Hailing from North India more than 5,000 years ago, yoga has been practised in the pursuit of increasing longevity and rejuvenating the body. Today, yoga is practised all over the world - a recent study by the Yoga Journal revealed that more than 36 million people practice yoga in the United States today. We even had an interview with a dedicated yogini, Shanti Milla who has ascertained the joys that yoga bring, alongside her practice of Tibetan medicine.
Yoga's benefits have been touted far and wide by people all over the world - but what exactly is it about holding poses and stretches that is so amazing? Well, lucky for us, we don't have to be hardcore yogis to be able to reap its benefits. Read on to find out 10 things that make yoga so amazing for both our fitness and mind. Before you know it, you'll be stepping onto a mat!
A huge part of yoga consists of holding poses for a period of time, and thus stretches and loosens the muscles in our body. While you might not be able to do some stretches when you first start out, as long as you continue pushing, your muscles will loosen with time. The increased flexibility from constant stretches can help to relieve frequent pain and muscle aches. One of the most common causes of back pain is tight hamstrings, which results in flattening of the spine. So, hang in there with your poses - don't give up, for a little goes a long way!
Thanks to all our bad habits in our daily lives - like craning our necks to look at our phones, or sitting for hours at a desk - we develop bad postures that take a toll on our spine. By incorporating various yoga stretches into our daily routine, we build an awareness of our body that we previously did not have, allowing us to be more mindful of our posture, and whether we are slouching. Of course, with more stretching, our muscles open up and knots untangle, leading to better postures and a more relaxed spine. Try out the Tadasana (mountain pose), or the Vriksasana (tree pose) for 15 minutes a day, and you'll see an improvement in your posture in no time.
Apart from boosting our physical health, yoga also has an endless number of benefits for our mental and emotional health. A huge part of yoga encompasses a concept called mindfulness - the act of bringing our awareness to the present and accepting what is occurring without any judgment or reaction. By practising mindfulness through meditation, problems and conflicts we face in our life will seem easier to solve, or get through. Through mindfulness, we learn how to redefine the way we deal with our problems - instead of actively trying to reduce or fight against it, we accept it - and as our perspectives shift, we realise that these problems that are causing us to be unhappy aren't that important after all.
A recent study conducted by the Harvard Medical School revealed that yoga tremendously improves sleep quality and quantity for people who suffer from insomnia. Having a meditation and asana routine before bed can help to slow down our mind and body processes, easing the transition into sleep and allowing us to relax just in time for bed.
The different stretches and poses in yoga aid in relaxation, which promotes blood circulation around the body. Twisting poses such as the Revolved Triangle Pose help to push out venous blood from organs, and allow freshly oxygenated blood to be pumped back into the organs once the pose is released. Also, inverted poses, such as the handstand, pumps blood from the legs and pelvis to the heart to be oxygenated. This can aid if you are facing swelling in your feet or knees.
A huge part of yoga revolves around meditation and concentrating on what is going on right now - which is also known as mindfulness. By regularly training our minds to focus on one thing, we learn how to organise our thoughts and reduce our mental stress from other irrelevant matters. This eventually leads to a more peaceful and stable mind - which allows us to recall things more easily and effectively.
Although yoga is rarely aerobic in nature, high intensity yoga classes such as Ashtanga classes can boost your heart rate into the aerobic range and get your blood pumping. With a better blood circulation, the risk of heart disease is lowered. Even for patients who have just recovered from a heart attack or heart surgery, yoga is perfect as a form of cardiac rehabilitation as it is less strenuous.
By practicing yoga regularly, it encourages us to lead a more active lifestyle which burns more calories and increases our fitness levels. In addition, practicing mindfulness can aid in cultivating healthy eating habits by being aware of our cravings, and thereby reducing the desire to binge or snack due to stress or unhappiness. With an increased sensitivity to hunger cues and a more active lifestyle, a boost to weight loss can be expected.
Now that you're more than acquainted with the immense benefits of yoga, it's time to close your laptop and step onto the mat. Namaste!
Is your pick-me-up a cup of chai? Do you head to the herb cabinet for some garlic when you’re feeling flu-ish? Does your mom’s nagging come to mind when you put a pinch of turmeric into your cup of warm milk? If your answer is yes for even one of the above, then chances are, you’re already practising Ayurveda.
Ayurve-wha? It is only the world’s oldest system of holistic medicine that has a longer history than traditional Chinese medicine. The idea of Ayurveda was born over 5000 years and it is the sister science of yoga. The two are often practised together for a better mind-body balance. In fact, Ayurveda is Sanskrit for ‘the knowledge of life’. Devout followers believe that the route to wellness is to have a full and intimate knowledge of your life. Everything is interconnected, from our digestion to our dreams and hopes.
Not sure where to start? Peek into your pantry, and you’ll be surprised to know that some of your everyday groceries are, in fact, Ayurvedic staples. Learn more below!
Aspiring yogis, take note! Consumption of turmeric was first advocated by yogis who claimed it enhanced flexibility and joint integrity. Recent studies found that the bright yellow plant also help purifies the blood and the channels of the body. It improves the skin's complexion, bringing circulation and nutrition to the epidermal layer. Its anti-inflammatory properties and antioxidants makes it the ingredient of choice for acne-prone skin. Is it any wonder people call turmeric the spice of life?
How to have it: Take a pinch or any desired amount of turmeric powder into stir-fries for an earthy flavour. Another great way to use it is to add it into how milk and drink with honey before you hit the sack.
Do you remember the little seed pods you bite into when you chow down on a plate of Indian biryani? These are cardamom seeds - one of the most common ingredients in Indian cuisine. It is a natural tranquiliser, bringing you calm that helps to increase the clarity of your mind. This wonder herb also neutralises the acidity of coffee. So here’s a perfect excuse to order some masala chai after lunch!
How to have it: Add the pods or powder to brew coffee or tea to bring out that spicy flavour. You can also boil it in warm milk before bed.
Ginger is no stranger to most Singaporeans, who probably have consumed it in chicken rice, xiao long bao or in other foods. But did you know that it’s also an Ayurvedic staple? As a powerful anti-inflammatory herb, ginger soothes and heals the digestive tract. Thus, ginger tea is also often prescribed as a home remedy for stomach issues. Some studies have suggested the herb may have the potential to be a preventative ingredient against colon cancer and ovarian cancer. What can’t this herb do?
How to have it: Grate some ginger into your black tea during the day, or boil ginger in warm milk before bed. As a start, you can try our Ginger Rooibos tea for a midday boost.
Your bathroom is probably filled with mint-related products. But did you know that mint is also a great palate cleanser? It promotes digestion and soothes the stomach in case of indigestion or inflammation. It is also a lifesaver for people with nausea or motion sickness. Mint leaves or pudina also have antibacterial properties, which fight against harmful microbes in the body.
How to have it: Crush fresh mint leaves into your iced tea, or dab some peppermint oil onto your temples. You can also try our Blue Ocean tea which has a rich minty flavour along with a ton of antioxidants from the butterfly pea.
It’s no coincidence that rose is associated with love and caring in Ayurveda. With its cooling nature, rose governs the emotions of the heart and calmness of the mind. People have historically consumed rose petals to improve cardiovascular health, fight inflammation, improve circulation and reduce blood pressure. For ladies, rose serves additional benefits as it combats stress, menstrual pain, and insomnia.
How to have it: Have a cup of rose tea as you wind down for the day. You can try our Signature Rose Paradise tea, which features a blend of rose petals, hibiscus and strawberry. It’s a favourite of people who like their teas subtle and fragrant!
What comes to mind at the mention of the word “mindfulness”?
For me, I'd instinctively think of people sitting cross-legged and chanting some sort of mantra in pursuit of an inner calm, but this couldn't be further from the truth. Not all forms of meditation involve chanting – in fact, most don’t!
On the contrary, being “mindful” is as simple as being present in one’s current circumstances – where a person observes his or her thoughts and feelings without placing value judgment on them.
Although many consider mindfulness to have its core in Buddhist traditions, it is believed that even before the Buddha's birth, mindfulness was already practiced – for example, in Hindu and Taoist traditions. Nonetheless, mindfulness should not be mistaken as a religious practice or trait – at its core, it is the human capability to remain curious about what is happening in one’s own mind.
There are various ways in which people can practise mindfulness; some people do it through eating clean, but some people seek their center with meditation – a practice which aims to help each and everyone of us to focus and quiet our minds, and this helps us to achieve an inner calm.
Meditation comes from the Latin root “meditatum”, meaning “to ponder”. Practicing meditation does not make one religious; on the contrary, most practitioners of meditation do so for health and well-being benefits.
Practising meditation generally requires the individual to be in a quiet place and sitting upright with good posture. With a quiet and serene environment, you allow your mind to achieve tranquility.
Even amongst the category of meditation itself, it is worth noting that there are various different styles. Broadly speaking, there are three main types of meditation that branch out into the various forms of meditation available.
These are focused-attention meditation, open monitoring meditation, and automatic self-transcending meditation techniques.
Focused attention meditation is usually the starting point for the novice meditator. It involves focusing one's attention on a chosen object or event, usually anything that involves the individual’s use of the senses.
This form of meditation is helpful because it helps the individual regulate attention through building various skills:
Examples of meditation practices that take this form of meditation include Buddhist meditation and some forms of qigong.
In open monitoring meditation, the individual observes his or her thoughts without imposing judgment on them.
This form of meditation can be likened to a wide-lens perspective of consciousness. Open monitoring meditation associates the mind with being an open sky where the individual observes their thoughts – represented by clouds – as they pass along their field of awareness.
Examples of meditation practices that take this form of meditation include some types of Taoist meditation.
A third type of meditation, automatic self-transcending meditation, is designed to rest the mind and body by reducing mental activity. This form of meditation calms the mind.
Additionally, this form of meditation is known to calm the individual's mind – practicing this technique on a regular basis helps the individual develop brain control and hence, he or she is better able to deal with stress.
Nonetheless, it is also worth noting that some techniques might overlap, having elements of more than one category.
How is meditation so great that advocates, who are simply normal people like you and I, give it so much praises? Why should anyone even consider practising meditation?
Well, for one, the benefits of practicing meditation are copious and encompass various aspects of improved health and well-being. These include an increased self-awareness, improved concentration, and reduced levels of stress and anxiety.
In addition, Harvard Medical School neuroscientist Sara Lazar has supported the benefits of meditation with real neuroscience. She stated that the benefits of meditation are not limited to being 'relaxing'. Instead, mindful meditation can be seen as a type of mental training with cognitive benefits as well.
If reading this article has led you to consider meditation but you’re not sure where to start, fear not – there are many apps which offer guided meditation for those new to the practice. For starters, try Headspace, which offers video tutorials teaching you how to meditate. These are led by Andy Puddicombe, Headspace’s co-founder and a former Buddhist monk. Headspace’s lessons are secularized versions of exercises Puddicombe studied.
Headspace is available as an app on both the Apple Store and Google Play.
We, at Nilufer Tea, advocate well-being, both in the physical and psychological sense. This is why we hope to spread the word of mindfulness, because we recognise the stress that the modern life brings. With that, we have formulated various blends organic herbal teas can also help one be more relaxed, calm and at ease.
For a calm and relaxing moment, our Orange & Chamomile blend helps to soothe your mind and rejuvenate your senses.
For ages, milk thistle has been found to be a natural remedy for many health ailments. Among its many important uses, the one that stands out most is detoxification. Many research has been done and are still in progress to learn and understand the full extent of its usefulness. While such research is still ongoing, it has already been proven that milk thistle is packed with numerous health benefits that are definitely worth your while.
The skin is the largest organ in the body so removing toxins from the skin is of utmost importance. Milk thistle helps detoxify the liver and keeps the colon clean to encourage the elimination of toxins which leads to healthier skin.
As we pointed out above, milk thistle detoxifies the liver. This helps to support the liver’s natural functions by facilitating the growth of new liver cells. With new and functional liver cells, the liver will be better equipped to handle and remove new and incoming toxins.
Some drugs and medications such as antidepressants and cholesterol reducing prescription can harm the liver cells. Using milk thistle can help the liver to regenerate new cells. This is because milk thistle has a particular compound called silymarin which has the ability to promote the regeneration of damaged cells.
The gallbladder stores bile in the body and is located under the liver. Bile helps in digesting fats and is very important in maintaining the general well-being of the body. Milk thistle helps in detoxifying the gallbladder and prevents the formation of gallstones, which are formed when bile hardens. The presence of gallstones is harmful as this can lead to blockage of the gallbladder passageway causing pain and gallbladder attack. Thus, milk thistle helps prevent this.
Besides helping the body to remove toxins, the liver also has another function, which is remove excess hormones that are not needed by the body. This helps to balance the hormones level in the body, because the presence of any more, or less, hormones than needed can cause negative effects to the body. Furthermore, some females need to produce breast milk for their children, and hormones control that ability to produce breast milk.
Although it’s still not clear how milk thistle does this, medical researchers suggest the antioxidants, silymarin and fatty acids contained in milk thistle helps in regulating the body insulin levels. As a result, blood sugar levels are balanced.
Many people tend to develop some seasonal allergies such as sinuses, histaminic reactions, and inflammatory reactions. Milk thistles can help get reduce these disturbing symptoms of allergies and maybe even keep the sniffles away.
Milk thistle helps to promote good intestinal health and treat some digestion problems like irritable bowel syndrome, and constipation due to food indigestions. Milk thistle helps to soften and moisturise the mucous membrane and heals the intestine walls, thus helping to remove symptoms of some gastrointestinal problems.
Many people are constantly being affected by intense heartburn and chest pain after eating certain foods. This happens when the acids present in the stomach goes into the food pipe and esophagus. Since milk thistle has anti-inflammatory properties, it can help to prevent and reduce the effect of heartburn.
Milk thistle helps to protect the kidney and restore damaged cells in the kidney due to use of pharmaceutical drugs. Happy kidney, happy life!
Despite all the great benefits of milk thistle, there can be some side effects if the herb is taken in excess or without medical supervision. Before you try the herb, it is important to do more research to make sure you are suitable for taking milk thistle as a supplement, or even simply to use it.
If you have any doubt, consult a medical specialist. The last thing you can want to have are the following symptoms that can make your life miserable:
Lemon balm is a member of the mint family, and not the balm you buy from. The plant can withstand unfavorable climatic conditions and are very easy to grow. It has a wonderful fragrance that is energizing and invigorating, resembling a scent between mint and lemon. Lemon balms are not only beautiful additions to the garden, but it is used in traditional forms of medicine, aromatherapy and cooking. The flowering herb is used to produce a rich and concentrated essential oil that has been highly-praised for ages. Plus, dropping a lemon balm tea into a cup of hot water can create a refreshing tea that is both fragrant and delicious.
Ideally, lemon balm leaves can be stored in the refrigerator for a few days. Dried leaves of the plant can also be preserved in airtight containers.
In the market, you can find lemon balm leaves in various forms. Dried leaves can be purchased in jars. You can also purchase lemon balm tea, capsule, tinctures and essential oil.
The good thing about lemon balm is that nearly all its parts can be used for healing various conditions and ailments in humans. The leaves, stems and flowers are all beneficial. Even in the ancient Roman civilization, it was used for medical treatments.
Owing to growing stress and incessant multi-tasking that people are subjected to nowadays, sleeping problems and anxiety have become common. Fortunately, lemon balm has been found useful for treating insomnia and anxiety. When the herb is used in conjunction with other herbs like chamomile and valerian, the effect is more pronounced and the mixture makes an impressive nаturаl rеmеdу fоr іnѕоmnіа. Despite also having thе аbіlіtу tо ѕtіmulаtе fосuѕ аnd optimize mеmоrу, thе ѕооthіng ԛuаlіtіеѕ of thіѕ hеrb аrе juѕt аѕ notable. This flexibility mаkеѕ lemon bаlm еxtrеmеlу important fоr those with interrupted sleep раttеrnѕ.
Unknowingly, you get exposed to harmful free radicals every day. These can be damaging for your health. To battle the effects of free radicals, you need antioxidants, and lemon balm contains oodles of them. Thе hіgh lеvеl оf antioxidants hаѕ also been shown to reduce bеtа-аmуlоіd рlаԛuе dероѕіtіоn іn nеurаl раthwауѕ, which can ѕlоw dоwn the progression оf nеurоdеgеnеrаtіvе diseases, ѕuсh аѕ Alzhеіmеr’ѕ аnd Pаrkіnѕоn’ѕ dіѕеаѕе.
For treating cancer and some other disorders, exposure to radiation becomes necessary. However, people subjected to radiation exposure have to cope with several side effects afterwards. Studies have indicated that using lemon balm can reduce the negative impact of exposure to radiation by reducing damage to the plasma DNA.
Drinking lemon balm tea and its infusion can help improve the condition of your digestive health. And this comes as no surprises as lemon balm has been used to reduce distress to the gut and also heal it from various stomach conditions, such as indigestion.
Having a flu and a muscle ache that comes with it? Fret not, because lemon balm leaves can help relieve that body ache, possibly due to eugenol which is a pain-reducing compound. It also contains wonderful properties that help to reduce antispasmodic actions, and thus effectively reduces muscle spasms. Using Lemon balm leads to sweating when you have a fever, helping to release toxins from the body and bring some relief. which brings some relief.
Using lemon balm can boost your immunity levels. It has components like caffeine and rosmarinic acids, which are antibacterial and antiviral properties to fortify the body, thus effectively alleviate any onset of infection in healthy cells.
Lemon balm is useful for keeping the skin in top condition, both for women and men. It has natural and strong astringents, making it a great herb for treating skin inflammation, as well as managing oily and acne prone skin. Want to up your cleanser game? Use lemon balm! It is great for getting the gunk from the pores, giving you a beautifully smooth complexion and also reducing acne and rashes.
To treat instances of oral infections and results like bleeding gums and bad breath, you can try using lemon balm. A few drops of lemon balm essential oil are all you need. Mix it with a mouthwash or just a cup of water and start gurgling the bacteria away. You will definitely feel and smell a better mouth.
People get tensed due to many reasons, personal and professional. Using lemon balm tincture or infusion in such times works wonders in calming tensed nerves. You can use it to release stress after returning from work.
You can use lemon balm to as a natural room freshener. Fresh lemon balm leaves can be soaked in lightly boiled water to create a concoction that can be sprayed in your living space for a light minty aroma.
Avoid using lemon balm together medications and sedatives unless you have checked with your physician about the safety concerns. As lemon balm already contains some sedative properties, using it with other OTC sedative drugs can strengthen that sedative effects that may be undesirable. While it is not yet proven that lemon balm has any effect when taken with anti-retroviral agents, it is advisable that HIV patients undergoing such therapy should not use any forms of lemon balm.
Studies have found that lemon balm essential oil can increase pressure in the eyes, and this can worsen glaucoma. Furthermore, the herb may affect patients by interacting with existing medications that can cause adverse results. Thus, it is recommended that glaucoma patients stave off the herb.
People prepping to undergo surgery, or recuperating should not use lemon balm in any form due to the herb’s sedative properties. It can induce a deeper and long sleep, which is undesirable for those who just underwent a surgery.
Like many things out there, lemon balm leaves can induce allergic reactions that can include nausea and vomiting. However, most times, these allergic reactions only arise when large quantities are taken, so be aware and careful of how much you consume.
Lavender is a little purple flower with power. It carries with it a timeless charm, a gorgeous scent and a multitude of uses. These beautiful and fragrant blossoms have been grown in gardens worldwide for centuries, with several different varieties of the plant. Of which, English, French and spike lavender are the most popular.
The said little purple flower packs a punch. Besides creating luscious lavender smudge bundles to decorate your house, we’ve rounded up 6 other magical things you can do with this wonderful herb.
Since the ancient times, lavender has been used to cleanse and refresh. The word lavender has its root in the Latin word lavare, which essentially means to wash. Ancient Romans used the delightful flower to perfume their baths, bodies, beds and more, so we thought we’d recommend you to do so too!
Lavender linen water is a great addition to your regular laundry routine. Use it to fill up your iron to freshen your clothes while you press or pour it into a spray bottle and mist linens in your wardrobe.
Combine the witch hazel (or vodka) and lavender essential oil in the jar and shake well for at least 20 seconds. Then, add the water to dilute the mixture and pour into your spray bottle, through the funnel. Shake well before use and mist away! You may also use the linen water as a pillow spray to help you relax and sleep better.
Not a fan of those spray things? Use lavender to whip up a batch of all-natural, homemade soaps! It’s perfect for everyday use and even makes a divine gift for your friends. Fret not if you’re a beginner soap maker, Eve Organic Beauty’s recipe is guaranteed to be easy peasy.
Makes 8 soaps
Melt the goat milk soap base cubes over a double boiler on low heat, stir mixture until melted. Add alkanet root powder into the mixture and mix well. Pour into the silicone mould and add drops of lavender essential oil. Decorate with little bits and bobs of lavender buds and let dry for at least 24 hours.
For bi-coloured soap, melt cubes in two separate double boilers to have two mixtures. Pour the white soap base, wait 10 minutes until it hardens and then pour the coloured soap base.
Lavender is known to provide aid with stress and sleepless nights. It may not work like an over-the-counter melatonin pill, but it’s soothing scent will take the edge off your insomnia and induce sleep. In a 2006 research project, sleep-deprived college students inhaled either lavender or a placebo; those who used lavender slept better without disturbance and woke up more refreshed. Create little dreamy lavender-scented sleep sachets for a good night’s rest now. It may be all it takes for you to drift off.
Fill each sachet with dried lavender flowers and add up to three drops of lavender oil. Tie tight with ribbon and place under your pillow or bedside table for restorative sleep.
Cleanse and refresh your skin with a simple lavender sugar scrub. Its excellent exfoliating properties will scrub off impurities and soothe all at once.
Warm the coconut oil in the microwave for no more than 10 seconds. Then, mix the coconut oil and sugar together in a food processor or blender. Add dried lavender and pulse the food processor. Following so, add drops of lavender essential oil and mix well. For a purple hue, add food colouring Spoon into a glass jar and voila, you’ve made a lavender-scented sugar scrub!
Add lavender to honey for a gourmet taste and aroma! Drizzle over toast, scones, pancakes, granola… the possibilities are endless.
Makes approx. 180ml
Warm honey in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir in the lavender. Let cool, cover and refrigerate overnight.
To ease your cocktail of nerves with a natural sleep aid, boil lavender buds in water and enjoy as lavender tea. Drop in as many buds as you wish. Super fuss-free, fragrant and fun! As an alternative, feed your passion for fragrance and explore Nilüfer’s Floral Blossom tea – it contains lavender and also includes an aromatic mélange of chamomile, cornflower, lemongrass and rose.
We hope our listed lavender-based DIY projects will enable you to learn valuable skills and have fun at the same time. Tell us which ones you dabbled in!