Travel Yoga- On a Train At 2am

Listening to Tvarargen’a Everything Can Be Invented while taking the train to Providence. It’s 2:52 a.m. The guitar soundtracks this quiet moment. Most people are sleeping save for the two guys next to me
– chatting away not loudly, but in a way that’s oddly comforting despite them being strangers.

My mind wanders and as I listen. In the beginning of the song it feels like someone is leaving. Leaving. Leaving someone? Leaving something? I look out of the window and lonely streets roll by. For an instant I feel like crying- I’m swept up by this delicate moment and wish this I could capture it on film- just for me so I’d never forget it. And just as quickly I realize that if I don’t come back and enjoy it- it’ll be over sooner than I planned. 

And I listen. As the song comes to a close the leaving I felt at the beginning is gone. The end of the song sounds like a beginning- a sense of arrival…maybe it’s me.

Maybe I’m projecting. Maybe Everything can be invented I suppose. I stop worrying about preserving and I just watch the lights in the dark. It’s all happening right now- and I’m not missing a thing. 

This is yoga. 

Namaste y’all. 

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Cucumber Gazpacho

cucumber gazpacho

 


Official Meatless Monday Blogger

Summer weather.

It’s my favorite time of year. Not just because I can zip around on my bike without a balaclava but because summer veggies make dinner easy and delicious. Gazpacho is refreshing dinner that can double as lunch the next day. Though traditionally made with tomatoes I decided to green it up a bit with tomatillos and cucumbers.

Whaaaaat? So good. So healthy.

Ingredients

  • Cucumbers- 3 roughly chopped
  • Green bell pepper- 1 roughly chopped
  • Green chiles- 2 chopped
  • Tomatillos – 4 medium
  • Garlic- 2 cloves
  • Shallots- 2
  • Lime- 2 juiced
  • Mint- one bunch
  • Broth- 1/2 (I used veggie)
  • Balsamic vinegar (use a higher quality if you’ve got it- definitely can taste the difference)- 2 tablespoons
  • Cilantro- one bunch
  • Black pepper
  • Coarse sea salt- Maldon is my fave

*Optional 1/2 cup of white wine in place of 1/2 cup of broth

 

 

Directions

  1. In a food processor or vitamix blend the veggies, mint, cilantro, balsamic, lime juice. (You’ll have to do this in batches as it won’t all fit.)
  2. Once one batch is done pour into a large soup serving bowl- if the soup is more smoothie like- add more liquid…
  3. Refrigerate for 45 minutes
  4. Stir before serving- I garnished with mango and cilantro- but whatever floats your boat will do just fine!
  5. Serve with salad!

What are some of your favorite cold soup recipes? I’m always looking for new ones!!

 

Namaste y’all.

More Gardening Yoga – Adventures from the Community Garden

Community Garden
There’s a groundhog in the community garden. I need to build a little fence to keep this visitor away from my veggies. Not sure why this freaked me out a bit but all I could think was- how do I construct a fence? I imagined blueprints and saws lumber and overalls. I should mention that my plot is 3×5. After all, I had just come to weed the plot and water… Now I had to take a shop class.
Captain Overthink strikes again.
Fortunately for me (and you) I have a rational side.

After becoming a little overwhelmed at the jungle my little garden had turned into I looked around and smiled at how great things were in that moment.

On a Saturday afternoon I was weeding my garden where I’m growing food that I will (hopefully) be able to consume. The gardens were in their full green glory and later I’d be doing a sunset practice in Times Square with my sister and her friend to celebrate the solstice. There was nothing overwhelming.
There are a few benches scattered around the garden so I decided to meditate outside. It was tricky at first taking in the sounds of outside, but as they began to fade to a whisper in the background I became aware of the breeze rippling through the gardens and the ivy climbing up the embankment. At some point things felt very quiet and I don’t know if that was me letting go or if the breeze and chatter stopped at one point.
Bench
When I finished and opened my eyes to all some much green from the garden I couldn’t help but smile from the inside out. It’s summer solstice an all is well.
My garden is growing.
Namaste y’all.

Yoga in Times Square- Mind Over Madness 2014

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“Summertime is always the best of what might be.”
― Charles Bowden

 

I love the summer. Call it nostalgia but warm weather makes anything possible. Maybe it’s because I’m not wrapped in layers of clothes. Maybe I’m just a hot-blooded yogi. Whatever it is, it works for me. Yesterday, I celebrated the coming of summer by doing what I have done for the past few years- yoga in Times Sq. Mind Over Madness 2014 had over 11,000 yogis register.

This year I went with my sister, Ashley and friend Luanda. We unrolled our mats and prepared for a sunset flow with Ali Cramer of Laughing Lotus.

We stretched and opened our hearts as the sun began to set. Ali’s words inspired me to feel my body open with compassion and strength. Move in way that feels right for your body Ali encouraged- so I did. Flowing into to warriors on an inhale and falling into chat on an exhale I felt my belly wake up for the first time since surgery. There was no pain. My patience paid off. Being gentle can help me be warrior.

My body is recovering – I thought. Relief washed over me. No seven inch belly incision can get me down because I can show up for me. I can show up and be still when I need to. And when the time feels right I can roar with my heart, reach my hands up to the sky and send out all the love I have because I was brave enough to love myself.

When we got to the ground we put our hands behind our heads and Times Sq became our beach. With hundreds of other yogis I took in the lights at the crossroads of the world. Luanda turned to me and said, ‘I can’t believe we are laying on our backs in the middle of Times Sq.’

It’s a pretty crazy thought. Both Ashley and Luanda are in that part of town during the week. Ashley said the next time she feels stressed among the 9-5 hustle she’s going to remember how she felt doing yoga and hold onto that.

Good plan.

Happy Summer Solstice.

Namaste y’all.

 

Vegan Diaries- Collard Greens Get a Facelift

photo-21

 

In the world of southern and soul food, collard greens are a staple. They are typically cooked with ham hock and lots of fat. And since the leaves are fairly tough cooking greens long and slow is what is thought to make them delicious.

Not so it seems.

While doing training at Integral Yoga, I’d pop downstairs to their grocery store for some tasty food cooked with love. One afternoon I discovered sautéed greens and haven’t looked back. They take 15 minutes and have a fresh, vibrant taste. You would think that with so few ingredients these would taste boring. You would be mistaken.

Y-um.

 

Ingredients

  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • Big bunch of greens – stems removed and shredded. (I used my bare hands and made it mini playtime)
  • 5 garlic cloves minced
  • coarse salt (Maldon is my fave)
  • 1/2 c water (or veggie stock)

 

Directions

  1. Heat oil over medium heat. Cook garlic by stirring constantly until it’s just about golden brown.
  2. Add the greens, baby!! Stir in salt.
  3. Reduce the heat to medium low and add liquid.
  4. Cover and steam for 10 minutes.
  5. If liquid is left in the pan turn heat to medium and quickly stir until liquid evaporates.
  6. Et voilà!

These are so good I’ve been making batches and having them for lunch and with dinner. Tons of greens are available at farmers markets this time of year- so stock up!!!

 

Namaste y’all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

black women yoga

Adventures in Yoga – Therapeutic Yoga

Photo credit- shakti nj
Photo credit- shakti nj

 

Recovering from major surgery was more intense than I thought. My ego set unrealistic expectations. No matter, my body was having none of it. During the first week, it was tough to do more than take short walks. By week two, I was doing restorative poses.

Fortunately, yours truly has daily meditation practice. Sitting each morning allowed me to get out of my own way.

Week three was life changing. I spent six days doing a Therapeutic Yoga teacher training hosted by Integral Yoga with Cheri Clampett and Arturo Peal. Showing up each day studying, practicing and teaching TY in a safe and sacred environment was just what this yogi needed.
Karen Mandell is a great teacher who said, “Soft is the new hard.” While I love the powerful practice I’ve cultivated, there’s need to embrace the notion of slowing it down. Therapeutic yoga does just that.
You may be asking what exactly is ‘therapeutic yoga’? Here’s a brief definition from the website Therapeutic Yoga.

Therapeutic Yoga blends restorative yoga (supported postures), gentle yoga, breathwork, hands-on healing, and guided meditation techniques combined in such a way that it is an excellent choice for those who need something gentle yet effective for bringing the body into balance and reducing stress. Therapeutic Yoga is a deeply meditative experience – it provides the opportunity to step away from the busy-ness of the outside world and access the deeper wisdom that resides within us.

 

This training has shifted my thoughts about how I practice and how I teach. Cheri and Arturo are gifted educators and yogis who allowed us to explore what it means to create a space to heal. Whether it’s healing from a physical trauma or emotional trauma, therapeutic yoga is a way to yoke or unite our bodies and mind through a gentle yet powerful practice. Still recovering from abdominal surgery, I was my own perfect test case. There were some poses that I couldn’t do. And for the very first time, I allowed myself to celebrate that.

That’s what healing is about. Giving permission to be still. Celebrating getting well.

If I can care for myself with such love and support- just think of how much I’ll be able to give to others. I’ve added a few therapeutic poses at the beginning and end of the vinyasa alases that teach. It’s been a welcome addition. Working hard and challenging the body can be fun and invigorating. Just as important though,  is to honor the idea of being whole and nurturing the self.

Teaching this style of yoga is my calling. I wasn’t looking for it. And it’s made me realize that more school is on the horizon. More change I hadn’t planned.

But I think that’s when the best things happen.

Namaste y’all.

The Whole 30

doing-the-w30-IG

 

I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned my friend Patrice. Fate has a way of bringing people together and from the moment I met her I knew we’d be friends. She listens to my rants, tells me when I’m being silly (as in stubborn) and makes me feel better if I’m feeling low. So when she asked if I’d do the Whole 30 with her I said yes instantly. A program that helps you feel great and focuses on real food? That’s what I preach, bring it on!!!

And then I saw what I couldn’t have red wine (or any alcohol, boo) for a month and was less enthused, but sticking together and all that I’m still on board. I like the idea of doing something for 30 days. In a week I’m launching a 30 Meditation Journey- it’s for folks that want to try meditation, but have felt a little nervous about doing so. Partnering meditation with whole eating sounds like a fine way finish up healing from abdominal surgery.

 

So back to the Whole 30. Here’s some scoop from the site.

The Whole30 Program Rules

Yes: Eat real food.

Eat meat, seafood, eggs, tons of vegetables, some fruit, and plenty of good fats from fruits, oils, nuts and seeds. Eat foods with very few ingredients, all pronounceable ingredients, or better yet, no ingredients listed at all because they’re totally natural and unprocessed. Don’t worry… these guidelines are outlined in extensive detail in our free shopping list.

 

– See more at: http://whole30.com/whole30-program-rules/#sthash.Q0ru9FdQ.dpuf

No: Avoid for 30 days.

More importantly, here’s what NOT to eat during the duration of your Whole30 program. Omitting all of these foods and beverages will help you regain your healthy metabolism, reduce systemic inflammation, and help you discover how these foods are truly impacting your health, fitness and quality of life.

  • Do not consume added sugar of any kind, real or artificial. No maple syrup, honey, agave nectar, coconut sugar, Splenda, Equal, Nutrasweet, xylitol, stevia, etc. Read your labels, because companies sneak sugar into products in ways you might not recognize.
  • Do not consume alcohol in any form, not even for cooking. (And it should go without saying, but no tobacco products of any sort, either.)
  • Do not eat grains. This includes (but is not limited to) wheat, rye, barley, oats, corn, rice, millet, bulgur, sorghum, amaranth, buckwheat, sprouted grains and all of those gluten-free pseudo-grains like quinoa. This also includes all the ways we add wheat, corn and rice into our foods in the form of bran, germ, starch and so on. Again, read your labels.
  • Do not eat legumes. This includes beans of all kinds (black, red, pinto, navy, white, kidney, lima, fava, etc.), peas, chickpeas, lentils, and peanuts. No peanut butter, either. This also includes all forms of soy – soy sauce, miso, tofu, tempeh, edamame, and all the ways we sneak soy into foods (like lecithin).
  • Do not eat dairy. This includes cow, goat or sheep’s milk products such as cream, cheese (hard or soft), kefir, yogurt (even Greek), and sour cream… with the exception of clarified butter or ghee. (See below for details.)
  • Do not eat white potatoes. This is somewhat arbitrary, but if we are trying to change your habits (chips and fries) and improve the hormonal impact of your food choices, it’s best to leave white, red, purple, Yukon gold, and fingerling potatoes off your plate.
  • Do not consume carrageenan, MSG or sulfites. If these ingredients appear in any form on the label of your processed food or beverage, it’s out for the Whole30.
  • No Paleo-ifying baked goods, desserts, or junk foods. Trying to shove your old, unhealthy diet into a shiny new Whole30 mold will ruin your program faster than you can say “Paleo Pop-Tarts.” This means no desserts or junk food made with “approved” ingredients—no banana-egg pancakes, almond-flour muffins, flourless brownies, or coconut milk ice cream. Don’t try to replicate junk food during your 30 days! That misses the point of the Whole30 entirely.

One last and final rule: You are not allowed to step on the scale or take any body measurements for the duration of the program. This is about so much more than just weight loss, and to focus on your body composition means you’ll miss out on the most dramatic and lifelong benefits this plan has to offer. So, no weighing yourself, analyzing body fat or taking comparative measurements during your Whole30. (We do encourage you to weigh yourself before and after, however, so you can see one of the more tangible results of your efforts when your program is over.)

– See more at: http://whole30.com/whole30-program-rules/#sthash.Q0ru9FdQ.dpuf

 

I’m skeptical about some of this. I’ve read through the site and some of the language is a little too tough love for me. I’m already the chick who used to live her life without moderation- so I’m not really sure if the Whole 30® program is a good fit for someone like me. Life in extremes can play to my addictive nature and if I’m not careful I could be looking down the abyss. So, I’m keeping a watchful eye on me. This isn’t to say that this isn’t a great thing for lots of folks who need a serious kick in the ass to stop some healthy habits and/or thinking.

My eating habits are pretty good- but keep a mindful eye on what I’m eating may be a kind of food meditation. At least, that’s what I’m telling myself.

 

I’ll keep you guys updated weekly.

 

Let the games begin.

 

Namaste y’all.

 

Have any of you done The Whole 30? I’d love to hear your thoughts.