Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Dear World, what the f*ck is happening?

Dear World,

What the f*ck is happening? Sorry to begin this letter in such a blunt and rude way, but I just don’t understand how we have arrived at the point we have.

Terror attacks are almost a daily occurrence. Syrian refugees are destitute, some even dying. Innocent people are being ruthlessly murdered ALL over the world. Hate is spreading like wild fire in America. The European Union is breaking up. People are killed in favelas on a daily basis, usually as a result of drug trafficking. Nigerian girls have been kidnapped and many haven’t been seen since. Millions of children live on the streets in many different countries. Young black males and policemen are being killed in America. The gay community have been targeted, some murdered, whilst out enjoying their lives as all are entitled to do. And that is only to mention a tiny fraction of the HUMAN inflicted terror and pain that is being suffered by millions. There are so many more cases…more than I can even bear to imagine…World, how has it come to this?

World, those of us who have (so far) come out unscathed “can’t imagine” what it would be like to be caught up in such a scenario. We say “how awful” and then separate ourselves from it by banking it in the “news” section of our brain…of course this is a defence mechanism - to take in and to properly feel the depths of grief in each situation would most likely destroy us.

There is so much darkness. So much hatred. World: we so often feel helpless.

Because of you World, whether we like it or not we are intricately and inextricably linked with one another and with everything around us. Any decent human responds to these events with a feeling of sadness and empathy to varying degrees. I myself know I feel these things all too deeply. Right to my core. I have more of an understanding of what Ram Dass said than I really wish to at this current time: “We are all affecting the world every moment, whether we mean to or not. Our actions and states of mind matter, because we are so deeply interconnected with one another”.

The beauty of you, World, is that you are full of unique beings, all with freewill to live how they choose – but not all have the freedom to do so. Terror and hate are prevalent even in the most “developed” societies. All beings should be entitled to religious freedom, equal rights, and basic human rights of safety, shelter, food, water, education and opportunity. So why is this not the case?

World, how can we cure ourselves of the disease of hatred? I personally believe the only way is through TOLERANCE, RESPECT, and LOVE. These three things will breed peace, harmony and a better world for all.

I am so lucky to know so many beautiful people who bring such light and love into this world. Among them are atheists, Christians, Hindus, Muslims, Jews, agnostics, yogis, people of all races and people of all sexual orientations. They have suffered, they have been through hardships, they have been discriminated against. And yet all these people have continued to bring TOLERANCE, RESPECT, and LOVE into the world on a daily basis. World, we need people like this to continue what they are doing, and to amplify it as loudly as they possibly can. It is through these people that you will heal, World.

If you are reading this and you are one of those people – someone filled with love, but feeling bruised and helpless after recent events – do not give up! You are the light in the darkness. The World needs YOU to shine that light brighter than you ever have before.

And World, I’m not calling on these people to travel to refugee camps, to go in search of kidnapped girls in Africa, or to give up everything to help children on the streets (yes, some AMAZING people will and are doing this, but it’s not for everyone), but what I am calling on every decent person to do is to spread TOLERANCE, RESPECT and LOVE wherever you go. To start small, to show love on a daily basis whenever possible – even a smile at a stranger is a good place to begin – and to continue loving the sh*t out of everyone you meet wherever you go. You may not feel as though you’re doing much, but a tiny drop in the ocean can make big ripples. Be the helping hand to someone who is being marginalised. If you see someone being racist or sexist, SAY something (calmly and without putting yourself in danger – but try not to just sit back).

World, I know something more than this must be done. But I feel this is a good place to start. And I don’t have any further solutions at this moment in time. Things cannot stay as they are. So many of us cannot bear it any longer. Show us a way to come together. Let people with good ideas speak up and help to UNITE us. Let people who are spreading hate have their hearts changed through love.

World, we are heartbroken. Let’s help to heal each other.

Love & light,

Lucy x

P.S. I am aware this post may not seem directly related to health & wellbeing, but my soul is aching and my heart is broken. And it’s not just about us as individuals being healthy and well, but it’s about the world as a whole being healthy and well – in every sense of the word. My work as a yoga teacher is not just to teach people movements, it is to help show them the light that is within them, and to encourage them to shine brightly in this world. And this is very much what I hope this post will do. We all have so much good within us, but sometimes it becomes hidden, distorted and diseased. As a yogi I cannot sit back and watch the world be consumed by hatred. Love will always win, and I am on Love’s side, so must fight a Love-filled fight.

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Natural Skincare: Brown Sugar & Almond Body Scrub

Most of us are already aware that sugar is a big no-no. Bad for our teeth. Bad for breakouts. Bad for our intestines. We are also becoming increasingly aware that what we put on our bodies is almost as (if not equally as) important as what we put into them. You would never drink a whole load of manmade chemicals...(actually, perhaps some of us do...I daren't look at the back of a Diet Coke can!!)...so why do we plaster them on our skin on a regular basis? Our moisturiser, deodorant, make up, suncream etc are all filled with nasties. Your skin is an organ, in fact it's the biggest one we have, and whatever we put on it is absorbed into our bodies. More and more people are turning to natural alternatives...and our old nemesis sugar is often included when it comes to natural skincare. It may be bad for our insides, but for our outsides it's the perfect natural ingredient!

About 18-months ago I became increasingly aware that I needed to begin the transition of switching to more natural skincare. I've not made as many changes yet as I would have liked to (lack of research and being stuck in old habits have held me back somewhat - really I just need to be more proactive!), but one product that I have successfully "ditched and switched" is my body scrub. It's a good one to start with as it's ridiculously easy to make and the ingredients are all affordable and easy to buy online. So without further ado, I introduce you to *drum roll please* the glorious brown sugar and almond body scrub!

Some mini pots of brown sugar & almond body scrub I made for the Day of Happiness yoga retreat in July with the wonderful My Happy Body

Four very simple ingredients:

Brown sugar - 1 cup (as fine or as chunky as you like on your skin)
Almond oil - 1/2 cup 
Vitamin E oil - 1/2 tsp
Vanilla extract - 1 tsp

I originally found this recipe on the Wellness Mama blog

The amounts of ingredients can of course vary depending on how much you'd like to make. In the above photo I made way more than this (I think I used 1.5kg of sugar for 12 pots!), and just judged the oils by sight and texture. This is not like a recipe in the kitchen, it doesn't have to be exact. 

The body scrub leaves you feeling AMAZING - exfoliated and oiled up all in one go; and knowing that it's all natural and nourishing for your skin makes it even more wonderful. The other bonus is that it's so much cheaper than the posh ones in the shops! (I used to indulge in the Sanctuary ones which cost over a tenner, but this one probably costs me a pound or two per pot!). 

If anyone has any further advice on natural skincare I would love to hear it! I've dedicated myself to gradually phasing out unnatural products that may contain hidden nasties. I already use a couple of Lush products and have recently tried Beauty by Earth suncream, but I'd love to hear your ideas too (particularly if you can make them at home!). 

Love & light beauties,

L x

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

The importance of R & R

When was the last time you gave yourself time for some real Rest & Relaxation? For many of us I think the answer will be "I'm not sure...". Somehow we've created a society where we're always busy, always doing, never just allowing ourselves to just "be". We feel we must always be seen to be filling our days - working full time, exercising before or after work (which overall is a positive thing, but sometimes we can take it too far), always filling our weekends with socialising, making sure our homes are unrealistically clean and tidy (again, not a bad thing, no one wants to live like a slob, but sometimes we should cut ourselves slack), and trying to keep up with the Joneses. In fact if we're not "doing" many of us feel guilty. The internal voice begins to say "I really should be doing something right now...".

Those of us who have found yoga, meditation and mindfulness often do find it a little easier to let ourselves just "be" from time-to-time. We make time in our week to practice "being", but more often than not it can be too easy even in these times of "being" to let our little internal voice start creeping in..."when I get home I must put the washing on...WHY did I say that to the boss today?!...what do I need to organise for tomorrow?..."

For so many of us our minds are always in the past or the future, often oscillating between the two, and we drag our bodies from A to B to C. We rarely, properly, RELAX and REST both body and mind. But what if we did? What if we took time for some real R & R? AND didn't feel guilty. In fact we loved every moment. Well, this was my challenge on my recent holiday to Crete with my boyfriend. In the weeks and months leading up to this holiday I had been working my ass off (big time!). I love my job, and I'm always teaching others to take time for themselves, but it's something that I rarely get a chance to do myself. It was time to practice what I preach. (And when you have your own business this is even harder!). But I knew I had pushed myself almost too far, it really was time to rest and relax...

The holiday could not have come at a more perfect time. In the first three weeks of June I taught as many (if not more) classes than I usually would in a whole month. I was happy, but exhausted both in body and mind. The journey to our holiday wasn't the most restful (thank you traffic and the stress / sadness of the referendum result...), but as soon as we got to our hotel at around midnight local time, our heads hit the pillow, no alarm was set, and I immediately settled in for a week of R & R....

It was pure bliss to wake up the next day in our own time, knowing that we had zero responsibility. We had no plans other than to enjoy each other's company, to lounge on the beach / by the pool, and to eat and drink whatever we pleased. Now I'm not going to launch into a long description of our week, this isn't a post about going on holiday, but what we did do was completely relax and rest. I did take my yoga gear and running shoes with good intention, but the most I did all week was 15 mins in the mornings of yoga in my pants, doggie paddling in the pool, and strolling alongside the ocean. We took one boat trip and ventured out of the hotel one evening to eat at a divine restaurant (if you go to Crete I HIGHLY recommend Votsalo in Gouves - best restaurant EVER!), but aside from that we did sweet F all and had the most wonderful week. I have never felt more relaxed, more rested and more happy (we laughed a lot!!) in my whole life.

And aside from picking up a cold on the plane home, I can tell that this week of R & R has been a much need boost for both my body and mind. It's like magic. I now feel more positive, more energetic, more full of love, and I'm bringing those vibes into my teaching and daily life.

But our holiday only comes around once or twice a year (if we're lucky, some years we must go without). And yet we know we need more of it. How else can we build R & R into our daily lives? Well lucky for you I've had a little think and here are some of my ideas...


Actually plan it into your day / week / month / year. Maybe even write it into your calendar. And never, never skip it because you end up being too busy. If you really have to miss it at the time you had planned, make sure you move it to the not-to-distant future. It is essential for your health and wellbeing.


So you've set time aside...but what will you do in that time? Some of us find it impossible to just sit and meditate, and that's okay, but what else can you try? I suggest the TV should be avoided as a form of R & R...this might be controversial but mindlessly sitting in front of a screen is not resting that will rejuvenate you (the same goes for our phones). Reading is a good option (but not anything to do with your studies if you're a student! This is time to rest!). Mandala colouring books have recently become popular. Taking a gentle walk. Spending quality time with a loved one over a cup of tea and really checking in with one another and listening to one another. It doesn't have to be complicated, in fact it's imperative that it's not, but just find a simple relaxing scenario and commit yourself to it for your scheduled time.


Of course we'd all love to treat ourselves on a regular basis, and for some of us we can, but if you're a bit strapped for cash (as I am!) then it can feel impossible to justify spending money on relaxing... If this is the case then you must acknowledge to yourself that this time is integral to your wellbeing and you deserve to be WELL. And things don't have to cost a bomb. Some things are even free - e.g. going for a walk in the forest. One obvious way is to treat yourself to a spa day, and of course these can be super expensive, but they don't always have to be if you do some research... for example a Time Out Monday - Friday spa experience at Nirvana in Wokingham is only £35 for 3 hours of pure indulgence!

A less obvious option may be heading to a sound therapy session such as a Crystal Singing Bowl or Gong Bath experience. My good friend and fellow yoga teacher Chloe Watts does regular Gong Baths in the Berkshire area, you can check out her upcoming events here. They aren't pricey and are a really incredible way to spend an hour - on the floor, wrapped in a blanket, listening to beautiful and indulgent sounds. Pure bliss!

So these steps are all very, very simple, but sometimes all we need is someone to remind us that we are allowed to rest and to almost give us permission. So just in case you need it, permission from me: YOU are special. YOU are must look after yourself. YOU are allowed to rest and relax. YOU are worth it (sorry L'Oreal!).

Or course I fully understand that all of this gets much more difficult once children are thrown into the mix, but all it takes is a little more planning and some communication with your partner. Acknowledge that you both need time to rest and work out a tag-in tag-out situation where you both get your time. And if you can make time to also rest together - grandparents / Aunties / Uncles / older siblings and cousins are there for a reason!

Do you have any further tips on how to make sure you get your R & R? Or any other ideas for R & R? I'd love to hear them!

Love & light beauties!

Lucy x