Thursday, November 11, 2010
""The fantasy is simple. Pleasure is good, and twice as much pleasure is better. But the reality is that pain is there to tell us something, and there's only so much pleasure we can take without getting a stomach ache.”
That's right, I watch that silly soap opera. But here's what, that quote is so true. Let's back it up to last Thursday. My husband, who clearly needs a good nick name, let's call him Big B for now, was free for the first evening in a really long time. I don't think we had shared a meal together in something like 5 days. So what were we to do but go out and celebrate? Enter our favorite local restaurant with amazing Italian food and really reasonable prices. This was actually only a moderately indulgent meal, at least as far as volume and unhealthy food goes. We both got the lobster tail, which was grilled rather than drowned in butter. We split a salad with beets and goat cheese, split a plate of broccolli rabe as big as my head, split a bottle of wine. Ahhh, there's where the indulgence comes in. I thought I felt fine, but no, must have been looped because I ate four squares of dark chocolate, fell asleep almost before reaching the bed and woke up feeling wonky.
Ok, so this wouldn't have been too big a deal, one mildly indulgent meal. BUT...
We went away last weekend, first to Woodstock, then to MA to visit family. We took my brother in law with us and made him an indulgent birthday dinner Friday night. Fortunately or unfortunately I left most of the drinking to them (they were both hung over for many hours the next day), but instead indulged in too much dinner. All good things (I think coconut sorbet is a good thing!), but still way way way too much.
AND STILL, this would have been ok, but my Mother in Law was in Beverly waiting for us! And she is Greek! Food is most certainly love. Now, I did ok with the meal. Lovely huge salad. A little fish, a little rice, all good. But when she brought out the homemade apple pie I was D.O.N.E. Seriously, had a piece as big as the plate itself. I mean, I NEEDED it. It was apples! And that amazing bottle of Truchard Pinot Noir probably hadn't affected my willpower or anything...right?
Now, the Sunday morning yoga was heavy and painful for sure. But even then I felt great when I was done. Nothing like a sweaty (modified for foot) ashtanga practice to clear out the remains of last night's dinner and drinks. Not that I recommend behaving this way on purpose! But it does happen, and then the practice will help the renewal process.
Alas, my Dad was waiting at home that evening to have his sweet and nurturing Italian girlfriend cook dinner. Pasta. Prosecco. Cheese. Chocolate. Now normally I avoid all the "white" stuff as much as possible. Allowing it in for rare occasions when it's truly excellent and I'm feeling physically great. But really, I'm going to let Big B's Mom nurture me, but refuse my Dad? I don't think so! Plus, yes, it was really good. All garlicky. And with bubbly prosecco to toast each other's health, what was I to do??
Needless to say, Monday was a yoga free day. And, like any good Ashtangi, I felt some indulger's remorse. Although I think wine and dessert and pasta can be part of a healthy, balanced lifestyle, I don't think they're great for days in a row. But life happens. Husbands and Fathers and Brothers and Mothers-in-Law are to be enjoyed and celebrated. So, after the "too much pleasure" and the resultant bellyache, what's a yogi to do?
GET ON THE MAT. Which I did. And get clean. Which I'm doing. Not in a "cleansey", drink only lemon water for a week kind of way, but hopefully in a slow steady way that will make me feel better by the weekend. Green is the key here, but in a wholesome way. I wake up and have my warm lemon water each day, but then I move on. Yup, I still drink coffee, but not so much, and lemon water first! Then a green juice or a green smoothie. And salads and cooked greens at every meal. Ok, there's still room for little treats. I had those amazing raw ginger snaps from One Lucky Duck for dessert last night! But slightly less indulgent indulgences.
Now, maybe next time I'll have a half-sized slice of pie, or resist the wine one of the nights, or simply tell my Dad to make fish and salad. Or maybe I won't. But fortunately, there's a yoga mat, a green juice and a beautiful salad around every corner.
Now, where did I hide that chocolate????
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
But a funny thing, it really wasn't all that different than my self practices. He had only a couple of new poses to suggest, and while I got a few really nice feel-good adjustments, there really wasn't a lot he could do for me. I have kind of figured it out myself apparently. At least as far as the different series are concerned and what is ok for the foot.
On the other hand, at the end he came up and suggested a way to work on my upper body strength and sort of suggested I'm not pushing hard enough at the things that are tough for me. And this from the teacher who more often works my strengths than weaknesses! Crap! I mean, I've been doing lots of pushups, as I know I've mentioned, but Mr. Tough Love said "that's only half your body weight." He wants me to do lift ups with my legs straight out in front of me. Like a Dandasana lift up for those of you who practice. That's like taking a normal "pick it up" and making it 8 times harder! I don't even get close to that!
But oh boy, he's right. And here's the funny thing, my non-yoga practicing manly other half (in other words, the husband) has been harping on that for two week! Now, I keep telling the both of them I can't do it. And really, I'm nowhere with it. Almost don't even know how to "try" appropriately. But it's amusing to me that they both mentioned it, and the husband may have actually been right on.
So, my first reaction was defensive. As in "you're a man, that's easy for you! How do I do it?" His answer: "You have four weeks to figure it out!" And I got all pissed off. But really, I got up at 6 AM, drove to midtown, paid to park, paid an exorbitant drop in fee all to be defensive and pout like a child? No. That doesn't sound right. So project "pick it up" has begun. I don't know how to work on it really, but the new focus of my practice will be to add as many of these in as possible. I think I have to start by lifting up with crossed legs then trying to straighten them and hold a bit before landing. Then later maybe I'll be able to go for straight legs to begin. But in any case, if I'm serious about holding steady during this incredibly frustrating time, then I'm going to have to work at what's hard, and do it a new way.
Just don't tell the better half he was right!
Monday, November 1, 2010
One of the most frustrating and wonderful aspects of Ashtanga is that you always know what to do. What order the poses go in. What series to do on which day. When to take a day off. Even with my little bit of a rebellious spirit I like the routine. At least I know what to rebel against!
But now, with the broken foot ruling my life, the Ashtanga rules no longer really apply. And so I'm always left to think "now what?"
As in, do I get on the mat today, or does the foot need a break? Should I do more poses, and if so, what?
And an interesting thing has happened. I have found maybe a little MORE focus during my practice. Sometimes I'll lose steam partway through, as is my general way, but because I have all those years of the framework behind me, I have a resource I can mine for a new routine. This week I've managed to get on the mat every day, but still only every other day feels like a "real" practice, and so I continue to feel my way. It's a little bit like the twilight zone.
So, the details. How does an ashtangi practice without being able to stand, and almost no way to do a vinyasa? Well, she follows the series of course. I felt, early on, that I should come up with my own routine, but every time I tried to be creative, I just came up with a load of nothing. However, when I got on the mat and just went through my three series, doing only the really safe poses, I found I had focus, and everything flowed easily.
The Chant! It's not Ashtanga without the opening chant.
Pushups. That's right, not yoga at all, but I need something to warm me up and get me breathing.
Ardha Badda Padma Paschimottanasana
5. Janu Sirsasana A
6. Maricyasana A and C
7. Navasana and many long lift ups
9. Supta Kurmasana, but with my broken foot on a pillow and the right leg behind my head. Hope to get you a picture of this one, it's pretty funny!
10. Upavishta Konasana
11. Supta Padangustasana with Trivikramasana interplation
1. Richard Freeman's Pashasana variation on knees
3. Salabasana A and B
4. Dhanurasana A, twice, LONG
5. Ustrasana and Kapotasana. I have to put my left foot on a pillow for this and put no weight on that side. I fear I'm going lopsided because of it, but Kapotasana is the only really deep backbend I can do right now, and it's so delicious. I do it twice as well.
7. Ardha Matsyandrasana
8. Eka Pada Sirsasana. I do it very intensely on the right, where the foot is ok, and sometimes go back to Kashyapasana too. On the left side I do it but it makes me nervous. My hips are open enough that I don't really put pressure on the foot, but then, because I know the doctor would yell at me, I sometimes just hold the leg back there and not quite in position and do a shorter version. See, I AM cautious!
9. Titibasana A.
10. Parigasana--LOVE THIS ONE. It always feels good.
11. Gomukasana, the Manju way with feet wide and hips on floor
2. Hanumanasan with kraukachasana variation.
Then full finishing, ashtanga style, with long long shoulder and headstands.
In between things I do random sets of pushups, either on my knees (yes, I'm a little bit of a wimp, but building) or with one straight leg and the broken one crossed behind at the ankle. As many as I can do, which is not so many. Plus a few modified one-legged vinyasas. Gotta stay warm somehow!
Anyway, this post has become a long list, rather than an explanation of how things work. But it's nice to have a record officially written down here so I can both remember what I've done and later explain how it worked for me. I hope soon to have a friend take some pictures to show what I can and can't do, and how I modify. Groundbreaking? Maybe not. But for me at least it's a huge relief to find I can go through the series and still find myself there.
For now, I am finally feeling awake and able early in the morning, and I am off to visit a teacher for the first time in a month! Stay tuned for updates on the routine!
Sunday, October 31, 2010
Today felt like a banner day. I felt so grateful just to be in the company of fellow practitioners, and to be able to move at all, that it felt like a stellar practice. It is truly amazing how much we take for granted most of our lives. I can remember many a practice when I might have done full 2nd or 3rd series but been disappointed with myself because every entrance and exit wasn't perfect, or some of my binds were difficult. Today I was thrilled to breathe with a group and do the few asanas I could without tweaking the foot. And I was reminded how great yoga makes me feel, regardless of the details. I woke up feeling like i was fighting a cold (and losing) and finished feeling like a million bucks. That is why I continue to practice, despite all the ups and downs.
I was also reminded today to have patience. And this time I don't mean about the foot. Maybe patience isn't the word I'm looking for. I think I was just reminded to pause and breathe in the moment, and it felt like a lesson learned from injury. As the foot heals, I have no recourse other than to wait and be in the moment. In life, it sometimes feels like there is something to be gained by pushing, but very often it's not the case. Today I took the yoga into the world, and at brought a little more peace and ease into my own day than I might have had even a month ago. Vague? You bettcha! I'm still getting used to baring my soul here in cyber space, but I wanted to share the thought.
And, now for the fun part! Pumpkins! I'm addicted to em. My three fave new things are Pumpkin Pie Smoothies, Pumpkin Spiced frothy drinks and Pumpkin Chia pudding. Today I indulged in the chia pudding. Creamy, spicy, and completely satisfying, it's a bowl of superfood with a seasonal twist.
Mix 2 tablespoons chia seeds with 3/4 cup water. Stir or shake vigorously, let sit, then repeat. This should take five to ten minutes.
Put in a blender with:
1/2 Cup Pumpkin Puree
1 Tablespoon Pumpkin Pie Spice
1-2 medjool dates and stevia to taste
Blend blend blend away! I Let it go a long time, pausing to scrape the sides a few times. It turned a light orange when it was finally ready, and none of the crunchy seeds were visible.
Sorry folks I didn't take a picture. I was so hungry! But rest assured it was beautiful. I served it in a wine goblet topped with Lydia's raw granola and a few slices of banana. I bet molasses would be great as a drizzle too!
Yum, my new favorite healthy thing
Now on to the pumpkin carving...
Saturday, October 30, 2010
For one thing, my energy is different. I never quite get my energy going. I can't fall asleep. I'm not sure when to eat sometimes. I mean, if I don't have to do pashasana Sunday morning, does it matter if dinner doesn't happen till 9 PM? Well, it does, I feel better living a certain way. But without the asana "check in" there is just a little more leeway.
And, I keep saying I will start pranayama, all on my own. But I never do it. I mean, I know WHAT to do, but this is the proof that I am such an ashtangi at heart, I feel I need a teacher to "prescribe" it, to check in with me from time to time, to expect me to do it.
Meditation too. I have mantras of various sorts, but have I used them lately? No, I have not.
But here's what, I need the yoga, I need the pranayama, I need to take care of myself. I just can't go back to sleep the way I was before. And if I know what I should do, and what I need, and then don't do it, then I just feel bad! That's gotta be the definition of insanity. Doing something you know doesn't work, and yet continuing to do it anyway.
So, I've set up a little routine for myself. A milder one than if my foot were not broken (and not just as to poses), but a routine nonetheless. And when I really pay attention, I can almost feel as good as I do when I'm really rocking the asana in the prescribed ashtangi way.
For now, I am practicing every other day. Or, sometimes more, but at least every other day. If I get up, have coffee, and get on the mat, it happens. If I wait and pretend I'll do it later, the day just never materializes, even in other ways. And, each day I add a little something in. A little breath and bandha work before or after. A little philosophical reading. A little extra chanting. A few more modified vinyasas, a posture or two, also modified. And I listen. I don't do anything that hurts the foot. I don't neglect the rest of life for the time on the mat (hence the every other day, as everything takes so much more effort right now). And I take days of early to-bed, early-to-rise sometimes, alternating with late-dinner evenings and movies on the sofa with the night-owl husband.
Whoa, don't tell me this is the balance I always search for! No, I don't think it's likely to last COMPLETELY beyond the broken foot time. But maybe it will help me feel a little more detachment even when I'm back to the normal routine. I mean, I haven't fallen completely apart while being separated from my daily practice, so maybe one day when I'm back to the grind and suddenly have to miss practice to meet some house repair person or go to a job interview I will just get on the mat by myself at home, or let it go without letting it ruin my day.
Well, I don't know, I'm likely to have a hard time when I begin the process of regaining my physical practice, but I am hopeful that by noticing the now, and writing it down here, I will be able to retain some spark of self-knowledge and a teeny bit of detachment along the way.
Of course, all this only comes to me on a day when I actually did get on the mat! Ha.
Sunday, October 24, 2010
SO, having an injury like a broken foot, one that can't be "muscled through" is an interesting challenge, vacation, and a good time for a little self analysis and "noticing."
Lets start with the good! I am no Polyanna, and believe me I am still all upset about this, but because it can't be helped, I'll start on the positive side.
1. I get to sleep late! Since I have no deadlines, no practice or early teaching to get to, I can just let myself wake up whenever I wake up. Mostly this is about 7:30, but sometimes it's been 8 or 8:30, and really, is that so aweful? Yes, I have a harder time falling asleep when I wake up later and have less activity, but that brings me to point number 2...
2. I can go to bed whenever! This give me the leeway to eat a late meal with the husband, not worry about how it will affect my pashasana or purnamatseyandrasana or lift ups or what have you. And also, if I'm going to bed later, I can eat later and still not have digestion ruin my sleep. My husband loves this! He's a night owl. So just as a side effect, breaking my foot has given me more quality time with the husband. And yes, watching movies on netflix can qualify as "quality time" if normally you'd be snapping at him to turn down the volume so you can sleep. This is better husband time than that.
3. Taking a break from the norm gives me a chance to look at things from a distance. I can see how much I miss it and love it, while also noticing that I am slightly easier on myself when I'm not a slave to the dogma of the practice (as in, I judge myself pretty harshly if I can't do karandavasana, and if I ate too much the night before, I would surely blame it on the celebratory meal with my husband, but if I don't have to do karandavasana at all, who's to judge whether I had too much fun, or whether I was just reasonable?).
4. I have to focus on other parts of the practice. This is a biggie. The breath! The little practice I do is all about the breath. And, without vinyasa to warm me up, I have to really work my ujayii. And bandhas. And gaze. I have to be so so focused and steady just to make it feel like practice at all! This will be great to use when I get back to the regular routine.
5. And finally, it helps me focus on what I CAN do. Every time I get on the mat I think "What can I actually do today?" Rather than, "I'm no good at this. I can't do that. This teacher won't let me...." It starts the practice on a positive note, even though in general I feel bad I can't do the "regular". I am so happy to be beyond the first couple of weeks' trauma and be able to do ANY yoga.
Whoa, I think I just forgot the cons. I guess that'll have to be a separate post. Maybe I'll turn into a Polyanna after all?
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
I got home to Brooklyn and was immediately overwhelmed by how much I can't do, how much there is to be done, and how tired I am. I didn't sleep well last night and got up early early for the first time in two weeks. Well, I guess every day has its ups and downs.
I guess one lesson from the weekend is that sometimes doing nothing is the right thing to do. Sometimes I should just sit down and be still for a while. Whatever I'm trying to figure out will not come clear from "rattling around" like I do. Maybe that's the broken-foot lesson from today. I waited for a while and then was finally able to do some yoga. And If I'd waited a while yesterday before trying to make my day "happen" it might just have come together perfectly on its own.
Do you ever psych yourself out? Second guess your decisions? What techniques work for you to help things "come clear"?
Saturday, October 16, 2010
Here's what: although I am a very active person, and I am addicted to my practice, I find it hard to get on the mat by myself. More than that, too, the structure of ashtanga is what makes it possible. I know that I practice Sunday through Friday. I do second series on Sunday, Primary on Friday, and Third Series every day in between. Now that it's all figuring it out and seeing what works with the foot in each moment, I'm incredibly unfocused and unmotivated. But because I can feel the difference in my body and energy when I don't practice, I must make it happen!
This is a serious exercise in setting an intention. What I need to do for the next month I think, is clear a space in my head for the yoga. Set it as a time that I just cannot do anything else, just as if I were going to the studio, and whatever I do or do not do on the mat, I will not let myself get up and use the computer and pick up the phone or do the laundry within that window. It's again setting a habit. Just like the 21 day cleanse, I must set a goal for a new kind of yoga habit. It is possible, I saw that today. I feel so much better! So now I know, just like that first time I did Karandavasana or stood up from a backbend, that it is possible. All it takes is a concerted effort to make it happen again.
Is there something in you life that you both love and have a resistance to? What habit would you like to establish this fall?
Thursday, October 14, 2010
On the other hand, though we sort of live and let live with our diets, he is Greek, and for him food is love. So if I don't cook for him he sometimes feels I don't love him! But that doesn't mean I'm going to make meatballs. That kind of thing is up to him. Also, I worry for his health! And if I'm trying to love him up, I'd rather do it in a healthy way. Enter, "Meatless for-the-Man Days," or days I cook him a veggie meal with no meat on the side. Now, I'm not allowed to tell him "this is vegan!" He doesn't want to know. It makes it sound too healthy and he has no interest in healthy food just for health's sake. Mind you, he'll eat healthy things, and all he wants to know is that it's good.
Last night's meatless meal is an all time favorite for both of us. Inspired by the Millenium cookbook, it combines chickpeas, wine, sun dried tomatoes and apricots in a slightly moroccan stew. The original recipe calls for making chickpea crepes as well, but somehow I never get around to those. Too "puchkey" as my dad would say. So sometimes I serve it with quinoa, sometimes with papadum for dipping, and sometimes just in a bowl. They're incredible all on their own. And pair them with a rich, red wine and it's a gourmet meal to beat any vegetarian restaurant I've ever been to.
This was the first meal I've really cooked since I've broken my foot, by the way, and I found a great way to do it. We got a cheap rolling chair and I put my knee on it and push myself around with my other foot, freeing my hands to carry and chop veggies with. Maybe I should rename myself "the gimpy chef!"
Here are the details:
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 leeks, white part only, cut into small dice
2 carrots, peeled and cut into small dice
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
1 bay leaf
2 cups Sangiovese or any dry red wine
4 cups cooked chickpeas
3 cups vegetable stock
1 cup coarsely choppe sun-dried tomatoes
1/2 cup coarsely chopped dried apricots
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more as needed
Freshly Ground black pepper
2 teaspoons cornstarch, dissolved in 3 tablespoons water (optional)
This is me adding the wine. Make sure you use enough!
➢ heat the olive oil in a deep skillet or heavy-bottomed braising pan over medium –high heat.
➢ Add the garlic and sauté for 2 minutes, or until it just begins to brown.
➢ Add the leeks and carrots, and sauté, stirring often, for 5 minutes, or until the leeks just start to wilt.
➢ Add the rosemary, cumin seeds, and bay leaf. Sauté for another minute.
➢ Add 1 cup of the wine and stir to scrape up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan.
➢ Add the remaining 1 cup wine and the chickpeas, stock and sun-dried tomatoes, apricots and salt. Simmer on medium-low heat for 20 minutes, or until the liquid is reduced by one-half. Salt and pepper to taste.
This is the whole schear pre-simmer, but it cooks down to a much thicker, yummier consistency.
It can be sort of a runny stew or more viscous. I tend to add extra wine, then more chickpeas and leeks, then I have to add more cornstarch, and finally I give up and just serve it in a bowl. The topper is a sprinkling of toasted, slivered almonds for amazing crunch and a really nice extra hit of flavor.
Unfortunately, I can't make the rest of the pictures loads, so you can't see the beautiful presentation with collards from our garden, braised with coconut oil and garlic, and a piece of zucchini bread from a neighbor. Also, there was such a cute photo of the man with his beautiful deep red Nero D'Avola.
I usually use Primitivo or Sangiovese to cook this dish, but this time it was Nero D'Avola, a dark, Italian grape that never fails me. So we also opened another bottle, by Cosumano, for drinking. Dark, pruney, with medium body and just enough tanin to stand up to the stew, this one's an everyday winner. Mind you, if you had to splurge, a Chateauneuf du Pape wouldn't go wrong either!
Next up for "meatless" days, a challenge: vegan, gluten-free, soy and alcohol free cooking for a friend!
What's your favorite fall veggie meal? Will your partner eat it too, or are you on your own?
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
However, in the interest of keeping my (yay!) one follower, I thought I'd publish a short post anyway. Today I managed to do a little yoga, even with a broken foot. Ok, there was no vinyasa, and it was all of 10 minutes, but I feel better for a little paschimottanasana, janu sirsasana, navasana, ustrasana and supported viparita dandasana. I mean, I still want to hang myself with my yoga strap. I miss my yoga, my friends, just walking down the streets of NYC, but it's better than nothing.
Oward! And cross your fingers that I can figure out this posting thing soon, those chickpeas were yummy!
Question of the day: What's your current favorite asana? Before I broke my foot, it was viparita dandasana. I never thought I'd be able to do that back flip and catch the headstand in the middle, but I did! Maybe one day I'll do it again.
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
I realize this is not much of a post, and there's very little here to interact with, but I just wanted to get my voice out there, and I'm not happy enough to make it a big involved tale.
Sunday, October 10, 2010
Here's what: I hardly feel like I've been cleansing, and yet, somehow today I woke up feeling light, clean and balanced. Aha, it's actually done its work! It's funny, even with it not being perfect, (as in I had wine a couple of times this week, accidentally had soy once or twice, was sick on Monday and needed scrambled eggs after), the "slow and steady" approach seems to be working. As I've said before, I am usually an all or nothin' type. I juice, or I feast. Well, not all the time, but it's a tendency I fight. So this particular 21-day plan was actually pretty tough for me at the outset. The idea that I had a long way to go till I felt as good as I want to feel was overwhelming. But sitting here on day 20, and looking back at the three weeks, I have to say it was more wonderful than painful. I think this may actually be what I'd call balance!
Hooray! The nutritionist and I agree, this is almost a great place to just "stay". I don't actually have very far I want to go to change things, coming off the cleanse. What will stay the same, and what will change?
Well, I'd like to keep the idea of one to two smoothie/soup/juice meals a day. I have tricky digestion and these somewhat pre-digested meals are a jump start to getting my nutrition in without too much work. That said, I don't want to make it a rule. I'd rather have some flexibility to go with the flow of what I want in any given situation, and especially to be able to be social when I can get out again!
Also, I'd like to keep the big offenders to a minimum. Even though I am in no way a Celiac case, I feel better off wheat and gluten for the most part. I don't want refined sugar to be part of my daily routine. And I don't think I need to allow much dairy into my life, especially with the recent Osteoporosis research on the subject. Soy? Well, I think miso and tempeh are great, but I'll stay away from the refined stuff/fake meats/additives in processed foods, etc. And corn is highly tampered with, but if I can find good non-gmo sprouted organic products there may be some leeway.
On the other hand, I think I've already hit moderation with alcohol. The idea is not every day, and yet, it's not the devil. I was never a big drinker to begin with, didn't even drink in college to speak of, so maybe there's no need to be a teetotaler now, but resisting a few extra times when I don't really really want it will give me a little more leeway for other indulgences and just make me feel like I'm still "on the path'.
I also think I've made a little peace with desserts. I love dessert! I always want it. And recently my go-to has been super dark chocolate, just because it can be small and generally has little sugar. The organic kind is also dairy and soy free, or the ones I buy are. But still, I had begun to eat too much of it, and often I didn't even want it. One CAN overdo chocolate. But I didn't allow myself other treats, and so I was a little trapped and not satisfied.
Enter almond milk cocoa! A cup of almond milk, some dark cocoa or raw cacao powder, stevia, a pinch of salt, a touch of vanilla, and maybe just a squeeze of agave. A treat I can't begin to feel guilty about! And raw chocolate/coconut pudding! A little denser, so maybe needing more moderate portions, but still a relatively guilt-free treat. That recipe to follow in another post by the way!
What's coming back in? Eggs! I love eggs. I mean, they're easy to digest, densely nutritious, and so malleable. I guess I'll never be vegan. But I don't want or need them all the time. Once or twice a week maybe? And I buy the multicolored free range ones from our local farm in Woodstock, so I feel a little better about that. Can't wait to make a burrito in a sprouted corn tortilla with guac and salsa! That could even be dinner.
So really, maybe not that much is changing. I have flowed almost naturally from cleanse to base-line everyday eating. I like to feel clean most of the time anyway, even among going out to very "regular" restaurants. But here's what, I want the fluidity to have a coffee date with friends and try those amazing pretzel croissants they love so much. I need to be able to enjoy the red wine prunes over mascarpone at Frankie's without feeling so remorseful that I ruin it. And I need to sometimes enjoy just too much of everything, but still get up the next day and feel ok about it. Oh, and all this sitting on the sofa makes me bored, and it will be hard not to just sit around and eat without the ashtanga to sort of be a "check in" for how I'm feeling. Ok, so there are still some challenges ahead. But that's a lot of learning and growing for three weeks if you ask me!
I think tomorrow, as a celebration, I will make my chickpeas braised in red wine with sun dried tomatoes and apricots. And if I can stand on my crutches long enough I'll make chickpea socca crepes too! But for now, back to my regularly scheduled green juice. A great way to start the day.
Questions of the day:
A) Have you ever set yourself a challenge to create new habits? What were they? Did it work?
B) What's your base-line happy-place diet? Do you think mine is crazy? :)
For today, over and out.
Saturday, October 9, 2010
And by the way, I can still put my right leg behind my head, broken left foot or no. In fact, I'm sitting in Eka Pada Sirsasana as I type this. Is that so wrong?
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
NOW WHAT? Really, I teach yoga, I run around the city, I practice yoga. I am an intensely physical person. I experience the world through my physicality. So now what?
Well, more blogging I guess. And a visit to an Orthopedic Surgeon for starters.
Oh my, this city is not built for the infirm. I needed entertainment and a bottle of wine last night and the husband and I went out for dinner. We went about 6 blocks, and it nearly did me in. That's hard work, crutching around.
The good news is the wine was great! In the spirit of balanced hedonism I ordered a beautiful salad with beets and oranges, a lovely piece of fish with a light tomato sauce and garlicky spinach on the side, had a few bites of his incredible pasta but resisted ordering my own, then got a lovely wine.
Our favorite restaurant, Fragole, offers half price on all premium wine bottles on Tuesday, so we indulged in a $50 bottle without feeling bad. It was a Nebbiolo called Muntaja, but I can't find it anywhere on the internet. In any case, it started off a little tight. It had fruit, but it was sort of covered by layers of tannin and a rather acidic finish. By the time the entrees came however, it had opened up to reveal layers of dark fruit, almost dried and pruney like an Amarone, a nice bite, but more integrated tannins and a smoothish finish. Lovely with red sauce, probably would be great with grilled things like meat (though I don't eat that) and eggplant (which I love) and would have been great with the chocolate we had at home for dessert, though it didn't last that long!
What's the moral of the story? I don't really know yet. But a bottle of Nebbiolo can certainly take the edge off a catastrophic day.
Now, back to our regularly scheduled 21-day cleanse!
Question of the day: What's your favorite red wine match-up for a physical injury? :)
Monday, October 4, 2010
I had a sick day. Something hit both the husband and me at the same time. So I have no fun news to share, no food, certainly no yoga. Ah well, sometimes the yoga in the situation is actually NOT to do yoga.
Back to the bed...
Friday, October 1, 2010
Wheeee! I did a sweaty and focused primary, cheated and tacked on half of second and one pose of third, then did long long finishing. Ok, I did the shortest of all savasanas. I had a coconut shake chillin' in the fridge and couldn't wait to get to it, but other than that I stayed pretty true to the program. So, maybe I am growing up a little! If I know I can get some steady instruction many days of the week, one day on my own may actually be nice. I did an hour and a half of practice with no travel time, no flooded F train and no rush hour commute. Now that doesn't suck!
And now a word on coconut smoothies. They are one of the best breakfasts ever. Smooth, creamy, rich, satisfying, and totally healthy. Interestingly, young thai coconuts are totally balanced from an Ayurvedic perspective. The water is cooling and cleansing while the meat is grounding and warming, so together they make a good meal for any dosha. Also, and now I'm just justifying the addiction perhaps, they're said to be amazingly high in potassium and electrolytes, they've got healthy medium chain fatty acids in the meat, and great protein to boot. What can beat that?
To make, shave off the spongy white part on the top of the young coconut. Whack at the thing with a heavy knife, in sort of a square around the top, then turn the knife over and whack really hard with the back of the blade till coconut shavings and water are flying everywhere. Now the top should come off. Pour the water into a blender, scoop out the meat/jelly depending on how old the coconut is. Add vanilla, stevia and sometimes pumpkin pie spice to taste. Blend and slurp!
This is what it will look like after all the work.
Seriously, it may sound like a weird thing, but it is so good I have to hide from the husband while drinking it or it might get usurped!
And speaking of which, if only I could get him moving we could get upstate and get cooking. Literally. We have to take down the garden this weekend and harvest the basil. Pesto time! And I think a blustery fall day in the mountains may call for a batch of my hearty beet borscht with horseradish macadamia cream, a vegetarian dish even my carnivorous husband enjoys. Wonder of wonders.
Question of the day: What's your favorite warming fall dish? Does your whole family love it, or do they just think you're weird?
Thursday, September 30, 2010
My challenge for the fall is to really find a little balance, a taste of the middle path. Isn't that the whole point of yoga? Oh, right!
One situation that keeps pointing out my all or nothing mentality is my new teaching schedule. I am now teaching on Tuesday and Thursday mornings at a time that makes it hard to get to my own practice. I mean sure, I could get on the mat at home by myself, but often by the time I'm back to Brooklyn I am too tired. So lately I've been heading off to my current teacher anyway. And though I only have an hour to an hour fifteen, as opposed to my normal 1:45 to two hours, I have been getting on the mat and doing a focused, deep practice for the amount of time available to me. I seem to get through only half of third series before he tells me to quit in order to do long finishing postures, and I'm always disappointed in the moment. But the truth is, more is not always better. I seem to leave there feeling pretty great, re-energized, ready to face the day. And my physical practice doesn't seem to be suffering yet, though it's only been a couple of weeks.
The long and short of it is, on my own I have a hard time moderating, but I hope I'm getting better at it, in all aspects of my life. Ok, I mean I still WANT it all, but maybe I can be contented with the middle more of the time.
And on that note, I'm off to have some lovely deep greens for lunch, but there may also be a small indulgence after!
Question of the day: are you the all or nothing type? Is there one area of your life where you wish you'd land more in the middle?
Sunday, September 26, 2010
Here's what, I have goals for my cleanse, but quitting coffee just isn't one of them right now. I have finally decided it's a part of my life I don't really feel guilty about (whooaaa! Is there a part of my life I don't feel guilty about?) and if it's here to stay anyway I might as well embrace it. I drink one strong cup every single morning before yoga. Well, actually what I usually do is drink half a strong cup, get distracted, let it go cold, then pour another one on my way out the door and drink half of that too. But really, all the research I've done seems to say that coffee in moderation is A-OK. I mean, it can exacerbate certain conditions, but for the most part, they're not my particular issues. I should drink less of it just before a "Ladies' Holiday" I guess, but it seems to be wheat and dairy that affect those symptoms most. I have insomnia sometimes, but hey, I drink my coffee at 5 am, I bet it's not hurting my sleep so so much.
In any case, I know coffee is the antithesis of cleansing, but my nutritionist and I agree it may not be the thing I really need to focus on, and the cutting out of wheat, corn, soy, gluten, dairy, eggs, sugar and alcohol while carefully monitoring my nutrients, giving my digestive system a good rest and paying attention to sleep, elimination, skin and supplements will do me more good than not. Why worry about trivialities?
Long and short, I'm a veteran cleanser, I know my body well, and I know how to put together a good cleanse tailored especially to me. "They" whoever they are, can talk about coffee all they want, but I am my own unique organism and can decide what works for me in any given moment.
And now, I must hop into yoga clothes. I overslept! Which I never do. So much for coffee affecting my sleep. And hey, more on the nutritionist another time, because yeah I help all sorts of people with these same issues, but sometimes we all need an unbiased opinion and she is really great!
Saturday, September 25, 2010
Here's a habit I'd like to keep: paying attention. I had a plan for today. It involved blending the carrot juice I bought yesterday into a frozen pumpkin pie like concoction. But when I got to the moment, the truth was, I didn't want it. It was wrong for the day. Yes, that's a frozen treat, but sweet potato and pumpkin pie flavors in 90 degree weather apparently does not work for me. Enter the avocolada. Just perfect. Avocado, frozen pineapple, coconut water, some vanilla and stevia. Yummy and light. Perfectly tropical for today.
But that's an easy one. It's harder when the choices are bigger. Today I am on the "21 Day" plan, and I knew I would have a smoothie. Another time, the question might be more like "should I give in and eat the pancakes with the hubby, or do I hold fast and order the fruit plate?" Now that's a question where really paying attention is important. Do I actually want a pancake and I'll feel better if I don't deprive myself? Or have I been indulging for a couple of days and this will just make me feel bad? Is it a real want, and will add to my date experience with my husband, or is it an "oh hell" moment, as in "I've already had pasta and pizza this week, so oh hell what's a pancake or two?"
So that's another reason these 21 Days will (hopefully) be helpful. I get green. I reset my taste buds. I take time and get used to paying attention. And hopefully when I reach the other side and widen my choices a little, I'll have gotten more in tune with my body and emotions, and I'll say yes to that lush, delicious Aglianico only when it will truly do me right.
Meantime, I have a serious craving for the raw Wild Greens and Avocado sandwich at Caravan of Dreams. If I pay attention right now I find that I'm REALLY hungry. And I want to satisfy that craving sooner rather than later...2nd series is tomorrow and we all know pashasana works better on an empty belly.
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Enter the cleanse! Yup, I said the C word. Not 21 days of fasting mind you, but 21 days of taking care of myself, cutting out the gunk, rethinking what works and what doesn't, and tipping the balance a little more toward health than hedonism.
Why 21 days? Well, as the Pure2Raw twins put it so well, 30 days just seems like a long time. And 14 is not nearly enough. 21 Sounds just about perfect. And hey, I usually ease back into "normal" slowly, so I won't suddenly be opening a bottle of Aglianico and going to town. The process ends up being more like a month, but 21 structured days is plenty.
I started last week with four days of simple. No alcohol for sure, lots of greens, largely vegan, no "white" foods like pasta. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I claim to avoid these things anyway, but the Challah at Rosh Hashanah the week before was just too tempting, and a couple of other things like that have crept in recently.
Suddenly at the end of last week, OOPS, it was Yom Kippur. I fasted, yes, but then had bagels and Challah again! Oh well, a slight derailment.
So the official first few days to jump start the plan are juice. It clears out the system and alkalizes it so quickly that I end up feeling terrific, and that gives me the will to go on with the "clean plan". Of course, I drink plenty of green juices for nutrition, and I sometimes bump them up with a little avocado blended in for energy and satiety. Also, one cashew milk or coconut shake at the end of the day, a la Blueprint (who I'll review in a separate post) so I'm not just depriving my body of what it needs in an action packed yoga/NY day. But really, by the last day I'll be craving big green salads and cooked Kale and all good things, and not only that, but my digestion will be ready to handle them.
So, with day 2 almost over, one green drink and a cashew milk to go, I already feel better, and I'm mulling my next move. More on the plan tomorrow, but right now the lemon water calls!
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
This post really belongs on the new site about healthy hedonism, but as I'd like to play with the Chocolate Covered Katie folks, and the new site's not ready, well, I'll post here.
BREAKFAST CAN BE FUN!
I created a couple of coco loco sundaes for Katie's contest.
This love of a breakfast sundae was decadence in a martini glass. Usually I like peanut butter blended into my chocolate, but to include the husband I left it out. He gobbled his down even faster than I did!
A base of chocolate and blonde raw macaroons, cut in pieces. Layers of bananas alternated with whipped cashew coconut creme, a vanilla-y pillowy delight. Chocolate agave sauce drizzled and dripped throughout, while pecans lent their nutty crunch. The best and final touch? Frozen bing cherries, pitted by hand. These guys loved the creme! And we loved them.
Now we need a shower as we are both covered in chocolate!
I think I could really wrap my mind around this sundae for breakfast business. Next time with my chia/banana/cocoa soft serve as the base.
Thursday, February 25, 2010
Hair conditioner. It's a problem. I can't find a single biodegradable hair conditioner that works even a little bit. I have one favorite hair conditioner. I use a quarter sized amount every other day. And I can't seem to give it up. Shampoo is iffy, but there are a few good ones, and I think there'll be more as I experiment a little. But I think the conditioner stays. How guilty should I feel?
Here's another thing, skincare. I went to the dermatologist for a persnickety skin issue, and she told me to use cetaphil to clean my face. It's supposed to be the gentlest thing around. Now the list of ingredients is almost entirely chemical/petroleum based. There's propylene glycol, methylparaben and a bunch of other unpronounceable stuff. I have been trying to use as much truly natural skincare as possible lately. I mean your skin is an organ, that stuff is getting filtered straight into your system! But both the dermatologist and the aesthetician (who happens to be a very holistic/natural type) say that nothing natural does any good. All the advanced technology is the stuff that works. I find that more depressing than anything else. And mostly I refuse to believe it. But so far I'm not having any luck!
And finally, this is a really small one in the scheme of things I guess, but our new eco friendly toilet is too tall for me. What, only tall people care for the environment? Yes, the dual flush is great on our septic system. But I feel like an absolute child with my feet swinging inches from the floor. Oh well, time for a step stool.
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
So, yes, I do make lattes at 4 am. I don't just make a salad, I make a perfectly gourmet meal, never forgetting to toast the almonds, use lots of avocado, find the best, most wonderful EVOO and Balsamic Vinegar possible. My yoginess has not yet translated to austerity. More a shift of the enjoyment to vegetarian cooking. I think I had some idea I'd stop caring about the things I care about somehow, as I went forward with the yoga. But no, this is not the process really. Care without gripping, attachment, addiction is the goal. But this is a tough one for me! Hence, my favorite thing of the moment, a 4 am latte. If I didn't get it I would not cry, mind you, but I would get SOME sort of coffee. Well, I'll work on that when the hour's not so early.
The big thing is the teaching. I love it. It feels like the students are pleased too. And there are lots of them! Even the huge tall guys are getting something from my teaching, and it's so rewarding. More than that, even if I'm more tired in general, my practice doesn't seem to be really suffering yet. True, it's early in the process. Were I to be teaching full time I'd have to sustain the energy and health over days/weeks/months/years. Sadly, this is not in the cards immediately anyway. But I don have little daydreams about the regular teacher being detained and getting another month out of the situation.
Oh well, here's something yogic. Be in the moment! I still have a week and a half left, and the students are waiting for me. Time to hop into yoga clothes and hit the pavement!
Friday, February 19, 2010
This is what I was thinking three days ago:
That's right, it's only the 4th day of the teaching experiment and already I am exhausted. This morning I didn't even shower, and am sitting on the sofa with coffee at 4:30 wondering what I will wear. For the next two and a half weeks now, this (with shower added) will be my routine.
Wake at 4.
Teach at 6.
Practice at 8:30 or 9.
Sometimes teach again at 12:30.
Sometimes teach again at 4:30.
Saturdays I get to sleep till 6:30 or 7, woo hoo, as I don't have to get there till 9. But then, the subways don't really work as well on Saturdays.
It's an interesting thing. In some ways it is just as hard as I imagined. I am going to bed either really early and not seeing Brad at all (as in last night when I fed him dinner at 7, passed out on the couch around 7:45, and trundled off at 8), or I'm enjoying my fourth wind at 8, and then it's hard to sleep and I'm a wreck the next day. Also, practicing after teaching is tough in that I'm tired again by then. However, I'm also more "up" my muscles are functioning, I'm definitely much bendier without even trying. But I've had to give myself over to another teacher for the time being, rather than just practice on my own. She won't insist I do things her way, but it is MY way to do so. It's her yoga room, and if I want to get something out of my study, I should try it her way. Still, it's hard, it's a shift in focus. It's an ego moderating endeavor.
The great thing is, actually, the teaching. I do enjoy it. I've never taught a mysore room for more than a day here and there, and so didn't know what the whole life would feel like, and how it would feel to be in that room, knowing those students were relying on me for a period of time. It's different. For one day, you basically leave them alone, assist them only where it's absolutely necessary. For three weeks, you have time to observe, see the larger picture, figure out where to be and when in the room over the course of morning. It's exhausting! And totally fun. And nervewracking! This practice is deep and eprsonal and these students are used to Evan. They may be nervous. I mean, there's this one guy who's 6 foot 5 and all muscle. He lets me help him with drop backs, but you're telling me it didn't cross his mind that I might drop him that first time????
SO, from the 3 days later perspective, I'm excited to continue the experiment. I think I can tweak what I'm doing to make my energy more even, get a little more out of my days instead of feeling sort of blown away, like it's a "game on" time and real life will happen after. I know the three weeks will end, and I can get to all that leftover stuff later, but if I ever wanted to really do this, now is the time to find out if it's workable in a real life way. So, what grounding practice can I add in? Well, I should probably do pranayama instead of just emailing all the time, but I also need to be in touch with people. Its what makes me feel happy and alive. Ok, more thought is required. Check for updates!
And now, back to my regularly schedule coffee...I guess I'm not that stoic after all.
Friday, February 12, 2010
In my short 8 years of yoga practice (6 of them a daily ashtanga practice) I have delved deeply and gone far. I have cried on the mat while nursing (eventually losing my mother) through Ovarian cancer. I have practiced with zeal in the tumultuous marital time that followed. I have practiced through joyous and seemingly easy times and through tougher times of injury and illness. I have stepped on the mat with giddy happiness and energy bubbling over and on many a morning when the subway steps seemed insurmountable and even a suryanamaskar seemed too much. I have taken my yoga (or followed it?) from NY to Boston to NH to San Fancisco, to Tahoe, Boulder, Miami, India, Mexico, Woodstock, and back to NYC again. But through all this, I have somehow managed to remain young in the practice.
There was an essay contest earlier this year, asking when people felt they had finally, truly felt like an adult, a real grown up. I think I have only recently begun to feel even the stirrings of this, in a way. With the purchase of a home-away-from home in Woodstock, NY, I have had to look at several aspects of my life in a whole new light, and take on responsibilities in a new way. One of them, of course, is my yoga practice. It’s been said that practice mirrors life and this is certainly true for me. The responsibility for my life experience, and yoga experience, now falls squarely on my (not so young) shoulders, and it’s time to take the reins.
Practice in Woodstock is entirely up to me. There’s lots of yoga there, but not much Ashtanga. Yes, there is a group of about 4 people who gather two or three times a week to practice together, but there is no teacher. In fact, I am growing into my teacher role there! So mostly I am on my own with my practice. With ashtanga, that should be easy, right? You have your practice, you know what it is, when and how to do it, when to take a day off. But it’s not as easy as it sounds. Why is it so hard to simply take the first step onto the mat? It’s time to finally put my practice where my mouth is and really do it!
So here are the questions. Will I be able to maintain my daily practice, even while moving around so much, with teachers and without? Will I be able to take care of myself in the same way, maintain the practices that make me feel good, even when I know no one is “looking,” no teacher is waiting for me in the morning, except maybe me? Will I integrate the chanting and pranayama that help to steady and ground my practice, when no one forces me to make the extra time?
How can I find balance between my yogic ideals, my eat-drink-and-be-merry husband, my oenophile background and foodie tendencies and my austere early morning asana, my gourmet vegetarian cooking hobby and my carnivorous husband and friends, my yoga teaching and copywriting careers, my love of luxurious beauty products and my resolve to go natural and organic?
In short, what is a sustainable Laura? These are the questions we all contemplate in one way or another, and that keep life exciting on and off the mat. Follow me on the journey on the mat and beyond as I follow and create the path of the Laura Life.
In short, what is a sustainable Laura? These are the questions we all contemplate in one way or another, and that keep life exciting on and off the mat. Follow me on the journey on the mat and beyond as I follow and create the path of the Laura Life.