Weekly Yoga Teaching Schedule

My Teaching Schedule: No public classes at this time, sorry.

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Saturday, August 20, 2011

Patience Is An Elusive Virtue

Over the years, I've honed the important skill of patience. Painstakingly cultivated through meditation. It's never been my strong suit, yet I am now able to suspend the mind and patiently wait for whatever I'm needing to present itself. Allowing the mind to ebb and flow in a horizontal plane, not attaching judgement or thought, just giving patience the space and time it requires to play it all out. In a perfect world, that is. The Universe can be wicked, devious and mischievous. As she was last week. I was minding my own business when she side kicked and upended my emotional apple cart, spilling Granny Smith's onto the dirt path. I frantically chased them, desperate as they quickened their escape by rolling downhill. Except the Granny Smith's aren't apples at all. They are grace, gratitude, gratefulness, empathy, courage, patience...you get the picture. Freshly plucked at their ripest, lovingly nurtured by me, specifically picked to feed me through a family crisis. I watched helplessly as hungry Munchinklanders, a tin woodsman, a lion, a straw man and an odd-looking farm girl snatched up my fruit, smarting at their luck. I reproachfully glanced over at the wooden cart and caught sight of a few apples resting on the corner edge. My hopes quickly dashed as I reached in to grab one and noted only bruised, wormholed, rotten emotional apples left - rudeness, ego, selfishness, indifference, fear and  impatience. No way I'm burdening myself with those, so I twirled on my heels and hiked up the hill to hand pick more fruit from the tree of life. This time I promise to be more selective.
Life throws obstacles (or tornadoes in Dorothy's case) onto our carefully laid brick path to help us find our character and our flaws. As we stumble, our friends pick us up, oil can in hand and help us along the way. When I see the wizard of Oz, I am asking for patience. What will you ask for?
 P.S. - I am deeply grateful to my friends and family for their support last week, thank you.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Cloudy With A Chance Of Hope

After a brutal, beyond infernal week of 110+ degrees in Phoenix, I awoke to partly sunny skies. Could it be...clouds? In this arid desert, clouds are a God send, nature's way of teasing us with the remote possibility of rain, of which we've only received an inch this entire year. These cumulus clouds signal the arrival of monsoon, our version of the rainy season. As I gazed up into the heavens and welcomed the sight of dark grey clouds, the simile did not escape me. Almost 5 months since Anne's death and the darkness that I was shoved to live in, slowly recedes giving way to a cloudy outlook. A change I embrace after such a long exile.

Grief is a stubborn unwelcome guest and fickle, too. Just as I think I'm in the clear, it whacks me on the forehead and almost unconscious. It must possess the gift of invisibility, as I NEVER see it coming. Grief has no manners either, or it would know how rude it is to enter uninvited via a closed front door. No noticing the none too subtle doormat stating "LEAVE". Grief took no hint from it, evidently it's illiterate or it would be reading my blog posts relating to its visit. Don't you think 5 months is way too long for a house guest?? One of its most annoying traits is insomnia. This killjoy will sneak into my bedroom in the dark of night, and invade my dreams until I wake up with a nightmare. It seems misery loves company, especially at 3AM. I can't even shower without grief skulking in, and really, that's just indecent. If happiness were poison, grief would be the antidote. Life too good? Don't worry, grief to the rescue. If grief were on match.com, its profile would read: Lookin' for a lousy time? Call me, my no. is 555-PAIN. I am done with this visitor, but nobody wants it. I placed an ad on Craigslist partly stating " Free house guest to a good or bad home. Doesn't eat, drink or speak. Can be depressing, rude, overbearing, and a general pest." Maybe I'm being too honest. Perhaps I'll change it to say the following " Feeling lonely? This roommate is the perfect companion, always around. Will not leave food in the fridge for months because it doesn't eat. Got rowdy neighbors? Send this roommate over. Guaranteed party pooper!" I think I'll repost it today.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Joy Is Riding An Elephant to Happytown

They say it's the journey, not the destination. Yeah got it, but I'm antsy to reach Happytown and can't understand why I chose one of the slowest mammals on the planet to take me there. His handler, who has an uncanny resemblance to Gandhi, assures me Ganesh knows the way to joy and just enjoy the ride. My "ride" being an elephant, a very special elephant as I will find out. Still doubtful, I reluctantly nod in understanding. This is my last chance to depart on my journey before the rainy season begins. Mounted on Ganesh, we wander off down a rural, dusty path headed into the unknown. The handler leaves me with one dire warning, "Do not be tempted by the distractions along the way, stay with Ganesh, he will keep you safe".
From this height, the world seems smaller and quieter. The slower pace allows me to sit back and observe the mundane as if through a microscope. We pass through a tiny village and at its edge, a candy apple red Maserati comes into view. A peddler rushes up and craning his neck yells up at me, "You can ride the Maserati or the elephant to Happytown, they are both the same price!"  Really?? I can't pass up driving an Italian sports car, so I dismount Ganesh and slide into the buttery toffee colored leather seat.
Two hours later with steam bellowing out of the hood, I crawl to a stop. Turns out Maseratis are no match for pothole ridden dirt roads or 105 degree heat. I spot something meandering my way, it's Ganesh. He halts, turns his majestic head towards me and says "The Maserati is beautiful, but not practical for this harsh climate". A talking elephant? Ganesh shares his story with me as we continue our journey into the night. He is no ordinary elephant he explains, he is the Lord of all living things. The remover of obstacles, obstacles that prevent us from achieving joy. "Humans gravitate towards material attachments, which create suffering. You choose an impractical vehicle to travel to Happytown and it leaves you stranded. Why?" he asks. I ponder my answer and respond "Because I've never driven a Maserati before and it is a status symbol of wealth in my country. I wanted to boast about it to my friends back home". Ganesh lifts his trunk and pats me on the head as he chuckles and says "Ahh, ego. Another obstacle I must clear for you".
The rising sun is breathtaking here, a rainbow sherbet sky spread over the horizon. Just then, a dark object with a humongous wing span buzzes by me and as I focus in, realize it's a flying carpet! It circles back around and its driver devilishly smiles at me saying, "You can ride my magic carpet or the elephant to Happytown, they are both the same price." Well, a magic carpet can't break down and it is much speedier than an elephant, so I hop on the Persian rug and wave goodbye to Ganesh. Wait till my friends hear about this, I think to myself.
Two hours later with a few bumps and scratches courtesy of the towering fig tree we crashed into, I am sitting down, pressed up against its trunk tending to my wounds. Turns out flying carpets are fast but not good at dodging a flock of birds. Plus, it's really windy up there, Aladdin never mentioned the wind part. Regretting my latest transportation mode and the suffering it's causing, I glance into the vast desert and who should appear but Ganesh. He languidly arrives to my rescue and I clamber on, wincing all the way. We travel in silence for a while, which I welcome. I don't need a lecture from the Lord elephant right now. After our lunch break under a shady Bodhi tree, I quietly admit how my choices led to suffering and unhappiness and ask Ganesh for help. "Be aware of your actions and inactions. Will they lead to joy or suffering? Life should flow like water, unobstructed and without resistance. That is the path to joy. Get out of your own way", the wise elephant answers.
The remainder of our trip was uneventful and I rode into Happytown with a clearer outlook on the true meaning of finding joy within rather than without. You may not need an elephant to lead you to joy, the path is the same for us all. Happiness does not come from material wealth or our emotional attachments to it, happiness comes when we travel with the Divine or God at our side.
May your life be free from suffering, May you be at peace, May you be happy.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Parsnip Juice Is A Sweet Treat

Continuing my venture into juicing new vegetables, I discovered parsnips this week. Their generous juice is sweet and pale, high in vitamin C and folic acid. Choose a parsnip that is heavy and white. They are extremely dense, my high power mode struggled a bit with the really thick piece. You may want to halve a 2-inch wide parsnip. My juice concoction consisted of: 1 head of celery , 4 large cucumbers, 2 large parsnips scrubbed well and 1 peeled lemon. Trim ends of all veggies and split into two equal piles. All except the cukes and lemon use high mode on your Breville. This made 64 oz. so I omitted the carrots I bought. I did throw in a couple of broccoli stems leftover from dinner. The parsnips added sweetness and mellowing, a great substitute for carrots or apples. Parsnips benefit asthma sufferers and lungs. Next time you have a chest cold, chomp on parsnips!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Swim At Your Own Peril, The Ocean Of Grief is Uncharted

I am completely out of my favorite element, earth, and submerged in my least likeable one, water.  I say this just as my toes palpate a grainy sandbar, gripping on to terra firma. My short lived elation is washed away as a forceful, rogue wave shoves me back into the deep waters. My head bobs up and down like a cork, catching a glimpse now and then of land ahoy. Grief, it seems, comes in waves. Small, unassuming waves, and monster waves. I steady my sights on the refuge of dry land and begin to feverishly swim towards it. At times, the ocean coaxes me along easing my journey and grief begins to subside. At times, a riptide sucks me under and spits me out as if it swallowed a bad clam, throwing me off course. How did the ocean get so big and how did I get so small?  If I stop fighting the tide and give in to my sorrow, will the current eventually deliver me to safer ground? It's a game between grief and joy, a tug of war of sorts. I reach for joy, and grief sweeps me out to sea.  Ungrounded and disoriented, I find solace in knowing that I am not alone. The ocean of grief is vast and unmapped, even if you've been there before.  There is a lot to be said for feeling the ground beneath your feet. A solid foundation provides comfort and security in an unsteady world. I miss being centered and grounded. When I do eventually reach the shore, it will be an unfamiliar one. We can never go back once we've been swept out by the ocean of grief. But I will be a much stronger swimmer, already am.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

This Green Juice Nourishes Your Complexion

There are days when I skip the exotic veggies and return to my staple juice. I craved the sweet, crisp taste of celery juice this week. A simple recipe that is the equivalent to homemade chicken soup in my book. It warms my heart by returning to the familiar. This specific juice will rejuvenate your skin & hair. You'll need: 2 heads of vitamin B packed celery, 1 1b. of carrots, 4 large blood-pressure lowering cucumbers and 1 peeled lemon. Trim the ends off all the veggies and wash well. Divide them in half into two piles. Cucumbers may be juiced on low, the rest on high. This should yield about 64 oz, enough for 4 days. Celery and cukes reduce the acidity in our bodies, believed to cause disease. They are well-know anti-cancer foods and will keep you "regular". Not bad for two very easy to find inexpensive vegetables.
I don't actually use a lemon, I use lemon ice cubes. One cube per batch and I toss it in the juice catching container prior to juicing. Our lemon tree is on steroids, so I squeeze a bunch of lemons and pour the juice into ice cube trays, freeze them, and then pop the cubes into a gallon freezer bag. Store in the freezer and you have lemon for all your recipes until next citrus season! Pretty clever for a city girl, don't you think?

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Is Your Soul For Sale?

Most of us would not follow Faust and sell our soul to the devil, but there are less obvious ways we may hock parts of our soul to satisfy some of the seven deadly sins. Can you name them all? I always forget one or two, but they are greed, sloth, envy, gluttony, pride, anger & lust. Of all, pride is regarded as the most damaging sin. Lack of ego eradicates them all. Sloth is a bit trickier as it relates to laziness and allowing our talents to go to waste. Perhaps selfishness causes sloth? Not wanting to share our talents with the world or donate our time selflessly to others since it would require work? When we sacrifice bits of our integrity and self-worth for money (who hasn't?) we need to be observant and aware. Missing your child's play or soccer game due to work obligations is sometimes necessary. Skipping out on a social event because you are wiped out from a frenetic work week is perfectly fine. Biting your tongue with clients who disrespect your time and worth is NOT ok in the long run. Hating your job is NOT ok. Allowing others to take advantage of your good nature is NOT ok. Eventually, these actions eat away at our soul like acid and pierce the armour of our divinity. A good friend of mine just started a new job she absolutely loves. Her prior job was fulfilling & paid well, yet office politics were draining her. The last straw broke when her company sold out to a conglomerate and her boss threw her under the bus.  Despising every hour at this new, antiseptic workplace she quit on the spot one fine day. She now wonders why she waited so long. Eventually, we all boil over like pasta water left on the stove too long. The signs that we are "done, prick me with a fork" include that gnawing feeling in your gut, sometimes manifesting itself as stomach aches, nausea or a general feeling of malaise. Ulcers are the physical outcome of uncontrolled acid created by stress.
Renting out parts of our soul for short periods of time is a bargain we've accepted in our lives. Check in with your higher Self every now and then to make sure you didn't rent your soul out to a hold over tenant. Living authentically and fully leaves very little room for compromise with our lower Self. 

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Juicing Wild Dandelion Greens Is a Tame Endeavour

I've done a lot with weeds, just never drank one before. These wispy, long bright green leaves are mild in flavor and considered a superfood by none other than Dr. Oz. Choose iron-packed dandelion greens that are bright green, not wilting or browning on the sides, you want the freshest weeds possible. Their Irish green potassium rich liquid is not abundant, but unless you are really adventurous (or a goat) eating them raw is a bit too wild for me. Here is my recipe for this week: 1 bunch of dandelion greens (ends trimmed and rinsed well under running water), 4 cucumbers which are finally affordable again (ends trimmed), 2 heads of celery (2 for $1 @Sprouts this week) ends trimmed and 1 peeled lemon. Divide all veggies equally into two separate heaps and juice. To juice dandelion greens, fold a handful in half and stuff with leaves & ends pointing upward and feed through Breville on low. Should give you about 64 oz. of juice. You can freeze freshly made juice, although it does change to a grainy texture (instead of smooth) once defrosted. Just one warning, these weeds will send you to the water closet - they're a diuretic. Also, brimming with beta carotene.
Salud!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

My Ego Is Stalking Me

It shows up at my doorstep uninvited, unwanted and most unwelcome. I thought I was rid of this pest called ego, done with it, finito. Like a reformed addict free from drinking the Kool- Aid of self-importance and arrogance. Teaching the joys of humility and detachment from pride to my students. Proud of my ascent onto the ladder of enlightenment, only to miss a rung in my selfish giddiness. The I-Maker skulked back into my life as I happily donated a trailer full of old household items and a large turkey to a soup kitchen last holiday season. Feeling like Santa Claus riding in on his sleigh, I apparently expected the receivers of this generous gift to kiss my feet. Wow, was I disappointed! The manager of the Love Kitchen was grateful for my 25+ year old stove and 20+ year old mattress, just not to my ego's satisfaction. The shocking revelation to me was that I had expectations at all. Concealed from my conscious mind, ego leaped out into my path and unnerved my higher Self.  Pride and ego are survivors and, not unlike a scorpion, can go a year without being fed and live in sub zero temperatures. And like scorpions, are practically impossible to eradicate. Trust me, I know about living with scorpions. So I now treat this unwanted pest by dousing it with daily meditation, staying vigilant of my inner thoughts, and as a last resort, stomping on it mercilessly with the shoe of humility. Just remember, scorpions crawl into your slippers, climb walls and hide behind your bath towel. They show up in the most unlikely places...and it's scorpion season in Phoenix again.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

My Venture into Juicing Red Cabbage

How to choose the right cabbage? Select tightly wrapped crisp leaves with no browning on the edges. Never having purchased a cabbage before, I went out on a limb and ended up with a healthy looking head (inside resembles a cerebellum, weird). Now, how to juice it. I was startled at what a red cabbage's innards look like, swirly red & white veins and very dense. Make sure you have a sharp knife on hand, I only work with Wusthof Trident knives, a good utility knife did the job here. You'll need to cut the halves lengthwise again and again until they will fit into the feeder. I was concerned about how to clean the leaf crevices, but they were so compact I just slightly pried them open under running water and no dirt or other surprises washed out. Breville's manual suggest a low speed setting but this super food cabbage is packed full of crisp leaves and I found the high speed pulverized it easier. How does it taste? Surprisingly mild and pleasant, similar to bok choy but a bit sweeter. It packs a wallop of Vitamins C & K.
 So here is the recipe I used to create this ruby red anti-cancer, inflammation reducing, anti-oxidant concoction: 1 medium red cabbage, 2 lbs. of carrots (ends sliced off), 1 head of celery (clean off ends) and 1 lemon (peeled). Divide all veggies equally into 2 piles and juice. I tossed in 2 apples 'cause they were there, but it almost sweetened the juice too much. Makes 64 oz. Salute!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Juicing Broccoli Stalks Keeps the Doctor Away

and everyone else. The stalks are packed with vitamin C and calcium, along with fartacious qualities. Not any more offensive than eating broccoli or brussel sprouts, just your run of the mill cabbage gas passing. Aside from that, they were great juiced! I trimmed the very end of the stalks and set my machine on high. Tasty and a green way to reuse those stalks after I stir fried the florets for dinner. For this juice concoction I assembled the following veggies: 4 broccoli stalks, 2 lbs. of carrots (scrubbed and ends trimmed), 1 peeled (Breville wants citrus peeled) lemon, 1 head of celery ends & tops trimmed. Divide veggies into 2 piles and grind away! If each batch does not make 32 oz. add more carrots. I think the sweetness of the carrots mellowed the broccoli, but it was a great recipe and will make it again. Here's drinking to your bones and immune system!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Walking The Path In Go Go Boots

Preferably thigh high black patent leather ones. Nancy Sinatra wore white ones in her classic video "These Boots Are Made For Walking", but as any fashionista will tell you, white shows dirt. And trust me, those boots are gonna get dirty.
Walking the path of enlightenment isn't for sissies, it requires body armor to deflect the arrows of hate, sloth, greed, temptation and desire. Sturdy boots to trudge through all the knee deep in manure chasms life dumps in our path. A brave, bright heart  to position you back on the path once you've lost your way in the darkness. Finally, a lifeline to pull you out of quicksand (unexpected tragedies) that swallows you at the blink of an eye, paralyzes you and knocks the breath out of your lungs.
Walking the path is the yoga of action. Our everyday actions or inactions determine our way, change our course. Our reaction to unexpected and/or unwanted events shape our future. My path was forever altered after Annie's death and slowly my new world is revealed, one layer at a time. Life's small inconveniences don't bump my ride anymore. I don't take my friends or loved ones for granted these days. On the odd side, my threshold for offensiveness is 100% higher (not that I was a delicate flower before). Not much could EVER offend me after Annie's tragic death, that was obscenely offensive. I also couldn't give a fig what anyone thinks of me, living life fully demands snugging on my go go boots, holding my head high with a sweet smile and doing my thing.
It's a long and winding road embarking on the right way, yet it is also the ONLY way. There are no shortcuts or bypasses, those all lead to unhappiness. The road to spiritual joy is at times rocky, its journey uncertain during turbulent storms, yet the path is always lit with the beacon of faith and trust. I choose to walk the path in style, 'cause those boots were made for walkin'!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

When Earthquakes Strike

Ever been in an earthquake? It is a terrifying experience when the ground beneath you is not solid. Nothing to hold on to, at the mercy of outside forces. My heart goes out to the people of Japan, they have a long road to recovery.

When our foundation is shaken to its core, what do we hold on to? When the outside world is not safe, what centers us from within? A life-altering event can have the same effect as an earthquake. A death, divorce, financial crisis, marriage, a baby are all life changing events. Even though some are positive, they are still frightening and throw us off our axis. When tragedy struck my world last month, I felt I was shoved off a moving train. Bruised, screaming, shocked, amazed that such a powerful force didn't actually kill me, I'm in awe of the human spirit and how it can survive such a blow to the soul. What empowered me to get up after being thrown off a moving train, dust myself off and start walking? My answer was faith, trust in the unknown. Because I don't know what else to call it. It was not hope, I had none. Hope requires positive thinking about the future, as in "I hope for a better tomorrow" or "I hope we win the lottery". What is hope anchored to? Hope is light and airy, and needs to be weighted down for substance. I believe hope is anchored to faith. I had faith but not hope, so can we have hope without faith? I'm not sure. Faith and trust sustain us through the darkness, even when we don't understand how, even when we can't see. For some, faith means God and religion, to some of us it means trust in the all-knowing, that which is beyond mortal understanding.

I'm not telling you what you should believe, I am merely tossing a few thoughts out there for you to chew on. In Japanese, the word "shin" encompasses faith, belief and trust. In Sanskrit, that word is "shraddha". Beautiful aren't they?

I wish I could tell you a personal earthquake will never strike you, but that would be naive of me. All I wish is that when it does, you can find a little faith, hang on to it for dear life and wait for the quaking to stop.

Friday, March 4, 2011

My Begging Bowl

What to do when your bowl is filled with something you don't want? When I was little and my mother would feed me a food I disliked, it got secretly tossed behind the fridge next to my chair. That worked well until the cleaning lady moved the fridge one day and my secret was uncovered. My dinner chair got moved.
I was introduced to the concept of Buddhist begging bowls in a small but lovely book titled Everyday Sacred. The monks depended on the kindness of people to fill their empty bowls with either food or money, but some days they were never filled. Plus, no choice on what they were given. On a philosophical level, what are we supposed to do when our life bowl is forcibly ladled with foulness so vile you want to vomit? Not allowed to toss it out or exchange it for a better choice. When every cell in your body rejects what's been placed in your bowl, yet you are forced into accepting it. Such is the world I live in right now. I don't want to accept Annie's gone, yet I can't bring her back. I am wedged in this corner of rejecting something abhorrent and yet knowing it will stay in my life bowl forever. How do I make peace with this? Accepting yet despising every moment of it, swallowing the bad medicine, clutching onto my soul as it screams in pain from the gaping wound still raw, I will survive the suffering and eventually heal. Through meditation and yoga, acceptance will coat rejection with the nectar of higher goodness. My begging bowl still has room for sweetness, love and peace.
May your begging bowl always be filled with all that you need and is good in this world.           

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Darkness Settles In For A Long Stay

Remember my past post from 5/2/09 about a dark, damp tunnel with bats? I'm in it. A few yards in from the entry of the tunnel, I am paralyzed with fear. I can't turn back, yet I am terrified of taking a step forward deeper into the darkness. Processing grief is an individual experience, and I know I must work through it not over it to move on in my life. For the first time, I'm afraid of the space I've been slammed into, a space I know nothing about. A space NOBODY should ever be in, who knew there were levels of death that were better than others? The last time I felt pain this raw was the suicide of a dear friend of mine from high school. It all flooded back with a vengeance after Annie's death. The darkness I must blindly tread through to reach the light on the other side is uncharted for me. No GPS to state the length of this tunnel, it's possible pitfalls or curves. A mind path I must endeavour alone, deep into the recesses of my soul and uncover whatever landmines I missed in the past. This time to reach the other side, there are no shortcuts and my soul will be stripped bare.
For now, I wake up every day, I meditate and give myself permission to be in whatever space I will be in that day. Not pushing for revealment, accepting the dark tunnel, the screaming bats that I can't see and taking comfort that I am loved by so many.

Monday, February 14, 2011

A Bright Light Extinguished, My Soul Is Dimmed

One of my dearest, oldest friends was violently murdered last week. Annie was larger than life, with a vibrant energy that was palpable. Her smile contagious, her laugh unforgettable and her eyes could pierce right into your soul. A fiery temper to match her beautiful red (now blonde) mane, a porcelain complexion most women would envy and a goddess in the kitchen. Annie would give you her last dollar, her kindness was infinite as was her love for animals, especially doggies. Her flare for decorating and hosting fabulous parties were just a few of her many talents. She taught me how to host a party and entertain, making it all seem effortless, a skill I never learned to master. How she could take a bath right before 50 people were to show up at her home amazed me. I'm always running around like a crazy person!
Annie was my touchstone, the one who could always talk me off the ledge and make me laugh at the same time. She was the older sister I never had, I am now left to navigate this life without her wisdom or colorful wit as a compass. When we joked about the gradual signs of age, I'd taunt her and scream " You first!". I was supposed to grow old with her as my friend, yet that is not to be.
My life's path is forever altered, in ways still unknown. Annie would say the best gift I could give her would be to live fearlessly and fully. A gift we can all give Annie to honor her memory. Live every day as if it were your last.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Rabbit Is Wise, Rabbit Is Good

Gung hay fat choy! 2011 is the year of the Rabbit, a fortuitous sign. Forecasters predict this year will be much better financially, although global markets will still be fragile. The Rabbit is lucky but also cautious, so be conservative with your $$ this year. Last night was New Year's Eve and as I glanced up at the frigid night sky a pale green meteor plunged straight down towards the earth and disappeared mid-sky. Nature's fireworks!
Brian and I will celebrate tonight by wokking chicken w/baby broccoli, shiitake mushrooms and red bell pepper. Start with some miso soup and egg rolls, and finish the evening with a Chinese film. With subtitles, which drives Brian crazy, hehe.
This is my theory about why this new year is more valid than the Gregorian (read western) January 1st version. The Chinese New Year is based on a lunar calendar, it changes yearly and is aligned with the universe. My emotional hangover on January 1st was realizing nothing magically would change from the night before. Our calendar was created by the Catholic Church to make time neat, concise and uniform. But life isn't like that. Life is messy, fluid and chaotic. Learning to live more within the natural rhythm of the universe will bring us more harmony, not only within ourselves but with those around us. The chinese call this harmonious energy "chi" and is all around us. Balancing our own chi through mind-body practices, such as yoga, meditation, qigong, tai chi, reiki, acupuncture, acupressure, even massage changes us both physically and spiritually. Start the Year of the Rabbit by incorporating at least one of these practices several times per week for the next six weeks and note the transformation that follows. This may be a lucky year indeed!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

It's Groundhog Day...again.

A link between the Bhagavad Gita and "Groundhog Day" the movie?
Yes! Yoga is threaded into the film w/Bill Murray. In the Bhagavad Gita (a must read!), Krishna tells Arjuna that there are three ways he can achieve transcendence or enlightenment. One way is through Karma yoga, or the yoga of action. It is through selfless action, helping others without expectation of compensation or ego. Bill Murrays' character, Phil Connors, transcends at the end by performing selfless acts and not thinking of himself or expecting anything in return. Not to mention the countless times he "dies" just to be "reborn" into the same day, over and over and over, until he learns to be a better person.
OK, so maybe I'm out there, but yoga is more than just physical poses or asanas. One can find yoga in everything. So, Happy Groundhog Day!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Who Is Directing Your Life Movie?

I'm probably a bit behind the curve, but I finally saw the film "Inception". Thought it was a good, provocative movie but not in the same league as "The Matrix". It did cause me to ponder the film at different times the next day, and the next, and the next. What is it about the theme of 'Inception" that buzzed in film goers minds for days after? Or caused many to view the film several times over? What are we looking for? The Answer, of course. Is the film entirely a dream? Does it have a deeper meaning that we are meant to uncloak? Only the writer and director know the true answer, but it did lead me to my interpretation of "Inception". A dream within a dream is not a concept, I dream this way most of the time. I am the director of my dreams and if at any point I don't like the direction my dream is heading, I go back a few chapters and change key elements in the dream to produce an outcome that is acceptable to me. Many times, as I am in the middle of a dream, I view the whole scene in this surreal scape of being an observer on the set. I am directing myself in a movie per se. It is rare for me to not have control over my dreams, but it does occur. And it's unsettling. In the movie, they are able to drop into 3 levels of dreaming. The dream within the dream would be level 2 (me observing the dream as the director, for example), but was is level 3?? I believe it is where our body ceases to exist, we are everywhere but we are nowhere and we are simply "mind". The deepest level of meditation takes us to another level of reality, where there is no physical presence or compass, you just are. Level 3, as my husband described so succinctly, is telling the director in level 2 how to direct the events in level 1. So who is in control of level 3? Our soul, our inner self, that place within us that is all-knowing, where instinct and intuition are born.

Many of us who have achieved this deeper level of meditation describe it as falling. You have to allow yourself to let go completely and plunge into the unknown. As if you were falling into a black hole, trusting the outcome whatever that may be. Practicing meditation hones our mind into achieving this deeper level of understanding of ourselves, the universe and the meaning of life.
What was your interpretation of "Inception"?

Saturday, January 29, 2011

It's a Rutabaga Baby! Let's Juice It!

OK, it was not my intention to juice a rutabaga, I just ran out of veggies to run through the Breville and found it in my fridge drawer. Interesting taste, a teeny bit bitter but NOTHING like a turnip. Skip the turnip, trust me.  I drank that concoction once with my nose pinched shut, although the taste mellowed by the next day. Aww, now how to choose a rutabaga. Firm to the touch, not slimy and no visible blemishes, growths or warts. My juicing cocktail this week included a bunch of asparagus (99 cents @Sprouts, that's a great deal). I've never juiced this elegant green veggie before as I like it steamed, but it doesn't deliver much liquid, it's more like a dark emerald serum dripping out of the spout. Asparagus is an anti-cancer food, protecting against brain, colon and lung cancers. Check out the Anti Cancer Diet book to learn more about cancer fighting foods. So here is what I'm sipping on as I blog: 3 cucumbers, 1 large rutabaga (peeled), 1 bunch of asparagus (ends trimmed), 1 lemon, 2 lbs. of carrots, and 1 small head of bok choy. Divide veggies into 2 piles and juice. I'll probably not juice asparagus again but the rutabaga wasn't bad! Cheers!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Juicing with Bok Choy, Oh Boy!

This recipe makes for a really pretty bright green juice, not bitter either! You'll need 2 heads of celery (they were 88 cents @Sprouts this week and crisp), 1 head of bok choy (make sure leaves are fresh, not yellowing or browning), 4 cucumbers (trim ends off and chop in half), 1 large apple and 1 lemon (peeled). Divide equally into 2 piles and juice. Bok choy delivers a lot of juice, use high power mode. This recipe makes 64 oz. and enough to pour yourself a fresh glass to enjoy. Now this is healthy drinking!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Hope Floats

Martin Luther King's birthday just passed and I mused on how close to the new year it falls. When I think of Mr. King, the word "hope" always filters to the top. Hope permeates the air in January like the scent of my blossoming tangelo in springtime. After all, New Year's resolutions need a good sprinkling of hope to manifest themselves. So I am pondering the word hope. When we anchor hope onto our dreams, expectations or accomplishments, it not only gives them a sense of lightness or buoyancy but density as well. When we hope for a better life situation in 2011, it adds a weighty quality to our desire. There is a responsibility to take practical steps towards that goal, not just a wistful desire that our future improve. Turning hope into reality is an intense proposition. In my view, hope carries a lot of weight, yet is light to carry. It is that airy, souffle-like quality that I am focusing on this year. How can I lighten the load or burden of procuring myself a better life and not feel as if the weight of the world is on my shoulders?
Every morning prior to meditation, I now ask myself what brought me happiness yesterday: a peaceful hike with my Australian Shepherd, the deep tissue massage I scheduled in the afternoon (a Christmas gift from my hubby). Then I ask what will bring me happiness that day, and think of at least one joyful experience yet to come. It may be as simple as watching a movie with my husband or enjoying a good meal with friends that coming evening. Remembering how important joy is in our daily lives keeps hope afloat within our hearts.
Here is a fun question I asked my yoga students: If hope were a food, what food would it be for you? I visualize a light, airy chocolate mousse, with an intensely pure cocoa taste. Something so light on the tongue, yet exploding with flavor on the palate.
I received some unexpected responses, from spinach to alfalfa sprouts, even bananas! There is no right or wrong food choice, I just felt dessert was way more fun! Share your choice in the comments section, I'd love to know.
Hope props us up and helps carry us above the challenges placed before us. May your burdens be light and your joys many this upcoming year.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

New Raw Juicing Recipe

Not finding decent celery stalks at Sprouts this week, especially as they were asking $1.19/each, I bought the largest jicama I could wrap my hand around instead. This recipe made 64oz. of juice, enough for 4 days. No, I don't juice every day, and yes, I really think it's OK to refrigerate juice up to 4 days.
6 cucumbers, 2 lbs. carrots, 1 very large jicama (peeled) and 1 lemon (peeled). Divide veggies equally into 2 piles and juice. Jicama is very mild in taste and delivers a lot of liquid. I used high power mode to run it through.
I've been juicing for about 2 years now, so if you have any questions on this raw food drink or want to share any delicious recipes, let me know!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Ring In, Toss Out.

2011 is the year I look towards what I want, not back on what I don't want. Say what, you ask? Instead of focusing my energy on negative patterns I want to change, zero in on the positive trends I'm starting. One of my favorite films is from the 1970's titled "The Gumball Rally" starring a young, handsome Raul Julia as an Italian race car driver. The story is about a handful of car enthusiasts and their yearly illegal race across the country. As Raul Julias' character steps into his Alfa Romeo, he grabs a hold of the rear view mirror and states: (insert Italian accent here)"What is behind us is not important!" and yanks the mirror off, tossing it into the backseat. Fabuloso!

In life, what is in our past should stay there. Notice it become smaller as you move forward down the superhighway of life. Travel light carrying only what you need. The new year is as good a time as any to assess our needs, wants, desires and hopes. The more "needs", the more luggage you haul. One of my New Year's intentions is about conquering fear, fear of the future, of failing, of not achieving my full potential as a human being, fear of falling (on my head, that is, in pincha mayurasana-forearm stand). Tall order. And yet, my path towards less fear is by heading straight into it. Forgetting about past failed attempts at the above entreaties, tossing out the rear view mirror, and heading down the road pedal to the metal no speed limit in sight. I realize the only obstacle in my path is myself, I'm the one with invisible constraints on my future. How to bypass that? Distinguish between true fear and imprinted fear. True fear is flying at 120mph well beyond my driving skills, imprinted fear is speeding up to 30mph beyond my comfortable driving speed. A bit frightful, adrenaline going, but not really dangerous. And without a rear view mirror I won't steal glimpses at it for those dreaded flashing red and blue lights. I'll just keep moving ahead until I reach the finish line.
With a new year comes new beginnings, renewed hopes. May yours be guided by an open heart and an open mind as you reach for your goals.