Yoga is…

“Let go of the competitive mind-set. Yoga is noncompetitive. It is not just a work-out, it is not just techniques for relaxation, and it is not just cross-training. It is a spiritual practice that makes the body stronger, more flexible, and generally much healthier. The purpose is to calm the mind, open the heart, and stimulate our spiritual evolution.”

Quoted from Teaching Yoga by Donna Farhi. Taffy Frost from Yoga Tree.

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Reflecting on the past decade

Here we are, a decade behind us and a new year to look forward too. This past week I’ve been reflecting on the past ten years. What has transpired? Where is my life headed? What is left undone? I have a lot to be grateful for; I’ve never been so content with life as I am today. Even though the last decade had it’s roller coaster moments and even at times “how could this be happening” consumed my thoughts, I’m glad it all took place. It has made me the person I am; someone activity striving to be the best I can be.

I’m dedicating my free time the rest of the winter months to Svadhyaya, the yogic discipline of studying sacred text and studying oneself. Svadhyaya is part of  Patanjali’s Eight Limbed path (Ashtanga Yoga) described in the Yoga Sutra. In brief, the eight limbs are steps and practices that will lead to enlightenment. Asana and pranayama are both limbs in this path. Through reading and researching yoga text, a better understanding of the Self (our true nature), as well as skills of self-observation that leads to yoga or union will present itself.

One of the best text I found helpful in understanding what yoga is all about, The Heart of Yoga by T.K.V. Desikachar. It’s well written, in simple terms without being over welling.
A great way to experience self study is in your yoga practice. Observe your thoughts, is your mind present? How does the movement/yoga posture feel in your body? What subject matter draws your mind away?

Weekend of rain

It was a lovely weekend of rain out here on the coast. Giving me lots of guilt-free time in the kitchen, baking. I was inspired to try a new recipe for pumpkin cookies. Pink Stripes, a blog I follow, was having pumpkin week, last week and shared a recipe for Pumpkin Nut and Chip cookies. This recipe reminds me of my mom’s good old chocolate chip cookies (minus the pumpkin, cinnamon and nuts) I knew I’d like them. I found they mixed up just the same, I couldn’t wait to try one right out of the oven.

I wasn’t able to find pumpkin pie spice, so I used all spice instead (hope that was a proper substitute). If you know where to get pumpkin pie spice please let me know. Also, I found pecans per-chopped in the bulk section, I want with them instead of walnuts.

pumpkincookiesPumpkin Nut and Chip Cookies

1/2 C butter, softened
1 1/2 C sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 t vanilla extract
2 1/2 C flour
2 t pumpkin pie spice
1 t cinnamon
1 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1 C milk chocolate chips
3/4 C walnuts, finely chopped

• Preheat oven to 350ºF
• Mix butter and sugar until creamy; add pumpkin, egg and vanilla, beating well after each addition
• Sift dry ingredients into a separate bowl; gradually add to pumpkin mixture until well-blended
• Stir in chocolate chips and walnuts
• Drop batter by heaping teaspoons onto lightly buttered cookie sheets
• Bake for 15 to 17 minutes or until edges are golden brown
• Cool on wire racks and store in airtight container

Recipe courtesy of the California Milk Advisory Board

 

Mothers and Daughters

Today was also a first for me. I taught my first Mother and Daughter yoga class. A totally different dynamic than an adult class, the learning curve was steep tonight. I had a great time and some silly giggles too. It’s great to see children in Happy Baby, they don’t have to be told to move and explore the pose, I had happy babies rollin’ around the room enjoying themselves. Thanks to all the ladies coming out to the class.

Blogging tutorial

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Pic from the Patricia website

Last night I went to the show with my good friend Kelly. We saw Julia and Julie, I know, your totally thinking that movie has been out of theatres forever. Popular demand brought it back to Powell River. If you are ever visiting Powell River, do take in a show at the Patricia Theatre. It’s the longest running movie theatre in Western Canada and had restored it’s beauty. The seats are a bit uncomfortable, but an intermission during the longer movies lets you stretch your legs and get some air.

What a funny movie, Meryl Streep was fabulous, and Amy Adams played such a likable character. I was most interested in seeing the film for the blogging aspects, hoping Julie would have the same reservation I’m having. Like Julie, I’m just not sure if I’m cut out for this; is there time to blog; who’s out there reading and interested in what I’m saying. I’m really fond of the idea of sharing ideas and life experiences, but the truth is when it comes down to it, I’d rather be a spectator. I’m going to face my fear and open up a little more.

Thanks for being out there and finding my blog interesting.

Namaste

Embrace life with back bends

Bending back and opening the chest also unlocks the spirit within. Practicing these postures takes you along previously untravelled paths, challenging you to overcome fear and frustration, teaching you to move with ease and grace and to live with an open heart and a passion for life and love.
(J Chapmen, Yoga for Inner Strength, p164).

In back bends I bring my awareness to the heart and open it as wide as I can, eager to send and receive what may come. I welcome back bends with an open mind and embrace the wonderful stretch through the front of my body; hips, abdomen, thighs, shoulders and chest, which from sitting at a computer all day is compresses. While all that stretching is taking place the legs, buttocks and spine are required to counter gravity, bringing energy, warmth and strength. After a back bend concentrated practice I tend to feel energized and refreshed.

Back bends stimulate the nervous system and metabolism. The abdominal organs are squeezed helping with digestion and giving yourself a mini detox.
If you have little experienced a back bends, do come into them slowly and gently. They can feel awkward or bring a fearful feeling because you are moving the spine in a direction it isn’t used to going, as well the heart is exposed which may be uncomfortable for some.
Use the breath to help bring calmness to your back bends, inhaling to lengthen the lower back and open the chest, exhale to soften, releasing deeper into the posture. Bring balance in the body by following a back bend with a forward fold.

Some great beginner back bends are: Bitilasana (Cow pose), Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Little bridge pose) and Supta Badda Konasana (Heartbed)

Other back bends: Urdha Mukha Svanasana (Upward facing dog pose), Natarajasana (Dancer), Ustrasana (Camel pose), Urdva Dhanurasana (Wheel pose)

take in a little GOOP

GOOP

I am so excited to share this, I haven’t had that good of a look at the site myself, but I love Gwyneth Paltrow and how subtle she is. GOOP is her take on lifestyle and meaning. The site has a real simple and clean design, just as life should be. Do sign up for the newsletter. I received my first a few day ago and can’t wait to try the recipe for the chocolate cupcakes.