An oasis of peace, love and yoga in the heart of the city

My review of RESET: an Urban Day Retreat with Ann Pidcock and Xochi Balfour in central London. 

It’s that time of year when holiday season is under way, our social media feeds are full of blue skies, blue seas and sun-soaked beaches. Natarajasanas with sunset backdrops on Instagram  become, if possible, even more prolific, and we find ourselves longing for a break, a chance to relax, decompress, to treat ourselves to a full physical and emotional reset.

For most of us, it’s not possible to jet off to tropical locations at a moment’s notice. So what if we could capture the essence of that reset in just one day, a little closer to home, achieve full relaxation and come out of it feeling that same sense of contentment, wellbeing?

When I was invited to RESET: an Urban Day Retreat with Ann Pidcock and Xochi Balfour I was looking forward to a day filled with lovely yoga, meeting like-minded people, and getting stuck in to handmade cosmetics with Xochi in a natural skincare workshop. It definitely gave me all those things. What I hadn’t considered, was that I’d come away from the day with so much more.

42 acres yoga retreat yoga london

The workshop took place in the stunning 42 Acres in Shoreditch. Our morning began with a welcome from Ann, and, to begin our Vinyasa Flow class, an introduction to the Five Maya Koshas. The Koshas are, according to yogic philosophy, the five ‘sheaths’ of being. From the outer sheath, ‘Annamaya Kosha’, representing the physical body, through to the inner sheath ‘Anandamaya Kosha’, the subtlest body of all, and referred to as ‘spiritual bliss’. The idea is that we are all made up of these five Koshas, and while we are usually more in touch with one or two, to achieve true health, harmony and balance, we need to observe and look after all five–the entirety of the being. There’s a nice article about the Kosha’s here. Continue reading

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Crete’s Samariá Gorge: hiking tips

Into hiking? Holidaying in Crete? Samariá Gorge should be top of your list of things to do! Here’s everything you need to know about this must-try 16km hike.

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Why kindness is more important now than ever before

The news often gets me down. Really, really down. It’s a heady mix of powerlessness, sadness, and anger – I just don’t know how to put those feelings to good use. But seeing the internet’s reaction to that infamous video of Donald Trump shoving Montenegro’s Prime Minister reminded me that society values kindness more than you might think.

This gave me hope. Acts of kindness are easy, but their effects are long lasting and far reaching. Being kind can turn someone’s day around. Once, I was crying on the tube and a stranger hugged me, gave me tissues, and told me it would be okay. I’ve never forgotten that. Imagine the ripples a simple kindness could bring? Your kindness might be passed on ad infinitum.

Here are 22 easy acts of kindness which will help make the world a nicer place this weekend.

  1. Give blood
  2. Hold the door for someone
  3. Smile at everyone
  4. Share something – food, drink, laughter…
  5. Be polite to, and tip your server (they deal with rude people all day long)
  6. Call an older relative to catch up
  7. Send a letter to a friend
  8. Specs wearers – donate your old glasses at your local opticians
  9. Donate your old clothes
  10. Offer a homeless person a small care package, or a coffee
  11. Hug someone
  12. Pick up litter
  13. If someone’s driving up your butt, let them pass
  14. Pay someone a sincere compliment
  15. Volunteer your time
  16. Put your neighbours’ bin out
  17. Plant seeds for bees
  18. Wipe your gym equipment down after use (so many people don’t)
  19. Pause before you lose your temper
  20. Give someone your full attention (phone away!)
  21. Let someone finish what they’re saying
  22. Invite a friend over

I’m sure this list is not exhaustive, so feel free to contribute your own kindness ideas.

– **virtual hug** Nom

Hiking near London: Ivinghoe Beacon

Looking for a good hike that’s commutable from London? Enter stage right, Ivinghoe Beacon! This 10km circular walk is great when you just need to get away from the hustle and bustle of central. (And the pollution, too.)

Ivinghoe-Beacon-Head-to-Tone-6-small

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3 peaks challenge training: weeks 1–3

There are 13 weeks to go until my Lake District 3 Peaks Charity Challenge. Yikes. I need to train hard so my body doesn’t disintegrate into a quivering, sobbing, painful mess and have to be airlifted to the nearest pub by Mountain Rescue three hours in. So how am I training? Read week 1–3 of my 3 Peaks challenge training programme.

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27 Feelings For Fitspo

Staying inspired and dedicated to your fitness can be tough.  Especially midweek! Here are 27 feelings you’ll experience if you stay on track.

  1. Hitting your step goal and feeling your Fitbit buzz on your wrist.
  2. Eating a well-cooked, nutrient-dense meal and knowing you can feel smug about it.
  3. Trying on a pair of trousers and finding they’re loose.
  4. Spotting the insistent, cheery, yellowness of daffodils waving at you in the breeze on a springtime run.
  5. Waking up (hangover-free) on a Saturday and knowing you have the whole weekend ahead of you.
  6. That new-pair-of-trainers feeling.
  7. Getting a PB.
  8. Getting up the stairs and finding you’re *not* out of breath.
  9. That post-workout endorphin rush.
  10. Looking in the mirror and seeing your progress.
  11. Upping your lift by an extra 5kg.
  12. Trailblazing all those losers standing on the tube escalator. ON A MONDAY.
  13. Doing extra reps – because you can.
  14. Knowing that your cost-per-wear for those expensive running tights is now almost zero. (They were a good investment!)
  15. Seeing the number on the scales move towards your goal.
  16. Saying, politely yet firmly, ‘No, thank you.’ to that cake/cookie.
  17. Raindrops refreshing you on your run.
  18. Thinking: “Five a day? I ate ten.” 🍇 🍉 🍌 🍏 🍓 🍅 🥑 🌽 🍆 🍍
  19. *Finally* achieving Sirsasana after all that yoga practise.
  20. Seeing a photo of yourself and feeling happy about it.
  21. The bittersweet ache two days after your workout.
  22. Saying to a friend or colleague “Why yes, I have been working out.”
  23. Seeing your skin glow after a workout.
  24. Enjoying better sleeping patterns as a result of your exercise regime.
  25. Saying goodbye to that muffin top.
  26. Feeling calmer and coping with stress better.
  27. Being able to wear absolutely anything and still feel amazing.

What keeps you motivated?

Charity Challenge: Lake District 3 peaks

I set myself a lot of goals at the beginning of this year. Four of them were hiking related. Last year I left off doing any big challenges for charity, so this year I feel it’s time to get back on the healthy do-gooding track. I’m combining three of the four mountains I set my sights on into one trip: the Lake District 3 Peaks.

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KIND BAR REVIEW

I’m training for the Lake District 3 Peaks Challenge in June, and I’ve been looking for nutrient-dense snacks to keep hanger at bay when I’m hiking. (You burn between 430 and 550 calories per hour hiking!) Luckily for me, the folks from KIND SNACK BARS sent me ten of their nutty, fruity, and thoroughly delicious bars to try.  KIND BAR REVIEW Continue reading

50 amazing goals in 384 days

Do you ever think about something you want to achieve, but never quite get around to doing it? Say you want to learn a new language, take a yoga course, or write a novel, but it just doesn’t happen, so it sits in the back of your brain, gathering dust and looking a bit less shiny as time goes by. Me too. That’s why I’ve decided to commit to 50 goals in 2017. I’m sharing my list and I want you to hold me accountable.

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What’s your antidepressant score?

So it’s Blue Monday, which is the most depressing day of the year. That’s according to some PR agency a couple of years ago, which every retailer possible now jumps on as a reason to sell you more stuff on the third Monday in January.


Just to perk you up if you bought into all that crap, here’s a little quiz to help put things in perspective. Award yourself points based on how many of these statements you can tick.

You have a roof over your head (one point)

You have a bed/futon/hammock to sleep in (one point)

You have enough food to consume 2,000 calories a day (one point)

You can get clean water out of a tap (one point)

You can shower/bathe/keep yourself clean (one point)

You have clothes (one point)

You have central heating (one point)

Those were all physiological needs. Now, on to your safety needs.

You’re not terminally ill (two points)

You have access to the NHS (two points)

You’re not living in a war zone (two points)

You’re not in any immediate danger (two points)

You’re able to voice your opinions verbally, on social media, at work, without fear (two points)

Up next, psychological needs.

You have a friend (three points for every friend)

You have a family (three points for every family member)

You love someone: platonic or romantic love counts, can also be a pet (three points for each)

Next, the higher level, or Self-fulfillment needs. These questions ascertain your esteem needs.

You have a firm sense of your own moral code (four points)

You trust your own judgement (four points)

You don’t feel guilty when others question your judgement (four points)

You don’t spend time worrying over past experiences (four points)

You’re comfortable with being equal to, rather than superior or inferior to others (four points)

You appreciate your value to others (four points)

You are sensitive to the needs of others (four points)

Finally, the top of the triangle. Self-actualization needs.

You have a job (five points)

You’re able to express yourself creatively (five points)

You’ve made a difference to someone’s life (five points for each person)

You’ve made a positive change to society (five points for every achievement)

You’ve figured out what’s important to you (five points)

You’ve reflected on past experiences and learnt from them (five points)

You are independent and self-reliant (five points)

You can laugh at yourself (five points)

You can be happy when spending time alone (five points)


If you got 7 or above, you’re better off than so many other people, in this country, and in others around the world. Let’s not forget on Blue Monday that we live in one of the richest countries in the world, and we are some of the most privileged people on the planet.

Want to get a higher score in five minutes? Do something nice for someone else today. Give someone a call, write a letter or an email, donate money to a charity of your choice.

And if you didn’t score very highly, and you need someone to talk to, I’ll just put these here for you. They’re free, mostly 24 hours, and there are people who give up their time and are trained and are literally hanging on the phone waiting for your call. Don’t be scared, just call.

The Samaritans 116 123

Silverline 0800 4 70 80 90

Rethink 0845 456 0455 / 020 7840 3188