Matcha morning 🐒🍵

Yesterday I had some matcha treats delivered from Teapigs ☕️🐷 including a beautiful matcha recipe book 😍, so this morning involved flicking through for ideas whilst eating all the fruit 🍌🍐 and inspecting more herbs from our garden (see Stories - in this photo we have rosemary & some very hardy fennel 🌿).

I don't drink matcha as often as I'd like to (that would be 20 times a day 😁) because all the women in my mama's side of the family are ✨very✨ prone to being anaemic 🐭 and green teas (along with regular tea & coffee) contains tannins, which can hinder the absorption of iron into the bloodstream 🙅🏻. As an omni I was anaemic & unable to give blood 💉. I haven't had my iron checked for a while but try to eat lots of iron-containing plant foods and molasses most days ➕ sometimes take an iron supplement ☺️.

Matcha is one of the tastiest things ever 🍵 and you can make matcha pancakes, snack bars and more 🤗.

P.S. Hey Holla no-kink hair tie on show because these bands come everywhere with my lion hair 🦁🙈

Hope you have a lovely day! 🐣

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ALLPLANTS: TASTING JERK JACKFRUIT

Pulled, young jackfruit has a really meaty texture and is often used as a replacement in recipes where pork is required. I tried AllPlants' restaurant-quality delivery service, which delivers vegan & plant-based meals to your home for less than the price of a takeaway. 

I sampled this for my food blog VegansofLDN and am definitely going to be ordering more!

#FLASHBACKFRIDAY: FROM CIDER TO STRETCHING

 
Serena Lee // @imserenalee // Yoga Teacher & Personal Trainer, East London // Sobriety & Giving Up Alcohol

Spreading my legs in a different way 😂😩
My weekends used to be fuelled by White Ace cider at £2.59 for 2L 🍺  mixed with blackcurrant cordial 🍇. Yes that's a spray tan I got in Essex 🍊. Yes this was a regular occurrence 👯.
These photos are about 5 years apart ⏳. If you think the left looks fun and the right looks boring af, I get it because 5 years ago I would have looked at future me and thought "why you so old 👵🏼" ✨but✨  I fell in love with living healthily and spreading this message to other people so they can spend their Sunday morning creatively, productively & full of energy 🐣  and not with a face full of hungover Supernoodles 🍜.
What are your passions outside of socialising? 👭 Could you turn them into something that's bigger than the self? 💆🏻 Alcohol was one of the obstacles to my productivity 🚫 and this along with a few other reasons led to me going sober in 2014. 💧 Try a 30-day dry challenge and see how you feel aaand come back and let me know how it went! ☺️⚡️🙏

NUTRITION & FITNESS WITH TWO VEGAN PERSONAL TRAINERS

I met up with my PT friend Izzi, where we discussed protein sources, carbs, smoothies and fitness routines. We ended up doing some couple-exercises together, demonstrating how to perform a squat, and later on we found a street gym to try out :)

I HAVEN'T USED SHAMPOO OR CONDITIONER FOR 18 MONTHS!

Just a quick update as its been over a year now since I switched from Apple Soda (bicarb + apple cider vinegar) to Ryepoo (rye flour & vinegar) to wash my hair, and a year and a half since I quit shampoo.

My hair today: 29/8/2016.

My hair today: 29/8/2016.


IT'S BEEN AMAZING. I've washed my hair on average around once a week even though I work out quite a lot with an active job. When I was travelling for 2 months in Southeast Asia I used purely water and got along happily with no gross consequences, but when I got back to the UK and continued, it started to get greasy so I went back to Ryepoo as my standard routine, using arrowroot powder in between washes as a dry shampoo.


I've used straighteners on a total of two occasions in 18 months and have air-dried my hair almost the whole time, using the cold setting on my hairdryer if in a rush and the hot setting maybe three or four times if *really* in a rush.


Pictures speak louder than words with this one so here are a few in chronological order from the day I first tried Ryepoo up until today.

October 2013 (shop-bought shampoo)

October 2013 (shop-bought shampoo)

March 2014

March 2014

September 2014

September 2014

May 2015 (Apple Soda method, 4th month)

May 2015 (Apple Soda method, 4th month)

June 2015 (Ryepoo method first time)

June 2015 (Ryepoo method first time)

August 2015

August 2015

October 2015

October 2015

December 2015 straightened hair

December 2015 straightened hair

March 2016

March 2016

May 2016

May 2016

 

Other than Ryepoo the only product I use regularly is coconut oil as a hair mask the night before washing it, and on the ends sometimes for extra beachiness. I've given away all my other hair products including all my beloved Aussie stuff and L'Oreal Ultimate Blends oil that I used to swear by. The only product specifically for hair that I've kept is a non-aerosol hair spray for times few and far between when I need my hair to be done up neatly.


The method is the same now as it was last year, but a little lazier: I have a small glass Petri dish that I put the flour in, which gets topped up with water and mixed with my fingers in the shower. Then there's a glass bottle of apple cider vinegar mixed with water at a ratio somewhere between 1:2-1:3. The rye mix goes on first, massaged in and washed out. Then the vinegar mix that rinses out any clumps, followed by a rinse of water.

 

I can definitely class this as a life-change now rather than just an experiment and I'm really glad I stumbled across this method all those months ago. Let me know if you have any questions about the Ryepoo method and if you try it yourself!


Thanks for reading.

Serena

 

Connect with me on Instagram, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter :)

Happiness Now

 
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Thiiiissss! 🙏 Happiness *is* success. If you're happy doing what you're doing right now, you're already successful 🙌 There is no "I will be happy when I have X, Y, Z..." because we stay in the shackles of craving - the source of discontent - until we break free from our happiness being dependent on things we can't control ⛓ Use the gap between where you are now and where you aspire to be as inspiration, sure. But know that up there ⬆️⬆️ is not where you *should* be. Right here ➡️🙆🏽⬅️ in this very moment is where you *should* be. We're tricked into comparing our 'success' to the 'success' of others 👬 who might be gaining in status, money, possessions, but might be miserable or working for causes misaligned with their own principles. It's not for us to measure the true success of another human, only your own 😌

Living in a way that's aligned with our principles, in our jobs, habits and behaviour, feels rewarding and therefore leads to being happy doing what we're doing. = Success ✨😄

So may "what you want" be for a purpose bigger than the self - and this begins with intention, which means we can start right now. ☺️ 😇🙏

CROW POSE/CRANE POSE FOR BUILDING WRIST STRENGTH!

Helloooo! This video shows you how to get into Crow Pose/Crane Pose (Bakasana). Jump to 6:10 for vegan snack haul :) I'll be uploading new content once a week so please hit the Subscribe button on my channel for more home workouts & exercises! I'm teaching the Crow Pose most weeks at Campus London yoga sessions too so come along for £3 yoga in London if you're free.

BUDDHA BOWL

I'm currently eating this Buddha bowl in the garden at 9pm 🌝 with tofu, alfalfa sprouts, grated beetroot, carrot, tofu, spinach, rice, avocado and sesame seeds 😛 I know 'Buddha bowl' is supposed to be a fun way of saying a healthy plant-based bowl with lots of ingredients 🍃 but what I would call a Buddha bowl is any dish we come to eat with full attention. Finishing one mouthful before piling in the next. Slowly tuning into the textures in the mouth and the way the tongue is receiving all these messages from this fuel that we've taken from the world to nourish the matter we identify with as our 'self'. We are worthy of nourishment, always 🙏 and we can take dinnertime to think how best to use this fuel: let's not take our food for granted; let's use it to help ourselves become better and help others become better. Put the best stuff into your body and put the best stuff back out into the world - that power is within you ✨😌

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RESIST AND YOU'LL REGRET

Thought I'd check out the new Body Studio at Selfridges (focused on fitness & wellbeing). As soon as I entered, I was faced with this sign.

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These are everywhere. All around us in high street stores. "Love me, try me, buy me"... "Stuff you WANT, stuff you NEED". These phrases are emblazoned across escalator walls, hanging from ceilings and plastered across shop windows but I swear most of the time we don't consciously notice them. It goes in, subliminally.

 

This sign was hanging over bags on sale at only £400. (Only!)

 

When we make purchases, we rarely stop to think about what we're giving up in order to afford the material we're buying, and that's not all our fault. Try and find a women's magazine at the newsagent's today that doesn't have the term "must-have" in it, most likely next to an item you've lived without quite successfully your entire life. We're taught to keep up. To buy stuff we don't need just to impress other people who don't care about your possessions (they're too busy caring about their own).

 

So I say RESIST. You won't regret. Ask yourself what a £400 bag will do for you. If it will add £400's worth of value to your life - value that aligns with your goals, your ambition, your truth -- then go ahead. Everyone's truth is their own.

But if you're scared of resisting spending your money on s*** you don't need because Selfridges is telling you you'll regret it -- if you're scared you'll get left behind if you don't follow the crowd -- RESIST. No regrets.

 

The only thing you should never resist investing in is yourself.✌️

Why I'm happy every Father's Day, long after my dad's been gone

There’s a conversation I’ve had a few times in recent weeks - both with people I’ve just met and people I’ve known for a little while. It often comes up because we get into the topic of my mother being from Malaysia, then they’ll ask where my dad is from and if my parents live in London.

That's my dad on the left, and Mama on the right

That's my dad on the left, and Mama on the right

When I reply that my mother is still in England and that my dad passed away a few years ago, it’s always met with these deeply sad eyes: the same eyes I give when someone tells me that one of their loved ones has passed. Your whole body turns to empathy; you know there’s nothing you can do to help this person’s situation and you’re not sure whether to move swiftly on with the conversation or whether to take this time to understand more about the circumstances instead of tiptoeing around it and perhaps wondering what happened for years to come.

As soon as I receive those sad eyes, I like to take the opportunity to explain why I’m very deeply happy with my father’s death. My first words are always “But it’s okay! We were really close.” and then, knowing that sounds contradictory (surely if you were close, it’s harder to deal with?), I go on to describe the lesson I learned from his death and how I apply what I’ve learned to my relationships with people now.

They might not even want to hear it, but it’s one of my favourite things to share so I tell them anyway. Luckily, if you don’t want to hear it, you can stop right here and head back to Facebook :))))

 

So my father died of a subarachnoid haemorrhage in December 2009, a couple of weeks before Christmas. He had been struggling with liver cirrhosis among other things that it’s not important here to go into. He had a bleed on his brain and we got a call in the early hours of the morning saying they might be able to operate. We got a call back around 5:30am saying he’d gone. He was 53.

He was staying in Devon and my mother and I were in Essex, by the seaside, at our (and his) home. I was seventeen and in college.

My grandad (my father’s father, he’s our rock, hey Grandad if you’re reading this!) drove my mother and I quite silently down to Devon, where we met my brother and my dad’s brothers. You go through the motions with such high adrenaline that it feels like nothing at all.

Grandad, Dad, my brother and cousin

Grandad, Dad, my brother and cousin

We spent the next couple of weeks arranging the funeral - it was two weeks later having had the post mortem, and we cremated my dad on December 21st. A couple of years earlier he’d written me a note that ended “Never cry for me again”, so I made sure I went through that day without shedding a tear. It was much easier than I’d thought, having this big cloak of warmth around me the whole time from knowing what a complete relationship we’d had, and how I got this cloak of warmth is what I’d like to share with you.
 

My father and I were best friends. I used to follow him around the house and he’d call me his ‘shadow’, sitting in his office for hours, him explaining the world to me and me asking endless questions and pressing flowers and clovers into his big books. He taught me how to tie my shoelaces; he taught me about periods, boys, how to do a flaming Sambuca. He taught me that, as I went through teenagehood, I’d loathe him and distance myself and that I’d come out the other end and we’d be best mates again. I did spend small amounts of time rolling my eyes and cutting off his questions with one-word answers and closed doors, but there was something in knowing the process that meant we were always close underneath it all.

The reason I’m happy with his death - not with him dying, of course, but with his death - is that there was nothing left unsaid. There are things I never shared that I would tell him now as an adult, but it wasn’t the right time to tell him them as a teenager (he’d probably have killed some young men). There are no regrets; there’s no heaviness.

I’ve come to learn - and studying yogic philosophy & advaita actually really helped put this into words! - that there is a difference between pain and suffering. Grief is a physiological thing that we go through when someone we love dies. It’s a tightness of the chest, a hollow heaving that smacks down on the stomach - and it can come at any time, not just in the weeks or months following death. Suffering, on the other hand, is knowing that we should have acted, but we didn’t. Or that we shouldn’t have acted in such a way, but we did and we never put it right.

Suffering stems from regret - we crave a different past because we didn’t follow the right path at the time. It takes time to let that go, and self-forgiveness. (Whatever the situation, you deserve self-forgiveness.)


The lesson I learned from my father’s death was that we should give our all to every relationship without expectation. Never going to bed without making peace or at least reaching out and trying.

I would have learned this lesson either way, and I feel extremely lucky to have learned it in the form of “Everything with Dad’s death was great because I put all I could into the relationship when he was alive, and so I should make sure I act in the same way with others so that I feel this clear when their deaths come”. The other way I could have learned it was, “Everything with Dad’s death was awful because I didn’t see him enough/forgive him/stand by him, and so I should act differently with others so I avoid feeling this terrible when their deaths come”.

I guess that’s what pressed me to write this post: if you haven’t already experienced the death of a loved one, you don’t have to learn this lesson the hard way. And you don’t have to learn it by reading a sad story. I’m writing this now from a place of deep clarity, from a comfort that will be with me till my own death. Know that people you love will inevitably die. Know that it’s okay! Although you will experience grief, you don’t have to experience suffering.

This isn’t to say that I don’t miss my dad - I miss singing with him while he plays guitar and I miss the winks he would give me whose meaning I could never put into words. It’s that the ‘missing him’ is carried with a smile, with the knowledge that a seventeen-and-a-half-year perfect relationship isn’t ‘cut short’. It’s complete and filled with a level of quality that no number of years can guarantee.

I wrote this spontaneously so don't have any recent photos to hand :)

I wrote this spontaneously so don't have any recent photos to hand :)

This also isn’t to say that, for example, if your mother left you as a teenager and you’ve written to her ten times with no response, you should continue writing to her each year because you’re scared of regret. This is about your judgement and your own conscience: your gut feeling about how you’ve acted towards another person will tell you everything you need to know. It’s about going to bed knowing you’ve done your part.
 

It’s like Chris (Simpsons Artist) says: If you love someone, just tell them. If you feel sick, just be sick.

We’re formed as these adults with faces that block our souls from spilling out where they’re meant to be. So I guess this is my ask of you: give everything you can to your father if he’s around this Father’s Day. If he’s not, and you’re cool with it, then great. If he’s not, and you’re suffering, forgive yourself. And then do the same with everyone you know. Not on my behalf - not because I’m sad that my dad isn’t around for me to give some love - but because I gave him all the love I could and I know how good that feels. I can’t touch the weird mole on the side of his head with my fingers, but I can connect to a love so deep and pure that it doesn’t matter whether he’s dead or alive.

You have the power to create that, and I invite you to join me in doing so.


Thanks for reading! :)

Serena

 

Find me at:
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YouTube: gymfreebunny

Dad, my brother, Ah Kong (mum's dad) and me in Muar. I'm wearing my lycra Union Jack Spice Girls crop top and I wish I could still fit into it now

Dad, my brother, Ah Kong (mum's dad) and me in Muar. I'm wearing my lycra Union Jack Spice Girls crop top and I wish I could still fit into it now

Joy Splits - YouTube Tutorial

Sharing a method I learned that helps improve flexibility while working towards side splits.

Please hit Subscribe on my YouTube channel for more yoga, fitness & wellness videos :) 

Thank you for watching!

Serena xo

Octopus Exercise for a Stronger Core

Here's a short video explaining one move that can add an extra burn to your core workout: The Octopus.

If you'd like to see more videos please hit Subscribe :) and let me know if you give Octopus a go. Thanks for watching!

BAMBOO TOOTHBRUSH BY SAVESOMEGREEN

The notion of 'ahimsa' in yoga means 'no harm' - trying to minimise harm to other beings and to the earth with our lifestyle.

Yes, there are some big ways we can make changes (like diet), but there are loads of tiny ways that all add up, like this little bamboo toothbrush from SaveSomeGreen. Bamboo can grow up to 1.2m a day (!) and is a far more sustainable material than plastic. I've been using bamboo for a few months now and love it so much I had to share.

Medium bamboo toothbrush (Image: Save Some Green)

Medium bamboo toothbrush (Image: Save Some Green)

SaveSomeGreen is an online shop selling homeware and personal items including bamboo knitting needles, natural toothpaste and silicone baby bibs. There are three adult toothbrushes to choose from: medium, soft nylon and charcoal, as well as a kids' brush. I bought a medium pack of 3 - it's £3 for one brush or £8.50 for a multipack (there are multipacks of 6 and 12 too which work out cheaper).

Unlike lots of eco-friendly products, the toothbrush doesn't look gross.

Unlike lots of eco-friendly products, the toothbrush doesn't look gross.

And it's less harsh on gums :)

And it's less harsh on gums :)

This brush is so much softer than the toothbrushes I've used previously - I forgot to take it to my family's house one night and used a spare and could tell the difference straight away! 

What I'd love to see next is detachable heads - using the same handle and clipping on a new head each time one wears away, like we do with razor heads. That would make the bamboo toothbrush even more eco-friendly, and bring the cost down for the consumer too.

Check out Save Some Green's online shop and let me know if you try out a bamboo toothbrush! I chose this product because it was cheaper than a lot of others online without being a huge eBay seller - I like supporting smaller companies where I can afford to, and this seemed like a good opportunity to shop small and within the UK.

 

Thanks for reading!

Serena xo

IN DEFENCE OF AGEING

I remember the first time I realised that humans got 'smile-wrinkles': I was about nine years old and in my Ah Kong's house, my Chinese grandfather's house. As he walked by I noticed he had deep lines stemming from the sides of his nose and ending just below the sides of his mouth. I remember thinking "How odd, Ah Kong never smiles". I always had him down as a man who showed his love through his eyes and through his actions - an entirely selfless man who took no luxuries in his life and gave everything he had to those around him. And I remember thinking, "Maybe he smiles when no one is looking for all the good he does".

 

Now I'm 23 and am starting to get a very faint smile-line on the left side of my mouth. My initial reaction when I noticed this was "Oh no! I'm starting to age!"

What a sad, sad thought. I wish that my initial reaction had been, "23 and already smiled enough to start getting a smile-line. You lucky thing!"

Imagine if I died at 40 without having smiled enough to start getting a smile-wrinkle, even on one side of my face. Not even half-smiled enough for my skin to start committing my joy to my map because I'd been too absorbed in my vanity, chasing away the grey hairs earned with wisdom and the crow's feet that come when we embrace laughter with both wings, over and over again. 

I'm not even there yet but I can already see that this is just the next stage of being sold unattainable dreams. "Once you're past the point of spending all your time, energy, emotion and money trying to achieve the body ideal we push in your face, you'll need to start stopping time. It's easy if you spend X amount of your income each month on these products that will do nothing for you but kill your self-esteem by having you face a constant reminder that other women look younger and are therefore more desirable than you are - just look at the youthful, retouched model on this box of pointless product you bought!"

And I notice that it's all about women. What's the female version of a silver fox? I don't own a TV/watch movies so I admit I'm largely going off billboards and window campaigns, but it seems as though male celebrities in their 50s are portrayed as charming and attractively mature whilst 50-something women are hidden away. 50 is more than my entire lifetime away from where I am now, and I imagine by the time I get there I'll be so much more interesting and articulate than I am now. So why if I flick through 15 channels will I see a predominance of 20-something women? I want to hear the stories of deep smile-lines, and I hope that I learn to be proud of the etchings of my life as they draw themselves across my skin.