Shoulder Stands & Pesto Pasta

Normally when I teach, there is an emphasis on hip and heart opening (how surprising!) but this week it’s been core core core. There are a couple of reasons for this.

1. Physical: always the late developer, dentally speaking, at the tender age of 27 my bottom wisdom teeth are coming in, and the right in particular is causing me an extraordinary amount of pain! Hopefully I don’t need it removed or anything, but for the time being I’m oil pulling, gargling salt water and sucking on cloves. Now I don’t know about you, but when I’m in constant pain I can’t do much about, I like a challenging pose that takes my mind off of it, something that has limitless scope for improvement, and all the modifications, so you can make it super accessible, or super challenging.

Also, in a bit of play fighting, I twisted my ankle, not badly, but enough that most of my yoga has been supine, arm balanced and inverted.

2. Emotional: Ah, emotional pain… harder to resolve. My significant other has decided he no longer wants to pursue a relationship with me, and so my tender heart is aching. It may be therapeutic to throw yourself into hip openers, and maybe opening my heart is exactly what I need, but my students do not need a blubbing teacher anymore than I wish to cry at work – although let’s face it, it’s the only workplace I haven’t cried at.

So it was decided; core work – and shoulder stand was what I chose. And here’s the breakdown for you… you’ll want a wall and a block this week.

  • Take your mat to the wall, and sit facing the wall.
  • Lie back and scooch in until your bum is against the wall with your legs lying against it.
  • Bend your knees and place your feet flat against the wall. Arms should lie flat by your sides, palms face down.
  • Press into your feet and hands and press your hips back until they are stacked above your shoulders. Use your core for stability.
  • Try lifting right leg up towards the ceiling, pressing through the heel as though you were pushing the ceiling  away. Try with the left.
  • If you’re feeling it, bring your hands to your lower back, thumb against your fingers – none of this L shaped business.
  • Raise both legs up towards the ceiling. Keep engaging your core muscles, and remember to breath.
  • Feeling good? Try squeezing your legs together and dropping the toes down to touch the floor behind your head for Plough Pose.
  • Like that? Bend the knees and bring them down to the floor by your ears. Breeeeath!
  • Wherever you are, bring the feet back to the wall. Pop a block by the wall and lower your bum down to sit on it. Hang out in Legs Up The Wall Pose as long as you like. You earned it.

Now we’ve worked up an appetite! I know we did pesto pasta not long ago, but I’ve had so much basil lately, and this is soooo good! It’s worth noting here that I always have my students check in with themselves how they’re feeling physically, mentally and emotionally. And whilst I might not be so hot physically and emotionally, I am totally sound mentally, and have lots of nice recipe ideas I’ll be cooking up this week for you, plus I’m looking to options for new classes, and I’m taking on some sessional work with the charity I volunteer with doing gardening inspired workshops with commuters and other train users.

Anyway, pesto. This recipe calls for a classic basil/pinenut pesto, but if you felt like switching things up you could make a rocket/pinenut pesto and stir through basil (but half as much as the rocket). I’ve also included lots of nice optional extras, and as usual I recommend you use what you have, what’s in season, what’s local, what’s in your garden, what’s available, and of course, what options are organic.

Pesto Pasta (Serves 2)


2 tbsp pesto (shop bought is fine, Sacla do a dairy free one, no judgement)
1 handful fresh peas
3 handfuls GF pasta (any old kind you like, or even courgetti spaghetti!)
1 clove garlic
1/2 tsp cayenne
1 tsp dried mint (you can defo sub fresh, just add with the rocket instead)
2 handfuls rocket
2 tsp nooch
1 small handful pine nuts
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


1 small courgette, thinly sliced (I use a veg peeler)
a dozen cherry tomatoes, halved
1 shallot, or half a white onion, thinly sliced
half a red onion for that matter


  • Put on a large pot of water to boil.
  • Make the pesto if you’re making it.
  • Throw in your pasta and plenty of salt.
  • Heat a little olive oil in a deep frying pan. Add salt, pepper, cayenne, mint and garlic and saute for a minute. Add in onion here if you’re using and saute until soft.
  • Add peas, and courgette if you’re using. Add a splash of the pasta water and allow to cook until peas are soft.
  • Stir in pesto and nooch, and a splash more pasta water. Add tomatoes if you’re using.
  • Drain pasta and stir in into sauce. Transfer to serving dish. Scatter over rocket and pinenuts. Enjoy! 🙂

I’m not joking when I say serves 2, it could serve 3 probably except it’s so delicious, you’ll be hungry for half. Or, if you’re very greedy (like me) you’ll eat the whole pan yourself.

Stretch, eat and be happy. And fire up your core if you’re not!

Namaste 😉 x


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s