Monday 17th September - Autumn Fruits and Ahimsa

52 @ 50 no. 41: A Visit to Bookham Country Market

Now before we start, please remember that my 52 @ 50 isn't a 'bucket list' of exciting things that I've always wanted to do - no jumping out of planes or climbing Everest for me! It's about me doing things I've never done before. Ok, now that's clear I hope you'll understand why I'm telling you about a visit to the Bookham Country Market and read on... I've lived in the very large village of Bookham for 26 years and I've never been to the Country Market before! 26 years! Such a cliche but, really, where has the time gone? So last week I rectified this and attended this veritable institution which has been held at the Barn Hall in the centre of the village every Friday morning for what seems like forever! Talking about institutions, I'm sure it used to have a connection to the WI but it doesn't mention that anywhere on their website now. I have to admit that I was expecting elderly ladies, jam and cakes and that's exactly what it is - but in the best possible way.  There were stalls with jam and cakes, free-range eggs and meat, plants and books. There were also lots of different crafts - greetings cards, pottery and jewellery - and they also sell teas and coffees too. Everyone was very friendly and helpful and there was a real sense of community. It's a place to get together and connect. It's a place to support and to spend your money locally, not at the large faceless supermarkets and chainstores, but with real growers and makers who put time and thought into what they produce - and that's something worth treasuring.  

If you live locally and decide to pay a visit get there early (it opens at 10.15) as there's a queue of eager ladies who, as soon as the doors open, head towards the cake stall and then 'bagsy' their tables for coffee. Take lots of change too and a bag to carry your goodies home with you.  I will visit again - it's important that the Country Market has new customers to enable it to continue. 

Please note though, that the website says The Country Market will be closed this coming Friday 21st September due to maintenance work at the Barn Hall - maybe I'll see you down there the following Friday when I'll be buying some cakes for my Afternoon Tea event in aid of Macmillan (please do get in touch if you'd like to come along to that - it's at my house in Bookham 2-4pm on 28th September). 


Class Notes... Ahimsa

As I started my new term of classes this past week, I thought I'd go right back to the beginning and share the wisdom of the '8 Limbs of Yoga' with my students and also here on the Blog. Although we mainly focus on the physical postures in class (Asana), they are just one of 8 parts, or limbs, that make up the practice of yoga. We do practice the fourth limb, Pranayama (the breathing practices); the fifth, Pratyahara (withdrawal of the senses); the sixth, Dharana (concentration) and the seventh, meditation, in class but with less emphasis than on number 3, Asana. Numbers 1 and 2, Yama and Niyama, are codes of conduct to guide us through living a life of freedom with meaning and purpose, and number 8 is the ultimate goal - enlightenment.

Written centuries ago by the sage Patanjali as part of the first known written work on yoga, the '8 Limbs of Yoga' is still used today to help us have a well-balanced yoga practice and a well-balanced life. 

So, just so you have it in clear format, The 8 Limbs are as follows:

1. Yama - 5 principles on how we treat others, yourself and the world around you

2. Niyama - 5 principles of inner discipline, self-responsibility and accountability

3. Asana - the physical postures

4. Pranayama - the breathing practices 

5. Pratyahara - the control of the senses, withdrawing them and focusing inwards

6. Dharana - concentration

7. Dhyana - meditation and stillness

8. Samahdi - enlightenment

The first limb of yoga, Yama, has 5 principles, the first of which is Ahimsa. This translates from Sanskrit to mean 'non-violence' or 'non-harming'. This is the foundation for all our thoughts, words and actions. We must live our lives with respect for all beings, causing no harm and offering compassion and loving kindness.  This has to start with the Self. We are often unkind to ourselves physically by making unwise lifestyle choices with our food, alcohol consumption, exercise, sleep, and by being extremely busy, overwhelmed and stressed. Our loving kindness and compassion towards the Self can include: not pushing ourselves into pain or strain on the yoga mat, not comparing ourselves to others, not being critical or judgemental (watch the negative self-talk - we often speak to ourselves with cruel words), making self-care and wellbeing a priority and not over-riding it with 'busy-ness'. 

When we start to take better care of the Self, the benefits spread outwards to touch the lives of others. When we don't take care of the Self, others feel it and it can affect them negatively too. We can offer the principle of 'non-harming' to others too by having compassion and helping where we can, but taking care not to try to 'overhelp' or to always fix things for them but trust them to make their own decisions. We can refrain from harmful thoughts and words and try to stay neutral and impartial where possible - not getting involved in gossip is one way we can do this. 

We can practice 'non-harming' towards the other beings that share this planet with us, and the planet itself by living in an environmentally aware way and making wise choices as a consumer.

This is just a brief explanation of Ahimsa - maybe you can think of other ways where you do, and don't, practice it and then resolve to live each day with a little more loving kindness towards yourself, all beings on the planet and the planet itself.


This Week's Recipe... Blackberry and Apple Granola Crumble

I'm always amazed that there are so many different recipes for this classic pud.  This variation is so yummy that I had it for breakfast with yoghurt one day.  Well, it's just like fruit and granola isn't it?! It comes from a website called Simple Vegan Blog but I've adjusted it very slightly so it has a little less sugar and a little less cinnamon.

Serves 4-6

You will need:

For the fruit:
2 apples peeled and chopped
300g blackberries (or as many as you can find - quick - they'll be gone soon!)
2 tablespoons of brown sugar
half a teaspoon of cinnamon
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
2 tablespoons of water

And for the topping:
150g rolled oats
half a teaspoon of cinnamon
3 tablespoons of maple syrup
2 tablespoons of brown sugar

And here's how to make it:

Preheat the oven to gas mark 4, 180ºC.

Put all the ingredients for the fruit layer in a saucepan and bring to the boil. 

Cover and simmer for about 10 minutes or until the fruit is tender, then drain and pour the fruit into a baking dish.

Then mix the oats and the cinnamon together in a mixing bowl. Heat the maple syrup and the sugar in a saucepan until melted, stirring frequently.

Pour the mixture into the oats and mix well until combined. 

Place the topping onto the fruit layer.

Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.

Deeeeelish! I'm going out to get more blackberries tomorrow to make another one!


This Week's Musical Offering... Dream 13 by Max Richter.  I often play this lovely cello piece in my classes during Savasana. It's part of a longer work called Sleep which is 8 hours long!  

This Week's Video... is a little reminder about being in the present moment...

Thanks for reading... Namaste.