The Azul kitchen: Rosemary Chili Dip

by Jo Dombernowsky of Jo’s Food Blog

Azul will be hosting a cooking workshop in with Jo in London, at Central Street Cookery School,  2 & 3 August, 2013. Please see ‘Truly healthy, London’ for more information. Don’t miss the chance to cook with Jo!


Rosemary chili dip – serves 4

‘Cannellini beans are excellent for dips and to give soups a creamy consistency. They have a low glycemic index and are high in fibre.’

  • 250g cannellini beans, cooked and drained
  • 100ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • 2 stalk of fresh rosemary
  • 1–2 hot chilli or cayenne peppers
  • Sea salt and pepper
  1. Add 3 tablespoons of olive oil to a pan and add the garlic, chilli and rosemary.
  2. Fry on a low heat for a few minutes.
  3. Combine all the ingredients in a blender and blend to a puree.
  4. Season with sea salt and pepper.

 (serves 4)

About the author

Jo DombernowskyJo Dombernowsky is the resident chef and nutrition advisor at Azul Yoga & Pilates Retreat. She runs nutrition workshops, detox retreats and special nutrition holidays and is the author of the highly acclaimed cookbook ‘Truly healthy, truly delicious’. Jo is also an inspirational Pilates teacher and her all-round healthy approach to life is clear to see! Jo has her own food blog where she posts her delicious recipes, keeping you up to date on all the wonderful new food coming out of the Azul kitchen. Azul will be hosting a cooking workshop in with Jo in London, August 2 – 3, 2013. Please see ‘Truly healthy, London’ or email for more information. 

One big yoga family

YogaStudentsSo there I was,  30 minutes into class and I’m already sweating profusely. My elevated breathing had started my irregular heart off on a crazy jungle beat. This had set my very un-calm mind off worrying, seriously regretting that I forgot to mention ‘arrhythmia’ on the health form. Ah, the joys of Bikram yoga! Even with my general mantra of try anything twice and once more just for luck, I can’t say this was the most fun I’ve ever had, and six hours later, whilst still cultivating those embarrassing sweat patches beneath my underarms, I can’t say test driving hot sweaty yoga before a friend’s wedding was one of my finest choices to date. Still, we live and learn.

But that’s not to say that it’s not for others. In fact, despite having tried it again with similar results, I would still encourage anyone (in relatively good health) to give it a go! The same could be said for all types of yoga, as for all types of movement. It shouldn’t be seen that one style is right and another wrong, but more along the lines of what works for you and what just doesn’t.

The yogic segregation goes back as far as the sutras and for thousands of years, great and wise yogis have been calmly and mindfully arguing over whose interpretation is best.

We only have to look at Krishnamacharya and his two most famous students, BKS Iyengar and Sri Pattabi Jois. One guru, two different interpretations to his teachings. So maybe it’s time to accept one another’s differences, respect our choices and remember the old yogic saying, ‘There is always more than one way to skin a cat.’

Guru Sharan Anand

I consider myself fortunate. My line of work not only enables me, but encourages me, to experience as many types of yoga and as many styles of teaching as possible. I am also blessed that through this I have found myself a student in classes led by some of the world’s finest teachers. I guess for me, I find my greatest experiences have been less about the person leading the class, and more about how open and present I am at the time. That’s not to say that a great teacher is not important. It really is, but there’s no point me jumping into a class with someone great, unless I’m ready to jump in with both feet, fully committed to the experience.

I’ll take you back to a time when I was less fortunate to indulge my point. I was living somewhere I did not want to be, working a job I had no love left for anymore, and working through a few personal issues that just needed a little consideration and what turned out to be a lot of ‘lightening up’. So as suggested, I went looking for some yoga.

Mo’s yoga class was held in the back room of a sports centre’s cafe area. The smell of chip fat mingled with the fluorescent bulbed ambience, and the lack of windows intensified the smells of sweat and deep fat friers. Despite that, to this day, I could not have asked for a better, more appropriate yoga experience. The gentle hatha yoga was exactly what I needed right there, delivered precisely as prescribed, and the constant injection of humor from ‘the rebels’ at the back of the class, was a perfect balance to my severe lack of balance within the asanas.

These days I prefer my yoga a little more physically challenging, but still with a twinkle of that humour snuck into my wobbly vrikshasana or an injection of lightness as I shake my asana through a down dog.

A friend of mine once told me of the time she signed up for a week long course with a great and respected ashtanga teacher. This teacher had been studying ashtanga for many years and had gained such a reputation that my friend travelled a good old distance just to experience her take on this dynamic and disciplined yoga. Well, as it turned out, the teacher was not as young as she used to be and her take on ashtanga’s dynamic and strong approach was more of a steady dip into the realms of pranayama and gentle hatha yoga. We all have different needs for different times in our lives.

David Life, Sharon Gannon

Jivamukti Yoga Founders –
David Life & Sharon Gannon

If we look back to yoga’s first introductions to the west, it was used prescriptively. Yogis would suggest asanas or pranayamas for each individual’s needs, depending on their condition or physical and mental constitution. I guess the same goes for our choices today. Gentle hatha can give that respite from busy times and develop awareness in each breath and posture, whilst Iyengar’s alignment focused, multi-propped approach can develop patience, strength and a beautifully balanced body. Good old sweaty power yoga, or other dynamic yoga styles, are certainly popular with those just looking for a strong workout, but be warned – that esoteric, spirituality might just sneak up on you whilst you’re busy flowing through your vinyasas. I’m a big fan of all things Jivamukti. For me it’s the perfect balance of physical, spiritual and fun, but I know its tattooed, musically grooving veganism is not everybody’s favorite form of tofu.

So what’s your prescription? Let’s have a look and I’ll do my best to throw a few suggestions out there.

Slow movement teaches patience, presence, control of both body and mind. Fast movement challenges body control and teaches us an appreciation for ourselves within space. Strong and gymnastic styles may be knocked for taking yoga too far from its origins, but developing a sense of your body’s limitations is a very important lesson in these current times, where we want it all now, via the easiest route purchasable. I can certainly vouch for an increased perception of success and failure every time I happily put my gymnastic trained body into an arm balance and then follow it with possibly the most tight-hipped version of a yogic squat grimmace known to any previous owner of under stretched adductors. There is also a great deal of time in my yogic embrace for the traditional. It’s here that we can discover the benefits of discipline and structure. Yet letting yourself go into a free flowing class or a musically uplifting vinyasa can really unite you with the space around you, or elevate and connect your prana to something beyond yourself.

Firstly, I would recommend a realistic observation as to where your body is at physically, and let’s make it an honest one. I assure you, you will not find any joy or spiritual advancement in attempting padamasana (lotus), when your knees are twisting and your hips are screaming at you! Remember, everybody starts exactly where they are and it’s often understanding and accepting where we are that makes the best progress in moving forward.

Sally hatha yoga

Start with a ‘realistic observation as to where your body is at’

It’s worth assessing where your mind is too. What do you need? What are you ready for? A week long silent meditation retreat could be a week of the darkest hell if you’re new to meditating, or if you’re the kind of person who hangs around the coffee machine at work, delivering the latest hot office gossip. It’s all about keeping it real, being honest with yourself and simply enjoying each step along the path. Don’t be afraid to ask around. Ask questions, experiment. Ask friends, ask teachers, and ask to trial classes. A lot of studios offer deals for new practitioners so take advantage of that, and sample as many classes as you can. Remember an experience of one particular style of yoga can be vastly different to exactly the same style with another teacher.  So try a few and find a teacher you can connect, or relate to. Over time you might see your practice evolving, and your needs changing.


Jois referred to family as the “seventh series”, the most advanced and challenging practice of all.

Be realistic with your lifestyle too. How will your new yogic aspirations fit in with your day to day life? Can you find a space in your schedule or even a space in your home to accommodate this? Then ask yourself, is this enough? These days, juggling a hectic job and bringing up a family is challenging enough. Jois stated that family was the 7th series. I like that. Sometimes, for me, it’s enough.

So what is right and what is wrong? And what is right and wrong for you? And of course, when is it right and wrong for you? The more we open ourselves to experience, the more we begin to understand that it’s all about what works for the individual. Whatever lights your fire, right now, or however the spirit moves you.  But don’t worry – it’s all pathways to the same destination and trees grown from the same seed. After all, we are one big yoga family. We are one.

Jamie has recently released a Pilates flow DVD with music by Moby and proceeds going to charity. The DVD features a mixture of classical and contemporary exercises that allows you to build on the principles of alignment and centring and is designed to get you moving and having some fun.

The workout is a great progression for those already with some Pilates experience, looking to challenge themselves further.

More blog posts from Jamie: 

Focus on Pilates: The single leg circle

Getting started with Pilates

Joseph Pilates: the man behind the movement

5 great ab exercises

Focus on Pilates: Leg pull front

About the instructor

Jamie Isaac is a Pilates instructor and yoga enthusiast. A former international trampolinist and a graduate in Physical Education and Sports Sciences, Jamie is passionate about the positive effects exercise can have on all aspects of life. He is the head instructor and founder of Azul Yoga & Pilates Retreat and the founder of Fluid Art Pilates.

The top of the mountain – recovery from ME

by Cat Easterbrook

I am instantly in the dirt, sliding down the slope to the cafe on my bum, much to the amazement of our guide. He has doubtless seen hundreds of walkers fall but none before the proper walking had begun and certainly not with such wild abandon.

IMG_9093I make a vague attempt to dust myself off but there are more important things to take care of. Never mind wasting energy worrying about falling over at the bottom of the mountain, all energy is to be put into getting myself up the mountain.

I’m about to climb 2100m. Although this won’t land me a place in the Guinness Book of Records, it is noteworthy as a year ago I would have struggled to walk five minutes on the flat.

It wasn’t just walking I struggled with, even doing the dishes or having a shower were like mountain climbs, trying to concentrate on what someone was saying, or trying to read something, a painful and confusing mental effort.

The illness was unlike anything I’d experience before. It was like the weak, empty muscles feeling of a virus, the rejecting stomach of a bug, the throbbing head of a hangover and the confusion and exhaustion of insomnia all rolled in to one. On top of this were a whole range of strange ‘side-show’ symptoms and the feeling that something was really very wrong. It was uniquely unpleasant and doggedly persistent.

Eventually it was diagnosed as CFS (known more commonly amongst its sufferers as ME). I got googling and got worried. ‘No cure’ ‘severely limited quality of life’ ‘housebound’ ‘bedbound’ ‘controversial’ ‘no cure’. Forums full of sufferers’ horror stories, the range and severity of symptoms made my head spin.

I decided that this didn’t apply to me. I would be better in weeks, not months, let alone years. In the early part of the illness I always expected to feel better ‘in the morning’ and was confused to wake up, after an apparently good night’s sleep, feeling like someone had been hitting my head with a hammer all night and had replaced my muscles with silt.

Getting through a workday was all I could do and even that was becoming difficult. I would crash asleep on the bus on the way home, being sucked down into a heavy sleep that pulled my body down so quickly I felt like I was passing out. I’d crawl into bed and sleep for hours, waking feeling just as bad or worse.

I couldn’t sustain it for long. I was fortunate to have a supportive boss and to work for a big company that knew and respected employment law.  I was supported to reduce my hours and work from home, coming into work as much as I was able with a plan in place to slowly increase my office hours. But in the end I decided that my determination to continue working was only prolonging the illness, and with a mixture of trepidation and relief I handed in my notice.

Doctors tried their best to help. Western medicine is incredible and doctors and scientists achieve so much and help so many, but there’s no white-coated ‘ta-da!’ magic when it comes to ME. Research into the illness is massively underfunded and there are still widespread misconceptions about the illness and how best to treat it.

So rather than holding out for the magic pill I launched myself into ancient knowledge and holistic therapies, finding ways of working with the body that didn’t leave the quality of my life in the hands of non-existent research and overworked doctors.

Over the course of a few years I experimented with nutrition, meditation, acupuncture, yoga, kinesiology, NLP, reiki, EFT, visualisation; I devoured books on the power of positivity, the biology of belief, the healing power of mindfulness, the molecules of emotion; I took inspiration and notes from people who had recovered from the incurable, people who had shrunk tumours, ME sufferers who had gone on to be Olympic athletes; I scoured the internet for sources of inspiration and found lots of it – from cheesy self-help to jargon-laden scientific articles. I found an excellent clinic in London – The Optimum Health Clinic – and received so much support and invaluable advice from them. In short, I read about and did as much as I could. My mind and world had opened up and I was in the driving seat.

Yes I tried some weird stuff that has no basis in science (yet… or ever). To me that is a sensible approach. It would be far easier to remain an eye-rolling cynic than to acknowledge that no, we don’t have it all figured out just yet. The joy in stepping out of the western medical arena is that you get to play scientist yourself.  You learn that symptoms are feedback as to what is really going on. A symptom is a clue and a red flag, to be listened to and respected, not just an annoyance to be got rid of with a pill.

I mostly did the things I could do cheaply and on my own – meditation, yoga and changing my diet being the key things. As wonderful and powerful as the alternative healing world can be, it can also be a quick and stupid way to empty your wallet – especially if you are looking for a quick fix and for someone else to do the work. The real power comes in taking responsibility for your own health and in working hard to listen to and understand your body. I was fortunate that I had the energy to be able to do this. For many sufferers the symptoms are so strong that they are literally bed bound, imprisoned by this mysterious illness.

My journey, although easier than many, was long, jagged and characterised, as any ME journey is, by huge optimism and crushing disappointment. In the beginning I expected each thing I tried to ‘cure’ me. The end of the illness and the return of my life were always just around the corner.IMG_9104

With time and a whole heap of acceptance I did start to improve. Slowly, imperceptibly, I regained enough energy to engage in living and enjoying life again. There were many moments of realising how far I’d come. One of the most significant of those was making it to a yoga retreat. A friend had been to Azul and loved it. She was also on the recovery path but still needed to use a wheelchair if she wanted to get out and about. Her bravery gave me the confidence to take the leap.

I won’t say much about my week at Azul because the fact I was determined to stay longer says it all.

Jamie and Karissa agreed to my staying on in their spontaneous and people-minded way and I started doing casual work in exchange for yoga, food and accommodation. I was overjoyed to be living and working in such a supportive environment. Gradually, with a daily diet of yoga, nutritious food, a warm climate and inspiring, supportive people to bounce off (not least the Azul guests, many of whom are still good friends) I was getting stronger. I regularly had to pinch myself and was always surprised by the brown face in the mirror, thinking ‘is this really happening to me?’ and feeling a rush of gratitude.

Much to my delight what began as a casual work exchange became an official position and I was using my editing, writing and photography experience to help market a business I love.

The next great milestone was moving to an apartment by the beach and living with a Spanish flatmate. I had regained my independence and was indulging in my love of languages. With the fuzzy head that comes with ME I had struggled to string sentences together in English and now here I was chatting over breakfast in Spanish. I made a great group of friends who somehow managed to find the balance between being respectful of my slow recovery and getting me on the dance floor as often as possible.

But I always knew that my journey wasn’t complete and I needed to go to the source of some of the ancient knowledge and practices that had taken me from the ‘no cure’ closed door and set me on a healing path. I needed to go to India.

Armed with tips and advice from Azul instructors Emma and Sally, I boldly set off and tried not to freak out before I even left the airport. I was an experienced traveller but India was new to me and I still wasn’t feeling 100% well. But even if I was feeling fully well, India soon would have sideswiped that with the noise, dirt, pollution, hassle and general craziness. As it turned out the ME was actually an advantage because I’d become used to functioning well despite exhaustion and confusion. A good old kick of adrenaline and a trigger-happy sense of humour helped get me through the early days. Gradually my sensory overload threshold increased to accommodate Indian levels of stimulation.IMG_6711

I headed to Rishikesh, Emma’s second home. Attending classes and lectures at a yoga festival and then, after some weeks of adjusting and building energy levels, doing a month long yoga course with Trika school. Far more than the physical study of asanas, I learnt about energy and the chakras, levels of consciousness, yogic morals and ethics, mental control, ayurvedic cleanses – the emphasis always being on self-study and personal experience. I was totally in awe and gained so much from the course.

This was just the start of my Indian adventures and next I headed south, to Sally’s favourite part, Kerala, a state known for its ayurveda and home to a mountain that I had got it in my head to climb.

I was psyched for it, hence my tumbling with wild abandon before even getting going. It had occurred to me in advance that this was a milestone – actually, not just a milestone but perhaps the endstone? I’d read countless recovery stories that ended with someone climbing a mountain or performing some other feat that signalled they were not only back out in the world, but were truly on top of it.

Any thoughts of this being an easy climb culminating in a ‘woo-hoo I beat ME’ moment were laid to rest approximately two minutes into the climb when our rather talkative group fell silent owing to the need to gasp in air.

It was steep. Very steep. Will I be able to do this? The doubt came but was immediately dissolved. Three years of training in ME-bootcamp helped me release any negative thoughts, build my energy, concentrate on the physical sensations, relax and let the blood and energy flow. I felt the first rush of belief and energy and excitement. Of course I can do this. I am doing this.

The guide soon informed us that there were actually seven peaks. This was meant to be reassuring. Luckily they were more like plateaus. We celebrated at each and every plateau, sitting down, admiring the view, taking some time to rest and regain energy for the next big push.

I paid attention to each step and turn, the changing view, the people around me, offering words of encouragement and joking, singing, turning on the inner cheerleader when I felt myself faltering. It wasn’t just a climb to the top. I was loving every part, even the chance to up my game in the tough bits. And in the really tough bits, I just did all I could do, which was to put one foot in front of the other.

I realised the lessons I’d learnt from the illness were being replayed on the climb. With ME, as on a mountain, as in life, you don’t how long the journey will be, how hard it will get and what amazing things you will see and experience along the way. Learning to stay in the moment, even a moment as small as a footstep or a breath, to relax into it, and even enjoy the challenge of the hard bits, the growth that they encourage, makes the journey a lot easier and a lot more enjoyable.

Of course applying this to illness and to life is easier said than done and you don’t have the benefit of a guide telling you ‘this next bit is the worst, after that it gets far easier’. Sometimes it is impossible to see something as an enjoyable challenge. Sometimes all you can do is to keep putting one foot in front of the other and hang on for an easier bit, breathe, stay in the present and accept the energy and support of those around you.

IMG_9121In life there is no peak of the mountain. The journey is the whole point.  And this moment, this step, this breath, as hard or wonderful as it may be, is just as much a part of it as any other.

Standing atop the mountain I feel a rush of energy and gratitude. I’m glad I’ve made it to the top. I’m ecstatic I am awake for the journey.

Recommended resources and books for recovery

Everybody is different, every recovery path unique. These are the things that helped me the most…

  1. The Optimum Health Clinic – clinic based in London with nutrition, psychology and research departments, also particularly recommended is their excellent resource:
  2. ‘Secrets to Recover’ – podcasts on every aspects of healing, including nutrition, psychology, practical advice, recovery stories
  3. Meditation Oasis – free meditation podcasts aimed at the general public
  4. Recovery from CFS: 50 Personal Stories by Alexandra Barton  an inspiring collection of recovery stories, also a good way to gain new ideas for things to try
  5. Full Catastrophe Living: How to cope with stress, pain and illness using mindfulness meditation by Jon Kabat Zinn – comprises a book and two CDs (with two mindfulness yoga sessions and two guided meditations) based on a 6-week mindfulness meditation course at the University of Massachusetts Medical Centre.
  6. The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle – for a deeper understanding of the power and implications of living in the present moment
  7. How your mind can heal your body by David Hamilton – the science behind visualisation, case studies of its effectiveness as a healing tool, methods of visualisation
  8. The Biology of Belief: Unleashing the Power of Consciousness, Matter & Miracles by Dr Bruce Lipton – an easy to understand and inspiring book from a research scientist on understanding the link between mind and matter

Tips for healthier travel

by Stella Hutson of Savouring Stella

Getting ready to leave Fuerteventura once again, the thought of lengthy layovers, untimely flights, delays, and the serious disturbance of my circadian rhythms was making me anxious.

Early morning in the airport, Dublin, Ireland 2013.
Early morning in the airport, Dublin, Ireland 2013.

As I write this, I’m more than halfway through my journey home to the West Coast. I left the sunshine in Fuerteventura Saturday night, arrived in Dublin, Ireland at 1:00 a.m. Sunday morning.

Pamela, a friend whom I made at Azul, offered to pick me up in Dublin and give me a warm bed to sleep in, infinitely better than kicking it in the airport overnight until my next flight. I got some shuteye, had breakfast with Pamela, and actually got to SEE a little bit of Ireland before I left. We took a stroll to the beach, which was moments from her house. Looking out over the Eastern coast into the Irish Sea was the best way to start my morning. A hot shower, great company, and the balmy beach breeze to wake me up.


A “very Irish” coastal home.

Despite a serious lack of sleep, sitting for hours upon hours, and mild jet lag, I feel fantastic. I attribute this to a little pre-trip planning. Air travel– being in a sealed vessel, traveling at such high altitude and speed really messes with us. I have many friends who travel often for pleasure, or work, and I have a few simple tips pertaining to food, fitness, and overall well-being. These things make all the difference for me, I hope they come to use for you!

Tips for Healthier Travel

1. Pack light.

Even when I have spent months away from home, I take only carry-on bags — one big backpack, and a smaller one for food, drinks, and writing material. Ask yourself, where am I going? What will I be doing? What do I really need for this trip? This instantly decreases the stress of traveling — no lengthy queues to collect baggage, no potential lost luggage, no worrying about the safety of your many belongings, especially if you hop through hostels, and your back will thank you by the end of your journey.

2. Bring snacks & eat light.

There’s nothing worse than being stuck in an airport, having to eat crap food AND pay too much for it. Especially if delays or emergencies pop up in your travels, it’s always good to have extra food for you or a hungry new friend. My small backpack is stocked with raw unsalted nuts, healthy bars (homemade or store-bought — just read your labels and know what you’re getting into), fresh and dried fruit.

If I’m not able to pack a meal before my travel, I will buy something in the airport. In my opinion, it’s always better to eat something when you’re hungry, just keep it light and easily digestable. A Panera panini will weigh me down for the entire length of my travel, and contributes to lethargy; think about how limited your physical activity is at an airport and consider how much you actually need to eat. My best bet has been salads, fruit, sugar-free juice/smoothies, yogurt. It’s a challenge to find fresh food in any airport, so opt for brown bagging your lunch.

3. Stretch it out.

Between flights, before and after, take a moment and stretch. Risk looking ridiculous for the benefit of better health. I like to travel in stretchy clothes for this purpose exactly. You never know who you’ll meet doing yoga in an airport.

I met Steve-O in London Gatwick last year, en route to Iceland and got to see his comedy show the next night in Reykjavik.

Truly though, traveling aka sitting and standing for long periods of time leads to stiff legs, hips, back pain, fluid retention and/or swelling in your legs and feet. Some great airport-friendly yoga poses are Forward Bending, Ragdoll (fold forward and let the upper body hang loose, sway side to side), Triangle, Revolved Triangle, Pyramid, Wide Legged Straddle Bend with hands clasped behind your back, arm circles, standing quad stretch. These are all accessible without getting on the airport floor. If you want, laying down with legs up a wall, or elevating your feet in any way help re-circulate blood flow, and drain some of the fluid that gets stuck in our legs.

4. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!

The humidity in an aircraft is much less, like half to three times less than that which we’re used to. This can leave us feeling dry in the eyes, nose and throat. Combat this by drinking more water than you normally would. Take a refillable bottle, and fill it up after security check-points. Bonus, this saves you money too. Drinking alcohol on the flight will only increase dehydration with it’s diuretic effects, so try to avoid that as well.

Airport travel is a necessary evil for our outlandish adventures and stories, but when you’re able to maximize your time there, it can bring more joy in the journey, not just the destination. Wander on friends!


About the author

Stella_hutsonStella Hutson is a yoga instructor, coffee and yogurt loving lady from a small town near Seattle, WA. She is currently cooking up a storm in the kitchen at Azul Yoga & Pilates Retreat. A passionate foodie, Stella loves creating new dishes and experimenting with different ingredients to create inspiring and nutritious food. Not only a talented cook, Stella is also a food blogger and photographer, dedicated to empowering the every-day cook to get creative in the kitchen using fresh, locally sourced, seasonal whole foods. This blog originally appeared on Stella’s site: Savouring Stella. Head on over for more food and yoga inspiration.

A personal year guide to your perfect retreat with numerology

by Tameera Kemp of Light Stays

I’ve studied and worked with both astrology and numerology for over 20 years. Each year brings a different energetic vibration, which continues over a nine-year cycle then begins again.

Thinking about taking a retreat but not sure which direction to go in? Find out how to calculate your personal numerology year to help select your retreat journey and make the most of your time.

Pilates retreat in Bali 31 May - 7 June

Pilates retreat in Bali 31 May – 7 June

To calculate your personal numerology year add the day you are born plus month to current year.  For example I’m born on 4 May and it’s 2013.  So 4 + 5 + 2 + 1 + 3 = 15.  You break the double digit to a single number. 1+ 5 = 6.  This means on my birthday this year in 2013 I will move from a 5 personal year to a 6 personal year vibration. Some numerologists calculate from the start of the year, through my own research I’ve found the energy changes take place around your birthday.

The 1 personal year starts your new cycle. This year brings new beginnings and independence. Energy is increased for new projects. Focus on you­r goals now because it will have an impact on what happens over your following 9 year cycle. Embrace your new cycle with a new years retreat. Reap the­­ benefits from a solo or adventure retreat, focussing on your personal development with some life coaching.

The 2 represents partnerships, creativity and spirituality. Your 2 personal numerology year is more introspective; relationships come to focus with increased intuition. Listen to music you love, try a beach or surf retreat to refresh. The benefits of yoga meditation retreats will be increased this year. Alternatively try a creative art or sound retreat.

Sunrise yoga, Lotus Yoga Lodge

Sunrise yoga, Lotus Yoga Lodge

The 3 like a spring bounces back at every opportunity. This is your year for fun, communication, parties and people, short trips and networking. Make the most of this year focussing on goals from your 1 personal year. You’ll find yourself in the right place at the right time and benefit from connections made. Organise a group retreat with friends for a fun filled retreat and relaxing holiday full of communication.

The 4 if joined at the top resembles a pyramid. Like building the great pyramids your 4 personal numerology year is about working hard to create a solid foundation. You’ll feel busier than usual – like you’re on a treadmill at times. Restrictions of all kinds can surface, sometimes unexpectedly. Take breaks when you can. Time out to a relaxation retreat will do wonders.

The 5 is open front and back – it brings freedom from last years restrictions, travel and new connections. If you feel like leaving your job, home or relationship, be aware a 5 personal numerology year can bring more of a restless energy. Take a holiday instead if you can. An adventure retreat or new holiday location will help you centre.  Learn to focus in your 5 personal year and you’ll discover opportunities.

The 6 is pregnant with love (see the 6’s belly sticking out?) This year is about relationships, meeting your soulmate, marriage, animals and children. It brings harmony into life. It can rekindle a current relationship or bring issues of love to focus on – what you’ve given will be returned. Take your partner on holiday to a romantic retreat, watch the sunset and enjoy. Our animals need holidays too, book a pet friendly retreat with your family for everyone to enjoy.

The 7 resembles a wise persons walking cane. This year is more solitary – good for studying, writing or taking time out to a peaceful holiday location to reflect on life. Spirituality is increased.  If you feel alone, know this is needed to recharge and rebalance. Try a silenthealing or metaphysical retreat this year – or if you love the ocean a surf yoga retreat. You’ll greatly benefit from regular yoga classes,meditation and swimming.

Yoga, Pilates & surf retreat, Fuerteventura

Yoga, Pilates & surf retreat, Fuerteventura

The 8 brings abundance and represents heaven balancing on earth. This year you reap what you have sown over the past 7 years – like a karmic balance. You’ll have increased energy. It’s important to use your ‘powers’ wisely now or you will feel the effects come back to you. Money can be channelled easier and your career can take a huge leap. Improve your wellbeing with a health or cycling retreat.  It’s the perfect time to indulge in a luxury retreat with the abundant energies flowing.

The 9 has looped all the other numbers and has come back to itself. This year brings the end of your cycle. It’s important to think about what’s working in your life and what isn’t – be open to change now. You might want to travel, leave your job or re-visit a current relationship. If certain things are not working to improve your life and you don’t want to let go, you’ll find this year they are removed for you. You’ll then be ready for your fresh new personal numerology year of 1 and commence your cycle again. Renew with an ayurvedic, full moon or Zen silent retreat this year.

What personal year are you in and how is it affecting you?


About the author

Tameera KempTameera Kemp is the Director of Light Stays Retreats & Living – a global guide for your mind, body and soul.Tameera enjoys visiting retreats and taking regular classes to balance energy, increase awareness and gain new perspective. Tameera’s interest and study in alternative therapies and metaphysics began as a teenager. She’s practised astrology and numerology for around 20 years assisting people with life cycles, direction, clarity and understanding and has over 20 years combined experience in journalism, communications, travel, alternative therapies and personal development.


How I got here: working for a yoga retreat

by Stella Hutson of Savouring Stella

Padangushthasana, taken in the volcanic fields in Villaverde, Fuerteventura.

Padangushthasana, taken in the volcanic fields in Villaverde, Fuerteventura.

Early in 2011, into my sophomore year of college, elbow deep in work I had no hunger for, following the traditional track toward university and career; soon I would defer my acceptance to Bastyr University, sell my car, quit my job, and buy a one way ticket to the Canary Island of Fuerteventura.

I found Azul in the back-page directory of Yoga Journal Magazine. In a 1”x2” advertisement, they highlighted themselves as a yoga and Pilates retreat in the sun with dedication to nutrition and wellbeing. I knew this was my place. I circled the ad, and sent Jamie and Karissa an e-mail. I explained how I heard about the retreat, my studies in nutrition, my recent yoga teacher training certification, and my own dedication to wellbeing. Months passed, I continued with my studies, my job at a local cafe, then one day in April, out of the blue, I got an e-mail back from Karissa. She asked me to send my resume, and we set up a Skype date to speak a little more. Within three months I had sold my car to pay for my ticket, deferred all plans for school, and left my job. I was on a plane, leaving my home, close to Seattle, Washington, crossing the Atlantic Ocean for an unknown adventure.

Arriving in Fuerteventura

Arriving in Fuerteventura

Driving through a stretch of underdeveloped land en route from the airport I was filled with curiosity but could manage to do little more than gape at the landscape outside my window. Having never left the United States on my own, much less eight time zones away from the west coast, I had never seen anything quite like Fuerte. Culturally Europe, but geographically Africa, a rocky wind-swept terrain stretched for miles. The roads were small, lined with stone barriers. Everything seemed sun-bleached and life seemed to move at a slower pace as if completely disconnected from the rest of the world.

In the midst of the volcanic desert of Fuerteventura, exists a haven for yogis and foodies alike, this is Villa Azul. With a staff that comes from London, Glasgow, Denmark, Italy, and Spain this already felt like the cultural exchange of a lifetime.

My days were spent preparing brunch with a sweet lady, Idaira, who’s English was about as good as my Spanish. She taught me the way that mornings worked at Villa Azul and I taught her how to make healthy pancakes.

The rest of my day was scattered with light work, cleaning up around the Villa — my cafe job mentality was put to good use, my old boss, Donna’s, voice echoing in my head, ‘There’s always something to do’.

I would attend yoga and Pilates classes every day, loving a sweaty vinyasa flow with Emma, and welcoming the hardcore challenge of Pilates with Jamie. I got to teach a few yoga classes in my time there as well.

Vinyasa flow as Azul Fit, October 2011.

Vinyasa flow at Azul, October 2011.

Morning yoga in the dunes with Emma, 2011

Morning yoga in the dunes with Emma, 2011

My favorite work was always in the kitchen. I would make lunch and smoothies for guests, and help Jo come dinner time. I learned so much from her in the way of food preparation. We talked about the benefits of fermenting foods, soaking grains and legumes, combining grains and pulses to create complete proteins. She taught me to use the benefits of whole foods to enhance flavors and nutrition of dishes, always working with fresh herbs, fresh ground spices, using dates to bind and sweeten desserts, never refined sugars. Coming from a culture of ‘non-fat’, ‘sugar-free’, ‘gluten-free’ and ‘diet’ everything, I found her take on nutrition to be fresh and inspiring. Imagine, eating real food– whole foods and combining them in such a way for optimal nutrition, no egg whites and cardboard crackers necessary.

Stella & Jo

Stella & Jo

A year and a half later, as I write this, I’m sitting on my patio, just down the road from Villa Azul. I’m back again, this time in a concentrated kitchen position. The role of the kitchen has expanded incredibly and it’s so exciting to see. We’re now preparing brunches all from scratch, making granola, muesli, yogurt, breads, ghee, fresh fruit salads, and of course, pancakes. We are in constant rotation making nightly meals and prepping for the week ahead. I share the kitchen with Jo and my great new friend and room mate, Manuel, who teaches Ashtanga yoga and makes a mean vegan paella. Between Jo’s new cookbook, Truly Healthy, Truly Delicious, nutrition workshops, and recent catering events, we’re cooking up big things in the Azul kitchen.

And while my stay this year is coming to a close, I look forward to coming back again. The relationships I’ve formed at the retreat are those that will last a lifetime. I’ve found a wealth of resources and knowledge. I hold Azul in my mind as a reminder that anything in this life can happen, we just have to take the first step.


About the author

Stella_hutsonStella Hutson is a yoga instructor, coffee and yogurt loving lady from a small town near Seattle, WA. She is currently cooking up a storm in the kitchen at Azul Yoga & Pilates Retreat. A passionate foodie, Stella loves creating new dishes and experimenting with different ingredients to create inspiring and nutritious food. Not only a talented cook, Stella is also a food blogger and photographer, dedicated to empowering the every-day cook to get creative in the kitchen using fresh, locally sourced, seasonal whole foods. This blog originally appeared on Stella’s site: Savouring Stella. Head on over for more food and yoga inspiration.

A yoga practice in chaos

by Emma Malarkey

It’s been 13 hours so far. It’s hot and stuffy; busy with aggravated people, crying children, tired bodies and minds. Airport delays – that familiar situation and the accompanying sense of frustration, being trapped under the command of the airline, a continuous wait to embark on the journey ahead.

In amongst this chaos – where we are being challenged, pushed to our limits – is where I practice my yoga. No one sees or understands they are in their own world as I enter mine. I’m practicing my yoga but not my asanas. Here I find a comfortable position to sit in. I close my eyes and take a deep inhalation, feeling my lungs expand with air. I gently exhale as I allow my body to settle into a stable and balanced place.

Airport meditation
I begin to focus on my senses. I feel the cold, hard ground my body rests on, the fusty moistness of the air against my skin. I can smell the coffee being brewed in the departure lounge cafe and the mixed smell of perfumes from the airport store. The sounds are the most dominant: the mixture of voices, accents and languages that merge together to create a continuous muffle; children laughing and crying; announcements and calls for flights.

With my eyes closed I am in the middle of a jungle, in the mist of society.

I begin to draw in my senses, first noticing the noises farthest away and then drawing closer to me. I bring my focus closer and closer into myself until I can only hear the gentle flow of my own breath, feeling the air as it enters my body through my nose and then exits again as I exhale. I am withdrawing my senses, bringing my awareness within. I completely detach from the distractions of reality, distractions from my internal mind.

Now I am aware only of my breath – how it feels against my skin as I welcome it into my body, how it sounds and the rhythm of its flow. I notice it mirrors the ocean, the gentle flow of the waves against the shore. My breath becomes a part of this ocean. I understand I am a part of the world – integrated into the biorhythms of the universe. We are one. I am detached, light and free, sensing an overwhelming calmness, stillness… santosha.

To the eyes around I am resting, maybe sleeping. In actual fact I have left this realm, this reality. I no longer hear the voices, smell the perfumes, feel the moist air. I am comfortable, content, relaxed. I have surrounded myself with a beautiful and protective aura, fresh sea air, calming colours, I have entered my world, a haven of serenity experiencing all with my senses. I allow myself to lose concept of time as I float in my silent stillness.

I return as I begin to expand my senses, I feel the air, the cold ground. I hear the noises – the ones close by, then the ones furthest away. I inhale fully, noticing the scents in the atmosphere. I bring my palms together and rub them creating heat and energy between them. I cup my palms over my eyes and allow the generated energy to comfort my eyelids and stimulate the eyes. My eyes open softly in the blackness of my hands, and keeping the focus on my palms, I slowly move my hands away from my face without blinking as I allow my eyes to readjust and focus back into the world.

I look around – the people, the chaos. It is all still here, all around. I notice their energy, frustrations, as they focus on their final destination, they don’t stop to be aware of the journey we are experiencing.

I allow myself to merge back into this reality, understanding that i am from this world but not attached to it.

I am happy. I am light. I am detached as I hold my beautiful paradise within and project it out into the chaos for all to experience.


More blog posts from Emma:

My favourite pose: downward facing dog



Yoga in India

Yin yang yoga

About the author

Emma Malarkey, Azul Yoga and PilatesWhen she isn’t studying yoga in India or exploring the world, Emma Malarkey teaches at Azul Yoga & Pilates Retreat always bringing back new inspiration for the team and guests. Her wide ranging yoga experience means her personal practice and teaching style incorporates many different styles, including traditional hatha, tantra, Mysore ashtanga, sivananda, iyengar, vinyasa, and more modern forms such as yin yoga and Bikram.