Friday 4th May - Growth, Gardening and Gratitude

52 @ 50 no. 36 ....  Learning how to do Bundle Dyeing

I love a workshop. Learning to do something new feeds my curiosity and my creativity. I like the feelings that new experiences give me - meeting different people, the sense that I'm growing rather than stagnating and pushing myself (gently) out of my comfort zone all make me feel a little bit more awake and alive. 

It can be challenging to be a beginner though - fumbling through learning how to do something new can be frustrating - but, as we so often find when we are on the yoga mat, if we can keep practising these things that make us feel awkward and uncomfortable, they eventually become more easeful. When we can learn to recognise and accept our discomfort as temporary we can build a resilience within ourselves and that helps us better deal with the many ups and downs that life brings our way. 

Last week I went up to London to learn how to do Bundle Dyeing - a technique also known as Eco Printing which uses flower petals and leaves to create patterns on fabric. Each pattern is unique and the results are beautiful and almost ethereal. 

The workshop was taught by by Babs Behan of www.botanicalinks.com and held in the Furniture Department of Heal's in Tottenham Court Road - an interesting place to hold a class, especially as the shop was still open and there were customers wandering around as we worked! We were each given a piece of organic silk (natural fabrics work best) which had been pre-soaked with a fixative so the dye doesn't wash out. We then placed our chosen flower petals on our silk, sprayed them with cider vinegar to help the fixing process and rolled it up tightly, securing it with string. The bundle was then placed in a steamer to help the colours from the petals soak into the fabric. While we were waiting for our fabric to 'cook' we learned a bit about natural dyes, which plants provide the best colours and where to obtain them or forage them from. Once the bundles had been steamed we then unrolled the fabric and shook off all the petals - hey presto - I had my own completely individual, personally designed, piece of silk to take home.

I completely LOVED this workshop! I've already bought some fabric and equipment so I can try it at home and I'm so looking forward to using flowers from my own garden to create my own textile designs over the summer months. Here's a picture of my piece of silk with my design made from antirrhinum, rose, larkspur and sunflower petals...

A Bit About... National Gardening Week

Continuing with the floral theme,  it's National Gardening Week this week.  From 30th April - 6th May the Royal Horticultural Society is inviting everyone to celebrate gardening and encouraging us all to get outside and into our gardens.  A recent survey by Dobbies Garden Centre found that, while 63% of adults enjoyed playing in the garden as kids, only 13 per cent of UK families are currently spending time together in the garden. The RHS wants to do something to change that so that more people discover the benefits and enjoyment that can be found outside the back door.  They have a list of simple projects here at http://www.nationalgardeningweek.org.uk/Things-to-do-list.aspx  The weather forecast is looking good so, with the soil so damp, the weeds are going to come up nice and easily - very satisfying. I'm going to be out there cutting and planting up a new border (and doing a bit of forearm balance practice too - holding onto the grass to help me balance better!).  I hope to share some before and after pictures (of the garden not my forearm balance) with you next week. 

Tulip 'Brownie' currently flowering in my garden

This Week's 5 Pose Flow...

Here's this week's sequence for you to practice:

- Start in Child's Pose (Balasana).

- Come upright onto your knees with your arms extended to the sky - draw the front of the pelvis up, the belly in and up, the tailbone down and gently press the hips forward to keep your low back feeling comfortable in this backbend. If you want to go a little deeper, bring the hands to the hips (below, not above, your waistband), roll the shoulders back, lift the breastbone and the sides of the chest and look slightly up if your neck is comfortable, coming into Camel Pose variation (Ustrasana).

- Inhale and come to upright and exhale your hands to the floor. Inhale stepping back into Plank Pose. Hold the breath for a moment, then

- Exhale into Downward Facing Dog. Inhale here, stretching your hips up and back and your heels towards the floor, then

- Exhale lowering down into Extended Child's Pose (Adho Mukha Virasana) and rest for a moment.

This Week's Recipe... Moroccan Vegetable Tagine

I made this for friends on Saturday night. It's juicy, healthy, tasty and, although it has a lot of ingredients, it's easy to make. 

You will need:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, chopped

1 tablespoon Harissa paste

1 teaspoon of ground cinammon

1 teaspoon of ground corriander

half a teaspoon of ground turmeric

2 large carrots, chopped

2 potatoes, chopped

1 sweet potato, chopped

1 aubergine, chopped

200ml vegetable stock (I use Marigold Vegetable Bouillon)

1 x 400g can of chopped tomatoes

1 x 400g can of chickpeas

a handful of dried apricots, chopped

a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and a scrape of lemon zest

To serve:

40g toasted, flaked almonds

2 tablespoons fresh natural yoghurt

a handful of mint leaves, chopped

And here's how to make it:

Heat the olive oil in a large pan. Add the onions and garlic and fry gently for 5 minutes.  

Add the chopped vegetables and the spices.  Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. 

Add the tomatoes, apricots and vegetable stock, cover and cook for about 25-30 minutes or until the vegetables are really tender and the stock reduced. 

Add the chickpeas and cook for another 5-10 minutes.

Stir in the lemon zest and juice, saving a little bit to add to the yoghurt topping.

To serve, add a squeeze of lemon juice and some chopped mint. Swirl a dollop of natural yoghurt onto the top of the tagine, finishing it off with a sprinkling of toasted, flaked almonds.

This Week's Musical Offering... A beautiful mantra for your Savasana

I played this in my classes during Savasana last week and had many comments about how lovely and relaxing it is.  I hope you enjoy it too. It's called Bhaj Man Mere and it's by Nirinjan Kaur.

This Week's Video... Prince EA on happiness

Finally, a very short video explaining the difference between happiness and gratitude. Food for thought...

Until next week, thanks for reading and enjoy the Bank Holiday weekend.