31 December 2010

Quote of the day ...

March on. Do not tarry. To go forward is to move toward perfection. March on, and fear not the thorns, or the sharp stones on life's path.
Khalil Gibran

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 moon
  • Wednesday 2nd February: new moon
  • Friday 4th March: new moon
  • Sunday 3rd April: new moon
  • Tuesday 3rd May: new moon
  • Wednesday 1st June: new moon
  • Friday 1st July: new moon
  • Saturday 30th July: new moon
  • Monday 29th August: new moon
  • Tuesday 27th September: new moon
  • Wednesday 26th October: new moon
  • Friday 25th November: new moon
  • Saturday 24th December: new moon

Full moon
  • Wednesday 19th January: full moon
  • Friday 18th February: full moon
  • Saturday 19th March: full moon
  • Monday 18th April: full moon
  • Tuesday 17th May: full moon
  • Wednesday 15th June: full moon
  • Friday 15th July: full moon
  • Saturday 13th August: full moon
  • Monday 13th September: full moon
  • Wednesday 12th October: full moon
  • Thursday 10th November: full moon
  • Saturday 10th December: full moon

30 December 2010

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

29 December 2010

Quote of the day ...

Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

28 December 2010

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.

Quote of the day ...

There are only two mistakes one can make along the road to truth; not going all the way, and not starting.

27 December 2010

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

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.

Quote of the day ...

Many a doctrine is like a window pane. We see truth through it but it divides us from truth.
Khalil Gibran

26 December 2010

25 December 2010

Quote of the day ...

Non-violence means avoiding not only external physical violence but also internal violence of spirit. You not only refuse to shoot a man, but you refuse to hate him.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

24 December 2010

Quote of the day ...

The wise ones fashioned speech with their thought, sifting it as grain is sifted through a sieve.

23 December 2010

Quote of the day ...

Love... It surrounds every being and extends slowly to embrace all that shall be.
Khalil Gibran

22 December 2010

21 December 2010

Quote of the day ...

Non-violence is a powerful and just weapon. which cuts without wounding and ennobles the man who wields it. It is a sword that heals.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

20 December 2010

Quote of the day ...

The whole secret of existence is to have no fear. Never fear what will become of you, depend on no one. Only the moment you reject all help are you freed.

19 December 2010

Quote of the day ...

Love possesses not nor will it be possessed, for love is sufficient unto love.
Khalil Gibran

18 December 2010

17 December 2010

Quote of the day ...

Never succumb to the temptation of bitterness.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

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 butter
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 stalks celery, minced
  • 2 medium carrots, diced
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt, tamari or liquid amino’s, or to taste
  • 8-10 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1½ litres water, or chicken or vegetable stock
  • About 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 taste
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

  • 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 stock and bring to the boil.
  • Cover, lower the heat to a simmer, and cook 15 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.
  • Add the beans, garlic and as much of the greens as you can fit in the pot.
  • Cover and wait a few minutes for the greens to wilt (when there is room), add more greens until they are all incorporated.
  • Season to taste with pepper.
  • Serve hot, topped with a grating of nutmeg and a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese and serve with a wholemeal bread or seeded crackers.
Recipe courtesy of Abel & Cole

15 December 2010

Quote of the day ...

Love one another, but make not a bond of love: Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
Khalil Gibran

14 December 2010

The Path to Urdhva Kukkutasana B - Kino MacGregor

Another clear teaching video clip from Kino MacGregor.

Quote of the day ...

The greatest destroyer of peace is abortion because if a mother can kill her own child, what is left for me to kill you and you to kill me? There is nothing between.
Mother Teresa

13 December 2010

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 lighter, a little less hair (sorry David), but still sharing his yoga knowledge in a fun and honest way. We shared a little bit of banter, his ability to tease and be teased shows something about being comfortable in his own skin; something I think we all strive for.

As in many yoga workshops, you are often paired with someone to work on a pose. We had worked on a couple of standing poses and then David said we were going to work on a backbend. I was paired with a French couple who spoke no English and my knowledge of French is counting to ten (so not so useful). We were then very quickly shown how to come to standing from a back bend ( Urdhva Dhanurasana).

I have never done this before and quite frankly had thought it was probably off limits to me (as I’m nearer to 50 than I am to 40). I had set my own limits of what was achievable. No one was more surprised than me to find myself in a standing position from starting in a backbend. It was fantastic! I had a breakthrough not only in the physical sense, but also in the way I view my own limitations.

The other issue that come up for me was a question of trust. I was allowing a couple of strangers to assist me in a pose that I had previously felt fearful of. We did not speak the same language and had met only a minute before, but - hey presto - the three of us were up on our feet for the first time.

I don’t know if I will ever be able to do this pose again? What I do know is that I was given the opportunity to experience something new on many level and for this I am very grateful. It seems David Swenson opens doors and I walk through them. Hopefully it won’t be another 16 years before our paths cross again.

Quote of the day ...

Never forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was legal.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

12 December 2010

Bhuja Pidasana with Kino MacGregor

I have found this tip for Bhuja Pidasana really useful while teaching. I would have like to have known this tip when I was learning this pose. Many thanks to @Arkieyogini for sharing this with me on Twitter.

Quote of the day ...

The virtues, like the Muses, are always seen in groups. A good principle was never found solitary in any breast.

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 oil
  • 2 rashers of smoky bacon (optional)
  • 1 large onion and/or leek, finely chopped
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 500g 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 leaves
  • 1 mug of double or luxury pouring cream
  • ½ mug of vegetable or chicken stock, or water
  • A handful of oats
  • 1 mug of breadcrumbs
  • A handful of nuts (chestnuts, if you can), chopped
  • A nugget of butter
  • A handful of grated cheese (optional)

*Swede, celeriac and other big root vegetables need to be peeled and cut into more manageable pieces before slicing.

  • Preheat the oven to 190°C/Gas 5.
  • Place a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add a good splash of oil. Add the onion or leek and, if you are using it, the bacon. Fry till the bacon starts to crisp and the onions are soft.
  • Stir in the garlic and add the sliced root veggies.
  • Season well. If you are going to use the, add the cloves and gently fry for just a few minutes, just to soften them.
  • Stir in the cream and stock/water.
  • Simmer for 10-15 mins, till veg have softened.
  • Taste and adjust seasoning as required. If you're using thyme instead of the cloves, add them now. Pour everything from the pan into a baking dish.
  • Mix topping ingredients together and scatter them over the top and bake till the top is crisp and golden, about 30 mins.
  • Delicious with winter greens stir-fried in oil, garlic with a good pinch of salt and pepper.

Recipe courtesy of Abel and Cole

10 December 2010

Quote of the day ...

The biggest disease today is not leprosy or tuberculosis, but rather the feeling of being unwanted.
Mother Teresa

06 December 2010

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

05 December 2010

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!

Quote of the day ...

Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

04 December 2010

Quote of the day ...

The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, nor to worry about the future, but to live the present moment wisely and earnestly.

03 December 2010

02 December 2010

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.

Quote of the day ...

Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.
Mother Teresa

01 December 2010

Quote of the day ...

Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into friend.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

30 November 2010

29 November 2010

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. Instead, I acknowledge that bandhas are both, energetic and physical as is our entire body. We are not just energy, not just emotions, not just spiritual, not just thoughts, not just physical, but all of these at once.

To discuss mulha bandha we talk about the pelvic floor, some people say perineum and others use the term PC muscles which stands for pubo-coccygeal muscles. This web of tissue at the base of our torso container is actually a diaphragm - defined as a ring of tissue. The opening at the base of our bowl shaped pelvis is more or less circular and filled with thin layers of muscles and fascia, creating a trampoline of tissues. Like many other places in the body, the pelvic floor is layered. Technically the perineum lies under the pubo-coccygeal muscles with a layer of fascia between.

Contraction of these muscles is often associated with the mulha bandha. Great debate comes from whether you should be contracting the middle or the back portion of these tissues and far be it from me to jump into this one too deeply, other than to say, Guruji (Sri K. Pattabhi Jois) always talked about controlling your anus. The translations that I've seen of the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, which has an entire chapter on Bandhas and Mudras, often say the same thing. That is, mulha bandha is a contraction of the anus.

As it turns out the PC muscles are actually part of the levator ani... which means elevator of the anus. Technically this would be more closely related to what we're after. Therefore to this anatomist, it makes more technical sense to use PC. But that's just me, in the end, what matters is that you have the experience of what is created, not the technical details.

If the bandha is an energetic component of who we are, what part does the actual muscle have to do with the bandha anyway? Personally I describe the pelvic floor and contraction of it as the pathway toward mulha bandha. In other words, it's the physical contraction that does two things. First, it creates a conscious mental relationship with mulha bandha and it seems that prana follows thoughts, so if you're thinking of a part of your body, you are in essence sending energy there. Second, is the contraction of the PC muscles which stimulates the energetic center. Hence, creating the mulha bandha.

There are of course physical changes that occur when performing a contraction of the pelvic floor muscles. They often fit into the descriptions given of the core muscles. There are debates about what the core muscles are, which ones should be included etc... but the pelvic floor is almost always part of that conversation. Remember that the pelvic floor muscles are at the base of the spine filling the circular like hole at the bottom of our pelvic bowl. The back portion of the bowl is created by the sacrum which links to either side of the pelvis at what we call the SI (sacroiliac) joint. Just off to either side of the sacrum, in essence filling in the sides toward the back or the bowl are the piriformis muscles.

Think of the spine rising up out of the back of the pelvic bowl, towering above its foundation at the pelvis. Almost like balancing a broom upside down in the palm of your hand. Certainly there are other muscles that help stabilize this column as it rises, but at its base, its foundation, are the PC muscles. To see the effect of these muscles in helping balance the spine, imagine for a moment that you tightened your PC muscles so much that it started to make your coccyx touch your pubic bone (not possible by the way). If the coccyx, and therefore sacrum are moving toward the pubic bone it means that there is movement at the SI joint and the spine is falling backwards above the SI joint.

If the muscles let go completely then the opposite would happen. No tension to hold the sacrum in place and the towering column of the spine would start to fall forward and the coccyx would be moving away from the pubis. The point is that the PC muscles help to create stability of the pelvic bowl and the spine that rises from it. Of course, no muscle, or in this case group of muscles, lives in a vacuum. There are other muscles (and ligaments) that help maintain the integrity of the pelvic bowl and the stability of the spine, it's just that these muscles are at the foundation of it. Therefore physically these muscles are about stability and support of pelvis and spine, and perhaps, root the spine, or are at the root of the spine. Mulha = Root.

There is another effect that happens when contracting these muscles. You should be able to feel this yourself quite easily especially on a strong contraction of the PC muscles. This effect is that you should also find that lowest part of your abdomen also changes in tension. You may want to close your eyes for a moment and do a few contraction of these muscles to see what other parts around the area contract. People may experience it slightly differently. Some may even feel a contraction in their lower back as well between the top of the pelvis and ribs which would most likely be a result of the transverse abdominus (the deepest of the oblique muscles) as it connects to the vertebrae in the lumbar.

There is still one more direction to go with this interlinking of subtle and gross aspects of mulha bandha and the pelvic floor. What better force to interlink them with than breath. You might say that breath is the ultimate link between subtle and gross. It's most subtle aspect as Prana or life force animates our physical bodies. This feeds us both energetically and then if we take just the smallest of steps toward gross, prana presents itself in the form of oxygen molecules which nourish and sustain all of our more gross tissues, be they nervous, muscular, or skeletal. Everything in the body relies upon it.

When the diaphragm contracts it compresses the abdominal contents and puts a downward pressure on the pelvic floor and if unrestricted, also pushes the abdomen out. You can give it a go yourself by closing your eyes and take a big breath or two. You should feel the further you go to the edges of your inhalation that there is more and more abdomen moving and pressure into the pelvic floor.

The diaphragm above is putting pressure on the diaphragm below (PC). The energetic purpose of mulha bandha is to prevent the escape of energy, specifically prana vayu or downward flowing energy. By contracting the pelvic floor muscles you prevent the downward movement of these muscles when breathing. You are literally stopping a downward physical force. The gross side of the subtle purpose of mulha bandha.

I'd love to follow this thread and tell you all about the muscle that is most likely associated with uddhiyana bandha and the effects on breathing there but it would be off topic. You'll just have to demand another guest post from this yogi bent on anatomy.

Quote of the day ...

Life without liberty is like a body without spirit.
Khalil Gibran

26 November 2010


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.

Quote of the day ...

The mind is everything. What you think you become.

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, carrot, mung bean sprouts, brown rice vinegar, nama shoyu, sesame oil, agave syrup, chilli, ginger, garlic, salad leaves)


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 mince
  • A few splashes of olive oil
  • Sea salt and black pepper
  • 2 onions and/or leeks, finely diced
  • 4 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 large carrots, finely diced
  • 2 sticks of celery, finely diced (optional, but good)
  • A large glass of red wine
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • 2 tins of tomatoes
  • A few bay leaves (if you like)
  • A few sprigs of rosemary and/or thyme, leaves finely chopped

  • Place a large frying pan or pot over medium heat. Add a glug of oil and brown the meat and/or mushrooms until they're nicely coloured up. Toss in a bit of salt and pepper as you cook.
  • Add all the diced veggies (onions/leek, carrots, garlic and celery or any other veg, if using). Fry them with the meat and mushrooms until they're glossy and softened.
  • Give the mix a nice drink of wine and let it guzzle it up until it's slurped up about half. Stir in the tomato puree. Mix well. Add the tinned tomatoes. Fold them through. Add the bay leaf and let the whole thing bubble away happily while you set the table and get the water on for the pasta.
  • After a 15-30 minute simmer, the sauce should be ready. Add the fresh herbs and fold the pasta through. Plate up with a handful of leafy greens and/or cheese, a drizzle of olive oil... Grubs up. Get your fork.

Serving suggestions:
  • Cooked spaghetti noodles
  • A good handful of fresh rocket or other leafy greens
  • A hunk of Parmesan cheese to grate (optional)

Recipe courtesy of Abel & Cole

25 November 2010

Quote of the day ...

Let there be no purpose in friendship save the deepening of the spirit.
Khalil Gibran

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

24 November 2010

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.

Bakasana: Led Intermediate Class in Mysore

Here is a short video of a led intermediate class in Mysore, focusing on bakasana. Enjoy!

Quote of the day ...

Our life of poverty is as necessary as the work itself. Only in heaven will we see how much we owe to the poor for helping us to love God better because of them.
Mother Teresa

23 November 2010

Quote of the day ...

Life's most persistent and urgent question is, "What are you doing for others?"
Martin Luther King, Jr.

Crow Pose on Everest, Nepal

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

22 November 2010

Quote of the day ...

The foot feels the foot when it feels the ground.

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 body
  • Ways to eat mindfully : The 20 minute rule
  • Know yourself – identifying trigger foods
  • Giving 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 a number of high-profile and celebrity clients.

Hala is also a health writer and consultant. She writes a nutrition column for an international medical journal and is regularly asked to contribute to some of the UK’s leading lifestyle publications. Her work has been featured in Grazia, Red and YOU Magazine and she has also been in The Times and The Daily Mail. Her dynamic approach and professional ethos has led to media recognition and, most recently, she was enlisted as resident Nutritionist on ITV1's flagship show This Morning. Hala is a member of the Health Care Professional Council (HPC), British Dietetic Association. For more information, visit www.nutrition-rocks.co.uk.


Evolve is a vibrant new wellness centre in the heart of South Kensington. It offers yoga and pilates classes, holistic treatments, sustainable-living seminars and a variety of courses and workshops on the body, mind and spirit.

Evolve Wellness Centre
10 Kendrick Mews
London SW7 3HG
Tel: 020 7581 4090

21 November 2010

Kino MacGregor talks about beauty

Kino MacGregor talks to Girls Gone Gorgeous about beauty, the body and beyond.

Headstand practice in Mysore

Headstand practice in Mysore, with what seems like a very slow count :-)

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

19 November 2010

Video: Dancing baby

I love this video clip and it will definitely make you smile. Enjoy!

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 stoned
  • 2cm cube of ginger, peeled and grated
  • 200g soft, dark brown sugar
  • 2 small cinnamon sticks, or 1 large stick broken in half
  • 2 star anise
  • Juice of 1 lime

  • 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 serve warm or at room temperature (or cold, if you like), with a dollop of soya cream (or vegan ice cream) and plenty of juices from the pan.
  • You can also finish the cream garnished plums with a handful of toasted almond flakes and a pinch of freshly ground cinnamon.

Recipe courtesy of Abel and Cole Organic Food Boxes: www.abelandcole.co.uk

18 November 2010

17 November 2010

16 November 2010

The Basics of Pranayama Yoga

The Basics of Pranayama Yoga with Richard Freeman. I found this a really interesting clip on pranayama. Richard touches briefly on Mula bandha too (very briefly, but quite specifically). He seems like quite a chracter. Enjoy!

Quote of the day ...

Many people mistake our work for our vocation. Our vocation is the love of Jesus.
Mother Teresa

15 November 2010

13 November 2010

Quote of the day ...

Keep me away from the wisdom which does not cry, the philosophy which does not laugh and the greatness which does not bow before children.
Khalil Gibran

12 November 2010

Quote of the day ...

Love is a fruit in season at all times, and within reach of every hand.
Mother Teresa

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.

  • 225 g (1/2 lb) potatoes
  • 2 medium leeks
  • 250 ml single cream
  • 2 medium eggs
  • One large handful of grated cheese and/or breadcrumbs
  • Salt and pepper to taste

  • 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!

Recipe courtesy of Abel and Cole Organic Food Boxes: www.abelandcole.co.uk

10 November 2010

Creative sequencing yoga workshop with Liz Lark

Creative Sequencing Workshop
with Liz Lark in Surrey

Friday, 19th November 2010


Contact Raquel: raq.alves@gmail.com
Autumnal 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.

09 November 2010

Quote of the day ...

In the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, and sharing of pleasures. For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed.
Khalil Gibran

08 November 2010

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 “time out” for me.

It is a very safe environment for women travelling on their own in India. You can sip post-yoga-practice fruit juices beside the pool or enjoy an ayervirdic massage or treatment on-site. The food is delicious and vegetarian; with copious amounts of fresh fruit available.

The teachers, as already mentioned, come from all around the globe; as do the students. Teachers in the forthcoming season include: David Swenson, Kino MacGregor, John Scott, Phillipa Asher, Dena Kingsberg, Petri Raisanen; to name but a few. My own favourite yoga teacher Nancy Gilgoff will not be in Goa this year, but will hopefully return next season.

I have visited other retreats around the world but Purple Valley has what I’m looking for: fantastic yoga teachers, great food, comfortable accommodation, sunshine... all set in the beautiful country that is India.

For a full list of teachers and prices: www.yogagoa.com
For reviews: www.yogagoa.com/reviews/

Quote of the day ...

Love begins by taking care of the closest ones - the ones at home.
Mother Teresa

07 November 2010

Pose of the day

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

Ushtrasana .Camel pose

Quote of the day ...

It is incontestable and deplorable that Negroes have committed crimes; but they are derivative crimes. They are born of the greater crimes of the white society.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

05 November 2010

04 November 2010

Quote of the day ...

Love begins at home, and it is not how much we do... but how much love we put in that action.
Mother Teresa

03 November 2010

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 been a few “add ons” in the Friday night practice. Nancy is very traditional in her teaching and made it very clear that some of the “add ons” were not Ashtanga and had no place in her class; all said in her usual calm caring way.

Having missed the first session I went straight into intermediate (2nd series). This brought up a lot of fear for me. In the previous few days, I had had some really bad news; that an old friend of mine had taken his own life and I had been grief stricken. When practising the primary series, in those few days prior to the workshop, I cried throughout the seated postures. My fear of back bending (heart opening) was that I might be overwhelmed, this thankfully was not the case.

Nancy is a very intuitive hands-on yoga teacher. Like her own teacher Patthabi Jois, she is able to feel what a student needs in their yoga practice and is able to assist them in a kind and compassionate way. I trust her adjustments and her experience; to know when to back off or to move forward in the yoga practice.

I had mentioned to Nancy when I arrived at the workshop that I had had a” difficult week” this was enough information for her to let me be. I worked through the back bending sequence and my personal grief in that workshop, allowing myself to stop where appropriate for me.

In Urdhva Dhanurasana I felt a a slight pain in my left upper chest (pectoral muscle) and I thought perhaps I had a minor injury, but it disappeared as quickly as it arrived. I think it was my body moving through and letting go of some of the grief.

I enjoy Nancy’s off-the-mat time as much as the practice. She has a lot of wisdom and is a householder yogi. She has a grown up daughter and has lived life, whilst continuing her dedication to her own practice and teaching; something I aspire to in my own life.

Quote of the day ...

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

02 November 2010

Quote of the day ...

If you reveal your secrets to the wind, you should not blame the wind for revealing them to the trees.
Khalil Gibran

01 November 2010

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.

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 change; however small it might be.

Taking the moral high road, as this man did, is not for me. There is far too much traffic on it already. As Leo Tolstoy said “man always thinks about changing the world, but never himself”.

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.

30 October 2010

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 pieces
  • 5 tablespoons of pressed apple juice
  • Half a vanilla pod, split
  • Greek yogurt or fromage frais to taste
  • Cut the pear pieces into suitable sizes (for children, these will need to be smaller). If making this for young babies, puree the pears once cooked.
  • Place the pears, apple juice and vanilla pod in a heatproof dish. Cover with clingfilm and steam at 100ºC for 4 to 6 minutes (depending on size and ripeness), until very tender.
  • If pureeing, do so while the pears are hot (remember to remove the vanilla pod). Otherwise, leave to cool for a short time and serve warm or chilled with a spoonful of Greek yoghurt or fromage frais.

Quote of the day ...

In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

Pose of the day

Tittibhasana A, originally uploaded by yogamama.co.uk.

Tittibhasana A (Flying Insect )

29 October 2010

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.


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 nose
  • Angusta ma dyai (Aṅguṣṭha madhyai) – to the thumb
  • Nabi chakra (Nābhicakra) – to the navel
  • Padhayoragrai (Pādayoragrai) – to the toes
  • Hastagrai (Hastagrai) – to the palm/ extended hand
  • Parsva (Pārśva) – to the side/s
  • Urdhva (Ūrdhva) – to the sky/ upwards
  • Naitrayohmadya or Ajna chakra (Bhrūmadhya) - to the third eye/ between the eyebrows
  • Parsva 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.

27 October 2010

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.

Quote of the day ...

Let us touch the dying, the poor, the lonely and the unwanted according to the graces we have received and let us not be ashamed or slow to do the humble work.
Mother Teresa

Pose of the day

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

Bakasana or Crow Pose

26 October 2010

Quote of the day ...

If we are to go forward, we must go back and rediscover those precious values - that all reality hinges on moral foundations and that all reality has spiritual control.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

25 October 2010

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 can get into the most amazing poses, but he does not expect students to come along and be him. From what I remember, he was a funny, laid-back teacher who inspired me on my yogic journey and to whom I will always be grateful.

triyoga soho
2nd Floor, Kingly Court
Tel: 020 7483 3344
Web: www.triyoga.co.uk

Quote of the day ...

If you cannot work with love but only with distaste, it is better that you should leave your work.
Khalil Gibran

23 October 2010

Ashtanga yoga moon days 2010

Here are the remaining moon days for 2010:

October 23 (full moon)
November 6 (new moon)
November 21 (full moon)
December 5 (new moon)
December 21 (full moon)