Free Daily Meditation Sessions for Exam Stress

Calling all University of Nottingham Ningbo China (UNNC) Students:

You are invited to join the free daily meditation drop-in sessions during the exam period.

All sessions are lead by Gabriella Buttarazzi and held in room 111 of the UNNC sports centre everyday from 4:15-5pm.

The free daily sessions run on the following dates:

Week 12 of the semester:

Thurs 4th May
Fri 5th May

Week 13 of the semester:
Mon 8th May
Tues 9th May
Weds 10th May
Thurs 11th May
Fri 12th May

Week 14 of the semester:
Mon 15th May
Tues 16th May
Weds 17th May
Thurs 18th May
Fri 19th May

You only need to bring yourself and a spirit of inquiry.

Watch/listen to this video to learn a little more:

Yoga Nutrition In Practice

Nutrition plays an important role when it comes to nurturing and sustaining a yogic lifestyle, it simply cannot be excluded from your approach to your practice.

Take a read of the blog post A Quick Note About These Vegetarian Recipes for more information on my simple food philosophy, and also take a look at my workshop Yoga Nutrition: Tools For Adapting Holistically if you’re curious or interested in delving deeper.

Food For Travel

Over the years, I’ve lived in six quite different countries and have learnt a lot about the local ingredients in these parts of the world. Sometimes I wish I could pull all of my healthy favourites into the one place I am currently living. You can’t quite do that so easily if you want to eat fresh, local produce but what you can do is adapt your favourite healthy dishes by using the local food sources (for example, the plant-based proteins) available to you. So I’ve learnt to love creating new recipes with the local and unique produce available to me.

This time, (mostly) East-Asian local produce deserves some attention, since some the most medicinal and health-giving roots, herbs, vegetables and spices come from this part of the world. These East-Asian ingredients are also traditionally cooked using cooking processes that maximise the ingredients natural properties, like steaming and stir-frying. Learn more by exploring Integral Yoga World’s Vegetarian Recipes.

The Best Of ‘The West’ & The Best Of ‘The East’

These recipes especially focus on fusing the best ingredients from the West (like extra-virgin olive oil and avocados) with those from the far East (like fresh ginger and ginseng). They are intended to offer some tasty suggestions and inspirations on what to do with a foreign palate whilst living abroad (especially in the far East), but also appreciate and incorporate the little healthy and delicious gems that are available in abundance in the East.

No ‘One  Size Fits All’ Advice

I’ve briefly mentioned already in my blog post A Quick Note About These Vegetarian Recipes the problem with Nutritional teachings. Everyone’s biochemistry is very different, so I am always reluctant to share what suits my body when it comes to food. I have spent years dabbling, reading up on Ayurveda (Sattvic diets in particular) and especially Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) healing foods (including the Five Elements Diet). I’ve  taken a few nutrition courses, whatever that even means, but there really is no one rule for everyone and Yoga Nutrition cannot simply be approached as a science. In general, eating fresh seasonal produce, eating intuitively according to the signals your body gives you and taking pleasure in the feelings that fresh, plant-based foods gives you is the best place to start. Everything else is highly personal, the subject is you, so experiment and reflect when dabbling with a yogic (and vegetarian or vegan) diet.

Opt for Mindfulness in the Kitchen

Another way to embed Yoga Nutrition in Practice into your daily life is to cook with consciousness. Applying all of the technical skills to the art of healthy eating works, but what about being mindful when we prepare food? Source ingredients as ethically as possible, but extend this wisdom and practice to the cooking process. Cook alone, in silence, in a mediative state, whilst appreciating the ingredients and the moment. There are plenty of books available on mindful eating and mindful cooking, I particularly enjoy Dr.Andrew Weil and Dr.Caroline Ross’ teachings, as well as Dr.Dharma Singh Kalsa’s Food As Medicine. But we can even move beyond this to turn recipe creations into a meditative activity. My mantra is always  why limit yourself? There is every opportunity every minute of the day to live like a yogi(ni), extend it to your daily non-mental activities too.

Please Note: All recipes are tagged (refer to the footer on this site) to make finding say, ‘gluten-free’ recipes a little quicker. And please keep an eye out the recipes will keep coming as long as I enjoy creating eating delicious vegetarian dishes!

Remember: Everyone’s biochemistry is different, so there simply aren’t any ‘one size fits all’ recipes or blanket advice to suit everyone’s nutritional needs. These recipes are merely here for you to be inspired and to provide you with a little information on the ingredients. They’re also memories for me of the places I’ve lived in and travelled to over the years.

I urge you to change, tweak, trial and test to suit your tastes, nutritional needs, appetite and resources available to you.

One last thing, please drop me a line, if you’re:

  • living abroad and struggling to work with the local produce; and/or
  • struggling to adapt your nutrition to your new yoga practice; and/or
  • in need of more vegan- or vegetarian-inspired dishes.

I’ll be happy to design some vegan or vegetarian recipes for you based on the ingredients you wish you work with. It would be my pleasure, contact me anytime.

I will send you the recipe creation you’ve requested via email and also host it on this website so you forever have an online version to view.

A Quick Note About These Vegetarian Recipes

I must share a few words about these recipes before you explore them. The three struggles that many people face when embarking on their yogic journey seem to be:

  • Having an Integral practice, like Integral Yoga, increases the sensitivity of the subtle body, so many people often find they are more sensitive to late nights, drinking alcohol, eating simple carbohydrates and so on. They also become far more aware of which foods don’t work well with their bodies.
  • They begin to feel they want to adopt a more ethical, loving and conscious approach to their nutrition. Living more holistically, they want to have a vegetarian or vegan diet, but lack the culinary know-how on how to do this.
  • They have an interest in health and wellbeing but don’t know where to start. When they do begin to explore all the information out there, they wish they hadn’t started because they are left feeling more confused because they find so many contradictory, faddish and/or restrictive teachings.

The truth is that nutrition is not really scientific in my view, is it a philosophy, and nourishing your body properly requires firstly, effort and exploration, but ultimately, it requires enhanced intuition. These faddish diets, blanket rules and ‘one size fits all’ plans, yes, attempt to make things easier by simplifying, but mostly, I feel that they either have a limited purpose (i.e. weight loss) or that they prevent you from really exploring by providing you with inflexible guidelines (i.e. do’s and don’ts).

My Food Philosophy is Simple

  1. Eating predominantly a plant-based diet for ethical, nutritional, philosophical and environmental reasons.
  2. Eating a diet packed full of delicious, fresh, home-cooked whole foods. And a diet packed full of lots of delicious medicinal herbs, spices, roots and other seasonings that not only boosts the nutritional contents of your dishes, but also boost the flavour.
  3. Eating seasonal, organic, natural and locally-sourced foods as often as possible.
  4. Learning to eat more intuitively. For example, eating when you’re hungry; eating certain foods that nourish your mood based on your experience; enjoying and appreciating the nature of the foods. This involves listening to your body and eating foods that you know work for you energetically and not simply blindly following other people’s nutritional guidelines.
  5. Learning to eat more respectfully. Appreciating the ingredients, where they come from, how they arrive to you, how closely they are to their natural state (obviously the closer the better), and showing gratitude to the experience of being nourished, whether it be alone or in company.

Support For Making Transitions

When you start to reduce the intake of less healthy foods from your daily and regular food intake, you might feel like there’s nothing left to eat! I know it’s very daunting. I’ve spoken at length to many colleagues, friends and students who want to make these changes to their nutrition but have little experience in sourcing and preparing for meals that eliminate the most common foods we can get hold of in modern society. In addition, so much of our food intake is, for us, associated with socialising, sharing and companionship, nostalgia of childhood and national pride.

You may already have a healthy or simple plant-based diet. You may already have a passion for cooking and experimenting with local produce. Even so, making your chosen changes can be a challenge, even if you feel ready and motivated because practicalities interfere with how positively you can sustain them. So, I’ve designed some of my favourite recipes, all for you, to serve as a inspiration. I’ve lived in six very different countries over the years, and the local ingredients, particularly the ingredients that I believe add the character to the place (the herbs, spices, roots and other seasonings mostly) are always at the centre of my exploration when I travel and live in different places.

Another Note About These Recipes 

  • Most are vegan (only a few recipes contain free-range eggs, cheese or natural yoghurt).
  • Most contain spices, roots & herbs etc. recommended as healing foods in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and/or Ayurveda Medicine.
  • Most fuse healthy Eastern & Western produce (like organic extra-virgin olive oil from ‘The West’ and ginseng from ‘The East’).
  • All are vegetarian.
  • All are free from wheat flour.
  • All are free from refined sugar.
  • All encourage the use of fresh, natural and organic produce.
  • All take into consideration food combining and acid/alkaline foods balancing in order to maximise the health properties of the ingredients (and create more stillness in the body).
  • All preparation/cooking processes have been chosen to maximise the nutritional properties of ingredients.

And Most Importantly

All recipes are merely for inspiration. Please change, tweak, trial and test to suit your tastes, environment and needs. As always, listen to the signals your body sends you and let those signals be your guide when it comes to nourishing yourself (i.e. eating the right foods for you, eliminating foods etc.).

Enjoy these recipes. Enjoy the discoveries in your own body and mind. Please access the recipes right here: Integral Yoga World’s Vegetarian Recipes.

‘Diversity’ Workshop Free Meditation Gifts Now Available!

Thanks to some wonderful students I am proud to say represent the University of Nottingham Ningbo China, I was asked to give a workshop for Diversity, the student association I rigorously support that aims to raise awareness on LGBTQ+ issues and debated, as well as others related to social equalities.

Of course, I said I’d be thrilled to, and gave my workshop a couple of weeks ago (it’s taken me far too long to post about it). The workshop presentation slides can be downloaded right here for your reference.

A Brief Summary
Mostly through personal experiences, I myself have been utterly frustrated and angry at gender and sexuality inequality. Despite begin raised in the UK, I am still amazed at how much division between gender lies in the daily discourse we have. A seemingly liberal country, yet certain views are still rife. View that men and women are different, and so should be treated differently for example. That women should want to marry a reliable man and “settle down” (I find that term very spiky indeed) and have children. That women are ungracious if “too assertive”, that men should “be men”, not to mention all the sexual stereotyping that goes on. And the list just goes on and on. You might find those examples to be stereotypical, exaggerated or old-fashioned, but those belief sets do still run deep in many of our minds and therefore they affect our treatment of others and of ourselves. As I said, I too still find modern trend-setters living in cosmopolitan cities to still hold such binary views about relationships, sexuality and gender, either consciously or unconsciously.

I talked of structure and agency: societal structures do inevitably dominate the norm, yet we as individuals do have some degree of agency (autonomy) to make changes.

Ultimately that is what meditation is about, habitual meditators have more agency for change because meditating pushes you to be totally aligned with the present and also totally aware the habits of your mind: the negative, neutral and positive mind. When you aware of the habits of your mind, you begin to see clearly a) the role you play in all the “problems” in the world b) the role you therefore play in all the “problems” in your own life c) the separation between your (true) self and the mind. All this in turn eventually allows you to, with more equanimity and less frustration and anger, be an agent of change in society.

Two Meditations

I recommend two wonderful meditations for this:

1. Loving-Kindness (Metta Bhavana)
This beautiful meditation really pushes you to feel more love and compassion, even for people who have hurt you or people who hold views you detest. It can transform your relationship with others (and yourself).

As promised to those who attended my workshop (and everyone who reads this as well, why not?), you can download the meditation here absolutely free:

In English
mp3
Transcript

In Chinese 
mp3
Transcript

I must say a special thank you to dear friend Gracie Gao for providing her serene voice in the Chinese version (as well the translation).

2. Self-Inquiry
This is by far the most profound form of meditation I’ve tried. Although all meditations are transformative to varying degrees. This one can stir and trouble you at first. So please be cautious and work with the least distressing thoughts first.

It is a way of getting you to question the thoughts and beliefs you hold the cause you distress. In my workshop, I gave a personal example of using the incredible approach of Byron Katie, The Work. All her materials, plenty of videos of The Work in action and a support line are available through her website, I couldn’t recommend it enough. I must write to Byron Katie and thank her soon too. It really is a gift.

In the workshop, I demonstrated how this might be used specifically with gender and sexuality inner conflicts, and really anything at all that causes us distress. The Work takes time, and cannot be rushed. We attempted to fill-out a ‘Judge Your Neighbour Worksheet’ and begin on ourselves, but really The Work is never done, so keep going back to it, sit in silence and work.

Actually, The Work can be used for anything and everything, that’s what I love about it, it’s the best form of self-inquiry I’ve ever worked with. Since I find that my recurrent inner conflicts are often related to gender and sexuality, myself in relation to others in the world, I have piles of stressful thoughts to work with!

When I read news stories of women being discriminated against in employment, I get upset, I do The Work.

When my friend’s mother on her wedding day nudges me and says “I bet you wish you could marry a doctor”, I get angry, I do The Work.

When a friend tells me of all the things she demands from her husband “because he’s a man, and he just should”, I feel irritated, I do The Work.

When I remember my ex-partner reminding me that the rules in relationships are different for men, I feel confused and frustrated, I do The Work.

The list of stressful thoughts that generate un-peaceful emotions that we have is endless. Even if our rational mind tells us “forget it”, “let it go”, “that’s just life”, “they’re just being old-fashioned”, “why listen to them?”, we only become free of limited unkind, stressful thoughts until we work with them on a much much deeper level.

In silence. Alone. With vigour. Over and over again.

And they release themselves from you, not the other way round. So we can begin to see reality as it actually is.

Anyway, apologies for the delay, it’s been a busy spell for me!

Please download and explore, more workshops on loving-kindness and self-inquiry coming soon. Please come along if this resonates with you at all. And contact me anytime too. Also, sign up to the mailing list to receive another free meditation gift: A 30-minute Meditation Bell Timer.

Food Sourcing In & Around Ningbo

It has been challenging for me to get organised in China, apart from not being able to read at all at the beginning, there were so many foods I didn’t recognise. Sometimes you  pick up an ingredient in the supermarket and have no idea if it’s a fish or vegetable! It is also standard practice for cooks to add MSG to food, and sometimes also sugar, not to mention meat often being added to vegetable dishes and broths for flavour.

There are plenty of wonderful healing foods and colourful ingredients readily-available in China, you’ll know I love them if you take a look at many of my mostly China-inspired A Traveller’s Vegetarian Recipes on this website. Nonetheless, there are some ingredients I always insist on having in my kitchen, even thought they’re not locally-sourced, because they offer a lot of bang for their buck (nutritionally-speaking), like macadamia nuts and coconut oil.

After a lot of trial-and-error and sometimes tiresome exploration, these are my food sourcing suggestions if you live in and around the Ningbo area (in alphabetical order):

Abendbrot, Shanghai-based, Online

Description: A lovely German bakery that makes fresh low-gluten (100% rye) and wheat-free options. They are based in Shanghai deliver online orders once a week to Ningbo, at Zlife.
Best Buys: Wholegrain rye bread; wholegrain spelt bread.

Epermarket, Shanghai-based online store

Description: Similar to FieldsChina, this online store stocks a number of imported foods and organic produce. They also do home deliveries on online orders to Ningbo, with free delivery on orders of over 1,000 CNY, but there is no pay-on-delivery option currently available.
Best Buys: Free-range eggs; organic salad items.

Euho, Yinzhou District

Description: I will miss this store when I leave China. At the moment, I’ve only seen a store in In Time and Incity shopping malls, but I am sure there are more dotted around the city. All produce stocked is dried, they are Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) teas, soups and herbal remedy suppliers. Amazing and unusual ingredients, and the sales assistants can help you find something to cure an ailment (a ‘this for that’ tea, tonic or soup remedy) if you ask them in Chinese.
Best Buys: Tonic soups (already boxed with 3-5 TCM ingredients); loose dried ginseng; dried Xinjiang Jujube (red Chinese dates); loose hibiscus, goji berries and much more!

Fields China, Shanghai-Based, Online

Description: A great online supermarket based in Shanghai that delivers to Ningbo every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday, stocking an impressive range of organic foods as well as imported foods. They are very reliable and never disappoint me. If you spend over 500 RMB on your order, they offer free delivery and a free gift. Cash on delivery with flexible delivery times, so nice and easy.
Best Buys: Locally-grown organic vegetables (especially those that are more difficult to source like fresh beetroot and fennel bulbs; fresh herbs and spices like lemongrass, turmeric, black garlic and thyme; potted herbs (sometimes available); Mongolian-sourced quinoa and plenty of other organic Asian grains; organic dairy products; chia seeds; antipasto pantry items.

The Food Basket, Nottingham University Campus, Yinzhou District

Description: A great store stocking plenty of Western favourites and many of the same imported foods as Metro, but at a slightly lower price. They have also started stocking fresh bakery goods and are now the pick up point for the organic farm deliveries from Kangpu Yuan farm and Tiansheng Farm deliveries on a weekly basis. You can ask the owner Zoe (weizoubell@sina.com) to add you to her weekly mail order list to be informed of any new arrivals in store.
Best Buys: Olives; caperberries; pickled beetroot; goat’s feta cheese; natural Thai coconut milk; chickpeas; polenta (coarse cornmeal).

Fresh Everyday, Maocheng middle road, Yinzhou District

Description: This tiny store lives up to its name. Also known as M6 in China, they stock a wide range of locally-sourced fresh soy, rice and wheat-based products, vegetables and fruits. The produce changes daily, and I find it all so cheap for the quality on offer.
Best Buys: The most reasonably priced and delicious asparagus I’ve come across so far; fresh homemade tofu and kaofu (wheat-gluten) products; fresh homemade noodles. You can also download their APP via WeChat for very efficient daily home deliveries.

Green & Safe, Shanghai-based deli & cafe

Description: Every time I go to Shanghai, I visit this place. In the heart of the French concession on Dongping Lu, they do the most delicious and good value brunches, and their deli hosts Asian-fusion fresh homemade breads, yoghurts, quiches and Chinese-Western style salads. The salad bar and deli are downstairs, next to the florists and health food market, and upstairs in Green Kitchen, where the delicious brunches are served from 11am. It’s a real treat if you live in Ningbo, as there’s nothing quite like it in this city. You must take advantage of the fresh produce available to take away, and now you can order foods online too, although I’ve yet to try. You need to use Google Chrome however, as the website is currently only in Chinese.
Best Buys: raw cashews and other nuts; fresh seasonal produce from their Yunnan-based organic farm; fresh homemade yoghurt and breads; takeaway salad bowls.

Helekang, Shanghai-based online store

Description: A store, similar to others, but with a much smaller foreign clientele. They sell several organic and natural products, as well as imported food items.
Best Buys: Organic fruit; organic rices and flours; organic root vegetables; hand-pressed tofus; even organic red wine.

Kangpu Yuan Farm, Yinzhou District

Description: An organic farm is based in Yinzhou District in Ningbo. Twice a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays they deliver orders on organic fruits and vegetables to Nottingham University campus during term-time.
Best Buys: Whatever is in season.

Mahota Farm, Shanghai-based organic farm

Description: A well-established organic farm and café based in Shanghai. You can order reasonably priced weekly shops of seasonal produce. Only part of the website is written in English so you’ll need to use Google Chrome to read it if you can’t read Chinese. The flagship store is the lovely The Mahota Kitchen, take a visit if you’re in Shanghai.
Best Buys: 168 CNY weekly order of organic seasonable vegetables and free-range organic eggs.

Metro, Yinzhou District and Haishu District

Description: Known as Makro in the West, a wholesale supermarket, so most produce is a little cheaper than other places.
Best Buys: Organic dried grains like millet, red rice, black rice mung bean and coix seed; some organic vegetables and some organic aromatics like garlic and ginger; soba noodles; konyak; French apple cider vinegar.

Ole Supermarket, a Chain-supermarket in Heyi Avenue shopping centre, Haishu District

Description: A supermarket full of delicious healthy foods as well as imported foods, and much more. There is also a great vitamins & minerals department, where you can even buy some Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) herbs, roots and more. A little pricey but good quality produce.
Best Buys: Organic dried grains; high-quality nuts and seeds; free-range eggs; organic vegetables; Chinese herbs & roots; extra-virgin oils like linseed, avocado & walnut; ground walnuts and other nuts and grains; high-quality imported chocolates; fresh juices like red guava.

Tian Gong Zhuang Yuan, Yinzhou District

Description: This organic farm and botanical gardens is based in Yinzhou District. I recommend a day visit, the farm and Botanical Gardens is just a 30-minute walk from the University and it’s very beautiful. Mid-week it’s very peaceful, local Ningbo people usually wait until the weekend to visit with their families. You can buy plants and seeds for sprouting and planting in their botanical gardens too, there’s a lovely little cafe called Cizer Cafe, near a row of old Chinese artisan shops of the local ancient village Xijiang. There is the option for seasonal fruit picking whenever you fancy it nearby. You can fill a basket with fresh mulberries and waxberries when in season at a very reasonable price.
Best Buys: whatever is in season.

Shangri-la Farms, Shanghai-based organic farm

Description: Their products are also stocked at World Health Store (details below), a family-run social enterprise, producers of fair-trade organic coffee and honeys in Yunnan, China.
Best Buys: Organic coffees; organic flower honeys; as well as handmade organic skincare from beeswax.

Sunshine’s Aussies Pies, Sunday Plaza, Yinzhou District

Description: Sunshine specializes in Food Safety & Nutrition, her aim is to provide the local area of expats with home-cooked authentic Australian pies, as well as salads and more, inspired by her Aussie partner Alan. The dough is handmade from scratch and all food that Sunshine prepares is both MSG- and preservative-free, and freshly-made. Open for lunch and dinner until 8pm everyday of the week with the exception of Tuesdays. You can find them on WeChat at AussiePies.
Best Buys: Vegetarian homemade pies; fruit & nut salad.

Vanguard Supermarket, Chain-supermarket, all districts of Ningbo

Description: They have a great tea section full of dried flowers, grains, seeds, nuts and leaves (raw, natural and additive-free) and plenty of fresh tofu products.
Best Buys: Dried ingredients for making tea, especially pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, lotus seeds & walnuts; Hona organic products, a brand that produces good quality organic Asian condiments like miso paste and soya sauce.

Vegetarian Lifestyle Restaurant, Chain-restaurant, Haishu District

Description: This is a Buddhist vegetarian restaurant chain with most of its restaurants based in Shanghai. The vegetarian food is delicious, and most of their dishes are based around the meat substitutes tofu and seitan and Asian mushrooms. Some very creative Chinese vegetarian dishes available here. This restaurant stocks a small range of organic food brands and occasionally even chemical-free cleaning products, so if you’re like me, you’ll grab a few things on your way out after having dined there. The website is written in Chinese so use Google Chrome to read it fully in English.
Best Buys: Organic grass powders like alfalfa, barley and wheatgrass; dried organic Asian mushrooms.

World Health Store, Shanghai-based store, also online

Description: A tiny store in the centre of Shanghai, surrounded by several great places to eat like Element Fresh and Baker & Spice. Located in the entrance of the Ritz-Carlton on Nanjing Road, the store name doesn’t match it’s miniature appearance. Nonetheless, they stocked everything I was after! It’s a real treat if you live in Ningbo as there’s little range compared to this location in Shanghai. A membership card is 100 CNY but gives you reasonable offers and discounts on all purchases, the card pays for itself after the first 200-300 RMB spent, so well worth it. They also deliver to other cities including Hangzhou and Ningbo on orders over 1,000 CNY.
Best Buys: All kinds of vitamins and supplements; organic dried foods including chia seeds, maca powder; the NutriBullet (the best blender in existence!); red and white quinoa; grass powders like wheatgrass and spirulina; organic trail mix; raw cacao nibs; organic extra-virgin coconut oil and flaxseed oil.

Hope it’s helpful. Let me know if you’re based in Ningbo and are either trying to source something specific, or some of the details here requires an update. Things move so fast in China I can barely keep up!

Spanglish?! Language Transfer in the Yoga Class

When based in Spain, I began my journey into yoga teacher training in Valencia, as you know if you’ve read my About page.

I think it was the best way to improve my Spanish at the time. I had a basic understanding of functional Spanish, and because I was more or less bilingual with Italian and English at home, I could understand (but not speak) at least 50% of spoken and written Spanish with little effort.

But entering into a community with other trainee yogis was challenging with my Spanish level. Trying to articulate thoughts on spirituality, Taoism and Vedic philosophy was almost impossible at first, not to mention understanding the specific language particularly difficult. I didn’t know all those parts of the body a normal Spanish text book would teach you like empeine (the top of the foot) and axila (armpit), and ingles (bikini line), there had never been a situation in which those words cropped up in conversations in Spain before. So I learnt a lot more Spanish through my yoga teacher training, and still pick up a lot from our yoga cohort forum posts at Yoga Integral Dharma Ananda.

I began teaching (only for one summer) in the UK, after moving from Spain to UK and before moving again to China in September 2013. Those three months gave me a sort of taster for teaching yoga, it was the first time I’d endeavoured to teach it. Of course, teaching in the UK meant teaching in English, not in Spanish.

You wouldn’t believe it, but despite the fact that I am a native English speaker, I found it so difficult to convert the instructions into English. The language just wasn’t as beautiful or delicate sounding, especially not certain body parts.

On coming to China and starting to teach yoga here, I met another women who teaches Satyananda Yoga, and like me, began teaching in China. Funnily enough, her name is Gabriela too! But Gabriela with one l, the Bolivian way. She’s a native Spanish speaker who trained to teach yoga in the USA, and so trained in English. She too experienced the same difficulty as me, teaching in Spanish for her, as she had chosen to do in Ningbo, was the challenge.

I find it charming that we have had to ask each other how to give certain instructions in each other’s non-native language. An example of the internationalisation of yoga instructions amongst yoga teachers of sorts.

I struggled to find an elegant word for nalgas, as in the instruction sientate con nalgas bien atras in Dandasana (The Staff Pose). Butt cheeks just sounds unpleasant in English. She told me seat bones or sits bones is the nicest and most apt expression. She struggled to find the right word for twist in Spanish, as in when giving instructions for Ardha Matsyasana (The Half Lord of the Fishes Pose), breath in in the centre, twist and look over your shoulder, hold, and breath out, and stay there more a moment without breath. She came up with tuerces, the right word, but if you know Spanish, it sounds uncomfortable and even painful. I remember my yoga teacher Ananda giving us the gentle instruction gira, mira el hombre izquierda, reten, y exhala, y quedate ahi algunos segundos sin aireGirar much more apt and elegant, so I shared this language instruction with Gabriela.

Thankfully, we have each other in Ningbo to support, collaborate and teach each other. Thank you querida Gabriela, eres un regalo.

New Semester, New Classes

Last week was week 1 of the new semester, and therefore, week 1 of the new round of Integral Yoga classes.
This year I’ve added an extra make-up week of classes, so at the same cost, there’s an additional week (week 17), for those who want to attend any classes they missed during round 1, semester 1.

The dates for the first 16-week (+1 week make-up classes) round of classes are: week commencing Monday 14th September – week ending Friday 8th January

But there is still time to sign up or join later if you’ve missed week 1.

I’ve been looking forward to starting the new round of classes again, and sharing some wonderful new  meditation, breathing and Integral Yoga techniques.

And one more thing that made me very happy last week: mi amor joined my classes for the first time ever, and he even came twice in one week! It’s such a good experience to share Integral Yoga with him.

Bye for now, will keep you posted.

Name Giving at Dharma Ananda

This July, I returned to attend a monthly seminar in Valencia, at my yoga school Integral Yoga Dharma Ananda. A journey from my current home in China, Ningbo, to the UK to stay with my family, to Spain and then Sweden, to stay with my partner’s family. The only time I can really return to Europe on a yearly basis.

I was so looking forward to it, in great need of receiving an Integral Yoga class from my teacher Ananda, and some talks on spiritual practices from my teacher Tao. In fact, this year, I’ve been a little crazy, my eyes moving rapidly and mind spinning with tonnes of little endless tasks and the new ideas I get. I’ve had little time to check in with myself and others, and it just doesn’t suit me to live like that. It goes against my principles and teachings on looking after the mind and body. My yoga teachers did mention that they’d seen me better! In fact, it was just the kick I needed to remember how to treat the body and mind, and how important Dhyana Yoga (Meditation or Yoga Mental as Tao calls it in Spanish) is.

So, my new mission is to explore more deeply meditation and the habits of my mind. Every time I think I’ve worked profoundly with my mind and lost a little strip off ‘myself’ (in a good way of course), I remember how much more work there is to do, and the important role that discipline plays. It never stops, the journey continues. The process endures.

One more thing, I was honoured to nonetheless be given a spiritual name by my teachers, and it’s a lovely one, I cried when it was announced with my yogi and yogini cohort during a weekend teacher training seminar.

Uma Shakti Devi

The loose translation from Sanskrit is Goddess of Creative Energy. Thank you Ananda and Tao, I will treasure it always. Just the push I needed. See you next July.

Welcome Home To Yourself

Keep updated with musings and salutations from Integral Yoga World here. Learn more about my story right here. Also, if you haven’t yet, get your free hand-crafted 7-week online course for breath-awareness meditations right here.

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I look forward to connecting with you. I’ll be back in touch soon.