Adventures in Yoga Teaching – I’m Too Funky for Me

wind-power-clothesline

Quiet as it’s kept, yoga clothes can get pretty stinky.

A few weeks ago someone asked me why I hadn’t told her? Huh?

About the funky clothes….

And she wasn’t referring to dope gear.

So, I thought I should talk about yoga’s dirty secret- funk, and I ain’t talkin’ about a Prince song.

What’s a yogini to do?

Between teaching, taking hot classes and vinyasa classes almost daily the laundry in the Mays household is insane.

I’m a firm believer in not skimping on certain items. There are cases when quality is worth the cost. But did this extend to detergent?

Detergent is expensive- I mean really expensive. I figured, let’s try cheaper detergent. C’mon, is there really a difference?

Well, I used a cheap brand for awhile because it had Oxy and baking soda. How could one go wrong with such a combination?

The quick and dirty is cheap laundry soap doesn’t work well.

There’s nothing worse that taking class and realizing 30 minutes into it your clothes are stinky with another 60 minutes left.

A Story:

Once, I found myself sniffing my favorite black tank while in padahastasana.

sniff. sniff. sniff.

Oh no! Funk! I should have just whipped it off and practiced in my sports bra- but I already had on those super short shorts. I’m not quite ready to be that naked in class (But give me a few weeks, that may change).

There I was feeling insecure. I was willing the teacher to stay away on the other side of the room.

‘No adjustments, please!’, I pleaded silently hoping she wouldn’t come over.

But I don’t have the kind of luck that you have.

It happened while I was in triangle. The teacher saunters over.

Oh no!!!

But it was too late. I get the adjustment.

I rationalized that between my awesome deodorant and citron de vigne by fresh I was okay.

My first stop after class was to the grocery store. I lugged home the giant sized Tide Sport. No way was I going through that kind of drama again.

Sheesh.

 

I won’t let you get funked up.

Funk that. Here are a few things that worked for me.

 

Tips

  • 100% cotton t-shirts absorb sweat and odor like a sponge. These are definitely a no-no in a hot room. Well, that’s not exactly true. Feel free to wear them- but know you’ll have to toss them every three months (if you practice more than 3x weekly). I like cotton t-shirts and even leggings that have a bit of cotton for vinyasa, they keep me warm and comfy. The downside is the stink factor- so I go through quite a bit.
  • Fabrics that wick away sweat are definitely the way to go if you are heat junkie.
  • Let it all hang out. I don’t put most of my yoga clothes in the dryer. It makes a big difference both in prolonging the life of the clothes and keeping the clothes smelling fresh!
  • Wash or rinse right after class or as soon as you get home. Let clothes sit is a no-no.
  • Add plain white vinegar or baking soda or Oxy to the wash. It helps with odor.
  • I keep threatening to make my own laundry detergent. But I won’t so I won’t keep up the charade (short a sound). But if you do, awesome. Then send me some. Just kidding. No really send me some. Nah, I’m kidding. Sorta.

The only funk that gets me now is the funk that makes me get down!!! (That was really corny- but I’m leaving it.)

This is yoga. And it can get dirty. (No, not that way. Family show)

Namaste y’all.

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Food Yoga – Grilled Rosemary Rubbed Eggplant and Spinach Salad

Grilled Rosemary Rubbed Eggplant and Spinach Salad, meatless monday, inspired recipes, vegetarian, easy dinners
Have no fear, a Meatless Monday idea is here!

Eggplant. I love it. Really, really love it. Smothered in marinara or as a part of lasagna, oh mama. But grilled eggplant is simply the greatest. It doesn’t float like a butterfly or anything but rub it with rosemary, thyme, lemon zest and garlic? Your family will be calling you the greatest.

 

Ingredients

For the rub

1 t lemon zest

3 cloves garlic

3-4 sprigs fresh rosemary

3-4 springs of thyme

1/2 kosher salt

1T olive oil

A few turns of fresh black pepper

1 T fresh oregano or 1/2 T dried oregano

 

For the salad

  • eggplant cut into 3/4 in rounds
  • zucchini cut into 3/4 in rounds
  • cherry tomatoes sliced in half
  • heirloom tomatoes (Optional. They just happened to be sale and they NEVER have them) diced or chopped
  • fresh spinach
  • juice from one lemon
  • 1 T light tasting olive oil
  • 2 T crumbled feta

 

Preparation

  1. Blend the ingredients in your food processor
  2. Rub eggplant and zucchini
  3. Grill until tender about 3 minutes on each side
  4. Cut eggplant into quarters
  5. Gently toss all ingredients in a bowl

 

This is yoga. And it is aubergine.

Namaste y’all.

Food Yoga – The Slow Food Movement

photo credit nourishnetwork.com

What is the Slow Food Movement anyway?

While browsing Black Girls Guide To Weight Loss I read a great article on the Slow Food Movement. I went to the website slowfood.org and got their definition. “Slow Food is an idea, a way of living and a way of eating. It is a global, grassroots movement with thousands of members around the world that links the pleasure of food with a commitment to community and the environment.”

In short, it gets us back to basics.

For many of us- food=love.

We had dinner around a table. Our mothers, aunts grandmothers or dads etc. cooked, and we ate. They went to the grocery store or food stand. But the biggest part? The smells that came out of a kitchen and conversation that happened around a table.

That’s powerful stuff right there.

Family dinner can be a time of fellowship, communion and a time when the important thing is what is right in front of you. In this day and age of single parent incomes, video games and smart phones- it’s hard to slow down and eat together.

It may not happen every night- and it doesn’t have to be a five-course meal- but not having it could be costly. Families that eat together are less likely to have kids that do drugs, get depressed, drop out of school or get pregnant. Kids who eat around a table with others do better in school. It matters and the data shows that.

The folks at Slow Food know that and all over the world they are raising awareness- it seems that we are a better planet when we know where our food comes and take time to cook it. There is much debate over whether it is more expensive to cook your own food- and let’s face it- the dollar menu can come in handy.

The reality, though? Raised on nothing but fast food- people face an increased risk of diabetes-, which in the long run cost much more in doctors’ bills. Long term thinking of living in the moment makes this thought process hard to grasp.

The idea that tomorrow ay never come is tempting- but tomorrow does come for most of us- we should make the most of it and give ourselves and our children the best shot by shopping along the aisles of a supermarket and taking a few extra minutes to make dinner instead of take out.

Our lives may depend on it.

This is yoga. Take it slow.

Namaste y’all.

Food Yoga- Fettuccine with English Peas, Mushrooms and Onions

inspired recipes, discover inspiration, meatless monday, a&o, vegetarian recipes, oneika's yoga life

Some things are worth the extra effort. I notice and appreciate the details when it comes to food. Not everyone does. And although I shake my head at these people (on the inside of course, I’m not rude), I have a moral responsibility to let people know what they’re missing.

Yes, I’m talking about shelling peas. Sure it sounds ridicolous and maybe even a little crazy to be so passionate about peas, but these are the sacrifices I make for you guys. That’s how much I care.

English peas may be a bit of work but this inspired recipe wouldn’t be the same without them. You could use frozen peas, but it’s not the same. Frozen peas can be mushy. Fresh peas are crisp, bright and have a taste that reminds you of running through the fields.

Okay, maybe not but my point is made. As long as you buy them in season (you still have a month or so) they are inexpensive. So get going!

Ingredients

Recipe serves four

  • 1 c English peas
  • 1 c sliced mushrooms
  • 1 c sliced red onion
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1t oregano (use fresh if it’s available)
  • Juice of 1 whole lemon
  • Lemon zest
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • salt and fresh pepper
  • sprinkle of shredded Asiago (optional) or vegan shredded cheese
  • 1/2 box cooked fettuccine
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1/4 c of pasta water
Preparation
  1. Cook pasta according to package directions
  2. While pasta cooks prep all ingredients so the fettuccine doesn’t sit
  3. In a large dutch oven heat olive oil and saute all ingredients except the lemon zest and and cheese
  4. Toss with the fettuccine
  5. Grate lemon zest on top
  6. Sprinkle cheese
  7. Top with black pepper!

 

This is yoga. And it’s delicious.

Namaste y’all.

Journey Yoga – Don’t Stop Believin’

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Did you know that Journey’s Don’t Stop Believin’ is the most downloaded song of the 20th century? And why shouldn’t it be?

It f*cking rocks.

Don’t care where you were born, your social standing, religion, job title or spiritual affiliation – when you hear those keyboards and Just a small town girlyour inner 80’s rock star emerges. Just last summer my sister and I were driving to Martha’s Vineyard, MA for the July 4th weekend.

Stuck in traffic. My sister flipped through stations on the radio. There it was, Don’t Stop Believin’…

We belted it out with our bad voices, because that’s how we roll.

Damn, it feels so good to sing that song.

Can’t forget the last episode of The Sopranos. (For the record I’m team David Chase got the finale right)

Don’t Stop Believin- Everyman’s Journey is about the search and discovery of Arnel Pineda, Journey’s new lead singer. The doc is a little thin because it tries to delve into Journey pre and post Steve Perry.

Arnel’s story is the meat of this film and for its flaws it’s still very watchable.

Stepping into Steve Perry’s shoes was a tall order but Arnel and his rags to riches story is the stuff of legends. A homeless kid singing on the streets of the Philipines for food, he’s now a rock star living the dream.

Living. The. Dream. Do you get me? Discovered on YouTube. C’mon.

Don’t Stop Believin’. 

Seriously.

In class today our teacher mentioned that a 10 year old had taken his first hot yoga class. Midway through class she checks in with him to see how he’s doing. He responds, ‘I won’t ever give up!’

Don’t Stop Believin’. 

It’s true.

That’s part of the joy of Journey songs- they are about love, triumph, being faithful and never giving up.

Another fun fact, during every minute of every day you can hear a Journey song playing somewhere in the world.

Humanity likes a happy ending.

That gives me hope for this planet.

Nobody gets out of here alive, but enlightenment for all may be on the horizon.

I’m working on an idea about how to bring a larger message of yoga to communities that need it. I’ve been struggling a bit and have felt pretty frustrated the past few weeks. It’s aggravating to plug away and feel like you’re not making any progress.

But class today and this documentary were a much needed reminder.

Don’t Stop Believin’. 

I can’t. I won’t.

This is yoga. Don’t stop.

Namaste y’all.

Vegan Diaries – Roasted Eggplant and Tomatillo Dip

Tomatillos from Mexico are in grocery stores right now. Oh how I love the tomatillo. It’s crisp with and apple citrus taste and tangy. For those who get heartburn from it’s the tomato it also has a lot less acid so it’s a great alternative. It’s actually related to the gooseberry but it’s not sweet. They have a husk that feels like paper (it tastes this was too- so don’t eat it) and keep in the frig for about two weeks. Even longer with the husk removed and stored in a plastic bag. One medium tomatillo has about 11 calories (I know, right?!) making them a flavorful low calorie addition to your BBQ menu.

A bowl of this dip is easy to make and perfect for folks who may not be eating meat. I’d serve this dip with pita bread, tortillas, olives and crudite. Serve alongside fresh Italian bread, roasted veggies and you have a great veggie sandwich platter.

Ingredients

Eggplant

3 medium tomatillos

1 garlic clove

Pablano pepper

1/2 c fresh corn

Juice 1/2 lemon

Salt and pepper to taste

Drizzle olive oil, fresh dried oregano, salt, pepper and lemon juice on eggplant slices
It’s raining in the NYC area today- so I had to use a grill pan. But grill on each side for 3-4 minutes

Preparation

Put all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until the dip looks like this:

Pulse until dip looks like this. Be careful you don’t want it to turn into mush

Serve with crusty bread, tortilla chips or sandwiches! I had mine with cucumber slices.

Enjoy!

When Your Yoga Brings You To Tears (aka Free to Be You & Me)

photo credit elephant journal
photo credit elephant journal

 

 

In the third grade I saw ‘Free to Be You and Me‘.

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I don’t remember if it was planned or if some weather induced incident prompted the rolling in of the projector, but we gathered in the atrium.

Do you remember that feeling? The excitement of the projector? Freedom from some schoolwork and the lights turned off during the school day? It was an adventure.

Have you had the pleasure of seeing FtbYM? Have your kids seen it?

It turned 40 last year. Marlo Thomas and friends tackle gender indentity, racsism, sexism and class with songs, animation, live action and of all things- puppets.

Just thinking about it makes me smile. You get to see a teenaged Michael Jackson sing with Roberta Flack about growing up and not changing. (Sort of eerie to watch now)

FtbYM was a landmark album and film by the Ms. Foundation for Women that introduced a generation of parents and kids to a new world order that was not just tolerant, but celebrated difference.

But…the greatest part of the movie for me is Rosey Grier singing ‘It’s Alright to Cry’.

6’5 burly, intimidating Rosey Grier tells us that it’s alright to cry. He croons:

It might make you feel better.

It’s alright to feel things,

though feelings may be strange.

And they change and change and change.

To this day I can’t help but hum the song in my head when I see tears or cry myself. (Imagine, I’m hysterical and still somewhere in my head singing- I accept my weirdness and way my freak flag proudly)

In many ways it was yoga.

Have you every cried on your mat?

I have. I remember once after a particularly bad break-up I wandered to a local studio. I needed to cleanse and didn’t realize at the time that I was in the midst of huge emotion changes. Isn’t that always the way? We don’t recognize change when it’s happening.

When I lifted up to Ustrasana (Camel Pose) a dam burst. Tears streamed down my face. Whoops- who turned on the faucet? I sucked it up and let it out at home.

Knowing what I know now I would have went with it. Pushing it back down wouldn’t have been an option. This actually makes things worse. When you can let a feeling come up and just be, it’s easy to let it change and change and change (Thanks Rosey!)

Releasing emotions is one of the amazing benefits of yoga. In a world that rewards stuffing down feelings, letting go and showing emotion in class at first made me very vulnerable. I got past my urges to ‘just do the poses’. My flow changes with my emotions and sometimes it changes in spite of my emotions. Now when things come up on my mat that make me say, ‘Hmm, I didn’t even know I was thinking about that.’ I can let it go and deal with it or release it if it isn’t serving me.

Turns out when you don’t resist most things aren’t a big deal.

Imagine that shit.

As a teacher I keep an eye out for this, especially with new students. Tears can come up  and it’s crucial that when I see it- I gently leave a tissue and check in with a look or hand on the shoulder to make sure everything is okay. Doing this discreetly is obvious, but for the sake of clarity I’ll mention it anyway. I want to create a safe space.

The point is, it’s alright to cry.

Yoga is my grown up version of Free to Be You and Me.

This is yoga. And it’s free to be whatever I need it to be. For me.

Namsate y’all.

Hitting the Wall and Other Tales of Woe (108 Days of Yoga)

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Class on Tuesday was awesome. I love the excitement that gets generated, and seeing students progress is pure joy. As soon as c lass ended and I went home to make my green juice, the tank was empty.

Emp-tee.

I was dog tired. I’ve managed to sail through these first 43 of my 108 days of yoga without any issue. This was the first day that I came up against the dreaded ‘wall’.

You know that feeling that your body can’t push forward. Everything feels and sounds like it’s happening in slow motion. Actually I was closer to that little kid kind of tired, you know when munchkins refuse to admit that their crankiness is a direct result of physical exhaustion.

Yet, I  was super productive getting a bunch of stuff done despite being dressed in my best cranky pants.

I hit my mat for an hour at home but needed to rung out, so off to hot class I went.

To say the class was a struggle was an understatement.

I slogged through half wondering if I was crazy to think I was ready to do 108 days of yoga.

Then I took a real breath. 

Unfortunately, this little moment of clarity didn’t take place until I was on my way home. I sat on the train sweat covered and achy, water bottle to my lips. (Manhattan water is amazing. This seems insane, but it’s true. The water at my studio is unimaginably cold.)

As I sipped the water on the train I smiled.

I only have to be in the moment. I was getting caught up in what I had done in the past and what I was going to keep doing in order to sail through to day 108.

What I failed to do was live in the moment and understand that my journey is about what happens right now. Right in this moment.

In this moment I breathe in. In this moment I breathe out. There is nothing else to do. Worry doesn’t exist in the now.

So, there is no wall. There are only moments when I am tired and moments that I rest. If I can remember this every day- I got this enlightenment thing locked up.

Not. Bloody. Likely.

No worries though I’ve got my mat and my breath.

This is yoga. And it happens one breath at a time.

Namaste y’all.