Charmed Chatter

The musings of a Personal Trainer/Foodie, en route to adding Yoga Teacher to the mix!

I have a yoga beef! (I know that the two words "yoga" and "beef" will probably never be used in the same sentence ever again - but here somehow it just fit.) Lately, I've been reading a few blogs, where the authors have made reference to "popular yoga", "mainstream yoga", "power yoga" and the like - alluding that this yoga is not "real" yoga. Then, I've also seen mention of yoga that is not performed or learned in a proper "yoga studio" not being "real" yoga.

I take issue with this. HUGE ISSUE! In fact, as I read along I had to literally stop and pranayama my heart-rate back to it's usual slow pulse.

Who is to say what "real yoga" is?! There are so many different types of yoga, so many different pieces to what I see as an amazing and intricate puzzle, and like I see everything in life, each piece and each variation is a beautiful part of the whole. It's as if to say a daisy is less of a flower than a rose, because to one person its fragrance isn't as appealing.

This is REAL yoga!
I think that people come to yoga for many different reasons, and in our western world that reason may be more frequently than not, that people are driven by the need to have a workout. That said, the benefits of having a great yoga-style workout, and the possibilities that can arise from anyone taking that first step to beginning a yoga practice, are immeasurable. I myself started my own yoga practice with the goal in mind to increase my flexibility after injuries. And now, like a baby learning to walk after learning to crawl, I've begun to explore all the other nuances, types, and philosophies of yoga. All because I went to a "mainstream yoga class". Today, I believe that I could attend the fitness-club power yoga class, and still apply all the other factors that I have learned to that class.

I think that no matter what kind of yoga you do, no matter where you do it - whether in an ashram or in your living room - you are going to reap the benefits of getting in physical activity which are benefits to your heart, your muscles, your mood. When your mood is better and your body is healthier, you will be a happier person that will go into the world and add more than you would have otherwise. And really, is this not yoga embodied? The union of YOUR body and mind?! Yoga to uplift your spirit, yoga to bring you closer to your inner self, yoga to be a "practice", yoga to be YOURS?!

I believe "real yoga" happens on the inside. I hope that everyone everywhere takes the time to find a place that offers something that they will do on a regular basis - something they like and will stick with. In my opinion it has nothing to do with the studio you attend, or whether the workout is meditative or cardiovascular. Every time you honor yourself by doing something good for your body, good for the world, good for your spirit, or good for your fellow man, you are doing yoga. Real yoga.

Live, love, laugh, do yoga.


Held my breath for two days straight,
Held myself for my own sake,
When all I really needed
Was to let go... and...

Be stillness,
Stop all the silly self-deprecating madness that
Forces my soul to wither in sadness,
and be restrained by my 
own barriers. 

Ask myself look at the whole,
Ask myself to relinquish control,
Realizing that all I really need
Is just to be here, and here I'll be complete.
That, and to have my bare feet on a sticky mat...

The debate rages on over whether to have music or not have music in yoga class. It's a sensitive topic, because like any other art music is completely subjective. One persons noise is another persons symphony. In fact, funny enough, one of my best friends told me while chatting the other day that one of her instructors played AC/DC in her hot flow class and she "...JUST LOVED IT!!!!" Where, conversely, I would just not be impressed with hard rock getting me all out of my personal ebb and flow in flow class...

Now, I am a huge fan of the kind of tunes that just make you bob your head in a slow-mo-easy-go fashion... The kind of tune that while it's playing you can totally zone out because it's just sort of "there", bumping you along gently, leading you to new mindscapes.

So, this is my list of Flowtastic Yoga Tunes, to ideally accompany a 75 minute flow/vinyasa/Ashtanga Style class. You will notice there is only about 70 minutes of music, and this is because I think that it's important to have silence during my Savasana. When the instructors turn the tunes off at the end, I find it's much easier to sit and absorb my practice, and once I'm instructing next spring I fully plan to have a Silent-Savasana after every practice I lead!

Now, without further adieu....

1) Orbital - Halcyon On and On - Time: 9:28 - Listen to it here!
2) Massive Attack - Teardrop - Time 4:55 - Listen to it here!
3) Thievery Corporation - Until the Morning - Time 3:56 - Listen to it here!
4) Thievery Corporation - A Gentle Dissolve - Time 2:50 - Listen to it here!
5) Groove Armada - Paris - Time 5:35 - Listen to it here!
6) John Martyn (remix) - Sunshine’s Better - Time 5:46 - Listen to it here!
7) Nina Simone, Verve Remixed - Feeling Good - Time 6:05 - Listen to it here!
8) Astrud Gilberto, Verve Remixed -Who Needs Forever - Time 4:14 - Listen to it here!
9) Dido - Sand in my Shoes - Time 3:43- Listen to it here!
10) Florence & the Machine -Cosmic Love - Time 4:00 - Listen to it here!
11) Bjork - Unravel -Time 3:23 - Listen to it here
12) Moby - Rushing - Time 2:58 - Listen to it here!
13) Madonna (remix) - What it Feels Like for a Girl - Time: 4.38 - Listen to it here
14) Mark Farina Ft. Sean Hayes - Dream Machine - Time 5:26 - Listen to it here!  

I hope you enjoy my recommended yoga-tunes! If you did, you may want to check out some amazing compilation albums which have many volumes to choose from... They are:

1) Buddha Bar
2) Cafe Del Mar
3) Verve Remixed
4) Hotel Costes

Let me know what you think of my recommends in the comments!! 


When I was a child I was always being called a “Know it All”. This at the time was really fine, because I really did think I knew it all. I was happy with being such a genius actually, and so I continued with this “I know it all” attitude for a long time. The funny thing about time is all the stuff you find out you were wrong about during its passing.

Through the years, the biggest problem I’ve found with being a “Know it All” is when you enter a situation feeling like an expert, and leave feeling like a complete idiot.   

You go through various thoughts and emotions... Like, “What do you mean I FAILED the exam? Did I study and dedicate myself – well no, but I didn’t have to... I knew it all...” and “I don’t understand why my teachers are annoyed with me, they don’t even need to do anything for me, I already know it all...” and of course "Why doesn't everybody listen to me?!" (Obvious reason, is that they don't agree that you know everything!)

When this happens, it is inevitable that you go through various stages of denial. After all, who wants to admit to themselves that after all these years of being a genius, you are actually (gasp!) a normal person?! Then, if you are not a genius, and you do not know it all (or even close to it all), that means that you actually need teachers. You need people who are willing to share their experience and expertise to help you get closer to knowing more, and you need to listen to them and respect them. You also need to dedicate yourself and your time to anything that you truly want to excel in, and you need to put your heart and soul into it. And all this sure can seem like a lot of work when you have been used to having it all figured out without even trying!

In my case, it was a hard pill to swallow, and to be brutally honest I have moments where I feel it’s still going down.  

On the other hand, the wonderful things that happen when you stop pushing through life like a bull (or a bully) are absolutely amazing. For me personally, some of the great things that have discovered since my big epiphany some years ago are:

  • When you are going to try something new and you go in with an open mind and open heart, people will generally want you to succeed. When you go in as the know it all, people want you to be proven wrong – because you usually are wrong. 
  • When you try and fail, it is perfectly okay! People in your circle will comfort you, and try to help you to do better. As opposed to wanting to tell you “I told you so.” (Then secretly “high fiving” themselves in their minds!)
  • When you want to learn you will find teachers all around you. Teachers love to share. They do not, however, want to force anyone to learn. (They also don’t want to argue!)
  • When you don’t know everything, it means you can never be bored, because there is always something new to find out about, and life is much more exciting this way.  The older I get, the duller being “perfect” looks.
I still struggle at times with my “know-it-all-ness”, it’s hard to get out of an old and useless way of being and thinking, especially when you yourself love to be the leader. But in life, people don’t want to follow the small person who acts above everyone. People love an honest, open, and sometimes fallible leader... because it reassures us all that it is okay not to be perfect, and that in fact maybe its better not to be. 

Smiles and laughter!

So, you want to start a yoga practice...
You hear all the benefits touted all over the media, from your local newscast to your fave talk-shows and magazine, and you want to experience this “yoga”! But, studio yoga isn’t an option for you... Maybe you have commitments keeping you at home, or you aren’t a fan of joining a yoga studio. Maybe you just haven’t yet gotten enough of a feel for what yoga is about to commit to one, or you may just not have a suitable studio close enough to your home to be practical.

Whatever the reason for not joining a yoga studio, it does not have to be the end of your yoga journey!
Here I’m going to give you 5 steps to set up your “Yoga a la Maison Experience”. That’s the Frenchified way to say “yoga at home”, it sounds awesome, no?! Like Pie a la Mode... But I digress...

Anyhoo, I love yoga so much, both my home practice and my studio practice, and I just want everyone to share in the benefits! So go on, try this! You know you want to...

1) Find a practice to follow:
If you are new to yoga and you are going to be practicing yoga at home, you will likely need to follow some type of yoga program either from a book, or online, or maybe from a DVD. If you are brand new to yoga you will probably want to watch someone demonstrating the poses and helping to lead you through your practice, until you begin to remember the poses. Once more experienced you may be able to follow a written program, or maybe even design your own little series of poses.

Here are some great on-line resources to help you find a program to follow: This is a fantastic resource that offers you unlimited video access for only $10 a month! Never mind everything else on the site. Great site, and great classes filmed in great locations. You are able to download and save full classes for $3.99, or pay $9.99 per month for unlimited yoga. This site also has a free feature class every week! Another site with downloadable classes, and monthly memberships starting at $6.95 a month!

2) Create your space:
I think that when you are starting out in yoga, having the right ambiance is really important. Eventually, a focus of yoga is to be able to ignore your surroundings and get right into your practice, but initially creating a space that makes you feel at ease and comfortable, a space that you truly enjoy, will only improve your experience. Also, if you love your little yogic corner of the world, you will want to visit it more often!

I like to set up my mat in front of my fireplace, right beside my big living room window. If it’s light out, I’ll open the drapes and let the sun stream in on me, and if it’s evening sometimes I’ll light my candles, and warm some essential oils. The key is to put yourself somewhere you like to be, and somewhere without interruption.

3) Get the yoga equipment basics:
In order to have a great home practice, there are just a couple pieces of equipment you will want to invest in. These are:
  • A yoga mat (to cushion your hands and feet, and to stick to you and the floor so you don’t slip)
  • A yoga strap (to help with stretching and increasing flexibility in a gentle way)
  • Yoga blocks (again to help ease the poses so that you grow into your practice gently)

These can be purchased for very little, or a whole lot, depending on what you are looking for and how much you want to spend. You can find shops in your town that offer this stuff, but to help, a couple great on-line resources to purchase these products at a reasonable price are: This site literally has everything you need all in one place, from eco mats to cheapo mats to blocks to straps, you name it – it is here. US customers can enjoy free shipping too, and even buying from here in Canada the shipping ain’t too-too bad. You can get everything you need shipped to you for as little as $50 in the US and about $80 in Canada. This is a Canadian company with no affiliation to the above link. They offer all sorts of Eco yoga supplies. Shipping, strangely, is very expensive considering it is within Canada?! Gaiam offers some really cool yoga mats and supplies. The prices are also very reasonable, and shipping in the US is normally no charge. Not sure about Canada, because you need to order from the phone line as they don’t have international shipping available for website orders.

4) Get some cozy yoga duds:
Yes you are at home, and that means if you have a space with enough privacy you could practice in your PJ’s. Or in the buff!  But if you are getting in the mood to practice, you may as well feel ready from tip to toe!

Personally, I still like to get into my own personal cozy yoga gear. Which, for my home practice is usually leggings with leg warmers and a sports bra with a t-shirt or cozy top over it. This way I can start my practice out warm and as I get hot I can take off some layers.

Here are some great sites to get some yoga-inspired clothes; after all they say the right outfit open all the right chakras. I mean doors. Okay it doesn’t apply here, but I love clothes so here is where you can get some: This is a really cool site with really cool yoga clothing. It is all cozy cotton and the sizing is easy as they feature lots of drawstrings! (I heart drawstrings!) Check it out, and you will agree it’s chic and unique and very reasonably priced. It’s also a Canadian company! This company has some really nice stuff, at a moderate price point. Worth checking out! You either own some, or have heard of it... But did you know that the shipping from the website is FREE, in Canada or the US and there is a bunch of stuff online that you can’t get in the store! Check it out!

5) Make a commitment:
You will never see the benefits of any workout endeavors, or lifestyle changes, unless you apply them regularly and consistently. So make it a priority to commit to a routine!

Pick a practice that is the right length to allow you to incorporate it into your schedule at least a couple times a week. I would personally aim for 3+ days per week to really see the effects of taking this time for yourself, and your physical and mental well-being. Then run with it, carve the time out, and see where it takes you!

I am also currently running a little home-practice challenge, and if you would like to check it out, click here!


From the day I was brought into this world I was surrounded by a family of “I did it myself-ers”. 

My father, is one of those handy men who can literally “do anything” and not only can he do everything, he can do it all incredibly well. He was a diesel mechanic in the military before becoming a regular mechanic, before becoming a self-employed contractor. 

The house I was brought up in for the majority of my childhood and adolescence was the second of houses designed and built by my dad. But, not only was the house designed and build by him, the electrical, the plumbing, the flooring, the cabinets and heck, today even the kitchen table is built by him! 

My mother, on the other hand, was also one of those “I did it myself-ers”. But for her, it was on the (dare I say) more feminine side. The woman could sew and cook and clean and garden like nobody’s business. If you go through the house you will find the curtains were made by her, the plants were all grown by her, the cushions were made by her, and the decor was chosen by her. Amazing, really.

When we first moved in to “the new house”, I was six, and the house was a veritable work in progress. The floors were unfinished, the cupboards didn’t have doors, and while renovations were underway it was not at all strange for me to see my mom washing the dishes by hand in the bathtub. As a matter of fact, it was all perfectly natural and normal for me to see both my parents working away on the house when they weren’t “at work”, and I was always happily enlisted to help with whatever I could.

By the time I was a teenager, though, I started to wonder: “Why don’t you two just pay people to do all this extra work?” Like many teenagers, I pretty lazy and unmotivated... And I vowed that “when I got older I would not be like them!” I thought, I swore, I would never want to do all my own house work and all my own decorating, and all that extra stuff you could pay someone else to do – I would pay it!

And so, the years went on and I watched that house develop, ‘til it was complete... And now I’ve even seen it renovated through the years, (of course by my parents), and it’s more beautiful each time I visit. The tangible result of all the work and the workmanship put in by two people who truly loved this house, this home. 

Well, it turns out that we truly are a product of our upbringing, and I am a true testament to that. It’s funny, but after all this time I find myself looking around my home... And my cushions? I made them myself. The photos on my walls? I took them myself, and framed them myself. My walls? Were all painted by me (and my husband). My home is cleaned by me, my meals are all cooked by me, and my garden is grown and tended by me... And you know what the weirdest part is?! I simply would never pay anyone to do it. I would never want to now...

And I finally get why. 

I love the feeling of my hands in the dirt, in the paint, in the arts. I love the feeling of sculpting my own world. I love the way you need to “learn” before you can “do”. I love the pride in a job well done... 

I love to look down at my palms and say, I did this all with my own two hands.

Yes, this is a picture of my soup!
Fall is the perfect time to enjoy all the in season squash and one of my favorites is the Butternut Squash. It just has an awesome mellow almost melon-y flavor, that really makes a fabulously yummy soup. This recipe works perfectly during the "2 Week Cleanse Challenge". Check it out here!

Only the pure in heart can make a good soup...

-Ludwig van Beethoven

When I’m making soups like these, that are puréed after the initial cooking, I really try and use either “like colored” ingredients or white ingredients. For instance, butternut squash is a golden orange color, so I like to use things like yams, carrots, potatoes, cauliflower, white onion, cayenne pepper and chill pepper. The reasoning is that at the end, when you puree the soup it remains a healthy and appetizing color. If you aren’t careful, and you decide to use, say, some dark green vegetables with this recipe it may taste really good, but it will end up being a nasty brownish color. I don’t know about you, but I like my food to look as good as it tastes!

Whatcha Need:
1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeds removed, and cubed
1 cup of chopped cauliflower
1 medium white onion, diced
1 medium yam, peeled and cubed
1 cup of chopped carrots
3 cloves of crushed garlic (or 1 tablespoon of garlic powder)
1 box or 3 cans of ready to use chicken broth (or vegetable broth if you are vegetarian)
1 tablespoon of chili powder
1 tablespoon of paprika
1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon of cumin
1 teaspoon of celery seed
1 teaspoon of parsley
2 tablespoons of olive oil (butter if you are not on a cleanse, or if you prefer!)
Salt and Pepper to taste

In a large pot, or I prefer my cast iron pan, sauté all the vegetables together with the spices and 1 cup of broth for about 20 minutes, stirring frequently, until all the veggies are able to be mashed easily with a fork. Transfer the mixture in quarters to a blender or food processor and add one cup of broth each time to allow for easy blending. Put the mixture into a soup pot and set to simmer. Taste the soup and add salt and pepper or more of the paprika or chili pepper until you have the desired taste! Enjoy!

***The non- cleanse version***
When not on a cleanse, I will also dice up about a cup of ham and fry in a non-stick pan with no oil until slightly browned and transfer it to the soup to simmer for about 10 minutes.  Then I will add a dollop of sour-cream and diced green onions when serving! Even more fantastic!

Happy eating!!

Today marks the second post in my 30 week Primary Asana Series Challenge!

The first two weeks have gone amazingly well, and so has my studio practice. With the help of my awesome instructors and my amazing massage therapist I am slowly starting to recover from a series of right hamstring injuries, and my flexibility is increasing dramatically now.

I actually took the photos for the new poses featured in this post before beginning this challenge - and since dedicating myself to this extra little bit of "homework" I have to say that already I notice a huge difference in my expression of the poses! It's so exciting, and I can't wait to shoot the next poses for weeks 5 to 8 now, and visually see the difference!

If you would like to see the poses for weeks 1 and 2 please click here!
As I've previously explained, "Light on Yoga" gives many details on how to move into and out of these poses, but in the interest of time (and our attention spans) what I am going to do is show the pictures of the postures, and give some directions on variations to suit your capabilities (and mine!) and the time frames to hold the poses.

Please ensure to listen to and respect your body, and always continue to take deep even breaths, both in and out throughout all the poses. Breath is one of the most important elements in yoga, so if you are not able to breathe smoothly, in and out, ease out of the pose a little. 

Here we go!

Weeks 3 and 4:

1) Uttita Trikonasana - Triangle Pose
In the book, Iyengar has his hand flat palm down on the floor, and his legs are further apart. Back foot is at a 90 degree angle to the front foot which is straight forward.

As I was doing these poses in the morning (when I'm less flexible) it means that to respect my limits, I kept my palm a little higher up. Sometimes it can lay flat, others not.

You can put your hand anywhere along your leg to where it feels comfortable, and bend as far as you can comfortably. Looking up at your palm is also dependant on how it feels for your neck, you may look straight forward until you feel more limber.

Hold this pose for 30 seconds to one  minute on each side.

2) Utthita Parsvakonasana -Extended Side Angle Pose
In this pose your body should make one straight angled line from your feet to your hand, with space between the body and the leg. Your front foot should be pointed straight ahead with your knee directly in line with the ankle, and your back foot should be at a 90 degree angle to the front foot, parallel with the back of your mat.
My hip needs to be lower, as I'm not quite in one straight line as shown right. This means I need more flexibility in my hips and hamstrings. That's okay, I'm working on it. The goal is to do it how you are able to comfortably and work towards more opening and expression!

Hold this pose for 30 seconds to one  minute on each side.

3) Virabhadrasana I - Warrior I
Again, in the book Iyengar has his legs further apart, his hips facing directly forward, and his lunge is deeper than my pose is.

Your back foot should be a 45 degree to 90 degree angle to the forward foot which is straight out in front of you. Hips should be squared forward with the both feet pressing down. You will feel the stretch mostly along your back calf. To make this easier, shorten and widen the stance, and look up at the palms only if it is comfortable for the neck.
Hold this pose on both sides for 30 seconds to 1 minute.

4) Virabhadrasana II - Warrior II
From Warrior I extend your arms one front and one back, widen your stance, ensure the back foot is at a 90 degree angle to the front and if comfortable look over the front middle finger. Press into the mat with both feet evenly, and ensure both feet are flat on the floor. Adjust your stance to allow this.

Try to tuck in your tailbone and ensure the front knee is directly over the ankle. It has a tendency to fall inwards sometimes. The deeper into the lunge you go, the harder it is to hold, so do so at your own pace.

Hold the pose for 30 seconds to 1 minute on each side.

5) Parivrtta Trikonasana - Revolved Triangle Pose
In this pose you should have your front foot straight and your back foot at about a 45 degree angle. You should continue to have the hips squared to the front and twist through the torso, opening your chest.  

You can put your hand anywhere along your leg to where it feels comfortable, and bend as far as you can comfortably. Again, looking up at your palm is also dependant on how it feels for your neck, you may look straight forward until you feel more limber.

Hold the pose for 30 seconds to 1 minute on each side.
6) Parsvottanasana - Head to Knee Pose
This pose is an intense stretch. In the book Iyengar has his chest completely flat against his leg, with his nose touching! Which I obviously do not!

You can shorten your stance, clasp your elbows behind your back, or leave them forward (as opposed to the prayer position that mine are in), and only stretch to your comfort zone. Shoulders should be back, try not to round the back.

Hold this position for 30 seconds to one minute on each side as well. 

7) Prasarita Padottanasana - Wide Legged Forward Bend

Here, you can see that my lower back is not completely level, and this indicates that I have less flexibility on one side. I'm working on it!

In the book Iyengar has his head resting on the floor, but instead you can just bend forward at the hips to where ever you feel comfortable, keeping your hands on your hips if you can not yet place them on the floor.

Hold the pose for 30 seconds to 1 minute.

8) Salamba Sarvangasana - Shoulder Stand                                         
 There are a lot of ways to get into this pose, and if you can't go all the way in right away that is no problem! Just start with holding the pose where you can.

Start on your back, lift both legs up and slowly work your hands underneath your lower back to hold yourself up.

Hold the pose for 30 seconds to 1 minute.

9) Halasana - Plough Pose
From shoulder stand above, let your legs come down to where they sit comfortably - whether that is on the floor or not. If you can stop supporting your lower back you can extend your arms along the floor behind you, or even clasp the palms.

Be mindful of your neck, and keep your head straight.

Hold this pose for 30 seconds to one minute.

10) Savasana - Corpse Pose
Savasana is a resting pose, to let your body rejuvenate and rest after the postures.

Keep your breathing even and easy, while laying on your back with your palms up and feet mat width apart. Try not to move whatsoever, and try not to think about anything in particular. Just be in the present, and rest.

Hold this pose for 2-10 minutes. 
(Or longer if you can or want to, it is up to you! They say that this is one of the most difficult poses to master as it means being still for a long period of time!).

Hopefully, you have really enjoyed the first two weeks of the 30 Week Primary Series Asana Challenge, and I hope that you equally enjoy the second part! If you have questions, or comments, I would love to hear them!


Here is another fabulous, easy, time-friendly and mouth gratifying recipe for all you cleansers out there, and for anyone else looking to add a healthy little ditty to their culinary repertoire! (If you like, you may use beef to make regular chili, or no meat and double the beans for a vegetarian chili... Works well with any of these!)

"Wish I had time for just one more bowl of chili."

Last words of Kit Carson, American frontiersman (1809-1868)

Whatcha Need:
  • About a pound of ground chicken – I prefer to grind my own meat using my KitchenAid MixMaster  with their Meat Grinder attachment (shown right). If you do a lot of cooking or baking, I HIGHLY recommend investing in one of these little babies. I loooooove mine!
  • About a cup of chopped peppers – Red, Green, Yellow, some hot, whatever kind you like!
  • A cup of chopped mushrooms
  • Half a red onion, and half a white onion, diced
  • 3-5 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • A cup and a half of all natural salsa (I use Pace chunky)
  • A can of mixed beans (chick peas, black beans, lentils etc) but NOT marinated!
  • A can of deep browned beans in tomato sauce - Yes these have a little sugar in them, but in the grand scheme of things it’s no biggie!
  • A tablespoon of Cumin
  • A tablespoon of Chili powder
  • A tablespoon of Cayenne
  • A teaspoon of pepper
  • A tablespoon of Franks Red Hot or Sriracha Hot Sauce (optional if you like it really hot)
  • A can of corn (optional)
Mix everything together in a big cast iron pan (if you have one, this is the preferred pan for making chilli – it will taste better) or a big pot on the stove, and cook on medium for about an hour, stirring every so often. Yes it’s that simple!
I will sometimes make baked potato as a side dish, or when I’m not on a cleanse I’ll make fresh buns and top the chili with sour-cream and cheddar cheese... Mmm... I miss cheese already... lol!


Many a time I have been asked: “what types of workouts are better to do; yoga or weights, or cardio, or circuit training?” The truth of the matter in my opinion is very simple. In order to be overall fit, and to have a complete and well-rounded physical fitness, you need to be doing all types of exercise.  It only makes sense. How can you be physically prepared for any type of activity if you aren’t practicing every type of activity? 

For instance, take yoga. I have an almost daily home practice where sometimes I really just sit in certain poses for extended periods of time in order to increase my flexibility. I love stretching and the noticeable increased mobility I get from it.  Then, I also have my more spiritual home practices where I’m totally focusing on my mindset and my breath, and following a certain series of asana (poses). This practice centers me, and makes me feel amazing. Although neither of these particular practices is really raising my heart rate enough to be effective for accelerated calorie burning, what I am doing is completely essential to my physical and mental fitness.  

On the other side of yoga, I also have a practice that I do at the studio 3-4 times a week which is a “hot flow” vinyasa class. It makes me sweat like a “!!”, and it gets the blood pumping due to the faster paced movements and the intense heat! It’s a great calorie burn, great stretch, and it’s great for my soul. I leave exhilarated. But, it never makes me wake up the next morning with the “Omigod, I’m so sore, I totally destroyed my (insert body part here) in the gym yesterday” feeling – the feeling that tells me that I have torn down those muscle fibres and will rebuild bigger and stronger.  

Because of that, in addition to my yoga, I also do a 2-3 day a week gym routine. Here I use free weights, dumbbells and barbells, cables, and do tonnes of core exercises to really push myself to the brink! This is the workout where I get my increased musculature and increase in strength – more strength than I can obviously get just lifting my own body-weight. After all, I only weigh around 110 pounds, so it’s just not possible for me to get the type of fitness I’m looking for without weight training. 

There are some people who may think that going to the gym to do weight training should be enough, but sadly even with weight training you don’t really burn a lot of calories unless you circuit train, and then you lose strength to push heavier weights. So this again just is not enough!

Finally, after all of the above, in my opinion there is still speed and endurance training left to be done, that high intensity cardiovascular strength training. This means that in order to get those fast-twitch muscle fibres working, and improve the functions of the nervous system, I need to be doing something that is making me move fast with powerful bursts of energy, (like running, jumping, skipping, dancing, boxing, tumbling, throwing, or all of it in combination), all the while focusing on moving with agility and accuracy. This means that in my view, to be overall fit, and truly athletic, I need to also be incorporating what is called plyometric exercises. So I also do 2-3 days a week of this type of exercise.

Now this may all seem like a lot, but if you are planning on a 5 day a week fitness schedule it would mean you could really do one on of the following programs:

  • 1 week with 2 days of weight training, 2 days of doing yoga, and 1 day of doing a fast paced exercise like interval training, plyometrics, running, or a boot-camp, or playing volleyball or soccer.
  • 1 week doing 3 days of weight training, 2 days of doing a fast paced exercise like interval training, plyometrics, running, or a boot-camp, or a dance class, or soccer, and an additional 4 days with a short home practice of yoga.
  • 1 week of 1 day of full body weight training, 2 days of doing yoga, and 2 days of doing a fast paced  exercise like interval training, running, or plyometrics, a boot-camp, or a dance class, or soccer.
There are a lot of ways to incorporate multiple fitness routines within a week, and variety is the spice of life!

Personally, I do work out a lot, and have worked out consistently for over a decade. I will say that I dedicate about 8-10 hours a week to workouts of some type, but that said - fitness is my absolute passion!! I am a personal trainer and fitness instructor, (soon to be yoga teacher!), so it makes sense that I spend more time on fitness endeavours. Just like an artist spends 40 hours a week painting or a builder spends 40 hours a week building, it’s my job to be fit – and it’s a part of me! 

In summary, I think that every type of exercise is essential to being fit. Each plays an important part in our overall health... And enjoying life!

Mmmmmm.... Just planning out another day of fun, fresh, and fulfilling food! Sometimes it's hard to believe that you can eat healthy food and never feel for a second that you are missing out on anything. The funniest thing, is that when I'm really eating a good clean diet and actually taking the time to seek out great meals and get creative in the kitchen, I find that I actually like all the food MORE. Yes you heard me right! MORE!! And let me tell you, I love good food!

Because I love to share, and because I think that you can only truly lead by example, I am going to post a bunch of recipes so that you can see how easy and accessible it is to follow this type of nutrition plan!

Let's get started!

As we speak, or I should say as I type, I am enjoying what tastes like a scrumptious dessert for breakfast! It's made of the following:
  • 1/3 of a cup of stone ground oats (with no additives)
  • 1 tsp of ground flax seed
  • 1 tsp of sunflower honey (but any natural no additive honey will do!)
  • 2 slices of frozen peaches (right outta the bag)
  • water
Just toss all the ingredients in a bowl, cover with about a 1/4 inch of water, ad microwave it for 1 minute. Take it out, stir well and mash up the peach slices with a fork...ENJOY! It tastes like a peach crumble dessert... I also keep 3 bags of different frozen fruits in the freezer so I can change up my flavors!

For lunches, while on the cleanse I like to try and stick to soups. Once you make a huge pot of soup it is quick, available, easy, chocked full of veggies, and good for the digestive system too! Since it was just thanksgiving, I made the hearty turkey soup that I previously posted in my blog here. However, I added a cup of cauliflower to the mix and omitted the salt. Once all the turkey soup is eaten, I plan to share an amazing butternut squash soup!

Keeping a dozen hard boiled eggs in the fridge ready to add to salads, or to snack on, or to have for breakfast with some fruit is another super-easy, inexpensive way to stick on track.

For tonight's dinner I'm making a delicious recipe:
Chicken with Spiced Wild Rice and Garlic Broccoli and Cauliflower

Chicken: On a baking rack in a tray place your chicken breasts and dust the tops with rosemary, basil, ad garlic powder. I cook my chicken breasts in my toaster oven (it keeps them moist and browns them better!) on "toast" at the highest temperature for 15 minutes, then I flip them over and spice the other side and cook for another 15 minutes. SHAZZAM! So easy!

Spiced Wild Rice: In a pot on the stove, place a cup and a half of wild rice, add 1 diced up red onion, 1 clove of crushed garlic, a cup of chicken broth (purchase the low-salt variety), and then add water until the mixture is covered with 1 inch of water (I also like to add a 1/2 teaspoon of crushed chilies!). Cover. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium stirring frequently. Once all the liquid is almost gone (about 30 minutes) reduce heat to low and continue to stir frequently. Once it is all evaporated, uncover and let stand for 5 minutes.

Garlic Broccoli ad Cauliflower: In  non-stick pan add a 1/4 cup of water, one cup of chopped broccoli and one cup of chopped cauliflower. Cover and simmer on medium high heat for about 5 minutes. Then, drain water, return to stove, add one tablespoon of olive oil, pepper to taste, and one or two cloves of crushed garlic. (As you can tell I love garlic ridiculously much) Sauté til tender (to your taste) about another 4 minutes.

Serve all the above with a little sea-salt if you like, pepper, and lemon slices or lemon juice. DEEEEELICIOUS!


Okay, so it’s just two weeks! We can do this challenge and be successful!  All it’s going to take is a little bit of "preparedness", some “I really want this”, and a good solid bunch of “I’m not giving up”! During a cleanse/detox is the best time to let yourself be a little stubborn. Your waistline, your digestive system, and your insides in general will thank you from within!!!

In addition to the list of foods here below for you to follow in order to successfully complete this two week cleanse, I also plan to include recipes over the next two weeks that fall perfectly into this cleanse, and that are also healthy additions to your nutrition plan at any time!

Here we go!

It's really kinda easy...

Main foods to avoid for two weeks:
  • Refined Sugar and High Fructose Corn Syrup (and other foods with unnecessary added sugars)
  • Sugar Substitutes (like aspartame)
  • Adding a lot of salt (I will still sometimes use a little sea-salt myself)
  • Pre-Made foods (like TV dinners, sauces, anything with a bunch of ingredients that you can’t pronounce and have no idea what they are)
  • Dairy products
  • Wheat
  • Beef and Pork
  • Coffee (unless you drink it black – if not trade it for green tea and organic honey)
  • Soft Drinks
  • Alcohol

Main foods to embrace for two weeks:
Keep in mind, during a cleanse/detox you are trying to ingest as much whole natural uncontaminated foods as possible, so try to opt for organic food (meat and produce) wherever you can.
  • Definitely drink as much water as possible, and water with lemon is even better!

Meat options:
  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Chicken
  • Turkey

Vegetable Options:
Any fresh or frozen vegetables are allowed, but steer away from canned veggies. Some vegetables that are really recommended are:
  • Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Artichokes (think dark green veggies)
  • Beans and Lentils
  • Spinach, Romaine and Red Lettuce
  • Beets
  • Cauliflower
  • Onions and Garlic
  • Brightly Coloured Veggies
  • Squash

Fruit Options:
Any fresh or frozen fruits are allowed, again steer away from canned fruits. Some recommended options are:
  • Berries, especially blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries
  • Plums
  • Bananas
  • Grapefruit, Lemons and Limes

Grains, Nuts, and Seeds:
With the exception of wheat, white rice, and peanuts and peanut products all are allowed. These are some recommended options:
  • Brown and Wild Rice
  • Quinoa
  • Barley
  • Stone Ground Oats
  • Flax Seeds
  • Unsalted Pumpkin Seeds or Sunflower Seeds
  • Almonds
  • Walnuts
  • Pecans

  • Use any herbs and spices as much as you like, just check the label on mixed spices for preservatives and added salt!

Oils and Butters:
  • Use Olive Oil for cooking
  • Nut Butters are permitted (but not Peanut Butter)
  • Use Udo’s Choice oil or Flax Seed Oil outside of cooking
(Eg. Homemade Salad Dressing: mix 2 parts oil with one part vinegar, crushed garlic and tonnes of spices for a salad dressing!)

Now as you can see, you have a LOT of options in this particular cleanse/detox. I always prefer to think about all that I CAN eat, as opposed to all that I CAN’T eat. I also will get creative in the kitchen. I really like to make a lot of soups and stews, as they are easy to digest as well as flavorful, nutritious, and delicious! I also will experiment with blending fruits and spices to make my own toppings and sauces... Keep an eye out for the upcoming recipes!

Good luck and Happy Cleansing!

In my house Sundays are usually all about fun, and Mondays are all about getting back to business. The thing is that this particular Monday is Canadian Thanksgiving, meaning that this weekend has quickly turned into a massive gluttony-fest. Monday will mark my 3rd Thanksgiving meal in 4 days... Not. Good.

As I sit here resting my laptop on my huge protruding holiday belly, I think about the fact that Thanksgiving is the only holiday that is literally about celebrating food. Think about it, the symbols for Christmas are the Christmas tree, and Santa Claus, and Mistletoe, (yes, and baby Jesus). Easter? Well, then we have the Easter Bunny, and Easter Baskets (yes, and grown up Jesus). St. Valentine’s has hearts and roses, and New Years day has resolutions... But Thanksgiving? The main symbol is a freakin’ Cornucopia! Yes, a symbol of food and abundance!
And with that, I bid my skinny jeans a fond adieu, farewell, and rest well in my closet... For at least the next two weeks... While I work off my dear, beloved, Thanksgiving Cornu-bloat-ia.

Anyhoo... I don’t mean to pop into your Thanksgiving fun, and ruin it for you or anything – I’m actually here to help!!

Starting Tuesday, (See?! This happens in the land of later!), I am going on a two week “cleanse” diet!  And, because I love sharing so much, I’m going to post the rules and parameters for following this cleanse here for you in just a few hours! This way you can follow along if you like, (C’mon, just do it!), and maybe shed a few pounds, feel a lot lighter, and get a nourished “glow”.

The great thing about this particular way to cleanse is that it isn’t about liquids or shakes or supplements. It’s not a starvation diet, and it isn’t even unhealthy in any way whatsoever. Actually, in a perfect world, this “cleanse” would actually be how I ate all the time... If I weren’t a flawed human being whose culinary true love is Pizza. That being said, eating this way for two weeks, and noticing how good it makes you feel will hopefully encourage you (and me) to eat more healthfully more often. I consider it kind of a jumpstart to get back on track with my nutritional goals.

So check back here Monday afternoon (tomorrow!) for the big unveiling of:

The Two Week 
Cleanse Challenge!!

PS: This cleanse will also work phenomenally well in conjunction with my 30 Week Light on Yoga Primary Series Asana Challenge!!! (I’m just sayin’!)

See you back here Monday afternoon... And 'til Tuesday, Happy eating!