Acorns and Autumn

So we are in March, the first month of Autumn here in Melbourne. Although mother nature doesn’t always check the calendar so we are experiencing some lingering warm Summer days. Despite this the signs are afoot that Autumn is on its way. One of the first signs I have noticed is the acorns have begun falling form the oak trees in the park. Most people don’t notice this type of thing so much but we have two pet bunnies who absolutely love to nibble on acorns so I am always checking in on when they’re available.

Spring and Autumn are transitional seasons, times for changing, adjusting, adapting in preparation for the more extreme Summer and Winter weather. They offer us the opportunity to take stock, check in with where we are, what we are happy with, what we would like to change.  So I’ve decided to share a Autumn meditation on todays post, hope you enjoy it.

Autumn Meditation by Belinda Blackburn

Take some time to get comfortable, sitting with whatever support you need, spine elongated, shoulders relaxed and breath flowing freely. Bring your awareness to your breath and notice how it relates to this time of year, Autumn is a time for storing energy in preparation for Winter when there is less to be found. Many animals gather food stores at this time, we are working with that same method by taking in our breath and feeling the energy flowing in with it being stored away. Stored in the hands, the feet, the arms, the legs. Feel your torso filling with prana, the energy flowing with and beyond your breath, let it rise all the way up through your neck to you face and head, Now your whole body is full of energy, imagine absorbing that energy, storing it away in every cell. So that when a time comes that you need it you can find it here, waiting for you.

As well as storing energy at this time mother nature lets go of excess demands for that energy. Knowing that there will be less available in the shorter, colder, days of winter many trees release their leaves which require a lot of maintenance and can drain them of their energy reserves. In the same way our exhalation gives us the opportunity to reflect on how we are spending our energy, where it is going and whether there are some activities or commitments which are draining our resources. Become aware of what you could let go of, release – perhaps temporarily, perhaps permanently. Think of that release with each exhalation, letting go of expectations and honouring where you are right now in your life and where your energy is best directed to.

Each breath helping us to take in and store energy and let go of the need to waste that energy, each breath helping us to become more efficient, more discerning about where our energy goes. Energy in the forms of physical activities, emotions and thoughts.

After some time allow yourself to gently withdraw from the practice and go into the rest of your day energised and more aware of where that energy is going.

To celebrate and explore these and other aspects of Autumn through yoga, breathwork and light discussion I am running an Autumn Workshop at Harvest Yoga on the 9th of April. We will take a leisurely three hours to practice yoga, meditation, discussion and relaxation as well as sharing a home made morning tea.

Investment only $60, $50 concession, spaces are limited, for bookings contact rick@harvestyoga.com.au

Enjoy the Autumn colours,

Love and light,

Belinda

xxx

 

Recipe time and Spring Workshop reflection

I shared some wonderful yoga practices on the weekend in my Spring into Action workshop. It was a lovely group and we all really enjoyed being able to immerse ourselves in 3 hours of yoga rather than a shorter class which often goes by so quickly that it sometimes feels like you are just getting into the practice and it is over. Not that I have anything against classes, they are the best way to fit in a regular practice, it was just nice to be able to spend more time in everything we did and explore some practices that don’t often make it into classes such as meditation and chanting.

Spring was certainly in the air despite it being a rainy morning as we were visited by some lovely parrots, playing in the elm trees outside Harvest Yoga and squawking loudly. We paused in our practice to admire their colours and antics, hopping from branch to branch and swinging on the smaller twigs.

Something else we all enjoyed was morning tea together and the recipes were requested so I am sharing them here with a wider audience. I like making these sweet treats for workshops as they cater to a lot of the more common food allergies and intolerances as well as being very easy to make and absolutely delicious! Talk about ticking all of my boxes.

I hope you enjoy these and sharing them with friends as much as I do…

Julie’s Currant Cake

I got this recipe from a fellow Volunteer Breastfeeding Counsellor when I worked for  the Australian Breastfeeding Association, she used to bring it to our meetings and it was always popular. It is sugar free and vegan (unless you spread it with butter but you can use a vegan alternative or have it without, it is still delicious) and very easy though it does need overnight soaking so you need to plan ahead a little.

1 cup currants

1 teabag, plain black tea is fine but I like to use different herbal flavours as well, I used cranberry and pomegranate for the workshop cake

1 cup boiling water

1 cup self raising flour

Place the currants and teabag in a bowl, pour over the boiling water and leave overnight. The next day sift the flour over the top and stir it through. Pour into a non stick or greased loaf pan and bake for 40 minutes at 180C.

It’s that easy, it is a very moist and yummy on its own or spread with butter.

Chocolate Fudge Balls

This recipe came from a fellow yoga teacher, Anahata, whom I did my prenatal training with. It is gluten free, sugar free and easy though the rolling into balls can be time consuming.

45gm cocoa or raw cacao powder

120 gm raw cashews or other nuts – I often cheat and use ground hazelnuts or almonds to save time

260 gm dates, I chop them up first or my food processor struggles with their dense stickiness but if you have a more powerful food processor than me you might not need to. 

1 tsp coconut oil (this wasn’t in the recipe as given to me but I find it makes rolling them into balls a lot easier as the mixture is less crumbly)

Desiccated coconut (optional)

Grind cashews or other into fine powder using a nut grinder. Place the cashews, cocoa powder and dates into a food processor and blend well. The mixture will be very thick and dry – don’t add water or it will be too sticky. Roll into balls (small as these are rich) and roll in desiccated coconut. These are delicious!

Hope you enjoy these as much as we did at the workshop.

Love and light,

Belinda

xxx

Bring on Spring…

I love springtime, I know everything needs to be balanced and that all of the other seasons have their benefits but this is my favorite time of year. Hands down.

More daylight, flowers blooming and blossoming, birds singing and building nests, the warmth gradually sneaking back into the days (though here in Melbourne that’s always a two steps forward, one step back process!) and just the general energy of awakening after winter – its like coming out of a long relaxation.

Daffodil with lavender in background.

Spring is a time of new beginnings, new life , new opportunities, new and positive changes. To celebrate these qualities of the season I am offering two springtime promotions for my Thursday night Braybrook classes.

  1. For my existing students – bring a friend for free, absolutely free, no obligation. If they sign up for a term you get a 10% discount on your own next term payment.
  2. For new students two casual classes for the price of one – just $18 for two yoga classes.

These offers only apply to my Braybrook Classes, 6:30-8pm, Thursday evenings, Community Hall, Braybrook Community Hub, 107-136 Churchill Ave, Braybrook and are available for the next 8 weeks so you have plenty of time to spread the word and invite a few friends along (limit of 1 per class). Classes are suitable for beginners and those with yoga experience.

If you would love to get back to nature and really delve into the springtime yoga energy there are still a few places left on my next retreat 9th-11th October in the lovely King Parrot Valley just an hour and a half out of Melbourne. More details can be found at www.clearviewretreat.org.au.

Happy blooming,

Belinda

xxx

 

 

Winter chills, yoga remedies

Winter is well and truly here in Melbourne, the icy winds seem to lower the temperature even more as they howl through the streets.

While it is tempting to stay home on those cold winter evenings there are many benefits to rugging up and making the effort to get to your yoga class despite the cold.

Here are a few:

– muscles shorten during colder weather so benefit greatly from a good stretch.

– joints become stiffer and less mobile, particularly if there is scar tissue or arthritis present, a gentle yoga practice can be wonderful in maintaining mobility and easing that cold winter achiness.

-yoga warms you up! Sun salutations, flowing vinyasas, core work and snuggling under blankets all help you to feel warm and cosy.

– pranayama (breath) practices are very effective in warming the whole body, most pranayams are warming breaths and the few exceptions are unlikely to be included in a winter yoga practice.

– during winter most of us tend to be more solitary, the sangha, or yoga community is a great way to have a chat with friendly people. this can help to reduce depression caused by Seasonal Affective Disorder, commonly referred to as the winter blues.

– winter is a time to lower your activity levels and rest, savasana and a guided relaxation help to rest and restore the body, mind and heart. Like a mini hibernation in each and every yoga class.

Bare tree branches against a grey sky

We are having a Yoga to Grow Winter Warmer dinner next Friday 11th July, 7pm at Aangan in West Footscray. Past and present students are invited, please let Belinda know if you can come along 0414 702 854 or belinda@yogatogrow.com.au.

Stay warm!

Love and light,

Belinda

xxx