One of my favorite unexpected yoga experiences has been my yoga photography by the amazing Yvonne Catterson. I was given this as a present by my husband to help start my yoga business. Social media can show you so many images of advanced practitioners so although I was grateful I was also a bit scared about the whole thing.
During the teacher training you get so much more depth into what yoga is and what the purpose is (union of the mind and the body through breath), how can you demonstrate this by showing pictures of yourself in postures?
Yvonne is a professional photographer and has worked for many distinguished magazines, design magazines and record labels. She does yoga herself – I got to know her via my yoga teacher Nancy Campbell – so she immediately understood the postures I would like to show and had some good additional suggestions. She has a lovely gentle and honest way to her so I felt I could voice my concerns.
On the day I found – so unexpectedly- it was a lovely experience rather than something to be worried about or it just being business thing. I would definitely recommend it and see it an experience. Finally, have a good stretch out afterwards and balance out as you mainly do the postures on one side.
In Yoga we have the Yamas and Niyamas as a way to guide us for living. Being kind to others (Ahimsa) is the first principle with non violence as another description. For me diet ie what we put into ourselves falls into this category. I have to be really careful with my blood sugar levels. I don’t have diabetes but I do get massive mood swings a few hours after I eat too much sugar.
I might get shaky and might get “hangry” (hungry and angry) even. Not nice for myself and specially not nice for the people around me. So I try to eat low GI when possible (physically ie if it’s available and mentally ie when I have enough mental energy).
Breakfast can be a time when you want a quick solution and cereal is ideal. If I have a bit more time, I might have avocado and a boiled egg OR a grated courgette omelette. I love granola on my yoghurt for a quick filling solution but it usually contains sugar when shop bought or even the healthy recipes contains things that raise blood sugar. Like banana or even medium to low GI like honey. apple, maple syrup and agave. but its still a concentrated source of carbohydrates and we should eat them in moderation.
So I have tweaked a few recipes I have come across and created my own using cinnamon and ginger to sweeten a little. So I can start the day as I mean to go on.. and that’s yoga too.
2 cups raw oats, preferably gluten free
1 cup of raw nuts, chopped (any selection. This time I used: walnuts, pecans and almonds and macedemia nuts)
1 cup of raw nuts, chopped (This time i used cashew nuts)
¾ cup of mixed seeds (any selection. This time I used: sesame seeds, flaxseeds and chai seeds)
1 cup of coconut flakes
1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon of grated ginger
2 tablespoons of coconut oil (melted)
pinch of salt
Preheat the oven at 180 degrees Celsius.
Mix all the ingredients together
in a big mixing bowl.
Spread the mixture in a thin layer on
a oven tray and put in pre-heated oven for 20 min, until lightly toasted. Stir
the mixture every 4-5 minutes to prevent burning.
Cool before serving or storing. This
can be kept for 2 weeks in air tight container.
Early July 2018 I made a beautiful physical and emotional journey to the Sivananda centre in Dalat, Vietnam.
The physical journey began a month before when traveling with my family to Asia. We had already spend a month together and, although we all love each other, a bit of space between us was needed. So I booked myself into a retreat and set off from Nha Trang. We had traveled along the coast on the train from Hanoi to Nha Trang in stages, but this part of the journey was by bus/ coach. There are many places you can book this but I ran into a bit of trouble trying to book it last thing in the day for the next morning. So my advice to give yourself a bit of time to book it. I went at midday the next day so still a good time but it just meant I missed the yoga session at the end of the Friday. The bus journey was so interesting with lots of Vietnamese people and no other Europeans and little English spoken. We went into the mountains with some amazing views back to the coast. The weather is a lot cooler in Dalat and the rain came during the journey (bring jumpers!).
The emotional journey is more difficult to describe. Firstly there is a set programme – see below – which keeps you busy the whole day with some free time available (to sleep!). Through structure, I found so much peace and realised I am were we need to be and we are whole as we are. The day starts with Satsang, sitting in silent meditation, singing and lead by the Swami a little chat. The singing is so uplifting and gives a real sense of community and belonging. A little food followed by 2 hours of beautiful yoga. I really liked the Sivananda yoga. It’s Hatha yoga with lots of savasana’s instead of my usual down dogs to recover. It’s also got a lot of challenging postures like headstand and then others depending on the teacher. You can see the rest of the schedule below. A specific highlight was the Satsang on the mountain one morning to see the sun rise. It was an incredible early start at 4.30am but definitely worth it.
The Sivananda principles show the beauty of the yoga system and thats it’s a full system to support our daily life. We can try this through other ways but if you look closely at yoga, it offers you all the answers. Here are the principles:
Proper Exercise: Asana
Proper Breathing: Pranayama
Proper Relaxation: Savasana
Proper Diet: Vegetarian
Positive Thinking & Meditation
I would really recommend to go tho this retreat when you are in Asia. There are some centres in Europe too which I am hoping to visit in the future. Its such a beautiful community and I would really like to support them. To book your retreat, go to their website : sivanandayogavietnam.org
If you practice with me, you will find the influences from this retreat are now reflected in my teaching so thats a good alternative!