How Yoga Transforms Lives

Our partners at Give Back Yoga Foundation are leaders in helping yoga programs like ours transform lives around the globe. Learn more about the challenges, the solutions and the real-life, measurable impact that the six core yoga programs of Give Back Yoga Foundation make on our community.

Download the full report GBYF-How-Yoga-Transforms-Lives.

 

 

“At Give Back Yoga Foundation, we strive to make yoga accessible to those who might not otherwise have the opportunity to experience the benefits of this powerful practice. As a national nonprofit yoga organization, we do this by supporting and funding six core yoga programs that use evidence-based modalities to serve at-risk and under-resourced populations.

With your generous support, our programs have transformed the lives of people affected by addiction, incarceration, war, eating disorders, and cancer. Collectively, our programs have brought hundreds of thousands of classes to those who need it most around the globe. Today, our programs are being studied in cutting-edge research on the therapeutic benefits of yoga for these populations.

It gives me great pleasure to share with you this report on how each of our programs uses the practice of yoga to transform lives.’

Namaste, Robert Schware Executive Director GIVE BACK YOGA FOUNDATION

 

Download the full report GBYF-How-Yoga-Transforms-Lives.

Give Survivors the Gift of Yoga

What began as one woman’s quest to find renewal and peace while surviving cancer has evolved into a specialized yoga4cancer methodology that is changing the lives of others on a global scale. This work is desperately needed. The activities of this past year alone provide the evidence. We get closer to this reality every day: yoga can help create healthier lives for all cancer patients and survivors. Yoga as part of a holistic approach makes a significant impact by reducing the risk of cancer and managing treatment side effects.

It has been our goal to:

  • STRENGTHEN cancer survivors currently in-treatment or out of treatment as they deal with their own unique short & long term side effects of cancer treatments
  • TRAIN as many yoga teachers and medical professionals  as possible so that trainees, in turn, can bring this specialized methodology to patients and survivors everywhere
  • BROADEN our reach to underserved communities globally
  • LEAD a movement that will result in medical professionals everywhere choosing yoga as a first-line prescription along with other generally accepted treatments, and to be the credible source utilizing our unique approach & methodology.

Which leads us to acknowledge there is so much more work to be done. As we look forward to next year, we know that the need for this important work will not lessen. Our 2018 goals are clear:

  • $25 gives a survivor one yoga class with a y4c trained teacher
  • $100 funds one month of yoga classes for a survivor
  • $500 places the book, Yoga for Cancer, in 25 hospitals
  • $1,000 is a scholarship for one yoga teacher to complete yoga4cancer training
  • $10,000 is one-year sponsorship for one y4c class

Great success is not possible without a supportive community, and we are deeply grateful for the many corporations, foundations, and individuals who have steadfastly supported us time and again. With this kind of contribution, we find the inspiration and resources to continue this great work.

Make your #GivingTuesday tax-deductible donation to The Retreat Project online here or donate by check to: The Retreat Project, PO Box 1235, Stowe, VT 05672.

Namaste,

Tari Prinster

Founder, The Retreat Project & Yoga4Cancer

Support cancer survivors on AmazonSmile!

amazon-smile_better

Did you know that every time you make a purchase on Amazon they will give us a share to help the work we do? This is at no cost to you.  So if you are getting some new towels, perhaps a copy of Yoga for Cancer, or Holiday presents, a share will be given to us to help cancer survivors find the healing through yoga.

What is AmazonSmile?

AmazonSmile is a simple and automatic way for you to support your favorite charitable organization every time you shop, at no cost to you. When you shop at smile.amazon.com, you’ll find the exact same low prices, vast selection and convenient shopping experience as Amazon.com, with the added bonus that Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price to your favorite charitable organization. 

How to do it:

  1. Go to Amazon Smile amazonsmile-action
  2. Bookmark and Save to your search engine header (e.g. Chrome, Safari etc). So that you ALWAYS use Amazon Smile.
  3. Sign into your standard Amazon Account or set one up.
  4. Select Retreat Project Inc through the select a charity.  The Retreat Project is the non-profit partner of Yoga4Cancer and funds cancer survivor classes, scholarships and grants for trained teachers.  Learn more at theretreatproject.org.
  5. Thats it!  Then go shopping.  You will receive an email with more information from Amazon Smile. And we will receive and cherish your contribution.

We hope that you join us in this small act of kindness so that together we can help more cancer survivors live longer, healthier and happier lives!

For more information about Amazon Smile, please go here.

 

 

Tari’s going to Miami!

Join Tari @ Yoga Journal LIVE in Miami!

Tari’s Workshop:

Yoga for Cancer (y4c): Why Gentle Yoga Is Not Enough

Course ID: AMPRIN

Monday, November 16 — 9:00am – 4:30pm
Monday Full-Day Workshops
Therapeutic / Continue Your Education / Mixed Levels

Save 15% with promotion code: TARI

Register TODAY!

L1080562 There are 14.3 million Americans living with cancer today. Increasing evidence demonstrates that yoga provides physical and emotional support during and after cancer treatment. Survivors want and need yoga–but what kind? It is commonly believed the best kind of yoga for cancer is gentle and restorative in nature. This idea is misleading, limiting, and potentially harmful.

Presenting the practical science based y4c methodology, this workshop starts with what cancer patients and survivors really need and want, analyzes the benefits of an Veronica - Cactus Clapactive yoga practice, challenges misconceptions about cancer and yoga, and demonstrates poses and language that create courage and wellness. Discover the unique methodology now used by more than 1,500 yoga teachers to cultivate healing yoga for the cancer community across the globe. Come with curiosity and compassion; leave with clarity and confidence!

Some discussion, lots of demonstration and asana. All are welcome.

y4c on YogaUOnline!

 

Please join Tari at the launch of yoga4cancer YogaUOnline course for only $67! Cancer survivors & patients, yoga teachers and the just the curious are welcome and encouraged to come!yoga u online logo

Dates: Monday, October 5 and Wednesday, October 7, 2015
Time:  8:30 pm Eastern / 5:30 pm Pacific

Learn the benefits of yoga for cancer survivors including the science & research, the methodology and a sample class in the comfort of your home! This introductory course is priced at $67 and includes:
  • Two 60 minute lectures with Tari Prinster
  • One 30 minute yoga practice video
  • Recordings & Transcripts of all sessions!
  • Ideal for cancer survivors, yoga teachers and the curious!

Register Now!

fotolia_56239422_subscription_xl_1500x1000 (1)

Tari in Lesbos to witness the Syrian Refugee Plight

Tari is currently on the island of Lesbos, Greece which has been the entry point for thousands of Syrian refugees over the past few months.  She is there on her annual pilgrimage to study with Angela Farmer and this time she’s been able to witness, help and support the refugees. Here are her first observations.   

Greetings from the village of Eftalou on Lesvos Island in Greece. I arrived on Sunday with heavy jet lag, but joyful to be treated by the same taxi driver and innkeeper from last year. I watched my first sunset of this trip over the Aegean Sea while eating the first grilled bass. After nearly 17 hours of travel, I went to sleep shortly after that sun set.

My accounting here will not be more about the beautiful FullSizeRender-2environs, great food and yoga, but rather the refugee situation. Upon landing on this beautiful, modestly populated agricultural island, here are some things I have been observing. This island is so close to Turkey that the entire east coast is open to boats with refugees, seeking to make their way to Mytiline, the port city where they get the critically essential refugee papers to continue their journey to safety in the EU. These refugees pay up to $1,000 each to cross the 6 miles from Turkey to Greece.

After landing In Athens, I flew to Mytiline from where I took a taxi to the village of Eftalou, about 50 miles across high rugged sun drenched hills on the north shore of Lesvos facing the shore of Turkey, 6 miles across the Aegean Sea. It is precisely this spot that the flimsy rubber boats with has many as 70 arrive in a constant procession every day.

Before the taxi ride here my driver took me past the camps in Mytiline. The yellow and blue sun protection tents line the streets surrounding the Municipal complex. So do the waiting Syrians, Afgans and others seeking safety from their civial war. It is hot- 90 degrees plus.

FullSizeRender-1We traveled north on switch backs over the barren hills, the road lined with “walkers” each wearing a single backpack. They include small children, babies, men and women, but mostly young men and women. They all appeared tired, but other wise healthy and, yes, well dressed. These are not scruffy,poor, bedraggled (yet) refugees. Oh, yes, they all have cell phones that are already in use. Being that I am not using mine because of cost and connectivity complications, they have out smarted me already.

It is extremely hot and the mountains are steep. Their backpacks are full of money, medicines and tools, and even though most could pay, Taxis are forbidden by law to give them rides, even for double the money until they have papers. So they walk, for hours and sometimes days to get from Eftalou to Mytiline.

FullSizeRender_2On my first day of yoga I walked half a mile along the beginning portion of their journey’s road after escaping and abandoning the makeshift boats. The is the second part of my story when I witness and aided in rescue of two boats on Monday night.

What is remarkable to me is how middle class, healthy, gentle, grateful and happy they all seem. As I pass a group of young men this morning taking their first arrival smoke they are smiling and polite. There was one young woman who passed me walking alone. Twenties I would say. She wore a perfectly wrapped Muslim head scarf over a well cut black business suite, practice shoes and only a backpack. (Black, of course). Obviously she left everything back from where she came and was dressed for her ‘next’ job interview.

The beautiful beaches of Eftalou are a mess sadly of plastic debris. Water bottles, lift jackets (impressive pics of them to come). The deflated boats piled on top of one another taking up beach space and now part of the ‘sun bathing’ experience for the local Greeks.

The sea is constantly patrolled by GR coast FullSizeRenderguard. By law they are to send boats back and rescue only people in the water. Thus the life jackets. The refugees ‘kill’ their boats (inflated tubes) and swim ashore. Hard to do with a baby and small children. The Greek coast guard often turns a blind eye. But some one from the boat must swim the distance to negotiate.

Next I will account for the night rescue, send pics and give the GR perspective.

Love, Tari

 

Part 2- the journey continues

Sunday is the start of week two in Eftalou. There is no yoga on Sundays, so I started my morning with a hot springs bath and swim in the Aegean Sea. I also spent time cleaning up life jackets and empty water bottles, evidence of the thousands of refugees making their way to the EU.

The afternoon was a hot walk to Molyvos for supplies and dinner. All along these paths I passed nearly 2,000 refugees. Major influx felt. I Welcomed folks as I passed them, and wished them good luck. In turn they smiled and replied “Thanks” in English.

I saw families, but mostly men, strong and confident. But so many… they are just passing through here. The camp in Mytiline will try their will.

The refugees have disrupted the tourist business and demand resources to manage their presence, like constant assistance from the Coast Guard, refugee clean up, and immigration processing. There is no government money for this. Fortunately, humanitarianism is not connected to economic stress.

Under the unforgiving heat of this Sunday afternoon I saw a farmer stop his truck and help pile in the children of a large group. Another volunteer group organized a “welcome wagon” with water, directing hundreds to a school yard 7 km away that will serve as the first ‘camp’. A local restaurant provides sandwiches.

Refugees stay less than 12 hours here before making the next 35 km leg of their journey. A local told me that not a single robbery or assault has occurred since this all started, and I want to believe that.

One of the people in the yoga workshop is organizing financial assistance and I find it inspiring. There is a decent system in place that ensures the funds will go to supplying water upon arrival, which will help keep people hydrated as they trek 7 km to Molyvos where food is available. I want to pitch in, so I ask, and he says that, as a woman, what is needed from me are ‘feminine’ supplies and diapers for the refugees. So, instead of filling water bottles, I bought sanitary napkins to distribute as I pass women and families on my way to yoga.

Tonight there is a cool breeze on Lela’s deck over the sea. As the sun sets I can see the shore of Turkey, 4 miles away with the outline of hills and the lights of villages.

It is said that 1 million are waiting to cross. It is an exodus that inspires awe and compassion. Does the rest of the world feel the impact?

Love,
tari

‘Its the best training I’ve ever taken’…

 

by Janet Arnold-Grych, y4c Trained Teacher, Chicago, IL

As a yoga teacher for nearly a decade, I’ve had the good fortune to participate in many different yoga trainings from contemplative to physically crazy. Yesterday I completed Tari’s y4c training and I think it was the best training I’ve ever taken.

First, this is an amazingly well researched program. y4c is grounded in fact and practicality, and of course Tari’s personal experience. Tari doesn’t start with creating asana sequences. She starts with explaining in detail the components of the immune system and how yoga can assist cancer survivors by specifically targeting key aspects of the immune system. Compassion is essential in teaching yoga to people touched by cancer but it’s not enough. That compassion must be grounded in knowledge and Tari does a beautiful job providing that background in several different ways.

L1080603Second, Tari is a light. Her approachability, energy and authenticity draw people to
her.During our training, Tari created and held space for me and 18 strong women, many of whom were cancer survivors themselves. There were tears and laughter and even bad jokes. There was validation and support around every opinion, every question. As much as we were all in awe of Tari’s effortless instruction (we were able to experience two of her classes), Tari isn’t about being the center of attention. She’s about creating community because she knows that’s where the real power of this movement lies. The collective power of a wave of knowledgeable, caring teachers will enable many more survivors to be reached. It  will also be more impactful in shifting the medical community’s collective understanding of the benefits of yoga to people touched by cancer.

L1080736Third, yoga teachers rock. Yes, in the past I’ve met some who are more concerned with the physical showiness of pretty poses but they are in the minority. Most teachers I know are in it for the big picture—the ability to help students taste nonreactivity, nonjudgement, release.  The yoga teachers I met in my y4C training were inspirational–kind, accepting, insightful. Our shared goals instantly connected us and the mutual respect was palpable. During training we were able to team teach and each person in my group brought a different perspective and knowledge base that made my learning so much richer.

As I said, many of in my training were cancer survivors themselves. I had questions and every person I spoke with thoughtfully answered my questions so I could better understand what someone with cancer or on the other side of treatment might think and feel. Those direct conversations were invaluable. They also reaffirmed why I was there.

Like any training, you get out of it what you put you in to it. But based on my experience, I believe that any yoga teacher who steps into this opportunity with the right intention and commitment will be amazed at what they discover. Tari has assembled a curriculum that is rich and real. I am so excited to apply this knowledge and continue to learn within the broader community of y4c teachers. It is an amazing training and I am very grateful to Tari for it.janet headshot

Namaste,

Janet Arnold-Grych, y4c Trained Teacher

 

Tari received the Yoga Journal ‘Seva Award’ in 2015

We are thrilled that Tari has been awarded the first ever SEVA Award by Yoga Journal for a Seva Award (Selfless Service) as part of their Good Karma Awards.  Tari is among 13 international nominated for this prestigious award and was selected in September 2015.

‘The Seva Award is a yogis who are doing seva or selfless work by bringing the healing practice of yoga to underserved people either in their own communities or around the world. In choosing the 13 Seva Award winners, they searched for yogis who have been volunteering consistently (week after week, month after month, year after year) for at least eight consecutive years; who are doing pioneering work with an underserved population; and who have made progress against serious odds in a difficult situation.’ We think Tari is a good fit.
Read more here

 

Five Ways That Yoga Helps Prevent Cancer

Kripalu-logo

By Tari Prinster. Originally posted to Kripalu Thrive Blog on October 23, 2014.

“You have cancer.” About half of all men and one-third of all women in the United States will hear those words in their lifetime. That’s 40 percent of us. We each hope it’s not us. But hope is not a plan. And if you’ve heard those three little words, as I did, your life changes forever. But blaming yourself, retreating from life, and hoping for no recurrence, is also not a plan. Adding yoga to your daily routine—that’s a plan. And an effective one!

An increasing body of research shows that yoga can help prevent cancer, and help cancer patients and survivors manage risk and side effects after treatment. As a breast cancer survivor, diagnosed in 2000, I have felt the impact in my own body after many surgeries, chemotherapy, and radiation. Yoga brings balance and alignment to all body parts and systems: muscles, bones, organs, and the mind. It’s a holistic path to wellness that focuses on interconnection.

Here are five reasons why yoga should be in everyone’s cancer-prevention and/or cancer-recovery plan.

Yoga strengthens the immune system. The goal of strengthening the immune system is to keep all of the body’s systems working together. It takes a village: Failure of any one system threatens the health of the whole community. Cancer therapies that seek to strengthen the immune system are increasingly proving to be helpfulin fighting a wide variety of cancers.

Research shows that yoga boosts immunity. A 2013 study in Norway found that regular practice of gentle yoga and meditation had a rapid effect at the genetic level in circulating cancer-fighting immune cells. Mindfulness meditation also appears to change the brain and immune function in positive ways.

Yoga detoxifies the body. Detoxification is the vital metabolic process by which dead cells and toxins (the flu virus, a rogue cancer cell, or another pathogen) are excreted from the body. Yoga is the muscle of the lymphatic system—the body’s plumbing and trash-removal system. Similar to how the heart muscle circulates blood, yoga increases lymphatic flow with specific breathing and movement practices. Inversions, a fundamental part of a strong yoga practice, utilize movement and body positioning to reverse the effects of gravity on our body, enhancing the process of cardiovascular and lymphatic drainage.

Another way in which yoga detoxifies the body is through compression. B. K. S. Iyengar called it the “squeeze and soak” process, which cleans internal organs in the same way that a sponge discharges dirty water when squeezed. For example, abdominal twists activate internal organs and guide the release of toxins into the lymphatic system.

Yoga detoxifies the mind as well. A survivor lives with the fear of cancer returning, and this daily anxiety is a mental toxin. We can detoxify the mind by using the movement of the breath, by relaxing into gravity in a restorative pose, and by quietly watching our thoughts in meditation.

Yoga builds bones. How are strong bones linked to cancer prevention? Our bones house bone marrow, where new red and white blood cells are constantly being produced. White blood cells are needed to form leukocytes, our natural cancer-fighting immune cells. If our bones are compromised from a break or from osteoporosis (a side effect of chemotherapy), so too is the production of a nourishing blood supply and immune protection.

A recent pilot study by Kripalu presenter Loren Fishman, MD, applied yoga practice to sufferers of osteoporosis (decrease in bone mass) and osteopenia (reduction in bone volume). The results showed that 85 percent of the yoga practitioners gained bone in both the spine and hip, while nearly every member of the control group maintained or lost bone mass. I believe yoga is safer for strong bone building than many gym routines, because it puts weight on the bones in a precise, deliberate way.

Yoga reduces stress. Cancer patients and survivors experience stress similar to that endured by military veterans. They are bombarded by frightening information, subjected to invasive procedures, and must endure cold clinics and blank stares.

A 2009 study of cancer survivors developed and tested a concept that measures how we respond to “post-traumatic stress growth,” the positive flip side to suffering with stress. This growth occurs when people make the traumatic event a pivotal point in their life, changing their situation by making lemonade out lemons—ultimately thriving after cancer, for instance. The thriving survivor enjoys her blissful moments, which can lead to further change and the ability to find positive ways to manage stress.

Yoga can enhance that positivity. The results of a 2009 study on the effects of yoga on emotions found an increase in positive emotions such as calmness and a sense of purpose in more than 50 percent of subjects. Women participating in a 10-week program of restorative yoga classes gained positive differences in aspects of mental health such as depression, positive emotions, and spirituality (feeling calm and peaceful), as compared to the control group.

Yoga is weight management. Obesity is a key, if not the largest, indicator of both cancer incidence and recurrence. In the United States, excess body weight is thought to contribute to as many as one out of five cancer-related deaths, and being overweight or obese is clearly linked with an increased risk of several types of cancer. The American Cancer Society recommends that obese individuals increase weekly exercise to 300 minutes per week to reduce the chances of cancer or recurrence.

Research on the impact of yoga on weight gain is still in the early stages. One study showed that yoga had a more positive impact on obesity and depression than aerobic exercise. While yoga for cancer survivors often focuses on gentle or restorative yoga methods (which are necessary and beneficial approaches), it can and should be active, and therefore calorie burning—while also being safe, physically accessible, welcoming, and inclusive. Yoga can help cancer survivors manage weight gain, which improves self-esteem and the ability to function normally, and ultimately reduces the risk of recurrence and mortality.

The benefits of yoga for cancer prevention are profound and well substantiated. For yoga teachers who work with cancer survivors and those in treatment, having specific knowledge about the benefits and modifications for this community is imperative. Teachers must understand the limitations and requirements in order to support this community to practice effectively and safely.

Tari Prinster, a cancer survivor, master yoga teacher, and author of Yoga for Cancer, developed Yoga4Cancer (y4c)methodology using contemporary research on cancer and yoga. Tari has trained more than a thousand yoga teachers and worked with thousands of survivors in her weekly classes and retreats. She is the founder and president of the Retreat Project, a nonprofit whose mission is to help underserved cancer survivors through yoga.

Sources:

  • http://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancerbasics/questions-people-ask-about-cancer
  • http://www.sciatica.org/downloads/YogaOsteoporosis_PilotStudy.pdf
  • http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0061910
  • http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12883106
  • http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3573546/
  • http://www.cancer.org/healthy/eathealthygetactive/acsguidelinesonnutritionphysicalactivityforcancerprevention/acs-guidelines-on-nutrition-and-physical-activity-for-cancer-prevention-guidelines

y4c & Making Strides on Sunday Oct 19th!

 

The yoga4cancer team is proud to be part of the 2014 Making Strides in Manhattan and Brooklyn. Tari and Jennifer Brilliant will be hosting warm up yoga sessions for all the participants before their walk.  The event has already raised over $1M to help survivors. Plus, the event itself helps get participating survivors moving and achieving their 150 minutes of exercise per week (ACS recommendation).  So we are thrilled to help them achieve their goal!

All the participants will be provided information about y4c classes in NYC so they can join our growing community. Please join me in welcoming them!

To sign up, donate, volunteer or just learn more, please visit Making Strides.

Screen Shot 2014-10-16 at 10.28.40 AM

Your Invitation to Cancer to 5K!

ct5k_fb_1

yoga4cancer and The Retreat Project are proud to announce their partnership with Cancer to 5K part of the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults. Sign up for FREE before August 16th!

Shanette Caywood

The Cancer to 5K training program is launching in New York City on Saturday, August 16! Cancer to 5K is a FREE, 12-week, run/walk program designed to introduce or reintroduce cancer survivors to being active. There is no fundraising commitment for participants or for volunteers, and participation is open to survivors regardless of age, treatment status, or fitness level.

Team workouts will take place on Tuesday evenings and Saturday mornings in Manhattan, and the team’s goal race will take place on Saturday, November 1.

Find out more and register to participate today at www.cancerto5k.org, or contact Program Manager Laura Scruggs at laura@ulmanfund.org / 410.964.0202 x108.

y4c Community Classes will be part of the training program as well.  Participants will have the opportunity to join our classes to help on their journey to the 5K challenge.We look forward to welcoming them to our community.

Sign Up Today!

ct5k_fb_2

 

Serenity Yoga Retreat: “Eat, Pose, Love”

yoga4cancer and the Retreat Project are pleased to extend the opportunity to attend the upcoming Foundation for Living Beauty retreat in California to their community.

Friday, July 18 to Sunday, July 20, 2014 
La Casa de Maria Retreat Center
 Montecito, CA

Application Deadline: Friday, May 2, 2014. Apply here.

Yoga has numerous mental and physical health benefits and comes highly recommended by physicians for the reduction of stress for those with [and without] cancer.  This year’s event theme- “Eat, Pose, Love,” will find us breaking bread and loving on each other as we downward dog our way to peace and tranquility.

Living Beauty Retreat

Living Beauty Yoga Ambassador and y4c Founder Tari Prinster guided the Living Beauties in Gentle and Restorative y4c Yoga, as well as morning meditations. The goal of this retreat experience is aimed toward overall wellness in mind, body and spirit by way of yoga, meditation, education & nourishment. Set in the serene Montecito/Santa Barbara area, Serenity Yoga Retreat is ideal for your personal healing and rejuvenation.

 

Yoga Pose: Cat and Cow

Benefits:

  • Spine and hip mobility
  • Arm strengthening
  • Detoxes by stimulating lymph system in arms and torso
  • Releases tension in lower back, upper back & neck.

Step 1: To Set Yourself Up on Hands and Knees

Place your hands directly under your shoulders, spreading your fingers and feeling your whole palm connected to the floor. Place your knees slightly apart, under your hips. If your knees are uncomfortable on the floor, put a folded blanket under both knees. Rest the tops of your feet (toe-nail side down) on the floor. Find a neutral spine position, neither sagging your belly toward the floor or mounding your back toward the ceiling, but “flat” back like a table. Your neck and head position are a continuation of your neutral spine. Reach the crown of your head forward, keeping your gaze on the floor.

Cat and Cow

Screen Shot 2014-04-08 at 10.03.55 AMINHALE: Arch your spine by lifting your tail toward the ceiling and dipping your belly toward the floor. Broaden your chest, reaching it forward through your upper arms. Extend the crown of your head forward and slightly up, keeping the back of your neck long. Imagine you are a sway-backed cow.

EXHALE: Press your hands and shins into the floor and round your spine by curling your tailbone down and lifting the middle of your back toward the ceiling. Drop your head toward the floor, relaxing your neck completely. Imagine you’re a hissing, Halloween cat.

REPEAT for ten breaths.

Modifications: If you feel tightness or a painful twinge in your back, make these movements even slower and more subtle, arching and rounding your spine to the degree you can, without causing discomfort. Over time your spine will become more flexible.

_MG_0345 _MG_0347

Kale Krazy!

Kale is exploding – from posh restaurants to BBQ to farmers markets.  And no wonder, its THE super green. According to WebMD, Kale is one of the healthiest vegetables on the planet and has anti-cancer health benefits:

  • crispy Kale, Collard greens,root vegetables, butternut soup 002One cup of chopped kale contains 33 calories and 9% of the daily value of calcium, 206% of vitamin A, 134% of vitamin C, and a whopping 684% of vitamin K. It is also a good source of minerals copper, potassium, iron, manganese, and phosphorus.
  • Kale’s health benefits are primarily linked to the high concentration and excellent source of antioxidant vitamins A, C, and K — and sulphur-containing phytonutrients.
  • Carotenoids and flavonoids are the specific types of antioxidants associated with many of the anti-cancer health benefits. Kale is also rich in the eye-health promoting lutein and zeaxanthin compounds.
  • Beyond antioxidants, the fiber content of cruciferous kale binds bile acids and helps lower blood cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease, especially when kale is cooked instead of raw.
  • Eating a diet rich in the powerful antioxidant vitamin K can reduce the overall risk of developing or dying from cancer, according to a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Vitamin K is abundant in kale. (NOTE: But too much vitamin K can pose problems for some people. Anyone taking anticoagulants such as warfarin should avoid kale because the high level of vitamin K may interfere with the drugs. Consult your doctor before adding kale to your diet.)
  • Kale might be a powerhouse of nutrients but is also contains oxalates, naturally occurring substances that can interfere with the absorption of calcium. Avoid eating calcium-rich foods like dairy at the same time as kale to prevent any problems.

So here is our favorite new recipe.  Quick, delicious and uber healthy… thanks to Lunchboxbunch.com:

5-Step Kale Salad
5-step-kale-salad 5
Step 1. Wash your fresh kale greens. Run each thick leaf under warm to hot water and massage any grit away. Then refresh the leaves by running them all under ice cold water. (The hot and coldest settings on your tap will work.)

Step 2. Prep your ingredients. Remove the thick vein from your kale leaves and discard. (You could keep this on, but it is quite chewy.) Also prep your other veggies however you’d like. Chop, dice, cube, shred… Add the chopped kale and veggies to a large mixing bowl.

Step 3. Make your dressing. In a small bowl, whisk your dressing together.

Step 4. Toss! Add the dressing to your bowl of veggies and kale and start tossing! Massage the kale either at this step or earlier to make the leaves softer and absorb the dressing…  get your hands messy like a kid and enjoy!

Step 5. Chill it or serve it!

  • Chill it! Allow at least an hour for the dressing to really sink into the ingredients. Plus chilling everything makes it refreshing and tasty as a cold salad side. You can even make this salad the night before you serve it. Overnight chilling works! The greens should be eaten within 48 hours though.
  • Or serve right away.  If you have massaged thoroughly, you can serve right away!

Now for the recipe…

5-Step Kale Salad vegan, makes 6 cups

  • 4 cups chopped raw kale (about 1/2 small bunch)
  • 3/4 cup shredded carrots
  • 1 small avocado, diced
  • 1/2 cup sweet onion, diced
  • 2-3 Tbsp seeds or nuts (I added some mineral-rich pepitas)
  • Add chunks / diced watermelon for an added touch of summer!

*you can easily change up the veggie and other add-ins as desired.

Simple Sweet Tahini Dressing

  • 2 Tbsp tahini
  • 1 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice + pinch of zest
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil (optional)
  • 2-3 pinches cayenne
  • pinch of salt + a few pinches of black pepper

(Make a double batch of dressing if you like your greens more heavily dressed)

Important notes:
* If you want to lighten up the dressing, substitute fresh orange juice for the EVOO.
* You can use raw agave syrup or brown rice syrup in place of maple if desired.
* Add a splash of tamari in place of the salt if you have it on hand!
* Be sure to stir stir stir first if your tahini settled with oil on top!
* Add a splash of apple cider vinegar if you’d like a perkier, more acidic dressing.
* I like to use pink Himalayan salt.
* Freshly finely chopped parsley is a very nice touch for this dressing.

ENJOY!

y4c & The Retreat Project Holiday Class & Cheer

What does Elf ears, snowflakes, christmas trees, stars…. and lots of laughs all have in common?

Our special Holiday Class with Tari at Virayoga yesterday.  She evoked our inner child (and adult) through fun and creative session that got our bodies going & our souls alight.  The normal silence of a yoga session was broken as we did partner yoga to celebrate the season of giving.  But the ultimate receiver of this gift was ourselves…  a break from the holiday shuffle and comfort of a y4c class & community.

And lets not forget that we followed by a Tipple at the pub with many more friends, laughs and hugs.  Happy holidays all!