I have this voice inside my head. Sometimes it tells me the truth, but sometimes it lies to me. Sometimes, this voice tells me that I am doing a good job, that I am learning new things, that I am doing life right, but other times, it tricks me. It whispers all my old doubts in my ear and makes me believe I can’t do things. I try to ignore it, but sometimes it wins, even though I wish it didn’t.
In my practice, I hear this sneaky little voice every day. I try to ignore it, and sometimes I am successful, but other days, the voice wins. When I started doing ashtanga 5 ½ years ago, I touched the ground with the very tip of my finger in a forward bend for the first time in my life (really). I had been doing yoga for a while and I had been trying and trying to gain some flexibility in my forward fold. Doing ashtanga regularly made a huge difference and I have seen huge improvements in how my body feels, but I still hear myself telling people I am not really flexible. It isn’t true, I am flexible. I can do things that most average people cannot do, but the voice, it tells me I can’t. It is in these moments that I have to remind myself that I have grown both mentally and physically since that first class 5 ½ years ago.
I am learning new things each day and getting deeper into the poses that I never imagined for myself. I love this, but that voice, it creeps in again and again. It also tells me that backbends hurt, but they don’t. They used to hurt. It was painful to push up into urdhva dhanurasana and I thought doing three backbends was going to be the death of me. And for a while, it was. If I am completely honest, they don’t hurt any more, and in fact they kind of feel good (okay, that first one is a bit rough still, but after that each one feels better). However, every single day, after I finish doing my series, I lay on my mat and try to convince myself it will be okay. I breathe, look at the ceiling, sometimes my teacher gives me the look, and then I think, you are fine, just do it, and I do. Lately, I have been standing up from urdhva dhanurasana, dropping back, and coming right back up, and it feels amazing, but I still have that moment when the voice tries to tell me I can’t do it, and I have to remember that it isn’t true, at least not any more.
In February, I will have my 6 year ashtangaversary (yes, I celebrate every year) and I will have been doing Mysore 6 days a week for 2 ½ years. When I think of what I could do in my very first class in comparison to what I can do now, I can’t believe how I have grown. I am more confident in my every day life and I know this is because I come into the Mysore room and face my fears and struggles before I do anything else. When I get frustrated or feel stuck, I remind myself of all the things I couldn’t do before that I can do now. This is why I love ashtanga, it teaches me to be a better person, to believe in myself, to be patient, and to persevere.
That voice is still there, but it is getting quieter.
I hate mornings. I loathe them. I am not a morning person. When I get to work (after my practice) I’m often still cranky. However, I get up at roughly 4 am each weekday so that I can practice before I go to work, and I’ll start getting up earlier if I get more poses and my practice takes longer than it is currently. But I don’t like it. I set many alarms. I have a sunrise alarm clock that goes off at 4am, and a back up on my cell phone set for 4:05, and sometimes I still hit snooze. I get up and come every day, but that first 10 minutes is the worst. I hate it, but I do it, because I hate how I feel when I don’t practice more.
I love chocolate. And pizza. And tater tots. Did I mention chocolate? And I hate to cook. I do my best to buy good foods and I try to cook for myself, but I often find myself eating toast with peanut butter for dinner (okay, let’s be honest, this is my go-to dinner). In fact, I love our Sunday breakfast club (we go somewhere for a yummy breakfast after Sunday’s led class--you should come) because that means I can still have toast for dinner. I do my best when it comes to what I eat, but I could be doing better. I am hopeful Jen’s Healthy...ish with Jen O. will inspire me to cook more. If nothing else, it will give me some yummy things to dream about.
I am sometimes afraid to get a new pose. I love the challenge of ashtanga and I love working on my practice. Recently, I stopped doing second series so that I could focus my attention on standing up from urdhva dhanurasana and drop backs. After a few months of really hard work, the decision paid off and I got these things that have been my nemesis for many years. I have been slowly adding my second series poses back in, but I am getting close to poses I dread: laghu vajrasana and kapotasana. I am not looking forward to it, and I would like to avoid it, but I’ll do it. I may be a little scared, but getting over that fear is one of the best things about this practice. I am always being asked to grow, so I’ll be off to face my fears.
This is not healthy at all...... (lol)
After a week of nothing but steak, I’m thoroughly ready for some vegetarian cuisine! There is something special about cooking and eating vegetarian food. Sure, you can eat fake meats or plain vegetables…..but that’s so boring! Vegetarian cooking should be more like a science experiment…. How can I combine simple, inexpensive, non-meat ingredients to make a fully satisfying meal (not to mention a meal I can reheat and eat for lunch the next day). Here’s what I’ll be trying this week:
Sunday: Tomato and White Bean Soup
You can’t beat a good soup, and this one looks mighty tasty. I will be making thi soup as written but, of course, adding some cheese on the top (cuz….yum!)
This is another fabulous recipe out of the Thug Kitchen 101 book…….I’m telling you this book is worth every penny you will pay for it. For those unfamiliar with Japchae, it’s a Korean noodle dish that is savory and delicious. The noodles typically used to make Japchae are thick glass noodles. I am going to use rice noodles because I already have them at the house….but there is something special about those glass noodles if you are going to the store anyway.
PS If you don’t want to make Japchae at home, you can get a delish dish of them at The Veggie House in uptown Phoenix.
Tuesday: I will be camping…. So….. hot dogs maybe?
Wednesday: Broccoli Pasta
I just love garlic……. Don’t you? I’m excited to have some super garlicky pasta SO I will be adding more cloves of garlic to this recipe.
Yes, you read right. The husband will be making semi homemade pizza, which is something he has never done. We’re going to get the dough and sauce from Trader Joe’s. I love their garlic and herb pizza crust….. yum! When I make pizza at home, I usually make a homemade sauce, but he will be using premade pizza sauce. Wish him luck!!!
And that’s all folks….have a wonderful week! Don’t forget to follow my Instagram @the.foodie.clinician for pics of these recipes and more tips!
One of my favorite things about yoga, especially ashtanga yoga, is seeing my own growth. Because we do the same thing every day, I can tell day to day how a pose is changing and feeling different. I can actually feel things changing. Some times, this happens without any help and instruction, but 9 times out of 10 a teacher will say something to me, something that I have probably heard before more often than not, but it just clicks and like magic, things change.
My hope with this series is to share one of my favorite tips from some of my favorite teachers because maybe it will be the right time for you too!
Recently, after AYP moved to our new space, my practice has changed so drastically because of the wonderful insights of our teacher, Susan Rowland. Although I have loved all the advice I have gotten, Susan recently gave me a life changing (at least when it comes to my back bends) tip. Look for your toes. That is right. I know it sounds so simple, but it makes so much sense, and when I do it, my back opens up and everything feels so much better (and lighter).
When I drop back and stand up, I have this moment where I am hanging and I can feel my head tipping back (towards my feet) and it allows me to control the decent so I land softly and I am able to come up with relative ease. However, starting from the floor is another story. I often feel stuck (a common issue--find a pose where you can feel glued to the ground and I have been there), but recently after starting to look for my feet, I can feel myself getting deeper and ultimately, lighter.
So, ladies and gentlemen, this month's tip from our very own Susan Rowland is look for your feet. Give it a try and let me know if it makes a difference for you like it did for me.
It was a busy week! Anyone try a fabulous recipe from last week? Below is a never before seen pic of my red lentils and rice.... so legit guys.
So you may have noticed the meal plan was not posted on Saturday. This Saturday was Yom Kippur and I was celebrating with my family..... also, this week I got a box from Plated..... You know, one of those meal delivery services that send you all of your recipes and ingredients in one box? Have any of you tried these things?
I've tried Blue Apron, Green Chef, and Plated. My general take on them is that they are too expensive to get regularly. When I shop for the husband and I for 4-5 dinners, lunches, and breakfasts (smoothies) for the week, we typically spend 50-60$. These boxes cost closer to 70$ per week and only include 3 nights' worth of food. I do think they would be a great option for the following people:
1. People new to cooking. The recipes have step by step photo directions and the ingredients are typically premeasured, so it's fairly easy.
2. People who eat steak. Steak is expensive. Bang for your buck. I would never order one of these boxes and get vegetarian recipes because it just isn't economical.
3. People who go out to fairly expensive restaurants multiple times per week and would eat this instead.
4. People who can get the boxes on discount (this is the category I fall under). Most of these companies offer discounts for first time users. This is a great way to try the company and see if it will work for you and your family.
Tune in to my instagram @the.foodie.clinician for pictures of my Plated meals this week and meet me back here next week for a full meal plan! Happy cooking yogis!
I'll admit it, I love poses that most people hate. I get some kind of weird pleasure from these poses. One of my absolute favorites is janu sirsasana C. I have always been able to do some approximation of the pose, but it has really developed over time.
When I first learned the pose a little over six years ago, my foot felt a sharp pain in the toes and my knee wouldn't go to the ground. I remember the first time Scott Page looked over at me and told me my knee should go to the ground; I couldn't wrap my head around how that was even possible. As time passed, I started to figure out some tricks to the pose and it is those tricks that have made it one of my favorites.
I get that the pose is pretty uncomfortable, especially at first. However, I promise that eventually, just like everything else, you get used to it. At home, I would often kneel on the ground and sit back on my feet with my toes flexed when I was doing something like folding my laundry. The stretch felt good and I will admit, it helped this pose feel better even though it was only for a few minutes a week (I avoid doing laundry at all costs). I no longer feel much sensation in my foot/toes, and in fact I recently asked a teacher what I should be focused on since I wasn't really feeling anything in the pose. After a quick chat, I realized that I needed to focus on pressing my heal into the crease between my pelvis and thigh when I am folding forward. It changed so much for me and I now experience this pose on a totally different level. The pressure on my hip flexor feels so good, and I think that is one reason I look forward to it every day.
When I do the pose, I like to start with my toes on the ground close to my leg, and then I move my body forward to get into the pose. I know that some people like to start in the air and move into the pose that way, but the one time I tried that, I tweaked my knee, so at least for me, it is a no go.
Once I figured out that my knee should be at a 45 degree angle to my straight leg, the pose really started to change for me. I feel like that angle is super important and I often think about how this pose is similar to half lotus. Cheryl Oliver sometimes likes to say it is like half lotus with a fancy foot. The first time I heard her say this, I remember thinking, she's so right! After reframing the pose in my head, I started to find that I could go deeper into the pose. Wrapping my head around the pieces of the pose (big toe pressing into the ground, knee at a 45 degree angle and on the floor, heel pressing firmly into my hip, deep forward bend over the straight leg and looking at that toe) took a while, but I got some sick joy as I started to feel the pose correctly (and the pain in my foot started to subside), Just like anything else, sometimes a pose you hate when you first get it, can be the one you love. Remind me of this the next time I start lamenting about laghu vadrasana.
Has anyone tried this recipe from last week?!?! So flippin good!
Who is excited for fall?!? This girl is!!! I woke up this morning and it was 70 degrees….no, this is not a typo! So fabulous. I love the fall in Phoenix. it’s the time when people finally decide it’s safe to venture outside again (you know, the non-overachievers amongst us who don’t go running up mountains all summer), and, of course, we get to start cooking cool weather recipes!!!
I’m here to tell you that the idea of cool weather recipes being heavy, cream filled, calorie laden food is now officially antiquated. The internet is full of amazing cool weather recipes that still TASTE like they have a lot of calories, but they don’t. It’s like magic! It also 100% embodies my healthy…ish lifestyle. Of course, I will share those recipes with you, my dear readers! So, without further ado, here are this week’s recipes:
Sunday: Creamy Pasta with Roasted Brussels Sprouts
I use this recipe as inspiration…loose inspiration. I’m going to roast the Brussel sprouts and make a white wine sauce, but I’m not going to use vegan cheese or nutritional yeast….just regular parm. I’m not going to use almond milk ( I only have vanilla….eeek), I’ll use some broth or regular milk. We’ll see how it goes!
Monday: Pinto Bean and Spanish Rice Burritos
There is really no recipe link for this recipe…. I’ve been making pinto beans to fill tacos for years because it’s just so easy! I have burrito tortillas left over from last week, and you know how I hate to waste, but you need more than just beans to fill a burrito….hence the Spanish rice. I’m going to use my Instant Pot to make the rice…. Have you guys heard of the Instant Pot? I thought it may be something I wouldn’t use much, but, when it went on sale last black Friday for almost half off, I figured, why not try it. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s an electric pressure cooker, and it’s a dinner saver. It cooks rice in minutes….even when I cook brown rice, it only takes 22 minutes. The other awesome thing about it is that you can sauté in the pot which means less dishes! So good.
So here’s how I make this:
Beans: Saute onion, garlic, jalapeno in olive oil….. add chili powder, cayenne, oregano, cumin, salt, and pepper to the pot…. Add pinto beans (I use organic canned beans and rinse)…. Add a little water and cover… cook on low til you’re ready to eat.
Rice: Saute onion, garlic, and jalapeno in the instant pot in olive oil…… add brown rice and saute for a couple minutes…. Mix some tomato paste into some liquid (veggie broth….water if you want)… the ratio of liquid to rice in the Instant Pot is 1:1.25… set on high pressure for 22 minutes and leave it alone….let pressure come down on its own for 7 ish minutes and then manually release it.
Wrap all this up into a tortilla with whatever else you like….guac….salsa….lettuce….cheese…you know the deal.
Tuesday: Broccoli Potato Soup
Recipe: I got this recipe from Thug Kitchen 101. Guys. This is the BEST cookbook I have ever bought. Every dish is tasty. Every dish is vegan. I didn’t change anything about this recipe and it was awesome…..Bad news though friends… I can’t share the recipe (copyright and all) SO I suppose you have to go buy this book. And you should, cuz it’s fab.
Warning: This book uses naughty language….. if this offends you…..you’re going to miss out on some of the best vegan recipes available.
Wednesday: Fragrant Red Lentils and Rice
This is one of my FAVORITE cool weather recipes…. It’s so hearty….spicy…. savory…. And it’s low cal! Cannot beat it. The only things I change when I make this is: no bay leaf, no yogurt for garnish….otherwise I cook as written and it is amazing!
Thursday: Grilled Cheese
No recipe needed.
Let’s talk about being busy. This semester, I decided that in addition to working two jobs, going to yoga at the crack of dawn, and cooking dinner every night… I should probably take a Spanish class at the local community college. This was probably not the smartest life choice, but here I am. So on Thursdays I leave my house at around 5:30 AM and get home at 8 PM. Therefore, I have designated the husband as the official cook for Thursday nights. His cooking repertoire is limited, but he tries. So…. Grilled cheese.
I am a high school teacher. I teach in a mostly affluent neighborhood with pretty amazing students. I absolutely love what I do, but one thing I’ve been noticing lately is my students have a fixed mindset. Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck, in her book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success has looked at how the power of our beliefs, both conscious and unconscious can have a profound impact on nearly every aspect of our lives. I’ve been talking to my students about this a lot. I spent a whole week of my English class explaining to them what it is, reading articles with them, and trying to convince them that having a growth mindset can change the way they think and make them more successful.
As I was talking about this idea, changing their mindset, with my students I started to talk about my daily ashtanga practice. Ashtanga has transformed my life in many ways, but I think that one of the most important things ashtanga has done for me is to help me have more of a growth mindset. I sometimes fall into the trap of a fixed mindset. I get stuck in life and in yoga, sometimes literally. In the past year or so I have had two major yoga breakthroughs: I have figured out how to lift up out of bhujapidasana without using my feet and I have learned how to stand up from a backbend. For the longest time, I felt like I was glued to the ground. People would give me tips, but I was stuck. And then one day I wasn’t. I have definitely thought that I would not figure out how to do these things, but then I did.
It is in these moments that I realize that ashtanga has taught me to try new things. I love getting tips from my teachers, and I am so inspired by the people I practice with each day at AYP. Yoga has taught me not to give up and to keep coming back each and every day to try again. I don’t think this is a quality I had prior to finding ashtanga yoga. I would often give up and get frustrated when things were not going my way, and sometimes I feel the same way about a yoga pose, but then I remember that failure is an opportunity to grow and I can learn to do anything I want.
I never thought getting a yoga pose or transition was going to change my life or add to my own self-worth, but it does. Not because I got the pose, but because along the way, this practice has taught me that I can continue to grow. That I am not stuck, even if I feel like I am, and that with time, effort, and a good outlook, I can make changes in myself. It isn’t about the pose; it is about the journey.
So…. How were those recipes last week? Anyone try them out? Feel free to comment with any of your own recipe tweaks.
My favorite recipe from last week was surprisingly the ricotta toast….. it was so easy and tasty! The tomato soup was a close second….yum!
This week I am thoroughly embracing the healthy…ish lifestyle because I have plans to go out to eat….like a lot. When I go out to eat, I try not to worry too much about what I order…. I mean, I hate to pay 12$ for a salad I could easily make at home. I order whatever sounds good to me and then make sure I take home at least half of the food (unless it’s a fancy shmancy place that has super tiny portions…you know what I’m talking about). This is a win win because I eat fewer calories (still plenty I’m sure), and I get to enjoy the food a second time for lunch.
Here’s the plan:
Sunday: Vegan breakfast burritos with homemade salsa and guac
Guys…. If you haven’t tried tofu as a scrambled egg substitute, you’re really missing out! I love eggs. Like super love them. BUT the husband is allergic to eggs. Devastation. This recipe is perfect for us. I was skeptical at first, I felt there was no way tofu could resemble eggs…..I was 100% wrong. I swear I think the tofu tasted BETTER in the burrito than eggs do. Don’t knock it til you try it. Here are my recipe tweaks:
-I’m going to make homemade pico de gallo since tomatoes are still in season (but not for very much longer) by mixing chopped tomatoes, garlic, green onion, and cilantro…then I’ll add some lime juice.
-I’m going to use store bought guac (I bought these single serve guac things (4 for 4$ at Safeway) because if I buy a bigger thing of guac, it turns brown almost right away and avocados are crazy expensive right now, so it was cheaper to buy premade)
-I like everything spicy, so I’ll add more heat with a jalapeno.
-I don’t have hummus, so I’ll use tahini. I figure it won’t change much because of the small amount called for.
-I’m going to add turmeric because A) it’s tasty and B) it’ll make the tofu yellow like eggs, which is cute.
Monday: Out to dinner!
Tuesday: Out to dinner!
Wednesday: Tuscan White Bean Stew
Another good looking recipe from Buzzfeed that is vegetarian and has a lot of protein. Not going to change much about this recipe except I’m going to use roasted fresh tomatoes. I’m also going to make enough of this to eat for dinner Thursday as well.
Happy eating this week! If you try the recipes, let me know what you think. Also, don’t forget to follow me on Instagram @the.foodie.clinician for more yoga and food pics
Numerous positive health benefits come from having a daily Yoga routine. Initial noticeable improvements from the practice involve physical, mental and psychological aspects in everyday living. Starting the day with a wholesome Yoga routine will also result in making healthier choices throughout the day, including; better eating habits, increased vitality and how to respond more positively in
unpredictable circumstances. But, by far, one of the greatest gifts anyone will ever encounter from Yoga is the unavoidable dealing with pain.
In Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, pain is mentioned in the first pada, fifth shloka, (first chapter, fifth verse) after merely establishing the practice of Yoga, the definition of Yoga and finding peace from this knowledge. He acknowledges that pain is something that everyone suffers from at one point, and also a main motivating force behind practicing Yoga, in order to find peace. But of course, without pain, how can one know peace, or as Patanjali states, “painless”-ness.
Pain is important because it is a way for the body to communicate to the mind that something needs to change, or needs more care. It is not something that should be feared or avoided, but rather embraced and attended to. Much in a similar way there is the need to care for a crying child. Some look at pain as misdirected energy in the body. Others say the human nervous system is a driving force between sensations, formulations and actions of the body. When the nervous system does not feel stable, mentally or physically, it will not allow the body to react in certain ways. This also produces those uncomfortable sensations between the body, nervous system and mind. So how can we quell these less-than-desirable sensations?
As postures of Yoga certainly unveil both the practitioner’s strengths and weaknesses, the practice will also bring to surface many ways in which the body and mind have been using to avoid the sensation of pain. A very obvious awareness of pain occurs when the practitioner bends too far backward and feels an uncomfortable pull of the shoulder or lower back.
When these movements are performed consistently over a long period of time, with hesitation and unawareness, the pain will become unbearable and can lead to an injury as a final way for the body to stop the movement.
Less apparent concealed forms of pain surface through touch, avoidance or thoughts triggered throughout the practice. Fear of dealing with emotional pain can often lead a person to look for ways to numb these feelings through prescription medicines, alcohol and other substances that may feel good in suppressing the unwanted feelings momentarily, but end up causing more physical, emotional and mental harm in the long run. Emotional conflicts arise, as Patanjali states in 4.28, when there is a gap between consciousness and the seer. In other words, when one begins to stray from his or her karmic path.
Initial stages of the practice of Yoga postures, or asanas, create new sensations and awareness to the practitioner, joining consciousness with movement. After a certain period, the practitioner’s breathing pattern will begin to link each movement to the next. This breath-induced movement will eventually bring a softening to the mind and then slowly start to relax the heightened nervous system. This, in turn, will allow the body to move deeper into postures and allow for greater muscle memory. Although it may seem counter-intuitive, a practitioner of Yoga should not stop moving through the postures that may expose uncomfortable sensations, but should learn to move differently and with more awareness.
This article is only a small wave in the vast ocean of the topic involving pain and movement. It is only meant to cover such discomforts as stiffness in the body, or discomfort that goes away after a period of time. If a practitioner of Yoga has had previous health issues, he/she should get a check-up and clearance from a doctor before starting any new routine. If pain is unbearable, the practitioner should stop and immediately seek medical attention.