Sunday, November 28, 2010

wintry morning

It's finally starting to feel wintry here.  I rode my bike in to practice with my Ashtanga friends this morning.  I love the feeling of the cool crisp air on my face.  Riding in the cold also helps to warm up the muscles a bit before diving right into practice.

My practice this morning felt very good despite the massive amounts of turkey that I've been eating.  I was able to roll up to balance on the first try in ubaya padangustasana and urdva mukha paschimatanasana without bending my knees for the first time since the B12 crash.  That felt very good.  I'm also slowly building back up to 25 breaths in headstand. 

The neighborhood stray cat that has adopted us was waiting for me in our driveway when I got back. She's still sick but isn't sneezing green gunk. That was encouraging.  Even though it's pretty cold out, her gray fur is always warm from basking in the sun. 

Saturday, November 27, 2010

small class, big love

I never quite know what to expect when I show up to teach my Saturday afternoon class.  I'm ready to rock full primary or break it down and take it easy depending on who shows up.

My classes here are teensy... so teensy that I was on the verge of giving up.  The last two classes were one-on-one with some very dedicated and enthusiastic students.  But I had to ask myself, at what point will no one show up?

So this afternoon I packed up my little Durga and my tea and headed off to class with the knowledge that I might be turning around to come right home.

But three students showed up! Two were students who had been to my class before.  The third was a new-to-ashtanga dude.  We had a great class together.  I really appreciated their dedication and effort in the practice.

Now, with my faith restored, I need to come up with a plan to grow my class.  I think I'll start with little fliers, some social media action...what else?  Time to brainstorm.

Friday, November 26, 2010

the last word on B12 - info for my veggie friends

Since my run in with B12 deficiency and nerve damage, I have drastically changed my diet.  For one, I'm giving myself a pass on being a vegetarian, at least until I've healed.  I still have tingly-ness in my right hand.  Occasionally in urdva padmasana, I lose control again of my right leg.

I've been taking a multi vitamin and a B12 supplement and definitely feel the difference. I'm also eating meat.  I'm sticking to free range and grass fed.  When I go to the doctor again in January, I'll ask for them to test my B12 levels again.  If it is back in the normal range, I'll go back to just fish and dairy.

Meantime, this is a good article about the B12 issue.  I was completely unaware of this problem until my leg suddenly stopped functioning.  For my friends who are vegetarian or vegan you should definitely read this:

I do believe that being a vegetarian is kinder to our bodies and to our earth and plan to return to that lifestyle once I've regained my health.  

got space heater?

Just as I was gloating yesterday over our beautiful 65 degree November weather, a cold front moved through.  We went from 65 to 27 overnight.  A small snow storm came with leaving a beautiful light powder on the ground.

We live in an apartment in a beautiful old Victorian home with high ceiling and deep windowsills.  Like most homes of this style, it is hardly energy efficient. The heat is controlled by the landlord who apparently sets it at a cool 60 degrees.  When I turn on my space heater for practice, it usually shows the temperature at about 58 or 59.

Usually, my heater will warm up the room to about 68. That's not ideal for practice, but it's not bad. This morning it struggled to get up to 64.  I kept on my long sleeve shirt but that got in the way of binds.  My feet stayed icy through the entire primary series and my shoulders wouldn't open up.

I think it's time to invest in a second space heater to help the tiny one I have.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving Gratitude!

This morning I had an energetic practice.  To beat the cool temperature of my living room, I did full vinyasa between postures.  Since my injury and the cleanse, I haven't been able to catch my right heel in kapotasana.  But I am getting much closer.  With a little time and work, I'm sure that it will come back. 

Today I'm grateful for what my body can do.  I'm grateful that I am healthy and in good physical shape. 

I'm grateful that I have a loving family back in Pennsylvania, that they always support me, and that they accept me for who I am.

I'm grateful for the yoga community that I belong to, for the friendships that I've cultivated through it, and for the loving family of yogis and yoginis that I have throughout the world.

I'm thankful for this new city that I live in and my new friends and colleagues.

I'm thankful for the many years that I lived in Boston and to the enduring friendships that I built there.  I miss you all so much and send my love out to you.

I'm grateful for my husband who is generous and loving.  I'm grateful that he accepts and loves me for who I am.  I'm thankful that with him I always have someone to dance with and laugh with. 

I'm grateful that he's making our Thanksgiving dinner!

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!!  Much love to all of you.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

come in royogini are you out there?

The long silence from this end has been due to a few different recent events.  Last week, I was at a conference in Philadelphia for my bills-paying profession.  There was not a lot of yoga related activity during the time I was there.  I packed my mat with good intentions, but the yoga studio there was holding a sold out workshop instead of Mysore-style practice and I was uninspired to do yoga in my hotel room.  I was inspired to over indulge with some friends that I haven't seen in a long time.  The brief departure from my yoga life was worth it.

Then last week I was participating in a professional development workshop through my job.  It was a week long "Humanity Academy" which addressed the topics of diversity and tolerance and becoming a change agent.  It was a really intense workshop as we were encouraged to look inward at our own biases and privileges.

Throughout the week, I kept coming back to a piece I had read about mindful speaking.  One tool to use is to ask these three questions: Is it kind? Is it true?  Is it necessary?  So much of what we say doesn't fit all three.  It's a great way to keep oneself in check especially in these kinds of forums.

I was also really impressed with the openness of the other participants.  Everyone came with an open heart and mind and was ready to share and learn.

But now I'm back and preparing for the holiday.  Last night I took a full moon restorative class with Romi of Yoga with Romi (  She's an amazingly gifted teacher.  The class literally consisted of four postures that I easily could have done on my own.  With her guided imagery and gentle instruction, I left feeling completely blissful.  It's great to have such a wonderful teacher right here in Lexington.

That's just one of the many things that I'll be grateful for this Thanksgiving.  What are you grateful for?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

tortilla espanola

I'm following my glum post with something much more!  This is my favorite thing to do with leftover potatoes - inspired by the Spanish dish tortilla espanola:

at least four medium leftover potatoes (cooked: baked or boiled - it even works if they have been seasoned or butter was added)
 lots of olive oil
two cloves of garlic
spices to taste
4 eggs
Peas (optional)

Coat the bottom of a pan with olive oil (do NOT be stingy!).  Heat the olive oil on medium high heat and add the garlic being careful not to burn. At this point you could also add spices like paprika or cumin.  Then add in your potatoes.  Leave them alone for about 10 minutes.  You want the potatoes to get really crusty on the bottom.  Beat the eggs together and pour over the potatoes.  If adding peas, do that now.  Cover with a lid and let cook for another 10 minutes or so. 

I used to perform acrobatics and attempt to flip the entire thing onto a plate to turn it over in the pan and cook the other side.  I've given up on that.  Only one side needs to be crusty.

Serve with some yummy bread and a light salad.


Fear is an amazingly manipulative emotion.  Even if you practice non-reacting and being in the present moment, as I have been trying to do for many years, fear is that last emotion that can really derail your hardwork and unsettle what you believe to be real and important. 

Yesterday was a big day for fear here.  When we got home last night after work there were several news vans parked across the street at a neighbor's house.  Being nosey, we scoured the internet news sites to try to find out what was going on.  What we found out was deeply disturbing.  Our neighbor's home had been brooken into around 10am while he was there.  The robbers tied him up and were apparently quite violent with him.  He is fine now but many valuable things were stolen.

Hearing this, my imagination ran wild. This was surely going to happen to us. I was looking for ways to better secure the doors (pushing a dresser in front of one came to mind).  Shawn was shopping online for weaponry. 

How did this all happen?  One minute, we weren't even thinking about home safety, the next we were shopping for guns.  Fear.  It's not like people's homes aren't broken into every day.  But somehow, having it across the street is good fodder for the imagination.  Before we knew it, we were wrapped up in this story, our hearts racing, and thinking wild thoughts.

I'm not saying that the things we imagined couldn't come true.  Sure they could.  As could any number of things that we haven't imagined. 

I could just "sit" with the fear rather than trying to do something to get rid of it.  I could meditate on fear, how it feels, what it does to me, etc.  Or I can booby trap my home. 

So where is the line between taking responsible measure to prepare/protect yourself and getting caught up in a story? 

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Sunday Sunday

I love Sundays.  And today's an extra special Sunday since we turned the clocks back an hour.  The cats were apparently not informed of this and woke me up anyway.

One of my favorite things about Sundays is our group practice.  It's the only day that I get to practice with other people.  I stick to primary since that's what everyone else does.  I do a speedy version of primary to keep up with my practice buddies.  My kapha imbalance tends to make for a very slow practice.  So it's good for me to work a little faster once I week. 

After practice I make me and Shawn a big brunch usually with an omelet and some greens.  Then I set to my bread baking for the week.

Sour dough is fun because you're working with a living entity that you have to nourish week to week.  The bread starts with the sour dough starter that I've been cultivating now for months.  I add to it 2 cups of flour and 2 cups of water and let it bubble up over night to become the "sponge."  Here's the sour dough "sponge" that I prepared last night. 

Left over night, it gets all bubbly and foamy. 

From here you can make a simple recipe:

2 cups of sponge
3 cups of flour
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 tsp sugar (or honey)
2 tsp salt

Mix the sponge, olive oil, sugar and salt together in the mixer. Then add a half a cup of flour at a time until the dough won't take any more flour. Kneed and let rise.

Here's what my dough looks like:

This has already risen a little bit.  I'll let it go a few hours (when I first started, it took a long time.  Now my starter is strong and it rises better and faster). Then I'll punch it down and let it rise again.

After the second rise, bake for 45 minutes at 375 (don't preheat the oven).

I've been experimenting with different flours and ingredients.  Last week I added sprouts.  It was delicious.  I'm adding them again this week.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Natural Bridge

We hiked at Natural Bridge State Park today.  It's a little over an hour from the city but feels like worlds away.  Today was the perfect day for a hike.  The air was cool, crisp, and damp.  The sweet smell of leaves permeated the air. The last of the fall colors were on display.  What a marvelous day to share with my love.

the big exhale

Some weeks Saturday feels like a big Forrest Yoga style exhale:  Ahhhhhhhh.  But if Saturday is the big exhale, does that mean that I've been holding my breath all week?  I'm doing some practices to literally breath more during the work week.  I have a tiny Ganesha that I found in Goa.  He sits in my window sill.  When I enter the office, I close the door and before I do anything, I breath for two minutes and focus on my Ganesha and my breath.  Taking the time, even just two minutes, to break the routine of immediately checking voicemail and email makes the rest of the day that much more mindful. 

Saturday is also a day when Ashtanga is traditionally not practiced.  My class this afternoon is canceled, so I'm going to take a long hike at a local park.  Hiking will be my yoga today.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Mars - Bringer of War

Tuesdays are ruled by Mars, the bringer of War. 
In the Ashtanga Mysore tradition, new poses are never added on a Tuesday.  Maybe this is so we don't have an angry relationship with the pose.

It would be pretty intense to practice with this in the background:

This Tuesday is an election day.  It definitely feels like there's a lot of "fight" mentality out there from the news broadcasts.  I tried to vote from a place of love instead of anger and fear.  I hope I wasn't alone.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Learned so much! Thinking about so much!

This cleanse has been so educative.  In many ways, this was thanks to the timing with my injury/vitamin deficiency.

The B12 deficiency problem was extremely scary. I continue to read up on it and am thankful that I pushed to find out the real cause of my "foot drop."  Here's a really interesting website on the issue.  Going through this has made me question two of my core beliefs:

1) that your vitamins should come from your food, not capsules.
2) that a veg diet gives you everything you need and all of this hooplah about protein is just more misguided American food culture.

But now where to go with this.  I am taking a daily multi vitamin and felt the effects almost as soon as I started.  I'll continue to do this.

I'd also like to get more B12 sources into my diet.  Fish is not an issue.  I don't mind eating something that I know that I could catch and kill myself.  However, here in the Midwest, fish is not as plentiful/fresh/appealing as on the East Coast. 

Someone told me that nutritional yeast has B12 in it.  I bought some. Does anyone know what to do with it?

But I'm also questionning whether my vegetarian diet was serving me.  With access to cruelty free meat products, does it hurt to have a serving or two of animal protein a week?  Should I have more than that?  My continued hesitation on this issue stems from the effect that the American farming industry has on the earth environmentally and also the cruelty that most animals suffer before they get to our plate.  If the animal is sad, aren't we eating that sadness.  I continue to wrestle with this question but will see what might be available to me from small local farms where animals are raised cruelty free. 

Some other interesting results of the cleanse were that during the "purgation" phase, I literally felt high.  I was laughing at everything even more than usual.  Being so light must also effect your attitude towards life.  It was glorious.

Cleansing also has this wonderful way of making you confront your biggest phobias and insecurities.  Here was my example.  I had signed on for the group cleanse support with my teacher.  About halfway through last week, I realized that I wasn't getting any emails from the group. At first, I thought that maybe the group just wasn't very active.  But then some of my negative patterns began to emerge.  I started thinking that I was shunned from the group and being purposefully excluded.  I let myself chew on this for a day or two, contemplating the many ways that I was undeserving especially of friendship.  Then finally, I asked myself if what I was creating was really true.  How could I know it was true?  I felt more at peace with this.  The peaceful sensation opened up a new space for my creative mind to work.  I thought that maybe I would check the Google Groups page to see if there was any activity there and if I was indeed added to the group.  Sure enough!  I was and there were over 70 messages.  I just hadn't set up my account correctly to receive emails.

Lessons learned: 1) Many of our patterns of negative thinking are our own creation that we need to break down in order to open up space in our minds and hearts.  2) I can do a cleanse on my own without support of a group...but the support is definitely more fun.

And so now a very fruitful cleanse has come to an end.  There is certainly a period of mourning at the end of a cleanse, a sense of loss of something very profound.  But there's the spring cleanse to look forward to.  And in the meantime, there is regular LIFE, beautiful life.