Wednesday, 29 May 2013

My Adventures as a Yoga Tourist Bali-Style!

Have you ever met a fellow Yogi while traveling to a far off destination?  Or found yourself sitting up late at night googling exotic locations to bring your Practice?  Yoga Travel is one of the fastest growing sectors of Tourism - with more Yogis desiring to make their holiday time a more introspective one and a whole host of "Mini Yoga Meccas" to accommodate them for a Retreat, Intensive, or even a Teacher Training in an exotic locale (just type Yoga Tourism into Google and you will be amazed at all that comes up!).  This past weekend I decided to head out (though not too far afield) on my own mini Yoga Vacation to the Heartland of Bali, Ubud!

Ubud (pronounced Oo-Bood) is only a mere 20 kms from my Home in Sanur, but due to narrow one laned roads and congested traffic it takes about one hour to arrive there.  It has a perfect blend of Balinese Culture, Nature and Yoga activities, so there is something for everyone, 'Yoga-Nut' or not.  Ubud is home to at least 3 Large Art Galleries (many more small privately owned ones), Hindu Temples, Balinese cultural dance performances, markets, Yoga studios and salas and a bevvy of delicious restaurants catering to the ever Health-conscious Yoga crowd. 

Having the opportunity to spend a long-weekend there allowed me to sample a selection of the studios Ubud has to offer, as well as numerous styles of Yoga.  I attended my very first Iyengar class at The Yoga Barn (, the largest and most well-known studio in Ubud.  It was a Level 2 class and I spent most of it in supported Inversions, either using blocks, bolsters, blankets and straps or at times even making use of ropes which were secured to the wall.  It was quite fun and offered me some new adaptations for poses which I hadn't thought prior.  My next class was at Radiantly Alive Studio (, which seems to be Yoga Barn's direct competitor, offering a wide variety of classes throughout the day as well.  Here I happily spent a 90 minute Yin class sprawled against the wall stretching my hips, knees and legs, eyes closed, enjoying the subtle opening of my joints (word to the wise - bring something other than flip flops when going on vaca, they sure do hurt your feet and legs after a days worth of walking!).  Both of these classes were very enjoyable, but the real gems of my little Yoga-Adventure didn't come until Monday when I attended a Kundalini class at a locally-owned and run sala called Bodyworks Healing Centre (

Our class took place on the third floor of a more traditional Balinese building, with room for only 10 students.  Our teacher Putu lead us through a rigourous class with much leg work and core strengthening ending with a Heavenly (and much deserved!) Savasana with the Roosters crooning from the ground below. I thoroughly enjoyed the Pranayama exercises we practiced throughout this class, breathing fully in through the nose filling our bellies and than swiftly out through the mouth making a 'Shh' sound - it made me feel invigorated and very present on my mat.  And lastly I was lucky enough to have had Ketut, the Hatha Teacher from Taksu Spa ( all to myself.  He lead me through a delightful (and chuckle-filled) Hatha class which ended with us experimenting and sharing different arm balances we knew.  And all of this taking place in a studio surrounded by lush greenery and the gushing sounds of the river which flowed around it.  Though I only spent 3 days in Ubud, it has definately made an strong impression on me and I know I will be headed back there soon to continue my exploration of the town and all it has to offer both Yogically and Culturally.   

Whether you are a first-time Yoga-traveller or a seasoned 'Retreatee' there is something on offer for everyone and a myriad of ways to find what you are looking for.  In the land of the World Wide Web you can find everything from budget/sustainable Yoga Vacations to the most luxurious of Yoga Retreats at an exotic moutain-top spa!  From the Galapagos to the Berkshires, if you can unroll a Yoga mat there rest assured someone has designed (or is right now) a Yoga Experience to be had there.  Depending on your budget you could find yourself in a small oceanside village in Nicaragua or a lavish (not to mention pricey!) villa at a spa resort in Thailand. Many of these packages include meals, accommodation, airport transfer, yoga classes and may even include other spa/wellness treatments.  My only advice when booking would be that you do a bit of research and ensure that you are headed to a destination and Yoga experience you really want and not just signing up for the first good deal that presents itself.  **See Sources & Links for links to helpful articles and websites on booking yoga vacations. 

So if after reading this you are silently kicking yourself for not having used your holidays this year to book a Yoga Retreat somewhere exotic, let go of those regrets!  You can be a Yoga Tourist, discovering new and exciting studios and further developing your practice from Home! 
Here's how:

  • Try a class with a new Teacher/Style of Yoga (we often get into a groove with one teacher or style and don't what we could be missing out on by trying something/someone new)
  • Book a Trial Week at a new Studio in your town/city (most studios offer discounted trial weeks for new students allowing you to try unlimited classes for the week!)
  • Invite a friend (or a whole gaggle of them) to accompany you on a Yoga Studio Tour where you live and in the surrounding area (be sure to allow a bit more time for this, one month is a good starting point so you have time to experience a few classes at each place)
  • Take a weekend (maybe a long weekend) and visit a neighbouring town/city specifically to try out the Yoga Studios they have to offer (book into a quiet hotel, eat lots of fresh & delicious food, make it your own little Yoga Retreat - personalized just for you!)

Anyways I hope my musings on my most recent adventures in Yoga (and travel) have got you excited about where your Practice will take you next, whether it be literally or figuratively!  Has anyone been on a Yoga Trip or Retreat (organized or of your own making) recently?  If so, what are your thoughts on your destination?  Please feel free to comment down below! 
Be Happy, Eat Healthy!

Sources & Links:

Friday, 24 May 2013

The Word on Wheatgrass

Have you ever tried a shot of Wheatgrass?  I am sure you've most likely heard of it from your friendly neighbourhood 'Hippie', but have YOU ever tried it?  Wondering what all the fuss is about?  Or do you have a rule about consuming 'Green Liquids'?

Well I have been happily treating myself to a regular Wheatgrass shot and I have to say I am a Convert!  I have tried it at a few different locations now and I really enjoy it, and it is just that, a shot glass filled with green juice that well..smells like grass..LOL!  It doesn't have to be consumed on its' own this way, though I have come to enjoy it in shot-format, you can also add it in with other freshly juiced juices or put it into a Smoothie for some extra nutritional-punch!  And don't be put off by the taste (as it is a bit grassy too, particularly the first time), you can also squeeze a little lemon or lime into your shot for a bit of distraction if you are really put off the taste.

And why would we subject ourselves to consuming the young grass of Wheat plants you might ask?? (don't worry they are Gluten-free!)  Because it is remarkably GOOD for us, that's why!  Wheatgrass contains Chlorophyll, Minerals, Vitamins, Enzymes, Antioxidants and Essential Amino Acids, which our bodies can't produce on their own (making them 'Essential' to our survival).  It takes a great deal of actual Wheatgrass to produce one shot (not to mention a fancy Juicer, which is why I haven't yet started making my own) and because of this is said be nutritionally equivalent to consuming 2 LBS of Veggies!  Now mind you there are Nay-sayers on this point but if you watch this video below you will see just how much Wheatgrass it takes to get a full shot of the stuff, which minus the Fibre in my opinion may not be totally equivalent but is definately Nutrient-Dense!

What do the ingredients I mentioned above have to do with your health?  Well, Chlorophyll helps to oxygenate your blood which allows for more speedy detoxification (it is also remarkably close to Hemoglobin in its' cellular composition!).    The Amino Acids and Enzymes help to safe guard our livers against toxins we ingest, ridding them from our bodies more quickly.  And well Vitamins and Minerals.....we all know they are always a Good Thing (except in Extremely high doses that is)!

Other health benefits of Wheatgrass include: it increases our red blood cell count and lowers blood pressure, it stimulates our thyroid gland to help correct obesity and indigestion, it can be used as an appetite suppressant, has been successfully used in studies to aid in curing certain forms of cancer, and a whole host more!  For more benefits see:

In fact the only negative press that I found on Wheatgrass came from sources that harped on the lack of clinical studies which have been done on the benefits, but what I have to ask what financial benefit do these companies have by testing its' healing properties..they certainly won't be 'raking in the dough' by testing a product any Joe-Schmoe could grow in their backyard! *See below for a video on growing your own! (not that I think of you as a Joe-Schmoe ;)  

These nay-sayers (a few of which I have listed in the Sources column if you would like to peruse for yourself), claimed the studies that had been done were too small and that more research is needed to substantiate the health claims. Small studies have been done with both those combating Ulcerative Colitis and Breast Cancer patients receiving Chemotherapy and positive effects were seen in both studies.  The Ulcerative Colitis patients saw a significant decrease in the advancement of their disease and the findings from the study involving the Breast Cancer patients found that Wheatgrass may be able to reduce Myelotoxicity (which suppresses bone marrow, when there is a decrease in cells responsible for immunity, blood-clotting and delivering oxygen).   And I agree that more clinical research on the benefits of Wheatgrass Juice is needed.  But I ask you, if you could use something natural to feel healthier, younger and supplement your diet (that you can grow yourself!), Why Not?!  Who cares if there haven't been many 'clinical studies' done on Wheatgrass, perhaps its' time to trust your own intuition and eat what enables you to be the BEST version of yourself you can be!

So I ask, have you tried Wheatgrass? Or after reading this post would you be willing too?  If so what did you think of it?  Did you notice any physical, mental or emotional differences?  Anyone currently growing their own?  Leave a comment below.  And don't forget to like, share and/or subscribe! ;)

Be Happy, Eat Healthy!!

Sources & Links:

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Nutritionist or Dietitian? What's the Difference?

I have been in Indonesia now for almost three weeks, and I have to say it is BEAUTIFUL here!  The climate is warm, I am surrounded by heaps of bright green tropical vegetation and the local people's disposition is almost as sunny as the weather itself.  It is a veritable Paradise!  I have included a few of the pictures I have taken along these adventures below for you to peruse.

However there has been A LOT of 'New-ness' to take on, new culture, new food, new house, new language, new Everything!  And though I love to travel there is something to be said for the Creature Comforts of Home.  Many of the products and foods I have grown to love (ie. Almond Milk, Apple Cider Vinegar, Trail Mix, etc.) are not available here, and if they do have them, very difficult to find and expensive (a single can of Chickpeas here costs $3!)

The pace of life here is much slower and I have found myself frustrated at times with the small amount of things I am able to accomplish in a day.  Not to mention the level of psychological and emotional upheaval such a huge relocation takes on a person.

Before moving to Bali I believed that I had found my calling as a Nutritionist and planned to begin this training via correspondence when I arrived here.  But some how things look so different to me on the other side of the Globe and I have been questioning whether that is the right choice for me and if so how relevant this profession will be in my new Home.

So I decided to revisit this decision and while doing so, further research the vocational options available in the 'Preventative Medicine' AKA 'Food as Medicine' realm.  If you too are interested in learning more about your options in this field or just want some clarification on what these different occupational titles mean (in Canada), then please read the brief synopsis of each position below.

 Nutritionist - An individual who gives practical advice to clients on matters of food and nutrition and their impacts on overall health.  Nutritionists/Holistic Nutritionists take into account food sensitivities and tend to design more personalized meal-plans/goals.  Their focus is more Preventative than the traditional Reactive approach of Dietitians.  Currently there are no nation-wide standards or regulatory body for Nutritionists in Canada, and therefore anyone may use this title, and because of this I recommend you to inquire about your Nutritionists educational/experiential background before delving into your lifes' history of eating habits.  There are several schools in Canada offering Nutrition Counselling Education. *See Sources & Links for info on Nutritionist schools in Canada. At this time, Nutritionists are regulated only in the provinces of Quebec, Alberta, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.

Dietitian - Dietitians are theoretical experts in food and how it impacts ones' health.  Dietitians/Registered Dietitians largely use the Canadian Food Guide and calorie requirements to help set nutritional goals for their clients. A Dietitian can use the title of Nutritionist as well as their title however a Nutritionist may not do the same. They are required to complete a 4 year undergrad followed by a 1 year internship.  They must also complete a standardized exam in order to be become licensed and are regulated by a Provincial governing body (in Ontario this is The college of Dietitians of Ontario). 

Health Coach/Wellness Coach - a Health Coach is a mentor and an authority on health who assists their clients to set health goals and make healthy and sustainable modifications to their behaviour and lifestyle which support these long-term goals. They deal more with the psychological/emotional aspects of lifestyle change and rather than prescribing their client medications/therapies/exercises they work with them to create a course of action that the client will actually stick too.  At this time there is no regulating body governing Health Coaches, but MD's are beginning to rely more on them now to help their patients sustain long-term positive lifestyle changes.

Although my future direction may seem a bit mystical and illusive (and a wee bit scary) to me at the moment, I feel blessed to know that my Husband, Dave has a good job (which he enjoys) and that I have time to get over my culture-shock and reaffirm what shape I want my professional life to take.  And I have a plethora of options available to me as well which makes me feel doubly-blessed!

Until next time..

Be Happy, Eat Healthy!  

Sources & Links:

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Indonesia..Home of my New Favourite Meat Alternative!!

In light of my recent arrival to Bali, Indonesia (my New Home!) I thought I would share a little of what I have learned about a tasty meat alternative that the Indonesians (and many other Asian citizens) have been using to help meet their protein needs for hundreds of years.  It's pretty new to the Western Foodie/Health Nut-scene but has been recently been increasing in its' popularity and is becoming more widely available too! ..have you guessed what it is yet??

If you guessed Tempeh, then you would right on the money!

Tempeh, which originated on the island of Java in Indonesia, is a meat analogue prepared by soaking, then cooking and lastly fermenting soybeans, which are then formed into a patty (similar to a veggie hamburger patty you would find at your local grocers).  It has a Protein content of approximately 18g per 100g serving (depending on brand of course), is high in iron and calcium (perfect for all the lactose-intolerant folks out there!), cholesterol-free and has natural nutty flavour all on its' own!

Did you get held up on the Fermentation process?  I know the word can have a tendency to freak people right?  Don't worry, Tempeh is only fermented for 24-36 hours, this process causes Rhizopus Oligosporus to form, which aids in digestibility, absorption of minerals, and contains a naturally-forming antibiotic agent which staves off intestinal infections!  Besides have you ever left a half filled pizza box sitting out on the counter overnight to be consumed the next eve (my Husband does this ALL the time!), well at least this fermentation process occurs in a more controlled environment and closely watched by Tempeh production workers...and I think far less likely to cause food poisoning than the latter scenario.  Actually in Indonesia, 'ripe' Tempeh, which in their opinion is 2 or more days old is considered a Delicacy! On a more serious note though, there have been some cases of food poisoning from unpastuerized Tempeh, which should be treated and prepared as you would a meat product.. to read more about whether consuming this form of Tempeh is safe feel free to click this link

Many people get confused about the differences between Tofu and Tempeh, because they are both Soy-based Products, see below for a a little comparison!

How does Tempeh stack up to its' more widely known Soy Product Counterpart??

Tempeh - made from cooked and fermented whole soybeans
             - natural nutty, earthy flavour
             - soy carbohydrates make it more easily digestible than Tofu
             - has a higher Protein, Fibre and Caloric Density than Tofu
             - generally less processed than Tofu
Tofu - made by curdling fresh hot soy milk with a coagulant
        - tasteless, unless marinated with something or cooked with something else

Check out this link for more deets on how Tempeh stacks up against its' Soy-Cousin!

For more info on how to prepare your Tempeh and how to use it in recipes see these links, I personally can't wait to try the 'Tempeh Curry' Recipe!

My hope is that after reading this post, you may give Tempeh a try (if you haven't already).  It is a Delicious (and Nutritious!) way to spice up your next Meal!

Be Happy, Eat Healthy!

Sources & Links: