Tag Archives: purple valley yoga center

Mamiko’s Raw Chocolate doughnuts

Raw doughnuts
(6 pieces)

Dough
1 cup activated buck wheat flower
1 cup coconut pulp
1/4 cup cacao powder
1 pinch of salt
1 cup dates
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 honey or coconut nectar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 coconut milk

Chocolate Coating
1/4 cup raw cacao butter (melted)
1/4 cup honey or coconut nectar
1/4 cup tahini
1/4 cup cacao powder
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup coconut milk

Prepare:

Mix all dough ingredients in food processor.
Put in doughnut moulds and keep in freezer while making chocolate sauce.
Mix all chocolate sauce ingredients in one bowl.
Take out the doughnuts  from mould and dip into the chocolate.

Assemble and enjoy!!!!

Mani’s colourful beetroot curry

Coni Hörler Photography

Beetroot Curry

This vibrant and nutrition packed dish is a steady favourite at the Purple Valley dinner table. Mani, our resident chef from Kerala, shares below her simple approach to re-creating this dish at home. The curry can be served with rice, chapati or bread.

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1/2kilo beetroot

1 white onion

250 grams fresh grated coconut

3tsp mustard seeds

5 cashew nuts

150 grams yoghurt

20 curry leaves

3 garlic cloves

1tsp pepper

5tsp sunflower oil

Preparation:

Peel beetroot and grate. Boil cashew nuts in half a glass of water. Using a food processor, blend coconut, cashew nuts, 2tsp mustard seeds, the chopped garlic and yoghurt until a paste is formed.

Next, chop the onion. In a large saucepan, heat 2tsp of oil and saute 1tsp of mustard seeds and the onion for 2 mins.

Then add 2 more tsp of oil, beetroot and salt to the pan, cover and simmer for 5 mins on medium heat. During that time, lift the lid and stir a few times.

Finally, add the pepper, garlic and yoghurt paste. Stir in curry leaves and simmer for 5 mins on low heat.

 

Leilah’s raw chocolate

Coni Hörler Photography

Leilah Devi, Purple Valley’s plant-based chef and dedicated Astanga practioner, shares her knowledge on raw chocolate. Keep reading for some history and benefits of raw cacao. You can also buy her e-book with lots of recipes and ideas for more raw treats. Details below or here.

By Leilah Devi.

“Raw cacao is one of the most antioxidant-rich foods known, and is much more nutrient-dense than its cooked counterpart. Most commercial chocolate has been heated at high temperatures multiple times during its processing, which can destroy vital enzymes and beneficial phytonutrients. In its raw state, cacao is a great source of magnesium, and contains natural seratonin-boosting compounds such as PEA, the chemical our brains produce when we fall in love, and anandamide, named after the Sanskrit word for bliss. It’s no misake that the Latin name for the chocolate plant is Theobroma Cacao, meaning literally, the Food of the Gods.

By keeping the cacao raw, that is, below 46*C/ 115*F, we preserve the health-giving properties in the chocolate, and by using low-glycemic, natural sweeteners or even avoiding sugar entirely, we can enjoy amazing, plant-based, decadent chocolate desserts without an ounce of guilt.

A SHORT HISTORY OF CACAO

The first known consumption of cacao was in South and Central America, around 1900 BCE, long before the Olmec, Incan, Mayan, and Aztec civilizations where it was variously hoarded by emperors, taken by armies of soldiers as a bitter drink blended with chilies, spices, and maize as a kind of stimulant for day-long marches, and used as an actual currency and medium of exchange. Cacao also has a long history of ritual, ceremonial, and medicinal use.

A Dutch explorer named Van Houten brought cacao to Europe and invented the alkalizing process of “dutching” (after which it was called cocoa powder), a method of refining the chocolate into something a bit less bitter, with a milder flavor. At this time sugar was also added to the cacao, and it quickly became a favorite snack in European society. In 1876 a Swiss chocolatier collaborated with his dairy-farmer neighbor, Nestle, to add powdered milk to the mix, and the milk chocolate that is so popular today was created. While the addition of sugar and milk solids may make chocolate creamy and delicious, these additives also detract from its overall nutritional value, and in fact can inhibit our bodies’ ability to absorb cacao’s valuable nutrients.

WHAT IS CACAO?

The small, evergreen Theobroma Cacao tree generally grows within 11* of the equator, and today is cultivated primarily in Africa, South and Central America, and Indonesia. There are 3 main varietals of cacao plant, namely Criollo, which is the most coveted and rare, Forastero, which is a lower quality but produces a high yield, comprising about 80% of our chocolate today, and Trinitario, a hybrid of the two.

Cacao trees produce a large fruit pods containing a white, foamy flesh that encases the coveted cacao beans, which are harvested and carefully fermented to remove the astringent tannins and add a rich body to the chocolate. These small, almond-sized beans are covered with a papery shell, and can be broken apart by hand into the tiny pieces we know as nibs. These nibs are mechanically ground into a paste or liquor, which is cacao mass. This liquor is further separated into cacao butter, which is the pure fat, and cacao powder, which are the solids, still about 18-22% fat. Since we are using only raw cacao for these recipes, all of this processing is done through mechanical cold-pressing to keep temperatures low.

Making tempered raw chocolate at home is a kind of alchemy, recombining the separated cacao butter and powder in a way that utilizes not only science, but intuition and art. This fragrant and satisfying process is stimulating to the senses of touch, smell, and of course, taste.

PERFECT 84% DARK RAW CHOCOLATE

The following recipe is for tempered chocolate. Chocolate forms in a crystalline structure, and there are six grades or types of crystals. High quality chocolate is made up primarily of grade V crystals, which give the chocolate a long shelf-life, a smooth sheen, a crisp snap, and a melting point of human body temperature- meaning it melts in your mouth. We can create these grade V crystals by manipulating the temperature of our mixture, driving out the lower grades of crystals such as II or III which would otherwise predominate and make the chocolate crumbly, dull, and dry.

To make your own raw chocolate, you’ll need a few things.

EQUIPMENT:

cutting board

chef’s knife

coffee or herb grinder, or high-speed blender

stainless steel or glass mixing bowls

double boiler or pot to serve as a bain-marie

candy thermometer

silicon spatula

whisk

large spoon and/or small pitcher with a spout

clean towel

silicone or polycarbonate molds

RECIPE FOR 84% DARK CHOCOLATE

INGREDIENTS:

500 g raw cacao butter

300 g raw cacao powder

150 g coconut sugar

NOTE: You can halve this recipe for a smaller amount of chocolate!

Optional:

-vanilla bean

-food-grade essential oil of peppermint, orange, or rose

-superfoods such as maca, spirulina, powdered reishi or ashwaganda

-nuts, dried coconut, or dried fruit

TO PREPARE:

Begin by carefully shaving or chopping the the cacao butter into small slivers of about equal size. Place these pieces into a large, stainless steel mixing bowl, ensuring that the bowl is completely dry first. Throughout the entire process, avoid getting any water in your chocolate, as even a very small amount of moisture can cause the mixture to “seize” and can ruin the batch.

Place the bowl of cacao butter on top of a pot of water, or use an actual double-boiler. The bottom of the bowl need not touch the water. Heat the water slowly and stir the cacao butter with a spatula to ensure that the temperature is even throughout and does not rise above about 46* Celsius or 115* Fahrenheit. Use a candy thermometer to check the temperatures periodically.

While the cacao butter is melting, use a coffee grinder or strong blender to powder your coconut sugar. Grind the sugar as finely as possible, as it will not dissolve in the fat, but will only disperse. A coarse grind of sugar will result in chocolate with a gritty texture. It’s also important to be sure that the sugar is not moist; if it feels damp you may need to dehydrate it or place it for a short while in an oven at a low temperature, until the excess moisture has evaporated. Moisture in the sugar can cause the chocolate to fail to temper, or to “bloom,” producing a white, mottled appearance and crumbly texture.

When all the butter is melted, remove it from the heat and use a whisk to stir in the cacao powder and powdered coconut sugar. If needed, you can use the flat side of the spatula against the side of the bowl to press out any lumps. At this point you can also add in fresh vanilla, scraped from one or two dried vanilla beans, or up to a teaspoon if you have some pre-made vanilla bean powder. Avoid using alcohol extracts as it can cause the chocolate to seize.

Check the temperature of this mixture and if necessary use the bain-marie again to get the temperature up to 46*C/115*F. You may want to remove the mixture from the heat before it reaches 46*C/115*F, as the warm bowl can cause the temperature of the chocolate to continue to rise. Alternatively, you can transfer the chocolate to another, cool bowl, being sure first to wipe any moisture off the bottom of your bowl with a clean kitchen towel, to prevent any water from dripping in the chocolate.

If your kitchen is cool and dry it is ideal for making chocolate, and your mixture will begin to cool naturally. You can also help it along by using an ice water bath. Simply use a larger bowl, or even your kitchen sink, with some ice and a little cold water. To be sure that you don’t get any water in the chocolate, it’s best to keep this bath quite shallow! Use your spatula to continually scrape the cooling chocolate off the edges of the bowl and back into the mix. Keep stirring and avoid letting any clumps form as the chocolate cools to 27* C/ 81*F. This stirring is distributing the grade V crystals throughout the chocolate. To eliminate any of the remaining lower grade crystals, you can then gently heat the mixture back up to 31*C/88*F. Your chocolate is now tempered. You are ready to pour the chocolate into molds.

Be sure that the bottom of your bowl is dry. You can transfer the mixture from the mixing bowl into a smaller pouring container, or use a large spoon to fill your molds, depending on your needs. To prevent spilling, hold your bowl or small pitcher directly over your molds. If using small silicon truffle molds, use a dessert spoon and scrape the bottom of the spoon against the rim of the bowl before pouring the liquid chocolate into the mold. This helps to spill as little as possible and keeps things neat. If you pour too much and the mold overflows, just use your spatula to scoop the liquid into another empty mold. Work as quickly as possible, especially if you are in a cool place, as the chocolate can begin to solidify fairly rapidly. If this happens, simply warm up the mixture in the bain-marie just enough so that it flows again.

If you have some chocolate extra mixture remaining, pour it into a bread pan or pie pan. You can tap it out later and use this tempered chocolate to “seed” your next batch with grade V crystals!

Once the chocolate is poured into the molds, allow it to sit undisturbed someplace cool and dry. It’s best not to use the refrigerator or freezer if you can avoid it, as drastic changes in temperature can affect the tempering process, and condensation can also ruin the texture and cause the chocolate to bloom. Once the chocolate is solid, it should be shiny and smooth. If you are using hard polycarbonate molds, perfectly tempered chocolate will pull away from the sides of the mold and will fall right out effortlessly. If, however, the chocolate is stuck to the sides of the mold, you know that it did not temper properly. In that case, the chocolate is perfect to eat right away, but in a few days it may become dull and grainy. Try again!

You can wrap your chocolates individually (perhaps in natural waxed paper or foil), or store them in an airtight container in a cool, dry place. The chocolates will also keep in the fridge or freezer, although that does run the risk of condensation accumulating. However, if your plan is to just pop them out and enjoy them that day, it can be a good idea to keep them in a container in the fridge.

Have fun playing around with different flavors and add-ins. You can stir herbs or food-grade essential oils into the tempered chocolate before you pour, or sprinkle nuts, seeds, or dried fruits on top of the chocolate once poured. Experiment, and enjoy! “

In Leilah’s Raw Chocolate E-book you’ll find several recipes for a variety of ways to prepare chocolate treats, including instructions on how to make perfectly tempered, professional quality chocolate bars.You can wrap these bars and give them as a special gift!

Please email leilahdevi@gmail.com to get your copy!

Price is $10 USD 

Also included are recipes for low-fat cacao smoothies, grain-free fudgey baked goods, and easy-to-make raw vegan truffles and blissballs.

ELIXIA RAW CHOCOLATE

Coni Hörler Photography

Bibimbap is a classic Korean dish, served as a bowl of warm rice topped with ‘namul’ (sautéed and seasoned vegetables), chilli paste, soy sauce, or other prepared condiments.

Mamiko’s version is a light, and easy to prepare take on this Korean staple. It is also vegan (if swapping honey for coconut sugar) and gluten free (if swapping soy sauce for GF Tamari).

Bibimpap bowl

Serves 4

4 cups of cooked brown rice

Seasoned vegetables  (or ‘Namul’):
1 bunch of spinach
1 cup of mushrooms
1 zucchini
3 tbs roasted sesame seeds
3 tbs sesame oil
2 tbs soy sauce
3 tsp grated garlic

Carrot Miso:
1 cup carrot pulp (the remains after making carrot juice)
2 tbs chopped spring onions
1 tbs grated ginger
1 tbs grated garlic
1/2 tsp chilli powder
3 tbs Miso
1 tbs honey or coconut nectar
1/2 tbs apple cider vinegar

Topping:
Kimchi (home-made or shop bought)
chopped spring onion
roasted sesame
chopped Nori seaweed sheets

1. Prepare the seasoned vegetables.
Cut spinach. Slice mushrooms and zucchini.
Boil them separately for 1 min.
Marinate with sesame seeds, sesame oil, soy sauce, grated garlic (1/3 of total amount).

2. Prepare Carrot Miso.
Mix all ingredients of the carrot miso and set aside.

3. Assemble the dish.
Start with the rice layer.
Top with the seasoned vegetables, carrot miso and Kimchi.
Finally, garnish with Nori seaweed, sesame seeds and spring onion.

Emily’s crispy spinach & chickpeas

Coni Hörler Photography

Crispy Spinach and Chickpeas

This recipe offers a wonderful alternative method of cooking spinach which fully brings the flavour, with the leaves cooking down to a seaweed like consistency. The flavour is rich, so don’t worry that your mountain of spinach has reduced to a dark glossy mass a fraction of its original size, the result will be worth the effort.

Serves four as a tapas style dish.

Ingredients

500g spinach, tough stems removed
25g parsley roughly chopped
10g oregano leaves (or 1 tsp dried oregano)
Salt (Malden sea salt or pink Himalayan salt are good)
125ml olive oil
1 400g Can chickpeas, drained, rinsed and dried (240g drained weight)
2 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced

Put a large saucepan or wok on the heat then add the spinach, parsley and oregano along with half a teaspoon of salt. No oil is used at this stage.

Cook over a medium high heat, stirring frequently for approx. 10 minutes, until the leaves have lost their moisture and have become dark and are slightly sticking to the side of the pan.

Turn the heat down to medium low as you slowly add the olive oil, stirring as you go to incorporate the sticky leaves.

Cook down over a low heat for a further 20 to 25 minutes, stirring occasionally until the leaves become dark green and glossy.

Now stir in the chickpeas and cook for a further 10 minutes until the chickpeas are starting to brown.

Add the sliced garlic for a final 5 minutes of cooking.

To finish I like to squeeze the juice of half a lemon through the dish before serving.

Mamiko’s Vegan Tiramisu

Coni Hörler Photography

 

Vegan Tiramisu

This is one of our most popular desserts and everyone comes back for seconds! Mamiko’s delightful tiramisu involves three stages, but do not be alarmed, the preparation is surprisingly simple…

Yields approximately 12 portions(24cm ×24cm)

Coffee ‘cake’

2cup coconut pulp (you can also use any kind of nut pulp or coconut flakes)
2/3 cup date paste
3TBS cacao powder
6TBS coconut oil, melted or solid
1/4 tsp salt
60ml shot espresso (using 20g of coffee beans)
1tsp cinnamon

Process all the ingredients  and press into a square cake tin. Chill in freezer.

Chocolate mousse

1 cup coconut milk (or any kind of nut milk or soy milk )
150g firm tofu
1/2 cup date
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp salt
6TBS cacao powder
1/4 cup coconut oil or cacao butter, melted

Blend all the ingredients in your food processor.

Pour onto the base, chill in freezer for 1/2 – 1 hour.

Vanilla cream

1cup coconut milk (or any kind of nut milk or soy milk)
300g firm tofu
1/2 cup honey (or any kind of sweetener)
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp salt
3/4 cup coconut oil cacao butter, melted

Blend all the ingredients in your food processor.

Pour the vanilla cream on top of chocolate cream. Chill in the freezer until serving.

Garnish with cacao powder and cacao nibs before serving.

 

Coni Hörler Photography

Pumpkin seed and Arugula (Rocket)

vegan pesto

If you are new to veganism, and looking for simple and versatile culinary ideas, this pesto is most definitely for you.

The recipe makes around 300ml of the sauce which can be stored in a jar in the fridge for approx. 5 days.

Ingredients

• 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds (you can use sunflower seeds or watermelon seeds as I use at Purple Valley, or substitute with a nut variety of your choice)
• 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (approx. 1 half lemon, but add more if you like a more citrusy taste)
• 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
• 1 cup basil leaves, packed
• 1 cup arugula (rocket) leaves, packed
• 3 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
• 1 medium peeled garlic clove, chopped (you can increase or decrease the garlic content according to your taste
• 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast (Engevita Nutritional Yeast is available in Health Food stores or available in larger quantities online, I suggest: wholefoodearth.com )
• 1/2 to 1 cup olive oil

Instructions

1. In a small frying pan, dry fry the seeds or nuts until they pop and brown. Turn out onto a class dish to cool.

2. In a Vitamix or other high-speed blender, combine lemon juice, sea salt, basil, arugula, parsley, garlic and nutritional yeast. Blend until smooth. Slowly add olive oil and blend until fully combined. You can also use a immersion or stick blender which will take a little longer to break down, but works perfectly well.

3. Add pumpkin seeds and blend until smooth with a bit of texture, to your preferred consistency.

This sauce is a wonderful condiment, and is delicious tossed through pasta or spiralled veggie noodles. It also works well as a dip for roast veggies or as a salad dressing.

 

A Magic Trio

Whole group C4

Take a melting pot with 60 students, throw in 3 teachers with unique approaches, sprinkle it with breath and a combined focus on the practice, let it bubble away for two sunny weeks and watch the force work its magic….

When one combines teachers with unique personalities, backgrounds, experiences and different insights into Ashtanga vinyasa yoga, one is bound to bring out something special…

The fourth course at Purple Valley was one of the highlights of the season. Kicking off December on a high note, David Keil, Gretchen Suarez and John Scott got the retreat centre buzzing and high on prana.

The balance of male/female energy (both with teachers and students) worked perfectly well in the shala, with Gretchen bringing a soft but firm and assertive touch to classes. Her background in psychology and insights into one’s mental approach to practice was very helpful – her intention to bring a sense of self awareness and loving kindness to students’ practice and attitude on the mat was welcomed, perhaps because it is a lesser focus in the Ashtanga world. Gretchen offers the mindfulness and meditation elements into the practice: on the mat, she reminds students to become aware of their ‘own judge’ and of that feeling that so many of us have of not ‘being good enough’… She encouraged students to recognise the negative thoughts arising through practice, without judging them. So no-one got away with excuses such as ‘I’m not strong enough’, ‘I cannot do this/that..’, ‘I used to be able to do this’, and so on….

Gretchen reminded students that love and compassion are also practices that each and everyone of us need to carry on and off the mat.

On the other hand, David’s observant and non invasive approach was one many were particularly fond of. David runs the well-known Yoganatomy website, which in my opinion, has the best, clearest, all rounded advice and tips for most practice related issues – search ‘knee pain’, ‘psoas issues’, ‘back pain’, ‘pelvis alignment’ or any other niggle that troubles you and a list of articles, short clips and diagrams will pop up. With such an in-depth knowledge of anatomy, combined with years of Ashtanga practice, one could easily come up with certainties and firm conclusions on technique and/or alignment, thus offering one way of doing things. David, however, is quite the opposite and offers a wholly non-dogmatic approach. He suggests alignment cues or tips based on his experience -both his own and observed in classes- and these are made only once he has carefully watched students in their practices. As a teacher, it does not take long to see patterns appear in people’s anatomy, movement and technique. And with a fun, friendly approach, David always managed to keep a sense of humour even in the most interesting moments. As I struggled in a deep hip opening pose, he stated ‘oh, so this is the fun side’….

As for John Scott, he appeared like the thread in that beautiful yoga mala. Tying every single element of the retreat together – from the early morning sit, to high energy handstand twirls- he buzzed round the shala, adjusting one student whilst keeping an eye on another, and counting through vinyasas without losing track of any movement. If Peter Pan practiced yoga, that would be John…

The advantage of having three great teachers is one space, is all the attention, feedback, energy bouncing and feeding off each other. The risk would be confusion and contradicting approaches, but this was not the case here and the combination worked its magic.

The way each of them held the space, giving attention to all the students, spending time and effort, observing and feeling what could be brought in, was mind-blowing. Taking care of approximately 60 bodies practicing, all at different levels on practice is a hard task to pull off.

Thank you, Gretchen, David and John. See you all in 2016!!!

Two weeks with John Scott

_CHP8413

Two words. John Scott.

Beyond the household name, the yogi superstar, the one who effortlessly floats through complex vinyasa sequences, and one of the first who brought Ashtanga yoga to the world though the eyes of the media, there is a very humble, deeply respectful student and teacher. He honours, loves and seeks to share the practice that his own guru, Sri K Pattabhi Jois, taught him in the 1980s.

Those who have never met or practiced with him before may not know nor understand the importance he places upon the method of vinyasa count. For him, it is the key to attain depth and focus of the practice, and perhaps taming that wandering mind.

He is also very aware that this method is not one that is commonly taught these days, so may bring up frustration, irritation – or in his own words ‘push some buttons’. Hopefully by triggering this reaction in students, he may encourage questioning, thinking and a greater understanding of the meaning of the practice. Guruji would call it mind control.

In the shala, he is incredibly present. His eyes focus, his voice maintains control of the space, as he skilfully manages to work his way round students, keeping an eye (sometimes at the back of his head!) closely monitoring the room, giving instructions, directions and counts when needed. He juggles adjustments whilst guiding others through a led class, checking in on both students and assistants.

John’s adjustments are spot on. He seems to know exactly when and where to push further and where to slow down. There is a sense of absolute trust in a person who has been teaching and practicing for so many years, and still gets excited by sharing his knowledge with others.

Unlike many Mysore trained teachers, there is less emphasis on deeper backbends – a relief- and more on stability and core strength. On the outside, yes there are a LOT of handstands, he throws in so many combinations (like in the ‘old days’) that involve floating in and out of postures. Not for the faint hearted. But that is besides the point. There is a fuss about hand-balancing in the yoga world these days (and Sharath clearly states that they are unnecessary, and just reinforce the ego), but from a logical, structural point of view it makes sense to balance all that flexibility with strength. At the right time in one’s practice. Extreme backbends day after day, year after year, with very little thinking going into them, can be the source of injuries.

So there is a lot of handstanding in John’s classes, and no ‘catching’ /ankle grabbing. A relief for many, a shock perhaps for others.

It also seems that every single element, word and process in John’s classes are there for a reason. Everything makes sense – perhaps not initially, but eventually it does. His melodious voice slowly counting, his deep breath slowly following each person and the twinkling eyes focusing on aligning bodies.

Like all great teachers, he will inspire many to go deeper into the practice. He has the ability to trigger that sense of intense trust both in him and the practice. He treats everyone with a sense of intensity and full attention. He also believes that a true teacher has the responsibility to offer guidance and support to his students.

Out of all the thinking and processing over the course of two weeks, some questions came up.

Why the importance of handstanding and strength in your approach to practicing?

A slightly long winded answer revealed that working on strength – besides the feeling of exhilaration- provides structure and stability.

Strength based postures like handstands captivate people on the earth and the physical level. The ‘showy ‘ stuff was just for demos, and to some extent, was there to captivate people to seek much further the physical aspect of yoga.

The ability to move seamlessly and with grace through asana practice can be a reminder of swara, flow. Through the continuous process of inhale and exhale, one develops greater harmony and flow.

And finally, he explains that every asana is in fact yoga chikitsa – therapy and structure. The entire practice is about aligning and stretching the nadis. Strength is part of this and provides a stable foundation.

Most importantly – how does he manage to keep up so much energy when teaching so much?

Power naps.

And he gets a lot back from teaching. Sharing his practice with his close team of assistants. He once said his practice was his rock. Well that is one steady and strong rock for sure!

_CHP8321

Photos by Coni Horler: http://www.chphotography.ch/

January at Purple Valley – two weeks with Kino and Tim

_CHP8425_2x1

Coni Hörler Photography

Each retreat brings new teachers, students and a brand new energy. January in itself beckons a new start and it seems that Purple Valley is always ready to greet new batch of guests and teachers with friendliness and of course, fresh flower displays.

Starting the year in Tim Feldmann’s company was not only a gift, but a true learning experience. Kino’s presence in the Shala half way through the first course was a buzz of excitement and enthusiasm, but the background energy felt constant and smooth.

Although I believe that one should spend time with one teacher, there should also be space to seek for understanding, and keep the learning process open on a constant basis. All teachers are passing down to us -students- what they have learnt, and this can be a real gift, when one is open to receive. Not all teachers choose to impart their knowledge with as much generosity and kindness, but those two certainly did….

During these two weeks with Kino and Tim, the focus was on guiding students – regardless of level or ability- and time was always given for a helpful tip or adjustment to take each person where needed into the practice.

Kino has had a lot of bad press for being such an exposed personality in social media, but in real life, she has a discreet, quiet and yet strong presence: none of this hyper-energized online persona came through in the shala. Her knowledge is incredible and she is constantly giving and sharing information. That is quite a feat for someone who travels so much and knows that she will probably not come across some of the students again. Many teachers choose to give a little and leave people figure things out for themselves, on their own and in their own time. Not here. Kino is wholly implicated in each person’s practice, and does like to push people beyond their limits – or rather the limits they have imposed on themselves. She is a firm believer that one can do more – try harder, do better- and why not? This may be the best place for most people. There are no commitments, work to get to, nothing to rush to nor stress about, so this is THE place and time where each student can give their full energy to the practice. It is a nice thing to observe and experience. I would never bother to try tricky arm balances so many times (either because I know what is coming next or I feel I should save myself for the rest of the day) or try tic tocs with so much dedication. But after all that efforting, she also clearly reminds everyone, that yoga is not a destination but a journey to be experienced and explored….

Some words that would normally make me cringe (‘squeeze the abs’… ‘really pull that foot…’ etc.) stayed with me for a long time and worked more effectively that anything else. Simplicity and clarity. Full stop.

_CHP6565a

Coni Hörler Photography

On the other hand, Tim’s humorous, soft and yet incredibly strong presence simply seemed to make everyone feel at ease and relaxed. So relaxed in fact, that one would actually want to believe the impossible could be possible. His adjustments were (are) intense but with a gentle, deep slowness that makes one able to relax into postures. After all there is no rush.

One thing that struck me and stayed with me until now, was the act of softening into asanas, whether tricky strength-based postures or simple, basic, asana. By relaxing fully and allowing the body to sink into a position, this creates space for the muscles and bones to align themselves, to then allow the asana to reveal itself in its fullest. Let’s say you are trying to lift your entire body off the floor in Kukutasana – before using brute strength to push up, try sinking down and then lifting up.

So this all mostly stayed with me – even after returning to a cold climate with less leisurely time to practice – as did the attempt to find that soft balance between effort and subtle steadiness in asanas… As Tim rightly noted, one of the keys is “not getting tricked by the relative toughness of these asanas and to approach exclusively from effort, but balance the abhyasa and vairagya” (practice and non attachment… Yoga Sutras, 1.12 – 1.16)

His focus on the slowness of the breath and his consistent slow counts when adjusting, is a reminder that all ‘this’ is a breathing, energetic practice. Perhaps it is also a way to soften that stiff, muscular shield we all tend to build and carry through our lives and on our mats.

All in all, it made practice a whole lot more interesting. Becoming aware of the vastness of things to work on and to let go of. Going deeper into poses without a sense of rushing and hardening. Softening and allowing the body to fully release into postures.

Both their inspiration and full commitment to the practice of yoga as a whole transpires and really makes them shine as teachers. Beyond Kino’s seamless glow there is deep knowledge and faith. Beyond Tim’s playful character, there is immense love and desire to share.

FB_CHP7484

Coni Hörler Photography

Teachers:

http://timfeldmann.com/

http://www.kinoyoga.com/

Photos:

http://www.chphotography.ch/