5 Things you didn’t know about Yoga

  1. It originated in India about 5,000 years ago
    Even though it’s just become super popular, the practice has been around for a long time.
  2. It can help reduce pain in the body.
    Certain poses can be used consistently to strengthen your muscles, for example, in your back to reduce back pain.
  3. There are different kinds of yoga.
    It’s not just about slowly moving through poses which some think is “boring”. There is also fast paced yoga called Vinyasa which keeps you moving through asanas fairly quickly.
  4. “Yoga” means to “unite” in Sanskrit
    Sanskrit is the original language for yoga. You can think of this union in any way you like. The mind, body and spirit, you and the world around you- whichever union you prefer to keep you motivated.
  5.  Each yoga pose (asana) has its own original name in Sanskrit.
    For example, the wheel pose is called Urdva Dhanurasana.

 

Photo by CATHY PHAM

Thanks for reading,

Maria

❤️

Theory of “body type”

As a woman, I’ve grown up to learn that there are different “body types”, especially for women. I’m sure the majority of us have heard the terms “pear” and “hourglass” in the context of what people’s bodies can look like. These terms aren’t only female- exclusive. The “upside down triangle” shape is also related to men, for example. Many men strive to get that big shoulders “V” look. This post however, focuses on slightly different terms for body type.

So recently I came across the fact that there are three main body types in fitness, and knowing yours could help you target how you should train and exercise. So, I researched this and thought okay, this is interesting.

The three different body types are Endomorph, Ectomorph and Mesomorph.

Endomorph- high body fat, usually hard to get rid of body fat

Ectomorph- long and lean body, can be hard to build muscle

Mesomorph- muscular, high metabolism

You can, however, be between these body types, and usually that can be the case. This website helps you calculate which “body type” you have, click here to take the test. 

I found this quite interesting and will definitely be looking into this to perhaps tailor my workouts to the “body type” I have and see how it goes! Stay tuned for more information on this.

Photo by Edgar Chaparro on Unsplash

Thanks for reading,

Maria

❤️

Illegal sales of endangered species

A friend of mine, fellow animal lover, recently sent me a message about this story and said she thought I might want to spread the word about it. Sure enough, I read it and thought, well if I didn’t know that there is still such a large illegal sales of animals online, then I can’t be the only one.

The International Fund for Animal Welfare conducted a 6 week study across 100 online marketplaces in the UK, France, Germany and Russia. They found more than 5,000 adverts adding to over £3 million for over 12,000 items. ALL of these items were banned or restricted by the global convention International Trade in Endangered Species. This figure, although massive, is less than in previous years, however, there is still much more work to be done to eradicate this issue.

Many of these adverts were for live animals like leopards, cheetahs, orangutans and many more. Among these were also adverts for big cat and bear skins.

Why is this bad?
Because these animals have been illegally taken from their homes, their families, not cared for and sold for who knows what purpose. The skins have been illegally made from again, poor defenseless animals, all to be sold for profit. The people selling them don’t care about the animals’ welfare or rights. These animals deserve to live in the wild, with their families and live for as long as they can.

Here’s a few things we can all do to help try and rid the world of illegal animal/ wildlife trade:

  1. Check certifications. If you see any endangered species being sold or advertised, report it! Spread the word! Get it shut down. I’ve heard that WildLeaks allows you to anonymously report wildlife crimes and make concrete actions out of your reports.
  2. Buy products that are certified as sustainable. The FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) provides a logo to products based on its global forest certification system. Items with the logo or FSC approved show that they are:
    – Produced from recycled materials or from areas that are well managed
    – Trees that are cut are replanted
    – Workers are paid fairly
    – Any indigenous people in the area are regarded and not disturbed
    Find out more about the FSC here.
  3. Buy fish from sustainable sources. As mentioned in a previous post of mine, “Earth Day” (Click here to read) I mentioned that over-fishing is a problem for our oceans and is responsible for the depletion of fish species. If we buy fish from sustainable sources (for example, fish products bearing the MSC – Marine Stewardship Council – Logo) the fish stocks and their habitats are maintained and looked after, and the logo ensures the livelihoods of fishing communities are secure. Find out more about the MSC here.
  4. Sign petitions for you local government to stop illegal wildlife/ ivory trade. The UK have recently announced that they will have one of the strictest ivory restrictions in the world. A great win, which we must keep trying to achieve globally. Each person can make a difference.

I believe humans need to do all that we can to help animals. They can’t speak for themselves so we need to speak for them. I hoped this post has taught you something new and has hopefully inspired you!

Thanks for reading,

Maria

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5 Exercises for back pain (Pregnancy included)

Back pain is something that a lot of us experience, me included, and it can be the worst. But don’t worry! There are some things we can do (besides go to see an osteopath), to help strengthen the back and reduce the likelihood of pain.

  1. Wall Squats *Pregnancy Safe*
    Stand against a wall and squat down so your back is flat against it, but your legs are bent into a squat. Look at your knees and ankles, make sure your knees are either directly above or slightly behind your ankles to reduce the likelihood of strain on your knees. Try to hold for 30 seconds.
    If you would like to challenge yourself further, you can extend and lift one leg to hold in front of you during the wall squat.
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  2. Arm and Leg Raises *Pregnancy Safe*
    These will work your back and bum.  Make sure your spine is kept straight, slowly lift one arm and the opposite leg to extend them both. If you can, try to get your knee to touch your elbow by doing a little crunch in the middle (shown below). Keep alternating sides to ensure both sides are worked equally. If you don’t trust your balance, you can do just one arm or one leg at a time. Aim for 10 reps each side.
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  3. Glute bridges/ Hip raises *Pregnancy Safe*
    Lie on your back, bring your feet close to your bum, keep your hands by your sides. Focus on your core, lift up your hips, and squeeze your glutes with your at the top and come back down. Try for 10 reps.
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  4. Reverse Curl ups *Pregnancy Safe*
    Lie on your back, bend your knees and bring them in towards your chest. Focus on your core, bring your knees to your chest and out again as many times as you can, but try and aim for 12 reps to begin with.
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  5. Oblique rotations *Pregnancy Safe*
    Lie on your back, bend your knees and raise them up to be close to your chest. Tighten your core and move your legs to one side, then to the middle, then to the other side. Hold these for 2 seconds on each side per rep. Try for 10 reps, take it as slow as you need to.
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  6.  *Bonus* Cat/ Cow stretches *Pregnancy Safe*

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Go on your hands and knees, exhale as you round your back and pull your belly in for cat pose (top picture). Inhale as you lower your back, raise your head and stick your butt out for cow pose (bottom picture). These stretches will work on your back, torso, neck and abs. If you need to modify because of wrist pain, go on to your forearms or pop a pillow/ blanket under your wrists. If your knees hurt, again, pop a pillow or blanket under them to make these poses more comfortable.

For each of these exercises, only do as many reps as you are comfortable with. If you feel those muscles ache the next day, that’s good! It means they are working your muscles! Each time you do these exercises try and increase your reps to get stronger and challenge yourself.

I hope you enjoy these exercises and stretches, stick with them to keep getting stronger!

Thanks for reading,

Maria

❤️

Earth Day

Hello everyone!
You may know that certain days in the year are dedicated to certain things. We all know the classic Mother’s and Father’s days but there’s also an Earth day.

What is “Earth Day”?
It is a day to celebrate the place that we all live in (even though we should totally celebrate it everyday).

What happens on Earth day?
Individuals and companies take action and try to help the Earth in various ways. This year our “Earth Day” was on April 22nd. This year the focus was on plastic pollution. As you may know, plastic pollution is a major threat to our oceans and its animal population.

Why is plastic pollution a problem?
Plastic (as well as other waste) can end up in our oceans when not disposed of correctly and recycled. This seriously threatens and damages the oceans because it can suffocate and be ingested by fish, whales and other marine life causing damage to their bodies and killing them. Although, for some it may seem like it doesn’t affect them, these deaths are extremely important to human life. With the depletion of marine life, food chains break down which has a knock-on effect to many other food chains and ultimately, without life in our oceans, we will lose at least 50% of our oxygen. As well as oxygen, something we need to live, oceans and its inhabitants provide food, medicines and support livelihoods of humans, for example, through tourism and recreational activities.
Plastic pollution is not the only thing that harms our oceans and it’s wildlife. Oil spills, global warming/ climate change and over-fishing for food are all serious problems that damage them. We all need to help as much as we can to stop harming the animals and ultimately keep the Earth healthy so we can all keep living in it. These changes cannot happen overnight though. And I think if everyone makes an active effort to do what they can, every little action helps. Recycle, reuse things (not just carrier bags but definitely those too), be more efficient with what you buy and use (waste less) and educate yourself and your family/ friends on the consequences and what they can do to help. It’s a team effort!

I think more people need to know about the Earth, it’s problems and Earth Day so that they can make more educated decisions in their everyday lives, and perhaps do more, with the more they learn.

Did you know about Earth Day? Did you do anything for it?

If you would like to learn more about what you can do to help the environment and the Earth, head on over to the official Earth Day website here. And of course, research! Even if it’s for 3 minutes of your day to see what you can do, it will all help!

Thanks for reading,

Maria

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Crufts 2018

Crufts, for those that haven’t heard of it, is “The World’s Greatest Dog Show”. It’s held in the UK every year, and the first year of Crufts was 127 years ago in 1928.

This year, March 2018 I attended two out of the four days of Crufts. I didn’t go there to show my dog or anything I just went to experience it and see all the doggos. I went with my auntie and my nan for the first day and then just me and my auntie went for the second day. I know that there is a lot of bad things that can be said about dog shows, but just talking solely about my experience, I saw a lot of love.

I loved Crufts. As a dog lover I mainly loved just seeing and touching so many dogs. I saw dogs being shown and that was great. I got to stand there and go “ooh” and “ah look at that one!” but one of my favourite parts was walking through where the contestant dogs were just chilling and taking pictures and touching them. I got to cuddle a lovely Rottweiler who had won one of his competitions and he was lovely! I also met a lot of other dogs and owners all of which were great and friendly. What I would say is, if there are any Crufts officials reading, I personally think they should hire people to walk through where the dogs are waiting to be shown and keep them company. I saw a lot of dogs on their own, and although I understand as an owner, you’ve got to leave them to buy food, go to the toilet etc. But if there are officials just keeping them company for a few minutes each if they’re not asleep, I think it could help make the day more enjoyable for the dogs.

My other favourite part was walking through the “Discover Dogs” section. Basically, every breed of dog had its own stall-type area with some dogs of that breed inside with some humans who knew a lot about the breed. You were able to walk from stall to stall asking questions, learning and touching all these dogs, most of which I’d never seen before. It was an awesome learning experience and it made me love dogs even more (if that’s even possible!) as they were meeting so many strangers and they were all so friendly and well behaved! Another thing I would say is to make the area for the dogs bigger so they have more space to walk around as they are there being looked at and stroked for so long. Given the size of some of the dogs, to make it better for them, they need a bigger space.

Here’s a couple of pictures just to document my Crufts 2018 experience.

 

Unfortunately, these pictures don’t do these dogs justice! Especially the colour of their eyes, some had the most beautiful blue eyes but you can’t see them very well in the pictures! These things happen but I hope you enjoy them nonetheless.

I hope you enjoyed reading and my pictures!

Maria

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Finishing University

Hello everyone!

I’d just like to begin by saying hello and welcome and I’m sorry I was gone for a few weeks! For those of you that don’t know, I am in my last year of university and when people say the last year is full of stress, ‘they’ weren’t messing around! I tried really hard to manage my time and keep writing for this blog but basically, it got to a point where all of my deadlines were approaching (it’s so annoying that almost all the deadlines are ‘strategically’ placed around the same time) and I just had to prioritise those essays and presentations. BUT, do not fret because I am now ALL FINISHED (woohoo!) and I am back here for you all.

I’m so excited to have finished uni because suddenly I have much more free time on my hands! I do need to start looking around and thinking about if I want to study for a masters (which I’ve always said I did not want to do) or look to get a full-time job. It’s quite a hard decision I think though, because if I start looking for a job, WHICH job do I want? What kind of sector would I like to go into? I don’t know. My degree is of business and Spanish and one day I would love to become fluent in Spanish. However, this is quite a broad degree and I could do a variety of jobs with it. I also don’t really fancy studying for another year, to be honest. I’ve got a question for you all, have you got a masters qualification? Do you think they are useful/ beneficial? I’m currently debating doing an online masters, to give me a bit more freedom to work, still get another qualification and get more skills.

It’s a difficult time because, as I was told not that long ago, “the world is your oyster.” And now I’ve finished university, I’ve gotta make some big decisions. Sometimes the weight of making these decisions that are key to my life can be quite scary, but I’m trying to not think about how important they are and just take searching at my own pace. After all, this time now is also for me to enjoy. I’m going to get back into fitness (which is another thing I’ve neglected due to deadlines), going to do some reading, maybe some painting and enjoy my hobbies again. What do you all do to relax and enjoy your time? If you have any good book recommendations, feel free to send them my way!

Thanks for reading,

Maria

❤️

Review of the Yogi Bare Paws Mat

Some of you may be aware that I’ve been wanting a new yoga mat for many months. I wrote a post a while ago called “My hunt for a new yoga mat” where I spoke about the questions I had when thinking about buying a new yoga mat. Click here to have a look at the post.  It was basically a way for me to put my questions and my research together when looking for a new mat.

Months went by and I still hadn’t decided which mat to go for from which company. Do I spend more money in the hope that it’s a better quality mat and will last me longer? Which thickness should I look for? Stuff like that. Eventually, in December I went to a store called Decathlon and ended up buying one of their yoga mats for £20. It said it had good grip, I didn’t try it out in the store because I didn’t want to ruin the packaging, however, when I brought it home and tried it out, I was really disappointed. My hands and feet slipped (so much!) in downward dog. I actually felt like the mat itself was stretching slightly too which certainly was not good for me. This led me to decide that a. I needed to return that mat because I was not satisfied, and that I was going to pay more than I originally wanted to, in the hope that I would get a better quality mat.

There are a lot of popular mats out there, many companies on Instagram advertising their mats, and many well known brands such as alo and liforme. But considering they were around £70 – £100, I thought that was just too much compared to what I was comfortable spending. I came across the brand Yogi Bare and saw that their mats were more affordable than others I’d seen and claimed to have very good grip. I also like the way they branded the paw with the king pigeon pose too, added plus I suppose! Anyway, I bought their Yogi Bare Paws mat in red and so far, I am happy with it. As it is made out of rubber, it has a bit of a weird smell, though over time I imagine that will fade.

Good to know:

Its quite heavy.
I used to take my old mat on holiday with me as it was fairly light, however there’s no chance of me doing that with this one.

Initial smell
If you are a bit sensitive to smells, be prepared. It wasn’t that bad but it was something I noticed straight away.

No slip
My hands and feet did NOT slip in my first downward dog and haven’t slipped in any since!

It’s a bit hard
I don’t know what mat you are used to but my old one was a little bit cushion-y. So when I knelt on it, my knees sunk into it a little. As I have slightly bad knees, I did notice that this mat is a bit harder on them. But not enough so that it hurts them. And my headstands and forearm stands do not hurt my elbows, so it’s not bad.

I would recommend this mat, if you’re looking for one. It costed me less than £50, it looks and feels durable and well made, doesn’t feel like it’ll break apart soon. It’s 4 mm thick, and, almost most important of all, I don’t slip.

Hope this has helped! Check back in with me weekly for new posts!

Thanks for reading,

Maria

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Spread the word

When originally thinking about starting this blog I thought about the things I wanted to talk about and share with others. As yoga was the main reason I wanted to start it up, I naturally thought, it can be a place to document my learning process, progress and other yoga related things. However, I sat there and thought, well it’s my journey which not only includes yoga. It’s about other things that affect me, help me grow and learn, too.

I love animals. I love wildlife and I am concerned with the fact that the Earth needs saving. One thing I thought might be another way in which to use my blog is to research any stories, news or information that might be interesting or amazing or heartwarming or maybe just something that needs more attention and share it via the blog. There are perhaps many occasions where love, kindness or maybe hurtfulness happens yet the message isn’t spread. As I’m sure many of you know, global warming is increasingly becoming a higher issue for the world and its inhabitants, but do we all know how it directly affects things? Many photographers are able to catch images of starving polar bears, marine biologists tell us about how sharks and other fish are endangered and how this can and will massively affect us and the people of the future. But, what can we do? How can we help? Many people recycle, many people make good choices on where they buy their food from and what they eat but I think sometimes just being more aware can help.
This is also a way for me to share my passions and if it helps spread awareness even to one person then to me, that’s great.

So, just in summary, I plan to post about something different, interesting or amazing every once in a while and see how that goes. If there are any topics you would like to see more light given to then please, let me know!

Thanks for Reading, stay tuned for the first “Spread the Word” post!

Maria

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