Colon Cancer, SIBO & Blueberry Breakfast Crumble

I don’t know about you, but until my recent colon cancer diagnosis I hadn’t heard of SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacteria Overgrowth).  SIBO can be responsible for symptoms such as fatigue, bloating, wind, constipation and diarrhoea, Iron and B12 deficiencies as well as more long term chronic disease.  It dawned on me (slowly),  how my ‘healthy’ diet had probably contributed to imbalance within my own system.  Despite enjoying whole food, I very definitely place emphasis on starches and carbs in the form of rice, beans and legumes.  I had no idea that the generic view of what is healthy, could actually be causing me a problem…

When you’re diagnosed with a critical illness, it’s like a bomb goes off in the middle of your life.  Everything (literally everything) looks, and feels different.  I was torn between a longing for the oblivion of yesterday and wanting to wake up sometime in the future when it was all over.  Despite critical illness diagnosis, however, the body has a remarkable capacity to keep functioning ‘as normal’.  Sleep still comes (albeit, anxious and broken), thoughts race, blood circulates, breath draws.  I became acutely aware of my own body’s resilience and innate predisposition for survival.  And with everything I had mentally and emotionally I jumped on it, screaming desperately “I’m listening, tell me how to survive”…

So, quickly realising that this body was the only way I was getting in, out or through this life I sat still (for the first time ever) and listened.  It was buzzing with anxiety, stress, ringing with partial dehydration (probably from all the crying).  It felt as though every cell of my body was vibrating with high crisis, and I realised that this was probably in response to my mind.  The ‘C’ bomb is a threat to life, inside your own body, no amount of fight or flight is getting you out of this, it’s the ultimate disease of self destruction, your own cells turning on you.  Sh*t I thought, this is bad.  I’ve dealt with auto-immune disease in the past, so I’ve had my starter and main course already with self destructive illness, but when the surgeon says “Miss Bloxham, it does appear, that at the young age of 38, you have, in fact, developed colon cancer”, self destructive dessert is most definitely served with lashings and lashings of sickly sweet synthetic whipped cream.  Needless to say, I felt sick.  Shocked. Incapable of actually speaking.  I simultaneously left my body and came back again over and over.  There was nowhere to run.  Nowhere to hide and I was staring death in the face… So fast forward a few hours, car journey home… (aren’t cars amazing? Like little teleportation systems)… and doors… doors are amazing too, they let you in and out of places… so cool!  Getting the gist of my new view on life?  Even so, impending doom was not going anywhere… so I sit…

“Hi death, Hi cancer, I’m Lauren… ummm… so here’s the thing… we could either just try to get along, or, if you take me down, then you go down with me… so should we, erm, just maybe, try and live together, at least for now?”  (Subtext, please don’t take me down, please don’t take me down)… I actually had this conversation with myself… and it felt as though I had a murderer at my throat, the knife pressed to my skin… (I was pretty tense)…but strangely, the acknowledgement that we were all here, present and accounted for, and that maybe ‘I’ was in the driving seat again and not ‘cancer’… seemed to give me some space, like, an inch, but space nonetheless.  It felt good.

What space gives is perspective.  It offers options and choices.  It places the perceived problem in the context of the healthy whole.  With this space I began to see the whole of the rest of my cancer free body.  The whole of the rest of my healthy heart beating, my lungs filling with life giving air.  My limbs which moved freely and with strength and flexibility…  My brain, capable of understanding all of this.  This tiny amount of space and perspective began to allow me to see what is good in my body, the cells which serve me well, and my own incredible physicality.  I started to appreciate what I had, rather than continually demand more.  This came pretty easily… with floods and floods of good feeling.  What came (and still comes) hard, is the insidious thoughts and mental processes which I have used to destroy myself.  Not knowingly, never knowingly.  But in looking this killer (cancer) and it’s apprentice (my mind) in the metaphorical eye I realised just how unhappy my mental process had become.  Just how uncared for it has been.  Funnily enough, given the nature of the disease, I noticed just how self destructive my thoughts had become.  ‘When will it all end’, ‘when can I get a break’, ‘no one cares about me’, ‘life is hard’… hmmm my obedient body seems to have found a way out doesn’t it… ? Working this through gave me a little hope, and the thought, how do I work with what I’ve got, to create more of the good stuff.  Sort of treating my mind like a naughty child… I’m just not giving any air time to the crap.   I guess survival mode is showing me how to maximise the good, rather than deal with the bad?

So in survival mode I’m actually asking myself the question now…What do I need to feel better, more balanced and even survive cancer?  So here’s my kit-list to date, and to date I am 11 days post surgery waiting on histology results which will determine the next course of action:

  1. Address all those underlying, small, niggly digestive issues I’ve had for YEARS!  Go and see a Functional Medicine Consultant who can advise on nutrition and get my guts healthy & balanced.  Because I wont hurt me, and it may even help me.
  2. STOP life as you know it.  And take the opportunity to look around at what feels good, and what doesn’t.  Pick up ONLY what feels nourishing.  Leave everything else behind for now.
  3. RELAX.  OMG I had no idea how deep and infinite relaxation could be.  I have literally only ever dabbled at the surface of sitting still and connecting with my breath, but the depths, let me tell you, are infinite… and right now I’m not moving too far out of them… wearing pyjamas mostly.  Sound Therapy and Reiki have been my go to (non invasive) treatments, both transport me to a very happy place, and connect me with a vibration of peace and wellbeing, which again… can only be helpful.
  4. Look yourself in the eye and be prepared to see it ALL.  The chaos and destruction, alongside the beauty, grace and love.  Begin to nourish the beauty, grace and love with thought, word and action.  Talking to myself in the mirror has been really helpful (As well as really challenging at times).
  5. HEADSPACE.  There is a cancer package on Headspace.  It has been invaluable in helping me to sift thoughts and identify what works for me and what doesn’t.
  6. Sleep… This has been sacred.  We have an air purifier in the bedroom now, and new sheets.  Going to bed early and waking naturally for the first time in years feels energising and replenishing.  I have also managed the odd nana nap during the day.  Again… this can only help.  The times where sleep has been more elusive I’ve used yoga Nidra and guided sleep meditations to focus my mind inward.
  7. LOVE… receiving and consciously absorbing the positive words of friends and family, receiving the offers of help, enjoying the contact with others has filled me when I’ve felt empty, and lifted me when I’ve felt down.

And applying all of those principles to the way I physically nourish myself is a manifestation of care too… so here’s the beginning of my SIBO diet journey (think grain, sugar and dairy free)… my pitch to rebalance and revive the cells of my body through nourishing and caring for my gut microbiome.

Blueberry Breakfast Crumble


SIBO friendly Blueberry Breakfast Crumble



100g plain coconut yoghurt

75g chopped walnuts

1 tsp clear honey

1 cup blueberries

1 pinch cinnamon



  1. Mix half the blueberries with the yoghurt and place in a bowl.
  2. Chop the walnuts and mix through 1 tsp of pure clear honey.
  3. Top the yoghurt mix with the walnuts and the remaining blueberries.
  4. Sprinkle with cinnamon and serve.

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My Yoga Playlist – Music to Get Your Flow On…

Music is a great way to access the emotions.  It’s there in high times, low times and the everywhere in-between.  The sounds of our musical peers reminds us that we’re not alone, whatever we face.  For every mood, there’s a melody, and for every social movement a distinct sound to define it…  So for me, music and yoga go hand in hand as a form of self-expression.  Where words fail me music very often speaks, where life overwhelms me and I become stuck movement and dance allows me to flow.  Often, music triggers unexpected mood, memory or emotion and at times can be an inspiration.

Using music in Yoga practice can be controversial though.  It’s not for everyone.  In fact, it’s not always for me.  I would never practice Ashtanga to music for example.  The repetitive flow of the Ashtanga series can be deeply meditative.  A Place where we come up against ourselves in whatever state we are in.  Music here can be a diversion away from our inner experience, and the point of this kind of practice is to find and be present for our deep self.  The places we rarely access, the emotions we prefer not to stir, the human experience in all its varied glory.
In lesson planning and explorative flow though, music can add colour and depth to the process, triggering emotion and inspiring pace and mood… Music here can be the access point for deeper exploration, it can lead us in to the unknown in the most gentle of ways, and here is where we find our deep inner self.  Music can simply be another teacher, guiding us on our unique journeys.  So listen up!!
Here’s what I’m flowing to now, in no particular order, old and new, the artists and songs which I’m grateful for hearing and connecting with, and which I feel are worth sharing:

  1. ‘Unstoppable -FKJ Remix’, Lianne La Havas
  2. ‘Heartless’, Lapsley
  3. ‘Fading’, Vallis Alps
  4. ‘So Lonely’, Jorja Smith (Video Above)
  5. ‘6 Underground’, Sneaker Pimps
  6. ‘Spirit’, Colette Baron-Reid
  7. ‘Sunset Lover’, Petit Biscuit
  8. ‘Boat to Nowhere’, Anoushka Shankar, Matt Robertson
  9. ‘Shikako Maru Ten’, CAN
  10. ‘Raga Bhopali’, Shivkumar Sharma
  11. ‘Two Thousand and Seventeen’, Four Tet
  12. ‘Moonshine Freeze’, This Is The Kit
  13. ‘Beyond My Eyes’, Bibio
  14. ‘Salt’, RY X
  15. ‘Unfinished Sympathy’, Massive Attack

Have you got any favourites you can share?  Comment below if you do!  Enjoy your practice!

Early Winter Warmer – An Afternoon of Asana, Pranayama, Chant & Meditation

Join Zone in Yoga and Black Dog Living for an afternoon of Soul Warming Yoga practice. As the winter draws in and the festive season approaches we gather our energies in preparation for the winter months ahead. We’ll be using Asana, Pranayama , Chant and Meditation to focus inwards and bring warmth and flow to the whole body, mind and soul.

Date:  18th November 2017

Time:  2pm-5pm

Location:  The Harmony Centre, Ashley CofE School, Ashley Road, Walton-on-Thames.

Working with warming asana to bring stability and grounding to the body, an awareness of our foundations and heating Pranayama focusing on the abdomen and inner fire.  Followed by a yin yoga practice to open the heart, encouraging the flow of joy within the body and Chant to bring flow to our inner voice.  The session will end with a Meditation to align the mind and body, and as always there will be tea and sweet treats before we go home…

Bookings are £35 in advance.  Please email to reserve your space.


Daim Bar Laundering Brownies… Post-modern and possibly gluten-free

What Daim bars?

These brownies represent the emotional wreck that I am this week… In a frenzy of duty-free chocolate buying which went something like this in my mind… “oooh Toblerone, oooh Daim bars, oooh nougat… snap out of it Lauren you don’t even like nougat… but daim bars…Mmmm”  and then I justified the buying of the Daim bars by thinking “it’s really only ever the airport of Ikea that I would buy them, so that amounts to about once or twice a year, so it’s a special treat, right?”…. I ate a handful on the plane until I felt sick… and then tried to fob them off on everyone else… and then, when I got home to the realisation that I had a year’s supply of daim bars and no self-control I went in to panic mode, no amount of yoga or meditation could fix this.  I had to wash the daim bars like dirty cash (I learned about this watching Ozark on Netflix by the way which is really good), transforming them in to something legitimate, something wholesome, something of real value in the world.  So I mixed them with organic eggs and ground almonds and created these post-modern, gluten-free, vegetarian, whole food containing real chocolate brownies.  Now all I have to do is make everyone else eat them… Hopefully you have more self-control than me, but the next time you accidentally bulk buy Daim bars at Ikea or the airport… THIS is your solution…PS making them with children adds virtue.  You’re welcome!



250g organic butter from happy cows

250g organic fair trade sugar from people who actually get paid OK

3 eggs from organic free-range hens that someone loves

200g organic ground almonds from happy trees on holiday in spain

50g fair trade organic cocoa powder, no pesticides please

250g organic dark chocolate

1tsp vanilla extract

Most of the bag of mini Daim Bars…weep… made not with love or care for the environment… I’m so sorry…


Eat me… I’ll make all your dreams come true…



  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180C and butter and line a brownie tin.
  2. Melt the chocolate and 50g butter in a bowl above a boiling pan of water.
  3. Cream 200g butter and all the sugar together.
  4. Add the eggs and then vanilla extract to the butter and sugar and mix.
  5. Allow the chocolate to cool slightly, and in the mean time put the Daim bars in a plastic bag and smash them up with a rolling-pin, be careful not to break the rolling-pin or the worktop at the same time.
  6. Now stir the melted chocolate through the butter / sugar mix and add the almonds and cocoa.
  7. Pour the brownie mixture in the tin… then add the broken Daim bars to the top of the mixture.
  8. Place in the oven for 25 minutes.
  9. Enjoy warm with ice cream (which is a fantasy of mine which I’m not indulging until at least next year)…




Charity Yoga Garden Party in aid of Mind

Those of you close to me will know that mental health awareness is an issue close to my own heart.  Those of you less close to me may be aware of my interest in the subject via blog posts and facebook news updates.  Students of mine will be familiar with our work around simply noticing our states of mind, emotional qualities and the differences between entering a yoga class or treatment with a whirring or racing mind and leaving with a more settled sense of well-being.  And for anyone else in the world, at some point it’s likely you will have experienced stress, overwhelm, feelings of anxiety, pressure, uncertainty or sadness.  It’s also possible that these states of mind have come with the added pressure that because we’re feeling them, it means we’re not ‘coping’ or that somehow we’re ‘lesser’ than our peers who seemingly navigate the world with ease and tranquillity.

Recognising and accepting ourselves unconditionally can be difficult.  My own experience practicing Yoga has created a structure, and safe space within which I have found acceptance and ever deepening compassion for myself.  It’s been inevitable that those feelings spill over to life off the Yoga mat, which is where my teaching journey began…

In recognition of the power of Yoga in finding self acceptance, and building lasting change within us the amazing Dee Opp has opened her home on the banks of the river Thames for a Charity Yoga Garden Party.  There is an incredible line up of teachers, who all believe that mental health awareness is a high priority in terms of our health and well-being.  That the conversation around mental health should be open, and who acknowledge the benefits of Yoga in this field.

We would love you to join us.  We have a full schedule of Yoga classes, SUP sessions and nourishing food… You’ll find the full line-up and booking details on the flyer below.  All donations, whether you’re able to attend or not, will be gratefully received.


Blog Post: Yoga, Depression & Anxiety. Navigating and Changing our Inner Landscape

States of Transition – Yogic Exploration, Relaxation & Meditation

Hand Big Toe - Beach
Finding our feet through transition…

As the summer draws to an end and life resumes as normal after the holidays, we often find ourselves in a state of transition.  We often start new ventures, our children start new schools, we re-visit personal resolutions.  For many of us, this transition represents a fresh start. 

Transitions, by their very nature, are unstable.  A state of flow, motion and movement, before re-claiming firm ground.  When life becomes unsettled, dormant parts of our being re-surface.  As yogis we have the opportunity to examine these changes from the safety of the mat.  Establishing ourselves in the presence of our being through transition and static posture allows us to experience what it means to be grounded, and to accept the processes of movement and flow just for what they are.

Join Zone in Yoga and I for an afternoon of yoga exploration, relaxation and grounding meditation. We will be examining the way we transition between poses, states of mind and looking to establish a true grounded presence within ourselves.

Date:  16th September 2017

Time:  3-6pm

Location:  The Harmony Centre, Ashley CofE Primary School, Ashley Road, Walton-on-Thames, KT12 1HX

Booking:  £35 in advance


Peach, Pea & Halloumi Salad

imageWhat did the cheese say when it looked in the mirror?  “Hallou-mi!” This salad though, it’s no joke.  In fact it’s seriously lovely… It’s about as easy as dinner comes too, so when you’re ready for a super summer supper and a glass of cold white wine this is for you… Full of allotment bounty and wholefood nourishment… If you’re not buzzing with vitality (and a sense of virtuousness) afterwards then… well, pop to a yoga class instead!!

Ingredients (serves 2):

A bed of mixed watercress, spinach and rocked (around 2 large handfuls)

2 good handfuls of fresh, shelled, green peas

4 roast new potatoes (halved or quartered depending on their size)

2 handfuls steamed green beans

2 flat peaches, cubed

6 slices halloumi

1 beetroot, cubed

1 tbsp olive oil,

1tbsp lemon juice

1 tbsp agave nectar

1 sprig fresh rosemary

Sea Salt



1) Pre-heat the oven to 180C.  Cut the potatoes and beetroot in to halves or quarters, drizzle with olive oil and a pinch of sea-salt, add a sprig of fresh rosemary and roast for around 25 minutes, or until golden and soft through.

2) Bring a pan of water to the boil, top, tail and halve the green beans.  s=Steam or simmer in the pan for around 5-7 minutes or until cooked through.

3) Heat a griddle pan with a dash of olive oil.  Slice the halloumi and cube the peaches.  Add to the hot pan and brown either side, which takes around 2-3 minutes.

4) Add the olive oil, lemon juice and agave nectar to a cup or jug.  Whisk until combined.

5) Place the green beans on top of the salad leaves, followed by the potatoes and beetroot, halloumi, peaches and then peas.  Drizzle with the salad dressing and serve immediately!

As always, its great to hear your feedback… Let me know how you get on, and any suggestions you have!  In the mean time if you’re on social media I’d love to connect… Come and find me at the links below:

Instagram I Twitter I Facebook I Pintrest

Stoke Up Your Summer…

Join Black Dog Living & Zone in Yoga for an indulgent 3 hour Summer workshop at:

The Medicine Garden Cobham

We’re taking over ‘The Dome’ for an afternoon of Fiery Summer Asana, Cooling, Soothing Yin Yoga and Deep AromaMeditation!

Date:  8th July 2017

Time:  2pm-5pm

Location:  The Medicine Garden, Cobham

Price:  £35 in advance

The Dome is set in the grounds of the beautiful Victorian walled garden, surrounded by grasses and flowers and with access to wholesome refreshments at the hothouse and garden pod cafe’s.  Soothe your senses and still your mind with us…

To book contact / 07763 135146 or / 07767391324

Plant Powered Protein Bowl

For a nourishing bowl of plant-based goodness, feel-good freshness and tantalising tastiness – TRY THIS!  Hot off the hob and straight to your bowl faster than you can say ‘virtuousness in the extreme’… Nature gives us some real powerhouses of flavour which I’m in total awe of.  Chillis, garlic, ginger… Not just good for us, but they can transform simple whole-food in to really tasty, moreish delights… So here’s a speedy supper, or sumptuous lunch to wrap your taste buds around and power up your day…

Ingredients (serves 1):

Plant Protein Bowl 1
Plant Powered Protein Bowl

2 tbsp toasted sesame oil

2 cloves garlic

1 thumb ginger

1/2 large green chilli

2 large broccoli florets

1/3 red pepper

3 medium mushrooms

handful fresh wild garlic

Palmful pumpkin seeds (or almonds)

150g silken tofu

2 tsp tamari

pinch black pepper

2 small handfuls quinoa

1 tsp miso paste


  1. Bring a small pan of water to the boil (about double the water to quinoa), add the miso paste and the quinoa and bubble for 15/20 minutes, but test to find the consistency that you like.
  2. Heat the sesame oil in a wok on the hob.
  3. Crush and chop the garlic, finely grate the ginger and chop the chilli, then reducing the heat, add to the wok.  Be careful not to brown the garlic.  I sometimes remove the hot pan from the heat temporarily at this point.
  4. Chop the silken tofu in to cubes and add to the pan.
  5. Chop the tops of the broccoli florets, finely slice the red peppers and mushrooms and add to the pan.  Stir and return to the heat.
  6. Add the wild garlic and a handful of pumpkin seeds (or chopped raw almonds) and stir through along with a pinch of pepper and the tamari.
  7. Soften the vegetables, but allow them to retain a little crunch.
  8. When the quinoa is ready, drain and stir through the vegetables.  Serve Immediately.

More plant based recipe ideas here




Inflammation, Stress & The Benefits of Yoga

A recent small scale study has shown increased quality of life in chronic Ulcerative Colitis sufferers.  Those who previously reported a reduction in life quality due to the disease undertook 12 weekly Yoga sessions and subsequently reported greater improvements in their quality of life.  Advice from the University of Duisburg-Essen in Germany states that Yoga is “Safe and Effective” (along with other evidence based interventions) in the “maintenance of remission” for sufferers.

It’s also interesting to read the links now made between inflammation and, not just chronic illness such as asthma, arthritis, diabetes, certain cancers and Alzheimer’s disease, but also depressive episodes and anxiety as reported by Dr’s Irwin & Slavich at UCLA.

So what is Inflammation?

Simply put, it’s our body’s immune system’s response to a particular stimulus.  Importantly, in the case of bacteria entering the body, our immune system works to isolate bacteria, in order to stop it spreading.  Perhaps an allergen enters the nostrils and the immune system acts to flush it out as mucous membranes produce more fluid.  This helpful inflammation we can probably all relate to…

Chronic inflammation

However some immune responses are unhelpful, chronic and cause the immune system to attack the healthy body.  What is the stimulus that causes chronic inflammation,  Psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis etc?  Usually it’s unknown.  My own experience is with alopecia areata, where the immune system attacks hair follicles resulting in patchy hair loss.  I’ve had two episode of alopecia, both as an adult, and both times they’ve resolved relatively quickly.

Is Stress the stimulus for chronic inflammation?

Well, yes.  Stress, defined as “a state of mental or emotional strain resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances”, actually changes our immune cell genes, which as we know, lead to inflammation.  In acute situations, such as jumping out of the way of oncoming traffic we need stress, to prime our heart, large muscles and prepare us for injury.  At the point at which we perceive stress, in whatever form we perceive it, biologically our bodies become primed, ready for fight or flight.  This response has the potential to save our lives.   But what if a packed tube is the cause of our stress?  What if we work for a difficult boss, and spend 8 hours of our day stress primed in their presence?  What if there is a daily struggle to find finances in order to eat, or keep a roof over our heads?  What if we experience grief and the loss of a loved one?  Or what if the demands of raising a family cause stress?  Throw in poor quality food choices, weight loss or gain, and the inability for the situation to resolve and we have a recipe for chronic stress, inflammation, disease, anxiety and depression.

How does yoga help?

The point at which we decide to go to a Yoga class, is probably also the point that we decide something has to change.  Perhaps subconsciously we want to get fit, claim some time for ourselves or are actively looking for respite from pain or stressful life circumstances.  Whatever the reason we find ourselves in a Yoga class though, the outcome is usually the same once the class is over.  We may experience a reduction in mental activity, a less tense body.  We may feel we can breathe more easily, or that we’ve stretched out tight muscles.  Often we sleep better following a Yoga class and have a sense of feeling refreshed.  If you came along for respite, you’ve probably found it!

What are we doing in Yoga class to reduce stress? 


All good Yoga teachers will lead students to their breath.  The breath can be seen as an indicator for stress.  When we experience short or restricted breath it can be due to physical tensions, mental stimulation, fear, anxiety and stress.  As we connect to the quality of the breath, and begin to lengthen and smooth the breath, our bodies begin to receive the message that we are ‘safe’ and that there is no perceived threat.


With practice comes skill and the ability to bring this message through the breath and in to our Asana (the shapes, and poses we make on the mat) and each pose can bring relief to different parts of the body.

In finding ourselves in new shapes, usually very different to our habitual patterns of movement, we have the opportunity every time we move, to bring the breath with us, and with it the signal that we are ‘safe’ ‘secure’ and doing something restorative for ourselves.

Again, good teachers will lead our bodies to the subtleties of our experience, such as how grounded we may feel, leading us to the effects of gravity and the support of the earth and returning our mind’s focus to the breath often.


And then there’s the ‘let go’ whether it’s the Savasana at the end of the session, a guided relaxation, breathing exercise or meditation.  Yoga teaches us how to let go, unload, release ourselves from our day, week, lifetime’s habits or simply from the physical practice we’ve just taken.  We practice letting go, and when we first allow ourselves to let go… there is no going back, it’s just too good to not return to!

Reading the emerging research and science relating to inflammatory conditions and how Yoga is proving beneficial is not surprising.  I believe my own experiences with stress, Alopecia, and with anxiety and depression have be resolved by acknowledgement firstly, which included a trip to the GP, through CBT and subsequently through a regular yoga practice.

10-minute breathing practice

This short breathing practice is designed to bring awareness to the quality of the breath in the body.  And to experience the effects of practicing an extended exhale.

You’ll need to find a comfortable upright seat, either on a firm chair, or sitting cross legged or kneeling either side of blocks, a bolster or a supportive cushion.






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