Concerns your relationship with the outer world.
When I first decided to commit to mysore a few months ago, as an academic, naturally rather than going to practice, I got my hands on a book and started reading. I came across the 8 limbs of Yoga and I want to talk a bit about the first one, Yama (ethics).
As I officially begin my mysore practice, and simultaneously getting settled into my new place, I am immediately confronted with a conflict… I had cockroaches. I’m not talking those little ones you can easily cohabitate with, I mean the big, 4 inch longs ones that hiss… in my toothbrush drawer. So what’s a yogi to do? Violate the first limb of yoga and maintain my home without 4-legged roommates, or try to be at peace with everything and resign? I procrastinated, decided, and bought one of those catch and release traps (it is still in the btw, if anyone wants it), and finally after one too many encounters, a friend convinced me that it was a righteous act of violence to poison the little guys as I am the home owner, “it’s your Darhma” he said… so poison baits went all around my house and it has been much quieter.
For me this limb is definitely a good guide to remind myself of how I would like to be, but I still sometimes struggle with the “cause no harm” a bit. Does this mean I should stop eating meat? But I love fish! One clear way I can work this limb is by reducing the emotional harm I cause to myself and to others. Self harm through bad habits, sleep deprivation, bad diet, negative self talk, and also my thoughts and words about others: criticism, gossip, anger, wishing ill will… maybe I can not say it, but how about if I don’t even think it? One I have become really aware of recently is shame. Our society uses shame a surprising amount. It’s a form of social control and it is incredibly toxic and harmful. It leaches over into our personal psyche and affects our happiness and success. If you find yourself thinking things like “I can’t do that pose, my body sucks” or “I can’t believe you are wearing that, it is so inappropriate” you are using shame. On a subconscious level you are smashing down the creative expression that is trying to bubble out of the soul. We are all guilty of this to some extent or another, but lets try to make each other better! The really enlightened Brene Brown has many lovely and funny things to say on this topic. She recently came out with an excellent audiobook on the topic. You can download it here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/ptxwpvs91iibcyg/The%20Power%20of%20Vulnerability%3A%20Teachings%20of%20Authenticity%2C%20Connection%2C%20and%20Courage_1.m4a?dl=0
Overall I feel I am making progress, which is great. But a few days ago, a massive cockroach crawled up on my couch and started hissing at me… probably for killing his family… maybe that was his dharma ;P
So….Thanksgiving happened. Thanksgiving is pretty much the definition of healthy…ish…. Well, maybe more like unhealthy ish? I literally had pancakes for breakfast 3 days in a row….some with cheesecake on top (ya...cheesecake...I have no shame)…..some with chocolate chips….not to mention the butter laden deliciousness that was Thanksgiving dinner and the leftovers from said dinner. Needless to say, I think we all need to get back on the healthy wagon…for this week anyway. Here’s my plan for the week:
Sunday: Veggie stir fry with cauliflower rice and dry fried tofu
Dry frying tofu is my favorite way to fry tofu. In fact, it’s the only way to fry tofu that I haven’t messed up. I got the technique from Thug Kitchen. Essentially, you cut tofu into triangles, get a dry pan (no oil) super hot, and put the tofu on in a single layer. Cook the tofu while pressing it down with a spatula whilst it screams for mercy. Do this on both sides for a few minutes each. This results in crispy delicious tofu that has a great texture and no added oil. So awesome!
Monday: Slow cooker lentil tacos
I have some leftover tortillas and avocados are on sale so I must make tacos….right? I’ll most likely make the filling in the instant pot.
Tuesday: Spicy Ethiopian Stew
If you’re like me, you have some leftover potatoes from Thanksgiving you need to get rid of. This seemed like the perfect antithesis to my buttery mashed potatoes from last week. This recipe calls for Berbere spice, which I bought off Amazon for fairly cheap. I’m excited to try it out!
Wednesday: Leftover night!
Thursday: Eirik’s cooking….. He’s going to attempt a pasta dish. Very exciting times!
Friday: Party time!
So what are you all going to do to try to eat healthier this week? Be sure to follow me on Instagram to see pics of this week's recipes. Good luck getting back on that healthy train friends!
Many years ago, I was a swimmer, I swam in high school for my team and I really enjoyed it, but I wasn’t all that good. I didn’t quite get that competitive swimming was different than recreational swimming when I first joined the team, but nonetheless, I did my best. My best was not awesome. For anyone in the know, my breast stroke time was as fast as my freestyle (this might be good if either of my times were fast, but I had an average breast stroke time and a horrible freestyle time). My coach wanted to help me get better at my freestyle technique, so he videotaped me swimming (no easy feat in the early 90s) and it was rough. I was all over the place and really awkwardly uneven. My coach had been trying to convince me that I should breathe every 3 strokes in an attempt to even out my stroke, my haphazard movement, but it wasn’t until I saw that video that I knew I needed to do something to change how I went about swimming freestyle. When I started to breath every 3 strokes, it felt really uncomfortable, but the next time I was videotaped, by stroke looked a million times better than it did before. By breathing every 3 strokes, my body had evened itself out and I had a better balance as I swam.
A few years ago, I had a similar experience when David Robson came to town for a workshop. David has always been one of my favorite guest teachers as I always walk away from his workshops with something to apply to my practice (don't be surprised when he pops into this series again--he'll be back, I'm sure). One of the first times he was in Phoenix, he talked about jumping through after each pose and he mentioned that you should switch which leg comes through first depending on what side of the pose you are doing. When I first started to do this, it was amazing to see how uneven I was. I could jump through with my right foot in front relatively well, but the left side was a hot mess. Happily, I was still figuring out the whole jumping through thing, so the messiness, while obvious to me, probably just looked like my normal messiness to anyone else, so I just persevered.
The other day, I heard my teacher talking to another student about how jumping through in tirang mukha eka pada paschimottanasana one side is easier because it is the side she usually uses to jump through. It was then that I realized how valuable this tip has been in my practice. Because I do my best to switch which leg come through first, I'm much more balanced and although I do find one side to be generally a little easier, it is not a drastic difference and sometimes my "bad" side feels stronger and easier than the "good" side.
So, one of my favorite tips from the wonderful David Robson is to switch which foot comes through first when you are jumping through. I tend to think about putting whichever leg bends first in a pose on top or in front when I jump through, although I don't think it matters much as long as you switch it up for each side of a pose. It is just another way to balance out the practice in a relatively simple way. I definitely notice a difference when I am not thinking about it and I let my right foot always go through first. Ultimately, I am thankful I got this tip when I did as it has positively impacted my practice over the last few years. It is so great when you get the right tip from the right teacher at the right time.
Try it out and let me know what you think (give it some time). I hope it helps your practice like it did mine!
Nobody believes I wake up at three. I woke up at 7:00 AM ish until I was 10, then 5:30 AM until I was 14, and I have been getting up at 3:00 AM for the last three months.
When I was 10 and started waking up earlier than most people. I had the typical hatred towards waking up early, but I eventually learned how to like waking up. I set an alarm. I made it easier by getting a ringtone app. I made my wake up alarm fun, so that way I could look forward to it.
I like bragging about waking up early. I read and heard about how waking up at the same time every day is beneficial, so while everyone else I know sleeps in on weekends, holidays, moon days, and breaks, I prefer to wake up at my usual time. I get to yoga at about 5:00 AM, so why, you may ask, do I get up at 3:00 AM? I function best in the morning, when everyone else is asleep, quiet, and not bothering me. This means that I can pray, read the bible, go for run, do my homework, and prepare for the chaos of the day at 3:00. Getting up at 3:00 is fun. I naturally wake up at 3:00 AM. whether or not my alarm goes off, or was set in the first place. When I am on vacation, at a sleepaway camp, or sleeping over at a friends house, I don’t set the alarm but sit there awake from 3:00 AM, until everyone else wakes up. Is waking up early difficult or you? Maybe a yoga practice would work in your routine.
Lately I've been distracted. I think I am really just stressed out. I have a lot to do for work and I keep falling behind. In fact, instead of grading the 63 essays that have been waiting for me for over a week, I'm writing this blog. I know I am doing it to myself, but I can't stop putting it off. I will be at parent/teacher conferences for many hours today, so my goal is to get started on the pile, and as soon as I am done writing this I think I officially run out of things I can do to avoid the grading.
One this I don't procrastinate over is my practice. I come every day, pretty much without fail. I am glad I am unwilling to put it off, but lately, I've been very distracted. I keep forgetting poses in 1st series which I have been doing for over 5 years. I will get to a point and realize that I skipped over some pose, and sometimes it is one I love. I first noticed this the day I forgot garbha pidasana. I love that pose, but I got to the very end, and did my jump back out of padmasana and realized it was the first time I had done that. I had simply forgotten the pose and since then, I feel like I have forgotten a pose each and every day. Sometimes I remember the poses, but I find myself sucked into someone else's adjustment or feedback. The other day I was saying the closing chant and the teacher said something quietly and I forgot where I was. It is getting pretty ridiculous.
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!