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How aerial turned my world upside down

 

Have you ever hung from your hocks? If your answer is yes you were probably a big fan of climbing frames when you were little or you might be an aerialist. For those who don’t know what I’m talking about, aerial activities are all the things you see acrobats doing when suspended in the air, so things like hoop, silks, trapeze and rope.

Your hocks (the backs of your knees) are a vital body part for many of the upside down moves. As an aerial newbie, mine turned purple with bruises after my first day of the week-long aerial retreat I’d signed up for.

Aside from feeling bruised and knackered after 5 hours of aerial and body strengthening a day, I learnt many new things about my body and mind during the week. A month on from the retreat, here are the reflections that have stayed with me.

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Learning from the youngest of yoginis…

Learning from my youngest yoginisTeaching yoga to children in French: it was definitely in my stretch zone but I agreed to do it anyway. I’m glad I did as the experience has changed my expectations around what’s involved in teaching a yoga class to any age group.

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Be more Brooklyn

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Me striding across the Williamsburg Bridge 

I’ll admit that I don’t always find it easy to speak my mind. It is a very English trait. My worst nightmare is confrontation of any kind. I will tell the waitress that my meal was good when she clears the plates even if it it was actually a very bad time. I know it is disingenuous but l do it to avoid offence. Of course it can be a good thing to care about others’ feelings but when it paralyses you to act or speak your truth this is not constructive for anyone. 

Given my naturally reserved nature, I’m always in awe of those who freely speak their mind with oomph and pizazz. Which brings me to this blog’s purpose: a celebration of Brooklyn’s residents. Continue reading “Be more Brooklyn”

My top 5 Parisian discoveries

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Posing on Les Deux Plateaux, a controversial art installation by Daniel Buren

Fortune graced me with the opportunity to spend two weeks in Paris in early December. It wasn’t my first trip so there was no need to play tourist bingo. Instead, I had the luxury of seeking out a few alternative highlights. Here are some of my favourite discoveries.

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Becoming my own sculptress

 

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Learning Thai massage techniques from Master Wong as part of a Chakra workshop in Paris

It was time for two and a half days of Wong time, attending a Chakra workshop series taught by Master Duncan Wong in Paris. I was there for the two base Chakra sessions: Muladhara (roots) and Swadhisthana (pleasure and self-expression). Having attended Duncan’s teacher training as part of a retreat in Italy I knew what I was letting myself in for – lots of energy, action, passion and knowledge. The main thing I felt during the workshops was my lack of strength and power. But I was in the right place to work on this.

 

As well as these two days of intensive yoga practice, my trip to Paris included a visit to the Rodin Museum to see the work of this nineteenth century master sculptor and painter. I clearly still had yoga on the brain because the toned muscularity of these sculptures  was what struck me most, alongside their beauty and the skill of creating them. Some of the sculptures bore striking similarity to yoga poses…

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Eight things to know before embarking on a yoga teacher training course

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Daily self-practice is an important part of teacher training

Since completing my yoga teacher training, a few friends have said they would like to take the plunge too. They always admit this with some trepidation, as if it might be an unachievable goal, which of course it isn’t. This makes me smile because I know that if their heart is in it, they will have an incredible, positive experience and no regrets. So, for any prospective teacher trainees, here is my honest take on what it is like to commit to the mat and learn to teach yoga.

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The importance of Patience: Lessons learnt from Capoeira

It was with great reluctance that I first stepped into the Roda; a small circle of French people clapping their hands and singing in Portuguese. The prospect of someone aiming a kick at me while I sheepishly ducked in the centre of the group didn’t fill me with joy.

But when you are living in a small village in a foreign country you are more willing to try new things to make friends. So it was that our estate agent Olivier (one of our closest friends in the village) convinced us to join him in his weekly Capoeira class.

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Taking on the teacher: My first Capoeira display

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The best wild swimming in the South of France

I’ve always had a thing for water parks. Ever since I was first introduced to the gargantuan slides at Aqualand Ste Maxime (well, they seemed larger than life to a skinny seven year old girl) I’ve sought out aquatic adrenaline-kicks. True to form, one of the highlights of my recent yoga retreat was jumping off the top of a waterfall and swimming in the fresh water below.

And so this summer, I made it my mission to seek out the best spots in the South of France for fresh water fixes. My most prized discovery was the Bain du Sémitea bathing spot, near Saorge in the Alpes-Maritimes. This natural waterpark had the clearest, freshest water I’ve ever had the pleasure of submersing myself in and a series of magnificent waterfalls (or cascades, in French) to explore.

Noticing the inscription, 1892, I pondered on the bathers who might have enjoyed its qualities over years gone by. On doing some research, I found that some mischievous soldiers had added the inscription “Le Bain du Sémite, 1892” themselves just before the First World War. It is said that they named the spot after a friend of theirs; a Jewish soldier, who apparently had a penchant for riding his horse naked into the waters, even in the icy depths of winter. There were no naked soldiers on my watch but the experience was made extra special by the presence of clusters of yellow butterflies gathering  at the ravine that day.

Natural water playground near Saorge
My favourite natural water playground: Bain du Semite near Saorge

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Seven days; seven benefits of doing a yoga retreat

I’ve recently come back from a yoga retreat in Umbria, Northern Italy. I love getting away from everything and giving my attention to my body and spirit. In fact, I think the world would be a much better place if it was obligatory for everyone to do a retreat every year (practicalities and cost aside). So here’s a mini summary of my experience in an attempt to get more people seizing the opportunity to retreat from their daily lives and get their OM on.

Waterfallin
DO go chasin’ waterfalls on your retreat

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