Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Sitali For a HOT Summer's Day

Here's an easy breathing exercise to cool you off during the next summer heat wave.

Sitali is one of many breathing exercises commonly practiced either before or after yoga asana (postures).  These exercises are called pranayama.  A Sanskrit word, pranayama literally means restraints of the breath.  Prana is the vital life force that exists in everything.  In this case it's referring to the most gross form, which is the breath.  Yama means to restrain or control.  Thus pranayama literally means to control the breath.  When the breath is controlled and calm the body will follow and eventually the mind.  If you practice pranayama regularly you will notice that everything else seems to melt away when you are focused on your breath.  The mind becomes one-pointed.

To practice sitali, first sit in a comfortable position, preferably cross legged.  If your knees are higher than your hips you may require a meditation cushion or a folded blanket under your bum to take the pressure off your knees.

Take a few deep abdominal breaths, both inhaling and exhaling through the nose.  When you inhale your abdomen will expand with the air filling your lungs.  Then as you gently exhale relax your abdomen.

Now open your mouth and stick out your tongue, curl your tongue as in the picture above.  If you cannot curl it like the picture, just do your best and curl the edges as much as you can with the tongue sticking out of the mouth.  Now inhale deeply sucking the air in through your curled tongue.  When you have finished inhaling comfortably, bring your tongue back in and close your mouth and exhale through the nose.  Again stick out the tongue and inhale.  Then exhale through the nose (with the mouth closed).  Continue inhaling and exhaling this way for several rounds.  You can practice making the inhale and exhale smooth and rhythmic by counting to 4.  Inhale for 4 counts, then exhale for 4 counts.  Now you're doing sitali!

Sitali not only cools you down, but also purifies the blood and quenches thirst.  It's also safe to practice sitali at home without the guidance of a teacher. 

Happy Summer Everyone!


Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Rhubarb Blackberry Raw Margaritas

Celebrate summer with frozen margaritas

Simple to make, raw and vegan.  These ones are virgin, but you can add some booze if that's your style.

Meltin' in the hot summer sun

Here's what I did:
  • 15-20 stalks of fresh rhubarb, juiced in a juice extractor then frozen in an ice cube tray
  • 1 cup blackberries, frozen
  • raw vegan sweetener, to taste
Mix everything in a blender until well combined.

It's a little labour-intensive to haul out the juice extractor for the rhubarb, but I thought it was well worth it.  Besides I didn't want to do the same old boring strawberry rhubarb tart.  I really wanted to try something different. 

I hope you enjoy!

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

DIY #10: From Tank Top to Bag

Here's a super easy bag made from an old ill-fitting, but lovely Indian silk tank top.  All you'll need is a tank top and either a sewing machine or needle and thread.  Even if you are hand sewing, this project will take you no time!
  1. Turn the tank top inside out.  
  2. Lay the tank top lining up the side seams so the straps line up.  The straps now become the handles of your new bag. 
  3. Sew the bottom closed. 
  4. Turn right side out. 
Important Note:  Choose a tank top that has the same neckline as the back.  This tank top has a scoop neckline that is the same in the back, but some tanks have a scoop or v-neck in the front and a flat neckline in the back.  The latter will not work for the project.

My tank top had a slightly different pattern on the back, so when the side seams were lined up the front of the bag had a kind of mismatched look, but I think it's charming (plus since I didn't want to go out a buy a tank for this project, I couldn't exactly be too picky).  If you're concerned about this, make sure you use a top with a matching pattern both back & front.

This top is from a Canadian company that I absolutely love, Alchemy.  The owner sources the materials and labour from India, paying local women a fair wage and then shipping back to Canada for sale. 

I love that I can support both my countries by buying Alchemy merchandise.  Reading the story of the owner, Trish, who is also a yoga teacher, describe how she fell in love with India which resulted in her repeated travels back and forth from Canada is a bit reminiscent of my own story.

I absolutely love that in less than 10 minutes after being a tank top I was already using my new favourite bag.  I stuffed one of my favourite books in there ...

Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda

Happy craftin'

Monday, 4 June 2012

Rose Gold Snake Bracelet DIY

I'm going to a wedding this weekend and I need some jewelry to go with my "new" thrift store dress (yes, that's how I roll).  Determined not to buy anything new I rummaged through my jewelry stash and found this plastic, rather unattractive snake wrap bracelet.  I wonder why I even kept this thing ...

Well good thing that I did because it's perfect for a DIY project.  Tiffany's recently came out with a line of rose gold jewelry, and of course just a few short months later everyone is copying them ... including me!  I mixed some pearly pink acrylic paint with gold paint and voila - rose gold!

My favourite part?  The emerald green snake eyes ...

I used an extra fine tipped brush to paint around the eyes.

It's June, are you going to any weddings this summer?

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