Summer Food: Peach & Avocado Salad

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Peaches are in their prime right now. As are avocados. What could be better than a salad that combines the two?

peaches

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!

Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tsp. pure honey
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 hot chilli, thinly sliced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 ripe but firm peaches, cut into wedges
  • 2 avocados, pitted and cut into wedges
  • large handful fresh mint, torn, plus more for garnish
  • 60g roasted pistachios, chopped

Preparation

  1. Shake together the lemon juice, oil and honey.
  2. Add the chopped shallot and chilli. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Toss the sliced peaches in the mixture and let sit for up to an hour.
  4. Just before serving mix in avocados and mint.
  5. Toss, season and serve garnished with mint and pistachios.

What’s your favourite way to eat a peach? Share in the comments!

photo credit: alh1 Beningbrough Hall gardens via photopin (license)

Yoga Nidra

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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.

nidra

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!

 

The World of Steve McCurry

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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. SMC5

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.

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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

Seasonal Food: Stuffed Peppers

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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.

Barley, Plantain, Black bean and Harissa Stuffed Peppers

This recipe makes 5 stuffed peppers.

Ingredients:

  • 5 big bell peppers
  • 100g barley (use quinoa or millet for a gluten free option)
  • 625ml vegetable stock
  • 2 ripe plantains, finely chopped
  • 130grs of canned black beans, drained
  • 4 tablespoons of chopped coriander
  • 4 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon of harissa
  • Pinch of celery salt
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Cayenne

Click here for instructions

Share your favourite pepper recipe in the comments!

5 Step Self-Care Challenge

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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.self-care

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.

Here’s my 5-step self-care challenge:

  1. Make a self-care inventory: What keeps you healthy, happy and sane?
  2. Write a list.
  3. Stick it someplace you can see it.
  4. Next time you’re struggling, read that list and pick one thing to do for yourself.
  5. Repeat as needed.

What’s your favourite self-care treat? Share in the comments or Tweet @YogaWithPaul

Clean Drinking – Water Bottles

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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.

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Choose a BPA free bottle

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].”

brita

Brita includes a built-in filter

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!

#YWP July Newsletter

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Our monthly round-up of yoga inspiration and so much more.

Read, share, be inspired! Yoga With Paul newsletter JUL 2017

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Have fun with yoga!

 

Balasana – Child’s Pose

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Looking back over the past few months I noticed lots of posts about vigorous yoga poses like handstand but not so many about restorative postures. These are just as important as the more demanding postures because they create balance in our practice. So today let’s take a look at balasana — child’s pose — which is a fantastic posture you can do any time you need a break, in the studio or out.

Four steps to do child’s pose

  1. Kneel on your mat with your legs and feet together. Sit on your heels.
  2. Separate your knees to hip-width apart.
  3. Stretch forward on the exhale laying your torso between your thighs and resting your forehead on the mat. Feel your tailbone lengthening away from the pelvis.
  4. Bring your arms back so they are resting alongside your thighs, palms facing upwards. Let gravity pull the front of your shoulders down, stretching your shoulder blades.

Four reasons to do child’s pose

  1. Stretch your back. Sitting and standing compress the spine. Child’s pose is a natural, gentle stretch that creates space in your spine, allowing it to rejuvenate and soothing any pain.
  2. Deep relaxation for your mind. Resting your forehead on the floor “closes” your third eye, which helps to calm your mind. Child’s pose is a great posture to do before and after meditation to silence mental chatter.
  3. Improves digestion. Child’s pose is a forward bend that massages the internal organs. You can increase the benefit by bringing your legs closer so there is more contact with your abdomen.
  4. Deepen your spiritual practice. When we spend a lot of time doing energetic practices like vinyasa flow or hot yoga it is easy to get goal-orientated, always trying to push deeper, or add a new posture. Balasana reminds us that yoga is a moving meditation, and we need to allow time for our mind and body to be still and absorb the benefits of the more active postures.

 

Questions? Thoughts? Share in the comments or Tweet @YogaWithPaul

Baldwin & Buddhism – Summer Reading

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There is still plenty of time to fatten your holiday reading list, or pick up a brilliant book to whisk you away from your busy city routine. Here are a few wonderful volumes I’ve read recently and would recommend to anyone.

Another Country by James Baldwinanother country

When Another Country appeared in 1962, it caused a literary sensation. James Baldwin’s masterly story of desire, hatred and violence opens with the unforgettable character of Rufus Scott, a scavenging Harlem jazz musician adrift in New York. Self-destructive, bad and brilliant, he draws us into a Bohemian underworld pulsing with heat, music and sex, where desperate and dangerous characters betray, love and test each other to the limit.

The Forgetting Time by Sharon Guskinforgetting time

Noah is a little boy who knows things he shouldn’t and remembers things he should have forgotten. Because as well as being a four-year-old called Noah, he remembers being a nine-year-old called Tommy.

He remembers his house.
His family.
His mother.

And now he wants to go home.

The Heart of Understanding by Thich Nhat Hanh

The heart of the Prajñaparamita Sutra is regarded as the essence of Buddhist teaching, offering subtle and profound teachings on non-duality and the letting go of all preconceived notions, opinions, and attachments, and so becoming open to all the wonders of our life.heart

The Heart Sutra is recited daily in Mahayana temples and practice centers throughout the world. Thich Nhat Hanh’s translation and commentary are the fruit of the author’s more than sixty years of monastic study and practice. He describes the sutra as “a precious gift to us, the gift of fearlessness.”

The Restful Mind by Gyalwa Dokhampa

I was fortunate to meet His Emenence Gyalwa Dokhampa and be in his presence when he gave a talk to the group who went on the Bhutan retreat.

The restless mind is frightened of silence,

restful mind

easily bored, and busy, busy, busy.

The restful mind is creative and alert, relaxed and confident.

The step from one to the other is all in the way we think.

His Eminence Gyalwa Dokhampa has a real understanding of the pressures of modern life and how our crowded minds have left us too little space to stretch and grow.

He shows us new ways to calm body and mind, become more aware, better able to deal with problems and appreciate the moment.

It is with our mind that we create our world. Here’s how to open it up and let the world in.

What are you reading this summer? Share in the comments!

Fresh Summer Smoothie Ideas

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Summer and smoothies go hand in hand. Whizzing up a load of fruit gives you a fast, convenient, healthful snack that doubles as hydration to keep you going pre- or post-yoga. You can customise any recipe by using your preferred non-dairy milk and/or adding a dash of spice. Cinnamon and ginger are two of my favourite add-ins.

One tip: Chop up a few ripe bananas and pop them in the freezer. That way you always have the base for a fresh smoothie.

Here are a couple of recipes that caught my eye recently. Visit Babble for more recipes!

Pretty in Pink Grapefruit Smoothie
makes 2 servings

  • 240ml fresh squeezed pink grapefruit juice
  • 120ml white grapefruit juice (or more pink)
  • 80g frozen strawberries
  • 2 bananas (fresh or frozen)
  • Handful of ice

Blend. Pour. Garnish with fresh fruit if you like! Full recipe here

 

 

Piña-Vocado
vegan, serves 2

  • 320ml orange juice
  • 150g frozen pineapple chunks
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 1 small frozen banana (or fresh)
  • Handful of ice
  • 1/2 lime, squeezed over top smoothie, or blended in

    Blend. Serve. Sip. Smile. Full recipe here

 

Share your favourite smoothie recipe in the comments!