Monday 15th January - Thread the Needle, Cook Some Tarts and Virtually Visit the Mountains

A Bit About... Thread the Needle Pose

This weekend I've had my sewing box out to do some mending jobs. You know those little annoying ones - buttons to sew back on, holes to darn, seams to repair? They've been sitting in a pile for ages and ages waiting for me to get round to them. It feels good to have got them done. I seem to have a habit of putting my sewing jobs off and I've written about it before (click here to read my blog post from over 2 years ago about this very area of procrastination) but something about January makes want to get clear and start afresh without the weight of too much clutter and unfinished stuff behind me. It feels freeing and positive to get them done and move on.

As I sat there threading my needle it got me thinking about Thread the Needle Pose. It's a favourite of mine - I love the stretch around the shoulderblades and upper back and the gentle twist to my spine always feels beneficial.  I've added it into this week's class on Thrive Yoga and it also features in the short video below. Its Sanskrit name is Parsva Balasana - 'parsva' means revolved and 'bala' means child - hence Revolved Child's Pose, which its other English name.

Here's how to do the pose...

  • From hands and knees, slide your right arm along the ground behind your left wrist and all the way out to the left.
  • Your right shoulder will come to rest lightly on the ground and the right side of your head will rest on the ground too.
  • Keep the hips directly above the knees and pull the right hip gently back to create length in the right side of the waist and keep the hips level.
  • Move the left hand slightly to the left so it supports you and helps you to balance here and then push gently into the ground to start to twist the torso to the left a little. 
  • Pause here for 3-5 breaths, stretching the right arm to the left and feeling the stretch around the shoulderblade, and then slowly reverse the steps to bring you back to hands and knees.
  • Repeat on the other side. 

Note: If your knees aren't comfortable place a folded blanket beneath them. Contraindications apply for those with neck issues. As always, listen to your body and see how the pose feels, never push or force anything.


This Week's 5-Pose-Flow...

This is the first video in a new series that will appear each week here on the Blog, on the Thrive Yoga Facebook page and the Thrive Yoga Instagram page.  The series is called the "5-Pose-Flow" and it will be a little sequence of five poses that will hopefully inspire you to unroll your mat and practise at home. The Flow can be done on it's own (when you only have a short amount of time, any yoga is better than no yoga at all), added in to whatever you are already doing in your practice, or repeated any number of times to make a longer flow.  It will hopefully give you a place to start on those days when you can't think of what poses to do - begin with the 5-Pose-Flow and see where it takes you...


click to play and then click the little button on the bottom right to open the video up to full screen size

Here's the flow...

  1. Cow Pose (Bitilasana)
  2. Cat Pose (Marjaryasana)
  3. Crescent Moon Pose (Anjaneyasana)
  4. Crescent Moon Twist (Parsva Anjaneyasana)
  5. Thread the Needle Pose (Parsva Balasana) - hold for 2-5 breaths and repeat on the other side

This Week's Recipe... Tomato and Pesto Tarts

This is a super-easy supper that's suitable for vegetarians and vegans.  I made tiny ones too as canapes to take to a party at Christmas, and they were very successful.  

You will need:

1 pack of ready-rolled puff pastry

1 punnet of cherry tomatoes

1 tub or jar of pesto sauce

some teriyaki sauce or balsamic vinegar


And here's how to make them...

Heat the oven to 200 degrees/gas mark 6.

Dry fry the cherry tomatoes in a frying pan - don't use any oil. Turn them frequently but it's ok if they catch and the skin blackens - it all adds to the caramelised, roasted taste. When they start to crack add a good slosh of balsamic vinegar and/or teriyaki sauce. It will soak in to the tomatoes and they'll go sticky and gooey - yum.  Turn off the heat and leave to the side.  

Unroll the pastry and cut into the shapes you prefer. If you're making canapes a shot glass makes the perfect cutter. If you're doing larger tarts you could use a saucer. You might prefer to make one large tart in which case you don't need to cut anything.  Lay the pastry shapes on a baking sheet lined with baking parchment and prick with a fork. 

Spread the pesto onto the pastry, leaving a border around the edge clear. 

Place the tomatoes on top - one tomato per canape, or squished up next to each other if you're making tarts. 

Put in the oven for approx 15 minutes until the pastry is golden brown - the canapes cook a little quicker than the tarts.



A Bit About... Blue Monday

Today is, apparently, 'the most miserable day of the year'. For the last few years the third Monday in January has been given this label as 'statistically' many of us feel depressed - the festivities of Christmas are over, we might be in debt due to overspending at Christmas, we're only halfway to pay-day, the next holiday is a while away and the weather is cold and grey.  Before you descend into a downward spiral of gloom, please remember that Blue Monday is a recent invention - a theory put forward by one person that has caught on and is now widespread - you will probably hear about it somewhere in the news or on the radio today. I'm sure there's an element of auto-suggestion here too - someone tells you you're supposed to feel 'down' so you do.  But it doesn't have to be that way. You get to choose how you feel about today, not someone else. So, gather your energy, do your yoga, get your heartrate up, get outside, practice gratitude, plan some fun things to do, listen to your favourite upbeat music and watch this exhilarating video about the upcoming Bamff Mountain Film Festival - you'll feel more alive and ready to dive into Blue Monday and out the other side into the last half of January and on into spring!

This Week's Video... The Bamff Mountain Film Festival

Every year this event comes to my local entertainment centre, Dorking Halls, and I go along to be inspired and awed by an evening of short films about people who live, work and play in the mountains - and by the mountains themselves. The photography is always amazing and, even if you're not the sort of person to go and plan your own mountain escapade, I'm sure you'll enjoy being entertained by both the adventures and the adventurers alike.  This event has become so popular that they now show two programmes of different films (you can see the line-up here). And you can find out where your nearest venue is and the dates the programmes are being shown here

I hope you have a colourful week and enjoy your yoga!