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Finding the Discipline to Do What You Love

Posted by Smita Kishore on

Doing what you Love is not easy. Like everything else, it requires patience, hard work, and discipline. The only difference is, it doesn't always feel like work when you're passionate about what you're doing. But no matter how much you Love what you do, working 12-16 hour days daily, no sleep and constantly growing to-do lists take their toll!
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DIY Hummus by the Radical Larder!

Posted by Smita Kishore on

Hummus now has its own aisle at the grocery store. There’s dessert hummus and plenty of brands and flavors to choose from. While the grocery store purchase is a quick grab and go snack, it's so easy to make hummus at home at a fraction of the cost, while also maximizing flavor and tailoring it to your liking.
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Yoga With Khush: Bunny Hops

Posted by Smita Kishore on

Yoga-with-khush-bunny-hops

Bunny Hops: prep for Handstand/Adho Mukha Vrksasana

Benefits

The Bunny Hop is an arm balance pose that requires arm strength, lots of core strength and balance. The key is to get in the air, even if it’s only a little bit to start with. And, the benefits are endless:

  • Helps warm up your body faster
  • Prepares you for handstand
  • Focuses on the basics of arm balance, which is a key to alignment
  • Uses lots of core muscles - Uddiyana and Mula Bandha

Why I Love It

It takes me back to my childhood when I was not scared to hop anywhere! Bunny Hop is definitely an advanced pose that prepares us for Handstand, but that doesn’t mean only advanced practitioners can practice it. It is a prep pose for a reason! It helps beginners to overcome their fears and just have fun with it.

Conflict

Let go of your ego when all you want to do in your yoga class is a HANDSTAND by pushing your body way beyond its limit and not working within your mind and body alignment. For some reason, there is this belief that if you can do handstand/headstand/or any upside down pose, you would be a bonafide Yogi. Why? Don’t do it to compare yourself to others. Do it only to bring strength to your own body. Everyone’s BODY is different in terms of its basic bone structure. For some people, a lot of poses are easier and quicker to achieve as opposed to others. There is no shame in that. As you practice this- I want you to just trust yourself and learn slowly by working with alignment and mindfulness.

Khush’s Tips

To be very honest, I did not believe in myself the first time I was told to hop in a yoga class. I was so scared to do it and I just laughed at myself for being that scared :) Here are some tips to help get you started:  

  • Hop + Flow. Try to incorporate hops between your flows so that your body is warm and open. After every downward dog, bring your feet close to the top of the mat so that your hips are over your shoulders, and then take 3 hops.
  • Make an "L." As you hop, try to make an “L” with your legs. One leg straight up in the air, and another one parallel to the long edge of the mat.
  • Don’t Bend Your Elbows as You Hop. Lots of people do this! I did it too.
  • Stay with the Breath. Inhale as you hop, Exhale as you land.
  • Be Mindful of Your Landing! Make sure your landing is soft otherwise you are hurting your joints. Soft landing means more strength and balance in the upper body.
  • Stay Rooted. Root your hands on the mat, especially your index finger and thumb.
  • Pay Attention to the power of your arms, shoulders, and back. Keep your forearms firm and parallel to each other.
  • Use your Muscles Wisely! Use your hips (glutes), quads and hamstrings - the same actions we imply in Tadasana (Mountain Pose). Stabilize your legs by using your thighs (internal rotation) to prevent you from moving sideways.
  • Wall Support. Use a wall if you need support around you. 
  • HAVE FUN WITH IT!!

In gratitude,

Khush

yoga-with-khush-bio-Khush-means "happy." I hope I can justify having this beautiful and happy name and bring a smile to your face every time we connect (virtual or in person). Who am I? I am one happy person who loves to learn and explore nature, go on long hikes with my dear husband, and just live life really simple. Good food is my true love and my husband is my inspiration. And Yoga is something that I go back to every day for my "moksha"- liberation and introspection. My Yoga journey started almost 8 years ago in India and it has only grown since then. I recently finished my 200hr RYT from Citizen Yoga, Metro Detroit and I am ready to share my practice with the world. My teaching style is focused on fun, alignment, building core, and being mindful of my students' (and that is my family right now :) needs and limitations. I think it's important to acknowledge that everyone is unique in their own special way and none of us have to have the same physical goals. My hope is that my students will learn to self-reflect and bring mindfulness to their practice. Oh, and asking questions and having fun should be a priority! That's what life is about 😊

 

Like this pose? Try BAKASANA (CROW POSE) next!

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Soap Nuts: Our New Favorite Eco-Friendly + Nontoxic Laundry Solution!

Posted by Smita Kishore on

My husband and I have been searching for a truly clean laundry detergent that doesn't irritate our skin or contain synthetic preservatives for over a year now. While I'd heard of soap nuts in the past, I felt a bit wary of something so natural. "How can a nut clean our clothes?!" I remember thinking to myself. But as we've struggled to find something we're happy with, I figured it was time to give them a try, and boy are we glad we did! Not only are soap nuts 100% organic, they are also 100% eco-friendly and super easy to use (aka: no double boilers or mixing involved!) 

So what exactly are they?

Soap nuts are actually a berry that grows in the Himalayas and are related to the lychee. When these berries dry, they form a hard shell, which is how they came to be known as soap nuts :) These organic berries contain a natural surfactant called saponin, which is released when their shells absorb water, lifting dirt and stains from our clothes. 

soap-nuts-eco-friendly-organic-natural-laundry

Why We Love Them 

  • Gentle on the Skin. Perfect for those with skin sensitivities, allergies, and eczema.
  • No Chemicals, Preservatives or Synthetic Nonsense. Aka: Better for our skin, better for our health and better for the environment!
  • Eco-Friendly. Soap nuts are reusable and 100% biodegradable.  
  • They Actually Work! Our clothes come out clean, fresh, and stain-free. 
  • Cost-Effective. Soap nuts can be used for multiple loads and are much cheaper than alternative green laundry cleaners :)

soap-nuts-eco-friendly-organic-natural-laundry

How to Use 

  • Add 5-6 soap nut shells into a cotton muslin bag and tie a knot to keep the soap nuts inside. Tip: If you prefer scented detergents, then simply add a few drops of organic lavender essential oil into the bag before tying. Soap nuts natural scent is kind of similar to apple cider vinegar, though your clothes won't come out smelling like that ;)  
  • Start your washer and place the muslin bag inside. 
  • Add your clothes and wash as normal. 
  • You may reuse the same bag of soap nuts multiple times until the seeds become gray and mushy. When you are ready to start a new bag, compost the old one!
  • Note: Make sure to use deseeded soap nut shells as the seeds are staining! We get ours from Mountain Rose Herbs, but they are also available at Amazon, most health food stores, and even Bed Bath & Beyond!

Love + Light,

~Smita :)

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Sunscreen Guide - 6 Do's + Don'ts to Protect Your Skin (Plus, Our Favorite DIY Recipe!)

Posted by Smita Kishore on

It's that time of year! Beautiful weather, long summer days, and lots and lots of sunshine!! While the sun provides our bodies with necessary Vitamin D, and for many of us a happy mind, it also brings with it harmful UVA + UVB rays. With the number of sunscreens on the market today, varying SPF numbers and organic claims, it can be tough to discern what's truly good for us, and what's protecting us from one form of cancer while exposing us to another (aka, toxic chemicals that penetrate our skin).

According to The Environmental Working Group's 2018 Sunscreen report, almost 67% of sunscreens sold in the U.S. don't work. 67%!! Either because they failed to provide adequate protection from both UVB and UVA rays, or they contained toxic ingredients. Even worse, the report found that U.S. sunscreens allow almost three times the amount of UVA rays to transfer through our skin compared to those sold in Europe. 

Why This Matters!

Not only are UVA rays more abundant than UVB rays, they are also more harmful to our health. While UVB rays are the ones that cause our skin to burn and damage our epidermis (the most superficial layer of our skin), UVA rays penetrate our skin deeply and can lead to premature skin aging, wrinkles, and skin cancer.  

So to help you protect your health, I'm sharing some important do's and don'ts! At the end of the day, companies are going to market to us what they think we want, so it's always up to us to be educated consumers.

stop-sign-dont-sunscreen-guide

THE DON'TS 👎🏽

  • No Sprays! Though convenient, spray sunscreens pose high inhalation risks, both for you and everyone around you. So not only are you feeding toxic ingredients to your skin, but you end up inhaling a lot more than you put on. Yuck!
  • High SPF Doesn't = Better! SPF stands for "sun protection factor" against UVB radiation (aka sunburns). Unfortunately, SPF doesn't protect us from the sun's UVA rays (aka aging-skin and cancer). So while it may seem like you can stay out in the sun longer since high-SPF sunscreens reduce sunburns, remember these products aren't protecting the deeper layers of your skin. Resist the temptation to reach for anything higher than SPF 50, and reapply your sunscreen often if you're going to be exposed for long periods of time. P.S. SPF values are capped at 50 in Europe, Australia, Canada, and Japan
  • Avoid Chemicals Sunscreens! Sadly, the list of toxic chemicals in sunscreens is often much longer than those that are good for our health. Here are the major culprits to watch out for: 
    • Oxybenzone (Benzophenone-3): Endocrine disruptor that penetrates the skin causing hormone imbalance and allergic reactions in those with skin sensitivities. Recently banned in Hawaii due to its ability to kill coral reefs. Tip: Do you want Oxybenzone out of your sunscreen? Sign this petition!
    • Avobenzone (Benzophenone): Often used to replace Oxybenzone. Penetration enhancer (meaning it helps whatever is in your sunscreen be absorbed into your skin and therefore your bloodstream), and breaks down when exposed to the sun, increasing free radicals in the skin and skin cancer risks.
    • Methylisothiazolinone: Linked to allergies and listed as a pesticide by the EPA. Banned in the EU in leave-on cosmetic products though still allowed in the US. Also considered an ecotoxin and harmful to marine life
    • Vitamin A (Retinal Palmitate, Retinal Acetate, Retinal Linoleate, Retinol): Speeds up the development of skin tumors, especially when exposed to sunlight, so it definitely doesn't belong in the one product that claims to protect your skin from the sun!! According to the 2018 EWG Sunscreen Guide, the sunscreen industry adds vitamin A to about 12 percent of beach and sport sunscreens, 15 percent of moisturizers with SPF and 5 percent of all SPF-rated lip products.
    • Octocrylene: A synthetic UV ray absorber that may cause allergic reactions in those with sensitive skin. Also shown to bio-accumulate in the body so best to steer clear!
    • Octinoxate/Octylmethoxycinnamate: Commonly used as a UV filter. Easily absorbed through the skin (has been found in human urine, blood and breast milk) and a known endocrine disruptor. Also, an ecotoxin that is linked to coral bleaching
  • Say No to Nano Particles! Because they are so tiny, nano particles are easily absorbed into our bloodstream and can penetrate our cell walls. They are often used in sunscreens as they don't create a white layer on our skin, but have been shown to cause significant developmental disorders in sea life, even in small concentrations. Remember, when we wash products off of our bodies, they eventually end up in the ocean and can cause harm to the environment. Always look for non-nano mineral sunscreens as they are better for our skin (can't be absorbed) and the environment!
  • Don't Leave Yourself Exposed! While wearing sunscreen is important, don't forget the importance and effectiveness of wearing UV filtering sunglasses, hats, and proper clothing, especially if you're going to be exposed to the sun during peak hours. 
  • Too Much of Anything is No Good! Don't make the mistake of thinking that because you've applied sunscreen that it makes it safe for your skin to be exposed to direct sunlight for hours upon hours. If you absolutely can't pull yourself away from lounging on the beach all summer, make sure to give your skin a break by taking a dip in water and alternating between sunshine and shade.  

green-light-do-go-safe

THE DO'S 👍🏽

  • Check the UV Index for the Day! Learn to plan around the sun on extra hot days and try to limit your skin exposure during peak sunlight hours.
  • Stay Clothed! As tempting as it can be, it's important to keep your clothes on if you're going to be out in the sun for extended periods of time, especially during peak hours. Wear layers to help keep you cool, yet protected. 
  • Reapply! Reapply! Reapply! Get in the habit of reapplying your sunscreen every few hours, and immediately after being exposed to water, to ensure adequate protection if you are going to be out all day. 
  • Opt for Shade. Learn to alternate between sunshine and shade to help give your skin a break. Remember, damage from UVA rays can't be seen on the surface level, so just because your skin's not burnt, doesn't mean it's not getting damaged! 
  • Water-Resistant is Your Friend! Always opt for a water-resistant sunscreen to help protect you while you're in the water. Natural sunscreens with beeswax (or candelilla wax if you're vegan) should do the trick ;) 
  • Be Mindful of Our Oceans. Many common sunscreen ingredients are not only toxic to humans, but they are also harmful to our oceans, the reefs, and marine life. Look for the reef-friendly labels now present on many sunscreens and non-nano zinc oxide, which is the most reef-friendly sunscreen option available in the US. 

diy-sunscreen-recipe-guide

DIY SUNSCREEN - SPF 20+

Want to make your own sunscreen?! Here's our go-to recipe :)  I recommend reapplying every 4 hours if prolonged duration in the sun, and/or after swimming. This recipe is safe for babies and children too. It's highly-moisturizing so feel free to use in place of your daily cream or lotion!

  • INFO
    • Yields: 1 4oz jar
    • Shelf-Life: 6 months
    • Time: 25-30 minutes 
  • INGREDIENTS 
    • 2 tbsp Unrefined Fair-Trade Shea Butter
    • 2 tbsp Organic Olive Oil (even better if it's infused with chamomile!)
    • 2 tbsp Organic Coconut Oil
    • 2 tbsp Beeswax (summer is the perfect time to pick some up from your local farmer's markets ;)
    • 2 tbsp Non-nano Zinc Oxide 
  • INSTRUCTIONS
    • Fill a small saucepan 1/4 of the way with cold water.
    • Add all ingredients except zinc oxide into a glass bowl, and place the bowl on top of the saucepan to create a double boiler.
    • Turn gas onto lowest flame setting and mix frequently to help incorporate ingredients. 
    • Once melted, remove from stove and allow to cool for a few minutes. 
    • Slowly add in the zinc oxide stirring continuously until well mixed. IMPORTANT NOTE: Zinc oxide can be harmful to the lungs if the tiny particles are inhaled so always wear a mask to protect yourself!!
    • Cover and store in a cool, dark place, or refrigerate when possible. 
    • To Use: Apply liberally over face + body, reapplying every 4 hours and after exposure to water.

Tip: This sunscreen will liquify in the heat, but is still fine to use. Simply apply like an oil if it melts. I recommend keeping the sunscreen in your bag and out of direct sunlight to best preserve its healing properties, and to refrigerate when not using.

Recommended Brands

Not up to making your own? Here are a few safe options! Notice how every ingredient is recognizable and there are less than 10 ;) 

  • All Good
  • Badger Balm
    • Unscented Sunscreen with Zinc Oxide
    • Baby Sunscreen Cream: If I it were me, I'd opt for the baby version no matter what your age! Both of these sunscreens offer the same level of protection, however, the baby formula contains chamomile and calendula, two of the most soothing and inflammation reducing flowers out there!
    • Tip: Again, some of their other versions contain some questionable ingredients, so always (always!!) read the labels carefully.

Love + Light,

~Smita :)

Looking for a natural bug repellent? Check out our 5-minute DIY recipe!

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