What does it do?
- The balm conditions the skin with no oily residue.
- Can be used all over the body.
- Practical and economical with no spillage or waste.
- Ready-blended with essential oils for different therapeutic effects, or unscented.
How to use:
- Scoop some balm from the tub into your hands. It will ‘melt’ on contact with skin and is then ready to apply to the area to be massaged. Add more as necessary.
Other ways of using it:
- Use a small amount on your skin before shaving.
- Use as a nourishing massage treatment for the head and hair.
Who is it for?
- These balms are suitable for all skin types.
Olive Massage Balm:
- Olive Fruit Oil – an unscented massage balm, it is extremely effective on dry, chapped skin, useful for eczema or psoriasis, and especially good for hands, elbows, knees and feet. Nourishing and softening, it provides excellent protection from weather and water. Coconut oil is naturally antibacterial and antifungal. Rice bran wax is a skin conditioning and protecting agent with high antioxidant properties.
Lavender and Clary Sage:
- Lavender – relaxing calming and soothing, anti-septic and anti-inflammatory. Known to relieve toothache, neuralgia, rheumatism among many other ailments. It has been used as an insect repellent and was used in hospitals during the first world war to disinfect floors and walls.
- Clary Sage – reduces skin inflammation and regulates the natural sebum production, making it suitable for all skin types. Has an uplifting effect and is known for its positive effects on mood swings, balancing female hormones and facilitating restful sleep. (NB: Clary Sage Essential Oil is not recommended during pregnancy.)
Black Pepper and Rosemary:
- Black Pepper – warming and stimulating, used to ease muscle and joint pain, often used in blends for sports massage. May be used for skin inflammations and superficial wounds and to treat stomach and digestive issues.
- Rosemary – healing, astringent, toning, tonic, refreshing, stimulating, deodorant, anti-septic, reactivating, anti-bacterial, anti-microbial, softening, invigorating. (NB: Rosemary Essential Oil is not recommended during pregnancy . )
Spike Lavender, Ginger and Marjoram:
- Spike Lavender – stronger than lavender, it has a wide range of therapeutic properties. Deeply relaxing for the mind and body tissues, anti-septic and revitalising, can be helpful for a range of skin problems including abscesses, acne, athlete’s foot, boils, bruises, eczema, spots, sores, wounds, sunburn, insect bites and stings.
- Ginger – healing, tonic, anti-inflammatory, it is very soothing for aching joints and muscles. Helpful when combined with other oils in massage blends for after sport and relaxation.
- Marjoram – anti-spasmodic, calming and sedative, known for its soothing and relaxing benefits on the mind and on tired, aching muscles. Often added to sports massage blends.
KEY INGREDIENTS IN ALL BALMS:
Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil – an excellent carrier for other oils, it is extremely effective on dry, chapped skin. It is especially good for hands, elbows, knees and feet. Nourishing and softening, it provides excellent protection from weather and water. Quickly absorbed by the skin it also helps regulate sebum production.
Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil – a good emollient, easily absorbed it leaves the skin smooth and nourished. It is odourless and colourless and won’t stain linen or towels during massage. It is naturally antibacterial and antifungal and can penetrate hair better than other oils.
Oryza Sativa (Rice) Bran Wax – a skin conditioning and protecting agent with high antioxidant properties. Provides a protective, non-comedogenic barrier. It is not hydrogenated, is Ecocert, Cosmos approved and vegan friendly.
Tocopherol – natural Vitamin E, moisturising, easily absorbed, protects cell membranes from free radical damage.
At the July residential yoga weekend, I wanted a dessert that would be light, yet full of flavour and would round off a fairly substantial meal without leaving guests with that “heavy” feeling. This was a huge hit, and I’m delighted that this recipe will be featured in the December issue of Bee Green Magazine, but just for subscribers. In the meantime, here’s a sneaky peek:
This is such an easy recipe to make. It would be a lovely way to end a meal with friends and it doubles (or triples!) up easily too. The orchard on the farm is full of pears, plums and apples right now, and I can’t wait to make the most of the season’s bounty at our next Yoga weekend in October. There are still places left, so if a weekend of yoga and delicious food in the depths of the Dorset countryside sound good, do get in touch.
Ingredients (serves 4)
4 firm ripe pears (Conference pears work well)
500ml bottle cider (medium/dry)
50g demerara OR golden granulated/caster sugar OR Honey/Maple Syrup/Agave
1 cinnamon stick or 1tsp ground cinnamon
6 cardamom pods (swap for cloves, all spice or ground nutmeg for a more “festive” vibe)
1-2 tsp pink peppercorns
60g toasted, flaked almonds
Extra thick cream, greek yogurt or coconut yogurt, to serve.
Peel the pears, leaving the stalks on and set aside. Place the cider, sugar and spices into a large saucepan with a lid, give it a good stir, then place the pears in and put the lid on. Simmer over a medium heat for around 20-30 minutes, or until a round bladed knife passes easily through the thickest part of the pear. Carefully, remove the pears from the poaching liquid using a slotted spoon, set aside and keep warm. Turn the heat up under the poaching liquid, and with the lid off, reduce until thickened and syrupy. Remove the cardamom pods and the cinnamon stick but keep the peppercorns in. Put the pears into individual serving dishes, spoon over the syrup and sprinkle with toasted almonds then serve with a dollop of cream or your favourite yogurt or dairy-free alternative on the side.
Physically, there are many symptoms of liver imbalance from the obvious to the very subtle, such as feeling a lump in the throat, or problems with tendons or eyes. One of the first signs is related to your emotions, specifically your temper: are you suffering from anger, stubbornness, aggression or irritation? When you’re thinking about a detox for your liver, you need to consider your general constitution. Some people are still physically strong, despite needing a liver detox, while some show signs of physical weakness. Another effect can show in your digestion – are you constipated, or the opposite? Do you suffer from colitis or IBS?
With an appropriate diet and a sensitive yoga routine you can have a massive effect on your physical and emotional state, especially after a period of excess like Christmas and New Year! So make a note of your emotional and physical states, however unconnected they might seem, before you start and check how you feel as they days progress.
Some general rules for your Diet:
- Eat primarily vegetarian food, including raw foods and sprouted grains, seeds and beans every day.
- Take the biggest meal of the day at lunchtime, eat early and sparingly in the evening. Avoid late meals to allow the liver and gall bladder time to prepare for their regeneration cycle during the night.
- For signs of weakness: drink organic apple cider vinegar and honey with warm water – useful for liver imbalance resulting in depression & irritability.
- For signs of heat/strength: choose bitter foods such as lemon, lime, grapefruit, rye, asparagus, Milk Thistle Tincture – all these help when anger, aggression, shouting, or splitting headaches are the symptoms.
- Once you have spent a few days on this regime, add in some foods for liver regeneration. The chlorophyll-rich foods such as wheat/barley grass, and the micro-algae spirulina or chlorella – all these are useful taken regularly to support balanced liver function. (New post about micro-algae coming soon.)
Yoga for the Liver:
How to access the liver? First and foremost, use your arms. Couple this with standing forward bends, abdominal work and some gentle twists and you’ll have a routine of benefit to the liver.
1. Half Uttanasana (wide feet) with hands on a ledge/windowsill.
2. Uttanasana – feet hip width, hands to the floor or legs, keep the legs strong and release the spine down.
3. Padangusthasana – really pull on your toes to look up, then bend the elbows wide to draw yourself towards your legs. (Have a read of this first: https://iyengarhomepractice.wordpress.com/tag/padangusthasana/
4. Adho Mukha Svanasana into Urdhva Mukha Svanasana, first using a chair and then from the floor if you are able.
5. Finish this section with Adho Mukha Virasana. (As you are in this pose, do you notice the feeling of ‘freshness’ coming through?)
6 & 7. Tadasana and Urdhva Hastasana X 2, then maintaining Tadasana: Extend your arms behind – lift your chest and open those armpits! X 2
8. Ghomukhasana X2
9. Navasana – use support if needed, and LIFT your sacrum and chest.
11. Jatthara Parivatanasana – bent legs, draw knees close to opposite elbow.
12. Passive backbend – get the support right under your shoulderblades, not your waist, so your arms must be high. Breathe into the rib cage/diaphragm area, especially areas where you feel tightness. Let the breath open and extend those areas.
13. Supta Baddakonasana.
After a few days, if you’re feeling better and suddenly find you have bundles of energy, Surya Namaskar is the best way to start your day. You can slow it down and step rather than jump if you prefer. http://bobbyclennell.com/MYoga.html (Please observe the restrictions at the bottom of the page.)
Pre-solutions? Things you do before Christmas to make your New Year resolutions easier to keep.
GET A GRIP – Everywhere you turn, piles of pointless calories: tubs of sweets, mini
chocolate bars, bowls of crisps and peanuts, mince pies, and (my favourite) cheese footballs. You’re going to need a steely resolve to avoid these so rather than feeling sorry for yourself, recognise that the instant gratification you get for saying, ‘No thanks’, is worth ten times the long-term misery of succumbing.
TONE UP YOUR LIVER – Use your exercise routine to stimulate liver circulation by adding some deep stretches and working your arms more. We tend to think that twists will help, and they do, but using the strength of your arms, and stretching them over your head allows access to the liver. (Look out for the New Year Yoga Routine coming soon!) Foods to eat include sprouted grains/seeds/legumes, micro-algae, spices and herbs – cumin and turmeric – and lightly cooked brassicas like cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli and (guess what?) brussel sprouts! Avoid sugar, and carbs generally – you really only need 130g per day, a few small potatoes and the odd slice of bread, but more about that in the New Year blog.
3:2:2 – Alcohol, and managing your intake needs careful planning. Divide your weekdaysinto blocks of days 3:2:2. Look at your diary and map out the points during the festive season when drink will be the theme. Then, depending on your natural habits, order your blocks of days into non-alcohol, low-alcohol and party time. This is a much better system than all or nothing. You can use one of the goal setting apps to keep track – I like HabitHub.
PLAN AHEAD – Forewarned is forearmed: if you’re going to make a success of this, and above all enjoy yourself, you need to plan ahead so you can have the kind of Christmas season you won’t regret afterwards. Take each day as it comes and think through how you’ll avoid the trip wires: exercise first thing, don’t skip proper meals, carry healthy snacks with you, and if you’re eating out, make sure there’s water on your table, not just wine!
HAPPY NEW YEAR! We’re all human and we won’t get it right every day of the holiday season. So put yesterday behind you and concentrate on getting today right and you will be moving in the right direction. Give your body and mind a merry Christmas and a happy New Year too!
In the Morning:
If you have a busy day, you know it pays to get organized, and that includes looking after your body. Think about your normal morning routine and find a slot for this quick yoga sequence, perhaps as you wait for the kettle to boil. It takes less than five minutes and is easily done in your dressing-gown.
What you might notice about the effects of this short sequence is that the backs of your legs are stretched, your spine and rib cage extended and the front of your body opened, reversing the effects of the sleeping position and the downward pull of gravity.
Put a timer where you can see it and set it running for 5 minutes, using the second counter to time your holds. Check you’re not holding your breath. Bear in mind this is about extension, not tension, so don’t grip your muscles. Work gently into, holding, and out of the postures, keeping your breathing smooth and natural. This has a calming, energizing effect on the body and mind.
1) Tadasana to a wall:
Face a wall or a door, with your feet about 8 inches away. Without leaning your body on the wall, stretch your arms up and press your hands into the wall. Working from your feet, feel your body stretch and your skeleton become more aligned. Press your heels down and your thighs back, ease your tailbone forwards and tuck your shoulder blades in. Lift and broaden your upper chest. Squeeze your outer elbows towards each other, and stretch your palms and fingers up. Keep your breathing soft and your jaw relaxed. (Working slowly and carefully, this should take about 30 seconds.) Release slowly from the pose and pause for a few seconds to feel the effects. Then repeat once more.
2) Uttitha hasta padangusthasana:
Stand facing a chair or a low stool. Put your left heel on the chair seat and catch roundthe foot with a tie or yoga belt. Straighten your right leg, (the standing leg) by pressing the thigh back. Let the left leg (the lifted leg) stretch from hip to heel as you gently pull on the strap. Hold for 15 seconds and swap. Do each side twice.
3) Half uttanasana:
Press your hands flat onto a work top, shoulder width apart, or grip the sides of your chair. Walk slowly back, allowing your body to become straight from hips to hands, and horizontal to the floor if you are using a worktop. Your feet should be hip-width apart, toes turned in. Let your arms straighten, and feel the sides of your body begin to stretch.
When your back is flat and your legs are vertical, your head will be between your arms. You will feel your spine begin to stretch and re-align itself, and you can assist this process by pressing your heels down and your thighs back, tucking your shoulder blades in, and opening your armpits. Squeeze your elbows towards each other and press your hands firmly down. Keep your breathing soft and your neck and jaw relaxed. Walk towards your hands to come up.
In the evening:
Think about your normal routine later in the day, and pinpoint a time when you could set aside 5 or 6 minutes for these evening stretches. You will need a mat, or do them with your heels close to a wall for support. Set your timer for 6 minutes and when you’reready, set it to countdown. (Be sure to put it somewhere you can see easily without straining your neck!) Once you’re familiar with the flow of the routine you won’t need the timer.
The focus is on extension of the body, not tension – it’s important that you learn to feel the difference. The downward facing postures help to relieve your mind and nervous system of the stress and emotion of the day. You will need to wear something loose, stretchy and comfortable.
1) Adho mukha virasana:
Sit on your heels, keeping your feet and knees close together. This will stretch the tops of
your feet, so if it feels painful, put a folded blanket on your mat, under your ankles. Keep your big toes together and take your knees wide apart. Keeping your hips on your heels, walk your hands forward on the mat until your chest meets your thighs and your arms are straight. Your forehead may easily reach the floor. If your hips come up or your forehead won’t meet the floor, use a couple of thick books on which to rest your forehead. Hold for 20 seconds, tuck your toes under and come onto your hands and knees.
2) Adho mukha svanasana:
Pressing down with your hands, lift your hips off your heels, feet hip width. Push your hips up high, straightening your arms and legs, keeping your neck relaxed. Hold for 20 seconds. If your calves feel tight, put a block under your heels for support. Come back down onto your knees, bring your big toes back together again and sit back down on your heels, forehead on the floor or books as before for 20 seconds.
Repeat the sequence of lifting your hips, stretching your arms and legs, and coming down twice more. Keep the movements slow and deepen the stretch each time.
Finally, come back to sitting on your heels, with your feet and knees together. Stay sitting on your heels if you are comfortable or change to cross-legged for the next section – you can sit on your block if that is more comfortable.
Link your fingers closely and put the backs of your hands on your head. Tuck your shoulder blades in and draw your navel back towards your spine. Take your elbows slightly back and feel your chest open and lift.
Now slowly raise your arms straight up with your palms facing the ceiling, allowing your side ribs to stretch and open further. Pause. Now bring your hands back down close to your head and take your elbows back again. Repeat once more, stretching your arms up again, pausing, andfinally bring your hands back down onto your knees. Allow your arms and hands to rest.
4) Parsva sukhasana:
Place your right hand outside your left knee and your left hand round the back of your waist. Turn your trunk to the left, inhale and as you exhale, lift your spine and turn a little more, turning your neck and head last of all. Come back to the centre and repeat to the right. Repeat to the left and right once more.
5) Resting position:
To finish, lie on the floor (with a block under your sacrum if you have low back problems), knees bent and feet apart, allowing your knees to rest against each other. Stay for 2 minutes, and notice your sense of well-being.
When you’re feeling tired or stressed, it can be hard to tell what you need most: is it exercise or rest? Restorative yoga practice gives your body the best of both. By using stronger extensions and the time to rest, the nervous system becomes calm and the brain feels soothed. You’ll feel relaxed, refreshed and rejuvenated.
The body also needs a different kind of practice in the morning to that at the end of the day. But in both cases, you need to reconnect brain and body first, so there are supine poses at the beginning of both these sequences.
Morning version: pose number 2 (hold for 4 minutes), then poses 4, 6, 5, 6, 5 at your own pace. (Repeat if you have time and energy!) Finish with Tadasana standing against a wall: lift your chest, roll your shoulders back, head UP and breathe in! Maintain that posture for the day – diaphragm UP – when you feel your energy or enthusiasm dips.
Evening version: (practice slowly) 2, 4, 6, 9, 11. Lying down poses – set alarm for 3-4 minutes. Hold the others long as you can and come out slowly.
Bobby Clennel is coming from the USA as our guest teacher in April 2018.