Coconut Milk

Did you know that making fresh coconut milk was incredibly easy? In fact, easier than any other vegan milk I’ve ever made! It requires very simple equipment, no blender needed, and so can easily be prepared even when traveling the world! :)

 

 

Coconut milk is a healthy replacement for dairy products such as milk or cream and can be used both fresh, as in shakes, smoothies, with your morning breakfast cereal or coffee, and in cooking curries, thickening gravies etc.

I learned to make coconut milk during the time I spent on Tablas, a small and pristine island in Philippines. In this place, coconut palm is called “a tree of life”, because it gives the local people everything they need in order to survive:

  • Water: for drinking and cooking
  • Coconut meat: it is a complete food rich in calories, vitamins, and minerals. A medium-sized nut carrying 400 g edible meat and some 30-150 ml of water may provide almost all the daily-required essential minerals, vitamins, and energy of an average-sized individual.
  • Coconut oil: used in cooking and for massage therapy
  • Leaves: can be used to build a shelter, roof in a house, or to make brooms and baskets
  • Shells: used as bowls, pots or cuttlery, dried, used as fuel to kindle the fire on which the loclas cook their food
  • Coir: the elastic portion of the husk can be used to make brushes, floor mats and stuffing for mattresses
  • Trunk: The midsection of the tree contains strong wood, which is useful for making furniture and housing materials

On Tablas, coconut milk or oil are not availabale in the shops because everybody knows how easy it is to make it. Coconut trees are abundant on the island and the rare few who don’t have any in their backyard, can easily obtain the nuts from their friends or family who will have more than they can ever use.

So this is why I came to learn the art of making coconut milk and oil – out of necessity. Turns out to be a blessing! :)

 

NUTRITIONAL VALUEflakes

  • Excellent source of minerals such as copper, calcium, iron, manganese, magnesium, and zinc.
  • Very good source of B-complex vitamins such as folates, riboflavin, niacin, thiamin, and pyridoxine. These vitamins are essential in the sense that body requires them from external sources to replenish.
  • Good amount of potassium.
  • The important saturated fatty acid in the coconut is lauric acid. It increases good-HDL cholesterol levels in the blood. HDL is a high-density lipoprotein, which has beneficial effects on the coronary arteries by preventing vessel blockage (atherosclerosis).


WHAT WILL YOU NEED

tools

  1. Shredded coconut.

    In the Philippines, I simply went to a local market, picked the nuts I liked, handed it over to the sales lady who chopped them open with a large machete, drained the water, and then shredded the inside on a homemade device (consisting of sharp metal rod with spikes and two plastic wash bowls :)). She would then pack my purchase into a plastic bag, hand it over and ask what I was going to make. Satisfied to hear it was milk (or oil, depending on a day), she would then cash her 20 PHP per coconut (less than half a US Dollar) and turn to grind some fresh rice flour for the next customer.I realise it may not be as simple where you live. You can probably still buy a mature coconut at your supermarket and go through the entire process. If you choose to do so, please be very careful when operating a machete, and use a simple kitchen grater to shred the meat, intead of actionbuilding a whole sophisticated machinery 😉
    If, however, you choose a simpler way – buy plain, unsweetened shredded coconut. It will do just fine, I promise!
  2. Water.

    If your coconut is as fresh as from the market in Odiognan on Tablas island, you won’t need much water to produce milk. Freshly shredded coconut is juicy and you can squeeze milk directly out of it. I still use some water to dilute the milk and make it smoother to drink but I only soak my coconut for 5 minutes in luke warm water.
    For dry coconut flakes, you will need about 2 hours of soaking in luke warm water. The warmer the water, the shorter you need to soa, but remember that hot water may deprive your milk of some of its nutritional benefits.
  3. Two medium to large pots

    One for soaking shredded coconut and the other one to squeeze milk into.
  4. Cheese cloth, gauze or a clean cotton dishtowel

    I found out just about any thin natural fabric will do.

equipment

HOW TO?…

  1. STEP ONE: SOAK THE COCONUT

    – If your shredded coconut is very fresh, you will not need to soak. Squeeze the flesh through your cloth or gauze directly into the bowl. You will get less milk but it will be very aromatic. This method is particularily useful if you wish to proceed to making coconut oil out of the milk. It also works very vell with curries.- If your coconut flesh not just come out of that blue plastic shredding bowl, or if you want to dilute your milk (the milder flavour is great to add to your tea or coffee), soak it first for 15-20 minutes in warm water. Remember, the more water you add, the less ‘coconuty’ your milk will be! It may take you two to three times to get the amount right. I put a little water, so my coconut gets moist but you can’t really see too much fluid in the bowl, unless you press it with a spoon.

    milk1
  2. STEP TWO: SQUEEZE THE MILK THROUGH THE CLOTH
    milk2
    – Use a laddle or large serving spoon to transfer parts of your moist coconut meat onto a cloth or gauze. It is good to fix the cloth over a pot or bowl with a rubber band first, so your milk will be clear and not contaminated by coconut flakes (some people may not be disturbed but coconut flakes in my coffee?… Yuck!…). Let the liquid drip and finish off by squeezing the remaining milk out with your hands.

    – You may use your hands only to squeeze the liquid out of your coconut, and this is how the Filipinos do it, but for me, again – coconut particles in my clear coffee milk?… Nonono…
  3. STEP THREE: THERE IS NO STEP THREE!

    – That’s it! You end up with a pot or bowl full of coconut milk and another full of drained coconut meat. Remember, your milk has only a couple of days of shelf life and needs to be kept refrigerated. And don’t worry about the cats, they will not touch it (unless you have a REALLY weird cat, in which case I cannot be held responsible for this information!)

milk4cat

LEFTOVER COCONUT MEAT:

I like to use the leftover coconut meat for cooking or add it to my salads or smoothies (like this amazing fresh Moringa – Bok Choy – Coconut Salad with tomatoes and chickpeas):



Enjoy making your coconut milk! Write if you have any questions and don’t forget to tell us about your experience :)

coconuts

Zucchini Tagliatelle with Avocado Sauce

zucchini_spaghetti

Fresh, light and delicious – just the thing to try before the end of the summer!

Eating large steaming portions of oily pasta may have its charm during the cold wintry months. But since the summer is almost-but-not-completely gone, we should use the opportunity to prepare some lighter meals with fresh ingredients.

If you still carry the heat of recent summer days in you, try my Raw Tagliatelle with Creamy Avo Sauce for a light and healthy lunch or dinner. If you are already in the winter/pasta mode, you can still enjoy it as a starter or a side dish.

 

 


Ingredients:
– 2 medium avocados
– 1 lemon, juiced
– 1/4 cup fresh basil or mint leaves
– 2 Tbsp olive oil
– 2 cloves garlic
– 2 medium zucchinis
– salt, pepper, sweet paprika


 

Preparation:

  • Place the avos, lemon juice, basil/mint, olive oil, garlic and salt in a food processor or a good blender. Process till smooth and creamy.
  • Peel the zucchinis into thin strips (if the core is hard, you may want to leave it ouzucchini_spagettin2t) – and you’ve got your tagliatelle! :)
    I buy organic zucchinis and leave the peel on as it gives my “pasta” a nice colour, but you might want to discard the peel and only use the flesh.
  • Place the zucchini “pasta” in a bowl, pour the sauce over it and toss.
  • Garnish with basil or mint leaves, black pepper and sweet paprika.

This is the basic recipe, it is now up to you to play with it, add more flavors, colors or edge. I went with some yummy fresh redcurrants this time.
Enjoy!

Homemade Apple Cider Vinegar

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Apple cider vinegar is a magic liquid that has been recently becoming more and more popular, due to all the incredible health benefits. Ironically, the amazing, almost unbelievable effects the ACV has on our body, healing, detoxifying, alkalising, balancing etc. has been long known to our grandmothers and their grandmothers.

 

There is a lot of different opinions as to what apples to use. Some say the sour kind is better. Some say the sweeter the better. I found out that is is essentially of little importance whether the apples be sweet or sour. What matters more is the density – hard apples are better than soft, “spongy” once, because they won’t fall apart completely, making the straining process more difficult.

In my recent batch, though, I got bold and used a mix of all the possible apple sorts (not only because during the apple season they sold it to me at €3 per 10kg…) :) And the results are great!

applechairSome people use no apples at all, only peels and cores (which also works, I tried!). Being a great way to maximize your recycling powers and not waste any of the goodies (especially if you have good quality apples, from your own garden, organic etc). For me it doesn’t work that great for one reason: during the apple season I like to produce huge amounts of ACV that will last long and serve as some inexpensive but highly appreciated gifts for my family and friends. We would need to eat tones of apples daily to supply me with enough peels…

 

Also, many use sugar instead of honey because it is cheaper. You can do it and it won’t affect the taste of your AVC. I do not recommend it though, because when you make it yourself, investing your time and putting your energy into it, why not make it the best and healthiest way? And good quality honey will provide you with the highest quality vinegar!

 

So, what you will need, first and most of all, is a lot of apples!

apple2sm

 


 

INGREDIENTS:

– 1-1 ½ kg apples

– 1-1 ¼ l lukewarm, filtered water

– 4-5 tsp natural honey


 

You will also need some large jars or other glass containers. The bigger the better, but you must remember that the taller the jar, the longer the wooden spoon for stirring will need to be!

bottles_empty

 

After 4-6 weeks, when the vinegar is ready, you will need bottles to pour it into. Choose pretty bottles to pour it into – especially if you are planning to use some of the ACV you made as a gift. I love the variety you can find (the liqueur and schnapps industries are particularily creative when it comes to bottles. You can collect them of if not a drinker, ask your freinds to keep the pretty ones for you).

On the picture you see some examples from my 2015 collection: 2 wine bottles, 2 schnapps bottles, and 2 simple beer bottles (no, I do not drink so much, I collect them from a cafe where I work) 😉

 

 

 

DIRECTIONS:

– Wash the apples, half them and remove the seeds (some leave the seeds and all but I doubt they add to the flavour but they do add to the chaos during straining…).

– Cut the apples into small pieces and fill up a jar/s almost all the way to the top (don’t worry that it looks too full, the apples will shrink after only a couple of days and go on shrinking).

– Fill the jar/s with lukewarm water sweetened with honey. The water will fill in the gaps between apple chunks. Cover them all the way to the top, until all the apples are covered. You don’t need to measure the exact weight of apples per 1l of water, although I did when doing my first ACV ever, just to get a feel of it.

cloth– Cover the jars with a cotton kitchen towel (I have a special set of small squares I cut out of the normal kitchen towel, they are small enough not to take up a lot of space and to be easily removed and put back on when it is the Stirring Time!) or double folded cheese cloth, and put a rubber band around each. This will keep the fruit flies or other creatures attracted to the aroma of fermentation away, at the same time, allowing your ACV to “breathe”.

– The first couple of days it will be difficult to stir, as the apples remain acv99in their original size and hardness. Try once a day to stir it a bit anyway, just to bring another layer of apples to top. For the first 2 weeks I stir the soon-to-be vinegar once a day, for the next 2 weeks every 2 days. For stirring use a dry wooden spoon or spatula.

– Keep for 4 weeks in a warm place (if in a cooler place, like outdoor or a pantry, it may take up to 6 weeks).

– When ready, pour into the bottles through a cheese cloth.a_leftovers

This is what you will have as a by-product after straining and VERY gently squeezing your apple pulp (squeeze gently to get more liquid than pulp):

 

 

 

* If at any point you notice mold on your vinegar, that portion will need to be disposed of… It never happened to me but I am a very regular “stirrer”. My guess is that mold may appear if the some pieces of apples stay too long above the water surface. That’s why it is important to stir often (meaning once a day, lets not go crazy about it either!) for the first 2 weeks, or as long as it takes for the apples to decompose enough not to be sticking above the surface.

bottles_full

 

This is what your vinegar-to-be will look like for the first couple of days:

acv9

This is the difficult-to-stir period, so just make sure to change the top layer of the apples or press those that are sticking up above the water under the surface.

 

What mine looked like after 2 weeks:

acv999

Don’t worry if yours doesn’t look exactly the same, it all depends on the apples after all. Most certainly after 2 weeks your apples will be noticeably softer and your vinegar easier to stir.

 

After 4 weeks it will look like a mess but smell unmistakenly of vinegar:

aweek4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

bottles_full2

It is up to you to decide whether your ACV is ready or it needs another week or so to ripen. The first time I did mine, I simply tested: strained a small amount (about half of a 1/2 l jar) and tasted it. If it doesn’t seem stron enough, you can then leave the remaining jars for another week, then taste again or trust that it must be good already. Don’t worry if you pour it into bottles too early. If you leave it in the bottles, it will still ripen, though it will take slightly longer then.

This is the amount I got from approximately 10kg of apples (one bottle is missing because I couldn’t do without my Apple Cider Vinegar Hair Rinse…):

 

label1After pouring it out (which is quite a bit of work, believe me, especially if you ambiciously used the entire 10kgs!…), comes the fun part – creating personalized labels or decorating your bottles! I always print the Prana Masala basic labels and then complete them with the handwriting – that way it has got this special personal touch and makes it look undoubtebly homemade! :)

You can also hand make your lables from a scratch, stick them to the bottles, paint them on the bottles, write personalized messages to your friends that are going to receive a gift of ACV, write personalized messages to the members of your family who are going to use this ACV, write personalized messages to yourself, because why not?… Of course, you can also skip the label fun, hope nobody will mistake the vinegar for an orange juice and take a generous sip of it in the morning, and be proud of the job well done!

 

 

 

Let us know how your adventure with Homemade Apple Cider Vinegar was!

lables_many

 

Millet Pumpkin Pate

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Autumn. The days start to get shorter, colds winds blow and leaves fall from the trees… But on the bright side: WE HAVE PUMPKINS! :) And there is so many amazing recipes that can be played with and enriched by just adding this one cute orange ingredient…

So here’s what I’ve got for you today: Vegan Millet Pumpkin Pate.

Everybody knows how healthy millet is, we’ve been bombarded by the new discoveries of this or that amazing benefit of this grain. And it is true, millet contains a lot of important minerals (especially magnesium, copper and phosphorus), and it is said to lower the risk of diabetes, prevent gall stones, protect against heart disease and have numerous other health benefits.

pate_end

 

While surely a right choice for anybody wanting to maintain a healthy diet, still – not everybody enjoys the taste of this grain. Of course, a lot depends on proper cooking (more about it in the next post) but it is also the blend of ingredients that make the millet’s flavour more or less intense and enjoyable.

The VEGAN MILLET PUMPKIN PATE is a good news for those who would like to enjoy the benefits of millet without necessarily tasting it too much :) In combination with the pumpkin and aromatic spices, all you can taste is the pate, as a whole!

 

 


 

INGREDIENTS (for 2 baking trays):

  • 1 large Hokkaido pumpkin (1,2 kg – 1,5 kg)
  • 4 onions
  • 2 cups of dry millet (or 7 cups of cooked)
  • 1 can of coconut milk (I sometimes use almond when out of coconut)
  • 1 cup of veg broth
  • 1-1,5 cup rice/oat/chickpea or other flour
  • 2-3 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp ground coriander seeds
  • 1 Tbsp ground caraway seeds (+ optional 1tsp of whole seeds to sprinkle on top)
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp hot chili or cayenne (add more if you like it hot!)
  • oil for frying

 

PREPARATION:

1. Wash the pumpkin, cut in half, remove the seeds and cut into pieces. Bake for 15-20 min in an oven at 200 degrees C.

2. In the meantime, cook the millet.

3. Peel and chop the onion, sautée on the oil.unbaked

4. Transfer the cooked millet into a large bowl. Add coconut milk and spices.

5. Place the baked pumpkin pieces, veg broth and onion in the food processor. Blend till it forms a smooth paste (you don’t have to be too thorough. Small pieces of Hokkaido pumpkin peel will add a bit of colour to your pate). Mix with millet.

6. Wait until your mix cools down a bit, then add flour and stir until well combined.

7. Grease your baking tray or tin and sprinkle with a thin layer of flour. Put the pate mix in. Sprinkle with caraway seeds. Bake in the oven at 170 degrees for 1,5 hours.

8. Let it cool. Your pate is ready to eat but will taste even better if you refrigerate it overnight.

I serve it cut into slices, sprinkled with lemon juice and some fresh coriander or parsley. But let your own creativity unravel! :)

pate_above

How To Make Almond Milk

almondssm2

Almond milk is a delicious and healthy replacement for dairy derived milk or cream. Even if you are not a strict vegan, it will be a great addition to your diet, as it contains various beneficial and important nutrients and, consumed regularly, brings about some great changes in your overall health.

Nutritional value:

Almond milk is low in fat but high in lipids, fiber and energy supplying proteins. It contains no cholesterol and is a great source of vitamins E, B12, riboflavin, calcium and zinc, and, in lesser amounts, iron, magnesium and potassium.

Health benefits:

– Almonds are known for their ability to lower the LDL cholesterol levels in the body. In addition to that, almond milk supports health of the heart, reducing the risk of a coronary heart disease.

– Due to its high protein and riboflavin content, almond milk promotes healthy muscle growth.

– It can help lower the blood pressure and maintain it at a healthy level.

– It helps to nourish the skin and preserves its youthful looks, thanks to a high vitamin E content.

 

It is very easy to buy almond milk nowadays. If you choose to purchase it, rather than prepare it yourself, make sure you buy organic and check the ingredients for any strange sounding additives. The general rule is: the fewer ingredients, the better your milk. Unfortunately, often even if organic, the store-bought products will contain some preservatives (otherwise the almond milk’s validity wouldn’t be longer than a week).

I find that in addition to better quality and freshness, my homemade milk tastes much better than the one from a store. And it is ridiculously easy to prepare!

 

So if you are convinced and ready to start your own almond milk production, here is a “How-to”:

almondsonly

There are two ways you can prepare your almond milk: one uses blanched almonds, the other one with the peel. The method of preparation is essentially the same, but there is a slight difference in the taste of the milk (I tried both and was hardly able to tell them apart) and in the by-product, the almond pulp.

Milk made of blanched almonds has a milder, less prominent almond flavour (which for some will be a pro and for others a con), and it is easier to strain, as you can use a regular strainer only. The pulp will be softer and creamier, also milder in flavour. People who have tendencies to nut allergies may find that blanched almonds won’t affect them in any negative way.

Having said that, I still use my almonds unblanched. I like the flavour and aroma, and I’m trying to keep the processing to the minimum.

Try it out for yourself and see which option works best!

asieve


 

INGREDIENTS:

– ½ cup almonds (blanched or not)

– 1 ½ – 2 cups of water (the more water, the less “almondy” flavour and more liquid the milk)

– a pinch of salt

– some of you may like to sweeten your milk – use ½ – 1tsp of honey, stevia, maple syrup or any sweetener of your choice.


 

METHOD:

  1. Soak the almonds in a bowl. Use good water, fresh spring, filtered or mineral, as it will penetrate into the nuts and become a part of your milk. I leave them to soak overnight but if you forget to do it in the evening, 4-5 hours will also do. Some refrigerate them while soaking but I just leave them on the kitchen counter until they are ready to use.
  2. Rinse the almonds with fresh water and drain.
    3. Soak for another 5 minutes in hot water – this is optional but will additionally soften the almonds which will strainingfacilitate the blending process.
    4. Rinse again in fresh water and drain.
    5. Transfer to a blender and add about 1 cup of water.
    6. Blend on high speed for 5 min. Add more water to your liking* (another ½ cup for creamier consistency or 1 cup for a more liquid version that will go best with a coffee, tea or as a drink), and salt and sweetener, if using any. Blend again for several minutes, until there are no distinguishable almond chunks or pieces left.
    7. Strain through a cheesecloth lined sieve or strainer (for blanched almonds a sieve with small openings would also do), squeezing the liquid out.
    8. Your almond milk is ready to use! Store it in a refrigerator for a maximum of 3-4 days.
    9. Use the leftover almond pulp as a thickener for curries or sauces or as an addition to smoothies or deserts. Or just eat it with a spoon, it’s so delicious! :)

*If you intend to use your almond milk in cooking, in curries, deserts etc, add less water and the end result will be thicker and creamier.

 

smam

Enjoy your almond milk and don’t forget to share your experiences with us!

The meaning of Yoga

My personal understanding of what Yoga is

 

YOGA NOWADAYS

 

In this world we live in today, we tend to oversimplify a lot of complex concepts. Very profound philosophies, systems and methods, that used to be known only to the initiated and learned members of certain groups and societies, are now widely spread and available to anyone.

On one hand, this creates a lot of opportunities for spiritually inclined people to get a notion and interest in certain techniques, and then to pursue them deeper. On the other hand, however, oversimplifying concepts such as Yoga, meditation etc. may, and often does, lead to misconceptions about what these techniques really mean.

 

Nowadays, “Yoga” is most commonly associated with physical exercises. That is why so many new styles in Yoga crop up, designed to cater to the restless mind of a modern man who always craves variations, something different, something new. Few of these styles have anything to do with Yoga and although there is absolutely nothing wrong with the techniques and systems themselves, it is wrong to use a name of an ancient art designed to work on all the levels, physical, mental and spiritual, when we simply do some acrobatics with a hula hoop… :)

 

I do not want to make fun or judge different styles of Yoga. I tried many and enjoyed some greatly. But what came to me with years of practice and studying, is a deep conviction of Yoga being a complete and holistic art that goes far beyond anything that we experience in our day-to-day lives.

 

WHAT I BELIEVE YOGA REALLY IS

 

yogIn definition, Yoga is agreed to mean ‘unity’ (from Sanskrit ‘yuj’ → to unite, merge). We ask: A unity of what with what?… The answer we most often get is: Yoga is the unity of body-mind-spirit. That’s all very nice, and true indeed, but while having a pretty good notion of what body is, we have very vague (if at all) experience of the mind and, most often, absolutely no understanding of the spirit.

 

Feeling stuck in this description of the unknown with more unknown, I gave it a lot of reflection. And from there came my own, simple and comprehensive (I hope) definition of Yoga, as unity of the known with the unknown. We start of at the point that we understand, and from there proceed to explore and integrate into our being all that is yet veiled and unknown to us, all that we cannot as yet comprehend about the world or our deep, vast Selves. We call this unknown ‘mind and spirit’, but I find it useful to give no name to the phenomena that are not understood (and I mean really understood, not just logically analysed with my reason, but also felt deep within my intuitive powers), other than just ‘unknown’.

 

On another level, the aim of Yoga is two-fold: to unite all the scattered inner parts of your being, through experiencing, understanding and acceptance, as well to unite you with the world, the creation and all other beings dwelling in this realm we live in.

 

This is my simple understanding of Yoga but there are many more levels and each of them can be divided into more and more subtle layers. Some of these I discuss in my blog. Some others I may never reach or realize. If you have your own experience or understanding, please share it with us here!

I’m so happy to be on this journey with You.

Blessings from the depth of my heart.

Cleaning Your Yoga Mat

How to Clean Your Yoga Mat

 

It could be a nightmare of every Yoga practitioner, especially painful for those healthiest, who enjoy doing their routine in the fresh air, where a lot of dust, dirt or other substances easily transferable by the means of feet abound.

Yes, I am talking about cleaning our mats…

mats_colour

Just as keeping our bodies clean is very important for Yoga or meditation practices, so is our environment. Most of all, cleanliness of our mats since they have a frequent and close contact with all our bodily parts.

The bad news is – there is no magical solution. We will have to wash.

The good news is – it is not as dreadful as we often imagine (i.e. long hours of vigorous scrubbing on your knees, elbow deep in soapy foam…) and could actually be a bit of fun if you start choosing your favourite essential oil for the fragrance or make a little healthy ritual out of the whole procedure.

So here’s a short tutorial with some mat cleaning info and tips. Test them yourselves and enjoy the Child’s Pose and Downward Facing Dog again!

HOW OFTEN?…

It depends of course on how often you practise Yoga. For those eager to keep a daily routine, practicing hot Yoga or living in a hot climate and sweating a lot, it will be neccesary to take more frequent care of their faithful companions, the mats, than for those who do it once a week or simply from time to time. Generally, it is enough to do it once a month, if you are a medium-to-keen practitioner.

Best rule is to apply your healthy judgment and clean your mat long before it starts getting sticky, stinky and black… :)

HOW TO?…

There are several natural methods for cleaning Yoga mats. I give you two of my favourites*.

* The third favourite is a simple garden hose, soft cloth and some dish soap, a perfect summer solution for all of you who have a garden. It can be such fun! :)

Method 1

You will need:

– bathtub

– dish soap or mild laundry detergent (best organic)

– warm water

Method:

  1. Soak the mat for a few minutes in the bathtub with warm water, adding the soap/detergent.

Note: Don’t make a relaxing bubble bath for your mat! A moderate amount of the detergent will do (about 1 Tbsp/15 ml of dish soap or laundry dtergent per 3-4l lukewarm water).

  1. Wipe both sides of the mat with a soft cloth. Be sure not to rub too strong not to destroy the surface of the mat.
  2. Rinse the mat with clean water, until all soap residue is removed and the water runs clear.
  3. To dry the mat, you can use a towel. Put it on top of the mat and then roll the mat tight or even step on it to remove the excess water.
  4. Hang your mat up to dry on a cloth rack. Do not use it until it is completely dry (you can test it by squeezing a part between your fingers), as a damp Yoga mat creates a perfect breeding ground for bacteria. Keep it in mind that it can take up to 24 hours before your mat dries (depending on the temperature and humidity).

mats

Method 2

You will need:

– spray bottle

– ½ cup water

– 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

– 5-10 drops of your favourite essential oil (my favourite: tea tree for its desinfecting properties or lavender for the divine aroma…)

Method:

  1. Mix the ingredients in a spray bottle and spray the surface of the mat. If the mat is very dirty, you can let it sit for a few minutes.
  2. Wipe with a soft cloth.
  3. Repeat on the other side
  4. Allow the mat to dry (shouldn’t take more than 15 minutes but if you want to speed the process up, you can wipe it thoroughly with a piece of dry cloth).

NOTE: Some people complain that apple cider vinegar leaves an unpleasant smell off on the surface of the mat or that it can even destroy the material. I personally haven’t experienced any of these troubles but if you have concerns, use less vinegar or try another method!

Maintenance

To keep the mat from getting lots of bacteria and dirt on it, try to be consequent about washing your hand and feet (or at least wiping the with wet wipes) before every practice. This will prevent the ugly dark marks being created and will make the cleaning routine more pleasant and effortless.

It is also important to air your mat out regularly. Don’t keep it rolled every time you are in between the yoga sessions, let it breathe in a dry space, preferably on a rack that will enable the air flow on both sides.

If none of these methods speaks to you or you are short on time, you can always get ready-made mat sprays or wipes, usually offered by the mat producers.

mats_blue

Enjoy your fresh and shiny mats! :)

Benefits of a Headstand

A HEADSTAND A DAY KEEPS THE DOCTOR AWAY

 

When something significant happens in our lives, something that changes the way we are or the way we think and act, we say that our life was turned upside down. It could be due to a positive event or something we call negative, but a fact is a fact – a change occurs and any change is a step forward on the path of our development.

Similarly, turning our bodies upside down for a couple of minutes every day is a step forward toward a better health.

Apart from strengthening the mental qualities, such as clarity, will power, concentration and its calming, rejuvenating effects on the body, it brings many more benefits:

– strengthens abdominal, arms, legs, back, neck and shoulders muscles;
– improves the blood flow to the pituitary gland, promoting healthy endocrine system and balanced hormones secretion;
– massages and improves the functioning of the abdominal organs, strengthening the digestive system;
– improves circulation and gives the heart a short break from pumping the blood up to the brain;
– this is a good one: improves the circulation in the face area, reducing possibility of skin problems and wrinkles – natural face-lift! :)
– boosts the immune system;
– improves blood circulation in the scalp, preventing hair loss (and, as some also claim, prevents or even reverses graying of the hair!).

If you are convinced and want to gain all the remarkable benefits this simple exercise provides, make sure you learn to do your headstand with a qualified instructor and practice it in a safe environment once you feel confident to do it on your own.

Turn your world around and enjoy the new perspective! :)