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Showing posts from 2010

Ashtanga yoga moon days 2011

"Observing this restraint to practice can be helpful in not becoming too attached to practice and routine. It also provides time for the body to rest and recuperate."
Richard Freeman


New moon
Tuesday 4th January: new moonWednesday 2nd February: new moonFriday 4th March: new moonSunday 3rd April: new moonTuesday 3rd May: new moonWednesday 1st June: new moonFriday 1st July: new moonSaturday 30th July: new moonMonday 29th August: new moonTuesday 27th September: new moonWednesday 26th October: new moonFriday 25th November: new moonSaturday 24th December: new moon
Full moon
Wednesday 19th January: full moonFriday 18th February: full moonSaturday 19th March: full moonMonday 18th April: full moonTuesday 17th May: full moonWednesday 15th June: full moonFriday 15th July: full moonSaturday 13th August: full moonMonday 13th September: full moonWednesday 12th October: full moonThursday 10th November: full moonSaturday 10th December: full moon

Quote of the day ...

The success of love is in the loving - it is not in the result of loving. Of course it is natural in love to want the best for the other person, but whether it turns out that way or not does not determine the value of what we have done.
Mother Teresa

Pose of the day

Snowy yoga, originally uploaded by yogamama.co.uk. Sirsasana (headstand). An empty snow covered beach was too difficult to resist. Wellies stayed firmly on.

Dog plays piano

Dog plays piano, originally uploaded by yogamama.co.uk. My dog really got into the festive spirit with his own rendition of " You Ain't Nothing but a Hound Dog"... Very funny!

Central Saint Martins Exhibition

Central Saint Martins Exhibition, originally uploaded by yogamama.co.uk. Here is my daughter with some of her work at her recent exhibition at Central Saint Martins in London. Many great artists and designers have studied at St Martins, including the wonderful Alexander McQueen who sadly died this year. An inspiration to many, including my daughter.

Recipe: Healing Beans, Greens and Garlic Soup

This soup is full of protective antioxidants, fibre and phytonutrients – plant compounds that protect your body from head to toe and may help balance hormones. Garlic supports the immune system, the gut and the heart – but cooking can destroy some of the healthful properties, which is why it is added late in this recipe. If you’re not a huge fan of garlic, cut it down by half or more.

Ingredients (serves 4-6 people):
2 tablespoons olive oil or butter1 large onion, chopped3 stalks celery, minced2 medium carrots, diced1 teaspoon sea salt, tamari or liquid amino’s, or to taste8-10 cloves garlic, minced1½ litres water, or chicken or vegetable stockAbout 300g cooked white beans (from 2 tins, rinsed, or from about 200g dry)About 700g green leaves, chopped (spinach, kale, or chard)Freshly ground pepper and nutmeg to tasteFreshly grated Parmesan cheese
Instructions:
Heat the oil in a large soup pot over low heat. Add the onion, celery, carrots, and salt.Cook for 10 minutes; then add the water or …

Backbend breakthrough with David Swenson

When I attended a David Swenson workshop recently entitled somewhere along the lines of “hands on adjustments” I had thought I might pick up a few tips, on assisting, my students into a couple of poses.

David Swenson had been my first yoga teacher many years ago (16 to be precise). A lot of things have happened in my life in those years (and no doubt in his too) and I felt like a different person to the one who was introduced to yoga by this man all those years ago. We chatted briefly after the workshop and I thanked him for introducing me to Ashtanga yoga and, therefore, changing my life direction for ever. Amazing how one chance meeting on a Greek island can open up a whole new dimension!

In fact I had gone to Skyros to attend a workshop called “Creative Change”. I changed my mind and moved to the other side of the island to do yoga and windsurfing. The workshop worked in a funny kind of way.

David Swenson was just as I had remembered him; he had hardly changed at all... A little light…

Recipe: Goodness gracious... What a great gratin!

My family really enjoyed this gratin. You can make this a purely vegetarian by not adding the bacon and or using a cream substitute.

Prep time: 15-20 mins
Cooking time: 50 mins

Ingredients (serves 4 people as a main dish or 6-8 people as a side dish):
A splash of olive oil2 rashers of smoky bacon (optional)1 large onion and/or leek, finely chopped3-4 garlic cloves, finely chopped500g root vegetables (swede, celeriac, Jerusalem artichokes, parsnips, even potatoes), finely sliced* Sea salt and freshly ground pepper A pinch of ground cloves or a handful of thyme leaves1 mug of double or luxury pouring cream½ mug of vegetable or chicken stock, or waterA handful of oats1 mug of breadcrumbsA handful of nuts (chestnuts, if you can), chopped A nugget of butterA handful of grated cheese (optional)
*Swede, celeriac and other big root vegetables need to be peeled and cut into more manageable pieces before slicing.


Instructions:
Preheat the oven to 190°C/Gas 5.Place a large frying pan over medium-high …

Pose of the day

Utthita Hasta Padanusthasana B, originally uploaded by yogamama.co.uk. Utthita Hasta Padanusthasana B

Quote of the day ...

Sweetest Lord, make me appreciative of the dignity of my high vocation, and its many responsibilities. Never permit me to disgrace it by giving way to coldness, unkindness, or impatience.
Mother Teresa

Lady Gaga head piece perhaps?

Head piece art project, originally uploaded by yogamama.co.uk. My daughter is pictured here wearing an item from her knit project. She is a student at Central St Martins in London and is having a private viewing of her work this week. Not your average knit item - but I love it!

Snowy London

Snowy Putney London, originally uploaded by yogamama.co.uk. I took this photo in my local park this morning; Wandsworth Park in Putney (London). I love the contrast of this man's outfit against the snow.

Down dog V snow dog

Snowy dog London, originally uploaded by yogamama.co.uk. The early morning snow here in London today. My dog loved it. Mind you, being a labrador, snow is in his genes.

The Anatomy of Mulha Bandha

Here is a very interesting article about Mulha Bandhas by David Keil (originally published on his website Yoganatomy.com) that was recommended to me by @Ashtangalife on Twitter.

Mulha Bandha anatomically speaking by David Keil © 2010
The bandhas are perhaps the most difficult aspect to grasp in the practice of Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga. For me personally, I think I know what they are. But then I look back at my little life as an Ashtangi, amazingly at 11 years now, and realize, I thought I knew what they were 10 years ago. Then just 5 years ago I understand them even more differently than I do today. My experience of them has changed over the years and will continue to as I'm guessing your experience of them will.

As an anatomy teacher I do try to bridge the gap between the subtle esoteric aspects of the energetic system and the practice of yoga and put it into western terms of anatomy. In the area of bandhas, I am careful to not too strongly make it into a physical anatomical thing. Ins…

Toesox

I think I am going to have to purchase some toesoxs. One of the studios where I am teaching yoga has really cold floors, which is fine when you are practising yoga and are standing on your mat, but not so good when you are wandering about barefoot while adjusting students.
I did notice my favourite teacher wearing them recently. If they are good enough for her, then they are good enough for me.

Raw Fairies detox menu.

Raw fairies 008, originally uploaded by yogamama.co.uk. My food for the day has magically appeared from Raw Fairies - it looks delicious, and I have already had my berry smoothie....here is todays menu

Berry Smoothie with Goji Berries, Ginger and Purple Corn
(blueberries, rasperries, cherries, blackberries, banana, goji berries, fresh ginger, purple corn powder)
•Green Smoothie with Chlorella and Spirulina
(kiwi, banana, spinach, chlorella and spirulina)
•Mock Tuna Salad with Cashew Mayo
(sunflower seeds, walnuts, celery, carrot, black olives,red pepper, red onion, garlic, tomato, cashews, nutritional yeast, salt, mustard powder)
•Beetroot and Carrot Cakes with Red Pepper Dill Sauce
(walnuts, sunflower seeds, carrot, beetroot, red onion, garlic, red pepper, cashews, fresh dill, cumin, harrissa, Himalayan pink salt)
•Oriental Mushroom, Wakame, Red Cabbage and Mung Bean Sprout Salad with Brown Rice Vinegar Dressing
(oriental mushroom: shiitake, oyster; red cabbage, wakame, broccoli, carro…

A hearty Bolognese

A saucy Bolognese is great for veggies. It contains staples such as onions, carrots, celery and leeks; and you could even toss some finely diced parsnip or swede into the mix (but not too much). Another thing that works wonders in a Bolognese sauce is mushrooms. You can make a veggie/vegan version by just using mushrooms, or you can compromise by just taking out the meat.
Preparation time: 15 minutes. Total cooking time: 45 minutes-1 hour
Ingredients (serves 4-6 people)
500g minced beef or 500g mushrooms, finely chopped like minceA few splashes of olive oilSea salt and black pepper2 onions and/or leeks, finely diced4 large garlic cloves, chopped2 large carrots, finely diced2 sticks of celery, finely diced (optional, but good)A large glass of red wine2 tbsp tomato purée2 tins of tomatoesA few bay leaves (if you like)A few sprigs of rosemary and/or thyme, leaves finely chopped
Instructions:
Place a large frying pan or pot over medium heat. Add a glug of oil and brown the meat and/or mushr…

Raw Fairies

I will be a doing a one day raw food detox on Friday. I have chosen this day as it is my day off (well almost) and I will be using foods provided by Raw Fairies.
Raw Fairies is a London-based company that delivers freshly-prepared, healthy raw food. The spaghetti is made from courgette ribbons and comes with a red pepper and walnut Bolognese sauce; the avocado almond burgers are served with raisin ginger chutney; and breakfast smoothies contain chlorella (marine algae) to support your immune system and flush out your gut.
The Friday menu looks amazing. I can't wait.

For more information, visit the Raw Fairies website

Student protests London

Student protests London, originally uploaded by yogamama.co.uk. Does she look like a violent protester? I think not!
Check out the police behind her though. The media has a lot to answer for in the way they portray these demonstrations.

Crow Pose on Everest, Nepal

Janga crow, Sunder peak, Everest; Nepal, originally uploaded by Eric Lon. Crow Pose on Sunder Peak, Mount Everest, Nepal

Eric Lon, French masseur and physiotherapist - along with his Nepali spiritual son, Janga - went to the Everest base camp in order to prepare the first Everest - yoga - massage - trek in April 2011. The trek will take them to Gorak Shep, with an altitude of 5,180 metres. Will this become the highest yoga camp in the world?
To view Eric's photos, visit: Eric Lon's Flickr photostream

Mindful Eating seminar

On Wednesday 24th November 2010, from 7pm until 8:30pm, Hala El-Shafie will be holding the Mindful Eating seminar at the Evolve Wellness Centre in South Kensington.

About the seminar

This seminar will cover the following topics:
What is Mindful Eating?Why we eat what we eat?Conscious Eating – Listening to your bodyWays to eat mindfully : The 20 minute ruleKnow yourself – identifying trigger foodsGiving appreciation + gratitude
The price of this seminar is £15 per person. To register, please call evolve reception on 0207 581 4090 or visit www.evolvewellnesscentre.com

Hala El-Shafie

Hala El-Shafie is Health Editor and Director of Nutrition Rocks and is an expert nutritionist and state registered dietician with more than 10 years experience in this field. She has a unique and exceptional understanding of the emotional and psychological issues often associated with food and has created a successful holistic client-centred approach that has brought her an extensive and loyal following, including…

Quote of the day ...

Knowledge of the self is the mother of all knowledge. So it is incumbent on me to know my self, to know it completely, to know its minutiae, its characteristics, its subtleties, and its very atoms.
Khalil Gibran

Quote of the day ...

Law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice and when they fail in this purpose they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

Roast spiced plums with soya cream

Here is a recipe for a dessert that is delicious, healthy and ideal for vegetarians and vegans. Roast spiced plums with soya cream... Makes my mouth water just thinking about it!


Ingredients (serves 4 people):
10 plums, halved and stoned2cm cube of ginger, peeled and grated200g soft, dark brown sugar2 small cinnamon sticks, or 1 large stick broken in half2 star aniseJuice of 1 lime
Instructions:
Preheat the oven to 190C/gas mark 5. Put the plums in a bowl with the ginger, sugar and lime juice. Mix together to coat the plums, then place cut-side up in an ovenproof dish where the plums can lie in a single layer. Arrange cinnamon and star anise in dish, around the plums. Pour 75ml cold water around the fruit and bake for 30-40 minutes (cooking time depends on how ripe the fruit is. The harder the plums, the longer you will need to cook them for).Toward the end of cooking, spoon syrup mix over the plums to baste them. Remove from oven, allow to stand for 10 minutes.Spoon into wine glasses and…

Pose of the day

Handstand Practice, originally uploaded by yogamama.co.uk. Handstand Practice

Pose of the day

Baddha Konasana B, originally uploaded by yogamama.co.uk. Baddha Konasana B

Recipe: Leek and potato bake

Here is a recipe for a delicious leek and potato bake. The dish is nutritious and warming, ideal for the forthcoming winter months, and is easily adaptable for vegan needs.

Ingredients: 225 g (1/2 lb) potatoes2 medium leeks250 ml single cream2 medium eggsOne large handful of grated cheese and/or breadcrumbsSalt and pepper to taste
Instructions:
Peel and slice the potatoes.Clean the leeks (by slicing then lengthways and fan them out under running water) and slice them. Layer the potatoes and leeks in a greased baking dish, sprinkling a little salt and pepper over each layer.In a separate bowl, mix the cream and eggs together.Pour the mixture over the potatoes and leeks. Sprinkle some cheese and/or breadcrumbs on top.Bake for 45-60 minutes, or until the potatoes are soft and the top is browned. Tip for vegans:This recipe is adaptable for vegans. Simply take out the eggs and replace the cream with soya cream. Add some onions and mushrooms to the dish to intensify the flavour. Very tasty!
Rec…

Pose of the day

Upavishta Konasana, originally uploaded by yogamama.co.uk. Upavishta Konasana

Creative sequencing yoga workshop with Liz Lark

Creative Sequencing Workshop
with Liz Lark in Surrey
Friday, 19th November 2010
7.15-9.30pm
Godalming, Surrey GU7 1RZ
Contact Raquel: raq.alves@gmail.comAutumnal Cleansing Vinyasas, Warrior Vinyasas & Slow Flow' to warm the body/mind for Winter.

Liz’s classes are always fun and dynamic. She has many years of teaching experience and her performing arts and ashtanga yoga background go hand-in-hand. Liz's passion for yoga developed in 1990 and she later studied to become a teacher with the British Wheel of Yoga (1992), and exploring Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga (a dynamic, dance-like style), which took her to India and Crete during the 1990's. A Board Member for The Life Centre's Teachers Training Course, Liz is involved in training safe, competent, creative yoga teachers committed to maintaining a high calibre of yoga teaching in the UK and beyond.

Liz Lark is holding a number of workshop and retreats in the UK. For more information, visit: www.lizlark.com

Quote of the day ...

On life's journey faith is nourishment, virtuous deeds are a shelter, wisdom is the light by day and right mindfulness is the protection by night. If a man lives a pure life, nothing can destroy him.
Buddha

Online sale at Sweaty Betty

Sweaty Betty currently have an online sale with up to 50% off on a wide range of yoga and fitness clothing. I am a big Sweaty Betty fan and, being the buxom yogi type, particularly find the fit of the vest tops good for me.
To view the full range, go to: www.sweatybetty.com

Purple Valley yoga retreat, India

Following the recent film Eat Love pray, I thought I would post an item on my favourite yoga retreat in India, not to be confused with an Ashram in India (as depicted in the film).

Purple Valley yoga retreat is a beautiful peaceful retreat set off the beaten track in Assagao, Northern Goa, where you can practice yoga with some of the world’s most highly respected Ashtanga yoga teachers. It is situated close enough to be able to venture into other parts of Goa, but feels like a cocoon if you wish to stay put on the retreat.

The beautiful shala (studio) is very peaceful and is situated at the far end of the retreat. The amazing birdsong you hear while practising yoga is just wonderful.

The accommodation is within two main houses or in small cottages located in the gardens. You can share rooms or pay a nominal fee to have your own room, if there is space available. I personally choose to take my own room, as I share my life with a family on a daily basis and Purple Valley is a bit of “tim…

Pose of the day

Ushtrasana camel pose, originally uploaded by yogamama.co.uk. Ushtrasana .Camel pose

Mayurasana variation

Mayurasana variation, originally uploaded by yogamama.co.uk. Mayurasana variation. Peacock Pose

Osteopathy at triyoga soho

On a recent visit to the triyoga centre in Soho, I visited the on-site osteopath Rob Hill. I have used osteopathy, alongside my yoga practice, for many years and find they work really well together keeping the body healthy, flexible and strong.
Rob gave a thorough examination and took a case history, before giving me any physical treatment. I - like many who practice or teach yoga - had a sacroiliac joint (lower back) strain, which caused some discomfort in other areas. Rob was able to diagnosis and give the appropriate treatment for this condition, which I found really helped my back pain.
It was very interesting for me to have treatment from an osteopath who also practices yoga (I am married to one who doesn’t do yoga). I think this enables the practitioner to have an extra understanding of how and why yogis do what they do; as well as having an insight into the common injuries faced by yoga students.
I was given some stretches to take away and practice and I feel that all areas were c…

Nancy Gilgoff's Ashtanga yoga workshop in Wiltshire

I recently had the pleasure of attending Nancy Gilgoff’s Ashtanga workshop, the only one she will be holding in the UK this year. I have practised with her on many occasions and it is always a privilege for me to spend time with one of the world’s most renowned Ashtanga yoga teachers.

Nancy was one of the first Western women to practice Ashtanga yoga with Sri Pattabhi Jois in India back in the 70s. She arrived at his shala with a lot of physical pain and, with the help of Pattabhi Jois, she was able to begin her wonderful Ashtanga yoga journey, which has now continued for more than 30 years. She was able to work through her physical pain using this physical form of yoga.

Nancy has also studied with the "silent sadhu", Baba Hari Dass, and will sometimes refer to his teachings. She says that what she learnt from him has also helped her as a teacher.

I missed the Friday evening led class, but I could tell immediately when I joined the Saturday intermediate class that there had bee…

Quote of the day ...

Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn't learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn't learn a little, at least we didn't get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn't die; so, let us all be thankful.
Buddha

I would rather go naked than wear fur

“I would rather go naked than wear fur” was a very successful ad campaign by PETA the animal rights campaigners back in the 90s. I mention this, as recently, while out walking my dog on a cold autumn day here in London, a young man approached me and said “ You F***ing bitch, wearing that fur coat”. I smiled sweetly at him and continued on my way. The coat in question is 100% polyester fake fur.

I have never worn fur and never will. This is a personal choice and I don’t feel the need to attack those who have different opinions to mine. I do, however, have an opinion, should anyone wish to ask me; but I’m not about to roam the streets of London, butt-naked, in order to prove my point.

I choose to lead by example. This has filtered through to my grown up children and they are able to make conscious choices, at to whether they wear fur or not. They too choose not to. My daughter is about to embark on a career in fashion and textiles, where hopefully she will be able to bring about some chan…

Pose of the day

Kapotasana Adjustment, originally uploaded by yogamama.co.uk. Kapotasana Adjustment from the Ashtanga yoga intermediate series. This picture was taken at the Nancy Gilgoff workshop I attended recently. I love to see adjustments being made in yoga poses.

Pose of the day

Halasana, originally uploaded by yogamama.co.uk. Halasana or Plough Pose.

Miele Vanilla Poached Pears

I was invited to watch a cookery demonstration at the Miele showroom in London by the lovely TV chef, Silvana Franco. Silvana was using the steam oven and prepared a number of dishes that were suitable for children (and weaning babies).
The beauty of the steam oven is that more of the food’s nutrients are retained during cooking. In addition to this – and rather surprisingly – is the fact that there seems to be no transference of tastes in the foods cooked together in the steamer. This means that you can cook your main meal and dessert at the same time, thus reducing time spent in the kitchen; something that is always a winner for me!
One of the dishes that Silvana prepared was vanilla poached pears; a dish that is incredibly easy to prepare and delicious served warm or chilled. Below, I have included a recipe.
Vanilla poached pears
Ingredients (serves 4 young children): 2 ripe pears, cored and cut into quarters or smaller pieces5 tablespoons of pressed apple juiceHalf a vanilla pod, spl…

Pose of the day

Tittibhasana A, originally uploaded by yogamama.co.uk. Tittibhasana A (Flying Insect )

Laughter is medicine

Laughter is medicine, originally uploaded by yogamama.co.uk. I am sharing a family photo in which my daughter and I are are doing two of my favourite things: laughing and dancing.Sharing fun times with family and friends can really lift the spirits. Your chemistry changes and you can sometimes find lightness on your dark days. Laughter really is fantastic medicine. Take it when you need it and give it when you can.

Drishtis

A drishti is a focal point or gaze point. Using a drishti in your yoga practice helps to deepen your concentration and they bring a steadiness to your yoga. They are cultivated over time, alongside all other aspects of a yoga practice.

The nine drishtis are:
Nasagrai (Nāsāgrai) - at the tip of the noseAngusta ma dyai (Aṅguṣṭha madhyai) – to the thumbNabi chakra (Nābhicakra) – to the navelPadhayoragrai (Pādayoragrai) – to the toesHastagrai (Hastagrai) – to the palm/ extended handParsva (Pārśva) – to the side/sUrdhva (Ūrdhva) – to the sky/ upwardsNaitrayohmadya or Ajna chakra (Bhrūmadhya) - to the third eye/ between the eyebrowsParsva drishti - far right or far left


Ubhaya padangusthasana - example of a Nasagrai (nose) drishti

Quote of the day ...

Just as treasures are uncovered from the earth, so virtue appears from good deeds, and wisdom appears from a pure and peaceful mind. To walk safely through the maze of human life, one needs the light of wisdom and the guidance of virtue.
Buddha

Pose of the day

Upavishta konasana, originally uploaded by yogamama.co.uk. Upavishta konasana

Book Review: Guruji - A Portrait of Sri K. Pattabhi Jois

Guruji - A Portrait of Sri K. Pattabhi Jois by Guy Donahaye and Eddie Stern

I have so enjoyed reading this book about Pattabhi Jois as witnessed through the eyes of his students, of many years. It is a great insight into the life and personality of the man known as Guruji.

Thirty of Guruji’s students offer their own experience of practising Ashtanga yoga under his guidance. The passion that was shared from guru to student is one of the wonderful themes throughout the book; as is the family man or householder that Pattabhi Jois was.

It is clear from this book that family played a big role in this man’s life. There is plenty of humour; I found the David Swenson and Guruji “Hari Krishna” story really funny.

I loved reading about the experiences of the women who practiced with Guruji, especially in the early days, when western women were not the norm in the Shala.

I highly recommend this book to everyone who practices Ashtanga yoga.

Pose of the day

Bakasana (Crow Pose), originally uploaded by yogamama.co.uk. Bakasana or Crow Pose

David Swenson at triyoga soho

The internationally-recognised Ashtanga yoga teacher David Swenson will be teaching at triyoga Soho from the 26th November until the 5th of December 2010. This is a great opportunity to practice with one of the “old school” Ashtanga yoga teachers.

David was my first yoga teacher way back in 1994. Since then, I have not had the chance to attend any of his classes or workshops. However, I have booked a place on the “hands on” adjustment workshop that he will be holding. There are a number of workshops on offer, from led primary series classes to a yoga teacher training intensive. So there is something for everyone!

I have mentioned to a number of my yoga students that they should take the rare chance to go and practice yoga with David. Some of them, however, feel slightly intimidated at the prospect.

When I meet him on a Greek island 16 years ago, I had no idea who he was and had never practised yoga before. David has a passion for yoga which he clearly loves to share. It is true that he c…