Sunday, August 22, 2010

Yoga and Paragliding

Om Om Om Om Om before GO GO GO GO

and...just fly! Before take off--which involves just running your heart out off a cliff until the wind fills the glider--I was staying calm by chanting in my head. In fact, I was so focused on chanting that when the right wind came along, I didn't realize we were running until my feet were swept up off the ground!

Yoga with George Clooney

This post's title is misleading. I would not be against posting something about the real George Clooney doing yoga but I don' t know his thoughts on the subject personally. The George Clooney I refer to is a stray cat normally referred to as Grey Cat.

As Grey Cat and I have gotten to know each other he has come to be called many things, from Grace Jones (before I knew his gender) to Grey Kitty to George Clooney and now just Clooney or Meow-meow. My sister (pseudonym French Toast) and I co-named him that due to his universal appeal--like the actor. Clooney knows my car and at night when I pull up to the curb he waits for me by the tree, scratches his claws on it in some mysterious ritual, then escorts me to my door in safety so that no raccoons can get me. He is a shape-shifter who survives on his adorability. He purrs so loudly that today I tested whether my own voice would also vibrate if I held him against me, kind of like when you talk into a fan.

He loves it when I get on the floor to do yoga. Sometimes he sits on the chair above me, like, "Why would you lay on the floor when there are chairs?" Other times he sits directly on me or on my notebook when I'm trying to write out a sequence for class. Then I say, "Ok, Clooney, you're right. What was I thinking? You're the most important thing in the world. And here's some catnip."

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Modern Day Mantras Part 2

In April I posted this list of modern day mantras. This is the second installment. Feel free to comment and add your own.

So many allies, so many allies, so many allies. Feel the love come off of them and take me in your arms. Peel all of your layers off. I want to eat your artichoke heart. OM. (Thom Yorke, "Atoms for Peace")

Everything is everything. What is meant to be will be. After winter, must come spring. OM. (Lauryn Hill, "Everything is Everything")

Llevo en el alma un camino destinado a nunca llegar. OM. (Manu Chao, "Desaparecido")

I'm ready to let the river wash over me. OM. (Tracy Chapman, "River")

I want to live where soul meets body. OM. (Death Cab for Cutie, "Soul Meets Body")

What am I here for? I left my home to disappear is all....You don't know me- I am an introvert, an excavator. OM. (Santogold, "L.E.S. Artistes")

I wait, yeah I wait. For something good, something great. OM. (Ben Kweller, "Penny on the Train Track")

Like a bird on the wing, I just wanna be free enough to do my thing. OM. (Aaron Neville, "Hercules")

All is full of love. OM. (Bjork, "All is Full of Love")

I'm vulnerable. I'm vulnerable. I am not a Robot. OM. (Marina & the Diamonds, "I Am Not a Robot")

And another incredibly cute version of this song:

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Seriously Moist Carrot Cake

As Jack Kerouac wrote, "The prettiest girls in the world live in Des Moines." In addition to being the prettiest, we also bake the bombest Mostly Vegan Carrot Cakes. By we I mean Neena. Maura found the recipe, hosted the party, and kept her veggie-phile cat out of the salad (mostly). Neena did the baking in a little black dress that was soon covered in flour. She even hand-smooshed the pineapple into the batter due to lack of baking equipment. I shaved chocolate on top to make it aesthetically appealing. This recipe worked! Even my grandparents liked it the next day. With the exotic spices and everything. The frosting is pretty runny so this cake has kind of a homey appearance but the taste is delicious.

Here's the recipe. Enjoy the funny notes from Maura.


Makes 1 - 3 layer cake (we did two 8x8 pans which worked perfectly)

Prep time - 30 minutes (who knows if those things are ever really accurate, especially if you're distractedly cooking with friends & wine!)
Cook time - 40 minutes

  • 2 cups white flour
  • 1 1/2 t. baking powder
  • 1 t. baking soda
  • 1 1/2 c sugar
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1 t. cinnamon
  • 1/2 t. ground ginger (I think it would be fun to try it with freshly grated ginger... or freshly cut ginger chunks. Yum... ginger...)
  • 2 c grated carrots (I think it could have even used more, if carroty carrot cake is your thing)
  • 1 c chopped pineapple (we used canned, worked swimmingly)
  • 1/2 c canola oil
  • 1/4 c applesauce
  • 3 large egg whites
  • 1 c walnut pieces
  • 1/4 non-dairy milk (we used vanilla almond milk - yummier and more creamy than soy/rice milk)
  • 1 T. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 t. vanilla
We mixed it up a tad with the spices (always add more spice to any recipe, right?!) - added cardamom... yum!

  • Preheat oven to 350. Lightly oil and flour your pans, tapping out excess flour
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, cinnamon (and cardamom!), ground ginger and salt
  • In food processor (or by hand if you're cheap/ghetto like me and don't even have an electric hand-held mixer thing) combine pineapple, canola oil, applesauce, egg whites, non-dairy milk of choice, apple cider vinegar and vanilla, until well combined.
  • Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and stir and such
  • Stir in carrots and walnuts
  • Pour batter into prepared pan. BAKE!... until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, yadda yadda, about 40 minutes.


Makes about 2 cups

Prep time - 5 minutes

  • 1/2 cup dairy-free soy margarine (Willow Run, Earth Balance, etc)
  • 1 8-oz tub of dairy-free cream cheese (such as Tofutti, or that other brand we used whose name I always forget)
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • In a large mixing bowl (using an electric mixer if you're snazzy enough to own one), blend all the ingredients until creamy & fluffy - about 5 minutes
  • Use mixture to frost stuff, like cakes! May be stored up to 1 day (or maybe longer) in an airtight container in the fridge, until ready to use.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Roger Ebert, I Love You

From his review of the film adaptation of the book "Eat, Pray, Love":  

"She shows moral fibre by leaving such a dreamboat for India, where her quest involves discipline in meditation, for which she allots three months rather than the recommended lifetime."
Hee hee! Laughs aside, I have read the book but not seen the movie, and although Roger's warned me against it, I'll probably watch it eventually. As meditation and yoga practice feature heavily in the story, what are your thoughts on the book/movie? 

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Sonnez Les Matines

Sometimes I help Michaela and Deon with their animals. I absolutely love it. I call Michaela my chicken-parenting mentor. Morning on the farm is a happy time (except for the pigs, who are more like me and would rather hit the snooze button). The music is "Plekete" by Zap Mama.

From Leaves of Grass:

I think I could turn and live with animals, they are so placid and self-contain’d;
I stand and look at them long and long.
They do not sweat and whine about their condition;
They do not lie awake in the dark and weep for their sins; 685
They do not make me sick discussing their duty to God;
Not one is dissatisfied—not one is demented with the mania of owning things;
Not one kneels to another, nor to his kind that lived thousands of years ago;
Not one is respectable or industrious over the whole earth.


I am safe.
I am safe.
I am safe.
I am safe.

My body is safe.
My jaw is safe.
My eyes are safe.
My lips are safe.
My neck especially is safe.
My hips are safe.
Even my hair is safe.
My breath is safe.
My belly is safe.
My thoughts are safe.
My brain is safe.
My prana is safe.
My fragility is safe.
I am safe being seen.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Breath Inside the Breath

above: a glass sculpture of the breath inside the lungs by annie cattrell

Are you looking for me?
I am in the next seat.
My shoulder is against yours.
You will not find me in the stupas, not in Indian shrine
rooms, nor in synagogues, nor in cathedrals:
not in masses, nor kirtans, not in legs winding
around your own neck, nor in eating nothing but vegetables.
When you really look for me, you will see me instantly --
you will find me in the tiniest house of time.
Kabir says: Student, tell me, what is God?
He is the breath inside the breath.


How To Be Alone

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

My Dream Wedding Cake?

Sweet baby Buddha, it's made of cheese! Cheese! Am I crazy, or is this a totally mindblowingly awesome idea? Spotted on a cup of jo.

Pastry Pose

Lisa West invents a pose for The Yogery! This is parivrtta cupcake janu sirsana or revolved head-to-knee-cupcake pose. Props necessary: napkin, fork, and a cupcake from Knead Bakery.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Dear Yoga, It's Me, Ashley

A few things I need to get off my chest. Dear yoga, it's me, ashley, are you listening?

Dear yoga,

Without you I am so stiff and unfeeling and just SOLID in mind and body. As soon as I practice just a little bit I feel so much more open and able to go with the flow. Things seem funnier. Other things seem sadder. Everything is more infused with beauty. My concerns start to melt.
I would like to understand why you chose me. I was, after all, an unlikely candidate. But you spoke to me when I was a high school girl in Iowa, through a book that I can no longer find. I remember a picture of someone in Cobra pose. Am I just making that up now? I remember mimicking it on the wood floor of the "great room" in the house I grew up in and have never been back to. I remember teaching it to my Junior Varsity tennis team and everyone being amazed at that new feeling of openness in the chest and belly.

Then you and I drifted apart. I left for college in Santa Fe, New Mexico. My first yoga class wasn't very exciting. I was just there for a boy. And then that boy got more into meditating than yoga, and I followed, the puppy-in-love that I was. He left, and then I remembered you again. Or rather, a friend dragged me to see you at the Bikram Studio in Santa Fe. There, I remember the dirty brown carpet, the mirrors, the sweaty room. The baggy, crimson Harvard t-shirt I wore. The teacher exhorted us to "Push your hips forward to the wall! More! More!" in Camel Pose. And I pushed, thrilled at the daring feeling of the pose and the teacher's passion. We were back in love then, yoga.

But the world is a dangerous place for love, and we drifted apart yet again. I couldn't overcome the financial obstacles to get to you. And Zen, which was free, took your place for a while. I sat in stillness wearing all black and trying not to cough in dark rooms. I meditated as I polished wood, as I scooped peanut butter into my oats, as I kissed that boy, who came back to me, for a time, trading places with you. I studied and found meaning in everything but you. I didn't need you, I thought. I had The Odyssey, the Pythagorean theorem, Sophocles, and Chomsky and Annie Dillard when I needed to escape the Greats (which was more often than not). You, yoga, I resisted, ignored, saw through, as I sometimes do with those who I should really love and let in to my life. That is how our story begins, dear yoga.

With love,


A New Way To Love!

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Sunday, August 8, 2010

Eat, Write, Buy Things, Do Yin Yoga, Eat More

I just happened to notice that this post here, the one I'm writing now, is our 306th post! This number has no specific importance to me, but it's nice to know we've put three hundred and five posts out into the world about yoga, eating, baked goods and everything in between. At times it feels like a lonely quest, but Zen Muffin and I have thoroughly enjoyed having this blog to unite us across the oceans and connect with other pastry loving yoginis.

Speaking of baked goods, check out this ring I found on Etsy this morning:

It's a croissant on a plate on your finger! Talk about breakfast on the road. I love it. The other items in the shop weren't really my thing, but I find this to be totally charming. The shop is here.

While we're on the topic of buying things, anyone out there have any tips on those Yoga Toes or Yoga Socks? Its not that I'm traveling all the time, but it feels like often enough I find myself in a run down hostel or a carpeted hotel without my mat, and I'd like to be able to have a more full-on practice without schlepping my mat with me, or slipping on the carpet. Any good recommendations, or should I just stick to my hands and feet?

My personal practice is chugging along. I've been going for jogs with my laogong, and thusly my hamstrings and hips are suddenly screaming at me all the time. According to Yoga Journal, I should do lots of lunging to counter this. I should, but I haven't really. Maybe it's the heat, maybe it's my hips, I don't know. I've just been yinning like it's going out of style. Pigeon, frog, badakonasana, cowface; you name it, and I'm in it. It's been nice. I'm enjoying a softer, slower style for the time being.

I'll close with a photo of some liang mian(cold noodles) I recently had. Not sweet nor baked, but nonetheless delicious: