Blue Moon (Ambessa Chant/meditation)

yesterday was a blue moon, which simply means that in the month of July we had two full moons and the second full moon is called a blue moon. We have all heard the phrase ‘once in a blue moon’ and that’s because a blue moon doesn’t come round that often and in some cultures the calendar year is extended to 13 months in the year of a blue moon.

We were all excited to get to the woods after dark and build a fire to honour this natural cycle, we joked that on a Friday night in a busy city we were heading into the quiet and darkness of the woods whilst the city was coming to life with all the late night parties and functions that occur on a Friday night!

We found a spot and built a fire, even at this point it feels as though the primal clocks are taking you back to a near forgotten time, a time where gathering wood to make the fire, banter about life and the actual common-unity with nature and man is being left in the rear view mirror.

With the fire burning we offer piece to the north, east, south and west, our gaze rests upon the ever changing flickers of flames that dance from the wooden embers from which they rise.

It is time for AMBESSA! Ambessa is the inviting of the lion spirit within you to surface and come out, to move away from the flock of sheep and roar your true self into the present. It is not easy to burn the shackles of illusion for they are welded together deep within the temple of your being, but as you step upon the earth in the face of the fire and the wind; as you chant the Ambessa a primal force rises and breaks through the restraints you find yourself bound by and a free dance of liberation pours forth from the inner essence of your being. At first you tug upon your chains afraid to break them, at first you fear the unknown that freedom offers, but as you let go of your fears as you dance your dance with reckless abandon the chains will break the fear will dissolve and liberation will be yours.

We then sat in seated meditation and traveled with the freedom of spirit that knows no boundaries, sound filled the air a chant begun and union was felt and finally silence except for the sounds of nature was embraced.

To finish this offering to the blue moon we shared tea and light snacks whilst the flickers of the Flames gently died down.

Life is found in these simple moments.

A couple of hours later we were awake and down by the sea front for mountain practice although today’s was a lighter more peaceful approach and I am left feeling light, energised and deeply grateful for natures playground and the people whom I get to share that playground with.

Below is a link to a YouTube video on our Mountain Practice.

Mountain Practice
To you all in great health.

Matt

The Yoga Health Coach

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Green Smoothies – ‘to be or not to be’?

Recently I received an e-mail detailing the negative experience of drinking Green Smoothies daily, the greens in question are spinach and kale the regular guys who find themselves thrown into the smoothie mix, the term negative experience is open to interpretation and I intend to leave it that way! The interesting topic is what is healthy? Now everyone believes a green smoothie to be a healthy drink and this person certainly did in the beginning, however that is not the case now.

For me Green Smoothies are awesome I love them just the other day I had a green smoothie, well actually it was closer to brown, which had the following ingredients:

  • Wild Rocket (from our garden)
  • Wild Dandelion Leaves (from our garden)
  • Organic Black Kale Leaves
  • Frozen mixed berries
  • 2 Banana’s
  • 4 dates (pitted)
  • 2 star anise seeds
  • 1 Cardamon Pod

I have to say it tasted earthy and that’s the key here, green smoothies are an earthy experience, if we quickly look at the Chinese five elements practice then green smoothies are the element of earth. This is a bit out there and requires an open mind, now I am born an air sign and absolutely love the earthy taste of bitter greens; it balances my elements, if, however I was already an earth sign and Kapha dominant as a dosha from Ayurveda then I am not going to need the earthy greens that a fiery pitta air sign does (forgive the use of Dosha – mind, body constitutions from ayurveda, the intention is not to confuse, but to merely show that through astrology, ancient healing/medicine systems of China and India, we learn that we are all very unique).

With this uniqueness we are going to become very aware that one dress does not fit all sizes and that one mans rubbish is another mans treasure. This person has done well to recognise that Green Smoothies do not work as a healthy tool and has moved on and learnt a lot from that experience.

Smoothies and Juices alike have come under fire for various reasons including; plastics leaching into the drink, electrical heating at fast speeds disrupts the structure of the food stuff, any refinement is de-naturing and most smoothies/juices break food combining rules.

Truth is there and there is also truth in the fact that the soil is mineral depleted and the need for more fruits and vegetables in our diet is ever more important and that smoothies/juices are a viable option for curing this problem.

The problem lies in the simple fact that we have moved so far from nature that we do not fully understand our own nature, we jump on board too easily with the latest craze never checking in to see if its right for us and when I say checking in I am referring to your gut, we say it all the time – ‘I had a gut instinct about that’, ‘I should trust my gut’. There in lies your answers (your answers) trust yourself.

Fads and great advice will be given all the time and contradictory research and evidence will come flying out of the wood work to disprove it as soon as it has gained a following, with that in mind trust yourself each and every time, if you drink a green smoothie and you feel great then there’s your answer and if you get the opposite experience then there’s your answer and its the right answer for you, is it the right answer for everyone? I do not need to answer that for it is obvious.

When we get talking about smoothies and juices the topic of raw food comes up and again; ‘to be or not to be’? again for fear of repetition – you’re the boss, for me raw, wild foraged and seasonal food is the ultimate ideal nourishment and maybe beyond that living of breath like breatharians for they have mastered the flow and balance of the universal energies (again your mind might be having spasms at the thought of that one, but fear not you can still eat your food and be right :).

In summary if what your eating and drinking is making you the best, most authentic, happy, vibrant and healthy version of you that you can be keep doing that, if you need to change then change, only you can master you, others can have insight, but ultimately this round is yours for the taking.

To you all in great health

Matt

The Yoga Health Coach

Barefoot – Set your feet free.

It was reading the work of Clint Ober that inspired myself and my wife to experiment going barefoot and has encouraged us to raise our son Ulysses and when she is old enough our Daughter Ostara barefoot, to let there little feet connect with the earth and develop a full range of motion.

Clint was a retired billionaire maybe millionaire either way he was financially secure. One day he was sitting down watching the world go by when for some reason he cannot explain; his attention was drawn to the shoes, trainers/sneakers and other footwear that people were wearing and found it funny and curious, his curiosity encouraged him to remove his shoes.

After removing his shoes he noticed his connection with the earth he noticed that he felt better and then he asked himself a question – what would I feel like if I could spend more time of the day connected to the earth than disconnected? From this question he went on to create the Earthing brand, which provides grounding sheets and products that essentially bring you closer to the earths vibration more of the time.

Clint’s work explores how reconnecting back to the Earth reduces inflammation, stress, anxiety, improves sleep and encourages the body to self heal, there were a lot of other benefits, but the one that stood out for me was self heal.

Through going barefoot and earthing through the night Clint found you could heal a whole range of conditions, I was interested by this and from the moment Ulysses could find his feet we had him barefoot and whilst he does love to wear his wellies and has a pair of trainers you will find him climbing trees and running along a pebbled beach barefoot, when I first observed Ulysses running along the pebbled beach and digesting Clints work I knew I only had one thing left to do!

I winced at the thought of it and as my sleeping feet tried to communicate with the uneven attack of the pebbles below I knew this was going to be a painful journey; no one likes being woken up and my feet were no exception, they had become very accustomed to the sheltered life of a whole array of footwear, I did not understand to what detriment this was though until I took my shoes off. I have found also that through self healing the teacher is generally pain and so I took this discomfort as a positive sign, but also as a sign to be patient and nurture myself through this transition, Ulysses was running along the beach with no discomfort, how come I felt pain? That simple observation helped me to acknowledge the power of self healing potential in going barefoot.

Now I have practiced Yoga for many years and we even attempt to knead our fingers through our toes to encourage them to open up in yoga practice, however it was Clint’s insight that was key! he observed that just 20 or so minutes a day earthing (going barefoot) was a huge imbalance when you consider there are 24 hours in a day, the benefits would only be recognised through regular practice, which is similar of course to yoga and any practice.

To increase my practice time I purchased a pair of Vibrams, which are barefoot trainers and wear them as often as possible, I go to the sea most mornings braving the pebbles barefoot and I also climb barefoot.

Since increasing my barefoot time to a daily practice I have found my feet have finally begun to wake up and it is through this waking up that it was confirmed to me that most of us live with sleepy feet, which is probably why they ache and are stiff, they have been cushioned for far too long.

The thing is when you walk or climb or whatever your doing if you do it barefoot you have to pay greater attention too or you could say be more mindful of where and how you are moving; at first this actually increases the levels of tension and stress no different to any new practice, however when you get into it the freedom you have to move is unbelivable because the whole of the foot is moving, your ankle wakes up and your knees and your hips, in fact the whole of you wakes up to a whole new potential of movement.

Now this takes time it doesn’t happen overnight and yes it comes with a portion of pain and discomfort, let me tell you the pebbles in Brighton on a cold December morning are unforgiving, technically they are unforgiving all year round I have discovered, however they are particularly unforgiving in the winter, but worth the pain plus as time has passed the pain has lessened and the body has almost fully adapted, I will not be racing my son just yet, but I am getting there.

I mentioned I am excited about barefoot practicing as a self healing tool and I want to re-iterate that, as with all my recommendations don’t take what I say as a truth get out there and try it for yourself, feel the sand between your toes, feel the mud beneath your feet, climb a tree and feel how much more grip you have, plus doing all this is fun (ok not so much fun on those cold December mornings), but its summer time now.

Your feet will not be use to going barefoot so do take your time, wear flat shoes as often as possible (I do wear boots, this is not a complete removal of all footwear, I would happily place my feet in my snowboard boots to go snowboarding). Understand that the more often you go barefoot your body will begin a process of adaptation and change (back to your original design), this change can feel uncomfortable, but if you persevere you will reap the rewards.

Have fun with it, be curious and remember you were not born with shoes on or clothes for that matter (we will visit that at a later date), I encourage you then with this simple knowledge that if you were not born with it you may not need it as much as you think you do!

Feel free to share any barefoot adventures you go on, I hear that you can do barefoot marathons for the runners out there! Wim Hoff completed a barefoot marathon across the arctic!!!!

to you all in great health

Matt

The Yoga Health Coach

Exploring Human Potential

My beautiful daughter Ostara Rose was born on 21st April 2015, when a baby comes into the world strange things happen to you words can not describe, however one thing that can be expressed is the curiosity one has about the infinite potential and possibility that lies before this new life; that old song runs through my mind ‘when I was just a little girl I asked my mother what would I be?’ you know the song and go on have a sing to yourself 🙂

What will she be? what will my baby boy and daughter grow up to be? and maybe my parents asked the same questions? The answers as we all know will only be answered via the magical unfolding of time and through the course of my life I have been curious as to the unfolding of my own life.

I have never been shy to delve deep into the inner workings of life, I have explored most philosophical frameworks from east to west, I have dived into the sciences and even peaked into religious doctrination, each time I surfaced with a new nugget of information, another piece of my puzzle and each time I would return and know that collectively we have a lot of room for growth collectively because most people were and are not practicing living, they were specialising in various professions, but were missing the user manual for their own being!

It is a curious thing that we generally believe that we are evolving as a species, that we have progressed from the form of being of our ancestors, however we face many challenges that are the making of man and it turns out that evolution has three states! Progressive, stagnant and regressive and all three states can be present in the same species at the same moment of time.

This simply means we are progressing in some areas, regressing in others and staying the same in other areas of life, when I consider human potential I am interested in progression and within that progression I am interested in progressing our evolution in terms of connecting with ourselves, each other and nature, in becoming masters of our minds, bodies and souls, in self healing and collective healing through practices that require a deep conscious awareness of ones existence and existent nature as a whole. For me at least popping a pill is not progressive, but regressive it bypasses our innate ability to heal ourselves and misses the lessons and teachings we need to learn through the state of disease we may find ourselves in, pain is necessary for growth it is a form of internal communication and if you ignore its message you will only increase your suffering because it will come back.

I also feel we need to progress in our understanding of emotional well being and overall mental, physical, spiritual and physiological well being, through creating a plethora of stresses for the body and mind to endure we have regressed in almost all those areas of being and they fundamentally underline the quality and quantity of life that a person will live in this life time.

To explore human potential is to wipe your slate clean of what you think you know and begin to collect the information from within yourself, the answers truly are there, at first you do not trust yourself and that old friend doubt and his buddy fear will accompany you, but as you grow your understanding of you, you will find new friends such as love and compassion, it is only through love, compassion and passion that we can truly dive into the uncluttered depths of our potential, before we get to that state of being we are simply surviving or struggling, suffering our suffering.

It is simple to love; the moment I looked at Ostara and when I gaze upon Ulysses or swim in the sea, when I walk with Adele or climb a tree I find love, but its not easy to cultivate that love into an energy that unleashes your creative power on the world and the life you are currently living.

I struggle with this myself and have found myself experiencing one moment unreliable power and creativity and lightness of mind and body, but then next I come crashing down into the cauldrons of depression and negativity, however I have now cultivated tools that mean I bounce back quicker that I accept both as a necessary experience of my life and continue to truly recognise my passion, love and creative output in this life, with each obstacle and each blessing I know I am getting closer, but I do not want to wait to share what I practice for after I cross my metaphorical finish line I want to share it now whilst I am in the midst of my own obstacles and my own faith being tested, why?

Finally my weakness I must finally show is the simple answer. When you teach yoga and have been in the health and fitness industry for over a decade sometimes the pre-conception can be that you have it all figured out! Well the truth is you don’t and in reality you end up over complicating things and can be further away from health and well-being than the very people you are helping, however this is part of the journey, yes a hard and at times scary part of the journey, but integral none the less because as you remove the layers of the ego you get closer to love, true no holds bar love, a completely un-conditional love that gives you the strength to go further than you ever thought you could.

Is this easy? In my experience NO, there is a flow that is for sure and when you are aligned with your flow you will naturally discover your potential and purpose with what appears to be relative ease, I have had these moments, however life can sometimes knock you off your path, spin you around and hang you upside down, which can leave you feeling completely lost, it is at this point when you need to re-discover yourself and re-build who you are, then that word ‘easy’ does not feature, but love, unbelievable moments of joy and beauty await those who wade through the mirky waters.

Bon Voyage

Big Love to you all.

Matt

Turmeric, Lemon & Ginger Elexir 

over the years I have attempted many concoctions aimed at restoring, healing and improving vitality, this current effort is far and away one of my most successful attempts yet and the beauty of it is? It is in most people’s budget, you could leave out the Camu Camu Berry and it would be in everyone’s budget, you can use any blender really as you sieve the ingredients at each step, coconut oil can be replaced with olive oil or if you fancy upgrading add oil of oregano, either way it’s awesome.

To increase its awesomeness value rating I want to share this, I am currently going through one of my yearly episodes of gout (ouch does not really cover it), now I do not mean to get into the debate of healing gout alternatively and am in no way suggesting that this elixir on its own has healed me this time round, but it has had a dramatic effect on the rate of healing, reduction in inflammation, swelling and overall state of wellbeing. In that regards this concoction is awesome.

Equipment:

  • Pan to heat tea
  • High speed blender
  • Sieve 
  • Bowl/jug

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 – Organic un-waxed Lemon (appreciate this is more expensive, however you will be using the skin in this Elexir.
  • 1 tbsp of Camu Camu Berry Powder – a high vitamin C sour tasting fruit from Peru, again highly priced, however one bag will last a long period of time and I can attest to its potency as a medicinal aid.
  • Inch or two of Ginger Root
  • Inch or two of fresh Turmeric Root (you could use powder, but the root is cheap and more powerful).
  • 1 tbsp of honey (in an ideal world you would go for the highest quality, however even myself settled for a cheaper variety).
  • Handful of Grapes (does not matter which variety you use)
  • 1/4 tsp of coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp of Flax Seed

Method:

In your high speed blender add about one cups worth of filtered or any water you have available, next add the turmeric and ginger; blend these two together, place your pan on the stove and put the sieve on top and once you have finished blending pour the turmeric and ginger through the sieve and into the pan add your coconut oil at this point, put on a low heat and heat till boiling (be careful as they will froth up and explode over the side of your pan, don’t ask how I know this 😀). 

Whilst the turmeric and ginger are heating clean your sieve and place over your jug or bowl. Fill up your blender again with roughly a cup of water then add the lemon (skin and all), grapes and flax seed; blend till smooth. Pour liquid through your sieve into your bowl/jug, discard the waste in the sieve and clean your blender.

Your Turmeric and ginger should be nicely heated at this point, pour into your blender and add the lemon mixture. Now add the Camu Camu berry and honey, blend all the ingredients together and viola you have yourself a little power house of healing awesomeness.

To you all in great health

Matt

The Yoga Health Coach

Bowing Meditation (day 100)

100 days ago begun a journey and this evening has seen its completion. The journey was simple – 100 days with a minimum of 300 bows completed each day (the bow consists of starting from a standing position then bending down to a kneeling position, bowing and then moving back up to a standing position) simple, but not easy.
In the beginning the physicality of the practice was the most demanding aspect, my knees, ankles and shoulders would all ache, but as the days and weeks passed the body grew stronger; I must admit I originally was not sure my right knee would make it through 100 days straight I have had an on going injury and general weakness there for years, but to my surprise and despite the pain my right knee has grown in strength and range of movement and now the pain is almost gone.
One of the most interesting experiences I had came when I was suffering, the thing is bowing is similar to juice fasting! It cleanses the body and mind and pushes out any toxicity that may have been residing in the cellular tissues, when the body detoxifies it is common to suffer a healing ‘crisis’ it’s not really a ‘crisis’ that’s simply the popular term used; it’s simply an uncomfortable healing experience that feels a lot like the flu, but despite the flu (head cold, weaknesses, aching ect) I bowed and even though that session was one of the toughest to get through I was amazed at how it cleared all my symptoms in one session.
Bowing on Christmas Eve and day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day were new experiences for me; I would be upstairs bowing whilst the family were down stairs taking part in he festivities, I am glad I bowed I felt great for looking after my body, mind and soul and I learnt that no matter the occasion I could do it.
I must also confess that almost every day I did not look forward to bowing, once I bowed at 4.30am it was energetically amazing, but I cursed being awake at that time – my soul was still sleeping. My preference was after 7pm in the evening after my son had gone to bed and dinner had digested, but over the 100 days I think I covered most hours of the day even finishing some session at 12 in the evening, but no matter what time I bowed I lacked enthusiasm, but I never gave up something every day inside of me kept urging me to take to the mat and complete my bows.
I have been gifted and cursed with a complex, analytical mind that has only recently discovered that it has never rested, it has never really been present, it has never truly listened or seen the now, but as I neared the end of my 100 days I began to find quiet moments during the practice, moments that were peaceful, effortless and free, where I new I was in my body and the experience and not thinking and stuck in my mind, if you like its akin to hearing without thinking about what you heard, for example you hear a car but you do not think of the car instead you simply be with the noise the car makes. This was amazing and I have enjoyed developing this side of the practice and will continue to do so.
I could keep writing about the experiences I have had over the past 100 days but I am not going to, instead I am going to offer my gratitude to the practice of bowing meditation, it has taken me on an unexpected journey and changed the course of my path.

Matt

Bowing Meditation (day 93)

Day 93 signals the final week of the 100 day journey of bowing 300 times each day and it really feels like the end of a journey.
The last week of bowing has been an up and down affair; there were days when it flowed and there were days where it simply hurt, but even on the days of pain I feel better at the end of the session, I have experienced bowing meditation to be a very healing, cleansing and strengthening practice.

Today’s practice was interesting the first 103 bows I completed in class, normally we do not bow in class so this was a surprise and at the time not a welcome one; yet the practice was amazing I felt weightless for most of the class and observed I only got distracted once or twice. I was then left with 197 bows to complete this evening and to my surprise I had the same experience to that of my earlier experience in class – weightless/effortless and a mind that was calm and simply present for most of the practice (still the odd fleeting thought, but a significant difference).

I have no expectation that I have turned a corner the mere experience of the last 93 days has taught me that, but what I did notice was it was a broken practice in the sense I did a portion then stopped and completed the rest later and in the later practice I had to briefly stop to get something for my little boy. I also observed I had broken some old habits, I was not in a rush it all seemed to be a moment of letting go of the old (the broken part) and the rebuilding or you could say the creation that follows destruction, but as I said everything changes and I for one cannot see what lies ahead.

Here’s to the final week and all it has to offer or uncover.

To you all in great health

Matt