Homemade Yoga Retreat | 18-240520

Monday

Swan connoisseurs around here reckon that in 4-5 days’ time these 6 cygnets will be too big to be considered bitesized snacks by pond predators. Their 3 missing siblings got swallowed up by a 1m-long pike with the nastiest teeth. Papa Swan started kicking, splashing, and hissing when the slimy beast sucked them under the surface of the water, and his feathers went up threateningly — like when he’s chasing Canada geese every day at dawn. Yet, gone they were. Nature. Beautiful and powerful. On my first morning run of the week, I stop to watch the family float along on the gently dancing water … flooded by early morning sunlight … so serene and tranquil. It’s hard to imagine what it must be like to have such a threat lurking in the basement of your own home … how do swans think about that? Hm. As I’m standing there, the only other remarkable animal on the pond is a big happy floppy golden retriever, whose eyes are on his tennis ball only, haha. 

Screenshot 2020-06-18 at 17.05.22

Working 9-7; hours that fly by in what feels like a few second; one of those days … as opposed to those, rare, granted, ones where it stretches across weeks. At 7pm, I, as usual, stop to wonder about this elasticity of time. And then I accept a glass of wine that Sanoop hands me. It’s breezy, what with fresh air streaming in through the large windows at each end of our kitchen/office/lounge. Sunlight flicking warm and playfully across walls and shelves. Sanoop is wearing a fresh blu floral print shirt, which we picked up in India over Christmas, and we cook dinner together, which feels like a party. And have more wine and tea for dessert, as we curl up on the sofa with The Happy Reader (me) and YouTube videos to practice Danish (him).

Hot, hot, hot: 25 degrees; the average age on the Heath dropped by 20 years in a few days … young people cycling and sunbathing all over our back yard 😉

Tuesday

Beautiful morning run. Long work day. Evening red wine video call with friends in Copenhagen. Read a little. Early-ish to bed.

Wednesday

This made me smile.

27 degrees. We have a lunch time picnic on the Heath to celebrate this scorcher of a day. It’s nice to be out, but also really nice to be working inside, actually, midway between those two wide open windows, with the sounds of the city and the Heath spilling in: cheerful voices and chirping birds are constants, while traffic and construction-related noises are more dispersed. 

Drawing class theme: balance and equanimity. I feel like every evening is Wednesday drawing class evening … which is amazing, right? The weeks fly by, and this one recurring event on my personal calendar, seems to appear every second … It’s one of those things that I’ll always make sure to make time for. I love it.

Evening walk magic on the buzzing, humming, hazy Heathit’s beginning to feel a lot like summer, and the Heath is at once vibrant and full of — wild and not so wild — life and at the same time vast, magical, and hilly enough to absorb it all and feel safe. We’re getting to know it so well these days — and still manage to see new sides to it and shades of light across it every morning, noon, and night. Last time I was in the same physical place for more than 2-3 weeks consecutively was this time 3 years ago after ACL surgery. (Which sounds nuts now.) Back then, my parents came to Singapore to look after me while Sanoop was in Australia for work. This time around, we get to spend more time together than ever before. Lots to be grateful for. It still feels, if not novel — and as much as I love to travel to visit loved ones and learn new things, and love that we got to start off 2020 with family, friends, energy, stimuli, insights, snow, and sun in India, Singapore, America, Germany, and Switzerland — then at least comforting in the midst of so much despair and uncertainty around us to be at home here, with time to reflect and breathe in the fresh smell of leaves and flowers. I remember doing my rehab, in May 2017, and wondering if I’d ever be able to sit in a lotus position, do yoga or barre, swim, run, ski, or walk freely again … but bit by bit things got better … not ‘normal’ … my one quad is still smaller than the other 😂 … but at least sustainable. There was a recipe for what to do, with patience, positivity, being thankful for whatever was working, and optimism as the essential ingredients (that is, after receiving the services of an impeccable health system).

Thursday

CamSnoop Lemon Drizzle Cake

Ingredients

  • 1 dl coconut oil 
  • 1 dl honey
  • 2 dl lukewarm plant milk 
  • Juice of 1 lemon, peel of 2 lemons
  • 2 eggs
  • 6 dl coconut / almond flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder

Method

  1. Heat up the oven to 180° C and line a baking tin with baking paper
  2. Whisk gently melted coconut oil and honey together with an electric whisk. Add in the plant milk, lemon juice, lemon peel, and eggs
  3. Fold in dry ingredients gently
  4. Transfer the batter to the baking tin
  5. Bake for about 50 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean and the top is nicely browned

Happy, happy campers. After work, we meet a friend for drinks on the Heath. She has walked here through Regent’s Park from her home in Marylebone, carrying a bouquet of peonies for us. We spread out a blanket on one of the vast meadows in the still-bright early evening light and pour mezcal margaritas. Smile at each other as we toast without our glasses touching each other. Ah. This amplified sort of carefree joy of meeting a friend for after work happy hour. As we say goodbye to her, 3 hours later, just before 9pm, we walk over to the small, authentic sushi place in Flask Walk and pick up lots of delicious treats to eat on a bench down the quiet road, in the charming residential middle of the Village, surrounded by neatly cut grass, iconic phone booths, neatly manicured rose bushes, Porsches, and those lovely brick houses. So romantic.

Friday

Global day off for my company.

Elizabeth Day’s How to Fail podcast starring Daisy Edgar Jones, Deliciously Ella, Alain du Botton, and Mo Gawdat. Listening while running through Heath, smiling, laughing, crying, feeling warm and lucky to be alive simultaneously, and even in the same town, as such brilliant, sweet minds.

Central London lockdown. Ghost town eeriness. Romantic tranquility. Meditative. Vanilla Sky Times Square. Dystopian. Unprecedented. Prompting thoughts of what will happen in the long run — with office spaces, retail, culture, community, the city as we know it. All these phrases that people have used to describe what London without much trade and tourists looks and feels like. As we were wondering whether to spend the long weekend going away to the real countryside or maybe the seaside, we reckoned a simple bike ride through town, me on my Brompton bike, Sanoop on a Jump bike, leaving Hampstead together for the first time in 10 weeks, and something we’d definitely been putting off even if we were a bit intrigued as well, would probably be among the safest and most tranquil experiences to hand. Still not sure exactly what to think, but it did feel special to ride through Lamb’s Conduit Street, Holborn, Covent Garden, Soho, Regent’s Street, Trafalgar Square, the circle in front of Buckingham Palace, South Bank, the City, Kings Cross, Coal Drops Yard, and Camden with just a few other cyclists and almost no pedestrians, buses or cars in sight. It felt freeing at times, and kind of freaky at others. Complete shifts in focus and ambiance. Made me smile that a few joyous sunbathers were camping out on the Tate Modern lawn and Granary Square steps towards the canal. What do you think?

At-home yoga retreat

I highly recommend doing a homemade yoga retreat. I’d said to Sanoop — later this year, can we please go on a yoga retreat somewhere? He said, why don’t we just create one at home? I like the idea of a retreat that can happen anywhere, anytime, curated to anyone’s needs and likings. We put together a 2-day schedule, full of all of our favourite memorised or go-to online practices, ranging from kundalini, yin, and silent meditation, to hatha, flowy vinyasa, and raise-the-roof yoga, with pockets of nature walks, charity (we dropped off food and other donations at the local community centre for the homeless and essential healthcare workers), journaling, drawing, reading Deepak Chopra, Alain de Botton, Khalil Gibran, Sri M, and Rumi, sleepy hypnosis (guided by one of Sanoop’s old YouTube creator partners), satsang inspiration, and headstands (I did my first wall-free one!) generously added in. Kicking off at dawn with intention setting, the 5 Tibetans, and breathing exercises. Winding down at sunset with free form dance to Sith celebration / Hindu devotional tunes. We cooked vegan organic food only, and had copious amount of masala chai and herbal tea. The 2 days were carefree and free from news, alcohol, and caffeine, with minimal phone usage. Not that we want to avoid those things in general — but a retreat is always a good way to boost bliss and reflection. Waking up on both those days, and in small bursts throughout, I felt so free and excited — like when we’re in Kerala, Byron, Juelsminde, or any other haven we’ve created and nurtured in our minds. An effortless effort to make sure Hampstead stays in that realm as well.

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