Adventures In Yoga- Upside Down Shiva You Move Me

photo-25

 

In movies rain is symbolic of change. You know that moment when the main character realizes something that is central to the story or some major event takes place in the rain indicating that something big may be around the corner. Sometimes the use of rain is blatantly obvious representing baptism or rebirth. Think Tim Robbins in Shawshank. He escapes during a thunderstorm. He crawls through a tunnel of shit metaphorically and literally to emerge reborn and free. In this case the rain washes away the wrongs against him- absolving him of the crime of prison break.

 

Shawshank_Redemption_271

 

Rain is change. And change shows us another point of view.

Handstands help me see the world from another perspective. I am literally turning myself upside down. As a kid I loved to stand on top of dresser and feel how different the bedroom was. It was like living in a new place. Sadly, while I’m plenty fearless in some parts of my life there are a few areas that need an shake-up.

The past few months have been challenging and trying. I’m in the middle of a debate in my head about which direction to take my yoga and it’s been really hard. I’m wavering more because I’m almost sure positive what I want to do but afraid to take the leap. This recent decision isn’t what I planned and is uncharted territory. Irrationally, I started looking for signs to see if I was making a good choice.

table headstand

 

The universe didn’t hit me over the head with a brick but at Jivamukti the monthly focus is inversions. For the past week I’ve been on my head, hands and thinking with my heart.

Shiva the Destroyer blasting through what I thought was real as I kick my legs up.

Shiva the Destroyer bringing me back to earth as I come falling down out of Pincha Mayurasana.

With every fall and every kick back up I am a little more balanced, a little less afraid and a little closer to finding that center.

It’s true that when you change the way you look at things, the way you look at things changes.

Upside down, Shiva you move me.

Namaste y’all.

 

handstand table

Advertisements

Vegan Diaries – Squash Soup (It’s Food Yoga Baby)

It’s pretty amazing how quickly my vegan challenge is becoming a part of my life! I feel compelled to share a recipe when it really knocks my socks off.

I love soup. I love soup. I love soup. There’s nothing better that a warm mug of soup on a cold night. It makes me snuggly wuggly.

So here’s a little soup yoga my friends. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!!!

I’m always looking for new soup recipes. Recently I’ve been on a spaghetti squash kick. It’s available year round and is very economical (cheap). I’ve sautéed it with veggies, used it in place of pasta and drizzled it with maple syrup as a dessert.

This soup is my new fave. It’s easy to make and tastes like something off of the menu of a great restaurant. Impress your friends and family tonight!

Ingredients:

1 whole spaghetti squash

2 granny smith apples peeled and diced

3 cloves garlic finely chopped

2 shallots chopped (onion works just fine- I like the mellow taste of shallot)

4 c. vegetable stock

1 tsp curry powder

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp turmeric

1 tsp black pepper

1 tsp salt

1 Tbsp olive oil

fresh cilantro for garnish (optional)

  • Poke several holes in your squash. This way it won’t explode in your oven (ask me how I know this…)
  • Roast the squash whole at 350 for 60 minutes. Allow the squash to cool. Cut the squash down the middle and remove the seeds. Scoop out the squash and place in a bowl.
  • Heat oil in a soup pot (med heat) lightly sauté the shallots add the green apple and the squash.
  • Add all spices.
  • Stir the mixture until fragrant and mixed. Add the broth.
  • Allow to simmer for 25 minutes

Now the important part:

  1. Add the soup in batches to your blender. (You can use a food processor- but I think blending creates a much better texture)
  2. Puree until smooth
  3. Transfer batch back to soup pot
  4. Heat the soup
  5. Garnish with a sprig of cilantro and serve immediately

Serving suggestions: I had mine for dinner with a salad.  This makes a great starter for a dinner party as well. If you are craving carbs, toasted Ezekiel bread with a schmear of hummus (yeah I broke out some yiddish, I’m from NJ and live in the NYC area if you don’t know some yiddish- oy! I can’t admit to knowing you. The shame!)

Yoga Blues – When Your Practice is Just ‘Meh’

rainy

It’s been grey, damp and cold the past few days. Makes me wanna spend time alone. The weather is even depressed, bitter cold is too much effort so instead we get a blasé shrug of dampness that’s not freezing and not warm. Tuesday just wasn’t productive, I spun my wheels all day and then found myself rushing to class (how does that happen?). With teacher training happening right after, I wasn’t really feelin’ it.

Not the right attitude but no one said that this yoga life was going to be peachy every day.

hero-pose-

To add insult to injury we started class in virasana (seated hero’s pose). Bitchy laughter started to rise from deep inside, but I stopped it from coming out.  I hate this pose. I know, it seems silly to say that I hate a pose, but I do. Virasana brings up all sorts of crap whenever I do it. My IT bands are tight but not so tight that I can’t do the pose, it simply makes me uncomfortable.

Very uncomfortable.

In addition, there was a flourescent light on which is usually turned off during practice. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Thankfully, K picked up on my pyschic vibes that I was having a mild freak out and turned off the lights.

Why was I being such a baby? Why was my monkey mind getting the best of me? The flip side of deepening a yoga practice is that you see everything more clearly, the good and the bad. I need to become more comfortable with being uncomfortable.

And guess what? Sometimes, it’s just a bad day. Like they say, sometimes the only way over is through.

Through I went, grudgingly. My practice was meh. Everything felt creaky and cranky. We had a fantastic lecturer but I had to force myself to stay in the moment.

But I didn’t run from it, I just grabbed myself by the ears and pulled myself back to now. In the past I would have found a way to distract myself from the blech of it all. I reflected on this as I took a shower. With my PJs on and a cup of tea in my hand, I had to admit that all in all, because I stayed in the now- it was a damn good day.

Oneika – 1   Bad day – 0

This is yoga. And I absolutely friggin’ love it- even when I’m grumpy.

Namaste.

Adventures in Teacher Training – Practice Class (It’s Never as Good as the First Time)

yoga studio

I smile a lot these days. Even when I’m feeling anxious a grin manages to envelop me.

Why, you wonder?

I taught my first 30 minute yoga class. Yoga teacher training has been an amazing experience whether I’m reading the Yoga Sutras or breaking down a pose. I’m learning things about myself. At 40, this seems like quite a feat. We’re always growing and changing blah, blah and I believe that as much as the next person.

Seriously, I believe the platitudes I spout and not in some ironic way. Yet, since I started teacher training I feel like I’ve started to become who I’m supposed to be. I hope this revelation never gets old.

So back to my class- here’s how it went down:

False start. I relied too much on my music. With my phone accidentally on shuffle I skipped a section. I inadvertently attached poses to songs rather than having the songs keep pace for class. I guess that’s the danger of music. No worries, because I started again. What I needed to remember was that it may have been the first time that I was teaching a yoga class it wasn’t my first yoga class or my first time teaching a group of people.

It was better than I could have imagined! I relaxed and started to be me. When the class started to move through the flow I stopped thinking. Moving from pose to pose felt good. I got some technical corrections and some solid feedback.

I also had a chance to practice with my teacher one-on-one. It was spur of the moment. Having structure and the ability to go with the flow are equally important. As I learn and add postures to my yoga ‘repertoire’, I’ll be able to color outside of the lines a bit more. I think that’s more of a function of how I learn more than yoga itself. And oddly enough, taking my teacher through a practice one-on-one wasn’t nearly as intense as I thought.

My biggest takeaway from both experiences is that if you are passionate and study your students will feel that. When you relax and let go the flow comes.

I almost wish that I could go back in time to appreciate what I was doing a bit more, but c’est la vie. There will be plenty of other firsts.

yoga
yoga (Photo credit: GO INTERACTIVE WELLNESS)

Adventures in Yoga Teacher Training – Practice Class or Leaning into Fear

yoga-class

I’m teaching a 30 minute class in a few days to my teacher and fellow trainees. Can you hear my heart beating a million miles per minute? It’s not fear but more of a fear and excitement cocktail (Shaken). The only way to do it is to do it. I don’t have a fear of public speaking (people who know me are snorting in agreement). And I love yogaAnd I know that this is what I want to do. There’s a strange place that I inhabit right before that leap into the right thing. I hesitate, both enjoying the moment and slightly intimidated by the knowledge that you can’t unring the bell.

I’ve been practicing in my head for days now and while the dog doesn’t make a great student, I’m pretty sure Dakota is ready to do sun salutations if it means I’ll be quiet. 30 minutes goes by more quickly than you would think when you are teaching. A warm-up, a few vinyasas, belly-downs, then savasana and boom- it’s over.  I’m over thinking the process. Obsessively, I’m combing through my music library trying to find songs that match with my personality, the poses and the studio. Weird I know, but as a former bookseller I used to dance with glee when booksellers set up tables with great subjects and covers with colors that complimented each other, so it’s clear I have a few issues.

I like to teach. I always have. Communicating a thought and exchanging ideas is my favorite way to pass the time. Guiding students through a yoga practice is just that so I should chill. I think I’m putting a lot of pressure on myself, but if I fall on my face I’ll be faced with deciding if teaching yoga is a bad idea. Intelligently, I know this isn’t a likely outcome. One of my teachers talks a lot about ‘leaning into fear’.

It’s like I’m at the top of the roller coaster and that click, click sound slows down just before you drop. In fact, even as I write this I’m nodding because this comparison is exactly what I’m feeling as I prep for my practice class, I’m excited and terrified. Most of all- I’m ready, because I know I’m for an amazing ride.

wooden-rollercoaster

I’ll let you know how it goes.

Namaste y’all!

Adventures in Yoga Teacher Training- One Half-Inch Can Change Everything (Props Workshop)

oneikasyogalife, black women yoga, yoga, yoga props
photo credit livingitupall.com

Props workshop. Whoop!

I’d been looking forward to it for a few weeks. We were going to learn about how to use props with students. Lots of people are afraid to use yoga blocks or blankets to help with a pose. Assistance means weakness, and to so many yoga means being strong. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Props can be used for the inflexible, but they can also help any yogi feel a different sensation or hold a pose for a sustained period. The workshop was also taught by one of my favorite teachers so I was extra stoked (yeah, I’m tryin’ to bring ‘stoked’ back).

I was one of those people. Props were for punks. I’ve since learned the err of my ways. Doing chatarunga on blocks is no freaking joke. It’s only a few inches more but it makes all of the difference in the world when you are trying to push up. (Chatarunga and I also have a spotted past, but that’s a story for another day.) Let’s get back to the few inches.

My real transformations are measured in inches and not feet. Change is easy when it’s huge or thrust upon you. Marriage, job change, break-up and moving are big deal things that force us to deal with monumental shifts. But it’s the little changes, the incremental steps that take real commitment. Taking yourself to the gym each day, or promising to show up and be better person at work. Drinking 8 glasses of water every day. Or being better partner/parent by being more patient.  It’s easy to fall off the wagon with the little things. But in the end, the tiny changes provide our most eye opening experiences.

Throughout my life I realize that big deal moments were really a series of little ones. Some changes happened by accident, others took work. I wanted to be happy end the end of each day. Each morning I began to take stock of where I was and what I needed to do to be happy in the moment. This led to a larger life change with yoga.  And then teacher training and a new career.

You get my drift, pickin’ up what I’m puttin’ down etc…

Yoga raja kapotasana pigeon pose

Back to the workshop: 

While in pigeon pose I told D that I wasn’t feeling a stretch in front of my hips. Reluctantly, I asked for an adjustment, because it’s a pose that feels good, relaxing even.  D came behind me and reposititioned my hips one half-inch.

Oh. My. God.

‘This is why people struggle in this pose.’ I grumbled to myself.

Pigeon pose now sucks. The upside, it won’t forever. The challenge? Making sure I put my hips in that position every time I’m there. I know I will. If all of the little changes have brought me to a place where I’m happier than I’ve ever been before yoga, I can’t imagine that joy I’ll find now that yoga is in my life.

This is yoga. One half-inch at a time and I love it.

Namaste y’all.