Five Reasons To Love Yoga

I wanted to dedicate a post to the wonderful practice of Yoga. I have been venturing in and out of my yoga practice for almost 6 years now – sometimes engaging consistently each morning, at other times using yoga to cool down after an intense workout. However, it is only in the last three months that I have fully come to appreciate and understand the immense benefits of this incredible lifestyle.

Thanks to meeting a very inspiring yoga teacher who trained in India, I now know that yoga isn’t just a range of movements designed to aid with stress, relaxation, breathing and stretching (although yoga certainly does achieve all of these!) – in short, Yoga is a way of life.

Originating in India, the Sanskrit meaning of Yoga is ‘union’. It is through the union of mind, body and soul that we connect to divine consciousness (Brahman). Yogis believe that this connected experience moves us closer to liberation and enlightenment. (If the spiritual concept of yoga overwhelms you at this moment in time, do not feel discouraged!) For regardless of your spiritual or religious beliefs, yoga is sure to leave you feeling happier, less stressed, more in tune with your body and your personal needs, as well as the needs of others. Here’s why:

  1. Yoga is a journey to the self. When we connect our mind, body and spirit through our practice (with the aid of the breath), we move closer to our true, authentic nature. By letting go of the demands and stresses of our every day life, we are given the opportunity to regain some clarity and perspective over things. Through this connection to our deeper selves, we begin to see improvements in many areas of our lives, from improved relationships with others, as well as the relationship we have with our self.Yoga-spiritual-journey
  2. Yoga improves our overall sense of happiness and well being. As we learn to disconnect from our busy lives – our moods are lightened, our ability to remain composed under pressure increases and we leave our mats feeling a greater sense of peace and calm. Not to mention the fact that your body will feel stronger, leaner and more balanced. Nothing feels better than the feeling you get from being in complete alignment with your self and your body. Yoga helps us to achieve this.i-really-regret-that-yoga-class-today-said-no-one-ever-811e8
  3. Yoga helps us to remain present. Much of our time is spent fretting over the past or worrying about the future. Yoga reminds us to breathe, to let go of the burdens of the past and the uncertainty of the future so that we can embrace the present moment. When we truly connect with our yoga practice, every thing else just seems to melt away. That feeling of being present can stay with us long after we have left the mat and can remain for hours, even days afterwards.yoga-present-moment
  4. Yoga teaches us about ourselves and the way we respond to life. Much of yoga is about learning how we react and cope with every day circumstances. How do we behave when we can’t hold a pose? Do we become frustrated? Do we shut down and give up? Are we critical of ourselves? Yoga is about becoming aware of our physical and emotional reactions and teaches us to work through them. In short, yoga can be a little bit like therapy. Stuff comes up that we didn’t even know was there – and when we leave our yoga practice, we can come away feeling much lighter having recognised and released some of the habits and blockages that have been holding us back.yoga-touching-toes-learn-way-down3
  5. Yoga is a great way to connect. Whether you prefer to practice on your own at home or to seek out a great class to attend – yoga connects us. Discovering a shared love of yoga with others is a wonderful way to meet like-minded people. Taking your yoga outside is a great way to connect with nature. Even when practicing alone, we are connecting with the divine. Yoga is just that – a union; of body, mind and soul, as well as a connection to the greater collective whole.

Namaste

Hayley xx

yoga-connection-sun-salute

 


Why Switch To Organic?

Would you feed yourself and your family toxic, poisonous chemicals? Whilst this may sound extreme, the reality of the matter is that each time you consume conventional fruits or vegetables, you are doing precisely that in the form of pesticides and herbicides. These harmful chemicals are known carcinogens (cancer causing). Don’t even get me started on processed foods – that’s for another post entirely!

Exposure to, and the consumption of pesticides has been linked to a number of health related issues, including:

  • Alzheimer’s
  • Fertility issues
  • Birth defectstoxic-apple-dont-panic-go-organic-pesticide
  • ADHD (in children)
  • Cancers (ovarian, prostate, breast and others)
  • Damage to immune system
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Low IQ (in children)
  • Neurological disease, and more!

I don’t know about you – but I think I’d rather eat an insect or two?! 

Like most people, for years I shunned the idea of going organic on the basis that it was ‘too expensive’ – but after doing my research and learning of the rise in cancers and other food related diseases, I was finally shocked into detox and made the full switch to organic this year. I haven’t looked back since.

Can’t we just wash our vegetables?
The short answer is: no. Even if you wash your vegetables in water and scrub them with a brush, it is not enough to remove the harmful buildup of toxic chemicals on your produce, especially since pesticides can be soaked up by the plants roots and absorbed into the flesh of the fruit or vegetable. Consumer Reports confirm that the USDA measure pesticide residues after the produce has been rinsed and edible peels have been removed. Therefore, your safest bet is to buy organic.

Three ways to rationalize making the switch to organic:

  1. Find your ‘why’ and prioritise.
    Whilst, for a long time I professed that organic vegetables were too costly, that’s mostly because I was comparing them to their cheaper counterpart. Who wants to buy something that looks exactly the same for double the cost? However, looks can be deceiving. Once I discovered the harmful effects of pesticides, I concluded that conventional produce is not even worth the lesser price tag; fruits and vegetables are supposed to heal, not harm. I no longer compare cost since there is no comparison when it comes to health. So if you are still ‘umming’ and ‘ahhing’ – ask yourself this: Can you afford to become seriously ill and lose your health?
  2. Where there is a will there is a way.
    If you are serious about your health, you will find a way to protect yourself and your family. Most people have ‘non-essential’ outgoings, which, when reduced, free up extra funds to invest in their health and wellbeing. Things to consider cutting back on include: internet shopping, alcohol, unnecessary TV packages/add-ons, taking transport when travelling shorter distances, takeaways/fast food, high tech gadgets and games. If you are really struggling and have access to an allotment/garden – you could consider growing your own vegetables at a fraction of the cost – safe and rewarding.
  3. Bless – Don’t Stress
    After the initial ‘whoa’ moment of my first organic shop, I began to bless the farmers and stores offering safer produce, rather than stressing over the price tag. I now pay my bill with love and gratitude, silently thanking Mother Nature for providing meals that heal. Despite my fairly low income teaching as a contractor, I soon became accustomed to the increase in my shopping bill and so will you. It is simply a case of eliminating the non-essentials. This increase can range anywhere between 25-50% depending on how savvy you are at shopping organically. Whilst it may, at first, feel heavier on your pocket, believe me – it will feel much lighter on your soul.

Here are my top 3 tips for savvy organic shopping:

  1. Timing.
    If you shop towards the end of the day, you will sometimes find reduced stock which has lost a little of its freshness. If you plan to use them straight away, this isn’t a problem. Also, find out when your local store renews their stock. Older produce is often reduced beforehand to free up room for the new delivery. And stock up! If something is on special or reduced, can you bulk buy it? This will save you money in the long run and is particularly handy when purchasing dry stock such as quinoa or lentils etc However, even fresh produce such as veggies and meats can be frozen until a later date.
  2. Quality vs. Quantity.
    Before making the switch to organic, I would happily throw an entire pepper/onion into a recipe. I now consider using half instead. Since organic vegetables provide more bang for buck, I choose quality over quantity. I feel just as full and satiated because I am providing my body with a healthy dose of nutrient dense foods.
  3. Beans beans are good for your heart the more you eat the more you ..?!
    Since switching to organic, I have gradually moved towards a plant strong diet, filling up on quinoa, lentils, nuts, seeds and legumes. I have found that reducing my meat intake frees up funds for other tasty (and beneficial) foods that are just as rich in essential vitamins and minerals. Experiment with different recipes (you can find some on my recipes page) and discover what works for you!

If you are still struggling with cost, make the switch to organic gradually. Even if you purchase some organic vegetables and others conventional, you are still consuming less pesticides then you would have previously. This guide is published each year and provides information about the safest conventional produce. When purchasing from the dirty dozen list, try to always buy organic. Foods from the clean fifteen list can be purchased conventionally at a much lower risk.

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What’s your take on organic vs. conventional? Are you pro organic? How do you justify the higher price tags and do you have any tips for cost saving?

Organically yours,

Hayley xx

 

 


Hearty Lentil Curry

The weather is much cooler here in Melbourne, Australia, and whilst those of you in the Northern hemisphere are preparing for summer with succulent salads and sizzling BBQ’s; I am dawning my extra layers and slippers. I am also craving heartier meals, such as this mild lentil curry recipe. If you prefer a bit of spice, choose Indian curry powder over mild curry powder. But if cooking for children, you can judge their tolerance! It’s easy to add more or less according to their preference.

I love cooking in bulk, so if you’d like this curry to go even further – just up the lentils to two cups rather than 1.5. All the other ingredients can remain the same as this recipe produces a good yield.

It is delightful, flavoursome and just what I needed to warm my tum! If, like me, you enjoy arriving home to the warm waft of food aromas, this could also be prepared in a slow cooker. All ingredients were bought from my local organic store, meaning that this dish is not only deliciously good – but also a meal that heals. Enjoy!

Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Vegan Friendly

(Serves 4-6)

Ingredients

400 ml coconut milk
2 cups filtered water
Coconut oil
1.5 or 2 cups French lentils
3-4 tsp curry powder (mild or Indian depending on heat preference)
1 onion
3 cloves garlic
2 small carrots
1 cup broccoli
1 courgette (zucchini)
1 red pepper (capsicum)
1 sweet potato
1 large potato
1 large tomato
Coriander and sea salt to taste

Method

Chop onion, garlic and red pepper (capsicum) and cook a large saucepan with coconut oil. Add the curry powder and the lentils so that the lentils are coated in the flavours. Pour in the coconut milk and water. Add the rest of your vegetables (chopped) and bring to the boil. Once boiling, turn the heat to a simmer and cook for 20-25 minutes. Add salt and coriander to taste.

Tips

Use a large pan if cooking on the stove, mine overflowed and created a bit of a mess! Also, this tasted soooooo much tastier the next day once all the flavours had settled. So why not set some aside and enjoy leftovers?! Let me know what you think and what you would like to see more of.

Organically yours,

Hayley xx

www.hayleygledhill.com/hearty-lentil-curry
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Hearty Lentil Curry Recipe
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Delightfully heart warming lentil curry stew <3