Yoga and the tickle that ends with a blaze

‘It begins with a tickle and ends with a blaze of petrol’.

Jacques Lacan

I’ve become a heavy breather. A hefty exhaler. An uninhibited sigher, catching the high notes as they roll down the back of my throat. Purring at the end of the exhale and letting the ripple take a soft seat in my cells. I think it started in meditation. Bliss trills would surprise me and trail out in whispers. That moment when everything settles down and you can really exhale for the first time.

Satisfying, plant-based food.

How do you feel satisfied with a plant-based diet?

Can you feel full from vegetarian or vegan food?

My mother has contacted me as she’s having my brother over for dinner.

‘He’s declaring himself as vegan,’ she says, ‘Can you recommend something for a main course, which of course will have to be substantial enough to feed the big lad?’

I am thrilled on two counts:

1) I’m flattered my mother has contacted me for cooking tips, and

2) I’m stoked my brother’s vegan.

But my mother’s question raises what I feel is a regular query – how do you feel satisfied with vegan food?

What vegetarian recipes fill you up?

I made some suggestions for my mother. What about Indian food? A dal served with rice, some chutney, a bhaji and maybe some poppadoms and a bread. Wholly satisfying. What about sushi as a main? Indonesian yellow curry? Bean burgers and chips? I suggested my mother might try what Collette and I made for Christmas – a vegan haggis with neeps, tatties and a whisky sauce with thyme. However, in the end I just felt a bit silly making suggestions – surely my brother can just be fed until he’s had enough food.

Meat eaters will often say that beans and pulses simply don’t satisfy like animal food products do. Many of us are used to a diet that includes animal products and if there is no meat on the plate it can feel like something is missing. I have certainly had that very sensation during my transition to a plant-based diet. I’ve been raised to consider vegetables, legumes and grains as a side dish to the main event. Nowadays, if Collette and I don’t find a vegan-friendly restaurant when we’re dining out, we’re often happy eating a selection of the side dishes. It works out tasty, certainly more varied and often cheaper.

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What are the facts about whether vegan food can fill you up?

An interesting study by the University of Copenhagen’s Department of Nutrition, Exercise and Sports concluded that meals based on beans and peas are more satiating than pork and veal based meals. The study fed 43 men. When fed with beans and peas the men ate fewer calories in the next meal compared with those who had been fed pork and veal equivalents. The findings of this study seem to add weight to the argument that our reliance upon meat to satiate is at least to some degree psychological.

Though there may be a psychological barrier to cross to consider that plant-based foods will satisfy even big lads, it is possible. I’m 100kg and my weight hasn’t changed at all since I’ve ditched the meat. So when a vegan comes around for dinner, don’t panic, food without animal products can be as satisfying as food with. It’s just a matter of perception, challenging your own belief system and adjusting engrained habits.

Thanks for reading.

Pete

For recipe ideas check out our recipes page.


We serve a varied, nutritious and inspiring, plant-based diet on retreat.

Stillness is my jam

‘The one you are looking for is the one who is looking’.

St Francis of Assisi

I’ve been doing a lot of Power Vinyasa. It’s not my go-to but it seems to be the main domain around Melbourne so I’m embracing it. Get me strong. Make me sweat. Work me hard. Rrrrrr. A big part of me loves it but it’s really not my jam. It’s not where I’m at in my home practice. I can’t go deep enough into my tissue and travel my awareness down carefully when we move so quickly. I can’t pause and feel into my experience for long enough. My breath gets ragged as we shift from one pose to another. The sweat is pouring off me and my travel mat is getting all kinds of manky. I’m being pushed. Hard. And I’m not sure that’s what I need.

I want to sit in the seat of the asana and become intimate with the shape. I want to engage down to my bones and be still inside myself. I want to feel into the silence that sits beneath the sounds. That frequency and baseline of presence that calls to me and asks me to hover for just a moment. To hang out there. Take the time to sense into the space and dance inside the continuum.

But that’s a trip that’s only got deeper as I’ve gone deeper. So what would happen if I committed to Power Vinyasa. It’s all an experiment, right? So I’ve gone all in. I’ve found a studio that has incredibly knowledgeable and experienced teachers who weave together a mix of traditional teachings with Anusara, Jivamukti and Power Yoga. Grrrr. Thank you Moksha and your faculty of deep-seated mavens. My head gets food, my heart gets wide and my body is gratefully served by the whole arrangement. The more I practice and trust and dive into this style that I don’t think I ‘want’, the more focused I become, the stronger I get and the stiller I can be inside the poses.

Now, that’s not news but we can get so caught up in our preferences and identifications that other ideas can be cast aside without giving them a proper chance. I’m pretty guilty of this in my life so it’s a daily practice for me to remember that I don’t know everything. Pete holds that mirror up more times than I care for and I’ve learnt that I’m afraid to not know the answers. I’m afraid to ask questions and I’m often jumping in when I could be listening. But this is why I love stillness. So I can see reality more clearly and catch myself in the thicket of my conditioning.

Whether it’s through meditation, two hours of sweating and flowing, two hours of deep, slow and juicy tissue travel or watching myself interacting with the world. I’m getting still. And through that practice I come to connect with my fundamental nature. Yoga means to yoke or connect but it also means a ‘method’ of accomplishing something and it also means ‘endeavor, diligence, care and attention’. So, as Hareesh explains in The Sutra Project, yoga is “a method of becoming firmly connected to one’s true nature. A method that must be pursued with diligence and careful attention.”

This coming back to stillness is a coming back to my Self. To my true nature so I can experience reality more directly. Whether I like it or not. It is, Hareesh’s translation, “to see reality directly. Not through the mind filter of your conditioned thought”. And what a relief that is. What a liberation. To be gently untangled from conditioned thought and to observe. To see myself and others more clearly by resting back into my true nature and witnessing reality as it comes. Not how I think it is or want it to be. Trusting in the power of the practices to reveal that reality and draw me back into stillness. Again and again and again. In each moment, a new invitation. To step back into the state of yoga.

Photo credit to Sonia Guzzo.

 

Beautiful back bend at The Shala Bali. The Mat Movement luxury yoga retreats, online yoga classes and inspiring plant-based recipes.

‘Do more yoga’ part deux. How to improve your asana practice.

If you’ve got a solid home practice and feel a little stuck then here’s a bunch of ways to up your asana game. Because, let’s be honest, making shapes is fun. Seeing our bodies grow and evolve through the practice can be rewarding and draws us deeper into a relationship with what’s going on inside our tissue. It gets us more interested in how much potential our bodies have and also asks us to question why we want to improve in asana, specifically.

For me, developing my asana practice has gone from the handstand grail to going super deep into my bodily experience and moving so slowly that I am holding present to as much of the movement as possible. A tuning in as much as a tuning up. And the desire to ‘up my asana game’ comes from a return to classes, a long journey into my own asana laboratory and the sweet remembrance of humility. That I will always have so much to learn.

  1. Get stronger

If you want to move into more advanced postures, you will need to develop a strong core, glutes, quads and upper body strength. It seems obvious but we can trundle along for years in our own practice without necessarily getting stronger.

  1. Practice 4-6 times a week

Whether that’s going to class or practicing at home. Make it regular, consistent and listen carefully to what you avoid and what you fall into. Mix it up and commit to your desire to grow. If you can get on your mat every day then do it but 4-6 times a week is entirely reasonable.

  1. Watch videos

Get inspired. Watch yogis who inspire you and witness their commitment to the practice. Some of my favourites to watch are Dylan Werner, Laruga Glaser and Meghan Currie.

  1. Be patient and kind

Take your time. Come to understand your body’s strengths and limits by working attentively and intuitively. Don’t push it. You’ll get there when you’re good and ready.

  1. Let the practice lead

Listen. The practice is asking you to listen inside every shape. Find your edge and dance upon it by letting the practice lead.

  1. Mix it up

Go to vinyasa, hatha, body pump, boxercise, crossfit, pilates, swimming, cycling. Just doing asana is great but mixing things up can bring a whole new dimension to your practice.

  1. Go to classes

And go to different ones. Visit different cities, try new teachers, taste a different studio and be a student (especially if you’re a teacher).

  1. Have a home practice

Marrying your own practice with a good mix of regular classes means you can move on your own terms then get something you didn’t know you needed. Double win. Here’s a link to a whole host of different ways to develop a home practice and you can also practice here with me any time.

  1. Don’t have a goal

Sometimes having a goal can become an obstacle. It’s probably not what your life coach is telling you but goals can blind us to the presence of the process. Stay inside your practice, moment-by-moment, day-by-day, and the results will come.

  1. Don’t forget about yoga

If you’re focus is asana then that’s a wonderful thing but it’s not always yoga. Yoga is a state of being, not a shape you make. Keep asking yourself what your asana practice is teaching you about yourself.

Potatoes and other vegetables.

Beyond Veganuary: 11 Top Tips for Sticking with a Plant-Based Diet

‘Nothing will benefit human health and increase the chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution towards a vegetarian diet.’
Albert Einstein.

Peperamis, Ginsters, Chickstixx, Cheesestrings and packets of Matteson’s Fridge Raiders. If you leave the small matter of how you nourish your miracle machine to the last minute, this might be your snack-list in a Western world of vending machines, service stations, corner shops and duff takeaways. You deserve better.

The prospect of an animal-free diet for a day – let alone a month – might seem like an ordeal at first, but if the plants are calling to you, you might be dipping into Veganuary. Go for it. Some people will make long-term changes. Others won’t be ready to. Here we share our top tips for making lasting changes towards to a plant-based diet.

1. Commit to learning
Embarking on a journey of re-education means being a student. It means taking on board new information and applying it. Have you switched off already at the thought of having to try? Well, give yourself a chance! With food consciousness comes a whole raft of new ideas about not just food – but other things too. By committing to learn you’ll see the swiftest improvements to your food knowledge, your cooking skills, your motivation for health and you’ll find making the right food choices a doddle. You might be surprised about what else you learn about too.

2. Stock a good pantry
When your mum used to put vegetables in the pressure cooker it was awful, right? Soft, tasteless mush leached of colour, flavour, mineral, vitamin or texture. Bad vegetables would drive anyone towards eating a cow. There is another way but you need some essentials to work from. You’ll need a tasty oil for salad dressing and a good cooking oil with a high smoke point. Good salt, pepper, herbs, spices, vinegars – an intelligent larder. Beans, grains, nuts, seeds, vegetable stock and maple syrup or agave. If you have these things in your cupboard, you give yourself a fighting chance of surviving beyond Veganuary with plant-y-foods.

3. Ditch the microwave
Nothing has ever tasted better because it’s been in a microwave. Ever. Create some space in your kitchen for real food and put that silly cuboid in the garage. Better still, give it away to someone you hate who may be more interested in a weirdly radiating, 1940’s, radar technology, fear-box. It’s no place for food. A commitment to a microwave is a commitment to harrowing, grey slop. Move on. If you’re struggling with this revert to 1.

4. Soak 
It seems fashionable these days to have dry goods like green lentils, rice, chick peas, mung beans, pearl barley, split peas and these sorts of things in Kilners on shelves. It’s not just for Instagram. You can eat these things. If you want to eat conscious, cheap, healthy, in measured portions and get your fibre and protein from plants – this is a great step forward. Soak the right amount before you go to bed and set your intention to eat right the next day. Nothing will give you a better sense of well-being than when you’ve thought ahead about what goodness you’ll be eating in the proper measures tomorrow.

5. Go Indian
Roughly 30% of India is vegetarian. For inspiration of how to eat tasty plant-centric food, look no further. Rice and dal together offer a complete range of proteins, nobody does bread better than India and Indian food has been adopted around the world as some of the tastiest and most satisfying there is. Learn how to make a simple curry from scratch with a base of onion, ginger, garlic and spices and you’re on your way to a world of food discovery.

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6. Have high-protein go-to stuff
The biggest misconception is that you have to consume meat in order to get enough protein. You don’t. Tempeh, kale, seaweed, tofu, broccoli, peas, oats, nuts, seeds, rice, pearl barley, lentils, raw balls, peanut butter, bread – these are all excellent sources of protein. Switching from animal products, you will need new sources of regular protein and/or to shift your perception of where you get your protein from. Build your new repertoire of recipes around these sources of protein.

7. Give yourself the very best
For us here at The Mat Movement, it’s not about cutting out animal products as much as taking control of our diet and making the tastiest, healthiest food we can. You’re not missing out, you’re making a positive change. Reject bland, mechanically reformed, hormone injected, over-salted, highly preserved, factory, tinned, fake, colourless and outright grim food. Reject any food that doesn’t sit right with the way you feel about it. Instead, embrace colourful, abundant, fresh, low fat, well-seasoned, healthy, balanced, exciting food made with love and all of the best intentions of happy nature.

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8. Bridge
If, like me, going vegan seems just inconceivable at first attempt – bridge. Maybe hold on to eggs, cheese, fish or a combination. That initial shift will mean that you have a need to engage with your diet and work on some new recipes without a full rejection of old patterns which can be very hard to drop. Once you’ve gone without beef and chicken for a while you’ll start to realise how unimportant it was. Losing the eggs and cheese will then be an easier next step.

9. Don’t believe the protein myth
The myth that a plant-based diet means you’re a pale, skinny wimp has been absolutely de-bunked. You can get all of the worldy goodness you need from a diet that doesn’t require animal products. Don’t believe anyone that tells you otherwise. Here’s what vegan ultra athlete, Rich Roll eats in a day.

10. Take a test
People seem so preoccupied with protein these days. It’s not all about protein. We all need a good varied diet, which of course includes proteins but also contains carbohydrates, a wide range of vitamins and minerals, fatty acids, water and all the colours of the rainbow. If you fear that you may be missing an element of your diet, it’s less likely to be protein you’re missing as some other element. If you have a concern, why not take a test? Here at The Mat Movement we sent our hair off for analysis to see what foods suit us, what doesn’t and what we’re missing. It seems I need to eat less soya and more Brazil nuts and Collette has a host of intolerances. This education has helped is to re-find our balance and set a course for a more suited diet with some science behind us for good measure.  For a hair sample analysis speak to our friend, Hebe at Health Synergy.

11. Get Your B12
B12 is mainly found in animal based food but it’s a vital nutrient and you’ll miss it if you’re not careful. The only reliable sources of B12 for vegans are from foods fortified with B12. So get stuck into your fortified breakfast cereals, Vegemite, nutritional yeast, fortified nut milks, fortified breads and for obvious reasons meat and dairy substitutes are usually B12 fortified – but check the labels. Or take a supplement.

We want to make a conscious decision about how we fuel our beautiful bodies and we want to make sure great food is available when we’re ready to eat. Making good choices for our consumption takes a level of engagement and it doesn’t happen over night.

This doesn’t mean that moving towards a plant-based diet is too hard. For sure, it means that there is a period where making changes takes a little thought and consideration. However, once you’ve fallen into the habit of eating in a new way, you’ll feel it’s a breeze, just like any new challenge. Soon, making good plant-based food will be as easy as any other way of food prep.

Please check out our recipes for some inspiration. We are adding new recipes all the time. If you have any queries then we’d be very pleased to hear from you.

Thanks for reading and good luck with any changes you may be making with your diet.

Pete


We offer beautiful, plant-based food on retreat.

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