The November round-up from Yoga With Paul — recipes, exhibitions and more!
I mentioned it on Twitter last week but in case you missed the Tweet, I highly recommend seeing The Radical Eye. This is a fantastic private collection of modernist photography from Sir Elton John’s personal collection and is currently on display at the Tate Modern.
The Radical Eye is a collection of about 150 vintage photos by over 70 great artists. Visually, it ranges from evocative to surreal. Dorthea Lange’s famous photos of Dustbowl families sit alongside art photography from the likes of Herbert Bayer and Alexander Rodchenko.
There is an incredible group of Man Ray photographs, which Sir Elton collected over the past twenty-five years, that includes his portraits of other seminal artists including Matisse, Picasso, and Breton.
The exhibition supports my theory that people who are incredibly creative in one art form are generally creative in many ways. From his 70s fashion statements to this photography collection, Sir Elton shows that a true artist is always creating something beautiful and memorable. Inspiring and highly recommended!
Seen the show? Share your thoughts in the comments!
Today is Black Friday, the big sales and discounts shopping day which, confusingly, we borrowed from the US. Black Friday is an American invention — the day after Thanksgiving and the “official” start of the Christmas buying season. Britain doesn’t celebrate Thanksgiving so it seems silly to adopt Black Friday. It’s not like we are short on our own mince-pie-and-mulled-wine Christmas rituals.
Since there is no avoiding the hype let’s use it to our advantage. Yoga teaches us to be open and mindful. The pressure to buy-buy-buy is an opportunity for us to think about what we really want, what we need, and the gifts we already have.
Before you make a Christmas shopping list, or a wish list, take some time to meditate.
By the time you’ve meditated on these things you might discover you’ve lost the urge to elbow through a crowd in order to buy a new espresso machine, or party outfit.
There is nothing wrong with material goods. Giving and receiving gifts can be a pleasure. But that’s what it should be: A pleasure. Not something you feel compelled to do because there are only 31 shopping days till Christmas.
What is on your list? Share in the comments.
Nothing is nicer on a chilly day than a piping hot serving of roast veg. It is one of the simplest ways to cook vegetables: just chop, toss in a bit of oil and pop in a very hot oven.
You can use pretty much any combination of root vegetables like potatoes, sweet potatoes, swedes, carrots, parsnips and beetroot, squash, mushrooms and Brussels sprouts. Add some cauliflower, broccoli, kale or baby gem lettuce and you have a nutritious “rainbow” meal.
Put the firmest, driest veg, like swedes, potatoes and parsnips in the oven first. Add tender veg like mushrooms or broccoli a bit later so they don’t overcook and get mushy.
Change up the feel of the dish by adding different dressings and spices. You can season with balsamic vinegar, BBQ sauce, mustard or almost anything you like. One of my favourite toppings is to drizzle with tahini, squeeze over some lemon juice and add a touch of hot sauce.
Share your favourite roast veggie combo + topping in the comments!
Photo: Christopher Hirsheimer
Came across a lovely piece by Vinyasa practitioner Lisa Renee. It’s called Yoga Sucks but don’t let the title fool you. It is really a wry love letter to yoga that tells the (funny) truth about how some days you just don’t feel like it — but it’s always worth it.
I’m sharing a couple of my favourite paragraphs – please click to read the full piece.
First, I have to get myself out the door. Take stock of all my aches and pains, fears and misgivings and decide if today is a good day for yoga. A good day for 90 minutes of minor pains and difficult contortions, cramping and effort.
It isn’t, but I go anyway.
Sometimes it all kind of sucks, from start to finish. The knee hurts, there’s no balance, the mind chatters manically, I forget to breathe. Some days, I drag myself across the finish line dizzy and sore and wonder who exactly I think I am, at this advanced age, doing these odd strenuous things.
But some days — most days, actually, or I probably wouldn’t go back — there’s a moment. Some days it is just a moment — one precious moment. But some days it lasts, sometimes throughout the entire class (which is glorious and not to be forgotten). It is a moment when things click. The breath, the body, the mind, the music, the group — it clicks and soars. It’s an odd divine synergy of the body and mind that makes me feel strong and flexible, clear and grounded.
Okay, I know that sounds like yoga teacher bullshit and it kind of is. But it really happens. Like I said, sometimes fleeting, sometimes a 90-minute glow that I carry home with me. It’s like a thread of light and strength running from my feet to the crown of my head and I feel like everything will be okay.
Share your thoughts in the comments!
You can literally get through anything in your life as long as you keep breathing. There are numerous benefits beyond basic survival though, which we can access through yoga.
Breathing practice in yoga is called Pranayama. There are various types of yoga breathing designed to calm, cleanse, energise and more. You can do Pranayama breathing anywhere so it is a great way to maintain your practice if you don’t have the time or space to do asanas (postures). Here are seven reasons to do Pranayama every day.
Regular Pranayama practice increases your lung capacity by making your lungs more flexible and elastic. This can especially help respiratory problems like asthma.
Stress and toxins attack our immune system, and breathing is a tool to fight them both. When we practice Pranayama we expel stale air and toxins and make way for fresh, oxygenated air. Rhythmic breathing also reduces the effect of stress.
Pranayama invigorates the body by flushing out carbon dioxide and infusing the bloodstream with fresh oxygen. It is a fast pick-me-up no matter where you are.
Mindful deep breathing brings us into alignment with our bodies. We become more aware of the function of our lungs, heart, veins and muscles, and how everything works together.
We can get caught up in mental feedback loops, brains chattering about things we want to do, or wish we hadn’t done. Pranayama grounds us and quiets repetitive thoughts.
Breathing is essential to good digestive function. It provides the oxygen needed to fuel cellular processes and creates a relaxed environment to ease digestion.
Pranayama breathing is a great way to keep or restore perspective and balance. When you are overwhelmed deep, regular breathing calms your nervous system and helps you maintain a level emotional state.
Questions or comments? Please share in the comment section
Yoga is something we do for ourselves — it is also something we do for other people.
Lucy Edge blogged at Elephant Journal about the yoga of friendship, writing:
I wonder if perhaps we yogis make friends so easily because yoga slowly peels back the layers of self protection – we gradually drop our notions of who we ought to be, or who we want to be, and we stop worrying about others’ notions of who we ought to be or want to be. Sooner or later it begins to transform our relationship with ourselves, and in so doing it transforms our relationships with other people.
It makes sense. While yoga is a solitary pursuit in some aspects, it is also a practice that brings us into a community of like-minded people, in a space without judgement. As we strive to do our best and move towards “unity” with ourselves, we are also cultivating the attitude and open-heartedness we need to foster unity with other people. Yoga teaches us skills that promote the forming of deep, meaningful friendships.
Many (most?) of my dearest friends are fellow yogis — whether students, teachers, or classmates. Every year Yoga Holiday With Paul brings together a mixed group of yogis, many of them strangers, and by the end of the week everyone is fast friends! It isn’t just the holiday atmosphere either. I always get a kick out seeing people hang out in the studio before and after class, taking the time to greet each other and catch up. Even when students only see each other a couple of times a week, or have a few minutes to chat, there is a real warmth and connection.
I’d love to hear your stories of friendships formed in the yoga studio! Please share in the comments.
Yes, you read the title right: Apple chickpea veggie burgers! Seasonal eating doesn’t mean you have to eat the same fruit or vegetable every day, prepared the same way, until you’re sick of the sight of it. Recipes like this fantastic, creative veggie burger prove that eating what’s ripe and ready doesn’t have to be boring. For 19 more great apple ideas you’ve never imagine read the original post on Brit.co.
The original recipe follows — if you want to make it gluten free you can substitute tamari for soy sauce and replace the panko with crumbled gluten free bread, or maybe some coarse-ground walnuts.
Share your favourite apple recipe in the comments!
The V&A is always putting on spectacular exhibitions and Undressed – A Brief History of Underwear is no exception. Whether you love fashion, underwear, or both, it is a sumptuous, sexy, fascinating look at the evolution of underclothes.
According to the V&A site:
This exhibition tells the story of underwear design from the 18th century to the present day. It explores the intimate relationship between underwear and fashion and its role in moulding the body to a fashionable ideal. Underwear is sometimes controversial, sparking debates about health and hygiene, body image and stereotyping. Its cut, fit, fabric and decoration reflect changing attitudes to gender, sex and morality; shifting notions of public and private; and innovations in fabric technology and design.
You don’t have to be interested in the politics and social semantics to enjoy the incredible designs though. It’s a fun look at how fashion changes with the times, and how one era’s undergarments become another generation’s streetwear!
Event or exhibition recommendations? Please share in the comments!
Last month’s top post was the positive effects of backbends so I thought it would be nice to begin November with a look at the benefits of forward bends!
The first and most important function of forward bends is to lengthen the spine, relieving the pressure of long hours sitting or standing. Here are four more important benefits
Forward bends massage the digestive organs, increasing efficiency and function. Seated or standing forward folds are a great way to gently wake up your digestion in the morning, and are soothing at the end of the day.
If you can’t touch your toes, it’s time to spend more time on forward bends. They gradually relax and stretch your hamstrings and connective tissue so your flexibility improves. Flexing your quads provides the necessary counter-tension for a safe stretch, and builds strength and stability in the knee.
Drawing in the belly to the spine increases your reach in forward folds and powers up your core. Regular practice cultivates the habit of keeping your tummy nice and tight, which encourages better posture, as well as building strength for more challenging yoga moves.
Forward bends have a calming effect and invigorate the nervous system. Half-tortoise pose is an excellent posture to alleviate insomnia or anxiety. Rabbit pose stretches and soothes the spine. If you need a quick fix, a simple standing forward fold will loosen and relax your body to release stress, fatigue or anxiousness.
What’s your favourite forward fold? Share in the comments?