Favourites of November: Recipes, Reads, Yoga & Inspo
I’ve started to become really fond of writing these monthly blog posts. Not just because I can share all of my favourite things with you, but also because it’s a nice way to reflect back on everything that’s being going on each month, and to just take a moment of gratitude for it all. Sometimes I wonder whether one month nothing will really happen, and I won’t have anything to write about..but that hasn’t quite happened just yet. My day’s have become busier than ever, especially having just started working at brand new yoga studio, Urban Yoga. We had the open day for the studio on the 10th November, which was a beautiful fun filled day. We ran taster yoga classes all day (which a group of my friends came along to support), and there was even a vegan ayurvedic buffet.
What’s more, this month I’ve also began teaching at a children’s school, whereby I teach yoga to 6 year old’s (which I would argue is simultaneously the most heart warming and chaotic experience I’ve encountered as a yoga teacher so far). The school itself is amazing and is called a ‘Zukunft Schule’ (translating to ‘school of the future’, in German). In other words, it’s a very creative and forward thinking school. The classrooms aren’t exactly like the one’s that either you or I probably attended (dull walls, desks, uniforms and strict rules). There are no desks, and instead toys, arts, crafts, books and sports equipment everywhere. The children get to choose what they want to learn and how they want to learn it. I think that it’s such an empowering and liberating way to teach the children, but that does mean that I’m dealing with lots of wild and free spirits (which hasn’t been the easiest to manage). But each week it’s becoming better and better, and finally the children are actually now doing some yoga (they weren’t having any of it for the fist few weeks).
What has also added to this challenge, is that these six year old children have only just started to learn English (it’s a bilingual school). Some of them can’t even recite the (German) alphabet yet. And of course I am also still at a very basic level of German (at the moment). So let’s just say our communication has been more than interesting. But to be honest, the children are probably teaching me as much as I’m teaching them (including teaching me patience and acceptance). And because I can’t guide a meditation or a story in German, we’ve had to come up with creative solutions to meditate, such as through mindfulness drawing. I’ll put on some nice relaxing music, and we all draw our favourite animals together, which has been a real nostalgic experience. I used to love drawing as a child, so it’s so nice to slip back into my childhood kindred spirit for a couple hours, running around, dancing, singing, laughing and playing.
And to take up even more time in my busy schedule, I’ve even started (and now completed) my new German language course this month. I enjoyed this course a lot more than my previous one, and I’m even starting to get the hang of the very basic (yet still extremely complicated) German grammar. Sometimes I really wonder who would invent such a deeply complex language, with the most strange and unfathomable grammar rules one could ever comprehend. But after all, they do say that German is just the more complicated version of English...I could agree to a certain extent.
So anyway, alongside my newly busy schedule, I managed yet another trip back to Düsseldorf. But this time round it was to host my first Women’s Wellness Workshop, with one of my best friends, Kira. We had been planning this for a little while (after Kira suggested the idea that we host a workshop together). It just seemed to make perfect sense, as we’re both so aligned in terms of life goals, and values.
The workshop consisted of a variety of heart opening activities, such as yoga, meditation, eye gazing, guided visualisations and journaling activities; with the intention of connecting back to the Higher Self. Overall the workshop was a great success, as everyone seemed to really enjoy their day and take away a meaningful experience. I’m so grateful that I was able to co-create and share this experience with Kira, and I can’t wait to continue hosting these workshops. (Our next one will be in Dusseldorf on the 13th January 2019).
I’m really loving hosting these kind of workshops, and I really feel that it is my life purpose to be spreading this ancient knowledge and wisdom, of self love and personal development. Feel free to check out my ‘Discovering your Life Purpose’ video, which I felt inspired to make on the morning of the full moon. That night I also hosted a Women’s Full Moon Circle (which I usually do at my flat, but now I have easy access to a beautiful yoga studio). It’s so enriching to be able to connect with like minded women, who are walking the same path of healing and self discovery. This is what I’m particularly enjoying most about my yoga journey, is that I’m so often coming into contact with these kinds of conscious people.
This month I’ve also been continuing my regular Reiki swaps, with another great friend, Tanya. We only met very recently when I first moved to Hamburg, but we instantly developed such a strong connection and have been hanging out ever since. Every week we have our ‘Soulful Sunday’, where we will cook lunch together and give each other Reiki (alternating our flat’s each week). It’s been so, so refreshing to have this experience of regularly sharing Reiki, especially as that’s not something that I’ve constantly had before (usually I’m the one just giving people Reiki and not receiving any). So anyway, I’ve decided to host an ‘Introduction to Reiki’ workshop here in Hamburg, as that’s what I was doing throughout the summer in Dusseldorf. The end goal would be to eventually run Reiki Level 1 courses, for people who want to be initiated into Reiki for the first time. If you’d like to find out a little bit more about what Reiki actually is (from a skeptical perspective), feel free to check out my blog: A sceptic’s guide to understanding Reiki.
Other than that, my month has consisted of the usual, having friends over for dinner, and I even attended my first GGI Hamburg (Girl Gone Interntional) event. It was an organised clothes swap (which I love), with women who are apart of the GGI group. GGI is basically a large facebook group (which every city in the world should have), for women who are living internationally and away from home. It’s such a nice place to connect with one another and they are constantly running events (I ran a GGI Dusseldorf Yoga event in the Summer). So anyway, we all showed up with our unwanted clothes, and had a great time trying on everyone else’s and swapping items (I took home may warm cosy winter jumpers). We also brought unwanted and unused toiletries, to be donated to the women’s homeless shelter (along with any left over clothes).
This month I also randomly had an Autumn themed photo shoot, with a professional photographer, Olga from Russia, who was previously living in Bali for the past 6 years (slightly jealous). Olga reached out to me on facebook, as she came across my page on one of the Hamburg facebook groups (where I’m always promoting my classes). It was such a fun photoshoot (despite shooting outside in just 3 degrees!). We shot in one of the most beautiful parks in Hamburg (Planten un Blomen), which is where I taught a few yoga classes when I first moved to Hamburg (as the weather was still nice). We’re planning on doing another shoot soon, but this time round for some yoga photos!
So anyway that’s about all of my November summed up, let’s get onto the good stuff!
Favourite Recipe of November: Sushi Rolls
It seems as though all of the recipes that I’ve been posting on my blog are Asian or non western foods, but they really are my favourite! I was never the biggest fan of sushi before I was vegan, but that was clearly because I hadn’t tried vegan sushi! It’s so, so yummy and you can make lots of amazing combinations (mango and avocado is one of my favourites). I’ve been making sushi quite regularly since moving to Germany, and Tanya and I made some the other week. Check below for the recipe and click here for a quick tip of how to roll sushi.
Favourite Reads of November:
1) Shantaram, by Gregory David Roberts.
I’m really not one to read novels, I tend to float towards the more spiritual/self help books, rather than fiction. (I have nothing against novels either, I just have this obsession with being productive rather than reading purely for enjoyment-weird I know). So anyway, Shantaram turned out to be a great exception to the rule, as it was a novel written on someone’s real life experiences. This person was an Australian convict, who escaped from a high security prison and fled to India. His story is absolutely fascinating and I quickly plowed my way through this hefty book (sometimes even reading for 4 hours straight-it was THAT good)!
I really loved reading his perceptions of India, and I found it so hilarious how well he described the Indian people. For example, the Indians typically want to know everything about you, and they’re not afraid of asking how much money you earn per year, if you’re married, have kids etc. Despite having a few underlying spiritual themes, it was very subtle and the book was much more about the insane he journey he went on.. including joining the Indian Mafia. This is not typically a topic that I would read about, but I well and truly loved it and I couldn’t recommend this book enough to anyone. When I read it, there were moments I felt repulsed, struggling to read the next few lines. There were times where I felt pure joy and times such sadness that I actually found myself in tears. Shantaram will take you on an emotional journey, wenching out your heart at times, to only gently put it back in place.
2) The Emotion Code: How to Release Your Trapped Emotions for Abundant Health, Love and Happiness by Dr. Bradley Nelson
The Emotion Code is a book which is designed to free you from your trapped emotions; which are stored deep in the subconscious mind and trapped within certain areas of the body. I found this book so interesting and incredibly useful in terms of letting go of past traumas. Dr. Nelson’s method uses a combination of kinesiology (muscle testing), and the use of intention and magnets to release trapped emotions. The book is presented as a guide manual of how to release your own trapped emotions at the comfort of your own home, without having to pay someone to do it for you.
When reading this book I learnt a very valuable method ‘The Sway Test’, which helps you to tap into your own subconscious mind, to reveal the different emotions stored in your body and how and why they got there. The book also consists of a number of case studies and interesting real life reports of using The Emotion Code. I’ve already released a few trapped emotions myself by using this method. It’s been a very powerful experience and every time I release one, I need to have a deep nap straight away to recover from the heaviness that has been lifted from me. It’s a truly amazing, yet simple technique which really empowers you to take your own well being into your own hands.
Favourite DIY beauty of November: Ginger Orange Morning Face Scrub
For me it’s so important not to use products which are filled with chemicals, parabens, preservatives and unnatural ingredients. Personally I don’t want to fill my body with these things, seeing as your skin is filled with pores, and every product you topically apply to your skin is effectively delivered straight to your blood stream. And if you don’t believe that, well that’s what nicotine and birth control patches are designed for.
It’s actually crazy that you absorb something more harshly through your skin, than you do when you eat something. For example, your skin has no barriers to eradicate the toxins; whereas when it enters through your mouth, it has to pass through many processes which break down some of the toxins which could harm you. (I’m not saying product’s wouldn’t be harmful to ingest, they definitely would! But they just wouldn’t enter your blood stream as harshly than when applied to the skin). You can now also download this amazing app called ‘Code Scanner’, where you scan the product of a bar code and it tells you EXACTLY what’s in there and what all of the chemicals mean and the potential harm to your health.
So anyway, of course my DIY face scrub is completely natural and free from any chemicals, (Which mean’s happy health and happy skin)!
1 small piece of Fresh Ginger
50ml Organic Flaxseed (linseed) Oil
3 drops Sweet Orange Essential Oil
2 drops Ylang Ylang Essential Oil
1 teaspoon Raw Coconut Sugar
Grate the ginger into fine pieces and place into a sealable glass pot
Add the flaxseed oil, essential oil drops and stir well
Mix in the teaspoon of coconut sugar and stir again
Keep refrigerated in sealable container
I absolutely love using this in the morning, as the orange and ginger really helps to wake up my senses and prepare me for the day ahead. Ginger has an abundant amount of health benefits and it has been linked to the reduction of acne, soothing skin, reducing the process of aging and wrinkles. Flaxseed oil is also linked to beautiful, bright and radiant skin (I actually only use flaxseed oil to moisturise my body as it’s completely natural and keeps my skin hydrated for much longer than any product I’ve ever used). Finally, the coconut sugar dissolves in the oil, creating a very gentle scrub for the way, helping to exfoliate the skin and clean out the pores.
Favourite Yoga Pose of November: Viparita Virabhadrasana (Reverse Warrior)
I really love incorporating Reverse Warrior into my classes and practice, as it adds an extra dimension of challenge and control to Virabhadrasana II/Warrior II (which can already be challenging enough, when held for long enough). Reverse Warrior is essentially a standing back bend posture, providing a deep stretch through the side body, strengthening the lower body and opening the hips.
The many benefits of Reverse Warrior, further include:
Strengthening of quads, hips, shoulders, arms, torso and neck
Increased blood circulation
Improved balance and sense of control
Energised body (good for those with a sedentary lifestyle)
This posture should be avoided by anyone with:
Neck, hip, shoulder or spinal injuries
People will neck pain should keep their head forward, rather than tilting the head back
High or low blood pressure
Warrior I and Warrior II
How to Perfrom Viparita Virabhadrasana:
1. Begin in Mountain Pose (standing with feet hip-distance apart and arms at the sides).
2. Step the right foot back (about 4-5 feet) and come into a high lunge (bend in the front left knee at a 45 degree angle), and raise arms over head with shoulders rolled away from the ears.
3. Inhale and rotate the right foot 45 degrees, so the foot becomes parallel with the edge of your mat. Which opens your hips out towards the right side.
4. Bring the arms to the side to shoulder-height, parallel to the floor. The arms reached out directly over the legs (palms facing down, reaching as though someone is pulling you from either side).
4. Keep the knee aligned directly over the ankle of the front foot. Take care that the front shin is perpendicular to the floor. Try to sink down into the hips. This is Warrior II.
5. With the next exhale, lower the right (back) hand to the back of the right thigh. With the next inhale, lift the left arm straight up, reaching the fingertips toward the sky (the left bicep in alignment with the left ear).
6. Keeping the front knee bent and the hips low, lengthen through the sides of the waist. Slide the right hand further down the leg, coming into a slight back bend. (Right hand and also has the option to placed behind the spine, on the side of the left hip for a deeper twist).
7. Tilt the head slightly and keep your gaze focused on your left thumb.
8. Keep the shoulders relaxed, the chest open and elongate the sides of the waist.
9. Hold for 10-20 breaths.
(To come out of the posture, inhale and exhale to lower the arms back to Warrior II. Press firmly through the back foot, whilst straightening the front leg. Lower the arms. Rotate the back foot to the right, reversing the position of the feet and repeat on the opposite side.)
Favourite Quote of November:
“A day doesn't have to be productive to be good. An unproductive day, a day with self-care and comfort can be just as good. Don't introduce judgment into what is. Accept and go with the flow. Things are good when you decide they are. All is well.”
I really love this quote as it’s a gentle reminder for me, not to be so hard on myself. I always feel this burning desire that I have to be productive, no matter what I’m doing. So this can make relaxing often challenging, as for me it has to be ‘productive relaxation’ (like reading a book or watching an informative documentary). So this quote is really something that I need to acknowledge, and know that it is okay and the world isn’t going to end, if I just stop for a moment and do nothing.
This brings us to the end of this month’s blog, and I hope you have enjoyed reading along with my journey and having some fun with the latest recommendations. If you love the blog or have any feedback, I would love to hear back from you! I have also started to do some ‘Questions & Answers’ videos, if there’s anything you would like to ask me and hear my perspective on (feel free to comment your questions on this blog post for my next video).
How do you fancy sailing the beautiful islands of Croatia with me next year, on my Yoga & Meditation Retreat? We will be cruising around on a private chartered boat, practicing yoga in the morning and exploring a new town by day. To find out more, check out the events section of my website. We are currently offering an early bird special (€50 off, plus a further €50 when you bring a friend).
Feel free to follow my journey on Instagram: @TheVeganYogiTraveller
Maddie holds a strong place in her heart for holistic health and well-being. She is a psychology graduate, yoga instructor, reiki master, nutrition adviser and world traveller. Maddie loves cooking, reading, writing and exploring new places, meeting new and interesting people and enjoying the wonders of everyday life.