Yoga With Emma

500hour RYT, Musician, Writer, Published Author of 'Ancient Yoga Wisdom For Modern Yogis', Children's Yoga Teacher, Massage Therapist, Spreading The Word On Health & Happiness….

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Interview: Mark Ciavola, Founder of Potters Thumb


potters-thumb-3A revival of the hand-made and homely, and the recent glamorisation of Danish tradition hygge has seen social media pages filled with cosy autumnal scenes and upcoming Christmas crafts. As we all scramble to rekindle the simplicity of what life was like before technology called the shots, it seems activities like home-brewing, knitting, drawing and pottery have all experienced a resurgence, so what better way to celebrate this by getting to know Mark Ciavola; owner of Brighton-based pottery studio Potters Thumb. located in a converted shipping container on the grounds of what was once the Cobbler’s Thumb pub.

As well as beautiful sculptures and kitchenware, Mark has recently created a range of cups for a couple of well known cafes in Brighton, so you could soon find yourself sipping local tea or delicious coffee from one of his very own creations. Some of Mark’s work is currently on display in Café Plenty on Preston Road, and his pieces are set to grace more of the city’s coffeehouses and restaurants soon.

I met up with Mark at Café Plenty, and within the first few seconds of meeting him (and his dog) it’s obvious he lives and breathes his craft. In his own words, one of the things he loves the most about pottery is the ability to create something that starts in the head and is translated to the hand – no doubt via the talent and passions of his heart.


potters-thumb-1Q: How did you first become introduced to pottery?

A: My first encounter with pottery was thanks to my mother Anna Ciavola who was one of the first pioneering female potters in Malta back in the early 1980’s. I have been encouraged and pushed since the early age of 6yrs when mum detected that I had a talent that needed nurturing.

I have always been encouraged by her infectious enthusiasm and never ending knowledge of the subject. Sadly I am no longer able to enjoy this luxury of having passionate conversations about glazes, discussing different techniques amongst all the rest with her, as sadly mum was diagnosed with severe Dementia in her early 50s – nearly 15 years ago – and was slowly stripped of her memories and skills, leaving only a shell of what she once was. Trying to keep positive on such a sad situation, I do my best to make her proud of all the sacrifices that she made to make me what I am today.

Q: Have you always been interested in arts and creativity?

A: As far as I can remember I have always been captivated by art. Ceramics has allowed me to explore and opened up other creative areas such as stop motion animation, story boarding, and illustration amongst many other creative projects that allow my creativity to explore new adventures.

Q: How long have you been in Brighton for?

A: I moved permanently to Brighton about two years ago, and I’m loving every day. I’m hoping for more to come.

potters-thumb-4Q: What is your favourite thing to make on the potter’s wheel?

A: I can’t really single out one thing in particular to make on the wheel as a favourite. I enjoy more the challenge of making something from what starts off as a ball of clay that ends up being a functional object that can be used every day.

Q: Do you have any other creative talents?

A: I love dabbling in other creative areas other than the usual illustration, drawing and ceramics. I love experimenting in different media and discovering new techniques or ideas which are mostly born of curiosity and mistakes, or as I like to call them, “happy accidents“.

Screen printing is another medium I enjoy and every now and again I bring out the screens and lay down some ink

Q: Do you have plans to collaborate with coffee houses and restaurants in the city?

A: I am a strong believer – especially in the current environment – that it’s important for the identity of an establishment and the presentation to stand out from the rest. It is disappointing that all the [individuality] often gets lost when foods or beverages are potters-thumb-locationpresented in a generic mass produced cup, plate or bowl.

I’ve had interest from a number of Brighton establishments already, and welcome others to come over to the pottery studio and discuss the possibility of producing their own bespoke crockery. This gives them the opportunity to finally present their food or drink at their establishment in a unique way.

I am sure that once the owners of coffee houses and restaurants discover how little the difference is in cost to what is available in a catering supply shop, they will be more interested in having their very own bespoke, hand made crockery.

Q: Self sustainability is a big aspect of this blog; helping others learn how to live a life that is a little more waste-free and creative. Do you make your own cups, bowls and ceramics to use at home?

A: Today’s fast paced lifestyle, we have become detached from the process of how things are made and who makes them, making everything impersonal and disposable.

I’m hoping to encourage interest in being able to offer a connection to every day objects such as a coffee cup or a cereal bowl, that tells a story and offers joy in holding and owning, making it precious not because of the price but because it is valued by its qualities.

At home the shelves are full of an eclectic mix of my own pottery; some are ideas I try out, glazes I would have experimented on, and with results I wouldn’t have expected or particularly liked. Some of them I have fallen in love with and find hard to let go! The rest are from potters I have met or pottery I have purchased or received as gifts.

potters-thumb-2Q: What’s next for Potters Thumb in 2017?

A: Potters Thumb’s goals for next year are to launch some special workshops and classes, as well as getting involved in some more art projects in Brighton and London.

I look forward to collaborating with more restaurants and coffee shops here in Brighton, and spreading the love of hand made pottery.


Follow Mark and his creative ventures on Instagram @pottersthumb , where he also welcomes consideratoins for commissions.

Mark Ciavola’s work is available to purchase at

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Chocolate, Chai & Chestnut Pudding: Healthy Festive Fare & Party Power Food #2


A wholesome dessert that is totally suitable for breakfast. Chai is always cooking on the hob at my house during Winter, and the addition of chestnuts adds some warming, nutty festive flavour. As I mentioned in last week’s recipe; Chestnuts are low in fat, but rich in nutrients such as vitamin C, iron, magnesium and manganese, and work well added to lots of different dishes.

Serve this as a healthy dessert to guests during the holidays, or whip this up for yourself for a nutrient-dense breakfast to power you through the morning.


(serves 2 as a breakfast / 4 as a dessert)

  • 1 avocado
  • 1 large handful chestnuts
  • 2 tbsp raw cacao powder
  • 1 tsp chai spice mix (click here for the spice mix recipe)
  • ¼ cup + more if needed of almond milk
  • 4 dates
  • ¼ tsp good quality sea salt

How To

  • Place all ingredients into a blender or food processor, and whiz until they’re well combined and form a soft ‘pudding-like’ texture.
  • Scoop the mixture into your favourite fancy dishes and leave to set in the fridge for about an hour, or even over night.
  • Top with a dash of cinnamon, a whole star anise, or the zest of a fresh clementine.

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Why I Drink From A Copper Cup Each Morning



Whether we realise it or not, the first things we do each morning have a big effect upon how we experience the rest of the day. Waking up slowly, peacefully and with time to spare can make for a much more calm and steady day, whilst we all probably also know how it feels to wake up late and rush out of the house….

Morning meditation, a yoga practice, going for a run or even reciting a few affirmations are some of the most advised ways to start the day in a healthy way, but whether your mornings are coffee-fueled and fast paced, or laid back and luxurious, there’s one little addition that could make all the difference, and it takes no time at all to add into your routine!

Copper is one of the minerals that is essential for healthy bodily function. As well as iron, calcium, zinc, magnesium, cobalt and manganese, copper is one of the ‘good’ metals the body needs. Without enough metal in the diet (however strange that sounds), we’re likely to suffer from anaemia, infertility, impaired healing, decreased immunity, loss of strength, and even infertility.

copperbraceletBenefits of Copper

You’ve probably heard the hype surrounding magnesium, iron and zinc, but copper isn’t usually the first thought when it comes to upping our vitamin intake.

Copper is used by every single cell of the body to process oxygen, produce energy and also combat the free-radicals, which have been linked to the cause of cancer. It can stimulate the production of collagen, meaning skin maintains elasticity and wounds heal faster, decrease inflammation, and allow the nervous system to transmit signals efficiently. Copper is also essential for forming tissues and organs of embryos, and maintains a strong immune system.

A lack of copper in the diet can lead to high cholesterol, nervous system dysfunction, and anaemia. Too little copper can also cause miscarriages due to its vital function in organ formation.

Whilst there have never been any cases of copper toxicity, patients with Alzheimer’s disease have been found to have exceptionally high levels of copper in the blood. Those suffering with arthritis however, are usually able to notice a marked decrease in pain when wearing a copper bracelet, as tiny amounts of the metal are absorbed into the skin, reducing inflammation and pain.

beans-copperSources of Copper

If you’re taking a zinc supplement, this can decrease the absorption of copper in a well balanced diet. Natural sources of copper can be fond in: chocolate, crab, lobster, beans, whole grains and spinach.

Much like cooking with an iron skillet can effectively boost levels of iron in the body, drinking a small amount of copper from a pure copper cup each morning can help to maintain healthy levels of copper.

cipper-cupsTo start this morning health ritual, purchase a reliably sourced copper cup, and fill with filtered water before going to bed. Leave the water in the cup over night (or for about eight hours) and then drink the water in the morning. There is absolutely no taste difference to the water, and drinking room-temperature water in the morning is a brilliant way to wake up the digestive system. Copper is able to initiate peristalsis (the rhythmic contraction and relaxation that happens as the stomach and intestines digest food) and can reduce harmful bacteria in the gut.



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Chocolate Chestnut Truffles: Healthy Festive Fare & Party Power Food


With all manner of celebrations coming up within the last couple of months of the year, there’s always a party to go to, a dinner to host, or a get-together to prepare for. Sweet treats and indulgent dishes are plentiful, so here’s a recipe to bring a little balance to the table with healthy ingredients and seasonal nutrients.

Chestnuts are low in fat, but rich in nutrients such as vitamin C, iron, magnesium and manganese, as well as folates and fibre (essential for digestive health!). Dark chocolate is high in antioxidants, iron, magnesium, potassium, and can help lower LDL (‘bad’) cholesterol when eaten in moderation.

Top these with festive spices or superfood sprinkles, and you’ve got yourself an alternative party plate loaded with nutrients.



  • 1 bag of whole foods pre-cooked chestnuts OR cook your own fresh chestnuts!
  • 1 bar of good quality dark chocolate (at least 72%)
  • Toppings: Nutmeg, Cinnamon, Coconut, Bee Pollen etc….


How To

  • Either cook your chestnuts, or simply remove from the bag….
  • Melt the chocolate over the hob, in a bain marie or in the microwave.
  • Roll the chestnuts in the melted chocolate
  • Remove and place on a plate or sheet of foil, and top with your favourite flavours. I used nutmeg, cinnamon, coconut, bee pollen and maca powder.
  • Insert cocktail sticks into the chestnuts
  • Leave to cool in the fridge for at least an hour or over night
  • When you’re ready to serve, remove from the fridge (use a knife to separate the chocolate from the plate if needed) and share!

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From Ayurvedic Advice For A Healthy Winter


As there’s SO much current advice about health and wellbeing these days, it’s important to know what we can trust, and what advice just comes from a ‘fad’.

Ayurveda has existed for thousands of years, and the advice is just as relevant today as it was back then.

Click HERE to read my latest blog on Ekhart Yoga, and pick up a few tips to stay well this season.

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LookFantastic November 2016: #LFSparkle



We’re nearing the time of year at which everything will have an essence of sparkle and surprise about it. To get us into the party spirit then, there’s nothing like receiving a box of beauty through the post – and this must be one of the best boxes we’ve seen so far. As a small token of self-care to yourself each month, a subscription to Look Fantastic’s Beauty Boxes is a way to show yourself some love, but it’s also a great idea as a Christmas gift for someone special.

It’s been the most popular box to date, so to find out about what you could be in store for this month, head to LookFantastic to get yours now. Worth over £55, you can subscribe and get yours from just £11.25 with a 12 month subscription. 





‘Professionnel’ Mythic Oil

A lightweight hair treatment to protect against environmental damage. With softening avocado and grape seed oil, hair can be kept smooth and calm, radiant and shiny, even when the weather can’t!



Recovery Balm

Skincare is especially important in the Winter months as the air is dryer and winds are colder. Skin can be soothed instantly with this creamy concoction, and with an abundance of natural ingredients (including rose and evening primrose oils), you can rest assured that your skin will thank you every time you apply this.



Look Good Feel Better

Angled Blending Brush

As a finalist of the CEW Beauty Awards, this specially designed brush contours and shades the eyes for definition. The bristles are soft, allergen-free and environmentally friendly, which is pretty rare when it comes to beauty products!



Model Co

Blush Cheek Powder

Maintain a look of health even when you don’t feel 100%…. The natural colour is subtle and lightweight, whilst the micronized colour pigments help control oily skin, allowing you to sparkle, not shine!




Professional Volupt Spray

If your party season calls for big hair, then this spray is your go-to companion. Lifting hair from the roots with unique Cushion-Particle Technology, your hair will be soft without any sticky residue. Shake before use for best results!


LookFantastic Nail File

The change in weather is likely to cause nails to become brittle, so care for them with LookFantastic’s nail file to avoid catching or snagging on wooly scarves and hats!


Bloom and Blossom

Revitalising Foot and Leg Spray

Ideal for reviving aching lower limbs, a blend of horse chestnut seed and yellow sweet clover extracts help alleviate water retention. This is perfect for carrying around if you’re on a night out or off travelling soon, and smells wonderful to boot. Probably the most useful item for me in this month’s box, as I’ll be travelling to Nepal in a few weeks, and my legs will look forward to some revitalisation after the long flight!




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Winter-Spiced Persimmon Preserve (GF)


There’s no mistaking the season with the Wintery scents of this recipe as it cooks. Aromas of cinnamon and star anise will make the kitchen smell as though you’re warming up a batch of mulled wine, but this preserve is suitable for the whole family, and is perfect spread over warm home made bread or this tea loaf recipe. Alternatively, add a spoon to porridge or yoghurt or eat straight from the jar.

Persimmons are abundant at this time of year, so make the most of the last of their sweetness and enjoy them for a couple of weeks further.

Ingredients (makes one large jar of preserve)

  • 2 medium persimmon fruits
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 whole star anise
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp orange zest
  • 3-4 tbsp chia seeds
  • Water
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 2-3 tbsp raw honey

How To

  • Chop the persimmons up into small cubes and place in a medium saucepan
  • Cover with water and bring to the boil
  • Add the cinnamon sticks, star anise, nutmeg and orange zest and leave to simmer for about half an hour
  • After half an hour, pour the bubbling mixture into a heat-proof bowl and leave to cool for a few minutes.
  • Add the lemon juice and mash the persimmon cubes with a potato masher, alternatively, use a food processor if you want a smoother texture.
  • Add the chia seeds and raw honey and stir well to combine (you could always place the mixture back into the food processor at this point)
  • Transfer to a jar and leave to set and cool completely, then store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.