Sivananda Yoga Retreat

Well, I’m back from my yoga retreat. Quite a weekend, let me tell you. Hard work sometimes (getting up at 5:30am for example) but certainly worth it. And I don’t feel half as tired/achey as I thought I would. Maybe I’m getting better, lol.

gaunts house

It was at Gaunt’s House, which is this big old former country house (now retreat centre) in Dorset. The place is massive, with lots of grounds, a big garden, and good sized rooms. I paid extra for a single and got a room that’s bigger than my flat (seriously, though I do have a very small flat!) with a double bed. Oh the luxury of a double bed! So nice to just spread out like that. I miss having a double bed.

enjoying the view

The grounds were made for chilling out, but there wasn’t much time for that. The schedule kept us quite busy. Check this out:

5:30 – Wake
6:00 – Satsang (meditation and chanting)
8:00 – Yoga
10:00 – Breakfast/Brunch
12:00 – Nature walk
14:00 – Demo/talk
16:00 – Yoga
18:00 – Supper
20:00 – Satsang
21:30 – Finish
21:31 – Bed 😉

Quite a lot to do huh? I tell you, took a little getting used to. You just had to relax and go with it (probably part of the ethos I reckon). And I’m not kidding about the last one. Soon as you were finished it was straight to bed (for me anyway). If I’m getting up that early I needs me beauty sleep.

The whole thing was run very well, which is no surprise from the Sivananda lot. I even helped out with some of it, getting to the centre early to load up my car with stuff (I had pictures of the swamis and deities on my back seat, and every time someone cut me up in traffic, and I swore without thinking, I found myself apologising to ‘the boys’ for my bad language, lol), helping set up when we got there, and finally fiddling with the sound system during the satsangs, swapping wires between mikes and twiddling knobs to get the levels right.

All the yoga-ey stuff was excellent. My ability to do it though, varied from day to day. Funny how some days you can get your toes on the floor when doing the plough, and other days you find yourself completely scrunched up, feet flailing, unable to catch your breath.

nature walk vs fence

The nature walks were nice, though ‘walk’ is a bit of a misnomer. March, stomp or trudge might a better way of describing it. With Swamiji and his long legs up front, striding off into the distance, it was sometimes a task just to keep up. I know for a fact we lost most the group on the first day (and the second day for that matter) and it was just some good guesswork (or the sound of our post-meditative omming) that brought them back to the rest of the group unscathed, lol. 🙂

As for all the chanting, I can’t say I’m entirely sold on that. Don’t get me wrong, I like a good Om as much as the next man, but after 30-40 minutes of it… well, you get the idea. Maybe I’ll get into it one day, maybe I won’t (the Swami himself admitted he had some difficulty getting his head around it in the beginning), I just know for now it’s not the thing for me; and so mote it be.

thai yoga massage

On the last night, instead of a long satsang, we had a talent show. People told stories, played the piano, sang, did demos, and I even got roped into doing a bit of Tai Chi for them. Got to admit, I was a bit nervous doing it. It was a big crowd (about 70 odd) but it went ok in the end. I got plenty of compliments afterwards, which was nice, and maybe some people might feel motivated to give it a try; which would be great, as yoga and Tai Chi are very much sister disciplines.

(more pics here)

stonehenge

On the way back we stopped off at Stonehenge to go check that out. Was nice to see the stones close up, though not as close as I’d have liked, as you’re not allowed near them for some reason; and you have to pay £7:50 for the privilege, which seems a bit steep to me.

And, everyone was walking round with these little recorders listening to a commentary on the stones, which made for an odd sight. Made me think of the Victorians, who would go out into the countryside and, since they only ever saw landscapes in paintings, had to use a little framing devices to look around, otherwise they couldn’t ‘see’ the beautiful views around them.

Still, it was worth a visit, and I’m glad I went. And it was fun to spend some time with Swami Krishnadevananda and the gang not doing yoga or anything like that, just monkeying about a bit.

swami and the stones

He’s such a cheery fella! 🙂

kiki and the henge

Still rockin’ the new do’. 😉

All told a very good weekend, and one I would recommend to anyone who fancies a bit of a yoga retreat some time. They have them twice a year in the UK, and at other times at other centres around the world. Check out their website for the what’s going on.

Give ’em a go! You’ll meet some lovely people, learn some new stuff, get a bit fitter, and have a right laugh whilst doing it. What more could you need? 🙂

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Dramas not withstanding, this could be my last post of the year, so I wanted to take the chance to wish you all a very merry christmas.

snowy globes

Just got back from visiting my family for an early christmas (I’m working 24th to 26th again this year :(). Took the train as I bought my new car a bit too late to drive up, and I already had the train tickets. Probably a wise move considering the amount of snow we’re getting at the moment. Anyone who says we’re not experiencing climate change I offer you exhibit A: the weather outside.

Mum made some lovely date cake using the egg replacer I’d left there last year, and I knocked up a nut roast on Sunday which mum and dad both had a go at, so there was plenty to eat. I also got to have a few fry-ups as well as a chick pea stew thing that mum and I concocted.

Came back first class again, but properly this time, not like last year where it was a weekend upgrade. This time I got free tea, a free hot meal, and a peaceful carriage with a big comfy chair. It was bliss. I tell you, I don’t want to get all elitist, but first class is the way to go.

Looking forward to 2011: A new year, and a new beginning. A new way of making money is definitely called for, and to facilitate that I’ll probably need a new place to live for a while too (somewhere cheaper, probably outside of London). I know what I want in my life, and what I need to move away from. And someone to share it all with would be lovely too, but that kind of thing seems to happen when you’re not looking, so what can you do? 😉

Expect big things from me next year, I know I do! ‘Til then, have a marvelous christmas and a fantastic new year.

Cheers y’awl! 🙂

30 Days of Kiki : day 16

day 16- another picture of yourself

All these pictures of me are getting a bit samey, so I thought I’d go a little different this time. Check this out:

eyeball eyeball

Some image notes: I like the symmetry of this picture. Taken in the underpass near me, back in March when it was still a bit cold. That’s a home made scarf I’m wearing (click on the image to see it a bit larger). There’s some Bansky scribbles (unconfirmed) on the walls behind me (no longer there) from when he passed through one day. 😉

Blacks and Rasps Pie (filling)

This is a lovely, tangy fruit pie I made with blackberries I foraged from down by the canal. You can’t say no to free food, especially when it’s so damn sweet, now can you?

blackberry and raspberry pie

250g blackberries
250g raspberries
70g unrefined cane sugar
30g plain flour
1/4 tsp almond essence
1 tbsp lemon juice

1 pack of pastry from Sainsburys (weight to follow)

Pre-heat oven to 220C. Roll out the pastry on a floured surface to a thickness of about 3-4mm. Using your rolling pin lay the pastry over a 9″ (23cm) baking tin and press into edges gently, being sure not to break it. Cut away the excess round the edge with a knife.

Re-work and roll out remaining pastry into a sheet and cut into strips to make lattice.

In a large bowl mix all the filling ingredients completely until well combined. Pour into pie tin and spread out evenly. Place ‘weft’ part of lattice work across pie. Lay on the ‘warp’ part line by line, working it over and under the ‘weft threads’ (not as in picture, as I messed it up, but you get the idea). Allow pastry to rest for 15 minutes.

Put pie in oven for 25 minutes. Once pastry has browned and filling is bubbling a little remove from oven and allow to cool.

I’ve said this one is just the filling because I bought the pastry. Haven’t quite got my head around doing the pastry by hand yet. Tried it once and it was a bit of a pain. But now I’ve got a blender there’s nothing to stop me!

I did mess up the lattice work as you can see, but it still tastes nice so who cares, right? I also forgot about the pie and left it in a bit longer than necessary, hence the very ‘golden’ look of some bits of it. 25 minutes should do the trick, give or take. It’s up to you how you like it. And don’t be surprised if the filling bubbles over a little too. I removed half a tablespoon of lemon juice from the recipe to cut down on the amount of liquid, but that might not rectify the problem. Not that it’s much of a problem. Pies bubble over sometimes. Such is the way of things. 🙂