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Haute Nature

GEM would like to send out a big thank you to Stephanie De Gasperis, founder of HUSK, for providing our GEMgirls with a wonderful Valentine’s Day giveaway featuring natural beauty products and healthy treats for their special day. Continue reading to learn find about Stephanie’s take on entrepreneurship, natural beauty, and healthy living.

Based on the lessons you have learned and the challenges you faced, what do you think it takes to become a thriving entrepreneur?

It takes vision, positivity and faith as well as hard work in the form of attention, focus and being present.  I think as women we need to continue to pay attention to self care and balancing work with our home life as this will help keep the passion of your work alive and keep you energized.

Did you encounter any difficulties setting HUSK apart from other natural cosmetic boutiques? If so, what were they? 

I think it’s a fairly new and small industry. Since all-natural is a newer concept and people are more familiar with bigger brands available at pharmacies, I knew it would take some time to convince people that these products are not only a better alternative for our skin and overall health, but effective and truly beautifying.

What impact did your background in nutrition and fitness have on the creation of HUSK?

It showed me the importance of taking care of ourselves, each other and the planet. Learning about many of the man-made toxins that have made their way into our skin care products and our environment was quite eye opening.  When you realize your skin is your body’s largest organ and that everything you put on it has a good chance of making its way into your blood stream, it really makes you stop and think.  Many of these chemicals are new and scientists are just discovering their harmful effects, such as being carcinogenic (cancer-causing) or endocrine-disruptive (changing the way our hormones naturally work). However, when I saw the fabulous things that all-natural brands were capable of, I realized there was hope.

What methods and exercises do you practice regularly which help you create harmony between mind, body and spirit?

I think a more holistic and balanced approach to fitness is the most effective and sustainable tactic for long term well-being.  With work requiring much of my energy, I have found that constantly moving, making the right food choices and checking in with myself every day through meditation, are the most important things in keeping my mind and body in good shape.

Could you tell us more about your favourite green food with beautifying benefits and how you incorporate it into your daily eating habits?

I think almonds are truly beautifying for many reasons.  They are high in the top most beautifying nutrients – such as heart-healthy Omega-9 fatty acids (same that is found in high quantity in Olive Oil) and skin healing Vitamin E.  Because they are rich in healthy fats, they help keep us satisfied longer and provide a sustained source of energy.

In a world where our eyes remain glued to a technological device for the most part of a day, what is the importance of devoting quiet time solely to eating a meal without any distractions?

With so much constant stimulation around us via technology we quickly forget to be mindful and present.  When eating, it is especially important to remember to chew your food.  Remember that your stomach doesn’t have teeth and the more you can break food down in your mouth, the easier you can digest.  This has effects on your whole body.

What was one obstacle in your life which seemed most impossible to overcome and how did you tackle it?

One of the obstacles that I faced was climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Africa. I was the only female in the group and I had to make it up the difficult climb. On the second last day, when it seemed near impossible – getting through the hardest part where you want to give up or turn back – I saw the light at the top of the Summit.  The feeling was one of sheer joy, a sense of confidence and accomplishment.

 

Stephanie De Gasperis founded HUSK in the fall of 2013. As a fitness specialist and holistic nutritionist, she has always been inspired by her own quest for health and balance – and has now created the perfect way to share this knowledge with others. Stephanie is passionate about simplicity, tradition and the beauty in the Earth’s elements, and has brought her aesthetic vision to the HUSK shopping experience. Stephanie has travelled the world to source the cleanest, purest and most effective products for the skin and body. All the ingredients she uses support optimal wellness and positive transformation. Her support fro local producers is also very important, as you will find Toronto-based and Canadian brands throughout the HUSK store. Stephanie and her team have a mission to introduce the very best non-toxic and healthy self-care alternatives for women, men and children so they can lead cleaner, more vibrant lives.

On January 31, 2015 GEMgirls were invited to Roots Yoga Studio for a complimentary yoga session. Roots Yoga instructor Charlene Yeh guided GEMgirls through a gentle beginner yoga class, which included interactive partner exercises and guided meditiation. This moment to relax and unwind could not have been offered at a better time. The girls had just completed a stressful exam period and were getting ready to plunge into a new semester.

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Our GEMgirls had an incredible time.

Here’s what they had to say …

“I’d never done yoga and had previously thought it was just stretching, but the instructor explained its not. It’s about understanding the way your body and mind moves”

“After doing yoga I felt relaxed, calm and happy. I walked away with so many different techniques and skills that could help me when I’m feeling stressed or unhappy”

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“I tried yoga for the first time at the Roots Yoga Studio last weekend and loved it! It was the perfect way to let loose and feel more comfortable in my own body.”

“My experience at Roots Yoga was uplifting. I enjoyed spending time with GEMgirls doing something new together”

Yoga Workshop 3

The GEM team would like to extend our sincere appreciation to Denyse Green of the Roots Yoga Studio for providing our girls with this opportunity.

Roots Yoga Studio is ecofriendly and offers a variety of classes seven days a week. The instructors are skilled in classical Hatha, Ashtanga/Vinyasa, Iyengar, Anusara, Kripalu, Keeds and Teen Yoga. Visit www.roots.com/yoga for more information. 

By: Natalie Anthony

Congratulations. Your exams are over! Hopefully you feel less tight and happier. To close things out for our 5-week yoga series, I’ve saved my favourite poses for last. Say “hi” to your hips!

Hips: Tight hips are very common from sitting. Too much tension in this area could even begin to affect your lower back.

  • Bend your right knee into your chest and flex your foot. Place the area just above your ankle on the very bottom of your left quadricep (above the knee). Keeping the right foot flexed, gently press down on the inside of your right thigh. The stretch should be on the outside of your right hip and upper thigh. Try the same pose on your left side.
  • Hug your right knee into your chest and hold the stretch. Do the same with the left knee. This pose can be done standing by using a ledge to deepen it.
  • While standing, find your balance. Cross your right knee over your left, and begin to bend the left knee. Try to keep your torso upright. This pose if known as ‘eagle legs.’ Consider adding your ‘eagle arms’ to deepen the pose (see shoulder section). Repeat on the left side.

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Tip: If the stretch feels good, add more pressure as you press on your inner thigh or hug your knee.

There you have it. These are some of my favourite poses to perform after sitting at my desk. All of these poses can be taken in stages and should be held for about five breaths (on each side). You may find that one side of the body doesn’t feel the same (or as good) as the other. That’s normal.

As a bonus, here is my last tip for releasing tension after studying for long hours at your desk. Get up and walk around! Walk down the block, meet a friend in the park, or take a stroll to the community centre. In my experience, movement and stretching are a great ways to de-stress your body and mind.

 

Natalie Anthony, Yoga Instructor B.A., Corp. Comm., RYT-200

As a former triathlete, turned corporate leader, turned yoga instructor, Natalie discovered yoga makes her strongest and happiest.A serious accident brought Natalie to yoga. A passion for making others happy keeps her on the mat. Natalie is an internationally certified and registered Vinyasa and Yin yoga instructor. She currently teaches customized group and private sessions at Balance Fitness and at various corporate offices in downtown Toronto. Natalie also combines her love of yoga with a passion for communications and is a regular contributor for Village Living magazine. 

 

 

 

By: Natalie Anthony

I hope the poses we’ve explored over the past few weeks have helped you. Feel free to do your favourites as much as you’d like. Up next? A part of the body that’s often overlooked – your wrists.

Wrists: Using a computer mouse, writing, and practicing yoga put strain on our wrists. Here are some easy ways to release fixation and tension in this joint.

  • Extend your right arm and make a stop sign with your hand. Bring your left palm over your right fingers and gently draw them back. You should feel the stretch in the bottom of your right wrist and forearm. Slowly release. Then, bend your right wrist so your fingers point to the floor. Gently press the left palm on the back of your right hand. Shake out your wrist after you hold each variation for a few breaths. Do the same stretches with your left wrist.
  • Circle your wrists slowly – in one direction and then the other. Try to circle the wrists the same number of times in each direction.
  • Clasp your thumb and index finger around your wrist joint (above the bone) and squeeze gently. You can also do slow pulses on the joint. Repeat this on the other wrist.

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Tip: I like to perform wrist exercises in the morning to wake up the joints, and in the evening after a day of typing and teaching yoga.

 

Natalie Anthony, Yoga Instructor B.A., Corp. Comm., RYT-200

As a former triathlete, turned corporate leader, turned yoga instructor, Natalie discovered yoga makes her strongest and happiest.A serious accident brought Natalie to yoga. A passion for making others happy keeps her on the mat. Natalie is an internationally certified and registered Vinyasa and Yin yoga instructor. She currently teaches customized group and private sessions at Balance Fitness and at various corporate offices in downtown Toronto. Natalie also combines her love of yoga with a passion for communications and is a regular contributor for Village Living magazine. 

 

By: Natalie Anthony

Happy Friday. You are two weeks away from freedom. Hang in there! Here are some great yoga poses to release tension in your back and spine.

Back and spine: Many of us sit far forward at a desk (I’m doing it now). This leaves little support for your back. Try these stretches to revive your back and spine.

  • Sitting or standing, place your left palm along your body. Raise your right arm high, and begin to arch over to the left. Lengthen your right side on your inhales and deepen the stretch on your exhales. To finish, slowly bring your spine back to neutral. Repeat this on the left.
  • Clasp your hands behind your back. Puff your chest forward and look up to the ceiling if it feels OK on your neck. To go deeper, begin curling forward. Then start raising your arms up towards your head. Curl back up slowly as you come out of this pose.
  • Raise both arms to the ceiling. Slowly twist to the right as your arms come down on either side of your torso. Lengthen on your inhales and twist a little deeper on your exhales. Slowly unwind and try the other side.
  • Bring your palms to the edge of your desk or a ledge. Walk back so your body is in an L shape. Begin to press your hips back to lengthen your entire spine. To get into your shoulders as well, melt your chest through your arms. Drop your head so the back of your neck is also long. To exit the pose, walk your feet towards the desk/ledge and slowly curl your spine up to stand.

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Tip: Doing any of these poses standing deepens the stretch.

 

Natalie Anthony, Yoga Instructor B.A., Corp. Comm., RYT-200

As a former triathlete, turned corporate leader, turned yoga instructor, Natalie discovered yoga makes her strongest and happiest.A serious accident brought Natalie to yoga. A passion for making others happy keeps her on the mat. Natalie is an internationally certified and registered Vinyasa and Yin yoga instructor. She currently teaches customized group and private sessions at Balance Fitness and at various corporate offices in downtown Toronto. Natalie also combines her love of yoga with a passion for communications and is a regular contributor for Village Living magazine.