PRAANA WELLNESS BLOG

The reason people find it so hard to be happy is that they always see the past better than it was, the present worse than it is, and the future less resolved than it will be.

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#NOPROCRO! A mantra for 2020.

Just fourteen days into the New Year and while I am not a...
IMG_3142

Festive news and offers

Relationships are complex and challenging at the best of...
Juja-han-271340-unsplash

June Newsletter

“It always seems impossible until it is done”Nelson...
Music

Yoga Music

I have fallen in love with the haunting sounds of the Hang...
Autumn Transition

Autumn Transition

We have been having a really beautiful and busy summer...
Couscous

Thank you to my team

Everything happens for a reason and the universe always...
Essential Oil

Frankincense the King of Oils

This is why doTERRA are my no 1 choice, their ethical...
Susan

Welcome to Blissful Brown

Very happy to welcome Susan from @Blissful Brown to Praana...
Self Care

Self Care

I’m on retreat this week in the hills of Southern Spain.....
Teenager

Teenager Wellness

Often approached so negatively by parents as a time of...
Experts

What is an expert?

So I thought I’d begin a discussion about the meaning of...
Happiness

What makes us happy ?

What makes us happy? Do we truly know?Let me start by...
Vetiver Oil

Vetiver Oil

Vetiver oil – I’m completely drawn towards this pure oil...
October Yoga Pose

October Yoga Pose

Summer transition into Autumn is one of the most...
Boys Yoga

Boys Yoga has lift off

Finally, after 3 or 4 years of trying to encourage our...
Yoga Pose

Bharadvaja’s Twist

Yoga poses that help to support us through a transitioning...
Breathing

Kapalabhati breath

Pranayama is a fundamental part of our daily yoga practise...
Yoga Pose

Half Frog Yoga Pose

Half-frog pose for rest and relaxation. You can use a...
Couples Yoga

Partner Yoga Pose

For those of you who would like to try a simple couples...
Childs Pose

Childs Pose

Be kind to yourself and allow yourself some time to rest in...
Triangle Pose

Trikonasana Triangle Pose

This pose is perfect for stimulating your digestive system...
Adho

Adho Mukha Svanasana

I think in an Ayurvedic way! It helps me to realise the...
Urdhva
Urdhva Dhanurasna
Urdhva Dhanurasna (wheel pose, upward bow pose or simply a...
Vrksasana

Vrksasana

Learning how to quieten the mind and breath to enable the...
Fruit

Eating fruit the ayurvedic way

Eating fruit the ayurvedic way is a challenge as so many of...
Kids

Kid’s Yoga Class

We’re very excited to announce Kids Yoga classes for two...
Whitney-wright-Feb2019

Courgette (Zucchini) and coconut loaf recipe

It has to be warm, it has to be grounding and it has to be...
Cake

Vegan Spelt Carrot Cake

The wonderful Olivia and Owain were our retreat chefs this...
Kitchari

What is Kitchari

Kitchari is a traditional Ayurvedic dish that is known to...
Truffles

Raw Chocolate Truffles

So delicious and a great healthy substitute for an average...
Brownies

Spring Recipes

Spring was a little slow getting going this year in SW...
Recipe

Sweet Potato Pancakes

Mothers Day definitely calls for breakfast in bed! How...
Chocolate

Chocolate Peanut Butter Truffles

This recipe is taken from Rachel Mansfield’s blog. They...
Masala

Masala Recipe

Ingredients1 medium onion roughly choppedA thumb of ginger,...
Gingerbread

Gingerbread cookies

Ingredients1 egg plus 1 yolk1/2 cup smooth peanut butter2...
Curry

Chickpea Curry

The ingredients are fresh and typical of vegetarian African...
Beetroot

Chocolate Beetroot Cake

Beetroots are a fantastic source of vitamins and minerals...
Ice Lollies

Refreshingly Cool

August is always hot and we often feel the need to cool...
Ice Cream

Peach & Almond Ice Cream

Serves: 2Preparation Time: 3 minutesCooking Time: 5...
Scrub

Sugar Scrub

Becoming sugar aware has many benefits for our health and...
Sugar Aware

Chocolate Dessert

Ok so this may not be to everyone’s taste or fits to...
Vegan Loaf

Vegan Loaf Recipe

Gluten free, lactose free, vegan. High in fibre, protein...
Kitchari Spices

Kitchari

Kitchari is a traditional Ayurvedic dish that is known to...
Porridge

Grown Up Porridge

So I get asked about brekkie and what I have all the time!...
Turmeric

Golden Turmeric Milk

Its an acquired taste (add more honey to begin then reduce)...
Pascal-mauerhofer-Feb2019

Defining Stress

A client asked me today ‘When did we allow stress into our...
Retreats

Residential Retreats

Amanda began running private residential retreats for...
Chez Vallee

Plans for 2019

Well, our biggest news for the 2019 season is that the main...
Radio

Radio Calm

I was very honoured to be interviewed for a slot on Radio...
Mothers Day

Mother’s Day Special

If you would like to treat your mum, aunt, sister or...
Esserntial Oils

Essential Oils Package

Why not treat your Mum to some beautiful essential oils for...
Robin

Dr. Robin’s Visit

Much like yoga, the use of essential oils aims to support...

#NOPROCRO! A mantra for 2020.

Just fourteen days into the New Year and while I am not a fan (nor, indeed, a proficient user) of hash-tagging, between myself, my lovely hubby and our fabulous marketing assistant, Louise, we are now super proud of our 'mantra' for 2020.

What is a mantra? A 'sacred utterance', a 'syllable', a 'word or sound repeated to aid concentration'. One that has possibly been produced the most is "Om Mane Padme Hum' - meaning the jewel within the lotus. The Dalai Lama suggested that repeating this mantra “transform your impure body, speech and mind into the pure body, speech and mind of a Buddha.” But I digress.. I want to talk a little about OUR new mantra.

Procrastination (the action of delaying or postponing something) is sometimes necessary and can benefit us BUT is also a leading cause of mental illness as we use it as an avoidance technique for something we find difficult. I'll give you some examples of where I have, in the past, excelled at this 'sport'. Eating healthily or adjusting my lifestyle for the benefit of my health - I achieved a masters in this! In denial, avoidance, finding many reasons (other than myself) why I couldn't start... until I had to. No choice. Change was forced on me. Change was harder, other issues had to be dealt with because of my procrastination. Another was in the past 4 years when research had to be done. Again I excelled at procrastination - leaving everything until the last minute and staying up most of the nights in the first 5 months of 2019. The toll on my well-being was significant and it's taken the remainder of the year to recover. I can think of numerous occasions in my younger years where I would procrastinate about voicing my opinion at work or speaking my truth. Again, the person who suffered most was me and oh, when you had to voice something difficult, as hard as it was at the time, it was the biggest sense of relief and life went on. Perhaps there was some awkwardness and difficulty as the new path was traversed but it was never as difficult as perhaps it had been for possibly months previously.

My point. There are times when I'm not sure how to deal with something (often administratively) and, if time allows, I will procrastinate intentionally. I will place it in my diary for a week/a months time and revisit. Interestingly, on several occasions the previously unresolvable problem has been solved through time, another means or someone else! I make a conscious decision to postpone dealing with it and make a note to revisit thereby allowing my mind to be free of the issue temporarily. This kind of procrastination is also known as organisation, routine, reflection space or an administrative process! Call it what you like - it's a healthy procrastination with a very important time limit! Probably the longest procrastination I engaged in was when I had found out I was adopted and, having dealt with the initial emotions attached to this, I decided (then didn't, then did, then didn't!) to look for my birth mother. Now, while years might have gone between those thoughts of doing so, each time I made the decision to try to find her, the decision became more difficult. I would (through life and age) create reasons (mostly surrounding other peoples opinions/feelings) as to why I shouldn't. What happened? Well it took 30 years in the end to pluck up the courage... and well... the rest you will have to read about! Needless to say, much time, energy and cortisone was released in the 30 years only to be the most wonderfully positive experience for all concerned. How it would have affected my decisions, professional career and relationships one can only guess now with reflection and age but I am sure there would be an underlying slow effect on my well-being in general over those 30 years. Peaks and troughs of positive and less positive emotions, a roller-coaster ride. When the time was right it still required a leap of faith even after 30 years. It was Courage, having courage to know what was right for ME that finally brought the procrastination to a close.

When procrastination becomes unhealthy is when it affects your behaviour, emotions, sleep, work and relationships. You may not even know it. We have a natural resistance to threats (fight/flight) and many us choose to remain in a constant state of fight (and flux) until we accept an unhappy relationship/job role/addiction as the norm. A self-spiralling vortex of negativity then can engulf body and mind and our life becomes a drudge rather than the gift of happiness and enjoyment that it should be.

In other words you know, for whatever reason, something needs dealing with, and yet something is stopping you. Only you, with complete transparency and honesty can identify the reasons that are preventing you dealing with your challenge. The question is is the subject of your procrastination going to effect other important aspects of your life and are you avoiding? Or are you giving yourself thinking space with an end date....

In just 14 days of this fabulous new decade I have questioned every opportunity to procrastinate. Where I can; I action. Amazingly, developments are moving on at a pace in all aspects of life.

I feel one major achievement in the latter part of last year has enabled me to do this and it was insisting on a second opinion from a specialist after being told repeatedly there was nothing amiss. I knew there was. As a non-medic it took courage and confidence to fight the system. The result: being treated as an individual as opposed to one in a million with similar symptoms. I am grateful to all the human beings who gave me the strength not to procrastinate for too long...

We are running a Well Women's Retreat here at Praana Wellness from the 3-5 April and would love you to join us, details can be found on our website on the Events page. The investment of €280-310 will be so worth it in terms of empowerment and community. Email me at amanda@praanawellness.com if you are affected by anything in this blog. You can move through it.

The photo attached to this blog is a beautiful untouched space full of energy and spirit... watch this space for 2020's development at Praana! #NOPROCRO <3

With love,

Festive news and offers

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 Amanda@praanawellness.com.

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 Amanda@praanawellness.com 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

Amanda@praanawellness.com

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 Amanda@praanawellness.com

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 Amanda@praanawellness.com

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 Amanda@praanawellness.com 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
http://www.freemindfulness.org/download

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: www.praanawellness.com/blog 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 Amanda@praanawellness.com. Also, if you join our free private FaceBook group you will be eligible for the January special offer on these sessions!

June Newsletter

“It always seems impossible until it is done”

Nelson Mandela

Well we certainly can’t be accused of bombarding you with emails here at Praana Wellness although I do hope that now that I have freed up a fair bit of my desk time you will receive a monthly informative addition to your mail box.

The 4 months leading up to the 16th May seemed increasingly more impossible. My body had become so much more sedentary, anything outside of research for my dissertation seemed insignificant including diet, exercise and even my beloved yoga practise. And then, on May 17th, it was done. Just like that. Having juggled many other things (my business being one) while managing this increasingly demanding study programme I had convinced myself that I had something physically wrong with me. I listed my symptoms (all very familiar but increasingly challenging), visited doctors, talked to qualified medical friends (and of course consulted the internet - this should have been my final warning!) and then, finally, being convinced that it was a hormone issue that needed addressing I waited for 3 months to see the local Endocrinologist who, after 3 minutes, very brusquely told me it was stress (with a very French shrug of the shoulders!). Of course I had this notion in the back of my mind but… how could I allow myself to suffer the physical symptoms of stress to this level? I spend my days helping others manage stress! The fact is, as frustrated as I was that this consultant I had waited so long to see, had dismissed everything I was saying to her re thyroid and hormones, she was correct. I left the room feeling embarrassed and slightly stupid BUT with a huge sense of relief and a kind of knowing that what she had said to me made sense. What I now needed to do was stop looking to others for help and explanations and to take control and fix my ‘broken body’ as I was now referring to it! The most important fact I would like to share with you here is that within a week my body began to feel less broken, my sleep improved and I began to take back that all familiar control. I have read over and over through the years that our bodies want to be healthy; it actually takes a lot of effort to develop on-going, non-specific chronic symptoms YET the mind will happily jump on the bandwagon given the chance and keep you in this place of stress and anxiety! One cannot be fixed without the other BUT they (mind and body) can both recover relatively quickly if we choose to take control and allow ourselves to make the necessary change/s.

The results of my study in the early part of 2019 revealed many interesting facts about psychology AND yoga, the part yoga can play in psychological treatment for increasing mental well-being and reducing stress (one of the top reasons for visiting doctors). It also highlighted the areas for clarification and future possible studies relating to this topic so that we, as healthcare professionals can hopefully prescribe yoga alongside empirical psychological treatments such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy or Psychoanalysis thus reducing the strain on current health provision.

The take-outs from the study were the following. To date, in cultures less familiar with yoga (Europe, America, Australia) one of the factors that makes it difficult to prescribe by General Practitioners (family medicine doctors) is that despite so much research to date into the effects of yoga on reducing stress/increasing well-being it’s definition is, at the least, unclear! What is yoga? What are the components of yoga? How do we prescribe something that varies so much? Another interesting take-out was the number of people who began the 4-week trial and the number who completed. The idea behind the study was to make it as accessible and convenient as it could be to all. The only commitment was to engage in an online session 3 times a week for 30 mins each time! Out of 600 people only 100 people completed the 4-week study. Over that time frame there were several understandable reasons why people couldn’t complete and there were many more reasons given that seemed to be of greater importance than trying to improve mental well-being or reducing their levels of stress. One repetitive example would be that they didn’t have time. Another was that they had nowhere to practise. Another was that it was Christmas! Or some were going away for the weekend. This brought to mind the research I had uncovered suggesting that many only address health issues when they are chronic and not before. Many people volunteered for my study who already had a history of psychological disorders and this unfortunately excluded them. Those with no diagnosed psychological disorders were less likely to volunteer, in my experience.

So this brings me on to our own investment in our own mental and physical well-being and the interesting statistics I found between the different countries where stress levels are higher than ever and mental well-being is at it’s lowest. In the UK we spend 1.2% of our household income on health and 2.2% on alcohol and tobacco (Office of National Statistics, 2018) as opposed to the US who according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2016 spend 8 times more on health than they do on alcohol and tobacco. Without blinding you with figures in the UK we spend twice as much on alcohol as we do on participating in some kind of sport or active leisure. Let me say at this stage that another take-out from my study is I have become even more sceptical of figures, I have seen how easy they can be manipulated but also how important good figures can be in supporting theories. This highlighted to me the amount of poor research there is available to us especially in important areas such as stress and mental well-being on the internet. What I would like to highlight here is my own support of these statistical differences in terms of the importance my American clients put on therapy as opposed to the British approach. Now, to the crux of the matter which brings me back to my own situation and my first paragraph – there are two important questions that reoccur with clients over and over: how much responsibility do we take for our own health and well-being? How much are we prepared to invest in our own health and well-being before we look to attribute our ‘symptoms’ to other factors and people? Let me be clear, this may be a financial investment in therapy with a well-qualified therapist in the area you need assistance, it may be an investment of your time only (often the most challenging) or as proven above it may require a readjustment of financial expenditure away from things that do nothing for your health and well-being, either physically or mentally or both.

My study supports what has always been my thinking over the past 20 years – yoga has a very definite place in physical and psychological wellness. To integrate various components of the yoga practise into more traditional but non-medical psychological interventions has been welcomed by all of my clients to date and proved to be life changing (for eating disorders and addiction). As a standalone treatment it still remains to be seen although in my opinion for all mild cases of stress, anxiety and depression I have seen excellent results in patients who develop a weekly practise. If, like many of our visitors, you are an investor in your health and well-being perhaps we can encourage you to join us in 2020 for what is shaping up to be a full and interesting season.

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. The dates and details of these workshops will be fully available in September 2019. You can email your interest to Amanda@praanawellness.com 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 Amanda@praanawellness.com

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 Amanda@praanawellness.com

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. More details will be released in the newsletter by September 2019 about all of the above-mentioned retreats or you can email your interest to Amanda@praanawellness.com

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 Amanda@praanawellness.comfor details.

Ayurvedic Wellness for Summer

Pitta dosha would like to overheat as we travel through the summer months. Learn how to understand your unique body type and manage the heat within us all by addressing diet and lifestyle. Take a look at the following article https://www.mapi.com/ayurvedic-knowledge/ayurvedic-diet/beat-the-heat-with-an-ayurvedic-diet.html It is a gentle introduction to what may serve us and what may not through the summer season. Ayurvedic sessions are available online with Amanda to address any personal issues. You can email me at Amanda@praanawellness.com

TIP - If you need to cool your body quickly any time reach for foods high in water content, water melon has it’s sweetness, cucumber and green apples with celery a great cooling drink. My favourite water jug – mint, lime and cucumber.

Yoga Poses for Cooling the Body

I particularly like the Pranayama breathing exercises explained here – I use them in my adult and kids yoga classes! So if you have a young family and they get a little over-heated you can practise the breathing exercises with them – they’ll think it’s a game, you know better! They work. https://www.yogajournal.com/practice/7-cool-poses-beat-heat#gid=ci020756a7500b25bd&pid=kristen-kemp-teaches-corpse-pose-at-bryant-park-yoga

Yoga Music

I have fallen in love with the haunting sounds of the Hang drum and particularly Manu Delago’s fabulous talent in creating the haunting melodies. I hear Autumn loud and clear in this piece of music and love it when I ground in Savasana at the end of practise. I hope you enjoy!

Autumn Transition

We have been having a really beautiful and busy summer season here hence the lack of newsletter for a few months! Sorry! I thought silence was more valuable than a rushed update! Our guests have come this year from the all over the world for some peaceful relaxation, for a writing retreat, an art retreat, several yoga retreats and also to host their special occasions and celebrate with family and friends. We have had lots of new people who have heard about us through their friends and other more familiar faces returning for their second or even third visit and the peace and tranquillity on offer here at Praana Wellness.

Right now we are transitioning from Summer to Autumn with a chill in the air in the mornings and evenings, beautiful sunny days and a change in the colour of the leaves as the days shorten. I love September! My sons birthday is in September and I remember the most idyllic children’s treasure hunts in our local woods in very typically autumnal weather. As I age I become more aware of this beautiful season and its offerings. The squashes are coming to ripeness in the vegetable garden, the last of the blackberries are in the hedgerow, the glut of tomatoes being used and frozen in every which way imaginable..and the colours! Wow! Autumn brings an abundance of Air and Space and Vata is in abundance. The qualities of coolness, dryness, lightness and mobility heighten in some of us where Vata dosha is already dominant and we can become aware of a ‘flightiness’ in both the physical body and mind that can be so easily kept in check when our awareness is drawn to the changes. Earthy grounding foods, warm in quality and cleansing by nature help us to address a diet to prepare us for the winter months. Our yoga practise may take on a more grounding focus to it to draw Mother Earth’s energy up from the ground and we may focus on some pranayama that helps us stay slow, steady and secure. Routine is an important factor as Summer turns to Autumn.

Thank you to my team

Everything happens for a reason and the universe always provides in challenging times. So I have to say a huge huge thank you to a few peeps who helped me out with this retreat, even though I know they’ll not want to be recognised.. I’ll be discreet! To Ash for the connection of beautiful people, to Susan for providing the family and our guests with the most wonderful massage treatments, she’s staying til the end of August by the way!!

Not least to the most beautiful young couple I’ve met recently (outside of the family!) Olivia and Owain, your food and company has been beyond anything we could have hoped for. The way you work, laugh, love and now sing ridiculously cheesy songs – to amuse my gorgeous hubby! We will miss you but know you will be back as friends. To you both I’m grateful and love you already.

Frankincense the King of Oils

This is why doTERRA are my no 1 choice, their ethical commitment to the communities in which they harvest and why frankincense is my daily medicine.

Oil #5 is FRANKINCENSE the “King of Oils”. This precious essential oil is distilled from the resin of Boswellia trees tended by families over many generations in Somalia.

This oil is used worldwide in religious ceremony and practice because of its effect on our spirit and emotions. It calms anxious feelings, comforts us in grief, and gives us hope when we feel low.

  • Restorative for low energy levels
  • Significant antimicrobial activity
  • Useful for soothing physical discomfort
  • Promotes healthy levels of inflammation

But I can’t talk about the properties of this oil without mentioning how crucial is the SOURCING process in the essential oil industry. Many highly-prized essential oils are grown in vulnerable, impoverished regions of the globe, and frankincense is no exception. The demands of the perfume and fragrance industry have ravaged ecosystems and kept entire communities on the verge of starvation.
dōTERRA’s sourcing model has turned the entire essential oil industry upside down: partnering with environmental scientists to ensure sustainability; paying their farmers independently of yield; building hospitals and schools to educate boys AND girls. To learn more, check out the Cō-Impact Sourcing section of doterra.com and be sure to watch the videos about frankincense and Somalia.
Why do YOU love frankincense? I’d love to hear how this oil has transformed your home

Welcome to Blissful Brown

Very happy to welcome Susan from @Blissful Brown to Praana Wellness, getting herself ready today to deliver the most wonderful treatments to our guests. In fact one guest couldn’t wait for her to unpack and had a delicious treatment before she had even been shown to her bedroom !

So whether you and friends would like to come and indulge in a Spa day here including a Blissful Brown massage or you just need a last minute treatment because you know you deserve it or maybe you know someone suffering and might benefit from Susan’s expertise,then Susan is your therapist! Check out our web-page with details of her treatments and contact us for an appointment.

Make the most of her, she’ll nourish your sun-kissed skin and make you feel amazing !

Self Care

I’m on retreat this week in the hills of Southern Spain.. learning from the great teacher Donna Farhi, doing so little and yet so much for my own self-care. It’s a poignant reminder to nurture self in such simple and connecting ways that are so unobtrusive..how do you serve yourself daily? What do you do that unobtrusively nurtures your physical, emotional and mental needs on a daily basis?

Our ethos here at Praana Wellness Retreats is holistic well-being. Whatever it takes for you to be physically, mentally and emotionally strong and able to cope with the expected and unexpected challenges of traversing your path. I have changed the name of the Sugar Aware FB group not necessarily to take the focus off being Sugar- Aware – I think we all now understand in this group the importance of being aware of how much and which type of sugars serve us – and which don’t.

My reason for changing is because with more and more visitors who come to Praana Wellness I realise that the subject we discuss most is Balance and Self-Care. My direction pulls very much towards psychology and mental wellness as this is how I spend a great deal of my working week with clients either working with them face-to-face or online. Your contributions in this group have been very much appreciated and I realise there are many people who have offered so much… I would love you all to remain and continue to support those who need help getting started or maintaining a Balanced Lifestyle.

Lets see what we can do to grow this wonderful support group and discuss topics that we all might find confusing, contradicting, difficult to know which expert to listen to!

Teenager Wellness

Often approached so negatively by parents as a time of constant difficulties, challenges and pushing the boundaries resulting in withdrawal and a lack of connection. Through their own experiences, parents are often conditioned to dread adolescence and it just doesn’t need to be this way ! Adolescence is a time of ultimate growth, potential in all areas of development and yes, mistakes, and that’s OK ! Our role as parents is to be there to steer them when they make those mistakes but, if we lose that connection then that’s where the problems begin.
Understanding adolescence is the key to enjoying it as a family.
‘The kaleidoscope of personality is shaken and where the pieces land is of profound importance’.

Article by the BBC.

What is an expert?

So I thought I’d begin a discussion about the meaning of ‘expert’. What is an expert?, how do we truly know someone is an expert in the field of health and well-being? With so many contradicting views in our media sources how do WE make our own minds up?

The wikipedia definition says ‘An expert is someone who has a prolonged or intense experience through practice and education in a particular field’ – relatively straightforward right? NCBI provide a more academic explanationalthough it suggests the same principles ‘Experts play an important role in society, but there has been little investigation about the nature of expertise. I argue that there are two kinds of experts: those whose expertise is a function of what they know (epistemic expertise), or what they do (performative expertise).

Epistemic expertise is the capacity to provide strong justifications for a range of propositions in a domain, while performative expertise is the capacity to perform a skill well according to the rules and virtues of a practice. Both epistemic and performative experts may legitimately disagree with one another, and the two senses are conceptually and logically distinct.’ My own experience in this field over 3 decades is that the two cannot be separated and neither one nor the other less important.
In relation to health and well-being do you have someone you consider to be an expert in the field that you follow regularly and why?

What makes us happy ?

What makes us happy? Do we truly know?

Let me start by saying that we can’t be happy all the time. Nope, it’s just not possible. However, if we consciously invite happiness into our lives then it makes dealing with the challenges much easier. Dr Rick Hanson refers to it as the ‘law of little things’. In the same way that when we think negatively it seems that the challenges pile up and we feel swamped just adding to the negative feelings. But, if we introduce happiness to our daily lives, for example, in the form of sitting or walking meditations, simply thinking of someone who really cares for us or resisting posting those negative comments (no matter how angry or frustrated we may be with a situation), then by the same method those little positive bursts of happiness will add up. This results in the creation of a bank of goodness in our subconscious mind and hey presto life actually becomes brighter and happier!

I have moved house in the past week. Not far, actually maybe 200 metres but it may as well be 50km for the difference it has made to my internal happiness. I am still at the same address, Praana Wellness @ Chez Vallee but, having slept in every room in the big house as we renovated it over an almost 6 year period, I decided that what I was craving now, more than anything, was a smaller cosier home. A home where I could have all of my personal belongings around me. A home where I could shut the door and find my very own privacy when necessary. A home that is simple, small and has as few electrical items as possible!

At different times of life we crave different things. As I reflect I realise they do coincide with the decades of age and so, while for almost 20 years I was really happy with being fairly nomadic, travelling the world, experiencing different cultures, now, as I traverse my fifties, I realise this is the simple happiness I have been craving.

So, I have asked myself why, over the week I have been living in Lavender Cottage, has it had such an impact and I think I can answer that question now. It is so important to have time for reflection. When I was living in Chez Vallée my business and my personal space and life merged into one. When I wasn’t seeing clients, teaching yoga or marketing the business I was still available for work at any hour. I would respond to emails whatever the hour. Since moving to the cottage I have made a pact not to work here, to have defined hours around my client calls and I now ‘go to the office’ and more importantly leave the office! My commute isn’t long in terms of distance, but it is huge in terms of effect. How can I be so close to my work space and yet feel so far away? Well it’s all down to personal choice, to making small changes and to discipline. Perhaps it is these three points that ultimately put us in control of our own personal happiness. Nothing else. When we make decisions that ultimately put us in control of our destiny then we create a happiness within that cannot be matched from a longevity perspective. Renovating Lavender cottage took four months and a tremendous amount of energy that I thought was impossible to find. But the happiness and peace created helps you soon forget the difficulties you have overcome to reach this point. The mind is great at enabling us to achieve this IF we allow it.

There is a Buddhist saying: “Do not think lightly of good [meaning that happiness/good/positivity will not just come to you]. Drop by drop is the water pot filled. Likewise the wise one gathering little by little fills oneself with good”.

Perhaps ask yourself are you choosing to fill your pot of happiness little by little?

Vetiver Oil

Vetiver oil – I’m completely drawn towards this pure oil now. It all makes sense! I was craving peppermint during July and August as the temperatures soared and we were in the throws of a busy season. Now, as we draw the season to a successful close I am looking for more grounding, more rooting and a quiet few weeks as I enjoy time out in nature with the dogs or gardening.We can be torn in so many different directions in terms of people, priorities and activities during the heat of the season but when Autumn comes we crave (sometimes unknowingly) being brought back down to earth. Vetiver helps to do this, grounding us in Nature, in our physical world. Vetiver helps us to connect to how we think and feel supporting all kinds of self-awareness.It is a very thick oil and requires the best of Pitta’s patience and Vata’s flightiness to even get 5 drops for the diffuser… but oh how it is worth it! Its divine. I diffuse in the mornings and the evenings. I also might put 3 drops on the soles of my feet or at the base of my spine if I have a challenging day !

Please contact Amanda to order your DoTerra oils.

October Yoga Pose

Summer transition into Autumn is one of the most challenging for our health. Children return to school, the sun rises much later and sets much earlier, there is a cool moisture in the air and sometimes chilly wind in the mornings even when the temperature rises by mid afternoon. The leaves are dry and falling and plants are tired, shrinking back into the earth to regain strength for the next season. It’s all so predictable and familiar and yet how many of us take stock of the elements around us in Nature and appreciate that flux is also happening within us?

The question is what simple and easy adjustments can we make to ensure our health and well-being as we transition through Autumn? One of the kindest changes would be within our yoga practise. The flux of Autumn’s elements cries out for a kapha yoga practise. A practise with slow, strong flows and where we spend time breathing deeply and steadily is called for. One that offers firm grounding through our feet, our bodies and our hands. The following 5 poses offer this grounding in our practise that ultimately keeps us feeling secure and safe. Don’t forget to really tune in to the beautiful way your body connects with the earth and steady it there for a while.

Boys Yoga has lift off

Finally, after 3 or 4 years of trying to encourage our local men to join our classes we are now into our 5th week of yoga classes for men! No girls allowed apparently! It’s proving to be great fun, a very different vibe but hugely popular and I’m delighted that the group is growing and they are loving it!

Join us Wednesdays at 6.30pm.

Bharadvaja’s Twist

Yoga poses that help to support us through a transitioning winter to spring cleanse are the poses that open the body, create some space and especially massage and ‘wring out’ the detoxing organs in the core of the body. To achieve this we are looking to twist and breathe deeply. Don’t be afraid of breathing as loudly as you possibly can – one of the aims of a cleansing yoga practise is to shift and move stagnant mucous in the physical body. This doesn’t just mean the respiratory system, think about the whole of your body and where ‘Ama’ (toxins) may have gathered over the winter months (digestive system and thoughts being two other areas that need clearing often at this time of year). If you are beginning these exercises for the first time do ensure you are supported and warm, somewhere quiet and take it slowly at first, resting between 20 second rounds. It is not unusual to feel a little light-headed but if you suffer with high or low blood pressure you should firstly check with your doctor.

Kapalabhati breath

Pranayama is a fundamental part of our daily yoga practise and capable of not only energising mind, body and soul but it can also massage and strengthen our internal organs such as the lungs, the kidneys, the heart and digestive system that then allows them to function at maximum potential.

Take 2 minutes twice a day to begin with and try the Kapalabhati cleansing breath.

Half Frog Yoga Pose

Half-frog pose for rest and relaxation. You can use a cushion for your head and place a blanket over your body, rest there for 5 minutes and drop your awareness into your breath and into the bent leg, the hip and the sensations you are experiencing. With no expectations and releasing all tension there with the exhalation just allow yourself a few minutes to reset. Change sides and explore how that feels always end , either lying on your tummy resting your head on your hands and taking a few moments with your legs out straight behind OR lie on your back in Savasana and rest a little more.

Partner Yoga Pose

For those of you who would like to try a simple couples yoga pose at home then why not give this a go one evening when you are relaxing. Simply sit back-to-back on the floor, legs crossed or straight out in front of you. Try to connect your spines from the tailbone to the base of the neck. Be aware of your shoulder blades connecting, the back of both rib cages connecting and simply begin to breathe. Close your eyes. Become aware of your partners breathe instead of your own. Sense the rise and fall of their rib cage against yours and see if you can communicate, with your partner, only through the breath. As you both sit and breathe, lengthen and slow down the breath so that it almost becomes one breath. As you inhale, your partner exhales. As your partner inhales, you exhale and so on. Continue to do this until your mind starts to wander or you become distracted. Slowly, with practice, you will become in tune with your partners breath and you will be communicating only via the breath, with your bodies and without speaking. This is the very beginning of finding a deeper connection with your partner and one that will help you to connect on a level beyond the spoken word, ultimately helping both of you to navigate the challenges of life in partnership.

Childs Pose

Be kind to yourself and allow yourself some time to rest in supported childs pose at the end of each day.

Use whatever props you have available at home, you can improvise. Your aim is to support every part of your physical body and thus allow the mind to be supported and relaxed. Spend 5 to 10 mins just connecting with your breath, do a little body scan to make sure you aren’t holding any tension anywhere.

People sometimes take a lot of persuasion to come to a restorative yoga class because they either feel they aren’t doing ‘enough’ or they find it too challenging to ‘be still’. Yoga is about being enough (wherever, whenever) and giving ourselves permission to be still. The benefits of supported Balasana (child’s pose) are many. Taking firm cushions, pillows or a whole pile of blankets make a bolster and sit astride your bolster with your feet on the ground.

Make sure your legs are comfortable before lying on your belly on the bolster and allow your belly and chest to be fully supported by your bolster and arms to rest either side on the forearms on the floor. Be aware of not holding tension in the upper arms and shoulders by moving the arms slightly forward. As you breathe allow the body to feel long and supported and be aware of the ribs and lungs moving as you inhale and exhale.

Your head should rest to one side or the other on the bolster. There are two areas you can focus the breath. Firstly, the solar plexus region massaging the main organs of the core against the the bolster and secondly, back body breathing. Turn your awareness to the openness of the rib-cage on the back, the shoulder blades, the lower back. If you can rest there with a blanket over your back fro 5-10 mins you’ll be doing you and your nerves a huge favour!

Trikonasana Triangle Pose

This pose is perfect for stimulating your digestive system during the overindulgent festive period. Use a block for support.

Other benefits include:

  • Increases flexibility and strength in the legs, ankles, knees, and hips
  • Stretches the hips, groins, hamstrings, and calves
  • Opens the shoulders and chest, extends the spine
  • Improves digestion
  • Relieves lower-back pain and stiff neck

Adho Mukha Svanasana

I think in an Ayurvedic way! It helps me to realise the changes our minds and bodies go through when the seasons change and then to make adjustments accordingly.

So the temperature fluctuates, dryness is also around us as the leaves on the trees (and the vines!) dry up and fall to the ground. The wind also seems to pick up out of nowhere at times. It’s all normal for this time of year, so the elements of dryness, mobility, dampness and moisture creep into our bodies also.

Sometimes I have a t-shirt on and sometimes I have to put on my jumper and boots. Dampness seeps into our bodies as the clouds lie heavy in the mornings and we become aware of stiffness in our joints and muscles.

The temptation is to remain in bed longer as its darker much later. It is often harder to get motivated to move and exercise. What we like to do is introduce into our yoga practise some warmth and movement.

This can even be simple dynamic stretches when you get out of bed in the morning! These simple stretches sitting in bed, or on the edge of the bed, serve us well: small circles for wrist health and for shoulder health.

Gentle movements of the head and neck while you breathe in and out to your belly through your nostrils can all help wake up the body gently and aid flexibility in joints and connective tissue. The belly breath also aids the stimulation of digestion.

From there you can move into your Downward Dog (adho mukha svanasana) but do have a play around in this pose to keep it active. The temptation is to force the heels to the mat too early. Remember Yoga is not about achieving goals and moving on to the next posture, it’s about enjoying and learning from the practise during your journey.

When you start to bend your knees and begin to walk your heels in, try and stay with the long nasal breath you cultivated at the beginning of practise and be aware of how much that extra oxygen can aid the opening of the backs of the legs and the spine as you play around! Try it – it will help you combat the elements of the Autumnal season by raising a little heat in the body.

Urdhva Dhanurasna

Urdhva Dhanurasna (wheel pose, upward bow pose or simply a more advanced backbend) is both an iconic pose in the yoga world and yet quite terrifying for some! We look at it and think gymnast and circus acrobats when we see this pose, we often don’t see ourselves there or we tell ourselves its not possible. Anything is possible!

Your yoga practise, is just that, it’s the journey to wherever you need to go and not the goal of thinking you need to be there. So prepare yourself slowly for this pose by opening your shoulders and the upper back as well as finding space along the front of your body. Include poses that work your body progressively into a backbend (sphinx, cobra, upward facing dog) and incorporate these into your daily practise. Give it a month and with this regular practise and you too will be enjoying wheel pose! Enjoy the journey…Namaste

Benefits
Deep stretch to the chest
Strengthens the arms and wrists, legs, buttocks, abdomen, and spine.
Helps to stimulate the thyroid and pituitary glands.
Increases energy and reduces depression.

Vrksasana

Learning how to quieten the mind and breath to enable the physical body to root to the earth. Often I find students ‘fail’ before they start their journey into Vrksasana because they want to just get there and don’t prepare mind and body to be still. Remember its the journey that is important in your practise, not the goal. Tree pose seems so simple – what is so difficult about standing on one leg? Well, here are a few tips.

1. Prepare the breath, imagine your energy travelling down the body from the core, find your concentration spot (dristi) with your gaze and then slowly travel through the preparation of lifting one leg followed equally and slowly by the arms after by standing in mountain pose for a minute.

2. Prepare the breath while you stand in mountain pose and imagine.

3. Find your concentration spot.

4. Travel through the preparation, hold for as long as is comfortable and then change sides.

Eating fruit the ayurvedic way

Eating fruit the ayurvedic way is a challenge as so many of our western mealtimes involve fruit as a dessert or drink with a meal.

This is a very short explanation of the ayurvedic reasoning behind when we should and shouldn’t eat fruit, my approach is a moderate one as always, if I can avoid it with my other food I will but if not, then so be it. It’s an awareness that matters and the willingness to take responsibility for our own eating habits and their consequences rather than looking to use work, families, social life, travel or fatigue as an excuse for our poor decisions

it’s all about Balance.

Kid’s Yoga Class

We’re very excited to announce Kids Yoga classes for two age groups 3-7 years and 8-12 years.

There is much research now supporting the benefits of yoga for children and adolescents. Yoga improves children’s self-esteem, teaches them right communication and self-discipline, helps them deal with the stresses and anxieties they face at school and within their peer groups. Yes! Even our children experience this now. It also helps them to learn about emotions through playful postures, breathing and relaxations.

Courgette (Zucchini) and coconut loaf recipe

It has to be warm, it has to be grounding and it has to be motivating! Why? Because these are the elements we become aware of in the winter months that become more depleted! Look at the elements outside in Nature, you need the opposite elements to make sure you stay balanced. SO lots of ginger, spice, root vegetables, hot drinks and, if you are kapha body type and find it really hard to motivate yourself to exercise when it’s cold, wet and snowy then so long as you treat your digestive system kindly to compensate with easily digestible soups and stews then you are balancing! Don’t berate yourself, we simply adapt! Whatever way you can move your body will help and, don’t forget your water!

And, for when you aren’t nourishing your body with the above, make this below and treat yourself to a healthy bit of positivity for your gut! It’s fabulously versatile – serve it for breakfast, lunch or tea and, TOP TIP, if you are on your own and think you might eat it all in one sitting then slice it and put it in the freezer – lift it out a slice at a time!

(Zucchini) and coconut loaf
1 Banana (mashed) ½ cup coconut oil (melted)
6 eggs ¾ cup coconut flour
1 tsp vanilla extract 1/3 cup shredded coconut
1 tsp apple cider vinegar 1 tbsp cinnamon
1 medium grated courgette (zucchini) ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp baking powder ½ tsp salt

METHOD

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees/gas mark 5/350F. Line a standard loaf tin with baking paper.
  2. Whisk the eggs in a large bowl, add the vanilla, apple cider vinegar, coconut oil, zucchini and banana. Whisk together into a smooth batter.
  3. Add the coconut flour, cinnamon, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and the salt. Combine the mixture.
  4. Pour into the baking tin and sprinkle the shredded coconut on top. Place in the oven for 50 minutes. Check the loaf is cooked by inserting a knife and it pulling out clean. Leave to cool in the tin then transfer to a wire rack.

Vegan Spelt Carrot Cake

The wonderful Olivia and Owain were our retreat chefs this season and did an amazing job of keeping our guests nourished with healthy but indulgent, seasonal and organic food. It would be hard to choose just one recipe as their leader but this vegan carrot cake was unbelievably delicious and suited those who had food allergies. It had a big thumbs up from everyone! We thought it quite autumnal by nature, grounding and also using the root vegetables that are available to us right now in the ground… give it a try – you won’t regret it!

Serves 12

3 batches flax egg (3 Tbsp flaxseeds soaked in 7 ½ Tbsp water for 5 mins)

80 ml neutral oil (coconut or sunflower)

50 ml honey

220 g mashed banana

110 g organic brown sugar* (or sub coconut sugar)

50 g cane sugar* (or sub coconut sugar)

3/4 tsp sea salt

1 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp ground cinnamon

200ml plain unsweetened almond milk (or other non-dairy unsweetened milk)

165 g grated carrot

170g ground almonds

150 g spelt flour

75 g chopped raw walnuts

1 Tblsp icing sugar

zest of an orange

TO MAKE

Preheat oven to 180C.

Butter and flour a 9” cake round tin with coconut oil or vegan cooking spray and line with

greaseproof paper.

Prepare flax eggs in a large mixing bowl. To flax eggs, add oil and honey and whisk to combine. Next,

add mashed bananas, sugars, salt, bicarb, baking powder, and cinnamon and whisk to combine.

Add almond milk and stir. Add grated carrot and stir. Then add almond flour and spelt flour, blend

and stir. The batter should be thick but pourable. Finally add the nuts.

Pour into cake tin and bake for 40-50 minutes or until deep golden brown and a toothpick inserted

into the center comes out clean. When you press on the top, it shouldn’t feel too spongy, so don’t

be afraid of over-baking!

Remove from oven and let rest in the pans for 15 minutes. Remove from the cake tin and gently

invert onto cooling racks to let cool completely.

Dust with icing sugar and orange zest once cool.

What is Kitchari

Kitchari is a traditional Ayurvedic dish that is known to assist in detoxing the body and balancing the three doshas. Kitchari provides many nutrients while cleansing the toxins out of the body. It’s a great way to cleanse the body and soul in a gentle way.

Kitchari is made with mung beans, basmati rice, seasonal vegetables, ghee and spices. The mung beans are known for their ability to remove toxins, specifically pesticides and insecticides, from the body. Mung beans are also a great source of protein and provide a source of good carbohydrates and fiber. It’s also a great dish for those having digestive problems and recovering from illness. There are many versions of Kitchari to aid various health complaints!

Ingredients:

½ cup Dry Green Mung Beans

½ cup of Dry Mung Dal (split yellow)

1 cup high quality Indian Basmati Rice (good Indian rice makes all the difference)

4-6 cups Water (more water will make it soupier)

6-7 cups assorted vegetables (e.g. yam, carrots, courgette etc.)

2-3 tablespoon Ghee (or clarified butter or coconut oil)

2 inch piece of Ginger (minced)

1 tbsp. Turmeric

1 tbsp. Cumin

1 tbsp. Black Mustard Seeds

1 tbsp. Fennel Seeds

1 tbsp. Mustard Seeds

½ tsp. Ground Coriander

½ tsp. Fresh Cracked Pepper

1 tbsp. Himalayan Pink Sea Salt

1 stick of Kombu (seaweed)

½ tsp. Cinnamon

Instructions

  • Prep ahead: soak the mung beans overnight (after washing them) for 4-8 hours (this helps with digestion)
  • In a large wok, melt the ghee until its liquid form
  • Add the seeds to the ghee and sauté until you hear the seeds pop
  • Quickly add the spices, ginger, rice and beans to the mix. Coat the rice and beans with the spices and seeds (important to do all these steps fairly quickly so you don’t burn the spices).
  • Slowly add in the water
  • Add the vegetables and lightly stir all the ingredients
  • Bring the water to a boil
  • Lower heat, cover and cook gently for another 45-60 minutes
  • Stir in the salt at the very end

Ayurvedic Viewpoints

  • Mung beans– beans are low in fat and high in fiber, they also provide significant amounts of protein, iron, B vitamins and other trace minerals. Split mung beans (aka yellow dal) are highly regarded in Ayurveda. They are lighter and easier to digest than most other beans and are widely used for healing especially in kitchari and dal. They tend to have a cooling effect on the body therefore they are good for Pitta types, and can also be good for Vata and Kapha when paired with warming spices such as ginger or mustard seeds (such as in this recipe).
  • Basmati Rice– it is the one grain which is tridoshic in effect; it can be eaten by all three constitutions with benefit. It is slightly cooling, sweet, light and moist. Because it is lighter than many other grains, it can be eaten by Kapha, in small quantities. Its coolness, sweetness and moisture are valuable for Pitta. And its sweet moist attributes balance Vata. It is east to digest
  • Ghee– highly valued in Ayurvedic healing as a rejuvenative and elixir. With milk, or alone, it is particularly restorative to Vata and Pitta. It is sweet, cool, light and oily. Kaphas can use it in small amounts to good benefit. It is easier to digest and aids absorption of other nutrients in a way that regular butter cannot.
  • Black Mustard Seeds– Pungent and mildly diuretic, making it quite useful for Kapha. Its warmth stimulates “agni” and overall digestion; it is beneficial in dispelling gas. Ayurveda values it for gout, arthritic and feverish conditions. It should be used in minimal amounts for Pitta, preferably balanced with cooling coriander (such as in this recipe).
  • Coriander– cooling, soothing, carminative and digestive.
  • Kombu-balances Vata and Pitta. Aggravates Kapha.

Raw Chocolate Truffles

So delicious and a great healthy substitute for an average chocolate bar full of refined sugars!

1½ cups of soaked walnuts (use alternatives if you like – sesame seeds, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds or anything similar you have in the store cupboard. Or, mix them up!

½ cup of soaked and softened dates

1 tsp cinnamon

The seeds of 1 vanilla bean (optional)

2tbsp raw cocoa powder

dry coconut for decoration

Directions

Process the nuts and seeds in a food processor until like a powder.

Add the remaining ingredients (not the coconut) and process again until everything is well mixed together and starts to clump. Have a taste and if it requires more sweetness add a little honey.

Roll small balls in your hands with the mixture and then roll them in the coconut to finish or cocoa powder or something else that takes your fancy!

Refrigerate.

Spring Recipes

Spring was a little slow getting going this year in SW France, a cool wind still threatening my seedlings! However a combination of some warm sunshine more recently and plenty of rain have now encouraged new shoots to show and we are picking young spinach leaves and peppery rocket already. Evenings still welcome warm drinks with both our bed and breakfast guests as well as our retreat guests loving the TWO recipes I’m sharing with you this month..

We love people to feel spoiled but always with a thought for our health. Early carrots and beetroots are delicious and earthy and full of the sweet taste that can replace the horrid refined sugars we crave in processed foods… so try this warm drink in the evening when you just need something a little sweet and, if you are having guests then treat them to these delicious black bean brownies – they won’t miss the sugar that is in conventional brownies, I promise!

Warming Carrot, Apple and Beetroot Juice

Not only is the colour awesome (and natural) the drink is amazingly nourishing for us. The highly concentrated natural sugars in fresh apple and carrot juice are so easily absorbed for instant energy! Not to mention vitamins B1, B2, B6. Beetroot (again satisfying that sweet craving) has been used as a detoxifier and blood purifier for centuries. It’s also full of iron and helps treat fatigue and anaemia. So lots of reasons to get the juicer out, dust it off make this delicious drink.

Juice 1 beetroot, 3 carrots and 2 apples, warm the juice slowly in the pan until just hot. Simply take a little time and sit and enjoy! I might add a little ginger.

Gooey Black Bean Brownies

2 tbsp chia seeds

400g can of black beans

200g ground almonds

200g (homemade preferably) apple purée

200ml unsweetened almond milk

2 tbsp coconut oil

2 tbsp honey (the more local the better at this time of year if you suffer with pollen related issues)

6 tbsp maple syrup

6 tbsp raw cocoa powder (mine is 100% raw)

a pinch of salt

Soak the chia seeds in 140ml of water for an hour.

Place all the ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth.

Simply line a square baking dish with baking paper and pour in your brownie mix. Bake at 180 degrees for about 40 mins. Leave them to cool in the tin before turning it out. Cut up as you wish!

Tip – overcooked brownies are dry! So cooking time is important as is leaving them in the tin to cool.

Sweet Potato Pancakes

Mothers Day definitely calls for breakfast in bed! How about trying your hand at making these sweet potato pancakes?!

Ingredients

2 large eggs

1/2 cup milk (dairy or nut milk- your choice!)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup + two heaping tbsp sweet potato flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Coconut oil for frying

Method

Preheat pan or griddle over medium-low heat. Beat eggs until frothy. Mix in milk and vanilla extract.

In a separate bowl, whisk together dry ingredients — sweet potato flour, salt, and baking soda. Stir wet mixture into dry until everything is incorporated, but do not overbeat.

Grease pan with coconut oil. Spoon a few tablespoons of batter into pan for each pancake. The pancakes should be small — 3-4 inches in diameter. Do not attempt to make them too big, or you’ll never get them flipped without falling apart.

Cook for a few minutes on each side, until the tops dry out slightly and the bottoms start to brown. Flip and cook an additional 2-3 minutes. Be very very careful while flipping these — they’re a lot more fragile than regular pancakes. If it seems like they’re coming apart, they’re not ready to flip yet. If they’re browning too fast, turn down the heat.

Slather them with salted pastured butter (or coconut oil, or ghee). Why not add a little maple syrup, nut butter, honey, or fruit. Makes enough for one hungry person. Double or triple as appropriate.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Truffles

This recipe is taken from Rachel Mansfield’s blog. They would make the perfect Valentine’s Day gift for your partner!

INGREDIENTS

¾ cup creamy peanut butter (or your preferred nut butter)

5 pitted dates

3 tablespoons water

2 tablespoons honey

½ cup coconut flour

1 cup (8 ounces) dark chocolate

Method

  • In a food processor, combine peanut butter, dates, water, honey and coconut flour
  • Blend until the ingredients are broken up and mix together
  • Line a baking tray or large plate with parchment paper
  • Using a spoon or your hands, scoop about 3 tablespoons of dough into your hand and roll into a ball then form into rectangle shapes
  • Once all the truffle bars are formed, melt dark chocolate chips so that they are completed melted (you may need to add coconut oil depending on what chocolate it is)
  • Using a fork, dip each truffle bar into the chocolate and let the excess chocolate drip off into the bowl
  • Place on tray and once truffle bars are covered, add to freezer for 1 hour to set
  • Keep in fridge in airtight container for a week or a couple months in freezer

Masala Recipe

Ingredients

1 medium onion roughly chopped

A thumb of ginger, finely chopped

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

3 tbsp sunflower oil or 1 tbsp ghee

1 tsp tomato purée

1 tsp each of coriander powder, turmeric, cumin, curry powder, salt

1 tin of coconut milk

500g frozen peas

Method

Melt the oil or ghee and then add the onion, ginger and garlic. Soften but don’t brown. Add the spices and mix well keeping them moving in the pan. Cook for another 2 mins.

Add the tomato purée and then the coconut milk and mix well. Add the frozen peas and cook the peas until hot and cooked right through.

Serve with basmati rice and/or homemade chapati.

Gingerbread cookies

Ingredients

1 egg plus 1 yolk

1/2 cup smooth peanut butter

2 Tbsp coconut oil softened

1/4 cup honey

1/4 cup coconut sugar

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

2/3 cup coconut flour

1 tsp baking soda

pinch sea salt

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp ground ginger

1/4 tsp allspice

Instructions

Preheat your oven to 180 C and line a large baking sheet with baking paper.

In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to combine the egg, egg yolk, peanut butter and coconut oil until smooth. Add the honey, coconut sugar, and vanilla and continue to mix until smooth.

In a separate bowl, combine the coconut flour, baking soda, salt and spices. Add the dry mixture to the wet ingredients until fully combined – the dough will be sticky. Chill dough in the freezer for 5-10 minutes until it thickens and can be easily scooped.

Use a rounded spoon scoop the dough in heaping tbsps onto the parchment paper, then gently flatten.

Bake in the preheated oven for 8-10 minutes until tops crack, don’t over bake – cookies will become firmer and chewier as they cool. Cool completely on wire racks and enjoy!

Chickpea Curry

The ingredients are fresh and typical of vegetarian African cuisine.

Serves 6

Ingredients

2 teaspoons melted coconut,

1 white or yellow onion, chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon minced ginger

1 teaspoon curry powder

1 teaspoon turmeric powder

½ teaspoon garam masala

¼ teaspoon cinnamon

¾ teaspoon salt (or to taste)

Black pepper to taste

1½ lbs peeled and cubed butternut squash or pumpkin

2½ cups water with vegetable stock

2 cups chickpeas (or 2 cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed)

1-2 cups frozen peas

3-4 cups cooked brown rice, for serving (optional)

Instructions

  • Heat the oil in a large pot. Add the onions and a pinch of salt. Cook the onions for 7 minutes, or until they’re very tender and browning lightly. Add a few tablespoons of water as needed to prevent sticking. Add the garlic and ginger. Cook for 2 minutes, or until the garlic is very fragrant. Add the curry, turmeric, garam masala, cinnamon, salt, and black pepper. Give everything a good stir.
  • Add the squash and 2 cups of the vegetable stock. Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 15 minutes, or until the squash is tender. Turn off the heat.
  • Stir in the chickpeas and an additional ½ cup stock (or enough to create a thick but easy-to-stir stew). Bring the curry to a gentle simmer again. If you’re adding peas, stir them in now and allow them to wilt completely. Check seasonings and adjust to taste. Serve with cooked rice.

Chocolate Beetroot Cake

Beetroots are a fantastic source of vitamins and minerals containing potassium, magnesium, iron, vitamins A, B6 and C, folic acid, protein, antioxidants and soluble fibre. Here is one simple (and delicious!) way to sneak it into your diet.

Ingredients

300g cooked beetroot, peeled and pureed

4 eggs

4 tablespoons of honey

1 teaspoon of vanilla

1 tablespoon of cacao powder

1 teaspoon of baking powder

Pinch of salt

125g ground almonds

125g dark chocolate (70%-85% cocoa)

4 tablespoons of olive oil

Method

  • Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C
  • Line a 22cm cake tin
  • In a mixing bowl, beat the beetroot, eggs, honey, vanilla, cacao, baking powder and salt with an electric hand mixer
  • When combined, fold in the almonds
  • Melt the chocolate in a bain-marie and then stir in the olive oil
  • Gently stir in the chocolate into the beetroot mixture until combined
  • Scrap mixture into the tin and bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean
  • Let cool on a wire rack
  • Dust with cacao and serve with crème frais

Refreshingly Cool

August is always hot and we often feel the need to cool down with a refreshing and indulgent ice-cream treat. As you all know Praana Wellness is all about balance and mindfulness and being aware of sugar laden goods especially hidden sugars. So we have searched the web and found this lovely collection of easy homemade ice treats, making your summer refreshingly balanced.

Whether you’re 8 or 80, you’re always the perfect age to enjoy a lovely ice lolly. Keep them healthy by making your own. There are lots of possibilities: pack them full of your favourite fruits, or make them creamier.

Peach & Almond Ice Cream

Serves: 2

Preparation Time: 3 minutes

Cooking Time: 5 Minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of frozen peaches
  • 1/2 cup of almond butter

Optional:

  • 1 tablespoon of honey
  • 1 pinch of cinnamon

Instructions:

  1. Slice peaches and freeze overnight.
  2. Blend frozen peaches with nut butter in a high-speed blender or food processor.
  3. Blend until creamy. It will take a few minutes and you may need to stop and keep pushing the batter around and down with a spatula.
  4. Add in honey or cinnamon if desired and continue blending.
  5. Scoop and eat!

Sugar Scrub

Becoming sugar aware has many benefits for our health and wellness. Our Facebook group has been evolving through the months and we are now on our fourth month of being sugar aware or sugar free. Our group has demonstrated our determination and commitment to a healthier lifestyle, however ditching sugar from our daily diets may have left us with a stock pile of this addictive sweet stuff in our cupboards and pantries.

Frances who has recently taken over the running of the group came up with this brilliant wellness solution. If we have stopped consuming it, then let us use it to nourish our bodies in a different way. Frances decided to make a very simple sugar scrub, which leaves your skin silky smooth and primed to absorb moisture, which is just what the Doctor ordered after the winter months. If you make a larger batch, you can make pretty labels for small jars and give them as gifts – the perfect sweet alternative gift for friends and family at Easter.

Ingredients

Half a cup of sugar
Quarter cup of coconut oil
10-15 drops of Eucalyptus oil (optional)

Method

Mix all of the ingredients together.
If you are using course sugar, the scrub will have a harder texture alternatively you can give it a blast in the food processor for a softer scrub.
Place the ingredients in a small sterilized jars.

Chocolate Dessert

Ok so this may not be to everyone’s taste or fits to everyone’s plan but it’s a little something I make to satisfy pudding desires!

You just need some natural yoghurt, Greek style works best because it is creamier, then add a teaspoon or two of cocoa powder to suit your taste and mix, I love dark chocolate so make it pretty strong.

If you are including them – half a mashed banana will add sweetness or add a little squeeze of rice malt syrup if you need it.

A sprinkle of ground cinnamon,ginger or mixed spice are good too and also a sprinkle of chopped nuts and it is like indulging in a Nutella pudding!

Vegan Loaf Recipe

Gluten free, lactose free, vegan. High in fibre, protein and healthy fats! It will store well for 5-7 days, or freeze it pre sliced.

Ingredients

2 cups Filtered water
1 cup Raw sunflower seeds; ground
1 cup Raw almonds; ground
1 tsp Caraway seeds; ground
½ cup Flax/linseeds; ground
2 tbsp Chia seeds; ground
3 tbsp Organic coconut oil; melted
1 ½ tbsp Maple syrup
1 cup Rolled oats; gluten free
½ cup Raw pumpkin seeds
¼ cup Coconut flour
3 tbsp Psyllium husk powder
1 ½ tbsp Sesame seeds
1 tsp Sea salt
Pinch Freshly ground black pepper
Pinch Dried tarragon

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 170 Degrees Celsius.
  2. Measure out all the nuts and seeds and grind them in a food processor or similar (sunflower, almonds, caraway, flax/linseeds, chia)
  3. In a medium sized mixing bowl whisk together melted coconut oil, maple syrup and water until combined.
  4. In a large sized mixing bowl combine ground nuts and seeds with all of the other dry ingredients (oats, pumpkin seeds, coconut flour, psyllium husk, sesame seeds, salt, pepper, tarragon)
  5. Pour the wet mixture from the small mixing bowl into the large one and stir well until the wet mixture is well absorbed and the consistency is dough like (if the dough is too dry add more water a little at a time).
  6. Line a bread pan (9x5) and pour mixture into pan. Evenly spread mixture and press down so firm on top.
  7. Leave to set at room temperature for 2 hours (or more) so the seed mixture can absorb the liquid and soften (kinder on your digestive system and will hold its shape better)
  8. Bake for 50 – 60 minutes. Lift it out of the pan, turn it upside down on the baking rack without all the paper and continue in the oven for further 20 – 30 minutes.
  9. Let it cool at room temperature before slicing.

Kitchari

Kitchari is a traditional Ayurvedic dish that is known to assist in detoxing the body and balancing the three doshas. Kitchari provides many nutrients while cleansing the toxins out of the body. It’s a great way to cleanse the body and soul in a gentle way.

Kitchari is made with mung beans, basmati rice, seasonal vegetables, ghee and spices. The mung beans are known for their ability to remove toxins, specifically pesticides and insecticides, from the body. Mung beans are also a great source of protein and provide a source of good carbohydrates and fiber. It’s also a great dish for those having digestive problems and recovering from illness. There are many versions of Kitchari to aid various health complaints!

Ingredients:

½ cup Dry Green Mung Beans

½ cup of Dry Mung Dal (split yellow)

1 cup high quality Indian Basmati Rice (good Indian rice makes all the difference)

4-6 cups Water (more water will make it soupier)

6-7 cups assorted vegetables (e.g. yam, carrots, courgette etc.)

2-3 tablespoon Ghee (or clarified butter or coconut oil)

2 inch piece of Ginger (minced)

1 tbsp. Turmeric

1 tbsp. Cumin

1 tbsp. Black Mustard Seeds

1 tbsp. Fennel Seeds

1 tbsp. Mustard Seeds

½ tsp. Ground Coriander

½ tsp. Fresh Cracked Pepper

1 tbsp. Himalayan Pink Sea Salt

1 stick of Kombu (seaweed)

½ tsp. Cinnamon

Instructions

  • Prep ahead: soak the mung beans overnight (after washing them) for 4-8 hours (this helps with digestion)
  • In a large wok, melt the ghee until its liquid form
  • Add the seeds to the ghee and sauté until you hear the seeds pop
  • Quickly add the spices, ginger, rice and beans to the mix. Coat the rice and beans with the spices and seeds (important to do all these steps fairly quickly so you don’t burn the spices).
  • Slowly add in the water
  • Add the vegetables and lightly stir all the ingredients
  • Bring the water to a boil
  • Lower heat, cover and cook gently for another 45-60 minutes
  • Stir in the salt at the very end

Ayurvedic Viewpoints

  • Mung beans– beans are low in fat and high in fiber, they also provide significant amounts of protein, iron, B vitamins and other trace minerals. Split mung beans (aka yellow dal) are highly regarded in Ayurveda. They are lighter and easier to digest than most other beans and are widely used for healing especially in kitchari and dal. They tend to have a cooling effect on the body therefore they are good for Pitta types, and can also be good for Vata and Kapha when paired with warming spices such as ginger or mustard seeds (such as in this recipe).
  • Basmati Rice– it is the one grain which is tridoshic in effect; it can be eaten by all three constitutions with benefit. It is slightly cooling, sweet, light and moist. Because it is lighter than many other grains, it can be eaten by Kapha, in small quantities. Its coolness, sweetness and moisture are valuable for Pitta. And its sweet moist attributes balance Vata. It is east to digest
  • Ghee– highly valued in Ayurvedic healing as a rejuvenative and elixir. With milk, or alone, it is particularly restorative to Vata and Pitta. It is sweet, cool, light and oily. Kaphas can use it in small amounts to good benefit. It is easier to digest and aids absorption of other nutrients in a way that regular butter cannot.
  • Black Mustard Seeds– Pungent and mildly diuretic, making it quite useful for Kapha. Its warmth stimulates “agni” and overall digestion; it is beneficial in dispelling gas. Ayurveda values it for gout, arthritic and feverish conditions. It should be used in minimal amounts for Pitta, preferably balanced with cooling coriander (such as in this recipe).
  • Coriander– cooling, soothing, carminative and digestive.
  • Kombu-balances Vata and Pitta. Aggravates Kapha.

Grown Up Porridge

So I get asked about brekkie and what I have all the time! When I say.. Usually a variation on porridge people curl their nose! It’s not the same as when we were babes! Although nothing wrong with a good scots porridge with cream and salt every now and then! I need energy and lots of it so here’s this mornings yummy porridge. Gluten free oats, almond milk cooked with a few raspberries and blackberries (the last bag of last years offerings!). Then you add the goodies.. A tsp almond butter, small piece of banana, chia and flaxseed and a few blueberries. That’s it til evening meal now! How do you have yours.

Golden Turmeric Milk

Its an acquired taste (add more honey to begin then reduce) but its benefits far outweigh the slightly unusual taste..and if you are in pain or your body is inflamed in any way, then try it for a month and see if it makes a difference, good for all ages.

Makes 2 cups and drink it an hour before bed.

2 cups of milk – your choice, I use almond (unsweetened – all natural and organic), 1 tsp organic turmeric powder (in absence of turmeric root although, I add this as well if I have it – the colour is amazing!), a pinch of ground black pepper (see next post for why!).

Simmer it for 5 mins really gently and then pour into cups. Let it cool slightly (ayurveda doesn’t want you to have anything too hot or cold) and add raw organic honey to your taste.

Enjoy!Better sleep and less pain, as well as a myriad of other health benefits.

Defining Stress

A client asked me today ‘When did we allow stress into our lives?” We spent a short time surmising as to why this may be. We acknowledged that at 29 we didn’t even use the word, we worked and played as hard, we had nights of worry, the adrenaline flowed as we approached deadlines and big events but we took it in our stride. We didn’t label ourselves with the burden of stress, not to my knowledge. Fast forward 25 years and I am dealing with a growing number of adolescents and young adults in their twenties with an overwhelming feeling of stress to the point of not coping, having time off work, co-morbid symptoms arising such as anxiety, depression and addiction. 90% of my clients are dealing with ‘stress’ in one form or another (even if they don’t address it as such) and, what is concerning is that so many of these people keep adding to the stress factor. It’s as though they don’t know how to get off that wheel.

The apocalyptic novels of J.G. Ballard (1930-2009) imagine the potential impact of progressively advanced modern societies on human behaviour. As a Psychologist and currently writing a paper on how to reduce stress and increase well-being through the practise of Yoga I become increasingly more curious about why people don’t identify with their own power of self-control that is available to them when it comes to managing their own ‘stress’ levels. In a world that on one hand gives us so much and on the other hand seems to strip us of values and the ability to balance our lives we need to address this almost daily discussion before we have a mental health epidemic that spirals out of control.

So what is the solution? I remember many years ago my brother telling me he never uses the word stress (he had plenty reason to be stressed at the time as a Head Master of a challenging school in the UK). Is it that what we tell ourselves, what we discuss daily we begin to believe? We have alarmingly rising rates of anxiety in children under 10! Why? What are they reading and hearing that we weren’t a generation ago?

It is very true, we have it within us to change our cognitive thoughts IF WE WANT TO! Neuropsychologist, Rick Hanson, explains that our brains are like velcro for negative experiences and teflon for positive experiences. I love this analogy. It is a fact, he explains, that positive emotions don’t transfer so easily to long-term memory the way bad emotions do. That sucks, right? We have to work harder at positivity. However, if we know that, accept that this is the case (I’m sure if you do a quick test you will list 10 negative experiences in your life much faster than positive ones!) then surely we have the power within each and every one of us to change it. So when I read this simple easy mantra at the beginning of this blog, this morning, as part of an essay by Kurt Vonnegrut, I thought that’s my mantra for February. If we don’t intentionally acknowledge even the smallest positive experiences we have throughout our day, feelings of gratitude, feelings of confidence, feelings of love or feelings of success (writing this newsletter is one for me!) then it isn’t ‘encoded’ into our brains neural structure and the negative memories take over!

Join me this month and make February as positive as you can, taking time to celebrate EVERY positive experience with the mantra “If this isn’t nice I don’t know what is!” If you’d like group support please come join us at our private group on Facebook, Your Health & Well-being @Praana Wellness. We have created a space of non-judgment, motivation and a wealth of information through our members. There are yoga videos for all levels and we challenge the headlines that we are bombarded with in the media with real research! www.facebook.com/groups/553993361462020/?ref=bookmarks

If you are looking for private support then I have monthly counselling/coaching packages where we can work out, together, what changes you need personally. For more details of my experience you can take a look at our website www.praanawellness.com/wellnessor email me amanda@praanawellness.com

Residential Retreats

Amanda began running private residential retreats for clients dealing with psychological issues such as eating disorders, couples counselling and addiction. Amanda uses a combination of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Yoga Therapy to help people move through times of crisis. The work can begin with a detailed personal programme designed for the time the client has to spend at Praana Wellness and continue via the Internet once people leave. People are also becoming more inquisitive about Ayurveda too and the benefits that can bring to improving health and well-being and so Amanda offers private one-to-one sessions in person or on skype helping people to take control of their own physical, mental and emotional well-being. There will be much more of the same in our 2019 season as well as a detoxification weekend in April as we transition from winter to spring – a time of renewal and transformation.

Plans for 2019

Well, our biggest news for the 2019 season is that the main house, Chez Vallée (sleeping up to 15 people) will be available to rent on a weekly self-catering basis.

There will be a couple of weeks a month available during our season, from May to October.

These weeks will be available for both family holidays and visiting retreat leaders.The rental fee includes exclusive use of the main house including all towels and linen as well as a fully equipped kitchen.

There are 3 double/twin en-suites overlooking the Cognac vines on the first floor, a king size room and triple room sharing a shower room with a breath-taking view of the Charente from the second floor and a dormitory with 4 beds and a shower room in the old Chai.

There is a Grange for your dining use, a barbeque, a fire pit and 13m swimming pool. Amanda is happy to offer private run yoga classes in our fully equipped yoga studio for you and your guests and there is also a fully equipped massage and treatment studio where our masseuse can be available to treat you and your guests. We can also arrange private catering if you have a special occasion you would like us to take care of for you.

Private distillery and/or wine tours can be arranged locally and there is a selection of local night markets and fetes through the summer months.We already have 3 weeks booked in 2019 so don’t delay if you would like to come and spend a week in your very own petit chateau in the Charente!

Radio Calm

I was very honoured to be interviewed for a slot on Radio Calm last week.The interview is being aired on Monday 7th September 2018 at 4pm (French time). The radio station is a wonderful way of tuning into music that will encourage peace and happiness in your times of relaxation tune in to learn how Praana Wellness came into being Radio Calm.

Mother’s Day Special

If you would like to treat your mum, aunt, sister or whoever has been the guiding light in your life then during the month of March we are offering a Mothers Day package here at Praana Wellness designed to indulge the person who loves and cares for you and your family selflessly. Treat this person to a stay for one night in our deluxe room (with roll top bath) overlooking the Cognac vines, enjoy a private yoga class for your needs, lunch and dinner to nourish both body and soul. With a bottle of champagne and homemade chocolate truffles to welcome her she will recharge and reset in a short space of time. Cost is 200 euros.

Gourmet lunch

3-course dinner

Champagne and raw chocolate truffles

Private yoga session

Deluxe room overlooking the vines

Valid for the month of March

Essential Oils Package

Why not treat your Mum to some beautiful essential oils for Mothers Day? This Citrus Trio set by doTERRA is the perfect way to show your Mum just how much you appreciate her.

The set features three 5mL citrus essential oils in a gift box:

Kumquat (helps to uplift mood, invigorate the mind, and help provide a new perspective when tackling daily challenges.)

Red Mandarin (helps by uplifting mood whilst easing tension and can be combined with your favourite cleanser or toner to improve the appearance of oily skin.)

Sunny Citrus Blend (Blend of Grapefruit, Wild Orange, and Peppermint) (creates a positive mood throughout the home by reducing stress whilst also freshening the air.)

These uplifting oils will promote feelings of energy and renewal and with springtime just around the corner, their crisp aromas couldn’t be more fitting!

Dr. Robin’s Visit

Much like yoga, the use of essential oils aims to support the well-being of the body, mind, and spirit. Research has shown that essential oils not only provide emotional benefits but physical benefits as well. There are several studies that speak to the abilities of essential oils to help reduce anxious feelings and provide an overall sense of well-being. Other research studies have shown that they can help maintain concentration. Whether you are brand-new to yoga, or a seasoned yogi, anyone can benefit from using essential oils to enhance your practice.

My friend Dr Robin Fawcett is an NHS GP and she has a specific interest in the use of essential oils to enhance healthy lifestyles and manage common ailments. Robin will be joining us at Praana Wellness Saturday 24th March to discuss essential oils. There will be 2 different talks:

3.00pm - The morning talk will be aimed at yoga teachers and how they can use essential oils during their practice and during their classes.

4.00pm - The afternoon talk will discuss the general day-to-day use of essential oils and how they can benefit the whole family.