Saturday, January 29, 2011

The miracle fibre (plus blanks)

Well, in my recent weeks since moving to England I am discovering what the Brits, Scots and Welsh have known for centuries: Wool.

Now, we do get the occasional (quite straggly and rather hot-looking) sheep in the tropics but given the heat, of course nobody needs to wear wool.  So upon coming to the UK I have been delighting in building up a wardrobe full of lovely knitted things.  It's warm, it's fuzzy, it's knitted!

In this part of the world, wool has a long and lauded history.  People get downright poetic when it comes to their wool, like the lovely folk at, who say:

"It is a fibre fit for heroes-and for more ordinary folk. As modern as moonflight, and as ancient as the hills.
Man can never match it. No other material, natural or man-made, has all its qualities. "

Now isn't  that lovely?

In the way that students sometimes surpass their masters, the folks over in New Zealand have taken the craft one step further with the wool from Merino sheep.  The folks over at Icebreaker call it "the miracle fibre".  Merino wool is breathable, machine-washable, dries quickly and doesn't retain odours - so they have made it into a year round fibre.  Yes, that's right - not just winter wear, but merino traveling t-shirts, tank tops and sports wear, spun so fine it could almost be cotton - but drier!  And here's the yoga link: I have a tank top of their thinnest wool and I have even done yoga in it... in 36 degrees!

The best part - it's 100% animal friendly (all the Merino sheep in New Zealand live to their natural lifespan, unlike a lot of wool producing sheep in other places), environmentally ethical (read about it onn their website) 100% biodegradable, and long-lasting.

Icebreaker adds one more little extra: what they call the "Baacode" - a unique code that links your product to your very own Merino sheep-donor!!  You can track your individual garment to the sheep station(s) that it originally came from,  Cool.

Guess now all I have to do is take up knitting!

Perhaps instead I'll fill in the blanks...

1.   If my house was on fire and I could only grab 3 things I would grab: My cat, my laptop and I guess my passport!

2.  A smell I really like is: vanilla. Yum!

3.  Something you might not know about me is: I have rosacea, a skin condition that in the extreme causes people to have constantly red, chapped skin, especially cheeks.  It can be really aggravated by diet, so to manage it I avoid red wine, all hard alcohol and liqueurs, and don't eat too many red berries. (Not an issue in the tropics but a bit harder here!)

4.  Some of my favorite websites to putter about on are:  yoga blogs of course!

5.  This weekend I will: be chilling in Oxford and hopefully taking my new camera out for a shoot!

6. Nothing makes me happier than: love! Sunshine! Fluffy kittens! LOL.  Actually I'm quite easily contented.

7.  A bad habit I have is: burying my head in the sand in the hopes that if I ignore things, they will go away.  It doesn't work. ;)

Do you love wool?

Saturday, January 22, 2011

In pictures: Oxford in Winter

Wow, how did it get to be the weekend already again? This week has been exceptionally busy, and although I did manage to get in a few morning practices they were a bit rushed and not quite satisfying.

An update on yoga in the cold: I have been layering up and adding extra sun salutations to warm up my body in the chilly temperatures.  It is still so strange to practice in full clothes (long pants, long sleeves!) and not be drenched in sweat!  I am still struggling to get up early enough to get in a proper practice before work - but really that's not about cold, just about discipline!

This weekend I have some errands to run and I am actually going to try and rest and relax for the first real time since I landed here just over 2 weeks ago.  Here are some pictures for you to enjoy, artistically rendered by my trusty phone. ;)

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Fill in the Blank Fridays!

This weeks blanks from Lauren is about happiness and a few other things.  Which is a nice theme because we can always benefit from taking the time to step back and reflect on the things that make us happy and unhappy in our lives.

Reflection is the first step towards change I guess - living life consciously, pro-actively seeking out the things that make us happy instead of living in a state of reactivity.  I am finding that with this move across the world, into the cold and dark, it is hard to focus on the good things and stay positive.  But I have to remember how blessed I am to have people who love and support me, a job in these tough times, and the chance to take on new professional challenges and learn new things!

Hope everyone has an excellent weekend!

1.   I feel happy when  the sun shines.  Seriously, a little sunshine can just make my heart soar these days!

2.  I get silly when I'm with my sister! We both do - I don't know how anyone puts up with us!

3.  Something that makes me sad is being far away from the people I love.  This is so, so hard right now.

4.  Something that makes me annoyed is when buses are supposed to come and then don't, and you are left standing in the cold for ages! 

5.  A time that I've been truly surprised was when my cat brought a fair sized rat into the house. Ick!!!

6.  I am so thankful for  far too many things to list here! Among them my community back in Timor, the beautiful flowers a special person sent me this week, and the fact that it's Friday!

7.  I feel loved all the time. Because I am! How lucky am I?!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Yoga in the cold

Hello yogis!

Well, one of the biggest changes in moving to England from the tropics is, of course, the weather!  One of the biggest shocks is the late sunrise - I practice yoga in the mornings and it has been hard to motivate myself to get out of bed and practice in the dark! I am used to the sun actually rising during sun salutations...

So, you readers who have experience in seasonal yoga, I asked the question on Twitter and will ask here again:

How do you motivate yourself to practice in winter?

I can't wait to read your responses!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Gypsy has Landed

I know it's been a while since my last post, and to all those who commented and kept on visiting, I really appreciate it!

Not in Kansas anymore!

So, I have landed in Oxford England, far from my tropical home.  Just about as far as you could get in terms of weather, culture and development! I am here to work for Oxfam, so through that I will at least still be in touch with my beloved tropics and life in what some people might call "the majority world" - that is, the parts of the Earth where the majority of the population of our planet live.

Perhaps you have seen this before:

If the world were a village of 100 people:

61 would be Asians, 12 Europeans, 8 North Americans, 5 South American and the Caribbean, 13 would be Africans and 1 would be from Oceania.

20 people own 75% of the entire world income.

80 would live in substandard housing

24 would not have any electricity (And of the 76% that do have electricity, most would only use it for light at night.)

67 would be unable to read.  

Only 1 would have a university education.

50 would be malnourished and 1 dying of starvation.

33 would be without access to a safe water supply.

What always strikes me when I return to Europe or North America is just how much we take for granted the privileges of our every day lives.  We view these things not as a luxury, but as a basic entitlement: housing, running water, education.  In our commercialized world, we buy goods without thinking of whether or not we really NEED them.  In some places people have to count every penny they earn and spend, feeding their families on less than the equivalent of $1 or $2 per day.

Today as I wandered the streets of my new home - exploring, shopping (sweaters! socks!), walking, I can't help but feeling like a stranger in a strange land, or like the children from the Chronicles of Narnia - knowing there is another world out there that most people are completely unaware of.  The challenge for me will be to exist in this world mindfully - and that is where yoga will help me!

Stay tuned for more Yoga Gypsy as I discover the yoga scene in Oxford, become a yoga student again, and keep on reflecting on learning and teaching yoga, as well as development issues, mindful consumerism and a whole lot more.

It's going to be a great 2011 folks!!


PS: Cool bit of trivia - Amsterdam's Schipol airport has a meditation centre! How awesome is that?