My Yoga Retreat with Banana Blondie

Last winter I was pretty sick: walking around with cotton wool in one nostril and an (unbeknownst to me) infection in my root canal, which was under my sinus. My sinus and surrounding area are often in pain; this time it was really bad for over a year, and hidden under the guise of, ‘Oh, it’s just allergies’. I guess this happened because the pain in and under my sinus felt exactly the same as the sinus pain I have after mould exposure. So it’s no wonder everyone, including myself decided it was just a part of my allergies/chemical sensitivities. For the last six months of that time, among the many things I lost was my fitness. But then I found BananaBlondie108!


BananaBlondie108, aka Michelle, is a yoga teacher, and through doing her practices, I’m back on my pathway to fitness. And joy. For, I’ve found that without fitness, without that energy outlet, there is no joy. It’s like any surplus anxiety I may have that’s not delt with or used up during the process of creating is left to fester causing tension, sometimes fear. I’d much rather start everyday with a workout; however, a workout everyday is just not possible when you feel like crap. So it was with Michelle’s soothing voice and her meditative music that I found myself on the floor laying on my (finally outgassed!) Yoga mat each morning.

At times I didn’t know if I was meditating or exercising or both. I just new that afterwards I felt like I usually feel after a workout, spent, but even more relaxed than usual. Whenever I read someone say: “Yoga changed my life!” I know what they mean. I’d already been practicing Pilates for about a month (also due to being able to lay down while exercising) and was feeling pretty chuffed with my dedication to practice. For most of last year, 2014, apart from going to VU once a week, I spent so many days in bed reading on my iPad or watching movies. So it was exceptionally great to be working out again. It really was something special. Note: my exercise practice has nearly always consisted of brisk walks, lifting dumbbells and cardio consisting of dance aerobics or jogging but not being able to complete any of those activities was almost as crushing as being sick all the time. My Yoga practice has helped me cope with so much; it’s because of that fact that I keep doing it.

Meet my amazing Yoga teacher, Michelle Muench:


And, in this video above, she’s showing me and all the other wannabe-yogis the correct way to do the Upward Facing Dog. Michelle is really approachable and is happy to make videos based on what her audience wants. I like that. And I like that her and her tribe practically live on fresh fruit, something we have in common. I’ve recently gone Vegan! This is kind of an accident due to digestive issues; but also a serendipitous event because I’ve been meeting all these wonderful people on the internet.

Michelle teaches Vinyasa yoga, which I think might be the perfect exercise for people who don’t like being still or find it difficult to meditate. It’s a moving yoga where you get to connect with your breath as you move through the poses. This brings about an awareness of the deep connection between breath, body and movement. It’s totally relaxing. And within a couple of days of doing it I found the feeling to last most of the day. This surprised me because not only was I feeling like something an old dog vomited up, but I was feeling like the old dog, itself; and I couldn’t believe that yoga coupled with a banana and spinach smoothie could make me feel so good.

This new change has come about just at the right time for me. As some of you may know, I have chemical sensitivities and I’m building a house. This would normally be a recipe for intense stress and worry; however, instead of approaching this mammoth task with trepidation, any anxiety I’ve been feeling, I’ve now been able to take action on whatever it is causing it before it turns into fear and swallows me whole. And here’s how:

Somewhere, in one of the myriad of insightful vlogs, I learnt that before trying a new yoga move, or one you are trying to improve on, if you visualize doing it first, it’s actually easier to do. I’ve been trying this more and more with poses I never thought I’d be able to do. And if I pause, breathe deep, and just observe myself I’m surprised at what I can achieve… I’ve already said that I’m finding that detachment from my thoughts is exactly like meditation, except that I’m connected to the movement of my body at the same time. I’m also finding the lessons I’ve learnt in Yoga can be applied to life, also. Like visualising a positive outcome for times I feel apprehensive (like organising fragrance free workpeople and asking for samples of products and planning to test them for tolerance and getting quotes and telling each person the same story about my health and why I desperately need a chemical free home)!

 It’s more than exercise; it’s a spiritual movement: a connection of mind and body.

I really need this sense of certainty in my life right now. And then there’s that breath connection thing. Throughout the Vinyasa, connection to the breathe is paramount to good practice. Like I said, after my yoga practice this stays with me most of the day. I feel calmer, more at peace. Would you like to try it also?

If yes, and you’ve not tried this form of Yoga before or you just don’t feel well, here are the rest of the ‘Yoga for Dummies’ created into one handy playlist:

And here are some of my go-to practices:

And finally, some ‘Yoga for Dat Ass’:


Next I’ll share with you what else it is I’ve been doing to regain my fitness.

Mmm, I nearly forgot: you can check out Michelle’s (and her fella’s) new website, Thriving Plant Basedhere She’s now offering full length classes for $9.99 a month; ergo, you can get her 15-20 minute Vinyasa Yoga sessions for free over on YouTube


Banana Blondie: Beginner Yoga Tutorial for a Sore Back

The Labyrinth: Exercise Anyway You Can

Michellina Van Loder is a Professional Writer, Journalist and Blogger. This is where she shares her tales about trail blazing her way out of the Labyrinth of Chemical Sensitivities and Mould. This is also where you will find the latest Research on related topics.

About Michellina van Loder


  1. rawtropicalliving says:

    I’ve been watching her boyfriend on YouTube for a good while. Just started watching her this weekend and love her channel! My yoga practice needs a little shaking up and I’m looking forward to start practicing with her!

    • Michellina van Loder says:

      Hey, Jack! Lovely to see you here. I think Plant Based Athlete (PBA) is pretty cool too. I used him as the vegan-plant-based-athlete poster child when showing my boyfriend that we can not eat meat and still be fit and healthy. PBA turned him onto lentils!

  2. By the way, I was a bit tired when I posted the above comment. I didn’t mean to sound so much like I was off on a tangent, although I do believe in trial and error.
    All the best

  3. The yoga looks interesting, although I don’t think my joints could handle it at the moment. I liked how you said you are accidentally vegan at the moment. I think that trial, error and doing what works for your body is the best approach to diet. I reckon that diet labels such as paleo, vegan, scd, fodmaps etc. etc. are just tools to help with the said trial and error. Then if one’s needs change is just takes a little more trial and error.
    All the best

    • Michellina van Loder says:

      Thank you. Yes, I know, all the labels of the various diets are pretty ludicrous when applied to people with food intolerance. Like we can just choose a diet and fit our needs into it’s parameters? I tried to be paleo, failed miserably because I can’t digest meats anymore. I would never have chosen a vegan liftestyle, and really, I’m not that vegan because I eat honey. Oh, and wear uggboots because my feet are so damned cold all the time. Cheers :)

  4. Yoga is great! Keep it up! :)


  6. I took some yoga classes and really enjoyed them. They made a difference for me and the instructor was able to show me compensating poses for my bad shoulder. Unfortunately, the little class grew and the environment made it impossible for me to continue.

    • Michellina van Loder says:

      Yes, I can believe that. I used to think I would love to go to classes but nowadays I don’t even think about it anymore. I have YouTube! Perhaps you could try doing it with an instructor on DVD or YouTube. Pilates is good for injuries also.

Information, products and views presented by guest bloggers @The Labyrinth are not necessarily the same as those held by this blog's author, Michellina van Loder. Reviews are my own personal opinions (unless stated otherwise); and satire is used throughout personal posts. Any health topics discussed are not to be taken as medical advice. Seek out medical attention if needed and do your own research; however, you're welcome to use mine as a start.
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