January 2019

Yoga stretches your muscles yes! Many people practice yoga for the physical benefits but most stay for the emotional and mental benefits it brings. At least that’s what got me hooked! Yoga helps to build strength and flexibility in both your body and you mind. It encourages relaxation which helps calm the mind and balance emotions but also reduces the effects of hormones like cortisol in your body. Below is a list of some of the many benefits of yoga! This list is my no means exhaustive but it will give you an idea of why I love yoga so much, why I left my corporate career to share these wonderful teachings with as many people as possible and why you can start benefitting from yoga right now. 1. Improve flexibility and mobility 2. Increase strength 3. Improve 4. Reduce stress 5. Clear the mind chatter 6. Aid sleep 7. Protect joints and cartilage 8. Strengthen your spine 9. Increase lung capacity and help you to breath better 10. Support the connective tissue 11. Improve posture 12. Cultivate presence 13. Build community of like minded people 14. Encourage self care 15. Ignite your body’s innate healing abilities 1 6. Increase self esteem 17. Boosts your immune system 18. Regulates digestive system helping conditions like IBS. 1 9. Learn to look within and discover your dharma, you mission 20. Begin to live your very best life!   What are you waiting for?   Join us for tranformations yoga magic this week!   Yoga is the journey of the self, through the self, to the self. –The Bhagavad Gita

Hatha Yoga seems to be a rather confusing term for many poeple. What does it really mean? I had a poster up last year for my hatha yoga classes and had many people ask me, “but what kind of yoga is hatha yoga?” I studied traditional hatha yoga in India and was taught that hatha is an overarching term used for any yoga that includes physical postures, or asanas. So really anyone who does any kind of yoga class nowadays is generally practicing hatha yoga. Ashtanga, vinyasa, bikram, yin, Iyengar, kundalini; these are all different styles of hatha yoga! Even Wizard yoga is hatha yoga ;) But what does hatha yoga really mean? Ha-tha can translate to sun and moon, while yoga translates to union in many cases. But the Sanskrit language is a complex one! I recently read a wonderful book called Original Yoga by Richard Rosen which goes into depth about the many translations of hatha yoga.  Richard begins with a translation of the word yoga. He finds “union” to be an unsatisfactory translation and says that in order to get the whole history “we have to go back a few thousand years when, once upon a time, in a galaxy halfway around the world, the Sanskrit word yoga referred in general to the yoking of animals to a cart, particularly warhorses to a chariot.” In Sanskrit dictionaries the following definition can be found. Yoga: 1. The act of yoking, joining, attaching, harnessing, putting to (of horses) 2. A means, expedient, device, way, manner, method. As for the definition of hatha we find something even more bizarre in my opinion.  Hatha: Violence, force; obstinacy, pertinacity; absolute or inevitable necessity (as the cause of all existence and activity.) Rather different than the flowery “union of sun and moon” that I initially learned was the meaning of hatha yoga! But “the force” I can work with! (Star Wars Yoga anyone?) I don’t know about you but I love learning the intricacies of words and their etymologies. I actually studied languages for my undergraduate degree and after all I am a big nerd so I lap this stuff up!  If I didn’t like Rosen enough already he goes on to answer my thoughts about the “force”, as if by magic. “The force here isn’t what Luke Skywalker put to good use in Star Wars; it is the mysterious kundalini or as in the title of the classic study by John Woodroffe, the “serpent power”.

oga has been a wonderful creative outlet for me over the last few years. Being able to merge some my favourite books and TV shows with yoga to bring fun nerdy classes to a wider audience of people who wouldn’t normally do yoga has been so much fun! Whether it’s the extremely popular Wizard Yoga, or Game of Thrones themed mayhem, mermaid yoga or vampire yoga, Jedi Mindfulness class and more, I love bringing my favourite fantasies onto the mat! Here are a few fun poses to get you into a magical and nerdy yoga mood! Broom pose  Why do chair pose when you could be a witch flying on a broom? Reach the arms forward to fly faster, reach them up to fly even higher in the sky and change directions by adding a twist and bringing your arms to either side as you rocket through the sky on your broom pose!  Dragon pose Embrace your inner Targaryen or imagine you are Smaug himself talking in riddles with a Hobbit by getting into this wonderful yin yoga posture! And if you’re really hardcore you can hold it for five to ten minutes on each side like we do in Yin Class! Just long enough for Bilbo to figure out your riddle! Warrior Pose or Duelling Wizard Pose Get out your magic wands and hold them in hand as you go through a warrior sequence! Each pose allows you the time to cast a different spell as you duel with your fellow wizard yogis! Can I get an Expelliarmus everyone?! Mermaid pose This pose becomes even more magical when it’s done wearing mermaid leggings! However it can be a tricky one to do so make sure you are with a qualified teacher who can show you how to best protect your knees in this pose, because remember mermaids don’t actually have knees so we need to adjust! Savasana - Corpse Pose Everyone’s favourite yoga pose! Perfect for vampire yogis and of course it wouldn’t be a Game of Thrones class without dead body pose! Lie back relax and allow the relaxation to take over! Wizard Meditation Be sure to include with the Wizard standing meditation which involves standing still with the eyes closed, placing your wizard staff firmly on the ground in front of you as you get ready to face all those negative thoughts, any of that self doubt or anxiety that may be popping up. Then tell them calmly, and

Yoga is wonderful for stretching the body and calming the mind but did you know that a regular yoga practice for you personally or for your employees can significantly improve productivity! Here are some of the ways it helps! Relieve stress Stress is huge reason behind lack of productivity. It freezes us and stops us getting to tasks that feel too overwhelming. Stress is pandemic nowadays and I’ve found a regular yoga practice to be the number one way to reduce stress and overwhelm in my daily life.  Stress contributes to reduced productivity as well as absenteeism, employee turnover, accidents and medical fees leading to huge losses for company’s as well as to the obvious stress of individuals as well.  Increase energy One of the most obvious ways to increase productivity is just to increase the energy we have for our daily tasks and work! Many people rely on coffee for this but it’s not sustainable and often causes us to crash later. Some simple yoga poses, even just standing up from our desks and walking around can improve circulation and boost energy. A desk yoga workshop (maybe put a link here to the corporate yoga page) can be an excellent way for your whole office to learn some basic yoga poses that can be done at the desk so no one person feels weird doing it! Adding a bit of movement at intervals into a long day sitting at a desk helps to avoid fatigue and helps you get more done with the time you have!  Improve concentration and focus It is very easy for us to get distracted, especially nowadays when the internet and social media has trained us to always be looking for the next thing to grab our attention. This can really hinder us when we need to put some dedicated time into a given project. Yoga is full of breathing and meditation practices that help us to rebuild our concentration and focus, helping us to silence the noise, meet those deadlines and get sh*t done! “Done is better than perfect” Whether you’re self employed or want to excel in your career, it is likely that procrastination is getting in your way in some shape or form! I know for me, working for myself has come with many challenges but the biggest among them has had to have been procrastination. Procrastination comes in many shapes and forms but for me it usually stems from perfectionism. Nothing was ever good

I’ve never felt so instantly at home! (Except at my actual home obviously… Hi Mum, I love you!) In the last 15 years I’ve traveled a lot. I’ve been to more than 40 countries. I’ve travelled alone, with my best friends, with brand new friends. I’ve lived in different houses, with different people all over the world. Pretty much everywhere I’ve been has been amazing in its own way but this place is different. It’s special! . Last month I packed up my life, quit my job and moved across the Atlantic to be a full time hippy herbalist, taking part in Herb Pharm’s summer herbaculture internship programme in southern Oregon. It was a big risk, quitting everything and completely changing my lifestyle, but it was worth it! This is my dream life, I’m basically a full time fairy! . I am living in a big farm house with nine incredible women. During my first few days here I thought, “I’ve only known these women a few days yet it feels like I’ve known them forever!” It’s hard to explain but we all feel it. Our reasoning for this instant mutual connection: we think we may have been a coven of witches in a previous life! Perhaps we were burnt at the stake together and vowed to reconnect in another lifetime? Maybe we were sisters and learned this witchcraft from our mother? Who knows? But we all feel the intense connection and it’s spooky. In the best way! . The night I arrived we cooked dinner and sat around our kitchen table together. We were treading the waters delicately at first, for like ten minutes I’d say, until it all came out: our excitement about plants, our desire to celebrate the upcoming solstice, four of us are yoga teachers, we love the same food, get excited about the perfect avocado and the benefits of apple cider vinegar, and that’s just the superficial stuff! When we got into deeper conversations we realised we were totally aligned! We were all literally covered in goosebumps because we were so in tune and it was only day one! . Don’t get me wrong, we’re all also very different! There are people here who have never read Harry Potter and don’t watch Game of Thrones! Yet Melissa wants to have a Harry Potter movie marathon while we’re here and Kim and I  got so unbelievably excited watching the season finale of Game of Thrones

I was one of the extremely privileged Potterheads who got the chance to see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child during its very first nights in previews this week. It was everything I could have wanted and more! I laughed and I cried, I gasped and applauded along with the audience of fortunate fans (an audience we shared with our queen JK Rowling herself!!) and I jumped to my feet in the loudest, most immediate, theatre-wide standing ovation I have ever experienced! It was without a doubt the best play I have ever seen. Admittedly this is partly due to my intense love of Harry Potter and the monumental place it has held in my life since my 11th birthday, but not entirely. While I think it would definitely be more enjoyable for a Potter fan, it is also an excellent piece of theatre in and of itself. Over the last few days I have written over ten pages of general musings about the play but naturally they are completely spoilericious! Acknowledging JK Rowling’s pleas to #KeepTheSecrets, I have compiled some spoiler free musings to share, for those interested. 1. Magic is alive and well! And so is the Potter fandom! The excitement before the first show was palpable, both outside the theatre along with all the press and inside with our new friends, our neighbours for the two upcoming nights of magic. There was such a beautiful sense of community as we smiled at familiar faces on the second night and shared our theories of what would happen next during the intervals. The communal gasps at a big reveal, the cheers when something we always wanted to happen actually happened, the excitement and applause when we noticed Jo in the audience (before she adorably put her fingers to her lips and pointed at the stage, “this isn’t about me” she silently told us.) It was everything I love about the Harry Potter fandom. It took me right back to that same nervous and giddy anticipation of midnight book parties and movie premieres. The magic is truly alive and kicking and it is here to stay. 2. One of my immediate reactions was ‘this must have cost a fortune to produce’. The stunts and special effects… no that doesn’t give them the justice they deserve… the magicis out of this world! There are spells and duels, floo powder and polyjuice potion. I still have no idea how they pulled some of

Today is the first day of the rest of my life! Well I guess every day is the first day of the rest of our lives, but this one feels different. On my birthday my mum always asks me, “So do you feel any older?” I never really do! But today I do feel different. It’s not my birthday. I am 27 years and 342 days old! But today I feel different. I’m no longer Siobhán who works in an office and studies Herbology on the weekends. Today for the first time I feel like Siobhán the Herbalist… Siobhán, the Nerdy Naturopath! I haven’t graduated yet, it’s not that kind of milestone. But I have quit my job and travelled half way across the world to spend my summer doing a herbaculture internship with Herb Pharm in Williams, Oregon. And I am soooo excited! This isn’t the first step on my holistic path, nor is it the last. There’s no destination I plan to arrive at after three months, no particular end goal in sight. This is more like a fork in the road, a bend in the river shall we say! Before accepting the internship I wondered, like Pocahontas, “should I take the smoother course? Steady as the beating drum?” Should I keep my stable, well-paid and completely awesome job at Airbnb? Or should I quit everything to basically become a farmer? In my early days of fangirling, I was obsessed with Pocahontas. I was seven when the Disney movie came out in theatres. I went to see a special preview in London with my best friend and our mums. I begged my mum for a full costume of Pocahontas. I wanted to be her! And then, when I was a teenager, I dyed my hair so black that it was kind of blue, just like Pocahontas! What I love so much about her is that she follows her heart. Against all odds! She’s an adventurer and a romantic, and isn’t afraid to stand out from the crowd, to be different. Our nature loving Native American princess also sings, “what I love most about rivers is, you can’t step in the same river twice. The water’s always changing always flowing.” She’s so wise, our Pocahontas! (I also think she may have been studying Greek philosophy…) But then she goes on to say “people I guess can’t live like that, we all must pay a price. To be safe, we lose our

I’ve only been here a week but this whole experience is already a complete dream come true for me! Here’s ten (of the very many) reasons why: 1. In our first class, a herb walk, our teacher Mark asked us, “so who here believes in fairies?” The answer was a resounding yes! “Do you?” we asked. “Of course! I wouldn’t ask that question if I didn’t.”   2. In just one week we got to harvest calendula, wood betony, lemon balm, meadowsweet, red clover, chickweed, grindelias and California poppy. We harvested a record breaking 1000lb of California poppies in one day! Harvested, washed and placed on the drying racks!   3. We have our own personal herbal dispensary in the kitchen!   4. On Saturday we foraged for nettles, amaranth, purslane, lamb’s quarters and sexy succulent raspberries from around the house and the farm for brunch the next day! 5. This evening I was out in the medicine shed making St. John’s Wort oil and tincture and when I came back in to the house there was a full on dance party going on in the kitchen! 6. Oh yes! We have a medicine shed! It is completely stocked with jars, drying racks, alcohol, weighing scales, beeswax and oils, everything you could want for making herbal medicines!! 7. Regular dinner conversation includes things like: “Are you more witch or fairy?” “I think I’m more fairy…” “Oh girl, I’m completely witch!” “Can I be both? I’m maybe 60% witch, 40% fairy”. 8. Our communal list of shopping staples includes things like apple cider vinegar, quinoa, coconut oil, chia seeds, raw cacao, watermelon and aaaalll the greens!! 9. This is our house: And our garden: (can you spot the deer?) And our library!!! 10. The farm and the woods and the kitchen are our classroom. We learn so much while at work Monday to Thursday but we also have official classes on Tuesday and Thursday evenings and all day Friday and Saturday. We walked around the woods while we learnt about botany, we heard stories about plantain and dandelion and yellow dock while we strolled around the fields and we made hydrosols, infusions and decoctions together in the kitchen. And this was just week one! I’m so excited for what the rest of this programme will bring! And I can’t wait for work in the morning! I’m impatiently anticipating what we’ll harvest, what we’ll learn, what the plants will share and reveal to us. And I’m so grateful and so happy that I get to experience it