Gettin’ Your Flow On at Home….

home yoga studio
How dreamy is is this space? Ooh la la…

Like lots of people, I first tried yoga in the comfort of my own living room.

My first yoga experience was around 12 years ago with Rodney Yee (I know, who wouldn’t get hooked on yoga?). I loved his style and the DVDs (or I should say VHS tapes) were pretty challenging. Then I discovered Inhale with Steve Ross, also pretty awesome.

I liked the privacy practicing at home provided, but I didn’t feel like I was moving as fluidly as the folks on TV. Studios though, seemed intimidating.

I had the notion that one must be good at yoga before gracing the doorway of a studio. Visions of people twisted like pretzels and incense floated in front of  my third eye. Because I thought myself to be inferior, surely I would be chanted out of the studio my mat and water bottle slung over my shoulder like a hobo pack, kicking rocks, head hung low while the Charlie Brown theme song taunted me all the way home.

I know, I have a flair for the dramatic. But people the world over feel this way, I’m sure of it.

It’s similar to the line of thinking that before one gets a personal trainer, one must get in shape. But I’ll save the talk about my ego for another day. I want to try and keep this post at a reasonable length.

With teacher training under my belt and a pretty solid practice, I’m looking to develop my home flow. I don’t feel quite ‘aware’ enough yet to do my own class and feel like I worked my body out (I’m sure it’s in my head).

But I also don’t feel like a DVD is what I need.

Enter Yogaglo. It’s a website that lets you stream classes from a player or your Mac.

Perfect!

It takes the idea of home practice to a new level. You feel as if you are in the class. For someone who has a solid practice and wants to pick up a few extra classes here and there, it’s a great addition. I don’t know if I suggest learning yoga this way…

Taking classes and getting adjustments is too important. Not to mention the community aspect of yoga which changed my life.

This is what the yogaglo classes look like. It's really as if you are in a class. Super cool.
This is what the yogaglo classes look like. It’s really as if you are in a class. Super cool.

But, this certainly fills a void. And from the comfort of home. With space heaters pointed at me, I was sweaty and happy. I picked a class that focused on hip openers because I’d been feeling a little stifled and needed to open up, or more accurately restore some balance to my 1st chakra. Seane Corn’s hip opener class was just what the guru ordered.

After a 90 minute class I was whooped and feeling so much better.
This is yoga. In my living room. And I love it.
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George & Martha and Some Sassy Split Pea Soup (Vegan Diaries)

george and martha

Growing up my mom made some killer split pea soup. There wasn’t much she couldn’t make. As she was cooking she’d always show me how to prepare what she was making. It was always so thrilling because I like so many young daughters thought that their mothers were remarkably beautiful and talented.

Mom my also introduced me to George and Martha, a series of books about two hippos who were best friends. In my favorite book George can’t bear to tell Martha that he hates split pea soup. He pours the soup into to plants and a pair of slippers. I thought it was funny but couldn’t understand why?

Split. Pea. Soup. Is. Awesome.

I have been craving some, but was nervous that it wouldn’t be as tasty without ham and chicken stock.

Foolish girl. Smoked paprika and chipotle peppers made this soup fantastic.

The weather outside is frightful but this soup makes it delightful.

I opted for a slow cooker recipe. I’ve been doing a great job sticking to my new writing schedule but I can’t afford to have shiny objects distract me.

So delish.

Ingredients

  • 6 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 cups dried green split peas, rinsed
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped carrots
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried chipotle pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Directions

  1. Layer ingredients in a slow cooker
  2. Cook on high for 3.5 to 4 hours
  3. After 1.5 hours stir

Serve on a bed of brown rice or barley.

Oh baby, tastes so good. When will I learn that if you choose to make life delicious, it will be delicious.

This is yoga. And I’m living la vida vegan.

Oneika and her soup sittin in a tree. S-L-U-R-P-I-N-G

 

Tofurky or Not Tofurky

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Sigh.

There’s a book that came out years ago called Smart Women, Foolish Choices. It was about women who are successful professionally but make less that stellar decisions where romance is involved. The premise of this book could apply to me, but today I’m not here to underwhelm you with tales of my love life.

I decided to buy meatless sausage. I knew better. There aren’t really substitutes for meat.

There is meat.

Then there are things that are not meat. Trying to make things that are not meat taste like meat is dumb. Or it involves a tremendous amount of chemicals. This didn’t stop me from being tempted in the grocery store.

Observe Oneika in the organic section looking for ginger, minding her business. Headphones on, doin’ a little dance to Bruno Mars’ ‘Gorilla’. (Don’t judge- it’s a great song)

Suddenly this package started winking at me and we know how I’m a sucker for flash. So I examine it. Tofurky Italian Sausage you say your name is… Really?

I should have run, but I didn’t.

Honestly I don’t miss meat. This same feeling hit me when I quit smoking. I’d see a cigarette and not even crave it, but it’s as if I had to test the addiction, let’s see if I’m really over smoking…. How well did that turn out?

I bring the Tofurky Italian sausage home. Like any good can come from something named Tofurky.

But ever the optimist and believer in happy endings I press on. I’m using my vegan challenge as a way to expand my horizons. I’m a foodie and don’t shy away from much, so why not try meatless meat?

It even sounds ridiculous, meatless meat. Good grief.

I was not satisfied. At all. It was weird and had a odd chemical taste. Not what I wanted.

Did you see Dead Again? It’s a great little film noir. In one scene, Robin Williams is a washed up shrink who notices that Kevin Branagh is eyeing pack of cigarettes. Williams offers one and Branagh declines stating that he’s quit. When Williams says that he noticed that Branagh looked at his pack of cigarettes 5 times in a minute, he might beg to differ.

“Someone is either a smoker or a non-smoker. There’s no in between. The trick is to find out which one you are, and be that. If you are a non-smoker, you’ll know.”

I’ve been thinking about this quote a lot as it relates to my meat issue.

Eat the cake or have it. Non-attachment baby.

I can’t linger in my meat filled past if I’m truly person who no longer eats meat. Trying to find a stand-in is not letting go, it’s being clingy and desperate.

Know when to walk away, know when to run…

I’m embracing the now because that’s where my bliss is…

This is yoga. And I love it.

Namaste y’all.

I See London, I See France, I See Some New Yoga Pants

downward-dog2

If you laugh at yourself and no one is watching, was it really funny?

I can make me laugh. Not because I’m a riot, though I fancy myself to be humorous.

Sometimes the exploits are painful but funny, like arriving at the ER naked with a dislocated shoulder. I know, sexy.

Sometimes I’m fooled by obnoxious but lovable co-workers. One time (at band camp), I was scheduled to do 15 interviews in a single day. The world’s largest bookstore was slated to open. It needed to be staffed.

To say we were tired is an understatement. 12-15 hour days. Nights. Weekends. Everyone was punchy.

It could have happened to anyone….

The name of one interviewee was Seymour Butts. I know. I know.

I know.

I waited. No Seymour. I should have noticed the giggles from the guys.

But I didn’t. Then there was a phone call. Seymour had to cancel the interview because, wait for it…

He had hemorrhoids. The jig was up. They couldn’t hold it. On the floor, feet up in the air like cartoon characters, convulsing with laughter. Tears streaming down the face can’t catch hold of your breath kind of laughter. Oh boy….

Seriously, it was hysterical. It was 15 years ago and I still laugh. Hard. How did I miss it?

I didn’t have older brothers and apparently didn’t need them because I found them at work.

I shudder though to think what would have happened if they saw me the other night.

Let’s put it in reverse for a un minute .

I’ve been avoiding two things in the yoga world:

1. Buying a Manduka or Jade yoga mat

2. Owning a pair of lululemon yoga pants

I’m not that chick. I don’t have ‘yoga gear’. I have a gym bag. I do yoga in t-shirts and leggings. I secretly and now I suppose not not secretly, thought that investments in expensive yoga mats and clothes weren’t necessary.

(Hot classes being the exception. You can’t wear much in a room that is over 105°. And trust, it gets over 105°. I made the investment to buy hot yoga shorts. Sorry, I digress)

Shamefully, I think my anti-schitck may have been my schtick. ‘Hey look at me, I don’t do all that yoga girl stuff.’ Ego sneaking in the backdoor as anti-ego. I see you, though. Nothing gets past me, except Seymour.

Practicing every day changed my thinking. Initially, I didn’t want to spend a lot of money of yoga clothes because it seemed silly. But cheap clothes get stinky quickly no matter how often you wash them. Not to mention the cost of laundry detergent (I find the price of Tide criminal- but I don’t have a choice if I want funkless clothes). So I went on the hunt for yoga shirts and a great pair of yoga pants that would wick away sweat, withstand daily washing and make my butt look awesome.

I did serious research. Eventually I settled on a pair and was sooooo excited. They were under $100 bucks, but I was excited because I knew that I would be able to brag that I didn’t pay as much as lulu but they do the job.

When the package arrived I ripped that plastic off like a kid at a birthday party.

Snatched off my pants and slid on my purchase. Checking out the backside in the mirror, I was pleased. Check. The material felt great. Check. The final test, swan dive down and do a few sun salutes.

Let’s just say that things got cheeky. It wasn’t the sizing either. They just didn’t hug properly at the hips.

Arrrrgh. I’m not a carpenter or a plumber.

Foiled.

I wondered if I bought another pair and I didn’t like them, I’d be out the cash for the pants and even more growly.

I went to the lululemon site. I read reviews on other sites. I broke down and ordered a pair.

Goldilocks.

I couldn’t be happier. I can wash them daily. The hug my hips and keep my booty covered. I will have these for a very long time. The clothes don’t make the yogini, the yogini makes the yogini. But proper equipment is sometimes necessary. I was wasting money on yoga pants that I was tossing every few months.

I can’t help but wonder if there may be some merit to investing in a yoga mat. My knees might thank me…

Hmmm.

This is yoga. And it fits just right.

Namaste y’all.

gigilululemon

Snow Yoga

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I was a fan of the snow as a kid. But now, not so much.

Sure when that first coat of snow covers the trees and sidewalks it’s uber pretty and yada yada, but frankly I could take it or leave it. I don’t have to worry about cleaning my car anymore, maybe one of the small blessings that came from losing my car during Superstorm Sandy.

My dog is different.

She loves the snow. Dakota is afraid of most things but she is not afraid of snow. She prances, trots and runs down the sidewalk pleased as punch. And though her feet get cold and she starts to hop she is giddy. I’ve tried to get those awful dog paw covers and they don’t work. She walks awkwardly and stares at her feet. Who can blame her? She’s a dog in a pair of shoes. I also coat her paws with a salve. That helps but they still get cold.

But every time it snows she manages to forget that her paws get frigid. She lives in the moment. It’s as if every snowfall is the first one. It’s a great attitude.

This is yoga. And Dakota loves it.

Namaste y’all. Stay warm in the snow, but have fun.

Snow washington st

All You ‘Kneed’ is Love

knee

I’m sitting here with a knee wrapped in ice and a bad attitude.

I wrote a post about listening to pain.

It was reasonable and chocked full of common sense. Clearly, I need to practice what I’m so good at preaching. Earlier in the week I felt a twinge in my right knee. Because I’m a genius, I ignored it.

Why you wonder?

Right after the new year I promised to practice yoga every day. I told myself it was a way to get in touch with a deeper sense of spirituality. I call bullshit on myself. It sounded cool.

So when my knee acted up- I didn’t listen or follow the first tenet of yoga which is to practice non-violence. Being kind to others is challenging if you can’t be kind to yourself. I also failed to remember that yoga is more than my asana practice. Yoga is how I connect with the world.

Yoga is how I live, or at least the way that I said I was living.

This trick knee (I love that expression. ‘Watch me pull a rabbit out of my knee!) has me thinking.

I need to dedicate more time to loving myself and leaving that ego alone. I read once that ego stands for ‘edging god out’. If god = your value system/god/oneness with the universe, this is pretty mind-blowing. The further we get away from our true selves the more likely we are to inflict pain or commit acts of violence against ourselves or others.

‘Commit acts of violence’ sounds pretty serious. At first glance it may even seem like an over reaction to the situation. Any unnecessary upset to life’s balance may have staggering ripple effects.

The definition of violence:

  1. Strength of emotion or an unpleasant or destructive natural force.

Interestingly enough, I might not have had the conversation with myself if I hadn’t hurt my knee. We learn lessons when we most need them.

I need to surrender.

surrender

I love the universe. I love karma. Make no mistake, you get back what you put out.

I need to go change my ice pack. And send my knee some love.

This is yoga. And it loves me.

Namaste y’all.

Juice Yoga

green juice
kale, cucumber, spinach, green apple, lemon and ginger

I’m highly suggestible.

Really.

Show me a pretty, shiny display in a store and I’m on it like a bad habit. Sappy commercials make me cry and happy endings in movies make me clap and cheer. Managing bookstores during the Harry Potter era was a blast and even after getting home at 3am after a release I’d rush home to start the latest installment.

veggies

So suffice it to say when I saw Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead, a documentary about a man’s life changing experience with juicing, my interest was piqued. I think it may be my Tapas (disciplined use of energy) working overtime. Because I LOVE JUICING!!!! And I CAN’T STOP TYPING IN CAPS TO EXPRESS MY ENTHUSIASM.

In all seriousness. I’ve never felt better. Between the yoga and juicing I lost around 10 pounds without thinking about it.

I have very mixed feelings about mentioning this. Despite being a fairly intelligent and emotionally mature grown-up, ‘weighty’ talk has a way of throwing me into a tailspin.

I know this is silly.

I know it’s ridiculous.

I am in great shape. I’m doing on average over two hours of yoga daily. Many days I dedicate my asana practice to embracing myself beyond what I see in the mirror. I’ll let you know when that works out.

Sometimes I wish I could just walk around in my soul skin.

So, I’ve mentioned it.

I only juice one meal per day right now. For a week, I was doing two meals per day, but wasn’t getting enough fuel. Enough of that. If you aren’t properly fueled you open yourself up to injury. Ask my right knee why it’s angry with me.

Le. Sigh.

Juicing is awesome! (See how I changed the tone like those anchors whose voices go up when the transition from a sad story to a happy one?)

I can feel the difference if I don’t start the day with a tall glass of green goodness.

Here are some of my favorites

Green Machine- kale, cucumbers, green apple, ginger, lemon

Orange You Glad- carrots, apples, ginger and cranberries

This is V8- tomatoes, tomatillos, yellow peppers, green peppers, cucumbers, celery (Um if you are so inclined it makes a hell of a Bloody Mary mix. Aw sookie.)

Combined with one raw meal and my vegan challenge- baby, I’m on top of the world.

This is yoga. And I love it.

carrot, apple, cranberry and ginger
carrot, apple, cranberry and ginger

The Vegan Diaries

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I miss cheese. I know…pathetic.

I keep talking about it. It’s the only thing I miss since I started my vegan challenge. And don’t tell me to try vegan ‘cheese’ because it won’t do.

I’m a cheese person.

By choice, I went to a farm in Northwestern NJ to take a tour and meet the cows.

Yes, really. It’s this great farm that lets the cows roam free. They personally milk the cows and don’t use those horrible milking machines.

I’ve also gone to cheese boot camp. In one weekend we tasted and learned about 60 cheeses. Wine was also involved. It seems redundant to mention that this was an outstanding weekend. A final exam was given at the end of the boot camp and yes, I welcomed it.

More than just good eatin’, these experiences opened my eyes to the Slow Food Movement. Slow Food promotes the idea: real food, grown sustainably and cooked– not processed. The Slow Food Movement supports national and local projects like urban gardens and green markets. These folks do good work.

Other than my cheese fantasies, eating vegan has been a wonderful experience. Food and meals should be a time for expression and sharing. Cooking has always been a way for me to relax. I was afraid that my vegan adventure would mean a six-week sentence of rice cakes, hummus, black beans and salad.

Somebody shake sense into the lazy minded yogini! Like anything else, effort and thought is required.

I must take a quick detour to the Black hair care world. It all comes full circle, promise. Previously, I chemically straightened my hair. It’s just what I (and millions of other Black women) did.
There was a period when I cut it short and wore it natural, but for reasons that I can’t remember, I relaxed (straightened) it again. It wasn’t good for my hair. My hair was dry, the ends split and no good can come from slathering chemicals on your scalp every 6-8 weeks. Over a year ago, my sister who was known for her absolutely stunning head of hair, chopped it all off and began to wear her hair natural.

I followed suit about six months later. I loved it. I loved the texture and the freedom. But I also had to learn how to care for my newly chemically free head. It required work, a little effort, research and patience. It’s second nature now- and honestly- my hair is awesome, but I may be a little bias.

chemical free!!
chemical free!!

So I said to myself as I tackled this vegan challenge, ‘Self, you’ve never eaten a vegan diet before. Do research. Do homework. You’re a research geek and book nerd , go crazy.’

It’s been a very interesting time. I’m learning a lot about food. I’m learning that I don’t miss certain things that had been a regular part of my diet.
I’m finding out that I miss other things. But, if I want to make changes, change has to happen and it’s not always comfortable.

Good stuff is on the other side of discomfort. Stuff like health, happy animals and a smaller carbon footprint. The Yamas and Niyamas teach us about Tapas, or that burning but disciplined passion. I think this is what sustains change.

Tapas, fresh ingredients and love. Hmm, sounds like a recipe.

This is yoga. And it tastes fantastic, even without cheese.

Namaste y’all

quinoa stuffed pepper
quinoa stuffed pepper- yep I made this tasty goody- it’s stuffed with quinoa and wild rice- you can click the photo for the recipe
Vegan burger
ultimate vegan burger- made this burger too- and. it. was. bangin. w-o-r-d click if you’re interested in wowing those taste buds, bud.

I Think Mrs. Landingham Had a Yoga Mat

prayer beads

So much trouble in the world

All you got to do: give a little

Bob Marley

I like happy endings. Always have.

Even in the darkest of times, I peek around the corner for a snippet of light, or at least a sarcastic remark to help make way for a laugh. I think fairy tales would have been better with some snark. Happy, snarky endings.

During sappy movies you’ll recognize me because of the swelled heart and sniffles. The good guys are supposed to win.When The West Wing originally aired I was in the throes of my retail career. This meant more often than not, you could find me at work. In the time before TiVo, digital recorders and streaming this meant that you caught up on a show when it came out on DVD. I did some years later, manage to watch it.

It was one of those shows that if you watched it as a kid you’d want to run for office.

It was one of those shows where the government did all of the things you wanted it to do.

Cable shows and reality hadn’t quite taken over yet, so network shows still had a sense of the theatrical. I liked that. I appreciated Aaron Sorkin’s writing and over the top idealism, because that’s why I watched TV.

Sure some of the episodes were eye rollingly righteous, but I’m a Taurus, we wrote the book on what’s fair. I think the show’s best episode was at the end of the second season, ‘Two Cathedrals‘.

The episode tackles the funeral of the President’s assistant, Mrs Landingham on the eve of announcement that he has multiple sclerosis. Mrs. Landingham was smart as she was snappish and compassionate as she was tough. Her character’s death dealt a blow to an already shaky administration.

The good guys were already down and seemingly out, they’d lost one of their own and no one is sure they’ll be able to run again to finish what they’ve started. Without feeling awkward, the viewer gets a series of flashbacks that show us how the president became the man that he is. Mrs Landingham more than anyone connected him with his calling to serve.

I still think it holds up as one of the best pieces of network TV writing, acting and camerawork, ever. No hyperbole. It feels a little eerie to watch now, the air date was May 16, 2001.

The whole world was unaware of the trouble ahead.

Some people might poo poo the idea that a network episode over 10 years old can measure up, but bookselling taught me to let go of snobbery. I was previously someone who only read what was acceptable. Great literature to be sure, I’m still a huge reader, but I learned to also read for fun.

Finding out what my team was reading was the best source of recommendations. Even when I didn’t like something I still appreciated the book because it gave me insight to someone and I didn’t take that for granted.

A chronic case of insomnia that not even my mat can cure has reintroduced me to the West Wing (Thanks Netflix).

If bookselling killed my snobbery, yoga kept my heart open to the idea of the impossible. Mrs. Landingham was played by Kathyrn Joosten. Joosten died in June of 2012 at the age of 72. But she didn’t get into acting until she was 42. Isn’t that some shit? I can’t help think that as my 42nd birthday rolls around I’m starting a new journey as well.

There is so much trouble in the world. And sometimes it even feels like the good fight might get lost. But if we all give a little (and do a little yoga) we might be alright.

This is yoga. And I thank Kathryn Joosten for being a bad ass on TV and in real life.

I love it.

Namaste y’all.

kathryn joosten