Nepal/Narnia

Touch down in Nepal!

It’s actually rather cool, as in we’re not immediately covered in sweat and diving for the first air conditioned place we can see, in fact, we don’t even need aircon! Refreshing start.

So we started with a couple of days in Kathmandu before starting our 7 day trek up in the Langtang Valley. I’m going to be honest here, Kathmandu is very much like any other city – crowded, loud, polluted, dirty, exasperating, then throw in a natural disaster, that feels like it only happened yesterday. The April 2015 earthquake that shook Nepal to ruins, a massive 7.8 on the scale i believe, and man you can tell.

We decided on the 7 day Langtang Valley trek primarily because it’s meant to be the easiest, remember that word, easy! As a yogi I’ll admit I’m more used to building and lengthening all of my muscles gradually. Trekking felt more like i was asking a lot of my legs rather quickly. As we walked they seemed confused as to why I wasn’t landing in the splits. However as the days went on my legs gave in, as did my nose with the altitude.

As we climbed higher the living grew simpler and it became clear that somewhere along the journey from Kathmandu we had stepped through a very large wardrobe. Small tea houses welcoming you with Nepalese tea and momos. They offer no electricity, no WiFi and what’s even better no knowlege or understanding about what’s happening outside their valley. I watched in awe as two very young Nepalese children played together with their father. No clue about politics or racism, terrorism or crime, I doubt they even knew who David Beckham was. For that brief moment I was almost envious.

The terrain on the trek was horrendous. Landslides are still a big problem but what’s so clear to see is just how severe the earthquake damaged mountain life. Langtang was actually the village most affected, once a thriving little village busting with trekkers, you now walk straight over a pile of rocks that covers it. I’m a real believer and lover of mother nature and these people do nothing but treat her with respect, live in peace and only take what they need. I had moments of frustration and anger, thinking of how so many people exploit this amazing planet, how can these people be the ones who pay the price?

Then I sat with a woman who mediated and prayed morning and night, we watched men carrying 50kg + up and down the mountains everyday. We watched the entire community pull together and rebuild. Without questioning it and, even more amazing, without any bitterness.

Please add trekking in Nepal to your bucket list, it really does clear your mind and cleanse your soul. At the same time please do a little yoga after each day if you want to move the next morning. 

The lunge or Anjaneyasana 

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This posture with save your little leggies from seizing up. Try to make sure the front leg is at a right angle, any further over and you’re putting too much pressure on your shin, which is bad news when trekking. To begin with keep your back leg down, maybe a cushion under your knee if it’s sore. Keep the body centered as you allow the hips to sink down, still checking that 90 degree angle on your leading leg. To make the posture deeper try drawing the back foot up towards your sitting bones. After a long day trekking however, really take this easy. Your muscles will have tightened so you could very easily damage them. Go gentle.

Next up, everybodys favourite, split downward facing dog or Eka Pada Adho Mukha Svanasana in our little round tea house.

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So when trekking it’s not just your legs that suffer, so does your spine from all the pounding on your heels coming up through your spine. Have a look at my post on “keeping a healthy spine” for some gentle back openers. Remember in split down dog to keep your neck and head heavy. Spread your finger tips wide and feel every part of your palms on the ground. Visualise your chest drawing down to the ground and your shoulder blades opening. Don’t concentrate on how high your leg goes. Instead concentrate on the foot that remains on the ground, keep that heel heavy. Repeat on the other side and hold for as many breaths as the altitude allows you. 

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Trek. Nepal. Breathe. Cleanse. Respite.

Love me xxxx

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I’m a yogi who drinks beer!

As I’m sure you’re aware now, especially if you follow me on social media, I’m in Bali. To be more specific a beautiful place called Ubud. Not only does Ubud have breathtaking rice paddies, cascading waterfalls buried in dense jungle like surroundings, it also holds an excellent reputation for some of the worlds best yoga. Whether that be going to a retreat to detox, gain your teaching qualification or just attend a class. Naturally I wanted to attend at least one class, even as a teacher I still have a lot to learn. I splashed out on one of the more “well known” yoga studios, excited and raring to go. I’ll skim over this very loosely – to say that yoga is my comfortable zone, I did not feel comfortable or at ease. The way yoga seems to be going for some, not all, feels very self obsessed and vain. Let me expand a little on what seems to allow you into the official “yogi club”. This was very much the “vibe” in the class I went to. Just to add, I now hate the word vibe. 

  • Vegan or at least vegetarian ( yay for me ) 
  • Little amount of clothing for the class as possible or skin tight.
  • Less than 5% body fat
  • Alcohol no, detox juice yes. 
  • Never get stressed, angry or overly excited about anything. Unless you held a hand stand, then go wild. 
  • Have the loudest and longest “om”
  • You must be able to wrap your legs around your head
  • Finally, no outsiders allowed

After my “vibey” experience I decided to ask around on social media, what people think of when I say “yogi”. I got some great answers, mainly referring to the flexibility associated with people who do yoga, naturally! Many answers were to do with yogis being spiritual, calm, strong, focused and disciplined. Which I agree with, those were exactly my thoughts before I started my practice. The truth is, to attend a yoga class and become a yogi you need one thing, yourself. You can be a yogi and wear whatever the hell you want, you don’t have to be able to touch your toes, you are allowed to have a higher body fat percentage than 5%, it’s not just for women! You can be super inflexible, stressed to the max and not have a clue what downward facing dog is. You can panic when someone says meditate, then immediately have no way to “clear your mind”. Guess what, you can even choose not to chant “Om”, if you think it’s weird or makes you feel uncomfortable. 

I am a yogi, I drink beer and very much enjoy it. I’ve even had the odd cigarette on my travels. Some days I get on my mat and just cannot be bothered. I don’t meditate everyday and when I do I find it very challenging. I get angry, especially when I’m driving. I get excited about everything, I think I’d explode if you put me in a room full of puppies. I’m very much a loner, I find big groups very intimidating, even daunting. 

  
 Now let me explain how yoga helps me – not with beer, I’d never stop that, it’s too tasty and in my opinion good for you. In yoga we study something called pranayama, which translates to “breath control “. This allowed me to feel and hear the effect that one cigarette can have. The days I can’t be bothered to tie myself in knots I just sit and have a think. When I do manage to meditate, I feel unbelievably balanced and calm. After a yoga class, attending or teaching, people cutting me up either on my bike or in my car just doesn’t bother me. Finally teaching yoga to a group of sometimes over 30 people makes me feel liberated. Now you can label any of this what you want. Call it spiritual if you like. I haven’t decided what to call it, but it makes me feel very very good, both inside and out. So for me that’s all yoga is. Sure, the actual word means to unite, but we are all individuals. Some of us will never do the splits or be able to meditate. Some won’t be able to breathe because they smoke 20 a day. Some might think they’re  surrounded by nutters when everyone chants a loud “Om” and talks about channeling energies. Dare I say it, some might even eat steak!

I’m excited to get home and teach yoga, which for me, is to help you feel good, inside and out. If you leave my class feeling better than when you walked in, then you are already growing as a yogi. Grace x