Friday, 22 May 2015

THE SIMPLE ART OF MINDFULNESS


To me mindfulness is simply kindness and awareness, being aware of the present moment, but also being very kind to yourself, accepting how you are feeling without telling yourself you shouldn't feel that way. 


If we act with kindness towards ourselves this is a very positive step forward. Mindfulness is also a way of being and behaving in our daily lives. 


We don't have to set aside time to sit quietly on the highest mountain in lotus position and burn incense to pratice mindfulness - although sometimes it's wonderful to try that too! We can pratice mindfulness anytime, anywhere. From staying calm when we're stuck in a traffic jam; to having a heart-to-heart conversation with a friend; to making scrambled eggs; to taking an exam, enjoying a view, walking down the street, cleaning our teeth.




While this kind of practice is not suitable for people with serious mental health problems, it does have huge benefits 
for those with stress, anxiety, pain or depression. 

The idea of mindfulness is that we use our awareness and kindness that we learn to practice in meditation and take that 
with us through the day, generating positivity and gratitude. If we are kind and gentle with ourselves then we can only gain benefits.

Many people avoid any type of ‘mindfulness training’ because they think that it’s complex, new-agey or are afraid that they ‘aren’t doing it right.’ 




Albert Einstein believed, “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler.” I know that my description of mindfulness is basic but I simplify it to 
encourage more people to get into the habit of practicing 
mindfulness regularly throughout the day and reap the 
benefits.

Being fully present in the moment creates mindfulness no matter what you are doing. Mindfulness is about being aware of your surroundings, connecting, and then guiding your 
thoughts in a positive and constructive direction. With practice you'll get better at guiding your thoughts to fine tune a state-of-mind that best fits whatever circumstance you find  yourself in. 

Elisa Williams teaches yoga in West London and runs numerous overseas holidays and retreats www.elisawilliamsyoga.com


Friday, 8 May 2015

CHARGRILLED BROCCOLI, CHILLI & GARLIC


Taken from Ottolenghi's cookbook this recipe brings broccoli into the super league and it's always a big hit on my One Day Yoga Retreats and Country Rambles. For those of you who have been asking here's my adaptation of the recipe.


My next retreat is now booking for September 12th. See www.elisawilliamsyoga.com



Ingredients


2 heads of broccoli (about 500g)
115ml olive oil
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 mild red chillies, thinly sliced
coarse sea salt and black pepper
toasted flaked almonds or very thin slices of lemon (with skin), to garnish (optional)


Method


Cut broccoli into florets and blanch in salt water. Drain and immerse immediately in ice cold water to maintain its colour.


Fry sliced garlic and mild red chillies in olive oil for added flavour optionally add two chopped anchovies. Preheat griddle and brush with oil before chargrilling florets in batches.

Toss with garlic and chilli oil season with black pepper and garnish with toasted flaked almonds and wedges of lemon


Sunday, 3 May 2015

HONEY ROASTED SQUASH, BEETROOT, FETA SALAD

My One Day Yoga retreats are a great opportunity to serve some of my favourite recipes. This honey roasted squash and beetroot salad sprinkled with feta, herbs and seeds is always a big hit with all of my yogi guests. Best of all the recipe is very easy!




Ingredients

2 butternut squash
1 bunch of beetroots (4 or 5)
1 large red onion
3 tbsp. runny honey
a bunch of fresh rosemary
2 garlic cloves (crushed)
150 g (1 cup) pine nuts or pumpkin seed
300 g (2 cups) crumbled feta
300 g chopped parsley
3 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. red chilli flakes (optional)
for the dressing
olive oil
white wine vinegar
1 tsp. dijon mustard
1 tbsp. honey 
salt and pepper, to taste

Method

Preheat the oven to 200°c. Distribute the crushed garlic and 
sliced red onions across roasts tray. Chop the butternut squash into cubes or slices of roughly equal size. You can choose to  leave the skin on for a little crispiness . Remove seed and core of the fruit and slice into wedges of equal thickness before dividing into cubes. Drizzle with olive oil and set aside.

Remove the beetroots from their stalks and rinse. Once dried, cut them into cubes of a similar dimension to the squash. Add to the butternut squash, drizzle over with more olive oil and runny honey before  seasoning with a generous quantity of black pepper, two large pinches of salt and the 
roughly torn rosemary leaves. Toss the vegetables, using 
your hands to ensure that they are coated evenly. Roast for 40-50 minutes, or until crisp on the outside. 

In a dry shallow frying pan fry the pine nuts or pumpkin seeds (less expensive )  for about 30 seconds on each side over 
low heat. When they start to slightly  remove. Toss with the, chopped parsley, crumbled feta and remaining dry herbs/spices. 

Combine the roasted vegetables with the dry ingredients in a large salad bowl and toss using your hands. Pour over the dressing and toss. This can be done up to an hour before serving as the flavour is strongest when the vegetables have had a chance to soak up some of the liquid and the salad is at room temperature. Delicious! 
My next One Day Rural Retreat in The Chilterns, South Bucks is on September 12th.You're very welcome!


Thursday, 30 April 2015

DESTRESS, DECLUTTER THIS SPRING

This Spring why not purge your inner horder and make a positive effort to lift your mood and declutter your home!

It turns out that clutter has a profound affect on our mood and self-esteem. Anthropologists, social scientists, and archaeologists found a link between high cortisol (stress hormone) levels in female home owners and a high density of household objects. 

The more stuff, the more stress women feel. Men, on theother hand, don’t seem bothered by mess, which accounts for tensions between tidy wives and their messy husbands.

Many women associate a tidy home with a happy and successful family. The more dishes that pile up in the sink, the more anxious women feel.

Even families that want to reduce clutter often are emotionally paralysed when it comes to sorting and throwing out belongings.They either can’t break sentimental attachments to objects or believe their things have hidden monetary value.


Here are some top tips


 1. 
Every time you get up from your desk or walk through a room, put away five things. Or, each hour, devote five minutes to de-cluttering. At the end of the day, you’ve cleaned for an hour.


2. Clear and clean your kitchen sink and drainer every day. It only takes a couple of seconds more to place a dish in the dishwasher than dump it in the sink. A clean sink will instantly raise your spirits and decrease your anxiety.


3. Return to the days of our grandparents when only photos of ancestors or weddings earned a place on the mantelpiece. Put photos in an album, which will immediately de-clutter many flat surfaces.

4. Create new storage space in out-of-the-way places, like under the stairs.

5. Fill a box with items you don’t wear, love or use. Seal the box and place it in a cupboard. If you haven’t opened the box in a year, donate it (unopened!) to charity.


Sunday, 26 April 2015

WINTER SUN YOGA IN KERALA 2016


 Really excited to be taking bookings for my winter 2016 Yoga trip to Kerala in Southern India  - if you would like to join me see http://www.elisawilliamsyoga.com/page15.htm for details!

WAKE UP BEACH YOGA





Booking now my 2016 Barefoot Beachfront Yoga trip to Kerala 

For all the details and photographs see http://www.elisawilliamsyoga.com/page15.htm
Yes the beach really is this beautiful!

Saturday, 18 April 2015

SPRING QUINOA SALAD WITH ASPARAGUS


Spring is in the air with this Spring Vegetable Quinoa Salad with Lemon Basil Dressing! This is just one of the recipes we will be serving on my Spring Yoga Retreat & Country Ramble in the beautiful Chiltern Hills of South Buckinghamshire this April.
For information about Elisa's yoga classes in West London, overseas yoga holidays and one day yoga retreats please visit www.elisawilliamsyoga.com


Ingredients
  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 bunch asparagus, trimmed
  • 2 tbsp olive oil+1/4 cup olive oil, divided (or oil from sun-dried tomato jar)
  • 1 bunch kale, chopped and steamed
  • 2 cups cooked chickpeas
  • ½ cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
  • ⅓ cup stoned black olives, halved
  • salt and black pepper, to taste
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • ¼ cup sliced basil
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 2 tsp honey
Instructions
  1. Rinse the quinoa well and then put it in a medium saucepan with the water, and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil and then lower to a simmer, cooking for about 15 minutes or until quinoa is cooked and water has evaporated. Let sit, covered, for 5 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 250c
  3. Arrange asparagus on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Brush with the 2 tbsp olive oil. Sprinkle with salt. Roast for 15 minutes. Cool and then cut into 1-inch slices.
  4. In a large bowl, toss the quinoa, asparagus, kale, chickpeas, sun-dried tomatoes, and olives. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.
  5. For the dressing, in the food processor or with a blending wand, combine the remaining oil, lemon juice, basil, garlic, and honey. Pulse until pureed. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Toss with the salad and serve at room temperature or slightly warm.