Tag Archives: yoga

stepping into my own…

10 Jun

Today I taught my first yoga class. It was simultaneously awesome and terrifying.

We have a Wellness Program at my work that, like many, was well intentioned but has had minimal participation. I have been managing some other parts of it that run relatively well, head the committee and lead meetings, but it just hasn’t had the level of excitement and involvement in it that it deserved. Being that I love nutrition and approaching the body holistically, I was a natural fit to become its cheerleader. So when I got an overwhelming response that people were interested in yoga, I jumped on it.

At first I hoped that no one would sign up. Then, I could say that I tried, I put it out there, it failed and it wasn’t my fault. Of course, that was my cowardice talking and when I let it (too often), the cowardice wins.

So as people began to RSVP for the class, I started to progressively freak out. But then I was accountable to people, so there was no turning back, just preparation.

I have been practicing yoga for a long time now. So long it seems kind of far off and hazy. My first exposure to yoga was in “seventeen” magazine when I was in middle school. I was young and physically resilient. I easily popped up into full wheel based on that article, dug it, and was hooked. But, like many things that are good for us, I would practice of and on again for years to come until I graduated from high school and spent a bit of time in college. Then it really started to mesh, leading me to practice more often and taking us down the path to becoming vegetarian (and a year later, vegan). And when I met my teacher here in Portland, it all came together and now it’s been nearly 4 years of practicing with her and my own home practice= bliss. Over the past few years the idea of attending a teacher training has come up a couple of times, but it just didn’t seem… possible. I LOVE my practice and yoga and learning more about it and it’s many limbs, traditions and philosophies, but I just felt so humbled by my studentship. It seemed out of reach.

The more I study and learn though, the more I realize that being aware that I am still a student would actually be a benefit as a teacher. We are all students of everything in life. We’ll never be the perfect know-it-alls of anything, and that’s the brilliance of the whole thing. There is always more to be learned, deepened and built upon.

For my first class, I selected a theme. My theme was expectations. We all have expectations of what things will be a like. A date. A family event. A conversation. A big project at work. Teaching your first yoga class. And if you get so caught up in your expectations, you lose sight of what actually happens. Rather, you compare what did or didn’t happen or was said or what you thought you could do and you waste your time comparing the reality to the ideal. We sacrifice too much to what we thought should be, rather an appreciating what is.

How can you let go of your expectations to participate more fully in your life? How can you worry less about what you anticipate you can or can’t do and appreciate what you are capable of, become comfortable with where you are and enjoying that sweet spot?

I prepared for my class, developed a series of sequences and practiced them at home a couple of times. I wrote out the sequences to keep mat side so I wouldn’t have to stress out my poor brain trying to desperately recall what I’d planned next. I brought my favorite yoga pants and geared up for action.

No face-plants, ambulance calls or CPR performances were needed. We practiced and played and laughed. My sequences fell short, time-wise, and I had to think on my feet (literally) and come up with another sequence, which I did with relative ease. And at the end I was thanked by 7 happy faces and I was able to float home, having been able to actually practice what I preached and stay present in the moment.

Yoga FTW!

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off the beaten path

8 Jun

So, 95% of this blog normally revolves around food.

Okay, 80% food. 15% cats. 5% miscellany. That 5% is going to expand a bit.

I am participating in 21.5.800, which is 21 days during which folks all over the internet will be practicing yoga 5 times a week and writing 800 words per day. About anything under the sun. Why am I doing this? For the discipline and accountability. Because I’m a sucker for projects. And because it sounds fun! 800 words a day will be a challenge, if for no other reason than setting the time aside to make it happen.

So, I have no idea what will be striking my fancy over the next 21 days, but I’m pretty sure that the food will only be part of the 800 words. You might be learning some new things about me, if you are so inclined. Perhaps this will open up a new dialogue and I’ll continue with some non-food posts after this project. I have been contemplating creating a non-food blog for awhile now, but have been uncertain if I would be able to sustain it. New and fun stuff in nom! nom! nom! land! And if you come just for the food, no worries. There will still be tons of it, just bear with me and my deviations.

So, my yoga for the day was 50 minutes of vinyasa, practicing my own talk-through, as I am teaching my first yoga class this Thursday through our Wellness program at work. Eep! I’m feeling pretty good, though. We shall see.

I recently added a “namaste” sticker to my car. Unlike most stickers, I did not apply it to my bumper or my back window. It is on the inside of my windshield, at the top of it near the visor, facing me.

For those of you whose only exposure to the phrase “namaste” has been through the show LOST, let me provide a little back story for you. Namaste is a common greeting, going back to ancient Sanskrit, which roughly means “the divine in me recognizes and respects the divine in you.”

Oh no. She’s getting a metaphysical on us. I just came for the cupcakes!

It’s okay. 🙂 I’m not here to wax poetic on the universe and yogic philosophy or my own, ever-changing, views on religion and spirituality. Let’s take namaste back to it’s most basic form: respect.

Total disclosure here- I do not like to drive. Blah. But, I don’t work close-in in Portland. I have to cross the dreaded river into Washington to get to work each day, so it’s a necessary evil.

Due to my level of displeasure with this particular activity and surrounding circumstances, I can be a not-so-nice person when driving. Like, make-your-mother-blush, (well, maybe not my mother), who-is-this-foul-mouthed-freak unpleasant.

Let’s face it, none of us want to be in traffic. And we all have moments when we are less-than-perfect drivers. We get distracted, change the radio station, space out, or rubberneck (don’t judge, we’ve all been guilty at one point or another!). Sure, there are some people who are bad drivers or are careless, certainly, but as a whole we all have the same goal. Put in a day’s work to provide for ourselves, our family, and get on to our time, our sacred off-work time to do the things that we cherish and anticipate, even if it’s as simple as going home to veg in front of the telly with the family, to go the gym, the bookstore, meeting friends for drinks, whatever.

Yet, when someone is doddling along and I can’t pass them, or they change lanes in front of me without signaling, I can have a hard time keeping my blood from boiling. I want to get home, see my husband, kiss my kitties and start dinner, dangit! My new mindset for driving is to remember the following:

1. I don’t know who this person is. I don’t know what they are going through, what their day was like or what they are going home to. Maybe they had a great day and are just being flaky. But maybe they have recently been given some bad news, lost a loved one or are experiencing some health problems. Maybe they are in a rush because they have a sick child at home. Maybe they are distracted because they are worrying about a loved one. A little compassion goes a long way.

2. While I may dislike driving, having been the victim of several car accidents, I am grateful for my ability to drive, my car, and my overall health. Those are things that can be taken for granted and are not givens for everyone.

So now when I drive and I’m ticked off, rather than mumbling a long sting of curse words that ultimately only impact me, I have my reminder to center myself looking me straight in the face and I try to send some good vibes, mojo, love, blessings, whatever, to that person and instead I whisper, “Namaste.”

happy new year!

1 Jan

Happy New Year!

Did you celebrate the New Year in any special way? Dinner, family, friends? Jim and I were feeling a little under the weather (sadly a New Year’s tradition with one of us, usually) so we laid low and watch reruns of Seinfeld on my laptop. So exciting. 🙂

As cliched as it is, it’s resolution time. Even when you aren’t into resolutions it’s hard not to feel inclined towards the idea of a fresh start. We all have things we’d like to try/do/improve upon and the beginning of a new year (and decade!) seems like a perfect time to reassess and take stock. So here goes:

Beautiful tattoo work by Ximena Quiroz of Skeleton Key Tattoo in Portland

1. 2010 will be the year I truly dedicate to my yoga practice. Some of you may know that I have been a serious budding yogi for some years now, but developing a true home practice and branching into the study of yoga history and theory has been lopsided at best. It has come in fits and spurts and always ends up falling back into asana sandwiched in between the other random things I let get in the way. This year I’m committing to a true, robust practice, integrating yoga into my daily life.

2. Potty-mouth begone!
It may come as a surprise, but I am the owner of a serious potty-mouth. I can even make Jim shake his head and he works at a car dealership. My goal is to tone down the cussin’ to well-placed expletives that accentuate what I’m saying rather than make me look like I have a limited capacity to express myself.

3. I’m going to start working on another cookbook. A full-on, real meals and the whole she-bang cookbook, not just desserts. I do have a focus, but I’d rather not say anything right now. Things are still in the early stages and with this, yoga and my day job, I’m going to be busy and probably very absent from the blog-o-sphere. I will probably turn into one of those twice-a-month bloggers for some time. But I will definitely keep you guys up on the progress, as well as put a shout-out when I’m looking for some testing assistance.

And now, for some food. When I was a kid, I ate a lot of Jell-o products. While it grosses me out to think of eating it now, I have very fond memories. My grandfather would make cherry Jell-o with cans of fruit cocktail suspended in them and boxes of Jell-o pudding and my great-grandma was the queen of fancy multi-layered Jell-o molds.

Recently I was overtaken by a craving for pistachio pudding. I’ve recently become a pistachio eating fool, but this memory of eating a creamy, pistachio flavored food seemed confusing to me. Did my grandpa make pistachio pudding? Does pistachio pudding even exist? It sounded weird. Sure enough, a cruise down the pudding aisle revealed the pistachio pudding does exist and the quest for a homemade version began.

A quick survey of the internet showed that not many folks have bothered to make such a thing at home. Most recipes were cringe-inducing dishes involving packages of pistachio pudding and buckets of Cool-Whip. Blorch. I was on my own.

I almost cried when I tasted it, so creamy and delicious, it was like being punched in the face by nostalgia, but even better than I remembered.

Pistachio Pudding

1/2 cup shelled pistachios, finely ground (I used a coffee grinder that we use exclusively for nuts and seeds and it worked great)
1/2 cup sugar
2 tbsp. corn starch
2 cups milk of choice (I used soy for the fat content)
1/4 teas. vanilla

Grind up pistachios and best as possible. You could also try a blender, but I did mine in batches in a coffee grinder. In a saucepan, whisk together the sugar and cornstarch until well blended. Add the ground pistachios and mix. Slowly whisk in milk. Cook pudding on medium/high heat, whisking often, until it comes to a light bowl. Whisking constantly, let lightly boil for about 2 minutes. Lower heat and continue to whisk constantly for 5-8 more minutes, until mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon. If you’re having problems with the pistachios clumping up a bit, you can always blend a little with a handmixer. Remove from heat and add vanilla, mixing well. Transfer to heat resistant bowls. Let cool completely before eating.

Makes four 1/2 cup servings.