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Taking yoga everywhere-yoga-on-the-go

In Philippine Star Column on May 25, 2012 at 1:45 am

Sometimes to stay healthy and youthful you literally have to bend over backwards. I cannot espouse the benefits of having a regular yoga practice enough. There is nothing I have found that is more healing, and has shown time and time again that you are only as young as your spine is flexible. Not to mention that reversal poses or “inversions” are truly anti-aging, as these positions refresh the blood, and actually fight gravity, relaxing your organs, not to mention your facial muscles — so yes, this is better than Botox if you ask me. Another benefit? Because you do twists, you actually help your digestion — ergo, better metabolism, so if you do yoga regularly you will be doing both your inner body and your outer vanity a favor.

Petit poses. Urban Ashram Manila’s Pocket Practice Yoga Guide

The other advantage of doing yoga often is that in time you will be able to do it anywhere you go. Even if you travel, all you need is a floor for the most basic of asanas (poses) and you can get a good workout with just 10-15 minutes not to mention a calmer mind and improved circulation. There are so many yoga studios and even fitness centers that offer yoga classes, it has gotten easier and easier for anyone to get fit and flexible. The feeling you get after a great practice is unparalleled, you feel longer and even cleaner for some reason. I was elated to find several products that would enable me to take my practice (or at least remind me to practice) wherever I go.

1)  Urban Ashram Manila has come up with their Yoga Travel Edition: Practice in My Pocket. There are several ways one can get this convenient guide to doing basic poses, the first is to download it from their website for free (urbanashrammanila.com/pocketpractice) or get the actual hard copy if you avail of their FNR (Flexibility Not Required) Pass. Urban Ashram Manila (located in Barangay Kapitolyo) is considered the country’s biggest venue for yoga and is opening its doors this July at Bonifacio High Street. It is the pioneer in the Flexibility Not Required (FNR) movement, which is incentive enough to get any newbie started with their yoga practice. I was told that other versions of this guide, which they’ve nicknamed PMP, will also be launched at Fully Booked in June. Throw this guide into your hand-carry or keep saved in your iPad.

Made for Movement. Portable and lightweight yoga mat.

2) Travel-friendly yoga mat. Produced by Made For Movement (madeformovement.ph) these lightweight mats (weighing less than a pound) are fantastic to bring along, since they don’t make a dent in your weight allowance and suitcase space. Made up of a micro-fiber and non-toxic base, they come in green, pink, purple and rust, and priced at a budget friendly P1,300.

Full of sole: Sanuk sandals made from yoga mat

3) Yoga-mat sandals. Speaking of mats, Sanuk has just launched a series of slip-on footwear made out of yoga mat material. Priced between P1,200-P1,990, these super soft and cushy sandals seem to kiss the soles of your feet just like a mat does. They come in several styles, including a wedge heel and zippered up version for added adjustment (since feet tend to swell throughout the day). An added bonus is they come in men’s, women’s and even kids’ versions.

Sling it along. OM bags for your mat

4) Sling bags that go to support a livelihood project. Luntian Bags which supports a community of women in San Teodoro, Mabini in Batangas has come up with these cheerful sling bags that are made from canvas and woven Igorot fabric (P500). They will fit most standard sized yoga mats, but can also be custom-made, so you can even choose the weave you want. Best of all, any purchase (whether it’s a standard bag or an OM yoga bag) gives back, so spread the love.

The true spirit of yoga, which goes beyond getting the highly coveted “yoga butt” of steel is in finding balance, being grounded and centered, in spite of all the chaos that is unavoidable in Manila. It is about getting a deeper sense of self and reconnecting to an inner peace, anytime, anywhere, regardless of what is going on around us. As they say once you come out of savasanah (corpse pose) the true practice of yoga begins, when the class ends. Namaste.

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For more information on Urban Ashram Manila and their Flexibility Not Required Program (FNR) call 377-9642 or 0917-8819642 or visit urbanashrammanila.com. Made for movement travel mats are available on madeformovement.ph or call 0922-8374685. Sanuk is exclusively distributed by the Primer Group of Companies and is available at Brat Pack, Greenbelt 5 and Sanuk, Glorietta. To order an OM sling bag send an email to luntianbags@yahoo.com or call 0928-505-1683.

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Cures for your crowning glory-hair reborn

In Philippine Star Column on May 19, 2012 at 1:05 am

Weather or not, hair I come” is my beauty battle cry nowadays. Since the infernal heat, sudden rains and stifling humidity all give my brush and blow-dryer quite a workout. Limp locks, or uncooperative curls, can take away from even the most dazzling outfit, and from one’s self-esteem. Think about it, most people look up first at you, not at your designer bag or shoes, which, believe me, will still not save you from a bad hair day. Love the salon and the stylist you go to, and don’t be afraid to look into products that keep your follicles strong and happy. How to give your beloved mane a boost? Start with your scalp. Probably the most dramatic treatment you can do is undergo a series of vitamin, and mineral-infused shots of Mesohair (applied with a syringe “gun”) directly into your scalp (P2,000) and followed by laser-enhanced heat with a Revage Machine (P5,000) at The Skin and Laser Clinic. This non-invasive method helps re-stimulate your scalp’s ability to grow hair. If balding or alarming hair loss is not a concern, then this can be done once a month as a preventive measure. It’s almost like a medical spa for the hair, and it would be advisable not to shampoo for 24 hours after each session in order to let all the nutrients be fully absorbed into your scalp.

Head shot. Vitamin and mineral boosts to your scalp through mesohair therapy.

If your hair has gone to hell and back due to over-processing (think rebonding, color, perms, blow-out abuse) then give it a good soak with one of the newly launched line of Moroccan Argan Oil Shampoos from The Souq Organics (P1,250/200ml bottle). Rich in antioxidants such as reconstructive keratin, fatty acids and of course, pure argan oil, one use can help improve the elasticity of your hair, making it more manageable especially if you decide to take a hairdo detox and are in-between treatments.

Mane squeeze. Moroccan Argan Oil shampoo has restorative powers

For more specific issues, the girls behind V & M Naturals have taken their already famous emu oil ingredient and put it into their hair care line. This particular oil that has been documented as a skin saver can now be found in their Hair Story Shampoo (P755), Never A Bad Hair Day Conditioner (P805) and Hair Masque (P595). These address dandruff, which crops up rather viciously due to changes in the climate and temperatures, or detangling hair that just refuses to be combed through. It is important to note that even with all above-mentioned products and treatments, one of the best defenses against any scary hair day is a balanced diet combined with regular activity and restful sleep. All these work in tandem to keep away stress — the biggest culprit in the battle against the uglies, so always remember that happiness is the real head-turner.

Happy new hair. V&M Naturals to leave those bad hair days behind

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Mesohair and Revage Hair Treatments available at The Skin And Laser Clinic; Tel .no. 403-3245. The Souq Organics can be reached at 4215745 or 0917-5576955. V&M Naturals are available at Mod Lei Skin Studio; Tel. nos. 9663719 and 0917-8232724

Healthy, stronger and brighter nails for summer!

In Philippine Star Column on May 12, 2012 at 2:31 am

There is nothing like the ultra-clean feeling that a good manicure and pedicure can give. Just having my hands and feet scrubbed, kneaded, and all the dead and rough skin removed is absolutely therapeutic — almost as if the trials and tribulations that come with living in drama-filled Manila are removed from every step you take and every hand you shake. Okay, a tad melodramatic, but there really is something inexplicable about having really well-groomed tips and toes, which are then topped off by a pretty color gleaming back at you, like delectable icing on your favorite dessert.

Shine and shield. Palladio nail products offer sunscreen and vitamin-enriched top coats

Trouble is, most nail products — especially lacquers, are made up of so many harsh chemicals so that frequent use results in brittle, dry and yellow nails. When I was younger I went through a phase when I would change my polish every day, as well as a phase when I would grow them really long, trying to emulate all the hand models I would see in magazines. But with a rather athletic lifestyle this proved disastrous in the long run, and my already weakened nails would not only have to be whittled down to a more manageable length but also devoid of any polish whatsoever to heal them. Those were very trying times for me, looking at rather dull, bare nails. As far as I was concerned, nothing took away from a classy get-up like colorless hands and feet.

Sally Hansen nail strips are stick-on fun and fashionable.

Nowadays, nail polish is the new black, and even though I’ve stuck to a much shortened nail length it is rare for me to now have my weekly mani-pedi and a growing collection of nail shades. Thankfully, there are now nail brands and treatments that cater to a healthier set of hands and feet, allowing me to extend the brightness of summer right down to my digits.

 

Build me up, buttercup: Butter London 3 Free lacquers are safer and long lasting.

Butter London has a range of nail lacquers called 3 Free that do not contain formaldehyde, toluene or DBP (phthalate) — three ingredients that are found in other brands that have been found to be carcinogenic. Their spring-summer shades for 2012 (P795/bottle) have unusual shades, from the more muted Bossy Boots to a shimmery, almost two- toned Knackered Final and my summer favorite, a turquoise green called Slapper. A nail-worthy investment would be a trip to a professional nail salon such as Dashing Diva.

Count to ten.Dashing Diva gives you chip free nails for up to ten days

Indulge in a treatment and ask to use their Manhattan Collection (P325/bottle), which like Butter London’s are formulated without ingredients that have been linked to negative health related conditions. Plus, the special blend of polymers in this collection allows your manicure and pedicure to last for up to 10 days without chipping.


If your nails need a break or if you’re in between colors, then nurse and nurture them with Palladio’s sunscreen for nails (P395) — which helps prevent yellowing and can be used as a top coat, or their Vita-Five Nail Enrichment (P325) which gives a vitamin-infused kiss to your nails and helps promote healthy nail growth. And if you really can’t stand a bare nail? Grab a box of Sally Hansen Nail Strips (P500/box) and get creative. Go for a girlish accent, or graphic one, and wave your hands around while you talk just for fun.

Another nail-saving tip is to buy your favorite shades and have them on hand (literally) for emergency chip situations. You can simply retouch them yourself and then go back to your salon to have them redone later on. Moisturize your hands and feet frequently and be realistic about your nail length — taper them to your lifestyle and you will have prettier, stronger, healthier nails, even if they’re just coated in a clear, barely-there polish.

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Butter London is available at Henri Calayag, Basement Salon, Nail Spa and Toni & Guy. Palladio Products are available at Beauty Bar stores. Sally Hansen Nail Products are available at Watson’s. Dashing Diva is located at Power Plant Mall, Glorietta 2 and Greenbelt 5.

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Flats that flatter our feet-the ground has never looked so good!

In Philippine Star Column on April 26, 2012 at 10:13 pm

At a recent visit to my nail salon over the weekend, I chanced upon the showing of Sabrina — the Billy Wilder original with gamine goddess Audrey Hepburn and sullen-yet-charming Humphrey Bogart. A tender moment was shared by both as Hepburn took a domestic turn, donning an apron over her all-black ensemble, lovely-looking in cushion-ballet flats. Many have credited the style icon with popularizing simple, wearable elegance — being a former dancer and reed thin were probably a big part of this. All throughout the movie, Hepburn traipses, twirls and lounges around in either kitten heels or sleek ballet flats, nothing scarily high or back-breaking, which led me to yet another spring shoe cleaning when I got home. I do love the added inches a good pair of wedges or sexy stilettos gives me but a hectic schedule keeps me on my feet for most of the day, and I thought that investing in plushy flats would keep my peds (and my spine) in better condition in the long run.

Think pink. Anthology Milano in salmon

So I was a woman with a mission for my Audrey Hepburn moment — well, at least, for my overworked feet. First stop was checking the malls and I came across Spare Soles, a China-made “pleather” flat that rolled up into a pretty matching pouch. These were great to stuff in one’s workbag, gym bag, or even car for those days when activities had you up and about from sun-up to sundown. The Metro model (P1,298) came in a variety of colors from solid basics like red and black to a more texturized faux reptile and leopard and even a rather over-the-top metallic gold, silver and bronze. One could really go for something subtle or eye-catching with a snug fit. For extra fun, there were also detachable jewel shoe clips (P698) that you could add-on for variety or for extra glam. I loved how one shoe could now look like two or even three different ones, a great way to economize and glamorize at the same time.

Feline fashionable. Leopard print sleek for your feet

Treaure toes. Multi-jewel clip for that extra shoe shine

Detachable shoe clips to add some spark to your shoe

 

 

Next stop was the worldwide web. I soon had my sights on the flats on offer from Suelas, which has a social economic conscience to boot, since it has an existing partnership with Gawad Kalinga (GK); its shoe pouches are made by GK Payatas Trese Printers. Its malleability had me intrigued as it cheerfully challenged me to “Flatten It, Fold It, Roll It,” indicating that it was made out of a more durable material but still very wearable. The company actually did an online survey or “crowd-sourcing” to find out which designs they should produce. The top three winners resulted in the Impreso line (P1,799) made out of genuine sea snake leather and coming in shades of red, brown and (my personal choice) natural. I placed my order and decided, since I was online already, to continue my surfing to see what else the online marketplace had in store.

Suelas' Flexy-sexy. A fabulous and foldable flat

The brand Anthology showed up on my e-radar and they had both brights and neutrals to choose from. I was debating whether to go green with Cannes (P3,295) or get the always reliable, goes-with-everything fawn or camel colors of the Milano (P3,295). The company was started in 2007 and although the shoes were manufactured locally, high-end materials such as Italian leather were used. I finally clicked on a pair (with the very mature eeny-meeny-miney-moe routine of deduction) and left it in the hands of the gods of cyberspace. Both brands online available have gotten rave reviews from other friends who had also gone on a shoe binge after too many high heel mishaps had took their toll. Within 48 hours, I found myself a proud and rather excited owner of several new pairs of ballet flats. I slipped them on, enjoying them wrapping my foot like a hug and cherished having a more solid connection with gravity as I strolled around. With their different makes, colors and textures, with the added bonus of jewel-like clips to keep me interested, I am comfy and channeling Sabrina until the call of the wedge comes for me again.

Green mile. Walk comfortably in these bright leather ballet flats from Anthology

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Spare Soles and Shoe Clips are available at Tru, Powerplant Mall, Rockwell, Makati. Suelas and Anthology available online at ava.ph.

A case for colorful tech gear-laptop sleeves and bags

In Philippine Star Column on April 19, 2012 at 11:22 pm

As the weather continues to heat up the metro in merciless fashion, special attention should be paid to your gadgets in order to keep them functioning well. My trusty laptop, a year-old Macbook Air, is my constant travel companion and I have been remiss in taking care of it. Wear and tear is one of my lappy’s biggest enemies and with more travel looming in the near future I decided to shop around for something to keep and carry it in. I needed something that would ventilate it properly, protect it from different surfaces and (oops) the occasional drop and, well, keep it looking pretty.

Hard candy. Xdoria Hardshell laptop cases

I was spoiled for choice, it seems, as soon as I put out the intention to find something. First, for everyday use and to brighten up the workplace, there were the transparent hard shell cases from XDoria (if you like that look) for P2,000 or the carbon-finish version that looked a bit more grown up (P2,200). Made out of polycarbonate, they are harder to crack and are great to protect the edges of your laptop especially if you irresponsibly just throw your laptop into your bag like I do and then throw the bag into your car forgetting that part of it is sticking out. Color-wise I leaned towards the purple and made a mental note to tell my more corporate-bound friends about the more conservative version in black. I had mental images of me tapping away at my keyboard while at the beach, with my laptop case being a perfect match to my cover-up and other accessories. Sure, it may sound a little contrived but would still be a really cute photo.

Carbon copy. A more professional finish plus protection

With my case choice closed, what was next on the list was a bag. I now had to decide on flexibility and functionality of the product. The slimmest was the Thule Sleeve (P2,500) that had semi-rigid foam padding for protection and an additional fold where it opened to create water resistant defense (perfect for our now very unpredictable weather). Since it also had no seams there was no danger of your laptop getting scratched when being slid in and out of it. The next was a Case Logic Pouch (P1,400) which was like a mini-shell. Although I liked the sleekness of both, I was thinking it may be more practical to get something that could also carry my charger and other accessories if I needed. The apple green color of the Dicota Dee Slim Case (P2,450) was very appealing to me and I liked that it had different compartments on the outside pocket and a security strap inside to prevent your laptop from accidentally slipping out. As a true travel warrior , I then had to consider the Promax line (P1,990- P2,700) which looked like a mini-knapsack complete with compartments, padding and an adjustable strap.

Sleeve-ing beauty. A lightweight, super-slim Thule sleeve.

The temptation to buy a case, a sleeve and a bag just to keep my laptop fashion-forward was overwhelming so it took a couple of days for me to justify my purchase. A cheap thrill runs through me when I see my new accessories in the brightest colors available. Okay, cute summer outing picture, here I come!

In the limelight. Bright bags from Dicota

Back-up. Keep it all-in a laptop dedicated knapsack

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XDoria cases available at Apple Resellers (The A.Shop, Switch, iStudio) SM Appliance Center and Gadget stores (Mobile 1, Technoholics, Inbox). All other laptop sleeves and bags are available at Tripologie stores in Eastwood Mall and Alabang Town Center.

Swim, surf and sun in versatile beachwear

In Philippine Star Column on April 13, 2012 at 1:03 am

The long Easter break may be behind us, but summer is far from over. With the influx of local travel promos, heading back to the beach has gotten even easier. Until recently stylish didn’t equal functional in terms of swimwear. Sure, you looked great soaking up the sun, but once you hit the water, you’d be in danger of unnecessary exposure or even embarrassing wardrobe malfunction. For a time, even getting a decent cover-up was a pain, and if sunning wasn’t your thing, then trying to look good on a surfboard, jetski or motorized vehicle of your choice could just lead to even more fashion stress. Maybe I’m just recounting my own expriences growing up and relegating myself to either overpriced resortwear at home, or wait til I traveled abroad where I could choose from different sizes and designs that not only flattered my figure but offered me the support and coverage I needed whether I chose to lazily lounge about, float in the sea or take on the waves. In terms of my wardrobe checklist to accommodate whatever activity I wanted to do, I included a sporty bikini (thicker straps that will hold as well as chest support), a sunning bikini (think bandeau for less tan lines), board shorts, a slimming cover-up that I could throw on and take me from quick swim to resort cocktails, and, a rash guard for those days when sunblock just isn’t enough.  Through the years, keeping a color scheme in mind, I’ve been able to build up my summer-holiday wardrobe mixing and matching styles and adding on pieces that would look good whether I was in the water or out of it.

Get on board with Rip Curl Girls

This April, a well-known brand in the international surfing community, Rip Curl, launches its summer line for women. The company had already established a reputation for making high-quality products that were also very easy on the eye, and didn’t stretch, rip or fade even with the abuse that came from a full-day of hitting the waves. The environment is also top of mind as it has expanded into Rip Curl Planet, wherein they use at least 55% eco-friendly fabrics  like organic cotton, linen and hemp. These are not limited to their clothing line but also extends to their accessories such as their caps and bags. Aside from being more eco-conscious, functionality and durability as well as comfort come into the making of their more protective and athletic wear such as their board shorts and rash guards.

Design gorgeous board shorts

 

For example their  Whirl 5” boardshorts (P2450 is made out of quadroflex lycra, allowing for a lot of stretch and movement great if you’re in the mood for a quick run followed by a dip in the ocean-its waistline has an elasticized front  allowing for even more freedom. Another find is the Belle Zip thru Rashguard (P 2540) which is made out of 15 Elastine and 85% nylon. Unlike typical rashguards, it isn’t difficult to put on (no squeezing, pulling and tugging) due to a zippered front. This works great for people who do watersports like diving, jetskiing, surfing and wakeboarding and gives added protection from the sun or even friction from a surfboard or mandatory lifevests  when wakeboarding or jetskiing that are at times so ill-fitting they can scratch and wound the skin.

Move or sit around but look sunny all day long

With summer still stretching out in front of us, it’s high time to take advantage of a tide of fresh summer looks that will keep you looking (and feeling) cool on hot sands or under the shade at your favorite resort. Gone are the days of boring one-pieces and badly-fitting bikinis so go and stuff your bag full of colorful, playful designs, that are swim-sturdy and  don’t forget to add on floral mini-board shorts and knit-like cover ups for light and breezy layering when you’re done taking advantage of all the sun and surf and ready for a refreshing cocktail.

Even when the sun goes down-beach chic can still look hot

Rip Curl is available at all Stoked Inc. branches, Rustan’s Department Stores and Cinderella Makati. Visit www.stokedinc.com.ph for more information

Ways to brighten up your Easter break

In Philippine Star Column on March 30, 2012 at 2:20 am

“People making lists, planning special trips, taking time to be kind to one and all…” It’s my parody hymn of choice as the vacation spirit rolls in this coming April. Around the country Holy Week symbolizes two things: a time for spiritual devotion and time away for a holiday.

Some take this particular opportunity to gather a group together and go for a bonding adventure. The web has become a virtual marketplace for some of the best deals around. Be patient with it, especially if you’re doing last-minute bookings or changes. Sometimes, a promo will open up last minute that may allow a three-star budget to afford a five-star stay. Like to tweet? Then follow airlines that regularly post their fare deals and other travel specials that could save you a buck or two. Before you book, make sure you’ve gathered up a group of non-flaky friends; the other kind can cause a holiday headache if they can’t make up their minds. Or fly solo; practically everywhere you’ll go you will probably bump into someone you know, and if not, take the opportunity to renew your social energies and make new friends… you never know who you might meet. (Cue: “Summer lovin’ had me a blast… Summer lovin’ happened so fast…”)

Others take advantage of a traffic-less Manila to get some “me” time. Whether it’s a vacation or a staycation, it’s worthwhile to invest in these “life brighteners” to make it a memorable time of the year.

Superskin. Go for an all-in-one Mistral Gold Photofacial!

 1. Save your skin. Sunny days are here to stay and getting your glow back on doesn’t necessarily mean having to bake outdoors or cake on concealer indoors. Indulge in a one-of-a-kind treatment of Mistral Gold, which incorporates Light and Heat Energies (LHE) Phototherapy. I went for a few sessions at the Patdu MD Medical Clinic in Ayala Alabang and within 10 to 15 minutes you can get dark spots lightened, wrinkles reduced, past sun damage treated and your facial hair zapped all in one go. It’s non-invasive with zero downtime bringing about radiance to your skin since it also boosts collagen renewal and diminishes the appearance of veins on your face. Put your best face forward even under the brightest sunlight; think of how good you’re going to look in pictures. (A session costs P5,000 – P7,000 depending on area to be treated or treatment required of Mistral Gold at Patdu MD Medical Clinic. Call 818-2698 for more details.)

 

2. Sound brights. Music motivates, as they say, and you’re probably going to be toting your laptop or MP3 player around. Share the groove with a group via a stylish portable speaker like the iTour Pop (P1,080) which comes in black, white, blue, red and pink; or if you want dual purpose, grab an iFit 2 (P1,750) which can also act as a dock for your iPad or iPod. If you’ve got a hard drive full of video downloads you can also enjoy great quality sound while watching with your friends and family. (These Divoom audio products are at SM Appliance Center, Rustan’s Department Store, Apple resellers and other gadget stores. For inquiries e-mail divoom.phil@gmail.com or call mobile 0917-5754812.)

Junior jellies: Jelly Nelly has a kids’ line for mommy-matching feet treats.  3. Sleek feet. Comfortable sandals are summer staples and if your trip keeps you on the sometimes-scorching sidewalks of the city or the hot, sunny sands of the beach, grab a pair of Jelly Nelly sandals that are washable and durable and come in a variety of colors that pack a colorful punch to whatever you wear. It’s also a great excuse to go out and get a very indulgent pedicure to treat your feet. Mommy alert: They come in kids’ sizes too, so you and your tot can play Mom and Mini-Me. (Jelly Nelly sandals range from P700-900. Go to http://www.jellynelly.com for more information.)

10 ways to better at-home healing

In Philippine Star Column on March 23, 2012 at 12:50 am

Your home can either be a haven for good health or a place to actually hide from being healthy. Since daily life is already challenging enough as temptation lies around every street corner, here are some fail-safe changes you can make to make your living space your healing place as well.

1. Stock up on green tea. Get the real leaves if you can, instead of tea bags, from a herbal store and take the time to seep it properly in a pot for at least five minutes. Aside from being a great anti-oxidant it also acts as a natural appetite suppressant so you can keep cravings (especially for that bag of chips in your pantry) at bay while hanging out at home.

2. Do Viparitti Karani better known as “Waterfall pose” as often as you can. This yoga asana works on flushing out toxins, improving circulation and refreshing the blood. All you need is a wall and a small pillow. Lie down on the floor (with a mat so you don’t gather dust) and place the back of your legs as flat as possible on the wall, like your body is forming the letter L. Then, position the pillow right underneath your tailbone raising it up so now you’re forming the letter J. Place your left hand above your heart and your right on your belly. Inhale and exhale deeply and close your eyes if you wish for about 10-15 minutes. This simple, relaxing pose soothes tired legs and feet, heals internal organs (even the digestive system) and boosts circulation all over. It’s a great anti-aging move especially since its gravity defying position sends blood to the face and head.

3. Practice 20-20-20 to save your eyesight. Admit it, you’re practically chained to your laptop, tablet or mobile phone. Staring at that screen for long periods of time can lead to eyestrain and worse, vision deterioration. Remember that after 20 minutes of surfing or texting, look away from the screen and focus on something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. This quick exercise strengthens eye muscles and also reduces your exposure to radiation being emitted from your screen.

4. DIY reflexology. It’s common knowledge that applying pressure on certain points of the hand, head and feet can help heal certain ailments, aches and pains. You can actually do this yourself just by purchasing a reflexology hand or foot chart from your local book store. Check out the chart and zero in on the point that needs to be pressed for example the area that represents the stomach. Then, apply pressure with your thumb on that point for five seconds then release for three seconds. Repeat this for two to three minutes and you should start feeling relief. If the ailment is chronic then it would be good to continue this for several days.

Harvest your health: Enhance what you eat with regular intake of this superseed.

5. Power-pack your meals with a spoonful of chia seeds. This ancient grown crop  has regained popularity as it considered one of the highest plant sources of Omega-3 fatty acid, protein, fiber and anti-oxidants. Just a spoonful can give you an energy boost in the morning or anytime during the day. Stir some into a glass of water or juice or add it to your cereal, salad, soup or main course. An added bonus is that it has fewer carbohydrates than most other grains, is low in sodium and is gluten free. A bag (P995/680grams) can last several months and doesn’t get rancid, so keeping one at your breakfast nook is a good reminder to make it a daily part of your diet. To order Azchia Chia seeds call  0917-5937272 or 0917-5101200 or e-mail: info@chiamanila.com

It's all in the wrist. Wearable weights to give you more caloric burn time.

6. Get more caloric burn with wrist weights. Available at any local sports store, wrist weights (get the thumb- lock version) are a great way to add a little more work to your workout.. Take them out for a brisk walk, even just for twenty minutes, or use them while doing simple chores around the house. If you’ve got an exercise DVD video or download you follow, putting on these weights will raise your heart rate because of the extra effort needed. Think toned arms and shoulders while you move and you may never want to take them off! (Wrist weights can cost P350-500 depending on the weight)

7. Burn fat while breathing Ujjayyi-style. This breathing technique, also called “the ocean breath” (because of the sound produced during inhalation and exhalation), is commonly practiced by those who do yoga or tai chi. It is a deep diaphragmatic breath that starts by filling up the lower belly with air and coursing it powerfully through the upper chest, entering and exiting through the nostrils. Ujjayi is believed to increase the internal heat in one’s body whilst clearing out toxins. So yes, doing this often, can actually aid the body in burning fat and remove bloating and “phlegm” created by eating rich foods such as cheese and other dairy products.

8. Put your emotions into art. Remember how you would (if you would) journal out or nowadays blog about your feelings? Why not channel your emotions into something less public? Grab a bunch of crayons, or water color, oils, and a sketchpad and just “draw” what you feel. You may be pleasantly surprised at what is released and revealed as you use figures, strokes and colors to express yourself. Want a bigger release? Try sculpting, just buy your run-off-the-mill clay in different hues and create something by squeezing and molding. This powerful healing technique can actually be felt on a physical level akin to taking out your rage on let’s say, a punching bag.

9. Hydrate more. Being at home sometimes make you forget to take-in fluids throughout the day. Even if you’re just lazing around watching re-runs on TV doesn’t mean you don’t need to hydrate. Drinking water (and lots of it) regulates bodily functions thereby reducing bloating and keeps skin, hair and nails healthy and strong. Water is probably the most underrated beverage and should not be ignored. In this heat and humidity don’t stop at eight glasses a day, increase it to 10 or even 12, by replacing caffeinated and sweetened beverages with a big glass of H20.

(Don't) Say cheese! Choose less-fatty foods with this visual aid

10. Learn about food substitutes. It’s easy to pig-out when at home, especially if your pantry is stocked with junk and your ref filled with fast food. Reading Dr. Howard M. Shapiro’s book Picture Perfect Weight Loss (P699, Fully Booked) can give you a visual wake-up call as to how many calories you actually consume when the nibbles take over. Find out what you can replace to still get the taste without the unwanted and unnecessary fat. It’s a good reminder to have whenever you’re planning to eat out as well.  For example remember that one medium serving of French fries amounts to 360 calories, the same as four whole ears of corn.

If you plan to have a healthier household, raise your awareness of what you can change now,  and just do it. It doesn’t’ take too much effort or cost much either. Always remember everything starts at home.

SOUL TRAIN By Katrina A. Holigores (The Philippine Star) Updated March 23, 2012 12:00 AM

Shapeshifting with ease in breathable bodyshapers from Bella Bodies

In Philippine Star Column on March 16, 2012 at 1:35 am

V for va-va-voom: The Body V summer to brighten and tighten

A love-hate relationship with one’s mirror is fairly common, especially when the city heats up and tiny tops, skinny jeans and summer dresses become the fashion norm. Looking at your reflection and trying to pull off an outfit as seamlessly as possible can be quite a challenge when all your eyes can do is zero in (especially in my case) on those un-lovely little bumps, which unforgiveable fabric will not conceal. I’ve often envied women who effortlessly prevent panty lines, muffin-top spillage and even the dreaded bra-fat from appearing as they bend, twist and turn in their ensemble of choice. Most times, I find myself pulling, tugging, and tucking while looking at the dreaded mirror during a workday—or worse, during an evening out—to make sure I look the way I would like to.

I finally got the nerve to ask one of my friends what she does to keep trim. She just laughed and drew my hand down to her side where I felt what seemed like hardened silk. “It’s like a girdle” she explained. “It just keeps everything…” and she made a sucking motion with her mouth and hands, leaving me to imagine she was wearing a fat hoover around her waist. But I got what she meant.

Slip easy: A body slip to smoothen you out

Girdles, binders and corsets are things I am familiar with, as I’ve even had one of these sewn into a gown during a time when I was out of shape and needed a little trimming. Although I looked great in it, I was so uncomfortable the whole night. Plus, when I got home, the “bone” used in the corset had left deep marks in my skin; some even developed into small wounds. I didn’t think the silhouette was worth the sting I felt for the next few weeks every time I showered and the water hit the slowly healing wounds. I then tried less rigid fabrics, which were okay if I stayed in an air-conditioned environment, but in no way would I have been able to carry off those extra layers when out on a sunny afternoon or at an outdoor wedding.

High definition: The Body Definer enhances your good bits

This year, with all the body-con fashions coming in full force, I decided to give figure enhancers one more try, choosing two items from the Bella Bodies Shapewear line. I went with the Body Definer (P3,295) and the Body Slip (P3,295) in black and white respectively. They felt more lightweight to the touch, made of cotton and stretchy nylon and lycra. Aside from the material, I liked that they had versatile straps so whether I was wearing a tank or a halter, sporting either a high or a low neckline, I could adjust them accordingly.

Goodbye Miss Muffet: A high-control panty to suck in your gut

The roadtest was also going to be a heat-test as I donned the Definer on the day that signaled the beginning of summer: the hottest day for 2012. I pulled it on and did some gentle adjustments for fit, then threw on a shirt-dress and off I went. All throughout the day, I didn’t have to re-adjust the Definer, didn’t feel any added heat brought on by wearing it, and best of all, no ugly marks or wounds once I took it off in the evening. It’s important when choosing a body-shaper to determine the purity of the material: the purer the fabric, the more comfortable you’ll be throughout the day, especially with this country’s humidity. It’s also important to find one that fits well and doesn’t dig into the skin. A gentle bodyshaper such as the Definer may not give as dramatic results as something made of a more restrictive fabric, though, so it’s up to every women to determine how much discomfort they could take in order to look good; like they say, no pain, no gain. I enjoyed the way these particular shapers smoothed me out and allowed me to get into clothes that I had avoided wearing. I felt less as if I were being squeezed into them and more of merely slipping into them. Whether you’re going for a little or a lot of help underneath your clothes, invest in shapewear that supports you without making you sweat.


Bella Bodies Shapewear is available in Chocolate Clothing located at 2nd Level of TriNoma, The Runway at Robinson’s Manila, all Rustan’s Department Stores and Ayala Mall in Cebu.

Sunny bling: Customized crystal accessories for summer

In Philippine Star Column on March 9, 2012 at 2:03 am

Necklace and Earrings of Yellow Jade,Turquoise Stones and Glass Crystals. Php3200

Shake off a little of the scorching heat with some colorful bibs and neckpieces that can cool down any sizzling summer ensemble. As lengths shorten and sleeves disappear, a flirty combination of stones in a playful, youthful design can complete your look. I love searching the malls for new bits and baubles that can extend the wearability of what’s already in my wardrobe. I have to admit though that I’m not a good shopper nor a patient one, I go out with a visual list in my head and if my frequent haunts do not carry what I’m looking for, I stop looking elsewhere and just go home and go online.

Three strand necklace of Turquoise, Crystallized Orange Coral and Antique Finish Findings. Php3000

Makers of made-to-order clothes Tinsley Manila, is now part of my bookmarked sites (www.tinsleymanila.com) especially with the inclusion of their accessory line that uses real crystals (which have their own energy enhancing properties) and a lot of versatility as you can pick and choose and change-it-up according to your preference. Tinsley Manila’s founder, Elthy Irasga, branched out into accessories, naming the line Carmen Aurora (after her paternal and maternal grandmothers) simply because “I didn’t like the accessories some of my customers were using, and since I was making clothes for them, I wanted to complement what I made, it was like a natural progression,” shares Irasga.

Necklace and bracelet of White Opal Stones, Turquoise Stones and Woven Antique Finish Hearts. Php1800

Aside from pieces that can be worn around the neck, Irasga also started making sets, like one of my favorites: a neckpiece and bracelet made out of turquoise beads combined with gold wired hearts that lent some gentle femininity to my wardrobe without being sickeningly sweet, or to bring in a little sunshine to a resort-like evening, I chose a flowery yellow jade and glass bead piece that had matching tear-drop earrings. If bright is not in your sight, then there are also more neutral pieces to choose from, like black onyx or deep blue agate and the crystals (whether or colorful or dark) are often offset by either antique finish looking wood, enamel, or chain. Although most of the pieces are lightweight and delicate looking, if you have a heavier, bulkier design in mind, you can send pegs or discuss with Irasga what look you want, combination of materials and colors and she can work on doing something exclusively for you.

Royal Blue Enamel Pendant with Turquoise Stones, Indian Beads, Glass Crystals, Antique Finish Woven Balls Php 3200

The crystals may also be of significance to the wearer over and beyond just aesthetics. Turquoise for example, is not just the birthstone for adventure-loving Sagittarius but is also believed to protect travelers on their voyages. Black onyx is also another stone that shields its wearer from negativity while Coral enhances passion, power and energy, so if you need a little fire in your life, reach for this red-hot crystal. Whether or not you believe in the power of crystals, believe in the power of accessories to bring life to your ensemble or even as a clever and fresh accent to work or school uniform.

Red and Blue Necklace made from Red Turquoise Stones, Blue Agate Stones in Antique Finish Chain & Findings Php2800

This could also be an opportunity to bring on a well-spring of creativity by allowing your inner fashionista to come out and design something truly special. Go and take a look at what you love most in your closet, take note of your favorite colors and check your social calendar to see what you may need in the coming months and this could be the beginning of a delightful style collaboration between you and the craftsmen of Carmen Aurora.

Bib of Turquoise Stones and Glass Beads. Php2500

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For more information on Carmen Aurora visit http://www.tinsleymanila.com or call 0917-5692188 or e-mail: tinsleymanila@yahoo.com.