After recently posting an Elephant Journal article on yoga and food, I was struck by how many people clicked the link in a space of a few hours. Rather than the usual 'Detoxify yourself in a day' drab we're becoming accustomed to on yoga sites, this piece called into question the need to detox at all when you have a regular yoga practice. And it's true. In Ashtanga Yoga, the Primary Series is call Yoga Chikitsa with the latter word translated as 'cleansing'. During a practice, the digestive system is stimulated through the massaging action of forward bends, wringing-out through the twists, and moving into back bends that stimulate the nervous system, which plays a crucial part in digestion. It's also no wonder flatulence and physical yoga go hand in hand. After a couple of months or so of regular practice, the digestive system becomes like a well-oiled machine taking what it needs and sends the rest to the waste bin. Crucially though, we start to change psychologically: the boring apple now looks so refreshing and the croissant just seems artificial. Don't get me wrong, the desire for treats still remains but we just want them less as we know we'll physically feel rubbish if we were to indulge all of the time. So this brings me back to the article that inspired this piece. Exasperated by the constant talk of fasting and detoxification, I, and I'm guessing the hundreds that read the piece, welcomed it with open arms as a counter to the accepted belief that yoga practitioners should continually 'purify' themselves at any cost. What's failing to be picked up is the fact that simply practising yoga leads one towards a balanced diet, avoidance of processed foods, and cultivates an awareness of what is right for the individual in a progressive, organic way. image While there is a place for occasional cleansing if one is recovering from an illness or has been living the life of a Rolling Stone, my gripe is with the sub-conscious message running through most of the pieces that we are somehow toxic - the exact same message the beauty industry also sells to us. Yes we want to know a good nutritious dhal recipe, or a refreshing smoothie, but what is not healthy is the innumerable articles posted everyday about detoxification. The sheer quantity and clever advertising has made 'detox' part of our vocabulary and is used to self-judge oneself as if we're walking hazardous waste, which is communicated in both the mainstream and yoga community. It's no secret that parts of the yoga industry has become a willing participant in our consumerist society and with that has co-opted the messaging that one is not good enough unless, in this case, you detoxify yourself to become a healthier, happier, brighter you. Reading this, most of us know it is tripe but we still can't help but click on those 'Fast for Vitality' articles. So what are we to do? The real detox: from my own experience avoiding such articles by unfollowing certain people and groups who spout this nonsense helps to cleanse my mind and get back to my intuitive self. The self that loves a simple diet without commentary and would always choose chippy chips and a vegetarian sausage as a dying meal. image                             Charlene teaches regular classes with Yoga Manchester and Yoga Express. Visit her teacher profile for more information. Charlene McAuley  
Welcome to the fourth and final instalment of the Yoga Manchester JanAsana newsletter! JanAsana has been designed to get your New Year’s resolutions off to the best possible start and forms part of Yoga Manchester’s New Year New Body New Mind (NYNBNM for short!) initiative. With weekly instalments throughout January, Yoga Manchester will be offering tips and tools to help you pay attention to both the mind and the body to allow you to keep up your intentions!   Your 10 minute Yoga Express sequence   This is the final section of the Yoga Express sequence devised by Matt Ryan. The full sequence is designed to provide the physical and mental benefits of a 90 minute Yoga class, but in just 45 minutes. Classes started on 13th January at Studio 25 – visit www.yogaexpressmanchester.co.uk more details. Resolution of the week This is a simple act or intention that should start this week and if it makes you feel good, stays with you for as long as possible. Smile at a stranger. Heads down, a void, if not annoyed, look in the eyes is how we often move from A to B with little recognition that we’re surrounded by fellow, sentient beings which can add to the feeling of isolation we all feel from time to time. An artist recently reflected this so-called ‘urban solitude’ and replaced London Underground signs with fake ones – thought-provoking, genius and above all, spot on. So this week, smile at least once a day to a passer-by and see how it makes you feel!   Smoothie of the week Green power is where it’s at this week, with kale and spinach our top ingredients that will super boost your diet. There are a few decent recipes on here, and our pick for all ginger beer lovers is the Kale, Apple and Ginger Smoothie. With the tingle of ginger and bite of apple, this will give your digestion a head start for the day.   Recipe of the week Curried Butternut Squash and Kale This recipe is in season, nutritious and so delicious! With only a handful of ingredients, a serving of rice is the perfect accompaniment to this recipe, which is courtesy of yoga guru Richard Freeman.
JanAsana Welcome to the third instalment of the Yoga Manchester JanAsana newsletter! JanAsana has been designed to get your New Year’s resolutions off to the best possible start and forms part of Yoga Manchester’s New Year New Body New Mind (NYNBNM for short!) initiative. With weekly instalments throughout January, Yoga Manchester will be offering tips and tools to help you pay attention to both the mind and the body to allow you to keep up your intentions!   Your 10 minute Yoga Express sequence This is the third section of the Yoga Express sequence devised by Matt Ryan. The full sequence is designed to provide the physical and mental benefits of a 90 minute Yoga class, but in just 45 minutes. Classes started on 13th January at Studio 25 – visit www.yogaexpressmanchester.co.uk more details.     Resolution of the week This is a simple act or intention that should start this week and if it makes you feel good, stays with you for as long as possible. Acknowledge five things I’m thankful for in the morning and evening. Stressful living, bad drivers, and unexpected bills can make us feel as if there’s more to moan about than to be grateful for. Oftentimes, we are trapped by a negative mode of being which fails to recognise the significant things we have come to take for granted such as health, family, friends, shelter, environment – the list is endless. So each day this week, make a mental or physical note in the morning and evening of five things you’re thankful to have in your life.   Smoothie of the week There was a brilliant post on Mind Body Green about cravings and how to replace these with healthier alternatives, which then led us to discover The Perfect Tonic recipe. Featuring hydrating coconut water and protein rich chia seeds, this helps to refresh the palate and quell cravings. Give it a go and let us know how you find it.   Recipe of the week Breakfast pudding It seems January 1st marked the day the war against sugar began, with every magazine and newspaper jumping on the ‘war on sugar’ bandwagon. The thing is though, they’ve all got a point as sugar has zero nutritious value. Evolution has designed us to love anything with sugar as back in the day fructose meant the food wasn’t poisonous, so we have our ancestors to thank for our love of sugar! With all this in mind, we’ve been testing tasty sweet treats, and have come across the delicious Breakfast Pudding recipe that has as little sugar as possible but is ultra delicious and nutritious.  
  Introduction Welcome to the second instalment of the Yoga Manchester JanAsana newsletter! JanAsana has been designed to get your New Year’s resolutions off to the best possible start and forms part of Yoga Manchester’s New Year New Body New Mind (NYNBNM for short!) initiative. With weekly instalments throughout January, Yoga Manchester will be offering tips and tools to help you pay attention to both the mind and the body to allow you to keep up your intentions! Your 10 minute Yoga Express sequence http://youtu.be/rhLNuu62wh0 This is the second section of the Yoga Express sequence devised by Matt Ryan. The full sequence is designed to provide the physical and mental benefits of a 90 minute Yoga class, but in just 45 minutes. Classes start on 13th January at Studio 25 – visit www.yogaexpressmanchester.co.uk more details.   Resolution of the week This is a simple act or intention that should start this week and if it makes you feel good, stays with you for as long as possible. I’m going to take a three-minute pause in my day to mindfully breathe and pay attention to my thoughts. Observing your thoughts and mindfully breathing for three minutes seems easy peasy, but is actually near on possible for many. Multi-tasking, technology, television, and day-to-day stresses ensure the mind has enough material to distract us with, placing our attention everywhere except the present moment. Listen to this brilliant three-minute podcast from Mark Williams to bring you into the here and now, and if you enjoy, perhaps buy his book, Mindfulness – A practical guide to finding peace in a frantic world.   Smoothie of the week Vanilla Milkshake smoothie Yes, you’ve read correctly, Vanilla Milkshake is our smoothie of the week. Rather than being packed with nasties and tons of trans fats, this milkshake is made from only five ingredients: avocados, milk, vanilla essence, maple syrup, and a bit of salt. Avocados are rich in monounsaturated fat which reduces ‘bad’ cholesterol and helps to promote a healthy weight as the body uses these to slowly release energy rather than being stored as body fat - who says you can’t have your milkshake and drink it?   Recipe of the week Quinoa, chickpea, mango salad Quinoa, chickpea and mango. Photographed by Romas Foord This is quite possibly the most delicious salad ever! We know it’s winter but this salad is substantial, fresh, and a perfect replacement to the stodge-overload that was Christmas. Enjoy. 100g quinoa 275ml hot vegetable stock 1 medium onion 2 tsp medium curry powder 150g chickpeas, rinsed 1 tbsp lime pickle 2 tbsp Greek or natural yoghurt Small bunches coriander and mint, chopped 1 mango, peeled and diced 100g cherry tomatoes, quartered 2 Little Gem lettuces 1 Cook quinoa in stock for about 15 minutes. Drain and cool. Heat drizzle of olive oil in small pan and sweat onion with curry powder for 5-6 minutes until soft. Add chickpeas and cook for 2 minutes, stirring well. Leave to cool. 2 Mix pickle and yoghurt. Toss together quinoa, onion and chickpea mixture. Stir through yoghurt dressing, herbs, mango and tomatoes. Spoon on top of lettuce leaves. Serve. Until next week, TTFN!