Expect nothing, appreciated it all.

When we let go of our expectations of what should happen, we can enjoy each moment for what it can offer.

Attitude is everything in life, whether that is on or off your yoga mat.  You have a choice about how you respond to a situation. Take these scenarios; you’re running late for a meeting, Sydney traffic strikes making your journey slower, then someone cuts you off while diving – easy to get frustrated in this situation, but you have a choice; you can blow up or wave it off and appreciate the extra moments you get to yourself in the car. You try a yoga pose that’s new to you, you try to copy the teacher but your shape doesn’t look the same – you have a choice; you can beat yourself up and deem yourself a failure or you can stop and appreciate that you’ve tried something new and had a fun time trying.

Celebrate the small things, however insignificant they seem because this will slowly have a much bigger effect on your thinking.

When we bring our expectations along, we’re likely to get disappointed. If you pause to celebrate the small victories or don’t let allow yourself to be affected by the stresses life throws at you, then you’re likely to enjoy life just as it is.

The benefits of mindful movement

As the winter chill starts to thaw and workplaces ramp up in the lead up to Christmas breaks. Sydney-siders find themselves out and about more and stuck at the office more – leaving little time for their bodies and minds to unwind.

Our bodies suffer from increased hours at the desk, busy stressed minds, tight shoulders and necks, sore hips – that coupled with going out more and letting go of our routine can leave us feel exhausted and stressed.

What surprises me most about my yoga practice is just how much I can apply it to other areas of my life and the enormous difference it makes for me.

In my personal experience, by taking time each day to focus my attention on simple movements coupled with controlled breathing, even for a just a short period of time, I have found that I can dramatically increase my ability to handle more mental stress and calm my nervous system.

Cortisol levels elevate under stress, whether that’s stress at work or from a hard work out at the gym – the body doesn’t distinguish the difference – stress stimulates our flight or fight mechanism and in modern day life this gets a good work out. A mindfulness or yoga practice encourages our para-sympathetic nervous system to step in. And the way we do that through yoga is deep breathing.

The primary intention behind a yoga practice is the alignment of a series of movements with the coordination of the breath. Beyond the poses, aside from the stretching, and without regard to the brand of clothing you choose to wear or the space in which you practice, it is the synchronisation of movements with focused and controlled breathing. That is the essence of yoga.

The goal of starting a mindful movement practice is in taking this basic principle and applying it to other areas of your life – that may be at work during increased periods of stress or during challenging activities like a sport game or adventure activity.

I understand yoga is not for everyone. Personally, I love the stillness in my mind, the dance of a well-sequenced vinyasa flow and sivasanna – the deep rest at the end. If you’ve never tried yoga or mindful movement – it’s well worth a try. Contact Nikki for her up to date schedule of yoga classes.

BALI RETREAT

Deepen your practice and awaken the power within you with five days in beautiful Ubud Bali, staying at the new The Shala Bali.

Join a small group as we gently deepen your practice and discover a deeper connection to you. Through two daily practices, nourishing meals and time to unwind, we will awaken the mind/body connection that is us –  helping us live a fuller-life that is filled with joy, love and freedom.

Bali is known for its dramatic scenery and excellent organic food. Nourishment is an important part of the yogic lifestyle so we will enjoy healing food that not only supports your body but is also supportive to the earth.

Inclusions

  • 5 nights in a private room
  • Two daily practices lead by your instructor Nikki – start that day with a flowing yoga class followed by meditation or journaling time and end with restorative yin yoga
  • Opportunity to deep dive into poses with one on one assisting and coaching
  •  Delicious meals (except two on free days)
  • Wholefoods cooking class
  • A trip to the sacred water temple
  • And more!

OCTOBER 23 – 28, 2017

The retreat is open to all levels of yogi’s but especially those people who are looking to deepen their practice. We will workshop poses, a little yogic philosophy and much more.

Spaces are limited so get in fast.

*$500 deposit required to confirm your place. With final payment due one month prior.

If you have any questions or would like to book please email Nikki  – nic@littlelovecollective.com.au

DIY – gooey, chocolatey goodness.

It’s that time of the year again where our healthy habits can easily go down the rabbit hole as we indulge in that all-too-good chocolate goodness. But who’s going to stop us? Easter gives us an excuse to treat ourselves all long weekend. But treating yourself can come in many forms! Family. Friends. Self-care – like hot baths and walks outside in nature.

But let’s get real, there will be chocolate. And loads of it. So since you’ll have time over the weekend, why not try your hand at making your own Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Refined Sugar Free treats? It’s nourishing because it uses whole-food ingredients – and even non-raw/vegan/DF/GF/etc family members LOVE IT.

I’ve been making my own for over a year now and I swear it’s better than any store bought raw variety.. I may be biased towards my own cooking. It’s dangerously good and once you’ve perfect your recipe you’ll be making it weekly. Trust me. Enough of the reasons why you should DIY – here is the recipe…

Ingredients
200gram (1 cup) raw cacao butter or coconut oil (or a combination of 100gram of each which is my favourite way to do it), melted
30grams (¼ cup or more if you like thick dark chocolate) good quality organic cacao powder
2-4 tablespoons  maple syrup/brown rice syrup (you can adjust the sweetness to your taste)

Himalayan (or good quality) rock salt to taste

**Optional ½ teaspoon of cinnamon if you want a richer nuttier flavour.

Method

Simply melt the cacao butter or coconut oil over a very low heat, either in a small pot until just melted. Cacao butter melts faster than coconut oil and can burn so watch it carefully.

Add the cacao powder and rice syrup and salt if you’re using, mix until well combined. Taste it. You’ll know if you’re onto a winner. Adjust salt/sweetness until you’re satisfied.

Pour into chocolate moulds or mini-cupcake baking cups or even a rectangular cake tin lined with baking paper to make a block.

I like to add a few more grinds of salt to the top for extra crunch – but I’m a salt fiend so go easy J you can also sprinkle with goji berries or nuts or whatever your heart desires.

Place in the freezer immediately to set.  Once set, keep in an airtight container in either the fridge or freezer. It will last a week or more in the fridge or freezer, but if you’re anything like me it’s all over and done with in about 5 mins.

Final tips

If you’re taking it to an Easter picnic make sure to store in an airtight container sitting on an ice brick until you’re ready.

5-10 mins to prepare. 15-30 mins to freeze. I like to let mine thaw for about 5 mins if I freeze. If you’re using lots of cacao butter the fridge is fine and its then perfect to eat immediately. Suggest you freeze 100% coconut oil.

Enjoy!

Frustrations with flexibility – some helpful tips

Some days I wake up and I can flatten my hands on the floor. Other days my hamstrings are so tight I can barely get my finger tips to touch my toes!

Have you ever tried routine stretching and never got anywhere and thought what’s the point, I’m so inflexible?!

Gaining flexibility isn’t easy. Especially with todays sedentary lifestyle. And if you’re anything like me – sitting for long periods at a time, doing explosive exercise like circuit training then sitting for hours again, it’s tough.

I’ve got some tips that might just help you out though

1. Breath

Our muscles take time to respond, usually about 40 seconds. A muscle under load sends a signal to that brain, it take about 40 seconds for the brain to assess if the muscle (and tendons) are safe before it releases to the full range. I suggest holding a pose for 60 seconds or about 8 rounds of breath to really experience a deep juicy stretch.

2. Stretch warm

You may have noticed the difference in your flexibility from the beginning of a yoga class versus the end. That’s because the entire body gets warm and muscles have time to activate, respond and stretch into positions. If you want to stretch first thing in the morning I suggest a few rounds of cat and cow to help warm the spine and some gentle down dogs peddling out through the back of the legs. Otherwise, immediately following your cardio or resistance workout is perfect.

3. Be patient and practice
☺

We aren’t all born bendy ballerinas. Flexibility takes time and practice. Our bodies are different each and every day. And what works for us one day may not work the next. Be honest with where you are each day. The key is to practice consistently without attachment to the results. Just enjoy the stretch and be grateful for the time you’ve taken to nourish your body. 

4. Create a routine that you can stick to

Having a little routine you can whip out without thinking and can complete in 5-10mins – whatever time you can spare for stretching – is key. Target key muscles groups you want to work on (or have just worked). My favrourites at the moment are;

  • Chest opener to stretch the Pec minor and Pec Major – this deep stretch can be done lying down or up against a wall. Brilliant if you’ve been doing loads of push-ups or vinyasa.
  • Lizard lunge or yogic squat – to target tight adductors and groin muscles. This is the problem area that I’m working on for flexibility.
  • Grabbing a strap to help with a hamstring stretch with one leg raised the other stretched out in front, then crossing it over our body just a little to target the ITB followed by full supine twist where the leg comes to rest on the floor. So lush.

If you want some tips designing something right for you, then get in touch or grab me if you see me at the gym.

Best breakie ever! – Shenkin, Surry Hills

Favourite new café alert. If like me you love food, but are often disappointed with what Sydney dishes up then never fear!! I’ve found somewhere that packs-a-punch in the taste department, has great customer service and can cater for group orders in a timely manner. And wait for it, the kicker…. Does good. I mean really good breakie.

Breakie (brunch on the weekends) is so important to me. I cook my breakfast every damn day. And I mean eggs and vegies every day for breakie. I love it. It’s the meal the sets up your eating for the entire day and I love eating a rainbow at every meal. I just found somewhere that does the best breakie. Trust me, I don’t say that lightly and I can’t remember the last time I actually said that. And it wasn’t just my dish, because I made sure to try all my friends’ dishes that morning – just to be sure.

Welcome to Shenkin in Surry Hills. This little family owned and run business has a couple of outlets across town; Erskinville, Enmore and Newtown. They specialise in Israelie cuisine. Expect full-flavour country. We tried; Shakshuka eggs – served with many choices The eggs are baked in a rich tomato sauce that is smoky from paprika. Mmm. (If you’ve never had Shakshuka eggs it’s a must!) An avocado falafel, homemade pita bread, great omelets, creamy hummus, tahini coated eggplant and chicken. Everything was delicious. AND FRESH!

Service was great, not too attentive, but attentive enough, everyone was smiling and happy – unheard of! Food came out pretty fast even though we had a group of six. The only minor complaint I could make is that it was pretty load inside, but hey it was a packed Sunday morning. And it was about $23 each for breakie and a coffee. Hard to fault.

If I was into star ratings I’d give 5 out of 5. Definitely worth checking out.

cafeshenkin.com.au