Breathe your way to relaxation, reduced tension and new energy in less time than it takes to read this blog!

Feeling a bit stressed or anxious?

Need a reboot so you are up for the next challenge in your busy day?

Yearning for that feeling of contentment you get after your yoga practice?

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By tuning into your breath for a minute or two, you can down-regulate and shift into your parasympathetic nervous system.

Sit comfortably, close your eyes, and try any (or all) of the following – repeat 5 to 10 times before returning to normal breathing.

For instant relaxation, inhale for 5 counts, hold for 1 count, exhale for 10 counts.  As you inhale and exhale, chant in your head, Om 1, Om 2, Om 3, etc.

To relieve tension (and relax you), inhale and exhale an equal number of counts. Inhale for three to five counts, then exhale for the same number of counts.

To renew your energy, inhale for 6 counts, hold for 4 counts, then exhale for 6 counts; hold at the end of the exhale for 1 count.

Just as breath brings life to your yoga practice, it can also relax, relieve tension, and energize you. Enjoy!

Beautiful woman with a serene smile

Feed Your Mind

2015 is in full swing. Have you made a resolution to eat healthier and to cook at home more often like so many of us? If you are struggling in anyway I have the perfect solution! I have never been more inspired by a cookbook then I am with, The Healthy Mind Cookbook by Rebecca Katz. I must admit I love the science of nutrition and this book does a fantastic job of transferring it brilliantly to the plate. The author has focused on nutrients that feed the brain as well as keeping things simple enough you don’t feel overwhelmed with the recipes and will be delighted with the taste and look of the dishes.

Rebecca Katz started researching the brain and food after her father struggled with dementia for a decade. Like her, I believe the science that suggests that food may well be nature’s answer to the perplexing brain conditions affecting so many of us. Sadly conditions such as depression, ADHD, memory loss, agitation, brain fog and fatigue are being accepted as the normal way of life.

I was not feeling motivated or inspired about cooking and getting more and more dissatisfied with restaurant food. I went to the market and just could not decide what I wanted to make for dinner that night, let alone for the next few days. I received the cookbook as a birthday gift in January and it was the answer to my prayers. I now keep basic staples in the house and I can easily whip up something tasty. The chapter, The Culinary Pharmacy, provides much of the latest science out there on almost every ingredient in the book. I was so pleased to find so much food science in one easy reference.

The author is inspired by flavor and discusses her favorite flavor carriers: fat (olive oil), acid (lemon juice), salt (sea salt) and sweet (maple syrup). With these carriers you can hone in on the precise taste you are looking for. Over salted by mistake, no problem, add a squeeze of lemon and presto your dish is perfect.

I have tried many of the soup recipes and loved them and the full range of flavors to choose from Moroccan, Middle Eastern, Italian and a robust chicken soup that is hearty like a stew. If you avoid dark leafy greens because you don’t like the taste you’ll be so surprised when you try the Triple Greens Frittata, an Italian omelet that is baked. Science shows that dark greens provide the necessary Vitamins B6, B9 (folate) and B12 that reduce your homocysteine (by-product of the protein building process) levels. High levels are associated with cognitive impairment.

I have been advising my clients to add a mantra to their daily eating habits to include fat, fiber and protein at every meal and snack. This is the best way to keep your blood sugar balanced and to feel truly satiated. Now I am advising them to also get a copy of this wonderful cookbook.

I hope you find yourself as I have, wanting to cook more often everyday.

Mary Ellen Hannon is an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach living in Santa Cruz, CA. She specializes in hormone balancing certified by Dr. Sara Gottfried in The Hormone Cure. She leads workshops and does private consulting. For more information about her go to www.shaktinutrition.com.