Thursday, March 3, 2011

Happy March and Update from the Yogery!

Zen Muffin is in India, and French Toast is neck deep in the slowest internet in China, yes it's a fact! We'll be back soon with reports on Mother India and perhaps even a live-blogging extravaganza when ZM comes to Shanghai in TWO WEEKS!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Coconut Cream Pudding, and Happy Year of the Rabbit!

We're coming up on the tail end of Chinese New Year, or chunjie, or Spring Festival, or one-week-off-from-work-when-all-business-is-set-aside-and-fireworks-go-off-like-mad-24/7, and I have yet to do what I said I would do this week: practice Ashtanga yoga every day, work on the Salty story, organize my closet, write in the Yogery....Ay yo.

Instead of doing these things, I pretended I was still in Thailand and made coconut cream pudding. Nothing like a cool, creamy, coconutty spoonful of goodness to make the annoyance of firecrackers bouncing off your sixteenth floor window melt away. If you make it, and I highly recommend you do, you'll need three cans of coconut milk and the patience to wait at least a day before you eat it.

Instead of the hardcore Ashtanga practice I promised myself, I yoga-ed to Jason Crandell via Yoga Journal podcasts. They are usually only about 20 minutes, but they all go well together so you can just yoga until your battery wears out.

This week I'm hoping to start a green juice cleanse. Any tips or recommendations out there for me? I haven't done one in awhile. What better way to start the Year of the Rabbit than eating like one!

Coconut Pudding with Coconut Cream

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup corn starch (i used flour)
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 cups canned unsweetened coconut milk, divided. (i subbed three cups for coconut cream. yum!)
tropical fruits to be spooned on top for serving.

In a heavy saucepan, stir together the sugar, cornstarch and salt. Gradually add 1/2 cup of the coconut milk and stir until you have a runny paste. Stir in remaining cups of milk and cream, and cook over medium heat until the mixture starts to thicken. Turn the heat to low and, stirring briskly, simmer for 1 minute.
Pour the pudding into a 11/2 quart dish, mold or ramekins, and let it cool uncovered for a bit. This will achieve 'skin' on top of the pudding. IF you don't want skin, press plastic wrap immediately onto the surface of the pudding. Put in the fridge for about 12 hours.

Adapted slightly from "The Joy of Vegan Baking" by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

I am not slow


Out of the Yarn Jungle

Below: "Crossing the Line" an exhibit by Tanya AguiƱiga at the LA Craft and Folk Art Museum

Where got I that truth?
Out of a medium's mouth.
Out of nothing it came,
Out of the forest loam,
Out of dark night where lay
The crowns of Nineveh.
-'Fragments,' Yeats

Above: The exhibit had an interactive corner with yarn and scissors for visitors to play with. This is my contribution.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Hypothesis: We are Ease

One of the most "unexpected benedictions" (a favorite phrase of mine from Krishnamurti's journals) of yoga teaching is the connection with the students. Due to Kira's example and encouragement, I try to solicit questions and comments during class. Tonight in particular we had a delightful interaction going, discussing the results of the practices like a bunch of scientists comparing lab results.

I wanted to share some of their words for what happened when we did the practices Kira taught in Anatomy of Self Love:

Experiment: Think a common negative thought you often tell yourself (e.g. "I am fat" or "I am not good enough"). Repeat that in your head over and over again as you begin to breathe fully, in and out, taking big breaths. Try to hang on to the thought as you breathe.

Results: No one could hang on to the poison of the thought. One person said that she saw her words literally change shape to look something like this:

unworthy/fat/insert any negative word here

Another woman said something like, "The breath feels like a blessing and the ego feels like it's rewired." I love the idea of feeling a blessing in your body.

Experiment: Repeat a positive thought over and over again in your mind, or hold an image of someone or something you love, family, partner, or pets. Again, breathe big and full for several rounds of breath.

Results: One person reported that the feeling of love was enhanced with the breath. Another said that the words edited themselves, transforming from "I love my children" to "I love" followed by the children's names. As if the breath swooped in and erased the attachment, leaving only the love. Someone saw purple and red behind his eyes.

These discussions give me a sense of safety as a teacher because the insights are coming right from the 'students.' I'm not up there making stuff up, going "you should be seeing colors and you should be feeling more love now." They are actually teaching me, because each insight sounds fresh and new and alive in someone else's words, coming from someone else's Yoga.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

I fill this space with words like stars

Grey Kitty in Sphinx Pose, the living, breathing, furry form of these mystifying questions:

who am i? whence this widespread cosmic flux?
these, the wise inquire into diligently, soon--nay, now.
(mahopanishad iv, 21... as quoted in ravi ravindra's book the spiritual roots of yoga)

The blank screen, blinking cursor, supportive cat curled up next to me. The conditions are right for writing but deciding what to say is a whole 'nother thing.

About a year ago I taught my first yoga class ever. So in a way this month is my yogic birthday. The shift from 'student' to 'teacher' was a painful but sometimes thrilling molting process. There were nervous breakdowns ("I'm quitting yoga!") and extreme, meticulous preparation for classes, and on the positive side, the immense support of Kira and others. I have learned so much since I started teaching that, looking back, it seems like I didn't know anything before that first night. (I wonder if that cycle will ever stop. Will I ever look back and think, "Gosh I really knew what I was doing back then"?)

I'm taking Kira's wonderful Anatomy of Self Love workshop this week, and it's giving me an inspiring context from which to look back on my first year of teaching yoga as well as look ahead to the kind of things I really want to be teaching. I feel I am getting real tools for getting out of my head, for aligning with the way things are supposed to be, for rewiring my body-mind towards a truer, freer self.

The stars in the winter sky are extra bright right now. This week Sarah had a dream about a beautiful starry night, and stars were the gorgeous backdrop of the gripping climax of "True Grit." The other night I was driving down the mountainous Dennison Grade and the stars looked so sparkly they seemed fake, cinematic. I was listening to "Staralfur," my favorite song by Sigur Ros, rolling down the curvy road overlooking the valley thinking about those lines, "Who am I? Whence this widespread cosmic flux? These, the wise inquire into dilently, soon--nay, now." An instant feeling of calm, quiet, and aching wonder washed over me. Time slowed down. I'm amazed that I'm a yoga teacher; I'm amazed that I'm alive. I'm amazed at the stars. It's gonna be ok. I don't have to know the answers when the questions feel so potent. Now, home again in my tiny house, I fill this space with words like stars.

"Staralfur" combined with BBC's "Planet Earth" = bliss:

Saturday, January 8, 2011

New year, new yoga

Hello from Koh Phangnan, Thailand! Ben and I are spending the next few weeks relaxing and detoxing from life in China. This morning we snorkeled near a living reef and I practiced my pranayama to keep from panicking. I am not an experienced sea faring lady, so I need lots of practice. The bright, swift moving schools of fish and dark seaweed plant that spiral up from the sandy bottom like snakes still surprise me.
I have not practiced ashtanga seriously for awhile, but there is a little studio near by which offers a class in the afternoons--today we'll ride over and check it out. I am looking forward to revisiting the practice--in the past, it's felt to rigid for me.
Dear Yogery, it pains me to write I lost my camera, so I cannot share the photos of the amazing food we've had here. But believe when I say there are some incredible looking pasrtries here--some buns and cakes colored bright green or yellow.
Any one out there have any yoga or non yoga recommendations for me on Koh Phangnan? Places to eat I just can't miss, or beautiful beaches? I'd love to hear them.

Monday, January 3, 2011

On Yoga (or the lack thereof) in India

Yoga teachers sometimes say and do things that embarrass the rest of us in the profession. Hanging a disco ball in the studio is one example. Telling an Indian woman she has good hips for squatting (because she is Indian) is just cringe-inducing (how would someone even come up with that idea?). Yikes. In this NPR story, a funny Indian American radio host decides to try yoga before India 'reclaims' it and he is left behind.

Story Here