This month’s round-up of yoga tips, ideas and inspiration!
My American friends and students celebrate Thanksgiving today, which is a great opportunity to think about gratitude.
I read recently that being grateful makes people happier:
Dr. Emmons – who has been studying gratitude for almost ten years and is considered by many to be the world’s leading authority on gratitude – is author of the book, “Thanks!: How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier”. The information in this book is based on research involving thousands of people conducted by a number of different researchers around the world. One of the things these studies show is that practicing gratitude can increase happiness levels by around 25%. This is significant, among other things, because just as there’s a certain weight that feels natural to your body and which your body strives to maintain, your basic level of happiness is set at a predetermined point. If something bad happens to you during the day, your happiness can drop momentarily, but then it returns to its natural set-point. Likewise, if something positive happens to you, your level of happiness rises, and then it returns once again to your “happiness set-point”. A practice of gratitude raises your “happiness set-point” so you can remain at a higher level of happiness regardless of outside circumstances.
Practicing gratitude, like practicing yoga, helps us focus on the positive rather than be afraid of the future, or what’s happening in the world. In your next yoga class, take time to be grateful. While you’re lying in savasana, think of some of the blessings in your life: health, loved ones, happy memories, small kindnesses. When you step out of the studio door you will be doubly well-equipped to face whatever the day has in store!
Share something you’re grateful for in the comments!
If you’re looking for a fantastic night out in London book a night at La Soiree at the Southbank Centre. La Soiree is adult circus at its best: hilarious, gaudy, bawdy, and dazzling.
Late autumn is when we need warm, healthful comfort food. Shakshuka is a Middle Eastern dish perfect for a weekend breakfast or a light dinner. Based on fresh vegetables – onions, peppers and tomatoes – it has eggs for protein plus hearty spices. Add a green salad and potatoes, or bread for a delicious meal.
This recipe is from Tori Avey – you can mix it up by adding sliced mushrooms, feta or halloumi cheese, or topping with chopped coriander.
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 medium brown or white onion, peeled and diced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 medium green or red pepper, chopped
- 2x 400g tins diced tomatoes
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 tsp chili powder (mild)
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp paprika
- Pinch of cayenne pepper (or more to taste– spicy!)
- Pinch of sugar (optional, to taste)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 4 eggs
- 1/2 tbsp fresh chopped parsley (optional, for garnish)Heat a deep, large skillet or sauté pan on medium. Slowly warm olive oil in the pan. Add chopped onion, sauté for a few minutes until the onion begins to soften. Add garlic and continue to sauté till mixture is fragrant.Add the pepper, sauté for 5-7 minutes over medium until softened.
Add tomatoes and tomato paste to pan, stir till blended. Add spices and sugar, stir well, and allow mixture to simmer over medium heat for 5-7 minutes till it starts to reduce. At this point, you can taste the mixture and spice it according to your preferences. Add salt and pepper to taste, more sugar for a sweeter sauce, or more cayenne pepper
Crack the eggs, one at a time, directly over the tomato mixture, making sure to space them evenly over the sauce. I usually place 4-5 eggs around the outer edge and 1 in the center. The eggs will cook on top of the tomato sauce.Cover the pan. Allow mixture to simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until the eggs are cooked and the sauce has slightly reduced. Keep an eye on the skillet to make sure that the sauce doesn’t reduce too much, which can lead to burning.
Have an unusual clean eating favourite dish? Share in the comments!
Our hands connect us to the world. We use them to work, touch, hold, connect, and carry. When it comes to the yoga studio, though, we often don’t think much about our hands. We’re busy locking our knees, flexing our muscles, focusing on the next breath or the next stretch.
Hands deserve our attention. In Bikram, for example, the hands have a specific role to play in each posture. Next time you’re in class, be mindful of the sequence: how you interlace your fingers during pranayama, keeping your palms together in eagle pose, the Bikram grip in standing head-to-knee. These instructions are not arbitrary. The grip, for example, strengthens your hands, flexes the muscles and tendons, and builds power using your hands in every day life. Placing your palms face-down beneath you in half-locust strengthens your wrists, arms and elbows to protect against repetitive strain injuries. In savasana, relaxing your arms and turning your palms to the ceiling promotes the positive flow of energy and receptiveness.
Next time you do yoga, focus on your hands. If necessary, go easy in the postures and concentrate on the placement and motion of your wrists, palms and fingers. Over 25% of our body’s bones are located in our hands. Yoga is a chance to fully engage the complex array of muscles, tendons and ligaments around them, and to reduce inflammation, remove built-up stress and increase range of motion.
Questions about correct hand-placement in postures? Ask me after class, or in the comments!
This is in addition to my regular warm Vinyasa flow classes at Hot Yoga South which are an absolute delight. It is a privilege to work with a lovely mix of new and regular students as we practice and enjoy warm flow yoga, accompanied by music.
Flow Yoga, aka Vinyasa flow, begins with a sequence of flowing movements at the to warm the body, moving in motion with the breath. This will help bring flexibility to all the muscles and joints and wake up the nervous system. A series of balancing, stretching, back bending, twisting and inverted postures will follow.
The class is warm and suitable for yogis of all levels. It is a unique and enriching practice and I look forward to sharing it with you on Saturday, 28 Nov 2-4:15PM.
Building and maintaining strong core muscles improves your health, posture and sense of well-being. We spend a lot of time, in Bikram yoga in particular, working on the muscles surrounding the spine and on the abdominals.
At every point in the class, I encourage you to focus on holding in your stomach and maintaining correct posture and alignment to get all your muscles working. These poses are especially important in the sequence for improving your core.
Questions? Ask in the comments!
Cold weather can cause a tendency to comfort eat, and longer evenings mean more time to (potentially) spend at the pub or over a big dinner. However, clean eating is important to keep our immune and digestive systems healthy.
A very simple, healthful dish you can add to your diet is kitchari, which is just rice and mung beans. It is a staple of Ayurvedic food because, according to the philosophy, its balance of warm and cool makes it ideal for all three doshas, or body types. It contains a good balance of protein, carbohydrates, and fat making it easy-to-digest and highly nutritious dish.
This recipe is from Banyan Botanicals. You could double the amounts and freeze the extra for easy meals later.
Kitchari is one of the few foods that provides both nourishment for the body and benefits digestion due to its spice combination. This makes kitchari ideal during stress, illness, change of seasons, and it is the primary food during Ayurvedic internal cleansing.INGREDIENTS• ¼ tsp black mustard seeds• ½ tsp cumin seeds• 1 small pinch asafoetida (hing) powder• ½ tsp turmeric powder• ½ tsp cumin powder• ½ tsp coriander powder•1 tsp rock salt
• 2-3 TBS ghee (clarified butter)• 1 cup split yellow mung dal, rinsed well, soaked overnight and drained• 1 cup white basmati rice, rinsed well and drained• 4-5 thin slices of fresh ginger root• 6 cups of waterINSTRUCTIONS1. Using a heavy-bottomed pot, heat the ghee on medium heat.2. Sautee the Kitchari Spice Mix or just the mustardseeds, cumin seeds, and asafoetida.3. Add the drained mung dal, turmeric, and salt and stir untilthe mix almost starts to stick to the bottom of the pan.4. Add the rice, water, cumin powder, coriander powder, and ginger.5. Bring the mixture to boil on high heat, then cover thepot and turn the heat down and let it simmer untilboth the rice and dal are mushy (approximately 30-45minutes). Add water as needed to prevent scorching. Theconsistency should be that of a thick vegetable stew.6. You may have to experiment with the amount ofwater you use to find the right consistency for you(the more water, the thinner the consistency).7. You may also choose to add some of your favorite
Share your favourite clean eating recipe or tip in the comments.
I love the news that Gatwick Airport has launched a free pre-flight video class for long-haul passengers.
There will be a 20-minute video class show on loop in the “floga” lounge in the South Terminal. It’s designed to help improve circulation and digestion, which are put under stress in the air.
Shona Vertue, the instructor who developed the video, said “I am a frequent and nervous flyer and I know the physical side effects of long-haul flying. [It] puts a huge amount of strain on the body and in particular the digestive system and circulation. If you address that before the flight you will obviously feel so much better when you get off the plane.”
No matter what airport you’re at, doing yoga can help you stay flexible, relaxed and keep your digestive system functioning. If you don’t have a dedicated yoga space, find a quiet corner where you can breathe and stretch.