Food Yoga- Meatless Monday!!

Zoodle


Official Meatless Monday Blogger

I just read an article about the damaging effects of dividing time between a computer, phone, tablet and TV. It apparently shrinks the brain. So I’ve decided to put my phone away while I bounce from laptop, TV and kitchen while I type this post. I already feel smarter.

Earlier this week the mail delivered a treat. I’m now the proud owner of a spiralizer. Oh sure, many people have been using this for years, but since it’s new to  me  dear reader, it’s now new to you. This gadget has already changed my life. It transforms veggies into ribbony strands and curly shapes. And trust me, this isn’t just cool, the shapes allow for dressings and sauce to cling.

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I spent my weekend enjoying this amazing east coast ‘pre-fall’ weather, bike riding, doing yoga and spiralizing everything I could get my hands on. On Friday I made a spiral cucumber, carrot, red onion salad. I added a bit of my lemon tahini dressing and tapped my toes as I chomped away. And since I’m pretty real with you when I write, I’m not ashamed to say that when I woke up at 3am for water, I had a large bite. I may or may not have had said salad for breakfast on Saturday.

Don’t judge.

Or do. I can take it.

No matter what your feelings, I’ll still share this easy Meatless Monday recipe.

Ingredients

  • squash zoodles (you can also use a mandolin- but I can’t really be trusted with one)
  • cherry tomatoes
  • red onions, very thinly sliced
  • mushrooms sliced (I used shitake, but hey grab whatever you have)
  • garlic minced (3 cloves)
  • spinach or any greens that are handy
  • olive oil- three tablespoons
  • splash quality balsamic
  • salt, pepper and white pepper
  • lemon juice from one lemon

In one pan sauté all of the veggies and ingredients except the zoodles.

  1. Heat the pan (with 2 tablespoons olive oil) over medium heat first add the onions, then garlic, then the mushrooms.
  2. In a second pan heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and quickly toss the zoodles for two minutes.
  3. Combine the sauce and zoodles
  4. Serve immediately

Delish.

Fair warning. Stay tuned for spiralizer recipes. If you see me running through the farmers market with loaded down with veggies and laughing with crazy eyes, keep movin’. It’s safer that way.

Namaste y’all.

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Staying Mindful Inside Asana

I know most of you must have seen the video of Rachelle Brooke Smith doing standing bow on a tiny ledge in NYC. She’s been called crazy, arrogant and irresponsible for filming it. Granted, it’s looks a bit crazy. I love rockin’ standing bow as much as the next yogini (especially because I am a hot yoga fiend) but on a ledge? Not so much.

But, if I’m getting really honest…I have probably pushed my own limits with poses that may have been dangerous for my body, though none admittedly would have sent me hurtling to death. I’m thinking specifically of hip openers. Over the past few months I’ve been playing with the full expression of kurmasana. On more than one occasion I have given myself that extra exhale in my hips to find the space to get back flat and belly on the floor. I know I should have waited. I wasn’t working from a place of steadiness and ease, but with ego.

You know that little whisper that says… just another half inch and I’ll be right there…Yeah, yeah I know my quads aren’t quite engaged and my breath is a touch short but one.more.push…

Maybe you don’t. If so, that’s awesome. My ego puts on make-up and passes herself off as determination. She’s tricky, that one.

I’m reading Sparks of Divinity, The Teachings of B.K.S. Iyengar (From 1959-1975). The book is a collection of journal writing, conversations and teachings complied by Noëlle Perez-Christiaens. After seeing this video and thinking about my own desire to ‘progress’ my practice one quote in particular jumped to mind. Iyengar said to Perez-Christiaens, ‘You want to do a pose to master it and put it in your pocket; I do it to do it. Be detached from the results.’

Brooks-Smith said she was feeling confident or she wouldn’t have done the video. While I love finding new places to explore and open up in my asana practice, I think my feet will stay firmly planted on the ground and detached from the results.

Namaste y’all.

Adventures in Yoga Teaching – Riker’s Island (Liberation Prison Yoga)

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I really like Tuesdays. However, this week I was cautiously optimistic about what would take place in 3 South A, the sentenced women’s dorm. Last week had a shaky start but seemed to end on a high note. I was hoping that I’d see some new faces in class.

I felt fantastic despite the rain and made my way to the 5th floor of the 800 Bed Annex. I was chatting with Ms. Gregory for a few minutes and headed to the dorm with the cart  packed with mats and blocks. I saw heads peeking around the corner and someone said, ‘It’s her, she’s here.’ When I got buzzed in people were waiting. This was definitely a change Normally, I come in and announce that yoga was happening. To have students waiting is a great sign.

We didn’t write this week, but we did have a great discussion about meditation being a way to calm the mind. Everyone listed ways that meditation makes them feel better. This list was a way to come back to a sense of peace and stillness when future bouts of anxiety surfaced. After our conversation I talked about pranayama. We did a few rounds of Kapalabhati and everyone commented on the change they felt in their body.

I’m noticing the level of focus increase over a short period of time. When I first started teaching we were doing some of the basics but didn’t have a full flow class. Each week the classes get longer and I’m adding a bit more. There are still lots of women who watch and do poses from their seats, but each week the floor is getting full of mats (I even see the COs sneak a look inside the class to see what’s going on). During meditation, everyone is quiet. After class a young woman asked me if there were poses that she could do that would help her relax when she had a headache. Right after someone else asked if there were poses to do for cramps. I’m encouraged that there’s a connection being made between yoga being a way to feel better and not just as a physical activity. I made a mental note to incorporate the therapeutic benefit of poses in classes from now on.

After I packed up- I took a gulp and headed downstairs to 3 South A. I wasn’t nervous, but I was bracing myself for the noise. It makes me want to cry thinking about it. If I had to live with that much noise all of the time, I’d lose my mind. Honestly.

I made my way in and announced that it was yoga time for those who were interested. Eight women came over. Someone turned off the TV. I tried to be cool and not dance around like a clown. But I was dancing on the inside.

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Yes. Yes, I was dancing like this on the inside. But back to class.

I asked everyone’s names and if they had ever done yoga before and many had. We had solid class and worked fairly hard. Meditation was very long and got a bit noisy with a spirited game of spades going on but I could feel the stillness of the group, and that’s what mattered. And after class someone asked about poses that help with back issues and cramps.

I think it’s clear that there’s a desire to use yoga for self-care and that’s great. Next week should be interesting.

Namaste y’all.

Food Yoga – Meatless Monday! (Daal Tadka)

daal


Official Meatless Monday Blogger

Happy Meatless Monday!!

This week you may want to try lentils. My recipe this week is brought to you by the blog Zenfully Delicious. I love Indian food and Daal is an easy way to try something new. For those of you new to the idea of removing meat from your diet creating interesting meals is good plan to keep you on track. Finding ‘meat’ substitutes wash’t something that worked for me. Generally speaking, I found that having great meals that didn’t need meat was the best way to me to enjoy a meatless lifestyle. While Daal is considered to be an accompaniment to an Indian meal, I had it as a main dish with some salad.

The key to Daal is the tempering of the spices at the end. Tempering spices in Indian cooking is an essential step and depending on the dish is either done at the beginning of cooking or at the end. In the case of Daal it is done at the end.

With Daal you can spice this up as much as you want. I added Garam Masala, smoked Paprika and a few drops of mustard oil to my tempering mixture.

Today’s Special is a cute indie flick I saw on Netflix. The scene with the tempering of the spices is particularly funny.

Anyway, back to the recipe.

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:
1½ cups yellow split lentils or toor lentils
½ a medium onion, finely chopped
1 large or 2 medium tomatoes, chopped
4 cloves or 2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon salt
¼ cup cilantro, chopped
Juice of half lemon

3-4 cups cups veggie stock (or water) (this depending on how soupy you’d like your daal. More liquid = more soup)

Tempering ingredients:
2 tablespoons canola oil
½ teaspoon whole cumin seeds
1 clove or ½ teaspoon minced garlic
1 whole Serrano pepper
½ teaspoon cumin powder
½ teaspoon coriander powder
¼ teaspoon chili powder

Directions

  1. In a large pot add 2 tablespoons olive oil ( you could also use butter or ghee but I’m keeping the dish vegan).
  2. Saute onions, tomatoes and garlic
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients except the cilantro
  4. Bring mixture to a boil and reduce heat.
  5. I deviated from the recipe here and added a little more spice. I like lots of flavor into the pot went more cumin, curry powder, red pepper flakes, freshly grated ginger and lime juice)
  6. Prepare tempering ingredients by measuring them out first.  Don’t mix them all together. I placed them on a flexible cutting board. The process happens quickly and it will burn if you try to gather the spices and temper at the same time.  Ask me how I know this.
  7. Simmer lentils for 20 minutes (or longer if you like them softer)
  8. Temper the spices and add to the daal as it is finished cooking.
  9. Stir in the tempered spices.
  10. Serve over rice immediately.

Tempering Spices

Heat canola oil in a pan on a stovetop till it shimmers (should be hot). Turn off the heat. To this hot oil, add the cumin seeds, garlic, Serrano pepper and dry spices. Everything should sizzle in the pan. (Watch out for splattering spices during this process.)

I added a dollop of cilantro chutney which can be found in most grocery stores. In my pantry I also had some chickpea chips. Perfect for a garnish!

Enjoy!!

Namaste y’all!!

Adventures in Teaching Yoga- Riker’s Island (Liberation Prison Yoga

flower concrete

 

8:20 am (On the Q100 to Riker’s)

I was hesitant to write a post last week. It’s not because anything dramatic happened, just the opposite in fact. It was hot last and despite the air conditioning being out on the B side of the dorm- 15 women still showed up to do yoga. Honestly, it felt a little more like my hot yoga classes. However, I went with it. Because it was warm I actually had us move a little more. My thinking was, we’re going to sweat anyway- we may as well make it good. As luck would have it, when we got to meditation the air came back on. All in all it was a great class.

8:35 (On the Riker’s Route Bus)

Over the wekeend I spoke with Anneke. She wanted to know if I would be interested in discussing the possibility of teaching a class to the sentenced women a few floors down. The vibe would be decidedly less friendly. Of course I said- sure, why not?

So…after I teach the B side I’ll head downstairs and see what happens. I’m a little unsure about how this is going to go. Because my initial experience was so incredible I’m thinking that challenge is on the horizon.

Leap.

Oddly on the bus…Kirk Franklin’s ‘Smile’ is playing loudly.

Good Plan.

After Class…

I’m back on the bus. Smiling.

Let me take you through it- because I’m still not sure what happened myself…

With a cart packed with mats and blocks I enter the elevator and press 3. Both Carmen, the dorm counselor of the A side and Anneke offered to take me down to the third floor- but I said I’d rather go on my own. The set-up for sentenced women is different than those who are pre-sentenced. And frankly, there’s no real incentive for them to have to take class- they’re already convicted. There aren’t counselors either- no buffer. Just me and my yoga mats.

It wasn’t pride that refused the escort- I feel like these women may have snickered- the yoga teacher feels like she needs a chaperone?

 

Anyway, I get buzzed in and instantly I’m slammed by the noise. It’s loud. So ear piercingly, soul shatteringly loud.

Last night I had a dream that I was in prison- an anxiety dream no doubt. I was in a cage across from a guy in an orange jumpsuit hurling sexual slurs- there were blue earplugs on a chain just out of reach. 

My dream comes back as I wheel my cart into the dining area. People are screaming conversations at each other. It’s not hostile, just loud. The TV blares and the buzzing of the door seems louder than upstairs, though I’m sure it isn’t.

Okay smarty pants I tell myself- whatcha gonna do with this chaos?

I smile, say hi- introduce myself and ask the women sitting if they want to do yoga. One says no and looks at me like I’m an idiot. Another looks at me and turns away and two women who are having what I’m pretty sure is the loudest conversation ever don’t acknowledge me.

Splendid.

But now- I’m committed. Damn- I’ma do this, I think. Rejection?! I laugh at rejection.

So I leave the cart and walk to the dorm and say hey to the officer and introduce myself and say that I’m here to teach yoga weekly. He announces it for me- which is helpful. No one stirs but I ask again if anyone wants to do yoga. I get two takers and a third who wants to but can’t because this is the time she gets to visit her daughter.

Sitting on mats and blocks we get started. It’s still loud.

So loud.

On TV Maury talks to mother who has slept with her daughter’s baby daddy and who is also pregnant with said baby daddy’s baby.

But this is life in this dorm so I can adapt or go home. We warm up and I tell them about sun salutations. Wondering how I’m going to grab the attention of the two women talking loudly I opt for distraction. I figure if they get distracted they may unknowingly lower their voices even a half decibel.

I demo a sun salutation and jump back high, smooth and light. I float forward (with bent knees) and hover over my shoulders before landing.

‘Our practice on our mats- asana prepares us for meditation. Each week we’ll spend time together and build a practice that you’ll be able to do on your own. You guys want to have some fun?’

They’re ready.

‘Did you just see that shit she did?’ said one of the women at the table.

Silence. They begin to watch class. Phew.

The class and I do modified sun salutes over and over. They’re hooked and I’m thrilled.

(Did I see someone turn down the TV?)

In tree pose one of the women who was talking loudly says she wants to join. She sets up a mat and blocks. In the background someone else is saying that if more people don’t come to join class ‘she wont be back.’ It was still noisy but we had fun and moved our bodies.

I offered to do a guided meditation and they said yes before I could finish asking. While class was short- I did long meditation- making the noise a part of it in order to release it. This may have been more for me than them. By this time a few more women had come in to observe and when I opened my eyes for a moment during meditation I could see the woman who looked at me like I was a fool when I first entered had her eyes closed.

No one was talking and someone had closed the door to the dorm to cut down on the noise.

We close class. They say they feel good.

 

I tell them I’ll see them next week.

Other women tell me they might try next time. Another says it looked pretty cool.

Back upstairs someone asks why I didn’t turn down the TV or quiet the room.

I wouldn’t walk into someone’s home and turn the channel. Whether they like it or not this is their home- I’m an unknown and uninvited visitor. However, for an hour every week I need up carve out a corner and hope that people will respect it.

Think things are on the right track.

I can’t wait for next week.

On the PATH train I’m covered in stillness. Even with the doors open and trains pulling in and leaving, announcements pouring out of speakers- it’s still more quiet than the dorm.

Every week I become more present to the things I take for granted. Silence. Stillness. Peace of Mind.

The sentenced women’s dorm is going to be a glorious challenge and I already know it’s going to change me in ways I can’t imagine.

 

I’m so grateful.

 

Namaste y’all.

 

Please read more about  Anneke Lucas and Liberation Prison Yoga.

 

 

Adventures in Teaching Yoga- Prison Yoga (Liberation Prison Yoga)

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This is a teaching on a Tibetan word: shenpa. The usual translation of the word shenpa is attachment. If you were to look it up in a Tibetan dictionary, you would find that the definition was attachment. But the word “attachment” absolutely doesn’t get at what it is. Dzigar Kongtrul said not to use that translation because it’s incomplete, and it doesn’t touch the magnitude of shenpa and the effect that it has on us.

If I were translating shenpa it would be very hard to find a word, but I’m going to give you a few. One word might be hooked. How we get hooked.

Another synonym for shenpa might be that sticky feeling. In terms of last night’s analogy about having scabies, that itch that goes along with that and scratching it, shenpa is the itch and it’s the urge to scratch. So, urge is another word. The urge to smoke that cigarette, the urge to overeat, the urge to have one more drink, or whatever it is where your addiction is.

 

– Pema Chödrön

 

Hooked.  It’s been a part of my dharma talks in my studio classes. But when it came up as a topic for my Riker’s students, it felt sticky and tricky. A lot of the women in my class are at Riker’s for alleged drug related offenses. Because of my hammer personality I tend to see all problems as nails. However, I thought that approaching addiction from a unique angle may bring a new perspective. To add a little more tension to the mix, the B side of the dorms had their bunks searched in the middle of the night- so needless to say things were running a little…

When I got there- everyone was still cleaning up. The A side of the dorm didn’t have a teacher that day- so instead of sitting around waiting for the B side to get ready- I decided to do yoga with the A side as well.

 

Before our practice we talked about attachment and how the asana practice can get the mind ready to meditate. Taking it a step further we discussed how meditation can help us deal with that ‘hooked’ feeling or itch that Pema brilliantly articulates. I made our practice a bit tougher than usual, discussing throughout how when we work our bodies hard it helps clear the mind and is a distraction from looping thoughts or old stories that we tell ourselves. As a class we went through sun salutations, warriors, lunges, standing backbends, balancing poses and a brief standing meditation. By the time we hit the floor everyone (including me) had worked up a bit of a sweat.

 

I brought my copy of Start Where You Are by Pema Chödrön and read a paragraph before guided meditation. One of the students translates for a friend who doesn’t speak any English and I found her voice soothing as I guided the class to a place of stillness.

 

When I finished a few students helped me take the mats and bolsters to the B side where I found some students ready and waiting. A few of them told me that about the search. They were ready for yoga. With this side feeling a little more tense we worked even harder. It was a good move. Every time we came to a balancing pose I reminded them not be attached- to the pose, to expectations…to anything. Everything changes because nothing is forever. We could have gotten down and dirty with the murky shit that surrounds addictive behavior- but they have group all day. In the moment it felt right to take a yogic approach to letting go.

 

And when we were in tree the Jane’s Addiction’s song Jane Says started playing in my head. In a brief moment I thought about addiction and some of the dumb things that I did in high school and college (and who are we kidding in my twenties)…it’s a roll of the dice. I was never addicted to drugs- but easily could have been. A one bad decision can lead to another. And when addiction gets hold all the great parenting and supportive home structures can’t save you. There are less differences that one might think between people inside jail and outside of jail.

When I’m there I focus on the things that make us the same.

When I am there- we are all yogis.

We are all the same.

 

By the time we were on our mats the room was breathing differently. It still felt a little tense but it was decidedly better than when we started. I used to think energy was woo-woo- but you can sense how a room feels and that’s not bs. The guided meditation helped to dissipate more tension. And by the time we ended, things felt better. I won’t say that things were great because I can’t imagine that a yoga class can take away the fear from a late night/early morning dorm search- but there were some smiles of relief and the question that never gets old. ‘You’ll be back next week?’

Definitely.

Namaste y’all.

 

 

 

 

 

Adventures in Yoga – Insomnia Strikes

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My favorite part of teaching and taking class is savasana.

This is because I tend to run on the anxious side of life.  This affects how I sleep. It got so rough at one point I went to the doctor and was handed a script, but taking sleeping pills was not how I wanted to live. It was also a sign that I needed a major life change. Two a half years and new career later, my sleep is a lot more solid. But my monkey mind still likes to explore the jungle of my brain. I credit yoga to my more peaceful slumber.

Turns out it not just in my head. A 2012 study conducted by researchers at Harvard Medical School said that a regular yoga practice can help people who suffer from chronic insomnia. A similar study was conducted with 410 cancer patients. The results were similar. It seems that by doing yoga people can fall asleep easier, faster, wake up less often and have a more productive night’s sleep.

On the nights that I’m feeling a little antsy before bed, I’ve found that there two poses that help me chillax.

 

Reclining Goddess Pose

This is my favorite by far. Goddess releases tension along the inner thighs and hips. Sometimes if I’m looking for a deeper backbend I’ll roll a small blanket or towel and place it vertically so it aligns with my spine. The release is delicious. Delicious!! For a more special experience I’ll even add a few drops of essential oil to my temples so I can really let go. It doesn’t take long before The Sandman knocks.

To get into the pose recline on your back and bend your knees so your feet are parallel. extend the arms along the sides of your body and try to brush the backs of the heels with your middle finger. Let your knees fall to the side and keep the souls of the feet touching. Keep the arms extended and turn the palms facing up. Using a sleep mask is a great treat here. Want to ensure that you aren’t counting sheep very long? Try an essential oil blend. My favorite blend is by Aura Cacia.

 

Legs up the Wall

This is another great pose to do before bed. This is perfect for those nights when the you thought you’d never make it to bed time. You know the days, when you’ve been pulled in a thousand different directions and none of those directions had anything to do with the list of things you were supposed to get done. And when you finally get home to what you think is your sanctuary, you realize that you forgot to take something out for dinner- but the dog did leave something out for you- right in the middle of the carpet. On those nights the stress of it all might make sleep elusive, so try legs up the wall.

Getting into the pose is as easy as it sounds. Recline on your back and take your legs up the wall. You may have to schooch your butt forward a bit so your legs can press against the wall. And then…Just.Let.Go. Feel your back release into the mattress. Inhale in the idea of sleep. Exhale out any tension. Let your body melt. Allow for some gentle movement so you can get comfortable. Trust me, your troubles will seem like a faint memory.

 

We all deserve a great night’s sleep. Don’t let it slip out of your fingers.

Namaste y’all.

Adventures in Teaching Yoga- Riker’s Island (Liberation Prison Yoga)

Namaste1

“Comedy is acting out optimism.”

-Robin Williams

 

By some magnificent shift of the planets I woke at 5:30 feeling refreshed. The first thing I heard in my head was the last line of the Langston Hughes poem, ‘A Dream Deferred’.

 

What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore–
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over–
like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

My dreams had been vivid (which isn’t unusual), on my mind was Michael Brown and the death of Robin Williams. The brain is incredible and exhausting. It didn’t help that the prior day was challenging. I’m in a learning curve with the next part of my career and I was struggling with a project. Although I had a wonderful time teaching last night by the time I hit the bed I was physically aching.

And yet…

My soul felt light as I got dressed for Riker’s. The scheduled topic this week was depression. Unfortunately, current events fit perfectly. I had a flow planned but as I biked to the PATH train I decided to change things up.

star pose

Standing star pose would be our focus. Last week in class I mentioned the Ted Talk video with Amy Cuddy and faking it till you make it. This week we used that as a foundation and talked about Robin Williams, suicide and depression. Everyone took time before class to write down a few small things that she would do to feel better if the mood was starting to darken. The list was long and everyone has great suggestions ranging from talking to counselors and friends, reaching out to family, prayer, meditation and physical activity. I think having everyone write and share before class worked for me. We then applied those ideas when we practiced.

We started at the top of our mats in star pose, chests lifted. Our inhales tried to take us off the ground and our exhales made us bold and strong. Moving right to Warriors everyone’s body was expressive. In between postures we can back to star pose. One student succinctly stated, “Star pose is…cool.”

Indeed. To spice things up we even played around with eagle. At first everyone said, “No way..” However, taking the pose one step at a time everyone was in it. Not sure who was more excited but we all laughed. I know they get a kick out of this whacky Black chick who says rock on and awesome at the end of every other sentence. I’m grateful that they humor me and trust me enough to share.

On the floor we used bolsters and did a few therapeutic poses that inspire feelings of safety. Supported Child’s pose got lots of love. Hugging the bolster helped release a lot of tension and instill a sense of security. Our seated forward folds with the bolster stretched the legs without too much tension. But there was a collective exhale of joy when we did reclined goddess pose with the bolster.

‘I want to stay here all day’ someone said. So we spent our guided mediation reclined. And the space became still. There was no yelling. No buzzing door. I kept the focus on the idea that finding peace is our choice- even in chaos we can close our eyes and look inside to be still. To be still without holding still. This can be our choice and our decision. After class there were requests for a longer guided meditation. Next week, I will happily comply.

These women are important. These women matter. I think of them daily.

They are my inspiration. They are resilient and funny and honest and true.

Until next week y’all. Namaste.

(To learn more about Liberation Prison Yoga and its programs- click here)

Adventures in Teaching Yoga – Riker’s Island (Liberation Prison Yoga)

Rikers-Island-the-second-largest-prison-in-the-U.S.-Of-11000-inmates-4000-have-a-mental-illness

 

 

 

The typical Metro NYC summer has finally arrived. Swampy heat. It’s like wearing a wet sweatshirt.

I leave much earlier than I need to so I don’t have to be on the trains at full rush hour crush. That’s one of the things I appreciate about this second career. No crushing. Yes, there’s rushing and pressure but there is a sense of ownership about how I move in the world. I think this as I travel to Riker’s. I still get to move how I want, where I want and when I want. These luxuries are something I appreciate more than ever.

The Q100 is pretty empty as usual.

I’m already used to the routine of checking in.

 

I’m surprised at how many of the guards remember me and say, ‘Yoga, right?’ I smile and am told with sincerity to have fun.

 

Out back waiting for the bus I see the driver that I chatted up last week. I hop on the bus to head to RSMC (the dorm). Quickly, I realize that I’m on the wrong bus but secretly I’m pleased because Slick Rick is playing. It’s still incredible to me the enormity of this place. There are five bus routes.

 

After a bus change, I get to where I should be. I’m amazed at the intriciy of the system.  I check in at the dorms at 8:45.  Walking to the 800 section I see a few of the women from last week.  They excitedly let me know they will we back upstairs and don’t want to miss class. This makes me feel great and I quickly forget about the oppressive heat.

 

I see Carmen and get a big hug. I also meet Ms. Gregory. She is the counselor for the other side of the dorm.

 

Carmen takes me to her side of the dorm. Our talk before our practice is about anger. We physically demonstrate what anger looks like ad feels like in the body. I suggest that as they go through class to see if any particular pose brings up any feelings. We began class with stillness. I invited students to mentally scan any tight areas their body.

Moving to all fours as a group we did cat stretches and then back to a neutral spine. Slowly we sat on our heels for a toe stretch. On an inhale we found tabletop and on an exhale we moved to Camel Pose. We did this three times and it was a lovely way to gently stir the body. Coming to our feet we did lunges and tightened our firsts to feel the tension and then relaxed into a pose to feel the difference between the two. We moved quickly and did more heart opening postures to release tension.

Our guided meditation was filled with noise but by incorporating the background, I could feel students keep the intention on themselves rather than what was happening.

When it came to writing,  right away someone said she already wrote about anger and didn’t want to write about it again. I asked of there were other topics that she might was to explore and wanted suggestions and after getting a few she decided she just didn’t feel like writing. Another student said that after meditation she really felt like thinking rather than writing- so it seemed best to let the writing piece go. Next week I may do the writing before meditation and see what happens.

Class wrapped and everyone said that if they were there next week, they’d be back.

 

Second Class

On the other side the vibe is very different. When we talk about anger and what it looks like the conversation shifts to the physiological effects of anger. Answers were pinging around the room:

Stress!

High blood pressure!

Migraines!

Heart attacks!

Muscle spasms!

Answer after answer rang out. The discussion shifted to how yoga can help with managing anger and I talked about how by learning to breathe better we give ourselves a chance to pause. Sometimes the chance to pause can make all of the difference in what happens to us. ‘Might not do something stupid’ someone said. That was a great way to wrap and begin the practice. We held poses to feel our power and let our muscles tense and then relax.

I felt a strong sense of purpose with this group. I’m not sure if if was the time of day but we were able to have a long period of quiet for our guided meditation.  When class closed I could feel a greater sense of calm.

After recapping with Carmen I get on the elevator and there are about 6 six large guards. And like that I’m reminded why it’s important that I come here.

Because I get to leave.

Namaste y’all.