last month’s yoga pose challenge? We joined Yoga Journal’s 21-day Challenge and I can definitely say that I learned a new pose or six! It also included adding vegetarian meals and meditating daily, which leads us to the focus of our challenge this month – meditation.

    This being the month associated with love, we’re going to introduce you to metta bhavana, or loving-kindness meditation, perfect for Valentine’s Day. Meditation is a way to extend your thoughts and focus a little more deeply. We are going to extend this day-by-day until you can do the entire meditation.

    In order to truly benefit from meditation, your body must be as relaxed as possible. Either sit or lie in a comfortable position and focus on your breath for about 30 seconds. Starting with your feet, tense the muscles for five seconds and then release, counting to ten. Continue upward – calves, thighs, glutes, stomach, chest, hands, arms, and finally face.

    Now that you’re feeling less tense, it’s time to begin the first day of meditation focusing on self-love. Find a comfortable position, either sitting or lying down and begin to focus on your breath, specifically from your chest, or your “heart center.” Breath slowly, through the nose. Start by thinking kind and loving thoughts about yourself. Let go of all of the negativity and judgement you have towards yourself and focus on the feeling of loving yourself. When you feel the warmth and love throughout your body, recite these words, either in your head or aloud:

    May I be well
    May I be healthy
    May I be strong
    May I be happy
    May I be at peace
    May I feel loved

    Come back to your breath. Breathe in slowly through the nose, breathe out through the mouth. Feel the love you’ve given to yourself radiating out to the world. Shift your focus away from your breath and feel yourself back in the present moment. When you are ready, open your eyes.

    The second day of the meditation will begin exactly like the first, with the love of yourself. Once you’ve come back to focus on your breath, think of someone you admire or respect, like a teacher or someone who’s had a positive effect on you. Envision sharing the warmth and love you feel with that person. Then, repeat the mantra again, picturing that person.

    May you be well
    May you be healthy
    May you be strong
    May you be happy
    May you be at peace
    May you feel loved

    Come back to the breath again to complete the meditation.

    For the third and subsequent days, you’ll continue this pattern, adding one new focus each day:

    Day Three: Someone you easily love – a dear friend, family member, even a pet

    Day Four: An acquaintance – someone you don’t know very well personally, someone relatively neutral

    Day Five: A person or a group you have difficulty with, who makes you upset or angry – this may be a more difficult one to feel the love for, but this is a good way to “turn the other cheek” and give yourself a positive mindset

    Day Six: All living things – radiate the loving feeling to everyone and everything

    This meditation is not about “getting through it.” Truly envision the love you are trying to send out into the world. If you are having difficulty, go back a day or even to the beginning. Make the feeling of warmth and love the focus of your meditative time.

    Warm Up This Winter with a Healthy Soup

    Posted January 24th, 2012 by Linda with No Comments

    January is National Soup month – a perfect meal for the colder winter months! Try this yummy recipe:

    Chickpea and Cauliflower Soup

    1 tbsp. olive oil
    3-6 cloves garlic; chopped
    1 small head or ½ large head cauliflower; chopped
    3-4 cans garbanzo beans (chickpeas); drained (and rinsed if desired)
    4 cups vegetable broth
    Herbamare to taste (if you can’t find Herbamare, use a mix of Sea Salt, onion, chive, parsley, garlic, basil, marjoram, rosemary, and thyme)

    In a large pot, warm olive oil over medium heat and add chopped garlic. Sauté garlic until it just starts to brown. Do NOT burn.

    Add beans, cauliflower and some Herbamare to pot, stir.

    Add vegetable broth. Bring to a boil over medium high heat.

    Reduce heat to medium/low. Cover and simmer 30 minutes or until cauliflower is tender.

    Remove soup from heat. Puree with hand blender until smooth.

    Serve hot.


    ~ If you do not have a hand blender soup can be pureed with a regular blender. Carefully add the soup to a blender a little bit at a time. Puree.

    ~ Try adding sautéed squash or vegetables to the soup just before serving.

    Healthy After-Party Breakfast

    Posted January 1st, 2012 by Salina with No Comments

    If you didn’t see our suggestion on Facebook for a “Mocktail” or chose to party it up anyway you might be ringing in the New Year With a hangover. So if your head is pounding and your stomach feels less then settled fight the urge to skip breakfast and try this recipe from Whole Living Magazine (Dec. 2010) that might just help you feel like yourself again.

    Oatmeal with Blueberries, Walnuts, and Bananas

    Serves 1
    Per Serving: 544 Calories; 2g saturated fat; 12g unsaturated fat; 0mg cholesterol; 91g carb; 87mg sodium; 14g protein

    1 1/2 cups water
    3/4 cup rolled oats
    1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    Pinch kosher salt
    1/4 cup frozen blueberries
    1/2 banana, sliced
    2 tablespoons toasted walnuts, chopped
    1 tablespoon maple syrup, or to taste

    Bring water to a boil in a small saucepan.
    Add oats, cinnamon, and salt.
    Reduce to a steady simmer and cook,
    stirring occasionally, until oats are
    tender, about 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in
    frozen blueberries. Top with banana,
    walnuts, maple syrup, and skim milk,
    if desired.

    According to the article the omega-3 fatty acids in walnuts will help reduce inflammation and the blueberries are packed with vitamin C and antioxidants. Potassium rich bananas can help balance electrolytes that are lost from dehydration.

    Cinnamon also has anti-inflammatory properties and, according to, adding it to high carb foods may reduce the impact the carbs have on your blood sugar levels. Adding maple syrup rather than refined table sugar will also help keep your blood sugar in check.

    Make sure that throughout the day you drink plenty of water. Staying active can also help shake the horrible hangover feeling, so get out of bed and do something.

    January Reader’s Challenge of the Month

    Posted January 1st, 2012 by Linda with No Comments

    Welcome to a new year and, for January’s Reader’s Challenge, a new pose!

    If you’re just starting your yoga practice, try the Tree Pose. Vrksasana is an excellent posture to help with balance. It requires focus to maintain proper alignment and builds strength in the legs and ankles as well as helps to increase flexibility in the hips.

    For the more experienced yogis, find a new pose to try or, you can work on a posture that you feel needs more attention. Perhaps inversions are difficult for you – try working on your handstand. A more advanced pose for balance and core strength might be Bakasana (Crane pose).

    Can’t think of any poses you’d like to try? Look for some videos on YouTube, check out a book from your local library, try a new class – you’re sure to find something new and enlightening.

    We’d love to hear how you’re doing with the Reader’s Challenge this month so please leave a comment to let us know how you’re doing!

    Reader’s Challenges Begin In January 2012!

    Posted December 22nd, 2011 by Salina with No Comments

    Hey Everyone, we are so excited to finally get the website up and running! We have big plans beginning in the New Year, which is only days away.

    One new element that we are most looking forward to is our monthly Reader’s Challenge. Every month we will pose a challenge to our readers both here, at, as well as on Facebook for which we encourage you to share your results, insights, and thoughts throughout the month.

    Danskin Now Yoga Blocks and Strap Kit, Complete with Cancer Warning?

    Posted July 25th, 2011 by Salina with No Comments

    While preparing for a recent prenatal yoga class I realized that although I have quite a few extra mats lying around to offer to students who needed them, I only have two yoga blocks. I was expecting six students in a class including both expectant moms and dads and thought it would be wise to have blocks available to all students. The class was two weeks away when I made this realization and decided that I was not going have enough time to order blocks online from a wholesaler and be sure that they arrived before the class.

    So, being the fantastic procrastinator that I am, a few days before the class while cruising Walmart with the family I ran off to check the workout aisle for yoga blocks. I was in luck! I spotted the Danskin Now Yoga Block and Strap Kit, $10.77. It included 2 blocks and 1 strap (which I didn’t really need but who can’t use an extra strap?). I grabbed two packages and headed to the electronics section to locate my husband and show off my sweet find.

    The blocks arrived home in their plastic Walmart bag and were placed in a corner in the living room where they remained until approximately 10 minutes before I was heading out the door to teach the aforementioned class (procrastinator, remember?). I placed my 2 old blocks into my duffle bag, retrieved a package of new blocks from their corner, tore the package open, tossed the strap aside and as I was putting the blocks in the duffle two little pieces of paper floated out from between the blocks. One paper was the manufacture’s limited warranty – junk, tossed it aside – the other said “Warning”. So I took a second to read it (even though the warnings are usually something along the lines of, “this yoga block is not intended for building houses and we are not responsible if you build your house with it and the house falls down”). Imagine my surprise to find that the first of two warnings said:

    “This product contains a chemical that is known to the state of California to cause cancer and birth defects or other reproductive harm.”

    WHAT?! I won’t bore you with the list of profanities I spewed after reading that right before I needed to head out the door. My first though was, “How the heck can they sell this if it causes cancer and just stick a piece of paper in there?” Then I read it again, “…known to the state of California…” why is California the only state that knows? I looked at it one more time, “…birth defects and other reproductive harm.” Yeah, I won’t be using these for my PRENATAL class tonight!

    As I tossed the blocks and all the paper work back in the bag, with plans to return them to the store – thanks but, no thanks on the cancer blocks – I decided that I needed to research this a little bit more and that this might be a great thing to share on the site. If I had seen that warning sooner, I would not have bought the blocks in the first place maybe others would like to know before they buy.

    Here’s what I found:
    A Google search of the product name revealed little more then the fact that the blocks come in colors other then the green ones that I had purchased. Reviews on websites that sold the products were good, 4 and 5 stars. I started to wonder if I was crazy, does no one else care that these are “cancer blocks”?

    But, with a little more digging I found a couple of posts on public forums about this warning. The general opinion of responders seemed to be that California is warning-crazy and that unless you were planning to eat the blocks there really is no danger. I was not really convinced, what do these people know, they are not experts, they are just regular people. So the search went on.

    Then I came upon a similar warning on a website selling Natural Bamboo Yoga Blocks. It read:

    California Prop 65 Required Warning Statement For Products Made Of Wood: Drilling, sawing, sanding, or machining wood products generates wood dust, a substance known to the State of California to cause cancer. Avoid inhaling wood dust or use a dust mask or other safeguards for personal protection. (Required as of Dec. 18th, 2010.)

    Okay, that warning seems a little extreme considering that I would be the purchaser of the block and not the creator of the block. However, California Prop. 65, that was what I had been searching for.

    What is California Prop 65? It is California’s Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986. Apparently the Act was created to protect the water and the citizens of California from and inform them of exposure to chemicals that are known to cause cancer and birth defects or reproductive harm. Under this act, the Governor of California is required to publish a list of chemicals that are known to cause cancer or reproductive toxicity at least once per year. For more information on Prop 65, click here.

    Although I find the warning about wood dust a little excessive, I’m not convinced that these blocks are safe. Perhaps if I had a list of the chemicals used in the creation of this block, or at least the chemical(s) in question, I could do the research and draw my own conclusion. In the meantime, I’m gonna go ahead and take California’s word for it and return these blocks to Walmart.

    Now the hunt begins for yoga blocks free of carcinogenic chemicals!

    What are the different types of yoga?

    Posted July 5th, 2011 by Salina with No Comments

    Q “What are the different types of yoga and what makes each of them unique?” -Anonymous

    A There are many different types of yoga and many variations within these types. I don’t think that I could list every variation and what makes each unique, in fact, I’m sure I don’t even know every variation that exists, but I can tell you about some of the more common types.

    Most often you will hear people refer to Hatha yoga. This is a very general term that refers to the physical practice of yoga or asana.

    Vinyasa is a type of yoga in which the movements are synchronized to the breath. In this type of class the movements will flow together from one posture to another, you may also see it listed as a “Flow” class. No matter what level, in this type of class you will likely be moving most of the time.

    Ashtanga yoga is Sanskrit for “The Eight Limbs of Yoga.” This is a style that uses four main concepts that, with practice, are believed will help the student achieve all eight limbs of yoga. These concepts include Ujjayi (victorious) Breath, Bandhas – the internal energy “locks” that control the flow of prana (life-force; breath), Vinyasa, and Drishti, which is a point of gaze or focus. Ashtanga teaches vinyasa in a progressive sequence of postures broken down into 3 parts Primary, Intermediate, and Advanced. The foundation of the entire series is Surya Namaskara (sun salutations) a sequence of movements that are the basis for any Ashtanga practice. As with any vinyasa class, there will be movement throughout and this constant movement will build heat within the body and you will likely work up a sweat.

    Bikram yoga is a sequence of 26 specific postures performed in a room heated to 105°F with 40& humidity. The 26 poses are said to work every part of the body and give every part of the body everything that is needed to maintain health and proper function. Hot yoga is a variation on this type of yoga, where asana is performed in a heated room but often at a lower temperature (80′s or 90′s) and, from my experience, they are not performing the 26 poses of Birkram. If you are planning to take a hot yoga class, make sure that you drink plenty of water in the days leading up to the class and after class and bring a towel.

    Yin yoga is a type of yoga designed to work the deep connective tissues and joints (yin tissues) of the body. According to this type of yoga will allow “new depths in postures, deeper ranges of motion, or and increased flow of energy…” This is a slower paced yoga where poses are held for five minutes at a time. Because the postures are held so long, there are obviously not as many postures performed within a practice session. Also, because the target is the deep “yin” areas of the body, there are not as many postures to practice overall in the yin style. This type of class can be deeply relaxing, opening, and challenging.

    Some other popular styles that you might like to look into include Power yoga, Restorative Yoga, and Anusara yoga.

    The styles I have mentioned above are only a drop the vast ocean of available types and methods of yoga. In addition, there is huge variation among teachers which is determined by their level of education as well as their personal styles of teaching and communicating; i.e., a class with a teacher who is certified and has trained for many months or years can vary greatly from one with a teacher who has only taken a few workshops.

    If you are trying to decide what type of class to take, the best advice I can give is try a few different classes or videos in the varying methods. If you are looking into classes, check out websites or call places in your area. A lot of studios offer community classes at a discount or by donation. If you are looking at videos, check out your local library or online for free options.

    A word of caution when finding information online, for as many good sources that are out there, there are at least as many poor ones. With any video, photos, or even in a class, use your common sense and listen to your body (if something is painful, don’t do it) and ask questions! Don’t assume that because someone is a yoga teacher that that they know everything or are always right. There are so many varieties out there because the same thing is not always right for each of us. The best way to find what is right for you is to try it out!

    Do Ionic Detox Foot Baths Work?

    Posted June 18th, 2011 by Salina

    Q “Do those Ion/Ionic Detox foot baths that are offered at spas really help to detoxify your body, or is it a gimmick so that the spa can make money? I have been seeing these advertised more and more and lately Groupon and LivingSocial deals have featured them at various spas in my area. Any thoughts would be helpful. Thanks.” -Jenn F. in Raleigh, NC.

    A There is some controversy around these systems and whether or not they actually work. Many people in the natural health community believe that these systems are great and that they can cure many health issues. Others believe that these systems are a scam.

    It is said that our feet are extremely porous and as a result this is a good way to draw toxins out of the body. I am not entirely clear on the science behind these systems but I know that the process involves soaking the feet in a salt water bath containing an ionizer. Ionization of the water is supposed to somehow draw the toxins out of the body through the feet.

    I have seen this done and on people and the resulting water, which is usually brown to dark brown. I have never had this done but I have talked to people who love this and swear that having it done in a series really helps them feel better.

    One woman who had been cleaning her house with a lot of bleach, said that after an ionic detox the water smelled like bleach.

    I know another woman who is on medication due to a kidney transplant. She had an ion foot bath and she feels that it was so effective that it altered the levels of medication in her system; which was not a good thing in her case.

    My husband Derek had this treatment done twice. He did not feel any difference.

    I am unable to draw a conclusion either way because I have never had it done and I have never taken the time to fully understand the process and why it is said to work. However, I am planning to do the research, have the treatment(s), and talk with people who provide this service and write an article for the website. I will definitely make sure that I let you know when that is done and what conclusions I am able to draw.

    Thanks for your question. Hope this helps!

    « 1 2 3 4 5 »