Posts by this author:

5 Health Benefits of Eating Locally

It should come as no surprise that eating more fruits and vegetables has a plethora of benefits for society and the environment. It is thus no wonder that eating locally is a pet topic for many environmentalists. Local produce supports independent, small farmers, boost the local economy and wastes less energy on transport. For these reasons alone, we could all strive to eat local produce more often. Yet eating locally also comes with a number of health benefits that might just convince you to prepare your next meal with local fruit and vegetables.

View Post

My favourite yoga channels on YouTube

Four years ago, I started my yoga practice. Quickly, I fell in love with the way yoga transformed my body and mind. The first two years I practiced exclusively at yoga studios. As a newbie, the structure and guidance offered in classes helped me develop into a confident practitioner. Later on, life became hectic and I could not find the time to go to classes anymore. So instead I started using yoga videos in the comfort of my own hoe. Although I now enjoy going to classes again, I still keep up my practice at home with yoga videos from YouTube. Over time I have tried quite a few online teachers and can confidently say that the 5, channels below have become my absolute favourites for an at-home yoga session.

Yoga With Adriene – The one for beginners

The queen of YouTube yoga Adriene is not popular without reason. Adriene is such a sweet and gentle woman (with a little bit of sass) whose videos are great for beginners. Her classes focus on how we feel in the body rather than how good or advanced our poses look. There is something about her videos that is so incredibly soothing to me, that I find them the perfect preparation for a meditation session. I know so many who use Adriene’s channel, even when they know nothing else about yoga. She really is the perfect jump board for starting a yoga practice at home.

Bohobeautiful – The workout

Besides making beautiful and inspiring travel videos with her husband Mark, Juliana also posts yoga and pilates workouts on her channel Bohobeautiful. Her yoga classes are fast-paced and often incorporate some form of pilates, so they are great if you are in the mood for a workout-style yoga session. I personally love her ‘yoga for splits’ video, which I came back to over and over again when I was trying to achieve a splits in late 2017 (spoiler alert: I still can’t do the splits, but I have definitely become more flexible). Her videos are short and effective, so they are also a great addition to any morning or evening routine.

Five Parks Yoga – The long and slow one

Erin from five parks yoga is great for Hata style yoga, which is a slower and gentler type of yoga. I enjoy her classes because they offer deep and full-body stretches that leave me feeling super relaxed afterward. She has a friendly and no-frills attitude to yoga, which is very refreshing to see. She also offers a lot of longer classes on her Youtube channel, which make her videos a great substitute for your regular yoga class.

Fightmaster Yoga – the traditional one

Lesley from Fighmaster Yoga offers, alongside others videos, traditional 1-hour asana style yoga videos. Her videos are very similar to what an actual asana style yoga class would be like. I would, therefore, recommend her asana style videos mainly to those who already have some experience with yoga and can keep up with all the quick posture changes and yoga terminology. If you are confident in your practice, then this is the perfect online teacher to guide you through your yoga sessions at home.

Alo Yoga – the pretty one

Alo Yoga is a yoga apparel brand, so their videos are very slick and polished. They work with an array of guest yoga teachers, many of whom you might recognise from Instagram. A lot of their videos are definitely focused on looks (think fancy headstands), but they also have great options for beginners. I particularly like their ‘after work yoga flow’. This practice targets all those muscles that might be a little tight from sitting at a desk all day.

YouTube has made it easy for anyone to practice some yummy yoga (as it is often called) at home. I use an online video at least once a week to stretch my muscles and ease my mind. I love getting to know new teachers, so let me know in the comments if you have any more recommendations!

On sustainability and happiness

Sustainability is hot. Many brands are launching ‘sustainable product ranges’ and we seem increasingly willing to buy the eco-edition of our favourite item. We diligently recycle our waste and turn off the lights when we leave a room. The hippies under us might even say goodbye to meat and sell their cars in favour their shank’s pony. But how do we know when we are doing enough?

What is sustainable?

Sustainable development is traditionally defined as ‘development that meets the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs’. This contains three broad aspects, namely social, economic and environmental sustainability. Although all aspects are important, environmental sustainability is the one aspect most often undermined. For the purpose of this article, sustainability will thus mean environmental sustainability. Of course, this takes issues such as fuel poverty, the economic rights of developing countries and the indigenous’ rights to their land out of the equation. However, for simplicity’s sake (not due to unimportance!), it will be brushed aside here.

How can we, as individual citizens, be sustainable? Again, it depends on your definition of sustainability. Recycling, for example, doesn’t do that much for climate change, but obviously helps to avoid the big plastic soup in our oceans. Okay, so if we narrow our definition of sustainability even further down to ‘the impact on climate change’, there are four main things we can do to make an impact, according to a study by the Swedish University of Lund:

  • Eat a plant-based diet
  • Avoid long-haul air travel
  • Go car-free
  • Do not have children

Psychology 101

This should be easy enough to do, right? Reality shows a different picture and very few people make these lifestyle choices. One reason for this is that we are herd animals and mirror the behaviour of others. If nobody else gives up their luxury holidays and breeding habits, then why should we. We also look at the government (as a form of herd authority) and are reluctant to take individual action if our governments stay complacent.  The other reason is that we feel like we are giving up something by living sustainably. It might make us feel good to know that we are making a positive impact, but giving up our comfortable lifestyle will still feel like a loss.

Vegan hypocrisy

Looking at the Lund University study revealed some interesting facts. As an ardent vegan of four years, I was surprised to see that eating plant-based ‘only’ saves 0.8 tonnes of CO2E, whereas avoiding one (1!) long-haul flight saves between 1.6 and 2.9 tonnes. Being child-free even saves 58.6 tonnes per year per child. I know many vegans who preach the sustainability of veganism that have several children. Most preachy vegans also fly around the world in the search of exotic locations. Pointing the finger at myself, I also fly around the world on a regular (if not yearly) basis and plan to have kids someday. Of course, veganism encompasses more than just the environment, but the critical voice of some vegans does come off as a tad hypocritical when looking at the figures.

A new happy

Is it possible to be truly happy living a sustainable life? I am not talking about becoming vegan when you don’t like meat anyway (moi!). Or avoiding long-haul flights when are you scared of flying. Or not having kids when you have never wanted them anyway. Can we be happy incorporating all those aspects of sustainability that feel like a sacrifice to us? According to research by the British thinktank New Economic Foundation, we should be.

The research found that there are five ways we can improve our personal well-being:

  • Movement
  • Giving back
  • Continuing to learn
  • Relationships
  • Living mindfully

Happiness = sustainable

In reality, we are thus just victims of our own minds when we think that consumerism is making us happy. Luckily, the drivers of true happiness are intimately tied to sustainability. Our need for movement ties in nicely with a car-free life. Mindful living will make us aware of our consumption patterns and decrease our need for excessive spending (on materials items, food or holidays). When we pay attention to what truly makes us happy, we will find that sustainable living will come easier. Yet living this way is not easy. Overcoming our psychological instincts is surely difficult, which is why most of us are not hardened eco-warriors yet.

As we collectively work towards a greener world, we will often have to choose between immediate pleasure and long-term sustainable happiness. Some long-term forms of happiness (such as having children) might still be terribly bad for the environment. We will have to make choices and not every choice will be perfect. But knowing that we can be happy and sustainable (at least in theory) makes a better world possible. Imperfect decisions or not trying our best is all we can strive for.

What are your thoughts on this matter?