23 November 2011

Jesus Christ in Richmond Park

My local park and I too have a dog who thought chasing deer might be fun ;-)

Every button tells a story

When my daughter, who had just turned 20, started this beautiful button knit, she was a happy and healthy textile student at Central St Martins College in London. She had just started to specialize in knit, when she was struck down with glandular fever. At the same time a close friend died suddenly, in tragic circumstances, and the combination of the two had a drastic effect on her health. She had to put her university life on hold, give up her East End student home and return to live with us to recover. She spent most of the past winter in bed and was diagnosed as having ME symptoms and a gluten/wheat intolerance. This was the turning point on her slow road to recovery.

This knit piece was created using two mop handles. The buttons were from a collection my own mum had gathered over the years. So many childhood memories in the button tin, my mum left behind when she died 17 years ago. At times my daughter was so unwell she couldn’t lift the knitting needles; there were months on end where her joints were so painful that it was impossible to do anything, even lift a paint brush. It's been a long year but Cally is now back on the road again, so finishing this piece was very significant and symbolic. Taking it to the framers was like letting go of a period of time. She is doing a silk screen printing course and a fashion course at London College of Fashion, preparing herself to return to the “full on” creative hub that is Central St Martins. She currently has a broken wrist but after the year she has had, it doesn't hold her back.

My beautiful girl @callyhearts

20 November 2011

Bishopstrow House and The Halcyon Spa

After an exhausting few months and the official opening of our new clinic The Putney Clinic of Physical Therapy, my husband and I headed off to Wiltshire for some rest and relaxation. I have stayed at Bishopstrow House before and find it so relaxing. In its previous life, it was a country manor house, set in amazing grounds behind an old stone wall. It has the feel of another era, without the pretentiousness that some hotels of this ilk have.

The staff at Bishopstrow House are fantastic. When the room we had booked wasn't quite right for us, we were promptly relocated without any fuss to the most beautiful Shaftesbury Suite, room service and 10 hours of the most refreshing sleep I have ever had. I headed over to the Halcyon Spa, while my husband swam for an hour in the outdoor swimming pool.

Running a very busy clinic, and teaching yoga in London doesn't allow for much “pampering” time, so I booked myself an Elemis facial with the lovely Rachael in the Halcyon Spa. The spa is gorgeous; you can choose from many wonderful treatments, exercise in the gym, swim, steam, sauna, etc. I chose not to exercise (apart from a little bit of discreet yoga, by the swimming pool) but all about choices here. The spa rooms are really well lit, and so clean and comfy; the staff are really helpful, you immediately feel more relaxed once you step into the spa suite.

I have been to a number of different spas over the years and not all of them have succeeded in creating this feeling. In fact, some are so clinical that they invoke the opposite effect. This is the 2nd time I have posted about Bishopstrow House. The hotel and spa industry is having a difficult time, along with everyone else at the moment, so to find a place that is still offering such a wonderful service (with a genuine smile), is worth sharing.

19 November 2011

It’s getting crowded on the road to enlightenment

It's getting crowded on the road to enlightment...  This is the title of third item in three weeks that the Times has written about yoga and "enlightenment". This is obviously a good selling tactic at the moment, but it might be useful if they got their story straight.

In the first item they wrote "how wonderful yoga is for you". Item two said the opposite "yoga is not good for you". Item three mixes up yoga, Buddhism and Kabbalah and how many people are rushing off to India in search of enlightenment, and how much it's all costing us gullible Westerners.

The item then goes on to say Julia Roberts converted to Hinduism after appearing in Eat, Pray, Love;  Demi Moore, Britney Spears and Madonna are all followers of Kabbalah; Tiger Woods said his Buddhist Faith would help him recover from sex scandals;  Steven Segal announced in 1997 that he was the reincarnation of a Buddhist lama...

Is the Times therefore using the above statements to reassure us that the collection above are on the crowded road to enlightenment? Or purely filling their newspaper with any old bullshit?

18 November 2011

Ashtanga Intermediate Backbends

"Encouraging Words" by Zen Master Guishan

"Encouraging Words" by Zen Master Guishan
 Some day you will die.
Lying on your sick bed about to breathe your last, you will be assailed by every kind of pain,
Your mind will be filled with fears and anxieties and you will not know where to go or what to do, Only then you will realize you have not practiced well.
 The skandhas/aggregates (matter, sensations, conceptions, impulses and consciousness) and the four elements in you will quickly disintegrate, and your consciousness will be pulled wherever your ancient, twisted karma leads it.
 Impermanence does not hesitate.
Death will not wait.
 You will not be able to extend you life by even a second.
 How many thousands times more will you have to pass through the gates of birth and death.
If these words are challenging, even insulting, let them be an encouragement for you to change Practice heroically.
 Do not accumulate unnecessary possessions.
 Don't give up. Still your mind, end wrong perceptions, concentrate and do not run after the objects of your senses. Practice diligently. Be determined not to let your days and months pass by wastefully.

12 November 2011

Quote of day

It must be said that genuine compassion is not like pity or a feeling that others are somehow lower than you.
Rather, with genuine compassion you view others as more important than yourself.

Dalai lama

11 November 2011

Yoga Pose of the Day: Supta Padangusthasana

Yoga pose of the day: Supta Padangusthasana (Reclining hand-to-big-toe pose)
Supta Padangusthasana (Reclining hand-to-big-toe pose) - © Yoga Mama

Yoga pose of the day: Supta Padangusthasana, otherwise known as the Reclining hand-to-big-toe pose.

10 November 2011

Learning Purvottanasana from the Ashtanga Yoga Primary Series, with Kino...

Have yoga mat will travel

I always take a yoga mat with me where ever I go- so on recent trips to Manchester (where my son is at university) my mat came with me. I stayed in the city centres Crown plaza which is in a fantastic location for wandering around the city centre...The beds in this hotel are AMAZING as are the staff, and they have a great Sunday night deal should you ever find yourself in Manchester on a Sunday night... Wouldn't it be fantastic if hotel rooms provided yoga mats along side the mini bar-thus catering for all needs ;-)
I definitely will always pick this hotel over the others I have stayed in-in Manchester

Crowne Plaza

stuff 254
Crown Plaza Manchester 002

Quote of the day

Anger and hatred are two of our closest friends.
When I was young I had quite a close relationship with anger.
Then eventually I found a lot of disagreement with anger. By using common sense ,with the help of compassion and wisdom. I now have a more powerful argument with which to defeat anger.

Dalai Lama

08 November 2011

Practising Back bending on Pilates reformer


We have some great Pilates kit in one of our studios-I clearly don't know how to use it but doest stop me having a go... some things got to help move my stiff upper back alongside my yoga.

Chickpea vindaloo

Here is another great recipe form Adam and Theresa over at The yogi Kitchen, which is soon to be called "Keen on food". 

Adam and Theresa are currently practising yoga in Mysore India so follow their food journey at the above link. This particular item was posted during their stay in Tarifa, Spain, where they taught yoga and hosted international yoga teachers.

Chickpeas are the ubiquitous bean of a vegetarian diet, but here in AndalucĂ­a, we are still amazed at the freshness, plumpness and largeness of the ones here.  Vindaloo is a Goan dish, originating when the Portugese brought chillis to the area and introduced cooking with wine, traditionally it is served with pork, but here we have used chickpeas and vinegar instead of the meat and wine, to an effect that I have to say is one of my new favourite dishes. 

It has been a bit of a chilly week here in Tarifa, with temperatures dipping to 10 C, and I was craving the combination of chickpeas with potatoes, in a spicy dish, tomato and cream is one of my all time best type of sauces and add vinegar... Well all of the boxes are ticked. 

We are almost out of chapati flour, so we ate this with soft white rolls like the Indian pav.  Pure heaven.

The recipe was found on the internet and credit was given to Steven Raichlen, thank you Steven.

Chickpea Vindaloo (serves 4)

  • 1 cup dried chickpeas, soaked in water for at least 8 hours
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp minced fresh ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground tumeric
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper or crushed red dried chillies (or to taste)
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 3 tbsp red wine or cider vinegar
  • 2 potatoes, peeled and diced into 1cm cubes
  • 2 to 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup yoghurt
  • 2 tbsp fresh chopped fresh coriander 
Cooking instructions:

  • Drain the chickpeas, cover in fresh water and boil for 1 1/2 hours or until soft but not mushy.
  • Heat the 1 tbsp olive oil in a heavy saute pan over medium, add the ginger, cumin, turmeric, cinnamon stick, bay leaf and cayenne, stir for about 30 seconds.
  • Add the tomatoes and stir in the vinegar and bring to a boil.
  • Stir in the chickpeas, potatoes, 2 cups of vegetable stock, tomato paste and salt.  Return to a boil, cover and simmer for about 15 to 20 minutes or until the potatoes are soft. 
  • Stir in the yoghurt until thoroughly mixed, simmer for a couple more minutes.  Add chopped coriander, stir through and serve.

04 November 2011

Dynamic Surya Namaskar sequence

Let the Sunshine in             

Dynamic Surya Namaskar

This is a dynamic, flowing variation on the classic sun salutation. This particular sequence has an emphasis on stretching the psoas or hip flexor muscle at the top of the thigh. You can change the pace of this yoga sequence by staying in each pose for 5 breaths or by using the one breath one movement principle in order to to flow through the practice.

This warming, heat-producing sequence can be used as a stand-alone short yoga session or, alternatively, as a warm-up to a longer yoga class. Building the number of rounds up over time will enable you to gain strength.  Connecting to your breath in each movement, allows this sequence to feel like a moving meditation. You should always rest in savanasana at the end of your yoga session.

            . Tadasana (Mountain pose)
Stand with your feet together-hands in front of your heat in pray.. Yoga Om 101

 2. Urdhva Hastasana (Upward Salute)
Inhale and sweep your arms up keeping your shoulders moving down the   back. Look up towards the thumbs.
           Yoga Om 078

   3. Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend)
Exhale folding forward. Bend your knees here if you need to.
     Uttanasana-Forward fold

            4. Ardha Uttansana (Half Standing Forward Bend)
Inhale look forward and lengthen the spine
 Yoga Om 081

            5. High Lunge
Exhale, and step your left foot back into a lunge, keeping your gaze forward.  Drop your back knee to the floor if you need to. Inhale
           Yoga Om 090

  6. Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog Pose)
Exhale and step your right foot to down dog-keeping your feet hip wisth apart.. Spread your fingers and draw your lower (floating) ribs into the body.
.          Downward facing dog 001

  7. Eka Pada Adho Mukha Svanasana (Tri-pod down dog )
            Inhale lifting the right leg high-keeping keep the belly strong and both hips
            facing towards the floor
           Eka Pada Adho Mukha Svanasana Tri-pod down dog

  8. Eka Pada Adho Mukha Svanasana Variation
            Exhale bending the right knee taking the heel towards the left hip.
Keep both shoulders square to the floor.. Inhale
           Eka Pada Adho Mukha Svanasana Tri-pod down dog

      9. Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog Pose)
Exhale and step your right foot back to down facing dog.
            Downward facing dog 001

. 10.  Plank Pose
Inhale and bring your body forward until your shoulders are over your wrists.Keep your body straight like a plank..Push your heels into an imaginary wall behind you, be strong through the belly
.          Kumbhakasana Plank pose

  11.  Chaturanga Dandasana(Four-Limbed Staff Pose)
Exhale as you bend your elbows and lower body down towards the floor ( drop your knee’s to the floor if you need to) Keep your elbows close to the body and keep the shoulders moving away from the ears.
           Chaturanga Dandasana

   12.  Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (Upward-Facing Dog Pose)
Inhale, sweeping up into updog, opening the chest and heart-standing up on the hands. Keep your legs fully active  and the shoulders moving away from the ears ( stay low in cobra as an option)
            Urdhva Mukha Svanasana-Upward facing dog

 13. Adho Mukha Svanasana
Exhale back to Down Dog
.           Downward facing dog 001

    14.  High Lunge
            Inhale the right foot back in between the hands in a lunge. Inhale
            Yoga Om 090

          15. Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend)
            Exhale stepping the left foot forward to touch the right, folding back in over
            the legs in a forward bend.
             Uttanasana-Forward fold

         16. Urdhva Hastasana (Upward Salute)
Inhale and sweep your arms up keeping your shoulders moving down the back. Look up towards the thumbs.
            Yoga Om 078

  17. Tadasana (Mountain pose)
Exhale the-hands back in front of your heart.
.           Yoga Om 101

02 November 2011

Quote of the day


The smile is a very important feature of the human face. But because of human intelligence ,even that good part of human nature can be used in the wrong way, such as sarcastic smiles or diplomatic smiles, which only serve to create suspicion. I feel that a genuine affectionate smile largely depends on ones own attitude.It is illogical to expect smiles from others if one does not smile oneself.
Therefore, one can see that many things depend on ones own behaviour.

Dali Lama

01 November 2011

Yoga and back pain: study shows yoga to be more effective than conventional medical treatments

Interesting article about practising yoga in order to relieve back pain in The Times today by Hannah Devlin.

After a 12-week course of yoga, patients with long-term back pain reported less discomfort, performed better physically and were more confident in performing everyday tasks than those offered conventional GP care. 
While improvements were most pronounced at three months, immediately after the yoga course, people who were assigned to the yoga group still had less pain a year after the start of the study. 
David Torgerson, director of the Trials Unit at the University of York, said: "Doctors should be able to suggest yoga classes as an approach that could help."
The study, published today in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, assigned 156 patients to yoga classes and a control group of 157 patients to standard GP care. Those in the control group received a range of interventions, including mild pain relief medication, physiotherapy and advice to remain active and avoid heavy lifting. On average, members of the yoga group were able to undertake 30 per cent more activities compared with those in the usual care group after three months. 
Lower back pain affects 80 per cent of the UK population at some point. It is estimated that about 4.9 million working days a year are lost  to it, but few effective, evidence-based treatments exist. 
The yoga programme, which involved 20 experienced yoga teachers, was designed by Alison Trewhela, from Truro, Cornwall, an Inyegar Yoga teacher and Senior Practitioner in Yoga on the British Register of Complementary Practitioners. 
The classes were designed for complete beginners, with yoga teachers given extra training in back care. Participants were recruited from 39 general practices in seven Primary Care Trust areas, with classes held in non-NHS premises in Cornwall, North London, West London, Manchester and York. 
Professor Alan Silman, medical director of Arthritis Research UK, said: "This trial is part of our larger commmitment to seek self-help solutions to this common musculoskeletal problem. There are compelling explanations why yoga may be helpful and this trial lends powerful support to the wider use of this approach." 
Sue Faulkner, 68, from Bishopthorpe in York, who took part in the trial said that yoga had helped her to resume hobbies and a more active life. 
"Walking around is no longer a problem and I can do my gardening now so long as I pace myself", she said. "I've even taken on an allotment with my daughter and son-in-law and no longer take painkillers."
Hannah Devlin, The Times, Tuesday 1st November 2011