Favourites of June: Recipes, Reads, Yoga & Inspo
Another beautiful month has passed, and teaching yoga in Mykonos already feels like a lifetime ago. I would say June is probably my favourite month of the year...Certainly because this is when Summer finally begins, and also because June is the month that I was born (slightly biased as you can see). Since I've been back from Greece, it's been a bit of whirlwind here, as I was off to Berlin with my boyfriend for my birthday, and then off to the UK for a weekend to visit family.
In the meanwhile, I've also set up my own Meetup (Reiki, Yoga & Meditation) and have already hosted 6 events (Reiki shares, yoga classes and a full moon meditation). I’ve met some really amazing people from my classes, and am beginning to make some spiritual friends! I've also joined a creative writing group (which is something I've always wanted to do, despite never usually writing creatively), where I've met some really cool people along the way also. Not to mention I’ve started doggy sitting for the cutest little pooch called ‘Feo’ (which apparently means ugly in Spanish). So as you can see..busy, busy busy! However thankfully I have still had time to keep up with all of my usual favourite activities (cooking, reading, yoga and homemade beauty products), so here I share with you this months favourites!
Favourite Recipe of June: Raw Raspberry & Coconut Bliss Balls
So if you know me, then you'll know that I'm a huge fan of raw 'baking'. Mainly because it is so, so simple (especially with my nifty food processor) and yet it is oh so delicious! My favourite of this month, has to be my bliss balls as I've literally been making them twice a week. They make a really great snack if you need a little bit of energy (before or after a yoga class) and they're healthy and easy to do. I've been making them for people who attend my meetups and everyone seems to be loving them!
Prep/Baking time: 10-15 mins
Ingredients: (creates 12 medium balls)
250g cashew nuts
5 pitted dates
1tbsp chia seeds
1tsp coconut oil
6 frozen raspberries
2tbsp desiccated coconut (for decoration)
1. Soak pitted dates in boiling hot water until soft and easy to chop
2. Ground cashew nuts down to a powdery form in a food processor or blender
3. Chop up dates into fine pieces and add to the food processor
4. Add the chia seeds, chopped dates, coconut oil and frozen raspberries to the food processor and blend
5. Wash your hands first and begin to roll the mixture into balls (whichever size suits your needs best-smaller balls = higher serving portion).
6. Cover the balls in desiccated coconut and pop in the fridge to set
7. Take them out and enjoy (and try your best not to eat them all at once-it's so hard not to)
Favourite Read/s of June:
1. 'A practical guide to personal freedom (A Toltec Wisdom Book)' by Don Miguel Ruiz & Janet Mils
This book has been a New York Times bestseller for over a decade, and has over 7000 reviews on amazon rating at 4.6 stars, it's safe to say that this book has really got some power to it. If you’re looking for a short but deeply meaningful read, then The Four Agreements is definitely the book for you. At only 153 wisdom filled pages long, it really won’t consume all of your time, I and felt like each and every sentence seemed to have profound purpose. This book (as the title hints at), is basically four changes which you can make in your life, to become free from the restraints and limitations of society. It will help you to rediscover your own dream and to develop a deep and meaningful connection to your inner wisdom (guiding you in all areas of your life).
The agreements are so incredibly simple, yet are very challenging to master. I really loved reading this book as it made me feel so uplifted, and I have really enjoyed the results of practicing these agreements and noticing the changes in my daily life (I may write a blog post about this soon). The author also has other Toltec wisdom books, including ‘The Mastery of Love’, ‘The Fifth Agreement’, ‘The Mastery of Self’ and more. (I’m yet to read these books as I like to read a variety of different authors but I will definitely be getting around to them)!
One of the four agreements is to never make assumptions about anyone or anything. The book suggests how all problems are created out of incorrect assumptions, which have never been properly addressed. As I have learnt from this book, it is SO important to just be direct and ask as many questions as you need, until you truly know all that you need to. This will save so much time, energy, drama and arguments.
2. ‘Wild: A journey from lost to found’ by Cheryl Strayed
If you want to step away from the super spiritual reads and go for something just a slight spiritual undertone, then I would take a chance on ‘Wild’. The novel is a true story based on Cheryl’s experiences of hiking the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), which is just over 18,000 miles (which she did with zero hiking experience or knowledge). To me personally, a book about hiking did so not appeal to me, however it is SO much more than that. Cheryl dips in and out of her past throughout the book, including her rough and unstable childhood, her mum dying of cancer in her 20s, drug abuse, a divorce from someone she truly loves, leaving her to question the little meaning she had in her life.
The tale of her journey is so interesting and her style of her writing is extremely engaging. Cheryl writes her novel very honestly, including all of the mistakes she’s made and how she’s fucked up so badly in life. The PCT takes her on a journey wildly into herself, which also takes you, the reader on a journey too. It would definitely recommend reading and there is also a movie out, with Reese Witherspoon as Cheryl. I watched the movie after I finished the book and it was a really great representation, but of course you receive so much more when you read her own words.
3. 'Into the Wild' by Jon Krakauer
After reading 'Wild' by Cheryl Strayed, I had a literary taste for real life personal adventure. I craved reading about peoples experiences with solely surviving with Mother Nature, along with all of her confronting tests and trials. 'Into the Wild' offered just that, with the story of a young man named Chris McCandless, who headed into Alaska to survive on nothing but the land itself (he also covered some of the PCT trail which was a cool cross over with Cheryl's journey). I found the story extremely fascinating, and I watched the film afterwards which did the book justice!
I would actually recommend to watch the film first, and then read the book after to fill in all of the blanks. This isn't something I would usually recommend and I can't tell you why, otherwise it will spoil the ending! If you are a bit of an 'Into the Wild' fan, then Chris's sister has also written a book 'The Wild Truth: The secrets that drove Chris McCandless into the wild' by Carine McCandless. I haven't read this one yet, but the reviews look awesome and I am definitely adding it to my list.
Favourite Homemade Beauty Product of June: Coconut, Hemp & Flax Moisturiser (Anti Ageing & Blemish Reduction)
We live in a day and age where (basically) everything in the modern world, is filled to the brim with chemicals and nasty additives. Whether if it's in our food, drinks, beauty or house hold products, unfortunately you'll find that they are present everywhere. Unless of course you specifically shop for all natural and organic products. But why bother spending soo much money on these products and expensive brands, when you can usually always make them in the comfort of your own home for half the price.
'Natural' and 'Organic' labels, used to be considered deemed fit for only Hippy's and those who strayed far off the conventional path of life. However today, more and more everyday people are beginning to recognise the value of natural living. One such reason for this, perhaps may be due to the Science, finally unveiling the harmful and negative health impacts caused by all of these nasty ingredients that we use in our products. For example, a common ingredient found in beauty products are parabens (which are commonly used as a preservative in the cosmetic industry). The problem with parabens, is that when we use the products, these chemicals are absorbed into our skin, which is highly problematic as these chemicals have been associated with increased risk of breast cancer (as identified in biopsies of breast cancer tumours).
Other such carcinogenic chemicals commonly found in cosmetics, have been associated with a ride range of other potentially serious health problems including respiratory issues, immune system toxicity, cellular and kidney damage, disrupted hormones, fetal damage and birth defects, and dermatitus. So it's safe to stay, that by opting for natural only (food and beauty wise), you are reducing the chances of these dreadful health complications coming into play.
If you are willing to commit to making your own natural beauty products, then you'll have to invest in a few small (essential) items to do so. But don't worry as I have found you the cheapest possible options (with a still great quality) on Amazon.
For creating you will need:
You can buy a set of five 100ml glass bottles here, which you can fill with other homemade beauty products, or you can make extra to give away as gifts. It's important to keep your homemade cosmetics in a dark, glass bottle in order to help your products to last longer and avoid being damaged by UV rays (dark amber bottles are considered most effective).
Please watch the video below and get creative!
Favourite Yoga Pose of June: Tree Pose (Vrksasana)
If there is one posture that I practice in every yoga session without fail (apart from those in the sun salutations), it has to be tree pose (Vrksasana). I really love the simplicity and effectiveness of this posture, in terms of grounding down and tuning your awareness to quieting your mind, which helps to maintain your balance. Everyday we are so busy in our daily lives, often requiring our continous mental attention to several different tasks. Organising events and arranging meetings with friends, loved ones or colleagues, wondering what to have for dinner and then having to go out and do the shopping, not to mention the cooking. The list goes endlessly on. Due to this, sometimes at the end of the day, we forget to switch our busy minds off, which will 100% show when you do Vrksasana (which is a humbling element of this posture).
Practising Vrksasana reminds us to draw the mental clatter to a close, and just really home in on the present moment. Lately I've been teaching some yoga classes in the park, and I absolutely love to bring in this pose whilst surrounded by real life trees. We can use the real tree's to remind us to stay grounded, rooted in the present. To stand tall, proud and still. This is a great posture as it is suitable and adjustable for all levels of yoga, and I even like to add in some extra elements for those who want that extra challenge. For example, when you are able to come in to full tree pose with your foot planted on your inner thigh of the opposite leg, you can then play around with experimenting with back bending and even some side twists.
Precautions: (avoid if you have)
Low or high blood pressure
Improves sense of balance
Strengthens thighs, calves, ankles, and spine
Relieves pains from sciatica
Opens groins, inner thighs, chest and shoulders
1. Begin in Tadasana (mountain pose), standing tall with your feet hip widths distance.
2. Transfer your weight to your right foot and imagine as though you have a long root running through your body and connecting you deep into the ground.
3. Come onto the ball of your left foot and gradually begin to rise it up (knee bent) and open your knee out to a 45 degree angle.
4. With the help of your left hand, place the sole of your left foot either on your ankle (level 1), your calf (level 2) or your inner thigh (level 3). Never place the foot over the knee joint as this can cause damage to the joint.
5. For balance and stability, push your sole and your thigh into one another, engage the glutes, draw the navel to the back of the spine (engaging the core) and slightly tuck the pelvis.
6. Once you are comfortable you may want to bring your hands together at heart center (pushing both hands into one another for stability). Once you are comfortable here, you can begin to raise both hands above your head, open your arms above your head and bring your hands to a gyan mudra (thumb to index finger), to help stimulate the brain for concentration and a sense of calmness.
7. If you have mastered these steps, you may want to attempt to bring in a back bend. For this, keeping your arms extended overhead, focus on opening your chest and begin to tilt your head towards the sky. Firmly engage your glutes, tilt your pelvis forward and begin to tilt your chest towards the sky, coming into a back bend. This can be very tricky on one leg, so remember to move slowly with your breath.
Favourite Quote of June:
So this quote is just from a passage which I highlighted on my kindle, whilst reading 'The Four Agreements'. I really love the essence of the quote and how simple, yet how bloody true it is. Sometimes we have a tendency to take life soo seriously. Yes we all have important responsibilities and time consuming tasks. Some of us have demanding jobs, degrees to study, children to take care of and/or a career that may consume the very essence of our lives.
But let's not forget that what is this life worth, if we cannot spend the majority of it being happy. Enjoying the simple things in life, the touch of a loved one, the smile of a stranger, the site of a flower growing through the cracks. What is life worth, when we have so much capacity to love and yet we are not able to share it with others. Life is too short to hold resentments, regrets and rage. This quote for me was a simple reminder to be happy now. Love now, and live your life as though every single moment matters (because guess what: it does).
Maddie holds a strong place in her heart for holistic health and well-being. She is a psychology graduate, yoga instructor, reiki practitioner, nutrition adviser and world traveller. Maddie loves reading, writing and exploring new places, meeting new and interesting people and enjoying the wonders of everyday life.
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