Over the summer I took a trip to Peterborough Cathedral (well actually 2 because the first time we got the date wrong!) to see an installation of a model of the Earth, “Gaia”. It was a fantastic sight especially as the light faded. The 7 meter diameter model gently rotated and was a view of the Earth from space using detailed imagery provided by NASA.
I know we have all seen this stuff on the TV, but to be in the presence of our planet looking up at it and down on it was an incredible experience. Just to see how much water we have on the Earth’s surface was a surprise to me and how tiny the UK actually is.
The model is awe inspiring – it was wonderful to spend time sitting quietly and reflecting on the natural wonders of our world. It made me feel very humble.
On Saturday 14th September 2019 I joined in the 2nd Moonlight Walk of 10 k around Stamford. This was in aid of St Barnabas Hospice in Lincoln. St Barnabas is a very worthwhile charity giving care to people with life limiting or terminal conditions. Besides their palliative care they give vital support to families and those suffering from dementia.
I walked in remembrance of my Dad who died shortly after being diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour a couple of years ago. He lived in France where they have no such hospice availability and my Mum looked after him at home. It was extremely traumatic. I now value the support that the hospice charities give so much. Should the need arise any support you can get at such a dreadful time is worth it’s weight in gold. If you feel able to donate even just £1, please follow the link to my JustGiving page.
I can’t get enough of this salsa! I first tasted it on a ‘Safari Supper’ at a neighbours house in our village – she served it with salmon steaks. Since she gave me the recipe I have slightly adapted it and served it up on top of toast and with a jacket potato! It’s a really great way to eat your fruit and veg.
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 mango, peeled and chopped
2 avocados, chopped
1 chilli, seeded and chopped (chilli flakes or chilli oil)
The juice of 1 or 2 limes
2 tbsp fresh cilantro (coriander), chopped
salt, black pepper, olive oil to taste
Put it in a bowl and mix up. Leave it in the fridge if you have time for the flavours to develop. It is probably nice the next day too, but ours doesn’t last that long.
Top Tip – for those green fingers out there – grow your own cilantro (coriander). Get cilantro seeds because the coriander seed is to grow coriander seed heads (used in Indian/eastern recipes) and the plant grown for it’s leaf is cilantro. It tastes 100% better than it’s shop bought cousin and you really only need a bit, the flavour is so powerful.
One of the great things that yoga teaches us is that we are not our thoughts. Thoughts are just thoughts – they are invisible and intangible and yet have great power over our lives. When you gain control over your thoughts you can change them at will – it is easier said than done – but recognising negative thoughts when they arise can go a long way to prevent ourselves from spiralling off in a negative direction.
“When obstructive thoughts arise, practice the opposite thought.”
(from Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra 2:33)
Meditation on the Opposite (read through a couple of time and then try a practice)
Sit in a comfortable meditation position. Watch the breath for a while – feel the softening of the body with each gentle exhalation.
Allow a thought (something that is bothering you) to come into your mind and feel the accompanying sensations in your body – eg ‘ I should have done that differently’, ‘I’m not good enough’, ‘I’m powerless’. Notice where and what you feel in your body – tightness in your tummy, heart, throat? Heaviness? Sadness?
Now consider a thought that would be opposite – eg ‘I did my best’, ‘I’m OK as I am’, ‘I am capable’. Bring into your mind a time or incident when this was how you felt. Review your physical sensations now – how does that feel? – relaxed? open? excited?
Take your time and don’t dwell for too long. It’s enough to begin with to appreciate the affect of a negative thought on our body/being. Spending time cultivating the opposites in this way affirms a positive approach to thinking and dealing with our thoughts as if they are separate from us. SMILE to end the meditation and be grateful that you have taken a little time to spend on this work for yourself.
Heal is a documentary film about the connection between stress and illness. It shows how the mind and the body can affect each other when they are out of kilter. It is a very life affirming film. Many examples are used where giving the mind and body the right conditions/therapy has had tremendous healing power. It’s well worth a watch.
You can find the film on Netflix if you are a member or buy it on Youtube. Below is a trailer from youtube.
This term we’ll continue our tour of body parts… having explored our FEET, LEGS and HIPS we now move onto the BACK.
We’ll be revisiting the structure of the spine and have a really great sequence of postures that will strengthen and stretch out the back – from the bottom to the top.
At the end of term I will give out the sequence in diagram form so that you can continue to practice at home – I think this sequence is one of the best things you can do to avoid a bad back! Great news for all that gardening that awaits us during this Spring Season.
In the 90 minute Yoga classes we’ll continue the theme of ‘Opposites’. Our next set of lessons drawing inspiration from the text of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras –
“sthira sukham asanam” (II:46)
Which is translated to mean ‘the posture is firm and soft’.
With these 2 things in mind we will look at a variety of postures including the Tiger, the Pigeon and a very deep backbend called the Melting Heart pose. Hopefully balancing the firmness and softness both on a physical and mental level. Challenging!
All of our posture work will help to strengthen and stretch our whole bodies so that we can enjoy stability and ease at all times in our lives.
Our focus in Pranayama will continue to develop Kapalbhati and the guided relaxations will aim to connect us all to the gentle and soft sides of our nature.
In the yoga classes last term we explored the feelings of movement and stillness. There were complicated movements that really got our minds concentrating, simple flowing movements and then bringing the body to stillness – standing, seated and lying on the front and back of the body. And we asked ourselves… can we ever be really still?
In the yogic teachings we are guided to bring the body to stillness to help bring the mind to stillness. Within the Pranayama (control of the breath) practice we observe the points at the ends of the inhale and exhale – where the tide of air changes direction. It is here that our body can be stiller, in this pause, which is called the Kumbhaka.
Try this simple practice – sitting in a comfortable position, breathe in and out through the nose, smooth 3 part breathing if you are familiar with it. Count 5 for the inhale and 5 for the exhale. Watch for the pauses at the end of the inhale and exhale (don’t feel as though you are holding the breath, just let the pauses feel like natural pauses). Practice for about 5 minutes. Watch for the spaces to arise, feeling the stillness in your body and your mind. If you feel dizzy at any time stop the practice. It should feel comfortable and relaxing.
If you have blood pressure issues it’s best to work under the guidance of a teacher rather than on your own with this kind of work.
We had a lovely time on Monday at the first ever class at Exton Village Hall. It was warm and bright and everyone was very smiley.
What a super welcome to yoga at Exton – I’m really looking forward to working there – thank you to everyone xxx
Well at last dry January is almost over… and so far I can’t say that I’ve felt any benefit whatsoever. My husband has managed to stay awake at night time and so he doesn’t miss the last 10 minutes of every tv programme ; ) but that’s about the only benefit we’ve found.
I felt convinced that my liver would feel clean and my skin glow, but it just hasn’t been the case. My body hasn’t craved alcohol but I have felt denied. It has been a good time to explore non- alcoholic drinks but I find that many contain too much sugar for my taste. Give me a nice glass of red wine any day!
In the yogic tradition good food and drink is thought to be that which still has ‘life force’ or prana in it. Ie a tomato picked straight from the garden. Also given as an example is beer and wine as it has the yeast which is a live organism in it.
Anyway, as part of my clean living January, I thought I’d try to make my own gin syrup, a healthy alternative for January. So I tried a rose hip syrup and juniper berry infusion. It’s not gin, but it’s not that bad and on the positive side it contains ingredients that might do you some good! The vitamin C (high in rose hips) may help to fend off colds. Juniper berries can be good for you in small quantities helping the digestive tract and acting as an antioxidant. They are not advised for pregnant ladies or people taking prescription medication though – so if you do decide to give this a try please look up the health benefits and precautions of taking juniper here https://www.indigo-herbs.co.uk/natural-health-guide/benefits/juniper-berry
200 ml Rose Hip Syrup
2 desert spoons of Juniper berries
1 Chai tea bag
Pour the syrup into a small saucepan and then fill up the bottle twice and add the water to the pan (400 ml)
Grind up the junipers in a mortar and pestle for a bit (until your arm aches) so that the berries are quite squashed and release their fragrance. Add them to the pan.
Drop in the tea bag and heat stirring all the time. Do not let the mixture boil, but wait until you can see a bit of vapour coming off. Turn off the heat or move to a warm spot and leave the mixture to infuse for a couple of hours. Strain off and bottle. Keep in the fridge and use within a month.
To serve – place lots of ice into a glass, add your gin syrup, tonic water and slices of lemon and orange. Toast – GOOD HEALTH!