Friday, December 5, 2008


I'm a little late posting this seeing as both Bonfire Night and indeed November have been and gone, but I know a couple of people were interested in this recipe. This is traditional Lancashire parkin, a Bonfire Night treat, and an old family recipe (not sure how happy my dad will be if he finds out I've gone and put it on line!)

Rachel's Dad's Bonfire Night Parkin :)

100g butter or margarine
100g black treacle
200g golden syrup
100g dark brown sugar
200g self raising flour
2tsp ginger
1tsp cinnamon
1tsp bicarbonate of soda
100g oatmeal or rolled oats
1 egg
half a cup of milk

Put the oven 15o degrees C and grease and line a baking tray with baking parchment.
Heat the butter in a saucepan with the treacle, syrup and sugar until they are all melted together, then take off the heat.
Sieve together the flour, cinnamon and bicarb and then stir in oatmeal. Gradually add the cooled syrup mixture, stirring all the time and don't let it get lumpy.
Beat the egg and milk together and add that, stirring until you get a thick batter.
Pour into the baking tray and cook for about an hour. Cool and cut into squares and store in an airtight containers for about 3 days (it tastes much better if you wait). Keep in a cool dark place but NOT the fridge.

Enjoy x

Friday, October 31, 2008

It's Halloween....

So here's a recipe for pumpkin and caramelised onion tart...


Pastry (either a pre-prepared pastry tart case or make one yourself with either ready pastry or your own recipe - have it baked and ready to go)
25g butter (or margarine)
3 sliced onions
500g pumpkin (peeled and chopped)
3 eggs
300ml milk (or soy milk)
50g grated cheese


1. Heat the butter in a frying pan and add the onions and a seasoning of your choice. Cook over a gentle heat for 10 minutes until golden brown and caramelised.
2. Steam or boil the pumpking for 7 minutes until soft. Drain well and mash.
3. Beat the eggs and milk together and stir in half of the cheese, the onions and the pumpkin. Pour the mixture into your pastry case and then scatter the remaining cheese over the top.
4. Bake on 180C (Gas Mark 4) for 20-25 minutes

Back from Turkey

I spent last week teaching on a retreat in Turkey for people with ME.

Some of the people I have been teaching have been so desperately ill with ME over the last few years that they have been housebound, bedbound, hospitalised, rendered unable to listen to music or read. A living hell. Which reminds me how blessed I am. Yes, health issues I may have but praise to all the gods for the ability to always listen to music.

The most beautiful part was none of these amazing people had forgotten how to laugh - and most importantly none of them had forgotten how to laugh at themselves. I have laughed until I've cried this week. I have also swum in the sea, eaten far too much food and taught a lot of yoga. I have been taught the rudimentaries of Argentinian tango by a fabulous gay guy who lives around the corner from my brother and who laughs in the face of HIV and ME. I went to a traditional Turkish bath (which was actually horrible and made me sick but everyone else enjoyed it and that was the important thing). I have learned that I am probably a far better teacher than I give myself credit for, that I need to ease up on myself and stop catastrophising and that I need to stop caring about what others think and lead my life from my heart.

And most of all I learned that it is your students that make you a good teacher.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Apple Porridge Pancakes

So Autumn is here - my favourite season. I love the crisp sunny mornings, the colours of the leaves and of course I love the food that is around right now. So as a little break from all the pumpkin recipes floating around in the internet at the moment, let's use up some apples! I'm afraid this recipe isn't completely vegan as I really haven't found a good substitute for eggs in the UK. If you know of one, use it instead. The yoghurt can, obviously, be non-diary.

30g wholewheat flour
50g rolled oats
1.5 tsp of baking powder
1 egg
Ground cinnamon
Half an apple, cored and grated
60ml fresh apple juice
50g natural yoghurt

Grind the oats in a food processor until they resemble coarse ground flour. Mix with the flour, baking powder and a couple of pinches of cinnamon in a bowl.

Whisk egg and add it to the flour mix

Whisk the yoghurt and apple juice together until you get a smooth batter about the consistency of double cream

Add the grated apple

Cook like fritters in a frying pan. Make sure the oil is really hot before you start.

They make the yummiest breakfast - served hot with some honey (or syrup for vegans!)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Tip of the Week: The wonders of white vinegar

White vinegar is a godsend to have around the house. If you use the homemade laundry detergent I gave the recipe for last week then you'll already know that in hard water areas it makes a great fabric softener. But what else can you do with it?

Firstly make a 50/50 water/vinegar solution in a spray bottle and use it for:-
  • cleaning out the inside of the microwave.
  • as a final rinse when cleaning out the fridge to stop mildew developing.
  • as a final wipe down after cleaning the oven to get rid of the oven cleaner residue.
  • the best way ever of getting rid of that black mould that grows between bathroom tiles. Give a good liberal spray, leave for 10 minutes then go back and scrub the grouting with a nailbrush and it'll just come off easily -- just rinse everything down with the shower head.
  • To polish mirrors and windows (wipe with newspaper to stop smearing)
  • cleaning sinks and taps.
Neat vinegar is a great descaler -- of taps and sinks (just soak a cloth in the vinegar and scrub), of kettles and coffee machines (half fill and boil - make sure you do at least two boil rinses though if you do not want your tea tasting of vinegar), to use instead of rinse aid in the dishwasher and you can also use vinegar (along with a spoonful of borax) to scrub out the loo.

Probably the most versatile kitchen cleaner ever!!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Rachel's Vegan Banana Date Muffins


60z/175g of wholemeal self raising flour
1.5oz/40g organic caster sugar or demerara sugar
2oz/50g vegan margarine
4fl.oz/125ml soya milk mixed with about three tablespoons of water
1 mashed banana
2oz/50g chopped dates


Mix flour and sugar together in a bowl.

Melt the margarine in the microwave and add to the flour/sugar mix along with the soya milk/water mix and stir it all up.

Add the banana and dates - mix it up!

Divide the mixture into paper muffin cases in a muffin tin (should make between 6 and 9 depending how big you like your muffins!) and bake at 180 degrees C/350 degrees F/Gas Mark 4 for 25 minutes.

Will take you about 5 minutes to whip up a batch of these -- they are low fat and great for breakfast.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Tip of the Week

This week - making your own laundry detergent - environmentally friendly and much less costly than shop bought!

Boil 4 litres of water in a big pan on the stove. Meanwhile grate a bar soap (any soap you like - if you want a specific fragrance, buy a nice soap but you can just use plain unscented white soap).

When water is boiling add soap and stir till melted (careful not to let it boil over)

When soap melted, take off heat and stir in half a mugful of washing soda crystals (you can find them in the laundry ailse of the supermarket - sometimes just called soda crystals). Stir.

Leave pan overnight - it will set to jelly like gloop. When it has, stir it up and pour into a big enough container with a lid to store.

To use put a tablespoonful in the drum of the washing machine and then put the laundry on top. Don't put it in the dispenser drawer or it will block. Don't use fabric conditioner. Put a teaspoonful of white vinegar in the conditioner compartment instead. It won't smell I promise!

If whites start to look a bit grubby put a spoonful of Ecover Laundry "Bleach" in the dispenser drawer as well.

Two Months!

Two months without posting. Unforgivable really!

So to get me back into the swing of things we're going to have a Vegan Recipe of the Week each week and a Tip of the Week.

And over on the scoliyogi blog, we're going to have a Asana of the Week -- specifically focussing on back problems and scoliosis!

So let's go!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

On Seeing the Rheumatologist

I have been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. The rheumatologist asked a whole heap of questions then pressed me in 18 places which hurt so much I cried, she nodded and said "fibromyalgia". I was surprised to learn that skin is not supposed to hurt when touched. I always assumed I was just a bit weak and pathetic. Turns out this is not normal after all. I am dumb....

She suspects that I have always had Fibro and that the diagnosis of ME never really cut it and was made by an ignorant and/or lazy doctor. To be fair on my previous doctors, Fibro has not been recognised in this country for very long; the US accepted it long before we did and most things that couldn't be diagnosed any other way were diagnosed as ME or hypochondria, depending on where your GP's sympathies lay.

The rheumatolgist was very impressed by the yoga and swimming and the organic diet and how well I looked after myself. We talked about that and my scoliosis for a while and she took some bloods just to rule out Connective Tissue Disease. I was pretty impressed with her. Until....

She prescribed me something called Amitriptyline. I, like a fool, didn't think anything of it assuming they would be a painkiller or muscle relaxant. It wasn't until the pharmicist gave them to me that I discovered they are in fact tricyclic antidepressants. Now I am a strong believer in the total obliteration of antidepressants from the face of the earth. Both my father and Himself suffer from clinical depression and have never got anywhere on antidepressants and tricyclics are the very worst of this hideous creation. The side effects are horrific and the withdrawal symptoms equally so. OK so it's a very low dose, and a very low dose is proven in clinical trials to help some people with the pain and the sleep deprivation. Note *some* people. And what am I meant to do? Take them every day for the rest of my life? Masking the symptoms and living in a cloud of fug forevermore? No thank you. I would be the worst sort of hypocrite if I even considered taking them.

I believe in learning to live with long term chronic conditions, not masking them. Fibro is non-degenerative and non-progressive. I need to change my outlook rather than change the chemical make up of my body.

I affirm to work towards a day when I am not my illness, when I accept myself for who I am, when I have fun no matter what and when start to put myself first. This is my wake up call. Listen to it.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Fly By Update

Firstly, to introduce a new member of the family. Please meet Aurora! She is 10 months old and we picked her up from the Rescue centre on Monday. She's been spayed and is off for her injections later on today. She is a little angel, good as gold and happily sleeps under the bed when I am teaching a class or have a private yoga client at the house. She loves yoga too -- every morning she gets on my mat with me, twirling through my legs as I hold Down Dog, showing me how a Cat stretch should be done, gently nibbling my toes in Savasana. A great lesson in Pratyahara; withdrawing my senses so the kitty just becomes another part of my practice, not a distraction. A great lesson in not giving a damn as well!

Secondly, I have two bits of exciting news:- (1) I have been accepted (subject to references and CRB checks) as a volunteer yoga teacher at The Mulberry Centre -- a drop-in centre in West London for people with cancer, their primary carers and those who have lost someone to cancer. A wonderful and life enhancing opportunity for me. (2) I am going to work on a yoga retreat for people with ME and CFS in Turkey with Fiona Agombar in October. Again an amazing opportunity to share those things that I have found in yoga that have helped my recovery process to those who are just beginning. An opportunity to help those who are intent on changing their lives around with the help of yoga. Some of the people on the retreat are very ill, much more so than I have ever been, and yet they are willing to fly to Turkey to begin or enhance their recovery for the opportunity of working with someone as wonderful as Fiona. Such courage. And such a privelege for me to be able to join them.

Thirdly, I have had my article on Yoga and Scoliosis published in Yoga and Health magazine. Sometimes my array of health problems does have an advantage!!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Communications Breakdown

Apologies for the lack of posting. That wasn't meant to happen but things have been busy!

I've been building up my yoga business - everything seems to be going well, I continue with my affirmations and my visualisations for the future. I'm particularly loving teaching the mum and baby classes too!

I've been on a few courses including a course with Fiona Agombar on teaching yoga to people with ME/CFS. Having suffered from ME since I was 16 I found the course invaluable in both my own practice and in my teaching -- if I can start to bring the therapeutic tools of yoga to people suffering from chronic fatigue and allow it to help them as it helped me it would be wonderful. More thoughts on yoga and ME here.

From this it seems I am assisting Fiona on a retreat in Turkey in October (all things being equal) and hopefully starting up a voluntary yoga class at a cancer hospice in West London. Fingers crossed for all of the above.

My own health rises and falls in peaks and troughs. I am currently waiting for an appointment with a rheumatologist as the all over chronic body pain just gets worse. It is more than just the scoliosis, it is more than just the ME. I am hoping for the fibromyalgia diagnosis to be formalised once and for all.

But the appointment hasn't come through yet.....

A book review

Yoga for Transformation - Gary Kraftsow

I sometimes think to myself that books like this should carry a warning for those yoga enthusiasts who think no further than the sweat and getting their leg behind the head. Warning – this book is not about asana!

To me however this is one of those books that really touches me with regard to the true meaning of yoga. After an overview about yoga during the three stages of life (sunrise, midday and sunset) Kraftsow focuses on the koshas. The five layers of the human being, physical (anamaya), energy (pranamaya), mental (manamaya), wisdom (vijnanamaya) and bliss (anandamaya), are looked at deeply in the five main chapters of this beautifully written book. Each chapter takes us through a new layer of human consciousness, showing us all the blocks and baggage we carefully arrange around ourselves throughout our lives to prevent us from looking much deeper than the physical. But peel away the layers and you can find so much more.

Each chapter ends with a practice. The practice revolves around a few basic yoga postures, the same set of postures for each chapter, but a different focus, a different way of practising that helps us to find the next layer by using breath, mantra, chants and meditations. This book is not about what we practice but how we practice, and how that practice can help us in our dealings with the world around us.

Interestingly Kraftsow teaches the koshas in an unusual way. Traditionally they are taught as being similar to the layers of an onion, which always made me wonder what we were meant to do with the layers we had peeled off. But here they are presented more as layers within a spiral. We can go as deeply as we want and then come back out to the surface again. We can concentrate on one area for a while before moving back to the physical. We can mix and match the practices in any way we feel is right. It is after all ourselves who seek transformation, not anybody else, and the five koshas are five parts of our whole.

What else can I say except beautiful, beautiful. A lot of inspiration for both my own practice and my teaching.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

When life gets in the way - stop!!

Sometimes life gets in the way of my search for bliss. By life I mean bills, money (or lack thereof), mood swings, the happiness of my other half. Sometimes life escalates into petty squabbles, disagreements and a general feeling of gloom...

But hang on. Stop a moment!

Spring is here, the sun is shining and when I open the kitchen window I can hear the birdsong and smell the sunshine...

And there it is. Bliss is right there - always. You just need to know where to look for it.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Peel the onion

My yoga practice is changing, my attitudes, my thoughts, my desires and the purpose of yoga for me is all changing. Finding it hard to explain it in my own words I will borrow those of Gary Kraftsow:-

"Our tendancy today is to thing of physical fitness and health in terms of measurements and/or standards of performance. Bringing this mentality to asana practice, many have the impression that it is about performance and that we can measure our progress by our ability to perfect the forms of postures.

"The ancients, however, based their concept of physical fitness and health on an entirely different set of criteria; a feeling of lightness within the body, an ability to withstand change, and a stable body and focussed mind, ready to sit for pranayama practice and mediation

Yoga has gone mainstream in the west over the past few years. And this is a great thing. But so so much yoga concentrates purely on physical asana (posture) practice. To concentrate on this alone, or indeed to make this the majority of your practice is like discovering the onion but cooking only with the skin. So much of the flavour and goodness is left out.

Sitting and breathing, sitting and focussing, allowing oneself to be is equally important as posture practice. At the end of the day, apart from looking kind of cool, getting one's leg behind one's head is of little benefit in the grand scheme of things. Practicing consistency, and mental, physical and emotional awareness if far more important. What good after all physical strength without the strength of mind to resist the everchanging nature of life in this physical realm?

So will my new thoughts and feelings gained through my own yoga practice change the way I teach?

Well yes and no. I think that by trying to transcend the physical a little in my own practice I can teach more from the heart, with the stillness, calm and strength that my students need; that they come for whether they realise this consciously or not. I already only teach 50-55 minutes of asana practice during a 90 minute class so they are already experimenting with breath and and meditation by themselves. Some people love it. Some have come from yoga backgrounds where 85 minutes or so is dedicated to asana and have been surprised by my teaching style. Some have persevered and come to love it, some have hated it and never come back. *shrugs*. What can you do? Some people just aren't ready; they may never be ready in this life. And that's OK.

But as for the question will I be teaching a class that perhaps incorporates minimal posture practice, for example 20-25 minutes to warm up the body for deep breath practices? No probably not. Not in a regular class. That's not what people want right now. It's not what I'm here to teach right now.

But of course I could teach a two hour workshop on it one Saturday afternoon and take it from there.....

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Mummy and me

On Monday morning I taught my first mum and baby yoga class. Four mums and four babies (most of whom I taught right through their pregnancies). Babies, for the record are very very noisy. They weren't crying exactly just yakking away to themselves, then realising there are other babies in the vicinity and yakking away to each other. Babies are strange, fabulous and enigmatic but did I mention they are very very noisy!

This isn't for everyone admittedly. To teach mum and baby yoga you write a class plan.... and then you throw it away. You go with the flow, not everyone's going to be doing the same thing at the same time, some mums need to stop for a feed, or a cuddle or just because they are absolutely knackered. There will always be one baby who decides to poo and/or yell in the middle of relaxation. You have to give the mums the run of the place, make them feel nurtured and at home. You have to be prepared to look after their little one so they can concentrate on their pelvic floors/breathwork/relaxation, you have to ensure they just keep breathing no matter what and you really have to think on your feet!

That said it was amazing. Truly amazing. It taught me so much about myself and how, when I need to, my ability to stay completely calm no matter what is going on and to just take the chaos as read and carry on regardless. I amazed myself by just how chilled I can be. I still have to work on crossing that bridge from yoga into my daily life and deal with all situations as though it were a mum and baby yoga class!

Now the big question here is why does someone who doesn't want children of her own specialising in pre and post natal yoga? Well there are several answers to that really. I live in a family friendly area, so in some ways doing the pregnancy and baby training was a business decision. Secondly, I think that sometimes it's nice for mums-to-be and new mums to be in an environment that isn't centred entirely on baby. Having no children of my own I'm focussing much more on the mums and their health and wellbeing. I make a point of asking them how they are before I ask how baby is. I think it is a refreshing change for them. There is only impartial advice, there is no competition, there is just yoga. And thirdly... well thirdly just because a woman has made a decision not to have children does not mean there is no maternal instinct. I do not want my own children for a miriad of complicated reasons, but the mother in me can use a skill I am trained in and am good at to nurture, help and heal other women who have chosen to be mothers and their little ones. And you know, that's enough.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Too Much Too Soon... (or, on going back to class)

So this week I have returned to yoga class for the first time since before Yule.

On Wednesday morning I went to the Iyengar teacher who lives just around the corner from me - she has converted the ground floor of her three floor Victorian semi into a yoga studio, a very peaceful beautiful yoga studio.

I fall in and out of love with the Iyengar method of yoga. It's very precise, concentrates on alignment and correct positioning of feet, hands and spine - all of which really help with my own alignment and scoliosis. However, on the flip side I feel it concentrates too much on the alignment and "correct" way of doing a posture, rather than working with the capabilities and limitations of the individual and at the expense of stillness, pranayama and meditation. In conclusion then, whilst I enjoyed the session, my sacrum and sacro-iliac joints were burning by the end of the 90 minute class and by the end of the day I was in screaming agony. I am not a great believer in pushing your body too far - I appreciate that sometimes a person needs to push, but not to this extent. Again it is an example of my need to practice having "enough", not reaching out and grasping for more, wanting for more than my body can achieve.

So yesterday I went to a Satyananda class in Clapham. A much more gentle and subtle practice - less asana based, far more pranayama and meditation. I have found over the last couple of years that my own personal practice has become much gentler, much more based on the movement of the breath and the length in the spine rather than pushing to achieve complicated asana. And that is why I love Satyananda - especially in this venue; a little attic with skylights on a sunny April morning. There is of course a flipside to this as well - Satyananda doesn't speak fully to me. There is almost a sense of ignoring the body for the energy of the breath and mind, and while I am not against that per se, there is an aspect of yoga that is about healing the body as well. I also teach yoga from a Western perspective - we are living in a Western culture after all and for a lot of people there is a lot about yoga in it's completely classical form that does not ring true. This doesn't mean of course I won't be returning to the Thursday morning Satyananda class - I will, it was just what I needed and filled with people I know and trained with!

I have two problems with classes at the moment. The first it purely a timetabling one. I cannot make evening classes as I am teaching myself - same goes for Saturday and Monday mornings. And I cannot find a single Tuesday morning class anywhere in Surrey or South West London! Come May I will be working three days a week and thus far it seems those days will be Wed-Fri. I really need to go to as many classes as I can while I can!

The second is that I trained and teach in the Viniyoga style of TKV Desikachar. I believe that yoga is healing, both physically and emotionally, but that everybody's bodies need different things, in approaches to both asana and pranayama. This is why my classes are so small and why I teach different classes on different days. Not everything is for everyone. However, it would appear I am the only Viniyoga teacher in the area as well. And I cannot go to my own lessons.

I trained in north London and it's a long and expensive trek for a yoga class....

But enough, it is a beautiful April morning, and time for my own practice in the sunshine.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008


The questions of Christianity and Yoga seem to be everywhere at the moment. Here is a podcast from one of my favourite teachers and writers.

Peas in a Pod

I taught my first official pregnancy class on Saturday. I've been teaching pregnancy yoga for a while, mixing my pregnant ladies in with my general classes (the more gentle ones obviously) but this is not ideal. It involves a lot of stopping and starting to modify the postures for those who are pregnant, interrupting the flow for those who aren't!

So after training with Uma Dinsmore-Tuli at Sitaram, I decided the time had come to start a class specific for pregnancy on Saturday mornings in my home studio where there is room for about four or five students. I got four students within a week of putting it up on my website!

After some intial confusion (the world and his wife seem to have an inability to find my house), and a late start to the class, three wonderfully round and pregnant women and skinny ol' me (one poor lady has this bug that's going around and won't be starting until next week) flowed a beautifully energising pranayama and gentle asana practice with preparation for birth breathing, chanting (which the baby can hear), and deep relaxation.

Everyone (including me) seemed pleased and content after class.

Here's to next week - and a whole new adventure!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Suburban Yogini re-emerges

Last night I taught my first class as a dedicated yoga teacher, free of the corporate world and no longer rushing from work to home to class.

I ate an early tea and got to the health centre with time to spare, time to sit and meditate for a few minutes, time to focus on my breath and my space so that by the time my students arrived I felt calm and the space in which we practice felt filled with positive energy.

It was a small class last night as some students are still away for the Easter break, but it was a good one. I felt that for once I was teaching from the heart, not just going through the motions, I had the time to prepare myself beforehand and therefore had the time to dedicate to my students during their practice, and that is, after all, what they pay me for.

Long may this continue.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Rites of Spring

The first day of spring approaches (as does a forecast of snow as usual and the mad rush to bring the plants back indoors before they are killed by the inclemency -- but that's another story), and I find my mind turning to rites of spring, rites of passage, letting go of the old and drawing in the new.

Usually at this time of year I change my yoga practice. Through the winter I tend towards a gentle restorative practice, lots of seated and supine postures; but as the spring arrives and the energy starts to rise from the ground again I bring back sun saluations, strong standing sequences and more intense twists. It changes my perspectives on life for the new seasons, re-energising and renewing; as well as kick starting me from my sluggish, hibernatory winter coat.

This year is slightly different. I am still suffering in the back department and still under chiropractor's orders to keep it simple for a couple more weeks before bringing stronger more classical yoga postures into my practice again. So while my practice itself won't be changing, my attitude to it will.

The biggest change for me this spring, which really is starting all over again from a brand new bulb almost, is that tomorrow is my last day in my corporate job. After tomorrow I begin spring and my brand new life -- dedicated to teaching and studying yoga.

One of the most important things for me about this, which fits in nicely with the change in the seasons, is that I will be able to change the time of day at which I practice. I currently practice, be that classical yoga or my chiropractic exercises enhanced, before bed. I'm tired, eager for sleep, dozing during savasana. From Friday onwards I will no longer have to leave the house at the crack of dawn to get the train to work and will be able to practice in the morning when the energy is ringing and I have the whole day ahead of me.

So sing out for the start of spring and all the possibilities it brings!

Friday, March 14, 2008


Every night I ask my students to relax and let go; let go of all the activities and events of the day. To start to forget about what has happened, worry not about what might happen and instead focus on the present moment - trying not to think past the next breath; whether lying in savasana or holding a difficult pose.

And yet what if I ask myself these questions? On the rare occassions that I even find the time to ask myself these questions I hold the thought for a few seconds, but within a breath or two my mind is racing again - back to all the things I must do, all the things I could do better, all the things I need to achieve tonight, this week, this month.

Bit of a hypocrite really aren't I?!

So mindfulness - where to start. With self study to begin with; noticing behavioural patterns, noticing how I allocate my time; this latter I have done to the shocking realisation that all I really do is rush around from class to class from work to yoga. How yogic! I need to be honest with myself, face up to my own truths no matter how painful that is, because without seeing my own truth how can I possibly tell others how to look for theirs?

But mostly I need to let go of my fear of failure, my desperate need to achieve. It is no less than grasping, stealing, constantly wanting more. I need instead to access a state of abundance and flow by remaining in the present and enjoying the time that is available to me right now.

A tall order, but something for me to think about as my last week in my day job approaches. I need to change my attitude and experience of time and achievement and it is not until I practice this myself that I can truly teach my students to be in the present moment.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Working on my back

My yoga practice these last couple of weeks have involved a lot of work on my scoliosis. My last trip to the chiropractor left me with a raise in my shoe and a whole new exercise regime to work on strength in my neck and upper back as well as releasing tension in those same areas.

I was a bit despondent when I first came out. He just wanted me to stick to the exercise regime and try not to do any yoga asana for a while -- I guess the idea is that you try one thing at a time otherwise how do you know it's working? Still it's kind of hard to be told, as a yoga teacher, that your own practice should be put on hold for a while.

On the whole I'm incredibly lucky with my chiro as he is *very* yoga friendly and I refer some of my clients to him and vice versa (mainly because he knows I teach rehabilitative yoga). But it didn't stop it feeling somewhat sucky to hear this. However, I do trust him, so I decided to stick with it.

I'm about 10 days in now and I'm actually really noticing the difference. Amazingly so. The pain, whilst still there, has subsided about 40% which is the first time it's done that in over a year. The other thing this new set of exercises has made me realise is that pretty much anything can be yoga.

I've practiced the exercises in lieu of my daily yoga practice. I've started off with a few cat/cow stretches and a few gentle down dogs and taken it from there. I've worked each exercise into a pattern with my breath and finished with 10 minutes of savasana, a pranayama practice and a meditation.

All in I'm really happy with this practice for as long as I need it. The important thing about yoga is that it's about working with your body in whatever your body needs at that point. And this isn't always classical asana. In fact, the more I teach the more I notice that classical asana aren't the best thing for some people's bodies. The most important thing about yoga is right there in the name. "Yoke" or union. The union of breath and movement. The breath bringing the union between body and mind. Classical yoga asana are a way of achieving a comfortable seated position for mediation, so if that is the conclusion of the practice does it matter on the exact body movements we use to get there?

My chiropractic exercises have opened up a whole new enquiry into my practice and what I want from it, and whether I am getting that. And that's just great. Because yoga, to me, is a journey, one that may never have a specific destination but that changes daily with my own breath and my own body.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Going to class...or not...

I haven't been to a yoga class this year!

When I first began my teacher training the first thing that suffered was my own home practice. I went to classes two or three times a week, but what with the studying and the lesson planning and working full time I often found I had no time for self-practice and when I did, I never really got into it as I was always thinking about how I would teach each posture, each krama, each vinyasa.

Now things have changed. I'm fully qualified, teaching four nights a week and maintaining a gentle self-practice and meditation each evening. But I have no time to attend class. This disappoints me somewhat. Yoga is a lifelong journey, I may have the piece of paper that tells me I'm a teacher but in my eyes I am still a student, still learning off those more experienced than me, still desperately wanting to be inspired by my two teachers. Yet here I am again, writing of "enough"; not having enough time.

Evening classes are out due to my own teaching, and as I'm working full time for another two weeks so are daytime classes. Now yoga may be my passion, my chosen career path and my life but I really really don't much fancy a 9.30 Saturday morning class either! So for now I must reluctantly continue with my self-practice, knowing that "enough" (and that lovely Monday morning flow class) is just around the corner.

My inability to make it to class recently has also made me think about my own students. The ones who pay for class passes and then don't turn up again, the ones who don't come for weeks at a time. I don't know what is going on in their lives and I have no reason to know, it is their life and their privacy. But I mustn't let my ego get in my way and think they are not coming because of anything I've done wrong. I must allow them to live their lives how they see fit, knowing they will return to yoga when the time is right for them.

I have to say though, I'm really looking forward to being able to go back to class.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Mixed emotions

I'm like a rollercoaster at the moment. Ups and downs with a few twists and turns in for good measure!

On paper I know what I'm doing and where I'm heading. I've taken on too much, more than I'm capable of, and the time has come to cut back. With the yoga teaching I no longer have the ability to work full time and with a long commute as well, so I am giving up. Easy. Simple. Notice handed in, last day in two weeks time.

But what I am also giving up is quite a hefty salary.

So whilst I'm elated to be giving up a job I really don't like anymore, I am also more than a little fearful about the whole bill paying thing. Himself is earning much more than he was, but it's still hard for me to learn to rely on other people for financial support. Even if it is done with love and faith.

I think I need to question my definitions of "enough". What is enough anyway? How much money is enough? How many yoga students are enough? We live in a society crippled by affluence and greed. It is difficult not to get caught up in the whirlwind. Over the last few years I have certainly cut back on huge amounts, sorted myself out financially, tried to stick to the basics. But I had still sold my soul to a corporate law firm. Now I have a chance to buy it back. But the price of a soul is high. To get what I want in terms of time, quality of life and living by my principles I have to pay the price of a high salary and re-learn the ability to always have enough.

Besides, if I approach my new venture with fear I will never be successful!

Something to meditate on nevertheless.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

New Beginnings

This is the new blog to chronicle my major lifestyle change from highly stressed City Paralegal to yoga teacher. Time to slow down my life, panic less and breathe more. Time to teach, write, read and do a little legal work on the side to keep the wolf from the door.

As of 20 March 2008 my life is a mystery. Herewith the highs and lows, the surprises and unexpected events.