Monthly Archives: March 2009

Ahonui

Peanut Butter and Juli has a beautiful post on the Hawaiian word ahonuiAhonui can be translated as patience, perserverence and many breaths.  It was the breath part that caught my attention and made the connection to the practice of yoga.  At its core, ahonui means yoga, and yoga means ahonui.  The power of patience, perserverence and breath can take you through challenges you never thought possible.

photo by Jeff Kubina @ Flickr

photo by Jeff Kubina @ Flickr

I’d like to re-echo Juli’s question here, for my yogis and readers:

What does ahonui mean to you?

Yoga School – Day 12

Photo by Niko R @ Flickr

Photo by Niko R @ Flickr

Today combined energy work with adjustments.  J spent the WHOLE DAY with us (she is totally amazing!) and led us all down some incredible paths.  We spent the morning with energy work.  It is impossible to describe the things that happened in class, but I will share that my “take away” is that once you open your mind, the possibilities are endless.  As my Mom reminded me this evening: “Minds are like parachutes: they only function when open.”

If you’re curious about the energy work, email me.  I’d be happy to share my experience and some of the resources that were given to us.

The afternoon was more work with adjustments, specifically focusing on the adjustee’s energy.  It was great to work with a lot of different people with very different body types and shapes.  I’m on the tall-end of average height for women and it was a struggle to adjust some of the taller men and petite women.  We learned some great moves, though, to help compensate for this.

One awesome exercize that J had us do was to line up in rows on eight, one person on the mat and one person behind them doing the adjusting.  J would call out the poses in the flow and every so often she would say “switch!” at that moment we had to move down the line.  The speed at which she called everything out meant you had to stay focused, present, and attuned to the person you were with.  Sometimes you were only with someone for the space of a “flat back” or a “fold forward”.  I messed up the line at one point as I was adjusting this one woman and I was totally into her energy.  As a result I forgot to switch when the “switch” was called.  Whoops!  Anyways, I really liked this drill and felt that it brought all of the elements of adjusting together into a cohesive whole.

I feel that more than any other weekend, we connected as a unit.  Not because someone gave an amazing teacher experience, or shared a painful story, but that we, as a group, connected in much stronger way.  I feel uplifted and energized by all that we shared energetically and through touch.  I am so lucky to have  met and interacted with 42 amazing, compassionate and corageous people.

Yoga School – Day 11

Spring!

Spring!

Finally!  We learned modifications and adjustments today! I have been anticipating this for a long time.  One of my favorite things about yoga is being adjusted by the teacher.  It feels great!  I’ve been wanting to give back with that, but had no idea how to do it well or safely.  Today was the day!

JB was back with us, for the last time, and led us all through a modified flow with specific attention paid to wrists, shoulders, knees, hips and lower back.  It was interesting to go through all the modifications and realize just how many I did when I first started to learn yoga. Knee down in cresent lunge, knees down in chaturanga, and shortening my stance in the warriors.  At the time, I didn’t even realize they were modifications — I thought they were the real pose.  LOL!  But that mentality really helped.  It kept me from being overwhelmed and forced me to work at a safe pace until my body built up the strength and flexibility to carry me safely through the flow.

We broke into groups of four and taught each other the flow with adjustments.  After getting over my initial fear of hurting someone or being too forceful, it felt really good to get in there and help someone relax into the pose.  Sutra II,47 in the Yoga Sutras says that

“Yoga pose is mastered
by relaxation of effort,
lessening the tendency
for restless breathing,
and promoting an identification
of oneself as living within
the infinite breath of life.”

Adjusting people to get them more comfortably into the poses resonates with this.  Once you’re comfortably in the pose, you can breath.  In yoga, it’s all about the breath.  Breath is power, energy, life.  It feels good to know that I can help someone achieve this with just  my hands and words.  Feels  a bit like a superhero moment: “with great power comes great responsibility.”

Now it’s time for a shower, a snack, and some meditation.  I recently got Anodea Judith’s Chakra Balancing kit and am excited to try out one of her guided meditations.

Deep Breaths

It’s been one of “those” weeks.  You know “those” weeks?  The ones where you just can’t seem to catch your breath, are perpetually tired, and by Friday you look at your desk in the office, your desk at home, the kitchen, and your bed and wonder which hurricane could possible have hit all these places at once.

Yeah.  One of “those” weeks.

Which is why this image has become a Friday staple for taking the edge off:

From ICanHasCheezburger.com

From ICanHasCheezburger.com

Original image & link here.

TGIF!!

Decluttering

photo by Wonderlane @ Flickr

photo by Wonderlane @ Flickr

This blog post could also be titled “Letting Go: Part 2″.  Every year I look forward to changing over from the bulky, black/greay winter clothes to the lighter, brighter spring/summer clothes.  It also gives me a chance to declutter and clean out anything I haven’t worn.  My standard rule of thumb is that if I haven’t worn the item for 6 months or more, it goes to Goodwill. (The exception being business suits and formal dresses.)

Everything Yoga has a great post about cleaning out your closet and how challenging and freeing it can be.  Cleaning, decluttering and organizing for me is a huge stress-buster.  I derive a lot of satisfaction and peace from cleaning out, cleaning up and getting rid of extraneous things.  So while I don’t suffer the same level of angst, I can relate to the keeping clothes because they’re still in good shape even though I don’t wear them, and picking and choosing clothes because I think they convey a certain image, even when that image isn’t me.

I also love the discussion of body image and yoga.  Everyone has their days of dissatisfaction with their body, but since starting yoga I feel much better in my own skin.  There have been some changes in my shape since starting a regular yoga practice, but mostly I feel strong.  Stronger than I have ever felt in my life, which isn’t really saying much since I was never an athletic kid. :)  But I have muscle tone now and can repeatedly lift and carry my own body weight through sun salutations and arm balances.  There’s also a deeper feeling of strength and security that comes with being able to move your body in challenging ways.  As one woman in teacher training said “If I can touch my toes to the ground in plow, I can start my own business!”  There’s a powerful sense of empowerment that blooms with yoga practice.

Once teacher training is over my big project will be a total overhaul of the closet.  I’m really looking forward to it!

Yoga School – Day 10

Today was an awesome surprise! Mary Kaye was with us all morning talking about adapting yoga for kids and teens.  It was a great workshop and I feel inspired to teach kids and adolescents.  I can only image how different it would have been if I had had yoga as a child or a teen.  I was never an athletic kid so I struggled in gym and anytime I had to play a competitive sport.  Practicing yoga as an adult has given me so much strength of body and spirit that I wish I had access to it as a kid.  Yoga and meditation are definitely practices I will introduce to my own (future and hypothetical) children – if they are willing.  Mary Kaye is also the author of two awesome books for kids and teens: I Love Yoga (for kids) and Breathe (for teens).  These will definitely be added to my bookshelf!

The afternoon was with J.  It was great to have her loving, no-nonsense personality back in the studio.  We taught the same flow as yesterday and today’s teachers were finally much more comfortable with the new flow.  I didn’t have to teach (thank goodness!) as I’m still working out the kinks in some of the trasitions.  Another week and I should hopefully have a better hold on it.   J talked about setting and holding the steadyness – rythym – pulse of a yoga flow.  It’s the heart and soul of any vinyasa practice and by setting a rythym, allows the students access to meditation through motion.

J had us do an “aum/om circle”.  That was SO awesome.  Everyone starts off together on the same om and as your breath runs out, take another and join back it.  It creates these waves of sound that is indescribable.  I could feel the vibration of the sound deep inside me.  Coincidentally, as we chanted the first om, the sky cleared and the sun shone into the studio until we sounded the final om and the sky clounded back over.  It took my breath away and brought tears to my eyes.  Beyond the experience, it tapped into my greatest wish: to sing.  I tried for years and years to sing and I just don’t have the talent.  But when I om, especially in a group, I feel like I am making music.  Beautiful, meaningful music.

More papers were shared after dinner.  I am in awe of the people in my yoga class.  So many have walked through fire and come out the other side.  I admire their courage, strength and resiliance.  It really is an honor to meet and work with so many wonderful people.

Best quote from J today:

“Just put on your pink bubble and you’ll be ok.”

My pink bubble is on and I’m off to sleep.

Yoga School – Day 9

I’ve been told that days 8-9-10 is when all the really emotional stuff comes up and out in teacher training.  It’s just beyond the half way point and people are really starting to see things bubble to the surface.  Today was no exception.

JB was back with us again to lead a practice, meditation and discussion on the Yoga Sutras.  “Sutra” literally translated means “thread” so the yoga sutras are the threads that weave together the entire practice.  And not just the physical practice, the mental and spiritual aspects of yoga, too.  One of the things I really liked about reading the sutras was the openness to all types of spirituality and religions. JB echoed this when she shared something from a book along the lines of “religion is the conduit to spirituality.”  This is heartening to hear, especially in the wake of Malaysia and Indonesia banning the practice of yoga in recent months.

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What I Am Eating

Haven’t done one of these posts in a while and I’ve been cooking some delicious stuff.  Lately I’ve been really inspired by the recipes at 101 Cookbooks and in the Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook.  These two resouces have provided some great recipes to give me the protein and energy I need to get through 36 hours of yoga a week, plus work and attempt a social life — all without animal protein.  I don’t have anything against meat, but I love exploring vegetarian and vegan options.   After all, variety is the spice of life :)

So what have I been eating lately?

KALE CHIPS.  These are so delicious and easy to make.  The recipe I found was linked to from The Kitchn.  I had bookmarked this link and had been thinking about trying this for a while, and when I read Peanut Butter and Juli‘s post on kale chips, I knew it had to be done.

kale chips pre-baking

kale chips pre-baking

A quick toss in olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper, lay the kale pieces on a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet and bake at 350 for 10 minutes or until chips are crunchy but not burned.  I brought a bunch to yoga school and people really seemed to like them.  I have some left over kale from the recipe below and I think I’ll make another small batch.

I also made the Giant Chipotle White Bean recipe from 101 cookbooks.  The only thing that took awhile with this recipe was that I forgot the beans needed to cook for an hour before using.  Whoops.  This also turned out amazing and I can’t wait to dig into it for lunch tomorrow!

queso fresco melted on top

queso fresco melted on top

I realize it looks more like a sweet potatoe cassarole with mini marshmellows melted on top so here’s a side view so you can see all the delicious beany-tomatoey-kaley goodness underneath the melty cheese.

YUM

YUM

This next recipe, which I’m calling Curry Cauliflower with Tofu, was inspired by a co-worker.  She’ll cook tofu and chickpeas in a masala sauce.  I added peas and cauliflower to this recipe and used a jalfrezi sauce instead of a masala.  I wanted something a little spicier and I liked the addition of coconut along with the spice.

cauliflower curry

cauliflower curry

I also snagged some naan from Whole Foods.  I love naan.  Mmmm … naan.

And since I’ve been such a good girl and working really hard in yoga school and at work I supported my local girl scout troop stationed in the Harvard Square T station.

thin mint ice cream sandwiches

thin mint ice cream sandwiches

Add some Stoneyfield Farm vanilla frozen yogurt sandwiched between two thin mints and you have a little slice of heaven in your hand.

thin mint ice cream sandwich

thin mint ice cream sandwich

Yoga Means You’re Fat

WTF?  According to this AskMen.com piece, signing your girlfriend up for a yoga class is #9 on their list of ways to tell your SO she’s getting a little too chunky for your anemic tastes.

Normally I wouldn’t rise to the challenge of this blatantly sexist piece.  It’s pretty clear the author is muckraking just to see how many comments he can rack up.  The things he suggests are manipulative, misogynistic and downright dirty.  Playing head games in any context is unacceptable, especially with a significant other.  This should be the person in your life that you trust above all others.  Someone you trust would come to you if they had concerns over your health, and not a few extra pounds.

What tipped me over the edge into responding what this little gem:

“The beauty of yoga is that if you dress it up as a way to relieve stress, she may not realize that she’s being tricked into shedding a few pounds, and even if she does, you’ll end up with a happier, more self-confident girlfriend rather than a grumpy lard-ass.”

Seriously?  You’re kidding, right?  ::headdesk::

I suggest that Anonymous Author and anyone else who thinks that these suggestions are ok to head over to Shapley Prose.

(Thanks to EKW for the original link.)

Letting Go

photo from JanGlas @ Flickr

photo from JanGlas @ Flickr

It’s the hardest thing to do in life: letting go. Be it a loved one who passed away, old anger, hurt or resentment, plans that you made before life took a turn …

I’ve been thinking about the negative qualities of attachment and the lightness that comes with letting go for a few weeks now and was thrilled when my mom shared with me two sound bites she heard in an interview with Dr. Christine Northrup.

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