New Year Yoga

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So many studios now offer a peaceful way to bring in the New Year. With a practice and an ‘aum’ we can start the new year fresh.

Happy New Year friends.

Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu

“May all beings everywhere be happy and free.”

Namaste y’all.

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Food Yoga- Mushroom Ragout

mushroom ragout acorn squash


Official Meatless Monday Blogger

I’ve been afflicted with a cooking malaise for the last few months. Actually more doldrums than malaise. Sort of like Milo in the Phantom Tollbooth.

But this morning, a remedy.

I woke from a sound slumber and was monkeying around online. Tea in hand, I was looking for interesting reads about yoga and health, yoga and sleep…you get the idea. Boom down the rabbit hole. Anyway- I was checking out the New York Times Wellness Blog and found stumbled upon this delicious recipe for a mushroom ragout.

This came at the right time for a few reasons:

  1. I’m looking for find recipes that can be dressed up and down.
  2. Inspiration keeps things exciting and extends to more than the kitchen

This recipe is meant to be kept in the fridge and used for a few things, but beware. They are so good it’s hard not to heap spoonfuls in your mouth.

I had mine with acorn squash- just perfect. Tomorrow? Maybe they’ll be tossed with some green veggies.

Anything is possible.

Namaste y’all.

1 ounce (about 1 cup) dried mushrooms, preferably porcinis

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 shallots or 1/2 medium onion, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 pound white or cremini mushrooms, cleaned, trimmed, and quartered or sliced 1/2 inch thick

1 pound wild mushrooms, trimmed and brushed clean, or oyster mushrooms, trimmed and torn into pieces if very large

Salt to taste

2 teaspoons all-purpose flour

1/2 cup dry white wine such as sauvignon blanc or pinot grigio

2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary or 1 teaspoon dried

2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme

Freshly ground pepper

2 to 4 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

1. Place the dried mushrooms in a pyrex measuring cup or a bowl and pour on 2 cups boiling water. Let soak 30 minutes, while you prepare the other ingredients. Place a strainer over a bowl, line it with cheesecloth or paper towels, and drain the mushrooms. Squeeze the mushrooms over the strainer and rinse until they are free of sand. Chop coarsely.

2. Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large, heavy skillet or a wide saucepan and add the shallots or onion. Cook, stirring often, until tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic, stir together for about 30 seconds, until fragrant, then add the fresh mushrooms, rosemary and thyme, and turn up the heat slightly. Cook until the mushrooms begin to sweat, then add a generous pinch of salt. Stir for about 5 minutes over medium-high heat as the mushrooms continue to soften and sweat. Add the flour and continue to cook the mushrooms, stirring, until they have softened a little more and you can no longer see the flour, about 2 minutes. Add the reconstituted dried mushrooms and the wine and turn the heat to high. Cook, stirring, until the liquid boils down and glazes the mushrooms, about 5 minutes. Stir in the dried mushroom soaking liquid, bring to a simmer, add salt to taste, and cook over medium-high heat, stirring often, until the mushrooms are thoroughly tender and fragrant and the surrounding broth is thick, about 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in some freshly ground pepper and the parsley, taste and adjust salt.

Sunday Yoga

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Someone shared this story this morning and it made me think of Ahisma and Satya.

 

A young couple moves into a new neighborhood. The next morning while they are eating breakfast, the young woman sees her neighbor hanging the wash outside. “That laundry is not very clean; she doesn’t know how to wash correctly. Perhaps she needs better laundry soap.” Her husband looks on, remaining silent. Every time her neighbor hangs her wash to dry, the young woman makes the same comments. A month later, the woman is surprised to see a nice clean wash on the line and says to her husband: “Look, she’s finally learned how to wash correctly. I wonder who taught her this? ” The husband replies, “I got up early this morning and cleaned our windows.” And so it is with life… What we see when watching others depends on the clarity of the window through which we look….

 

We can be quick to judge others when we are uncomfortable in our own skin. It’s said that we see our own flaws in others. Fortunately, every passing minute is another chance to turn it all around.

 

Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu

May all beings be happy and free (This includes you)

Namaste y’all.

Adventures in Yoga – Out of the Darkness

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I went to winter solstice celebration. Honoring the longest night of the year would not have been top of my list unless honoring  means going to bed earlier then, I stand corrected.

Winter is my least favorite season. The short, cold wet days make me wonder how and why I have stayed on the East Coast for so long (note to self-check Zillow after this post). Even the word darkness brings up more sinister memories of depression and struggle. So when my friend Kathleen Kraft emailed me to go to a local studio and celebrate the solstice I reluctantly agreed.

There would be wine after so, there was that.

Jokes aside, I was looking forward to taking a class with one of her favorite teachers and the idea of chanting and meditation sounded cozy.

You would think that by now I would stop being surprised by yoga. You would think that I should have guessed that I was going to be in for a life changing experience simply by virtue of the fact that I was hesitant to attend because of my own crap.

You would think that.

Think again.

The asana practice was freaking brilliant- but the words wrapped around the class are what melted my cold, dark heart.

Kevin Lamb guided us through a series of heart openers and binds that with my eyes closed let me look inside without fear or judgement.

Plants grow up and out of the darkness. We come into this world from darkness.

Moving from Cresent Lunge to Vira II let my hips drop and open. Rooting through my feet I grew more grounded and my legs gave me support so I could lift my ribs and lengthen my spine. More still…He had us take our hands behind our back, palms squeezed shut bowing down, taking a bind. (I don’t usually bind with my arms outstretched) It was glorious.

In side angle bind I felt like a plant rooting down and rising up into the warm glow of the studio. Out of the darkness and into the light.

Just when you think you have it all figured out- you discover even more. This is yoga.

Namaste y’all.

Adventures in this Yoga Life- Petitions, Eggs and Ahisma

QIUCF00Z

Email petitions are the new chain letter. Chain letters at the very least were easily ignored and at best were good for some ridicule. Seriously send ten or you get bad luck? But petitions are different. Petitions come with a cause and a side order of guilt. Guilt that sits on your skin like an expensive moisturizer. I’m thinking specifically of Fresh Age Delay Cream. At $95 bucks for a jar no larger than a quarter it seems, well excessive. And maybe it is, but damn, it works.

The subject lines of the petitions are incredibly effective because the are so urgent (Don’t let Yogaglo steal yoga… Suzy’s dad is going to lose his job) I mean, I want Suzy’s family to eat. Seriously, I’m not kidding. But Yogaglo? Meh.

I’m no slouch. I don’t ignore what needs to get done. I come from political stock and I care about leaving this world better than when I found it.

At Rutgers we marched plenty. I drove down to DC for a pro-choice rally. I went down to Occupy Wall Street and supported Trayvon.

It started by signing just one petition. That one triggered a blizzard. Do they sense the sucker? I end up reading most of them.  I start thinking, ‘You know, maybe I can help from the comfort of my Black IKEA chair, MacBook Air sipping on ginseng tea and honey. Could it really be that easy?’.

Today’s email was from PETA. They want Zara to stop using a particular farm. This farm is yanking the fur off of screaming rabbits. That’s not my word, that’s the word from the petition. I’m really sensitive to violence so things like that trouble me more than I care to admit. I can’t help looking over at Dakota. And though right now (she’s laying on my bed looking over at me with a bored expression) it’s hard to imagine her in any peril- she wasn’t always so comfy. I would adopt every stray dog if I could.

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Back to the petitions. I want to sign. I don’t want rabbits hurt. I was in 4-H (really) and my first pets were rabbits. I love animals. Do these petitions work? The truth is, any change happens with work. You can change or be comfortable- but you can’t have both. Petitions that have a passionate and stirring campaign in conjunction with a petition have a much better shot that trying to rally the tea sipping group of people who want to do good with an index finger.

There are days that the notion of Ahmisa (act of non-violence) is harder on some days than others. And I can’t help but get to thinking.

So what does any of this have to do with eggs?

I’ve started eating them again. I’ve also had fish. Eating a vegan diet wasn’t a moral decision, but…. I don’t really know why there’s a but, but there it is. That’s not true, I feel guilty. There, I’ve said it. I feel guilty for eating eggs (and fish- less about the fish which also comes with its own layer of judgment- but I gotta pick my battles)

My diet choices came mostly out of health reasons and let’s be real a teeny, weeny an enormous sense of vanity. At first, I looked a lot better when I changed my diet. And then, I couldn’t help but notice I felt so much better.

I need you to understand something- this is in NO way me having  some moment about animal rights (Thou doth protest too much, you wonder? Me too. Whatever.) There’s more of a gross-out element that some shaky moral high ground (because I do believe that many fringe groups are on very shaky moral high ground). Fir example, for a long time I couldn’t roast a whole chicken because cleaning it freaked me out. People laugh at dancing raw headless chickens but I find the whole notion incredibly disturbing. I think the chicken crossed the rode because it saw some stand-up comics coming.

Again, I digress. It’s been awhile since I’ve blogged from my icky place.

Ahisma. Eggs. Petitions. Yes, that’s where we are.

I wear leather shoes. My dog eats no grain dog food (her Age Delay Fresh moisturizer).

But I can’t help but be aware of some of my choices. Once my eyes have been opened to something, it’s hard for me to close them again. This may be a due to quitting smoking- when you are aware that you have an ability to lose control, there’s a heightened level of self-awareness as a course of survival.

Anyway, I don’t have any answers just more questions- which makes me feel itchy and annoyed. I like having answers. I’m a fan of the neat bow. Fortunately, I also have yoga so it’s all a little more bearable.

Namaste y’all.

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No Resolutions- Say it With Me.

Originally published on November 16, 2012

The holidays are here, we can pretend they aren’t. But as I prep a recipe post using sage even I can’t fight it. So now that I’ve said it let’s buzz right past Thanksgiving through December and settle in on January 1. The dreaded New Year. Why?

 

New Year’s resolutions are a set up for failure. I’m going to type that again. New Year’s resolutions are a set up for failure. I hope you all are pickin’ up what I’m puttin’ down.

We need to keep it real.

Think about it for a minute. We (usually drunkenly or with a hangover) make promises of sweeping change. We will stop the recession, lose 20 pounds and train for a marathon while we find a cure for cancer. We fling arms around each other and vow we will be different this time, that this time we will ________.

Then we pass out or fall asleep. Because of pride and ego we move forward for a few days with our promise (a week if we are really lucky) until something happens and we call it quits. The content of the promise doesn’t matter. Our lack of planning does.

I’ve mentioned before that I was a smoker. If I had a nickel for every time I secretly promised myself I was going to stop I’d be writing this post from my place in Tuscany or maybe from the French side of St. Martin because that’s how much freaking cash I would have. Truthfully, I’d be reciting this to someone who would be typing this post.

 

Think my point is made.

 

I mention this because a few weeks ago I was struck by a urge to smoke. Not a passing thought but an incessant screaming that sat next to me for a few days. I blame myself really, when you are addicted to something you need to stay focused and realize that when things feel safe is when a slip is most likely to happen.

 

I didn’t smoke. But it wasn’t wistfully looking back on a tipsy New Year’s memory that got me through.

 

My plan did. I reminded myself of how happy my smoke-free life was. I looked in the mirror and reminded myself that I stopped doing something I didn’t think I ever would. And I made it a point to do some extra yoga that week. And it worked. Here I am living to tell the tale. So this holiday season while you are lighting up or doing something else that you’d like to stop, no need to wait until January 1.

 

Start today. Start right now. Create a plan. Get help if you need it. You’re worth the work and the reward.

 

Let the holiday season begin.

 

Namsate y’all.

 

O