30 April 2010

Yoga book review: Anatomy of Hatha Yoga

This yoga manual is a fantastic reference book for both yoga teachers and students.

The author - H. David Coulter - has a ph.D in anatomy and has been a long-standing yoga practitioner, and has trained and studied with a number of yoga Swamis.

I think this book is really insightful and clearly links the relationship between the practice of yoga and the human anatomy.

It is full of information; including the mechanics of breathing techniques, Asana, Mudra and Bandha from both a Western and yogic perspective. I have not found another book that crosses into both areas in quite the same way as this one does.

My husband who does not practice yoga, but does have an MSc in Sports Medicine also thought it was a great comprehensive reference book.

Anatomy of Hatha Yoga: A Manual for Students, Teachers and Practitioners by H. David Coulter

Quote of the day...

Immature love says: "I love you because I need you." Mature love says: "I need you because I love you."
Gandhi

29 April 2010

Art and textile design

I thought I would share a couple of textile designs produced by my daughter, who is in the first year of a textiles degree at Central St Martins.

These two silkscreen pieces are designed by using images from photographs taken when we were on holiday in India. I am not an art student, so will not try and discuss the process of silkscreen printing, but I do understand that it is quite a tricky process; as well as very time consuming.

If you look closely you can see the fishes in one of the designs and, in the other, my daughter has drawn in the pylons that she photographed in Goa. I think she has captured a great likeness of this clothes seller and a real feel for India.

The man who features in the prints is seen below with his friends. I think he would be delighted to see himself as a muse. Who knows he may appear on a t-shirt in the future! If we return to India in the winter we will definitely take him one of the prints.



Quote of the day...

Anyone who practices can obtain success in yoga but not one who is lazy. Constant practice alone is the secret of success.
Svatmarama, Hatha Yoga Pradipika

28 April 2010

Buy cheap crap

On my last trip to India I heard one of the worst sales’ pitches ever. The beautiful young girl (seen in the photo) was selling sarongs on the beach and approached me by saying “do you want to buy some of my cheap crap?”. I laughed for 10 minutes.

The Indian people have a great sense of humour. Despite the sweltering heat and earning very little, the young girls always have time for a chat (once you have purchased some “cheap crap”) and have dazzling smiles that are so infectious.

I found it fascinating hearing about their lives; how they travel to Goa (quite often on their own) from far-flung villages. Some of the girls are as young as 14 and were amazed that my daughter was not having an arranged marriage, and that she could in fact choose her boyfriend.

Before I forget, another funny line for me came from another beach seller: “those hippies, bunch of lazy bastards!”.

Quote of the day...

One of the most difficult things is not to change society - but to change yourself.
Nelson Mandela

27 April 2010

Benefits of spinal twisting yoga poses

Twisting yoga poses have many benefits to both mind and body, which include:
  • Massaging the internal organs
  • Detoxifying the body
  • Improving digestion
  • Increasing the function of the liver, spleen and pancreas
  • Toning the oblique muscles (waist muscles)
  • Bringing symmetry and balance
The lateral rotation of the spine increases blood flow to the spinal nerve ending, flushing the spine with fresh oxygenated blood. The central energy channel of susumna nadi is situated inside the spinal column, therefore twisting poses encourage the upward ascent of energy (prana) . The Anahata chakra is stimulated in thoracic twists. This chakra represents unconditional love and is the seat of the heart... It is a gateway to higher chakras.

Twisting poses balance the body. In our every day lives, we tend not to twist in a balanced way and will habitually favour one side. Spinal twists help to bring symmetry to the body, also calming the nervous system

Quote of the day...

Birth and death are not two different states, but they are different aspects of the same state. There is as little reason to deplore the one as there is to be pleased over the other.
Gandhi

26 April 2010

Quote of the day...

Yoga is 99% practice and 1% knowledge.
Sri K. Pattabhi Jois

Video: Everybody's Talkin' - Harry Nilsson

I love the line from this song "Going where the weather suits my clothes..." It is such a bright uplifting song that it seems to stand the test of time... Great for a sing song!

25 April 2010

Quote of the day...

Learn to know yourself; to search realistically and regularly the processes of your own mind and feelings.
Nelson Mandela

Guernica

I have just finished reading Guernica - a historical novel by David Boling, set in the Basque town of Gernika (Guernica in Spanish). It is a fascinating first novel by Boling that encapsulates the horror and sadness of war. The interesting thread for me was the inclusion of the artist Pablo Picasso.

The Picasso painting – which is on display at the Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid – shown below is the artists’ impression of the bombing of the town. After reading the violent account of the bombing and taking a closer inspection of the painting, the horror is plain to see.

Guernica by Pablo Picasso

Below is an excerpt from the Times, which – according to the book - Picasso is said to have read and which inspired him to paint Guernica, published in The Times on April 28th 1937:

The Tragedy of Guernica
Town Destroyed in Air Attack
Eye-Witness Account
Bilbao, April 27th 1937

Guernica, the most ancient town of the Basques and the centre of their cultural tradition, was completely destroyed yesterday afternoon by insurgent air raiders. The bombardment of this open town far behind the lines occupied precisely three hours and a quarter, during which a powerful fleet of aeroplanes consisting of three German types, Junkers and Heinkel bombers and Heinkel fighters, did not cease unloading on the town bombs weighing from 1,000lb. downwards and, it is calculated, more than 3,000 two-pounder aluminium incendiary projectiles. The fighters, meanwhile, plunged low from above the centre of the town to machine-gun those of the civilian population who had taken refuge in the fields.

The whole of Gernika was soon in flames except the historic Casa de Juntas with its rich archives of the Basque race, where the ancient Basque Parliament used to sit. The famous oak of Guernica, the dried old stump of 600 years and the young new shoots of this century, was also untouched. Here the kings of Spain used to take the oath to respect the democratic rights (fueros) of Vizcaya and in return received a promise of allegiance as suzerains with the democratic title of Señor, not Rey Vizcaya. The noble parish church of Santa María was also undamaged except for the beautiful chapter house, which was struck by an incendiary bomb.

At 2 am today, when I visited the town, the whole of it was a horrible sight, flaming from end to end. The reflection of the flames could be seen in the clouds of smoke above the mountains from 10 miles away. Throughout the night houses were falling until the streets became long heaps of red impenetrable débris. Many of the civilian survivors took the long trek from Guernica to Bilbao in antique solid-wheeled Basque farmcarts drawn by oxen. Carts piled high with such household possessions as could be saved from the conflagration clogged the roads all night. Other survivors were evacuated in Government lorries, but many were forced to remain round the burning town lying on mattresses or looking for lost relatives and children, while units of the fire brigades and the Basque motorized police under the personal direction of the Minister of the Interior, Señor Monzón, and his wife continued rescue work till dawn.

24 April 2010

Running: the problem with blisters

Over the years I have taken part in a number of marathon events. Although I am not prone to blisters (losing toe nails is my problem), a number of my friends are. Below you will find some useful information on hydration and blister prevention/ treatment, written by my husband Clive Lathey MSc Sports Medicine.


Hydration
  • Dehydration impairs performance and health.
  • Fluid loss during exercise dependent on exercise duration, intensity, temperature and humidity. Body size and fitness levels also affect loss.
  • Pale to very pale yellow urine is an indication of good hydration. Dark yellow urine indicates advanced dehydration.
  • Always start exercise well hydrated. Continue drinking at regular intervals- ideally every 15mins. The aim is to match intake of fluid with the amount of fluid lost.
  • Exercise- more intense or lasting longer than 1 hour- solutions sodium + carbohydrate (Sports drinks), can speed up water absorption and provide additional fuel.

Blisters

Prevention
  • Always dry your feet; particularly between toes.
  • If you have moist feet, use surgical spirit daily to reduce sweat and toughen feet daily for 2 weeks prior to event.
  • Try and wear socks containing natural fibres and turn socks inside out to avoid irritation from thick seams.
  • Make sure shoes fit correctly. There should be a gap of approximately 1.5cm between the big toe and the end of shoe.
  • Use plasters over areas prone to friction, such as: heel, big toe and little toe.

Treatment
  • Cover blisters with plaster or blister protector.
  • Do not burst blisters. This can lead to infection and, what's more, the fluid inside a blister aids healing.
  • If a blister bursts, clean it with warm salty water. Apply sterile antiseptic dressing and keep the affected area dry as possible until it has healed.
  • Black toenails usually resolve. The nail may fall off and discolouration can last 12 months.
  • If a blister is very large and painful, seek professional medical advice.

Quote of the day...

Non-violence is the greatest force at the disposal of mankind. It is mightier than the mightiest weapon of destruction devised by the ingenuity of man.
Gandhi

The London Marathon

The London Marathon takes place this Sunday (25th April). The forecast is for a pretty warm day, so hopefully the organizers will set up showers en-route.

I took part in this amazingly challenging event in 1999 (so a few years ago). I had been challenged by a male friend at an alcohol-fuelled dinner party to take part in the Marathon… Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time. Training was the hardest part; running during the winter - come rain or shine - took a lot of discipline. In comparison, the actual event was a much more enjoyable experience. That is if a 26-mile run can ever be considered enjoyable.

I ran on behalf of United Response (a local disability charity) and whenever my energies waned during training sessions, I would think about the charity. The day itself is a bit of a blur. The crowd was absolutely amazing; as were my family, who jumped on the Tube and LDR to follow me around the event. It was suggested that I wore a t-shirt with my name on it, which – as it transpires - was a great piece of advice. Spectators would call you by name and shout out words of encouragement. If I am honest, without some of these strangers cheering me on, I don't know how I would have faired. I have my medal somewhere in a draw and always feel quite proud when I come across it. Incidentally, the friend who laid down the challenge never did do the Marathon.

If you are not taking part but have a spare bit of time this Sunday, go along and shout encouragement. It is a gift to receive a bit of hope along the way.

Would I do it again? Never say never!

23 April 2010

Henry Moore Exhibition at the Tate Britain

I visited the Henry Moore Exhibition at the Tate Britain (Millbank, London) the day before yesterday. It is a stunning display of works by one of the Twentieth Century’s greatest sculptors. Moore sculpts in a number of different mediums, including: plaster, bronze, elmwood, stone and alabaster.

The exhibition includes etchings and paintings (again using different mediums). The images from Wartime London are among my favourite pieces. Apparently, Moore was trapped in a London Tube station during The Blitz and the etchings depicting scenes from this time. Although Moore is better known as a sculptor these etchings are masterpieces in their own right.

Quote of the day...

By embracing your mother wound as your yoga, you transform what has been a hindrance in your life into a teacher of the heart.
Phillip Moffitt

22 April 2010

Quote of the day...

The ego lies in the fact that I share it with men and women, some of whom are more capable than me. That is my ego.
Nelson Mandela

21 April 2010

Quote of the day...

There have been tyrants and murderers and for a time they seem invincible but in the end, they always fall - think of it, always.
Gandhi

20 April 2010

Quote of the day...

Spiritual practices help us move from identifying with the ego to identifying with the soul. Old age does that for you too. It spiritualizes people naturally.
Ram Dass

19 April 2010

Quote of the day...

For all people who have found themselves in the position of being in jail and trying to transform society, forgiveness is natural because you have no time to be retaliative.
Nelson Mandela

18 April 2010

Quote of the day...

My imperfections and failures are as much a blessing from God as my successes and my talents and I lay them both at his feet.
Gandhi

17 April 2010

Quote of the day...

Yoga teaches us to cure what need not be endured and endure what cannot be cured.
B.K.S. Iyengar

16 April 2010

Quote of the day...

Death has such great importance in this society that it affects everything. I learned from my guru that death is not the enemy, i see it as another moment. Yet it’s the end of an incarnation and means going on to other incarnations.
Ram Dass

15 April 2010

Video: Kali

A chant to the goddess Kali. Kali is often described as the Goddess of Destruction or the Angry Goddess. My daughter's name sounds the same as Kali and, when I took her to a class at Jivamukti yoga studio, she was surprised to be included in the chant. A lovely, uplifting chant!

Quote of the day...

You did so in the full understanding that the American dream is a dream that all the world's people deserve; that a new world is in the making in which humanity should be united in its diversity of race, gender, language and religion.
Nelson Mandela

14 April 2010

Quote of the day...

There is nothing that wastes the body like worry, and one who has any faith in God should be ashamed to worry about anything whatsoever.
Gandhi

13 April 2010

Video: Om Namah Shivaya - Krishna Das

There are many variations of Om Namah Shivaya avaiable, but this variation by Krishna Das is one of my favourites.

12 April 2010

Marc Bolan

Marc Bolan was a name from my childhood. He was one of the first glam rock musicians and had many hit records including I Love to Boogie, Ride a White Swan, Telegram Sam, to name but a few… He was a pretty boy and wore very outrageous clothes for the 1970's. I remember him appearing on Top of the Pops in a gorgeous white feather jacket and mascara. He was very cool. All these years later, I still have some T. Rex tunes on my iPod (as do my teenagers).

Marc died in a car accident in Barnes in 1977 at the young age of 29. Living in south west London I drive past the shrine which has been created in his memory on a regular basis. Bolan still has many adoring fans throughout the world who go to his shrine in Barnes and place mementos or fresh flowers. Here are a few photos that I took recently. RIP



11 April 2010

Visit to the Breakthrough Research Unit at King's College London

In December a couple of my fellow PinkPower Walk team members and I were invited to meet Dr Andrew Tutt and a number of other scientists at Breakthrough's research unit at Kings College London.

We were there to see how they money raised from the 2009 PinkPower Walk was being spent.

Dr Tutt and his team (seen in the photo above) are an amazing group of individuals, who have dedicated their lives to Breast cancer research. Their passion and drive is amazing; I came away feeling humbled and moved by their professionalism and their expertise.

10 April 2010

Video: Ashtanga yoga by Pattabhi Jois

Here is a video I have found on Youtube in which the late Sri K. Pattabhi Jois talks about Asthanga Yoga. Enjoy!

09 April 2010

Video: The sneezing panda

This sneezing Panda video still makes me laugh. Poor mum was just chilling out when the baby scares her. Enjoy!

The Easter weekend


Penny slot machines, originally uploaded by yogamama.co.uk.

What to do on a cold and blustery Bank Holiday weekend by the sea in the UK? Head for the penny arcade... Not that I condone gambling, but it's the best £5.00 spent on a wet afternooon. Came away with three plastic watches... What a bargain!

08 April 2010

Ardha Baddha Padmottanasana

Pose of the day. Ardha Baddha Padmottanasana.
Hip opening.