• The Importance of Holidays by Lori

    Screen Shot 2014-10-14 at 2.16.09 PMI just took a whole month off and went to Europe; a place I have not been to in 30 years. I feel very lucky to have been able to do this with my husband and partner in crime. We did it all; ate too much, walked,drank too much, walked some more, slept in, stayed out late, walked even more. It was so great to be able to turn off, read a book, look at art, people watch and have no agenda for the day.

    Being away reminded me how very important holidays are to my well-being. Just to be out of my routine for a month has given me a new perspective on my life and shown me how I want to live a little differently.

    1. I plan on taking time to eat: We saw very few “to-go” restaurants. Instead we saw friends and families gathering to enjoy food and actually talk to each other. Cellphones were not as prevalent as they seem to be in Vancouver.

    2. I want to take in my surroundings. Europeans live among some of the oldest, most historic buildings, churches and art galleries in the world. They may take it for granted how very beautiful it all is. I, too, sometimes get caught up in my day to day and forget to see the mountains, the ocean and the sky that make Vancouver one of the most visited cities on the planet.

    3. I want to slow down and make good decisions about how I spend my time..to be thoughtful, mindful and to connect with my loved ones on a deep level. Not just fill my time with stuff that doesn’t really matter.

    And finally, I was shown that all our lives are not that different from one another…we are all human with human needs, desires, gifts and need for community.

    Holidays have also taught me to have a few unplanned days now and then the magic and spontaneity can take place. I don’t have to fly somewhere to have a holiday. I could do something on a day off that I don’t normally do; ride your bike, take the seabus, go up Grouse, go for a steambath, sauna or massage, go to an art gallery, etc.

    Now, I can honestly say it is good to be home..

    Lori

  • New Soma Contest!

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    Hi Everyone!

    Do you want to win a 60 min massage at Soma? Yes, I think you do… here’s how!

     

     

    • Step 1: Like us on Facebook and you get your name added to the draw.  Click here!  If you already like us (yay you!) then you name has been entered already!
    • Step 2: Write us a review on Yelp and you get your name added to the draw AGAIN!! Click here to write a review!

    Good Luck and Happy Thanksgiving!

     

  • Happiness – It's Easier Than You Think

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    A friend forwarded this great article on happiness from The Huffington Post to me the other day, and the words and suggestions really resonated with me. By coincidence Lori also forwarded this article to me suggesting I share it with our readers….and then the very next day I overheard a woman telling her friend about it while on the bus.  I guess I’m not the only one who is ready to mindfully shift gears and create new positive habits to improve their life. 

     Click here to read this fantastic article on  The Habits of Supremely Happy People.

     

     

     

  • Support Local Food

    There are many ways to increase the amount of local food in our daily lives…and many benefits in doing so.

    It’s Good For You & Your Family
    When you provide your family with juicy peaches, hormone-free chicken and crisp baby carrots, eating healthy becomes very easy, not to mention incredibly enjoyable.

    It’s Good For BC Farmers & Communities
    By supporting local farmers you are voting with your dollar to keep BC farmers farming, and safeguarding BC’s agricultural land for future generations.

     
    It’s Better For Our Environment
    The fresh produce sold at BC farmers’ markets usually travels less that 300km to get to you. Compare this to the average North American meal, which travels 2,400km to get from field to plate and contains ingredients from 5 countries in addition to our own. All that transportation results in a lot of fossil fuels being burned, which contributes, to air pollution, acid rain and climate change.

     

    Here are 3 great ways to eat local

     

    Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)
    Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) fosters a closer link between local families and their food. CSA members make a commitment to the farm at the beginning of the season by paying in advance for a portion of the farm’s products throughout the season. This guarantees the farm a market for its products, provides members fresh food at a discount, and fosters responsible relationships between farmer, eater, and the land where the food is grown.With most CSA’s  the produce is chosen for you, but some offer a “debit-style” program which allows you to choose the amount you’d like to prepay and what produce you prefer to have.
    See a list of local CSA programs here.

    Farmers Markets
    A farmers’ market is a place where you come to learn about healthy food. It’s a meeting place to connect with friends, family and neighbours. It’s a springboard for local farmers to introduce their wares to new audiences, and it is a celebration of community and the bounty of our land. People come to farmers’ markets week after week for many reasons, including the community gathering experience, the opportunity to talk directly to farmers, and the reassurance that they are eating nutritious and ethically sourced food.
    Find out dates and times of farmers markets in your area.

    BC Seasonal Availability Guide
    If you are looking to modify your diet or your menu to include more local and sustainable food products, understanding which farm products are available locally and when they are available is critical.  You can download and print a copy of the BC Seasonal Availability Guide here .  Keep a copy at home in your kitchen and keep a copy with you to bring to the grocery store.
    Download and print the BC Seasonal Availability Guide here.

  • Crispy Kale Chips

    Kale is a food that you can count on for some unsurpassed health benefits, if for no other reason than its exceptional nutrient richness.

    Kale is overflowing with calcium, lutein, iron, and vitamins A, C, and K, plus beneficial phytochemicals and antioxidants. Tahini is rich in calcium, protein, vitamin E and the B vitamins, as well as essential fatty acids. And nutritional yeast is like the vegan dream food – it’s high in protein and has B vitamins including B12, as well as folic acid and zinc.

    This kale chip recipe is easy to make and is so tasty you’ll want to make a double batch!

    Ingredients:
    2 big bunches of kale
    1/2 cup raw tahini
    1/4 cup olive oil
    1/4 cup wheat free tamari
    1/4 cup raw apple cider vinegar
    1/4 cup nutritional yeast
    2 cloves garlic
    1 teaspoon onion powder
    1 tpsp maple syrup
    optional 1 tsp of chilli flakes

    Instructions:
    Rinse, de-rib, and rough tear the kale into a giant bowl.
    Put all of the other ingredients into a food processor or blender and mix until smooth or use a hand blender
    Pour the mixture over the kale, and use your hands to toss it all together. Squish Squish! Get it good and covered.
    Spread the kale out evenly on lined or oiled cookie sheets.You want them to be as ‘dehydrated’ as possible, instead of baked.  250º for 4 hours (ish). Every oven is different so you’ll need keep an eye on it and be your own judge. Just remember that too much heat will change the flavour.  Don’t overcook them!
    If you are lucky and have a dehydrator you can use that instead of your oven.

  • 5 Fun Fitness Ideas

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Has your typical fitness routine has become stale and boring?
    It happens to the best of us: that new healthy lifestyle that was so energizing and filled with promise a couple of months ago starts to lose its appeal and our motivation falters.

    Whether you prefer to exercise at home, outdoors or in a class, our health oriented city offers something for everyone.  From yogasilks to archery-here are 5 fun fitness ideas to reignite your motivation to stay active.

    Yogasilks
    Off your mat, into the air, with a hint of Cirque du Soleil! Che Baba is the first yoga studio to offer this experience in Vancouver.  Yogasilks enable you to work with gravity – less pressure on the joints allows you to create more space within and release more tension. Securely fastened above, zero compression inversions come with ease. Build your core by using the little muscles that you don’t use while being restricted by gravity while standing.

    They offer a Foundation Series where you flow through a series including standing poses, hip openers and inversions. They also offer a Restorative Series where the silks are dropped lower to the ground in order to support the body in restorative yoga poses. In this series, poses are held for up to 5 minutes with the intention of releasing, unwinding and deep relaxation. Open to all levels. Please contact Che Baba to reserve your spot. Ten silks available.

    Snowshoeing
    The sport is easy to learn, virtually inexpensive (compared to other winter sports), poses little risk of injury and is a great way to exert energy during the cold winter months. Snowshoeing can be a lot of fun and great exercise if done with proper technique and in a safe area.
    A number of ski areas near Vancouver offer trails and guided tours for snowshoers. Trek on pristine trails at   Cypress Mountain or explore the developed snowshoe parks at Grouse Mountain and Mount Seymour. For a special treat, book a guided evening snowshoe fondue tour. Trails weave through alpine forests, past frozen lakes, and to high points where snowshoers can enjoy a view of the city and the water. Snowshoe equipment rentals are available at many of the larger snowshoe areas; many outdoor stores also have rentals.

    Ugi Fit
    Looking for a workout you can do right in the comfort of your living room? UgI is a local fitness company start up that has appeared on the CBC’s Dragon’s Den and has been named one of the Globe and Mail’s “…favourite small businesses of 2011”.
    The Ugi ball works as a functional fitness training tool because it challenges the exerciser to use entire muscle groups at one time. A lifetime of professional training experience went into creating the Ugi 5 day a week, 30-minute, total functional fitness program. The series of one-minute exercises are efficient enough to change your body completely – from warm up, cardio, strength conditioning, balance to cool down, and flexible enough to be done anywhere – from home, gym, beach to office.

    Body Rolling
    Body rolling is a workout, a massage and a chiropractic adjustment rolled into one! As you roll through your body on a 6″ to 10″ inflated rubber ball, you essentially tone and lengthen muscles, stimulate bones, and release energy blockages. You let go of unproductive patterns in your body. Body rolling allows you to work specific muscles in detail, to create suppleness in tight areas and optimize range of motion.  For classes and workshops being offered in Vancouver check out Vancouver Body Rolling by Micheline.

    Archery
    Archery is ideal for giving your upper body a workout. It improves upper body strength as well as coordination and balance, which is important. If your balance and coordination are good you are less likely to trip over your own feet, colliding with the floor and breaking a bone in the process.
    The physical benefits of archery include increasing flexibility in your hands and fingers and developing your arm strength. In addition, hand-eye coordination improves, as does mental concentration and mental strength. A successful archer must know how to free his mind from distractions and focus on his target, which makes archery both a beneficial mind exercise as well as a great form of physical exercise.  To find archery classes in Vancouver check out Academie Duello  or North Shore Archers

  • The World's Healthiest Cookie

    From start to finish, these cookies take about 30 minutes to make (including bake time).  The cookie dough is so good you won’t want to bake them!   Sweet Potatoes are a good source of mag­nesium, which is the relaxation and anti-stress mineral.  As well they are high in vitamin B6 and a good source of vitamin C.

    They’re a cinch, and you’ll be so glad you made them; so bake some sweet potato cookies, and enjoy them knowing that they’ll make you smile from the inside out!

     

    World’s Healthiest Cookie Recipe

    2 ripe bananas, mashed
    1 tsp vanilla extract
    1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
    1/4 to 1/2 cup maple syrup (depending on how sweet you like)
    1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats (for GF buy gluten free oats)
    2/3 cup shredded coconut, unsweetened
    1/2 cup pecans, chopped (can substitute with other nuts or seeds)
    1/2 tsp cinnamon
    1 tsp baking powder
    1/2 tsp salt
    1/2 cup sweet potato packed tightly peeled and shredded (add up to a whole cup if you like a more moist cookie)
    1/4 cup chocolate chips (add up to 1/2 cup if you like)

    Preheat oven to 350° and line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.

    In a large mixing bowl mash 2 ripe bananas.  Add vanilla, coconut oil and maple syrup ; mix well.

    In a separate bowl, combine and mix oats, coconut, pecans, cinnamon, baking powder and salt.  Slowly stir the sweet potato into the oat mixture making sure to break up all of the clumps.

    Stir this mixture into the wet mixture, then fold the chocolate chips into the batter.

    Dampen your hands a little, and spoon about 2 tablespoons of the batter into your palm.  Shape them into balls then press them flatter onto the parchment.  Bake one dozen on each baking sheet, or set the dough aside, and bake one batch at a time.  Bake for 15 minutes, then remove from oven and allow them to cool for about 15 minutes.

    Voila, Magic!

  • Amazing Epsom Salt

    Epsom salt is vastly underrated. Most of us associate it with a relaxing bath, but did you know that epsom salts have all sorts of amazing health benefits—as well as beauty, household and gardening-related uses?

    Epsom salt has been used for hundreds of years as a natural remedy for a number of ailments. Unlike other ‘salts’, Epsom salt has beneficial properties that can soothe the body, mind and soul.

    What is Epsom Salt?

    Epsom salt, named for a bitter saline spring at Epsom in Surrey, England, is not actually salt but a naturally occurring pure mineral compound of magnesium and sulfate. Magnesium plays a number of roles in the body including regulating the activity of over 325 enzymes, reducing inflammation, helping muscle and nerve function and helping to prevent artery hardening. Sulfates help improve the absorption of nutrients, flush toxins and help ease migraine headaches.

    Why Epsom Salt Baths?

    Epsom salt baths are the easiest way to enjoy the health benefits of magnesium and sulfate, as both minerals are readily absorbed through the skin. After a deep massage treatment, we often give our clients a packet of Epsom salts because it draws the lactic acid out of the body, reducing achiness. For the same reason, these baths are great after a big workout or long run.

    The key is to use water that’s as hot as you can bear (unless you’re pregnant) and at least one cup of Epsom salt. Another important tip: drink two glasses of water while you’re in the tub to assist in the flushing process.

    Benefits of Epsom Salts

    There are many reasons why Soma Studio recommends Epsom salt baths to our clients. Some of the countless health benefits include:

    • Relaxing the nervous system
    • Drawing toxins from the body
    • Soothing back pain & aching bodies
    • Easing muscle strain
    • Reducing swelling & inflammation
    • Alleviating skin problems
    • Treating colds and congestion
    • Relieving symptoms of athlete’s foot

    It’s also a natural emollient, exfoliator and hair volumizer. Around the house and garden, Epsom salt can be used to soften towels, clean bathroom tiles, deter slugs, fertilize plants and keep your lawn green.

    Where to Find Epsom Salts in Vancouver

    Any pharmacy such as Shopper’s Drug Mart or London Drugs should carry plain Epsom salt. If you become a convert, you can find it in bulk at Costco and select stores.

    To up the relaxation ante, try naturally scented bath salts such as lavender, mandarin, sandalwood or ylang-ylang. These can be found at bath and body care stores such as Escents Aromatherapy – or it’s easy to make your own.

  • Take the Pledge to Simplify Your Holidays

    The holidays, meant to be a time of peace, reflection, and celebration, too often exhaust rather than uplift us. If you sometimes feel trapped by the shopping, spending, crass displays and frenzied preparations, you aren’t alone.

    The Simplify the Holidays Pledge offers many fun and creative actions you can take to add more meaning and environmental mindfulness to the holiday season. Celebrate what really matters: creating a meaningful life, contributing to community and society, valuing nature, and spending time with family and friends. This year, take the pledge to make your holidays more simple!

    Below is a list of ideas to help you celebrate the holidays with more joy and less stress.
    Pledge to five actions – or more! – that you will adopt this year:

    • Give the gift of time by creating your own gift card for a service (e.g. babysitting, carwashing, petsitting, chores, making dinner, organizing an outing)
    • Give a handmade gift like a memoir of cherished memories with that person, a book of family recipes, a collage of pictures and mementos, or a calendar filled with the birthdays and anniversaries of friends and family.
    • Offer to teach a skill you possess (e.g. knitting, photography, computer skills, financial planning, a foreign language, music lessons, canning tomatoes, cooking a favorite recipe).
    • Consider less gimmicky, less commercial gifts for children, such as arts/crafts supplies, books, a magnifying glass, or building blocks.
    • Create a paperless holiday letter on the computer and email it to your list.
    • Draw names in your family for gift giving (for extra fun and surprise, make it “Secret Santas”), so that you can put more time and thought into one gift instead of having to give to several people.
    • Shop for used items for all or most of your holiday gifts (e.g. local thrift store, Craigslist, Freecycle, used products on Amazon or eBay).
    • Share the gift of music by caroling, and include visits to elderly neighbors or a nursing home. Or, gather friends and family for an in-home holiday sing-a-long.
    • Give back to your community by preparing care packages for the homeless, or volunteering at an organization to help those in need during the holiday season.
    • Adopt a “less is more” attitude toward holiday decorating. Opt for natural trimmings such as clippings from local evergreens and holly bushes.
    • Save paper by wrapping gifts in newspaper comics, junk mail, paper bags decorated with markers, recycled gift bags, old maps, phone books, or other reused paper.
    • Prepare holiday meals with as many seasonal, locally grown, and/or organic foods as possible.
  • Lack of Sleep: Can it Make You Sick?

    Lack of sleep can affect your immune system. Studies show that people who don’t get quality sleep or enough sleep are more likely to get sick after being exposed to a virus, such as the common cold. Lack of sleep can also affect how fast you recover if you do get sick.

    During sleep, your immune system releases proteins called cytokines, some of which help promote sleep. Certain cytokines need to increase when you have an infection or inflammation, or when you’re under stress. Sleep deprivation may decrease production of these protective cytokines. In addition, infection-fighting antibodies and cells are reduced during periods when you don’t get enough sleep.

    So, your body needs sleep to fight infectious diseases. Long-term lack of sleep also increases your risk of obesity, diabetes, and heart and blood vessel (cardiovascular) disease.

    How Much Sleep Do I Need?

    How much sleep do you need to bolster your immune system? The optimal amount of sleep for most adults is seven to eight hours of good sleep each night. Teenagers need nine to 10 hours of sleep. School-aged children may need 10 or more hours of sleep.
    But more sleep isn’t always better. For adults, sleeping more than nine to 10 hours a night may result in poor quality of sleep, such as difficulty falling or staying asleep.

    20 Tips for a Good Night’s Sleep

    1. Set a sleep schedule – and stick with it
    2. Keep a sleep diary
    3. Stop smoking
    4. Review your medications
    5. Exercise, but not within 4 hours of bedtime
    6. Cut caffeine after 2 pm
    7. Write down your woes
    8. Take time to wind down
    9. Sip milk, not a martini
    10. Snack on cheese and crackers
    11. Listen to a bedtime story
    12. Stay cool…
    13. …especially if you’re menopausal
    14. Spray a sleep-inducing scent
    15. Turn on white noise
    16. Eliminate sneaky light sources
    17. Consider kicking out furry bedmates
    18. Check your pillow position
    19. Breathe – deeply
    20. Stay put if you wake up