Are your intentions of benefit?

It’s amazing what a bit of yoga does when practised outside in the glorious sunshine in the snow!!! I was only popping out this morning to get milk but it was such a glorious morning and the countryside beckoned. After finding a beautiful spot I practised Dru Yoga’s Energy Block Release 4, Salutation to the Earth and the Golden Eagle, I felt amazing! Using intensions has become part of my practice, it took a while and did not come easily but now makes a huge difference. Setting the intention to feel happiness is my go- to intention, its so easy to smile! During practising EBR4 there are 3 intentions incorporated at the end, ‘May all my thoughts be of benefit to everyone’, May all my intentions be of benefit to everyone’ and ‘May all my actions be of benefit to everyone’.
For the rest of my walk I delighted in the shadows cast by the trees, the sun reflecting on the water of a stream, the snow sparkling in the sunlight, I was defiantly very happy! I found myself reflecting on intentions, we often hear ‘You are what you eat’, perhaps we should also be saying ‘You are what you think’ more often.
We can think ourselves miserable however we can also think ourselves happy. We are so good at talking ourselves down, being self-critical and feeling inadequate, sound familiar? After a while we begin to believe these negative thoughts, how often do we tell ourselves we are amazing? Even when other people tell us we find it difficult to accept praise. By setting intentions to be happy, be kind to yourself and to accept praise for a job well done we will can begin to realise our potential! If you are happy those around response differently, happiness and laughter are so infectious!
In my joyful state I decided a snow angle was called for, I didn’t appreciate how frozen the snow was and my snow angle just became more of a splat! Despite this failure I found myself laughing all the way home! The simplest things in life can give us so much pleasure!

Core Stability

Core stability is a key part of yoga and identifying and engaging these muscles can help to improve strength, core stability and protect the lower back.  Students can sometime find it difficult to isolate these muscles and  the instruction ‘engage core’ is frequently used as a reminder during classes. It would be lovely if little lights came on when students have ‘engaged’, the smiles when I say ‘and of course  you all have your core muscles engaged’ tells me another story. I frequently remind students in my class to engage their core muscles before and during sequences and asana, its as much a reminder for myself as them!  For those who find it difficult to identify and turn on the core this excellent 3 minute 3-D video provides a simple and straight forward explanation.  Core Stability 3-D video

Research study shows positive effect of a single yoga practice on CFS!

A recently published study showed that after just one yoga session for CFS that energy increased and that changes relating to autonomic functions and blood biomarkers suggested anti-stress and anti-inflammatory effects!!! Amazing! To read this paper follow link: Yoga and CFS 2018

I know from my own experience of practising yoga, particularly Dru I can feel the physical changes within my body, the more I practice the more I feel. I also notice what happens when I don’t practice for a few days reinforcing the need to maintain regular daily routine. I have experienced the increases in energy following practice, feeling relaxed, de-stressed and a softness in my body and joints. Others with CFS have reported increased energy following class attendance, its fantastic that this study has produce physical evidence adding support for yoga to be seen as a valid therapy for CFS.

Amber Glasses, Sleep and CFS

I recently decided to try wearing amber glasses in the evening whilst watching TV or using the computer to filter out blue light to reduce overstimulation of the brain before bedtime.  This can aid a better quality of sleep and with CFS sleep can be a real issue. For me my sleeping pattern is fairly good on the whole with occasional  bouts of insomnia for no real good reason.  When I’m in the  ‘tired but wired’ phase where my adrenaline and cortisol have gone out of whack yoga has proved helpful for helping calm the nervous system and combined with a relaxing Epsom salt bath can really aid sleeping. So why add in the amber glasses you may ask? Like all CFS sufferers you find yourself trying everything to help symptoms, these were recommended  by Dr Rangan Chatterjee (Doctor in the House) in his book The Four Pillar Plan. Whilst they make TV viewing different I have found that I’m  going to sleep quite quickly which is great although my occasional  insomnia hasn’t been cured however there is one unexpected benefit….my eyesight has improved! After just a couple of evenings wearing the amber glasses I noticed I didn’t need to use my reading glasses as  much. I can now read a cook book and see my watch face quite clearly!   I still need my reading glasses for small print but am amazed at how my eyesight has improved so quickly and my eyes feel less tired! So if you have CFS and are exposed to blue light in the evening they are worth a try and are relatively cheap!

PS This is not an April 1st joke!

Dru Yoga: Energy Block Release 2

‘I must be willing to let go of the life I planned in order to live the one that is awaiting me’

For many of us with CFS at some point we  have to let go of the life we were living and planning,  grieve for it and try to look forward and enjoy the one we now have. Easier said than done!!!!!  Energy Block Release 2 (EBR2) is a sequence that is all about being in the ‘here and now’, focusing your attention on how the body is moving and responding with the breath, stretching and strengthening.

I recently used the above quote in the form of  an intention and affirmation as my class had been working up to completing the whole EBR2 sequence. Whilst I knew it may have an emotional effect on some of my CFS students I felt it would be helpful to the class as a whole. I didn’t expect it to have  such a powerful effect on me!!!   Following the class both of my CFS students both said how it really hit home, one still felt she was grieving for her old life, for myself I think I haven’t really grieved as such just moved on to my new life…..or so I thought!  The next day I found myself emailing a Search and Rescue Colleague to arrange return of my equipment and uniform.  I’d been hanging on to the hope of restarting volunteering with this fantastic group of volunteers doing a brilliant job unnoticed and often not  known about:  Oxfordshire Lowland Search and Rescue

Whilst sad to finally let go I feel privileged to have been part of the  team,  a very special group of dedicated people and whilst I close this chapter of my life to move on…… I’m just not ready yet  to throw my running shoes and kit away just yet!!! Maybe another couple of rounds of EBR2?

To safely practice and learn this lovely EBR2  sequence go to the  Dru Yoga On Line Studio. This video demonstrates beautifully that once learn EBR2  flows  with ease and strength ! Energy Block Release 2  

Louise’s Low Oxalate Apple and Cranberry ‘Cookies’

Louise’s Low Oxalate Kitchen
Let’s kick off with a treat! Following the LOD means not being able to just buy off the shelf on most occasions and these ‘cookies’ are a delicious treat for everyone! Working with coconut flour is interesting and any recipes that uses it with a description of ‘bread or cookies’ means ‘cake’! Perhaps I should be calling these ‘cake cookies’ to lower expectations. They are however still enjoyable! I’m still experimenting and will be posting other coconut flour recipes as they are perfected! To achieve a truly crisp cookie you will need the use of a dehydrator for a dunkable treat!

Apple and Cranberry Cookies: Makes approx. 9: gluten free, vegetarian, 1.2 mg oxalate per cookie

2/3 cup coconut flour
1/4 cup coconut oil melted (stand jar in a bowl of hot water)
2 eggs
1/4 cup runny honey
1/2 cup apple puree
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup dried cranberries
Pinch salt


• Preheat oven Gas Mark 4
• Line baking tray with non-stick baking parchment
• Sift flour and bicarbonate of soda into a mixing bowl
• Add all the other ingredients and mix with a wooden spoon into a ‘batter’, this will thicken slightly.
• Use a tablespoon to scoop mixture onto baking tray: 1 tbsp per cookie.
• Slightly flatten into rounds
• Bake in the centre of oven for approx. 20 minutes, until firm.
• Leave to cool on wire rack if you can!

These are ‘cookies’ with a moist sponge like texture, if you would like a firmer cookie follow one of the two stages below:

• After 20 mins cooking, place on wire rack, return to oven, turn off heat and leave for 1 hour
• Turn oven to lowest setting and leave for another 20 minutes to an hour, checking regularly to avoid burning.

Dehydrator Method

• Following the 20 minute bake in the oven, carefully lift cookies onto dehydrator tray.
• Set at 70 °C for 4 hours.
• After 4 hours check for desired consistency, crisp outer and soft middle.
• Leave in dehydrator at 70°C for up to 8 hours to obtain crisp and crunchy cookies that hold up to a good dunk!

Will keep for a few days in an airtight container….but I doubt they will last that long! Enjoy!

Louise’s Low Oxalate Kitchen

Is your green smoothie bad for your health? For most people oxalates, a chemical naturally found in food particularly; fruits, vegetables, pulses and grains, cause no problems and can be consumed freely. Usually associated with the formation of calcium oxalate kidney stones, high oxalate levels have also been associated with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, autism, asthma/COPD, vulvodynia and under-active thyroid:

For some of us, we are faced with adopting a low oxalate diet (LOD), reducing slowly to avoid a syndrome known as “dumping” which by all accounts is rather unpleasant. I have no formal nutrition qualification and would advise anyone who thinks they may have high oxalate levels to seek medical advice and diagnosis before making major changes.  These recipes will be for all to enjoy not just the LOD’s, my work colleagues have been sampling some of my recipes and my flaxseed crackers go down a treat!  I’ll be posting recipes which are low in oxalate levels which I have developed  and adapted from a range of sources due to the lack of availability of vegan and vegetarian low oxalate delicious meals.

For myself, already having had to cut out gluten (permanently), experiencing temporary lactose intolerance, already vegetarian and then temporarily vegan this change in diet was a huge challenge! My diet was  healthy, packed with nutrition, home cooked, organic when ever possible and then I was faced with a diagnosis of hyperoxaluria.  My green smoothie and a lot of my diet was actually doing me harm! What the spinach, kale and almond super food smoothie had to go? My sweet potatoes, carrots, beetroot, nuts, tempeh, tahini, rhubarb, chia seeds to name just a few all had to go! The horror! What was I going to eat??  The LOD aims for between 40-60 mg of oxalate a day, 100gm of spinach for example contains  1145 mg, a raw serving of 1/2 cup   contains 75mg of oxalate!   After a short period of rocking in a corner I took on the challenge and started researching low oxalate foods, what an eye opener! So little information and what was available was not always accurate, aimed at meat eaters and very little vegan/vegetarian options. However, I managed to get a link to an extensive spreadsheet of foods that had been tested in the USA (link now vanished!) and hence the idea arose for ‘Louise’s Low Oxalate Kitchen’. I am developing vegan and vegetarian (I am now able to tolerate dairy which is very low oxalate) recipes for my first cook book and will be posting nutritious recipes and the occasional ‘naughty but nice’ treats!

‘Louise’s Low Oxalate Kitchen’ is now open for business!