What Bikram Teaches : Yoga Math

Love & Life, Yoga

This is my second post in a series titled, “What Bikram Teaches” – a personal reflection on lessons learned in the hot room

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f(friend’s wedding) * 2 [A (F + Dnc)] / T(li) = p(B)

Where….

A = Alcohol

F = Food

Dnc = Dancing

T(li) = Time it takes to drive back from Long Island

Equals…

p(B) = the probability that I didn’t drink nearly enough water before a Monday Bikram class.

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After such a crazy week – it was really special for me, and all my friends, to be able to get together and celebrate the wonderful love between 2 of our very own. Congratulations Mr & Mrs Singers 🙂

Sending positive energy & good thoughts to all you folks in bloggersville

 

 

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What Bikram Teaches : Humility

Love & Life, Yoga

This is my first post in a series titled, “What Bikram Teaches” – a personal reflection on lessons learned in the hot room

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Lets all try a relatively simple exercise.

Stand up out of your chair

Touch your toes. And don’t bend your knees.

Easy ‘peasy right? Go ahead. Try it. I’ll wait.

….

allposes About Bikram Yoga

In theory – most of the postures in Bikram look easy – especially for those of us who have had some basic athletic training. In other exercise classes (I’m looking at you Zumba), I’ve even done Spine Twisting Pose to warm up. Granted – Awkward Pose is called that for a reason – but looking at these simple outlines doesn’t seem daunting.

And while many are turned off by the idea of the “hot” room – we all go to the beach every summer. In the throngs of a New York City winter, we long for the days of 98, 99, 100 degree weather – with short shorts and cold showers.

From the outside – Bikram isn’t as scary as CrossFit. (It’s just as addictive – but no where near as scary). It’s not as insurmountable as biking across the Swedish Alps. It’s not as improbable as winning the New York City marathon.

From the outside.

I was an outsider once. I thought I could easily handle these 26 postures.

  • Triangle pose? – No problem.
  • Standing head to Knee – Simple!
  • Cobra pose? – Easy as pie.

Then I actually tried Bikram….

The more I practice, the harder the poses become. The pose isn’t a singular pose – it disguises it’s self as the singular – but in reality – it’s comprised of multiple poses, in multiple parts of the body.

It’s not “Half Moon”

It’s suck the stomach,

push down

center the hips

raise the chin

push down

look up

arch your upper body back

weight in the heels

push and push and push and push.

 

The more I think I know – the more I realize I don’t. And Humility joined me on my mat.

The Beauty of the Blurry Mirror

Love & Life, Yoga

Recently, I’ve been doing a lot of Bikram.

“A lot” is defined by me as 3 – 4 times per week. While I realize many yogis would scoff at my measly 3 day practice, but let me assure you – it’s hard work.

Very hard.

One would think that after a month of regular practice, I’d be able to “lock the knee” – i.e. the most important thing in Bikram besides breathing.

Nope. I am a wobbly, gel-like mess. Most of the time. Occasionally I see glimpses of brilliance – but only sometimes. Like – my fixed firm pose,

is getting much better – I can actually rest my shoulders on the ground now! 

And the other day – I actually smiled after rabbit pose – my forehead touched the knee!

But one of the best parts about Bikram is something so much simpler – I have to take my glasses off.

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You don’t sweat in Bikram – you rain.  You are soaked to the skin – meaning there’s no way my plastic frames are going to stay on my face. Since each practice is the same 26 postures, and the teacher talks you through each position step by step – you don’t have to have 20/20 vision. I’m near-sighted, so standing in the back row of the class (really – did you think I was one of those front-rowers? psssh….) I can see myself, but I’m very blurry. I can see all my limbs, my general shape – but no eyes, no specific features, I can’t even tell what my hair is really doing.

And it’s wonderful.

I don’t have to worry about fixing a fat roll.

I don’t have to worry about taming some unruly fly-away cowlick

I don’t have to worry about my face looking like a wet tomato

I don’t have to worry about if I forgot to shave my legs

I don’t have to worry.

I just have to breathe.

Of Love, Loss & Car

cooking, Love & Life

2013 is turning out to be quite the year!

As you all know – I’ve been dealing with a pulled muscle in my hip, taking the prescribed pain medicines & muscle relaxer only as-needed. It turns out it was a good thing I had some left over –

Last Wednesday (the 16th) I was in a gnarly accident on my way to work. Don’t panic – both myself and the other driver walked away with no injuries (thank god) but our cars weren’t so lucky. My poor Hyundai lost traction on the slushy highway, and spun out – the other driver wasn’t able to stop in time, and hit my car along the rear passenger side.

My mini tank (Elantra) took it like a champ – the damage seeming relatively superficial at the scene. The other driver’s 2010 Audi looked worse, having hit me head on. Turns out, looks can be deceiving. The damage to my car was worse than we expected – the suspension was off, the break hose destroyed, the tire dangling from it’s frame – and that was only the damage they assessed. My insurance provider broke the bad news on Friday that my car; passed down to me after the passing of my beloved Nonni, which drove me back and forth to college, down to North Carolina & back, took me on countless road trips and late night adventures, and who’s old-lady status protected me from the laser beams of speed police, was totaled.

I was, and continue to be, devastated by the loss of my car. While I continually remind myself that the important thing, and the the thing my grandmother would be most concerned with, is that I am safe and sound – I’m still mourning the loss.

My car was the biggest (physical) piece of my grandmother I had left – and, initially, it felt as though I was losing her presence in my life. It felt like I wasn’t going to have her protection over me anymore – because, for as long as I had my car, she was in my mind every day, every time I got in the car, she was there. Losing the car felt like loosing her.

The more I thought about losing this physical reminder of her – the more pieces of her I found inside my apartment. I have the blanket from my alma mater she bought when I was accepted to college. I have 1/2 of the necklace she wore every day – a small gold heart that I wear daily. I have (and you’re not going to believe this) her old toaster – which still works like a charm. I found the letter she wrote me when I went away to college – in the drawer of her 1920’s sewing machine/end table.

More importantly – and this is something I’ve only discovered recently – I have her cooking skills. While it never interested me before – I’m not too shabby around the kitchen. Like her – my measurements aren’t always exact, I make a mean home-made pasta, and I always end up with sauce on my shirt.

The car wasn’t her – I wasn’t under her guidance only within it’s metal frame. She’s watching, protecting, following, and loving regardless of what I’m doing, where I am, and whatever I’m cooking.

Excuse me – I can hear my pasta water boiling 🙂

Dancing, Hips, Hospital!

Love & Life

Sounds like the newest dance craze, or a line from a Shakira song, doesn’t it? Areba!!!

But it’s not a dance craze. Funny story actually…..

Last Saturday (the 5th) I cashed in on one of my Christmas presents from my BF – tickets to Fuerza Bruta in NYC If you’re in the area (or – like the couple from Rochester we met in the coat check line) willing to drive a couple hours – the show has recently been extended for a few extra weeks.

Its cray-cray. Its a combination of Cirque du Soleil, a rave, Australian house music and live theater. Annnnd it’s the reason I ended up in the emergency care unit of the Westchester Hospital on Sunday morning.

Ok – so I realize that requires an explaination. At the end of Furza Bruta, it’s a huge dance party. And yes, there’s glitter. (There’s also water, so wear shoes/clothes you don’t care about.) Do you think that I stayed away from the watery-glittery mass of dancing people?

No – of course not. The BF and I got right in the thick of it. (Did you really expect anything less?)

And, as it happens, one part of my body went to the left (the top half) and the other part of my body went to the right. And my poor left hip got caught right in the middle of it. All of a sudden, mid-dance move, I felt a sharp pain in my hip – and realized I couldn’t put any weight on my left foot. I thought it was just a pinched nerve – but I ended up limping all the way back to Grand Central.

Thinking I would just take 2 Advil and call it a night – I went to sleep with a heating pad… only to wake up the next morning with excruciating pain in my hip & leg. The BF decided it was time to seek professional help.

Diagnosis? Pulled muscle in my hip. Treatment? Pain medication, muscle relaxer, heating pads, and AT LEAST 1 week of no yoga.

I am currently on day 8 of no yoga. The hip is slowly, but surely, healing. I’m off the muscle relaxer, and down to once a day on the pain killers.

Really 2013? Really…..

In Today’s “Obvious World News” : Bikram Yoga is Hot

Love & Life, Yoga

Bikram yoga is hot.

Very Hot. Ghost Pepper Hot. Florida in August hot.

Part of my 2013 New Years Resolution (which I swear I’m actually going to keep) is to do the Bikram 30 Day Challenge. Which (obviously) is completing 30 consecutive days of Bikram yoga. And if you’ve never done Bikram, it seems fairly easy. You may think, “People go to the gym for 30 days all the time!” (For an example – please see any topless Ryan Gosling photos).

However – Bikram is not the same. At all.

First, it’s 90 minutes – which is longer than most folks go to the gym. And it’s 105 DEGREES with 90% HUMIDITY. Do you know what that means? That means your body is crying sweat the moment you walk in the door. Your body looks like you swam the English channel about 5 minutes into the class. I bring 2 (count ’em, 2!) towels.

And then, there are the positions themselves. Have you ever tried to touch your nose to your knee, while standing, with your legs at a 90 degree angle?

I have.

I can’t do it, per say, but I’ve tried.

All that being said, last night, I went to my first Bikram class in about 8 months. I knew what to expect. I drank a lot of water during the day, I didn’t eat anything 2.5 hours before class, and, as mentioned, I brought extra towels. I thought, “I may not be able to do all the postures perfectly, but at least I’ll be able to do the class”

Nope. Not even close.

(What follows is a pretty accurate re-telling of my internal monologue)

Minutes 5- 7 : “Huh – it’s hotter than I remember in here…”

Minutes 7 – 10 : “Maybe I’d better sit this set out”

Minutes 10 – 12 : “What is this tingely sensation in my fingers & hands?!”

Minutes 12 – 15 : (cue wave of nausea)

Minutes 15 – 17 : “Annnnnnnd I’m seeing stars. I should probably leave now…..”

Needless to say, I stumbled my way out of the class room. What a flattering impression I must have made on all my new classmates/yogi. After a 5 minute cool down on the icy tiled floor of the ladies locker room, I decided to go back in. The nausea had passed, and while I was willing to let my fear of public vomiting stop me from going back, my fear of “not being able to do it” wasn’t.

I washed my face, attempted to tame the frizzy mess of hair on my head, and tramped back into the studio.

My yogi gave me 2 thumbs up.

And I’m going back tonight 🙂

Justification of an Absence

Love & Life

It occurred to me that I owe readers (who am I kidding, there are 0 of you) an explanation as to why there’s such a gap between my last post, and today’s.

…..

OK – I don’t really have a reason. I just didn’t blog.

I don’t believe in making excuses. If I had really wanted to write, I would have made time for it. I just didn’t make it a priority – and for that, I apologize (to you, my imaginary readers).

Here’s to a re-commitment, and a happy 2013 🙂

I am produce-less – with 2 baked apples

cooking, Love & Life

I am produce-less.

My Urban Organic delivery never came yesterday…. let me back up

So – According to the company’s website – the way you are supposed to order for the week is to either call their offices between 9am – 5pm or send them an email. So – that’s exactly what I did.

On Tuesday I sent them an email for an order to be delivered on Thursday. They request that orders be submitted before 3pm the day before the delivery – so my due date would be by 3pm on Wednesday.

No email confirmation.

I then continued to call their office multiple times over the next 3 days, trying to get a confirmation that someone had received my order request. I also sent them ANOTHER email through their website form.

No response.

Now – the delivery window is any time between 2:30pm – 10:30pm. (10:30pm? SERIOUSLY?) So – giving them the benefit of the doubt – I diligently watched Princess & The Frog on the Disney channel until 10:45 – hoping against hope – that the delivery would show up.

Bupkiss.

This morning – I check my email

I get an email from these people at 2:16AM

2:16AM!!

The service is based out of midtown Manhattan – I know these people are in the same time zone as me! What the heck are they doing at 2:16AM? 

They proceed to tell me “Sorry this email was missed. We scheduled you for delivery next week”.

whoawhoawhoa – someone please explain to me how a business is run, where orders come IN via email – but they MISS/DON’T CHECK their email? How does that make sense? Am I nuts?

Now – I am produce-less.

While I DID, incidentally, purchase 2 granny smith apples yesterday during my lunch hour, they were unceremoniously dumped into the garbage after I opened the bag upon coming home, to find they were BROWN, MUSHY and BAKED from the heat of my  car.

I’m not lying to you people – I BAKED these apples, I cut them open and they were brown all the way through. Who knew you could bake apples in an automobile!?

Back to my produce-problem –

When LB gets food she doesn’t like – she flips the bowl over. I wish I could have done that to Urban Organic! 😦

After actually doing some research, (which I admittedly should have done in the first place) on Yelp! – I realized I was not the first, or the only person to have a problem with Urban Organic. Every review was negative, lost & wrong orders, late deliveries – one guy had a box that was infested with bugs! I’m a tree-hugging animal lover, but even I think that’s gross!
So I emailed them back and cancelled my order. I’m also going to call and try to get a human on the phone, not their conveniently-full answering machine. Sigh – so much for that.

But on the subject of CSAs – there is one out of Westchester that still has spots open. $30/week until Oct – but it’s mostly greens, (there’s A LOT of greens) so I’d still have to supplement my order with farmer’s market/store bought fruits. This is a real community program – it’s been going on for 3 years so it has an established base of members.

What are the thoughts on that? Worth it?

They are associated with a farm in CT called, “Chubby Bunny Farms” – and you all know how I feel about bunnies….
I think it’s a good sign. 🙂

Italian Comfort Food – Vegan Version

cooking, Love & Life, recipe, Vegan

After my Vegan Dinner #Fail yesterday – I wasn’t ready to be beaten by the kitchen just yet. I peeled myself off my mattress last night (it was only 8:30 folks – I’m such an old lady) and headed back to the battlefield.

Last Saturday I bought these 2 beautiful tomatoes from a local mom&pop store in a neighboring town. The first went to the awesome arugula salad, & I made my second favorite Italian comfort food (ICF) with the other.

Obviously, my first favorite ICF is my family’s homemade pasta, sauce & meatballs. You cannot do anything for the rest of the day after you eat it, because it takes a solid 8 hours for the bowling ball of carbohydrates to leave your stomach – but it’s so worth it. Every plate licking calorie. The pasta is so good that even our dogs eat it. No joke.

My second favorite ICF is stuffed vegetables – specifically artichokes & tomatoes. My Nonni (Italian grandmother) was the resident cook, and she used to make these for me – if I asked nicely. My Nonni passed away in 2006 – and one of my last memories of her, as the healthy, loving and vital Non she was – was sitting in her kitchen as she baked me a tray of stuffed tomatoes. 🙂

As the cruddy cook I was/am – I never thought stuffed tomatoes were in my realm of ability. They looked so fancy & foo-foo – I thought I would ruin them for sure.

UNTIL! I went to North Carolina and my aunt offered to teach me. I was stoked! I was all prepared with a pad of paper and my cooking hat – to master the finesse & tact required to tackle such an illustrious task as “the stuffed tomato”

……until I realized how dead-a$$ easy they are to make.

Here it is folks – ICF: Vegan Style!

Step 1: Purchase tomatoes. Cut off the little green stems and cut tomatoes in half. Not longways – sideways – this is important.
Step 2: Pick up half of tomato. Mush it. Seriously – pretend you are making a fist around the tomato. This will get messy – but all the little seed pockets will loosen up.
Step 3: Fling your wrist into the sink – without letting go of the tomato! (This does require some practice) But the point is to launch some of the tomato seed pockets into the sink. You can also achieve this in a slightly more civilized manner by using a spoon & removing the seeds.
Step 4: Once each half is seedless – set aside.
Step 5: Make the filling. Dump some breadcrumbs into a bowl (Note: to healthify this – use Panko crumbs, 1/2 crumbs & 1/2 flax seed, really anything that will get a nice crust when baking). Add some parsley flakes & garlic (I used minced – hey – I’m resourceful) and whatever seasoning you’ve got lying around.
Step 6
: Add some EVOO – probably like – 3 or 4tbs (we’re not big on measurements in my family apparently…) Again – to healthify – flax seed & water should do the same thing. Mix well with a fork until the crumbs make a crunchy sort of sound. (again – we don’t do specifics in my family… just mix well – you’ll be fine)
Step 7: Fill the tomatoes! Use a wooden spoon to fill and round the tops of the tomatoes

Pre-Baking

Bake the tomatoes at 350 for about 10 minutes – depending on the type of oven you have. They’re done when the filling turns golden brown.

now – STOP! DO NOT EAT TOMATOES ONCE DONE COOKING!!!

Seriously – eat 1, and only 1 tomato out of the oven. Cover the other(s) and put in fridge overnight. They better the next day!

Reheat for 1 minute in the microwave the next day.

Enjoy perfection on a plate. ❤