Relationships are complex and challenging at the best of times. I can comfortably vouch for this after 32 years of marriage, two children (now 28 and 25), meeting my own birth mother in the past 5 years not to mention the hundreds of working therapeutic relationships I develop with adolescent and adult clients over the year. This doesn’t include the complexities in relationships of the family outside the nuclear family. How come some families seem to do it effortlessly and for others their whole life appears to revolve around family dramas.

As we fast approach the festive season/month this often becomes a big issue. Christmas can be the catalyst for many breakdowns in already fragile relationships and none more so than the parent/child one. I am hoping to study (should I be accepted) with Dr Gabor Maté in 2020 and so today, in preparation for this year long course I watched a 2 hour question and answer session he did in Vancouver with his son, Daniel (aged 45 in 2016 when it was filmed). It was titled “Hello again” and focused on the relationship between aging parent and adult child. It was fascinating and I found myself fully in support of both their openness, honesty and, at one point, Gabor reverted back to the traditional role of a father chastising his young child. Daniels reaction was admirable although I’m sure it wasn’t the last word on the subject.

I want to talk to parents today. Adolescence is now thought to be the years between the ages of 10 and 24 (WHO, 2019) although if you read Dr Dan Siegel’s books on the neuroscience of the child/ adolescent brain development it could be as late as 26 or 27 for some. I can relate to this not only with my own children but also with clients. Of course personality contributes to this but environment and parenting and firmly at the helm. The difference in why some move through this period more swiftly very much depends, in my opinion, in how childhood and adolescence are handled by the parents. Gabor Maté has declared his mistakes openly in his books and, like all parents, has learned ‘on the job’ but his work, like mine, has given him a unique look at parenting across the different demographics and, in his view in 2016 “we [the parents] don’t trust life to teach them [the children]..” and “we [the parents] don’t want to let go of the role..”. His first point brought to mind phrases used widely today such as ‘helicopter parenting’ and ‘snowflake children’ when parenting is discussed. Briefly, helicopter parenting (while having it’s benefits) is flawed in terms of not equipping a child/adolescent to make age appropriate decisions, the parents will hold onto that role as long as they possibly can. Equally as detrimental would be the many adolescents I have seen left alone as teenagers with few or no boundaries and adolescents making inappropriate decisions. So, what is the answer? Well, in 3 different countries I have had the privilege to live and work in (Zambia, Malaysia and France) I have observed the benefits to the extended family taking as much responsibility as the nuclear family for bringing up a child to the point of independence. I like many modern day parents was mostly left alone Monday to Friday to parent our children while husband worked away. A decision we both agreed to, but, on reflection, added to the burden of balanced parenting. Anger, hate, selfishness, sadness as well as over-confidence, bravado and risk-taking are all traits commonly experienced by adolescents and their families alike.

With the best holistic parenting manuals available to you nothing prepares you for that ‘moment’ when anger and hate are present and the insults fly. The question is how do we deal with it?

Being present is easier said than done, Daniel Maté proclaimed that ‘it’s [being present] our truest nature and it’s also just not how we are wired.’ He went on to say ‘how do you survive?’ by remembering what happened in the past, draw your conclusions from it and make sure it doesn’t happen again.’ Maybe that’s easier as a 45 year-old child than as a 15 year-old child! However, as a parent we could consider this. In the heat of the moment, we can be mindful that the way we often react to our adolescents is unconscious behaviour that stems from our own childhood, the way we have been treated by our parents. Realising this may be the case, we can take a breath in the moment and maybe choose an alternative way of handling the situation. Whether your adolescent is receptive to a hug when he/she is declaring their utter hatred for you is by the by. The point is you, as the parent have a shift into what is often a feeling of freedom from the situation. A willingness to accept that there may be other possibilities and a willingness to try and see things differently.

So, when your child or adolescent, this festive season, obstinately refuses to do something, consider the alternatives to direct punishment that, in my experience, tend to fuel the fire, whatever the age! At the close of day, choose your arguments, think outside the parenting box and see if you can find ways to dampen the flames rather than spark the fire!

I will say here methods of parenting are very much age-dependent. If you would like more information in how to deal with children of certain ages then please email me at [email protected].

All that remains for me to say is a very happy Christmas to you all and the healthiest and most peaceful 2020 to you and your family. Thank you for your support this past year and below are some of the exciting retreats we have on offer for you in 2020.

Retreats in 2020

Hands Heart Head June 2020

See upcoming events for all the information you need to book!

Africa Yoga Safari November 2020

See upcoming events for all the information you need to book!

Well Women Weekend Workshops 2020

Amanda will be delivering 4 Well Women Weekends between May and September. Other expert professionals will be contributing to these weekends and while the 48 hours with us may seem full on we will be making sure you also get the nurturing you deserve in terms of great food, fine wines and relaxing treatments. Interesting and heart-felt topics are to be addressed and shared with like-minded women addressing issues faced daily by many of us. You can either attend one or all four of the weekend workshops and the more you sign up for the better the value. You can email your interest to [email protected] and if you think you may be able to contribute to the workshop as an expert then we would welcome hearing from you.

Private Therapeutic Residential Retreats

You can visit alone or as a couple or as a family to address on-going issues with me that may be preventing you from living your happiest and most fulfilling life. These bespoke retreats range from intensive weekends up to 15 days of timetabled non-medical therapy. We respect your privacy at all times and the nature of this type of therapy encourages a healthy working relationship with your therapist that can then be continued even after you leave. Please email your requirements to

[email protected]

Understanding Adolescence Retreat

Carried forward from 2019 this long weekend is for a parent or guardian and young person to come and learn about what to expect from, and how to approach, the every day challenges of Adolescence in a positive and supporting way. Places are limited on this long weekend to ensure time is made available to all participants. Email your interest to [email protected]

Yoga Retreats

Amanda will be running a number of Yoga Therapy weekends designed for everyone. It has been proven that there is an intrinsic link between chronic pain and our mind. These yoga workshops will be about exploring ways to take back control, reduce symptoms through relevant yoga practises and address the mental blocks closely associated with our chronic pain or discomfort.

We are also currently talking to a number of very experienced yoga teachers from around the world with a view to offering a selection of yoga retreats in 2020 both in English and French. Melissa Smith-Wilkinson Retreat will be visiting from the US and delivering her 4th retreat here in July 2020. We are excited to have both Melissa and so many of her wonderful students returning to us. Please email your interest to [email protected]

Private Rental 2020

We are, for the second year, making available the entire petit chateau for rental to both families and friends for holidays or special events and to retreat leaders to host their students/clients for a course, workshop or meeting. The main house sleeps up to 15 people and everything to make your stay comfortable is provided. With a beautiful pool, fully equipped yoga studio and several outside seating areas to host your workshops or special occasion. There are many local attractions available to you in the area, we are surrounded by Cognac vines and working distilleries and the beautiful city of Bordeaux is an hour away. Praana Wellness lends itself to you doing as much or as little as you desire. Email [email protected] for details.

Christmas Yoga Poses

Getting on your mat at the best of times can be an effort in itself so if you get on it at all in December you should be super proud! As you can see Santa likes a little Vinyasa which will help you keep the system moving!

If you are the main organiser of the family get-together then maybe you need a little meditation you can tap into whenever you need a little time to yourself!

Try one of these free mindfulness practises

Praana Non-alcoholic Christmas punch!

I am only a few weeks away from being alcohol-free for a year! The secret to getting through the party times (of which there have been a few!) is to be prepared, to feel included and most importantly that a little effort has been made by the host to make you feel a little more special. So, whether you choose not to drink or you are the nominated driver for the evening try these low-sugar alternatives to the sodas and enjoy the festivities!

My personal favourites involve no sugar at all (when I think about it my wines were always crisp and dry and my spirits accompanied with fizzy water usually, not juices or sodas. One of my biggest discoveries during this alcohol-free year has been how little sugar syrup you actually need to sweeten a drink when you are in control of it yourself. Think of all those admittedly yummy sticky cocktails you’ve had over the years and, why not, if you are loading up this Christmas, ask them to put the sugar syrup on the side, you’ll be surprised at how little you will need. Alcohol or no-alcohol.

My non-alcoholic faves!

1. Lemon/Lime, mint and ginger with cucumber and fizzy water. If you find it a little tart then add a small amount of home-made sugar syrup. Serve in a glass you’d normally have your Mohito or Gin & Tonic in! It’s psychological.
2. Cranberry (I’d be looking out for the no sugar all natural), squeeze real oranges, real pomegranates and top up with fizzy water, decorate with a sprig of rosemary and serve it in a flamboyant cocktail glass!
3. How’s about a variation on the classic Mimosa! Grab your best champagne glass and juice white grapefruit and ginger, top it up with fizzy water and decorate with basil this time… again if too tart a little home-made sugar syrup.

And, if you really have someone deserving coming (my children take note!) then this recipe is awesome!

4. Kristina Sorrano’s take on a Margarita involves red grapefruit, fresh lime juice and a little agave syrup (go steady – you don’t want to lose the tartness). Before you decant into a balloon glass (Cognac or similar) set a sprig of thyme alight ad capture the smoke in the glass with a coaster or plate. Decant the mocktail into the smoked glass and decorate with another sprig of thyme! Oh la la!

Check out our website: for more delicious recipes.

Sessions are available online with Amanda to address any personal issues, including dietary and drink issues. You can email me at [email protected]. Also, if you join our free private FaceBook group you will be eligible for the January special offer on these sessions!