Moonroots

Find your roots and grow, wherever you go. Travel-Yoga-Lifestyle


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The Yoga of Travel

Travel, how beautiful and interesting a subject you are. Going from place to place, meeting people from all walks of life, seeing new and different things all the time, daily extremes ranging from stimuli overloads left and right to days spent in a hammock or on a bus. Through these fluctuations we grasp onto the mid-line of our internal scales, striving for balance as we do everyday, and realizing how beneficial these changes can be to help our focus and awareness grow. Familiar subject? Like yoga! Change and flowing with it, becoming stronger in each action and aware of the crazy and amazing goings on, yoga and life go well together. It can be difficult to keep up with your practice on the road and through the waves of stuff that the world brings our way, but through dedicated effort and positivity, anything is possible. These are some tips I find helpful for keeping up with your practice when a solid routine can be harder to establish, with first knowing that sometimes solid routine isn’t what we need. Conditions change from day to day, emotions, weather, needs. We adapt to grow and learn, evolve and flourish. Enjoy!

“…To be flexible enough to respond to the needs of the moment-to be able and willing to assist others through deeds of loving kindness. This is the ideal culmination of yoga in action, and is more important that doing your yoga practices at the exact stroke of the clock.”-Mukunda Stiles

1. Set a time.

Even if it’s a few minutes (or half an hour off), set a starting time for your practice that you think you can make work, and then stick with it. Give yourself realistic duration goals and chances are you will end up exceeding them.

2. Make down time productive.

Meditation can be practiced almost anywhere. A couple minutes or hours, any time that we dedicate to looking inward is time well spent.IMG_7194

3. Sunrise and sunset.

Avoiding distraction during the peak hours of the day can be near to impossible when so many great things are happening! Waterfall adventure? Si! Sunrise and sunset hours are good times to get to the mat as they are generally cooler, more mellow and seem to just come naturally with yoga practices.IMG_7162

4. Harness Simpler Poses

The beauty of more simple and less extravagant yoga poses is that they can be done almost anywhere, and due to their nature can be exactly what is called for when we need to come back to centre.2

5. Embrace it.

Do what you can, where you can, and make it count. Often a shorter more focused practice can provide us with so much more than a drawn-on unfocused one will. Through dedication, love and pure intention your practice can thrive no matter where you go.IMG_6801

Blossom everyday knowing you have the inner and outer strength to make every day magical!

Namaste!

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Flashback to Thailand: Koh Tao Round 2: An Island Paradise

Because the first time I spent on this island was so magical, I just had to come back here before eventually heading back to Bangkok and getting on that dreaded flight away from Southeast Asia. From Surat-thani we took the overnight sleeper boat to Koh Tao, a big open space full of foam mats and weary travelers, excited to arrive in a land of beautiful beaches and spectacular diving.P1070585 Previously I had stayed at Big Blue Dive Resort, where I completed my Open Water and Advanced courses, and then one night at Spicy Tao, where we would take up residence this time. Nestled in the forest amongst palms and soothing sounds at night, the rustic accomodations are really all you need if you plan to spend all your time at the beach anyway, just make sure you have ample repellent at night. My dorm just so happened to feature a nice family of geckos living on the wall too! As I was still recovering from some kind of nasty bug that destroyed me in Cambodia, there would unfortunately for me be no diving done this time. At least snorkelling doesn’t require clear sinuses! Whether we were on the popular Sairee Beach or the amazing Koh Nang Yuan, our days were spent swimming with the fish until sunset enjoying our favorite restaurants like Su Chili and Blue Wind, and hanging with new friends where of course some shenanigans at the hostel turned into dancing and fire-jumping back at the beach. P1070593Now let’s talk about Koh Nang Yuan, a protected little island just off of Koh Tao. This sandy slice of heaven is straight out of an ‘Islands’ magazine. Although pricier to stay on, a day trip to this paradise can be arranged for very few baht, and makes for a memorable day above the surface. There are plenty of masks and snorkels to rent and buy if you don’t have your own, and it’s hard to get bored of huge rainbows of cute fish in warm crystal blue water. Sounds nice right? My one recommendation: pack snacks to bring with you as food is pricy on the island, and remember not to bring any plastic water bottles as they’re banned from the park.P1070597 P1070598P1070602P1070606P1070611For our last beautiful night on my favorite little island we ‘splurged’ and got a bungalow on the beach with our own little patio, right on the main boardwalk-like little strip. One last night of swimming into the sunset, dancing barefoot through the sand and truly enjoying paradise. See you soon Koh Tao!

What place do you think of as ‘paradise’? Let me know what you think!


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The Ultimate Gifts

Firstly, Happy Holidays! For whatever you celebrate, there is always a reason to do so! 🙂 Today I made a personal accomplishment; touching my nose to the ground in Upavistha Konasana (wide angle seated forward bend). Though truthfully, this liberating physical asana is only a wonderful byproduct of efforts. Truly received are space-clearing insights, eye opening teachings and oneness, a clarity incomparable to the appearance of any posture. Almost indescribable are these fruits. Through union we can remove obstacles, and when removed the path becomes clear. Nose to ground or not, trust in the power of your self. By giving in to the practice and persisting with positivity (a mantra I like to recall daily) we can receive the greatest gifts of all. Stillness of mind, clarity, a seed of inspiration and light planted deep within the flesh of our beings. that allows us to continue on the journey, unheeded by cloud and darkness. Of matter and of light, both come together; a union; this is yoga.

Acknowledge your challenges, face them strongly, a peaceful warrior, and let them go, for there is always a greater purpose. There is no need to hold onto anything. Light overcomes darkness, but not darkness over light. Know that we are provided with what we need to grow, extend up to the stars. Accept that we are all still human and be gentle with yourself as you travel the path. Only you can set yourself free, a being of light, a star amongst the infinity of space.P1070348

Hope you’re having an amazing holiday!

Namaste!

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Flashback to Thailand: Finding Solace in Krabi

Returning to Thailand after almost a month in the Kingdom of Cambodia, we spent a long two nights sleeping on technicoloured buses, from Siem Reap to Bangkok and Bangkok to Krabi. The goal was to find a quiet and relaxing private bungalow where we could straight up zen out, away from hostels and partying, simply soaking it all in. Our prayers were answered as the two of us were whisked away in a songthaew to Pine Bungalows, located outside of Krabi town. We whizzed down the highway passing towering rocky cliffs covered in lush vegetation and dense palm forests that are characteristic of the coast. P1070553P1070563We paid a mere 500 Baht a night (250 baht each). Simple and exactly what we were looking for, right on Klong Moung Beach. The grounds were well maintained and pretty, with a badminton net, basketball court restaurant and hammocks strung from palm trees on a private beach. The staff were friendly ad helpful and our neighbours quiet but smiley, clearly looking for the same tranquil escape. Each morning I could practice yoga on our little porch, followed by a swim in the beautiful waters of the Andaman Sea.P1070513 P1070517P1070526P1070527The only way to really leave was by moped, taxi, or by boat to another beach, so when we grew tired of badminton, swimming or basketball on the resort’s court, we rented a bike and ripped into Krabi town, where we strolled through a market, walked the riverside and browsed a grocery store. (Grocery stores are a bit of a luxury when you eat out at every meal!) The hotels and restaurants up the road were definitely geared toward the more luxurious traveller and families, so we mainly stuck to a diet of rice and canned beans, but did treat ourselves one night to a nice dinner at a busy restaurant with great mood lighting.P1070556 P1070555P1070575 My favorite part of our stay at Pine Bungalows? The stunning sunsets over the ocean, swimming for hours and gazing out as it descends for the night, floating serenely in the dreamy pinks and blues of the late day’s light, peacefully and happily. Freedom of action, freedom of thought, and so much beauty.

Yes, this is a real photo!

Yes, this is a real photo!

The perfect way to spend a few days before going back to the beloved little island of Koh Tao!

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A tad off the beaten path: Battambang, Cambodia

Instead of just going straight to Siem Reap from Phnom Penh, we decided to take a detour through Battambang, a smaller city to the northwest that is less visited than the big cities, but still has many attraction and tourist aimed hotels and restaurants. 2 big things stood out to make me really enjoy the time we spent here.

1. The general feeling of community and local life, and

2. the natural beauty of the landscape and earthly attractions, as well as the general aesthetic of the city.

We started off two days here by renting bicycles and riding around to our heart’s content exploring. We rode by the riverside walk, where young and old participated in open dance classes, through lush streets where multiple colorful weddings were taking place and through quieter suburbs among schools and houses. This was a most memorable bike ride.photo (67)photo (68)photo (69)photo (70)photo (71)

The next day we hopped around (via tuk-tuk) to all the ‘must-see’ destinations. We started at the bamboo train, where we boarded a wood palette on the tracks and raced along through the countryside, passing farms and the occasional local wandering in a pond. Our bumpy ride was shared with some local men who were just along for fun. Although still used now for shorter distances, the bamboo train had been used during harsher times to travel safely at night with goods and supplies.P1070258P1070259P1070257photo (77)

From here we made our way to ‘Cambodia’s only winery’ where the wine was…tart…to say the least… But the brandy and ginger juice they also prepared was sweet and delicious.P1070266

Our lovely chauffeur

Our lovely chauffeur

We travelled on barren dirt roads with a speedier tuk-tuk kicking up dust in our faces, seemingly in the middle of nowhere to our final destination of the day, the killing caves and temples of Phnom Sampeau and the bat cave. It took us about an hour to march up the steep winding roads of the little mountain to the cave and statues surrounding, to the magnificent temple at the very top, and then back down a looong stone staircase to the foot of the mountain where we would await the bats’ exit. A tour contrasting sadness and beauty, dark and light.P1070277P1070297P1070284P1070294P1070299

Returning to the foot of the mountain, we awaited the bats’ nightly show, their exit from the ominous hole in the rock. At around 6pm, they began to trickle out. Their screeches were heard overhead and their hungry bodies spotted soaring into the night as they transformed into one giant black looming swarm that made it’s way like a snake across the dimming sky. As we putted back toward the city, we could still see the mass of millions moving across in search of food.photo (76)

The rest of our night was spent riding through the streets and eating fresh roasted corn under the light of the full moon, capping off a beautiful little adventure.P1070251

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Recipe: Cambodian inspired Fresh Spring Rolls

In my previous post Tastes of Cambodia: An authentic Khmer cooking class, I described in detail the delectable dishes we cooked up from scratch using natural, flavorful, nutrient dense ingredients. Here is the recipe for the amazing fresh spring rolls (adapted slightly) This recipe includes meat, but to make completely vegetarian and vegan, just omit fish sauce (and of course shrimp), and perhaps substitute with low sodium soy sauce or other Asian style sauce of your choice (hoisin?) Also if not using shrimp, perhaps substitute with tofu or brown rice! Fresh, healthy, and a perfect summer lunch or appetizer!photo (63)

 

Rolls:

1/4 cup finely chopped onion

3/4 cup shrimp, chopped (the little ones, not prawns)

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 tbsp. olive oil

pinch of sea salt

pinch of black pepper

1tsp cane or palm sugar

2 tbsp. fish sauce

1/2 medium carrot, sliced into matchsticks

cucumber, sliced into matchsticks

3 large lettuce leaves

rice papers

Dipping sauce:

2 cups water

2 tbsp. fish sauce

3 teaspoon cane or palm sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1 clove garlic

1 chili

1 shallot

juice of two limes

2 tbsp. crushed peanuts

To begin, finely chop onion  and garlic, and slice cucumber and carrot. Cut or tear lettuce leaves into pieces about half the size of rice papers. Remove the white middle of lettuce or it may tear the rice paper. Heat oil on medium heat and brown garlic, then add shrimp, salt, pepper, sugar and fish sauce. Cook for about two minutes, then add onion and cook for 3 more minutes. . Allow to cool.

For sauce:

Boil water, then add fish sauce, sugar, and salt. Simmer for 2 minutes and remove from heat. Allow to cool. Finely chop the garlic, chili and shallot and mix with lime juice. Add to cool sauce with crushed peanuts.

Rollin’ it all up:

In a shallow dish of water, soak rice papers individually as you go for about 10 seconds or until it starts to feel soft and malleable, but not too fragile. (I find it helps to remove them when they feel just a tad stiff still, to prevent tearing.) Place on plate and lay lettuce on the side closest to you. Add portion of meat mixture, along with carrot and cucumber. Fold bottom of paper to the middle and try to gently squeeze back into itself to form a tight roll. Fold both sides in and continue to roll. Dab on a little sesame oil to prevent them from sticking to the plate. Continue with remaining meat and vegetable to produce about 4-5 large rolls. Serve with dipping sauce. Enjoy a taste of Southeast Asian at home!

*Note: It’s best to prepare the sauce first so it has time to cool, maybe even put it in the fridge.

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Tastes of Cambodia: An authentic Khmer cooking class (Recipes to come!)

During our stay in Siem Reap, we were lucky to come across a highly recommended authentic cooking class offered at one of the city’s popular bar- restaurants, Temple Bar.

Our 4 hour class included a tour of the Old Market, where our teacher shared her knowledge of the natural ingredients we’d be using as well as any others we may be curious about. We also received a souvenir T-shirt, recipe sheet, and of course instruction on how to prepare the fresh, flavorful and healthy dishes we were about to create.

The oj was just for drinking, and apparently posing.

The oj was just for drinking, and apparently posing.

We each (my travel bud and I) had our choice out of 3 mains, appetizers and desserts to select from to build our 3 course feast. We both started with fresh spring rolls, a favorite of mine that I often make at home! But these were special.  We finely chopped the ingredients (these ones included meat) seasoned, and sautéed as our chef instructed. The next step was loading the rice paper babies up with the spicy meat mixture and fresh veggies, delicately rolled them into tight packages of goodness and served (to ourselves) with the sweet and sour dipping sauce we had also prepared from scratch. photo (63)

Taste test.

Taste test.

I’ll toot my own horn on this one, they were probably the best fresh spring rolls I’ve ever had. Cooked with time, care and love, the flavours of the spices and textures of the vegetables all combined made these massive rolls a winner.

Next we moved on to the main (which we had to have room for!). I chose a traditional Khmer curry.

This was my favorite dish to prepare as it contained heaps of vegetables, utilized one of my favorite tools: a mortar and pestle, and featured a tantalizing curry paste we made from SCRATCH!

As a long time user of various pastes and powders, this was amazingly rewarding.

All of the nutritious spices were chopped finely and ground along with shrimp paste and chili oil into a rich saffron colored lump of magic. Into the pan it went along with the veg and a generous couple ladles of creamy coconut milk. The result was just as delicious as it looked and smelled. As long as you have the spice paste pre-made, this is a super healthy meal that could be prepared more quickly than it seems!

And there was rice.. so much food...

And there was rice.. so much food…

Before starting the main, we had begun to prepare our dessert, a Pumpkin Sago Pudding, which simmered to tenderness while we cooked. It was a combination of palm sugar, coconut milk, tapioca pearls and pumpkin cubes. A simple and tasty dessert that gets some vegetables in there!

We left stuffed, proud of our creations and thankful to the chef who taught us the ways of traditional Khmer cooking in a fun hands-on class. This was a perfect way to further explore a rich culture and adopt new knowledge of using the beautiful foods the earth provides to craft healthful works of art. Definitely recommended! And if you can’t get there yet, the three recipes featured here are soon to come!

Did you find this post helpful? Have you ever taken a cooking class abroad? How was the experience and what did you make?