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The Full Hunter’s Moon

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The October Hunter’s Moon is upon us – it’ll be at its fullest as the sun goes down on Wednesday 24th October 2018, at 17.45 GMT. There’s nothing notable about this moon – it’s not ‘super’, or blood red, and there’ll be no lunar eclipse. But most people would agree that all full moons feel special somehow, and this one is no exception…

It follows September’s wonderfully named Harvest Moon, which of course relates to the world of farming. The October Hunter’s Moon takes its name from the fact that at this point in the year, the sun sets around the same time as the moon rises, and the resulting light makes it the best time to hunt.

At Peacock Tree Yoga, we often tell the tale of The Hare on the Moon in our October full moon classes – a beautiful tale about the Buddha’s compassion. In India, there’s no reference to the ‘man on the moon’, but rather, the ‘hare on the moon’ – and this tale reveals why.

Yoga and the Full Hunter’s Moon

For Ashtanga yoga practitioners (hello, Monday night students!), a full moon will always be worth observing – New moons, too. Ashtangis consider moon days as holidays, or days when they need to reduce the intensity of their practice, because it is said that when the earth, sun and moon are all in a straight line in space, universal energy is much stronger, and the possibility of injury is greater – hence, asana practice should be avoided.

Curious to know what phase of the moon you were born in?

But it’s not just in the Ashtanga yoga world, where we find respect for the phase of the moon, and encouragement to slow down and adapt our practice. Hatha yoga, which we can consider as the umbrella term for all forms of physical yoga practice, including Ashtanga, is all about balancing heightened and subdued energy – whether these are brought about by the phase of the moon, or the time of the year.

What goes up…

Subtle energetic body

Subtle energy in motion

According to Satyananda Saraswati, author of the popular contemporary text on Hatha yoga, ‘Asana, Pranayama, Mudra, Bandha’, during the full moon cycle, pranic energy (prana vayu) is dominant. This pranic energy is upward moving – through the spine and towards the head. When this happens, we tend to experience an increase of internal fluid, physical energy and mental activity.

During the new Moon cycle, apranic energy (apana vayu) is said to be dominant. Apranic energy is downward moving – towards the base of the spine – making this period one of elimination and reduction. People will often notice a loss of internal fluid, dry, stiff muscles and joints, decreased physical and mental energy, and a sense of lethargy and moodiness.

The ebb and flow of nature

Western science is pretty much on board with the idea that the phase of the moon can affect our energy levels. We know that our bodies are made of 70% water, and that this makes us vulnerable to the gravitational pull of the sun and moon, much like our oceans and seas. The science doesn’t end there, either, with yogic notions of energy and the movement of energy corresponding with Western medicine’s understanding of the nervous system.

The energetic body

PTY full moon blog anuloma viloma

Anuloma Viloma balances energy

In yoga, we have the concept of nadis, which are believed to carry this life force known as ‘prana’ (in Sanskrit) or ‘qi’ in Chinese-based systems. We can think of nadis as invisible veins running throughout the body. The most important ‘vein’ is the shushumna nadi, which corresponds with the spine and is the vessel for awakened Kundalini energy – energy which rises and leads to enlightenment!

Two other significant nadis are the Ida and Pingala nadis – and these are often compared to the two hemispheres of the brain; Ida reflecting the left side, and Pingala the right. Prana (active energy) circulates inside Pingala, while apana (passive energy) flows through Ida. For optimum health and spiritual wellbeing, Hatha yoga tells us we must ensure that these energies work in harmony with each other.

The physical body

The autonomic nervous system (which we can sum up as ‘all the things our bodies do without our conscious involvement’ – a beating heart or a perspiring forehead, for example), is comprised of two parts: the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system. The sympathetic system prepares the body for ‘fight or flight’ during stressful situations, by raising the heart rate, releasing adrenalin and firing up the muscles. The parasympathetic system, on the other hand, operates during normal situations and is there for responsible for things like digestion and the conservation of energy.

If we’re constantly stimulating the sympathetic nervous system, be it with activity, stressful situations, or a full moon, we’re at risk of activating the parasympathetic nervous system so much so, that it becomes the norm. And as a result, so too does high blood pressure, inability to sleep, and a damaging expenditure of energy. Conversely, if we’re only ever in a state of rest, we will never get anything done! And so it is that we must find a balance between the two.

Yoga for a full moon

In Ashtanga yoga, many practitioners will gladly take a day off during a full moon – and understandably so, since they do generally commit themselves to six early morning practices a week! Many others will adapt their practice, often taking their lead from a ‘chandra krama’, or moon sequence, devised by world-renowned Ashtangi, Matthew Sweeney (see video, below).

The Search for the Best Yoga Mat…

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The Search for the Best Yoga Mat*

*Spoiler: Yoga mat discount codes in this blog! 

Even desert warriors need a good yoga mat!


There comes a time in every yoga practitioner’s life, when a new mat is in order and the search for the ‘best yoga mat’ begins. It’s quite a bold quest – a mark of a person’s commitment to their practice. We might even go as far as saying that the acquisition of a new yoga mat is a very physical expression of a ‘sankalpa’…

The Sanskrit word ‘sankalpa’ means “will, purpose, or determination”. A sankalpa isn’t so much a promise to yourself that you’ll avoid negative behaviour, like resolutions often tend to be (eg. “No more takeaways for dinner!”), but rather, a way of thinking that’s designed to instill positive behaviour (“I will regularly nourish myself with homemade meals”).

Finding the best yoga mat is a big deal!

In this respect, buying a new yoga mat is a bit like making a vow to ourselves to maintain a strong, flexible body and a calm and focused mind; a vow to give ourselves the chance to live our best lives. Naturally, all of this means that finding the best yoga mat for our purposes is A BIG DEAL!

Speaking of big deals, we’ve secured some brilliant discounts for you! Read on…

But where do you even begin to look, when there are so many on the market these days? Whether you’ve fallen under the spell of yoga after joining our Essentials Yoga for Beginners course; you’ve been practising a while and decided it’s time to upgrade to something more lasting; or you can’t bear the thought of going on your travels, short- or long-term, without a trusty mat – we’ve got you!

The Peacock Tree Guide to the Best Yoga Mats:

1 – For a good quality, low budget mat, you can’t go wrong with a Studio Pro Yoga Mat from Yoga Mad. For £28.99, this is a particularly good mat if you’re a beginner (we often recommend these to our Essentials students).

A good yoga mat makes any house a home – even a bamboo hut!

2 – If your practice has developed (hello, Improvers!) and you’re looking for a mat that will endure not just a weekly class, but a regular home practice too, then it’s time to start looking at something a bit stronger. The Jade Yoga Mat is a firm favourite among the Peacock Tree team and it wins points for being eco-friendly too. Normally, they cost £70, so they’re not the cheapest in town – but for 3 months starting on Monday 13th August 2018, the generous team at Jade are giving us all a 10% discount! You just need to use the code PTY10.  

3 – If you’re going off traveling and want a light(ish), but durable mat to take with you, the Jade Travel Mat (3mm thick, 1.5kg weight, and approx. £66) comes highly recommended by Lilley, Daniel and Katy, who’ve all laid theirs out on various terrains around the globe! You can even fold these ones up, which is handy if you’re traveling with a suitcase. As if you needed any more reasons to choose a Jade travel mat, that 10% discount code, PTY10, applies to them too!

Teaching assistant Louise loves her Lifeforme mat!

4 – Die-hard Ashtanga practitioner? Wednesday Intermediate student? Then you really need something that can withstand lots of vinyasas. You might’ve noticed your fellow yogis using smooth-looking mats with lines printed down the middle and a groovy pattern around the edges – this is a sure sign of a LifeForme yoga mat! They don’t come cheap at £100, but they’re popular for a good reason and they tick the eco-friendly box.

5 – Last but not least is a mat we’ve only heard whispers of… It’s almost mythical! Our teaching assistant, Louise, has been told that the Extreme Grip Mat from Yogi Bare offers the same benefits as the Lifeforme mats (très comfortable and incredibly strong), but at half the price (£50)! If you get one, you MUST let us know if it’s true! Here’s an incentive – Yogi Bear is offering Peacock Tree Yoga Students 10% off! All you need to do is use the code PTY10 – isn’t that nice?! 

See you on the (best) mat! 😉

best yoga mat for rolling up children!

And this is the best yoga mat for rolling up your children at a festival!

 

The 2018 Peacock Tree Plank Challenge is here!

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It’s time for the annual Peacock Tree Plank Challenge!

We'd love to see your creative planking too!

We’d love to see your creative planking too!

Whether you’re a new student with Peacock Tree Yoga or a veteran, we’d love you to join in with our Peacock Tree Plank Challenge! Over 21 days, you’ll build yourself up to a three-minute plank, using the variation that suits you best.

Why we run the Peacock Tree Plank Challenge each year…

The Peacock Tree Plank Challenge is an opportunity to create strength in both body and mind; to develop your will power – and build a core of steel in the process. It’s perfect for powering us up as we move into the firey months of the year!

It’s not actually as hard as it sounds – you just need to build up gradually by choosing a plank variation that suits you, and then following the plan. But beware – once you’ve discovered your potential, there’ll be no stopping you!!

Print off the 21-day Peacock Tree Plank Challenge practice sheet, stick it to the fridge, and while you wait for the kettle to boil at the start or end of the day, for example, get on your yoga mat and plank like there’s no tomorrow!

Download the 21-day Peacock Tree Plank Challenge schedule!

Keeping track of your progress

Personal trainer

Can’t afford a hunky PT? Never mind, we’ll support you! #peacocktreeplankchallenge

Try your best to meet your daily goals – and give yourself a sense of satisfaction each time by ticking the relevant box. And please do let us know how it’s going – post your photos and films on Instagram and Facebook and tag them with #peacocktreeplankchallenge!

Oh, and if you want to give us and your fellow students a laugh, feel free to get playful with it – find a strange location to practice, do it in your work clothes, or try some plank variations!

But above all, enjoy it – be grateful for what your body is allowing you to do (even on days when your body doesn’t allow you to meet your goal). Notice how your body is changing and becoming stronger, and join in with our online conversations for support and motivation throughout the challenge. Not part of our Facebook community? Come into the fold!

Don’t know how to do plank properly?

One of the simplest, safest and easiest ways to build yourself up to a three minute plank is to adopt dolphin plank, which involves resting on your forearms with elbows bent (rather than on your hands with straight arms). Keep your toes tucked under and your body and legs off the floor, in a strong horizontal line – like a plank!

Stay focused throughout and let this wonderful music (composed by my teacher) do the counting!

Need an easier option?

Peacock Tree Plank Challenge guidelines

Is your plank straight?

If you find it too difficult to hold the full posture, drop your knees to the floor for extra support – just make sure your thighs and torso are in a straight line. And do try to lift your knees again as the challenge progresses – you might surprise yourself!

If your neck hurts, you can always place a block or a stack of books beneath your face and rest your forehead on it while you hold the posture.

Been there, done that, got the t-shirt?

If you’re familiar with plank and other core strength exercises, you might like to work on some plank variations – be it a high plank, a one-legged plank, a side plank, or an acro yoga plank…

Beware of a cheating bottom!

Your biggest foe during this challenge will be your bottom. It will either try to cheat, by being higher than the rest of your body, or it will be lazy, sagging down to create an unwelcome dip in the centre of the posture.

Not sure if you have a cheating or lazy bottom? Then check yourself out in a mirror or ask someone else to tell you if your body is in a straight line.

Ready? Okay, download the the 2018 Peacock Tree Plank Challenge schedule  and get planking!!

Moving Mountains in the Year of the Earth Dog

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Happy New Year! Yes, yes, it’s all a distant memory for those of us who organise our lives according to the Gregorian calendar. But in countries where the traditional ‘lunisolar’ Chinese calendar is used, millions of people in red attire are celebrating the start of the Year of the Earth Dog. And the rest of us can benefit from doing the same, because – like the science of yoga – the Chinese New Year gives us tools for becoming masterly in our lives.

The look of luck!

Chinese New Year (also known as the “Spring Festival” in mainland China) always begins with a new moon, somewhere between the 21st of January and the 20th of February. This year (2018), it starts on Friday 16th February, when we move into the Year of the Earth Dog – and celebrations will continue for the following fortnight, ending with a ‘lantern festival’ on Friday 2nd March.

Chinese New Year and the Zodiac

The Chinese associate each new year with one of twelve animals and one of the five elements of Chinese astrology, namely: Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water (which are then further divided into Yin and Yang categories). This means that the years run in 60-year cycles; the last time we were in a Yang Earth Dog year, for example, was 1958, and before that, in 1898.

According to tradition, this information can help us both anticipate the events of the coming year and understand the personalities, relationships and destinies of the people born during each year.

Who let the (earth) dogs out?!

We’re just emerging from a Fire Rooster year – a period of focus and application, of getting the ‘farmyard’ in order, and of investing time and effort without expecting immediate gratification, according to Chinese astrology. This Mystic Mamma blog urged us to “see beyond the current situation and keep your eye on whatever it is that you value in the long run; just keep chipping away without wavering. Apply yourself.” Anyone involved with the current swell of support for Women’s Rights will no doubt find those words very poignant.

With the arrival of the Earth Dog, it looks like we’re now ready for some action – whether that’s in the realm of global politics, or in the realm of our own homes. According to one Chinese horoscope, “Planning, postponing and negligence are words you will need to remove from your vocabulary during this year… The Dog will accelerate the initiation of all things, but this will bring, in the same time, pressure and stress in the everyday life.”

But even with this momentum carrying us forward, we should still expect to face challenges. The Yang Earth Dog is represented by an image of two mountains, which apparently means, “something is blocking our view or our path. So we need to find a flat road around the mountains to find our way… We need to use our wisdom to find the better way to conquer the mountains.”

What’s your Chinese horoscope sign?

It’s both fun and useful to know your own Chinese zodiac sign. Whether or not you believe in the Chinese system of astrology – or indeed, any kind of astrology – doesn’t matter. Such things offer us a colourful way of contemplating our own lives, and they spark the imagination. We’re naturally interested in stories – watching the telly is just a modern version of sitting around a fire telling stories. With knowledge of where our birthdays fall, according to Chinese astrology, we can look at our lives and our behaviour from a fresh perspective.

Find out your Chinese zodiac sign

In our classes this week…

Chinese New Year celebrations

Get your dragon flow on!

Wear red! As good old Wikipedia explains on its page about the Chinese New Year, “Clothing mainly featuring the color red or bright colors is commonly worn throughout the Chinese New Year because it was once believed that red could scare away evil spirits and bad fortune… Red is a color of good luck.”

As well as wearing red for protection from negative energies, the Chinese perform dragon and lion dances throughout their New Year celebrations, which have as their soundtrack loud drum beats and ear-shattering clashes of cymbals. Although we’ll be leaving the noisier elements of the Chinese New Year out of our classes, be prepared to get your dragon flow on!

If you dream it…

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It’s all over. The celebrations, the January sales, the resolutions. We’re into the second month of a brand new year and, even with a Wintry bite still in the air, there’s a distinct sense that Spring is on its way. So what about all those good intentions you had for 2018? If you feel like you’re on the back foot, here’s the good news; you haven’t missed the deadline! In fact, there’s still plenty of time. Right now, the best thing you can do is hunker down with a pen and paper, and create your ‘dream list’…

Making your dream list

Dreamy beach in Sri Lanka

Make your list, open some doors…

Although there’s no harm in setting goals or making resolutions at the start of the year, there’s no need to rush ahead and attempt to make good on them immediately (find out why, here). Instead, we recommend using nature’s ‘down time’ to make a dream list. Think about what you’d like to experience this coming year – the places you’d like to go, the artwork you’d like to see, the languages you’d like to speak, the new tricks you’d like to learn. Share your dreams, and listen to other people’s.

Creating the right setting for making your dream list

It might sound simple enough, jotting a few ideas down on a piece of paper, but there’s more to making a list than that – it requires a little bit of planning:

  • Identify the people you’d like to do this with, unless you’d prefer to do it alone.
  • Schedule some time – set a reminder on your phone, put it on the family calendar, write it in your diary. However you do it, be sure to allocate yourself this time.
  • When that time comes, switch off your computer and your phone – filter out the distractions, and give your mind the freedom to explore the topic in hand.
  • Arm yourself with a pen and a notebook (good excuse to treat yourself to a lovely new journal!).

What to put on your dream list

Think big and think small, but think always about YOU. So often, we have lists that are mostly to do with nurturing and supporting those around us – as is evident in the responses given to the artist, Alice Instone, who gathered “prominent and inspiring women’s to-do lists and made a number of art works from her own lists”, for an exhibition, entitled The Pram in the Hall. But this is a time to top yourself up with what you need. Besides, the better you feel, the better you’ll be able to continue to serve those around you.

We need to do a better job of putting ourselves higher on our own ‘to do’ list ~ Michelle Obama

 

These are some of the things on my list for 2018:

Daydreaming by the fire

PJs, a fire, time to dream…

As you may be aware, we’ve got our hands full at the Harvey household, with a new family member to nurture, a long list of fiddly jobs to finish in our recently renovated house, a yoga school to run, and all the other demands of daily life! But these aren’t reasons to NOT have a dream list; quite the opposite – these are reasons to HAVE one! This is what I’ve got on mine:

      1. Print and frame 10 family photos and put them on the wall
      2. Connect with three old friends
      3. Log 50 hours of Tai Chi lectures and practice
      4. Schedule monthly morning / breakfast dates with Daniel

Put some dates on your dream list

Visualise the year ahead, see its nature – the growth of Spring, the colour of Summer, the harvest of Autumn, and the deep rest of Winter. Some of the things on your list will naturally fall into these categories – for example, you might paint your allotment shed in Spring, go to
a lively festival in the Summer, make a photo album of your holiday snaps in Autumn, and book a Yin Yoga retreat for Winter.

Other things will be suited to any given time of the year. But nature’s rhythms can still help, particularly when it comes to actually identifying what it is that you want to put on your dream list.

      • Illustration of a girl having a dream

        Visualise the year ahead…

        Spring prompts us to ask ourselves what we want to grow

      • Summer invites us visualise how it will look when it’s flourishing
      • Autumn asks us what we will gain from it, what we will reap
      • And Winter wants to know if it’ll let us settle

Hold on to your dreams

Whether you transfer your list to your mobile phone notes, keep it on a scrap of paper in your purse, or learn it by heart, keep your dream list close. Check in with it whenever you get a moment. Seek out and create those moments. Then stop and really feel the joy of manifesting
your own dreams, however ‘big’ or ‘small’ they may be.

“Dreams come true. Without that possibility, nature would not incite us to have them.” ~ John Updike

By the light of the….Super Blood Blue Moon!

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Something big and special is in our midst, according to the world’s astronomers and astrologers. You might even have seen one of the many online articles about it – ‘it’ being the January 2018 Super Blood Blue Moon. This full moon, we’re told, is a rare one – nothing like it has been seen since 1866!  

For Ashtanga yoga practitioners (hello, Monday night students!), a full moon will always be worth observing – New moons, too. Ashtangis consider moon days as holidays, or days when they need to reduce the intensity of their practice, because it is said that when the earth, sun and moon are all in a straight line in space, universal energy is much stronger, and the possibility of injury is greater – hence, asana practice should be avoided.

Curious to know what phase of the moon you were born in?

But it’s not just in the Ashtanga yoga world, where we find respect for the phase of the moon, and encouragement to slow down and adapt our practice. Hatha yoga, which we can consider as the umbrella term for all forms of physical yoga practice, including Ashtanga, is all about balancing heightened and subdued energy – whether these are brought about by the phase of the moon, or the time of the year.

What goes up…

Subtle energetic body

Subtle energy in motion

According to Satyananda Saraswati, author of the popular contemporary text on Hatha yoga, ‘Asana, Pranayama, Mudra, Bandha’, during the full moon cycle, pranic energy (prana vayu) is dominant. This pranic energy is upward moving – through the spine and towards the head. When this happens, we tend to experience an increase of internal fluid, physical energy and mental activity.

During the new Moon cycle, apranic energy (apana vayu) is said to be dominant. Apranic energy is downward moving – towards the base of the spine – making this period one of elimination and reduction. People will often notice a loss of internal fluid, dry, stiff muscles and joints, decreased physical and mental energy, and a sense of lethargy and moodiness.

The ebb and flow of nature

Western science is pretty much on board with the idea that the phase of the moon can affect our energy levels. We know that our bodies are made of 70% water, and that this makes us vulnerable to the gravitational pull of the sun and moon, much like our oceans and seas. The science doesn’t end there, either, with yogic notions of energy and the movement of energy corresponding with Western medicine’s understanding of the nervous system.

The energetic body

PTY full moon blog anuloma viloma

Anuloma Viloma balances energy

In yoga, we have the concept of nadis, which are believed to carry this life force known as ‘prana’ (in Sanskrit) or ‘qi’ in Chinese-based systems. We can think of nadis as invisible veins running throughout the body. The most important ‘vein’ is the shushumna nadi, which corresponds with the spine and is the vessel for awakened Kundalini energy – energy which rises and leads to enlightenment!

Two other significant nadis are the Ida and Pingala nadis – and these are often compared to the two hemispheres of the brain; Ida reflecting the left side, and Pingala the right. Prana (active energy) circulates inside Pingala, while apana (passive energy) flows through Ida. For optimum health and spiritual wellbeing, Hatha yoga tells us we must ensure that these energies work in harmony with each other.

The physical body

The autonomic nervous system (which we can sum up as ‘all the things our bodies do without our conscious involvement’ – a beating heart or a perspiring forehead, for example), is comprised of two parts: the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system. The sympathetic system prepares the body for ‘fight or flight’ during stressful situations, by raising the heart rate, releasing adrenalin and firing up the muscles. The parasympathetic system, on the other hand, operates during normal situations and is there for responsible for things like digestion and the conservation of energy.

If we’re constantly stimulating the sympathetic nervous system, be it with activity, stressful situations, or a full moon, we’re at risk of activating the parasympathetic nervous system so much so, that it becomes the norm. And as a result, so too does high blood pressure, inability to sleep, and a damaging expenditure of energy. Conversely, if we’re only ever in a state of rest, we will never get anything done! And so it is that we must find a balance between the two.

Yoga for a full moon

In Ashtanga yoga, many practitioners will gladly take a day off during a full moon – and understandably so, since they do generally commit themselves to six early morning practices a week! Many others will adapt their practice, often taking their lead from a ‘chandra krama’, or moon sequence, devised by world-renowned Ashtangi, Matthew Sweeney (see video, below).

In our classes this week, we will observe the Supermoon and bring about energetic balance by focusing on twists, and along with postures which give us a sense of being grounded – tethered and resistant to the unbalancing, upward pull of the full moon. We’ll also utilise Anuloma Viloma and spend time in Tratak meditation – a way of focusing the mind, whilst honouring the light in our Selves and the light of the sun, reflected on the surface of the full moon.

44 – the final flush of fertility

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44 – the final flush of fertility (and documenting my pregnancy)

Napping with the girls

Napping with the girls

My second daughter will be here sometime between now and the next full moon. She’s feisty and strong and her kicks sometimes take my breath away. How awesome. ‘Awesome’ – that word is bandied about too much, usually to describe something slightly above mediocrity, but my husband Daniel and I are truly awestruck that my body has grown us another baby. We wonder who will arrive this time? For most of the last 4 ½ years we’ve just stared at Tulsi, hardly believing our luck that this magical creature is ours. And another one is nearly here . . .

Pregnancy is an everyday miracle. We can’t comprehend the trillions of complex decisions and manoeuvres that are unconsciously made within our pregnant bodies. It’s the stuff of Gods, way beyond our human understanding.

Daniel and I have had a long and complex journey with pregnancy, this is my 6th pregnancy and at 44 years old – really, truly, in the final flush of my fertility – we’ve been blessed with another girl. It’ll be Daniel and all his girls and all their tiaras.

Interested in joining our Peacock Tree Yoga pregnancy class? Click here!

Documenting my pregnancy

Astonished that we’ve got this far, I am keen to capture the experience. Once we dared trust that this was indeed a strong pregnancy we began to document it. From 17 weeks I took a ‘bumpie’ shot each week.

bumpie_shots_fordocumenting_my_pregnancy_blog

She had a good start, Goddessing in the American desert, absorbing ancient cacti karma . . .

Up until then, the only documentary evidence of my pregnancy was taken before I even knew I was pregnant, whilst in the American desert studying with my teacher at Zen Wellness.

Urdvha padmasana next to a cactus

6 weeks pregnant – who knew?!

There have been numerous pregnancy yoga photos, and last weekend we had enormously messy fun making a plaster cast of my tummy*.

I’d always really hoped to be able to experience pregnancy for a second time. The first time around I had done pregnancy training with the phenomenal Uma Dinsmore Tuli (famous for her groundbreaking book, Yoni Shakti) and since that time, I’d become, I suppose, a little bit more ‘womb centric.’ I began to really notice and value the power of female friendship and what happens when women support each other with kindness, empathy and humour (whether they have children or not).

Come and join our Peacock Tree Yoga pregnancy community!

The beauty and strength of women

I also enjoyed designing and executing our own goddess workshops, and contemplating women’s deeply creative and cyclical connection to nature. I loved teaching pregnancy yoga classes and watching new friendships blossom with growing babies.

And so, as this pregnancy has progressed, so has my sense of connection to mother earth and the miracle that’s happening within me – culminating in the weekend’s ‘project’, which involved Daniel digging a womb-like hole in the sand on the beach, me lying in it naked, and waiting for the waves to wash in. And it wasn’t in the tropics – it was at Saltburn, North Yorkshire. And no, the beach wasn’t deserted; it was well populated by dog walkers, because, well, that’s our reality isn’t it.

'Beach womb' photo documenting my pregnancy

As this pregnancy has progressed, so has my sense of connection to Mother Earth.

I am not easy to say no to at the moment, and bless him, my husband is such a good sport, so my insistence of, ‘Daniel I just have to do this,’ meant that that’s just what had to happen.

While I was communing with Mother Earth and the elemental forces of nature and Daniel was taking my photo, I could hear him chatting merrily to passing locals, “Turned out nice again,” “Look what just got washed ashore,” “Yes, she was just like that when I got here,”. Oh my goodness, I do love him.

Weirdly I wasn’t embarrassed, not a jot. When I am pregnant all vanity disappears – I just exist in this state of awe, beguiled by the fact that my body is creating life, and I am utterly thrilled with my pregnant form – how astonishing it is! So what if some of the locals gawped, most walked on by in that true Yorkshire way of “Nowt to see here,” and those that did see – well then what a nice thing to look at and chat about over fish and chips.

Has it been easy? No of course not (life isn’t, I run a popular yoga school and we’ve completely renovated our house during my pregnancy!), I’ve been sick most days, suffered nausea throughout, I’ve had nerve-wrecking insomnia, fainting and anaemia, but all of those are just pregnancy symptoms. I’ve not been ill and this has been a strong, straightforward pregnancy. I feel so lucky and I feel compelled to document my gratitude.

Here’s to life everyone!

francesca_king_pregnancy_photogrpahy_documenting_my_pregnancy_blog2

Get strong with the Peacock Tree Yoga 21-day Plank Challenge! #peacocktreeplank21days

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Ready to take up the Peacock Tree Yoga 21-day Plank Challenge?

We'd love to see your creative planking too!

We’d love to see your creative planking too!

Following our hugely successful 7-day #peacocktreelent, we’re upping the ante and challenging you to build yourself up to a three-minute plank, over the course of 21 days!

Why we run the Peacock Tree Yoga 21-day Plank Challenge

The Peacock Tree 21-day plank challenge is your opportunity to create strength in both body and mind; to develop your will power – and build a core of steel in the process. And it’s perfect for powering us up as we move into the firey months of the year!

It’s not as hard as it sounds – you just need to build up gradually by following the plan. But beware – once you’ve discovered your potential, there’ll be no stopping you!!

Print off the 21-day Plank Challenge practice sheet , stick it to the fridge, and while you wait for the kettle to boil at the start or end of the day, for example, get on your yoga mat and plank like there’s no tomorrow!

The Peacock Tree Yoga 21-day Plank Challenge schedule

Keeping track of your progress

Can't afford a hunky PT? Never mind, we'll support you! #peacocktreeplank21days

Can’t afford a hunky PT? Never mind, we’ll support you! #peacocktreeplank21days

Try your best to meet your daily goals – and give yourself a sense of satisfaction each time, by ticking the relevant box (as flamboyantly as you wish!). And let us know how it’s going – post your photos and films on Instagram and Facebook – but don’t forget to tag them with #peacocktreeplank21days!

Oh, and if you want to give us and your fellow students a laugh, feel free to get playful with it – find a strange location to practice, do it in your work clothes, or try some plank variations!

But above all, enjoy it – be grateful for what your body is allowing you to do (even on days when your body doesn’t allow you to meet your goal), really feel how your body is changing and becoming stronger, and join in with our online conversations for support and motivation throughout the challenge. Not part of our Facebook community? Come into the fold!

Not sure how to do plank properly?

The simplest, safest and easiest way to build yourself up to a three minute plank is to adopt dolphin plank, which involves resting on your forearms with elbows bent, rather than on your hands and with straight arms. Keep your toes tucked under and your body and legs off the floor, in a strong horizontal line (like a plank!).

Plank

Is your plank straight?

If you find it too difficult to hold the full posture, drop your knees to the floor for extra support – just make sure your thighs and torso are in a straight line. And do try to lift your knees again as the challenge progresses – you might surprise yourself!

If your neck hurts, you can always place a block or a stack of books beneath your face and rest your forehead on it while you hold the posture.

If you’re familiar with plank and other core strength exercises, you might like to work on some plank variations – be it a high plank, a side plank, or an acro yoga plank…

Beware of a cheating bottom!

Your biggest foe during this challenge will be your bottom. It will either try to cheat, by being higher than the rest of your body, or it will be lazy, sagging down to create an unwelcome dip in the centre of the posture.

Not sure if you have a cheating or lazy bottom? Then check yourself out in a mirror or ask someone else to tell you if your body is in a straight line.

Ready? Okay, download the The Peacock Tree Yoga 21-day Plank Challenge schedule and get planking!!

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A week of #peacocktreelent

Well done everyone and thank you SO much for getting involved with #peacocktreelent. You’ve amazed, inspired and amused us with the things you chose to give up – from coleslaw (yes, really!) to your car, technology, the daily mail on-line (ha!), packets of haribo . . . to name but a few – WE SALUTE YOU! Here’s a look back on some of your Facebook and Instagram posts – click on the images to read the comments that accompanied them.

DAY 1 – Letting go

DAY 2 – Motivation

DAY 3 – Alternatives

DAY 4 – Temptation

DAY 5 – Support

DAY 6 – Benefits

DAY 7 – Insights