This weekend I spent the day walking round the woods and beach near Tyninghame collecting wild plants, flowers and seaweed and learning how to use them in cooking and for healing in herbal medicine. I was taught to look a fresh at many weeds that are abundant in their healing properties and numbers. Who knew that nettle seeds can be plucked right off the plant and eaten for a mental boost of energy, just have to be careful to avoid getting stung! For loads of interesting recipes and foraging inspiration take a look at Wilde in the Woods website. Connecting to our own traditional herbal knowledge gave me a sense not only of a deep history of the uses of plants but also to the infinite ways in which human are connected with and can be healed by the Earth.
I am running beginners and improvers classes at the beautiful 14 Alva Street. Each month we will have a special peak posture that we are going to be focusing on and finding new ways to explore and experiment with. This means that throughout the month we will be looking at the areas of the body that we need to work on in terms of flexibility and strength to see how we can access the posture. Spending a whole month focusing on one posture seems like a lot but there is a huge amount to learn in each yoga posture and in this way students can build up a bank of knowledge on it and see themselves progress as the month goes on. Of course there will be different postures that we will be practicing in the lead up to our peak posture every week and lots of room to try new things. This way we also get the chance to explore deeper in to things as well as broader and see what can be discovered afresh about the peak focus postures. This quote says a lot to me about how I feel about working on yoga asana. However, the top of the mountain (perfect posture) is not the goal in yoga and maybe it does not even exist, just your own expression right now!“Mountains should be climbed with as little effort as possible and without desire. The reality of your own nature should determine the speed. If you become restless, speed up. If you become winded, slow down. You climb the mountain in an equilibrium between restlessness and exhaustion.”
― Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values
I hope to share some of the monthly focuses in this blog. Please check back and see!
I love chocolate and all things baked! I have been vegan for about 7 years now. The two have resulted in many interesting experiments in the kitchen. I have had many many disasters and a fair few triumphant and spectacular successes. This one goes in the later category:-
Raw Chocolate Brownies
Hand full of dates, blended with a little water
Then add to the blender:-
Hand full of walnuts or any other nuts you have in the cupboard
A good tablespoon full of flaxseed
1 - 3 teaspoons of cocoa powder (raw if you have it)
A pinch of salt
Just a little extra of somethings sweet - honey, agave, stevia........as you prefer
Roll the yummy mixture up in to balls. Then if you like you can roll the balls in chopped nuts, coconut, cocoa power........whatever takes your fancy.
So good for you and so goooooooooooood! As they are all blended up with no cooking, you can add more of anything you like - remember to taste test so they are just right. Therefore you really can't go wrong with them. Hope you enjoy.
I have just come back from Australia where I had my first solo art exhibition.
Here is a link to my art website:-http://kristinahanson.weebly.com/
The pieces in the exhibition are all inspired by movement - of the sea, the body and birds. Beyond this I am looking at whether there is a still point within all this movement and flux, something that remains the same, and if so how to access it. I think in the actual act of drawing, often the still point is glimpsed for me. The point where I seem to step outside of the normal constrictions of time and hours can flash past, as it is for many things that anyone is wholly involved in - dancing, music or yoga. The single pointedness of mind that seems to come from really engaging in something - is this the still point?
Here is a wee sample exercise from my first yoga class at Out of the Blue!
I often find when I arrive to a yoga class my mind is full of things that have been going on previously or that I am looking forward to, especially on a Friday when the working week is over and the weekend is stretching out ahead. This exercise helps to center on how you are feeling right now in order to focus on the practice of yoga.
Start from a comfortable sitting position, kneeling, cross legs, half lotus, lotus!... Check your spine is is long and you are relaxed and gently close your eyes to bring your attention inwards. Notice your contact with the floor and feel the weight of your body being held and supported. Traveling from the base of your posture throughout your body, upwards each part of the body in resting comfortably in alignment. Now bring your attention to your breath. Observe how your breath is moving in your body right now, the in breath, out breath and pauses in between. Pay attention to where your breath travels to in your body. Follow the breath in the body without changing or judging it, it may help to repeat 'in' and 'out' on the breaths to keep your mind from busying itself with something else. If you are distracted just notice this has happened and bring yourself back to the practice of effortless breathing. Enjoy for a few minutes and open the eyes on the next in breath.
Now see how much more centered on your practice and able to concentrate you are to continue with your Yoga practice!
You can also try this exercise on its own. It is particularly helpful if you are feeling worried or stress out in order to calm down and see things more clearly. Its a great one to do at the start of your day or before you go to bed. Please have a go and let me know how you get on!
Hi, thanks for your comment. Yes I would be happy for you to share the link to my blog! Thank you!
I have long been inspired by birds wings in my art work. When I first came to Edinburgh I worked on a piece called 'A Wing and a Prayer', an abstract drawing of a birds wing reflecting my feelings of coming to a new city and trying to find a place in it after finishing university. It is the fragile intricate patterns of feathers in a wing which give birds wings their strength and lightness. Birds ride on wind currents going with their changes and pressures to play and live. It was these qualities which I was trying to find here and explore through drawing, and still am!
Recently I have found a quote by Rumi which has been inspiring my yoga practice also in the shape of a birds wings.
" Your hand opens and closes and opens and closes. If it were always a fist or always stretched open, you would be paralyzed. Your deepest presence is in every small contracting and expanding, the two as beautifully balanced and coordinated as bird wings."
Here is a five minute breathing practice to go with it:-
Sit in kneeling and close your eyes. Place your hands on your knees, palms facing upward and tune in to your breathing. Open and close your hands in time with your effortless breath, keeping time and observing all the changes and movements in the breath. On the out breath close your hands and on the in breath allow them to open again, making a continuous cycle which matches your breathing. When you are ready gently open your eyes again on the in breath.
Please have a try if you liked it and let me know what you think!
Kristina is a Yoga teacher and artist who lives in Braunton, North Devon with her husband, two children and a cat.