Your monthly round up of yoga, recipes, inspiration and more!
Go deep in your practice with my Bikram masterclass at Bikram Yoga Fleet this Saturday, 20 May, 11AM-1PM.
Come join in! Don’t be intimidated by the term “masterclass” — all levels are welcome and you will benefit no matter where you are in your journey as a yogi.
We will focus on key elements such as the breath that initiates the movement and deepens the posture. We will also explore the bandhas and how important they are to the Hatha yoga practice.
See you then!⠀
I’m partial to chocolate, especially when it comes with added comfort and health benefits! This “Mayan Spiced” vegan hot chocolate is packed with good-for-you ingredients. Chocolate itself is rich in antioxidants; cinnamon helps regulate blood sugar; cayenne has anti-inflammatory properties; coconut milk has medium-chain fatty acids which your body can easily burn for fuel (valuable on chilly winter days!) As a bonus, adding a pinch of salt replenishes electrolytes lost through sweat in the hot room. This is a simple, indulgent treat that is great for your body.
Thanks to Minimalist Baker for the recipe + photo.
Creamy, sultry vegan drinking chocolate made with dairy-free milk, dark chocolate and a blend of Mayan spices. An indulgent, dairy- and -gluten free dessert in 15 minutes.
Cuisine: VeganServes: 4Ingredients
- 2 cups non-dairy milk (I use 1 cup full fat coconut + 1 cup unsweetened almond milk)
- 5 ounces (~1 cup) dairy free dark chocolate, chopped (70% cacao is best)
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp cayenne (more or less, depending on preferred spice)
- Pinch nutmeg (optional)
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 1-2 Tbsp raw cane or coconut sugar (optional)
- Coconut whipped cream for toppingInstructions
- Add coconut and almond milk to a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Add dark chocolate and whisk to combine.
- Add spices and whisk vigorously to combine.
- Once chocolate is completely melted, remove from heat and add vanilla extract. Whisk to combine. Taste and adjust flavors as needed, adding sugar or sweetener of choice if not sweet enough. Add more cayenne for kick.
- To serve, top with coconut whipped cream, a dusting of cocoa or cacao powder (optional), and any additional spices and/or chocolate desired.
- Store leftover drinking chocolate covered in the refrigerator for up to a few days. Freeze for longer term storage, though best when fresh.
Share your favourite winter treat recipe in the comments!
Head-to-knee pose, aka Janushirasana with Paschimotthanasana, is the next-to-last posture in the Bikram sequence. Which makes it easy to check out during, especially if you’re new to the practice and all you can think about is getting to the final sivasana.
There are only 26 postures in Bikram yoga, however, and each one is important and part of the sequence for a reason. Head to Knee has many specific benefits. It is good for digestion, immune system and thyroid, as well as boosting liver and pancreas function. Remember: it is a compression posture, like separate leg head to knee. It has the added benefit of being seated so you don’t have to worry about balance and can concentrate on perfecting the posture. It also provides a fantastic secondary stretch for your back and legs – especially the Achilles tendon and hamstrings.
Here are five tips for getting the most from head to knee pose:
Questions about head to knee posture? Ask in the comments!
The essential practice of Bikram, or any yoga, is simple: never quit.
We all have moments, days, or even weeks sometimes, when we think “I want to quit.” Yoga is too hard. Life is too busy. We have jobs, partners, kids, debts, commitments, houses, pets and our sanity to look after.
Sometimes yoga feels like one more line on a never-ending to do list. In those moments it can be tempting to quit. But yoga teaches us that quitting is not a solution. If we quit yoga when the going gets tough we are putting down the one tool that can help us hack through the jungle of stress and strife and come out smiling on the other side.
Yoga is where we hone our minds and bodies. It is where we return to ourselves. It is where we learn to breathe, be in the moment, and let go of external things. Yoga is also where we find community. Even if we dash in and out of the studio, we spend 90 minutes in a room with people who share positive energy and affirm the power of our practice.
Quitting is a temporary fix, like getting drunk after a bad week. But you wake up with a hangover, and feel worse than before.
If you are truly struggling for time and energy to practice yoga, it is better to modify, adjust, reschedule, or practice at home. Don’t quit on the one thing that will, over time, build a stronger mind, body, and spirit.
Have you ever quit yoga? What did it feel like?
Practice means two things in the yoga studio: we practice the poses to go deeper in our practice.
This sounds like a grammatical riddle but it is simple. Whether you’re a seasoned yogi or a new practitioner, this two-part practice is what you have to do to let yoga change your life.
Yoga can and will change your life. But not on its own. You have to show up, be present, make the effort. Practice means doing yoga when you don’t feel like it. Pushing deeper in a posture than you think you can. It also means being patient with yourself when you are awkward, stiff or in a bad mood.
Some people think yoga practice should wipe away all your problems so you float through the day on a cloud of bliss. I don’t agree. Yoga can lift your spirits and give you a brighter perspective but dedicated practice gives you something more valuable: the strength to face challenges and the courage be true to yourself in hard situations.
Practice is a discipline. And its reward is both self-confidence and self-forgetfulness. When you go deep into a posture you forget everything else: you are only focused on the moment. Repeating this moment over and over, class after class, balances you spiritually and emotionally. Practice gives you a new way of looking at the world and your place in it.
The beauty of yoga is that there is no deadline. We don’t have to achieve this awareness in one class, or 10, or 1000. We only have to practice.
How has yoga practice changed your perspective? Share in the comments.
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!
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!