Cooking up a Storm in Mysore

Fruit & Veg stallFor the fourth and final instalment of my food guide series, I take a look at the options for eating in whilst in Mysore, reviewing the best supermarkets, organic shops and fruit & veg stalls in and around Gokulam.

I suggest how to safely cook with the water in India and also share photos of some of the dishes I’ve managed to prepare in my basic Indian kitchen – for a little added inspiration.

Read the full article here:

Cooking up a storm in Mysore

Happy cooking!

Let it all go and have a Happy New Year!

Ganesha shrineAs we move into a brand new year this is a great opportunity to reflect back over our achievements and blessings, to consider what we want to let go of and to manifest our dreams and wishes for the year ahead.

I’ve put together a few rituals you can do alone or with others, both around the year’s end and throughout the coming year. So take some time out to focus on you for a change and fill yourself with gratitude, joy and hope – you deserve it!

Burning paper Read the full post here:

New Year’s Eve: Reflection, Gratitude and Dreaming Big

Wishing everyone a happy and prosperous new year filled with love, light and laughter.

Food for Thought in Mysore City

Pizza at MayaFollowing my previous guest posts for Ashtanga Brighton, The Ultimate Guide to Eating out in Gokulam and I Get the Sweetest Feeling in Mysore, my third instalment in this food guide series looks at some of the best places to eat further afield in the city of Mysore itself.

From traditional thalis and butter dosas to brick oven pizzas and Indian home cooking, there’s something to suit all tastes if you know where to look.

Check out the full post:

Food for thought in Mysore city


I Get the Sweetest Feeling in Mysore

Coffee and cake at Green HotelFollowing my previous guest post for Ashtanga Brighton, The Ultimate Guide to Eating Out in Gokulam, I’ve now put together a guide to the most important aspect of eating out in Mysore – where to find the best coffee, cake, chocolate and ice cream!

If you have a sweet tooth like me you’re going to love these coffee shops and ice cream parlours. And who’d have thought they’d have great ice cream in India, which used to be one of the least safe foods to eat here?!

Check out the full blog post:

I get the sweetest feeling in Mysore 


The Ultimate Guide to Eating Out in Gokulam, Mysore

Eating wraps and salad at PascucciHaving spent 3 months in Mysore at the beginning of this year, and having sampled just about every cafe and restaurant there is to sample, I thought it would be a good idea to share my thoughts and experiences so other people’s tastebuds can have as much fun as mine!

Now that I’m back in Mysore for another 3 months, it seemed the perfect opportunity to publish such a guide, as I’ve now had the opportunity to check all the eateries are still in business, and to include a few new places too.

I’ve written the guide as a guest blog for Ashtanga Brighton and as well as listing the main places to eat in Gokulam and surrounding areas, and the types of food they serve, I also provide a price guide, the addresses and directions of how to find them – because apart from deciding where to go and what to order, the hardest part is finding the restaurants in the first place!

Thali at Hotel DasaprakashCheck out the full blog post here:

The ultimate guide to eating out in Gokulam

Bon appétit!

Travels and Trikonasanas: 5 tips to help you stay on the mat whilst travelling

Garba Pindasana

During my recent travels I met a lovely Canadian guy in Mysore, Clint Griffiths, who runs a yoga clothing brand and blog, Ekaminhale. He asked me to write a guest post for his blog, so I decided to write about an issue that was very close to my heart and prominent in my life at that time, and which still affects me now: the struggles of maintaining a consistent, daily practice whilst travelling.

In terms of my practice, the first half of my 6-month trip this year was amazing – intense, focussed and dedicated – and I felt strong, empowered and on top of my game, so to speak. But that’s because I was in Mysore. As soon as I left Mysore things took a turn for the worst, and the last 3 months were the complete opposite – painful, difficult and a constant struggle to stay focussed and stay on my mat.

You can read more about my journey, including my 5 top tips to help you stay on the mat whilst travelling, over at the Ekaminhale blog:


Learning Massage the Thai Way

TMC School

TMC School

As you may have noticed, this is the first blog I’ve written in a while. It’s not really about Ashtanga or Angels because, well, I haven’t really been experiencing much of either lately. So I thought I’d fill you in on the time I spent in Chiang Mai instead.

When I first started the 5-week “150-Hour i5 Professional Thai Massage Course” at TMC School I had only just left the safe cosy bubble of Mysore behind, before spending 10 days in silence on an intense Vipassana meditation retreat, then travelling up to Delhi where I was struck down with a violent bout of food poisoning a few hours before having to fly to Bangkok then get straight on an overnight sleeper train to Chiang Mai. So I was feeling a little discombobulated to say the least. It took me a good week to get used to doing totally new activities in a totally new city, let alone a new country.

Me and my lovely classmates

Me and my lovely classmates

Chiang Mai, and Thailand in general, seemed vastly different to India and much more Westernised – and therefore expensive – than I remember or than I was expecting. There are still local food stalls and 7 Elevens everywhere but now there are also “Tesco Lotus Express”s everywhere, as well as countless outlets of McDonald’s, Burger King, KFC, Subway, Starbucks, even Boots, Marks & Spencer and The Body Shop. I was struck by the bright lights, brand new shopping malls, countless shops, bars and restaurants, and the construction of fancy new condominium buildings strewn across the city. The old part of Chiang Mai still has a much more laid back feel to it and exploring the small lanes and alleyways usually resulted in finding a few little gems (Tea Tree Cafe and Birds Nest Cafe to name just two), but I was amazed at the amount of traffic hurtling along the inner and outer roads of the moat that runs around the old city in a very neat and easily navigable square.

Riding the "school bus"

Riding the “school bus”

On the first day of school the “school buses” drove around collecting everyone from their respective hotels and guesthouses. When I say school bus I actually mean a songthaew aka a “red cab” which is basically a big tuk tuk that can carry up to about 10 people on benches in the back. Arriving at the school I was amazed to discover how super organised it all was. Every morning the teachers would be ready to greet us with “Sawadee Kaaaa!” and one of them would take our temperature. Then we signed ourselves in, put our valuables in our named lockers, helped ourselves to the free bananas and herbal tea (using our individually numbered mugs) and changed into our clean practice clothes, which of course had a fresh name tag stuck to them each day. There was free drinking water, a fridge to keep food in, crockery and cutlery available to use at lunchtime, and even tupperware boxes we could use to collect food from the market over the road to save on the endless plastic bags and elastic bands they wrap everything in.

Our lunchtime market

Our lunchtime market

Each week we changed classrooms, teachers and groups so we’d check the board and head off to our respective rooms. After the daily ritual of morning prayers, yogi exercises and feet cleaning we’d get stuck in to the massage. There was a strict schedule to follow and we’d always know what our objectives were for each day. The teaching usually consisted of the teacher demonstrating on a willing volunteer, then the students taking time to practice on each other. So we were able to practice on lots of different body types, we received lots of massage ourselves and we got to know our fellow students pretty intimately by the end of the course!



Our lovely teachers (and giant me!)

Our lovely teachers (and giant me!)

Most of the teachers were very friendly, supportive and absolutely hilarious! There was always lots of laughing and giggling as we exchanged snippets of Thai and English, picked up on their cute noises and expressions (“Ok mai?”, “Na-ha”, “Sexy back”, “Urrrrr”) and generally made each other laugh. Each classroom had an assortment of mattresses, blankets, cushions and pillows and at the end of each session we’d all help to change the covers, clean them and make them beautiful. “Beautiful pillows” quickly became a commonly used expression, which soon expanded to “beautiful hair”, “beautiful trousers”, “beautiful massage”, “beautiful bananas”, in fact just about anything could be deemed beautiful in the context of TMC!



Field trip to a temple

Field trip to a temple

The highlights of the course came in the last couple of weeks when we went on three field trips. One of these was a visit to a temple in Lamphun where we were taught Tok Sen massage using a wooden hammer and experienced the ancient art of Yam Khang fire massage where the priest would dip his foot alternately into sesame oil and plai oil, then onto a fire, then onto our bodies. It was surprisingly pleasant, but the most amazing thing was the way he was able to give such a strong massage just by using the strength of his toes.




The adorable Drawing Boy

Cheogh, the adorable Drawing Boy

On the two other field trips we gave massages to Thai seniors at a day care centre and to children with special needs at a children’s home. The seniors generally seemed to like it very strong so my thumbs were really feeling it after almost four hours of massage in a day! The children were absolutely adorable and I think we all fell in love with our respective “clients”. I nicknamed my first child “The Drawing Boy” because all he wanted to do was draw. He wasn’t interested in massage, or playing, or even in dancing to the live music afterwards. He just wanted to draw and draw and draw. And for me to draw too. We only had one piece of paper (the back of the “massage plan” we were supposed to be using!) so we filled it from corner to corner in doodles, houses, boats, people and animals. One of his favourite games was pointing to each animal and hearing me make the relevant animal noise. Hours of fun! My heart just kept melting over and over again.

Massaging seniors at a community centre

Massaging seniors at a community centre


On the final day of the course we were due to take our practical exam where we’d be observed performing a two-hour massage on one of our fellow students. We’d had a practice two days before and I was feeling fairly confident that I could remember the sequence and give a good massage within the allotted time. However, when we arrived at school that morning, we were called in to a meeting of all the teachers and students. Thailand was in the middle of a military coup, a 10pm curfew had been enforced throughout the country and all schools had to be closed for at least the next three days. The manager of the school offered for us to come back at a later date to take the exam, but as most of us were leaving Chiang Mai that weekend, this wasn’t really an option. So what they decided to do was grade us based on our practice exams two days earlier, as well as ongoing observations they’d been making.

Beautiful graduation clothes!

Beautiful graduation clothes!

How often does that happen eh? You turn up for an exam and get told it’s been cancelled but that you’ll basically pass anyway! We were dumbfounded, delighted and relieved at the same time. But it also meant we had to have our graduation ceremony there and then before going home. It was all a bit sudden but the diploma certificates had been prepared in advance so we lined up to receive them, took plenty of photos, said goodbye to all the teachers and headed to the pool! Well what else is there to do on an unexpected day off?!

So, despite the rather sudden and odd ending, it was a fascinating 5 weeks. I learnt so much, met so many lovely people, had lots of fun socialising at the weekends and received so many textbooks – which I had to post home along with my certificate, herbal balls, wooden thumb, and souvenir photo CD. Despite a few criticisms about some aspects of the school and their teaching methods, overall I think it was an excellent course and worth every penny. I hope I’ll be able to use what I’ve learnt in my professional life as I navigate my way through some life changes, but first I need lots of practice. So, who’s for a massage…?!

It wasn't all work, work, work...

It wasn’t all work, work, work…

A visit to an amazing elephant sanctuary

A visit to an amazing elephant sanctuary

The whole crazy gang

The whole crazy gang

Pool day!

Pool day!