Adventures in Yoga Teaching- Back on Track

yogatraintracks

Friday was beautiful round these parts.

I was strolling home from my community class taking in the sights when I bumped into Daba Briggs, one of my yoga inspirations.

Daba is the kind of teacher the imagination conjures when you hear the words ‘yoga teacher’. She’s knowledgable, humble, talented, giving and powerful.

My mind always get to mull over a nugget of wisdom when I talk to her. On this sunny Friday, we chatted about how my new teaching journey was progressing.

I’m not ready to pursue the next yoga education (formerly) yet. But I’ve been craving- something. So I’ve been reading a lot. I blurted out my concerns, am I moving in the right direction? I feel like I want to fill in some gaps…Am I doing the right things? 

Keep taking classes, teaching classes and exploring self-study she advised. As I meet teachers and go to studios, I’ll know when the right mentor and  teacher training will present themselves.

Daba also mentioned a few studios that offer great classes for teachers. She reminded me that I can always take her classes when I can.

I’d gotten so caught up in my hot yoga practice and trying new disciplines that I’d strayed a bit from the basics. A good practice starts with a good foundation.

Her class provided one of those building blocks. Daba’s focus is structural yoga, where alignment is queen. Her use of props and cues allow a yogi to grow in a pose even if you have been doing yoga for years.

Her prop workshop rocked my warrior world.

My Virabhadrasana I and II have never been the same. Seriously. Standing with my back foot pushing against a wall, I could feel my heel truly ‘root down.’ People have said that before, ‘root down the heel.’ In that moment, I got it.

Huz-zah.

How could I let myself slip out of those great classes? No bueno.

I committed to go to her Saturday morning class. I felt a little exhale and smile rise from inside.

Okay. Feeling more centered.

It’s important to keep reaching out when you start teaching. Shit, it’s important to keep reaching out all of the time.

I’ve never been great at this. Once again yoga is gently nudging me so I can stay on track.

Are these mini revelations yoga?

Methinks so.

Of course her Saturday class was just what I needed. The tweaks and adjustments were an ass kicker. I mean that. My ass was killing me. But more importantly, I had an aha moment as a teacher. There were great adjustments and cues that I could be using in my own classes.

Another smile and exhale.

I enjoy the notion that for every piece of knowledge I glean, the ocean of what I don’t know about yoga (and well everything) gets bigger. So big that I can’t see the horizon.

Exciting stuff.

This is yoga, and it stretches on forever. Maybe.

Namaste y’all.

Advertisements

Vegan Diaries – Pasta and Spring Veggies

HAPPY SPRING!!!!

I was going to whip up a healthier version of Pasta Primavera for Meatless Monday post. It’s really warm here on the East Coast and a creamy but vegan dish didn’t fit the weather. Plus I was beat and wanted something easy peezy.

Pasta.

With so many quality dried pastas available, it’s easy to spend less and get something yummy.

Pasta though, should be eaten in moderation. Paired with veggies it’s a perfect easy Monday dinner. The linguine should play second fiddle to the veggies which are the main attraction.

I used what I had in my fridge. I would encourage you to do the same. The recipe also calls for a splash of white white. Don’t have any? Meh, not a biggie. Use some stock. So let’s get to it!

Ingredients

  • 2 c kale rinsed
  • 1 c spinach
  • 1/2 onion roughly chopped
  • 1 c mushrooms chopped
  • 1 carrot shaved
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1/4 c white wine (or reserve 1/4 of pasta liquid)
  • 1 garlic clove minced
  • fresh basil chopped
  • juice from 1 lemon
  • 1/4 parmesan cheese shredded (vegan or regular)

1. Prepare the spinach linguine according to package directions. I cut the serving size down a bit I could really show off the veggies, again that’s up to you.

2. Blanch the kale and place in an ice bath (or if you’re not up to it- toss in the microwave in a bowl of water for 30 seconds)

3. In a skillet heat the olive oil and saute all of the vegetables

4. After 5 minutes add the linguine and pasta liquid or wine

5. Add the basil, salt and pepper

6. Add most of the parmesan (reserve some for garnish)

7. Stir quickly but gently for two minutes or until everything is combined

Serve immediately!

You can really play with different kinds of vegetables. I can’t wait to make this with sugar snap peas, corn and carrots in the summer. I’ll use basil and mint! Yum!!!

 

This is yoga, on the tasty and cheap.

Namaste y’all.

Vegan Diaries – Black Bean Chili and Hot Peppers Baby!!!

20131212uvegan-chili-5

I love chili. But I’m not obsessed with it.

You know, like the people who have recipes in safe deposit boxes because only 2  living family members are allowed to know the secret ingredient. When one dies there’s a ceremony and death match that decides who’s next.

am crazy for hot peppers. There’s this scotch bonnet hot pepper sauce that  warns only to use a touch because it’s so hot. I buy two bottles at a time.

Habanero? No problemo. I’ve eaten them raw. Because I can. Word.

I’d like to plan a vacation around the Hatch Chile Pepper Festival. Finding someone to brave New Mexico heat so you can eat hot peppers is not an easy task. But I will fulfill my quest. Can you imagine? Hot peppers. Hot weather. Hot yoga.

Sounds like heaven….Or? Anyway.

I digress- I was talking about chile. This is a vegetarian chile, which I know in some parts of the world is blasphemy, but amazing chile can be made without carne. But if you want to add meat- I won’t judge you, as you as you plan to tag along on my pepper vision quest.

Ingredients

  • black beans – 4 cups that have been soaked and cooked (reserve 1/4 of the liquid) If you are using canned black beans they don’t need to be pre-cooked.
  • tomatoes – 2 cups that are chopped make sure they are ripe and juicy (or canned are fine if that’s what you’ve got on hand!)
  • bell peppers – 4 roughly chopped (I used yellow and orange)
  • onion – one large chopped
  • habanero pepper (optional)
  • green chili peppers – chopped
  • dried red pepper – 2T (it’s a lot I’d use 1 if you don’t like it super hot)
  • smoked paprika – 1 T
  • cumin -1T
  • garlic – 4-6 cloves
  • olive oil 1/4 cup
  • lime juice – 3T
  • dried basil – 1T
  • salt – 1/2 T
  • red wine 1/4 cup

Preparation

  1. This is a one pot affair which is nice.
  2. Heat olive oil (medium low-medium) and sweat the onions, garlic and green chiles for two minutes
  3. Add the cumin and paprika stir
  4. Add red wine stir for 2 minutes
  5. Add bell peppers, lime juice and rest of spices
  6. Stir in tomatoes
  7. Add the beans
  8. Bring the mixture to a simmer
  9. Reduce heat to low and cook for 30-40 minutes

Serve over brown rice or alone! I topped it with a smidge of guac because, that’s how I roll.

Enjoy!!!

peppers

I like really big chunks of peppers

Here’s a CBS Sunday Morning clip about the Hatch Chile Festival.

Okay, maybe I am a little crazy for chile peppers. But we all gotta be somethin’.

Wave your freak flags people. Let ’em wave.

This is yoga. It’s hot baby.

Namaste y’all.

Pranayama Yo – Things Can Only Get Better

baldhead

I have this thought that keeps turning right round like a record. It’s a grand idea, maybe even crazy but I can’t help it, when I’m inspired- look out.

To paraphrase the genius Howard Jones while I do feel scared, I won’t stop and falter. Things can only get better.

To be fair, I get lots of ideas- no delusions of grandeur or anything…Though one time someone asked me if I thought I was the Queen of Sheba. It was said in anger- actually it was said like ‘Who do you think you are? The Queen of Sheba?’

I was being pretty bitchy too so… That doesn’t count, does it?

Sorry. Ideas. Inspiration. Whatnot.

It’s no secret that I think that yoga can save the world. As I really reflect on these early months of teaching, I’ve come to understand that our breath is how we not only live, but prosper.

As yogis we talk about breathing so often breezing over its power can get caught in so many other things.

I took a class last week with a friend  who is a fellow teacher and her husband.

Of course we talked a lot about yoga.

I love that the studio where I teach offers community classes.

I love that Yoga to the People has an outstanding hot class for 8 smackers.

We talked about how folks who really could use yoga to change and save their lives don’t usually have easy access to a studio. Even more often yoga as a concept isn’t on the radar.

This has to change.

And while I do imagine all the people living life in peace, I know that it’s down the road a bit.

If you have talked to me for more than five minutes you have already heard this story, but I will ask you to tune in one more time because it’s worth hearing daily. This September I was listening to the This American Life podcast. There are few things that I enjoy more than TAL. I was walking Dakota and stopped when I heard the story about the kids living in Chicago’s South Side. The affects of consistent violence in a community can affect kids cortisol levels up to a year later. Do the math. If these kids are under a constant barrage of violence these cortisol levels never drop.

So what the hell to do in the meantime?

I want to teach the world to breathe.

I may not be able to find a way fix the violence. But I can teach people how to breathe.
I can show someone how to choose a better breath, one that will help be the calm in the center of the storm.
Inhale more peace. Exhale what’s not serving you….
This is what it’s all about. Teaching people to fish and all that. As yogis we know yoga happens off the mat.
So no more turning it round. Time to figure out a plan. Time to get people on board. Time to walk the walk, or breathe the breath as it were.
And I won’t stop and falter.

This is yoga, changing lives one breath at a time. Things can only get better.

Namaste y’all.

20130424-113646.jpg

Vegan Diaries – Spring Veggies Sprung

20130420-212126.jpg

I went to Trader Joe’s last Monay and spent 16 bucks on dinner groceries for the entire week. This is pretty awesome anywhere- but to manage this at a Manhattan grocery store is worthy of some kind of award I’m sure.

I have mixed feelings about this particular Trader Joe’s. It’s the former location of the first Barnes & Noble where I ever worked. It’s odd to look for soy chorizo in what used to be the Interior Design section- but I live for TJ’s soy chorizo and seaweed treats so screw sentiment.

I digress.

In the produce section I scored Brussels sprouts that had been halved and seasoned. Normally, I wouldn’t even bother looking- that kind of thing is unthinkable. Precut veggies are usually twice the price- strictly for suckers. These were priced the same as the pint- cuts down on time without spending extra loot.

Color me stoked.

And- lo what’s this? Crisp yellow string beans on sale as well? I say, I will take some!!!

The lines at this Trader Joe’s always seem to have about 100 people waiting, but there is barely a wait because the line management borders on brilliant. While waiting I spied Rice Bran Oil on a new item display. It has a smoke point of 430°. Perfecto for stir frying.

Yum.

This recipe is so easy and delicious you will want to slap somebody, but don’t because we’re about the non-violence ‘member?

 

Ingredients

  • Brussels sprouts (one pint) seasoned with fresh garlic and fresh black pepper
  • One small onion roughly chopped
  • Yellow green beans (one pound) trimmed
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons Rice Bran oil (or some other oil that has a high smoke point like grapeseed)
  • pinch sea salt or flaked salt
  • heaping tablesppoon red pepper flakes

 

Preparation

  1. Prepare a marinade with the lemon juice spices and one tablespoon of the oil.
  2. Let veggies veg for 20 minutes or so.
  3. Heat a large pan or wok with the remaining oil
  4. Spoon veggies into pan when the oil is hot.
  5. After two minutes add the rest of the marinade
  6. Sauté for an additional 8 minutes
  7. Add a tablespoon of water or additional splash of wine if necessary.

Serve over quinoa.

Delish!!!

 

This is yoga, sprouted and sprung.

 

Namaste y’all.

Livin’ on the Edge

posturephoto

There’s one teacher at my hot studio that I love and hate (in the nicest way possible) because she she pushes me so I ride the edge.

You know the edge- it’s the place where you break down to break through. One time it was a backbend adjustment. By moving the hips forward and drawing the tailbone down, I was able to lift higher from my upper back. In turn this allowed my head to fall back more and really open the heart chakra.

Covered in sweat, heart racing a feeling shot through my throat like someone did a tracheotomy (I watch too much Grey’s Anatomy- way. Too. Much).

I digress. Backbend. Throat chakra. Right.

Anyway , I’m getting these micro adjustments feeling really present with the pose and then….

Like a poltergeist I feel the thought zooming through my body to find an exit out of my throat ( or was it my heart).

Boy I sure miss, ______. Wonder if I should call? Hmmm…
Woah- hey now where did that come from?

The moment passed and I had to move on to the next pose.

Breakthroughs don’t happen when you’re comfy. But it’s a fine line. The other side of the edge is pain or exhaustion or strain. I love this teacher because she knows me and can see where I am today. You can’t always push, push push. There must be time for breathing. There must be time to let the changes sink in to become a part of your skin and soul.

The edge is a great place to be. This is a different edge than looking for trouble- not that I know anything about that. Just a guess.

Knowing your edge on the mat can inspire great changes off of it.

Break down to break through.

Wonder if I should make that call. Maybe it was just the back bend talking.

This is yoga, on the edge. Namaste y’all

Adventures in Yoga Teaching – Epsom Salts

bath candles

Now that I’m teaching and have a daily asana practice, I’ve noticed that my muscles get sore from time to time. It’s perfectly normal. However, rather than blow it off as I would have in times past, I pause and investigate. This is to prevent major injury.

Aside from it being practical (c’mon who want to take a class with a teacher who is hurt?), it’s important to honor and respect your body.

Oh- and if you’re hurt you can’t teach- so there’s that. And since you use money to buy food and stuff- it’s kind of important.

Just about any problem can be solved by a hot bath. I have always loved a hot bath, but now it’s a part of my routine as preventive medicine. Lately, my hamstrings have been little tight, okay they’ve been drum tight, there I’ve said it. Enter epsom salt and my tub.

*Marvin Gaye voice* ‘Ooooh child things are gonna get easier….

Baths are a magical happy place. And epsom salts work.

Don’t tell my mother, but she told me about using epsom salts years ago, but I blew it off because like so many I tend to ignore my mother’s advice. A few years back out of desperation I tried them. Miraculously, my muscle aches disappeared. I soak once a week at least and more if I’m feeling extra achy.

Mom, you were right! Hmm, makes me wonder about all the other bits of information that have be bestowed upon me over the years. Seriously- please don’t tell her.

epsom salt

Because I’m not content to leave well enough alone slightly skeptical, I had to do further research on this whole epsom salt thing. I mean, why isn’t everyone aware of the miracle of epsom salts, or have I just been living in an epsom salt free world oblivious to the joy on the other side?

Fact: Truth is stranger than fiction.

I found an article that discusses this very topic ad nauseam. Seriously, Paul Ingraham spends over 8,000 words delving into epsom salts, wives tale or really medicinal? (I know it’s 8000 words because it states the word count in the summary. This should have served as a warning)

In my fantasy world you care as much about this as I do and we discuss how crazy this guy must be for writing such an extensive article on epsom salt.

I hear your exasperated tone, ‘Epsom salts do they work or not, Oneika? Get to it, we have got things to do.’

According to the Epsom Salt Council (there is a lobby for everything, c’mon who else is going to make sure the voice of epsom salt is heard in DC *eye roll*)

They work. The magnesium from the salts gets absorbed in the body, in as little as 12 minutes.

Sweet.

So give yourself a soak.

This is yoga, submerged.

Namaste y’all.

Vegan Diaries – Hummus!!!!

Hummus-details

 

I’m a huge fan of finding the perfect hummus. Bad hummus tastes like paste from the first grade (Ask me how I know).

But good hummus- yum. Good hummus can send your taste buds into a flavorful frenzy. But with so few ingredients needed how could you go wrong? I did some homework… I’ve seen recipes that leave out the tahini– I’ve tried it both ways…it matters.

To make the best hummus- the ingredients matter, as does the blending process. But the biggest secret to heavenly hummus is the shelling of the chickpeas. There is a translucent skin on a chickpea, removing it makes that sexy, silky hummus.

It’s worth it. It add on 15 minutes to the process but it’s not like you have to grow the chickpeas, dry them, cook them and then can them. I call that a win.

  • 1 15 oz can of chickpeas or garbanzo beans, drained (save liquid) beans should be cooked
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • Juice from 2 lemons
  • 1 tablespoon tahini, (optional, but if you do not use, increase yogurt by 1 TBSPt- but we’ve discussed this- please use it- you’ll thank me)
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt or soy yogurt
  • 1 tsp salt
  • lemon zest
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  1. In a food processor (or blender) combine beans, tahini (if desired), yogurt, garlic, and lemon juice. Blend well. Add salt and cumin and blend to a smooth and creamy dip.
  2. If your hummus is too thick, add a little bit of the liquid from the chickpeas – about a teaspoon at a time. Other ways to thin out hummus is by using warm water or olive oil.
I love hummus and carrots. I love hummus and cucumbers. I love hummus and crusty bread. I love hummus on a spoon.
You get it.
Namaste y’all.

Peace

imagine-1

 

So much trouble in the world

So much trouble in the world

All you gotta do is give a little

– Bob Marley

 

 

Loka Samastha Sukino Bhavantu.