3 Bullet Thursday

Greetings from sunny West Hollywood, California. It’s Thursday and I’m killing some time before my flight home, so here is the latest rundown of yoga information, inspiration, and lifestyle nonsense from yours truly here at GroundingUp.

What I’m Watching-On Yoga the Architecture of Peace

On Yoga the Architecture of Peace is a documentary chronicling the photographer Michael O’Neill’s yoga journey. He also has a book by the same name that I haven’t gotten to yet. I’m only half way through the film and it is visually stunning, as you would expect from a professional photographer. The plot is this: stressed out perfectionist ruins health, tries yoga for physical and emotional healing, is subsequently healed and becomes obsessed with digging deeper into this ancient magic. This is every modern yogi’s story. His is just more beautifully produced than most. You can stream it on Netflix with your subscription or get it from iTunes for $9.99.On-Yoga-the-archtecture-of-peace

What I’m Reading- J. Brown’s BLOG

J. Brown is a yoga teacher and founder of a yoga studio in Brooklyn, NY. He is not a fan of what the West has done to traditional yoga and he is bitter AF that yoga is a business. I read him and listen to his podcasts because he has a lot to say about the quality of yoga teacher training programs and I keep thinking I’ll be able to make sense of his stance on the yoga industry which seems to be:

  1. Yoga should be regulated but he isn’t sure how it should be regulated but definitely not too much
  2. The Yoga Alliance is the seat of the devil
  3. Yoga should only be a business if it is the kind of yoga J.Brown approves of and if it isn’t a chain like CorePower that is putting the squeeze on small independent yoga studios like his that had to close down because they couldn’t compete with BIG corporate yoga.

Anyway, I plan to keep reading and listening, hoping to hear something that makes some sense.J.Brown-BLOG

Deep Thought I’m Pondering-

“My mind is like a bad neighborhood; I try not to go there alone.” Anne Lamott

I mention this quote because we are doing a lot of meditating these days at the studio and I am always amazed by the fact that meditating with a group of people at a schedule time and location is so much easier than making it happen on my own. For quality meditation, being alone with other people is more effective than being alone with myself.

Want More?

This site is full of yoga tips, information and inspiration. Check out the recipes section for vegan and vegetarian recipes to fuel your practice or eat a little cleaner. For some deep thoughts about yoga philosophy go here. And for past 3 Bullet Thursdays and other yoga tips and hacks go here.

This article originally published on www.groundingup.com

Vegan Sesame Tofu

I debated about using the word “vegan” in this title because I worried readers might assume this sesame tofu recipe tasted terrible. But I did it anyway because in the end I believe it is important to be completely transparent.

So, yes, this is a vegan sesame tofu recipe. It is also delicious and easy. So delicious, in fact,  that I’m going to start doubling the recipe to account for the fact that my kids eat three servings of it each every time I make it. And, it is so easy that I can make it while dealing with a 3 year old who is losing his shit because I won’t let him eat chocolate chip cookies before dinner.

Vegan Sesame Tofu Recipe Notes

Like I said, I have made this several times and so I have a few suggestions for you before you get started.

  1. While extra firm tofu works just fine with this recipe, I prefer to use sprouted tofu because it has a much firmer texture and a bit more going for it nutritionally. We use Wildwood sprouted tofu, but there are other brands out there.
  2. When I’m not making this for the kids, I use sesame oil infused with chili oil. 
  3. I know I said to serve this over white rice; however, I prefer to eat it with rice noodles. I just don’t unless I have time to make rice and rice noodles because my family thinks rice noodles are “weird.”

Want more?

Visit our recipes section for more vegan and vegetarian recipes and resources.

This article originally published on GroundingUp.

Print Recipe
Sesame Tofu
Sesame-tofu-over-rice
Cuisine Vegan, Vegetarian
Servings
Ingredients
Tofu
Sauce
Cuisine Vegan, Vegetarian
Servings
Ingredients
Tofu
Sauce
Sesame-tofu-over-rice
Instructions
  1. Press and drain the tofu. Then break it into small pieces and allow it to drain further. Then combine the tofu pieces in a covered container with the corn starch and toss to coat.
    Tofu-and-cornstarch
  2. Saute the coated tofu on medium heat in a few tablespoons of oil until golden brown. Then remove from the pan and place on a plate with a paper towel to degrease a little.
    saute-tofu-and-cornstarch
  3. To make the sauce, combine all the sauce ingredients except for the cornstarch slurry, in a wok or pan. Bring to a gentle boil and then add the cornstarch slurry. Mix until the sauce thickens. Then, add the tofu and toss to coat.
    sesame-tofu-sauce
  4. Serve over white rice and garnish with sesame seeds and green onions.
    Sesame-tofu-over-rice

3 Bullet Thursday

This may be the first 3 Bullet Thursday not written and published from an airport bar! Thanks to a break in my business travel, this batch of yoga information, inspiration, and general lifestyle nonsense is coming at you direct from my embarrassingly messy desk.

So, without any further ado, here is a run down of the noteworthy from the yoga world.

What I’m Reading-Living Your Yoga, Finding the Spiritual in Everyday Life by Judith Hanson Lasater, Ph.D., P.T.

This book has been on my yoga book shelf for years, and on occasion, I have even referenced it in other yoga articles on this blog. I have not, however, read it cover to cover until now because it just didn’t seem to land with me.

Living-Your-Yoga

Living Your Yoga is recommended reading the for 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training I am completing, and since I’m an “A student”, I’m reading the book AND making notes. Surprisingly, every page of this book is hitting home for me right now and I’m taking so much from it.

You know what they say, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.”

Music I’m Listening To-Ambient and Not So Ambient

I love ambient music and iTunes Music knows this about me. So every Friday, the lovely algorithm at iTunes makes some ambient music recommendations just for me. The Fathoms album by Tapes and Topographies was in the mix last week and the iTunes algorithm served up an ambient winner.  Fathoms-Tapes-and-Topographies

In heavy rotation from the not so ambient genre at our house is the Kaleo A/B album. This album was released in 2016, so obviously it isn’t technically new. It is new to my husband though and he asked that I feature the music on 3 Bullet Thursday to make sure other people knew about this Icelandic blues-rock band. Kaleo-A/B

What I’m Wearing-WTF, Lululemon?

I don’t usually spend much time writing about yoga clothing. But as a short chic, I feel it is my duty to tell the world that Lululemon made a pair of pants that are available in petite sizes (28″).

I don’t know what inspired them to finally notice that short people need pants too. Maybe there is a short woman in the design department at Lululemon who went rogue and cut the patterns off 4 inches short. But I urge you to remain calm because it only applies to their Street to Studio Pant II. The 28″ cut is the one for short girls. The 32″ cut is for the tall ladies. Also, technically, the Street to Studio Pant II is a crop style, but on short girls, the 28″ shows up as an ankle pant. Okay, fine. And one more thing, the 28″ isn’t lined. The regular length pants are lined.  I guess they sent the rogue short designer packing before she had time to line them.

I have modeled them for you in the photos below. And, one final note about these; size up at least one size. The cut is clingy so if you want to be comfortable in them, which seems to be their purpose, I recommend setting aside your vanity and getting a little extra room.

Lululemon-street-to-studio-III
This is what they look like on a short girl who is not a Lululemon model. These are size 4 in the 28″. I’m 5’2″.
Lululemon-Street-to-studio-III-back
And plenty of room in the trunk!

Want More?

This site is full of yoga tips, information and inspiration. Check out the recipes section for vegan and vegetarian recipes to fuel your practice or eat a little cleaner. For some deep thoughts about yoga philosophy go here. And for past 3 Bullet Thursdays and other yoga tips and hacks go here.

This article originally published on www.groundingup.com

Vegetable Dip Recipe

In November of 2016, I spent a week at a Mexican yoga retreat center called Haramara with a bunch of friends from my yoga studio. The cuisine offered at Haramara is spectacular and while we awaited the arrival of each main course, my yoga pals and I would entertain ourselves by guessing what the deliscious dips, served with fresh tortilla chips before each lunch and dinner, were actually made of. Spoiler alert: they were all vegan vegetable dips. So often you find vegetable dip recipes that are meant to dip vegetable in. Rarely do you find a vegetable dip made from vegetables that you dip chips in.

Fortunately, Haramara offers cooking classes, so you can attempt to make the unique meals they serve there. One of the classes taught visitors how to make these mysterious dips and of course I was eager to learn. I was reminded of this moment in my personal history a few weeks ago while I was at another yoga retreat with my yoga gang (yes, I’m a retreat junkie) and we were recounting our Haramara experiences; the dips came up and I volunteered to post the recipe to the blog so we could all eat our tortilla chips nostalgically. Enjoy!

A few notes before you get started:

  • Steaming vegetables leaves quite of lot of liquid in them, which is great. The color stays high and your dips will be creamier; however, the water will encourage your oil to separate from your vegetable fibre and look a little gross. That is what the nut it for. If you think you will have this issue, be sure to add the roasted nut to the food processor. I’m not a food scientist so I have do idea why the roasted nut keeps it all from separating, but it does.

    Vegetable-dip-recipe-helper
    This is my little guy preparing the broccoli for the oven
  • We roasted our beets buried in salt because I heard that cooking them that way makes them taste less like dirt in the end. It sort of worked. I’m not a huge fan of beets, but my husband is so I made the beet version for him. He loved it.
  • We made carrot dip, broccoli dip, and beet dip. My kids loved the carrot dip, probably because it was sweet. I love the broccoli version but it lost a bit of its pretty color on the second day, so watch out for that. My husband loved the beet version.
  • My primary takeaway from this is that I plan to make these with mixed vegetables rather than just one vegetable. That will dial back some of the stronger veggies. For example, I’ll mix roasted cauliflower in with each batch.
  • And one final note; I used roasted garlic rather than raw garlic. They use raw garlic at Haramara, but my gut just can’t take it.

 

Want more?

Visit our recipes section for more vegan and vegetarian recipes and resources.

This article originally published on GroundingUp.

Print Recipe
Vegetable Dip
Vegetable-dip-recipe
Course Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine Vegan, Vegetarian
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Servings
Ingredients
Course Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine Vegan, Vegetarian
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Servings
Ingredients
Vegetable-dip-recipe
Instructions
  1. Select 2 cups of raw vegetables. You can use a single vegetable or mix it up with a few. Cooking will shrink your 2 cups of raw vegetables to 1 cup of cooked vegetables.
    Veggie-Dip-Recipe
  2. Steam or roast the vegetables and drain them well. Some veggies will hold more water than others but I'll cover that issue later.
    Vegetable-dip-recipe-roasted-beets
  3. While your veggies are cooking, roast or toast your nuts. In this case, I used raw almonds, but use whatever you like. Also, you will only need 1 roasted nut, but I always make more to eat as a snack or to store for later.
  4. Put the strained vegetables into the bowl of your food processor along with the remainder of the ingredients. Give it a whirl. This is where you decide if you need your nut. If things are watery and you think they will stay that way, add the nut. The nut oil and fibre somehow keeps the oil from separating from the watery vegetables.
  5. Process the ingredients until smooth and then process some more.
  6. When you have achieved the texture you are looking for, add it to a bowl and serve it up with tortilla or pita chips.
    Vegetable-Dip-Recipe-Broccoli

3 Bullet Thursday

Here it is, your Thursday rundown of all things yoga information and inspiration from yours truly at the yoga BLOG, GroundingUP. Namaste!

What I’m Reading

I know that a few weeks ago I suggested you read something other than yoga books to avoid burn out during yoga teacher training. So, having said that, I’m taking my own advice and reading two literary classics this week; Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte and Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson. If you are looking for a quick easy read, go for Treasure Island; it’s shorter than Wuthering Heights and is a little more straight forward.

Now having said that, I need to confess that I am reading a yoga book as well. It’s called Myths of the Asanas: Stories at the Heart of the Yoga Tradition. The book covers approximately XX asanas and includes a description of the anatomical alignment of the pose, its benefits and attributes, and some interesting and entertaining commentary on the asana’s origins. I recommend this book to anyone interested in yoga history or training to be a yoga teacher.

What I’m listening to

From time to time I listen to the From the Heart Podcast by Rachel Brathen. As a podcast, it is very much hit or miss, but I caught an episode where she interviewed Nahko (and Medicine for the People).

Nahko and his band are very much idealists out to change the world by advocating for a long and evolving list of causes. The music style is mostly singer songwriter with a rock leaning. The lyrics are about mindfulness, seeking the meaning of life, and saving the world with love and kindness and whatnot.

For me personally, I’ll need to be incredibly high and on day 3 of a yoga festival before this music is going to resonate with me, but he’s getting tour dates and selling albums, so this is clearly for someone.  If you are local and going to BottleRock Napa Valley, you can catch him there Friday, May 25.

Quote I’m Pondering

Some of my readers may know that I’m learning to love Tim Ferriss. He is kind of an ass but he does have some great insight around time management, life goals and success.

Therefore, I dutifully read his blog, listen to his podcasts, and subscribe to his emails. Anyway, the deep thought for my week is something he said recently which is, “How can I make this a gift?” He asks this question when something unfortunate or infuriating happens to him.

Is your flight delayed indefinitely? Tim Ferris wants to you to find a way to make the situation feel like a gift. Um, okay, did you just get 5 hours at an airport (bar) to call your mom, or respond to an email backlog or draft that strategic plan you haven’t been able to focus on? Looks like you did. You are welcome. And thanks, Tim Ferriss, I hate you a little less today. Oh, and fuck you, American Airlines.

Want More?

This site is full of yoga tips, information and inspiration. Check out the recipes section for vegan and vegetarian recipes to fuel your practice or eat a little cleaner. For some deep thoughts about yoga philosophy go here. And for past 3 Bullet Thursdays and other yoga tips and hacks go here.

This article originally published on www.groundingup.com

 

 

 

Real Life Ways To Build A Meditation Practice

We all know how en vogue meditation is right now. Unfortunately, while mainstream, most people will tell you they aren’t good at it or that they know they should do it but they can’t get around to it. And when it comes to meditation, this is all of us. In this article, I’ll cover some simple, yet not commonly mentioned, ways to build a meditation practice that sticks.

It is interesting to talk to people about meditation because it is one of those activities that beginners bring so much mental baggage to. I also find that people don’t really know what meditation is, which is completely legit.

There are so many forms of meditation on the market right know, it’s not a wonder the idea overwhelms anyone who might be interested. For example, there is transcendental meditation, zen meditation, walking meditation, kundalini meditation, guided visualization, qui gong, zazen, heart rhythm meditation, vipassana…you get the idea.

For the purposes of this article, we are talking about mindfulness meditation. Mindfulness meditation is the simple observation of your own thoughts. As an observer, you don’t engage with them. You just let them pass. Dismiss them and return to your focus which is either your breath or some other concentration focal point in your immediate present state.

Instead of breath, many people use a body scan technique, observing each individual body part as they sit or lay down. Others observe the lights that appear when we close our eyes. Science nerds, these are called phosphenes. Scientists aren’t exactly sure where this light comes from but suspect the light originates from light generated from the cells inside our own eye. Whoa! Regardless of where the light show comes from, it can be a helpful tool in staying on track during mindfulness meditation.

Meditation’s benefits on the mind and body is robust and well documented to say the least. It includes improved mental focus, stress reduction, addiction cessation, insomnia resolution, weight loss, and anxiety and depression relief.

However, the goal of mindfulness meditation is to train our brains to put space between our thoughts and our actions so we can break down our conditioned responses to our feelings about life, many of which cause us stress, anxiety, or anger. Mindfulness also shows us what thoughts our mind goes back to most often or a pattern of thinking that isn’t serving us.

The yoga world overflows with tips and instructions designed to help people get their meditation practice started, enhance it, and the stick with it. So be sure to start your meditation research with a Google search to see what the internet has to tell you and then refer back to this article for a few tips and ideas I haven’t seen on the web.

Pro tip: proper meditation preparation does not require a high colonic, taro card reading, or a sage burning in order for it to work; don’t trust everything you read on the Internet.

Before you even sit down

One of the things I have noticed most often about meditation practices is that people, myself included, aren’t doing the right kind of preparation.  The standard meditation instructions typically go like this: 1) find an easy seated position 2) close your eyes 3) begin by observing your breath…

The funny thing about our brain is that it will find ways to entertain itself while we are trying to quite it. It is very much like a toddler at bedtime in this way. Suddenly we need to fidget, we have an itch EVERYWHERE, we have to go pee, we are hungry oh and also thirsty. We don’t like the guided meditation we chose and want to download a different one. It is too cold/too hot and our hands feel weird. This is the practice. This is all of us.

1. Remember what’s harder than doing nothing

Make a list of all of the things that you have done that are more difficult than sitting still for 5-7 minutes. Have you given birth to a child? Gone to the dentist? Taken a really difficult test? Given a Board presentation? Those are all things that are more difficult and much higher stakes than sitting still for a few minutes.

And if you crash and burn during your meditation session, who cares? No one will know and you can try again tomorrow.

2. Find a comfortable position

Finding a comfortable position, seated or otherwise, for meditation is harder than it sounds. Even people who don’t have chronic aches and pains or an injury have trouble staying seated in meditation comfortably. It’s important to remember a few things about this.

The first is that you should spend time other than when you are trying to meditate deciding what your meditation posture will be. Try it out while you are watching TV. Try different cushions, leaning against a wall, cross legged or straight legged, in a chair or on the floor. The options are endless but meditation time isn’t the time to figure it out. Have a go-to position and the props you need ready before you decide to meditate.

The other thing is that your meditation duration will likely be less than 10 minutes. Much anxiety about comfort comes from the irrational fear that we are going to be stuck in one position forever and we obsess about making sure it is just exactly right since we will be trapped there without any means of escape. Chill, it’s just a few minutes and you can always move if you need to.

3. Figure out what you are going to do with your hands

Not knowing what to do with our hands is a common meditation concern. And, much like with the sitting position, you are going to need to experiment to see what feels best. Some people rest their hands on their knees or clasp them lightly in their lap. Here is a link to the two most common mudras, or meditation hand positions; chin mudra and dhyana mudra.

4. Select your meditation soundtrack

Music for meditation is such a personal choice, I have trouble even recommending anything. Some people need musical melodies, some need silence, monotonous sounds, waves crashing, or birds chirping. Anyway, there is a little bit of all of that in the list of links to meditation soundtracks below.

Moby

moby-og-image meditation music

 

 

 

 

Meditation Master

Meditation-Masters-image-meditation-tips

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Buddha-Bar

Buddha-Bar-meditation-tips

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sounds of Nature

Sounds of Nature Meditation Music

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. Select your guided meditation

If you decided that a meditation soundtrack isn’t for you, I suggest you start with some guided meditations. There are so many great guided meditation apps on the market right now. Most of them are free with the option to upgrade or make in-app purchases.  I recommend you give these a try to see if one of them works for you.

Insight Timer-Meditation App

InsightTimer-image_meditation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Calm

Calm-image-meditation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Headspace

Headspace-image-meditation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6. Have a light snack

Meditation is hungry and thirsty work. Sitting for 10 minutes really seems to take it out of us and our brain wants to think about how hungry we are. An easy way to shut that thought down is to remind your brain that there is no way it could be hungry or thirsty because you just ate and had some water.

7. Go to the bathroom

Oh hey, we just ate and had some water. Don’t we have to get up and pee now? Nope, because you are going to go the bathroom right before you sit down. Sorry, brain, try again.

8. Set a timer for 7 minutes

This is a guideline. Many people want to start a meditation with just 5 minutes on the clock and if that is what it takes to get them there, than that’s perfect. However, it takes the brain several minutes to settle into the meditation groove, particularly for new meditators, so if you can do 10 minutes do 10. 7 minutes is a nice compromise. Meditation, once you are in it, has the ability to make time meaningless and when the session is over, you may not have much sense of how long you were seated.

9. Stay

Establishing a strong and consistent meditation practice is something that requires physical and mental discipline. Even if your brain refuses to observe and dismiss thought and instead takes you on the guided tour of your most embarrassing junior high school moments, stay. Give your brain something to do by counting your exhales. Use this as an opportunity to make your body comfortable with the idea of stillness.

Want more of this?

Visit the Tips & Tricks section for more great ideas from yours truly.  Then, poke around on the rest of the site to see what else you find that lights your fire. Oh, and don’t forget to comment below with any additional real world tips you have for meditators.

This article originally published on www.groundingup.com.

 

 

 

 

 

Detox Broth

A few years ago, when I participated in a 30 Day detox program through my yoga studio, someone gave me a recipe for detox broth. I had heard of juice cleanses, that crazy cayenne pepper and maple syrup cleanse, and the Betty Ford Clinic, but I had not as of yet, heard of a detox broth.

The recipe that fellow yogi gave me consisted of onions and a few root veggies and water and that was about it. I never actually prepared the recipe because it just didn’t sound that good and seeing as I don’t live atop a toxic waste dump, I don’t technically need a detoxing. But it did get me thinking about the idea of detox broth and set me on the path to a version that was not only drinkable, but actually enjoyable.

Detox Broth Recipe

In general, I aim for a broth that tastes like my midwestern grandma’s vegetable soup, which is no easy task considering the first ingredient in her vegetable soup is beef or pork shoulder. Oh, Iowa, I love you.

I’ve provided a list of ingredients and quantities for those of you who feel more comfortable cooking with an actual recipe, but honestly, I recommend just winging it. Add more of what you like the flavor of. My broth is never the same twice because I usually only make it when I have a bunch of vegetables laying around without a purpose in life.

If you are on an IBS diet, than you’ll want to steer clear of the vegetables that will cause a flare up. Here is a list. I have heard that tomatoes can bother people on anti-inflammatory diets, but I include them because a life without tomatoes seems hardly worth living.

I guess some people drink their broth cold, but that’s not my style. If you subscribe to ayurvedic philosophies, you’ll tell me the hot broth is good for my Vata dominant dosha. I love it, so you might be right.

Want more?

Visit the recipe section for vegan and vegetarian recipes

And don’t forget to comment below with what you put in your broth. I’m always looking for new variations to try.

This article originally  published on www.groundingup.com.

Print Recipe
Detox Broth
A vegetable based broth designed to aid in digestion and taste good. There really isn't much to this recipe from an instructions standpoint. I'm sure we could complicate it with lots of steps and timing, but that's really not necessary in this case.
Detox Broth
Servings
Ingredients
Servings
Ingredients
Detox Broth
Instructions
  1. Roughly chop all of the ingredients and combine in one large pot.
    chopped vegetables for detox broth
  2. Cover the chopped vegetables in 10 cups of water. Bring the ingredients to a boil then reduce to a simmer for 60 minutes.
    simmer the detox broth
  3. The vegetables will have lost much of their color and will be extremely soft when the broth is ready. At this point, a few cups of water will have cooked off, so you can add more water and continue to boil, or call it good and move on to the next step.
    Simmered detox broth
  4. It's now time to separate the vegetables from the broth. I send it all through a colander first to separate the large vegetables from the broth. I then send the broth through a sieve with cheese cloth to remove a lot of the vegetable fiber that comes through the colander holes. You only need to do this if fiber from certain vegetables bothers you. You can also reduce the amount of fiber in your broth by cutting back on the cooking time. The longer you simmer, the more the vegetables break down and the more fibers you up drinking.
    straining detox broth
  5. Pour the broth into some form of storage vessel and you are all set. I like to use 8 and 16 ounce canning jars. You can freeze the broth or just store it in the refrigerator if you plan to drink it in the next 5 days.
    Detox Broth
Recipe Notes
You'll notice that my broth is pink. That's because I use purple kale and tomatoes, which make it that color. If you have a sensitive stomach, I suggest you omit anything form the cabbage family.

Three Bullet Thursday

Hi all, this is your Thursday dose of “Three Bullet Thursday”, a quick list of yoga lifestyle information I’m processing.

If you are a yoga teacher, yoga student, vegetarian, philosopher, lover of metaphysics, or just another human out wandering around, this is the list for you.

What I’m Reading–Island by Aldous Huxley

This book was published in 1962, so it isn’t new. However, Island seems to be experiencing a bit of a revival in the literary world; I’m assuming it’s due to the presidential situation in the United States and the overall state of the world.

The book outlines an utopian life on an imaginary island where the inhabitants built a culture based upon eastern philosophies and religions including yoga, buddhism, and meditation.

Meditation as a lifestyle is a prominent theme. As a novice meditator myself, I found those sections particularly interesting and useful.

If you like philosophical discussion or you want to know how to turn your yoga retreat center into its own country, this book is for you.

What I’m Listening To–Johann Johannsson’s Orphee album

Johann Johansson is an Icelandic composer best known for his film scores; think “Arrival” and “The Theory of Everything”. Technically, this 2016 studio album, Orphee, belongs in the electronica genre. I’m loving it because there are no words and beautiful melodies.

Deep Thought I’m Pondering–“Bring with you a heart that watches and receives”

“Bring with you a heart that watches and receives,” is a quote by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, a beloved American poet known for “Paul Revere’s Ride” and the Song of Hiawatha.

The quote struck me while reading Island by Aldous Huxley. Contextually, the author used it to elaborate on the concept of receptivity or open mindedness. The idea being that if a person chooses to project rather than receive there is room for misinterpretation and confusion. However, if one chooses to receive with an open heart and mind, clear communication, insight, and truth will be transmitted.

Want more?

Read the blog for more yoga lifestyle information and inspiration including past 3 Bullet Thursdays, Vegetarian and Vegan Recipes, and Yoga Philosophy.

 

Avoid Burnout During Yoga Teacher Training

Years ago, when people would ask me if I wanted to be a yoga teacher, I would adamantly tell them, “no.”

As the reason for this sentiment, I cited the fact that a market over saturated with yoga teachers, all churned out by yoga teacher training programs and lax certification standards, have created a hyper-competitive marketplace with minimal financial viability for individual teachers or independent studios. That’s right, I played the “business 101” card.

And while absolutely valid, this rationale was not actually the reason I didn’t want to teach yoga. I have an enjoyable career in the insurance industry for which I am incredibly grateful and I have no intention of leaving it–unless of course, they make me. This “day job” also pays the bills quite nicely; therefore, I have the luxury of practicing and teaching yoga without the dark cloud of financial return on investment. This makes it a hobby not a job.

Nor is fear of failure a reason not to teach.  I’m much too driven, and in some ways obtuse, to even register fear in many situations. This has proven to be both a blessing and a curse in my 41 years.

The honest to God reason I haven’t wanted to become a yoga teacher is the fear of burnout.

My yoga practice is the antidote for burnout in other areas of my life; namely family and that insurance career I love so much. Corrupting yoga by turning it into another job with more responsibilities, where I am expected to serve as a teacher rather than be served as a student is a risk I haven’t been willing to take–until now.

Remember that thing I said about my being too stupid to be worried; that applies here. I only worry about things for so long before I either do the thing to see what happens or I just forget it and move on.

In this case, I’ll just do that thing I’m worried about and see what happens.

Thankfully, once I’ve decided to take the risk and do the thing, I never move forward without a plan. Because burnout during teacher training is my main concern, I have developed a plan for avoiding burnout and I’m going to share it with you all here.

Avoid Burnout During Yoga Teacher Training

1. Know why you are doing it & have a plan

Believe me when I tell you that the first thing you will ask yourself when you are two days in to a five day power vinyasa teacher training is, “what the hell am I doing this for?” You will then continue to ask yourself that for the entirety of your yoga teacher training program, and then well into the future. So, you had better have a solid answer; one that will convince your hungry, brutally sore, sweat-soaked self to hang in there.

You will likely also need to have an articulate reason to present to your significant other as they will be “picking up the slack around here while you are off doing your yoga thing.” You might even feel guilty about the time you are away from your family and the financial investment you are making in this venture.

For me personally, I came around very slowly to the idea of teacher training because I didn’t want to make the time and financial commitment if I wasn’t going to use the knowledge and experience. I also wasn’t confident that I would have enough opportunity to teach after I received my certification to maintain what I had learned and improve. In short, I was worried it would all be for nothing.

Eventually (it took me 5 years to decide) I pulled together a solid cost benefit analysis around the training investment and a plan for how I would leverage the skills I had so painstakingly acquired. After that, it was an easy conversation to have with my husband and myself.

2. Do less yoga

Yoga teacher training programs are ONLY for people who want to do a lot of yoga. If that’s not you, I’m sorry, you’re out.

Here is a list of the requirements for the Yoga Alliance teacher training certifications. As you can see, even the entry level yoga teacher registration requires 200 hours of yoga philosophy and practicum education. It doesn’t require any actual teacher hours, which is unfortunate in my humble opinion. Once you get into the 300 and 500 hour certifications, your life is pretty much yoga until your trainings are complete.

So since you are spending so much time on the mat, make sure you take every opportunity to get off of it. If you don’t have to go to a practice don’t. Stay home with your family or go do something productive like running those errands you haven’t been able to get to because you’ve been at the studio, away on a retreat, or too tired.

3. Explore different forms of exercise

To save you body from the risks inherent in too much yoga, adopt a different workout or physical activity during your training.

My training program requires me to maintain my regular in-studio yoga practice while I’m in training. I have a regular Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday studio practice with a few extra days thrown in here and there.

On the days I’m not at the studio I do a 3 mile run/walk; nothing spectacular, but it’s not yoga and that’s all that matters. Weight lifting, OrangeTheory, and CrossFit are popular among my friends at the studio. This may depend on the type of yoga  you are studying and the nature of your studio practice.

The point is, let your body do something else so it doesn’t revolt during your 1000th chataranga.

4. Read non-yoga books

Teachers and teacher trainees need to be plowing through the yoga literature. If that’s not your thing, fear not. Most of the more popular yoga books are in audio format and youtube has endless yoga education content to choose from.

Yoga literature and research are my favorite parts of the practice because one resource leads to another and another and another. In the end, you see that everything is connected to a few main sources and that individuals have applied their own perspectives and creativity to develop endless variation in the practice.

And much like my recommendation that you vary your physical activity during teacher training and beyond, I recommend you give your brain something else to look at as well. Personally, I prefer fiction and comic memoirs as my mental break, but you do you. Here is a list of great fiction I recommend for your yoga reading breaks:

Shantaram: A Novel by Gregory David Roberts
All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy
The Chemist by Stephenie Meyer
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris
Born A Crime by Trevor Noah

5. Switch up your yoga practice

It seems to me that most people choose to certify through the yoga teacher training offered at the studio where they regularly practice.

In the past 5 years, yoga teacher trainings have become a staple in the studio business model because they theoretically offer more profit margin than regular class schedules. What that means for beginners or even intermediate yogis is that they may have a limited view of the different types of practice and teaching styles out there. Case in point, I practiced at my yoga studio with my current teacher exclusively for 6 years before I noticed there were other styles of practice and instruction.

Use this time to explore a wide variety of practice types and teaching styles. You may stumble onto something completely new that works better for you or you may just reaffirm your commitment to the practice you have come to know and love.

Either way, it’s important for yoga instructors to have a broad view of yoga practice and that can’t happen unless they get out there and experience and explore.

6. Give something else up

Adding a yoga teacher training program to your already busy life may seem like you are trying to pack 10 pounds of sugar into a 5 pound sack. You are and it won’t work unless you have less sugar or a bigger sack.

Recognize that yoga teacher training programs run for a finite duration. So determine what you can give up or stop doing during that time to make a comfortable amount of room for yoga. The best way to ruin a potentially amazing experience is to cram it in where it won’t fit.

This move is entirely dependent upon your personal financial situation and home life. If you are single and rich, you are all set. Otherwise, scheduling extra childcare, outsourcing your errands, or hiring a cleaning service so you can be at the studio more might put extra pressure on an already tight budget. It is still important to find a way to cut things out. I wish you luck with that.

7. Meditate more

Meditation practice in included in most teacher training programs and much like exploring other practice styles and studios during yoga teacher training, try to find time to expand your knowledge and practice of meditation.

They say a good meditation session is better rest for your brain than sleep. Your brain will need the rest as it absorbs new information and experiences stress related to real life and a yoga teacher training program. 

Just because your yoga teacher is a great yoga asana instructor doesn’t mean he or she is all that great at teaching meditation. So get out there and expand your horizons. 

8. Get more sleep

If it has been a long time since high school or college, you may have forgotten how important sleep is when it comes to your brain’s ability to process and retain information. Not to mention it’s ability to handles stress.

American’s currently get 40% less sleep than is clinically recommended for optimum health and wellness. Work toward 7-8 hours of good rest nightly. I’m not joking. This could be the most important change you make and be the difference between you having a pleasurable and product teacher training experience and a hellish breakdown. But you do you.

9. Learn from the burn

Explore the burnout and consider that YTT may not be for you. The experience of a student is different from that of a teacher.
If your endgame is to make money teaching yoga, then you will be in the business of creating an experience and delivering value that students want to pay for. If you plan to teach in a volunteer capacity or as a substitute, your yoga still needs to be legit or you will have trouble attracting and maintaining students.
A teacher’s role is to create and hold a space and experience for a student. A student’s role is to experience and enjoy that space. Being responsible for the maintenance of a student’s yoga experience might take the love right out of the yoga for you. If you experience burnout during a yoga teacher training program, it’s a good indicator that you may be better suited for the student side of the mat.
This article originally published on www.groundingup.com

Shakshouka with Feta and Fire Roasted Bell Peppers

A few months back, I was on a business trip in Los Angeles where I ate Shakshouka at the La Brea Bakery Cafe. It was delicious, comforting, and seemed easy enough to make at home and for the Meatless Mondays vegetarian blog posts.

Shakshouka is originally a North African egg and tomato sauce dish but has become extremely popular throughout the middle east. It is typically served in a cast iron skillet with bread to soak up the sauce.

I took some liberties with this Shakshouka recipe, mainly because I only had roasted red bell peppers rather than plain and I didn’t want to go to the grocery.

Additionally, I added feta, because I have read that is sometimes done and I’m always looking for an excuse to sprinkle cheese on things.

I should also mention that I did not even pretend I was going to feed this to the kids. My daughter doesn’t eat eggs “EVER” and my son had fallen asleep on the couch at 4:30 because he refused to nap at 2. He was still sleeping at dinner time and there was no way he was going to feel adventurous about food when he finally woke up to eat something. My husband, however, loved it.

This article originally published on www.groundingup.com

Visit the Recipes section for more vegan and vegetarian recipes.

If you’re here because you are into yoga, you might like the Tip & Hacks section or  Yoga Practice section.

Print Recipe
Shakshouka with Feta and Fire Roasted Bell Peppers
Eggs cooked in a savory tomato, onion, and roasted bell pepper sauce and baked with feta cheese. Served over mixed grains our couscous.
Shakshouka with Feta and Fire Roasted Red Bell Peppers
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Vegetarian
Prep Time 45 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Vegetarian
Prep Time 45 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Shakshouka with Feta and Fire Roasted Red Bell Peppers
Instructions
  1. preheat your oven to 375. Prepare this entire dish in a large cast iron skillet if you have one.
  2. Chop or roughly process the whole tomatoes combined with your roasted red bell peppers. Mine came from a jar but freshly roasted bell peppers work as well.
    Shakshouka is originally and North African egg and tomato sauce dish but has become extremely popular throughout the middle east. It is typically served in a cast iron skillet with bread to soak up the sauce.
  3. Thinly slice the onion and garlic and saute in the skillet with 3 tablespoons of olive oil until their are very soft and beginning to brown. You may also thinly slice your bell pepper and add it at this stage if you prefer that over the food processor.
    Shakshouka is originally and North African egg and tomato sauce dish but has become extremely popular throughout the middle east. It is typically served in a cast iron skillet with bread to soak up the sauce.
  4. Add your tomatoes and peppers from the food processor. Add the spices including the salt and pepper and mix well. Simmer for 10 minutes until the sauce thickens a bit.
    Shakshouka is originally and North African egg and tomato sauce dish but has become extremely popular throughout the middle east. It is typically served in a cast iron skillet with bread to soak up the sauce.
  5. Add the feta and stir to combine
    Shakshouka is originally and North African egg and tomato sauce dish but has become extremely popular throughout the middle east. It is typically served in a cast iron skillet with bread to soak up the sauce.
  6. Create small wells in the sauce using a spoon and crack an egg into each one being careful not to get any shells in there. Then place the skillet in the oven and cook for 7-10 minutes more.
    Shakshouka is originally and North African egg and tomato sauce dish but has become extremely popular throughout the middle east. It is typically served in a cast iron skillet with bread to soak up the sauce.
  7. Garnish and serve.
    Shakshouka with Feta and Fire Roasted Red Bell Peppers
Recipe Notes

We served this over mixed grains, but I think technically, shakshouka is meant to be served with bread. Either way, it is an easy, delicious, and healthy meatless Monday option.