Lifestyle

Be the Buddha

LahLah’s thoughts on the mat this week: Be the Buddha!

This week in class we’re going to examine what we bring to the mat (and daily life!) with us, in terms of expectations, desires and attachments and look at if they are helpful or not. Do we need them? Or can we let them go and be present in what actually is? Can we be curious about our practice and about our lives and how they actually are rather than just living how we think they are? Can we do things just for the joy of being rather than for the outcomes or expectations of doing them?

This weeks theme was inspired by Eckhart Tolle’s poem “Be the Buddha”:

All cravings are the ming seeking salvation

Or fulfillment in external things and in the future

As a substitute for the joy of Being.

As long as I am my mind,

I am those cravings,

Those needs, those wants, attachments, and aversions,

And apart from there there is no “I'“

Except as a mere possibility, an unfulfilled potential,

A seed that has not yet sprouted.

In that state,

Even my desire to become free or enlightened

Is just another craving for fulfillment or completion in the future.

So don’t seek to become free of desire or achieve enlightenment.

Become present.

Be there as the observer of the mind.

Instead of quoting the Buddha, be the Buddha,

Be the “awakened one,” which is what the word buddha means.

Look forward to exploring this theme on the mat with you this week, if you want to join me you can at Little Peace, Altromondo & Yoga Shakti .

Until then can you find the joy of being?

How should we practice yoga asana?

After a long absence from my “blog” (it’s hardly a blog though seeing as I haven’t written since 2017!! oh dear!) I have decided to start writing short weekly posts about aspects of yoga that I am sharing in my classes but also want to share with you here, little thought offerings. Some weeks they will be based on the physical alignment, maybe particular poses, some weeks they will look at yoga philosophy, other weeks the breath, and probably everything in between too. They will be short, easy to read and digest snippets that I hope you enjoy reading and learning about :) so here goes….!

This week I wanted to talk a little bit about how we should practice yoga asana, which is a pretty big question to answer in a short snippet, but there is a surprisingly simple answer from the ‘Yoga Sutras’ written by the sage Patanjali over 2000 years ago (although we have no exact date of writing). The ‘Yoga Sutras’ is a collection of 196 aphorisms (An aphorism is a brief sentence or phrase that expresses an opinion or makes a statement of wisdom) on the theory & practice of yoga. Of these 196 sutras, just 3 sutras relate to the physical practice of yoga.

Just 3!! That is less than 2% of the whole text.

Of those 3, one in particular strikes me, which is sutra 2.46 :

“sthira-sukham asanam”

This can translate as: asana should be practiced with steadiness & ease.

What does steadiness & ease mean? I like to think of it as being rooted & steady in whatever physical shape we might be in, as well as finding a sense of ease in this shape, in the breath, and in the mind. Ease through the breath, the body and the mind. This sounds easy right? But finding steadiness in some of the shapes we go into can already be a challenge, so ease on top of this can feel very far away. However, we can think of the mind as a muscle too and with our practice we can slowly start to train this muscle.

Through the awareness of our mind we can find ease in effort, calm in strength and steadiness in movement.

Each time we come back to this awareness, we strengthen this muscle so that the sense of ease becomes more natural both on the mat, and then also off the mat too.

So that’s it, we should practice asana (poses/shapes) with steadiness & ease. That is all. The Yoga Sutras make no reference to how ‘deep’ we should go into a pose, nor how flexible we should be, nor how many vinyasas we should do, nor handstands or headstands, but just to be steady & at ease.

Next time you step onto your mat, see if you can find this sense of steadiness in your practice. Good ways that help me notice if I am steady and at ease are to ask myself the following questions:

  • Am I rooted? Am I stable? Do I feel like I have control of my body, or am I shaking and collapsing?

  • Can I breathe with ease?

  • Am I present, right here and now?

  • Is my jaw relaxed?

  • Can I bring a small buddha-smile to my face easily?

Hope you enjoyed this little snippet from my world of yoga, please feel free to comment with any thoughts this might have brought up for you!

Until next week, keep breathing steadily and smiling with ease!

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..

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!

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

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!"

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. 

3 DAY COLD PRESSED JUICE CLEANSE

What is it actually like to do a 3 day juice cleanse, having only 6 juices and 2 litres of water each day? Read on for my cold press cleansing experience and tips!

So when I decided to do a cleanse, my first reaction was EEK. It's not really a big thing in the grand scale of things, but it was my first cleanse and being a food lover I was a bit nervous to be honest!

I decided to do the cleanse to help bring me a bit more vitality, leaving behind the winter lethargy and low energy. Also to cleanse any toxic waste that has been building up in my system, but also to flood my system with nutrients and minerals to revitalise and energise. What better time to do a little spring cleaning of the body than around Spring equinox too :-)

I was selected as a lucky guinea pig to sample the new Cold Pressed Juicery Cleanse, to make sure they are good and suitable for YOU to be able to do soon!

PREP FOR THE CLEANSE: 

Rather than cold turkey my body into shock on Day 1, I tried to ease my way into the cleanse starting three days before by cutting out:

Meat (no problemo)

Coffee (no problemo)

Alcohol 

Processed foods (pasta, bread, gluten, dairy, processed sugar, saturated fats) (slight problemo, I LOVE bread & pasta)

And at the same time gradually reducing my amount of meals per day and gently increasing my intake of juice. I ate a lot of raw food - raw courgette pasta with different pestos and lots of fruit and nuts were mainly on the menu!

 
LahLah Cold Pressed Juicery Cleanse PREP
 

CLEANSE DAY 1:

I survived Day 1!

It has actually been OK! Made sure to drink lots of water along with a juice approximately every two hours. The almond milk was delicious, super thick and was especially filling, almost wish the cleanse was 6 x almond milks a day. hehe

I've felt hungry, but not so hungry I wanted to eat all the yogis on the mat in front of me (watch out yogis tomorrow!!). Been to the loo quite a few times so I think it's working ;-), muscles and body slightly achey but no huge side effects so far. Fingers crossed tomorrow will be ok!

I removed all tempting food from the fridge and any naughty biscuits I had lying around have been hidden away from view which has helped not having food right in front of me! 

LahLah Yoga Cold Pressed Juicery Cleanse

CLEANSE DAY 2:

Today I feel the cleanse really kicked in. I had a slight headache and felt slightly nauseous during the morning and felt my energy was really lacking all day.. I'm assured this means the cleanse is working well :-) 

I have tried to have a juice every two hours but it was a bit harder to keep to it today, and of course lots of water and hot water with lemon and ginger. 

I am going to have a very very early night and tried to sleep it all off.

 
Cold Press Juicery Cleanse
 

CLEANSE DAY 3:

I slept for 10 beautiful hours, and I have woken up feeling wonderful! My energy feels restored and I feel very light in all senses of the word. The headache and nausea has passed and I would almost consider doing an extra few days if I will feel like this!  Although I did not start the cleanse for weight-loss reasons, I have definitely lost weight (unfortunately I don't own a scale so cannot tell you exactly how much I lost, but I can really feel a difference. I feel more stream-lined ;-) not a bad side effect).

Co-incidently I did wake up with no voice today all of a sudden, I am not sure if this is directly related to the cleanse or not!

Again, I found it hard to stick to a juice precisely every two hours, but I have been ok regardless. Lots of water. I'm starting to think about what my first real food should be tomorrow, although I am also planning to exit the cleanse gently maybe starting with fresh fruit in the morning and a raw salad for lunch...easy does it! 

 
 

Enjoying my "lunch"!

DAY 4

I have woken up feeling great, very light again, in all senses of the word. Lots of energy, and feeling quite focused. My sore throat is clearing (very odd!), I'd be very interested to hear if anyone else gets a sore throat too! 

Although I can eat today, I am not dying to eat to be honest, I really thought I would be! I actually feel like I could keep going for a few more days quite easily, but alas I only have one juice left! I have had my morning hot water and lemon, and the last  juice and I have started slowly with half a banana. I will try to stick to raw foods today, tomorrow may be difficult as I am travelling long haul, but I'll do my best! Having done the cleanse and felt fine it has made me realise how much I generally eat un-necessarily. I will always have second helpings of something if it is delicious even when I am getting full, and this is so un necessary!! Hopefully I;ll manage to kick this habit!

All in all, I have surprisingly really enjoyed the cleanse, I was impressed by how easy it was once you get into the swing of it and would definitely like to continue doing regular, possibly seasonal cleanses now. 

CLEANSE TIPS

If you are planning to do a cleanse here are my recommendations (please note these are based on my personal experience and knowledge):

  • Make sure to prepare your body for the cleanse, not just diving head first into it on day 1. Start to gradually cut coffee, meat, alcohol, processed foods & sugars out and begin to up your juice intake while gently decreasing your food intake. This will really help to reduce any huge side effects and help you to get the best out of your cleanse.
  • Plan the cleanse over a few days where you will not be crazy busy and will have time to let your body rest too. My hardest day was day two and I definitely needed to rest and allow my body to replenish and regenerate. The body will have difficulty benefitting from the cleanse if you are stressed or hitting the gym hard daily.
  • Cleansing is not so much about what you are putting into your body, but more about what you are leaving out (processed, toxic foods we have become accustomed to such as white bread, pasta, biscuits, alcohol, caffeine, meats). While we are leaving out those nasties, we giving our digestive system a break to regenerate and the extra energy normally used to digest can be used to help heal the body (very simplified explanation, please forgive me!). At the same time, the juices we consume still provide our body with the protein, nutrients and minerals needed to keep us going. It is important to drink fresh, and 100% raw juices during a cleanse to give you body the maximum nutrients possible. 
  • Try to empty the fridge and hide anything that might tempt you to make the cleanse easier.
  • Try to cleanse with a friend or family member, it makes it much easier!
  • DRINK LOTS AND LOTS AND LOTS OF WATER...and expect to be peeing A LOT! And also expect to poo quite a lot!
  • REST! Make sure you get to bed early while on the cleanse, those precious extra hours of rest work wonders for the body.
  • If you feel you really need food, then LISTEN TO YOUR BODY and have some, but try to stick to raw veg and maybe a handful of raw nuts if possible.
  • On exiting the cleanse, try to ease the body back in gently i.e. don't have a fry up for breakfast on day 4! Try to eat raw food for as long as possible post cleanse, and try not to rush back into your coffee habit, or that glass of wine straight away.  Maybe think about how good you are feeling now after the cleanse and think what you could maybe cut back on in your normal diet to help keep you feeling this way!

The body is a miraculous healing machine,and when we abstain from the foods that interfere with the natural healing Physiology of our bodies, cleansing & detoxing can begin!

 

Cold Pressed Juicery Cleanses will be available shortly, for more info please see their website.If you decide to do a cleanse, I hope you enjoy it and please leave me a comment to let me know how it goes for you!

xx

*Please note, this blog is based on my personal experience of a juice cleanse, and it does not mean that yours will be similar should you decide to do one. Each and every one of us are beautifully different and will respond to a cleanse in a different way. I am already a vegetarian and try to eat a balanced, nutritious diet on most days of the week so I may have had less to cleanse than someone who eats meat daily and drinks lots of coffee etc. Do not attempt a cleanse if you a pregnant. If you have any other medical condition, or are unsure about starting a cleanse,  please consult a Doctor or Nutritionist.*

Reflections of an Escapee

Ever since I left London to move to Malta and escaped the corporate world, people always ask me if I miss my London lifestyle. After having just spent a quick weekend there, I can happily say that I don't. And don't get me wrong, I spent 19 years of my life there and they were happy years, I had a very good education, I made some great friends, and I had some experiences which I'll never forget, but I guess I never felt truly at home there. 

Of course I miss all my wonderful friends there (but they get the added benefit of being able to come and visit me here and get some sunshine and yoga ;-) ). And I miss the abundance of yoga classes always available to go to at any time of the day and in any part of the city (even on Piccadilly Circus!), but this is a small price to pay for the great lifestyle I have in Malta.

Being in London last weekend was great, but I am glad it was only two days. The main thing that struck me this time is that almost every street you walk down in Central London is full of shops, and every shop is trying to grab your attention with their colourful, sometimes moving, attention grabbing displays. Each window shouting "BUY ME! BUY ME!". And not only the shops, but any bus or taxi that passes by is also advertising something in bright colours and sometimes flashing lights. And then if you descend into the underworld of the London tube, almost every surface of every wall is filled with adverts and information. I found it totally overwhelming, there was never a pause for my brain to be allowed to process any of the information properly, but just one after the other after the other. I was exhausted by just seeing adverts! It's hard to think clearly for yourself when the brain is constantly having to process all this different sensory information. It's stressful! And this was without having to deal with any of the added stress of a job I was rushing to, or a demanding social life. 

It's amazing how quickly you get used to a different life, when I lived in London I never even noticed the effect this had on my brain, and I think in a way when you are in that situation you become immune to all the adverts and constantly being sold something. You become numb to it. Just like you become numb to all the people walking down Oxford Street, you just march on through them. 

This may sound very negative towards London and city life, but I do feel very grateful for having spent that part of my life in London, it wasn't all bad, as I mentioned at the start of this post they were happy years - I actually had a LOT of fun, and it gave me life experience. Who knows if I would have found my way to this yoga path were I not in London in a demanding job, with an even more demanding social life which I needed to balance.

I like to think that using my experience of the hectic, demanding city life but creating the calm serene space that LahLah Yoga brings, that I can help people to find ways to deal with the stress of a pressured lifestyle. Whether that be a busy city life, a demanding job, screaming kids, too much partying or intense studies, I feel yoga can always help :-)

With Pause // Play, Cat and I are trying to create a space for city dwellers to escape this madness, at least for a few days, and to learn a few techniques to help deal with the pressure of city life once they return...all while having a bit of fun on the side too, and enjoying some sunshine, of course! The last few spaces are filling up, so do contact us if you're interested!

xx