Wednesday Yoga – Judging and Loving

if-you-judge-people-you-have-no-time-to-love-them-36

It’s easy to get into a trap with judging the people closest to us. We do it out of love. Think they should be living a different life, look a different way, say different things. Just be different than they are in the present moment.

And maybe our loved ones aren’t doing what we think is best for them- but our lives are only ours to live. When we judge people and think they are making bad choices, we take away from our own present moment. This ultimately causes the judger more suffering.

We can’t control others. We can love our families, friends, lovers, partners- our tribe unconditionally. Through releasing the idea of expectations over others can we begin to move toward our own sense of enlightenment.

It’s tough- but when we begin to accept things as they are- everything changes.

2015 is the year of living mindfully.

Are you in the moment?

Namaste y’all.

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Meatless Monday – Comfort Food Lightened Up

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Today was rainy and chilly. I love a warm meal on a cold evening. But it doesn’t have to be loaded down with things that aren’t good for you. I took a variety of cubed squashes and golden beets tossed them with greens and some homemade dressing and had a great dinner that was satisfying.

Ingredients

  • Mix of your favorite root veggies – I used butternut, rutabaga, parsnip, carrot and golden beet
  • Olive Oil mister (
  • Fresh spices your choice (I used sage and thyme)
  • Salt & fresh black pepper
  • Salad greens- (use the beet greens too! )

Salad Dressing

  • This is my basic salad dressing recipe and I love it.
  • Olive oil
  • Quality balsamic
  • Dash of honey
  • Dollop of dijon mustard
  • Garlic**
  • Splash of soy sauce (this is the secret umami ingredient)
  • Blend or whisk everything*

* To save time I make my salad dressing in my wooden salad bowl and then toss with everything. I also cuts down on having to wash one more thing. I know. Lazy yogi.

** Rub a clove of garlic around the wooden salad bowl a few times for some flavor. (I learned this from a now cancelled cooking show Master Chef)

Happy Meatless Monday!!

Namaste y’all.

Sunday Yoga – Rain, Rain Don’t Go Away

dark rain

 

 

“To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance.”

– Oscar Wilde

 

The forecast today calls for rain. I love rainy days. I don’t even mind riding my bike in the rain. I appreciate the cleansing aspect and that it gets the whole world a little quiet.

It’s only been in the past few years that I’ve acknowledged and embraced that I’m an introvert. I used to think that because I was comfortable being social, I had to be social. My sister said she’s heard it said that extroverts gain energy when they spend time around groups of people and introverts gain energy being by themselves.

Rainy days appeal to this introvert.

I can ride with my hood pulled over my face

and give a smile and wave as I ride down the street.

No time to chat gotta get inside,

I’m all wet!

Thanking the rain as I dry off.

 

Namaste y’all.

Saturday Yoga – Be Mindful

be all there

 

I’ve been talking non-stop about 2015 as the year of living mindfully. And I meant it.

But on Tuesday I left Rikers and got on the bus to start my trek back and realized that I had left my wallet inside the prison.

This required me to get off the bus, hop on another and go back.

Had I been truly present, I would have done a quick scan to ensure I was leaving with everything I brought in.

I was initially frustrated but let this feeling turn into understanding.

This has led me to shake up my traditional Saturday routine. I’m going switch up my normal class and do home practice at a different time.

Everything can be a lesson. I can’t just talk about being mindful, I must be mindful.

 

Namaste y’all.

Rikers Yoga- Solitary Confinement

solitary phone

I discovered this week that the max section had been moved (thankfully) to a different block. And while it’s still a sh*thole, it’s like the Four Seasons compared to the previous block. When class ended I saw someone with her hand raised- it was Mona (not her real name). She wanted to join class but came back late from work detail and wasn’t sure if it was okay to sit down once class had begun.

Mona didn’t participate but watched the first class I taught in max with curious eyes, peeking over the top of a book. We spoke briefly. After telling me that she liked the class she asked, ‘What’s your dharma?’ I laughed still unsure what it was. She needed a meditation at night when she got stuck in her head. She had an ethereal personality combined with a level of frankness that I appreciate. The following week I brought with me a few more meditations but she was gone.

You don’t ask a lot of questions when you don’t see someone- because it’s not your business. If people share that’s fine, but prying isn’t okay. I wondered where she went and if she was alright. When teaching in a short-term prison facility, you get used to students leaving without notice. Closure is a luxury.

‘How’s your dharma?’ she said.

‘A work in progress. How’s yours?’ I asked.

‘I’ve been locked down, so…’ her voice trailed off. There was a problem with another woman which resulted in a stint in solitary.

In the prison system when an inmate poses a threat to themselves, COs or other inmates they are placed in a solitary housing unit or solitary confinement. Confinement times can be for a day, a month, a week or a year. The US has more people in isolation than in any other country in the Western world. Solitary confinement started out as an experiment in the 1800s. And while confining violent offenders is a necessary evil to protect inmates and corrections officers alike many prison administrators are saying that it’s overused.

When corrections officials talk about solitary confinement, they describe it as the prison within the prison, and for good reason. For 23 hours a day, inmates are kept inside a cell that is approximately 80 square feet, smaller than a typical horse stable. Cells are furnished with a bed, sink and toilet, but rarely much else. Food is delivered through a slot in the door, and each day inmates are allowed just one hour of exercise, in a cage.

For most of the 20th century, a typical stay in solitary amounted to just a few days, or several weeks in more extreme cases. Today, it’s not unusual for inmates to spend years at a time in solitary. Supporters say the practice helps keep prisons safe, but according to the medical literature, solitary confinement can also take a heavy mental toll.

 

According to a recent report from the ACLU women prisoners are put in solitary for many non-violent offenses.

“Women are put in the hole for small things,” said Craig, who now works as a supervisor at a domestic violence safe house in Washington, D.C. “Sometimes there’s a fight or something, but it can be for something stupid, like stealing a tomato from the kitchen, or having two blankets instead of one.”

 

Mona was locked down for six weeks.

New York City officials unanimously agreed Tuesday to eliminate solitary confinement for inmates ages 21 and younger. The decision is groundbreaking: Jails across the U.S. impose solitary confinement on misbehaving inmates.

npr.org

 

She was reading a copy of Gavin De Becker’s The Gift of Fear. I had a copy of Sparks of Divinity, quotes and stories from BKS Iyengar as told by one of his first non-Indian female students. I gave it to her. We talked for a bit and I told her that she should jump in if class has started because she is always welcome. Mona thanked me and said, ‘This whole thing [incarceration] has been humbling. I’ve learned a lot about myself.’ As I got up to leave two students came over and asked if they could give me a hug. Mona said, ‘I think I’ll take one of those too.’

I know that these women are in this section for a variety of reasons and are considered to be high risk, but believe that if they can get opportunities to look inside beyond their case numbers, reputations with the COs, the system and their individual pasts they may see what I see- that they are capable, strong and empowered to make better choices. Meditation and yoga helps with impulse control. Meditation classes are starting to pop up in super-max prisons across the country. It’s not a miracle cure, but many people have ‘light bulb’ moments. Once the switch is turned on, change is possible.

For a great conversation about solitary confinement reform you can listen to the podcast below. If you haven’t seen Frontline’s Locked Up in America check it out. It’s very raw and gritty but well done.

To learn more about Liberation Prison Yoga and its programs, click here.

 

 

Thursday Yoga

peace dyer

 

This year I will move purposely and mindfully. And I will stumble understanding that falling is part of the process. There is no perfect way. Things are as they are.

 

Namaste y’all.