Monday 12th November - Adventures in Amsterdam, Pasta and Pianos

'52 @ 50' no. 43, 44 and 45: Adventures in Amsterdam

Although I've been to Amsterdam back in the summer, this weekend I did some things I haven't done before so I'm going to include them in my 52 new experiences... 

43) I've never been to a gig abroad before. My husband is a great fan of Frank Turner, a UK folk/rock musician, and he has been to many of his concerts. Now, I don't share quite the same appreciation of Frank's music as dear husband (although I like his lyrics and general message - this current tour is entitled Be More Kind) but, when I was offered a weekend in Amsterdam in exchange for going to the concert, it seemed like quite a good trade!! We stayed in a very funky 'concept' hotel - all designer decor and low lighting (which can sometimes be a blessing - the mirrors were very flattering!) in a picturesque part of the city, right beside one of the canals. The concert was high energy and full volume and made dear husband very happy.

44) After a day spent wandering around the canals and marvelling at the beautiful buildings, we went to a Dutch/Indonesian restaurant to have 'rijsttafel'. Translated as 'rice-table', this veritable feast consists of lots and lots (and lots!) of small dishes of flavoursome, spicy foods served with a big bowl of rice. It was invented by the Dutch to show off the wealth and diversity of Indonesia when it was part of their colonies.  It was delicious and I'd definitely have it again next time I'm back in this lovely city. 

45) The following day we went to The Van Gogh Museum.  When we visited Amsterdam in the summer we went to a number of art and photography museums but just didn't have the time or the energy to do this one too.  So 9am on Sunday morning found us here.  I knew the basics about Van Gogh - the sunflowers and irises, the ear thing and about him being unappreciated during his lifetime, but the audio-guided tour (you learn so much more from having a guided tour rather than just wandering from picture to picture) gave me a new insight into this famous artist - the way he learned and taught himself to paint, his rather sad life and, most importantly, the meaning behind his paintings. 

So that's a 3 in 1 - three adventures in one lovely weekend - with special thanks to Frank Turner and dear husband for making the whole thing happen in the first place!

Quintessential Amsterdam view

 

Holiday Headstand - of course

 

Class Notes: The Second Niyama - Santosha (Contentment)

"The yogi feels the lack of nothing so he is naturally content." BKS Iyengar

There's a difference between happiness and contentment. Very often in our Western culture we are encouraged to believe that we can, and should, be happy all the time. That if we have this or that product we will finally be happy.  But happiness is an emotion that comes and goes, like all the other emotions, and therefore we just can't be happy all the time - and it's unrealistic to think that we can. Contentment, on the other hand, is a more underlying state of being and less of a fleeting thing.  It feels a bit more solid and possible. In fact, when we really think about what we have already, we often find that, without realising, we are already content with our lot in life. We live in a relatively safe country, with relatively benign weather conditions, we have a roof over our head, food to eat and we don't live in fear for the lives of our loved ones. The basics are covered. We are not denying that difficult things are present in the world and also in our lives but, as yogis, we know that we have the power to choose to look at things in a positive way. 

Contentment can be nurtured so that it grows. And the very act of cultivating it reminds us, each time we do it, of the things we already have in our lives.  So how do we do this? Find just two minutes to sit quietly and practise gratitude. Think of 3 things about your day that you are grateful for. Central heating, flushing toilets, music, the birds singing outside your window... The more you look the more you find - but just do 3 each time. As I'm writing this it's Remembrance Sunday evening and that makes gratitude especially relevant. But it's not just for one day a year - it needs to grow and flourish - so make it a daily practice, writing the things down in a notebook, and you'll find that it's easy to cultivate contentment and foster satisfaction. 

Santosha is also about acceptance. A focus on Santosha helps us to accept and be content with the way we are - in life and in our yoga classes too - and so we learn to be that person that Mr Iyengar was talking about - we are content with what we have and then everything else is a happy and joyful bonus.

 

This Week's Recipe... Creamy Vegan Mushroom Pasta

I didn't cook this weekend as I've been away, but I've been looking for an easy supper for tomorrow evening. It has to be quick - I don't have much time between teaching classes so this video recipe from BOSH will do just fine - but I might go easy on the garlic in case I have to adjust anyone in their poses :-)

Note: you don't have to make this with vegan 'cream' - you can use dairy if you like - but if you want to give it a try as a vegan meal, Alpro do a soya cream for about 95p, available in most large supermarkets. 

This Week's Musical Offering and Video all in one... I just heard this played on Classic FM. It's so lovely I thought I'd share it with you... Bluebird by UK pianist and composer Alexis Ffrench...

Thanks for reading and have a good week...