As we head into May and Mother’s Day, we’re sending big PROPS and THANKS out to all the moms for everything that you do, day in and day out, rain, shine or whatever that crazy ol’ Mother Nature has in store for us these days. We don’t always remember to say thanks, we don’t always see that you have our best interests at heart, we don’t always realize how much it takes to say no when it would be so damn easy to say yes– but every now and again, in our moments of clarity, when our defenses go down and we set all those years of accumulated stuff to the side, it’s hard to be anything but humbled, awed and grateful for you, mom. Maybe we don’t say it enough, but your moms, and as part of a breed that at your best personify karma yoga (selfless service) in action and at your worst simply personify being human, we know you’ll forgive us this. Thanks, mom. Namaste.
If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.
But who defines success? Whether it’s getting ahead or standing on your head, we always seem to gauge ourselves by the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Along the way, we are blind to the beauty of the rainbow itself. The prism becomes our prison, the pot of gold some holy grail, always beyond our reach. And even if we get that pot of gold, in a short time it turns back to lead and we pick up our search again, looking for our next success. That’s our definition of driven, but for many of us we leave off the “crazy” and “to despair.”
Goals are not the issue. Working to achieve them is not the issue. Placing your own self worth on that achievement, ah, now you’re on to something. Sever your attachment to the end result and you free yourself to find success in every step. Show up. Wake up. Bring it—your best effort to this moment. Open your eyes and ears to your heart, to your true nature, to the process, and make yourself blind and deaf to your ego. Try, try again.
New Year’s Resolutions can be extremely powerful tools for creating change in our lives– improving ourselves (though one could argue you could never improve upon your Self), realizing goals, putting an end to “bad” habits or patterns or just plain shaking things up. Often times we shoot out of the gate like a fireball and all too often we burn out soon thereafter. With this in mind, we encourage you to embrace a healthy mix of abhyasa, sanskrit for constant and determined effort and vairagya, non-attachment to results. Make resolutions, set your goals and strive to reach them but don’t give up on them if you seem to be going nowhere or worse yet, take a step backward. You may take a few wrong turns or even get derailed every now and again, but it’s the trails that don’t show up on your map may be just the detour you need…
Here are a few resolutions that may inspire or motivate you for 2013. We’ve followed them up with some references/inspirations to get you started and keep you going…
Start a home yoga practice
Find your Om at Home– whether it’s five minutes or 50, getting on your mat regularly on your own is a great way to expand and deepen your yoga practice. A mat is essential and props such as a blanket, blocks, strap and bolster can be a huge help. We’ve found that adhering to a set time and place to practice have really helped to keep the momentum going. Time can be as simple as “when I wake up” or “when the kids go to bed” or a set time that you can carve out regularly. Pick a place that’s comfortable for you—you may want to create your own “yoga space” that’s away from some of the outer distractions in order to quiet the inner ones. No worries if time and place need to vary, practice when you can and wherever you can for whatever time you can.
OK, it’s day one and the clock has struck “yoga.” I’ve got my space, rolled out my mat, so now what?!? There are many resources available for you to sequence out your home yoga practice (some are listed below). While you may seek external inspiration and guidance for your practice, part of the challenge, fun and reward of practicing on your own is it’s your opportunity to explore. Set your intention, celebrate your Self and cut loose!
There aren’t too many activities where you can get on your butt and get started. Whether on its own or as part of your home yoga practice, meditation brings you a lot closer to yourself (your Self). Sitting down and just being for a few minutes each day should be a welcome change from your frenetic pace and incessant external stimulation. Sit down and give it a try.
Eat (your veggies), Drink (water) and Be Merry
Whether you’re going to yoga class, the gym, walking or engaging in some other physical activity, you are likely very mindful of the amount of exercise you are getting. See if you can apply the same mindfulness to what you put into your body. You know your diet best and we’re sure many of us could stand to eat more fruits and veggies and drink more water. If you’re not sure, you may want to consider keeping a food diary so you can see just what you’re offering up to your body-temple.
Time is one of our most valuable and for many of us, scarce, commodities. To offer up our time in service to others, without expectation of thanks or other strings attached, is true karma yoga – the yoga of action. The Dalai Lama says that our purpose in this world is to be happy and to make others happy. Plain and simple, giving feels good and it clearly contributes to both our own happiness and the happiness of others.
There is something powerful about putting pen to paper and capturing your thoughts. The day’s events, goals, frustrations, triumphs or whatever comes to you in the moment are waiting to unfold on the page. The process of journaling may represent many things to many people—free expression, communication, therapy, release—in all these forms it is the process of getting to know yourself.
Get More Rest
Give yourself more time to do less– whether it’s more sleep, meditation, napping, an exercise recovery day, a day away from the news, soaking your feet- find what you need to be well rested from both a physical and mental perspective. Look at how much you’re already doing running on empty, imagine what you could do on a full tank.
“No one has ever become poor by giving.” – Anne Frank
As we transition from Thanksgiving to Giving season we encourage you to let go of the anxiety, trepidation and worry that so often accompanies finding just the right thing for your friends, family and co-workers. The essence of giving isn’t the gift, it’s the giving—whether it be material or through your words or actions. And the Yoga of Giving is doing so in a way that connects us to the recipient rather than separates us by how we gauge their reaction. When you can inject a bit of your Self, your true spirit, into the giving, it actually becomes more self-less—less judging, less hinging on what you get back in return. Much the way we hear about loving unconditionally, we can strive to give unconditionally, as well. Because at the end of the day, the act of giving really is an act of love, and love doesn’t come with a gift receipt.
Thank you for sharing your gift of light, energy and practice with us. May you be warm, content and fulfilled.
“Give a little bit
Give a little bit of your love to me
Give a little bit
I’ll give a little bit of my love to you
There’s so much that we need to share
Send a smile and show you care…
Now’s the time that we need to share
So find yourself, we’re on our way back home
Ohh goin’ home”
Give A Little Bit
Lyrics by Roger Hodgson and Rick Davies (Supertramp)
The photo used for this inspiration comes from an interesting article entitled “The Power of Giving” from the MDbizMedia website. You can click this link to read that article.
Every time you step onto your mat you are giving yourself a truly incredible gift. Whether it’s peace of mind, focus, spaciousness, the euphoric feeling of synchronizing breath and movement or our practice so often provides us with just what we need. And here’s the beauty part– these gifts were meant to be shared with others. That’s right, as good yogis and yoginis we have an obligation to RE-GIFT all that we receive from our practice. Yes, in addition to everything else, yoga gives the gift of shameless and guiltless RE-GIFTING. RE-GIFTING as good karma. Sign us up!
The Gift of Nothing is a highly recommended 2-3 minute read that reminds us what gift giving is really all about. BTW, it makes a great gift, too!
My mantra – be happy. Me and a billion others. So we go on our happiness quest—we try new things – jobs, friends, situations and locations. We acquire – homes, cars, clothes, a host of “luxury” goods, diplomas, titles, consciously or not, in the hope they will make us feel “better.” We travel far and wide hoping to find the answer, that happiness stone we simply slip into our pocket and and have our worries magically fade away. Unfortunately, too often that stone just piles up with everything else we accumulate and weighs us down.
Some of us do just the opposite, we give and we give—time, clothes, money. Though we often try to be “selfless” in our giving, who can’t help but be at least a little attached to the “thank you,” filling that basic human need for acknowledgement from others that we’re good—a good person, a good mother, a good father, good enough.
And so it goes, we seek happiness outside ourselves, acceptance outside ourselves, a life outside ourselves. When we go searching for sweetness from candy, it leaves holes in our teeth. When we go searching for love, acceptance and fulfillment from others, it leaves holes in our hearts. Go inside and you can find a whole lot more than you may have expected. And maybe, just maybe, we’ll see it’s as much about being whole as about being happy.
As we prepare for a day of festivities and feasting we couldn’t help but think about what truly nourishes us. Go on, take a moment, what nourishes you?
Though we each have our own unique diets and palettes, whether you prefer turkey with gravy and stuffing or Tofurky with all the vegetarian fixin’s, it should quickly become clear that man and woman cannot live on cornbread alone. As the sufi poet Hafiz writes in With that Moon Language, we all have “this great pull in us to connect.” Friends, family, acquaintances, a nod or shared smile, a chance meeting on the street – when we make these connections everything tastes better, life is that much sweeter.
We often end yoga class by bringing our hands together, thumbs in toward the heart, bowing our heads and speaking the Sanskrit word Namaste. Used as a greeting and parting word in India, Namaste, is comprised of “nama” bow, “as” I and “te” you. Namaste literally means Bow I You or I Bow to You. With a little creative license Namaste has been translated to “the light in me bows to the light in you.” With one simple word we recognize and honor all that is different and all that is the same within us and others. We make the connection we yearn for. And that dear friends, is soul food.
Namaste and sincerest wishes for a bountiful Thanksgiving,
Your friends at Yoga Life
I honor the place in you in which the entire universe dwells.
The place which is of light, of live, of peace and of truth.
When you are in that place in you,
and I am in that place in me,
we are one.
With That Moon Language
Everyone you see, you say to them, “Love me.”
Of course you do not do this out loud, otherwise someone would call the cops.
Still, though, think about this, this great pull in us to connect.
Why not become the one who lives with a full moon in each eye
that is always saying,
with that sweet moon language,
what every other eye in this world is dying to hear?
I was on the mat this morning and had a sudden inspiration,
sat down to pen this communication,
open and honest, no misinformation.
what the world needs now is cooperation,
unification and education,
most definitely some cultivation–
whether it’s vegetation or civilization,
a global nation, no separation
do you have a problem with that, why the hesitation?
give in to temptation,
get dragged down by frustration,
see each other different, that’s separation.
knock down our brothers and sisters, condemnation.
cut yourself off from the world, isolation.
how do you expect to change your situation?
a 10-day vacation
to some exotic nation
why not try some inner exploration?
reach a new elevation,
the cessation of obfuscation,
my proclamation, my revelation,
plain and simple, it’s celebration.
Simple celebration of life, needs no explanation,
The effects — purification, contentment, bliss, liberation
it may just be the key to soul salvation
Not impressed by this observation?
Not profound enough, an over simplification?
Perhaps it’s time for a new equation,
One plus one equals one in my estimation.
Do the math.
Image from Babar’s Yoga for Elephants by Laurent de Brunhoff
Moon image credit
WITH THAT MOON LANGUAGE
By Hafiz (translated by Daniel Ladinsky)
Everyone you see, you say to them,
Of course you do not do this out loud;
Someone would call the cops.
Still though, think about this,
This great pull in us
Why not become the one
Who lives with a full moon in each eye
That is always saying,
With that sweet moon
What every other eye in this world
Is dying to
In the preceding poem Hafiz captures one of the most basic human desires, the desire to be loved, to connect and to be accepted with open arms into the community of humankind. He goes one step further by daring us to act in kind– to extend our hands, hearts and words to others. To say the words that they are dying to hear.
So let’s say them:
We are ever inspired by and grateful for the amazing group of yogis and yoginis that we’ve had the opportunity to practice with at Yoga Life. You aren’t the Yoga Life community, you are Yoga Life. And we love you for that.
On Friday March 23, we had a Pot Luck and Yoga event at Yoga Life. The acronym for Pot Luck And Yoga is P.L.A.Y. and play we did – the evening started with a lively yoga practice led by Joanne and Drew accompanied by an inspired Brandon Silaco on drums and percussion. There is nothing like live music to stoke the spirit and in this case, our appetites, too. A savasana with more than a few growling stomachs was followed by a spectacular assortment of food that crossed the full spectrum of flavors, textures and cultures. Pleasing to the eye and palette, every dish was lovingly prepared, you could actually taste the TLC in each bite– Yum! Add some quality time off of our mats with longtime and new friends and the recipe for a full-filling night was complete!
Here are some pics and recipes from the evening:
Snap Pea Pasta Salad
1 package pasta (whole wheat or gluten free varieties will work, too!)
1 lb fresh snap peas or snow peas (can use frozen)
1 medium red pepper
1 cup diagonally sliced scallions
1/3 cup very low sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup peanut oil
2 tablespoons sesame oil
3 tablespoons chunky peanut butter (no salt added)
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger (or 1/4 tsp. powdered)
1 dash pepper
Prepare pasta, rinse with cold water and drain well. Run cold tap water
over snap peas in strainer to thaw completely (if frozen). Drain well.
Mix pasta, peas, & red pepper (and some scallions — save some for garnish).
Cover and chill. Combine remaining ingredients and blend with wire whisk.
Pour over pasta mixture and toss to coat. Garnish with remaining scallions.
Store in refrigerator.
Thanks for this one, Rachel Z, we got seconds!
Kitchen Sink Brown Rice
The Kitchen Sink – the name of the recipe pretty much says it all, brown rice with an assortment of whatever you like thrown in. These are some of the ingredients that typically work for us:
2-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 red pepper
1 yellow or orange pepper
1-2 carrots, depending on size. Cut into small cubes.
1 zucchini, cut into cubes
1 yellow squash
Jalapeño to taste
Roasted pumpkin seeds
Fresh herbs: Cilantro, Parsley
Seasoning: Salt and pepper to taste. Optionally add red chili flakes, turmeric and/or cumin – all to taste (don’t go overboard!)
Cook the brown rice:
Put oil or butter in a pan and heat on med/high
Add dry rice to the pan. Cook 1-2 minutes or until rice emits a nutty scent
Add water to rice in a 2:1 ratio (2 cups water for 1 cup rice)
Bring water to a boil, stir once, let boil resume
Cover bowl and turn down the heat to simmer for 50 minutes or until water is absorbed
Take off heat and let sit covered for another 5 minutes
While the brown rice is cooking:
Heat 1 tbsp oil that supports high cooking temperatures (canola, grape seed) in a pan
Add minced garlic – try not to burn the garlic and then vegetables in this order:
Carrots – let soften then add Peppers, Zucchini and Squash
Add oil as needed.
Mince the jalapeño with the cilantro and parsley. Use as much jalapeño as you are comfortable with. Add to mixture mixture and cook with a little salt until jalapeño softens slightly.
Add salt, pepper and other seasoning, with the exception of red chili flakes, toward the end of cooking the veggies.
When the brown rice is complete, add the veggie mixture to it. Add additional salt, pepper and red chili flakes, if using. While still hot, add the scallions and freshly roasted (or store bought) pumpkin seeds. Add additional oil or a touch of butter, if needed.
This dish is especially good with homemade guacamole and salsa!
Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
2 1/4 whole wheat flour
1 t baking soda
1 t salt
2 sticks butter
3/4 c granulated sugar
3/4 c brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 package chocolate chips
about a cup of oatmeal (I like a mix of the original and the quick one
minute kind, so there are some big and some smaller pieces of oats
Preheat oven to 375
Combine dry ingredients
Cream butter with a mixer in a large mixing bowl — then add both sugars and
vanilla extract. Then add eggs one at a time. Then slowly add the dry
Turn off mixer and mix in the chocolate chips and oatmeal with a spoon
Bake on ungreased cookie sheets — only about 7-8 minutes, until the cookies
have browned a bit. Best to undercook, rather than overcook.
Makes about 4 dozen cookies.
Thanks to Cindy O for this scrumptious cookie recipe!