Winter Solstice - Part 2

By Koreen

The Winter Solstice combines two of my favourite things… the cosiness of winter and planning out my life. In a previous post I talked about planning my life and now I’ll talk about the cosiness of winter.

I was a snow baby, born in a snowstorm on Boxing Day morning. My parents had stayed at my Oma’s and Opa’s and my mom woke up in the night thinking she had eaten too much Christmas dinner. My Opa whistled nervously whilst driving the 40 kms (23 miles) through blowing snow and was thankful that I held out until ten minutes after they arrived at the hospital.

As a kid, I loved the winter. We’d get back from school and I’d play outside in the snow until it got dark. We’d build snow forts and toboggan down the hill and when it got too cold to stay out any longer, we’d go inside and have hot chocolate. One year my dad made us an outdoor rink and I’d stay up late skating by moonlight.

As a teenager I was in charge of decorating the house and hanging up the Christmas cards and my brothers were in charge of getting a tree from somewhere on our 100 acre farm. We mainly had cedar trees on our property, that’s what we usually got. However, one year a large evergreen tree had blown over in the wind on our farm and so my brothers walked along the truck to cut off the top for our Christmas tree.

I loved all the events at our church and helped out with the Advent readings and candle lighting. Our youth group would go caroling in the community. We’d drive from farm to farm of people that we knew were older and may not get as many visitors, or to families that had experienced some sort of difficulties that year. Then we’d end up back at someone’s place for hot chocolate and chilli.

On Christmas Eve, we’d go to my Oma and Opa’s and see everyone from my Dad’s side. Massive amounts of food and then sparklers and singing songs around the fire. On Christmas morning we were allowed to open our stockings before my parents were awake and one year, I coached my brothers for several weeks on how to properly sneak down our stairs so it was perfected by Christmas morning.

On Christmas Day, we’d go to my Mom’s side. My Grandma and Grandpa’s in the morning and then my Uncle Don’s for the afternoon. Here we’d all go cross-country skiing (That's me in the picture!). Then in the evening we’d be back at our place preparing for my birthday. My Dad had planned the menu and we’d stay up late making even more food. The next morning was spent cleaning and at lunchtime both sides of the family would arrive and leave mid-afternoon and then late afternoon our family friends would arrive for a second round of eating.    

Whilst presents were always a part of our activities, they were never the whole focus. It was almost always about seeing family and friends and eating really good food. It was about spending time together with the people you love. The kids would be off in the hallway or toy room playing, the adults would be in the kitchen swapping stories of things that had happened to them. And throughout the house there was always laughter.

I know that not everyone had such a rosy holiday time growing up, so I consider myself very lucky. When I was an adult and had a family of my own, we had more places to juggle and drive between, but we made it work.

Then we moved across the world where there was no family and had to make our own traditions. One of the things that the girls loved was a Christmas scavenger hunt. So instead of putting the gifts under a tree, we hid them around the house and left little notes about how to find the next one. Then we’d go down to the beach (it was summer) and have a barbeque.

And now we are in the UK and the new tradition seems to be to open gifts in the morning have a casual lunch. Go to a park for a walk around and come back home and have friends round for an evening meal. Much more casual than what I grew up with, but still focused on spending time with the people you care about.

I hope you are having an amazing day with those you love and if that’s not your reality right now, then know that you can always create new traditions.


Lots of love,
Koreen



How to connect with the HYS community

We are really proud of our lovely community at Hot Yoga Sheffield and we want to make sure that all of our students feel part of it. 

Love chatting at the studio but want more? Here are all the ways you can connect with us and each other:-

1) Join our Facebook Community Group: Click here to connect with our current students and teachers. 
2) Like our Facebook Page: Click here.
3) Follow our Instagram: Click here to follow and use #hotyogasheffield to share your yoga pics :)
4) Leave us a comment: Next time you are in the studio, be sure to complete a comment card and pop it in the green box on the front desk. We listen to all of your comments and are always looking for ways to improve our studio. 
5) Review a class: Next time the MindBody app asks you ' How was your class at Hot Yoga Sheffield?', leave us a review! We always check these and share them with out teachers. If you don't already have the MindBody app - you can download it from the App Store or Google Play.  
6) Attend an event: We regularly run workshops and events which give you other ways to learn about yoga and connect with other students. Click on our events page to see what's coming up.   
7) Share your story: Would you like to be featured on our blog? We are always looking for contributions from our students. Get in touch with maria by emailing maria@hotyogasheffield.co.uk
8) Email us: If you ever have a question or something you'd like to share, please email us at info@hotyogasheffield.co.uk.

Forget the hooch! Bring on Kombooch!

By Anne Marie

Here we are again, tis the season for merrymaking and fond festive gatherings with friends and loved ones.  Of course, this season of togetherness brings back the long held traditions of hot toddies, casual daytime tipples and full-fledged boozing!

Since we know that you’ve been a good boy or girl this year, by keeping up your regular hot yoga practice, or have just begun to make hot yoga part of your winning life strategy for happiness, we know that this time of year is crucial for feeling your best emotionally, keeping your physical health, and maintaining your personal power around the influence of your own cheeky self and the pushy joviality of others.

Christmas gatherings are especially renown for putting the body through a rigorous test of endurance.  Whether you partake in some of the cultural artery cloggers (pigs in a blanket) or maintain a semblance of grace with filling nut loaves and Yorkshire puds a plenty, there is one major culprit at the table that begs for a bit more consideration: alcohol.  This little bugger in a bottle is the bane for many, as it bears the comforts of years past, yet, makes us feel like we’ve taken a decade long hit back to our unwanted past – every year.

For some, being around alcohol is not an issue.  Some are able to maintain casual composure, drink moderately and not feel too poorly from a small amount of social drink.  Others may be easily holding their ground among peers with overindulgence on rich foods and heavy drinking, very likely becoming the sufferers of well earned hangovers (congrats) or gathering a steady stream of New Year’s depression, (ever heard of ‘post booze blues’?)

A third category is for those somewhere in the middle, and this article will be of most benefit.  These individuals may wish to drastically reduce their alcohol intake, abstain for a certain period of time, and/or eventually stop drinking altogether.  If one of these sounds like you, have no fear.  There are plenty of us in town and our community at HYS is committed to helping you know that you are totally supported for making that choice.  And, you’re still cool.

I had, at one point in my life, been able to knock back copious amounts of heavy alcohols: red wine, dark ales, spirits and energy drinks, and combine them with super heavy foods.  Suffice it to say, these habits do not pair well with an energizing and progressing yoga practice (especially Hot Yoga).  You may have noticed that when you began your hot yoga ‘career’, this will have instantly had an impact on your tolerance.  Good thing!  Everyone loves a cheap date, and falling all over yourself is never sexy.  Really.

Back to reality though.  This time of year is very important, yet challenging to get through for those who are actively trying to reduce or negate their intake of alcohol.  For a period of about 2-3 years, gatherings with booze were uncomfortable and stressful for me.  This is a fraction of what it looked like:

I wanted to drink, but I didn’t want to depend on it to enjoy myself.  I wanted to trust and be content in my natural state, like a yoga teacher. 

I didn’t want to drink, but was sick of people hassling me, asking me why “I don’t drink,” “Why I thought I was better than everyone else,” and “What’s wrong with drinking a beer?” Really, I was trying to figure those out for myself.

I wanted to drink, but really wanted to change completely and never drink again because I was addicted to it.  I didn’t want to identify with ‘being a drinker’ anymore.

I didn’t want to drink, yet people would pour me/buy me drinks even if I said no, and my will power was just too weak…

To tell you the truth, a number of things happen in these situations, but the key points are:

1. If you choose to not drink for an evening, a period of time, or to stop drinking altogether - everyone you know will likely give you shit for it.  So don’t worry about them, and press on.  Find a reason and stick with it. 

2.  It’s hard enough for you to not drink.  Tell your friends that it’s not about them, it’s about you and your choice, so a little support would be greatly appreciated.

3.  It’s hard not to judge others when sober - it is best to surround yourself with people who are not pissed in order to stay at ease and enjoy yourself.  If it gets later in the evening, no one will be bothered if you leave early, or retire for the night to go for a walk, practice yoga, read or meditate before bed.

Over time, I would feel great before a party, enjoying myself, feeling well connected so had a few sips, only to berate myself for messing up my pure joy.  Knowing that I had tampered with the power of yoga somehow diminished the effects that booze would give.  With time and efforts, the benefits of yoga outweighed the buzz of booze.  Fast forward to now, if I have alcohol, the effects it has are immediate (literally one sip/ half glass) and I have to stop there to prevent feeling a headache or falling asleep!  For me, I am super happy to be in this place.  There are no strings of judgment towards myself, others, or to alcohol as a substance.  Like any other addiction, I am aware of how I worked hard to ‘get into it’ and how I had to work hard to ‘get out of its grip’.

Without further ramblings, here are my favorite booze substitutes that you must have for the holidays.   Whether you just want to maintain a very moderate pace, or if you’re not keen on the green bottles to begin with.  These are fab!  Cheers!

Natureo – De alcoholised Wine (red/white) – this is a newfound gem.  While I was not sure if this would be similar to the sweet juice type grog we’re expected to get down around this time, this was a pleasant surprise.  A mature and full-bodied Syrah grape ‘juice’ that has been through the whole wine process, it has all the show of a great bottle and rich appearance in a wine glass.  If you were trying to be sneaky, this would definitely pass for a ‘proper’ glass.  Worth the £7.50, and cool for casual sipping without a sugary buzz.  Found it at the Dram Shop.

Kombucha – For me, home brewing kombucha (fermented black/green tea) the past 5 years is what gave me a huge boost in kicking beer/champagne urges.  All the fizz you need to fit in.  Kombucha has wonderful health benefits including probiotics, and acids that replicate those that keep the body healthy and detoxified.  You can brew your own, or buy some from Beanies.  Black teas are better for a beery flavor, green teas can be elegant and light.  Watch out, once bottled they can explode with fizz!  Come see me if you need a free starter, and check online at theteapot.co.uk to get your kit.  Forget the hooch, Bring on the ‘Booch! 

Rochester Ginger - this stuff is great.  Bring this to any gathering and everyone will take a shot.  It’s just that, a great hot hit to the throat of ginger - just like a Whisky!  This is lovely to sip on after dinner by the fire.  It feels great on a cold congested throat too.  Get it at Holland and Barrett for £4.99.  So Dickensian.

The Borowski Blend – I don’t know if anyone else has had this as a family drink, but we used to get this mixer as kids at my great-grandmothers house in Little Neck.  I love it, and it’s super easy: 

¼ glass Orange Juice

¼ glass Cranberry juice

½ glass Seltzer (fizzy) water. 

Bam, a tall bevvie!


If you still need some ideas of what to drink, there are choices abound.  Holland and Barrett have all kinds of juices and health drinks like Rabenhorst.  You can always have fresh fruit/juice with fizzy water.  If you’re particularly crafty and want to go wild, you can recreate some of the shots we had at our Member’s Appreciation party earlier this year with fresh ginger, lime and turmeric juice shots (with a grind of black pepper on top).  Either way, enjoy yourself this season, drink what you want to drink, feel elated by love and festive cheer and keep that high into the New Year.  You got this!

Let me know how you get on, and tell us your own experiences about going booze free.  Happy Holidays!

 

Big Love,
Anne Marie

New Year's Day Tagine

By Luke

New years day across the country starts for many as a bit of a fog. Whether that is due to a little over indulgence the night before or just a weariness from a week of socialising, Christmas dinner-ing and short dark days, my guess is that you are unlikely to jump out of bed on the first of January and decide to spend some serious time in the kitchen. I feel an appropriate meal would be something which could be thrown together and left to stew whilst everyone clears their heads with a little stroll.

My food plan for new years day is a tagine. A tagine is a Moroccan stew made in a special clay pot called a Tagine. These pots can be found in most cookery shops, but any pot with a close fitting lid will do the trick. The idea is to cook your ingredients with a small amount of liquid on a very low heat for a long time. The end result should be thick and hearty not soupy. Try not to peak more than a couple of times as the steam keeps things moist and holds in the flavour. The great thing about them is that you can adapt the recipe to suit what is left in your cupboards and fridge after the festive period.

Serves 4-5

Ingredients:
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, sliced
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 Tbsp paprika
2 tsp ground turmeric
1 squash peeled and chopped into 5cm chunks. Try a Crown Prince variety if you are bored with butternut squash.
2 Aubergines chopped into 3cm chunks
1 can chickpeas, drained
1 can chopped tomatoes
400 ml vegetable stock
1 Tbsp fresh grated ginger
1 tsp saffron stamens
100 g dried apricots, halved and quavered
20 g sultanas
1 preserved lemon, skin and flesh finely chopped. These little beauties are worth seeking out if you can find them in the supermarket or deli. They add a great depth of flavour to many dishes. If you cant find them, squeeze half a lemon into the pot just before serving.
1 handful fresh parsley

1) Heat the oil over a medium/low heat and gently fry the onion and garlic until soft. ~10 minutes
2) Stir in the cumin, cinnamon, paprika and turmeric.
3) Next add the squash and aubergine. Stir through to coat in the spices and fry for a minute.
4) Then add the stock and rest of the ingredients. Bring to a boil, stir and reduce the heat as low as possible and simmer with the lid on for an hour. Alternatively place in the oven at 170 for an hour. 5) Check after 40 minutes, if the stew is looking too dry add a splash of water, or if things are looking a bit soupy leave the lid off to evaporate some of the water.
Finally stir through a generous handful of chopped fresh parsley. Serve with a simple side of cous cous, or pita bread.



Feel Energised and Pampered this Christmas

For anyone that has had the pleasure of talking to me in the studio will probably know how I feel about the Weleda body oil range– particularly the Birch anti cellulite oil in its beautiful green glass bottle. I have been known to purchase a new bottle, open it immediately and shove it under the nose of anyone standing close to me demanding they smell the beauty there and then!

Have you smelt it yet? Wow! It’s an absolutely beautiful assault on your senses – It’s fresh and deep and clean and invigorating. I have always loved a body oil as a way of moisturising my skin. My skin feels grateful as it sinks in and leaves its wonderful smell on my now youthful plump looking skin.

I put it on my face (for that dewy skin look – make-up goes on beautifully after by the way), I use it after the shower, I put in on before my yoga practice  so your sweat smells good! (no need to use soap in the shower after!), I use it after dry body brushing ( more on that later), I use it last thing as night on my neck and décolletage as a soothing smell to send me off to sleep. I use it on my children after swimming practice, I use it instead of a hand cream and I intend to buy a spritzer bottle and mix it with water and then spray it to my hearts content around my home/car and on my friends!

Anne Marie asked me one day if I had ever tried dry body brushing and then using the oil after. Dry body brushing is an ancient Ayurvedic practice. So I bought  a body brush from the studio and armed with my beautiful Birch oil I gave it a try.

You brush in long strokes towards the heart starting with the soles of your feet, legs, torso (circular movements here on the abdomen) and then back to long strokes on your sides, arms, shoulders and back. Afterwards you slather on your chosen body oil and feel amazing and energized (similar to how I feel after a yoga class). I brush for a few minutes maximum but if you have the time or inclination then you can brush for longer (between 2 and 20 minutes is the optimum time).

The brushing makes you feel relaxed and energized all at the same time and feel so good as my skin tingles and rushes from the brushes contact. The benefits of this ancient practice are aplenty. It can:
  • Stimulate Your Lymphatic System. In your body, your lymphatic system is the system responsible for eliminating cellular waste products.
  • Exfoliate your skin.
  • Increase Circulation.
  • Get rid of in-grown hairs.
  • Reduce Cellulite.
  • Offer stress Relief.
  • Improve Digestion and Kidney Function.
The Weleda oil range is organic and biodynamic (made  and produced completely in tune with nature) and when you see the price ( a third of the cost of any of the leading luxury beauty brands body oils) it’s even more impressive. Check out the whole range of oils available at the studio. Birch is my first love but I have tried Lavender and Pomegranate that are both just as good. I intend to purchase the Citrus oil next and then more Birch…..

I now dry body brush every morning before my shower and then use my Birch oil and I’m ready to go feeling energized and pampered. P.s. I think I may purchase a few for my friends for a luxurious Christmas present – who would not want the gift of youthful soft and nourished skin this Xmas?



Reflect, let go, look forward: Our Winter Solstice Workshop

By Koreen Clements

The Winter Solstice combines two of my favourite things… the cosiness of winter and planning out my life. In this post, I’ll talk about planning out my life and in a later post, I’ll talk about the cosiness of winter.

A few weeks back, I mentioned that in highschool I spent my Friday evenings at the library. Well, this next post may solidify my geekiness in your eyes. I love to plan my life. And review my plan on a regular basis. At the start of high school, we were given a booklet of all the courses the school offered for the next five years.

Having just had a daughter finish A-levels I’ve seen the typical teenage response to this item. Take it out of the bag to show mom. Mom reads through it. Sits on table for next three weeks. Finally after being prompted by mom, digs it out from under the pile of paper that’s accumulated on top of it. Has a cursory glance and jots down the classes she was interested on a piece of paper.

I, however, thought my booklet was the best thing ever. I read through it cover to cover. I folded down corners of pages. Underlined important information. Starred the courses I was interested in, one, two or three stars depending on how interested I was in them. Then I made a chart of years 9-13 and the number of courses we could take each year, which was eight, for a total of 40 courses that I could take.

I put in all the required courses. Then I reviewed the spots left. I had a good idea that I wanted to stick with Sciences, which meant that I had to keep up Math. But there were so many other subjects I wanted to do as well. Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough spots to fit in all the classes I wanted to take and I had to make some tough decisions. Eventually, I came up with my five year plan. Then I put it away until the following year.

Each year I would get the book and my paper out, reviewing it with the previous year in my mind and tweak my plan. Similarly with my life plans. In grade school, I read a story about heart and lung transplants and wanted to be a heart surgeon so I could help save people’s lives.

In high school, I liked Dr Quinn the Medicine Woman and wanted to move to the Northwest Territories and set up my own clinic in a small community. I could even see what it looked like. It had two treatment rooms, a front desk and waiting area with a bunch of kids toys and a desk with a computer and lots of reference cds of medical conditions. My idea was that people could come in and use it as a reference for looking up something they were concerned about (this was before the internet). My main goal was to empower people to look after their health.

In university, I fell out of love with the idea of being a doctor, mainly because I actually started to talk to a few doctors and discovered that they always felt they were on call and could never turn off. And I disagreed with how they were being trained - the sleep deprivation during internship. I was very confused because surely they knew the studies that showed impaired cognitive performance and decision making with lack of sleep. And if so, then why would they deliberately put people into situations that where they could make mistakes on life and death decisions. It boggled my mind.

So I shifted to wanting to become a genetic counsellor. I was going to help people make difficult decisions based on science and statistics. To expectant parents, whether to continue with the pregnancy, if there was a high risk of Down’s syndrome, Tay Sachs or sickle cell anemia. To adult children of parents with Huntingtons, whether or not to be tested themselves and whether or not to have kids.

Then I went to grad school and shifted to becoming an academic. I was going to have my own lab, my own research program and an army of grad students. I’d teach courses, inspire students and change the world with my discoveries. Except research isn’t like that. Or at least it wasn’t for me.

Sure I was doing stuff. Staring at pretty glowing brain cells under a microscope, in a dark windowless room in the basement. For hours at a time. Sure I made some moderately interesting discoveries. A rat model of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity disorder uses different strategies to solve memory tasks, which may be related to differences in neural activity in different regions of their brains. Meh, but what does that really mean?  

It wasn’t enough for me - I wasn’t making a difference in people’s lives. I’d lost sight of my childhood desire to help people. And that’s when I started doing hot yoga. Later, when my work started interfering with my ability to do yoga, that’s when I knew I needed to make a change.

Even before I did my teacher training, my goal was to open a hot yoga studio in Sheffield and help change people’s lives. However it wasn’t that easy. When I arrived in Sheffield I was miserable. For six weeks, I was unbearable. Until I finally began to annoy myself and started two things. First, I took up an Ashtanga yoga practice, because the other styles I had tried just weren’t for me. And I started to focus on what was going well in my life, rather than what I didn’t like.  

Several months later I met Anne Marie and the rest, as they say, is history. Five years later, we have a humming hot yoga studio in Sheffield. A great team of staff, teachers and helpers who love spreading the joy of yoga and keep us running smoothly. A world-class community of students who are seriously some of the best yogis in the world, who show up, are responsible and respectful, who listen and question, and make yoga their own.

Every day I am thankful that this is my job because I know that I’m having a positive impact on people’s lives and that we are making Sheffield an even better place to live. And that’s what’s important to me.

Each time I made my plan I never knew if it’d actually become reality, but it kept me moving forward towards something. And as I kept moving, new information came along that I could use to help shape the direction I was going. At certain points, I would pause and review to see if where I was going felt right for me then, and if not, then I could change. And that’s  me what I do at  the end of each year.

The Winter Solstice is the perfect pause point to know where you are right now and first reflect back upon the past year. To see what has worked and what hasn’t. To appreciate everything you’ve done. To let go of things that no longer serve you. And then to look forward to the next year. To set intentions about where you want to be in the next year. To chose a theme to focus your actions.  

If planning your life is something you already adore, or you’re just starting to dip your toes into, then the workshop on December 18th will be a perfect Sunday afternoon to get your yearly review underway.

Lots of love and planning geekiness,

Koreen