Malvern Wells Yoga

Smile, it's yoga! Yoga classes in the Malvern area.


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Curved Balls!

Sometimes life throws you curved balls.

Why did I decide to look for a yoga studio? Way back in February when the Severn was flooded, something told me to look for somewhere better to hold my yoga classes. I was sick of smelly church hall carpets, spiders, glitter on the floor, the burlesque class in the next room…. As it happened I found my yoga studio. And it’s perfect. I knew I wanted it as soon as I saw it. My aim was to create a haven of peace, two storeys above Church Street in Great Malvern.

I never imagined that 2 years after qualifying as a yoga teacher, I would be opening my own space in Great Malvern. My heart is totally centred in this town. I never thought I would put down roots in any place other than my home town, but we’ve been here for 17 years now, and I can’t think of anywhere else I would rather be. I feel like I belong. Like part of the furniture. This is my home, I love the place, and nothing makes me happier than to be able to create my yoga studio in the very heart of it.

Lots of hard work later, me, Chris, my Mum & Dad, Sharon & Spence, lovely Sue and the gorgeous Miranda, (but mainly me & Chris) have created an amazing space for yoga and all things mindful. Everyone who has been so far has declared it to be peaceful and beautiful. What more could I ask for after all this hard work? I ruined my Converse when I was cleaning the front steps…. All in the name of my love for yoga, for this space, and you guys.

Sometimes life throws you other curved balls.

My HS (hidrandenitis suppurativa) does not like change. Neither does this sciatica that I seem to have developed. Whenever my right piriformis is compressed for any length of time, it starts to complain, butt goes numb, eventually whole leg, even foot goes numb…. And the HS just protests every time something changes in my life, new job, new yoga studio… god forbid I take a holiday or anything, then it’s even worse! The pain is the pain, is the pain. It’s so constant that I barely even notice it any more. Obviously sometimes it’s horrendous and you can’t continue to live a normal life, but while ever it’s just the day to day leakages and general hot spots, you can continue being a normal person. Just about. Don’t wear white trousers though when you have HS. It’s just not worth the constant paranoia!

Sometimes life throws you other curved balls.

It’s my birthday on Thursday. 37….. ahem!!!! It’s a whole year since I did 36 sun salutations on top of the Worcestershire Beacon to raise money for the HS Trust. This year I’m hosting a donation-based yoga class in my new studio. Thursday 14th August – 6pm. Let me know if you are coming. Expect sweaty flow, based on gratitude, expect some curved balls and postures you’ve never done before… but most of all expect cake!

Yogis & yoginis, I am eternally grateful for the love and support you are showing me in this new venture. I am humbled. Going forwards, it’s just so exciting as I add new classes and new teachers, new styles of yoga, mindfulness, meditation…. Great Malvern Yoga is underway. And I’ll be importing this blog to the new website. Keep y’all posted!

Namaste. Kxxx


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Moroccan Spiced Orange Cake Recipe (Gluten and Lactose free)

This is my Easter cake recipe.  I can actually eat this cake without fear of being crippled with stomach cramps for days afterwards.  The recipe is adapted from a book my mum bought for me called The Guilt-Free Gourmet by Jordan & Jessica Bourke.

moroccan spiced orange cake

My Moroccan Spiced Orange Cake for Easter

Ingredients

300g/1.5 cups ground almonds
250g/1.5 cups xylitol (actually I used 180g of soft brown sugar.  Xylitol is no doubt better for you, but I didn’t have any!)
2 tsp gluten-free baking powder
1 tbsp chia seeds (my addition)
2 tsp matcha powder (my addition)
5 eggs
200ml + 1 tbsp sunflower oil
2 tsp agave nectar + 60ml/5 tbsp for the syrup (I only used 3 tbsp in the syrup – 5 just seems a bit excessive, although the syrup would probably be less runny)
grated zest and juice of 1 orange
grated zest and juice of half a lemon
3 cloves
3 cinnamon sticks

1 20cm/8-inch springform pan, base lined with parchment paper (I couldn’t find my springform pans, so I just used two normal sandwich tins)

Makes 10-12 slices

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 180C (350F), Gas 4.
2. In a bowl, mix together the ground almonds, xylitol/sugar, baking powder, chia seeds and matcha powder with a wooden spoon.
3. In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, sunflower oil, the 2 teaspoons of agave syrup, and the orange and lemon zests.
4. Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture and combine together using an electric whisk.
5. Pour the cake mixture into the baking tin(s) and bake in the preheated oven for 35-45 minutes (35 minutes was enough when using two tins, I suspect using one tin will take a bit longer).  Insert a skewer into the top and the end of cooking time, and if it comes out clean, your cake is done.  During cooking, if the top looks like it is going to burn, cover with foil, but be careful not to press on the cake.  Personally, I like it a tiny bit browned on the top anyway.
6. Allow the cake to cool slightly while you make the syrup.
7. Put the orange and lemon juices, the 60ml/5 tbsp, the cloves and the cinnamon into a saucepan.
8. Bring to the boil and reduce the heat.  Simmer for 5 minutes.
9. Strain the liquid through a sieve, making sure you remove the cloves and the cinnamon sticks (you can set these aside).
10. When the cake is still warm, turn it out onto a plate, drizzle the syrup over and allow it to seep in.  If you’ve made two smaller cake, use some of the syrup on one half of the cake to sandwich the two cakes together.  Drizzle the rest of the syrup over the top of the cake.  If the syrup is not absorbed all at once, you can always set it aside and drizzle some more on later, or you can do what I did today and make a little slit in the top of the cake and pour the rest of the syrup into the hole.
11. When you are ready to serve, pile the cinnamon sticks and cloves on top of the cake for decoration (I didn’t do this because I was too excited about eating it).
12. The book suggests to serve the cake with some soy yoghurt with a bit of ground cinnamon stirred through it.  Personally I don’t think it really needs it as this is a very moist cake.  If anything, the yoghurt will probably tone down the sweetness a bit.

You need to eat this cake with a fork, otherwise it will fall apart in your hands and you’ll end up with very sticky fingers.  It’s very naughty on account of the sugar and the oil… but hey, I’m not having Easter eggs!

Enjoy!  Hope you are having a happy, healthy (within reason!) Easter.


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My sister thinks I’m weird!

…or more accurately, she thinks I think I’m a cross between David Bellamy and Beatrix Potter.  I think of myself more of a fatter Barbara Good from The Good LifeFelicity Kendal I will never be, but the sentiment remains.

“I think everybody’s weird. We should all celebrate our individuality and not be embarrassed or ashamed of it.”
Johnny Depp

I don’t think I’m anything, weird or otherwise. I’m me.  Everyone has their own life solution, and this is mine.  Admittedly I was a bit of a numpty in my teens and my twenties, but in my thirties I’m happy to just get on with living.  Life is hard, but you have to embrace it and carve your own path.  Enjoyment and contentment will not come to you.  You have to go out and find it.  It’s not, “What can life offer me?” but, “What can I bring to the party that is life?”.

I believe that everyone has something to bring to this party and every experience you have, good or bad, sets you on your course towards the destiny that you are meant to fulfil upon this earth.

 

 


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6 signs you’re totally stressed out (funny)

We undoubtedly live in an era where most conversations with your friends being with, “Oh I’m so stressed!”  The 21st century lifestyle means that everyone will have encountered stress somewhere along the line.  Unless of course you are one of those really annoying types who wears a coat made of Teflon, so the stress just slides right off you.

Stressed out Mary

Stressed out Mary

All of the following are completely true.

1. You arrive at work, take off your coat, make a drink, turn on your computer, read some emails… then a colleague points out that your jumper is in fact inside out.  If you can get away with it, it’s best to pretend that it is supposed to be like that.  Otherwise you look like a complete flake.  You’re sh*t out of luck if said jumper has a huge washing instruction label on it though.

2. Having visited your local purveyor of fine produce and olives in little tubs, you carefully place your very expensive purchases in the boot of your car, ensuring that the olives remain upright, lest they spill their olivey goodness all over the boot (that’s trunk if you’re an American).  Your posh eggs from very happy chickens are reverently placed on the front seat so you can keep an eye on them.  You return your trolley to the bay and leave your handbag, containing your brand new phone and your wallet in the trolley.  Luckily I got it back.  And everything was still inside my wallet.  Honest people do exist… at least they do where I live.

3. You wake up in the morning only to find that during the night you’ve been digging the nails of your left hand into the palm of your right.  The resulting marks take all day to fade.  There is not a lot you can do about this apart from not waving at people across the office because then they’ll realise you’ve been maiming yourself in your sleep (again).  If this becomes a regular occurrence you need to keep your nails short and consider wearing gloves in bed.  Seriously.

4. You forget that you’ve promised to go to Hot Yoga with your Yoga BFF, and now you feel mortified and embarrassed and daren’t phone her because you are a total stressed out mess.  This comes from not really knowing what day it is.  A solution would be to try to keep a paper diary with your appointments in your handbag (providing it has not been left in a supermarket trolley), and then actually LOOK AT IT so you can see where you are supposed to be.

5. Going to bed seems like the best course of action, even though it’s only 3.30pm.  Cuddling up with a good book and the cat at 3.30pm in the afternoon seems like a good idea.  Where do you think I am while writing this?  However, if it happens too often you might need to have a think about why you are in bed.

6. Knocking over a cup of tea results in an apoplectic-raging-beast-screaming-crying-fit that causes you to nearly pass out in anger when you realise that was the last of the milk too.  Birds in trees get scared and take flight.  The cat runs out of the room at top speed, leaving a cloud of fur behind that then floats nonchalantly into the big tea puddle on the floor.  Each and every tiny, simple task just causes you more stress and inconvenience.  And so you sit sobbing in the middle of the kitchen floor, hot tea soaking into your eco-friendly yoga leggings until your poor long-suffering husband/partner/boyfriend concedes that he will go fetch some more milk from the shop.  Anything to get away from the noise!

Now for the serious bit.  If you have symptoms of stress, if you feel out of control, anxious, depressed and/or unable to cope, you need to get some help.  Talking to loved ones, doing something fun, getting a massage and attending a regular yoga class are all things that can help relieve some of the burden you feel you are carrying.  Don’t suffer in silence.  Try a little smile right now… go on, you can do it!


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About friends

I love my friends.  My mates.  My chums.  My buddies.  The Kindred Spirits.  The ones who’ve seen me cry.  The ones who know my bra size (seriously classified information, people!).

My friends from school, the majority of whom I am still in touch with via Facebook.  It’s amazing to see us all grown up, with jobs and kids.  I honestly never thought that I would meet anyone else like them.  I like to think we were the closest knit group of friends ever and that the camaraderie will never be surpassed… and actually it probably won’t because we’re adults now and drinking Thunderbird on the school playing field on Friday nights is just not cool anymore!

Over the last couple of years I’ve met some amazing people.  Fellow yogis, business people, work colleagues, people from Twitter, people I’ve met through music, long lost family members on Facebook, the people who attend my yoga classes…  D’you know what though?  I hardly get to spend any time with any of them.

Recently I’ve become friends with a few really inspirational people who are more accessible to me, by virtue of the fact that they live in the same town as me!  But you just know when special people enter your life.  The sort of people who make you feel amazing, like you can do anything.  They believe in me, they get me.  They make me happy when I’m around them.

Don’t get me wrong, I carve my own path.  I don’t need the affirmation or admiration of those around me but what I do need is that simplistic good fun element you get when you’re with great friends… whether that’s getting high on caffeine with a fellow yoga teacher (seriously, 3 shots man!), being manhandled into Pincha Mayurasana by my Yoga BFF or tramping through a park in Vienna in heels and a posh frock… these are those priceless friend moments that everyone needs.

I have so many lovely people in my life right now, new friends and old.  I love each and every one of you.

I urge you to make time for your friends.  You never know when they’re going to move to Australia!

Claire & Me

Up to good stuff in Claire’s yoga room
Image from http://travelswithmyyogamat.tumblr.com/


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Farting and other stories (6 funnies from the yoga mat)

I am by no means a seasoned, veteran yoga teacher.  However, I’ve seen and heard some pretty funny stuff in my 15 months of teaching and I would like to share some of it with you.

1. Farting

Yup, if you are a frequenter of yoga classes, chances are either you or someone else in the class has farted.  What do you do?  Where do you look?  Do you pretend you’ve not heard?  What if it smells?  Luckily the folks over at DoYouYoga have made a helpful video to tell you what to do (funny).

Unfortunately what the video doesn’t tell you is how to hold in a fart if you are the teacher, or what happens when you hold in a fart for 90 minutes and then you sit down in your car and try to drive home…

2. The Fanny Fart

That’s right, the fanny fart.  This happens to me on rare occasions during shoulder stand or headstand.  It has never happened to me in Warrior 2 or Side Angle Pose.  In this particular instance, a lovely lady in my Tuesday class was in Warrior 2 when she let out what we all assumed was a bottom burp.  When it happened again and louder this time, she told us that it was what she believed is “commonly known as a fanny fart”!  Where do you put your face when this happens?  How do you rearrange your face into something resembling a composed Yoga teacher?  Perhaps the nice people at DoYouYoga will make another video…

3, The woman whose arms didn’t work

Sometimes at the beginning of class I like to do wrist warm ups.  Beginner students get tired wrists quite easily and I think it’s important to get the blood pumping into them before you start doing anything weight-bearing like downward dog.  Anyway, generally we do a few flexes of the wrist and some circles with the arms stretched out in front of us so that it works the deltoids as well.  One particular lady, fairly early on in my teaching experience, tried about two rotations, then said she couldn’t do it because it hurt her arms.  She then bent her elbows into her sides and proceeded to do the exercise like that.  It just looked incredibly funny… maybe you had to be there.

I find it really interesting that people often struggle to distinguish between mild discomfort and pain… but what do I know (see point 4)?

4. Being accused of being so bendy that yoga must be really easy for me

The only thing I can do is laugh when people say this to me… and it happens quite a lot.  Let’s get this straight, yoga is not easy for anyone.  The reason I am so flexible is I worked hard as a gymnast and a dancer when I was a kid and then later on as a yoga practitioner.  I have maintained my childhood flexibility BY WORKING HARD AND KEEPING MY BODY MOVING!  Being bendy is more of a curse than it is a blessing.  It is easy to over pronate and hurt myself really badly.  I work hard to develop my muscles in order to protect my flexible tendons and ligaments.  Injury is not funny.

5. The hardcore know-it-all Ashtangi

Again, this was fairly early on in my teaching career.  She put her mat right at the front of the class, scowled at me as I described ujayii pranayama as sounding a bit like Darth Vader (I had two blokes in the class, I thought it would appeal to them), her chaturanga was better than mine, she ignored my instructions and did her own things and her headstand was a perfect straight-leg lift.  At the time I was mortified.  I wanted to throw a diva strop and ask her to come to the front and teach the class instead of me.  She’s never been back to one of my classes since.  I don’t really care about that.  She taught me a very valuable lesson, not to let my ego get in the way of delivering a good, safe class for my students.  I think (I hope) that I now teach with a lot more grace and humility and I am confident in what I am doing.  My classes, taught my way.

6. Flower power pants

One of my lovely students wears black leggings that are somewhat transparent, especially in downward dog.  I have seen her flower power knickers quite often.  It always seems to be the same pair… maybe they’re her favourite pair for doing yoga.  Either way, it makes me smile!  I know some people have a problem with it (I’ve read enough blog posts about lululemon pants to have picked up that some people consider totally opaque leggings essential).  Who cares?  As long as you show up and do your practice, who gives a f*ck what you wear.  I do it in my pyjamas on Sunday mornings.


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One of the best things that ever happened to me

One of the best things that ever happened to me was getting made redundant.

Yes, I know – shock horror – being told that you are going to be made redundant feels like the worst thing in the world at the time. It felt like I had been punched in the stomach. It felt like my heart was being ripped from my chest. I felt let down, like I’d done something wrong. It felt like I was being victimised. One takes it very personally.

But, y’know what? Almost two years later, to the day, I can quite honestly say that I would probably still be sitting there at my desk listening to the gossip and the whining and wishing I was somewhere else. Getting on planes, getting off planes, waking up in a hotel room and thinking you’re in Lyon, but actually you’re in Milan, spending an obscene amount of money at a Clinique counter in Brussels airport because my flight was delayed and I was bored (Heathrow T5, also a favourite). Sitting in meetings wishing I was somewhere else, being so stressed the only thing you can do is cry. Standing for hours in killer heels being nice to people on exhibition booths, again you’re in so much pain you just want to cry.

I remember driving through Zaventem with my colleague one morning and I told him that I was going to be a yoga teacher. This was before I knew I was going to be made redundant. This was what I sat at my desk and dreamt about whilst I was supposed to be devising lead generation strategies. Dunno if he remembers, but I’m sure he didn’t believe me at the time.

Now I’m doing something I love. Yes, I still have a day job, in marketing and it’s just down the road. Don’t get me wrong – I am VERY grateful for this job. The people I work with are tremendous and you couldn’t ask for nicer colleagues. The job is challenging and stressful, but it’s so much more tolerable because at 5pm I can take off my marketing hat and put on my yoga pants.

If I hadn’t been made redundant I would never have been able to afford to train to be a yoga teacher. I never saved anything, I would just fritter it away on designer clothes and killer heels so that I could stand on more exhibition booths knowing that I was one of the best dressed there. Yet one of the first lights at the end of the tunnel upon knowing that I was going to be made redundant, was the fact that I knew with complete clarity that I would be spending some of my redundancy money on yoga teacher training.

This weekend I’ve taught on a retreat for The Clover Mill. I teach there every Monday, but this weekend Julie asked if I would be willing to teach the whole weekend. I was honoured to be asked. To me, it means I’ve come a long way in my teaching that Julie had enough faith in me to let me teach her weekend retreaters. What an experience! I’ve gone from knee-quaking experiences during my teacher training to trying to build up two evening classes per week (sometimes only teaching to one person, or none), to two successful evening classes, plus another one at The Clover Mill, and now this retreat.

I am so grateful to everyone that has stuck with me and supported me over these life-changing two years. I’ve met so many great people, new friends and old have been nothing but encouraging. I am eternally grateful that I was made redundant and I am eternally grateful that I can now share the gift of yoga with the world.

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