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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. 

 

By: Natalie Anthony

It’s a new week, and you are still in exam study mode. Now that we’ve targeted the neck, let’s check in with our shoulders.

Shoulders: There are several great stretches to release tension in different parts of your shoulders.

  • Raise your right arm along your ear, then bend it behind your head. Use your left hand to press down on the right elbow – the hand might move farther down your spine. To go deeper, bend your left elbow behind your back and try to clasp your fingers. If you’re tight, pull on a strap or use your shirt to help bring your fingers closer together. Repeat with your left arm.
  • Extend your arms out to the side into a T shape. Draw the right arm across your body and hook the left elbow under it. Gradually pull the right arm towards you. For a deeper stretch, bend the right elbow and try to bring the palms of your hands to touch. This pose is known as ‘eagle arms.’ You can even curl in to feel a deeper stretch in the shoulder blades. Try this using your left arm as well.
  • Sitting down, place your elbows on the edge of your desk shoulder distance apart. Drop your chest through your elbows. Then try to touch your palms behind your head in prayer. Hold for a few breaths and feel free to close your eyes. Come out of this pose slowly.

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Tip: Every half hour of sitting at a desk, check your shoulders to make sure they haven’t crept up to the ears. If they have, bring them back down – release them by rolling them up and back down.

 

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

No Mat? No Problem! 

I had a secret. As a stressed out student (exams freaked me out!), I used to sneak away from my desk at the library to do yoga in the washroom. My body was tight. I needed a release.

It’s exam prep time and I know sitting at a desk for extended hours is not fun. And not good for your body. The good news? Some simple and effective yoga poses can be done at your desk – no mat required. The key is to target the areas of the body that are the likely culprits of tension. From head to toe, I’ve collected some of my favourite yoga poses to target those areas. Over the coming weeks, we’ll explore them all.

Neck: Let’s start here. I find these are the best stretches to release neck tension.

  • Clasp your hands and rest them behind your head. Let the weight of your palms gently draw the chin your chest.
  • After a few breaths, remove the left hand keeping the right one where it is. Slowly draw the chin to your right shoulder, over to the ear, then back to centre. Repeat on the left side. To finish, release both hands and gently draw your head back to look up to the ceiling. Then, bring your head and neck back to neutral.

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Tips: Avoid putting too much weight on your head/neck. Ease into it.

 

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. 

 

Your Daily Dose of Joy

What is Joyous Health?

Joyous Health means feeling and looking beautiful, having energy for exercise, a positive mental attitude and good digestion. The Joyous Health blog has hundreds of inspiring articles and delicious recipes to teach people that healthy & delicious aren’t mutually exclusive.

What advice would you give to someone pursuing a career in nutrition?
Do plenty of research and make sure you choose a school that you feel good about. There are many different nutrition philosophies and opportunities for learning. I first thought that becoming a Dietician was the best route for me. When I learned more I realized it really did not jive well with my intuition and my philosophy. I’m glad I pursed the path of holistic nutrition.

I read on your blog that you suffered from hormonal imbalance, anxiety, and digestive problems growing up. Can you share how that impacted you?
There were many times I felt “hopeless”. I went to many specialists and no one could offer a solution other than prescription medications. This was ultimately what drove me to become my own health advocate. I gave up dieting and began living! Being unwell has inspired me to continue to take good care of myself and stay on this wellness path. The truth is – you are the best person to take care of you.

What is the best snack to have while taking a study break and why?
Something with protein, good fat and complex carbs. Most people snack on carbs and sugary treats which spike your blood sugar and cause a crash.  Carbs and sugars make you cranky, crave more and ultimately it does not provide the body with what it needs. A smoothie with berries, banana, spinach, protein powder and almond milk or sliced apple and almond butter or my carrot cake balls is a great alternative. My carrot cake ball recipe is provided below.

What are foods that energize you?
Green smoothies, nuts and seeds, vegetables, whole fruits and the avoidance of refined carbs i.e. cookies, chips, crackers.

What is a common nutrition myth that you can dismiss?
Diets don’t work because deprivation is not sustainable. Not all calories are created equal – so if you focus on whole, high quality foods your body will thank you.

Where did the idea of Toronto’s first ever integrated nutrition and yoga program, Eat Well, Feel Well, come from?
Eat Well Feel Well is a 6-week holistic nutrition and yoga program designed to help people create a healthier body and mind in a peaceful and loving environment. We created this program because we felt and still feel that people need more self-care. This program teaches you, (without being preachy) how to take good care of — YOU!

Joy McCarthy is a Holistic Nutritionist, author of Joyous Health: East & Live Well without Dieting, professional speaker, nutrition expert on Global’s Morning Show, Faculty Member at Institute of Holistic Nutrition and co-creator of Eat Well Feel Well, Toronto’s first integrated nutrition and yoga program. For more information visit her website at www.joyoushealth.com

Joy's Carrot Balls Recipe

(Click Photo to Enlarge)

Selina McCallum is a GEMgirl in the 2014/15 cohort,  student at Marc Garneau C.I. and a Digital Journalism Intern for GEM.

 

Oats & Ivy: Healthy Street Food at its Finest

 

Toronto has a variety of things to do and see, but most of all I enjoy the variety of things to eat! I love finding new restaurants that offer options I know will provide wholesome fuel for my body. As a pescetarian (someone who eats fish and seafood, but no other animals), it can be hard to find fast, healthy, tasty, affordable food. Many vegan and vegetarian restaurants have opened up recently, but none of them compare to Oats & Ivy.

Oats & Ivy is a Toronto-based company that uses a bike cart as its storefront! Each day their employees can be found riding to different corners in the downtown core. This fast food joint offers a variety of healthy goods and everything is made from scratch! You can quickly grab cold-pressed juice or almond milk, lunch items, and heavenly desserts including the “Black Bean Brownie” and “Chocolate Maca Bites”. My personal favourite is their “Thai Noodle Bowl” featuring extremely delicious kamut noodles – and house made sriracha sauce!

Their focus – health food meet fast food – is revolutionizing the streets of Toronto.

To find out where Oats & Ivy will be next visit www.oatsandivy.ca or follow @oatsandivyTO on Twitter.

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