Exciting LahLah news and a free class!

2018 brings change and some exciting news to share

I will be returning to hosting classes at my home, although now home is in Siggiewi, and I will also be starting prenatal classes! The classes will be very intimate, a maximum of 4 yogis per class which means you will get lots of personal attention and we can really focus on what YOU need.

LahLah Yoga Siggiewi

The last classes I will be teaching at Sanya will be on the 11th & 13th December. Following this, I will be offering a few complimentary classes at my new home studio (which is located here) to give you a taste of what is to come.

Complimentary classes

20th December 6pm - Gentle Flow Class

21st December 6pm - Dynamic Flow Class

See map for location

Book your complimentary class now - booking is essential

Following the complimentary classes, I will officially launch the classes in January 2018, with classes as follows:

Monday - 6pm Gentle Flow

Monday - 7.30pm Dynamic Flow

Wednesday - 6pm Gentle Flow

Thursdays 6pm - 6 week Prenatal Course (more details here)

Of course I hope you will join me in Siggiewi, but if this is not a convenient location for you there are still many other wonderful teachers at Sanya.

Cheagan: the cheating vegan!

Happy Sunday lovely readers!

A few days ago I came across this article from the Independent online which says that veganism has grown by 360 percent in the UK with many world-class athletes leading the way: Novak Djokovic, David Haye & Venus Williams all choosing to go vegan. It's great to witness such radical changes in lifestyle, heath and body awareness in world class athletes who not only have very demanding lifestyles and need to be fully nourished to do what they do, but are also role models for many. It's also awesome to note the huge increase in the general population!

I have recently been experimenting with being a "cheagan" as Venus puts it :) a cheating vegan. When at home I only eat and cook vegan but when out I allow myself to have dairy if there are no alternatives (which sadly living in Malta is not as rare as I would like it to be). To be honest I thought it would be much harder than it is. Of course in the first few weeks I missed cheese at home but that passed quite quickly.

My decision to start this experimentation stemmed from more awareness and knowledge of the dairy and chicken farming industry in general. That is to say I do not necessarily think it is wrong to eat dairy or eggs as you are not killing the animal to do so, however the way that the industry treats these commercial cows and chickens is horrifying, and aside from the compassion I feel for these poor animals, I highly question the quality and life energy level of anything which has been so mistreated and produced and packaged for mass supermarket sales and consumption. 

For example did you know that commercial dairy cows are kept in a constant cycle of pregnancy to keep producing milk? Any mother who has been pregnant and breastfed knows that this is a physically demanding process to go through for one baby, let alone to be kept in this cycle for your whole life. This constant cycle of milk production in many cases causes severe mastitis (an inflammation of the udder) which causes the production of somatic cells which are released into the milk they produce. Legally in the UK there can be up to 400 million somatic cells in a litre of milk. Somatic cells as more commonly known as pus. Lovely. The cow is repeatedly put through all this trauma and continues to be pumped despite infections and weakness until they fall over and can't go on any more when they are then put down and sold as beef. 

Aside from this, now on the occasions when I do cheat and consume dairy/eggs I am very aware of the fact that within a few hours I begin to feel mucus congestion in my chest/throat starting. 

There are plenty of non-traditional sources of protein available to us: Dark, leafy green veggies, hemp, nuts & nut butters, quinoa, tofu, pulses, lentils, beans & chickpeas to name but a few and if world class athletes are thriving and training and winning on plant based diets, it means that us mere mortals can certainly nourish ourselves on a plant based diet too.

I apologise if this comes across as preaching, that is not my intention as I am really not one to preach my views on others, I would just like to spread more awareness around this industry and leave it up to you what you do with it :)

If you're interested to find out more there are plenty of documentaries around this issue, most recently I watched a great one called "Forks over Knives" which stars two ex-dairy farmers and cattle rearers who have now switched to a plant-based lifestyle. There are plenty more examples of dairy farmers themselves turning vegan - read more here

Should you wish to find out more about the dairy industry in a short, no holds barred video - here you go..

Warming Winter Parsnip & Ginger Soup Recipe

A delicious warming parsnip & ginger winter soup recipe for you. Sweet parsnips & fiery ginger: Souper easy & souper yummy, you're welcome!

Method

  • Heat a good glug of olive oil and the butter in a big saucepan over a medium-low heat and sautee the onion for approx 10minutes, until soft and translucent.
  • Add the garlic, ginger, cardamom, cumim & cayenne and stir for a couple of minutes.
  • Add in the parsnips and mix them in well before pouring in the stock. 
  • Season with salt & pepper and simmer the soup until the parsnips are very soft, approx. 15mins.
  • Once the parsnips are soft puree the soup with a stick blender until smooth.
  • Add the coconut milk and adjust the seasoning. Mix well and....

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • olive oil
  • 15g butter
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 4-5cm piece of ginger, peeled & finely chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 500g parsnips, peeled & cut into small cubes
  • 800ml vegetable stock
  • 400ml coconut milk
  • salt & pepper

 

Voila, enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's book River Cottage Veg Everyday 

Ahimsa: Non-violence

As part of my yogic journey, I am doing my best to follow the 8 limbs of ashtanga yoga (more of which you can read about here) the first of which is Ahimsa (pronounced A-him-sA) meaning non-violence. 

As well as relating to the more obvious parts of non-violence: fighting, killing, physical and verbal abuse to other humans, animals, oneself (we all need to work a bit on that last one, not always putting yourself down EVEN in your own thoughts) recently I have been really aware of the violence we have been doing to our amazing & beautiful little planet. And today being Earth Day I was inspired to share this with you:

Aside from some of the more notable, well documented harm we are doing to the earth with C02 emissions, there so many less obvious things too. I was recently sent this powerful video and living on Malta, a little island in the middle of the beautiful Mediterranean sea, this really struck a cord in me.

I am not normally one to preach, but how often do we see rubbish floating around in the sea? According to The Ocean Clean Up about 8 million tons of plastic enters the oceans each year.

Did you know that if plastic bottles were around when Christopher Columbus was sailing the world and he had thrown one into the sea that it would STILL not have decomposed fully?  So every piece of plastic that has ever been made still exists.

Jo Ruxton makes a great point in this video: "How can we make something disposable out of something that is indestructible?". We think it is fine to just throw away that plastic bottle after one use- out of sight, out of mind- but where is 'away'?! 

Next time you see a bottle floating in the sea or on the beach I urge you to PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE pick it up, out of the sea and put it in a proper bin. 

Although this is not solving the problem of making disposable things out of something indestructible, this will help the present situation hugely. Not only is it aesthetically not pleasing, but the plastic that breaks down in the Oceans breaks into tiny tiny particles which attract toxins which get eaten by the fish, and guess who eats the fish? US. As Jo Says, these toxins have a huge affect on our health, causing cancers, auto-immune problems, developmental problems in children and in fertility.  I certainly don't want to increase my odds of getting any of these diseases, do you? Throwing plastic into the seas is a form of violence not only to the earth, but also ultimately to ourselves.

One HUGE help would be making sure we all dispose of plastic properly, and if you do see any floating plastic PLEASE, PLEASE pick it up & dispose of it properly, otherwise it will still be there in 500 years time.

Another thought is to be mindful about the amount of un-necessary plastic that we use. I recently invested in a water dispenser and now buy the large (12 or 19 litre) water bottles  from h2only- this small adjustment has made a HUGE difference to the amount of recycling I am collecting every week. I'm just getting started and have a LONG way to go, but I am becoming much more aware of what I use and throw. Although I still have plastic in my life, I am very aware of every piece of plastic I consume and try to avoid it where possible. For more tips on reducing your waste check out  this inspiring family and this inspiring New Yorker.

Please feel free to share this post & video & help raise awareness keeping our seas plastic free.

Happy Earth Day!

 

Why rest is the new hustle and how to make sure you rest properly

Every once in a while, in the middle of work, family, lover, dinners, parties, picnics, studies and gym time your body might begin to feel a little run down, a sure sign that you need some good old rest!

If we can learn to listen to our bodies messages with respect and love, your body will tell you when you need rest. Our bodies are much smarter than we think we are! Feeling exhausted, un-inspired, run-down, fluey, achey, headachey are all signs from your body to tell you to REST. A lot of the time in our modern lifestyles we push through these messages from our body, leading us to become more fatigued and for the symptoms to spread deeper into our body perhaps causing even more harm. 

We need to change our attitude to rest, and realise that it is OK to rest when we need it! Listening to your body's messages with love and respect is one of the most important parts of yoga - never mind doing a headstand. There is no need to feel guilty about needing to rest when your body needs it.

It's vitally important to remember that when you are not at your best, nothing you do will be at your best. When you are not cared for, how can you care for someone else?

Not only is it important to take a day once in a while to rest (I promise you the world will not stop just because you are taking this rest) and I know any mothers out there are probably thinking "as if I could ever take a day of rest! but even take an hour, or half an hour or 5 minutes whatever you can, and whenever you can!  Not only is it important to rest, but it is also important to use this time of rest wisely.

"I have come to believe that caring for myself is not self-indulgent, caring for myself is an act of survival" Audre Lorde

What is rest? A lot of the time you might think woohoo a day of rest, I'm going to stay in bed sleep all day and watch my favourite series in between sleep. Although this might be physically resting your body, it has been proven that modern technology (think ipads, phones, laptops - anything emitting an electromagnetic field (EMFs)) can cause the following side effects include headaches, dizziness, sleep disorders, benign tumours, dementia and Alzheimer's (this article has a lot more info on EMF's and the damage they cause us and how we can reduce this potential damage). So the sleep that you are getting in between watching the latest 'House of Cards' episode might not be the truly restful sleep that your body needs.

I really believe that mental stress and exhaustion also has a very physical effect on our bodies, and is much of the reason why we do feel so run down. So when we do rest, why do we neglect to rest our minds too? Remember that your body and mind are intrinsically connected. Watching a series or movie is hardly resting for our minds, and as mentioned above it means the sleep we do have may not be the healing sleep that we need. 

Here are a few tips to help you get some real, healing rest for both body and mind:

  • Do not feel guilty about taking some time to rest for you, the world will go on. Instead of associating this time with feelings of guilt, enjoy it, be positive and know that it will pass and you will be back to 100% in no time!
  • Rather than watching your favourite series/movie, try to disconnect from your phone, your laptop, your ipad etc etc. Take some time to get comfortable, close your eyes and focus just on your breathing: this breath coming in & this breath going out. Each time you notice yourself distracted in thought again thats ok, just let it go and come back to your breath. Try to find a quiet place inside you, and just let yourself be there without having to do anything or please anyone. NOTE: you may very well fall asleep during the breathing which is totally fine :-) obviously sleep is what your body really needs today, and it should be a healing, restful sleep.
  • Once you feel a bit more connected to yourself with your breath, ask yourself: How do YOU really feel today? What does your body really need today? Is there something in particular that has made you feel like this that maybe you could think about changing? 
  • Have a warm bath with a few drops of lavender oil in and again, close your eyes and just breathe.
  • If you find you really cannot focus on just breathing for too long and you can't sleep but 'NEED' to do something else, first I'd suggest asking yourself WHY you need to do something else? And then if you still really need to do something I'd suggest reading your favourite book, but please please try to stay away from phones/ipads/laptops!

Your body works so hard for you all day every day; treat it like your temple, and give it some time to replenish. You wouldn’t leave your car to run without a service! You even let your computer sleep! Treat yourself with even that level of respect.

Take care of yourself 

xx

Yummy Granola Bars Recipe

A recipe for DELICIOUS, healthy, and super easy to make granola bars. No added sugar, or any other nasties just lots of super whole foods!  A perfect on-the-go snack. Enjoy!

Makes 24 bars

Ingredients**

  • 1.5 cups mashed ripe banana (about 3 medium/large bananas)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups rolled oats (use gluten-free if needed)
  • 1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped 
  • 1/2 cup almonds, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 1 tablespoon desiccated coconut
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

**YOU have total freedom to be a little creative with this - don't like almonds? use walnuts, pecans or pistachios. Don't have dried apricots? Use raisins, dried cherries, dates or figs. You get the idea :-)

Directions:

  1. Heat the oven to 180C. Line a large oven proof tray with a piece of baking paper so the bars are easier to lift out.
  2. In a large bowl, mash the banana until smooth. Stir in the vanilla.
  3. Place the rolled oats into a food processor (or blender on the lowest speed) and pulse until the oats are coarsely chopped (but still with lots of texture). Stir oats into the banana mixture.
  4. Chop (I used my magimix, but do not use a weak food procesor for the nuts) the almonds and apricots and stir these and the rest of the ingredients (seeds, coconut & cinnamon) into the banana-oat mixture until thoroughly combined.
  5. You're almost done! Spread mixture out onto the prepared tray. Press down until compacted and smooth out until even. 
  6. Bake for 23-27 minutes (I baked for 25 mins.) until firm and lightly golden along the edge. Once ready, bring the tray out and leave to cool for a few minutes then carefully  lift out the whole granola slab with the baking paper. Place granola slab on a cooling rack for 20 minutes.
  7. Slice into bars once they are cool and enjoy!

Feel free to leave a comment if you like them!

Recipe adapted from Oh She Glows!

The Benefits of Yoga for Skiiers

Have you ever thought about how perfectly skiing & yoga complement each other? Skiing is fast, adrenaline-pumping & risky. Yoga is calming, meditative & mindful. Combining the two creates a perfect balance of mindful fun.

The biggest benefit that yoga can bring to your skiing is injury prevention. Out on the slopes it is cold and we use our cold muscles in ways or in an intensity that we generally aren't used to. Yoga can help reduce stress, strain and possible injury.

If you're planning a skiing holiday I would highly suggest attending as many yoga classes as you can before you head into the snow. Balance, concentration, flexibility & strength form the basis of most yoga classes and these are also the most important skills to get you down the mountain with a big smile on your face!

See your yoga mat as you see you your skis…and see your skis as a yoga mat

Here are a few tips to help you find alignment on your skis:

  • Feet should be shoulder-width apart, as if in Mountain Pose, to create a stable base for the body.
  • Knees should be in line with the toes.
  • Hips should be tipped slightly forward. This is a somewhat unnatural position for most people; however, ski boots help encourage this shape in the lower body. This posture helps you gain control. 
  • Shoulders should be dropped, or relaxed, as in Mountain Pose.
  • Torso should be still & stable. Referred to as a “quiet upper body” in skiing, having a “still” torso is akin to riding a bicycle with the lower body doing most of the work while the upper body provides stability.
  • Hands should be in front of your body to encourage forward movement and to initiate pole plants.

Here are a few poses which will help strengthen, lengthen and balance you prior to skiing:

  • Forward fold: A yoga pose for hamstrings as it helps to loosen the back and stretch hamstrings and calves.
  • Warrior I and II : Stretches hip flexors and hamstrings on the back leg whilst strengthening feet, ankles, glutes and quads on the front leg.
  • Chair pose: classic ski and board pose, warms up and builds strength in quads. 
  • Reclined cobblers pose: improves flexibility of inner thigh muscles, which can cause knee injury in skiing if not stretched.
  • Tree pose: helps with balance, tones & strengthens quads, calves, ankles & spine whilst stretching hip flexors, inner thighs, chest and shoulders. Improves balance, promotes mobility in the hip and knee joint, very important for turns whilst skiing. 
  • Downward facing Dog: Stretches the back & opens the chest. Vinyasas can build core strength.
  • Crescent Pose (high lunge): stretches hip flexors & hamstrings on the back leg whilst strengthening feet, ankles, glutes & quads on the front leg. Low lunges are also good!

If the idea of yoga & skiing tickles your toes, have a look at our next escape:

Pause // Play // Ski

16th- 23rd March 2016

Morillon, French Alps

Daily morning yoga with a mountain view, afternoons to ski/board to your hearts content, a full body massage, meditation techniques for the curious, a B-EA-U-TIFUL chalet complete with a sauna and right next to the ski lifts. Oh, and of course stinky french cheese and wine are also included! 

New year.....New me? No, thank you!

Happy New year!

I hope you've had a wonderful break and are ready to start this new year with a spring in your step! It can be easy to fall into the trap of New year = New me, but really we don't need to make any crazy resolutions about how we are going to move mountains (either literally because we will be so strong from working out SO much (!), or figuratively at work or in our personal lives) and become amazing at XY or Z. What we really need to do is learn to love and accept who we already are.

You don't have to move mountains

Simply fall in love with life

Be a tornado of happiness, gratitude & acceptance

You will change the world just be being a warm, kind-hearted human being. 

Anita Krizzan

If we could all learn to love and accept ourselves as we are, the world would be a much happier, peaceful place so my challenge to you this year is to stay you and to love you. 

x

On this note, I am not making any crazy resolutions but I am feeling very dull and heavy after the last few weeks of overindulgence so I will be doing a Cold Pressed Juicery 3 day juice cleanse this week to help me get back to feeling energetic and light again. If you're thinking about doing a cleanse too it's important to prep a few days before - here is a yummy, easy peasy recipe I made yesterday as a pre cleanse meal, enjoy!

Carrot "pasta" with a zing: Easy peasy and Yummy!

After the last few weeks of over indulgence in just about everything I'm feeling rather heavy & dull so I will be starting a 3 day Cold Pressed Juicery Cleanse with the aim to energize my body back up and feel good again!

Before doing any cleanse it is important to prepare your body for a few days before, this means having a few early nights & avoiding meat, processed foods such as bread & pasta, gluten, dairy, processed sugar, saturated fats, alcohol & caffeine for at least 2 days before the cleanse. 

This time around, not eating traditional pasta forced me to come up with another option - Carrot "pasta" with a zing, it's super easy, delicious & very nutritious:

IMG_9354.JPG

Ingredients 

serves 2 hungry pre-cleansers

8 carrots

2 tablespoons tahini

2 tablespoons olive oil

5 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 teaspoons tamari sauce

2 teaspoons grated ginger

2 small garlic cloves grated

a handful of parsely

a handful of seeds (I used pine nuts, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds & sunflower seeds)

Chilli flakes optional!

Method:

Peel the carrots and then spiralize (or just grate) your carrots into a big bowl.

Mix the tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, tamari, ginger & garlic together in a smaller bowl. 

Pour the sauce over the carrots and mix well.

Top with chopped parsley and seeds and chilli flakes if using.

 

Bon appetite!

P.S. If you like this, you may also like my Zoodle Pad Thai recipe :-)

 

Healthy Christmas Gift Guide!

Of course, we never want to be materialistic, but at this time of year, sometimes it is nice to give a gift. . . and if you're going to give a gift why not make it a healthy gift!

 

 

For the runner:

A pair of RUNDERWEAR, the lucky wonder pants for runners!

 

For the person who runs from the gym out for a drink:

A BIG, beautiful, warm & cozy wrap or cape to snuggle up in post exercise (and at any time of the day!). I love this Carla Grima wrap, which also ticks the box of being locally made and supporting a small Maltese business!  Zara also have some beautiful, big & cozy wraps. 

 

For the cook:

- Amelia Freer's book "Eat, Nourish, Glow", an easy-to-understand guide to nutrition with some great recipes.

-Ella Woodward's "Deliciously Ella" cookbook

- A spiralizer (so they can make my Zucchini Phad Thai ;-) )

- A nutribullet, I use mine to make my own almond milk every morning and it is SO simple and has absolutely no chemicals added unlike many store bought almond milks. Also great for making smoothies. 

- A bottle of exquisite olive oil such as Barbuto.

spiralizer.jpg
LahLah yoga malta

For the yogi in your life:

- a good quality yoga mat (available from LahLah Yoga for €30)

- treat your loved yogi to a membership for unlimited  yoga classes (LahLah Yoga has 1 month, 3 month & 6 month options available) email lisa@lahlahyoga.com for more details. 

- some beautiful yoga wear, I currently LOVE the upside, Teeki LuluLemon. If you're on a budget TK MAXX normally have some good bargains :-)

 

For someone who needs a bit of pampering:

- a massage or reiki session with Butterfly Therapies, every time I leave a session with Cat I am floating! Treat yourself or get a voucher for a friend.

- some wonderful, home-made, natural and sustainably made in Malta beauty products  from the Soap Cafe

-a luxurious scented candle (secret: although they can be considered a 'boring' gift, most girls love receiving a luxurious scented candle - it's the sort of thing you wouldn't splash out for on yourself but a great gift to receive!)

- a voucher for a private yoga consultation & class, for someone who would prefer to try yoga in the comfort and privacy of their own home. This is perfect for anyone, young or old, flexible or stiff so why not introduce or encourage someone you love to start a healthier lifestyle. 

 

Secret Santa Ideas:

- A beautiful, locally made Carla Grima headband €15

- A voucher for one LahLah Yoga Class €10

- A super duper personalised MAKK creation (price dependent on product!) supporting another small Maltese company too.

- A picture of a fun memory framed with a quote

- Not On The Highstreet has great gift inspiration too, and has a section just for secret santa/stocking fillers too!

Male Pampering:

-why not send him for an old fashioned shave and facial at Antonio's Barber Shop & Gentleman's Quarters

-the Soap Cafe also have a great old fashioned shaving kit. 

 

 

Although giving gifts is great and it is nice to buy thoughtful gifts for others, remember that there is so much more that one can give all throughout the year than a gift on one day a year. If we all gave more love throughout the year, the world would be a much happier, peaceful place :-)

Happy Christmas

xx

Best Banana Bread Ever!

If you've come to class on a day where I have happened to bake you will have smelt the sweet smells of this delicious banana bread - and if you're lucky enough to have arrived before it was all eaten and tried some you will know how moist & delicious it is! Not only is it so delicious, it is also super easy to make. WARNING, this is not sugar, dairy or gluten free :-) 

So without further ado here is the recipe:

2 large eggs

113g soft butter

200g brown sugar

1 tbs vanilla

150g wholemeal flour

1tsp baking powder

3 ripe bananas

1 cup chopped nuts (optional, I like walnuts or pecans usually)

140g greek yoghurt (or half a cup)

  • Preheat oven to 180c. Grease your loaf pan.
  • In a large bowl whisk together the soft butter, and sugar. Add the eggs one and a time and vanilla and whisk until smooth.
  • Sprinkle the flour and baking soda over the butter mixture and stir to mix until just combined.
  • In a separate bowl mash your bananas up  and then fold in the mashed bananas, nuts (if using) and yoghurt into the cake mix.
  • Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for approximately 60 minutes or until crust is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. 
  • Allow to cool before devouring!

Enjoy! xx

Be kind to your wrists & shoulders sun salutation :-)

I've had a slight injury to my wrist recently which has made sun salutations and vinyasas a no-go for a while. After a week of a very, very gentle practice my body was raring to step it up a bit again, but my wrist not so much, so I came up with this 'Kind for your wrists & shoulders' sun salutation.  

Hope this is useful, and whenever your wrists & shoulders seem a bit tired, listen to your body, give them a break and integrate this into your practice instead for a few days :-)

Namaste!


Pistachio Dukka Recipe to make you go mmmm!

This delicious Persian combination of nuts, seeds & spices creates a warming, nourishing aroma perfect as we move into Autumn. Make sure to have some yummy bread (go on, it's ok to have bread every once in a while!) ready to dip and go mmmmmm!

LahLah Yoga's Pistachio Dukka LOVE

Ingredients:

  • 120g shelled, unsalted pistachios
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 3 tablespoons sesame seeds (I sometimes mix sunflower seeds in too. Optional!)
  • a sprig of mint leaves (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
  • 1 teaspoon flaky sea salt

Method:

  • Heat the oven to 200 degrees centigrade. Scatter the pistachio kernels on a baking tray & roast in the oven for about 5 minutes or until they start to turn golden. Remove & let them cool before roughly chopping them. Heart shape is optional, but food always tastes better with a bit of love.
  • In a small, dry pan over medium heat, warm the cumin and coriander seeds until they begin to release their aromas. Enjoy these aromas for a moment before transferring to a pestle & mortar. Crush them here until they are broken up but not too fine.
  • In the same pan lightly toast the sesame seeds.
  • Add the pistachios to the mortar and bash until they are well crushed in. Add the sesame seeds, chilli flakes, salt (and mint if using). You can leave your dukka like this (a bit chunky) and serve with a dish of olive oil - dip the bread in the oil and then into the dukka - or scatter over soups, pastas, grilled veggies and salads. OR for a more dip like consistency there's one more step:
  • Transfer this mixture into a strong blender (I use my NutriBullet with the milling blades) and blend for a few moments until you have more of a dukka powder. Put this powder into a bowl and add olive oil (a little at a time) and mix until you have your desired dip consistency. Viola! 

Feel free to leave a comment if you like it, or discover any variations I should try!

*This recipe is a LahLah adaption of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's from his book "River Cottage Veg Everyday!"

How to: Keep your yoga practice injury free

Yoga is supposed to be a very healing, nourishing practice for our bodies, but like any activity if not done properly there is always a chance of injury. 

LahLah yoga: injury free yoga practice

But how do we keep our practice injury free? Here are a few tips:

ALWAYS BREATHE, AND BE PRESENT

When we are breathing, noticing our breath and present in our bodies we are very aware of what we are doing and can therefore feel if something does not feel good or if we are pushing too far. As soon as we start thinking about our to do list, that email we received earlier etc we stop being present, we stop being aware and we can easily injure ourselves. Generally if breathing becomes difficult in a pose it means that you may have come a little bit too far into the pose. Poses should always feel steady and comfortable. ALWAYS! 

JUST BECAUSE YOU CAN DO SOMETHING, DOES NOT ALWAYS MEAN YOU SHOULD

Recently in my own practice this has been coming up again & again. Just because technically you 'can' get into this particular pose, does not mean you should be doing it. When we first start practicing yoga we sometimes surprise ourselves about the things we can do with our body. It can be a boost to the ego and getting into these poses is a fun challenge that the ego pushes however as my practice has progressed I have learnt that just because I can does not mean I should. Two questions to ask yourself in any pose are: Am I in alignment? and does this feel good? 

As a yoga teacher, I sometimes, probably wrongly, feel like I should be able to do everything, but the truth is I am just a normal person - I get pain in my lower back sometimes, I suffer from tight shoulders and hips when I spend too long at the computer and I am not a naturally flexible person. Yoga has helped me hugely with these issues, and continues to which is why I decided to share the gift of yoga and it's power to heal not it's power to injure. Getting to the flexibility I have today has taken dedication - it does not come naturally and I still have a long way to go. Any students of mine may have recently noticed that I no longer sit in lotus position, not because I can't but because when I am really present and listening to my body I know this pose does not feel comfortable on my knees yet. This is not healing and nourishing my body. My hips are not yet open enough for the pose so the twist is coming from my knees. So for the mean time I choose to focus on opening my hips to be able to get there eventually.

It's important to remember that just because I, or any other teacher is leading you through a sequence of poses, if one does not feel right for you then you should not do it. Even if every other person in the room is doing it, it doesn't matter. Every single body is different and only you know how it feels for you. 

All you really have to do is let your body & your breath guide you in your practice as opposed to your ego. Honouring the teacher that is in YOU! 

LahLah's Zoodle Pad Thai

Zoodle (zucchini noodle) Pad Thai

If you've never tried a zoodle pad thai then you are missing out because, oh boy is it good! It's also conveniently healthy too ;-) 

I couldn't find a recipe I was happy with online, so I have been experimenting and am finally happy with the results!

The ingredients & recipe might look long, but it really is super simple to make and a lot of the ingredients are cupboard ingredients that you may already have, or will need to buy once and they will be there each time you make this (I'm sure you'll make it more than once, it's that yummy & easy to make!).

LahLah's zoodle phad thai

Ingredients: (feeds two hungry yogis)

Store Cupboard Ingredients:

  • 2 tsp tamarind paste
  • 3tbs fish sauce 
  • a handful of dry roasted, unsalted peanuts
  • a pinch of dried chilli flakes
  • a pinch of rock salt
  • a few good splashes of sesame oil

Fresh Ingredients:

  • 4 x zucchini (you will also need a spiralizer. I use this one. If you don't have one you could grate the zucchini on a large hole grater. same same, but different!)
  • 1 x red pepper (or your preferred colour of pepper!)
  • 1/2 a turnip (optional)
  • 3 x spring onions
  • 2 x red chilli
  • a big handful of mange tout
  • a big handful of coriander 
  • 1 x lime
  • 2 x big garlic cloves (or 3 small)
  • a small piece of ginger
  • and any other veg you fancy - I would add beansprouts too but I can never find them in Malta!

Method

  • Finely chop your spring onions, red chilli and place to one side in a bowl together. Slice your mange tout into thirds and add to this bowl.  Roughly chop your corriander and set aside
  •  Make your dressing: crush (or very finely chop) your garlic, grate your ginger and add the tamarind paste, fish sauce and the juice from half the lime to this and mix. 
  • Crush the handful of peanuts and a pinch of dried chilli flakes and rock salt in a pestle & mortar until the peanuts become big crumbs. Set aside.
  •  Sprialize your zucchini to make your zoodles. I use this very simple spiralizer.
  •  Finely slice (julienne them if you want to be fancy) your pepper and 1/2 the turnip (if using). 
  • Heat a BIG frying pan or wok on high heat with a few splashes of sesame oil, when it's heated add the zoodles, pepper and turnip to the pan. Lightly coat all in the sesame oil and fry for a few minutes. Don't cook the veg too much, just so it is heated through -approx 4 minutes. 
  • Take the zoodle mix off the heat, mix in the spring onions, chilli & mange tout. Add your dressing and mix well. Plate your zoodles and then add some chopped coriander and a sprinkle of your peanut chilli crumbs to the top. Serve with a wedge of lime & extra chilli flakes if you like it hot!

The perfect blend of taste, crunch, spice, yumminess & health!

Enjoy & please feel free to comment if you like it or if you find any delicious variations!

xx

LahLah turns 1!

This month LahLah Yoga turns 1, and I would like to thank all the LahLah friends & family for your support and energy on the mat over the past year. 

 The LahLah Studio in Tal-Ibrag, where the magic happens as caught be River Thompson http://www.riverthompson.co.uk/

The LahLah Studio in Tal-Ibrag, where the magic happens as caught be River Thompson http://www.riverthompson.co.uk/

It has been a wonderful year, full of stretching, breathing, twisting, bending, balancing & flying and I am so grateful to every single person who has stepped onto a mat with me! Each person brings their own energy, and I couldn't have made it this far without you.

I hope that those of you with a regular practice are really noticing the benefits of yoga in both your body & mind, and as always if you ever have any questions (no matter how silly it may seem to you) PLEASE ask away :-)

I can't wait for the next year!

Lah Lah x

"Be happy, Be bright, Be YOU!"

 The LahLah 1st anniversary class at Golden Bay. Thank you to all those who joined!

The LahLah 1st anniversary class at Golden Bay. Thank you to all those who joined!


Souper Summer Soup!

Just because it's summer doesn't mean it has to be the end of soups till the cold starts creeping in again!

Here's a souper easy & light summer soup I've been making recently:

Pea & Pesto Soup

serves 2 hungry soupers

Pea & Pesto Soup

Ingredients:

  • 750 ml water
  • 375 grams frozen peas
  • 1 red onion chopped
  • teaspoon sea salt
  • a squeeze of lime juice
  • tablespoons fresh pesto (for this you will need a big bunch of basil, 2 cloves of garlic, some pinenuts, olive oil and optional parmesan cheese. If you are feeling lazy you can buy the ready made FRESH pesto too, but making it yourself is SO much better :-) ) 
  • chill flakes (optional)
  • soft ricotta cheese (optional)

Method

Heat a deep pan with some olive oil and add in the red onions to soften them.

Meanwhile fill a kettle and put it on to boil. When it's boiled, & the onions have softened (about 5 mins) measure the amount of water you need and add it into the pan with the onions.

Add the frozen peas, salt and lime juice to the pan and let everything bubble together for 7 minutes.

In the meantime, if you are making your fresh pesto gather all the ingredients (basil, garlic cloves, pinenuts, olive oil and parmesan (optional)) and whizz them all together in a blender & voila you have pesto! It's much nicer and SO easy to make your own then to buy the processed stuff!

Once the 7 minutes have passed, check that the peas are cooked through. If they are ready you can blitz the peas and their liquid together either in a blender or use a stick blender in the pan.

Ladel the souper soup into bowls, putting two table spoons of pesto on top of each portion. I like to also add some chilli flakes and a dollop of soft ricotta cheese into my soup but this is optional.

Bon Appetito! 

This recipe is the LahLah adaptation of a Nigella classic

YOU are amazing!

This is your mid-week reminder that YOU are amazing. We tend to forget this fact all too often..

Take a moment just to stop, and notice your heartbeat, your pulse, moving inside of you. This energy which keeps us alive. Where does this energy come from? Our heart pumping of course, you say. But this pulse, this energy was in our bodies even before our hearts had developed in foetus form. Where did it come from then? "I got it from my MaMa" of course, but where did "yo Mama" get this energy from to begin with? From her Mama, who got it from her Mama, who got it from her Mama and so the chain continues. Feel your heart, feel your pulse again. The heart, supporting this pulse, but it did not create this pulse or this movement.  

This energy (or prana, or chi or magic, or whatever other name you may give it) inside of us has always existed long before we were here, and it will continue to exist long after we are gone, but for the moment we have inherited it, it is not ours to keep, but ours to cherish, ours to live, to love & to dance.

Sometimes we forget that we really are divine beings, made of stars with this wonderful energy inside of all of us. So here is your mid-week reminder that you are AMAZING and MAGICAL and you can do anything you put your mind to. 

I do believe in magic, do you?! 

LahLah xx

P.S. I would like to thank Leslie Kaminoff and his Yoga Anatomy Principles Course (which I am currently taking online) for inspiring this blog post and for reminding me that I am a divine being full of this wonderful energy too :-) !

Nadi Shodhana Pranayama: The better-than-a-double-espresso-for-waking-you-up breath!

Our breath: Probably the most vital process of the body. It influences the activities of each & every cell and is intimately linked with the performance of the brain. It also clears energy blockages in our nadis or energy channels. The breath is also closely linked to our mental state - when we get angry or anxious we may become short of breath but rhythmic, deep and slow respiration can help bring back a calm & content state of mind. 

Nadi Shodhana is a simple form of alternate nostril breathing which is great for both beginners & advanced students. 

BENEFITS OF NADI SHODHANA 

  • Balances energy channels (nadis) and clears energy blockages
  • Reduces anxiety & calms the mind
  • Lowers your heart rate. 
  • Improves concentration & clear thinking by balancing & synchronising left & right brain hemispheres. 
  • Helps release accumulated tension & fatigue so can therefore be used in the morning to wake you up as a more holistic alternative to your shot of espresso. 
  • When I am feeling very monkey minded and can't focus, I find that this breath helps bring me into the moment especially if I am counting my breath. 

NADI SHODHANA HOW TO:

  • Bring your right hand up in front of the face and extend your index finger and thumb allowing the other fingers the rest. 

  • Take your index finger to your eyebrow centre and rest it here gently. Now you will use your thumb to close your right nostril & your second finger to alternately close your left nostril.

  • Begin by closing your right nostril gently with your thumb, and inhale in through the left nostril. The breath should be slow, steady and full but not forced. 

  • When you have reached the end of your inhale, close the left nostril with the second finger and open the right nostril to fully exhale with a slow & steady breath.

  • Inhale in through the right nostril, & then switch to exhale through the left. That is one full round of the breath. 

  • Inhale through the left, & switch to exhale out of the right. Inhale through the right & switch to exhale out of the left. Remember we always switch nostrils on an exhale if you get confused.

  • Keep going for 5-10 rounds, and increase your rounds of breath as you begin to feel more comfortable with the breath. 

  • Release the hand & go back to normal breathing.

Nadi Shodhana can be practised at any time of day, but it is best to practice on an empty stomach. Remember to keep the breath slow, easy (never forcing it), and full and try to keep your inhales & exhales the same length (ie breathe in for a count of 4, and out for a count of 4).

Keep Breathing, Keep Smiling 

LahLah x

6 Reasons to Downward Dog

Downward dog is probably one of the most well known yoga poses, which even if you have never been to a yoga class you have probably heard of. When you begin practicing yoga, downward dog can be a little bit like torture, but the more you practice, the more comfortable it will feel and it will become more of a resting pose than an active pose. I LOVE this pose and cannot get enough of it at the moment. It makes me body feel sooo good, that sometimes I want to spend my whole practice just breathing in downward dog. 

 
 

But why exactly does Downward Dog feel SO good?

  • Downward Dog elongates and lengthens the back - a stretch so crucial in our modern sedentary lifestyle. The pose greatly helps to decrease back pain by strengthening the entire back and shoulder girdle and elongating shoulders and shoulder blade area.
  • Downward Dog is also a mild inversion which means it helps improve circulation therefore flushing toxins, regulating blood pressure, and boosting immune health.
  • The pose also stretches the hamstrings, toes, calves and arches, and feet- and keep wrists strong and supple. 
  • Downward dog promotes upper body & core strength; and also strengthens bone density and helps to prevent osteoporosis.
  • The pose is energizing: according to B.K.S. Iyengar, a mere minute in this pose will “bring back lost energy for runners after a hard race”. This works equally well for anybody just tired after a long day :-)
  • Downward dog focuses the extension of the cervical spine and neck, releasing compression and stress on the entire spine. If you’re able to shake your head gently yet loosely to the left, right, and up and down during this pose, you’ll be tapping into the anxiety-relieving muscle and mind benefits of the pose.

Downward Dog How to:

  • Come onto the floor on your hands and knees. Set your knees directly below your hips and your hands slightly forward of your shoulders. Spread your palms, index fingers parallel or slightly turned out, and turn your toes under.
  • Exhale and lift your knees away from the floor. At first you can keep the knees slightly bent and the heels lifted away from the floor to be able to really lengthen your spine and lift your sitting bones toward the ceiling. 
  • Once you feel the length in the spine you can begin to straighten the legs (as long as you can keep the length in the spine whilst doing so, otherwise keep legs bent for now) and take the heels down towards the floor - they may not touch yet but keep at it! Don't let your knees lock. Roll the upper thighs inward slightly.
  • Make sure your fingers are still spreading wide, pressing the base of all fingers actively into the mat. Firm your shoulder blades against your back, then widen them and draw them toward the tailbone. Keep the head between the upper arms; don’t let it hang.

Rememeber to always enjoy the pose, not pushing so much that it becomes uncomfortable. Keep breathing & keep smiling.

N.B. Downward dog is contraindicated for anybody with carpal tunnel syndrome, during late stages of pregnancy and for anybody with high blood pressure.