Reflecting on the Spring Yoga Retreat

I am so happy to share some snippets from my first yoga retreat I hosted with my friend and yogi goddess @lesforyoga (check her out on instagram, she is amazing!).  It was three days of pure bliss with some amazing women.  A weekend I will never forget!

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Each day we led poolside yoga and meditation…

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Post yoga flows we adventured around the property, went on a group hike, and played in the lake.

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I taught a superfoods smoothie bowl workshop in the afternoon.

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This weekend was the first time in 9 years that I hadn’t defined who I was day-to-day as a mother. As a caretaker. This was the first true girls trip I’d experienced in so long that I almost forgot what it felt like. I didn’t know what I needed or how badly I needed it until it arrived. Being around such an amazing group of women was overwhelmingly intense in the most amazing way. I didn’t want it to end.

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WE WILL BE SHARING OUR NEXT RETREAT SOON so be sure to connect with us on social media @jennygarvinyasa and @lesforyoga

 

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Postcards from Colorado

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We just returned home from an EPIC spring break trip to Keystone with the kids.  It wasn’t my first time there, but going with the kids gave me a view through their eyes, so everything felt so fresh.  That beginner’s mindset has to be my favorite thing about traveling.

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We spent a lot of time hiking, and by hiking I mean climbing trees and rocks…

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we actually did do a little bit of walking too, but hiking can be hard to appreciate for kids.

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Always trying to be like me.  I’m not sure whether to be flattered or concerned.

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As long as the only PDA they are into is public displays of asanas then I guess I am okay with it.

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I can tell you what is not hard for these girls to appreciate:  ice skating!  Even Georgia was able to balance and skate around.

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We had to keep her little ego in check when she yelled really loudly “that boy is bad!” after this older kid fell down.

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We hit up both ice rinks in Keystone, and now the kids are asking if we can go to an indoor rink by our house!

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Matt and Minda spent 3 days skiing, while I only tried one day with the little girls.  Skiing with really little kids is difficult and exhausting!  Also, I let go of Georgia going down the bunny slope and with perfect form she flew down the hill so fast that her dad had to jump out and catch her before she crashed into a net.  Next year we will teach her to stop!

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We also went to Denver and explored, but I may have to save that for another post.  We did have some amazing vegan food there that I want to tell you about (cliff hanger!).

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It feels good to be home.  I am still basking in that Rocky Mountain high a little bit.  My yoga teacher had to leave the room for a few minutes today, so he was like “Jenny, remember what we did on that side?  Take the class through that on the other side.”  Then I came crashing back to reality pretty fast!  Reality isn’t so bad though.  And this trip did make me realize that not everything has to be so serious!  I love vacations that change my mindset for the better.  It makes me think I need to hurry and plan the next adventure.

Speaking of the next adventure, check out my retreat in Austin that I am hosting with one of my yoga besties next month.  Get yourself  there and we will provide the yoga, meditation, guacamole, rad pad, and rad people!

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Mermaid Smoothie Bowl // Spirulina Benefits

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The weather here may be rainy and cool, but I am dreaming of warm sunny days by the sea, so I grabbed my Hawaiian Spirulina and whipped up this pretty green blue smoothie bowl remiscent of the beach.  Exactly what the doctor ordered for this landlocked mermaid!

So let’s talk Spirulina for a minute.  It sounds like some zany amusement park ride, but it is actually a blue green algae.  If the thought of eating algae doesn’t float your boat, maybe the health benefits will convice you otherwise.

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Spirulina is loaded with vitamins and minerals including vitamin A, K, multiple B vitamins, and iron.  It is also a good source on antioxidants that protect against cell damage and aging, and can even help to prevent and fight cancer cells.  Spirulina is also around 70% protien by weight, higher than any other plant based food on the planet.  It is a complete protien, containing all the essential amino acids.

Oh, and did I mention that it make your smoothie look this pretty blue green color?!  It can also be used to make mermaid toast!  Some people say that they are not a fan of the taste, but I only use a tiny amount at a time, so I really don’t even taste it.

Here is what I used in my smoothie bowl:

  • 2 frozen bananas
  • 1 cup coconut milk (the kind that comes in the carton, not canned)
  • 1/4 teaspoon Nutrex Hawaiian Spirulina Powder (not getting paid, just genuinely love this stuff!)
  • 1 ripe banana, sliced
  • handful of goji berries
  • coconut mango granola
  • chia seeds
  • hempseeds

Add the first three ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth.  Top with the remaining ingredients.

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Pretend you are on a beach somewhere eating your tropical smoothie, unless you actually are on a beach somewhere….

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Matcha Mania // My Favorite Coffee Alternative

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I am such a morning person and I love my morning routine.  Waking up before the rest of the house, making a french press full of coffee, and savoring the peace and quiet before the chaos.  I really have no intention of completely giving up coffee.  However, I noticed recently that the occassional cup of afternoon coffee had become an every day necessity.  A crutch to get me through my afternoon slump.

Afternoon coffee just wasn’t giving me that same warm fuzzy feeling that my morning coffee did.  It never tasted as good (I am convinced that our tastebuds change throughout the day), and it made me jittery, and after a couple of hours I felt just as lethargic as before I drank it.

I have been insta stalking all things matcha lately.  The pretty green tea that is oh so trendy.  So you might be wondering, what exactly is matcha?  Well, simply put, matcha is powdered green tea.  It is made by grinding green tea leaves into a fine powder.  When you drink matcha you are actually consuming the whole tea leaf vs. just an infusion.  This makes matcha higher in antioxidants than your average green tea and including the antioxidant EGCg which is among one of the most powerful and beneficial antioxidants on the planet.  Antioxidants are important to keep our bodies’ from oxidization on the cellular level, slowing and preventing aging.  Matcha has also been shown to boost metabolism.  So many wins!

I have always loved the taste of tea so switching to matcha for my afternoon pick me up has been easy.  I can drink it straight, or if I feel like getting fancy I will add a little honey, coconut oil (the oily stuff in the top photo!), and coconut milk to it.  Matcha still has about the same amount of caffeine as coffee, but the way the body processes it is more of a gentle steady release of energy vs. the sudden jolt and subsequent crash that I was getting from my coffee.

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I have been taking my matcha time as a second dose of daily calm and quiet time.  Making it my new favorite ritual.

Have you tried matcha?  What are some of your favorite brands and combos?

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Chia Pudding Parfait

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Chia seeds, like quinoa are an ancient seed native to the Americans and have been used by indegenous people for hundreds of years.  They have really grown in mainstream popularity in the past few decades.  First we saw the seeds come into our culture sprouted on terra cotta animals to make the cha-cha-cha Chia Pets, and more recently as an “SUPERFOOD.”

I always wonder if there is a deciding board sitting somewhere determining which foods get granted superfood status!  Chia is definitely highly nutritous, so I would concur with the title in this case.  Chia is a great source of healthy omega-3 fatty acids, high in fiber, and a plant based protien source.  It has quite a few vitamins and minerals, and is high in antioxidants.  Chia seeds benefits include improved skin, digestion, and have been shown to promote heart health by raising good cholesterol…AMAZING!

Chia seeds can be eaten fresh, or soaked.  Since they absorb 10 times their weight in water, they can be dehydrating if they are eaten fresh.  You can soak them in water for a couple of hours before adding them to a smoothie, or you can use them to make chia pudding.  This is my recent favorite!  It is one of the tastiest and easiest ways to get these seeds into your diet.

I tried a couple of recipes for chia pudding, but this one from my friend Ember’s blog, is my favorite so far.  It is the coconut milk that makes all of the difference.  She uses full fat canned coconut milk, but I used the lite kind, and it was still perfect!  I am all about eating a small amount of healthy fat, but I limit my intake.  A popular saying in the vegan community is “the fat you eat is the fat you wear,” so I try to make sure to limit my fats, and since the chia is already pretty high in fat I used light coconut milk.

I have been making this ahead of time, popping it in the fridge for anywhere from 4 hours to overnight.  It is always so great to have something healthy in the fridge that I can grab when I am short on time.  The only thing that makes chia pudding even better is layering it with a smoothie filled with more fresh fruit and superfoods.  You can play around with this recipe, using whatever smoothie you are into at the moment.  I have been sticking to berries lately because I always have them on hand, but pineapple or mango would work really well here too with the coconut.

What you will need:

  • 2  heaping tablespoons chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup light caned coconut milk
  • 1/2 banana, frozen
  • 1/2 cup frozen berries (blueberries, strawberries, raspberries or a mix)
  • 1/2 cup spinach
  • 1 cup coconut water

Place the chia seends and coconut milk into a small jar and refridgerate for at least 4 hours so that the chia seeds have absorbed the milk and it is the consistency of pudding.  When you are ready to serve, add the remaining ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth.  Now, either layer the smoothie and chia pudding in a cup or just add a little of the smoothie to the jar with the chia pudding.  Top with fresh fruit and extra chia or hemp seeds if desired.

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Cheers!

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Do you Kombucha?

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I am sure you have heard of the trendy sparkling probiotic goodness that is kombucha, or loving referred to as booch.  It was definitely a buzz word in my yoga teacher training this year.  The kombucha trend that I am totally OBSESSED with.  Now you might be wondering, “What is exactly is kombucha and why do I need it in my life?”

Kombucha has been used for thousands of years in Chinese culture as a health elixer.  It is made by fermenting green or black tea.  The fermentation process naturally produces good bacteria aka live probiotics (another little buzz word in the wellness world).  These little bugs are beneficial to our gut health and what is good for our gut health is good for our overall health.  70% of our immune system lives in our guts, and since we are in the midst of a record breaking flu season, I want my immune system to be in great shape.  Kombucha’s probiotics also improves digestion, making it easier for your body to absorb vitamins and minerals.

In addition to the probiotics, most kombucha also contains B vitamins, a natural energy booster, and who doesn’t need that our busy world?  I can definitely feel this benefit right away when drinking it.  If I am craving that 4th cup of coffee, I know that I would feel much better grabbing a kombucha in the long run.

What I look for in a kombucha…first, I don’t buy any kombucha that has over 40 calories per serving.  Anything over that is usually pretty loaded with extra added sugars.  Second, I love a booch that has some additional benefits.  I have found that the Kevita and GT’s brands are very consistent on these fronts.  The GT’S Enlightened Multi-Green kombucha is one of my favorites.  It combines the benefits of kombucha with superfoods like algae, spirulina and chlorella.

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The last thing I love about kombucha is it is the perfect thing to grab when I want to sip on a fizzy soda.  It curbs my cravings for caffine and sugar.  It does have a little bit of a vinegar taste, and I love that, but I understand that it may not be everyone’s cup of (fermented) tea.

Do you kombucha?  What are some of your favorite brands and flavors, or are you adventurous enough to make it at home?

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Healing Turmeric Latte

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It seems like the flu epidemic this year is the top news story right now. Schools in my area are shutting down to be sanitized, and despite our best efforts, we have not been immune at our house. We have struggled this winter to stay well, dealing with bouts of the flu, colds, and strep throat.

When I had the flu, my yoga teacher suggested loading up my system with turmeric, garlic, and ginger, all known to be anti-viral and anti-inflammatory herbs.

Turmeric is known to be especially healing and has been used in Ayurveda for thousands of years to treat a variety of viral and bacterial infections. Curcumin, the naturally occurring bio-active ingredient in turmeric is a well studied anti-inflammatory substance. The curcumin in turmeric becomes even more powerful when mixed with black pepper. In India and Pakistan, where turmeric is a dietary staple, cancer rates are significantly lower than in countries where turmeric is not regularly consumed.

Turmeric is delicious in curries, but I also love to use it to make “Golden Milk” a latte that combines turmeric with milk and sugar, or in this case, almond milk and honey which is a natural way to soothe a cough.  I also add in cinnamon, another warming spice, which is not enhances the flavor, but in Ayurveda cinnamon enhances the bio-availability of other herbs.

To make the latte you will need:

  •  1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk (I like the Malk brand because of the limited ingredients)
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon of raw honey

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a simmer, turn the heat to low and let simmer for 5 minute, stirring frequently.  Drink immediately.

Cheers to health and happiness!

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My BBG Journey and Why I Quit

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Yes, that is me above.  I was just finishing week 24 of BBG and I thought I was looking pretty great!  I have never been the type to pose for these body shot selfies, BBG and the #bbgcommunity made me do some funny things.

Here is the deal.  Yes, BBG made me strong and lean.  I looked pretty damn good for the ripe age of 35.  It also made me tired, constantly sore, agitated, and more self conscious than I have ever been. TRUTH BOMB!

 

You might be asking, what is BBG?  Well,  BBG stands for Bikini Body Guide and was developed by Kayla Itsines, a personal trainer from Australia and Instagram sensation.  The format consists of 3 resistance workout a week that are 28 minutes each.  It also includes doing a few days a week of LISS (low intensity steady state) workouts like walking or biking,  and a couple of HIIT (high intensity interval training) session towards the end of the program. I like that the resistance training is relatively short at only 28 minutes, and can be done from any where with minimal equipment.  This worked well with my schedule as a stay at home mom.  The workout always left me dripping with sweat since a lot of it is plyometrics based training.

BBG also has a huge community on social media.  Just check out the BBG hashtag on Instagram and prepare to be “inspired.”  This is what really got to me after awhile.  Seeing the all of these women posting their “progress selfies” on Instagram really felt like a competition.  I felt like I was killing it in the gym, but I was constantly comparing my progress with everyone else’s.  It went from encouraging in the beginning to discouraging after awhile.  Girls with amazing bodies posting things like “it’s not about how you look, but how you feel.”  Umm, yeah right!

I can definitely say that after 36 weeks, I was done.  My knees and back were always hurting from the insane amount of jumping involved.  I was bored and really started to dread my workouts.  I transitioned back to doing lots of yoga with some occasional running and resistance training mixed in.

My BBG transformation photo  Round 1 vs Round 2

 

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Six Months Post BBG. Happier and Healthier!

I feel much more balanced now.  I feel like I am truly loving my body and giving it the compassion it deserves.  I am much happier now than when I was on my BBG journey.  I may not be quite as lean, but I am okay with that.
Any questions or comments, feel free to leave them below and I will answer them.

 

Life Update! I Wrote an eBook and I am a Certified Yoga Teacher!

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Hey guys!  I have been super busy the last few months.  I have been working on my 200 hour Yoga Teaching Certification, and I am officially done!  It has been one of the most soul fulfilling journeys of my life, and I am so filled with gratitude for the whole experience.

As part of our final exam we had to create some income doing something yoga related, so I made an eBook.  It is 50 pages of my favorite vegan recipes.  I really poured my heart and soul into it, and now it is available on Amazon (LINK) :

Now I am hoping to have more time to post here and create some online yoga classes.  I am really excited about everything I have in the works!  I also have a new Instagram account that is specifically for posting food and yoga.  I mean, my kids are cute, but I wanted something that could be more content driven and less personal…
Just thought a little life update was due since I have had so many big things going on.
Love and Light!

 

Postcards from Caprock Canyons

 

Greetings!  The last weekend of summer we packed up the our RV and hit the road.

I love the wide open plains of west Texas, and I knew that it would be just the right place to reset before the routine of the school year hit.  Matt and I had camped out at Caprock Canyons several times in the past before we had kids.  It is an outdoor lovers dream with its beautiful red canyon walls and expansive trail system.  When we check site availability a couple of days before we wanted to leave there was one site available.  I took that as sign from the universe that it was meant to be!

My previous trips to Caprock were always spent hiking to fern cave, a spot where a natural spring that drips out of a shady cliff side creating a magical environment for ferns to grow out of  the sandstone wall.  It is amazing! I had planned on doing that this trip because I wanted to show the girls, but after half a mile into the four mile trail I realized that it just wasn’t going to happen.  The 100 degree August heat had us all wanting to turn around.  We did get some pretty awesome canyon views on this trail though.

 

We also rode the Caprock State Trailway, a rails to trails conversion, one evening in hopes of seeing a colony of Brazilian Freetailed bats fly out of Clarity Tunnel.

We waited around until dark without ever seeing the mass exodus of bat, but the five mile bike ride back in the dark turned out to be a harrowing and unforgettable experience that included a massive swarm of mosquitos, a couple of pop up thunderstorms that had lightning flashing all around us, and an encounter with an angry rattlesnake that I almost ran over on my bike.

 

The highlight of our trip was definitely the Eagle Point trail.  When we arrived at the trail head we were amazed to see a piece of a rainbow streaking through the sky.  One of my favorite things about west Texas is that thunderstorms will randomly pop up on the most beautiful summer day, making for backdrops like this..

 

 

Hidden under this trail was the most amazing little natural cave that the map called the natural bridge.

 

 

After all of the hiking we needed to cool off, so a dip in Lake Theo, a little lake (really more of a pond) in the park was in order.

Not the most beautiful water we have seen this summer, but it was so cool and refreshing!

Oh, did I mention we saw bison?!  Lots of bison everywhere.  We saw them travelling in groups down to the lake for a drink and walking around the visitors center.

 

I  live for little weekend adventures like this.  Being in nature is so fulfilling for my soul.  My hope as a mom is that my girls will learn to love and respect mother earth and all of her creatures.

There is more from our trip here in this video!

Wishing you a peaceful and adventure filled weekend!