Your monthly round up of yoga, recipes, inspiration and more!
Holidays carry a lot of expectations and cause a lot of let downs.
Philosophers, yogis and enlightened minds have spent millennia telling humanity that the path to happiness and peace is to let go of desire and expectations and enjoy life. This is harder than it sounds. Which is why they’re still teaching it, and most of us still struggle to let go of expectations.
Wanting things to be perfect is a guaranteed way to be disappointed. Nothing is going to be perfect. Weather isn’t perfect, trains aren’t perfect, events aren’t perfect and people sure aren’t perfect. Relax. Accept and appreciate things as they are.
When you feel you deserve something, whether it’s a table at your favourite restaurant or your partner’s undivided attention, you are going to be frustrated if that doesn’t work out. Think in terms of gifts, or blessings, instead of entitlement. Gratitude makes good moments even better.
Holidays are supposed to be happy and jolly, right? But they also tend to bring more noise, bustle, and disruption. It is easy to get angry at these inconveniences but in doing so, we lose our happiness. Appreciate the happy commotion if you can; if you crave solitude, you can always treat yourself to an extra yoga class!
There is a thin line between love and attachment. Whether it’s a person or your favourite latte, if you start to feel you cannot live without it creates anxiety. What will happen if they go? The key to separating love and attachment is to cultivate self-confidence. Knowing you can handle whatever life throws at you enables you to cherish the things you love without relying on them for your sense of well being.
We all face uncertainty, loss and difficulties at times and fear is a natural response. It is important to resist getting stuck in fear though. Through yoga, meditation and study we learn to push through imitations. We cultivate compassion and courage. Ultimately, we discover that the universe is bigger than fear, and we can rise above it.
What would you give up for a happy holiday? Share your thoughts in the comments!
Yoga involves a lot of stretching. So a lot of people think yoga is stretching. Organised stretching, occasionally accompanied by music, or chanting, but still stretching.
This raises the question: why buy a mat, special clothes, and spend time and money getting to a studio for yoga when you could just stretch?
As someone who came to yoga later in life, after a career in dancing, I have done all kinds of stretching and exercises regimes. The difference with yoga, is it is designed to stretched you body and mind. Remember, yoga means “unity”. Yogis practiced the physical postures in order to achieve deeper states of meditation.
Yoga was never just about being able to touch your toes, or do the splits, it was about challenging mind and body to be more open and flexible.
In the West yoga is not as deeply rooted in spirituality. Some styles or teachers focus more on the mind and spirit element; many treat it like an exercise class, so students are not aware of the history and spiritual element of yoga.
Teaching or doing yoga purely for the physical benefits is fine, but it only gives you a part of the whole picture. Yoga is a practice that includes mental, intellectual, spiritual, and physical elements.
When you go to a studio, or roll out your mat at home to do sun salutations, you’re not just stretching your physical body, you are creating space in your heart and mind. The more you do this, the greater the flexibility you’ll find towards all the challenges of life.
If that’s not worth devoting time to, I don’t know what is!
How does yoga stretch you? Share in the comments.
Peaches are in their prime right now. As are avocados. What could be better than a salad that combines the two?
On the Yoga Holiday With Paul retreat we were lucky enough to have fabulous, fresh vegan catering that reminded us all how wonderful it is to eat ripe, seasonal produce.
It inspired me to look out for new ways to enjoy my favourite fruits, hence this fun chilli-infused recipe for peach and avocado salad via Country Living. It’s from a collection of 56 peach recipes, so be sure to check the rest out for even more inspiration!
What’s your favourite way to eat a peach? Share in the comments!
This year we did yoga nidra for the first time on the Yoga Holiday With Paul retreat.
Yoga nidra is a profound guided meditation that takes you into deep into the mind. You do the practice lying in savasana, so it is very relaxing. When we did it about half the class fell asleep. Which is fine! We laughed about it afterward.
The beauty of yoga nidra is it gives you a chance to really let go and connect. Because it is a guided meditation it is a very gentle way to begin, or return to meditating. Lying in savasana calms the body and makes this easy to do in any circumstance. You can even do it in bed, before you fall asleep!
Yoga Nidra Network has a collection of free nidras to introduce you to the practice. This is a wonderful way to quiet your mind and body after a busy week, or to relieve tension and anxiety.
Please try them and share your favourite in the comments!
It is always a treat to visit Belgium. In addition to seeing family, yoga, and the lovely weather, I went to a Steve McCurry photography exhibition at the Exchange, the gorgeous old building that used to house the stock exchange in Brussels.
Steve McCurry is an American photographer and photojournalist who has been documenting the world in its rich complexity for more than 35 years.
The exhibition is called The World of Steve McCurry and featured more than 200 large-format photos. Even if you’ve never heard his name, you’ll recognise at least one of McCurry’s photos — the striking portrait of the Afghan girl that has become a cultural icon since it first appeared in National Geographic in 1984.
This portrait is a great example of what is so extraordinary about his work. McCurry steps into his subjects’ lives with a great deal of humility. He captures them as they are, going about daily life, or contemplating, or whatever the action may be.
There is so much beauty in the details of each photo, so much colour, light and texture. Some artists go looking for beauty. McCurry looks for life and captures the beauty that is already there. Visiting the exhibition put me in a meditative mindset. We really aren’t in control of our surroundings but if we’re willing to look at them closely, without judgement, we can encounter something precious.
If you get a chance, go see it! Or treat yourself to one of his stunning books.
Seen a great exhibition lately? Share in the comments or Tweet @YogaWithPaul
Red, orange, yellow and green peppers are in season right now. Though available year-round, peppers eaten at the peak of freshness have more vitamins and nutrients — and taste better!
Sliced raw peppers are great for dipping in hummus, or adding to wraps or salads. If you want to get inspired to make a full meal, though, think stuffed peppers.
Brit + Co has a great post with 21 stuffed pepper recipes. One that jumped out for me was barley, plantain, black bean and harissa stuffed peppers. It’s the perfect culture clash! Check out the ingredient list below, and click here for 20 more great stuffed pepper ideas.
This recipe makes 5 stuffed peppers.
Share your favourite pepper recipe in the comments!
Self-care. Would you believe that in all the years of Yoga With Paul blog, I’ve never written a post with “self-care” in the title.
In a sense, the whole blog is about self-care, so you could say there is no need to spell it out. On the other hand, self-care is something we should be consciously embracing.
Why? Because otherwise self-care can turn from something positive into just another line on the to-do list. What I mean is, when we make a decision to take care of ourselves by going to yoga, eating clean, meditating, or taking time to do an activity we love, it enhances our well-being. We go to yoga with the intention of healing and energising our bodies. We eat choose wholesome food to build us up. And so forth.
If we forget about self-care, yoga becomes another task, eating right is just a duty, hobbies get shoved aside because we’re too busy or too tired.
In other words, intention is everything.
When we approach our life and practice with the intention of self-care we experience the world differently. By being aware and respectful of our own needs, we become more sensitive to the needs of people around us. We learn to slow down and not judge.
What’s your favourite self-care treat? Share in the comments or Tweet @YogaWithPaul
We care for our bodies through our physical yoga practice, and what we choose to eat and drink. Unfortunately we live in a time and place where we are bombarded by chemicals. Even if we eat organic foods and use organic products, we still have to be careful about hidden toxins in the air, water and even packaging. One key area of concern is plastic water bottles. In the height of summer and we all need to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. We also need to make sure we’re not unwittingly loading our bodies with toxic chemicals.
The Independent ran an article recently on the dangers of BPAs, which are found in a lot of hard-plastic “reusable” water bottles. BPA stands for Bisphenol A, a substance found in many plastics, that is a known to mess with the delicate balance of our body’s hormones.
According to Science – How Stuff Works:
BPA is a difficult substance to nail down; it doesn’t behave like a typical toxin. While other chemicals labeled as toxic have clear-cut impacts (asbestos exposure leads to cancer, lead poisoning causes reduced mental capacity), BPA is sneakier. Rather than harm the body outright, BPA is an endocrine disruptor. It changes the way our body’s hormones function, mimicking our own natural hormones — in this case, estrogen.
Estrogen can alter the behavior of more than 200 genes, which control the growth and repair of nearly every organ and tissue in the body [source: Environmental Working Group]. Among other things, estrogen affects fetal development, cell structure and the onset of puberty, and your body’s cells are highly sensitive to even tiny changes in estrogen levels.
According to this article, “As of 2005, 94 of 115 peer-reviewed studies confirmed BPA’s toxicity [source: Page].”
That sounds like a compelling case for not drinking out of plastic bottles!
The good news, if you can’t give up the convenience of grab-and-go water before or after class, is that disposable plastic bottles don’t usually contain BPA. But they do have a huge environmental footprint.
A better alternative is to invest in a reusable glass or steel water bottle, or seek out a BPA-free plastic bottle. If you’re not sure what to buy, you can check out The Independent’s Top 10 guide to BPA-free bottles in a range of shapes and prices.
Recommend your favourite reusable water bottle in the comments!