Real depth of yoga


Yoga is something you do for yourself. No one else can do it for you, nor can you do it for someone else. In essence, it is an intensely individual pursuit. To this, add the fact that no one person is exactly like another in body and mind, and you see why classical yoga, was always self-practice done by individuals. Traditionally, the branch of yoga that explained and emphasised physical practices was known as Hatha yoga. The physical practices were intended to help in focusing the mind, either directly or indirectly; their purpose was not mere physical exercise.

One compelling reason to practice hatha yoga is the efficacy, particularly of asana and pranayama, in bestowing health upon the practitioner and warding off disease. After all, we are unlikely to succeed in taming our wandering mind if we are troubled by ill-health. Also, because the physical practices of hatha yoga can be done relatively easily, it opens the door to yoga for many people.

However, the format of yoga is quite different now. It is not practised in the caves of the Himalayas but in well-equipped yoga studios across the world. And it is practised not alone, but as a group and there are reasons. Practising yoga in a group is helpful. The energy of the group can support you and add to your motivation.

Listening to the teacher guide you through the practice means you can stop thinking about what you should be doing for that one hour. You can network with a community of like-minded students. But there are important reasons why you should also practice yoga in your own time and space. Motivation is key to transformation, and even if it is for a short time a day, stepping on to the mat and sustaining that motivation by yourself can help you discipline your wandering mind very effectively.

Practising at your own pace allows you to appreciate your breath and body better and to explore and expand your awareness. A flow of instructions from a teacher allows you to tune out and just follow along, diminishing your own alertness and presence in the practice. You are like no other individual; every person is different in countless ways in body and mind. Unless you practise on your own, you will never have the possibility of a practice that truly supports the needs of your body and mind. Further, it is only your own practice that can evolve intelligently with time and effort to suit you best. Everyone in a group cannot evolve at the same pace or in the same way.

Finally, the deeper aspects of yoga — mudras, pranayama and meditation — cannot be explored by synchronising your practice with a dozen others in a group. You can access these practices only by deepening your inner awareness in your practice. We are not advising that you drop out of group classes altogether.

Rather, we recommend that you work toward developing your personal self-practice as the main course of your yoga meal and the group practice as the garnishing that you add for taste. Only in your self-practice will you find the real depth of yoga.


The tea is linked to high blood pressure


Milk from cattle, camels, horses, yaks, goats and sheep is an important part of the Mongolian diet. Suutei tsai (perched here on the stove inside a family’s Ger) is a traditional drink made from equal parts water and milk, a tablespoon of green tea and a teaspoon of salt. Drunk as part of Mongolian custom and culture, the tea is linked to high blood pressure.

Leading cause of death in Mongolia


The burden of non-communicable diseases is increasing globally, accounting for 70% of deaths. These include cardiovascular disease (responsible for 17.7 million deaths annually), cancer (8.8 million), respiratory diseases (3.9 million), and diabetes (1.6 million). Worldwide, hypertension (raised blood pressure) – a chronic, debilitating non-communicable disease – is estimated to cause around 10 million deaths (about 12.8% of the total of all deaths) and is a leading cause of death in Mongolia.

Malnutrition affects one in three people in the world


Donors have pledged an extra $640m (£490m) to reduce the serious burden of malnutrition, which affects one in three people in the world.

The crisis “endangers the physical and mental wellbeing of present and future generations”, warned Kofi Annan, speaking in advance of the global nutrition summit in Milan. “We need further urgent investments so that people, communities and nations can reach their full potential.”

The World Bank has pledged to increase its spending on nutrition to $1.7bn by 2020. The summit will be accompanied by the launch of the 2017 global nutrition report, in which almost every country in the world is identified as facing a serious nutritional challenge.

The annual report found 88% of all the countries surveyed face a serious burden of two or three forms of malnutrition, including childhood stunting, anaemia in women of childbearing age, and/or overweight in women.

Although the number of children under five who are chronically or acutely malnourished has fallen in many countries, the data show the rate of decline is not rapid enough to meet internationally agreed targets. At the other end of the spectrum, the “inexorable rise” in obesity continues, with 2 billion adults obese or overweight and 41 million children overweight.

The likelihood of meeting global targets to halt the rise in obesity and diabetes by 2025 is less than 1%.

At the summit, governments including Ivory Coast, El Salvador and Madagascar committed to extending their nutrition programmes. Philanthropic organisations in India and Nigeria have promised to spend $150m to tackle the problem in the two countries with the highest numbers of malnourished children.

A study published earlier year showed how the number of people going hungry in the world had increased for the first time since the turn of the century, sparking concern that climate change and conflict could reverse years of progress.

Roughly 815 million people were going to bed hungry last year, compared with 777 million in 2015.

An estimated 38 million people face food insecurity in Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen, while Ethiopia and Kenya are facing severe droughts.

The report found that spending by donors on undernutrition increased by 1% to $5m between 2014 and 2015, but fell as a proportion of official development assistance, from 0.57% in 2014 to 0.5% in 2015.

Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, said: “When nutrition is at the top of the agenda, countries can tap into their full potential … These commitments bring us one step closer to a future in which every child not only survives, but thrives.”

Rancho Margot


Close to the Caño Negro river and Lake Arenal, Rancho Margot is part off-the-grid eco lodge, part self-sufficient organic farm, part science laboratory. In 2004, Chilean-born Juan Sostheim bought 400 acres of a former cattle ranch and began to replenish the decimated land with endemic flora and fauna. Still a work in progress, they grow their own crops, produce their own electricity, build their furniture from reforested trees and make biodiesel using leftover cooking oil. Accommodation ranges from spacious bungalows to bunkhouses and horse riding, mountain biking, hiking, kayaking, waterfall rappelling and yoga are all on offer. Afterwards, you can ease your muscles in rock pools before a farm-to-table feast.



Finca Luna Nueva


At Finca Luna Nueva, guests are encouraged to reconnect with nature by living the simple life. In 1994, Steven Farrell – a self-described health-conscious hippy – opened a small, organic herbal farm near La Fortuna, the gateway to Arenal Volcano national park. Since then, the project has grown into a 207-acre biodynamic farm and an eco lodge built from fallen trees. On the Sacred Seed garden tour, guests can smell and taste the results of the biodynamic process and learn about the healing properties of trees and plants on guided walks in the neighbouring rainforest. Afterwards, wallow in the ozonated pool or solar-heated hot tub, or salute the sun from the yoga platform ensconced in jungle greenery, before some fine organic dining.