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Blenderless Power Drink

This coconut milk drink is a great alternative if you don’t have time to power up the blender. It’s a sweet concoction that takes just minutes to make. The chia seeds create a unique consistency and add healthy benefits of omega-3’s and protein.

-1 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk
-1/2 TBS chia seeds
-1 dash cinnamon
-1/2 TSP vanilla extract
-1/2 TBS raw honey

Vigorously mix all ingredients in a glass and let sit for 10 minutes. When the chia seeds have developed a gel-like consistency, the drink is ready. Serves one.

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A Beginner’s Guide to Hot Yoga

By Chloe Mulliner, Guest Blogger

My first few hot yoga classes were rough. Ok, I’ll be honest, I didn’t even make it through my first class without having to tap out and leave the sweltering 105-degree F room. During my next few sessions, zenful yogis gracefully maneuvered into handstands and contortionist-worthy moves, while I sat there, trying not to pass out or throw up.

I struggled through each class, but I continued attending at least one hot yoga class each week. I slowly began to challenge myself and hold the stretches for longer. Within a few months, I was craving hot yoga, and I even started looking forward to the extreme heat and intense workout. I felt my confidence increasing as I gained muscle and flexibility. I also noticed a decrease in my anxiety and a new appreciation for being present.

Because it took me time to fully understand how to enjoy hot yoga, I wanted to pass on a few words of wisdom to help beginners beat the heat and survive those first few classes:

Change the rules

My personal rule is that I have to try something at least three times before I form an opinion about it. However, if I’d followed my own rule, I would have quit hot yoga after my first three pathetic classes. When it comes to hot yoga, I say try it at least 10 times before you bail. Ten classes and you’re probably hooked!

Tune it out
Hot yoga is a mentally relaxing practice, but it’s impossible to get into a peaceful mindset if you’re worried about what others are thinking about you. Everyone has so much sweat clouding their eyes, they can hardly see past their own noses. No one’s checking you out, judging your downward dog, or counting the number of breaks you take. For the best experience, focus on you, and only you.

Drink up
You’ll sweat unlike you have ever sweat before. It’s extremely important to hydrate before and after class, but don’t chug a gallon of water five minutes before stretching. Nothing’s worse than feeling all that water sloshing around in your stomach during your first set of planks. Your body takes time to hydrate, so knocking back a bunch of water all at once won’t do the trick. For best results, consistently drink water throughout the day.

Eat lightly

Gorging on a huge meal right before class is one sure way to ruin your entire practice. The few times I’ve made the mistake of eating too much or too close to the start time, I’ve spent the entire class trying to keep down my food. Eat a small meal around two hours before your class starts, so you can focus more on your pigeon pose and less on your escape route.

Create your own pace

Hot yoga isn’t a synchronized sport. Everyone works at their own speed. Don’t worry if you’re a few breaths behind the instructor’s pace. There is no such thing as moving too slowly. Listen to your body, challenge it when you can, and ease off when you need to.

Practicing hot yoga is mentally and physically challenging, so even the littlest accomplishments, like working through an entire class, can be extremely rewarding. Follow these tips to slowly, but surely, become a sweat-loving, toe-touching hot yogi yourself.
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Sulfates 101: The Good, the Bad, the Allergy

By Justine McGrath, Guest Blogger

I found out I was allergic to sulfates while taking medication. Once I started taking it, my skin suddenly turned bright red, uncomfortably tight, and itchy all over. Studying myself in the mirror, I remember thinking that I looked like a monster that had been scorched by the sun. I immediately called my mom for words of comfort and wisdom, while wailing into the phone, “What’s happening to meeee?!”

“Sulfate allergies are quite common,” my doctor said as she jotted down notes on a metal clipboard.  Unbeknownst to me at the time, sulfates are in a ton of major beauty products, but it took ingesting them for me to notice my allergy.

Since my sulfate-sensitivity surfaced, I’ve made it a goal to become more educated about the little buggers and eliminate them from my beauty regimen entirely. But even if you’re not allergic to them like me, sulfates can still do damage to your skin and hair. I’ve compiled some FAQs about sulfates below with the hopes you’ll proceed on the path to better beauty health:

What are sulfates?

You probably guessed by now that sulfates are derived from sulfur. They masquerade in the form of compounds called sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and sodium laureth sulfate (SLES). You can find them listed on the ingredients label of many beauty products, usually displayed as the second or third ingredient (which is super helpful when you need to do a quick check). These compounds create foamy lathers and are essentially what make your beauty and household cleaning products bubbly.

Why are sulfates damaging?

Chances are, you use products with sulfates in them all the time, so how bad can they really be? Sure, you might not have drastic reactions like I do, but your skin and hair could still be getting damaged. As surfactants, sulfates work to remove dirt and oil from your skin and hair. But oftentimes, these ingredients strip your body of essential oils, break down skin cells over time, and cause follicular damage. Essentially, they dry you out and leave you with broken hair and dry skin.

What products contain sulfates?

I was shocked to find out how many products contain sulfates: shampoos, bar and liquid soaps, toothpaste, and even the moisture strip on your razor! Aside from beauty products, you’ll find sulfates around your house in the form of carpet cleaners, dish detergent, and even toilet soaps. Let’s face it, do you want to brush your teeth with things you put down your toilet? I sure hope not.

How can I avoid them?

Luckily, nowadays many items at your local drug or beauty store are labeled “sulfate-free.” A quick label check will also reveal what’s lurking in your products. Personally, I’ve become fond of brands like Desert Essence ®, Acure, and Burt’s Bees®, which typically use more mindful ingredients. Take it a step further and browse the beauty aisle at your local health food store because they usually have a myriad of sulfate-free options.

It’s true that sulfate-free alternatives can sometimes be more expensive, but the result is well worth it. Since switching over, I’ve noticed my hair has grown noticeably longer and softer, and I haven’t fallen victim to as many random breakouts on my face. My skin and hair feel healthier and less dry overall, and I feel better for being more informed about what I’m putting on my body. If you’re not 100 percent sold on switching over, challenge yourself to a three-month trial period and see if you notice any differences. I’m betting you’ll be a sulfate-free convert before you know it.

Justine McGrath is a copywriter by day and a stargazer by night. She was born and raised in San Diego, California and is passionate about travel, J.K. Rowling, and burritos. Check out more of her writing here.

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Coconut Banana Smoothie

When I’m craving something sweet and tasty, I whip up this tropical treat. Think pina colada, without the guilt. It’s one of my favorite “dessert” smoothies or a great option for a hearty breakfast. To further boost the health factor, I like to add a dash of turmeric, which is a warm tasting spice with anti-inflammatory properties, and some chia seeds that pack omega-3’s, calcium, and fiber into your diet.

-1 organic banana
-1/2 cup organic frozen pineapple
-1 TBS chia seeds
-1/2 TSP cinnamon
-1/2 TSP turmeric
-1 TSP vanilla extract
-1 cup coconut water*
-4 cup unsweetened coconut milk*
-1/2 cup ice (if drinking immediately)

*Measurements are approximate, depending on size of blender

Place banana, pineapple, chia seeds, cinnamon, and turmeric in the blender. Add liquids and ice. Blend until smooth. Drink immediately, or refrigerate/freeze in airtight, glass containers.

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Green Smoothie for Beginners

I recently presented a workshop at Digital Volition, where I spoke about holistic health and served up four different smoothie blends. The beginners’ green smoothie was a crowd pleaser, as it got everyone talking and coming back for seconds. It made my smoothie-loving soul shine because this green blend is a great stepping stone for an eventual all veggie-based smoothie! Be brave, give it a try it, and get ready to glow!

-1/2 organic banana (freeze other half for later smoothies)
-1/2 organic apple
-1/2 bag of organic mixed greens
-1/2 organic lime squeezed
-1 TBS chia seeds
-3 cups coconut water*
-2 cups filtered water*
-1/2 cup ice (if drinking immediately)

*Measurements are approximate, depending on size of blender.

Place banana, apple, greens, and chia seeds in the blender.  Add liquids and ice.  Blend until smooth. Drink immediately, or refrigerate/freeze in airtight, glass containers.

Note: Vegetable-based smoothies provide more health benefits, with less sugar. Aim for a 3:1 vegetable to fruit ratio when you’re ready to take on more greens!