Part 2. A Tree with Strong Roots Laughs at Storms

Welcome back! If you haven’t read part one we recommend you start at the start as our exploration of the Bandha is not so much sequential as it is cumulative.


We began by considering pada bandha, often considered an accessory to the three primary bandhas, but nonetheless a vital one as our first point of contact (or perhaps we should say conduit) with the earth.

Our next stop is at the mula bandha, located at the perineum. Sometimes specifically described as housed in the ‘levator ani’ muscle (exactly where the name would suggest it is), but more generally in the muscles of the pelvic floor. Mula bandha is inseparable from our muladhara or root chakra, which is anatomically housed in the same area. And much like the muladhara, whose activation begins in the heels, how we engage the entirety of our legs or roots affects the efficacy of our mula Bandha. the rest of the article here: 

The Benefits of Inversions

Inversion postures shift our internal perspective, which makes sense when you’re quite literally looking at things from a different perspective to normal. Inversions can really boost your mood. I like to think of it as turning that frown upside down!  Honestly, I can’t count the amount of times I’ve been feeling exhausted or low emotionally then have felt way better with more energy after some sun salutations to warm up followed by inversion practice and a relaxed savasana.

There are lots of benefits to inversions......


..... read the rest of the article here



Full Circle

When I was in my early teens I had a Saturday job in a flower shop. I loved this job and worked in this little shop in the middle of a bustling retail community in the centre of Leeds for almost five years. As a young woman, dipping my toe in the working environment provided me with a small income and increased independence but most of all, I was exposed to many valuable lessons in life that I still carry today. From the best way to ask your boss for something (never in front of others), being rewarded for never taking sick time (2 days in 5 years and that was with glandular fever), calculating wholesale to retail price (in those days double the cost and add VAT) to making ribbon extra curly using a pair of scissors. This job taught me about responsibility, commitment, loyalty and trust. Many of the things that yoga has continued to reinforce. It was a small family business that had been established in 1969 and being part of a small team made me feel valued and nurtured during a time in my life when I needed all the guidance I could get. For my part, I was always on time, I worked hard and gave my all. I even used to take time out of school during busy periods such as Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day to carry out deliveries on foot. This experience instilled in me a work ethic and a sense of pride at a job well done. Obviously seeing the smiles on customer’s faces as they took their flowers was an added benefit.

I hadn’t been in their employment very long when I was handed a set of keys to the shop. I couldn’t have been more proud. I remember my Gran saying “you know Claire, you can’t just open up and then stand in the middle of the shop swinging your keys thinking you’re great. You’ll have to start setting up”. I laughed because she knew me so well. Heeding this gentle warning, I made certain I caught the earlier bus to work. I arrived at 830 am and by 9 am the flowers were displayed on the steps outside the shop in fresh water, smelling and looking beautiful. The plants had been arranged and watered, the counter was cleaned and fresh paper for wrapping the flowers was topped up. I even managed a little moment of standing there in the middle of the shop, hands on hips surveying my good work, feeling so proud to have been trusted and valued and reflective on how welcoming the shop must appear to prospective customers.

I was reminded of this when I taught my first yoga class just before Christmas at the studio where I have learned to be a teacher. I had a set of keys and on this occasion I needed to open up and bring the studio to life with light and heat, no mean feat on a dark and dreary December evening.

 .... read the rest of the article here: 

Why 108?

The number 108 has always been considered a sacred number in Yoga, and its Hindu roots, but its auspicious qualities are not contained to just one system and show up throughout in practices and rituals across the world. Here are a few of our favourites;

There are 108 nadis, that leave the Anahata (heart centre), one of which, the sushumna or central channel is our ultimate route to enlightenment. In Ayuverda, there are 108 marma points that direct the subtle flow of vital life energy. 

108 is a harshad number, a Sanskrit word meaning great joy, which describes a number whereby the number itself is divisible by the sum of its digits. In this case, 108/9 = 12. Interestingly, in Vedic astrology there are 12 constellations, and 9 chandrakalas, or arc segments. There are also 12 solar houses, and 9 lunar houses. 

Plus, in numerology, the symbology of 1 - 0 - 8 gives us perhaps the simplest analogy of yoga meditation teaching, 

1 symbolises a single pointed awareness, i.e. the verticality of the breath,

0 represents remaining open, or ridding oneself of preconceptions, or the distraction of the senses, and,

8 signifies uniting with the flow of the infinite.

In Japan, a bell is chimed 108 times at the end of the year, with each ring representing one of the 108 earthly temptations a person must overcome to achieve nirvana. 


And one more... this time with a little more detail, 

The Upanishads describe the cycles of reincarnations (samsara), driven by samskara and karma, and the desire for ultimate liberation (moksha) that can be achieved through the practice of yoga. Throughout the course of this journey the Yogi is able to understand the trappings of the material world, or prakrti, to see their truest self, or Atman, as an extension of Brahman, or the universal consciousness.

Supposedly, there are 108 stages on the journey through the Atman to unity with the Brahman, which we might also call enlightenment. As we work through the 108 salutations in a Yoga Mala, we are symbolically undertaking this journey in macrocosmic scale on our mats as we achieve a level of focus and intention that helps us to break down the samskara (perhaps we could call them potential karmas) that are warping our vision and allow us to see more clearly, and as such, move more closely to our ultimate goal in the coming year.

So, if the purpose here is to dissolve our Samskara, what exactly are Samskara? 

Pandit Rajmani Tigunait highlights the prefix 'sam' means 'planned, or thought out', whilst 'kara' means 'the action undertaken', therefore the total meaning is 'the impression or the impact of the action we perform with full awareness of its goals'. A samskara then is a habit, and the stronger a habit becomes, the less we are able to clearly control our own mind when we approach actions affected by that habit. When a habit is strong enough, it removes consciousness from our interactions, shrinking ourselves around its confines. If a samskara is left for long enough it becomes a vasana, literally a 'colour', whereby we become unable to see our world without the effect of this coloured overlay. If unattended still, this becomes part of karma, and therein affects our destiny through lifetimes, trapping us in samsara. 

Through the physical practice of a Yoga Mala, our samskaras are revealed to us, such that in the fire and austerity of our practice we are able to dissolve them, and move forward seeing more clearly, and more closely attuned to our deepest desires and sankalpa. 

The Trimurti and Tridevi

Trimurti means the 'Great Trinity', and represents three Hindu Gods, whereas the Tridevi which means the 'Three Shining Ones' conjoins the three Goddess that complete them. Collectively they represent the powers of balance in the micro, and macro-cosm. 

First is Brahma, the creator, alongside Saraswati, the goddess of learning and the arts, but also of cosmic consciousness and intelligence. 

Next is Vishnu, the maintainer or preserver, alongside Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, fertility and of fulfilment and abundance. 

And then Shiva, the transformer and the destroyer, alongside Parvati or Durga, who depicts the transformational power of unity and is the fierce goddess of power and love. 

In our yoga practice we can engage with each, not as abstract mythological figures, but as an archetype, or a field of consciousness whereby their invocation amplifies and supports the qualities they represent in ourselves.

As we come to the close of the year we are celebrating simultaneously all three, and considering what balance we hope to achieve in the future.

We recognise everything that has been abundant and joyful that not so long ago was only a vague notion, the seed of an intention. We see what it is we want to continue nurturing and to continue growing as we move forward, and we also recognise what we are ready to release, or 'destroy'  and transform.

Immunity boosting, heart-warming mulled apple cider.


  • 4 apples, (or skip this stage and buy 1 litre of apple cider)
  • 1 stick of cinnamon
  • 3 cloves
  • 1/4 nutmeg ground.
  • 2 star of anise
  • 1/2 vanilla pod.
  • pinch black pepper


  • Peel and chop the apples. Add to a pan with water to cover and another two inches. Boil for one hour then strain. (Or, add 1 litre apple cider to your pan).
  • Bring newly made apple cider base to a pan and bring to the boil. Then add all the spices to the pan, and leave to simmer for another 5 to 10 minutes before ladling out!








Ginger, Sweet Potato and Kale Broth.

This wholesome, easy to prepare and easy to digest broth is the perfect autumn pick me up with an immunity boosting zing from the ginger and chilli! Plus, the whole thing only takes approximately 45mins to cook keeping it fully in the realms of convenient, autumnal comfort food!. 

Ingredients (2 portions):

  • 1 inch of fresh ginger. 
  • 1/2 bag of kale
  • 2 generous pinches of good quality salt. 
  • 1 good glug of oil.
  • 2 sweet potatoes.
  • 1 small fresh chilli. 
  • Pepper to taste. 


Begin by adding the sweet potatoes to a pot, diced, oiled and salted and with just enough water to cover. Boil until soft (approximately 10/15 minutes depending on the size of your squares).

Grate the ginger, slice the chilli and add to the mix. Leave to simmer for 30 minutes. 

Add the kale and leave to simmer for another 5 minutes or so before serving. 

November full moon intentions

This full moon in November is known as the frost moon, or the beaver moon; as at this time of year the cool fresh frosty mornings begin to lead us into winter, and traditionally this is the time that furs would be sought out to warm us through the next few months.

This full moon will be spectacularly bright due to its current proximity to us (only Decembers moon will be brighter this year), and is in the earth sign of Taurus, promising to shower us with abundance.  Indeed the number 11 in numerology is sacred, representing divinity, rebirth and a higher consciousness. 


Yet this moon also holds another name, the mourning moon. Last months full moon energy began our reflection upon endings with the natural shifting of cycles into autumn, yet this month we asked how these cycles move into us personally.  

The primary theme for November is the turning of the soil, and asks us to dig deep, and to see what it is that we have been neglecting beneath the surface. To turn up, to inspect and to feed our ground in preparation for new seeds to be planted. 

As we turn the soil of our lives, we are not only uncovering elements we have turned away from, but also real gifts that we had forgotten we were blessed with. We are given the opportunity to turn our attention and to direct our nourishment, both to the new, and to the deserving old, as we begin to prepare for new journeys ahead. 

Shar's Diwali Treats

1/2 tin condensed milk
200g desiccated coconut
8 cardamom pods crushed ( use seeds only )
Small pinch saffron soaked in 1tbsp of warm milk for 15 mins

To coat
50g desiccated coconut
25g chopped pistachio
Pinch of Himalayan salt

Mix together condensed milk coconut, cardamom and
Saffron milk together .

Tip into a non stick pan and stir over medium heat for5 mins.

Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Roll into balls or shapes and roll / sprinkle in coconut and pistachios .

Chill before serving

Immerse Yourself in The Light of Lights

The Hindu festival of Diwali is observed during the last two days of the dark half of Kartik (October-November).


The Sanskrit term Diwali simply translates to “a row of lights”


There are several alleged origins to Diwali. Some believe it’s a celebration of the marriage between Lakshmi and Lord Vishnu however, on the same day Krishna killed the demon Narakasura and Lord Rama returned to Ayodhya after overpowering the demon King Ravana. In neighbouring Bengal, the festival is dedicated to the Goddess Kali.


Irrespective the overall theme is universal: the day celebrates the power of good over evil, light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance and hope over despair.


Preparations for this five-day celebration include paying off old debts, cleaning the home and buying new clothes. It’s also a custom to buy gold. Homes are lit from outside with many ghee lamps to invite prosperity. Fireworks are lit and people unite regardless of colour, creed or caste. Sweet treats are offered and a vegetarian banquet is laid.


Having been fortunate enough to witness this illuminating festival in Delhi in 1993 it remains one of my favourite Hindu festivals that I continue to observe here in the UK. It’s a festival that is celebrated not only by Hindus but also Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs throughout the world.

What does Diwali mean to me?

For us here in the UK Diwali falls during autumn- a time for trees to shed their leaves as the nights draw in and we have time to reflect.

I take this opportunity to prepare for the approach of winter, take stock of the year so far, the knowledge that I have gained and the lessons learnt to date. For me this year has been a truly testing one, yet Diwali permits me the time to reflect on just how much I have achieved. I am grateful for the experience both good and bad  and the love and compassion from my tribe that allowed me to survive the darkness and come back into the light.

Love & light


Full moon in Aries

This Thursday 5th October we have a Full Moon in Aries; the Hunter Moon. This particular lunar energy will help us come face to face with the obstacles that are holding us back. Our mind is so powerful that often the obstacles that come before us are manifestations of the fear that lives inside. Sometimes obstacles are necessary as they allow us to weigh up what we really want and don't want, also what we are willing to do for our goals to become reality. Obstacles also help to direct us on our path.

When you believe in something, when your heart’s desire is beating strong, all fear looks small in comparison. This is again where the power of our heart and mind can be something we use to overcome fears we may hold onto. 

With this focus we realise that we all have that inner strength and require a level of balance within to gain clarity. There was a perfect quote I read this morning from a blog I love...

“Our inner experience is what informs our outer experience, so by practicing inner stability and balance, we are not only advancing our own personal growth, but being of service on the planet at the same time" 

(Thank you



A practise for this Full Moon:

Using Palo Santo (hopefully our members have some left from last month!) it's qualities align well with the vibration of Aries. Burn this to cleanse and take a seated crossed legged position. Inhale a full breath and exhale in bramari for 8 repetitions, each time filling your heart with knowing your mind and trusting yourself.

Autumn Chestnut and Beets Salad

This seasonal salad is packed with a punch of earthy goodness. You'll need;


For your croutons; 3 slices crusty sourdough bread and a little olive oil. (Heat oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6. Dice the bread and toss with olive oil in a small roasting tin. Add salt and pepper, then bake for around 12-15 minutes until brown and crisp.)


For the salad itself;

Lamb's lettuce (approx 70g)

Cooked chestnuts (approx 200g. Purchase as a pack or roast yourself!)

Cooked (not pickled!) beetroot. (approx 200g.)

One apple, thinly sliced.

(Optional) 5 slices of serrano ham.


And for the dressing: dice 1 small red onion and mix with 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar, then leave for 10 mins. Mix 2 teaspoons of dijon mustard and 4 tablespoons of walnut oil with salt and pepper and whisk until slightly thickened. Stir into the onions, then pour over your salad!

Roasted Roots Soup

This nourishing soup is supercharged, and super simple, plus once everything is chopped and peeled there is very little to do!

Start by frying the onions until soft (approx 5 mins), then add them to a large pan, add in all the vegetables (chopped and peeled of course!) bring to a simmer and leave with the lid on for a good 3 hours. Blend the soup to your preference and serve with an added spoonful of greek yoghurt and a sprinkling of coriander. 



Carrots (approx 3 large, chopped and peeled),

Celariac (1, chopped and peeled),

Two leeks, (halved, then chopped),

Swede (1, chopped and peeled),

Onion (1, small. chopped and peeled),

Vegetable stock (1.5 litres),

and, plenty of freshly ground black pepper.


To garnish greek yoghurt and fresh, chopped coriander. 

October Abhyanga.

As the natural world begins to shift towards a time of retreating and regrouping, try this Ayurvedic daily self-care prescription, the Dinacharya, to reinspire your self care practice and stave off that cold weather lethargy;


Step 1. Wake up before dawn!

This might seem like a tricky starting point but according to Doshic theory between 6am and 10am is the time of the Kapha aggravation. If we don't get up before this period we are subject to the kapha qualities of sluggishness and lethargy. 


Step 2. Wash the night (and your previous day) away!

Splash cool water over your face seven times. This cooling element is said to prepare the body for a calm and collected day, whilst the seven splashes represents to integration of your 7 chakras. 


Step 3. Scrape your Tongue, and Clean your Teeth.  

Before taking a drink ayurveda recommends you scrape any sort of white coating on the tongue off as it represents undigested toxins in the body. You can purchase tongue scrapers online, or alternatively, most modern toothbrushes will have a textured pattern on the back of the brush designed to clean the tongue with. 

Oil pulling can then be used to clean the teeth and detox the body, as the fat enzymes absorb bacteria and mucous to be expelled. (for a guide to oil pulling CLICK HERE.)


Step 4. Give yourself a massage! 

We all know the benefits of a good massage, yet it has probably never even crossed our minds that we would be able to gift those benefits to ourselves! If you know your dosha you can choose an oil to suit: To balance vata use ginger, cardamom, or orange; for pitta sandalwood or lavender; and for kapha eucalyptus and rosemary.

For a simple routine;

  • Start by massaging around the eyes and over the face including the ears.
  • Massage both the front and back of the neck and only as far as is comfortable to reach without strain the upper part of the spine.
  • Massage the arms and hands, using long sweeps over the muscle and circular movements over the joints.
  • Massage over the heart and the abdomen in a clockwise, circular motion.
  • Massage the legs, using the same movements as the arms
  • End with the feet.

For an extra invigorating effect lightly and quickly brush the skin. The aim here is to stimulate lymphatic movement which requires only a light touch, and always brush in the direction of the heart. This also has the added bonus of brushing in the oil.


Step 5. Meditate.

Whether for you that means some time sitting silently with yourself, or the moving meditation of a yoga practice... time to be with yourself with the simple aim of connection and of natural recalibration will reap amazing rewards throughout your day. 


Step 6. Shower.

You are calm, you are collected. You are oiled and invigorated. Now, enjoy a shower and the rest of your day!

Oil Pulling?

This ancient practice rooted in ayurveda can be a wonderful addition to your daily routine. Oil pulling is best carried out first thing, on an empty stomach whilst the body is still in its naturally detoxing mode. Here's how: 


First and foremost; select a high quality, cold pressed oil. We love THIS coconut oil, infused with peppermint. Not only does it taste and smell good but it is anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and packed with enzymatic properties. 

Take approximately a teaspoon of oil in the mouth, and swill for a minute of 3 minutes, but ideally upto 20 minutes. Make sure you don't swallow any though!

Spit the oil back out; ideally into a tissue and then into the bin as the oil itself can sometime block delicate drains as it solidifies once cool.

Rinse the mouth with warm, slightly salty water. Again here a high quality salt is important; pick a natural rock or sea salt. 


If it feels necessary, you can then brush the teeth with a natural toothpaste. Then, go about your day feeling fantastic!



...on cultivating peace in yoga practice.

I used to associate the idea of 'peace' with the notion of escape. A nonspecific removal of myself from the current circumstances of my life. 

It wasn't that my circumstances were at any point particularly horrendous, but just that there was some element that was jarring and unsatisfactory. An element that was challenging and exhilarating perhaps yet simultaneously exhausting. I have always considered myself to be rallied by challenge, yet there is a point that this no longer holds out, and I need to step away from the cognition and the understanding of it all. 

I would long for 'peace' for escape, into the vastness and quiet of nature. A lake to swim, a forest to explore. And perhaps it is because of our tendency to positively bias our memories, I would seek that literal retreat, remembering the last time I gazed down at the path I had just climbed as my heart pounded and then settled slowly; or else I would watch documentaries about communities that live removed from all the modern physical and mental clutter I had crowded myself with and felt overwhelmed by. 


And then I would get there... to some lake, or the base of some gnarly track as the rain began to drizzle and I would feel at once free and exhilarated and terrified! Totally terrified. And in the same way that I would doubt myself sat at the computer, I would doubt myself as I climbed into my gear. I would be undeniably confronted by my smallness, by my fragility. My impatience. My ego. Mostly, most probably my ego. 

There is a popular analogy of meditation as slipping beneath the ripples on the surface of a lake; a beautiful analogy that describes the sensations of immersion, and of subversion. The muffled quiet that is uncomparable to any noise we experience in our daily land-based, oxygen dependent existence. It conveys the sense of simply being in something vast, yet simultaneously supported. We feel held in that gentle compression of the water. We have a sense that we are operating beyond our normal axis of operation. We wish for a moment that we could stay there forever... and for a moment it is easy to do so... but then the urge to breathe begins to build and eventually we must re-emerge. A cacophony of rippling water and earthy sounds and we are back on that edge of vigilance and of fear of the darkness beneath us, that only a moment ago felt like home. 

Perhaps this is the biggest challenge of meditational practice. That moment when we must return to the surface. The moment that we are presented with the inherent emptiness of idealized escapism as a proxy for peace. We see that our deadlines haven't changed and perhaps we begin to feel foolish for thinking we could carry that sense of achievement and clarity triumphantly back with us.

Worse still, as our practice deepens and we begin to experience more profound and deeper levels of ourselves we begin more keenly aware of our neurosis and the greater range of our human experience that at some point became arbitrarily categorised as good and bad, tolerable and intolerable, and we deny ourselves any further progress for fear of what may be underneath. There is a saying (whether it's true I dont know), that one of the primary reasons for a fear of heights, is just how powerful our curious mind is...what would it be like to jump? And we don't trust ourselves. 

But now I'm mixing metaphors... lets go back to our lake. 

We long to be in it... submerged. Held. Quiet. Endless. Untouched by the surface world. We have surpassed the fears and the trepidation of the surface. Of the unknown and dive willingly from our outer worlds into our inner. Whether it is a seated practice, or interwoven into the flow of our yoga asana, we are in our lake. And we want it to live up so badly to our static ideal, yet more often than not it doesn't. We had that first taste of serenity in the absorption of the challenge of the balance of virabhadrasana 3, yet now we float there with ease and our mind is free to roam again. And if we can hold that energy there, after the physical resistance has shifted, then it is here that the magic of our practice begins to unfold. 

We are all familiar with the term karma; our accumulated and collected deposit of energy that lurks in our root and risks cycling us through the same unenlightened existence lifetime after life time. Yet above that, in the second chakra we hold our Samskara, or our 'colourings'. They are the thoughts (vrittis) judgements and the assumptions that overlay, and underlie our understanding of the world around us, that we have become so attenuated to that we cannot see them or how they limit us. How we respond to them, affects then how they are proliferated through the rivers of our body. 

Enlightenment is often associated with the notion of vanishing into thin air, or becoming totally transparent, and perhaps, that understanding has its roots here. Importantly for my personal practice, is that the idea of resolving these samskaras is not a path of transcendence but a path of acceptance and understanding. Whilst our thoughts are still 'coloured' (klishta vrittis), as with tinted lenses, they change in some way our view. Our process then is to understand them so that they become uncoloured thoughts (aklishta vrittis), that yes, are still a part of our world and our experience of living now, but that they do not change our incoming perception. We can literally, so to speak, see through them. We become transparent. It is the proverbial mud churned up in our entry to the lake settling again to reveal the true nature of the bottom of the lake, and the middle and the above. It certainly isn't a comfortable process, it isn't even a linear process, and perhaps the end of it is more elusive than we can imagine whilst no maps of the route exist, only of the terrain and all the possible roads you might go down. It isn't often a dramatic and sensational route, but rather a steady and determined trudge.

We do not become peaceful by means of escape, or of disconnection and apathy. Rather, we attain peace through understanding how we obscure our innate peacefulness. 

Perhaps then it is better to describe peace alongside equanimity, and equilibrium. More even than understanding that we are the calm and central 'I' in the middle of a storm, but that we can courageously continue the journey of searching for the eye of the storm, with the knowledge that primarily that journey is about getting out of our own way on that route, or letting go of everything that pulls us back into the maelstrom. Of finding that vastness, and that quiet, and that acceptance and that peace within us, and of learning how to resist the urge to take hold of everything that pulls us out of it and into the mundanity and judgment of daily life, until maybe one day that fantastic memory of swimming backstroke in a lake with the blue sky above and crystal clear darkness beneath is no longer separate from our daily life. 


--- so, for the International Day of Peace, an intention, not of fantasising about a glorified, static and frankly fictitious state... but an intention. An intention of being brave enough, and humble enough and patient enough to continue on the journey towards rediscovering what it is to exist in peacefulness, and emanate peacefulness and embody peace (at least most of the time!)


Vegan Date & Walnut Cake

1 cup of chopped pitted dates 

1 cup of chopped walnuts 

( I bought whitworths already chopped and mixed together )

1/2 cup oil ( I used coconut oil )

2 cups of water

I/2 cup of sugar 

1 1/2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon 

1 tsp baking powder

2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt 

2 cups of spelt flour 


*Sieve together flour and baking powder and soda 

Sieve a second time 

*place all other ingredients in a pan stir well and simmer for 30 mins till it becomes gel like 

*leave to cool for 2 hours ( very important ) 

*pour cooled wet gel into flour mixture and combine 

*Place in greased loaf tin or 9 mini loaf cases 

*cook in preheated oven at 360 / 180 gas mark 4 for about 50 mins or until an inserted skewer comes out clean .

This cake is deliciously moist and keeps for over a week in an airtight container