Up in the Mountains – Akasha Wellness Retreat

Akasha Wellness Retreat, Transylvania, Romania, Yoga Retreat, Ashtanga, Mountains

So I’m here in the mountains and living and working at the  wonderful Akasha Wellness Retreat, in the heart of Transylvania, deep in the Carpathian Mountains, Romania. It is a stunning venue for a ‘first of it’s kind’ yoga and mediation retreat in Romania.

I’m into my third retreat, this week a ‘Sacred Feminine Yoga Retreat’ which started yesterday on International Womens Day, which is also Mother’s Day in Romania. Each retreat takes on a different theme, but they all include twice a day yoga, meditation and wonderful vegan food.

 

Akasha Wellness Retreat, Transylvania, Romania, Yoga Retreat, Ashtanga, Mountains

 

The kind of yoga we are teaching is an Ashtanga Fundamentals, a modified Primary Series in the mornings and the evening classes are Restorative and Yin Styles. Supporting this are meditation sessions at the end of class and dedicated meditation workshops to explain in more detail some of the techniques we use to help people start or improve a mediation practice.

 

Akasha Wellness Retreat, Transylvania, Romania, Yoga Retreat, Ashtanga, Mountains
Mixed in with that are workshops & activities that are tailored to that week’s theme, for example we’ve had Gong Sound Baths, Tibetan Flag making, Chakra Balancing and Buddhist Meditation workshops and activities like 108 gratitude mandalas or guided walks through the beautiful village and hills that surround us 360 degrees.

 

Akasha Wellness Retreat, Transylvania, Romania, Yoga Retreat, Ashtanga, Mountains

 

The food is carefully curated to give you all the nutrients you need and for some, open their eyes (and mouths!) to a plant-based diet. It is delicious and healthy and will leave you feeling nourished and full. There are lots of organic teas to try plus plenty of lemon, ginger and apple cider to help aid digestion or simply to relax with a good book in the lounge or sit out on the balcony admiring the views.
You can also feel pampered and relaxed with the spa treatments, ranging from an outdoor hot tub and sauna with breathtaking views or choose from Swedish, Shaistu or Cranio Sacral therapy for your massages, or simply have a relaxing bath ritual with your own choice of salts and essential oils.

I can’t believe how lucky I am to have found this place and feel honoured to be teaching here and be part of the Akasha family, which includes the dogs, Tony, Bursuc, Luna and the little puppies we rescued, Phoenix, Shiva and Joy…and not forgetting crazy Beasley the dogcat!

 

Akasha Wellness Retreat, Transylvania, Romania, Yoga Retreat, Ashtanga, Mountains

Akasha Wellness Retreat, Transylvania, Romania, Yoga Retreat, Ashtanga, Mountains

Akasha Wellness Retreat, Transylvania, Romania, Yoga Retreat, Ashtanga, Mountains

For more information on our upcoming retreats check out the website, with flights from London starting as cheap as £20 – WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR? See you soon!

https://www.akasharetreat.com/

 

 

The Mountains are calling…..and I must go

Mountains, Carpathians, Snow, Transylvania, Romania, Brasov, Snowboarding, North Face

*John Muir

 

north face duffell, mountains, john muir

 

This quote was on the label of my new duffel bag, and I found this very apt for my last few days in the UK before I head off for a new adventure in the mountains…

Do I have wanderlust forever now? Will I always be a nomad?
After two and a half months of living back at home in the UK I found what I was looking for, and that was a full-time job overseas again!

England, my England, I did try to stay with you, but it seems my wandering soul is not yet ready to settle back down, there are so many more adventures out there for me to take, so many experiences waiting to happen and so many more people yet to meet! and of course, to those people I meet I will be sharing my true love and passion for Yoga and the Yogic lifestyle.

 

pestera village, carpathians, national geographic, romania, transylvania

 

And so to the Carpathian Mountains in Romania I go, deep in the heart of Transylvania lies a beautiful little retreat called ‘Akasha’ offering stunning views and stylish interiors, Akasha provides its guests with a change to experience a R.E/Treat programme, a relaxing and energising treat. There, high in the mountains above the daily city life they practice a simple philosophy inspired by nature, clean eating, relaxation, spirituality & a balanced healthy mind healthy body lifestyle.

 

Akasha Retreat, Pestera, Transylvania, Romania

 

They also state that:

THIS IS NOT JUST A YOGA RETREAT.

THIS IS NATURE’S TREAT FOR YOUR WELLBEING

Read more about the retreat, and to book yourself on one (mention me and you will get a free massage treatment) :

https://www.akasharetreat.com/

I am beyond excited to be travelling over next week to meet the owners, other teachers and of course all the lovely guests. I’m intrigued to experience Romania, a beautiful, rarely trodden gem in Eastern Europe and see what it has to offer.

So, reader, If you are reading this as you’ve got the wanderlust, or just ‘wander curious’ all I can say is – once you have a taste of it it’s a hard habit to kick!

And I love every minute of it!

The duffel bag that prompted this post can be bought here

Mountains, Carpathians, Snow, Transylvania, Romania, Brasov, Snowboarding, North Face

Colours of India – a photo essay

Mysore, India, photo essay

India. The crazy, dusty, dirty, manic country of smiles, smells and vivid colours.

Even in the most deprived of areas there is bright colours in abundance. People are smile even when they don’t have much. Children play with tyres and sticks, laugh and joke and are happy with the gift of a biro pen. Families eat and play together. For us Westerners there is a lot to be learnt from our eastern brothers and sisters about the true value of life.

My second photo essay to hopefully capture the essence of what I some of the things that I love about India.

 

Shiva Feet, temple Chamundi Hill, Mysore, India

 

 

somanathapura temple, mysore, karnataka

 

 

 

me-walking-into-tomb

 

 

carving on Somnanthpura Temple

 

 

carvings

 

 

Mysore, Karnataka

 

 

tyre fun in Somanatha Temple, Karnataka

 

 

tidy-ordered-veg

 

 

devajara market, Mysore, Karnataka, India

 

 

Devajara Market, Mysore, Karnataka, India

 

 

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palace-sunset

 

 

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Mysore Palace lights up, Karnataka, India

 

If you are enjoying my picture essays, stories of my travels and yoga and health advice, please subscribe to the blog! thank you x

Vietnam – my street food diaries

Street Food, Vietnam

Probably the thing I liked best about visiting Vietnam was the food, and in particular the street food.

I basically made it my mission to only eat from the street vendors and not to go to restaurants. This was in an attempt to find the real food of the country and not the glorified ‘made for westerners’ fayre. I also thought it might be a neat way to get chatting to locals and experience how life is for your average Joe. Oh, and dare I mention, if you are travelling on a budget this is also the answer to your dreams, as most meals coming in at around £1.

 

Street food, Vietnam
Fresh shrimp rolls with a sweet and sticky soy, peanut and chilli dipping sauce

 

So, after reading this excellent post by Jodi Ettenburg at Legal Nomads, I set off to try my first street food Pho, excited and intrigued to meet ‘Prison Granny’

I should probably also point out here that I did not stick to a plant based, vegetarian diet for this trip, opting to go local style.

I’m sure there are a plethora of good vegetarian, even vegan options in the country but it is not traditional Vietnamese and I wanted to try authentic dishes as previously highlighted.

My search for Prison Granny ended in vain – I was definitely on the right alleyway (or ‘Bis’ in Vietnamese) but I could not spot any Pho joints. So I employed my own tactic, which I like to call ‘follow the local/office workers’  – in Ho Chi Minh this worked a treat as I stalked young office folk on their lunch breaks and basically just ate wherever they did!

 

Com, street food, Vietnam
My first point and smile meal was braised beef and carrots, morning glory, rice (the ‘com’ part of the dish) and a morning glory watery soup.

 

Street food, Vietnam
Second office lunch ‘Com’ with cabbage, pork, boiled egg – and a bonus banana!

 

I also found two very good food courts, a little more on the tourist trail but full of enough locals to keep me happy, these I felt more comfortable visiting at nighttime as a single female traveller rather than ducking down dimly lit alleys.

 

Pho, Street food, Vietnam
My first Pho was pretty good, and light on the beef. I love that you add your own herbs and spices to taste

 

 

Canh Bun, Street food, Vietnam
Crab Canh Bun (I think!) This was a perfect mix of sweet and sour – delicious and one of my favourite dishes of the trip

 

 

The best part about my follow the local trick was I had pretty much no idea what the things I ate were called – it was a case of point and smile, the places I have learnt since are called ‘Com Ta’ which is basically a buffet of plates you choose what you like and get given a humongous portion of rice to accompany as well as a watery soup and sometimes fruit and cold tea.

I also tried my fair share of Pho, and other noodle dishes, and of course the obligatory fresh rolls (which varied in flavour and freshness from place to place)

 

 

Street food, Vietnam
This lady was very popular so although I had no idea what this was I ordered one anyway,  it was a sweet puffed rice pancake with treacle and coconut lathered inside. Too sweet for me but I like to take a chance from time to time!

 

 

In Hoi An I discovered the wonderful dish ‘Cao Lau’ the melt in your mouth White Roses, Shrimp pancake rolls, and of course plenty of lovely tea and coffee cafes.

 

White Roses, Banh Vac, Street Food, Vietnam
The delectable White Roses, my favourite dish of the trip….
‘banh vac’ is a dumpling stuffed with shrimp and spices and then steamed in a shrimp broth. The resulting taste is delicate and just a little bit sweet, the dumplings are topped with fried onions giving it a little crunch and saltiness

 

Banh Xeo, Pancake, Street Food, Vietnam
Banh Xeo, is a shrimp pancake, like ‘Crispy Peking Duck’ you lay a flat noodle sheet out, place the pancake on, add cucumber and herbs, sweet hoi sin sauce and roll. Wonderful.

 

Banh Xeo, Street Food, Vietnam
All rolled up and ready to eat!

 

Street food, Vietnam
Choices in the Indoor Food Market at Hoi An

 

Drinking Tea and Coffee (mainly iced) were some of my favourite things to do. Just sitting in a cafe, reading, cooling off and watching the world go by: this is what ‘travelling’ is all about for me, which, ironically, is the most static of activities!

 

Ice Tea, Hoi An, Street Food, Vietnam
A break from the heat with a Passion Fruit Ice Tea

 

Cold Brew coffee, Street food, Vietnam
Cold Brew Coffee, Hoi An Roastery

 

Reaching Out Tea Rooms, Hoi An, Street Food, Vietnam
Stopping for a cuppa – the beautifully presented Oolong Tea at the wonderful Reaching Out Tea Rooms in Hoi An.

 

I hope this has inspired you to travel to this wonderful country. I would love to hear back from you on your food travels, in Vietnam or anywhere else in the world. Please leave me a comment with your favourite places to eat and drink.

Where to eat in Canggu – my top choices to eat in Canggu

Ok, I’ll stop harping on about Canggu after this (did you book your flight yet?) but eating for me in Canggu was on a par with the surfing and yoga – in fact I could say it was the highlight to my stay!

As you may have realised I’m passionate about eating a healthy diet, and Canggu has plenty of inexpensive options of places to eat and nourish your body and mind. So here is a guide to my favourites:

Peleton

Entrance to Peleton Cafe 'Supershop' Canggu, Bali

 

I visited Peleton for my first lunch…and I thought wow! the rest of the places I’ve researched have a lot to live up to! I could have just eaten here for the whole week it was that good. They serve a mixture of healthy vegan food – breakfasts like the Biker Bowl, The Tandem Toast and Pedel Power Pancakes. They have a range of lighter dishes and amazing salads, hot drinks, juices and smoothies. A pretty impressive plethora of food and drink.

What I ate: The Fuel Good Salad, a mean mix of FUEL GOOD Kale, Spinach, Purple Cabbage, Capsicum, Broccoli, Mild Chillies, Carrot, Beetroot, Green Onion, Toasted Pumpkin & Sunflower Seeds, Sesame, Smashed Pumpkin and Hummus. Quite possibly the best salad I have eaten. EVER.

Fuel Good salad, Peleton Cafe, Canggu, Bali

close up of Fuel Good Salad, Peleton cafe, Canggu Bali

 

I also got food  envy of the table next to me who were eating the Burn Out Burger – it looked so damn good. The decor in the place is as you would expect bike orientated. The staff were so lovely and friendly and the place had a more chilled vibe and was quieter than the places along Batu Bolong as it is a little more out of the main drag on Pantai Berewa. If you go to Canggu or even staying in nearby Seminyak, you MUST try Peleton. It rocks.

inside Peleton cafe, Canggu, Bali

 

wall monuted single gear 'fixies' at peleton cafe, Canggu, Bali

 

Crate Cafe

Crate Cafe, Canggu, Bali

 

Well, having to meet my expectations set at Peleton, Crate Cafe did not disappoint. Full to the brim with the post yoga and surf crowd I had to wait a while to get a table, but it was a great people watching place so a wait so I did not mind – This is the place where the cool kids like to hang out.

I had an ah-maze-ing flat white (again something I had been missing on Koh Phangan) and a breakfast bowl, a deliciously thick, creamy fruit smoothie with fruit, granola and coconut on top, (the name of which can’t remember) and then went back the next day to have the ‘Peas Please’ a huge chunk of sourdough bread with peas, spinach, feta, avocado and a perfectly poached egg balancing on top.

flat white - yeah life is crate at Crate Cafe, Bali

 

breakfast bowl, lifescrate, Crate Cafe, Canggu, Bali

 

Peas Please, brunch style at Crate Cafe, Canggu, Bali

 

The decor is industrial graffiti and there is a real buzz in the place. The friendly attitudes of the staff here is wonderful, something that unfortunately I had been lacking in Thailand of late. Crate I salute you. Life certainly is ‘crate’ here.

wall menu at Crate Cafe, Canggu, Bali

 

Betelnut Cafe

Betelnut Cafe at Sunset, Canggu

 

Betelnut is probably the most ‘famous’ of the cafes in Canggu, and is in the ‘centre’ of Batu Bolong, opposite Deus Ex Machina so easy to find. Having a small air-conditioned downstairs section the main seating area is upstairs where you can see across the rice fields to sunset in the early evening, when I visited for an early dinner.

A good menu of comforting burger and wraps, salads and juices, the standard for all these places in Canggu. I had a divine Turmeric Lemonade and the Falafel Wrap with Fries.

Turmeric Lemonade at Betelnut Cafe, Canggu, Bali

 

Falefel Wrap, Betelnut Cafe, Canggu

 

The upstairs view was pretty awesome

The Sunset View at Betelnut Cafe, Canggu, Bali

 

The Shady Shack

The Shady Shack, Canggu, Bali

 

wave after wave

 

I was recommended The Shady Shack by a Canggu local who came to eat at The Yoga Retreat in Koh Phangan, she told me it was her favourite place to eat, and I see why. A fabulous menu in a beautiful space. Again a vegan and vegetarian healthy choice paradise, Canggu you are really spoiling us with these places!

I ate the ‘Signature Shady’s’ from the All Day Breakfast menu – Onsen eggs with sprout, carrot, beetroot and fennel salad. The herby, lemony dressing was TO.DIE.FOR – the gluten-free bread and smashed new potatoes made it a meal I deserved after an Ashtanga Practice AND a surf.

signature dish at Shady Shak, Canggu, Bali

 

Onsen Eggs - poached to perfection, The Shady Shack, Canggu, Bali

 

The decor was so nice, and again, that Balinese welcome from friendly staff made you feel at home, and, I have to say, the best cafe toilets in Canggu! I love a good bathroom tile!

 

interior, The Shady Shack, Canggu, Bali

 

bathroom blues, The Shady Shack, Canggu, Bali

 

Little Flinders

Little Flinders, Canggu Bali

 

For my final choice I went to Little Flinders, a bit further south on Batu Bolong from Crate and Betelnut. It is more of a restaurant than the cafes, and also has meat and seafood on the menu.

I had a refreshing Ginger Ice Tea and the Rosti Burger (naughty but oh so nice) and as they didn’t have any wedges left I had mashed potato – delish!

 

veggie burger and mash, Little Flinders, Bali

 

ginger tea

 

It was beautifully decorated and I was lucky to hit it just before the evening rush and had the place almost to myself so I was able to take some nice interior shots

beautiful floor tiles, Little Flinders, Canggu, Bali

 

soft seating interiors at Little Flinders, Canggu, Bali

 

If this post hasn’t convinced you to go to Canggu then I don’t know what will. There were many other places to eat and of course drink, Old Mans, Deus, Avocado, Local Warungs, but these were my top choices, as I am always trying to look for the healthy options. Most of the dishes will set you back about 50/60k Indonesian Rupees, that’s about £4 – so it’s still cheap in the grand scheme of things.

Canggu – it was a brief love affair, maybe someday we can have a longer term relationship??

My guide to Yoga in Canggu, Bali

Ubud is known as the yoga capital of Bali, however when for this visit I didn’t have the time to head to Ubud. I needed to be nearer the city, and wanted to have a surf, so I knew Canggu was the place I needed to see. Naturally I looked into the places to practice as I wanted to experience new shalas and teachers.  Canggu is fast becoming the next stop on the yoga map for Bali.

I only visited two centres and practiced Mysore Ashtanga with KPJAYI authorised teachers in both. So this guide is somewhat potted, but if you are an Ashtanga practitioner then you will be interested in these two centres both with authorised teachers.

Serenity Eco Guesthouse

 

Serenity Eco Guesthouse Canggu Bali

 

This place is an eclectic mash up of cafe, chill out areas and a beautiful garden and grounds. It is close to the beach (Fisherman’s Beach) and also has surfboards for guests. They offer a packed timetable, and a range of rooms for all budgets. The guesthouse is laid back, with spaces to chill and relax, and has two shalas and a pool for guests too!

 

Mirror Wall at Serenity Eco Guesthouse Bali

 

What I liked best about the place was it’s Eco approach, and how things around the place were labelled so you knew what herbs were growing, what water filtration they were doing, etc. I didn’t see any of the rooms so can’t comment on those, and the shala I practiced in was with a tiled floor and a good size to fit about 15-20 people in.

 

labelled eco gardens serenity bali canggu

 

The vibe in the room was very relaxed, I think there were quite a few beginners. Fernando has a strong presence and gave me some good adjustments.  They offer all kinds of yoga classes all day, a single class drop in costs 100k (about £6) it gets cheaper the more classes you take.

 

Bamboo in gardens serenity eco guesthouse Bali

 

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Samadi Bali

 

it's not the way you look at it quote, samadi bali

 

cow facing shala at Samadi Bali

 

At the other end of the spectrum from the hippy vibe at Serenity is the beautiful ’boutique’ shala and centre of Samadhi Bali. An instagrammer haven. It is on a beautiful road full of rice fields and it is stunning from the entrance to inside. It has a beautiful, wooden floored shala with a modern architecture feel with nice little Indian and Balinese touches, a good restaurant and a wonderful shop (I literally could have bought everything in that shop!)

The grounds are landscaped with lush plants and foliage, and it also has luxury (but pricey) rooms and a spa. I didn’t see these but can only imagine they are as good as they look on the website.

 

ground of Samadi Bali

 

leading to shala, Samadi Bali

 

I took another Mysore Ashtanga class here with the owner, Damien De Bastier, who studied and was authorised by Sri. Pattabi Jois, he had a few assistants in the room so you got more attention for adjustments and alignment cues than at Serenity.

Damien has a wonderful nature and he was so active in the room, he was flying around helping every person in there. There was a lovely energy in the room and there was a wide range of levels from beginners to advanced practitioners.

 

Mysore Ashtanga practice with Damien at Samadi Bali

 

They also have a full daily schedule of classes, Ashtanga being the primary focus but also Hatha, Vinyasa, Yin and some Yoga for surfers sessions.

If I ever own my own place, this is the kind of place I want it to be – beautiful, relaxed, classy!

prayer tree at Samadi Bali

 

Places I didn’t visit but have heard good reviews about are:

The Practice – heard it has a stunning shala with views over rice fields.

Desi Seni – heard this place is very beautiful and good reports on teaching here.

I’ll report back on those next time!

Patnem Guide – top tips for eating and drinking in Patnem, Goa

Here are my Top Tips for Patnem, Palolem and Colomb Bay Area including the beaches and my favourite places to eat and drink. In all honesty the food here was not blow your socks off amazing so the guide is limited to reflect that.

Patnem
Patnem (north end) was my favourite place to chill and spend the day on the beach. It’s very quite in April, however we did here many other British accents, I think this place is favoured by families with school age kids. And once you’re in Goa it is very cheap to eat and drink so this must be a draw when you have many mouths to feed! Even though there were families and children around it felt very chilled out, perfect for sun lounging and doing very little indeed.

 

view to north of Patnem Beach, Goa

 

Palolem
Next door to Patnem is the more built up Palolem. I wasn’t a fan as there was way more hassle on the beach which interrupted my chill time, but it is a beautiful sweeping bay and has lots of options for all budgets to eat and drink (those on a budget should check out the main road away from the beach for local thali shops, a complete meal for 60p

 

Galibag Beach (Turtle Beach)
A real deserted spot (save for a few locals) and the most wonderful Oysters (90p – yes pence – for 7) and the freshest barbecued prawns from a little beach shack called Surya’s, who also provides hammocks for you to rest and have your food coma in.The beach is wild and waves quite big, and the Talpona River, a lush backwater river, backs it. If you do find yourself in South Goa, this beach is a must – take a Rickshaw there from Patnem, the drive is beautiful.

 

Gallibag Beach, South Goa

 

Eating and Drinking:

Boom Shanker

Cocktails and Sunset, Boom Shanker, Colomb Bay, Goa
Columb Bay, for breakfast, and then again later for sunset cocktails (happy hour cocktails are just £1.50). Perfect positioning in Colomb Bay for this all day cafe with a laid back feel. Lots of locals and ex-pats, so it must be good!

 

Salida del Sol

Salad Nicoise, Salida del Sol, Patnem, Goa
Patnem Beach, North End. We ate here most days as the food was fab, but the service even better. There are sunbeds for guests, they do a mean lime and soda and scrummy salads.

 

Home
Not much further south than Salida del Sol, the best breakfast we ate, although service is a bit slow, but then, when your busy doing nothing this really doesn’t matter eh? Oh, and forgot to take a photo of the food. (Back in the days before I took this blogging more seriously soz)

 

Nada Brahma
I’m adding this in as we walked past on the way home one night and promised to go back as the place looks buzzing with good atmosphere, and the Tripadvisor reviews are good…but be warned, April is the closing month in Goa and when we went back the next night the place had started being dismantled. (Most of the bungalows and restaurants get taken down and re-built each season) Anyway, I’ve added it to my guide as I think if you are going and it is built you should check it out.

 

Surya’s at Gallibag

BEST fresh prawns ever! Surya's, Gallibag Beach, South Goa

reviewed in this post – the BEST seafood, so so fresh and flavourful, and apparently Gordon Ramsey has eaten there!!!!

7 Oysters, 90p

Going to Goa? My Goan Story

Landing at Daoblim Airport it feels like the ‘real’ India compared to the cosmopolitan feel of Bangalore, it’s all hot and humid, noisy and frantic, yet organised, hustle and bustle.
Landing later than sunset as a solo traveller I always take a taxi, so seated in my taxi I am grateful for air conditioning, one of life’s most underrated luxuries. I sit back and hope that my driver can drive without too many close shaves, by now an old pro at coping with the mad cap driving habits of the Indian, I can just relax (enjoy even?) and watch the world go by outside.

Roadside vendors, men on mopeds, cattle and other animals all vying for time and space, the first hour is pretty grim with deprived looking towns and villages, dust and smog, but then the roadside buildings start to give way to lush green vegetation, a blood orange setting sun, and a sense of calm.

 

fishing boat on Patnem Beach

 

For my 10 day stay and after much research I have chosen to stay in the town of Patnem, Palolem’s younger, quieter, sister. It’s dark by the time I arrive so I’m glad I pre-booked my bungalow. However, no amount of research told me the ‘road’ ends at a row of motorbikes and I must walk down the beach to my huts! ‘This is why you should have bought a backpack’ I scold myself, as with two wheelie cases and a yoga mat it’s a testing 100 metres until I arrive sweaty and silently swearing at the huts and get shown to my hut.

Way back in the depths of the tropical garden, it’s named Krishna, so hopefully this is a sign that it will be ok.
Basic but clean, with an antic bathroom (read hose for shower) I’m too tired to care, there is a mosquito net, a large double bed with clean sheets, so it is ‘fit for purpose’ until my darling friend arrives and we are going ‘upmarket’

 

Even Ganesha takes it chill in Goa!
Even Ganesha takes it chill in Goa!

 

Next morning, feeling refreshed I’m up with the birds and ready to have a beach stroll and take in the surroundings. There is something so wonderful about dawn, it used to be the time I was getting in feeling dazed and confused from a club or party, but now I love it for the time to feel alive and appreciate the world. A cooler temperature (around 24c) makes for a wonderful walk along the shore, my first toe dip into the Arabian sea, and a chance to view all the hut ‘resorts’ along the beach. I also check out the yoga shalas that are visible from the beach and, most importantly, hunt down the ‘Patnem Chai Shop’ that I had researched – 7rps chai – this is more like it!!! – Goa is super cheap for Western visitors, but much more expensive than Mysore for eating and drinking.

After breakfast at my huts own restaurant (average so nothing to write about here) I settle into the day on the beach, a sun lounger with shade and a nice swim the warm, but clean, sea.
As a beach lover it’s easy for me to while away hours and hours, reading, relaxing a people watching, and after 4.15am practice in Mysore this is exactly what I came here for!
There is a gentle breeze to help keep you cool in the scorching 36c that it climbs to that day. And I also manage to keep cool with my first alcoholic beverage of 35 days – an ice-cold kingfisher beer – boy did that taste divine 😉

 

view to north of Patnem Beach, Goa

 

After a sweltering walk I find a nice restaurant for lunch, ‘April 20’, where I have a delicious Dal Makhani, served in a small silver bucket, and a lime soda, and sit enjoying the breeze. It’s towards the north end of the beach which I have already decided is nicer and more chilled that the centre and southern parts.

 

Dhal Makani at April 20, Patnem, Goa

 

Next day, I get up and practice in my room, shower and head up to my next resort, La La Land, where I excitedly wait the arrival of one of my closest and dearest friends who has taken a ‘spur of the moment’ flight to see me and take some time to chill and de-stress.The following week is spent in beach bungalow luxury, as our resort is brand new, and beautifully landscaped into the hill at Colomb Bay, a picturesque little fishing bay nestled between Patnem and Palolem.

We settle into our daily routine of morning yoga, breakfast; sun lounging (favourite lounge spot the uber friendly Salida del Sol) sunset watching, evening snacking and early night to repeat again the next day.

Patnem is the perfect place to relax, I hear that the North of Goa is now saturated with resorts so if you want to experience the Goa that was popular in the 60’s and 70’s this might just be the closest you can get whilst still having all the options for accommodation and food.

 

Sunset in Colomb Bay

 

Plant Based? Raw? Detox? Juicing?

The health food business is booming, and with so many options what one is right for you? I have a small but growing obsession with watching food documentaries on YouTube, as interesting as they are some of them seem downright unattainable or non sustaining (yep I’m talking about you HCLF-ers)

So, what should you choose? I’m going to just put it out there and say, how about ALL of them? All of the options in the title, Plant Based, Raw, Detox, Juicing….they can all make up a balanced, healthy, diet – and remember whenever I use the word DIET in this blog it will be referring to the food you habitually eat, rather than the food you eat to lose weight. If however, you are over-weight or obese, then changing your current diet to an all natural, vegetarian and more plant-based diet is going to help you lose weight. But maintaining this FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE is what is going to keep you healthy, forever.

 

Beet Treat, Raw Juice
Beetroot and Ginger Juice

 

Now, I am certainly not demanding you all become vegetarians or vegans, but maybe think about the amount of meat you consume and where it comes from. For example, I would only now eat meat if I knew its provenance (most good supermarkets and butcher’s should be able to tell you where the meat has come from) and I will only eat seafood, especially shellfish if I can see the sea (ok, within reason, but you get my drift? I once got food poisoning from Ceviche in a five-star restaurant in Marrakech, go figure). So that aside, do eat meat if you desire just be mindful of what you eat.

 

Beetroot and Quinoa Burger
Beetroot and Quinoa Burger, Orange and Carrot Salad

 

Next, bring more fruit and vegetables onto your plate. No question, no explanation, just DO IT. It will change your skin, hair, energy levels, internal organs – really! Try to eat at least 8 portions of fruit and veg per day – and if you think that’s a lot, the simplest way to do this is in a juice or smoothie. You can even put all 8 in one glass. Done.

 

floras and smoothie
Green Juice and Fruit Salad

 

I get inspiration from all over the internet, pinterest, and the following blogs which make eating vegetables a work of art…..My New Roots is my favourite veggie inspiration site Another resource for plant-based and vegetarian recipes Oh She Glows

Also this documentary changed my (eating) life – Forks over Knives

Raw food is another easy addition. When I mentioned to an old colleague I was eating more raw food these days he thought I meant raw meats and sushi etc…..but this simply means food you do not heat. Salads, juices, smoothies, energy balls, the list goes on and on check out  the wonderful Kriss Carr for some ideas, but I must stress here that my personal opinion is not to eat purely a raw food diet, just mix it up with the other things I am suggesting.

 

veg wrap
Raw Vegetable Wraps

 

Detoxing – I’m not a massive fan of detoxing but I do see it’s worth and especially think it is a fabulous way of resetting your body if you have a ‘bad’ diet. Once you have done a detox you will be more mindful of what you pollute your body with (toxins) and it can help you kick-start your new healthy life.

I hope to bring many recipes to this blog in time and some guides to eating healthily whilst travelling.

 

noodle soup, thailand, south east asia
vegetable noodle soup with tofu (South East Asia)

 

My golden rules (I will keep coming back to these):

No processed foods – EVER

Natural sugars only 

Eat seasonal, fresh produce where possible

Limit you alcohol (I’m still working on this!!) 

Limit your caffeine (again, work in progress for me) 

A LITTLE of everything in moderation, but try to be strict with this one, a piece of chocolate (milk) or cookie or a plate of fries once in a while, but not a whole day of ‘sod it all’ !

 

The Yoga Retreat – Koh Phangan

‘Because I knew you
I have been changed for good’

(lyrics from For Good, Wicked the Musical, Stephen Schwartz)

So after my short holiday in Goa I hopped over to the Thai island of Koh Phangan where my good friends, Teresa and Kes Kennard, have a yoga retreat. They had offered me the chance to work on the retreat as a teacher and I had offered to help them with their online presence and social media.

The Yoga Retreat is a very special place nestled in the jungle in the North West of the island, but only a short distance from the beautiful bay of Haad Salad. When I say it’s a very special place I really, really mean this, not just because I work there or my friends own it, but because it has a wonderful energy and since arriving here in April I have seen it make such a positive impact on so many people’s lives that I feel it really deserves that accolade.

Focusing on Ashtanga Yoga the retreat offers daily Mysore style classes and beginner’s courses with KPJAYI Authorised teachers, so you can see why I took up the offer to work here with them, to continue to practice 6 days a week on the beautiful jungle shala with experienced, authorised teachers.

 

set up for yin practice

 

They also offer daily Hatha Flow classes (of which I teach on Friday’s) and Saturday’s and Sunday’s I teach a restorative Yin Class to work the connective tissue and fascia so to support people in their Ashtanga practice (let’s get those hip and hamstrings open!)

At the risk of sounding like I’m writing a review, the food on the retreat is some of the best food I’ve eaten. EVER. Deserving a post of its own, and definitely stealing some recipes for my health and nutrition posts, they offer vegan, vegetarian and raw options for the health conscious yogi…..cacao bowl breakfast, hummus salads, vegetable wraps, cacao and avocado mousse, raw pad thai, I mean seriously good stuff…mmmm I’m getting hungry and I only just had my cacao bowl!! (Have I overused the work cacao here?!)

 

veg wrap

 

So, yes the yoga is phenomenal, the food outstanding, but the real thing I love about working here? The people I have met. This is the joy of not only yoga, but travel, like-minded people from all over the world coming together and firm new friendships being made.

I have connected with people here who I hope to be friends and stay in touch with forever. A yoga retreat is a very transient business, which can be hard as you are always saying goodbye to somebody. You have to rejoice in the fact that you met in the first place, and that somehow you have made a positive impression on each others lives. And of course, now we have social media we can keep in touch with each other all over the world daily so in fact they only ever leave you in a physical presence.

 

run and jump bottle beach

 

the gang at sunset july 31 2016
*photo credit Fee Saxby

 

looking out at sunset happy beach

 

If I have tempted you with my story, then you can find out more about the packages on offer ‘change your life yoga’ here