Vegan Diaries – PIZZA!!!!

20130505-130156.jpg

After class on Friday I picked up some veggies from the fruit market and stopped at the local pizza joint.

‘Dough please!’

They didn’t hand over money, but they did charge me 5 smackers for a enough dough to make an extra large pie. I got another one to store in the freezer.

Why buy dough you’re asking?

Easy- because I don’t want to make it.

Please. Don’t get it twisted- I can make a mean pizza dough. But as I get closer to the end of 108 days of yoga, I’m learning to be efficient with my energy. Also the pizza guys make dough better than I do.

I had grand plans to make the pizza that night. A fat slice with a glass of wine and Netflix was my idea of a sexy evening.

My body had a different story to tell.

But I did manage to make the toppings.

Grand plans moved to Saturday.

No biggie.

My friend and I caught the 7pm hot class at Yoga to the People and headed to my place for pizza and wine!

Whoop!

She looked at me dubiously- no cheese on pizza?

What fresh hell this?

I whipped up some basil oil and put the dough in a deep dish.

Shredded vegan cheese? Blech.

My eggplant/onion/sun dried tomato mixture was going to be so good cheese wouldn’t even be necessary.

Why ruin it with fake cheese- file this under the category of learning to let things go.

It was on the money honey.

When people wander over to the kitchen to sneak more of something I’ve cooked, I know it’s a hit.

Going the deep dish rustic route was also a good move- sometimes delicious food is best when it has a homey feel.

Good food, conversation and wine. It doesn’t take a lot to live a great life.

This is yoga. Keep it simple.

Namaste y’all.

20130505-130058.jpg

Eggplant filling for deep dish vegan pizza

Ingredients

  • 1 eggplant- cubed
  • 5 cloves of garlic minced (I know it sounds like a lot- do 8)
  • 1 medium onion sliced in rings
  • Sun dried tomatoes 1/2 cup chopped
  • 1/2 cup roasted red pepper soup (or pasta sauce)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 handful oregano roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon italian seasoning
  • 1 large pinch sea salt

Preparation

  1. Sauté onions and garlic
  2. Add eggplant tomatoes- stir for 5 minutes
  3. Add soup or sauce and spices
  4. Turn heat to low and cover for 20 minutes checking every 5 to stir
  5. Place filling in a bowl

Pizza Prep

  1. Sauté 3 cups spinach with olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper
  2. Work dough in a cast iron skillet or big pan
  3. Distribute eggplant filling evenly
  4. Layer spinach on top
  5. Pour basil oil on top
  6. Add any additional toppings

Cook pizza in a 450° oven for 17 minutes

Advertisements

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 Hot Yoga – Half Locust Pose

Tony Parrish has a football yoga workout. This is pretty great for a variety of reasons.

I’ve mentioned that I’m a heat junkie. Can’t lie- it does something for me. The heat makes me pliable and that pliability helps me look deeper inside. With all that is going on with Bikram and his latest stroke of idiocy, it would seem easy to dismiss the practice.

I want to, I really do. The guy seems to have taken the yoga out of yoga. One thing I’ve learned though is that lessons are everywhere, the people we find distasteful can teach us the most.

I’ve learned from Bikram, beware the ego for it will take you over and take everything from you if you aren’t careful.

So hot yoga and I aren’t breaking up anytime soon. With all yoga I love when my body leads me to deconstruct a pose. It’s like learning it again, but inside out, or something like that. ,

Lately I’ve been focused on locust pose (pictured).

Before getting in it the teacher instructs, “Put your mouth to your mat”.

I always end up trying to sneak in a pucker- is that weird? Bear in mind you are already covered in sweat- this is the downhill part of class as far as I’m concerned.

After you ‘put your mouth to the mat, you roll onto your arms until they disappear underneath you. Doesn’t sound so hard- but- wait for it- your palms are facing down. If you don’t think this hurts- I’m not judging but you’re crazy. It was so painful at first I looked up at my teacher and I swear horns were sprouting from her head.

Mouth to the mat.

Roll on your arms so they disappear.

Palms down.

Lift one leg up.

Hold.

Then the other.

Hold.

Then- both. The first time I tried this it felt like my legs were glued to the floor. And I’m no punk. I can get my legs up much higher now- but one day I’d really love to look like the photo.

The Journal of American Medicine (JAMA) has an article about Carpal Tunnel treatment and yoga. This pose is mentioned. Pretty cool.

Every time my practice deepens- I discover another little nugget about the world and myself. I’m less shy than I was and engage in conversations with strangers more often. This may sound strange coming from a yoga teacher, and frankly when I tell people I’m shy I get eye rolls and ‘Oh yeah, sure Oneika, you’re really shy.’ But I am, seriously.

I guess my point is that living and teaching yoga is a daily practice both on and off the mat. I love it and I love what it has done for my mind body and spirit. I feel different, I look different, I act different.

I am different.

But I do wonder if I’m starting to replace yoga for other things, like dating. Normally I’d obsess about it. But I’m not going to worry about it right now. I’ll let my yoga take me there.

This is yoga, heated up stretched out and lifted.

Namaste y’all.

 

half locust

Popsicle Toes – Tuladandasana and Virabhadrasana III

yogavibes-yoga-online-warrior3

You’re so brave to expose all those popsicle toes.

Michael Franks

It’s crazy how much yoga gets you in touch with every part of your body, even down to a cellular level. Different poses can trigger emotions and the grounding of body parts can entirely change your experience in a posture. So many postures begin and end with the feet.

My feet sickle, meaning I have toes and arches curve in. Strengthening my arches has been a personal mission. It’s really helped my practice, especially when it comes to balancing poses. With strong arches and feet you can feel firmly planted on the ground. Strangely enough this can make you feel lighter.

Your big toe can tell you a lot about your body in a balancing pose like Tuladandasana or Warrior III.

I’ve always loved both of these poses but with stronger feet it’s a whole new ball game.

When I do Tuladandasana (Balancing Stick) I’m usually in a hot class. This means by the time I get to this pose, it’s at least 105° and I’ve been in the room for about 45 minutes. My clothes are soaked and with two balancing poses done before I step to the back of my mat, my heart is already pounding.

And yet despite all of this I smile, step forward on my right foot and drop into the pose.

This is when I check in with the big toe of the standing leg. Is it getting squirrelly  and squirmy on me? If so, by actively pushing down on my toe I’m engaging my inner thigh creating additional support. It also activates the arch and stabilizing muscles on the lower half of the body. The difference is – astounding.

Seriously. I mean such a small movement can powerfully change a pose as well as your ability to breathe in said pose. 

In Warrior III, by pushing the big toe down on the standing leg you can draw the pelvis forward and get the hip in line over the ankle. This gives me the feeling of flying.

As a new teacher (and a perpetual student) I’m looking for ways to cue students (and myself) to get the most out of a posture.

There’s a great website Bandha Yoga that shows poses in an anatomical viewer. If you like to geek out about poses, this is the site for you.

This is yoga. From head to toe.

Namaste y’all.

To My Yogis and Yoginis who Practice when Sick

IMG_3045

I had a dream last night that I was eating sandpaper. More accurately, someone was trying to shove sandpaper down my throat.

Sorta weird I guess, but this comes from the chick who dreams entire episodes of  television shows. Episodes that never actually aired- I make them up in my sleep.

So…now that we have that piece of crazy out to examine…

Sandpaper. Ugh. I was choking and there was a bright light in my face.

Sweet dreams are made of these….

I opened my eyes with my hands rubbing my neck.

Swallowed once. Ouch. Sore.

4:30am.

Trance like I pad in comfy socks to the kitchen. Must. Drink. Tea.

Oh no- what’s that I feel? Fever?

No. way.

Vitamin C. Zicam. Green tea. Garlic pills. I was moving full steam to stop this thing in its tracks.

(I was moving as a snail’s pace, as it was 4:30, but you’re gettin’ my drift)

The guilty party? My hot yoga studio if I had to guess- there were a few sick people in class the day before. You could hear them cough during pranayama deep breathing.

Coughing up into the air and not into an elbow. That, mixed with pools of sweat and open pores- I was a human petrie dish. Come on in germs!

Listen- keeping it real- I practice when I’m sick. And since I’ve made this transition to teaching yoga- short of a house sitting on my chest Wizard of Oz style, I’m showing up for class. Period.

But there are precautions I think everyone should take if they head to the studio less than 100%.

You should stay home if you can. A sick body needs time to heal. But realistically, 30 day challengers, yoga warriors and teachers show up.

I wish we could agree on a Yogis Code of Conduct for illness:

  • Thou shalt not cough into the air, hot room or cold
  • Thou shalt wash my hands and use hand sanitizer before touching anything or anyone
  • Thou shalt cough into the crook of my elbow if I must cough
  • Thou shalt tell my teacher if I am sick, this way my teacher will not touch me and transfer germs onto my fellows yogis
  • Thou shalt tell my class if I am sick (teachers) and not make hands-on adjustments

Life must go on even when we aren’t feeling up to it- but as good yogis let’s try and do our best to keep our fellow passengers safe.

This is yoga. And sometimes it gets the cooties.

Namaste y’all.

You Can Run, but You Can’t Hide Sasangasana (Rabbit Pose)

bikram-yoga_grid_6

My spirit takes a journey

My spirit takes a flight

Could not have risen otherwise

And I am not running

I’m choosing

Running is not a choice from the breaking

Breaking is freeing

Broken is freedom

I am not broken

I am free

– Alike from the movie ‘Pariah’

Hellbent, Benjamin Lorr’s book about a regular dude who becomes obsessed with Bikram, both the yoga and the man and writes a journalistic account of the Bikram world. There’s a quote from the movie Pariah that begins one of the chapters.

I am now crushing on Benjamin Lorr.

So savvy to quote a brilliant and understated film about the coming of age of a Black lesbian teenager in Brooklyn.

The journey of healing so many attribute to hot yoga and the parallels with Alike’s journey to self was enough to make me giggle and tap my feet as I read my nook on the PATH train to my own hot yoga class.

I sat on my mat feeling so ready and sure. Reading Hellbent on the train had me stoked to be in the hot room!!!

My bag had been packed to perfection(bag packing for hot yoga is crucial). My water bottle was solid ice. My post class  clothes were in a separate bag.

Couldn’t be more ready. The lights were still off and I looked at myself in the mirror. Suddenly my sukasana felt wobbly. No longer was I easy in my seat.

A lump rose in my throat.

What was I doing taking a class? Had I really decided to make this change and teach yoga? And write? And figure out a strategy to make all of this into a living? Serving the world with yoga? 

The craziness in my head continued….

Panic. Why was I thinking about this now? How did all of those thoughts rush through my head in 20 seconds?

I took to my back to exhale. Class started- and it was a hot, brutal freaking mess. Poses seemed to go on for hours.

But I kept looking at myself in the mirror. This mirror aspect of hot yoga really irks some folks. They say it’s narcissistic. I think it depends on the person. Yoga is what you make of it, no?

Sometimes, I need to square off with my sweaty reflection.

Sometimes I need to look at myself and say, cut the shit Oneika. You. Have. Got. This. So. Suck. It. Up.

I plodded on…One of my favorite teachers adjusted my Rabbit pose. I knew I looked pretty broken throughout class. She was gentle with the adjustment. My legs are long and I am flexible in my back and neck, but I rely on my leg length to get into the pose.

That’s not how yoga works. Yoga is about using strength but finding new ways to reach the final expression of a pose…

Once that is done, you find new ways to grow.

She told me to relax my shoulders – I did. She told me to lift my hips, but my shoulders hunched up. Relaxed my shoulders but my hips dropped. She couldn’t see my face but I think she could feel my frustration and fear.

‘That’s okay, next time’, she said.

I exhaled. Next time. There is a next time.

I didn’t like my life before because I felt broken. Sometimes in class I feel like I’m breaking…because I am free.

I got home and pulled out my plan. The time has come to readjust. I want and need new things.

Change. It’s familiar and scary at the same time.

I always feel this way jumping off the diving board, that tickle of excitement in my stomach and a big bounce- afraid for a second….flying up…

But then I remember, I am an excellent swimmer.

This is yoga. And I am free.

Namaste y’all. 

It’s Gettin’ Hot in Here….

sweaty back

I remember my first hot yoga class the way that someone who is an ex-smoker remembers their first cigarette. Since I am also the latter I know of what I speak.

My local studio offers both heated and non-heated classes. The teachers are really solid (and I don’t just say that because I now teach there- which is just SO cool to type) and the place has a great vibe. It’s intimate, friendly and the heated  classes get nice and hot. A few years ago I took my first hot class.

Sure I’d done yoga before- but a hot class seemed like an extra juicy piece of fun.

Here’s what happened:

  • It was hot
  • I was sweating through my skin.
  • I was sweating from the palms of my hand
  • I was sweating from my eyebrows
  • I was sweating behind my ears.
  • I was annoyed about having to stay still in between poses
  • I was annoyed that I was told when I could drink water- I mean it’s my freaking water…
  • I was sweating so much that I didn’t know I could sweat this much.
  • I was aggravated and tired

And then two hours later- I was reborn.

I couldn’t wait to do it again. Those of you who have been bitten by the heat bug are pickin’ up what I’m puttin down.

So I kept going back. The classes I took were Bikram inspired classes. Sure the poses were challenging, but I fell in love with the heat.

The ‘feel so hot’ you see stars kind of heat.

Yeah sure, I know it’s not okay. But the feeling you get working out in heat is better than…is better that anything I can conjure.

It’s like you are wringing out your body. Squeezing those toxins and leaving them on your towel. A few hours later- a high sets in.

You can take on the world. Seriously.

I had to know- could a studio get even hotter?

I trekked into the city and took a Yoga to the People class. Word on the street was that these classes got hot- like Africa hot. I was down baby. Down and ready.

I put down my mat in the back- I broke into a sweat just laying the mat down.

Holy Savanasa Batman!

I thought I was going to die. This was the middle of hell during a heat wave kind of hot.

Soaked through my clothes within the 10 minutes. I glanced at the thermostat- it read 110.

I. Was. Home.

I was sure my butt was cooking from the inside out. After class, people would  slice pieces of Oneika rump roast.

My towel was so soaked, I had to wring it out.

Sweat was flinging off bodies as we moved from pose to pose. It would be gross if I wasn’t flinging sweat on the chick next to me but she was so sweaty and focused on herself in the mirror she didn’t notice.

Did I mention that 70 people are in the class? Yeah- so there’s also body heat. I hung out in the back row and observed the scantily clad people and couldn’t wait until I felt that bad and bold. Could. Not. Wait.

English: Bikram Yoga
English: Bikram Yoga (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m not here to talk about Bikram or the classes- that’s another post.  (We can get into about Bikram and his attitude, yada yada. But yoga is about non-judgement, so keep an open mind. S’all I’m sayin’)

I have my own problems with some of the poses and the dialogue. I don’t think yoga should hurt. Bikram yoga plays to Type A people who have feelings of insecuirty and superiority.

Which makes them unbearable people to be sure- but for 90 minutes they are broken down into a puddle of mush crying for their mommies promising to be good boy/girl. Which is funny as hell.

Not that I know anyone like that….

If you haven’t read Hellbent, pick it up- it’s a great read for non-yoga and yoga junkies alike. It is a memoir about one’s man’s journey down the ‘Bikram rabbit-hole’.

Though it’s supposed to read like a cautionary tale- heat addicts be warned. It only makes you want to drop the book- pack your bag, energy powder, frozen water bottle, two towels and a change of clothes. I am twitching writing this- giddy with the excitement that happens when you walk into the hot and slightly smelly room and place down your mat. You look at the mirror. Sit cross-legged and smile.

Bring. It. On.

This is yoga. And sometimes it’s gotta be really hot.

Namaste y’all.