A wonderful find, Ramana’s Garden is just a short walk from the Anand Prakash Ashram, Rishikesh.  This beautiful sanctuary is just off an alleyway that weaves down to the River Ganga.  Ramana’s Garden is tucked away but the sign promising “home-grown organic healthy foods” will entice you in.

Stepping off the main pathway you enter into an abundant space growing organic produce, housing cows and also a home and school for local children.  As stated on the sign this most certainly is “A unique dining experience that helps Ramana’s Garden Children’s Home help you stay healthy!”.   The organic garden provides fresh yummy produce for children in the home and school as well as for the visitors to the cafe.

Ramana’s Garden India was founded by a dedicated American woman, Prabhavati Dwabha, 18 years ago as a result of her spiritual practice on the banks of the River Ganga. Prabhavati’s heart overflowed with compassion for the numerous homeless, destitute, and abused children she met there, and she decided to make those children her life’s work. On a shoestring budget, she has for years provided a growing number of children with education, nourishment, and a future where they had little or no hope.

Dharma is righteous living or living with God and consists of doing good to others and the practice of love, charity, truthfulness and purity in one’s life

Today Ramana’s Garden India is home to more than 60 resident children, many of whom have lost both parents. There are an additional 165 children from nearby impoverished families, many with a single parent, who come into school each day. Twelve paid professional teachers lead a solid curriculum of core classes, including Math, Science, English, Hindi, and the arts. The education provided is on a par with the best primary schools in India, and thus will serve to provide the kids with opportunities for adult careers that otherwise would be unimaginable.

The cafe is operated by volunteers and sometimes the children help in the restaurant.  The menu offers a selection of healthy options including breakfast, lunch set menu with organically grown salad greens, fresh baked breads, soup, daal, desserts and cakes.  You can get a good coffee and real cappuccino here!

The cafe has stunning views over the surrounding area, it is a wonderful spot to catch some sun and one evening we dropped in to enjoy a drink on the terrace under the full moon.  This is most definitely a magical place bringing much change and positivity into the world.

I look forward to my return visit to Rishikesh and to Ramana’s Garden….

To find out more click here,  donations can be made via this link  or “To Sponsor A Child” click here.

Also feel free to make contact if you wish to volunteer.  Volunteering at Ramana’s Garden is a commitment to the children and to yourself. Whatever you give you will receive back tenfold in love, hugs, smiles and fulfilment. Volunteering requires patience, motivation, energy and initiative. From the day of your arrival and for the rest of your life you will be part of their family of 60 children.  They request a minimum commitment of three months but if you live at accommodation nearby you can also arrange volunteering for one month time commitment.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Ramana’s Garden

Every day, I sprinkle Chia seeds onto my breakfast.  I also use them in baking, blended into smoothies and in tasty desserts.  These tiny seeds are jam packed with nutritional value and are extremely easy to add to your diet.

Chia, or Salvia hispanica L, is a member of the mint family from Mexico and South America. The Aztecs relied on chia as a staple food and revered it enough to use for religious ceremonies and medicinal purposes.

Rich in omega-3s, high in fibre, protein, magnesium and much more, it is no surprise that chia seeds are known as “the ultimate super food”.

  • Chia is gluten free
  • It is super high in dietary fibre, making it great for digestion and healing digestion issues.
  • It contains 20% Omega 3 ALA, making it a super food for the brain and heart. Chia has eight times more Omega 3 than salmon!
  • It boasts 20% protein
  • It is high in antioxidants
  • Chia contains five times more calcium than milk
  • Chia contains seven times more vitamin C than oranges
  • It contains three times more iron than spinach
  • It contains twice the potassium content of banana
  • It is food for healthy skin, hair and nails
  • It has a positive impact balancing blood glucose levels
  • Chia makes a great egg replacement. Just combine with water to form a gel, and add it to recipes that call for egg.

Here are a few simple ways to use chia seeds:

Blend into smoothies
Add a desert spoon of seeds to any smoothie and as the seeds have a “neutral” taste they mix well with any flavour combination.

Sprinkle onto breakfast cereals and yoghurt
This is my daily favourite and a great way to add nutrients to your first meal of the day.

Add to any baking recipe
Chia seeds can be easily added to any bread or baking recipe including gluten free recipes.  Adding chia seeds increases the nutritional density of the recipe whilst reducing the glycemic index due to the gelatinous outer coating found on chia seeds.  Check out this Oat, Nut and Chia Seed Energy Bar recipe.

Try sprouting with chia seeds
Perhaps something a little different but you can sprout and add to salads.

Make a ‘Chia Fresca”
Mix whole chia seeds with water or fruit juice to make a ‘Chia Fresca’ which translates as ‘fresh chia’.

A tasty (and healthy) Chia dessert
Per serving infuse ½ cup of almond milk with 1 teaspoon honey, vanilla extract and add 3 teaspoons of chia seeds.  Allow the chia seeds to expand, ideally overnight. This pudding is great eaten with fresh seasonal fruit making a tasty, healthy pudding!

Wilderness Festival is always a highlight in my calendar. I’m a regular member of the Wild Wellbeing In-house Therapist Team.  Roll on summer!  See you in the Wilderness….

Here’s my recipe for super quick, tasty and healthy granola. Many of the shop bought granola is high in sugar, contains unhealthy fats and oils, and may contain unnecessary ingredients. The benefit of making your own is that you can mix up the flavours and experiment with ingredients.

Whole oats are full of good-for-you fibre, high in protein, and contain vitamins and minerals like iron and magnesium. Buy 100% pure whole rolled oats as “instant” or “quick cooking” will be highly processed.

Add nuts and seeds for flavour, texture, extra nutrients and added healthy protein. You can add unsweetened dried fruit and maybe added less sweetener if you are adding fruits to keep the sugar content down.

This recipe makes about three cups of granola – ½ cup is typically a serving. Serve it as cereal with milk (try it with unsweetened almond milk), unsweetened Greek yogurt and with fresh seasonal fruit. I like to add a sprinkling of chia seeds to add protein and nutrients. Plus chia seeds are very filling so will prevent mid-morning cravings!

Healthy Homemade Granola Recipe

Prep Time: 10 min
Total Time: 20 min
Serves 4-6

Use raw, organic ingredients whenever possible. These measurements are flexible; don’t worry too much about being exact.

Ingredients:

2 cups raw, whole rolled oats
½ cup raw nuts, chopped
¼ cup raw seeds (sunflower or pumpkin seeds are great)
½ cup unsweetened dried fruit, chopped (optional)
2-3 tablespoons raw honey
2 tbsp virgin coconut oil
½ tsp vanilla extract or almond extract
1 large pinch fine sea salt

Preheat the oven to 150C/300F/Gas Mark 2.

Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and use your clean hands to mix well and to coat.  The coconut oil might be liquid or solid depending on the temperature of the room you are in (it has a melting point of about 75ºF.) Your hands will warm it up and melt it into the mixture if it’s solid, just be sure to mix it all through the other ingredients so there aren’t any chunks of oil left. Spread the mixture in a thin layer on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes, until very lightly toasted.  Cool before serving or storing. This granola can be kept in an airtight glass container in a cool, dry place for up to 2 weeks.

Why not get creative and add your own combo of healthy ingredients.  Here are a few ingredient ideas to get you started:

Blueberries
Dates
Flaxseeds
Cherries
Almonds
Walnuts
Maple Syrup
Cashew Nuts
Pecans
Raisins
Cinnamon
Cranberries

The list goes on…. Enjoy creating your own flavour combinations!

Easing back into life is not always so straight forward particularly after an extended trip to India.  Arriving in India, you feel as though you’ve entered a strange and magical world.  Your senses get overloaded with sounds, sights, colours, smells and tastes.  India pulses and you feel so alive.  There is no hiding from the experience, it is all consuming and you quickly adjust to the ebb and flow of life.

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(Rishikesh)

My first destination was Rishikesh situated in the foothills of the Himalayas and known as the “Yoga capital of the world”.  The sacred river Ganges flows through Rishikesh and the city is considered holy by Hindus.  A bustling centre of temples, customs, rituals with a deep rich history. You become completely absorbed by life here.

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(Rishikesh)

Home during my stay was Anandprakash Yoga Ashram in Tapovan , just a few minutes walk from the sacred Ganges.  Tapovan, an ideal location for yoga sadhana, is named for its heritage as a site for spiritual disciplines.  “Tap”, represents tapas, the practice of spiritual disciplines.  “Van” means forest.  So, Tapovan is the forest of the yogis.

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(Arrival at Anand Prakash Ashram)

The rigours of ashram living can be challenging particularly the strict daily routine.  You wake up early before sunrise, meditate to go deeper into our mind, practice yoga asanas to work on a physical level within the body, practice breathing exercises to steady our mind, chant to raise our vibrations and bring balance, fire puja for purification, eat simple food, discuss philosophies to open the mind and lectures to develop our knowledge.

I had several goals for my trip, firstly to spend time with my teacher to seek guidance and spiritual wisdom.  I was ready to learn new skills and techniques to deepen my knowledge and personal practice.  I was looking for new ideas and inspiration to bring back and share with my students.  And finally to meet fellow yogis and spiritual travellers.

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(Our teachers – Gayatri, Yogrishi Vishvketu, Prem, Kamalika)

Simply being with other people who are also seekers and who are involved in the same quest you are is very meaningful” ~ Dan Wakefield

My trip didn’t disappoint, I gifted myself this time and I absorbed new teachings, personal reflections, had the opportunity to be fully present and in the moment without the distractions of everyday life.  I found peace and clarity of mind.  I met an amazing group of fellow yogis from all corners of the globe.  We developed a deep connection from sharing the same life changing experience.

As I reflect I can see that this trip is the beginning of something special.  The depth of the experience was so immense that I do not think I will comprehend the impact until much further down the line…  Every moment feels so special and I have a new vigour for life.

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(Yoga Teacher Training Yogis)

Spirituality is allowing compassion and love to flourish.  When belongness begins, corruption ends.” ~ Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

Happiness cannot be travelled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed.  Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace and gratitude” ~ Denis Waitley

Om shanti.

Starfish Meditation from the “Yoga Sleep and Other Magical Guided Meditations for Children” is now available on my YouTube channel.

Thank you for all of the fantastic reviews that I have been receiving for this CD.  It is such an honour that this CD is helping so many children in such a wide variety of ways.  Ranging from relaxation and stress relief, for bedtime and for those that have been ill and have listened to the CD whilst in hospital.

Downloads are now available on iTunes, Amazon and on streaming sites such as Spotify.

“Thank you for this brilliant CD!  Our 5 ½ year old daughter (who has sleep issues due as she is unable to allow her brain to relax) listens to it every night , and it has really help her to calm down at bedtime. For us, we can see a real positive change, and she is often less frantic when going to bed following using the CD, and sometimes she even falls asleep before the end – a real result!!  She has asked me to tell you she particularly loves being an eagle, and asks when are you doing another one!” ~ LR, UK

Freshly back from my extended trip to India I have plenty to share with you!  This sharing will happen gradually so for now I’ve created a video to give you an essence of my trip.


Wishing you peace, love and laughter in the new year!  I look forward to seeing you soon or connecting online.

May your coming year be filled with magic & dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you’re wonderful, and don’t forget to make some art – write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself” ~ Neil Gaiman

I’m busy preparing for my upcoming trip to India and contemplating being back in an ashram environment.  Life is pretty hectic as I get ready for this extended trip.  I have friends and family to catch up with, planning to be done for the cover of my weekly yoga classes and monthly workshops, getting my business admin up to date as well as attending a number of meetings for future projects.

I feel both excited and apprehensive but I know the trip has come at the right time for me.  My destination is Anandprakash Yoga Ashram in Rishikesh, just a few mintues walk from the sacred river Ganga (the Ganges).

Ashram living follows a strict daily routine which can prove challenging at times but reinforces the need for a regular daily practice.  The ashram removes the distractions of everyday life so is the perfect opportunity to re-focus and to re-establish good habits.

The deepest learning comes from having this time to dedicate to our sadhana (practice) and to experience a much deeper personal enquiry.  Sadhana is a discipline undertaken in the pursuit of a spiritual goal using mind and intelligence in practice towards this goal.

This extended stay in the ashram is a perfect time to get journaling and to focus on svadhyaya (self study).   I know from previous trips and retreats that journaling is so creative and useful.  Without regular distractions, really powerful realisations can come up.

I will have the perfect opportunity to evaluate what is important for me right now.  Have the space to review my vision for the short to longer term.  This is the perfect opportunity to make internal and external changes to generate greater fulfilment and happiness.

There will be the opportunity to meet fellow yogis and spiritual travellers all undergoing the same life changing experience.  Great friendships to be formed.


(Anandprakash Yoga Ashram Tapovan)

Just to mention that regular classes and workshops will continue whilst I’m away so there will be no change to your programme.  Weekly classes will be covered by Exeter based Carol Fentimen and Yoga Nidra workshops will be taught Christine Dumbleton.  All bookings will be managed in the usual way so please book via my online shop or you can email info@juliebladon.com.  I have admin cover for this whole period so your message will be dealt with by Wendy.

Have a wonderful couple of months and I look forward to seeing you all in the New Year!

Om shanti.

Image credit: Piriamvada Yoga

As mentioned last week, my summer has been busy working on my creative project.  Alongside that I have been completing extra yoga study and also focussing on study related to my business.  It was recommended through my business study to read The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks PhD.

I was familiar with Gay’s work and background in psychology, personal growth, abundance and consciousness so I jumped at the chance to read this book.  In fact it was so engaging, I couldn’t put the book down and ended up reading it in two days!

The book is a comprehensive and simple guide to overcoming our barriers to achieving our full potential and to live more fully.  This potential is not just financial but also in love and life.

The goal in life is not to attain some imaginary ideal; it is to find and fully use our own gifts.”

The book can lead to some major “A-Ha” moments in terms of understanding our gifts and how we may be subconsciously sabotaging ourselves so that we don’t move forward to be the best we can be.

We have a limit to how much success, love, joy we may experience in life and generally this can be set early in our childhood.  This limit comes into play when we are doing well and we subconsciously do things to sabotage our achievements such as making bad decisions, engaging in negative thoughts, physically injuring ourselves, creating personal dramas.

Each of us has an inner thermostat setting that determines how much love, success, and creativity we allow ourselves to enjoy.  When we exceed our inner thermostat setting, we will often do something to sabotage ourselves , causing us to drop back into the old, familiar zone where we feel secure.”

Hitting this ceiling is referred to our “Upper Limit Problem”, when we push through our upper limit a voice in our head may say “You can’t possibly feel this good” or “be this happy in love”.  Unconsciously you do something to bring you back to your safe zone, a place where you feel  most comfortable.

Gay talks about our “Zone of Genuis”, a set of activities that are uniquely suited to you and serve your highest purpose in life.  The key thing here is that they are unique to you drawing on your talents and strengths.  This is what we truly LOVE to do, what makes our heart sing.

The fear of being fundamentally flawed brings with it a related fear.  It’s the fear that if you did make a full commitment to living in your Zone of Genius, you might fail.  It’s the belief that even your genius is flawed.”

Gay expertly guides us through the hidden barriers giving advice on how to bust through them.  The four barriers identified are:

  1. Feeling Fundamentally Flawed – A feeling that you are fundamentally flawed in some way.
  2. Disloyalty and Abandonment – Believing that if you achieve success you will end up alone, be disloyal to your roots and leave behind people from your past.
  3. Believing That More Success Brings a Bigger Burden – Believing that reaching your highest potential will make you an even bigger burden.
  4. The Crime of Outshining – Feeling that having full success will make you outshine others which will make them look or feel bad.

I really loved this book and found new ways to look at how I deal with situations.  It gave me the opportunity to really look at how I respond to situations and where I may be sabotaging my life.  I firmly believe that you can change your life from the inside out so this book is a useful tool to examine ourselves and develop ways to change.

I’m sure I will get more out of the book upon further reading.  I’d highly recommend this book if you wish to take a different look at your inner life and would like to make positive change.

I love the mantra Gay quotes “I expand in abundance, success, and love every day, as I inspire those around me to do the same”.  We can each be the change.

the big leap

 

Next week I am back to my full yoga schedule and I’m certainly looking forward getting back into the studio. I’ve had a lighter programme over the summer which has allowed me to focus on my creative projects.

I’m in the middle of writing a children’s illustrated book which is a collaboration with Nia Gould, a locally based artist. This project started a while ago when a chance conversation seeded an idea. I must admit I started the project and didn’t really have a firm timetable in place which has allowed the project to evolve of its own accord.

On the one hand a lack of timetable could be seen as frustrating or unproductive but in this case it has allowed the book to emerge naturally and organically. I look back at our early proofs and can see how much the book has developed.  Using a collaborative way of working we have developed ideas, tried out different creative ideas and allowed the characters to find their voice.

The process of creative writing has also been interesting. I have spent most of my career writing in some form or another. Academic essays, business reports, funding applications, marketing copy, press releases, theatre programmes and brochures, web content and the list goes on. I thought this would have prepared me for the creative task ahead but it has been a steep learning curve.

Introducing the characters, setting the scene, linking the story to the illustrations, allowing the story to open up and flow have been new ways to write in order to gain the reader’s attention. Crafting a book that draws people in, grabbing their attention and sharing some inspirational thoughts has been the goal. Creating a fictional world that speaks to the reader has sometimes been an interesting challenge.

At times I have felt too close to the project which has obscured my view. Luckily I have had creative friends and “guinea pigs” around me to test out our ideas. I now realise that it is time to take the project to the next level so I have commissioned a writing coach to seek their professional view, iron out any concerns and to ensure that the book will be the very best that we can create.

At the outset I didn’t really know what adventure I had signed up to but I am certainly enjoying the process, allowing the book to emerge and I can’t wait to see what happens next in the life of this book.

Watch this space as I am looking forward to the time when I can share this book with you…

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