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Author : Claire Riley, yoga teacher and lover of all things to do with healthy living.

7 daily detox tips you need to know… Don’t let January be a time of lethargy and sluggishness. Find simple ways to detox on a daily basis, in a way that is sustainable and long lasting. Little daily shifts will create the bigger changes long term. Here are our top 7.

Spring-Sensation-food

 

1. Digital detox

150 the average number of times we check our phones…..9 the average number of hours we spend looking at screens per day.

Detoxing is not just about the food that we eat. We need to recognise the fact that our health is greatly effected by what we eat, drink and think. So often we have clouded thoughts, we get caught up in this digital world and we generally don’t take the time to be away from our screens to be out in nature, which is where I believe calm and clarity arise. So maybe today as part of your detoxing, take a digital detox, leave that phone at home when you head out for your walk, look around, enjoy the scenery for what it is, not for how many likes the photo will get when you post it to instagram.

What to do…Unplug for at least an hour a day away from all digital devices.

2. Eat some raw

Raw food is full of enzymes needed for the digestion of food. When we cook food these enzymes no longer work and the body has to then make the enzymes to do the digesting, all of this uses up the body’s energy reserves. Which is why after a huge roast dinner you feel pretty lethargic. So make sure you eat plenty of raw foods with every meal so that your digestion is easier, using less energy, leaving you feeling brighter and lighter.

What to do….add raw greens to your morning smoothie or make a juice

3. Start the day with lemon water

My grandmother was a doctor and always used to say you should start your day by drinking a pint of water to flush out your kidneys. I quite agree, but I take it one step further, drinking warm water with a slice of lemon. This helps to support your liver function and therefore aiding your body in its detox processes. Go one step further still and add a slice of fresh ginger which has anti inflammatory effects on your joints.

What to do…..Buy bottles of water and have them on your desk to keep track of how much water you drink in a day.

4. Breathe deeply

One of the best and easiest ways to detox is by breathing. By focusing on the breath and taking deep conscious breaths we give the body chance to draw more oxygen into the body and time to expel all the stale air from the lungs. The oxygen helps your body absorb nutrients and vitamins and it also helps make white blood cells which speed up the cleansing process in the body.

What to do…..Inhale for count of 4, exhale for count of 8. Repeat 5 times. Go on try it now and see how much clearer headed you will feel.

5. Get out side

We all know how good it feels to get outdoors. But why is being out in nature and fresh air so important to us? Being outside increases our vitamin D intake, which has many benefits including improved resistance against certain diseases and helps with boosting your bodies immunity. The natural sunlight also helps to sets your body’s internal clock that tells you when to eat and sleep. Just ten minutes a day outside will greatly improve your sense of wellbeing. According to a 2009 study published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, the closer you live to nature, the healthier you’re likely to be.

What to do….get a dog and get outside…everyday!

6. Get good sleep

When your body is sleep deprived it goes into a state of stress. Body’s functions are put on high alert, which increases blood pressure and production of stress hormones. So make sure you get good quality sleep, staying away from digital devices that hour before you go to sleep will certainly help.

What to do…… meditate for ten minutes before you hit the pillow.

7. Clean, happy, home

Finally, detox is not just about flushing away the toxins in your body. Have you ever thought about the toxins in your home? Regular house hold cleaning products have been increasingly found to have negative effects on many systems in the body including, nervous, immune, reproductive and cardiovascular. The build of toxins in the home from these products can lead to many health problems so try switching to cleaning products that are good for you.

What to do…buy Method cleaning products, they are amazing and non harmful to you and your family.

 

11988639_901000856656026_5476971490893693174_nZestlifeThis time of year, as we shift from the brightness of Summer to the softness of Autumn (today marks the start of Autumn with the equinox) it is important to take the time to check in and start slowing down both in our yoga practise and life. The earths’ energy is closing in, and our energy does the same. So the fact that we feel less inclined to throw ourselves around on the mat for hours on end is perfectly normally. Follow these five simple yoga poses to ease and flow through this beautiful transition time of year.

 

 

Childs Pose

  1. Kneel at the back edge of your mat.
  2. Stretch your body forwards out and down, with your arms fully extended.
  3. Rest your forhead on the mat, ground, settle, land and relax.
  4. Take ten full deep breaths, breathing into your back. Five of which sigh out to release tension.

Cat & Cow

  1. From child pose come up onto hands and knees.
  2. Spread your hands out and connect to the earth.
  3. Inhale – Look up and sink your lower back.
  4. Exhale – Round your back and tuck your chin to your chest.
  5. Repeat five times each way to wake up your spine. Move slowly and mindfully.

Downward Dog

  1. From hands and knees move up into a downward dog.
  2. Sending your weight and hips up and back. Make an inverted v – shape with your body.
  3. Bend your legs if they feel tight.
  4. Focus on a lovely long spine, with your head relaxed.
  5. Take five full beautiful deep breaths.

Forward Fold

  1. Walk your feet forward behind your hands, stay hips width apart.
  2. Knees are gently bent to relax hamstrings.
  3. Hold onto your elbows and softly hang.
  4. Breathing into the back of your body. Expanding into the side ribs.
  5. Feel calm and relaxed, as you fold forward here.

Arm circles

  1. Inhale – Reach your arms wide and up above your head. Feel open hearted and energised as you inhale and back bend.
  2. Exhale – Release your arms back to your feet in a circular motion around you. Feeling a sense of calm and surrender as you forward fold.
  3. Moving with your breathing, repeat ten times.
  4. Finish  by bringing your hands into prayer, namaste, at your heart centre.

Gratitude

Take a few moments at the end of your practise to be grateful. Gratitude is one of the greatest keys for unlocking positivity. Mentally list five things you are grateful for. Practise gratitiude daily and smile.

About the Author : Laura Bell is a yoga teacher in North Wales, UK and has been practising yoga for ten years. She is the founder of a company called The Zest Life, where the philosophy is about discovering ways to help you find and feel your zest for life.  Throughout the year she runs yoga classes, themed workshops and lifestyle retreats at beautiful locations in Wales. Find her on Facebook and Twitter and stay connected to living and loving the zest life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Heres our 3 simple morning tips to keep you feeling healthy and vital….

How you start your day has a huge impact on how the rest of the day pans out. The first hour of the day is often referred to as the “golden hour”, in that it is a special part of the day when you can set the intention, mood and vibe for the day ahead. Over the years I have figured out what works for me in keeping my mind calm and my body healthy. There is nothing better than starting the day off with a spring in your step, whether its ready for a day in the office or a fun day out with family and friends, we need energy and we need a positive attitude to get the most out of life. Here are my 3 simples trips to get you on the way to achieving that.

10-benefits-of-drinking-lemon-water1Zestlife1. Drink warm water with lemon

Lemons are packed full of vitamin C. Warm lemon water serves as the perfect ‘good morning drink’, as it aids the digestive system and makes the process of eliminating the waste products from the body easier. I always remember my grandmother who was a doctor saying that you should always start the day with a pint of water to flush out our kidneys. This soothing drink is how I have started my day for as long as I can remember.

Here are few benefits to this daily practise.

 

 

10505588_662341040522010_7284275681133060063_nZestlife2.  Gratitude

As I sit here writing this article I have so much to be grateful for. I am in a new office that has just been refurbished and after months of chaos, dust and rubble I am so thankful of the calm clear space in which to work and create. I am looking out to a beautiful mountain, bathed in sunlight, a flowing river forging its way to the sea and I can feel the warmth of my dog at my feet. Taking the time each day to be grateful is one of the greatest ways to achieve a state of happiness and contentment.

Sometimes though we find it hard to find things to be grateful for, but when we take the time to really think about it, we have so much to be grateful for. Even a situation and experience that seems “bad, disturbing, harmful, stressful” will have a positive side. You just have to find it. Remembering that the gift is not the wrapping will help you see this. Even though something is presented to you in life and it may appear negative, always remember that the gift is not the wrapping and sometimes the greatest of experiences and gifts can be wrapped in fear, pain and loathing.

I often start by being grateful of the smallest of things that are closet to me in the present moment… breathing freely, heart beating, hands typing. I then slowly expand my focus of attention outwards, maybe focusing on the great, loving people in my life, my external environment, the community in which I live,  the beauty of nature, the mountains, the sea, the sky and beyond…..

Researchers are finding that individuals who exhibit and express the most gratitude are happier, healthier, and more energetic. Grateful people report fewer symptoms such as headaches, stomachaches, nausea, even acne, and spend more time exercising! The more a person is inclined towards gratitude, the less lonely, stressed, anxious and depressed he or she will be.

So whats not to like about it? It takes moments and will greatly enhance your day. Journal your gratitude, tell a loved one, or simply quietly sit back and think of ten things your are grateful for. See them in your minds with as much feeling and awareness as possible. Be aware of the feelings that are brought up as you start this process. Hold onto those feelings of joy. I find its like an inner smile that starts to rise to the surface and it will be shining brightly all day if you allow it.

Autumn Recharge WorkshopZestlife3. Exercise

I have been a fitness fanatic for as long as I can remember. There are so many things I adore about exercise…the endorphin rush, the feeling of being fit as to me fitness equals freedom, the awe of being out in nature, the connection with people when you exercise with friends or a group, to name but a few….It never fails to put a smile on my face and spring in my step.

Yes, there have been times when it has taken over my life and I had an unhealthy relationship with exercise but now as I find balance in my daily exercise routine it brings me strength and flexibility, calm and clarity. It always amuses me how the mind often tries to persuade us out of doing things that we know are actually good for us. So even on the days when I don’t feel like exercise, its cold and windy outside, I know that if I simply put on my running gear and tell myself that I’ll just jog for ten minutes then come back, I know that once I am out and running I will love it and want to stay out being invigorated by the elements.

Mix up your routine as well. Doing the same exercise everyday will soon lead to bordom. I run, swim, bike and do yoga and I love the results that this combination of exercise gives me. But everybody is different, so you need to figure out what works for you. I prefer to be outdoors where possible but for some the gym might be the answer. We all know exercise is good for us and with our sedentary lives, making the time to exercise is becoming even more important. Make the time for yourself, enjoy it, find something that you love to do with positive people to keep you encouraged. Even if its just ten minutes a day, you will soon start to reap the benefits.

 

“You’ll never get the butt you want by sitting on the butt you have”. So go leap up, jump, skip, dance and feel free, fit and happy.

 

10685323_710014439088003_6638863396528835923_nZestlifeAbout the Author : Laura Bell is a yoga teacher in North Wales, UK and has been practising yoga for ten years. She is the founder of a company called The Zest Life, where the philosophy is about discovering ways to help you find and feel your zest for life.  Throughout the year she runs yoga classes, themed workshops and lifestyle retreats at beautiful locations in Wales. Find her onFacebook and Twitter and stay connected to living and loving the zest life.

 

 

Zest-Philosophy-balanceZestlifeAt this time of year, when I find myself all of a sudden in the depths of Autumn, I really begin to appreciating the immune boosting qualities that yoga has to offer. Yoga is a wonderful system that can keep us fit and healthy as we transition into the colder months.

With the colder weather or nasal linings become thinner making us more susceptible to infection. Through our yoga practise we can boost our bodies immunity so that is able to cope with the onslaught of bacteria and viruses that come with this time of year. There are four systems in the body that yoga postures focus on keeping us fit and healthy.

 

1. Circulation – Cardiovascular and Lymphatic systems

Cardiovascular

Your heart is the power house of your cardiovascular system. It keeps nutrient and oxygen rich blood flowing through blood vessels to the various body parts for proper functioning. Poor circulation on the other hand plays a role in almost every diseease. Therefore it is essential to keep the blood flow and the heart working efficiently if we are to stay fit and vital.

yoga 183ZestlifeSun salutations and dynamic flow sequences thatare aerobic stimulate the heart, strengthening it, helping to  increase the blood circulation throughout the body. Relaxation on the other hand is vital as it allows the arteries to open up and actually lowers blood pressure. Relaxation is an important skill when considering immunity.

 

Lymphatic System

The lymphatic system works in conjunction with the cardiovascular system, transporting lymph around the body through vessels to lymph nodes where there are white blood cells ready to  help defend against infections. It keeps blood and lymphatic fluid levels in balance and helps to flush toxins out of the body. The difference though is that unlike the circulation system, the lymphatic system does not have a pump to encourage the flow of lymph around the body. It relies purely on gravity and muscle contraction.

If your lymphatic slows down and becomes stagnat which is what happens when we become very sedentary a toxic build up is created in the nodes, leaving us feeling sluggish and decrease our ability of fight off illness.

Focusing on twists stimulates the flow of lymph up through the core of your body. Inversions reverse the effects of gravity and help to drain lymph up from the legs. Aerobic flow works on contracting and relaxing the muscles which is the primary way in which lymph flows around the body.

2. Digestion

yoga 132ZestlifeYour digestive system is a major immune organ in your body. If there are problems in your digestive system, there may be problems with your immune system. For example, a number of symptoms may be aggravated by digestive issues, such as skin rashes, seasonal allergies, arthritis, etc. When dealing with any immune issues, the digestive system is very important to consider. A sluggish digestive system causes toxins to move from the digestive tract into the nearby lymph, leading to an increased toxicity in the blood.

Yoga postures, especially twists help to detoxify and oxygenate this system so that is running more efficiently.

3. Respiration

yoga 169ZestlifeColds are caused by bacteria that affect the upper respiratory system, causing stuffiness, coughing, and sore throat. If the immune system is weak, the bacteria can go into the lungs and cause bronchitis or pneumonia.

Yoga is one of the main tools for maintaining the health of our respiratory system. Breathing techniques and posture work help improve the efficiency of our lungs by conditioning the respiratory tract, which in turn increases the elasticity and strength of the whole lung. When the lungs are stronger we are better equipped at fighting infection.

4. Endocrine System

The Endocrine system is one of the most important parts of the body because overall, it regulates mood, controls growth/development, metabolism, tissue functions and also all of your sexual and reproductive systems. The endocrine system is one of the primary ways to regulate  the bodies immunity.

yoga 179ZestlifeYoga helps to balance the hormones you need for strong immunity. Inversions create pressure on the thymus gland at the base of the throat stimulating the endocrine system, which works with the nervous and immune system for efficient functioning.

 

 

 

Any postures that work on one or more of these systems will lead to an improved immunity.

Neck exercises – Stimulating the flow of lymph from your body to your head. One third of your lymph nodes are present in your neck therefore it is vital to keep these pathways open.

Sun salutations – Improve  blood circulation.

Cat and cow – Improved digestion.

Cobra – Chest opener, stimulating the thymus gland one of the major organs involved with immunity.

Bridge – Improved functioning of the lungs

Wide leg forward fold – Stimulates the lymph nodes in your groin.

Shoulder stand – Full body cleanse. Reversing the effects of gravity, allowing lymph to flow around the body to the nodes.

Try out these postures on as regular basis as possible. In my eyes it is all about prevention rather than cure, don’t wait till its too late, keep nurturing and looking after your body and it will take care of everything else this Autumn.

297120_10150329050416436_680431435_8547242_1902159628_nZestlifeAbout the Author : Laura Bell is a yoga teacher in North Wales, UK and has been practising yoga for ten years. She is the founder of a company called The Zest Life, where the philosophy is about discovering ways to help you find and feel your zest for life.  Throughout the year she runs yoga classes, themed workshops and lifestyle retreats at beautiful locations in Wales. Find her on Facebook and Twitter and stay connected to living the zest life.