Wednesday, December 30, 2009

a new look for a new decade and a very happy new year!

I've been coughing for about three days now and have had to cancel my New Year's Eve plans for a hot date with the sofa and TV instead. Sigh. Still I've been being productive from my sick bed.

As you can see, the Suburban Yogini has undergone an overhaul in preparation for the new year. I have felt this blog has been heading in a new direction for a while so I figured it was time to make it look that way. I've added a whole new "About Me" section which should appear in the previous post and also if you click on the pretty pink "About" button! (Thanks to shabbyblogs for that and the awesome header!)

I feel as though I have undergone an overhaul over the last few months as well. I'm not going to pretend 2009 has been an easy year, it hasn't. It's been one of the toughest years of my life. But what doesn't kill you makes you stronger and without this transitionary year I wouldn't be in the position I am in now - to really live my life to its fullest in 2010.

Happy new year, dear dear readers and thank you for reading. I leave you, not with poetic genius as such, but with the very simple words of Dave Grohl.

It's times like these you learn to live again
It's times like these you give and give again
It's times like these you learn to love again
It's times like these time and time again
I started this blog in early 2008 as somewhere to catalogue my thoughts and ideas as I made the transition from working in corporate law to yoga teaching. I set up my own business and ran all kinds of yoga classes all over south west London. I even taught pregnancy yoga from my living room, which I converted into a small studio (and I will be forever grateful to Himself for putting up with this lack of living space for the best part of two years!)

In the autumn of 2009, after a decade of living in and around London, we decided to move back to Cambridge, the town I grew up in. I sold my business, we packed our bags and here we are, beginning a whole new life, feeling happier, calmer, more directed.

I now work for a local arts charity and teach the occasional yoga class. Over the last few months, as I have changed, so has this blog and it has become so much more than just yoga, it has become a scrapbook of my life.

So what does that life entail?

1. Yoga of course! The yoga is still important, in so many ways I have spent many years battling CFS and Fibromyalgia as well as an upper back scoliosis and have used yoga as a therapeutic tool for managing and recuperating from chronic illness and injury. If I can do this anyone can I want to continue to use this blog as a place where I can share my experiences and hopefully inspire other yoga practitioners and teachers. You can find out more at my website.

2. Reading and Writing. I read. A lot. I will read anything and everything. If you want to know more about what I read you can click on my Goodreads profile in the sidebar. I also write. A lot. Some days I just write any old rot as long as I’m writing. Some days I surprise myself. I used to write non-fiction articles for papers and magazines on a freelance basis (sometimes I didn’t get paid at all!) but I wanted to use my creativity more and generally write fiction, prose and poetry now. I try to commit to morning pages (except I do mine in the evening) and am starting to gain the confidence to put some of my writing out into the world. Drafts often appear on this blog.

3. Cooking and food. I am a lapsed vegan (I eat eggs, I don’t eat dairy). I am passionate about organic food. The arguments about whether or not it is nutritionally beneficial are not important to me. I buy organic because it is kinder to the earth we live on. I am fussy about where I buy from and try to avoid supermarkets as much as I can. I am also passionate about home-cooked food and a little bit of what you fancy doing you good. Sometimes I post recipes. Usually I promise to post them and then never do. Sometimes you’ll have to nudge me! I have always been lucky in that I am not prone to put on weight but am trying to be more mindful about what I eat and when I eat it.

4. Walking. I walk everywhere. Occasionally I go by bicycle if time is not on my side. I power walk. I’d love to still be able to run but it’s a bit jarring on my fibromyalgic joints! I have built up my fitness and have goals I’d love to meet over the next couple of years (I’d love to walk a half marathon). I have to be careful not to do too much though or I descend into relapse, so we’ll see!

5. Shiny things. Hand in hand with all of this I love shiny things! Clothes, shoes, accessories, glitter. I believe that how we look on the outside reflects how we feel on the inside and vice versa. I love coloured tights, glittery eyeliner and second hand stores. I get huge inspiration from Lady Smaggle, Already Pretty and Daddy Likey.

Any other questions? Just ask!

Monday, December 28, 2009

love & links

Well the cold slowly descended lung-wards over Christmas and now I am stuck with bronchitus. Hurrah, hurrah and thrice hurrah! Still I scrubbed up yesterday to go to Ma and Pa Yogini's for food and presents and to treat them to a cacaphony of coughing. This is what parents are for.

I'm loving these coloured opaque tights from M&S - apart from this green colour they have red, purple, pink, stripes, leopard skin.... and probably more. The green shoes are handmade by Ren over at Fairysteps. She's updating her shop right now, you should go and check it out. New shoes and bags for a new decade!

So how has your yoga practice been going over the long weekend? Sadly yoga and meditation are not conducive with paroxysms of coughing so my yoga over the last few days has mostly been about looking after myself and my poorly lungs. Those of you who are feeling better than me but struggling to keep up a routine over the holidays might like EcoYogini's hints and tips on DIY Holiday Yoga!

Have you chosen a word for the new year? Mine is mindfulness, I keep promising to elaborate on this and I will. Soon. In the meantime find out why Kathleen's word is courage.

It's resolution time over at Read Write Poem. I particularly like the resolution about aiming to get 12 rejection letters this year. That seems do-able!

I suspect many of you, like me, feel that there's a small chance you've eaten too much good stuff over the last couple of weeks. If you combine this with the treacherous ice we've had here and the treacherous state of my lungs, I haven't had a power walk in nearly a fortnight, and I'm feeling it. Sally over at Already Pretty gives a nice little pep-talk for all of us feeling a little out of shape.

Finally, Anna at Much Love asks three important questions about love. So here are my answers:-

1. One thing that you loved in 2009. Oh there were many things! But top of my list has to be Lyrica. Strange I know to choose prescription medication as the thing you love but my life turned around this year thanks to these little pills. I'm not saying there wasn't a lot of hard work on my part but the Lyrica certainly kick started me into being able to live the life I want in spite of my Fibromyalgia rather than merely exist in its shadow.

2. One thing you're loving at this very moment. Ooooh the smell of spicy parsnip soup which is cooking in the kitchen. Also Himself for still thinking I'm beautiful despite the cold sweat glistening on my brow from the effort of coughing!

3. One thing that you'd love to do next year. I'd love to have continued good health really. I'd also love to go to Dublin.

I'd love to know your answers to these questions dear reader. Let me know if you post them in your own blog.

I hope you all continue to have a wonderful holiday season and that none of you have to go back to work just yet!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

god bless us one and all!

Seven Mile Beach, Tasmania

The magic of Christmas Eve is upon us and in just a few hours I will be leaving work and not returning until 4th January 2010 (twenty ten still sounds so far in the future to me!). Bliss! Unfortunately I am succumbing to a cold so I'm not sure what our plans will be over Christmas now but be sure there will be plenty of reading, plenty of films, plenty of good food and a lot of sleep. And my daily yoga practice of course!

This time of the year always makes me nostalgic for Christmasses past, especially those I spent in Tasmania. I love Christmas in the summertime (even if there is something very bizarre about walking down a street in Sydney in 40 degrees of heat hearing the sound of sleighbells coming from the shops). I received an email from my cousin on Monday just as she was off to catch her flight from Melbourne to Hobart for Christmas. I wish I could be there with them.

Christmas is a special time of year no matter where in the world you are or who you are with or what you believe. Even if the whole Nativity story isn't your thing, it's good to look at this time of year as a rebirth of sorts, in which we can turn our lives around, live more fully, more mindfully, more in tune with the world around us.

So I wish you dear readers old and new a wonderful holiday period. And keep practicing yoga wherever you are. All you need is the corner of a room and towel after all!

Namaste Everyone x

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

carpet on the roof

(a fragment)

(photo taken by me this morning whilst scraping snow and ice off my car again! Excuse poor quality, it was a mobile phone camera and I was shivering - but it gives you an idea)

There is a frost carpet on the roof of my car,
Turning the world upside down and
Reminding me of a time when
Christmas came in the summer.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

an early christmas present

Everybody has something that they covet over anything else. It could be an end to war, or bigotry. It could be a first edition of Keats' poems. It could even just be wealth, health and happiness.

For me would it be one of the original cassettes of Pocketwatch. I think only 200 were ever released, scattered around the globe; those that still exist, stuck in dusty boxes in people's attics. Most of them are probably destroyed. The mastertapes certainly are.

I've always hoped to come across a copy at a record fair or a car boot sale. There have been a couple of occassions when a copy has popped up on Ebay but Himself and I just haven't had the money to justify buying it (they go for £100s).

Then a couple of weeks ago this came up on Ebay. It's not Pocketwatch per se, but it is a 7" vinyl pressing of one of the 1990 tracks.

And until I have a copy of one of the original tapes, this will make me grin with delight. Best Christmas present ever! Many many thanks to dearly beloved Himself for always watching out on Ebay :D

What do you wish for this Christmas?

Monday, December 21, 2009

winter solstice

image from

As the sun begins to show its head over the treetops and the snow makes the early morning silence of my cul-de-sac even louder, I scrape ice from the windshield of my car and remember that today is the shortest day.
Today I let the darkness enfold me and remember the year just gone.
Tomorrow I let the light back in.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

core workout

Our walk to the shops this morning took twice as long as usual due to the ice underneath the snow - so slippy! However, walking on ice does have it's benefits - it's a fantastic workout for the core muscles.

Hurrah to the gods of yoga for my core of steel ;)

Friday, December 18, 2009

snow day

In the bleak midwinter, frost wind made moan, earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone; snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow, in the bleak midwinter, long ago.
-- Christina Rossetti

The view from our bedroom window this morning

Our back garden

The fields behind our house (and this, dear reader, this view is why we moved out of London)

I have a day off work today. I was meant to be going somewhere on a train, but clearly that is now out. But it does mean a day to play in the snow (not that I could get to work anyway, I don't think you can get out of the cul-de-sac!)

Have fun and keep warm everyone!

Monday, December 14, 2009

happy things to be thankful for

  • Teaching again. Last week and this week I have been teaching yoga again for the first time since we moved (about 3 months). Whilst it has rendered me bone tired having been crazy busy at work again, I had forgotten just how much I love it. The first night I was so nervous but as soon as I started it all came flooding back and I thought "oh how I've missed this!"
  • A vat of homemade Yellow Split Pea Daal which has kept me fed during a week when I have had next to no time to cook.
  • Organic gin. Abel and Cole have their Christmas goodies in so we got some of this last week. My, oh my is it good (although of course I can only have one small one because of headaches and falling asleep!). Himself has organic Scotch, but hasn't tried it yet.
  • Vegan hot chocolate (even though, despite checking everything for traces of dairy it still gave me tummy ache - why do all the yummy things hate me!)
  • Binge reading.
  • 100% support from Himself on a new project I want to work towards when I actually thought he would try and talk me out of it on the grounds of "doing too much".
  • The "it's nearly here" feeling of a 10 day break over Christmas!
  • A rumour that (shhhh!) it might snow!!!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Swan Lake

"[A] description that is often used to describe it is 'homo-erotic' ... but surely just erotic would be a better way to view it. Are my male swans erotic only to gay men? I think not!"
-- Matthew Bourne

I was lucky enough to spend my Saturday afternoon out of the freezing damp streets tucked up cosily at Sadler's Wells Theatre watching Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake (again!). A treat for my mum who hasn't seen it before.

I cannot tell you how much I love this production. Acts 2 and 4 are, to me, the most beautiful, erotic, ekphrastic pieces of art I have ever seen. Dance, more than any other media is constantly moving, changing, in flux. Like the universe around it. Like yoga.

And by casting male swans we are shown their power, their resentment and anger at their situation, their bestial quality in a way that their tutu'd female counterparts never could.

Plus of course it helps that they are hot. Chippendales for the thinking woman!

Saturday, December 12, 2009


(image courtesy of Jim Goldstein)

"Fog everywhere. Fog up the river where it flows among green airs and meadows; fog down the river, where it rolls defiled among the tiers of shipping, and the waterside pollutions of a great (and dirty) city.... Chance people on the bridges peeping over the parapets into a nether sky of fog, with fog all round them, as if they were up in a balloon and hanging in the misty clouds."
--Charles Dickens (Bleak House)

(meant to be posted yesterday when fog hung menacingly in the air all day, but alas the day ran away with me)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

On Books and Dogs

I have been reading endless lists over the last few weeks trying to find "The Book of the Decade". All of the lists I've read have had some great books on them but every single one of them is kind of generic. Same-y. These are the books you must read for all other books are crap. Apparently. (Image via

The problem with these sort of lists is it's all about personal preference. I loathed and despised many of the books that have been seen as "must reads". I'm not sure if that says something about my reading habits or the general bad taste of the press. I'll leave that decision up to you, dear reader, because you see I have come up with my definitive Book of the Decade and to my knowledge it has made no lists whatsoever apart from this one right here (although I would be delighted to be corrected if I'm wrong!).

(Disclaimer: all opinions expressed below are mine and mine alone. Please feel free to disagree!)
There have been some fabulous books over the last ten years and I've probably forgotten more than two thirds of them. Some of those that spring to mind are Michael Cox's Meaning of Night, Margaret Drabble's Peppered Moth, Lionel Schriver's Something About Kevin (I am the only person I know who didn't guess the ending before the end and it blew me away) and Margaret Atwood's Oryx and Crake (I read the whole book for the first time in Abu Dabi airport waiting for a delayed flight to Delhi. I know I wasn't supposed to but I fell in love with Crake).

There have also been some utterly over-rated books (The Thirteenth Tale, His Dark Materials Trilogy (oh such promise and oh so cringe-worthy at the end) and My Sister's Keeper for example) and some absolute duffers (the Twilight books, The Lovely Bones, The Historian and possibly the worst written book in the history of publishing, The Da Vinci Code to name a few). But bad books, like bad experiences can be pushed to the back of our minds as we focus on what we truly love.

And so here it is. The Suburban Yogini's book of the decade. Corazon by Joolz Denby.

I cannot stress how utterly wonderful this book is. When I gave it to Himself to read he finished it on a train to Leeds. He phoned me from the train to utter one syllable. "Wow".

I'm not going to tell you what happens in Corazon, I urge you to find out for yourself. All I will say is that I have never empathised with a novel's narrator in quite the same way as I did with this book.

Discover Joolz, you won't regret it!
(I'm also excited and honoured to be having her artwork indelibly etched into my body by the great lady herself two weeks on Friday. More on that later!)


Apart from Crake, Himself and Dave Grohl I am in love with a brown dog called Wrigley who lives in Chicago. Nicole is a yoga teacher and general all round awesome lady who raises money for and awareness about abandoned and abused pitbulls as well as having four adopted pitbulls of her own. They are all cute as buttons but Wrigley is my favourite! Sadly pitbulls are illegal in this country so Mr Wrigs will never be able to come visit, but you can see him opening my Christmas card here!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas!

There is an irony the fact that a couple of days after my last post I had the worst fibro flare up I’ve had in ages! Plans cancelled! Catastrophe!

Hey ho and never mind, we had fun anyway. As you can see we put our tree up and everything is coming up Christmassy! I’m starting to get excited about Christmas now and really looking forward to the break. Our office closes on Christmas Eve and doesn’t open again until 2010 (which is ages in the future, right?) and we’ve elected for very simple celebrations this year. On Christmas day itself we are going to the seaside (yes, I know, in England, in December, we’re insane), then I think we’re seeing family members the day after Boxing Day, going to a dinner party on New Year’s Eve at a friend-from-work’s house and who knows what in between. We’re definitely hoping for a trip to London (I want one of those Top Shop style advisor appointments before I’m too old for Top Shop) and bowling. Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without bowling.

How about you, dear reader, what are you up to for Christmas this year?

This week I am also thankful for:-

  • The writing/editing course my parents have bought for me.
  • Pain medication for flare ups.
  • V+ (the recording device on cable TV) which is very handy when Dave Grohl and Rhys Darby are on at the same time on different channels.
  • My lovely life with Himself and the kitties (only one kitty present in the photo though!)

Thursday, December 3, 2009

On living with Fibromyalgia

Learning to live with Fibromyalgia has taught me many things. And what I’m learning right now is to be kind to myself, not to expect so much from myself all the time.

Whilst I was only formally diagnosed with Fibro a couple of years ago, I’m pretty sure I have suffered on and off since I was about 17. At first they said it was “growing pains”. When I pointed out I wasn’t growing anymore they called it ME. Somewhere along the line that got changed to CFS (although I’m pretty sure they’re the same thing) and now it’s got another name! Whatever you call it, in the long run it amounts to the same thing – exhaustion, headaches, a 15 year sore throat (!!) and, coupled with the scoliosis, pretty much constant chronic pain.

Now before I go on I want to say that this isn’t a self-pity post. This isn’t a “Why Me?” lament (because, as I have said before, “Why Not Me?”). This is just a reminder of how far I’ve come.

One of the hardest things I’ve had to deal with is other people’s attitudes. ME has another name in the UK – “Malingerer’s Disease” – and I cannot tell you how many times people have said to me “but you don’t look ill”. No maybe I don’t, I’m a whizz with the make up brush but inside I feel like stir-fried ass – thanks for asking! ;p

But no matter how hard it’s been I’ve always tried to live my life to the fullest, to drag my sorry carcass out of bed and get on with things to the best of my endeavours. There have been times when I’ve had to put my hands up and admit that something is too much. I decided against a long-term dream of studying Archaeology because I knew my health wasn’t up to the 12 weeks a year in a tent in a field digging holes aspect of it all. But if I had studied Archaeology I would never have gone to Australia and I would certainly never have found out I could write.

And that’s it isn’t it, dear reader? Everything that happens, good or bad, gets us to where we are today. Yes, I may have to walk rather than run, I certainly can’t have more than one alcoholic drink without falling asleep and some days I have to drag that aforementioned sorry carcass back to bed. But on the other hand, I have gained an Masters degree, travelled the world (more than once) and worked in law in the City of London for nearly 10 years. And I also know without this I would never have become a yoga teacher. After years of practice that helped me keep my body strong enough to deal with pain and my mind strong enough to deal with the sadness the pain could bring and with the help of some fantastic teachers I realised that my limitations (for want of a better word) could help me reach out to people who wanted to know about yoga but had been too afraid to ask! As I tell my students, if I can do it anyone can.

I have days when the pain is too much, when it really brings me down. But we all have bad days. Right now I’m learning to accept the bad days and look after myself on them, because there are so many good days and I have achieved so much in my own little way.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

First Frost of the Season

(a work in progress - for some reason everything I write at the moment is 16 lines long. It used to be 20. Soon I will just be writing a line at a time)

First frost,
Icing sugar motes dancing,
Like fairies skating
On blades of grass

Filled with salt and grit.
Swirling ice patterns
Spiralled on windscreens.

Bright colours
Of scarf, hat and glove
As commuters pass,
Snuggled against the biting cold.

First frost,
Winter’s leveller.
Repainting the everyday
With the fashion of a new season.