MONICA SHAKA and her yoga practice

DSC_0442Monica a yoga teacher, singer, mother,

Having been to a few other yoga classes, I can say that what is special about your class is that you get us to do a lot of hand stands and postures with our feet up against the wall, could you explain the benefits of this posture?
Inversions have a wide range of benefits, from the obvious strengthening of the arms and upper body, to boosting ones confidence. We reverse the effects of gravity on our circulatory, digestive and lymphatic systems whilst changing perspective for a moment ! As children we love doing handstands and hanging upside down. Its fun and it feels good. Doing inversions keeps us young in all ways. It also gives one immense satisfaction, especially if there is an initial fear. Ideally one should do an inversion 10 minutes a day.

For some positions you talk about massaging inner organs this I really felt after your class. Could you tell us more about this.
Our organs are like our motor. If the motor is kept clean, it can function well and for a longer distance. Regular fasting is recommended in order to keep our system clean. Many diseases start in the intestine and stagnation in this area can cause sluggishness, prevent good absorption of nutrients and be a breeding ground for illness. By doing postural twists, we ring out our vital organs. As we release, fresh blood comes rushing through to reoxygenate and nourish the organs hence preventing stagnation.

Could you tell us how and why you became a yoga teacher?
I have been practicing yoga since I was 24 years old, 23 years ago. I initially started yoga for my double scoliosis that was giving me a lot of pain. With the modeling, long days and high heels we had to wear, I would often end the days in excruciating pain and unable to stand. As my practice progressed, I realised the multiple benefits of this discipline and knew that one day, it would be my path. At 42 years old, and after having finally settled with my children in France, I felt ready to pass on the knowledge. I got my certificate and stepped into my path.

After years of teaching what is noticeably different about your life, as a yoga practitioner and as a teacher?
The discipline and constancy that teaching yoga has given me is remarkable. It was hard for me to find the time and discipline to practice every day. Teaching was the only way for me to incorporate this rhythm into my life. Not only would I be passing on the knowledge, but also making my life better. My everyday life has improved drastically, in all areas. The mental strength and clarity yoga gives me is indescribable, let alone the physical benefits. My conscious choices and behaviour have made me a much happier person overall. The strength overcomes the fears, the hesitance, the doubts….most of the time! The progress is continuous.

How would you say that yoga can help with confidence?
Yoga postures have direct benefits on the body and mind. A simple inversion boosts your confidence, and there are many inversions to choose from. Meditation and pranayama help calm the mind, get rid of the clutter and see things more clearly. Lack of confidence comes from negative mind patterns. These can be changed.

Is confidence part of inner beauty? And, if so why?
Definitely. Someone who shines from the inside out is very attractive. Confidence, not to be confused with ego, is inspiring and allows other people to shine as well. When you are connected to your strength, the pure strength and radiance of the Universe (what they call ‘Purusha’), we become channels. We are born with this energy, a baby radiates this beauty and confidence. The problem is that most of us lose it along the way with all the issues that can cover up the ‘Purusha’ inside of us.

Is a strong body, a strong mind?
Absolutely. My sister used to joke with me when I was younger and acted at times very hesitant or unclear. She would say I was acting ‘scoliotic’ ! The spine is our backbone, it leads to and supports our brain. I can personally testify that a strong body is a stronger mind.

Would you say that any body could experience inner radiance through yoga practice?
Yes. If the right intention is there.

You have experienced being a model? Is a bone structure, colouring enough to be beautiful
For certain jobs, like editorial, a good bone structure and colouring might be enough. I mainly did catwalk. I felt that a certain presence was required and appreciated. 

Does inner energy have a role to play in what we project?

Definitely.

Has the experience of modeling helped you in your yoga vocation? If so, how?
I never liked being in the limelight. Modeling definitely helps you get used to that. More than the modeling, I would say that my 20 years working on my singing, taking numerous workshops, courses and giving concerts has helped me learn to take the space I need to take when in front of an audience. This I can apply when teaching yoga. However, I feel as a teacher, I am just channeling the knowledge. It’s as if I enter a different space where I, Monica, doesn’t exist anymore.

I have often heard girls, whom are not in the modeling industry, are made to feel uncomfortable about their physique, I would like them to understand that there is more to it than meets the eye. Is there anything that you could tell them?
I started modeling rather late, when I was 21 years old. I was lucky never to have been aiming to be a model as I had other interests, like singing, so physical beauty was not my main concern. But castings can be rough, and having gorgeous girls around you as well. I would recommend having other main interests to keep the focus away from just your physical aspect. Cultivating your inner self with hobbies and curiosity for all the wonderful things around us. Also, surrounding yourself with real friends to keep you grounded and to have fun. Seeing the bigger picture. It is easy, but extremely unhealthy, to zoom into ourselves, and the industry will want to push you into that very lonely place. Zoom out ! And realise that you are much more than just your physical body.

Email: monicashaka@gmail.com

 

Are you what you eat?

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Article: Are you what you eat?

Recent Western research has suggested that our digestive system is our second brain and that our two brains are directly and intimately connected and function as one. A reliable study has at last proved that when sugar is absorbed, it instantly triggers off an adrenaline reaction that goes to the brain to stimulate and release dopamine (neuro-transmitter that helps control the brain’s reward and pleasure centers), just as drugs do: heroine, cocaine, alcohols, cigarettes, gamblling etc. For some this can create an addiction and dependence.

Researchers have also uncovered connections between intestinal bacteria and anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorders. We are deeply connected to our digestive system much more than we think or, have thought in the past. Interestingly enough looking into the benefits of Ayurvedic medecine, the world’s oldest medecine in the world, that is based on the theory that every human is unique, each treatment is individual and the key element being a balanced diet; it’s believed to be the cure to all health problems. In other words: You are what you eat. Food is considered a natural medicine and, a balanced diet the main resource for good health. In the Ayurvedic system good health always begins with good digestion with emphasis on healthy, fresh, tasty and easy to digest foods. An unbalanced diet can be the cause of virtually every condition and disease. Only then comes the supportive system of herbs, treatments, and medicine. People are becoming increasingly aware that such “quick fixes” might not be the best answer to their situations. Ayurvedic medicine maintains the Dosha therapy, which determines the individual’s constitution.

Individual diets for individual people

The foods you eat affect your Doshas and their balance in your body, and what can be good food for one person may be poison for another. A good way to start is to stick to a diet that favours foods soothing your dominant Dosha. You don’t have to eliminate anything from your menu, Ayurveda is not about ridiculous dietary regimes, but about guiding principles: Just try eating a bit more of the foods that balance your dominant Dosha and a bit less of the foods that don’t. At no cost start to feverishly avoid them – this will only increase your appetite for those foods and suppress the natural cravings of your body for it knows best what it needs at any given time.

I recently had an experience with an Ayurvedic medical practitioner. Three weeks prior to this I had seen my general practictioner, as I had low energy and found it impossible to lose weight even though I was on a sensible diet. We did a full health check and found absolutely nothing, all blood test showed good results, whether iron, thyroid, sugar level etc, I was told everything was normal. Of course, I was reassured, but I felt just the same. A few days later a friend of mine Vanessa Boren Feng shui specialist asked if I would join her for lunch, a 20 min drive outside Paris. So I went to Verriere les Buissons and I discovered this Ayurvedic center (www.ahimsa.net), I immediately booked an appointment with the doctor and when meeting him discovered a whole new approach

to medicine. After taking my pulse, he told me that my thyroid would be problematic in the near future if I didn’t act now. A series of herbal pills were prescribed and most of all a diet, nothing irrational, only eliminating foods like onions, potatoes, olive oil and garlic and introducing barley and sarrasin cereal instead of rice. Emphasis was put on six flavors on a plate, adding spices like curcuma, ginger, etc. and, of course, banning sugar. A series of massages were on the list and going to sleep early and getting up at sunrise were advised. It seemed so easy that I was a little skeptical but my gut instinct told me that I was on the right path. It has now been 3 months, my energy level has risen, I feel like I am back to normal but calmer, so there is energy without stress, my weight has gone down significantly in a natural way, I don’t feel like I have deprived myself, I have just eaten differently, my liver is clear since the scerias are whiter, my skin is glowing, I am told. I wanted to wait before writing this article to be a guinea pig for those who are skeptical about this medical approach.

General guidelines for your diet

Food should be of good quality and pure, obtained from naturally grown products. Cooked food is generally considered easier to digest than raw food and should always be eaten in a calmly manner, not in a rush. Ayurveda promotes a diet with little meat or a vegetarian diet. Moreover, as foods closely connect with the Doshas, different sorts of food are required at different times, and should correlate to the time of the day, the season and your personal Dosha constellation.

Ayurveda has a way of breaking down flavours, each having its own therapeutic effects and changing impacts on your body; from the first taste to on entering the body to being absorbed. The six tastes or Rasas that are distinguished in the Ayurvedic diet are: Sweet, Salty, Sour, Pungent, Astringent and Bitter. These tastes originate from the five elements and transmit their properties. For a balanced diet Ayurveda recommends getting all of these flavours with every meal and adjust the amounts of each to your personal constitution. Apart from feeling satisfied this practice also ensures that all major food groups and nutrients are present in the meal.

 

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STIMULATE THE GROWTH OF YOUR EYEBROWS AND LASHES

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Ricin oil is a derived from castor oil (cautionary note: it can be toxic if used orally) and with time, it will reinforce your eyelashes and brows.
 If your eyebrows and lashes are thinning out then consider this solution. In a new mascara tube, add a drop of ricin oil and each day apply with your mascara. If not, use an empty tube and apply with the brush then with a tooth or eyebrow brush dip into a little ricin oil and comb gently by dabbing into the roots of your eyebrows.

This is a long term process, done on a daily basis, you should get a result after a couple of months (this is an average; each of us react differently). You can also use it in your hair to reinforce and encourage growth. Always use organic.

 

 

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TENSE YOUR SKIN BY USING NATURAL INGREDIENTS

ALOE VERA:AVOCADO

TENSE YOUR SKIN BY USING NATURAL INGREDIENTS

Here is a simple and effective solution for our skin. In the palm of your hand mix half aloe vera, half avocado oil for day time and, at night mix your aloe vera with argan oil.
 This is a great way to nourish, and the aloe vera will tense, your skin. These are organic products that do wonders…

 

PUMPKIN SOUP

ingredients 5

Choose an organic Pumpkin, one onion, one potato, 2 carrotts, one garlic clove, soya cream and olive oil.

THEN SLICE AND DICE…

SLICE AND DICE BEST

IN A SAUCE PAN ONE TABLE SPOON OF OLIVE OIL ONIONS AND CARROTTS.

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THEN ADD PUMPKIN, POTATO, AND COVER WITH WATER.

PUT TO BOIL 3

BRING TO BOIL AND ADD GARLIC AND ORANGE PEEL.

ORANGE PEEL AND GARLIC

LEAVE TO COOK ON MEDIUM HEAT FOR 30 MINUTES

DECORATE AND SERVE

DECORATE AND SERVE

Photos by Coral Clark

WHO’S MY MIRROR

Stephen Jones_00011/You were a model before becoming a photographer do you think that the energy of a model can impact and influence a photographer?

Making pictures with people involves a certain projection of oneself. I try to recognise something of myself in someone I photograph. I also need to understand the energy, but by that I don’t mean their forcefulness or vitality, it’s rather ‘what makes them tick?’ because models come in all configurations. If the sitter isn’t compliant, I try to tweak them to a place where we are both in agreement.

2/Is it the photographer who influences the picture more than the model. Who leaves the most feeling or is it a fine balance?

The idea is that many decisions have been made before the person sits in front of the camera, there is some kind of (physical) situation or decor there for the sitter to interpret. I need to be receptive to their interpretation, but I want to guide the sitter so that they look right. I’m looking for an unknown area, ideally to try to transcend the images that we might have already seen of that person.

3/Did you consequently feel like an object of art while being

photographed or as a photographer do you find that you are the

influence?

No. I influence in that I have an idea that I’m trying to share. It’s not terribly complicated, you just have to find a space where the sitter relates to the proposed situation, that’s the idea.

4/Is a models personality relevant in an image or it is the

photographer’s personality that creates the image…

See 2) above. I really don’t care for the ‘Who’s who’ part of picture making. If I did, it would mean I wasn’t thinking for myself.
Models really are put in uncomfortable situations, and many don’t complain at all! I’m too conscious of that, and I think that when we are absolutely set on reproducing a theoretical idea, we tend to forget that to be human is also to be spontaneous, and to see what happens when…

5/Do you think that working with different artists as a model and having to adapt to their strong perception is a danger for ones perception of ones self?

When people know you’re a model by profession, and have a physique that can be used to conjure up ideas and sell things, they feel at liberty to comment on it. Let’s remember that standing in front of a camera/being on a catwalk is one small part of life though! I don’t remember being affected by the experience, but I remember at the time constantly thinking “what would my life be after this?” I knew it wouldn’t last long, although it turned out to last I lot longer than I imagined, when in more recent times I was rather flattered when Martin Margiela asked me out of the blue to model for him, so in that respect it was a positive thing. What is more problematic is the kind of images young people are looking at, we need to be really watchful of imposed ideals.

6/Would you call a photographer a different mirror each time, or is

the job of a model to be so strong that she is the drive of the

photo session?

More than a mirror really. The dictates of the fashion industry pay a large part in the final result. The model may have been selected because she corresponds to a certain look. But that may be very exciting, too, it may give her/him great confidence to know that they are desired and chosen, because it is hard work to photograph somebody who doesn’t want to be there or has very different ambitions.

7/Would you say that this is what defines a good model as opposed

to one that melts into the decor and world of the artist photographer

or even painter?

Are we talking about celebrity models? I think it’s a different kind of photography. With photographs of celebrities I’ve always been amused by totally unexpected roles, When I assisted Michael Roberts, he took some brilliant pictures of Kylie Minogue who was a soap star at the time and put her in a sort of very elegant Hoyningen Huene situation, which we had never seen before; and the picture of Vivienne Westwood as Margaret Thatcher is legendary.
In order to understand the picture, we need to know who the personality is. Models are known for their capacity to adapt, so the effect is less surprising. Personally I find it interesting working with the same person a lot, so we start to get the point of each other.

8/Does the interpretation and reflection of your physique affect who

you truly are?

It’s part of it, like any work you do, if you analyse and debrief after you’ve done it, it gives you a better understanding of what you’re doing. As a photograph or video is a visual trace, it perhaps more immediate. But frankly, even at my grand old age, I still don’t really know what I project, and I’m often shocked by other people’s interpretations.

9/Would you be a different person if you had never questioned your physique?
– Yes, ever so slightly.

10/Do you consequently wonder what people see when you walk

into a room?

Well, when I get ready to go out, I would like people to think ‘Ooh she cuts a fine figure!’ However when I am in teaching or photography mode, there’s not much that is further from my thoughts. In that role I have to be completely receptive to others..
I’ll just say that going grey is incredibly empowering! I’m afraid to say if looks were the only concern, perhaps it means there’s not too much else going on, and I suppose it would be a recipe for anxiety.

11/You come across as quite shy, so do you think that you would be different had you not been a model since being aware of the way

you look would possibly make you question your reflection into others…ie different people different mirrors?

Interesting question.. I suppose I am quite discrete. Maybe that’s more noticeable because I’m quite tall, or maybe because I’m intense and don’t wish to come on strong, I’ve spent a lot of time doing sport, particularly competitive swimming which changes your body a lot, so I think it’s more complex than that.. but I don’t think that being a model changed any of that, the time spent on a shoot is too short to make too much impact. I should mention that much of the time I was doing something else, I was at college or working by helping to produce photos when I was asked to model, and so often working with people who I knew very well.

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EMILY MARANT HARPERS BAZARDS MAKE UP AND HAIR BY ME

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Emily’s Make-up

Cream a la Rose docteur Haushcka lushesly hydrates skin,

Concealer Yves saint Laurent Touche éclat

Base: Fluide nude Dior

Blush Terracota Guerlain,

Eye shadow nude

Mascara: dark dried brown

Blush: pinched cheeks

Lips, naturel with a lip baume and a fresh colour

 

Hair,

Dried spray

 

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Spirulina power food

Is-Chlorella-a-SuperfoodHaving two vegetarian children I have been looking for the perfect foods to compensate meat, lack of protein and Iron. In my research I found Spirulina.

Spirulina is a source:

Protein: It is considered a complete source of high-quality protein
Vitamin B1:  This vitamin is necessary for the digestion of fats and proteins. It is often taken for increased energy, eye health, brain function and for improving nerve functioning.
Iron: Spirulina is a favorite food for vegetarians and vegans because it is one of the best plant sources of iron.
Calcium: Spirulina is also incredibly high in calcium

“It contains vitamins B-1(thiamine), B-2 (riboflavin), B-3(nicotinamide), B-6 (pyridoxine), B-9 (folic acid), vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin A and vitamin E. It is also a source of potassium, calcium, chromium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, selenium, sodium and zinc.

Contains Gamma Linolenic Acid (GLA) & Omega-3s

Spirulina contains Gamma Linolenic Acid andOmega-3sSpirulina is 65% protein and amino acids including the essential fatty acid gamma linolenic acid (GLA) which has gotten a lot of attention for its anti-inflammatory properties, especially when taken with other quality Omega-3 supplements.Besides GLA, Spirulina also contains Omega 3-,6 and 9s and is especially high in Omega-3s.

3. Balances Blood Sugar

spirulina may be especially helpful in balancing blood sugar,

4. Powerful Antioxidants

Antioxidants are powerful substances that protect our cells from damage. Thanks to decades of research, many of us understand the importance of consuming enough antioxidants from natural sources, and spirulina is a great choice.

The antioxidant that makes spirulina unique is called phycocyanin, which is a potent anti-inflammatory.

5. May Help Those with Allergies

6. Helps Remove Heavy Metals

Spirulina can bind with heavy metals in the body and help remove them.

7. Muscle and Endurance Benefits

Spirulina is known to increase fat burning during exercise Increases endurance
Decreased muscle damage from exercise

SPIRULINA ALGAZUR

Spirulina represents a biomass of cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) it was first found in Mexico and India . the Aztecs harvested the algae from Lake Texcoco in Mexico. The native people in Chad, Africa have also used the algae as a primary staple in their daily diet, as spirulina grows naturally and profusely in the pure salt water lakes of the region.

Now it is farmed and more and more so since it is beleived to be the super food of the future. Farmer recreate the original enviroment in which it naturally grows but making pool with the right water temperature, the same amoount of salt and potassium, so I found a farmer near Toulon in the south of France. I needed to be sure that my product was good not over heated to dry since this kills of the benefits. Healthy spirulina  has to be a dark green color .

SPIRULINA BATH

Here is Algazur http://www.algazur.fr

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I met her on the market of Saint Cyr sur Mer and she invited me to see her farm. I could tell that she was passionate about her work . When I got to the farm I saw that it was spotless and I could see that she was dedicated to Spirulina, she  wanted to share all her knowledge and gave me so much info … She produces small quantities and discovered spirulina being a vegetarian herself anf lacking protein and iron , she then left her full time job to start her farm.

The process is to let this biomass enlarge naturally in its enviroment and since it is a micro food to then filter it through the finest net so to leave out everything from small larva to dirt so it is completelly organic no artificial product. It is made into a pate a bit like play do and put through a fine spagetthi press and finally dried slowly never over 60 degrees since this would kill the benefits

INSTANT WINTER TAN

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As we go deeper and deeper into the winter, we lose our lovely summer colouring, our tan and  summer glow wears out . This is when a little something can change a lot. I always notice the inside transformation of a person while I do her make up as she is looking at herself in the mirror. The person may start a little reserved and discouraged with negative her body language. As she sees the progress of  make upbeing done and she looks better and better, the  improvement brings her back to a moment when she felt positive and happy. The reflexion of happiness is sent back from the mirror and brings her back to that moment and from there, little by little she start to sit up straight, to gain confidence, to speak up and sheers to that self that she seemed to have forgotten… That person that she knows so well, the happy her she can at last reconnect with. A little something can go far, this is why I chose to use these few products, the tint lotion from Dr Haushcka which is so easy to use for an optimum result, it just tints the skin as if it has just been in the sun for a little tan, then on top of this I use a bronzing powder with a big brush I gently stroke the angles where the sun would hit naturally when one walks about, I gently brush on the top of the fore head, the cheek bones a little touch on the noze. The eye lid can have a little shimmer and the lips even though moisturised stay lusciously mat… here after a touch of mascara in the conner of the eye, no one would ever know, the secret  mission these few products have achieved leaving no evidence, only the trace of  a glowing event which would have flushed our skin to glow naturally.