Tuesday
Apr012014

Vegan March is Over

It's April 1st and vegan March (Marts med medfølelse) is over. Unfortunately I can’t really say I can feel any changes in my body. It’s feeling as healthy as before, but I guess I didn’t change that much with just removing fish, eggs and an occasional dairy product.

It’s been easy being vegan. Especially because Lara embraced the challenge, bought a vegan cook book (Forks over Knives) and whipped up some amazing vegan dishes at home. Friends took to me out to a vegan restaurant and another friend ordered me vegan food for his wedding. Thanks, you guys <3

Seeing as it’s April fools day I’d considered writing that I’d celebrate the end of vegan month with a big, red steak – but I just know that nobody would believe me. Instead I’ll tell you that I might go just a little more vegan from now. No strict dogmas, though. I’ll eat bread without checking if someone put dairy in. I’ll have an ice cream from my favorite place on Skydebanegade, when the sun is out and I’ll order fish when out in a (non vegan) restaurant. And I’ll probably enjoy it too.

I'm not going vegan. My diet will be plant-based. Not because I think we shouldn’t eat animals, but because I think it’s healthier for me to feed on green, fresh foods. The truth is that you can vbe vegan and really uinhealthy. There are vegan pizzas, cakes and sausages too... But by defining my diet as plat-based I will make sure to fill up on veggies, fruits, lentils, seeds and nuts instead of animal products and processed foods.

Saturday
Mar012014

4 reasons Why I Go Vegan for March

I’ve joined March for Compassion (Marts med medfølelse) and will give up all animal products for the month of March.

I haven’t eaten pork or beef since I was about 16. I’ve tried lamb once, but didn’t like it and I’m sure I’ve eaten horse blood in gummi bears or whatever they put in, but I’ve been what some call a semi vegetarian and what others call fussy, in other words, not eating any four-legged creatures for about 16 years now. It’s not an animal welfare thing (I love my leather boots), I just don’t like the way heavy meat feels in my stomach and believe it’s healthier to avoid it.

It’s not that much of a change to go from being a almost non-dairy semi vegetarian to completely vegan. I guess it’s most a matter of planning and reading labels, so for March I’ll eliminate all animal products, but I'll still be wearing my boots.

Here are the 4 main reasons.

1. Health - Well Obviously

I believe that a plant based diet is the best thing you can do to your body. If you think you need protein from meat and calcium from dairy, I recommend you watch the film Forks Over Knives that shows research that proves that animal products and dairy lead to higher risks of heart diseases, cancer and diabetes. We’ve just watched it and I’m as inspired to go vegan as ever.

2. I’ve Seen What Stays In

When I did my last detox in Thailand (a 6 days/5 nights juice fast with daily enemas) about a month ago I saw what came out of me. I’m sorry if this is too much information, but there are so few that do flush out their intestines, so I feel like I have to share my experiences so more people know. At The Spa Resort they give you a strainer when you have your enemas. You need to know what’s in there. I hadn’t had chicken for about a week before the fast but meat still came out.  Now chicken is one of the meats that is easily digestible so I daren’t think about how long red meat stays in the colon. I’ve heard (but maybe that’s just an urban myth) that it can take years to digest a steak. I haven’t had chicken since.

3. Animal Welfare and Reduction of the Carbon Footprint

Animal welfare isn’t the reason I’ve gone off meat from four legged animals, but let’s face it; we don’t treat farmed animals right. I recently read David Life and Sharon Ganon’s book Jivamukti Yoga: Practices for Liberating Body and Soul. Jivamukti Yoga is big on vegan activism and uses core yoga philosophy like the Yamas and Niyamas to teach that ‘The best way to uplift our own lives is to uplift the lives of others, and making the choice to eat a plant-based diet and avoid the use of animal products in all areas of our lives is the single greatest act we can take to uplift the lives of others’. It is taking the practice of Ahimsa - non-violence seriously.

4. March With Compassion

A Danish group of vegans have created an association called Food With Compassion (Mad med medfølelse). They’ve set up the event March with Compassion (Marts med medfølelse) for which 2000 Danes have signed up. I’m one of them. The founders provide food plans for every day consisting of healthy and delicious (Danish) vegan recipes from their blogs along with a community where vegan novices can ask questions or even get their own vegan mentor for the month. Big kudos to March With Compassion and all the work they’ve put into inspiring others to go vegan. It gave me just the right kick to see what it would be like to scratch fish, egg and dairy entirely from my diet for a month. I’m looking forward to the ride.

And if you think: ‘Poor Thilde. She has to live off salads for a month’. Then take a look at today’s weekend menu: porridge with banana and a green smoothie, raw springrolls and vegan burger with soya cheese. Nom.

Wednesday
Feb262014

Health Holiday: Detoxing at The Spa Resort Koh Chang, Thailand

Ever since I filled up on fresh juices and emptied out my guts in Thailand last year I’ve been wanting to do it again. So a year later – this February - I found myself on yet another 6 days/5 nights juice detox, this time at The Spa Resort in wonderful Koh Chang - with Lara juicing and pooing alongside me.

Fasting 

If you’re new to the whole concept of fasting you might want to read my post on the Samui experience or one on fasting at home. In brief, you spend almost a week not letting anything solid pass your lips while you clean out the other end with gallons of coffee water. By the end you feel wonderfully light, clean and clear. Or I did. After seeing me do it last year, Lara had decided to fast for 3.5 days to see what the fuss was about. But as she said herself: fasting isn’t for everybody. As each day went by she got quieter and quieter and more and more introvert. This woman usually never shuts up, she crawls up robes and does box jumps at Crossfit, but at The Spa all she wanted to do was to lay by the pool with her book while all the life force slowly ran out of her. At breakfast after 3.5 days she finally got some sparkle back in her eye with a ‘Guys Breakfast’. You can read her experience with the whole thing here.

Anyway. I again enjoyed the feeling of alertness and clarity when the hunger had passed after the first couple of days. I did meditation and yoga every morning and as the teacher had a few days off to go to a wedding in Bangkok I ended up teaching some of the other fasters in the beautiful yoga shala.

The Colemas

Every day (or as often as you want - some of the programs have two a day) you flush out your bum with a coffee colema. You get a 5 liter bucket with coffee and vinegar solution. When in the privacy of your own bathroom, you fill it with warm water, lie back and empty out your body. You can read a more 'graphic' discription of the process here form my first experience with enemas here.

The Spa Resort Koh Chang

The Koh Chang venue is different than the one in Samui. In Samui you have the beach, the main road right out the door and lots going on (we were staying at The Spa Village accommodation in the jungle so in the afternoons and nights we were away from it all up in the hills). The Spa in Koh Chang is very secluded. It’s right on the water, but there’s no beach and the water’s not suitable for swimming. It’s great for kayaking, though and you have the beautiful pool for swimming - if you have the energy...

Each day the skilled Thai massage therapists would combine Thai massage and oil massage and rub our entire bodies with tiger balm. What bliss.

The rooms were amazing. The very helpful Guest Relation Manager, Beer,  had put us in a Lower Hill Cottage with a nice balcony overlooking the jungle. The huge bath looked amazing but it really was quite ridiculous as it was impossible to fill due to it’s size. If you had the time to run it the water would be cold by the end of it. Ah, first world problems...

The Food

We again did the mistake of only booking enough days to complete the fast with only one day to spare to eat. The last day is spent on breaking the fast with raw veggies, so again I didn’t really get a chance to sample the impressive raw, vegan and healthy menu. I did go a little nuts the last night in the company of the lovely Miss Mao and her German friend, Monica, and ordered both a salad and raw spring rolls. A bit much on an almost empty stomach. The day we left for Bangkok I brought more spring rolls to avoid spicy (and most likely meaty) curries at the bus stops.

So now there’s just The Spa Resort  in Chang Mai left to try. Next time we’ve decided to just go and eat delicious, healthy food without fasting. I want to go now.

So What's detox?

A growing body of research suggests that many of the chemicals we consume daily through food, water, and air can get stuck in fat cells in our bodies. These toxins include pesticides, antibiotics and hormones in food, chemicals from food packaging, household cleaners, detergents, food additives, heavy metals, pollution, drugs, and cigarette smoke.

Detoxification is the body's natural, ongoing process of neutralising or eliminating toxins from the body. The liver, intestines, kidneys, lungs, skin, blood and lymphatic systems work together to ensure that toxins are eliminated from the body. You can aid this process by eating or drinking a diet of natural foods and basically flush out your system to restore the natural balance in the body and get rid of the toxins.

This is one side of the story. The other side represents doctors like Frank Sacks, MD, of the Harvard School of Public Health who will argue that the idea that your body needs help getting rid of toxins has 'no basis in human biology', as your immune system handles those duties, no matter what you eat. Please know that I am in no way a medical professional so please consult your GP if you want to take up fasting.

For me the detox is not only about cleaning the body of toxins. It’s also about clearing your mind and realising how much energy we use on food. Both on worrying about what to eat, how much to eat, but also how much energy the body uses on digestion. In my experience, fasting increases one’s awareness, one’s capacity to think, to digest, to feel and express.

Wednesday
Dec182013

Stinestregen Yoga Bag

Look what the lovely cartoonist Stinestregen did. A yoga pose (pose is bag in Danish) with a Stine pretzel. 

This post is not sponsored in any way. I just think you should see the bag and know that you can buy it here. I also think you should like Omshanti on Facebook. That's all.

Tuesday
Nov262013

Open Letter to New Male Hot Yoga Students

Dear men. I love that more and more of you come to hot yoga classes. You do good things to the the energy in a hot room full of yoginis. And you’ll do good things to yourself.

I’m glad you’ve realised that yoga is not ‘just for girls’. It can be quite challenging. Especially if your hamstrings are as tight as a drum or you find it difficult to just be present with your body. But there’s room for you too, new hot yogi man, and here’s a few things I’d like you to know to make your first encounter with hot yoga an enjoyable one.

Welcome to the Hot Room

Yes, the room is hot. It’s 38 degrees Celsius. That’ll make your body bendy as a cooked noodle. It’ll feel humid too, and as the air in the room comes from the air outside, the weather (and the number of students) will decide the humidity. Expect to sweat more on rainy days.

You’ll Sweat

As it’s hot and humid you’ll sweat. A lot. Probably more that women, so make sure you bring a towel. The sweat will cool your body down so you don’t have to wipe it off. You could wipe it off the floor afterwards as a courtesy to the next student and the staff if you wish.

Wear Clothes

You don’t have to wear a shirt, if you’d rather not, but please do wear shorts that cover your bits. Even though white is said to reflect your aura better in yoga, it’s a no go in the hot room. Unless you’re looking for miss wet t-shirt kind of action and for that I’ll recommend you go elsewhere.

Don’t compete

I know it’s in your nature and that you do it in the gym, but please don’t compete. You’re new in the game so you’ll never win. And yoga is about accepting what is. And right now you’re a rookie. That means that you might not be able to touch your toes without bending your knees. So bend your knees. Don’t do your back in.

Breaks are OK

In the beginning of class I’ll introduce child’s pose or balasana, as it’s called in Sanskrit. I’ll also tell you that you can use this posture if it all gets a little too much. I’ve never seen a man in child’s pose, though. I’ve seen you stand hunched over with your arms out to the sides trying to balance while you breathe heavily or even moan. This is a sign that you ought to be in child’s pose. Actually moaning will only occur quite a few minutes after you should have taken child’s pose.

Breathe

If you can’t breathe you’ve gone too far. Back out of the position until you can breathe nice and slow again (remember child’s pose? It’s also good for getting the breathing going again). Sometimes I’ll remind you to breathe. This is not because I think you’re so stupid that you don’t know. It’s because people sometimes actually do forget, and as I want you to enjoy your first hot class as much as possible I don’t want you to get dizzy.

Try Not To Care

Yes, there are many people in the room, there are mirrors, and you might feel a little exposed in your shorts.Try not to care. Everybody else is too busy trying to remember to breathe, to keep their legs straight and their bum tucked in to notice how your Trikonasana looks. In yoga we try to practice Pratyahara, which means to withdraw from the senses. We even have gaze points for our eyes (Dhristi) to stop them from landing on your Trikonasana. And we’ve all been new.

I Might Correct You

Yes, I might tell you to bend your legs or square your hips. That’s my job. I’m here to pass the ancient tradition of yoga on to you without you hurting yourself. And as you’re new I’ll keep an extra eye on you. I’ll only do this to make sure you’re alright. I’m not doing it to pick on you.

Bhujangasa-what?

Sometimes we speak Sanskrit in yoga. This is not to confuse you. It’s just that all the yoga positions have Sanskrit names and some of us teachers love to use them. Others will use the ‘animal-names’ and call it cobra instead of Bhujangasana. We’ll also show you the position and tell you how to get into it, so don’t worry.

Relax

When you’ve made it through to the relaxation - or Shavasana as we call it, you might feel a little weak. I understand that. But try to really feel your body now. Maybe you’ll feel your heart rate a little more or maybe you’ll feel a tingling sensation in your body. Maybe you’ll feel restless as I’ll keep you in Shavasana for a while before we all get up and leave. Again I don’t do this to bother you. Shavasana is where all the positions and all the hard work sinks into the body. So see if you can just lie here and be present without doing anything. Just for a little while.

Come back

Good job. You made it through your first hot yoga class. Make sure you drink a lot of water today, come see me after class if you have questions. It’s now up to you if today’s experience is something you laugh about with your friends and never attempted again or if it is to become a new routine that might change your life... I hope you come back. Next time will be so much easier.


Namasté

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