Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

pumpkin-patch-1Fall is my favorite time of the year. Especially the month of October with Halloween and all. Not just because the weather starts to change and we get a cool crispness in the air. Not just because the leaves start to change colors, and the landscape looks like a beautiful painting.  Not just because of all the great Fall Festivals that take place. I’ll be honest and admit it’s really because of all the foods that come out at this time of the year: pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin pie muffins and cakes, pumpkin beers, pumpkin flavored anything really. Don’t even get me started on Halloween candy.

When I decided to launch OktoberFIT again this year, I was a little sad about missing out on all of these Fall favorites. But OktoberFIT is all about making smarter and healthier choices, it’s not about missing out! You have to be careful about the swaps you make though. Some people will think any type of smoothie will be a good choice. We think “Oh I’ll just grab a smoothie from this place on this corner. It’s a smoothie, so it can’t be bad right?” WRONG!! Just for an instance, A large Jamba Juice Mango-A-Go-GO smoothie has MORE sugar than an ENTIRE Mrs. Smith’s Classic Cherry Pie!! SAY WHAT?!

I wanted to satisfy my cravings for something pumpkin flavored. So I decided to switch my regular Peanut Butter and Jelly breakfast smoothie out for this Pumpkin Pie Smoothie. Below is the recipe I will be using for my breakfast smoothie for the month of OktoberFIT. Give it a try and let me know.

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

Ingredients:

1/2 frozen banana
4- 6 ice cubes
1 cup almond milk
1/2 – 1 cup canned pumpkin (just pure pumpkin, not the pie filling. Make sure there is no added sugar or other crap)
1-2 tsp maple syrup, honey or agave to sweeten (optional)
dash of pumpkin pie spice
dash of cinnamon (cinnamon is a great blood sugar regulator, so I recommend adding it to all smoothies)

Directions:

Place all ingredients in the blender and blend together until smooth.

7 Yoga Poses for Runners and Cyclists #6 Pigeon

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In my opinion PIgeon or Eka Pada Rajakapotasana is one Yoga pose that everyone should practice. It is one of my favorite poses, and I always do some variation of this pose in all the classes I teach. Pigeon is also a pose that I do after every run or bike ride. This pose helps to stretch a difficult area for most people, the IT Band, as well as allow some space and openness to be created in the hips. As a society today we spend so much time sitting, that practically everyone has some tightness in the hips. Now add all the exercise we do and our poor hips are just screaming for release. Pigeon allows that release.

Emotionally speaking, in Yoga we say that the hips are our emotional junk drawer. It’s where we hide away all those feelings we don’t want to deal with at the moment. So Pigeon allows not only a physical release but an emotional one as well. I’ve seen people begin to really let go in Pigeon in more ways than one, and some people have even cried in this pose, as they allow themselves to let go everything they are holding in.

One more note on Pigeon: you will either love or hate this pose. Some people, like me, really love the feeling of this pose. For some people it’s too much, and they can not sit still enough to allow that release. Just stay in the pose, focus on your breath, and begin to just let go both physically and emotionally. You will eventually come to love this pose as much as I do.

Yoga Pose #6 Pigeon/Eka Pada Rajakapotasana

Benefits:

  • stretches inner and outer thighs
  • eases tightness in the groin and hips
  • stretches and releases psoas
  • opens shoulders and chest
  • stretches and lengthens spine

How To:

  • You can come into Pigeon from a few ways, I’m going to walk you through coming into it from all fours/tabletop.
  • Come into a tabletop position.
  • Step your right foot between your hands.
  • Walk you right foot over to the left side of the mat, and drop your right knee towards your right wrist.
  • You want your front leg laying flat on the mat, and your shin parallel to the front of your mat.
  • If you are super tight you can tuck the right/front foot more towards your left hip, basically do not force the leg to be as straight or as parallel to the front of the mat.
  • Square your hips off towards the front of your mat.
  • Extend the left leg long behind you, keeping the foot in line with the hip, and not letting the hips or the back leg roll out to one side.
  • Bring your hands in front of the front leg, and lengthen the spine on the inhale.
  • Exhale and fold over the front leg, walking your hands out in front of you.
  • You can rest your head on your hands or a block, and if needed, you can slide a block under the right hip.
  • Stay here for about 10-20 breaths (I like to hold Pigeon for a long time, so I usually hold for 20 breaths).
  • Slowly walk your upper body back up and step back into tabletop.
  • Now take Pigeon on the other side.

 

 

7 Yoga Poses for Runners and Cyclists #5 Uttanasana

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After you have rested for a few breaths in Balasana/Child’s Pose walk your self up to a standing position anywhere on your mat. I add this next pose in to every yoga, Pilates and spin class I teach! It’s a Uttanasana (Standing Forward Fold/Bend) variation known as “ragdoll”. This is such a great pose to release the back, stretch the backs of the legs, and you can do it anywhere in your sequence, or anywhere you feel you need to just take a minute to let go (such as post race).

Pose #5 Uttanasana/Ragdoll/Standing Forward Fold

Benefits:

  • stretches hamstrings, calves and hips
  • releases tension in the spine, back and neck
  • relieves headaches
  • stimulates and improves digestion
  • eases fatigue

How To:

  • From standing take a deep breath in.
  • As you exhale hinge forward from the hips and fold forward touching the floor in front of your toes.
  • Now grab opposite hand to opposite elbow; making a box/window with your arms.
  • Let the weight of the upper body and your hands pull the upper body down.
  • Let the head hang heavy from the spine, releasing the neck fully.
  • Check that you are evenly distributing your weight in your feet, you may need to roll forward slightly bringing some of the weight into the balls of your feet. Most people have a tendency to rock back bringing all of the weight in to their heels.
  • Let your hips rest right over your ankles. If you are super tight in the hamstrings bring a little bend into the knee and allow your upper body to rest on your thighs.
  • With each inhale try to lengthen the spine and with each exhale allow yourself to become heavier and fold forward deeper.
  • Work on straightening the legs to get deeper into the stretch in the back of the leg.
  • Stay here for about 5-10 breaths, then place your hands on your hips and slowly roll up, stacking one vertebrae at a time, and bringing your head up last.

 

7 Yoga Poses for Runners and Cyclists #4 Balasana

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Balasana or Child’s Pose is probably one of the most recognized and practiced poses in Yoga (second only to Downward Dog). It’s really a great pose to rest in at the start of any class, or as part of a post workout stretch. There’s a few variations you can try such as, arms stretched forward (as shown in the picture), or arms along the sides as you reach back and grab your heels. You can also walk just your hands over to the left or right to get a little side bend action in the pose.

I prefer to stretch my hands forward for a few breaths, lengthening out the spine, and allowing some openness in the hips and groin area. Then I’ll walk the hands over to the sides for a few more breaths on each side.

Pose #4 Balasana or Child’s Pose

Benefits:

  • Stretches hips, thighs and ankles.
  • Lengthens and stretches the spine and back muscles.
  • Creates a stretch and openness in the hips and groin areas.
  • Calms and soothes the mind and body.

How To:

  • Come to a table top position on your mat (on all fours).
  • Spread your knees out as wide as your mat, or as wide as you feel comfortable.
  • Bring your big toes/feet together to touch.
  • Push your hands down into the mat and bring your hips back to rest on your leg and heels.
  • Walk your hands forward as you lower your torso down to the mat resting your forehead on the mat.
  • Take an inhale as you reach your hands forward and lengthen out and stretch the spine.
  • On the exhale allow your hips to sink deeper onto your heels.
  • Hold here for 5-10 breaths (or even more if you feel good).
  • With each exhale allow yourself to sink deeper into the pose, creating more openness in the back and hips.
  • Play around with walking just the hands over to each side of the mat and hold there for 5-10 breaths.

 

7 Yoga Poses for Runners and Cyclists #3 Gomukhasana/Cow Face Pose

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Gomukhasana or Cow Face Pose (not sure why it’s called Cow Face, but anyways) is one of my favorite stretches to do post run/bike. The full pose involves bringing the hands behind the back and interlacing them. I do a variation without the bind on the hands (as shown in the picture). Any athletic person will find this pose a bit uncomfortable to get into, but once you do the pose, and come out you will feel amazing. The important thing here is to not force yourself into the pose. If you cant come into this with the legs stacked as shown, then come to an easy cross legged pose, and start there.

Pose #3 Gomukhasana or Cow Face Pose

Benefits:

  • great hip opener
  • stretches hips, thighs, ankles
  • stretches the IT Band, an area that seldom gets stretches

How To:

  • Start in a seated position
  • Tuck your left foot over to your right hip
  • Take your right leg and stack the knee on top of the left knee (as shown)
  • make sure you are sitting on both sit bones between the feet
  • lengthen the spin by reaching the crown of the head up and grounding down into the sit bones
  • Take a deep inhale
  • As you exhale pull the belly in and start to fold over the knees
  • If you can allow the head/chin to rest on the knees
  • Breathe into the pose for 5 – 10 breaths
  • You should feel the stretch where your back pocket would be if you were wearing jeans
  • Switch legs/sides