Tuesday, November 30, 2010

YOGA series: E1- Sun Salutation

It is been almost 2 years that I started to do yoga. I don't know about other people's experiences but I saw changes in me after the very first session, which I was quite surprised. As I continued my practice on regular basis I discovered that I am building much more than a fixable body. I was getting much calmer, and felt that I am in more control over my mind and emotions. And that made me happy, very very happy.

Personally yoga worked for me and I am enjoying it a lot. I recommended it to all my friends and most of them started to practice yoga and seems they are enjoying it too. so as I say about a lot of things, try it, maybe you find something good in it, otherwise you have nothing to lose.
so here in these series of posts I will talk about my yoga journey, different yoga practices and postures. I consider myself a new yoga learner ( level 0+) so I learn these stuff from somewhere and someone else probably and them mixed them with my own experiences  :) 

let's start with a little definition first:
The word yoga has many meaning; it is derived from the Sanskrit root "yuj", meaning "to control", "to yoke" or "to unite". there is another possibility, that the word yoga derives from "yujir samadhau" which means "contemplation" or "absorption". the last definition is closer to yoga since it is through contemplation that discrimination between praktri (nature) and purusha (pure consciousness) occurs ( I read about these in some books  about yoga over the past 2 years, I will  look back and try to find the Ref.)

Sun salutation (Surya Namaskar)

The sun salutation practice is a sequence of movements that energizes the body which links body, breath and mind and it is practiced at the beginning of the class. So why the sun?
In many cultures light  is the symbol of awareness and our primary source of light is of course the sun. and one of the ways to honor the sun if by Surya Namaskar.  

It is taught by ancient yogis that each of us replicates the world at large; containing rivers, seas, mountains, starts,... the sun and the moon. However the outer sun is a symbol of our "inner sun" which is our spirit, our heart. 

it is very interesting to know that in yoga our wisdom is placed in our heart which is typically associated with our emotions, not in our brain. Actually in yoga, brain is symbolized by the moon, which reflects the sun's light and generates no light of its own. if you look at it carefully you will see why; it is true that we make our decisions by our brain but brain is limited to its knowledge ( light reflected from our brain is limited to the light that it received as knowledge). 

There are many sun salutation variations, personally I am aware (and practiced) only few versions of them but we always start and end with Tadasana (mountain pose) and you can always modify it and make your own version by adding something like chair pose or etc. 
as you move through, watch your breath closely. Slow down or rest completely if your breathing becomes labored. This is actually true for all the yoga posture, as one of my yoga instructors (Don) said "you should always breathe comfortably, if not, it is a way your body telling: you passed your limit buddy", so listen to your breath. 

Always breathe through the nose not your mouth, because Nasal breathing filters and warms the incoming air and helps to prevents any problems throughout the posture. 

Sun salutation is adoration of the light and our insight, so it is important that throughout the practice, turn our awareness inward, toward the heart and  make each movement as thoughtful and precise as possible. if your mind goes somewhere else return to your heart, which actually is a good thing, since you noticed it's gone so congratulate yourself for noticing.
Don't be hard on yourself and if you're at your first sessions ( or at any level)  never compare yourself with others, everyone has different body structure; practice and just try to listen what your body is telling you.
Hope you enjoy and Namasta ! 
* the picture had been taken form http://thefitnessworkout.com

Monday, November 29, 2010

Beyond the Rack- let's shop !

Hello lovelies, today I want to talk about this cool website that I discovered almost a year ago

What is the BTR :
it is an online discount store  ( not quite like other stores) that each day offer discounts on special brands and each of the events are open for a few days. it has everything form clothing ( women, men and kids), jewelery, accessories ( sunglasses, bags, wallets, belts,...), electronics stuff and lots more from brands like YSL, coach, Dior, Marc Jacob...

How it works: 
if you're a member of the site you would receive emails from them about the events of the day, which usually opens at 11:00 am (eastern time). at the beginning, all the events opened at 11:00 but now they have some events opening at 17:00 (eastern time) too, which are usually called 5ive at 5.
look for those (5ive at 5) cause you could get some pretty good deals there.
when the events starts you could see the stuff that are available for sale, you choose the items and it goes to your shopping bag, you will have 20 minutes to do checkout and pay for the items, otherwise it will go back on the website.

Good to know:
1-some of the stuff are available in very limited quantities (like 5 or 7), so they go very very fast ( few seconds after the events start). so if you think you like something, don't hesitate and put in in your shopping bag, you would have 20 minutes to decide.

2- when you buy a stuff, they BTR people send your order to the supplier ( they don't have the stuff back at their offices). this leads me to the next point.

3- the shipping time; as I said in the last one, the supplier recieve the order from BTR, and they ship the items to the BTR and then they will send them to you. so it will take long time to receive your shopping stuff.
sometimes I really forgot what I bought from them (took over a month), however  sometimes you will receive fast. so there is no general rule on that but be aware.
so beware if you need something in urgent, don't get it from the website cause you probably won't get it in time.

4- you can return your items to them if you don't like them, you have to pay for the shipping though. they will not return your money to your credit card but they give you credit for shopping in BTR only.

5- to be a member of the website, you can register in their waiting list or get invited by someone.that specific person gets credits of 10$ for 10 friends invitation.

so if you're interested you could use the link below, to register or you could register on their waiting list , I don't know how long it will take to get in without invitation really.
oh! one last thing, there are some websites similar to this one , like http://www.ruelala.com/http://www.hautelook.com , http://www.glamlist.com)

and here is the link and happy shopping !

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Coconut Cake

I got the recipe of the cake from my mom's recipe's notebook. it is all in her handwriting which she collected over the years.
the cake is very simple and easy, I didn't take a picture because we were going to our friends' house after and I was kind of in hurry.

-  eggs at room temperature  2 
- sugar 1/2 cup
- coconut milk  3/4 cup
- cooking oil     1/2 cup
- baking flour  1 cup
- yellow cornmeal  3/4 cup
- baking powder 1 teaspoon

Optional for topping ( personally I did not make this, cause I taught the cake was sweet enough for my taste):
sugar 1 cup
water 1 cup

now to baking:
first first, heat up your oven at 375 C, cover your pan with cooking papers . then to next step.
first in a mixer at high speed, mix the eggs so they become almost white or soft yellow. then add the sugars and mix for about 2 minutes. then add the coconut milk, cooking oil, flour , all dry materials, once at a time and mix for little in between.
then pour the cake batter in your pan and put it in the oven for about 30-40 minutes ( when the stick comes out clean).
Optional step: put the sugar and water in the cooking pan and heat it up till all the sugar and solved in the water and thickens a little bit.

when the cake is ready, let it cool down and then add the cover the whole cake with your sugar juice.
Have a great day everyone :)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Movie talk: Harry Potter and the deathly hallows-part1

Last night we went to watch the Harry potter movie, and.....
wooooooooooooo, loved it . I think it was much better that the last one.
the movie opened Thursday midnight and we ( us with 4 of our friends) decided to go watch it Sunday evening. so we went to get the tickets on Sunday morning and it was all sold out !! so we got the tickets for Tuesday night since it is our usual movie night.
although we went 1 hour earlier to get good seats, the salon was full ! and we kind of sat separately ( me and my husband,oh and it is playing in IMAX which is very cool). he is a big Harry Potter fan and read all the books, but I didn't so in any of the movies if I didn't get something he would explain it to me. in this movie I think they had more time ( since it is in 2 parts) so they paid attention to details and I think stick to the book ( I have to check that with him).
so If you are a Harry Potter fan you diffidently seen it by now but if not, go see the movie; you gonna like it :)

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Trailer Official HD- there are some scenes from the part 2, here too

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Almond Cake

This is one of my favorite cakes....emmm almonds :). I used the recipe from Gastronomrr's guide. it is very simple and delicious, enjoy!
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup fine yellow cornmeal
1-1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

4 large eggs, separated
1-1/4 cup granulated sugar, divided

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup almond paste
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2/3 cup whole milk

2/3 cup ( or as much as it covers the whole surface of the cake) sliced almonds with skins ( I used the ones without skin)
confectioners sugar, for dusting

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9-inch cake pan, line the bottom with a round of parchment paper, and butter again.
In a bowl, mix together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt.
In another bowl ( or a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment), beat egg whites until soft peaks form.
In the 3rd bowl (or remove the whites and used the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment), at medium speed, cream the butter until fluffy. Add the almond paste and remaining sugar; continue to beat until will mixed. Add vanilla and egg yolks, one at a time, and beat until combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. put the mixer on low, alternately add the dry ingredients, then the milk, and finish with the dry ingredients. By hand fold in the egg whites, half at a time, until just combined.

Pour batter into cake pan and smooth top. Bake for 20 minutes. Cake will be raw at this point. Scatter the sliced almonds on top of the cake. Be careful not to move the cake too much while adding the almonds. It's best to do so right in the oven. Continue to bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cake cool completely in pan.

Enjoy :)