Sunday, March 7, 2010


This blog has moved to its own URL.

To follow me in your favourite reader
Go to Suburban Yogini
Click the orange button with 'Subscribe' next to it and follow the directions.

Or just paste into your "Add" window.

To follow me on Google Followers
Open Dashboard
Scroll to just below ‘Blogs I'm Following' and click the 'ADD' button. Then just enter the url in the pop up box and you should be good to go.

If you are kind enough to link to me on a blogroll or links list I would really appreciate it if you could change the link to Suburban Yogini.

Any problems drop me an email at suburbanyogini at gmail dot com

Friday, March 5, 2010

blogoversary and an extract

Today is my two year blogoversary, so yay for me! Way back when I made that first post I was just on the verge of giving up my corporate job to teach yoga full time. I had no idea what the future held and I certainly had no idea how many great bloggers I was going to connect with through this medium.

Life's changed even more since then what with our move to Cambridge last year - and I have great hopes for the future!

So to celebrate the last two years, I thought I'd tell you about one of the many steps on my journey from yoga student to teacher (not that we ever stop being students of course!).

(Mr Park say "oh hai")

One of the hardest lessons you have to learn as a yoga teacher is to not take things personally. The first time nobody turned up to class I wept and wept. It wasn’t until the next day I realised I’d got my term dates wrong and everybody assumed we were still on vacation. Sometimes people come to class, sometimes they don’t. It’s not your fault. You don’t know what’s going on in their lives and shocking as it may seem, yoga class doesn’t always take priority.

Sometimes you will get a student who comes once, and then you never see her again. You have to learn not to beat yourself up about that too. Sometimes they just won’t like you and that’s OK, because if it wasn’t for not liking a teacher, I wouldn’t be teaching yoga myself.

I used to go to a lunchtime yoga class twice a week at the gym near my office. It was perfect – it stretched my body and relaxed my mind halfway through a stressful day. No matter how busy we were at work, or how badly my boss didn’t want me to take a lunch break, I always made sure on Tuesdays and Thursdays I got to my midday yoga class. My sanity, and thus the sanity of the rest of my department, depended on it.

This particular Thursday the regular yoga teacher was away. I was always disappointed when my regular teacher was away. It happens to all of us. There is always a strange sense of loss when a cover teacher arrives. I’ve seen it in the eyes of students when I have covered another teacher’s class for them. I see it in my own student’s eyes when I tell them I won’t be there the next week and another teacher will take the class. Much as we know intellectually that we shouldn’t be attached to one teacher and one style of teaching, emotionally it is far harder to let go.

So let’s return to that distant Thursday lunchtime. I unrolled my mat with a feeling of frustration, not knowing what was in store.

I then took what, at that time, seemed to me to be the worst yoga class of my life. There was no flow, we seemed to be up and down and up and down more times than (insert suitable metaphor here!), and before I knew it, almost apoplectic with internal rage I found myself against the wall being told to “press myself against the mirror”. I’m sorry to say that I then did the unthinkable, perhaps one of the rudest things I have ever done. I walked out of the class before it had finished.

I never do this. I’m one of those people who stay in the cinema until the bitter end even when the film is so long and boring I think I may pass away. I always finish books, even those with which I lose interest on about page twenty and when it comes to yoga classes I am the mistress of etiquette. I never arrive late and I never, ever leave early. I always stay until after Savasana and the closing meditation. Except for this one time.

To this day I can’t tell you what drove me so mad about this teacher. To be honest, I can’t remember her name or what she looked like or much else about the class, apart from having to press myself against the mirror.

Later that afternoon I bemoaned to my office mate about the uselessness of my lunchtime teacher.

“I could do better,” I said.

She smiled. She knew nothing at all about yoga but she did know me.

“I know you could,” she said. “So why don’t you?”


This blog is on the move to its own URL. I will be double posting until Monday 8th March and then the whole blog will move over to

To follow me in your favourite reader
Go to Suburban Yogini
Click the orange button with 'Subscribe' next to it and follow the directions.

Or just paste into your "Add" window.

To follow me on Google Followers
Open Dashboard
Scroll to just below ‘Blogs I'm Following' and click the 'ADD' button. Then just enter the url in the pop up box and you should be good to go.

If you are kind enough to link to me on a blogroll or links list I would really appreciate it if you could change the link to Suburban Yogini.

Any problems drop me an email at suburbanyogini at gmail dot com

Thursday, March 4, 2010

things i love thursday (9)

Nine weeks into the new year already! How did that happen? It seems like only yesterday it was Christmas...

This week, before my list of five, I want to ask you a question dear readers. I've got a few posts planned for over the next few weeks but is there anything that you'd like me to write about? Anything to do with yoga, health, food or my life in general? Any nosey questions you've always been wanting to know? Now's your chance! Dear readers who don't often comment, go for it now!  You can even comment annoymously if you like!

And so on with things I love this Thursday.

* Practicing yoga with Himself - over the last few weeks with some gentle persuasion Himself is getting back into yoga and I love practicing alongside him.
* The big brushlike tail that my cats get when they are trying to scare off other cats in the garden.
* Spontaneous takeaway pizza on a Wednesday night when I realise I'm missing a vital ingredient for what I had planned for dinner.
* The first signs of spring - I think there are crocuses (crocii??) sprouting in my garden :)
* Flight of the Conchords finally annoucing UK tour dates!


This blog is on the move to its own URL. I will be double posting until Monday 8th March and then the whole blog will move over to

To follow me in your favourite reader
Go to Suburban Yogini
Click the orange button with 'Subscribe' next to it and follow the directions.

Or just paste into your "Add" window.

To follow me on Google Followers
Open Dashboard
Scroll to just below ‘Blogs I'm Following' and click the 'ADD' button. Then just enter the url in the pop up box and you should be good to go.

If you are kind enough to link to me on a blogroll or links list I would really appreciate it if you could change the link to Suburban Yogini.

Any problems drop me an email at suburbanyogini at gmail dot com

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

A letter from TKV Desikachar

My Dear Friends

Greetings from Chennai, India. I write to you about an important decision I have taken at this point in my life.

I became a student of my father in 1961, and almost immediately started teaching under his direct supervision. Next year in 2011, even though I will be completing 50 years of association with yoga, I remain a humble student of this great discipline.

In the past five decades, much has changed in the landscape of yoga, and in the reception it received around the world. What was once considered a strange oriental practice, is now a household name in every corner of the globe. I am very happy about this status, and am proud to have played a small part in witnessing these changes.

In all of my association with yoga, my link with it has only been sustained through my relationship with my teacher, the grand master T Krishnamacharya. I consider it the greatest blessing I have received to be his student, and to serve his teaching tradition. Krishnamacharya's contribution to the field of yoga can be generally categorized in the three domains of health, healing and spirituality. It is for this reason, that he was a complete yogi and his work timeless.

I have traveled far and wide over these years to share his most precious teachings with audiences around the world. And today much of yoga's influence on the domains of health and healing, is attributed to his wonderful contribution. The time has now come for me to focus on the spiritual domain of his teaching, and ensure that this will exist for future generations of yogis. I want to give my time and effort to not only translate the work of my teacher in this domain, but also to experience it through practice and reflection. Hence starting in 2011, I have decided to greatly reduce my travel commitments, and will mainly teach here in Chennai.

I am not retiring from yoga, but rather only reducing my travel outside the country. You are always welcome to participate in projects that I am going to teach here in India, be it at the KYM or the KHYF. My commitment to the KHYF network, the KYM and all of my students is steadfast, and will continue as always.

My son and student, Kausthub, has assured me of his whole hearted support for my decision and I am very confident that he will find the right way to support you all. He has already shared with me some of his new ideas for doing this and you will be informed of these plans in the near future.

I want to thank all of you, who I have met during my years of travel, for your affection and kindness. I would like to you embrace this decision.

Warm regards

TKV Desikachar
Chennai, INDIA


While it is a shame that Sri Desikachar will no longer be teaching outside of Chennai the part in this letter that struck me the most was this:-

 In the past five decades, much has changed in the landscape of yoga, and in the reception it received around the world. What was once considered a strange oriental practice, is now a household name in every corner of the globe. I am very happy about this status, and am proud to have played a small part in witnessing these changes.

So much time is spent, both in the blogosphere and the real world, debating "Yoga in the West".  Are we spiritual enough?  Austere enough?  Flexible enough?  Should we be vegetarian?  Do we have to look like the models on the front of Yoga Journal?  Should I teach unless I can do every posture (clue:  nobody can do every posture!)?

But when I read these words from the founder of the school of yoga in which I teach, I realised that none of these debates matter.  They certainly don't appear to matter to him, so they certainly don't matter to me!  What matters is we are practicing yoga.  All over the world in many different styles and ways we are practicing yoga.  If Sir (as he is colloquially known in Chennai) is happy, then I am happy.

Keep practicing, in whichever way and whichever style is appropriate to you right now.  Don't worry about what you look like but instead on how you feel.  Open your heart and enjoy!

Join me on the Spring into Yoga 2010 Challenge!!!

(Kathleen has pointed out that for some of you it's more of a Fall into Yoga 2010 Challenge.  Autumn is all about letting go, so join in and let go of those blocks with certain postures, or with practicing yoga more regularly!)


This blog is on the move to its own URL. I will be double posting until Monday 8th March and then the whole blog will move over to

To follow me in your favourite reader
Go to Suburban Yogini
Click the orange button with 'Subscribe' next to it and follow the directions.

Or just paste into your "Add" window.

To follow me on Google Followers
Open Dashboard
Scroll to just below ‘Blogs I'm Following' and click the 'ADD' button. Then just enter the url in the pop up box and you should be good to go.

If you are kind enough to link to me on a blogroll or links list I would really appreciate it if you could change the link to Suburban Yogini.

Any problems drop me an email at suburbanyogini at gmail dot com

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

spring into yoga!

  "Practice and all will come!"

I don't know about where you are but there is a distinct feeling of spring in the air here in Cambridge. The days are definitely longer and brighter, the bulbs in the garden are all poking their heads through the soil and the air feels lighter somehow, more oxygenated! This Yogini definitely has a spring in her step, awful pun very much intended.

I'm sure you've all heard of WoYoPraMo. World Yoga Practice Month is usually January and the yoga world all pledge to practice every day. I did not take part this year as I spent the first week of this January coughing up my lungs with bronchitis.

Besides I've never practiced every single day of the week. I believe in at least one rest day a week as a time to allow the body, mind and breath to assimilate the practice.  I also think that it is vitally important not to set goals that are unachievable.  It takes a very strong person not to feel a little let down by themselves if they have not achieved a goal that they have set.

A five day per week practice sits perfectly with my life right now, and so for the month of March I want to continue with my five days a week, but I want to focus specifically on poses that I have a tendency to avoid.   These include Baddha Konasana, Janu Sirsasana and Dhanurasana.  Those things we choose to avoid are often the things we need the most, so I will be working on these postures as mindfully as I can (rather than cursing myself in my head!) and keeping in mind my thoughts on 40 days of Ahimsa by being gentle with myself and not pushing or straining.  Just being in these postures that I so dislike. 

Spring always reminds makes me think of the word "bloom", as everything is just bursting, ready to bloom into life.  And that is exactly what I want to be happening on my yoga mat right now.

I would love it if you would join me dear reader.  No earth shattering goals, nothing you can't stick to but if, like me, you practice regularly, try to practice at least one posture you don't like (and we all have them) every day in March.  If you practice yoga but not as regularly as you'd like, try to put aside 20 minutes 2 times a week (my 20 minute practice might come in handy here!).  And for those of you who have never tried yoga before, why not go to a class, any class, just once sometime in March!

I'd love to know how you get on so do share!


This blog is on the move to its own URL. I will be double posting until Monday 8th March and then the whole blog will move over to

To follow me in your favourite reader
Go to Suburban Yogini
Click the orange button with 'Subscribe' next to it and follow the directions.

Or just paste into your "Add" window.

To follow me on Google Followers
Open Dashboard
Scroll to just below ‘Blogs I'm Following' and click the 'ADD' button. Then just enter the url in the pop up box and you should be good to go.

If you are kind enough to link to me on a blogroll or links list I would really appreciate it if you could change the link to Suburban Yogini.

Any problems drop me an email at suburbanyogini at gmail dot com

Monday, March 1, 2010

Fiona Robyn's long awaited Blogsplash!

 Ruth's diary is the new novel by Fiona Robyn, called Thaw. She has decided to blog the novel in its entirety over the next few months, so you can read it for free.
Ruth's first entry is below, and you can continue reading tomorrow here.
These hands are ninety-three years old. They belong to Charlotte Marie Bradley Miller. She was so frail that her grand-daughter had to carry her onto the set to take this photo. It’s a close-up. Her emaciated arms emerge from the top corners of the photo and the background is black, maybe velvet, as if we’re being protected from seeing the strings. One wrist rests on the other, and her fingers hang loose, close together, a pair of folded wings. And you can see her insides.
The bones of her knuckles bulge out of the skin, which sags like plastic that has melted in the sun and is dripping off her, wrinkling and folding. Her veins look as though they’re stuck to the outside of her hands. They’re a colour that’s difficult to describe: blue, but also silver, green; her blood runs through them, close to the surface. The book says she died shortly after they took this picture. Did she even get to see it? Maybe it was the last beautiful thing she left in the world.
I’m trying to decide whether or not I want to carry on living. I’m giving myself three months of this journal to decide. You might think that sounds melodramatic, but I don’t think I’m alone in wondering whether it’s all worth it. I’ve seen the look in people’s eyes. Stiff suits travelling to work, morning after morning, on the cramped and humid tube. Tarted-up girls and gangs of boys reeking of aftershave, reeling on the pavements on a Friday night, trying to mop up the dreariness of their week with one desperate, fake-happy night. I’ve heard the weary grief in my dad’s voice.
So where do I start with all this? What do you want to know about me? I’m Ruth White, thirty-two years old, going on a hundred. I live alone with no boyfriend and no cat in a tiny flat in central London. In fact, I had a non-relationship with a man at work, Dan, for seven years. I’m sitting in my bedroom-cum-living room right now, looking up every so often at the thin rain slanting across a flat grey sky. I work in a city hospital lab as a microbiologist. My dad is an accountant and lives with his sensible second wife Julie, in a sensible second home. Mother finished dying when I was fourteen, three years after her first diagnosis. What else? What else is there?
Charlotte Marie Bradley Miller. I looked at her hands for twelve minutes. It was odd describing what I was seeing in words. Usually the picture just sits inside my head and I swish it around like tasting wine. I have huge books all over my flat; books you have to take in both hands to lift. I’ve had the photo habit for years. Mother bought me my first book, black and white landscapes by Ansel Adams. When she got really ill, I used to take it to bed with me and look at it for hours, concentrating on the huge trees, the still water, the never-ending skies. I suppose it helped me think about something other than what was happening. I learned to focus on one photo at a time rather than flicking from scene to scene in search of something to hold me. If I concentrate, then everything stands still. Although I use them to escape the world, I also think they bring me closer to it. I’ve still got that book. When I take it out, I handle the pages as though they might flake into dust.
Mother used to write a journal. When I was small, I sat by her bed in the early mornings on a hard chair and looked at her face as her pen spat out sentences in short bursts. I imagined what she might have been writing about; princesses dressed in star-patterned silk, talking horses, adventures with pirates. More likely she was writing about what she was going to cook for dinner and how irritating Dad’s snoring was.
I’ve always wanted to write my own journal, and this is my chance. Maybe my last chance. The idea is that every night for three months, I’ll take one of these heavy sheets of pure white paper, rough under my fingertips, and fill it up on both sides. If my suicide note is nearly a hundred pages long, then no-one can accuse me of not thinking it through. No-one can say; ‘It makes no sense; she was a polite, cheerful girl, had everything to live for’, before adding that I did keep myself to myself. It’ll all be here. I’m using a silver fountain pen with purple ink. A bit flamboyant for me, I know. I need these idiosyncratic rituals; they hold things in place. Like the way I make tea, squeezing the tea-bag three times, the exact amount of milk, seven stirs. My writing is small and neat; I’m striping the paper. I’m near the bottom of the page now. Only ninety-one more days to go before I’m allowed to make my decision. That’s it for today. It’s begun.
Continue reading tomorrow here...

links to the new blog

A few of you have pointed out that there was a problem with the links to the new blog in my last post. I have no corrected this - sorry about that. Here are the instructions again for good measure!


This blog is on the move to it's own URL. I will be double posting until Monday 8th March and then the whole blog will move over to

To follow me in your favourite reader
Go to Suburban Yogini
Click the big orange button with 'Subscribe in a reader' next to it and follow the directions.

Or just paste into your "Add" window.

To follow me on Google Followers
Open Dashboard
Scroll to just below ‘Blogs I'm Following' and click the 'ADD' button. Then just enter the url in the pop up box and you should be good to go.

Any problems drop me an email at suburbanyogini at gmail dot com

Sunday, February 28, 2010

fajitas and flow

Good evening dear readers and thank you for all your lovely comments about your experiences of dorm rooms!

Sorry I've been MIA most of the weekend, I've been busy moving the blog over to its own URL.  Well I say "I" it's mostly been Himself who should be thanked in abundance!  I would hate to lose any of my dear readers so if you scroll down to the bottom of this post there are instructions on how to keep following.  The new webpage is still a bit of a work in progress but over the next week or so there will be all sorts of fun things appearing over there so do keep an eye out.  I'll be posting both here and there for one week and then moving over completely.  Do come with!!!

We did also find time to cook fajitas for Ma and Pa Yogini at their house.  Here is my second chef hard at work at the chopping board....

....and not much liking having his photo taken!

Unfortunately, soon after this he had to be sent out for salsa which I'd forgotten to bring with me - I also forgot my camera so do forgive poor quality camera phone piccies.

Nearly ready....peppers of all colours, onions, leeks, mushrooms and Quorn pieces.

.....this was demolished in seconds!

For dessert we had another of my many vegan cupcake recipes.  This is my current favourite - lemon and orange with lemon frosting and a few grapes to pretend to be healthy!

After too much food on a Saturday night what more could you want for your Sunday morning than a nice short flow sequence.  I'm sorry this is a bit late but I'm sure it works on Monday mornings too!

1.  Tadasana - stepping the left leg back into wide legged stance
2.  Turn the right foot out coming in to Virabhadrasana 2 on the right.
3.  Inhale into Reverse Warrior
4,  Exhale into Parsovokonasana (left arm stretching up to the ceiling)
5.  Inhale left arm alongside the ear.
6.  Exhale over the right leg into Parsvottanasana (keep that right knee bent!)
7.  Inhale into Virabhadrasana 1
8.  Exhale into Virabhadrasana 2

Repeat steps 3-8 between two and four times and then repeat the whole flow on the left hand side.

Finish with a nice relaxed Padottonasana.

Happy Sunday!

As I mentioned, I'm moving the blog over to its own URL and I would love it if all of my dear dear readers came with me!  So here's how.

To follow me in your favorite reader
Go to Suburban Yogini
Click the big orange button with 'Subscribe in a reader' next to it and follow the directions.

Or just paste into your "Add" window.

To follow me on Google Followers
Open Dashboard
Scroll to just below ‘Blogs I'm Following' and click the 'ADD' button. Then just enter the url in the pop up box and you should be good to go.

Any problems drop me an email at suburbanyogini at gmail dot com

Friday, February 26, 2010

looking back

Caitlin over at Healthy Tipping Point is in the process of writing an article on dorm rooms (or "Halls" as we call them in the UK) and it got me to thinking about my first year at university all those years ago.

I went to the University of Kent at Canterbury for my undergraduate degree. This photo is me outside my college (Keynes) Halls last summer when I went back for a little trip down memory lane. Keynes was the envy of the university back in 1994, because it was the first college that had all single occupancy rooms with "en suites". I put the words en suite in inverted commas for a reason. You're probably imagining a proper bathroom aren't you? Think again.

In reality these luxurious sounding en suites were a small plastic cubicle stuck in the corner of the room. Within this "pod" as they came to be known was a small sink, toilet and shower. It was like the bathrooms you get in Greek hotel rooms, you know the type - a shower and a drain, no cubicle or shower tray or shower curtain. But Canterbury is not Greece and it was rarely warm enough for the water to evaporate. Consequently every time you went to the loo you got your socks wet and the room always had a faint smell of damp. If you ever had a long shower you ran the risk of the pod leaking. Really there wasn't that much to be envious of.

University was a bit of a strange transient time for me. I'd spent most of the previous two years travelling and living in Australia. By the time I got to university I was nearly 21. Three years isn't a big age gap once you're all grown up but the difference between 18 and 21 is immense. I think a lot of my fellow students saw me as a bit of a dinosaur.

Thank heavens then for my Tuesday night yoga class where I met a few fantastic people (I think university was where I first learned Rachel's Law #3 - if you want to meet people, join a yoga class!), most of whom were considered "mature" students. I think university is the only place a 24-year-old is considered mature.

Rachel's Law #2 is to make sure you always have space to put down your yoga mat. That bloody great plastic pod in the corner made it tricky but I did just about have space for my practice in my little room in Halls of Residence.

So, dear reader, did you live in Halls/Dorm Rooms at college? What were they like? What are your memories of them?

Thursday, February 25, 2010

things I love thursdays (8)

* First up I feel rather remiss about replying and acknowledging all of your lovely comments over the last couple of weeks, so let it be said that one of the things I love this Thursday is you lot in general :)
* Eat Love Pray - what an amazing book, how was it that this has passed me by until now? Nearly everyone else has read it!
* The weather was so much milder this morning that I didn't need my winter coat. Joy and Rapture :)
* Working on moving my blog to its own URL (more news on this very very soon)
* Creating the perfect vegan cupcake recipe (more on that soon too)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

another award

The lovely ReneW has awarded me the Beautiful Blogger badge. Go check out her blog, like Yancy yesterday, she has just given up her corporate job to follow her heart!

The rules for the award state that I should pass it on to 15 Beautiful Bloggers but I'm going to shake things up a little bit. Everyone who reads this blog is a pretty Beautiful Blogger in my opinion, so let's all get to know each other a little better.

Post a comment here with a link to one of your favourite blog posts and then visit the blogger who posted before you and leave a comment on their blog.

Have fun!


The rules also state that I have to tell you 7 random facts about myself so here goes (if you share 7 random facts about yourselves in your blog, leave me a link!):-

1. I am addicted to Australian soap operas.
2. I don't want to get married, but get silly excited when other people get engaged.
3. I have two cats, both named after Foo Fighter songs.
4. My favourite film is "You, Me and Dupree" - I have lost count of the number of times I've seen it.
5. I love pancakes - when I was little I ate so many I was sick :/
6. I wear odd socks.
7. For someone who attempts to practice non-attachment, I am very attached to my pink yoga mat.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

interview with Yancy Wilkenfeldt - director of 5 Seed Beauty Products.

Meet Yancy Wilkenfeldt director and creator of homemade beauty product company 5 Seed.

I've known Yancy since last summer when she contacted me as we were both going to Paris around the same time (ah Paris!). Recently she has taken the brave step to quit her job and follow her dream. I thought I'd garner some custom for her by interviewing her here.

5 Seed's philosophy: Our bodies are vastly intelligent mechanisms. They know how to process food, eliminate toxins, move in healthy ways, and how to do these things with or without conscious effort or interference. The more we “stay out of the way,” the better. It is best to use fewer, safer bath and body products, so that our bodies can follow their natural rhythms, and keep us feeling and looking great
So without further ado, let's get on with the interview!

1. Towards the end of last year you made the decision to give up your day job and start 5 Seed. Can you tell us about the signs along the road that helped you make this decision?

Well, first of all, I disliked my job intensely. I love kids, but teaching did not turn out the way I had hoped it would. I began to dream about the possibility of pursuing the other two things that had always been dreams of mine: writing, and opening a natural bath and body product business.
After nearly 18 months of teaching, and literally feeling miserable almost every day, I began to realize that it was time to either take a risk and start the business, or at least find a new job. I knew I couldn’t go on like that.

During the two weeks immediately preceding my grand opening, I was rewarded with intensely synchronistic events multiple times per day. It is hard to describe it fully, but let’s just say that whenever I had a decision to make, I would go with my gut feeling, and would, within an hour, see, hear, or encounter something/someone that confirmed my decision. I also had dreams about a few beloved family members who have passed on, and I felt as though they were encouraging me to continue on this path.

2. As somebody who gave up their corporate job to pursue their dream, I am in total admiration for you as I know how hard that decision is. How do you feel now, a few months on about your decision? And how does your other half feel?

Immediately after opening my business, I experienced two weeks of complete terror (I recognise this feeling! - SY). I suddenly worried if I had made the wrong decision, and became anxious that things would not work out and that I would lose the investment I had made in the business.

However, since those two weeks passed, I have experienced a lot of relief and happiness. I work more hours than I did while teaching, but I’m so happy that the time flies. I love operating this business. I still struggle with fears – it takes a long time to really build up a brand new business, and money has been tight for a long time. But, I try to focus on the joy and satisfaction this job brings me.

As for my other half, he is extremely supportive. He has been hounding me to open this business for almost two years now, and was thrilled when I finally did it.

3. What have been your bestselling products so far? Why do you think that is?

So far, my Peppermint Cocoa Lip Balm and Orange Cocoa Moisturizing Cream have been the bestsellers. I’m not surprised about the lip balm – it smells like a peppermint patty and feels like butter! I knew people would like that one.

I was surprised by the moisturizing cream, however. I have the feeling that most people have not had much (or any) experience with natural moisturizers, and therefore, might get nervous about a product that changes its texture according to the temperature, that “sweats” over time and with application, and that looks kinda funny compared to commercial lotions.

Luckily, my customers are brave, curious, and open-minded, as I have sold several moisturizing creams already, and have gotten very positive feedback on this item. I think people just fall in love with the creaminess of this product, and the fact that it lives up to its promises.

4. What is your personal favourite product and why?

My favorite product is the aforementioned moisturizing cream. I have been making my own lotions for the past two years now, but I could never seem to make one that was creamy enough to really hydrate my dry skin. Last November, I was fooling around with some ingredients, and came up with this recipe. I was so thrilled with it! This cream is the reason I started the business. I knew it was a cream I could make and sell with total faith in its ability to work well! I have used it every day since November, and only just ran out of the original jar today, three months later.

5. You're passionate about the environment and looking after the planet. What or who was your inspiration to become "green"?

Many experiences and role models contributed to my love and respect for Mother Earth. I grew up on a goat ranch, where my parents taught me and my siblings to be devoted stewards to the animals around us. We witnessed births and deaths, and learned to respect all life. We were also blessed to spend much of our youth in a rural area, where we learned to find refuge in nature.

In later years, as my exposure to the world grew, I began learning more and more about the environment, and subsequently, became more and more passionate about it. I read John Robbins’ Diet for a New America around the age of 20, and became a vegetarian immediately afterward. I became more aware of recycling issues, and toxins in beauty products. And thanks to an article in Yoga Journal about yoga teacher and environmentalist, Adi Carter, I began to question the First World belief that generating trash is not just our privilege but our right.

6. One piece of advice to someone on the verge of giving up the day job to pursue the dream?

It is hard to think of just one thing to say to someone on the verge of making such a life-changing decision, but I think the most important thing is to be patient, but be brave. I was encouraged to start this business for the past two years, but if I had started it back then, I don’t believe I would have been ready. There were a lot of small, subtle evolutions that took place (many without my notice) over those two years that I believe have helped me build a good foundation for success.

But don’t be TOO patient. Bravery is important, too. It was tempting to keep going for the semi-steady paycheck, to keep teaching despite the fact that I was miserable. The thought of jumping into completely unknown territory almost prevented me from moving forward. Sometimes, though, you have to take big risks for the sake of happiness. It doesn’t always curl up in your lap. Sometimes, it plays hard to get, and you have to go out and woo it!

(I remember someone saying to me when I was nervous about quitting my job that there is never a good time to do anything, you just have to do it and see what happens - SY)

7. And one piece of advice to make the planet a healthier place?

I think the most life-changing, eco-friendly thing EVERYONE can do is simply to meditate upon trash. How much do you throw away every day? Why do we believe we have the right to create as much waste as we want? Why does our responsibility for our disposable actions end when the trash bin is dumped into the garbage truck?

There’s no use in feeling guilty over it, and I certainly wouldn’t suggest entertaining that emotion for long. It’s not productive. All we have to do is stop and think before throwing something away. Simply become aware. We live in a disposable culture, and finding our way out of a trash-filled existence may be a lifelong pursuit. That’s okay. Every single effort counts, down to the last gum wrapper.


So there you have it folks - go check out 5 Seed, and Yancy's other blog Greenspell. Support this woman, she is a god(ess)send! :)

Monday, February 22, 2010

the image of yoga

One of the very few downsides of living in Cambridge is there is a severe lack of independent cafes that do a good Sunday Brunch, so this weekend we had to make do with Giraffe.

One of the many upsides is the beautifully laid back yoga atsmosphere.

Back in London, there was a tendency in some of the studios, to judge. To judge on the "perfection" of your asana, the austerity of your life, even the price of your yoga bag, the more expensive the better. It's enough to eat into anyone's self esteem and is one of the reasons why it took me so long to get around to training to teach yoga - I just didn't think I was "good enough".

Of course now, as I said in an email conversation with EcoYogini yesterday, it breaks my heart that beautiful, talented and amazing women are thinking twice about training to teach because they are not "good enough".

The yoga media don't help much either as Brenda P pointed out in this post. Much as I love Yoga Journal and it's UK equivalent Yoga & Health (hell I've even written for the latter one), I don't think I've ever seen a cover shot that isn't of very slim, Caucasian women bending their "perfect" bodies into gymnastic postures. Sometimes it's enough to make anyone give up. What about the tattoed, crooked backed women who will never get their head on their foot in Pigeon Pose (and yes YJ I'm willing to pose for a cover shot if you're reading)? What about all the beautifully curvacious yoginis out there? What about the graceful older yogini? What about the non-Caucasian? What, even, about the men?

We need images that inspire us to keep practicing despite, or even because of, our individual limitations - which, incidentally, we do all have. Images that remind us that this practice that we have right now is yoga, that we are not waiting to practice yoga until we can attain a posture akin to a Yoga Journal cover shot. As The Everything Yoga Blog wrote in this post, asana is only one of the eight limbs of yoga - a precursor if you will to the practices of pranayama and meditation.

With this in mind then, we can begin to realise that we do not have to be a certain build, or be of a certain flexibility to become teachers. It doesn't matter if we can't perform every asana "perfectly". As teachers we are enablers, helping our students work to their own abilities, helping them along their journeys, whatever their journeys may be. From personal experience I have found that my students secretly like my crooked back and dodgy hip, it gives them a sense of perspective!

Desikachar says that yoga is "to attain what was previously unattainable". That "unattainable" is different for everybody, and it's time that difference was represented more in the yoga world.

In Cambridge you can turn up to a yoga class in your pajamas (I have a friend who regularly does) and nobody bats an eyelid. Let Cambridge lead the way - I'm a lucky girl to live here. :)

Saturday, February 20, 2010

mindful eating

One morning during my yoga teacher training we were each given an orange. Rather than this being a cue for a teabreak, it was the start of an exercise in mindful eating. It is an exercise that can be done with any fruit (or indeed any food), but citrus works well because you have to peel it. I have repeated the excercise again over the years both on my own and when teaching. This morning I used a grapefruit.

At first just hold the fruit, be aware of the vibrancy of its colour, feel its texture, its firmness. Roll it against your skin and feel its coolness. Inhale its aroma.

When you are ready begin to peel.

Notice the citrus aroma getting stronger. Be aware of the feeling of the skin of the fruit in your hands. Is is easy to peel or difficult? Does the pith come away with the peel or do you have to take that off separately? How does that make you feel? Does it annoy you that it takes so long to get into the fruit? Breath and be patient. Enjoy this moment.

Begin to tear the fruit into segments. Slowly. Piece by piece.

I loved it with this grapefruit as I didn't realise it was a pink one!

Feel the grapefruit juice on your fingers, how do the segments feel in your hands? Begin to anticipate how the fruit will taste. Tear each segment separately before you eat.

When you are ready take a few more deep breaths to notice how you are feeling.

Finally eat! Savour each mouthful. Chew slowly. Notice the sensations in your mouth. Notice any memories. Be aware of the fruit nourishing you, refreshing you.

Eat mindfully and be thankful! I know we cannot eat every meal with such awareness but take a moment to think about what you are eating and why you are eating it. I often find, when I think about it, I don't want that chocolate biscuit after all! And then again sometimes only a cupcake will do!

What other foods could you practice this mindful eating exercise with? What sensations would they bring?

Friday, February 19, 2010

early memories (an extract)

(mum and dad c. 1978 - apologies for lack of framing in photo, I was only 4)

My mother used to go to a yoga class once a week. I would have been about 4 or 5 and I remember watching her get ready thinking how elegant she looked in her leotard and footless tights, her long hair hanging down her back. It must have been Thursdays because I used to stay home with my Nan and watch Top of the Pops in my personal favourite evening attire of red dressing gown and Adidas trainers. This yoga, I thought to myself as I danced along to the music on the television imagining what my mother was doing at that moment, must be a beautiful thing. When I grow up I want to do that.

(me with my Nan outside Kings College Chapel, Cambridge c.1978 - check out my tree pose!)

I didn’t have to grow up by much. I went to my first yoga class alongside my mum when I was about 7 or 8 years old and I don’t really remember a time when yoga wasn’t a part of my life.

I wasn’t what you would call a sporty child at school. In fact I was rubbish. Everything always hurt, everything always seemed so difficult. I remember one summer practicing backward somersaults in the back garden all weekend just so I wouldn’t be the laughing stock in gym class the next week, as usual. I never really questioned my bad co-ordination, I just thought we can’t all be good at everything and left it at that. After all I had something that my classmates didn’t. I had yoga.

When I was 15 and working for my Duke of Edinburgh Bronze award, I chose yoga as my “sport” module. When I was 18 and I was doing a lot of performance art alongside my A Levels, I found yoga helped me stretch, breathe, relax. When I was travelling, yoga was a talking point with other backpackers. When I was at university, the Tuesday night yoga class became the hub of my social life, although looking back I suspect I had quite a sedate university education in comparison to a lot of my peers. Yoga was just there. It never felt like a sport, or a gym class. It just felt like my body moving in the way it needed to move, powered by my breath, as my mind stilled and my stresses, my tensions, my worries fell away.

Despite all this it was years before I considered teaching yoga for a living. I still remembered the little girl who couldn’t do a backward somersault to save her life. Who wanted to be taught yoga by her? But then the strangest thing happened. My dad qualified as a yoga teacher.

(dad and me on his 70th birthday - November 2008)

Now I love my dad very much, but if you saw him, you just couldn’t picture it. He’s a slightly overweight accountant who does love a glass of wine now and again (well now really). I guess somewhere along the line mum must have dragged him along to a class too and, like me, he just had to keep going back. Before he knew it he was signed up on a teacher training course.

I talk about how yoga is for EVERYONE a lot, but this was my turning point. This is the point when I realised that yoga isn’t about how strong you are or what you look like. It isn’t about how “perfect” your postures are, or whether you are wearing the right clothes. It isn’t even about austere living and strict rules. I realised that most aspiring yogis and yoginis are just ordinary folk like me with bad back, dodgy hips and podgy tummies, with ordinary jobs that on some days they can't stand, and ordinary families who, on some days, can’t stand them. And I realised that maybe I could share my experiences of yoga with other people too, just like my dad.

Yogi(ni) readers, what are your earliest memories of yoga? Where did they take you?

Non Yogi(ni) readers, what is your passion, and what are your earliest memories of it?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

things i love thursday (7)

This week I received the Sunshine Blog Award not once, but twice! One from Heather and one from Jamie. Thank you so much ladies - that made my week.

I now have to pass the award on to 10 people. I read a *lot* of blogs so it's hard singling it out to 10. The 10 I have chosen are not all blogs specifically about yoga but they do all encompass so many of the thoughts of yoga, whether they know it or not! (Also I'm trying not to double up on people who already got the Sunshine!)

So instead of a "things I love Thursday" I'm going to have a "blogs I love Thursday" for the 10 wonderful bloggers who bring sunshine into my week with their brilliant writing. Spread the love onwards if you so desire!

* Brenda P at Grounding Through the Sit Bones
* Marie at Begin: Writing, Yoga, More
* MG at Who's That Gamine? (you always make me smile girl!)
* Kiki at Yogademia (hope all is well in the States)
* Angela at Just Waffling
* Leslie at YogaDiva's Divine Life
* La Gitane at Yoga Gypsy
* Kathleen at Soul Sisters
* Josephine at Tale Peddler
* And the final one goes to Himself over at Iron Thumb. A blog about software development (*yawn*), but he brings sunshine into my life every single day. Boring blog, fabulous man :D

(I know I'm going to get into trouble for calling his blog boring.....)

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

40 days

Good morning all! I hope you all enjoyed your pancakes yesterday. We had blueberries and maple syrup with ours (the blueberries made us feel we were getting some fruit at least)! No photos I'm afraid as they were pretty much inhaled before I could get near a camera.

And so 40 days of Lent begins. Research suggests that 40 days is the right amount of time to start a new habit, or give up an old one, and for it to stick.

I went to Catholic School and so I remember Lent with a sense of trepidation. Every year for 40 days the tuck shop and snack bar were shut. No sweets or hot chocolate for us - we were all forced to give up snacks and sweets whether we wanted to or not.

These days I prefer to think of Lent as not so much a time to give things up, but more a time to start positive thinking and practices, or working on one of the Yamas or Niyamas (the yogic codes of conduct towards ourselves and others).

This year as I continue to travel through my year of mindfulness, I'm going to work once more on ahimsa. The first of the Yamas, ahimsa asks us to act in a non-harmful way, in kindness - towards others, towards the planet and towards ourselves.

And it is that last I have trouble with. I spend so much time on others and on the external world that sometimes I burn myself into the ground. Sometimes I beat myself up, compare myself to others too much, ignore my own limitations. So this Lententide I am going to act with kindness in any way I can including towards myself.

What about you dear reader? What are you giving up or starting for Lent?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


The reason God made February short a few days was because he knew that by the time people came to the end of it, they would die if they had to stand one more blasted day.
--Katherine Paterson

Tell me about it. I have officially had it with winter now; the cold, the wet, the having to wear tights. Roll on summer!

Monday, February 15, 2010

vegan pancakes

So somehow another year has flown by and it's Fat Tuesday again tomorrow. Traditionally the day to use up all the eggs and milk in the form of a pancake before Lent starts. But what if you don't eat eggs and milk?

Well fear not, you can still join in the fun! This is posted with Mary in mind - she's doing a vegan experiment right now!

150g (5oz) plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
half teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons of rapeseed/sunflower/vegetable oil
5 tablespoons of water
300ml (half pint) of plain soy or rice or hemp milk
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract (optional)

Simple really!

Sift the flour, baking powder salt and cinnamon together in a mixing bowl.

Mix the oil, water and milk together with the vanilla extract into a jug.

Slowly pour the wet mix into the dry, stirring as you go until you get the consistency you like for pancake batter (I like it quite thick but a lot of people like a thin batter to make crepes). Don't overmix though or the pancakes will be tough.

Cook exactly like you'd cook a normal pancake.


LadyBloggers - come one come all!


Just a quick post to remind you all to check out LadyBloggers - guess who's guestblogging over there today! I'm sharing my "Yoga at Your Desk" routine, so it might come as timely reminder if your shoulders are feeling tense already now we're back into the working week.

It's a great site and I've already "met" some lovely ladies over there.

See what you think.

I will be back :)

Sunday, February 14, 2010

valentine's link love

snowdrops in my back garden yesterday

* Have you seen LadyBloggers yet? Check it out. It's a network for.... you've guessed it... lady bloggers! And I'm going to be contributing semi-regularly (time permitting).
* Some beautiful pictures of love over on Sarah Von's yes and yes blog.
* A video of me and some gentle sun salutations (a nice alternative for people like myself who have back and shoulder problems and find chaturanga and astangasana to much of a challenge) over on Emma's Joy of Yoga. The video was taken in my old house/studio in London. Sometimes I miss it.
* The Victorian love story of Robert Browing and Elizabeth Barrett over on The Virtual Victorian.
* Greenspell, who I will be interviewing soon, has some fun hints for an eco-friendly Valentine's Day. Love the eath too people :)
* And finally, not very romantic this one, The Misantropic Yogini ponders body odour over at Damn Good Yoga. What do you think?

Friday, February 12, 2010

yoga for walkers and runners

As promised, a short sequence for walkers and runners. It can be practiced anytime but is especially effective after your run or walk. Enjoy!

begin with the centring and kneeling saluation practices described in this post.

Holding the final downward dogs for 5-10 breaths.

Optional sun salutations of your choice.

High Lunge - begin in a kneeling position and step the right foot forward - inhale lifting out from the waist and exhale lift the left knee off the floor. Make sure that the right knee is bent at a 90 degree angle and the left heel is off the floor. Have the hands on the hips to ensure that the hips are square to the front of the mat then raise the arms up and lower the shoulderblades. Hold and breathe - 5 -10 breaths. Exhale into downward dog again, inhale to all fours and then come back to kneeling to repeat on the other side.

From downward dog step or jump the feet between the hands to uttanasna. Hold for 5 breaths and then roll up slowly on the inhale.

Step the legs wide for Triknonasana - 5 breaths to each side.

Paddotanasana - 5 breaths then walk the hands forward and the feet to hip width to come into downward dog once again. Bend the knees and push the chest towards the thighs to open the chest.

Plank - 5 breaths

Lower to the stomach.

Salambhasana - 3 sets of five breaths.

Child's pose

Pachiomottanasana - 5-10 breaths

Supine hamstring stretch - lying on the back with the knees bent, feet flat on the floor, stretch the right leg up to the ceiling, holding on behind the calf or thigh. Point and flex the foot a few times and rotate the ankle a few times in each direct. Lower and repeat to the other side.

Halasana (optional depending on whether you are doing inversions)


Thursday, February 11, 2010

things i love thursday (6)

* This skirt. This is a skirt I bought when I had my Topshop Style Advisor appointment. It is not something I would have even tried on had I been shopping by myself, but it is fast becoming my favourite day to day item. It reminds me of Twin Peaks with a bit of post punk thrown in for good measure.
* The lovely comments you guys left on this post. Thank you ladies for your encouragement.
* Cadbury's Creme Eggs.
* My evergrowing Amazon wishlist.
* Sleep - even though I have had nowhere near enough this week.
It's been a long tough week and there is still one day to go, so forgive the trivaility of some of my TILTs this week.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

yoga for cyclists

All this cycling I have been doing has made me ever more mindful of the way my body works, what muscles I'm using, how I'm holding myself.

I do love my bike ride to and from work each day (although it wasn't a whole heap of fun in the snow this morning), but I'm not sure it does an awful lot for my tight hamstrings and crooked back.

When I get home in the evening, if I don't go to a yoga class on the way, I do some yoga at home. I've devised a little yoga sequence that's particularly suitable for my bicycle weary bones that I thought I'd share. Sometimes I do more than this, but this is my minimum. I hope you like it! Once again I've done links to Yoga Journal pictures - don't worry too much about looking like that. I don't!

I begin with the centring and kneeling saluation practices described in this post.

Then a few rounds of a sun salutation of your choice if you like.

Hold the downward dogs for longer and longer to really stretch into the hamstrings and shoulders, both of which get tight on a bike. Try coming down onto forearms for downward dog, or bending the knees and drawing the chest nearer to the thighs.

Vrkasana followed by Garudasana (legs only, hands in prayer position) - at least 5 breaths in each pose on each side. This rotates the hips in both directions loosening them up from that bike ride!

Paddotanasana - 10 breaths, you can start with the knees slightly bent and then straighten them as you breath into posture.

Triknonasana - 5 breaths to each side

Uttanasana - bent or straight knees - 10 breaths

Return to kneeling

Utrasana - 3 x 5 breaths each. This really opens out the chest and shoulders - I often find my posture on the bike ride home isn't that much better than my posture at my desk!

NB - people with back problems (like me) might want to try "baby camel". Instead of trying to reach the heels just keep the hands on the small of the back, push the hips forward and open the chest by drawing the shoulderblades and elbows towards each other.

Child's pose for as long as you need.

Janu Sirsasana - 5 breaths to each side

Pachiomottanasana - 5-10 breaths

Lie down on the back and hug the knees into the chest



Later in the week I hope to do a sequence for all you runners and walkers out there!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

the yoga of writing

There is a moment whilst writing when pen and paper or fingers and keyboard become one; when nothing else matters; when the writer is totally absorbed in the present moment and the line between writer and written word disappears completely.

These moments to me are the yoga of writing. If yoga means 'yoke' or 'union' and yoga is the union of breath and movement, of body and mind, then this moment is the union of me as the writer and the writing itself. There is nothing else but the sound of my heart, my breath and the words forming in my mind and reforming on the paper or screen. There is no monkey mind. There is just writing.

I wish these moments came more often. But as with meditation and asana practice, the moments come and the moments go. We cannot force these moments, we can just allow ourselves to be.


Which brings me to a question, dear readers. I have read many, many books on yoga over the years; from the ancient texts to modern travelogues of yoga ashrams; from anatomical text books to the poetry of Shiva.

But is the yoga book market saturated? Or do you think there are so many more stories to be told?

(Naturally I am in the second camp. Otherwise I could be wasting my time!)

Saturday, February 6, 2010

quieting the monkey mind

Anyone who has ever practiced any form of yoga or meditation will have experienced the monkey mind. The monkey mind jumps from one thought to another like a monkey jumping from tree to tree, and it does it at the most inappropriate moments.

In the second verse of his Yoga Sutras, Patanjali talks about chitta vritti nirodhah or the ability to control and still the movements of the mind so that the true self or Atman can be seen without distortion or distraction. Only then are we truly practicing yoga. Only then are we truly practicing meditation. Only then are we able to enter sat-chit-ananda, a state of conscious bliss.

Apart from very brief and occassional moments; one notable one in a hotel room in Katmandhu, the state of sat-chit-ananda has mostly eluded me mainly because of the constant distraction of my monkey mind.

We've all been there, sitting on our meditation cushions pretending to look calm and serene when really our mind is racing ten to the dozen like a duck's legs as it paddles along, producing a stream of consciousness of which Joyce would be proud.

"Goodness I'm uncomfortable."
"I wonder if I'm sitting up straight enough."
"I'm hungry."
"Must remember to buy some washing up liquid on the way home."


It happens in asana practice as well.

"Hmmmm... she's very bendy, I wish I looked like that."
"oooh nice yoga trousers/tattoo/navel piercing."
"I'm hungry."
"Must remember to buy some washing up liquid on the way home."

And I don't know about you dear reader, but even away from my mat and cushion my monkey mind is in overdrive. Whilst looking for one thing, I will find another and begin an entirely new search at a wholly impractical time. I will be distracted by a shiny button and right now the monkey mind is in overdrive about an exciting new development in my writing. Now this is all well and good, but there is a time and a place for everything.

In this year of mindfulness it is more important than ever before for me to be conscious of my monkey mind and at least attempt to deal with it when it strikes.

Personally I have always found focus on the breath the best way to bring the awareness back to the present, to the here and now. One practice that works for me is feeling the breath travelling up and down the body and this can be done anytime, lying, sitting, standing, during asana practice, whilst doing the washing up, wherever you choose!

As you inhale visualise the breath travelling up the body from the soles of the feet to the top of the head, filling up the whole body with energy and vitality. As you exhale visualise the breath travelling down the body from the top of the head to the soles of the feet taking with it tiredness and tension. A few rounds of this breath can soon bring you back to the moment, and the task in hand.

As for the achievement of of chitta vritti nirodhah, well all I can do is keep practicing. Maybe one day. In the meantime I take solace in something Tara once told me. Like sleep, we can set up the perfect environment for meditation, but like sleep, we cannot force it to come.


Thursday, February 4, 2010

things i love thursday (5)

A special edition in honour of my return from holiday :)

* Staying in beautiful hotels with blue bathroom lights (see above).
* White fluffy robes.
* Old fashioned afternoon teas complete with little sandwiches, scones and cake.

* Finally visiting Haworth after years of meaning to. Above is the house, below is the walk down to the church through which Emily, Charlotte and Bramwell's bodies were carried - Anne was buried in Scarborough. I cried when I saw the little stool Emily sat on to write Wuthering Heights. Wuthering Heights is my favourite all time novel.

* Sleeping and reading whenever I want.

* My new tattoo (see above). Yes, it is a possum. It's my Australian sun sign. It means I can carry a little piece of Australia with me wherever I go.
* Coming home again to two disgruntled cats.
* Sleeping in my own bed.
* Meeting Kiki for coffee.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

an interview

Well I'm back! There will be more on my lovely but exhausting holiday tomorrow but firstly, before I can be distracted any further, as promised an interview with Fiona Robyn.

Fiona is the author of several books, including the novels The Letters and The Blue Handbag. On Monday her third novel Thaw came out which, as the regular reader will know, she is promoting with a Blogsplash.

In honour of this momentous event Fiona very kindly agreed to answer some pressing questions regarding life the universe and octupi (SY = me, FR = Fiona)

SY: My earliest writing memory is making a picture book about a kingdom under the sea. I was about 6 and the octupi all had 16 legs. Do you have a similar writing memory dating back to childhood? If not what was your earliest realisation that you needed to write?

FR: That sounds like a good story! I do remember stapling folded paper together to make books, designing the cover, writing the first couple of pages, and losing interest. Thankfully I’ve learnt the skill of completion since then. I also loved books from an early age, Roald Dahl was a particular favourite. I didn’t start writing until I was 18, but words were already in my blood.

SY: Tell us a little bit about your writing day. Do you have routines and rituals or are you more spontaneous? What are your favourite procrastination tools?

FR: I have a wide range of procrastination tools, from feeling hungry to suddenly needing to dust the living room. I’m very creative. I need to sit myself down first thing in the morning, and make myself stay at my desk until I’ve written 1000 words, although that does vary depending on what stage of the novel I’m at. I do light a candle before I start writing. A good (writer) friend gave me the candle holder.

SY: Your first two novels, The Letters and The Blue Handbag, were published last year. How was "the road to publication" for you? Long and winding or smooth and straight?

FR: Long and winding, I suppose, as it took six years after finishing my first novel to find a publisher, but I know it can take much longer. In retrospect, I’m pleased it took so long, because I had a lot of opportunity to learn how to deal with rejection. That’s a vital skill if you want to be a writer. I was also able to write exactly the kind of books I wanted to write, without having to worry about an audience, agent or publisher, as I didn’t have any of those things.

SY: Your next novel, Thaw, is out now. It tells the story of a woman deciding whether or not to end her life and explores what makes a life worth living. Can you share a little about where this story came from and what it was like to write?

FR: The book came from the same place as all the others; they begin when the main character turns up in my head. As I get to know the character, their story emerges. It was quite difficult to write sometimes, as the book is hard hitting, but I’m very fond of Ruth and I hope my readers will grow fond of her too.

SY: Finally Fiona, you have decided to publicise Thaw with a "Blogsplash" in which as many bloggers as possible will publish the first page of the novel on their blogs. How did you come up with this idea?

FR: It’s a bit of a gamble to blog the whole book, it might mean I don’t get any sales at all, but I wanted to make sure that as many people as possible knew about the project and the Blogplash felt like a way of getting the word out. Bloggers have always been very supportive to me, and I knew they’d be up for it! Let’s see if we can still make 1000 blogs. I’m at 245 so far so it’ll be a big push!

To buy Thaw right now go to Amazon UK or the Book Depository (with free worldwide delivery).

Thank you Fiona and best of luck with the new book!

Friday, January 29, 2010

one last thing before i quit

Off on holiday tomorrow. We're staying this hotel for the first couple of days and apart from a necessary pilgrimage to Howarth I intend to do nothing at all. Then off to Leeds and Derby for ink!

So Radio Silence until Thursday, when I will be back with an interview with Fiona Robyn in celebration of her New Book (go on, buy it, you know you want to!)

Namaste Bloggers :D

Thursday, January 28, 2010

things i love thursday (4)

*cycling to and from work - I'm finding myself really looking forward to this each day now. I love being able to incorporate my exercise into my routine - it gives me extra "me" time in the evening. Plus the cycle home really clears my head of work troubles.
*gin and tonic on a weeknight - I don't know what prompted this but Himself poured me a G&T last night. I never drink in the week so it felt naughty in a good way!
*my hair is getting so long!
*I have a week's holiday next week. We're going to Yorkshire, staying in a gorgeous hotel and getting tattooed :D
*slow but good progress on that novel I'm writing.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Misguided Bus: An Odyssey

If you read the comments to yesterday’s post you may have seen mention of the Guided Bus. This innovative method of public transport has become quite infamous in Cambridgeshire, mostly because of the fact that after years of planning it is still not up and running.

This Wiki article says that plans for this have been going on since 2001 but I first remember talk of the Guided Bus (or the Misguided Bus as the local press have “hilariously” nicknamed it) back in the days when the Brontosaurus roamed the earth, Kurt Cobain was still alive and I was doing my A Levels. I have people working for me who weren’t born then. Eighteen years later and it is still not built.

But what on earth is it? When I first heard of it I had visions of a bus travelling slowly down the middle of the road, guided by a man waving a flag like in the days of the early car. The Guided Bus however is basically a cross between a tram and a bus. It runs on special concrete tracks, allegedly zipping through the traffic most of the time. Then, when it needs to, it can also run on the road. It has two special sets of wheels for this purpose, which is a bit Inspector Gadget. The main point of all this is to connect areas of Cambridgeshire that have had no public transport for many years since our local railways were closed down. Currently many of the buses are just travelling around on the normal bus routes displaying signs that say "I'll be on the Busway soon, will you?". Surely, at this rate their "road wheels" will be worn away before they get on the busway.

The best thing about the Guided Bus is that cycle paths have been built along the sides of the tracks, which means that I can get to work without having to go on the road at all. However, I still don’t have a plan B for getting to work on rainy days, so for my part I hope it’s not much longer before the Guided Bus starts running.

The delays have been so great, and so many deadlines have come and gone that the Council is no longer even bothering to tell us a proposed opening date. Until then I guess I’ll just have to wear my sexy red waterproofs when it rains (which I’ve just noticed it is currently doing!).

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

the time has come, the walrus said

The time has come to stop being a hypocrite. The universe has decreed it.

(bikes in Cambridge -

Himself and I are pretty passionate about the planet we live on (and I have to be honest here, Himself does all the hard work and research, I just do what I'm told). From what we eat, to where we shop, to where we go on holiday we try our very best to keep our carbon footprints and our plastic bags as minimal as possible.

Except I have one great weakness. My car (Himself doesn't drive so he can continue to polish his halo). I know, I know. It's not even a new car, with low pollution, let alone a hybrid or electric car. It's a 14 year old heaving rustbucket. But I love it. I use all sort of excuses for driving places from "you try carrying 15 yoga blocks around with you on the bus" to "I've got fibromyalgia *whine whine*". Yeah, quite. I really don't use it that much, there's just times, like going to work, when it's just more....convenient.

But really these days I have no excuses. I live in Cambridge, the City of the Bicycle, I no longer need to carry 15 yoga blocks anywhere and honestly, my health is under control.

And then yesterday, a message from the gods. My car went in for a service and came out a write off. The work it needs will cost about twice as much as the car is worth.

I was so upset. Himself worked out how much money I'd spent on the damn car in the last year and I had a minor heart attack. He then pointed out that I could get a lot of taxis/pairs of shoes/glittery eyeliners for that money. I smiled.

So this morning I cycled to work. It's a 6 mile (about 10km) round trip. The 3 miles to work takes me about 25 minutes at the moment but I'm hoping to get that down to 20 minutes over the next few weeks. It felt good to be cycling, I felt I could be in a much more mindful place on my bike than in my car and oh but how good it felt cycling past the queues of traffic that I usually sit in!

So for now, we'll see how things go. We're going up to Yorkshire at the weekend so I will be hiring a car for that. it does mean I will have to cancel the teaching opportunites that I had lined up as I physically will not be able to get to the venue, but everything happens for a reason. Maybe the universe is telling me to focus my energies elsewhere.

I'd like to think I could live without a car. I'm taking it one day at a time.

In the meantime I would like this panier set!

Sunday, January 24, 2010


He sees her flesh - pale and untouched
Like alabaster and lotus petals.
She shivers – not with cold but
Anticipation at what is to come.
He will touch her - change her forever.

She smells disinfectant and hears
The needle’s buzz. She feels
His hand on her buttock, gently
Wiping her skin. Then the pain starts,
Sudden at first. A necessary pain.

Afterwards he’s pleased with himself,
With his art, with his tenderness.
He looks again at alabaster and lotus petals,
Sullied with ink and blood.
He hopes she has No regrets. So many regret the first time.

R.Hawes 2009


After various cancellations due to life and snow getting in the way, I am sitting for the first part of a new backpiece the week after next. It will be the beginnings of tattoo number 7. Each tattoo means something to me, tells a story of its own. Each one is a piece of art that I carry with me wherever I go.

I am always interested in thoughts on bodyart. Do you have a tattoo dear reader? Why or why not?

Saturday, January 23, 2010

thank you!!

Thank you to everyone who posted such lovely comments on my post yesterday. It means so much to me. It's great to "meet" a few more of my readers and be assured I will be checking out your blogs over the next few days. Audrey Hepburn eh? *grins*

A little slow on the uptake I've started a yoga related Twitter stream. You can follow it here if you like.

My Saturday has so far consisted of a six mile bike ride, hot soup, a long nap and chocolate biscuits. No yoga, Saturday is my day off! And you dear reader?

Enjoy your Saturdays, whatever you are doing :)

Friday, January 22, 2010

wicked warrior and sassy statistics

One of the (many) things I love about yoga is the many many different approaches to asana practice. Some of them work with my body, some of them don't, but there really is something for everyone.

Take Virabhadrasana 1 for example (this pose came up in my twenty minute sequence the other day). This is a relatively modern posture, it certainly doesn't pop up in any of the classical texts and as such there are many different approaches to it. This Yoga Journal article runs through five of the main ones. I tend to teach this posture in the Viniyoga tradition, like Gary Kraftsow in this article, but give them all a try and see which one works for you. I'd be interested to know!

There is also a potted history of the story behind the name of this posture.


According to my blog statistics an average of 70 people a day read this blog. Who are you? Where do you come from? Are you spam bots or real people? Say hello, I'd love to hear from you!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

things i love thursday (3)

It is another grey and cold fenland day, one of those days when being mindful reminds you that right now this minute everything is a bit.... well grey! So forgive my list for some of its trivialities today. A girl finds joy where she can. :)

* Finishing Chapter Six of that novel I'm writing! This is exciting for me because it's a strange and pivotal chapter that I had been putting off for about a year.
* Australian organics hair products.
* The sense of contentment and perspective I get when I talk things through with Himself. He really is "Don't Panic" personified!
* Hummus and avocado wraps.
* Dave Grohl being discussed on Home and Away - it's like a fangirl party in my television....;-)

I am sad that my spring bulbs haven't come up yet. I suspect those furry feline fiends of digging them up.