Wednesday 15th May - Bee Baths and Spring-Green Tarts

This Week's Class Notes... Alignment Tips for Side Angle Pose (Parsvakonasana)

We practise this pose regularly in my classes - it's a good standing pose to promote strength, flexibility and focus.  Parsva means side in Sanskrit and Kona means angle.  As in the recent post about aligning Warrior 2 Pose, we'll adjust it from the ground up.

Once you've settled into the pose...

- Spread the toes and lift them up to energise the feet and engage and strengthen the arches and the ankles.
- The centre of your front heel should be in line with the arch of the back foot.
- Ensure that the bent front knee is directly over its ankle for best stability - it will always want to swing inwards, but press down with the outer edge of the foot to help counteract this dropping inwards action and press outwards with your arm that is resting on the top of the bent leg thigh.
- Firm the back leg too - it often loses its strength and then the pose becomes unbalanced, with more weight in the front than the back - like it's lost its anchor.
- Once the legs are firm and aligned, start to turn the torso to the side - turn the belly, ribcage, chest and then, gently, the head.  
- Extend the top arm forward and up as if you were stretching your fingers to the top of the wall opposite you - turn your chest a little more and then turn your head so that you look underneath the top arm. You can also try sweeping the arm downwards first and then bringing it forwards, sweeping past your face and up just past the ear - that might feel better for your shoulder. 
- You are now in one straight diagonal line, from the outer arch of your back foot all the way up to the energised fingertips - reaching and stretching to extend the side of the body. 
- If you want to go a little deeper into the pose you can take the lower hand either to the floor inside of the foot or, for an even more challenging variation, to the outside of the foot and then use the arm to press the hip open a little more. 
- Finally, turn your head to look underneath that top arm towards your fingertips, revolving your torso a little more as you do. 

You are now in Side Angle Pose with good alignment and energy - strong, poised and focussed.


This Week's Recipe... Spring Green Tart

This easy tart makes a lovely light lunch and looks fresh and bright.

Serves 4

1 pack ready-rolled puff pastry (this is usually vegan)
1 courgette cut lengthways into ribbons (I do this with a vegetable peeler)
half a bunch of asparagus cut lengthways
3 spring onions sliced into small pieces
70g pitted green olives
2 tablespoons of pine nuts
freshly ground black pepper
olive oil for brushing/spraying

For the pesto sauce:
bunch of basil, chopped (reserve some leaves as a garnish)
1 avocado, stoned and peeled
50g pine nuts
juice of half a lemon
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast (optional)

And here's how to make it:

Preheat the oven to 200c, fan 180c or gas mark 6.
Lightly oil a baking sheet and unroll the pastry onto it.
Make the pesto by mixing all the ingredients in a food processor or blender until you create a sauce - adjust the seasoning if necessary and add a tiny bit of water if it seems too thick.
Spread the pesto over the pastry and arrange the courgette and asparagus on top, sprinkling with the spring onions, pine nuts and olives.
Add a fine spray or light brush with olive oil and finally some black pepper.
Bake for 15-20 mins until the pastry is golden and vegetables are cooked.  

Serve with Jersey Royal new potatoes and a crisp, fresh salad - yum!  



This Week's Mother Nature's Magic... Making a Bee Bath, and some completely beautiful tulips

I'm learning so much about bees at the moment.  Apparently they drink lots of water. I haven't really thought about it before but, of course, they need to keep themselves hydrated when they're busy buzzing around from flower to flower. They also use water to help keep the hive cool in the summer and to thin crystallised honey in winter!  I don't have a pond or a water feature at the moment so I thought I'd make them a simple bee bath so they can get a drink - there are so many of them at the moment feasting on the alkanet (bristly green stems, little bright blue flowers - bit of a weed but fills the bare earth nicely and the insects love it so it's staying!).

I used a terracotta saucer and put some pebbles in it so the bees have something to land on and take off from (don't want them drowning!). I found a shady spot underneath a little plum tree in amongst the alkanet and turned a flower pot upside down to make a stand.  I rested the saucer on the flower pot, filled it with water and hey presto! A bee bath.  I'll need to remember to keep it topped up (although I did read that they find dirty water attractive!) but I'm feeling very pleased that there's now an insect water station in my garden.  I hope they like it!



I have the most extra-ordinary tulips in my garden at the moment.  They are in pots on the patio delighting both me and the yogis who come to my Studio for classes.  They are called 'Ice-Cream' and they have big fat buds which have dark pink outer petals wrapped around a smooth, white centre. They look just like a raspberry ripple ice creams!  After some time the pink petals open up, followed by the white ones which unruffle themselves so that they look just like a peony. Some of them are even double-flowered!  I bought them from a Dutch flower nursery which does mail-order.  They stock mainly tulips bulbs and dahlia tubers and they have some interesting and unusual varieties that are sure to give your garden the wow factor.  Here's the link to the website of FAM Flower Farm if you'd like to take a look. 





This Week's Musical Offering... Sky Mantra by Subway Bhaktis

I love this atmospheric mantra - I hope you like it too...

This Week's Video... A short clip of honey bees drinking - with an interesting fact at the end - there's so much to learn about bees!


 Enjoy your week and thanks for reading!