Food, Uncategorized, Vegan, Veggie

Vegetarian lasagna (vegan option)

4 people

Preparation time 35 minutes
Cooking time 35 minutes

Ingredients Lasagna
1 large zucchini
3 tomatoes
500g pumpkin
2 onions
1 clove garlic
Salt, pepper
1 red chilli pepper, optional
1 can of tomato sauce
125 g Mozzarella (vegan option:Violife Mozzarella 200g)
150 g Vegan parmesan (recipe below)

Ingredients Vegan Bechamel
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp flour
500 ml soy milk
Salt, pepper, nutmeg

Ingredients Vegan Parmesan
150 g cashews (unsalted)
4 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 tsp garlic powder
Salt

Preparation

  1. Pre-heat the oven at 200°C
  2. Prepare the vegan parmesan: Grind all the ingredients in a grinder or food processor
    Cut the pumpkin in dices, add a tbsp of olive oil, salt and pepper, roast in the oven for 20min.
  3. Clean the tomatoes and zucchini, peel the zucchini, cut everything in dices
  4. Chop the onion and garlic, roast in a pan with a fair amount of olive oil
  5. Add the tomatoes and zucchini, a cup of water, cover and let it cook for 15min
  6. Add the tomato sauce, salt, pepper and red chili, cover and let it cook for 10min
  7. Add the pumpkin last
  8. Prepare the vegan bechamel: Heat the oil in a pot (medium to high heat), add the flour and actively stir. Add the soy milk all at once and stir. When you’ve reached the desired thickness add salt, pepper and nutmeg.
  9. Assemble your lasagna: add about one cup of bechamel to the bottom of your lasagna pan. Spread evenly, then add 4 lasagna noodles (uncooked). Add your first layer of lasagna prep, spread some mozzarella on top. Add another layer of lasagna noodles, repeat. When your lasagna pan is full, spread the bechamel sauce over the top evenly.
  10. Bake for 25 min at 200 degrees.
  11. Add the Vegan parmesan on top of your lasagna, put your lasagna back in the oven for 10-15min.
  12. Remove, let cool for 10min and serve.

Lifestyle, Uncategorized

Mindfulness: The art of living the present moment

As this year is ending, I’m reflecting on the experiences of 2019, both the positive and negative ones. I recently told my sister that the well-known saying “living in the present moment” always did sound quite cheesy to me, nothing more. One lesson learned in 2019, probably the most important one, is this one: we shall in fact try to enjoy the present moment. It’s easy to say, more difficult to put in practice. 

I thought I was living in the present moment, trying to make the most of it, feeling content with what I have and taking each day as it comes. I recently came to realize I wasn’t. 

2019 has been a year of self-care. I’ve put the focus on myself, it was very much needed: taking a slow pace, going inwards, taking the time for me to figure things out. 2019 has also been a year of solitude: I’ve embraced it, I’ve accepted that I needed it in order to grow and distance myself from my old patterns. I went on my first solo trip, refused to take part in many social events I would usually attend. I draw the line: I wanted to be alone

Halfway through the year I realized I was maybe closing myself too much. That’s the thing with solitude, with being independent, it shouldn’t mean not inviting others into your life. Isolation can be necessary, yet it’s not necessarily better. By October I figured the walls I had built around myself as a person were very high. It was a good protection, but maybe too much. I figured I was closing my heart and in fact myself to new opportunities. I had refused countless social interactions, but also intimacy with other people. A change occurred and surprisingly enough, I fell in love. That’s not really the point of this article, nor the fact that I got heartbroken. I see this experience as a lesson but mostly as a blessing: I welcome this reminder that my heart works and that I am able to feel

I bring this up because it helped me realize the importance of living in the present moment. My last relationship was easy at first, very much uplifting. It was good times, easy interactions, a deep connection and happy moments. Until it wasn’t anymore. It became all about hopes, fears, projections. What does it mean, how is it going to be in the future, what if it doesn’t work? It ruined everything. As I see each and every experience as a lesson especially the hardest ones, I figured, isn’t it this the biggest lesson of all? At least I see it as another reminder to live my life in a more mindful way.

Here’s the thing: we are constantly running. We run in our daily lives, to catch a bus, to be on time for work, interviews, parties. We run and we are always looking for the next thing to plan, to do. We are hurrying in the search of happiness too. We view  happiness as an ultimate goal, as something we will reach, achieve, by any possible means. If I work hard enough, I’ll have more money, I’ll be more happy. We are looking for happiness in the future, worrying about it constantly. When we aren’t, we’re worrying about the past, letting old things bring us down. We wish we could relive the past, sometimes change it. In all this mess, and all the negativity it brings (overthinking, stressing …) we tend to forget the most important of all: living in the present. Being grateful for what we already have. 

I thought, well…this must be what it’s all about. All the cheesy quotes, the idiotic sayings I overlooked. There must be some truth behind it after all. As I deep-dive into the concept of mindfulness (the “psychological process of purposely bringing one’s attention to experiences occurring in the present moment without judgment”), it all makes sense to me. We shall indeed focus on the present, on what we have, and seek happiness in it. Being more mindful is a key element for happiness. Being happy now, not in the future. Being more mindful also significantly reduce both rumination and unnecessary worry. Who wouldn’t want that?

Another saying pops into my head as I’m writing these lines: “Happiness is a journey, not the destination”. It is very true. There is no way to “find” happiness, nothing in the world can bring it to you on a silver plate. The amount of time, all the means, all the things, all the efforts, all the money in the world will not bring you happiness. Happiness can’t be found, it is already within you. If you are not happy today, chances are you won’t be happy tomorrow either. Simply because there is not even a guarantee that you will be alive by tomorrow. This sounds pretty harsh, but it’s a fact. We should stop running after happiness, and find it in the present moment. Enjoy things as they are, and let them be. Simple to say right? How to put these thoughts into practice?

A good way to do so is firstly to take the time to enjoy things. We can start by slowing down, using mindful practices such as meditation, watching our breath, to help us refocus on the here and now. Then, of course there is yoga and using asanas to refocus. It’s the practice that speaks best to me, but it could be a different one for you. It’s up to you to find a way to practice mindfulness. It’s not easy, but it’s not supposed to be. One thing is sure though, it won’t be harder than living a life on endless dream-chasing and overthinking. 

Yoga

Choosing your Yoga Teacher Training (YTT)

If like me you have decided to enroll in a yoga teacher training program, you might have faced the following struggles.

While scrolling the internet to organize my trip I got quite confused: with so many options out there, choosing a school and a program can be overwhelming. Where to go? How many hours to select? How much to spend? 

If you too are confused about all the options available, this post is for you. Using my own experience, I’ll try to help you. 

How many hours should you select?

YTTs available are: 

200H: the basic certificate recognized by the Yoga alliance. It is the most common YTT, which covers all the fundamental elements of both yoga anatomy and philosophy. The 200H taught can be spread over an intensive month or over a longer period of time.

300H: second level of training or “Advanced Yoga Teacher Training”, available for yogis who have already completed the 200H program. This training goes deeper in both practice (more advanced asanas) and theory (advanced anatomy and philosophy). 

500H: highest international standard for advanced yoga teachers. Your overall yoga knowledge will be deep (asanas, philosophy, anatomy). 

A lot of students will choose to spread a 500H course over two intensive trainings (200H + 300H), go abroad for some months to get certified, and spread the whole training over a couple years. Some other students will choose to enroll in evening classes, near their hometown. Some will join an intensive 500H training to get certified quicker. There is no perfect choice or length. The most important thing selecting your program is choosing a training that works best for you. 

Choosing a certified school

I recommend to select a RYS (Registered Yoga School) certified by the Yoga Alliance (https://www.yogaalliance.org/).

The Yoga Alliance is setting the standards in terms of certification, their website is listing all certified schools with an accurate description of the program they do offer. Choosing a certified school is not mandatory.

Legally you do not need a 200H RYD certificate, but many yoga studios will ask you for one. If your yoga school is not certified, you also won’t be eligible for insurance for example. Not getting certified will reduce your chances of teaching, but mostly your chances of teaching safely.  

Where to go?

India being the Mecca of yoga, many students choose to go there to complete their training. It was my first choice as well, for different reasons. First of all India is well-known for its authentic yoga philosophy and practice. Great trainings are offered by great teachers and gurus.

The most famous places for your training in India are Rishikesh and Goa. Then, YTTs offered in India are cheaper than anywhere else (USD 800 – 2000 on average). Finally, India can be a very good option if you’re looking to dive deep in yoga culture and get a very specific specialization. YTTs in India offer many specializations: Tantra, Yin, Ayurveda and so on… options are limitless.

However, if  you choose to enroll in a YTT in India there are a few things you should be aware of. India is a highly contrasted country, culture shock can be quite intense on you. Just be prepared for it. India’s living standards (food, cleanliness) are very different than European ones, so if you’re a bit “difficult” with your comfort standards, I would advise to maybe avoid this country.

Other destinations are very famous for YTTs:

Thailand is a very good option. I would recommend you to select schools on Ko Pha Ngan, a very special island where very good trainings are offered. Living standards are better than in India, and the training prices are still fair.  

Bali is probably THE dream destination to select for your teacher training. The island is magical, so spending some time over there will not only allow you to complete your training, but also to enjoy the many wonders of the destination. The only con is that YTTs in Bali are (very) expensive, overly expensive if you ask me (USD 2500-5000+). Yes you will be enjoying your stay very much, but you can probably find equally good trainings for cheaper somewhere else.

Doing a YTT in Europe is of course possible, many options are available. I chose not to attend one of those trainings because they are often more expensive than in Asia, and I also consider the experience slightly less authentic.

Nepal: A good choice if like me, you have always dreamed about the Himalayas. Going through schools reviews available online, I found out that yoga schools in Nepal are overall slightly better rated than the ones in India.  

Comparing options

I used the website below to find trainings, but also to compare the options available:

https://www.bookyogaretreats.com/

The website offers complete descriptions of the courses (workshops, retreats and YTTs), reviews, and filters to narrow down your search. 

What should you pay attention to make your choice?

First you should choose what type of yoga you like the most. Usually by the time you start thinking of doing a YTT, you already know, but not always. Again, there is no rule for that. If you are still unsure; an option could be to attend a general YTT.

I definitely recommend to do some serious research before selecting a school. Programs can vary a lot so do a background check on the school (history), teachers and the syllabus offered. Ask for an accurate description of what’s been taught and how many hours are dedicated to each part (practice of asana, theory and so on). This in order to choose something that resonates with you and your teaching goals.

Before selecting a school, I would also definitely recommend to use word of mouth. I talked to people who had been on YTTs, asking for advice and help. Always a must. 

How much does it / should it cost?

YTTs prices are on average between USD 1000 – 3000. Some schools offer 200H trainings for USD 800, but I would not recommend to select such an option. For such a low price, accommodation can be really basic and the quality of the training reduced as well.

Other schools offer very attractive yet very expensive packages: USD 5000 and more. If you can afford it, there is no problem with selecting such an option. But again, you can find equally good trainings for cheaper.  

Where will I be going?

I want to enroll in a 200H Hatha and Vinyasa program offered in India. Currently, my project is on hold.