Wednesday, July 28, 2010
When they understand I am a yoga teacher, three nod their heads, ahhing with equal parts admiration and confusion. The officer to my left, however, a short man with limited English but deep enthusiasm for trying, immediately shakes his head. No, he says, no no. It's hot in the restaurant, and his brow is dotted with sweat. He brings both hands behind his right knee, as if to move it up toward his face. No, no, he says again, head wagging back and forth, as the rest of us begin to laugh. Another cop offers up the words Not Flexible! and spins the food back toward him, picking at the tofu. Don't worry, I say, we'll have more beer first, and then you'll get your foot behind your head just fine. His face remains serious as the conversation haltingly shifts toward how good American girls are at drinking beer.
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Sunday, July 25, 2010
Nice NYT article (click here) on the introduction of yoga in America, that brings up great questions of what the cultural and economic climate have to be like in order for yoga to catch on at all, and then how those things determine what yoga looks like. And the perpetual question, what is authentic yoga? It's not like yoga is an antique vase and we can call in "Antiques Roadshow" to tell us, no, that's fake, or yes! that's real!!!! Priceless!
Monday, July 19, 2010
Here's the recipe for the chocolate cake. If you put it in the fridge overnight, it magically transforms into a more brownie like cake--dense and rich. I added shredded coconut to mine, but I imagine you can put just about whatever your heart desires in there: nuts, dried cranberries, or even a 1/4 tsp of cayenne pepper for a spicier cake.
Chocolate Cake, from "The Joy of Vegan Baking" by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau
1 1/2 cups unbleached AP flour
3/4 granulated sugar (i used about a half cup, and it was fine)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup unsweetened coco powder
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/3 cup canola oil (i've been using soybean oil for awhile now, as it's all that i can find, and it works fine)
1 tablespoon white distilled vinegar
1 cup cold water
Preheat oven to 350 F and lightly oil a 9-inch springform pan, Bundt pan, or muffin tins.
Combine the flour, sugar, salt, baking soda and coco powder in a bowl until thoroughly combined. (basically, mix the dry ingredients first) Create a well in the center of the dry ingredients, and add the vanilla, oil, vinegar, and water. Mix until just combined. Pour into your prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. If you're making cupcakes, check for doneness in about 15 minutes.
Cool on a rack (I just let mine sit in the pan, as I have no rack..). For decorational purposes, a fine dusting of confectioner's sugar on top of this old girl would look real purty, or perhaps a nice chocolate frosting, but I think it's pretty tasty all on it's own.
Call up your friends and neighbors, and Let Them Eat Cake!
Saturday, July 17, 2010
Finally, Laura is here! She gave us so much information last night but we also got to feel the energetics of the chakras through mudra work, asana, chanting, and meditation. For me, the most obviously effective mudra was the giraffe mudra; it had the instant effect of making me feel lighter and happier. Very cool. I was also grateful to learn that the heart chakra 'ripens' between the ages of 21 and 28. So basically, we're learning how to love more wisely, if I understood correctly. That explains so much and gives me hope. If my heart feels a little incomplete or lost sometimes, well, I'll just wait until I turn 28 on March 8, 2011. There seems to be an almost mathematical or musical orderliness to the chakras. Every seven years a different chakra ripens until we're 35. If your first chakra is unbalanced, it's more likely that your third will be as well. And the same goes for the second and the fourth. Just like in music, you would play every other note to get a harmonious major chord.
Our homework for today is to choose one desire/idea/inspiration we want to make into reality. Just doing the assignment has shown me where I might be holding myself back. I made a list of things, and as I wrote each one down, I could hear my brain frantically telling me to stop, as if just writing it down was asking too much, like a bureaucrat that has to feel important by being consulted on everything. Luckily I'm in Deb Norton's writing class right now so I was able to let the pen forge ahead, leaning against and pushing on through the steady wind of my brain.
Now I know that as I'm dancing around my house to Weezer and cooking brunch this morning, I'm actually doing yoga and balancing my second chakra! "I am filled with pleasure and enthusiasm. I thrive and create." Laura's wonderful mantra for the second chakra is particularly true this morning. Can't wait for the rest of the weekend.
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Sunday, July 11, 2010
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
First and foremost:
The Jolly Green Giant! I love my new bike. I love Shanghai when I'm riding my bike. The city teems with charm when you're on a cruiser. Yesterday I rode it to the Garden Hotel Park, which is actually the lawn of a big hotel in the middle of the city. It is one of the only places in the city where people are actually allowed on the grass, which on the weekends makes for a crowded lawn. But on a Wednesday afternoon? Perfect solitude. I rolled out the picnic mat, stripped down to my swim suit, and did an hour's worth of yoga right there in the park. Aside from the swim suit I was sporting, practicing yoga in the park didn't really phase any of the people that strolled by. Many, many Chinese people come to public spaces to practice Tai Chi, take dance lessons, do Kung Fu, or employ Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) tactics while walking (slapping themselves gently on opposite shoulder, clapping one hand up and down arms, etc), so a few sun salutes seemed in the norm. In fact, I might make it my new mid day routine.
After an hour or so, the sweat was beginning to both distract and gross me out. Some friends arrived in the nick of time with home made squirt guns.
The grass seems to invite inversion practice, and we all started flipping upside down; or, at least attempting to flip upside down. Free standing head and hand stands still elude me, but crow and side crow have become a cake walk. I once was afraid of them, so its only a matter of time before I'm on my hands, right?
In sweets-related news, there's not much to report. The oven has been off for a week or so, and the air-con is blasting. In all this heat, the only things that sound good are iced teas, frozen yogurts and cold beers. Good yogurt is hard to find here, and the flavored ones are runny and cloyingly sweet. In an effort to make a sweetened Greek-style yogurt, I drained some plain yogurt overnight in a coffee filter, and then stirred in some fresh squeezed OJ the next morning. It thickened in the fridge, and sucked up all the OJ after a good stirring--pretty good!
Monday, July 5, 2010
Lauryn Hill is the dakini of hip-hop. She's in touch with something, I think. NPR published a rare interview with her, in which she says, "That feeling you get [when you hear me sing], I get first." I actually teared up reading this interview. If you're a fan, it's worth reading for just a sip of the wisdom and singularity of "Ms. Hill."
Sunday, July 4, 2010
AN OPEN LETTER
TO THE SUBSTITUTE
YOGA TEACHER WHO
WON'T STOP WITH
April 16, 2010
- - - -
Dear Substitute Yoga Teacher Who Won't Stop With The Imagery,
It's not like you're the first. Other substitute teachers have come out with some real dillys too. Who can forget "think of your spine as a flexible snake in space?" So I expect people subbing for the regular, non-imagery-inclined-teacher to spout wacky shit.
But the problem with you, Substitute Teacher Who Won't Stop With The Imagery, is that your lust for describing things by what they are not is like a runaway train careening through my body-as-temple on wings of steel. (Accompanied by bouts of psychotic ujjayi breathing.)
It begins as soon as you walk in the door. Like all of us, you've already had some mundane thing happen that day, but your mundane thing is inspirational, annoying in itself. Say you walked the dog and it was sunny. Sun + pet = return to simplicity and unbridled panting. Or maybe the dog ate lots of grass. (Filling the void, freeing the void... something about a heaving void.) Your daily life/revelation is difficult to ignore as you walk among us, a Lululemon clad priestess (to use language you might understand), dispensing epiphanies and the faintest whiff of dog.
Today you told us you played your flute at dawn, prompting the revelation that we are all instruments, all the time. As we began in cross-legged position you observed that our "sits bones" are like that prong thing at the base of a cello. Try as I might, thinking "my ass is a cello" did not help me sit up any straighter. By the time we got to forward lunge with inner thighs conducting prana so as to vibrate the jiggly bits like violin strings, I had an urge to remind you that strings can snap, but kept schtum since I was trying to play my instrument pianissimo. Forte gets you kicked out of yoga.
The first time you appeared it was on Canada's national holiday called, cleverly, "Canada Day." It has no traditions other than sleeping late and drinking. Us regulars dragged our sorry cellos out of bed and came to yoga anyway; little knowing that while in triangle position we'd be forced to view one extremity as Vancouver, the other as Halifax. (I guess even you aren't flexible enough to cross the Gulf of St. Lawrence to Newfoundland.) I had to do a meditation on vodka tonics just to try and block out the imagery, but the stress of trying to relax with you in the room made me strain a muscle in Halifax anyway.
So here's the thing. I don't want to think of my kneecaps rising like excited birds in flight just because you happened to see cormorants wheeling across the city as if someone were hunting them (which maybe someone was because they're really filthy birds). I don't want to embrace risk with my heart center because your house offer fell through. (Since when can a yoga teacher afford to buy a house?). I just want to do the goddamn yoga. So please stop with the imagery, already.