Post archive

New Moon New Chinese Year

According to the amazing Ghal Sasson, saddle up its going to be quite a ride!

"The Chinese new year began together with the New Moon in Aauarious last Friday because it is the lunation that falls right between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox, tying the end and the beginning. Aquarius is the sign that represents the future, hopes and wishes manifest. The Star is the Tarot card for Aquarius and we do make our wishes when a star falls...So if you ever wondered when is the best time for a New Year's resolution, it is definitely now, on the Chinese New Year, which brings a swell of powerful waves we can use to make things happen.  

What to expect from the year of the horse?

  • Expect? The unexpected...
  • Crazy unexpected romances and business partnerships
  • Galloping (up and down) prices
  • Adventures
  • Decisiveness, bravery, gallantry brings fast victories. 
  • Be careful of not over impetuous spontaneity and risk-taker.  Horses always "say" what is on their mind, avoid speaking before thinking, buying before researching. 

Conclusion:

Like a horse rider, before you mount to ride this year, make sure you know your final destination. Once you do, allow the spontaneity and synchronistic nature of the horse to lead you on the right path towards reaching your goal."

New Beginning...

So many of you told me you loved the poem this week I thought I'd share it in full here!


For a New Beginning... 


In out of the way places of the heart

Where your thoughts never think to wander

This beginning has been quietly forming

Waiting until you were ready to emerge.


For a long time it has watched your desire

Feeling the emptiness grow inside you

Noticing how you willed yourself on

Still unable to leave what you had outgrown.


It watched you play with the seduction of safety

And the grey promises that sameness whispered

Heard the waves of turmoil rise and relent

Wondered would you always live like this.


Then the delight, when your courage kindled,

And out you stepped onto new ground,

Your eyes young again with energy and dream

A path of plenitude opening before you.


Though your destination is not clear

You can trust the promise of this opening;

Unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning

That is one with your life’s desire.


Awaken your spirit to adventure

Hold nothing back, learn to find ease in risk

Soon you will be home in a new rhythm

For your soul senses the world that awaits you.


~ John O'Donohue

Half Term Homework for Beginners

For my Beginners....here is your half term homework!

An accumulation of what we've learnt so far this term....



Especially for my Mythology fans...

So the book I recommended at todays Lakshmi workshop is.....

'Awakening Shakti by Sally Kempton'

Its definitely worth an investment! Here's the link to purchase on Amazon
Enjoy!

Chicken with 40 (yes,really!) cloves of garlic!

So you know how I LOVE to cook..... here's the delish recipe I served at a dinner party last night....Honestly the chicken is so succulent and the garlic sweet and not at all over powering (Honestly!)

This recipe is from a wonderful cook book by Catherine Fulvio called Eat Like An Italian.  Every recipe I've used so far is a gem!
I can't wait for next Oct for the Yoga & Cookery Holiday in Italy....My two passions in one place! Details to for the holiday will be posted early next week so do watch this space!

Pollo Alla Diavola Con 40 Spicchi Di Aglio

1.5kg Free Range Organic Chicken Spatchcocked
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
8-10 small shallots, peeled and left whole
8 medium roasting potatoes  peeled and halved (I used organic salad potatoes unpeeled)
40 cloves of garlic, peeled
250ml chicken stock, heated
100ml white wine
1 lemon, juice only then roughly chop the lemon
4 rosemary sprigs
3 bay leaves
S & P
4 tbsp basil pesto (I made my own but good quality store bought would work)

1.  Preheat oven to 180/ fan 160/gas 4
2.  To spatchcock the chicken turn chicken breast side down with the tail pointing towards you.  Insert scissors underneath cavity and cut straight up 2cm on either side of the backbone.  Remove the bone.  Turn over the chicken and press down firmly.  Flatten and ensure the chicken is the same thickness on both sides.
3.  heat generous amount of oil in a roasting pan by placing it the oven for 5 minutes.  Add the spatchcocked chicken, shallots and potatoes and coat in the oil.  Place in oven for 15 minutes.
4.  Add the garlic, pour in stock, wine and lemon juice.  Add the chopped lemon to the roasting pan with rosemary, bay and seasoning.
5.  Cover with foil and return to oven for 35-40 minutes, basting the chicken from time to time.  Add extra stock if it reduces too quickly.  Check chicken is cooked by inserting a skewer into thickest part of the thigh - juices should run clear.
6.  Remove the chicken to a serving plate and allow to rest.  Cover loosely with foil
7.  Meanwhile place the roasting pan (still has potatoes and shallots etc in it!) on the hob and bring sauce to the boil.  Allow it to simmer for 2-3 mins and allow to thicken and reduce slightly.  Some of the garlic will dissolve into the sauce.
8.  Add the pesto to the sauce then serve with the chicken, potatoes and sauce.
Enjoy! 

Yoga and Living with Cancer

Since January I have been undertaking a journey that I have been dreaming of for the last 10 years.....teaching yoga to people Living with Cancer.
 
Though I have been teaching yoga for almost 12 years and been a yoga therapist for over 5years and have had people living with cancer in my regular classes and seen clients privately I haven't felt fully confident and equipped to serve this population fully....Until now!!!

I have just completed an additional training with the amazing Laura Kupperman at the Life Centre in London.  Laura has been teaching yoga to cancer survivors for almost 10 years and is herself approaching the 10 year anniversary to surviving breast cancer...She is totally awesome and inspiring! Laura is a gifted teacher and lead us through trainings that were motivating, emotional, challenging and soooooo informative.  I now feel absolutely ready to share and support people living with cancer in my community.

As I said in the beginning of this blog, I have wanted to share this work for a long time, in fact it was using yoga tools to support my partner through cancer treatment thirteen years ago that lead me to teaching.  I discovered with my, then, partner the healing and emotional benefits of gentle but strengthening movement together with restorative support, relaxed breathing, relaxation techniques and meditation.  We used these tools when chemo treatment was tough, when he felt nauseous and couldn't sleep, when he felt angry and frustrated, when he felt anxious and scared, when he needed to find stillness, a glimmer of peace and acceptance....in fact once Mr Cynical discovered that yoga wasn't woo wooo stuff he pretty much used it daily!
When he left his body in 2001 I used a daily yoga practice to help me cope with  the deeply painful grief and loss that followed.  I knew then that yoga to me was so much more than fancy postures and looking good in Lululemon.....it was a healing way of life.  After this revelation I wanted so badly to spread the benefits as widely as possible and so I began my yoga teacher training and the journey that has taken me to this point in time.

Whilst caring for my partner was a difficult, stressful and emotional time, I can not begin to imagine what it is like to be told you have cancer and to deal with everything that follows after that.  What I can offer now is support through that process via a yoga practice.  I can provide a safe, nurturing enviroment, a place where you can just BE, tools that support the physical and emotional cancer roller coaster no matter what stage of treatment or recovery, compassionate practices that will gently strengthen and help find more ease and comfort in the body and mind.
I am ready, humble and excited to be offering this service.

This is where I need you!!!!!......Please help me spread the word! Tell everyone you know that I am offering this service....not for me...but because when you have witnessed the power and magic of yoga with people living with cancer you will see how beneficial and necessary this practice is for them.

My class for Living with Cancer begins on May 17th at IQ Therapies in Alasger....you can find more details on class page too!

Thank you in advance for your support! xxx

The books and dvd's I love.....

I'm asked this question more than any other...."What books &/or DVDs can you recommend?"

The answer, of course does depend on whose asking the question and what their needs are but here is my 'Go To' pile of books and dvds that always inspire and teach me.....






From the bottom upwards....

Structural Yoga Therapy - Mukunda Stiles
Dancing The Body of Light - Dona Holleman
The Womens Book of  Yoga & Health - Linda Sparrow & Patricia Walden
Yoga Body - Judith Lasater
Yoga Anatomy - Leslie Kaminoff
The Breathing Book - Donna Farhi
Light on Yoga - BKS Iyengar
Tantra - George Feurstein
Prana Pranayama Prana Vidya - Bihar School
Anatomy of Yoga - Coulter
Ayurvedic Yoga Therapy - Mukunda Stiles
Bring Yoga to Life - Donna Farhi
Mind Body Spirit - Donna Farhi - Not in pic....out on loan!

Fluid Power - Shiva Rea
Yoga - Claire Missingham
Yoga Level II - Tias Little
Vinyasa Flow - Seane Corn
Yoga Libre - Liz Lark
Anatomy for Yoga - Paul Grilley
Universal Yoga - Andrey Lappa
YogaMind & Body - Ali Macgraw & Eric Schiffman
Beginners Yoga - Patricia Walden - Also out on loan!
AM & PM Yoga - Patrica Walden & Rodney Yee

Spring is on the way.....


Is that sunshine I see today???....A rarity just lately but sooooo welcome!

It does seem to have been a long, long winter and the Spring just can't come along quick enough for me!

Thankfully we will soon be leaving behind the kapha season...a time of congestion and increased mucus and stagnation.  The kapha force is predominantly centred in the stomach, lungs, sinuses, nose, mouth and throat and an imbalance often manifests as congested breathing, expectorating cough, a feeling of heaviness and dulless....All those things we associate with a long winter!!!

As we move into April and the warmer, lighter weather arrives, pitta energies begin to accumulate and the kapha forces begin to subside.Yeay!!!!



I wrote in my blog last Spring about an ideal routine to follow in the Spring time, including body brushing, self massage, so do scroll down and re-read to help yourself ease into the new season.

Other top tips:
  • To dry up excess kapha try a regular sauna
  • Drink hot water and lemon/lime every morning to cut through excess mucus and stimulate digestion
  • Make your asana practice more dynamic to create internal heat...Heating Namaskars, heart opening backbends and twists
  • Use kapalabhati to sweep out cobwebs and clear congestion & ujjayi to increase prana
  • Eat warm, light, easily digestable foods
  • As the Spring pitta energy arrives it too can become congested so take aloe vera juice (15ml) with  a pinch of tumeric up to 3 times  per day to help cleanse the liver

Happy Christmas Everyone.....My tips for getting through the holidays!

Christmas season is upon us once again!  This year it really does seem to have sneaked up on me.....One minute September term just beginning and the next the term completing!!! It really has been a whirl wind few months and now I'm on the Christmas roller coaster!

If you too feel like you're right there with me on the holiday train then maybe you might need to use some (or all!!!) of my tips for getting through the holidays......

  • The Winter Solstice traditionally marks the beginning of winter - the shortest day and longest night.  It is the time when the sun is at it's lowest and is often the coldest time of year.  Try to ensure you're warm and cosy - don't forget your scarf to protect the 5th chakra which is at it's most vulnerable this time of year! & ensure your kidneys stay warm....give them a rub! They are known in Chinese medicine as the Minister of Power and are a major indicator of vitality, good health and immunity - and take time to listen to your needs! It's sooooo easy to loose yourself in the festivities and of course, there are times when family, friends and parties are just the ticket, but also try to find some balance where you can reflect, rejuvenate and re-charge your batteries!
  • The colour blue is my favourite colour and today I just found out that it is associated with calm, hope, relaxation, reassurance, cleanliness and inspires creativity and clarity.....Dig out your favourite blue sweater and tap in!
  • Of course tis the season to be jolly and often one where we overindulge with food and booze.  Do your utmost to stay hydrated....This has several effects.....When you're thirsty this signal is often misinterpreted by the brain as hunger so  drink plenty of water before hitting the buffet table!  The kidneys and bladder regulate water in the body and the adrenals are also closely linked to the kidneys.  The adrenals main job is to help us deal with stress...family quarrels, financial issues, lack of sleep, overindulgence etc.  The more we can support and nourish and hydrate the adrenals the better and they in turn will help us feel more balanced physically and mentally.
  • Start your day with a 5 minute meditation or lie in bed and take 5 minutes of reflection.  Be aware of your breath.....Breath in calmness & positivity and Exhale anxiety and negativity.....Repeat this throughout your day.
  • Try to balance your diet with lots of alkaline based foods.....lots of fruit and veg! &, again to support kidney health, avoid iced or cold foods and eat plenty of hot homemade soups and stews.
  • Don't feel you have to eat all the left over chocolate.....NOTE TO SELF!!!
  • Try to take a yoga practice EVERY DAY!!!! This doesn't have to be 90 mins +.....a short 5 minute visualisation to your favorite beach, taking in all the sounds, images and smells, a 15 min meditation reflecting on the breath, 10 rounds of alternate nostril breathing (In L, Ex R, In R, Ex L = 1 round!), 20 mins of gentle asana or relaxation......Lots to choose from! To help you out I have just recorded 3 x 20 min sequences  with my Gentle Yoga Groups....20 mins of gentle warm ups, 20 mins of gentle standing flow & 20 mins of seated, pranayama and relaxation.   Go to the podcast page and find them on the MP3 Player or tap my name into the search in the Store on iTunes and download direct to your MP3 device!
  • Most of all, ENJOY, SMILE, TELL YOUR LOVED ONES THAT YOU VALUE THEM, LAUGH.......OFTEN!!!!




Autumn Preparation

Just where has the time gone....I can not believe I have not blogged since June!!!

Finishing up the Summer term, summer holiday, starting the Autumn yoga term, a weekend retreat in Cumbria, and here we are, officially in the Autumn season following the weekend of the Equinox!!! Wow, how time flies when you're having fun!
I had a terrific time with my yogi friends celebrating the Equinox in the Lakes.  This new season is all about letting go...Just as the leaves fall to the ground and the earth begins to gather its energy inwards, we are presented with a perfect opportunity to release old feelings, habits, attachments and, instead, begin to create fresh space for new wisdom and compassion to blossom.
Autumn is the time to bring things to conclusion - let go of anything that is annoying, upsetting, let go of sluggishness and begin to cultivate clarity and vitality to increase energy and motivation!
In essence it is time for physical, emotional and spiritual transformation!
The lungs and the large intestine are the organs that are associated with time of year.  When we cling and attach to our 'stuff' this imbalance can manifest as colds, flu, bronchitis, sinus congestion and constipation.  These ailments all signal that our lung health and emotional body are compromised.

Here are my top tips to promote optimal health this season....

  • See if you can rise in the morning around sunrise.  Soak up the peaceful calm!
  • Before showering use the practice of Body Brushing and Abhyanga.  Use a body brush and swift strokes to brush the skin. Brush towards the heart.   Then massage the body with warm oil (organic cold pressed sesame is good!) Massage upwards from the feet to the heart.  Place a little in the ears and the nostrils to protect them from the elements too!  Allow to soak into the skin for half an hour then take a warm shower or bath.
  • In your asana practice gather your energy inwards and focus on the breath.  Work slowly and steadily. Use postures that open the upper torso to stimulate and increase lung ventilation - gentle twists (which regulate samana vayu), backbends (To open the heart, lungs and chest).  Add inversions (which help to decrease vata and help us to ground with apana vayu).
  • Incorporate Ujjayi and Nadi Shodanam to balance the prana, and cleanse and relax tension within the nadi's.
  • Sit and mediate - even it's only for 10 minutes! Count the breaths and try to make the exhalation a little longer than the inhalation.   Cultivate the feeling of letting go and surrender.  If your mind wanders, just let go of that thought and keep bringing your awareness back to the breath!
  • Ensure that your diet is nourishing, grounding and warming - reduce cold foods and drinks, avoid caffeine, reduce large amounts of raw food.  Increase warming stews and soups, add warming spices to increase the internal temperature and prevent muscus forming.  Garlic is great for clearing the lungs of mucus and improving a sluggish liver!  Avoid white flour, which promotes dryness and constipation, and increase whole grains.
  • Have quiet time before bed.  If you have trouble sleeping try warm almond milk with a pinch of nutmeg and cardamon.
  • In your home, clear out your clutter and burn spicy oils - Thyme or Pine to stimulate the lungs, Eucalyptus is great for the sinuses when you have a cold!
  • Try to clear up any on going conflicts or things that have been annoying you. Let go of anything you no longer need, reflect on the things that sustain you and make space for new growth.  Set your intentions clearly and plant the seeds for your hopes and dreams to blossom.

Playlist & More!


Greetings my friends!!  I hope this blog finds you well and enjoying the summer time!
I've recently returned from an amazing yoga holiday with the fabulous Liz Lark.   A wonderful week of sunshine, yoga, terrific food, great company and relaxation.   The holiday was on the island of La Gomera....beautiful.....I fully intend to return and explore more....very unspoilt, lush and green.
The holiday was organised by a great company...Free Spirit Travel....They have asked me to teach for them next year, so I'll keep you posted with those details as soon as I get them!  Exciting stuff!!!

One of the great things about the yoga holiday was lack of cell phone signal and wi-fi!!!! How great to have a complete 'holiday' from technology, though I have to confess that I was a little twitchy for the first day or so!
I have now realised just how often I check my phone for text/email/Facebook/Twitter messages......Not a good sign when you reach for your phone as soon as you wake!!!
I am pleased to say I am now dealing with this addiction!.....I have set aside particular times of the day to check in and I'm trying to keep my Sunday's techno free!!!  How much more time I have now!!!.....

So putting this extra time to good use, next week will be devoted to podcasting....I know....I've been very slack in that department!!!  I have listened to your requests....a 20min, 30min and 40min podcast will be recorded and posted next week together with a Live class too!!! PROMISE!!!

Also by popular request here is the playlist from this weeks class....I know some of you have LOVED it!
I have also detailed below this weeks playlist....due to popular request!  If you PING me on iTunes  it'll be there for you to purchase all the tracks....Get your Summer Groove on!!! Enjoy!!

Invocation to Water - Shamens Dream
Rivergoddess - Manesh De Moor
Mariama - Jamshied Sharifi
End Titles - Jamshied Sharifi
Weightless Place - Eccodek
Lebonese Blonde - Thievery Corporation
You are we am I - TJ Rehmi
Tuareg Goosi Jam In Tent - Tuareg Nomads Kiah Keya
Sacred Stones - Sheila Chandra
Ai Du - Ali Farka Toure
Rahda Ramana - Tulku
Boee - The Indian Racichel Project
Feeling Good  - Nina Simone
Blessed to be a Witness - Ben Harper
Shavasana Sita Ram - Govindas
Amazing Grace - London Community Choir







Beltane...the beginning of Summer!

So Summer is here????......Right!!! Someone tell the weather!!!














Although we've just had the wettest April in years here in the UK, today is May 1st and marks the celebration of the pagan festival of Beltane.  This celebration falls midway between the Spring Equinox and the Summer Solstice and is, energetically, the most active time in the year.  A time where new life is bursting forth, birdsong is singing all around us, the temperature rises and we're surrounded with renewal, revival and creation. 

Beltane is the celebration of Life Force, the fertility of the earth and the abundance of creativity.
As nature begins to peak, its time for us to soak up the abundance of energy around us.  This potency and power will carry us through the summertime and store up some vital energy for the Autumn season ahead.

So what can we do to increase our vitality at this time and induce the feeling of summer, even when the warmth isn't reflected in the UK weather?

  • Get up a little earlier, step outside and do some cardio vascular exercise every day....a walk, cycle, run, take your yoga mat outside (weather permitting!)
  • Create heat through Pranayama practice....Practices such as Kapalabhati, Bhastrika & Uddiyana Bandha all focus around Swadhistana & Manipura Chakra's and stoke the inner fire!
  • Use the Chakra Bija mantra's....Vam & Ram....Use them in your asana practice bringing focus to the energy in your centre
  • Walk in nature, listen to the birdsong and literally soak up the Life Force around you
  • Create heat, energy & joy with Sun Salutations and heart opening practices....Shoulder openers and backbends literally open the pathways to the heart and lungs!
  • Eat lighter and cleaner....Eat food organic food, grown in season where possible, eat little and often and Juice, Juice, Juice (Green veggie juice where poss)!!
  • Avoid drinking cold drinks with meals.  This dilutes your digestive fire....wait at least 30 mins after your meal
  • Meditate....Sit down on the earth and watch the space between your thoughts!

Happy Beltane!!!

Spring Time Transition







Joy Moves always to new locations, 
the ease of it's flow never freezing.

A long winter's tale is over. Now
with each spring day a new story.

Rumi

March 25th marks the beginning of British Summer Time!!! Yeay-hay!!! Finally we can emerge from Winter hibernation and awaken to the light!
As we look around us nature has begun this process already and the journey to the new season is in full swing....daffs, crocus, blossom all bursting forth, daylight lasting a little longer, even my blackcurrent bush and rhubarb are budding! Great to see, isn't it?!!

Though there is still a definite chill still in the air, this new season is typically warmer but wetter....we have the April showers to look forward to!! In Ayurveda this is seen as the melting of Winter Kapha qualities,  such as phlegm and congestion, and during the Spring various cleansing techniques are used to help remove this melting Kapha:

Neti: Nasal Cleansing using salt water or medicated oils
Trataka: Steady gazing to cleanse the sinuses and eyes
Nauli: Abdominal massage to stimulate the agni and regulate the digestion
Kapalabhati: Skull shining breath to cleanse the lungs

To maintain balance and harmony in the body mind during this Spring transition introduce these cleansing techniques and these top tips too and you will leap into Spring!!!

  • Wake between 3am-7am to make the most of your day and avoid the muzzy head feeling!
  • Treat your body to  Garshana Massage first thing in the morning....Dry Body Brushing to circulate lymph, metabolise fat and help remove cellulite!
  • Following body brushing use Abhyanga massage.....using a lightly warmed cold pressed organic sesame oil massage up from feet, up legs to hips, waist and buttocks.  Travel lightly over the belly (clockwise stokes) and into lower and middle back.   Massage softly over the heart and side to side across the chest before moving to shoulders, arms, hands and finally neck and throat in upwards strokes and circularly over face, ears and head.  Leave the oil on for 20 mins and then hop into a hot shower.
  • After scrapping your tongue drink a cup of hot water and lemon/lime to cut through any mucus.
  • Use Ujjayi Pranayama whilst performing a daily dynamic asana practice.  Ujjayi reduces mucus whilst increasing prana!
  • We can also use Bhastrika to increase our digestive fire and Nadi Shodanam to balance and purify.
  • Avoid cold drinks, refrigerated foods, napping in the daytime and eating between meals but do eat warming, light digestible foods.
Thanks to the amazing Sarah Beck for sharing these Ayurvedic tips with me!!

My Body is a Temple - Detox Day Playlist!

As promised my friends from the Detox Day, here is the playlist!  Tracks can be found on iTunes...


1.  The Dub Sutras (Sensual Mix) - Desert Dwellers
2.  Spiral - Carlos Torres
3.  1000 Suns - Rara Avis
4.  Ganapati Om - Donna De Lory
5.  Sri Krishna Govinda -  Masood Ali Khan
6.  More than Anything (Vast Sky Mix) - Desert Dwellers
7.  Subterranean Sanctury - Desert Dwellers
8.  Post Burn Syndrome - Rara Avis
9.  Temple Dragons - Desert Dwellers
10.  Snake Charmer (Nomads Dub) - Desert Dewellers
11.  Flowing Ganga - Masood Ali Khan
12.  Guided by the Sea - Carlos Torres
13.  Rakandao - Shamans Dream
14.  Entomononi - Shamans Dream
15.  Holy Water - Craig Kohland & Shamans Dream
16.  Warming the Soul - Craig Kohland & Shamans Dream
17.  Summer Nights Comapassion - Shamans Dream & Craig Kohland

Enjoy!!

Seasonal Tips - Part 3 (Solstice info!)

What a fantastic night we had at the Winter Solstice Celebration!...Cultivating bhavana's to awaken our heart guru and welcoming in the light with a gentle flow, hip openers, calming twists, pranayama and meditation....Blissful! 'Big Thanks' to all who came along....Your energy was amazing!


From the class I was asked for several bits of info...the quotes, playlist and the recipe for the Frangipane Mince Pie's!!!...Your wishes are granted, together with the cheesecake recipe I promised in the last blog!

Frangipane Mince Pies - Nigella Lawson

Pastry
  • 175gm plain flour
  • 30gm ground almonds
  • 65gm icing sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 125gm cold unsalted butter
  • 2 large egg yolks beaten with a tablespoon of iced water
Topping
  • Approx 200gm mincement (I used Waitrose with Brandy!)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 90gm caster sugar
  • 90gm unsalted butter, melted
  • 90gm ground almonds
  • 4 tablespoonds flaked almonds
To make pastry, put flour, ground almonds, sugar and salt into food processor and pulse to combine.  Add diced butter until you have flakey crumbs.  Start to add egg/water mixture 1 tablespoon at a time until pastry looks as if its forming a ball.  Turn out onto cling film, form into a ball, wrap and refrigerate for 30mins.
Preheat oven to 200C/Gas6
Roll out pastry and stamp out discs into  buttered tartlet tray.  Refrigerate for 15mins.
Put scant teaspoon of mincemeat into tart case.  For topping, beat together the  eggs and sugar, then whilst still beating, pour in melted butter.  Stir in ground almonds then dollop a tablespoon of the frangipane mixture on top of the tart.  Sprinkle with flaked almonds and pop in oven for 15mins to cook until frangipane is golden and pastry cooked through.
Remove from oven and leave to cool for 5mins before transferring onto a wire rack.
Makes 24.

White Chocolate & Ricotta Cheesecake

Base
  • 50gm butter melted
  • 150gm digestive biscuits
  • 50gm amaretti biscuits
  • sunflower oil for greasing
Filling
  • 5 leaves of gelatine
  • 200gm white chocolate
  • 6 tbspn milk
  • 500gm ricotta
  • 300ml double cream
  • 50gm icing sugar
  • 2 large eggs separated
To decorate
  • white chocolate curls
  • pomegranate seeds
Heat oven 200C/Fan 180/ Gas 6.  
Melt butter in pan.  Crush biscuits then stir in butter and press firmly into the base of a 20cm loose bottomed cake tin.  Bake for 6mins.  Cool, then wipe inside of tin with a little oil on kitchen paper.
Soak gelatine in water while you make the filling.
Melt chocolate over pan of simmering water.  Add in milk and stir together.  Squeeze the gelatine, add to the chocolate to dissolve.
Beat the ricotta, cream, sugar and egg yolks together.  In separate bowl whisk the egg whites.
Stir chocolate and ricotta mixture together, then gently fold in egg whites.  Pour into cooled biscuit base.  Cover with cling film, then chill over night.
Decorate with curls, remove from tin and then scatter pomegranate seeds and dust with icing sugar.
The lightest cheesecake I've ever had!!! Enjoy!

Solstice Quotes

'The time has come to turn your heart into a temple of fire
Your existence is gold hidden indirect
Go reveal its splendour
You need to burn in the fire of love'
- Rumi

'Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.  Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.  It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us.  We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?  Your playing small does not serve the world.  There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you.  We are all meant to shine, as children do.'
- Marianne Williamson

'There are two basic motivating fears: fear and love.  When we are afraid, we pull back from life.  When we are in love, we open to all that life has to offer with passion, excitement and acceptance.  We need to learn to love ourselves first, in all our glory and our imperfections.  If we cannot love ourselves, we cannot fully open to our ability to love others or our potential to create.  Evolution and all hopes for a better world rest in fearlessness and open-hearted vision of people who embrace life.'
 - John Lennon

Playlist
Om Shanti - Daphne Tse
Guided by the Sea - Carlos Torres
Namaste (Sadhana Remix) - Maneesh de Moor
Gayatri Mantra - Dave Dale & Nadji
Poem without Words - Shammi Pithia
Ganesha Ji - Swaha
There is a light - Steve Gold
Gift of the Blue Pearl - Craig Koland & Shamens Dream
Let your heart be know Remix - Steve Gold
Maha Lakshmi - Brenda McMorrow
Shyam Prabu Mix - Deva Premal
Shanti (Peace Out) - MC Yogi
Samba Sadashiva - Donna De Lory
Savasana Soundbath - Anne Malone






Seasonal Tips - Part 2!

My Top Holiday De-Stressing Tips!!!!



1.  Try to roll out your yoga mat and practice every day!  Even if it's only for a few sun salutations or a 10 minute mini sequence!! The practice will help you stay grounded, more calm and connected to yourself....Its so easy to take on too much, do too much and completely disconnect from YOU, during the chaos of Christmas.
(I'll be helping you out with this next week with a 15 minute mini practice podcast!)

In your practice try simple standing poses to ground, draw energy to your core by breathing fully.  This will help to put all your worries into perspective as you draw in more oxygen.  Gentel twist will enliven and invigorate, heart opening backbends will  uplift and forward bends and inversions, like shoulderstand will help you to wind down.


2.  If it all gets too much, take yourself off to a quiet room, sit tall and watch your breath.  Focus on lengthening your exhalations, even sighing out the breath can help you release any built up tension. 
Maybe try Nadi Shodanam (In-L, Ex-R, IN-R, Ex-L) to create balance or Chandra Bhedana (In-L, Ex-R) to induce more lunar current.

3.  Get outside and take in some fresh air, even for a short walk!


4.  Make time for you...a bubble bath, half an hour relaxing with a cup of tea and a good book, what ever it is...MAKE TIME!!!


5.  Sing or dance like no one is watching!! Pop on your favourite tracks and let your hair down.  I do this whenever I need a shot of energy! Works everytime!!


6.  Make a green juice (See recipes in previous blogs!) to energise yourself!


7.  Flagging during the day...snack on seeds and nuts and drink lemon-ginger tea to revitalise.


8. Have an oil burner?....Use orange, clove, grapefruit, lavender or rosemary (Not all at the same time!)



Look forward to my blog this coming weekend....Delicious recipes...Orange & Cranberry mincepies and an amazing White Chocolate & Ricotta cheesecake!

Seasonal Tips!!!

The Christmas Holiday season is fast approaching so over the next few weeks I aim to be 'Santa's Little Helper' and give you some gift idea's, top tips & recipes to help you through the festivites....

Here are some gift idea's for the Yogi/Yogini in your life...

1.Visit Eminence Organic Skin Care for fantastic products to keep your skin glowing!  You can order on line from The Skin Smith
Or, even better, go to Skin n Tonic in Kidsgrove ( 01782 783000) where you can get a fab Eminence facial & buy the products!

2.  Visit IQ Therapies for SpaRitual Treatments and gifts! I love the nail polishes...groovy names & funky colours!!

Both centre's above also do gift vouchers! Treat yourself or a loved one!

3. For all things Yoga check out Yoga Matters  Great diaries, calenders, books & DVDs, mat bags, eye pillows...All the things a Yogi might want!

4.  Tongue scrapers also available at Yoga Matters...Might sound odd but scraping the gunk off your tongue first thing in a morning is a great way to get rid of toxins!

5. Asquith yoga clothing has a 10% disc on some gift ideas...I'd love the Bamboo Wrap in my Christmas stocking!

6.  Great oils and seasonal remedies at Pukka Herbs... We've used several of these oils in class!

7.  A gift voucher from me...Blue Lotus Yoga...can be used towards classes, 1:1's, workshops, retreats or holidays!!

This weeks recipes....Juices for the Holidays!
We are all tempted to over indulge so why not try a healthy, satisfying juice for breakfast, lunch or dinner.  Here are three of my faves:

Blood Builder
1/4 Avocado
ice
2 Apples
1/2 Raw Beetroot
2 Carrots
1/4 Lemon (Unwaxed!)

Juice all except Avo & Ice.  In blender mix juice with ice & Avo until smooth.  Enjoy!
The high levels of betacarotene in this smoothie help to soak up the free radicals that can create havoc in our systems.  Free radicals are cause dby stress, nicotine, alcohol and over indulgence so this makes this smoothie the perfect antidote for the holidays!

Ginger Orange Smoothie
1 Banana
Ice
3 Oranges (peeled)
1 Small piece of Ginger (skin on)

Juice oranges and ginger, add to blender with ice and banana.  Blend until smooth.
Packed with vitamin C and ginger is a natural decongestant and antibiotic, perfect when your immune system is under stress.

Cranberry Banana Blend
1/2 Banana
Ice
1/4 medium Pineapple
1 Apple
2 handfuls of fresh or frozen Cranberries

Juice all except ice & banana.  Add juice, ice & banana & blend until smooth.
Seasonal smoothie to remove toxins from the bladder & kidneys!

Next Blog....Top Tips for De-stressing over Christmas!

Dream BIG!


Dream BIG.....

So Tuesday was the beginning of a new lunar cycle...The New Moon!
This is when the moon is sandwiched between the earth and sun and from our persepective, here on earth, we see the unilluminated portion of the moon...a tiny slither of a crescent!

We are all aware of the impact that the lunar phases have upon the water element, specifically the tides, but as a huge percentage of our body is made up of water, it it no surprise that we too can feel the pull of the lunar tide.  Around this time of a full moon the pull of the moon on the water element diminishes immensely, often leaving us feeling depleted, lethargic and no motivation what soever!
Some traditions of yoga do not practice around this time for this very reason.

However, this is a time of new beginnings.  A time for renewal of ambition and desire...a time for setting intentions, new idea's and plans.

In our classes this week we have been forming a Sankalpa that outlines our hearts desire and in this creative time between the new moon and full moon we will monitor our magical dreams manifest!

Here are some words of wisdom from Rumi to help you sow the seeds of your dreams...

It's good to leave each day behind,
like flowing water, free of sadness.
Yesterday is gone and its tale told.
Today new seeds are growing.

Letting go of Disappointment

Ganesha Sharanam, Sharanam Ganesha
Jai Ganesha Jaya, Jaya Gananatha



I seek refuge in Ganesha (the remover of obstacles)
Please protect me Ganesha

When I wrote the last blog I was surfing on an achievement high!!!! It was nice whilst it lasted and many thanks for all the kind comments and messages I received....Needless to say that following the high came, some what of a downer!!!

Not to go into too much detail, but I found myself in a situation where I was really disappointed in a friends reaction to my certification. I had to step back and consider why I felt such disappointment....What is disappointment all about?....Usually, and definitely in my case, it was about attachment to unmet expectation.  I had expected everyone to be pleased for me and yet they weren't and so as a result I felt the sting of disaapointment.  I'm sure that we've all felt this at least once or twice....even on our yoga mats we can set ourselves up for the slap of disappointment - We expect to get into a particular asana just as we did in the last class only to find, today it's just not happening! We fall out of a balance & feel disappointed that we've 'embarressed' ourselves in front of our yoga buddies! We force ourselves into some contortion just because the person on the mat alongside can do it!....We've all been there, right?!! Or is it just me?!!!

Recognizing the creation of this idealism is part of the process of learning from disappointment.  When we build up in our minds the way things ought to go, quite often it really doesn't pan out that way....We need to accept what is.....loosen the grip on the idealised version of events and then we can begin to choose a different way of being.  The being without the irritation of unmet expectation.

Patanjali refers to this clinging to unmet expectation as Aparigraha in I.39 in the Yoga Sutra's...when we learn to detach from stuff, we are no longer bound up in it!  We may not always get the experience we desire but we can receive it without judging or expectation and be in the truth rather than the story book version in our mind.
Here is a wonderful exercise from Liz Lark's 1001 Pearls of Yoga Wisdom book....It teaches us not to grasp, to loosen up and be open to all gifts offered!

'Hold one hand, palm up and place coin on it.  You don't need to grasp it; just observe how it sits there- in a non-grasping' state known as aparigraha. Now make a fist and turn it downward, locking the coin with your fingers.  Notice how tension arises and, if you open your hand to release the tension, the coin will fall.  Aim to keep your mind as relaxed as an open palm, and you'll be able to receive gifts offered to you, wether a smile, an act of kindness or a job opportunity.'

So next time you feel the sting of disappointment, step back, place coin in your palm and relax!



Well Done Me!!!

Super excited today as I've just received my official Senior Yoga Teacher certificate from Yoga Alliance!!

What does this mean?....I've completed 500hrs of teacher training and since being awarded that qualification I have had a further 3000hrs of teaching experience!!!!!
I know that bits of paper are no true guideline for recognising a quality yoga teacher but I am feeling rather proud as I can honestly say that everyone of those teaching hours has filled me with joy! 

I consider myself very fortunate to be able to share this joy and my passion on this path!

And to you.........anyone that has supported my classes, events, workshops, retreats, podcasts etc and my very understanding behind the scenes support (ma & pa, and the Big Guy, Al) heart felt gratitude to you all. 
Without your support I wouldn't have this certificate!

Big Love and Radiant Blessings
Jxxx

Blue Lotus Yoga Loves....SpaRitual

What a wonderful treat I had on Saturday.....a pedicure with Marianne at IQ Therapies
Not just any old pedicure but a SpaRitual Pedicure no less....What's the difference, I hear you cry???!!!

SpaRitual provides multipurpose vegan, paraben-free and eco friendly spa products that are soooo yummy.  The SpaRitual system has a Chakra Care system that aims to create balance and harmony from the inside out....

I had my feet scrubbed with wildcrafted Indonesian Ginger scrub (vegan, biodegradable, free of synthetic dyes, PEGs and parabens) helping to balance my manipura chakra.  My feet were filed to remove any hard skin with the most amazing foot file ever...Forget PedEggs (Total waste of time in my book!) and get one of these babies - The SpaRitual Eco Foot File, crafted from 100% biodegradeable corn resin and infused with anti-bact solution!!
My feet were soaked in Ginger bath salts, massaged with Organic Moisturizing Lotion, cuticles removed and toenails painted with a delicious Sage nail polish!  The colours  you get to choose from are incredibe.....usually I find that vegan and eco porducts can be insepid....but not these....Wow, you gotta go and try it!!!  I was truely walking on air afterwards!!!

I will definitely become a SpaRitualist and IQ are retailing lots of the products so I know where I'll be shopping for Christmas gifts this year!!


'I'm not good enough!'

This was the response from a lovely student friend who was talking with me about coming along to my Yoga Retreat in Cumbria....She said she would really like to come along, and when I asked her if she would like a booking form, she replied...'No, thankyou - I'm not good enough!'  - WHOA!!!!!


I told her she was just perfect as she was and that the practices on the Retreat would be suitable for all, but she was totally convinced that she wasn't up to coming along. 

This got me thinking....What was holding her back?  How may times have I said those words to myself, in my head? How many times has fear stopped me from embracing new paths?


I have just returned from a wonderful Intensive with the beloved Shiva Rea....OM-AZING!!!






















I thought back to when I first did my first Intensive with Shiva, five years ago....

If I'm honest, I too, had & listened to, the little voice in my head, telling me I wasn't flexible enough, thin enough, experienced enough, 'yogini' enough, to go along. 

But, I did go!

I may not have been able to do full Hanumanasana or several other postures but I embraced the fear. 

I had a great time, and Shiva's teaching revolutionised my practice....
That little voice does still vocalize occasionally, but I choose not to listen. 

I try and change my habit of giving in to the voice and create space for positive abundant choice.   Sometimes it is not easy but if we truley want to change we must learn to be brave, let go of the patterns and habits that inhibit us, clearing the way for freedom in our hearts & minds....It is a choice! It is up to you!

During the Intensive with Shiva, this time, Chris Tomkins shared some of his vast Tantra knowledge with us...Inspiring stuff!
Another thing he shared was an acronym that his father had passed onto him -

F.E.A.R
False Evidence Appearing Real

Fear is located in the future and rarely is any situation quite as bad as you build it up to be in your mind, prior to the event! Remember this!!!!

Close your eyes and consider, for a moment, if there is anything that you've been avoiding that makes you feel uncertain or fearful?

How does that fear manifest in your body? How does it manifest in your breath?

'How can you release those fearful thoughts?'

'What path do you want to take?'

'Can your breath help you to release fearful or negative thoughts?'


Bow to your own intelligence, the wisdom of your heart guru, the force in the universe that is responsible for change, have faith and trust that you are exactly where you should be & embrace the path to freedom!

Om Namah Shivaya
xxx

1Love

So it's been a few weeks since my last blog...And though my blog has been quiet, I have been super busy!!! Family Easter break, Royal wedding (Not that I was there in person, you understand!), planting a veggie garden, yoga for pregnancy workshop, regular classes, podcasts, organising an exciting Spanish Yoga Holiday for next year, a great yoga day with Liz Lark....etc etc.   As you can see busy,busy!!

I confess I love to be active and busy.   Always looking for a new project to keep my creative juices flowing and my heart full.   Sometimes my ideas's come to fruition, sometimes they crash and burn!   Sometimes I do get disheartened when a particular project doesn't manifest....I know -'Let Go', 'Detach', 'Surrender' - Work in progress!
For example I recently advertised Free Friday Yoga Classes, thinking it could be my way to give back to the local community.  I hardly received any interest at all! I was dumb founded!!! Free yoga classes and no up-take!!! Wow!!!

Never one to stay disheartened for long, it is still my intention to spread loving kindness via charitable yoga classes and I have been meditating on how to allow that to blossom.   Strangely, as I was listening to the radio the other day I heard about an amazing new charitable project, 1Love.org

This organisation is a mission by the Bob Marley movement to support worthy causes leading with your actions.   1Love.org encourages us to carry out small acts of love & kindness, everday.   Though this may seem small scale, if everyone took part it could add up to something huge!! Something that could change the world!!!

'Be the change that you wish to see in the world' - Mahatma Ghandi

Having meditated some more, felt the inspiration from 1Love, and offered it up to the universe, I am about to publicise another new project....
Sunday Yoga & Brunch
This will be a donation based hour long class, so you pay what you can afford, and will happen once a month.   The donations will be given to 1Love.org to help support our global village and I will be encouraging an optional shared veggie brunch after the practice so that we can enjoy our collective yoga community.


If you would like to support this - popping posters in your workplace, promoting to your yoga students, guest teaching at a session, sponsoring the event to cover the Hall hire or, indeed, any thoughts & contributions you might have - please do talk to me!!!!   Remember small acts can make a change and a huge difference!

Email via my web site or call me direct - 07791749502

Nine nights of Shakti Celebration!

Tonight see's the first new moon of the astrological year, which incidentally is a great day for new beginnings!  On the Hindu calendar this moon is always followed by a nine night celebration of Shakti, Vasant Navaratri.
Prayers and practices are offered during these nine nights to aid spiritual and material progress.  It is a time to worship the Goddess in her Shakti energy so you can transform your consciousness, manifest abundant wealth and create positive baalnce in your life.

Navratri, the festival of nine nights is dedicated to Goddess Durga and her nine forms and is divided into three groups of three days, each dedicated to different aspects of the Supreme Goddess. During the first three nights, the Mother is invoked as the powerful Goddess Durga, the one who destroys all our impurities, vices and defects. Over the next three nights, the Mother is adored as Goddess Lakshmi, the giver of inexhaustible wealth and the abundance to sustain both our own life and the lives of others. The final three days are spent worshipping the Mother as Saraswati, the Goddess of wisdom and creation. She holds the secrets for transforming ideas and intellect into right creation.

The word Navaratri literally means nine nights in Sanskrit; Nava meaning Nine and Ratri meaning nights. During these nine nights and ten days, nine forms of Shakti/Devi i.e. female divinity, Goddess Durga is worshipped. According to the Hindu calendar, Navratri begins from the first day of the bright fortnight of Ashwin which usually coincides with the end of the rainy season.


The nine days have great religious significance as Goddess Durga, the divine mother, had destroyed the evil force (in the form of the demon Mahisashura) during this period. It also holds philosophical significance, as the two season's when navaratri is held - autumn and spring, are known as the teeth of Yama, the God of Death. The nine day Navaratri festival is held twice a year, once in the month of Chaitra (Mar-Apr) as Rama Navratri, and then in Aswayuja (Sept-Oct) as Duga Navaratri. It's said that worshipping in Navartra's brings material and spiritual welfare.

The festival is celebrated with true devotion and purity all over the country. People from various sections of the society irrespective of caste and creed celebrate this festival by visiting temples and offering pujas at the Mother’s feet. Religious fasting is generally observed by many. Some people fast for the first and last days of Navaratri, while many others fast for all 9 days.

For those who prefer to eat selected vegetarian food during the festival, some favourite pooja food for Navaratri's are: Kuttu ki roti, paneer ki sabzi, vegetable raita with cucumber and tomato, zeera aloo, sinharay ki burfi, makhane ki kheer, sabudana khichdi, etc.


In some places special puja samarohas are also held by setting the images of Mother Durga on beautifully decorated pandals. Temples dedicated to Shakti also make arrangement for pujas and bratas to mark these nine days as true symbols of devotion and adoration towards the divine mother.


The Navratri Mythology:

Hindu Mythology suggests that due t increased menace of the Daityas on earth, all the Gods came to maa Durga for rescue. After praying to Goddess Durga for nine consecutive days, she got pleased and made a prophecy declaring the birth of Lord Rama, who would fight all the demons and restore peace on earth. This is why last day of Navaratri is celebrated as Ram Navami, the birth of Lord Rama.


CELEBRATING NAVRATRI AROUND INDIA
Navaratri is the most sacred and one of the most celebrated festivals in india. The festival is also celebrated with intense fervor and zest, in whole of India, in the form of Durga Puja. The vibrant festivities last for ten days, of which nine nights are spent in worship. But the celebrations vary from place to place.
During the festival, devotees wear different colours, with the nine colours representing the nine manifestations of Maa Durga. Devotees also perform 'alankar' or make up of the Goddess with the dress of the same colour for the day.

The nine colours of Navaratri are:

Green, Orange, Yellow, Sky Blue, Pink, Grey, Green, Ink Blue and Royal Blue.

The most famous Navaratri celebrations are held in the western states of India (Gujarat and Maharashtra). Traditional dances in the form of Dandiya and Garba take place almost everywhere. The dancers move around in a circle, with different steps around a lamp, which signifies the Eternal Light of the Durga. Generally Gujarati men and women wearing colorful dresses dance around in a circle by clapping their hands or decorated sticks to the rhythm of the devotional songs. After worshipping and 'Aarti', 'Dandiya raas' is performed all through the night.

In Maharashtra, celebrations are slightly different. Navratri is dedicated to Goddess Durga while the Vijayadashami is dedicated to Saraswati, the Goddess of Knowledge. Here, this day is considered auspicious to start education, buy new homes, and start new ventures.

In West-Bengal, Navaratri is celebrated in the form of Durga Puja. This festival is essentially religious in nature. Celebrated with true devotion, huge idols of the Goddess Durga posed as killing the demon Mahishasura are worshipped everywhere in West Bengal. Huge 'pandals' are set up every where and devotees in large numbers visit to worship Goddess Durga. Men and women and children all dressed up in new clothes visit different ‘pandals’ to offer prayers to the Mother Goddess.
In the Kulu valley of Himachal Pradesh, the hill-folk celebrate Dasara with a grand mass ceremony. On the day of Dusshera, village deities are taken out in elaborate processions.


In Tamil Nadu, the first three days are dedicated to the worship of Lakshmi, the Goddess of wealth and prosperity. During this time they perform puja every night and regular cleaning is maintained all throughout because it is believed that Lakshmi would not enter if the place is dirty. The next three days are devoted to Saraswati, the Goddess of learning and arts and the last three days to Shakti (Durga).

In Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, women arrange 'Bommai Kolu', a special placing of dolls in various costumes decorated with flowers and ornaments on specially prepared steps. Nine young 'kanyas' or virgins are offered new clothes and sweets as the goddesses and married women share flowers, kumkum and snacks among themselves.

In Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, families arrange dolls (Bommai Kolu) on artificially constructed steps and prepare an elaborate spread of lamps and flowers. Women traditionally exchange gifts of coconuts, clothes and sweets.

The Dusshera of Mysore is also quite famous where decorated elephants lead a colourful procession through the gaily-dressed streets of the city. During Navaratri Chamundi, the royal deity of the Mysore royalty is worshipped with pomp and religious fervor.

Navratri is celebrated in Punjab by fasting for seven days. On the eighth day or Ashtami, the fast is broken by worshipping young girls who are believed to symbolize the Goddess herself. This festival is predominantly linked with harvest. The young girls are offered puris (sort of deep-fried Indian bread), halwa (a dessert primarily made of flour and sugar), chanas (Bengal gram) and red chunnis (long scarves).

Thanks to Shiva Rea for lots of this info!!!


Stepping into Spring!

As I sit here writing this latest blog the sun is shining, it's 16 degrees outside (exceptionally warm for this time of year!) and it feels as though Spring as finally arrived! Yeay!!!



The clocks Spring forward this weekend so our long grey dark Winter days are (hopefully!) over and we can welcome warmth & sunshine.  Even the earth smells different....as the leaves and new shoots emerge the new oxygen produces a destinct Spring smell....fresh, clean and new!

During this time of emergence it's a perfect time to clear the decks in preparation for this new beginning...After completing my own Spring Cleanse here are  my top 10 Spring 'Clearing Your Clutter' Tips....Let me know what works for you & any top tips you'd like to share, don't be shy....please comment below!


  1. Introduce plenty of Twists & Squats into your yoga practice - Twists and squats open up the energetic pathways for the liver & gallbladder meridians.  The liver acts like a chemical factory in the body.  Any substance that can't be broken down and used for energy ends up in the liver for detoxifying.  Therefore it makes sense to give the liver a helping hand with the detoxing and energetically give it a boost
  2. Walk barefoot on the earth! - Connect with the new rising energy by feeling your foundation and roots!
  3. Get outside everyday! - Even if it's only for a short time.....
  4. Give yourself a mental detox.....What would you like to change or introduce into your life?  Is there an area in your life where you feel stuck ot stagnant - Make a change!....Take time to reflect and make notes on what seeds you would like to plant this Spring and see your hopes, dreams and visions manifest.  Set yourself three new goals that will enhance your year, think of two things that will help those goals materialise, then do them, NOW!
  5. Meditate every day.....Even a short time can help you feel more steady, grounded and connected to your Spring roots! Simply come into stillness and connect with your breath.  Witness, but don't dwell on, any thoughts that arise, just focus on your breath.
  6. Detox your home -  open the windows, remove your clutter, avoid chemical based products such as hairspray, deodourizers.  use cleaning products made only from plant essences.
  7. The Liver meridian travels through the eyes so Spring is a perfect time to revive the eyes.....Splash the eyes with cold water, 20 times inthe morning & evening.......Rub the palms together, generate some warmth, then place palms over the eyes without pressure, this gives the eyes a lovely rest!......Practice cndle gazing (Tratak)
  8. Lighten your diet - reduce caffeine, alcohol, meat, wheat & dairy, drink plenty of fresh ginger, lemon or fennel tea, JUICE, JUICE, JUICE (see my blog...My Body is a Temple for the green juice I drink every day!)
  9. Treat yourself to a detox bath - Soak in the tub with 1/2 cup of Epsom Salts for 15-20 mins, then scrub the skin gently with a natural soap on a cotton cloth.  If your water goes murkey, don't panic, it's just the heavy metals like aluminium & mercury coming out of your skin!!!
  10. Let go of any emotional 'Stuff' - Any emotional baggage, face it head on, work it out, write down the action you need to take to surrender it.  Maybe some emotional support from a friend or life coach might help!

Rediscovering my Mojo!

I'm on the home run of my 21 day cleanse....I'm feeling energised and ready to SPRING into the new season!

It hasn't all been plain sailing though...I have fallen off the wagon a couple of times.....
Mainly due to pre-arranged lunches/dinners either out or at friends houses.....I didn't want to be awkard or appear fussy so just went with the flow instead!  The majority of the time, though, I have stuck to my plan.... However I discovered....
I truely hated Vegan cheese....YUK, would rather do without!
Found that wheat produce really does bloat me right up....... & been amazed by the change in my skin - it glows! & I'm 6lbs lighter and my mojo is back!!!!

As promised here are a few of my favourite recipes for yummy dinners/lunches....


Faux Tuna Salad by Soundly Vegan (Taken from Kris Carr's web site)

- 2 cups garbanzo beans (Chick Pea's!)
- ¼ cup celery, small dice
- ¼ cup red bell pepper, small dice
- ¼ cup apple, small dice
- ¼ cup dill pickle, small dice
- ¼ cup fresh dill, minced
- ¼ – ⅓ cup  plain non-dairy yogurt or Vegenaise  (The amount depends upon how wet you like your salad.)
freshly-cracked black pepper
- sea salt

Using a potato masher, mash the garbanzo beans in a large bowl. You could use a food processor for this, just be careful not to over-process the beans. You do not want a purée, but rather a coarse mash with texture.

Add the remaining ingredients to the mashed beans, and season with salt and pepper to taste.



Guacamole from my amazing pal, Mette

4 avocados
2 small red onion
jalaneneo w/o seeds
cilantro
peel and juice from two limes
himalayan salt
corn (after its all been mixed up)

Wrap:
Lettuce leaves, smear with guacamole
fill with shredded carrot, tomato, lots of sprouts, onion,..i don't know,..any veggie you like.
Roll up and eat like a wrap.


Pistachio Pesto (Another of Mette recipes!)

Ingredients: 

2 cloves of garlic 
1 teaspoon sea salt 
2 cups pistachio nuts 
4 cups basil leaves, lightly packed 
juice of 3 limes, about 6 tablespoons 
1/2 cup of olive oil 

Process garlic, salt, and pistachios into powder. set aside. pulse basil with lime juice. Add pistacios back into the food processor with olive oil. Will keep 3 days in the fridge. 


If you julienne some zucchini and mix with this pesto, perhaps add some tomato,...YUM!!




Mexican Pilaf - absolutely fab dressing on this filling salad! (from www.rawchef.com & Crazy Sexy Diet)


3 cups wild rice (sprouted or cooked)

3Tblspn spring onion, sliced

1 1/2 cups diced tomato

1/2 cup chopped coriander

2 Tblspn fresh chopped oregano

1/2 cup sundried tomatoes (if dried, soak for 2-3 hrs)

1 1/2 Tblspn white miso paste

1 Tblspn minced garlic

1 Tblspn chilli powder

1/2 Tspn cumin

2 Tblspn lemon juice

3 Tblspn olive oil

1 Tspn himalayan salt


Place rice in a bowl and toss in spring onion,  1 cup diced tomato, coriander, oregano.

In a blender, blend sun dried tomatoes, reamaining diced tomato, miso, garlic, chilli, cumin, lemon juice, olive oil and salt.  Blend until smooth.  Mix dressing with rice and mix well.


I then like to add any other veggies....sliced red pepper, sugar snap peas, mange tout, green beans, avocado...whatever you fancy! Enjoy!



Let me know how you get along if you manage to give any of these a try!





My Body is a Temple......I am a Wellness Warrior!

'If your body is a temple, then your mouth is the alter.  From this day forward, vow to treat yourself like a Divine Being.  Health is much simpler and far more scientific than we are led to believe.  Your pH will never lie.  That's why I honour it and trust it.  In return, it's given me phenomenal health in the misdt of challenging circumstances'

 - Kris Carr   Crazy Sexy Diet


I recently received a message from a yogini pal which read - 'I feel stodgy & podgy and could do with an inner cleanse...any top tips?' - Well, not only could I totally relate to the stodgy, podgy part, as I had been feeling just like that but I am in the midst of a 21 Day Adventure cleanse myself, so perfect timing for me to share some of my findings!

After researching optimal nutrition in order to assist my Mum during her Cancer treatment I came across the most amazing book by an American lady called Kris Carr - Crazy Sexy Diet (Eat your veggies, Ignite your spark and Live like you mean it!).
At the age of 31 Kris discovered she had approx 12 lesions on her liver and about 10 more cancerous tumors on her lungs.  The Cancer was inoperable and no chemo or radiotherapy was going to touch it, so  - No cure!
To cut a long story short, Kris, left her New York lifestyle behind, 'swapped road rage for prayer, fast food for fasting, swapped martini's for green juice and a compassinate vegan diet.'  Seven years on, Kris still has the big 'C' but it is completely dormant.
You don't need to have Cancer to get the benefits from this book, of course....Don't we all cary 'stuff' with us that we really want to  shift or transform....Maybe weight issues, high cholesterol, diabetes, gulit, regret, relationship issues....Whatever your 'Cancer', most folks hold onto something to stop them from living their life to the fullest.
So this 'diet' isn't just about losing a few pounds (though that could be a side effect!) it's more about tranforming into the very best, totally gorgeous YOU!!!!!

I'm on day 8 of my Big Adventure Cleanse & I chose to dive in with both feet.....a full on vegan mainly RAW, gluten free, alcohol & caffeine free, refined sugar & processed food free 21 days! 
By day 2, I was already feeling lighter and more radiant but by day 4 I did hit a wall....needed something sweet ( See my healthy choco milk below!) and day 7 was meant to be a complete fast but I did green juice until mid afternoon then joined my family for late lunch (just the veggies, of course!)  I also missed my Friday night glass of vino.  Not sooo much I gave in, but just enough to let me know that this 'Friday night vino thing' had become habitual! Not good!
I have to say that come Saturday morning I was more than a little virtuous & happily sat in meditation, at 7am, giving thanks for my will power! 
Meditation is a HUGE part of transformation.....Healthy mind, healthy body!...Strengthening that connection enables you to be more balanced and make healthier diet & lifestyle choices.  So first top tip!!!! Meditate, Meditate, Meditate!!!!!  Start with 5 mins as soon as you get out of bed and slowly work up to 15mins.

Second top tip, juice of half a lemon in a cup of warm water with a sprinkle of cayenne.....kick start your digestive system...drink half hour before brekkie!

Next JUICE, JUICE, JUICE....the greener the better to preserve the alkalinity!
1/2 Cucumber (if not organic, remove the peel!)
2 Kale stalks
2 Romiane leaves
1 Celery stalk
1 chunk raw broccoli
1 Apple/Pear
1'' Ginger root
This has become my breakfast everyday!....sometimes I add 1/2 Avocado with juice  & blend to make Green Smoothie!

Next Top Tip.....dry brush your skin before you shower/bathe.....Brush off those toxins!

In need of a sweet treat.....Try these energy balls....Big Thanks to Sadie Nardini for this recipe!

1 cup dried apricots
1 cup dried figs
1 cup dates
1/2 cup raisins
1 cup unsweetened coconut
1/2 cup Raw almond butter
1/2 cup Raw honey

In food processor mix apricots, figs, dates and raisins to pulp.  Mix in coconut, alomond butter and honey.  Mould mix into small balls & pop in refigerator.

Need Chocolate.....Drop the Mars Bar choose instead....

1-2 Tbspns Raw  Organic Cacao
Glass of Almond/ Rice or Coconut Milk
1 Frozen Banana
Pop all ingrediants into a blender until smooth....Enjoy!

Don't feel overwhelmed....for the rest of this week just commit to making one or two changes....Meditate, Lemon before breakfast,Juice for brekkie, or have a few meat free days, drop dairy, reduce caffeine, lay off the weekend vino!!! Make it simple & pat yourself on the back....you're on the road to becoming a Wellness Warrior!!!


Later this week I'll share my progress with you & share my favourite main meal recipes & I'll be giving a few lucky warriors an opportunity to come to my home and have dinner with Healthier by Farr....in the mean time please visit Kris's website for many more top tips!








New Year Connection to Heart Fire

It does seem a little late to be saying Happy New Year as we're on the last day of Jan already....But Hey, the time has just flown since I returned from South Africa mid month, so better late than never, right??!!

Yesterday I presented and shared a De-Tox workshop.  The emphasis was to empower and stoke the fire within and burn up niggles, worries and obstacles that stood in the way of the true, creative, confident self emerging.
A big ask in a 3hr workshop but everyone seemed to really connect to their Divine essence and heart fire.

This workshop got me thinking.....At the start of a New Year so many of us make resolutions to try and make ourselves feel happier, fitter, healthier....Only to have fallen off the wagon by the end of the month.  I truly believe that when you're connected to your inner fire you are more radiant, open, positive, vibrant and full of energy.  If we are able to maintain that connection through our practice we are less likely to fall off the wagon and begin to make healthier choices and decisions in every aspect of our lives. Sure, it's not easy, but when we are disconnected from our inner fire we are more stagnant, negative and separate from both ourself, others and our enviorment.  When we feel our connectedness that is the fundamental part of feeling alive, nurtured & nourished on all levels.

Together with my yoga and meditation practice there are other things that help me to be my creative fire driven self....That help me to strengthen my connect with Spirit.....

  • Continue to learn to play the harmonium
  • To make & enjoy delicious, nutritious food
  • Spend time outdoors everyday
  • Read books that inspire & uplift me
  • Make time to paint & get creative
  • Have more 'dates' with friends who inspire me
What do you need to strengthen your heart fire?  Why not make a list to inspire you to stay connected and vibrant....I'd love to hear your idea's for maintaining your connection to Spirit....

Bow to your fire & keep it burning!!
Namaste
Jxxx

Happy Winter Solstice & Recipes!


Namaskaram Great Soul!

What a wonderful evening we had last night at our Solstice Celebration!

Thanks to the 30 yogi's & yogini's who joined me to align with this sacred junture.  It was wonderful to feel the connection to the optimal flow and witness the awakening of the group heart fire!

'Om Rheem Swaha!'

As we took time to reflect and clear space for the light to enter we offered prayers, blessings & intentions for the coming year...These offerings are now on my alter at home & I will continue to offer them to the universe until the New Year begins.  Thank you for opening your hearts to this ritual & may all your hopes & dreams come to fruition!


After taking the time to find our groove and illuminate our hearts it was time to enjoy some festive cheer....Mulled Wine or Mulled Apple Juice, mince pie's & Christmas Cookies......Thank you for soooo much for appreciating my baked offerings & as requested here are the recipes:


Lemon & Almond Mince Pies

250g plain Flour
60g Ground Almonds
75g Icing Sugar
175g Unsalted Butter
2 Medium Egg Yolks
820g Luxury Mincemeat
Zest of 2 lemons - finely grated
2Tblspn Amaretto


To make the pastry pop flour, ground almonds & icing sugar into a food processor and pulse for 30 secs.  Add butter and whizz until mixture crumbs.  Add egg yolks & 1-2 tblspn cold water and process again until mixture comes together as dough.  Wrap & chill in fridge for 1hr.

Mix Mincemeat, lemon zest & liqueur.

Set oven Gas mark 5 or 190°C

Roll out pastry and cut into preferred shapes.  Pop bases into greased pie tray, add mincemeat, top with lid or (I prefer!) a small centre of pastry.  Bake for 15-20 mins unitl golden.  Cool, sprinkle with icing sugar.....Enjoy!


Cranberry & White Choc Cookies

150g Unsalted Butter
165g Brown Sugar
1 egg
2tspn Vanilla Extract
125g Plain Flour
1tspn Baking Powder
Pinch of Salt
200g Rolled Oats
140g White Chocolate Chunks
85gm Dried Cranberries

Makes approx 30 cookies
Preheat oven to 180°C or Gas mark 4 & line baking trays with baking parchment.

Cream butter and sugar together until pale & creamy.  Add the egg, vanilla and beat until smooth.  Sift in flour, baking powder and salt.  Add oats, chocolate, cranberries and stir together.

Place small round tblspn of mixture into balls and place on baking trays.  Flatten balls with  fork dipped in flour.  Bake for 12-15mins until pale & golden.  Leave to cool on the trays for 5 mins before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.


My I just take one more moment to say a very BIG BIG THANKYOU for your support and dedication this year.  It is my honour and a source of deep joy for me to share my passion with such OM-MAZ-ING souls!

Wishing you & your family a very Happy & Joyous Christmas & sending you Radiant Blessings for the New Year....
Namaste.....

Jxxxx

Dealing with Fear!

Well, it's been a while since my last blog....Apologies for the lack of contact!

For me, the last few months have been a roller coaster - family visiting from oversea's, half term break in Scotland with my parents, planning & organising a New Year trip to South Africa, birthday celebrations in Denmark, cancelling classes due to horrendous weather, preparing for Christmas - All circumstances that I generally take in my stride...then...My Mum was diagnosed with a stage three tumor in her Mouth....Cancer......

Of course, around my Mum I am brave, realistic & stoic.  However, the real me, inside is scared, worried and extremely fearful.

Fear can be useful....An alarm to call the body mind to action in times of crisis, an encouragement to pay attention to what we're doing to prevent harm.  It can also be all consuming.

We all have times in our lives when we are forced to face our fears, wether it be health, relationships, money, none us get away from some kind of challenge. But how do we stay balanced and centred when panic is the over riding emotion?
I am deeply grateful for the teachings of mindfulness that are helping me on my challenge, right now.  Through the mindfullness I have learnt on my mat, in meditation, I am now able to distance myself a little from the fear and be able to discern it's nature - so preventing anxiety becoming full blown terror! 
I am also aware that this is life - there is no hiding away from and denying what is true.  Loved one's die and though it is a painful journey that is something that can not be changed, no matter how much we would like to wave a magic wand and stop it! 
I, of course, pray that my Mum will be cured and will bless this earth with many more years of her beautiful spirit but equally I am cultivating my practise of mindfulness so that I can be present and enjoy every moment with her & not be bound by fear.

I am sure that in this hectic festive season we will all face challenges of some degree......so I would urge you to take a few moments each day to be mindful of your fears, thoughts & sensations, be compassioante for the suffering that those thoughts are causing and become a true witness - no masking or hiding away.  Honour every moment and do not be bound!

These wonderful words from Rumi speak voulmes and provide encouragement....

This Being Human is a Guest House

This being human is a guest house
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meaness,
Some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they're a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

By Rumi




Opening the Heart (& Mind!) to Abundance!

Since last Friday I have been immersed in the Navaratri Festival, authentically connecting with Shakti power!!!

From Mon to Wed of this week I was evoking the energies of the Goddess Lakshmi...The Goddess of beauty & abundance of Spiritual Wealth & Wisdom.
The purpose of connecting to the Goddess power is that we learn to train ourselves to stop identifying with our own skills & talents and instead be more receptive to the current state of flow, the Divine energy that is always around us, ready to guide us if we are open to receiving.

The Goddess energies show up in all area's of our lives - physical, spiritual, emaotional & intellectual - so it is important we learn to observe the balance of Shakti power, as when the Goddess energies aren't expreseed from the connection to the Divine they can be expereinced in a negative and excessive way.

Lakshmi energy can manifest as being greedy, addicted to pleasure & material wealth and becoming vain & self absorbed.  When we can release the ego & search deep in our hearts and connect to the Divine wisdom we learn to see beauty in all areas, creating a more loving and harmoniuos enviroment around us. 
Kindness & generosity really express the Lakshmi spirit.

So how do  we evoke more of those positive qualities rather than the egotistical experience?

Well....we try to become more Lakshmi-esque - Getting our house in order, managing our finances, looking after material goods, taking care of our enviroment and also moving along our path with an open heart.  When we can connect to Lakshmi energy we become more open to receiving and not blocking the abundance of opportunitites that are presented to us.

In celebration of Laksmi I am sharing a new Podcast - a dynamic heart opening practice  - Opening the Heart to Abundance.....Download, practice & enrich your life with Shakti power!

 'Om Shreem Mahalakshmyai Namaha'

Celebrate Navaratri!

Celebrate Navaratri!!!

Beginning this weekend, October 8th, Shakti, the divine feminine, is celebrated for nine "nava",  ratris' or nights. For three days each, the form of the purifying force of Durga-Kali, the manifesting abundance of Maha Lakshmi and the creative wisdom of Saraswati are celebrated by hundreds of millions of Bhaktis all around the world.

I had the privilage of leading a weekend retreat in the Lake District last weekend and we incorporated the Goddess energies into our journey.  It is an amazing ritual process of connecting authentically to the power of Shakti.

Here are some suggestions from the beautiful Goddess, Shiva Rea, for entering this ritual cycle with universal awareness.

*Begin by Creating Sacred Space:
Prepare your home and temple of your body by cleaning and caring for your spaces of embodiment. The first three days of Navaratri are the time of clearing out the energy of tamas (regressive, backward moving energy). You could also attend to the process of purification and creating sacred space during this time so that there is no pressure of tension. In particular, clean your altar space and if you are connected to the different aspects of the Divine Mother, Ma Shakti, then invoke her through images, colors, and symbolic offerings that will deepen your ritual reflection.

*Living Practices
In General: Before or after your meditation, pray and journal upon the qualities of Shakti that you can call in from the macrocosmic process to have effect within the microcosm of your being. Allow the shakti forces of purification, nuturing, creation and manifestation to reveal to you how to align with your highest vision in action for collective evolution. Not only write, pray and meditate but live what you are ritually invoking in your thought, speech, actions imbued with the love of life and the mother

Specific:
*Chanting of kirtan for the divine mother in the form of Durga-Kali, Sri Laxmi Ma, and Saraswati
*Chanting and listening of the Lalita Sahasranama
*Chanting with Japa Mala 18-27-54 or 108 rounds of the mantra Aim Hrim Klim Chamundayai Vicche or mantras for the different aspects of the Goddess:
Om Dum Durgayai Namaha, Om Shrim Maha Lakshimaye Namaha, Om Aim Saraswataye Namaha while meditating within your heart upon 
*Fasting in a way that is appropriate from a complete fast on fruits to eating vegetarian food to giving up regressive foods for your system is also traditionally part of Navaratri.

Days 1-3 Purification of Inner and Outer Obstacles on the Spritual Path (Durga Shakti)

Days 4-6  Worshiping the Healing Beauty and Abundance of Maha Lakshmi

Days 7-9 Awakening the Divine Wisdom and Creativity of Saraswati Ma

Day 10 Victory of Shakti 

Jai Ma Shakti!

PS - Keep a look out on the podcast page......in celebration of Navaratri & in honour of the Goddess Lakshmi, a new podcast next week!!!!


Happy Raksha Bandham!!

Happy Raksha Bandhan!!!!


This Hindu festival provides an opportunity for brothers and sisters to express their love and affection for each other & wish each other happiness, wellbeing and goodwill.

Sisters tie a silk thread caled Rakhi on their brothers wrists and pray for their protection whilst brothers promise to care for their sisters.  There are many examples in history where it isn't only family members who receive the thread; The Rishis tied rakhi to the people who came seeking their blessings, Sages tied thread to themselves to protect them from evil.  In these modern times the festival goes way beyond the immediate family.  Some tie Rakhi to neighbours and close friends to signify peaceful co-exisitence.


The festival takes place on Shravan Purnima, the full moon day in the Holy month of festivals - usually the full moon in Aug.  This year the celebration is on Tues Aug 24th.......tomorrow!

How can you celebrate Raksha Bandham?

How about offering a dedication at the beginning of your practice tomorrow?  Pledge to the whole human race, the sentiments of peace & harmony and set that intention for the whole day....not loosing sight of it, even if you're thrown a curve ball!

Together, let's bind the global family in an unconditional bond of love & peace!

Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti xxxx

For heaps more info about the legends of Rakhi and idea's for celebration please visit www.raksha-bandham.com


Awakening to Quietude, Calm, Clarity & Wonder....

I have recently returned from a wonderful week with my partner & good friends in Anglesey.  The first time in a few years we have chosen to holiday here in the UK.  We stayed in a B&B in a perfect spot, only 100yrds from a small beech and cliff trail. 

As some of you may know I have begun training for a half marathon that will take place towards the end of the year.  I had already begun my training programme a few weeks before our holiday  and so packed my running gear and looked forward to seaside run's!

Our first morning was bathed in glorious sunshine so I jumped out of bed, dressed for my run and headed outside.  I usually run to my iTunes running playlist....something with a fast beat to encourage my pace. That first day was no different - loud beaty tunes to drown out my breathlessness and all other sounds around.

As I set off I was taking in the beauty of the shoreline, seagull's overhead, feeling the warm sun & the sea breeze on my face.  Turning away from the shore & into the country lane I felt the clamness of nature, the bee's moving along the flowers in the hedgerow's, the little birds swooshing by, the rabbits bounding out ahead of me.

As I began to reconnect to the quietude & calmness I realised that the music blaring in my ear's was intruding on my experience.  I didn't want nor care for the intrusion, so I turned off my iPod and tuned into the sights, sounds & smells of the enviroment. 

In the process I began to reconnect to myself....using my breath as the beat and barometer of my pace, enjoying the warm sea air as it entered my nasal passages & lungs, feeling the gentle breeze guiding me, hearing the joyful morning song of the birds.





In our everyday lives we often loose ourselves in the fast pace of life, the deadline driven, techno enviroments that we share.  In doing so, we also loose connection to the cycle of life - the flow of the season's, light & dark and we loose the connectedness to all living beings.

Spending time outside, wether walking, running, golfing, meditating, whatever your 'thing' is - will open you to a sense of wonder, joy & freedom and enable that intimate connection to the universal flow. 

After a week of running outside without my iPod I feel nourished - physically, emotionally & spiritually.  I am more mindful,  more connected to myself, my enviroment & others.

What steps can you take to help nurture your own connection with nature?

Well......Step one could be  to join me for an outdoor yoga practice this comming Sunday!  All the info is on the events page, so check it out & weather permitting, come get connected!!!!

Acro Fun.....

     
 

 Acro Fun....

What a giggle we had at the Acro Yoga event on Sat July 17th.....

13 brave yogi's/yogini's learnt to fly with my good freind Amanda Owen...see the smiles on the pics below!

We had soo much fun that Amanda & I are in the process of organising an Autumn date.  A longer Acro session in the morning followed by a handstand workshop in the afternoon.  The sessions will be separate so you will be able to do one or both! I know there was a number of us that loved the 'Candlestick' inversion and would love more guidance on balancing on our hands.....Amanda is an amazing teacher and has heaps of experience to share so is the very person to help us wanna be handstanders! 

Keep checking the Events page for the Autumn installment of learning to fly!

 

 
     

Forget Meditation, Forget Yoga....Bake a Cake!

     
 

  'Forget Meditation, Forget Yoga.....Bake a Cake!'

- Dave Myers, Hairy Biker

I was watching yet another cookery show on TV this weekend...I am slightly obcessed with cook shows to be fair!   I love the Hairy Bikers and they were learning how to make the classic Victoria Sponge.   This took me right back to home economics lessons at school and baking with my Nana....wonderful memories.  

I've always loved to cook.   Since I can remember I've loved experimenting with food & recipes, cooking for friends and for years working in the hospitality industry. So, during the show, when Dave Myers came out with this statement it really resonated with me!

When I'm cooking, I cook with passion, focus and awareness - Much like when I'm on my yoga mat!   I love compiling all the componants of the recipe, always with precision and aiming to use quality ingrediants.   I whisk, fold, blend, saute, steam, chop or whatever the recipe requires, with dedication and blissful abandon.  I wait patiently for the completed result & totally enjoy sharing my   dish with friends & family.   No matter wether its a snack for me, a family celebration or just a weekday supper....I love to cook and consider it a blessing to be able to do so!

For me cooking IS YOGA!!!!!   The connection to each moment, the awareness and the heart felt dedication to practice & to share with others.....Same, same!!!   Maybe Dave Myers should have said.....'Bake a Cake & BE YOGA!!!'

My wonderful friend Deb, gave me this fridge magnet a while ago and it sums up the relationship between yoga & food beautifully! -

May this kitchen be so filled with peace that all who eat food prepared here receive peace.

May this kitchen be so filled with happiness that all who eat food prepared here will receive happiness.

May this kicthen be so filled with good that working here is a joy.

Bless this kitchen.

Bless all who work here.

Bless the food that is preapred here.

May this kitchen and the work done here be a blessing to all who live.

So when you next bake a cake or prepare the family meal try to approach it with loving kindness. Enjoy the experience as much as you love getting on your mat!   I'm sure the love is also reflected in the taste!!!!

Give this recipe a go....Gooseberry Meringue Pie....MMMMMmmmmm! Tried out last Friday when we had freinds over for dinner & a big hit!

You will need:

375g shortcrust pastry

50g Golden caster sugar

400g gooseberries, topped & tailed

2tbspn elderflower cordial

2tbspn cornflour

3 egg yolks

75gm butter, at room temp

Meringue:

3 egg whites

175gm Golden caster sugar

1.   Heat the oven to 200C /fan 180C/ Gas 6.   Line a 22cm pie dish or tart tin with the pastry and bake blind for about 20mins or until the pastry is crisp and lightly browned.   Turn the oven down to 150C/ fan 130C/ Gas 2

2.   Put the caster sugar, gooseberries and 200ml water in a pan and bring to a simmer for 5 mins until the gooseberries are just soft. Stir in the cordial. Drain the liquid into a smal pan and use 2tbspn to make a paste with the cornflor, then return to the rest of the liquid, stirring to dissolve. Bring to a simmer and stir until it thickens. Beat in the yolks and butter and stir in the gooseberries. Pour into the tast case.

3.   Beat the egg whites until stiff then fold in the sugar. Pipe or spoon the meringue onto the pie and bake for 40 mins or until lightly browned and crisp.

Enjoy!!!!

 
     

Radhe Shyam!

     
 

 

 Radhe Shyam!!!

Today is the Summer Solstice!  The longest day of the year....

This terrific pic was taken by my yogini friend Cath Carroll & her husband Si on Solstice Eve....isn't it fab!

The Solstice means 'standing of the sun' and we can use this time to turn inwards and connect to ourselves & the cyclic nature of the earth. 

It's a perfect time to reflect on the year so far & focus on what we would like to nurture and develop in ourselves as we enter the second half of the year.

Radhe is Krishna's consort & by chanting her name we knock on the door of our own heart & Krishna guides us towards our own inner light & love.  When connected there we can truely reflect on the qualities we would like to encourage & the klesha's (obstacle) we wish to overcome.  This is an auspicious time to learn to be present and shape your growth!

Radhe Shyam!!!

I have been reflecting this week as I studied with my inspiration, Shiva Rea. 

Once again I was honoured to share her presence & knowledge. 

I completed the intensive feeling empowered, stimulated and truely connected to the flow of prana that intelligently guides the flow of my body, practice & life. 

I look forward to integrating my reflection and understanding and being able to share the embodied flow on my path.

Take time today, to reflect on what qualities you would like to develop & nurture!

 

 
     

Have Faith....the Universe answers

     
 

 Have Faith....The Universe Answers.....

It's been a strange few days for me; I'm generally very balanced, centered and grounded.  I approach my life with positivity and calmness.  However, yesterday my foundations were shaken.  My partner lost another construction project and was feeling very down in the dumps and concerned for our financial well fare.  I tried to reassure him that all would work out for the best and did a great job with emotional support!

Then the doubt crept into my mind....How would we survive, how would we pay the bills, what's going to happen six months from now....you get the picture!

I was still feeling unsteady and dispondant this morning when I stepped on my mat.  I practiced with focus and presence and during my practice those doubts and fears disappeared.  I was left feeling much stronger, resilient and steady.  'What will be, will be' was my thought during my meditation, afterall why spend energy worrying now about something that may or may not happen! 

Of course, in these uncertain financial times it is easy to be anxious and have worries but those thoughts need to be balanced with positivity - my yoga & meditation practice gave me the opportunity to reflect with clarity and be open to whatever may occurr. 

At the end of my practice I asked the Universe for assistance during this time.  I always find that when I request help or answers from the Universe I receive in abundance.....It may not be always what I requested or expected but it is always what I need.

Sure enough, today was no exception!  After practice & breakfast I checked on emails & my FaceBook page.  The awesome Hilary Rubin had posted the most inspirational UTube video - go to the bottom of Yoga Living, LivingYoga to see it.  It's titled Look at Yourself After Watching This.  I think the essence of this video message is exactly what I needed to hear.....I count my blessings that I can embrace my life, even with it's challenges, and live with love & compassion.  I have the strength to face my anxieties knowing that  I have what I need right here. 

Yoga Sutra I.36

There is always a light within us that is free from all sorrow and grief, no matter how much we may be experiencing suffering.

So, occasionally a little wobble and self doubt is OK because it enables me to reconnect to whats really important & witness the Light that is always within.  Thank you Universe & Nick Vujicic for showing me the way!

If you have asked the Universe for help & received I'd love to hear your story....Comment here or email!

Abundant Blessings to you

Jxxx

 

 
     

iTunes Excitement!

     
 

  O MY GOSH!!!! I'm available on iTUNES!!!!!!

Today my FREE podcasts went live on iTunes!

Hoping that this makes it easier for those who use iTunes to subscribe & have my podcasts automatically download whenever there is a new episode.

I'm feeling quite pleased with myself as this techy experience has been a HUGE learning curve for me!   I discovered on this journey how much fun it is to step out of my comfort zone & try something new.   Don't get me wrong, it hasn't all been plain sailing and there have been many moments of frustration - my software & laptop have undergone a few torrents of abuse! - but I persevered & I'm thrilled with my achievement.

I find this same frustration sometimes, on my mat too! Occasionally things don't go to plan first time around....or second, third or tenth!   But I always try to persevere - practicing   with acceptance of where I need to be at that time &, most importantly, enjoying the journey!   In fact the journey is often more sweet than arriving at the destiantion.

  Yoga is 99% practice and 1% theory.   ~Sri Krishna Pattabhi Jois


Enjoying the journey in my asana practice helps me to understand my approach to life off my mat...Here's what I learned whilst learning to podcast....To breathe freely, to keep a calm, soft focus & to allow space & time for development without force! Sound familiar????

I'm still enjoying & learning on my podcasting journey but feel trying something new keeps passion alive so I am about to embark on a new challenge! This one is my biggest hurdle yet.......I'm learning to play the harmonium!!!

Something I always wanted to do since my very first teacher training when I got hooked on Kirtan!

Very much looking forward to the joy & frustration of the journey!

  Thanks for all the wonderful feedback about the podcasts. Its great to know that my podcasts are encouraging home practice.   Please don't hesitate to call or email if there is something specific you would like me cover in a podcast!

To keep your passion inflamed what are you challenging yourself with?

Heart Felt Blessings

Jxxx

 
     

Every day holds the potential for beauty!

     
 

  Every day holds the potential for beauty...........

Whilst watching a very cheesey chick flick last Sunday, this amazingly inspirational phase jumped out at me.  

I thought,WOW soooo true, if only we become aware & witness.   So, I have been working with this & it has also   inspired the class next week - which will also be available for podcast download!

One of the beautiful things that I witnessed this week was Gorton Monastry  in Manchester.   Absolutely incredible!   It is a former Franciscan church and friary that has been deconsecrated but it is still brimming with sacred atomosphere.   According to the very knowledgeable gentleman I sat next to...it has heaps of architectural secrets and sacred geometry. I definitely plan to return soon for a informative guided tour. Such a special place!

I was there for a concert - Deva Premal, Miten & Manose .  What a fantastic experience....another beautiful thing! The audience was encouraged to join in with sacred mantra & chant.   The sound of  Deva Praml & Miten's  harmonies, instrument's and a few hundred spiritual souls in such a fabulous venue was just awsome!  More than enough to send me into a blissful state! In fact, I'm still floating on that cloud, days later!

As I write this I'm chanting away to 'Mantras for Precarious Times'. The power of mantra really does hold the potential for beauty. For me, the sound, repetition & vibration help to lull me into a beautiful meditative state that allows me to witness the beauty ofthe Source.    

I feel open to giving & receiving divine joy, bliss and being whole again.  

Infinite Blessing to Deva Premal & Miten for helping me reconnect to beauty & joy!

Om Shanti Om xxxx  

Go to Living Yoga.....Yoga Living to see & hear a wonderful UTube snippet from Deva Premal !

 
     

DIY Flexibility Test......

     
 

Thanks so much for the warm reception to the podcasts!

Please keep your feedback coming!   You can leave your comments on the PodBean site directly under each podcast, send me an email or message me on Facebook!

I've already been asked to ensure the duration of podcast is clearly visible so from now on I'll include in title....format will look like this - Podcast4_Theme_35mins (Thanks Bronwen P for this top tip!)

Requests for themes have also been suggested so over the next few weeks expect:

Shoulder / Neck stretches, Balancing, Backbends, Upper body strength, Core Strength, Hamstring & Quad work, More mini mediations, PM practice (evening not pre menstrual!), Office yoga!

Mucho gratitude for all your support!

Hoping to have pictures up in the gallery by the end of this week to support the podcasts.  I had a wonderful photo shoot with Adam at i2i photography in Alsager last Fri.  Adam shot almost 200 poses and made me feel completely comfortable as I initially felt super self conscious in front of the camera! I know, weird eh? I guess that's the ego kicking in.....As soon as I relaxed into my practice and let it flow my nervousness vanished and I really enjoyed the experience.  I hope my joy translates into the pictures!

Just discovered this article in todays newspaper so thought I would share! It doesn't refer directly to a yoga practice but good to have one of the many benefits of the practice reaffirmed...

 

 
     

Arrival of PODCASTS!!!!

     
 

  Podcasts are here!!!!

I'm super excited (and to be honest a little nervous!) to be able to share  the first few podcasts with you.   I've linked the first three for now...each very different - a short healing meditation, a shortish am practice and a long vinyasa session - Hopefully something for everyone.

The whole experience has been an adventure for me....I'm not too 'techy' at the best of times so I am thrilled that I'm up & running!   I hope to be uploading 1-2 podcasts per month, so if you have any requests for particular postures, themes etc please let me know!   It's also my aim to get some LIVE classes podcasted....I did find it a little strange teaching to no-one in my sitting room when I recorded these first three, so figure the LIVE editions will sound a little more authentic!

Also looking to moving them to iTunes too!

Had a really great Easter break (Hope you did too!)   My brother in law made a surprise trip from LA   - so very wonderful to spend time with him again.   Deep gratitude for family looove!

Consquently had several 'family' occasions which were super but I seemed to do nothing but eat over the holiday.   Now doing a serious Spring Cleanse as I have a photo shoot on Fri and don't wanna share my Easter Egg belly with you all once pics are in the Gallery!   Feeling loads lighter even after a couple of days of juice'n'soup.   Definitely something to be said for feeding the soul...Though I enjoyed eating all the choccy at the time, my mind was easily agitated, I generally felt sluggish and definitely not my bright n'breazey self.   These last few days I've begun to emerge from that sluggish haze feeling clearer, stronger, centered and feel the need to eat nourishing food to maintain this Spring rejuvenation.

As fellow Facebookers will know I also had my handbag stolen during the holiday, at a Health Day at a local park.   I had been asked to share some yoga as part of a community drive to increase health & wellbeing awareness.   To cut a long story short I was scammed (the rascals had the nerve to pretend they were interested in yoga classes, distratcing me, whilst their buddy stole my bag!).   Though the police were great, arresting them and even retreiving some of my belongings, the culprits won't be prosecuted.   I have had the hassle of cancelling my cell phone, getting a new one, dealing with insurance companies etc and felt very angered by the whole affair. On the other hand I have questioned the lessons I needed to learn from the experience...Letting go of Stuff is hard to do eh?   As my great friend Deb said....'There's a yoga class plan theme in there!'   Still working with it but sure   'Letting go & opening to loving kindness' will emerge in class in  week or two!

Sending Bright Spring Sunny Blessings your way!

Namaste

Jxxx

 
     

Earth Hour & Jai Hanuman!

     
 

  This Sat March 27th is Earth Hour! Please follow the link below to find out how you can register your support for action against climate change......Sign up & switch off your lights just for one hr at 8.30pm on Sat evening!

I care about our planet and wish to support Earth Hour!

Spring is here!!! Yey!!! Here in the UK our clocks Spring forward this weekend so we can look forward to our days becoming longer than our nights & hopefully more sunshine!

It's amazing how a little sunshine lightens & brightens everyones mood.   Just last week we were blessed with several sunny days and everyone who I came into contact with seemed to be more than ready to emerge from their winter hibernation and leap into this new season.   It was of course the Spring Equinnox last Sat (20th) so we can now officially cast off the winter blues & embrace the unfurling season.......for lots of tips for this transition please download the latest newsletter !

On Tues the 30th March we have another celebration Hanuman Jayanti!

This commemorates the birth of Hanuman the monkey God.   Hanuman is considered the living embodiment of the Karma Yogi - his meditation and devotion demonstrated through selfless service & hardwork.

Hanumans devotion is to Sri Rama.  

 Hanuman said "I am a humble messenger of Sri Rama. I have come here to serve Rama, to do His work. By the command of Lord Rama, I have come here. I am fearless by the Grace of Lord Rama. I am not afraid of death. I welcome it if it comes while serving Lord Rama."

In return for his devotion Lord Rama gave Hanuman the gift of eternal life.   Hanuman is worshiped for his devotion to God and symbolises strength & energy.   In ancient text he flies over the ocean to Lanka with absoloute faith in his abilities in order to rescue Sita from the demon king, Ravana.  

These qualities of strength & energy are characteristic of this season....the new vibrant energy that Spring brings, enables flowers to blossom, plants to grow, brings dewy morning's warmth & sunshine.

As we blossom into Spring may we each find Hanumans faith, strength & energy to face our challenges and stretch out of winter towards new beginnings.

Jai Hanuman!

 
     

Om Scampi!!!!

 

 'Om Scampi!'

Thought that is quote was too funny!  It's from an article in the New York Times about the combining of two of my passions - Yoga & Food!

Please follow the link to read!

Having spent many years working in the hospitality industry the Foodie bug is still deeply embedded in my being.  I love to cook and share my dining experience with others.  I just love it when I've spent a while creating yumminess in the kitchen & it's totally appreciated by my family & friends.  Food does bring joy.....it's not only the 'naughty' stuff but the good stuff too! I love a fresh juice in the morning, a steaming bowl of homemade soup on a cold day, roasted veggie salad, slices of juicey fresh water melon on the beach, a family Sunday lunch...its endless how much I appreciate & enjoy food!  Of course I try to eat well & nourish myself on all levels both with food & my yoga life.

The debate discussed in this article is interesting....to be an authentic yogi you have to be vegetarian?  I'm not so sure....I've met many veggie's who whilst they may not eat meat and consider themselves to be following the practice of ahimsa (non-harmimg) they have the 'yogier than thou' judgemental attitude....So is that harmless & Yoga?

What do you think?

For several years I did not eat meat.  Now I do, in modest amounts.  I also enjoy a glass of wine.  For me nurturing and nourishing is more about considering what is best for your body in order to optimise your health.  I try to ensure that my nourishment is also practised with moderation, mindfulness & appreciation, to me, this is Yoga too. 

A much respected yoga teacher once shared with me that at the end of a busy day her yoga practice was a delicious G &T that she drank mindfully & she stayed present for every enjoyable moment! At the time that was an OMG moment! I was a little surprised! But now I agree.....less judgement and more discernment (Viveka in sanskrit!).  The quality of discernment helps us to make decisions about what makes us happy and spiritual decisions about what we truley value.  So if we value our health & wellbeing and make decisions with that in mind I believe we can nourish ourselves with a joyful attitude.

So for those who will celebrate St Patricks day tomorrow with a pint of Guiness do so discerningly & Enjoy!

 

Celebrate Vasant Navratri!

Sunday 15th March is the day of the new moon & Monday 16th is  the beginning of a nine night festival in the Hindu calendar...Vasant Navartri!

Here is some info about this festival...this was copied from an email from Shiva Rea....

Vasant Navratri, is observed during the Shukla Paksha (Waxing phase of moon) in the month of Chaitra (March – April) as per traditional Hindu calendar. In 2010, Vasant Navratri begins on March 16 and ends on March 24. This festival of nine nights in Hindu religion is dedicated to Goddess Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswati and is takes place during the spring season it is also known as Spring Navratri.


Navratri, the festival of nine nights and is dedicated to Goddess Durga and her nine forms. The word Navaratri literally means nine nights in Sanskrit; Nava meaning Nine and Ratri meaning nights. During these nine nights and ten days, nine forms of Shakti/Devi i.e. female divinity, Goddess Durga is worshipped. According to the Hindu calendar, Navratri begins from the first day of the bright fortnight of Ashwin which usually coincides with the end of the rainy season.


The nine days have great religious significance as Goddess Durga, the divine mother, had destroyed the evil force (in the form of the demon Mahisashura) during this period. It also holds philosophical significance, as the two season's when navaratri is held - autumn and spring, are known as the teeth of Yama, the God of Death. The nine day Navaratri festival is held twice a year, once in the month of Chaitra (Mar-Apr) as Rama Navratri, and then in Aswayuja (Sept-Oct) as Duga Navaratri. It's said that worshipping in Navartra's brings material and spiritual welfare.

The festival is celebrated with true devotion and purity all over the country. People from various sections of the society irrespective of caste and creed celebrate this festival by visiting temples and offering pujas at the Mother’s feet. Religious fasting is generally observed by many. Some people fast for the first and last days of Navaratri, while many others fast for all 9 days.

For those who prefer to eat selected vegetarian food during the festival, some favourite pooja food for Navaratri's are: Kuttu ki roti, paneer ki sabzi, vegetable raita with cucumber and tomato, zeera aloo, sinharay ki burfi, makhane ki kheer, sabudana khichdi, etc.


In some places special puja samarohas are also held by setting the images of Mother Durga on beautifully decorated pandals. Temples dedicated to Shakti also make arrangement for pujas and bratas to mark these nine days as true symbols of devotion and adoration towards the divine mother.


The Navratri Mythology:

Hindu Mythology suggests that due t increased menace of the Daityas on earth, all the Gods came to maa Durga for rescue. After praying to Goddess Durga for nine consecutive days, she got pleased and made a prophecy declaring the birth of Lord Rama, who would fight all the demons and restore peace on earth. This is why last day of Navaratri is celebrated as Ram Navami, the birth of Lord Rama.


CELEBRATING NAVRATRI AROUND INDIA
Navaratri is the most sacred and one of the most celebrated festivals in india. The festival is also celebrated with intense fervor and zest, in whole of India, in the form of Durga Puja. The vibrant festivities last for ten days, of which nine nights are spent in worship. But the celebrations vary from place to place.
During the festival, devotees wear different colours, with the nine colours representing the nine manifestations of Maa Durga. Devotees also perform 'alankar' or make up of the Goddess with the dress of the same colour for the day.

The nine colours of Navaratri are:

Green, Orange, Yellow, Sky Blue, Pink, Grey, Green, Ink Blue and Royal Blue.

Day wise Colour description for the Festival:

Friday: Sky Blue - Goddess Bhuvaneshwari
Saturday: Pink - Goddess Chinnamasta
Sunday: Grey - Goddess Bhairavi or Maha Kali
Monday: Green - Goddess Jagadamba
Tuesday: Ink blue - Goddess Narayani
Wednesday: Royal Blue: Goddess Matungi / Godess Renuka Devi
Thursday: Red - Goddess Durga
Friday: Parrot Green - Goddess Amba
Saturday: Orange - Goddess Chamunda / Goddess Tara

How are you going to celebrate?


 

New Yoga Buddies...I am blessed!

 

Blessed with Abundance!

 
   

How much of your day is spent complaining, wishing something else was here right now? How much of your day is spent in gratitude for "what is" and in simply noticing what is here right now? Can you appreciate the beauty in you, and in front of you right now? Oh, hello computer that works so smoothly --thank you. Hello ...beautiful rain falling from the sky. I am in awe. Thank you. Oh, hello loving friends...I am blessed!

Julie Dittmar

What a great week it's been!   I have been blessed!

I got to see the wonderful Matthew Bourne's Swanlake.   So graceful, moving and incredible...see my link on Living Yoga....Yoga Living page!

I hosted a great day with Pete Blackaby on Sat 20th.  I had never worked with Pete before but had heard amazingly good recommendations about his teachings - I was not disappointed.   He really inspired me to move inwards with a questioning enquiring mind, constantly reviewing and searching for stability, spaciousness and freedom of breath.   I am hoping to persuade him to return with a short series of workshops early next year, so if you missed out this time I hope you can catch him next time around!

During the workshop I was able to meet a whole bunch of new yoga buddies.   Big thanks to all who travelled to make it to the day!  One of the great souls had brought along some hand made cards.  They are beautiful mandala's and of course I couldn't resist some retail therapy!   Here is the link to Sharlene's web site so you can check them out - www.cannockyoga.co.uk

This week in class we have been working with Shakti power & one aspect of the Goddess energy....the essence of Lakshmi - harmony, loving kindness & generosity of spirit.

I  feel deep gratitude for all of the blessings in my life and   taking pleasure in the here & now!  I am blessed!

xxxx  

 

CNHC Registered Therapist

 

 I am sooo thrilled today to be registered with the CNHC....the governing body for complimentary therapists!  This means that I am a recognised Yoga Therapist ! Yey hey!

Off to the Ballet tonight to celebrate!

 

Shoulder fix!

 Om Namah Shivaya!....Celebrated this auspicious Shiva day with 108 devoted repetitions this morning!  Hoping that this Shiva consciousness lasts all day!  I could have used it earlier in the week too......

This week I have had a reoccurance with a left shoulder injury.....Boy, does a little injury ensure that you become mindful in your practice!  Even as an expereinced practitioner it is all to easy to allow the ego to join in with asana practice....Even though I had had a twinge in my shoulder on Monday, I did an arm balancing sequence on Tues - Not too smart!  Aren't I always preaching 'Listen to your body & honour where you are right now!'.......I was so delighted  on Tues that I had Tolasana, Lolasana, Bhujipidasana & Titthibhasana down that I was removed from the reality that I was feeling strain and thus said injury occurred.  Thankfully Teres minor was a little inflammed but has now eased.

This recovery was aided by my Yoga friend Debby Moss.  She so kindly manipulated my shoulder after class last night.  A little sore at the time but immediately felt easier & this morning feels relatively normal!

Big Thanks to you Debby!  Please visit her web site to check out her fantastic skills!

www.the-bodyworks.com

Also, Note to Self:   Awareness is key!!!!!!

 

Om Namah Shivaya

Maha Shivaratri!

 Auspicious festival of Mahashivaratri falls on the 13th or the 14th night of the new moon during Krishna Paksha in the Hindu month of Phalgun. The Sanskrit term, Krishna Paksha means the period of waning moon or the dark fortnight and Phalguna corresponds to the month of February in English Calendar. This year the festival is celebrated on 12th Feb!

According to Hindu mythology, Shivaratri or ‘Shiva’s Great Night’ symbolizes the wedding day of Lord Shiva and Parvati. Many however, believe, Shivaratri is the night when Lord Shiva performed the Tandava Nritya – the dance of primordial creation, preservation and destruction.  If you come along to my classes you may remember we have danced the Tandava Kriya too!

Celebrating the festival in a customary manner, devotees give a ritual bath to the Lingam with the panchagavya – milk, sour milk, urine, butter and dung! Celebrations of Shivaratri Festival mainly take place at night. Devotees of Lord Shiva throng Shiva temples across the country and spend ‘the Night of Lord Shiva’ by chanting verses and hymns in praise of the Lord. The festival holds special meaning for the ladies. They pray to Goddess Parvati also called ‘Gaura’, the giver of ’suhag’ for good husbands, marital bliss and a long and prosperous married life.

This festival is really all about inner awakening - awakening your own inner potential, the kundalini shakti, Shiva consciousness.  Devotees use rituals & puja that assist this awakening:

  • Fasting all through the day, only breaking their fast the next morning
  • An offering of prayers to the sun God Vishnu and Shiva
  • Bathing of Shivalinga with water, milk and honey and wood apple or bel leaves added to it, represents purification of the soul.
  • The vermilion paste applied on the linga after the ritual bath represents virtue.
  • Offering of fruits symbolizes longevity and gratification of desires.
  • Burning of incense sticks yields wealth.
  • The lighting of the lamp symbolizes attainment of knowledge.
  • Offering of betel leaves marks satisfaction with worldly pleasures.
  • All-Night Shiva Worship & intense chanting of Om Namah Shivaya

Om Namah Shivaya!!!!

 

      Learning to Fly!

      Namaskaram!

      Had a great day yesterday........wonderful Love Yoga classes!   My Valentines offering was fun to teach & the yogi's definitely received with open hearts & minds - A little Love Tango, followed by some Acro-yoga, Thai Yoga massage and a Heart Meditation.   Not forgetting the Love Tunes too! A special mix of my favorite Love Songs from Led Zep, Bob Marley, Alison Kraus, Diana Ross, Abba, Fleetwood Mac, The Beatles, Barbera Streisand, Al Green, Van Morrison, Sade etc

      For those of you who enjoyed learning to fly with Acro-Yoga my good friend fellow yoga therapist, experienced acro yogini,   & all round Great Soul, Amanda Owen,   will be coming along to the Community Centre at Butt Lane in July to present a morning introduction to Acro Yoga!

      Details will be on my site later this week but should be fun!  

      When Amanda was visiting a few weeks ago she shared some of her skills with me.....postures that scared me, made me nervous & things I never thought I'd be able to do.   That inner voice - 'You can't do that', 'You're too heavy', 'You're not strong enough' etc etc!     Well, I did try and often succeeded in the pose but mainly had lots of fun, gained more confidence & faith in my abilities & learned about trust.   Valuable lessons that are soooo relevant off my mat too.       Hope you can join us in July and you too can learn to Fly! xxxx

      Yoga Pants

      Good Morning!!!

      Just a short note this morning as about to get busy baking for my nephew's birthday party which is tomorrow.   He's 15...can't quite believe where those years went but he's become the most wonderful young man and it's a pleasure to make the cakes.  

      Another bonus is that at 15 he doesn't want a theme cake....he's chosen White Chocolate & Ricotta Cheesecake and a Chocolate & Beetroot Fudge Cake (I know chocolate & beetroot sounds perculiar but believe me it works!)

      Anyways...Yoga Pants!

      For the info about the pants I was wearing last night at class, which are Be Present Agility Pants, check out these sites:

      www.yogabliss.co.uk

      www.letourbodybreathe.com       if you buy quote 15CMISS for 15% off!

      Happy browsing / shopping!

      xxxx

      Surrender & Listen!

      My practice today focused on listening to my intuition...my inner teacher.  

      So often I search for answers outside my self ,asking others for advice and over riding the best guide I have.   So this morning as I went through my practice I listened more intently, surrendered to my breath and really felt able to connect and understand that all I need is already present....I felt absolutely no desire to strive, force and muscle my way through the challenges of my practice! Result!

      Obviously this is a work in progress!   It would be wonderful to think that both on & off my mat I have this down & my ego is out the window....but I know how easy it is to zone out & lose that source when leading a regular life. But Hey,   at least for today I feel connected to that voice of self inquiry so I guess I need to learn   keep listening!

      In this weeks classes I've shared some great stress busting   shoulder openers... some of these openers come from Andrey Lappa ....check out his webpage if you have a mo...inspiring stuff!

      I'm also being inspired right now by Anjum Anand's Eat Right for your Body Type.   A healthy ayurvedic based recipe book....All the recipes I tried so far are yummy!   The Vitality porridge & the Quinoea & Sweet Spice Porridge are super good and just made the Coconut Fish Curry...MMMMmmmm

      Finding Space

      So great to feel the sun on my face this last weekend!

      & now it's snowing again!   I find this season of winter challenging in so many ways - My physical body crave's warmth both through nourishment & my asana practice, my mental body often gives into self doubt & anxiety (Easy to do when all around is cold & grey!)

      This morning I opted for a vinyasa flow with lots of twists.   Twists at this time of year work so well for me:   They stimulate the digestive system, they open the mid & upper back so freeing space in the physical body.   This liberation in the spine also releases tension and so free's space not only physically but mentally too!   I always notice that I have more clarity after twists.  Today's practice has left me feeling more balanced and able to meet the day with positivity, come snow or sunshine!

      This simple mantra came to me post twisting vinyasa & meditation:

      BE SPACIOUS, BE OPEN, BE FREE, BE ME......JUST BE!!!!!

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