Category Archives: general musings

Happy Blogoversary to me!

One year ago today I created this adorable little blog. I have made so many friends through it and it’s been extremely fun. But instead of celebrating myself and my blog on this, my blogoversary, I decided to give out some awards to my fellow yoga blog friends, who make blogging extra fun.

So here they are – in no particular order.

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The Ahimsa in Action Lifetime Achievement Award goes to Lisa at Eco Yogini in Halifax, Novia Scotia. She makes ahimsa (non-harming) her top priority every day by striving to be kind to the earth and sharing her journey with us. I especially adore her blog for her sense of humor and personal “overshares”. Also, she’s a newlywed! Congrats!

 

The Blog Commenter Extraordinaire Ribbon goes to Emma at The Joy of Yoga in New York. She is nearly always the first person to comment on my blogs and always has something witty to say. I love Emma’s blog because she posts creative sequences and heartwarming, funny stories about teaching yoga.

 

The Sass-asana Certificate clearly goes to Y is for Yogini in California. She manages to stay upbeat and lighthearted while always touching on real issues…with a generous helping of sass. Her tweets make me laugh and her ribbing of the boy yogis around us is good-natured and entertaining!

 

The Superwoman Medallion is awarded to Rachel at Suburban Yogini in Cambridge. Rachel is superwoman because she blogs more than the rest of us combined. It’s always thoughtful, composed, and honest over at her place. She’s already an accomplished yoga teacher, vegan cook, and partner, and is on her way to being a massage therapist.

 

The Kick-asana Commemorative Coin goes to The Misanthropic Yogini at Damn Good Yoga in Texas. Because seriously, go look at her asanas! She also maintains a kick-asana and enviable dedicated home and meditation practice while balancing the duties of teaching yoga with school, work, and life.

 

The Balanced Beauty Plaque goes to Heather at Namaste Heather in Ohio. There’s lots of beauty in this blog. Her ideas are beautiful and so is she, and she’s constantly witnessing the beauty around her. She juggles it all as she strives for balance between personal and professional.

 

The Million Miles Away Medallion goes to Bree at Yoga Gypsy in East Timor. Because she’s a million miles away but also feels like she could be my next-door neighbor. I love reading about life in East Timor and the important, interesting work Bree does.

 

The Change You Can See Commemorative Patch goes to Emma at Des hauts et des bananas in Brussels. Emma is using her talents to change the world one day at a time. She’s taking her life by the reins and trying to make more of herself and live up to her potential.

 

The Orange Awesomeness Award goes to Babs at Babs Babble in Montana. Orange is her favorite color and her blog is just full to the brim of awesomeness. She’s feeling out her way as a teacher and gaining quite a following.

There are lots of other awesome bloggers, but these are the ones who have been there since the beginning (or nearly so) of my blog journey. Thanks ladies!

Namaste,
Jamie

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My vegetarian timeline

Day 1- This is awesome! I love vegetables! Who needs meat?
Week 2 – Yummmm I love cheese, cheese is my best friend. Mainly eating lots of snacks throughout the day in place of meals (apples with peanut butter, cheese and crackers, smoothies, etc).
Week 3 – Discover some really good vegetarian entrees, but still don’t have a lot of time for sit-down meals.
Week 4 – I REALLY NEED SOME CHICKEN, but I want to stick this out a while longer.
Week 5 – Start feeling kind of yucky. Stomach cramps and other digestive issues.
Week 6 – Eat meat for the first time: a chicken sandwich at Famous Dave’s, where the waiter’s t-shirt said “Vegetarians are free to change their ways.”
Next day – Wind up in the prompt care with abdominal discomfort (fearing a kidney stone or appendicitis), doctor asks me if I’ve made any large changes to my diet in the last month. Tells me to start eating regular meals at regular meal times and stop eating so much cheese.*

So, I tried vegetarianism and I’m very glad I did. I learned a lot of my favorite meals at restaurants (Flat Top, Chipotle, Noodles etc) don’t actually need meat and I prefer the vegetarian version anyway. I am still trying to cut meat out of my diet little by little and eat less of it, decreasing my demand. I’m also trying to make conscious choices. We bought some antibiotic-free, free-range chicken for dinner the other night and it was lovely. More than twice as much as the store-brand chicken full of all the junk ($6/lb instead of $2.50/lb), but we can afford it now and then.

I’m trying to assuage my conscious while also taking care of my belly. It’s about balance – just like everything else, right?

Namaste,
Jamie

*The visit to prompt care was serendipitous, because after going over my current medications, the doctor decided to share her infertility story with me. She couldn’t get pregnant (PCOS and some sort of awful embryo-killing antibody) but ended up conceiving through IVF at the age of 41 and again at the age of 44. What an incredible story!

A field trip and some blanks

This week (on Wednesday) I organized a little “field trip” for one of my yoga classes.

This is the class that meets twice a week, with six women. One of them usually brings her 11-year-old daughter along. It’s a group of tightly-knit friends who have let me into their lives two hours a week, and I have very much enjoyed getting to know them.

I bought a newbie pass at the fancy yoga studio in town, which is good for three classes. I attended one of the Vinyasa Flow classes two weeks ago to scope it out, and decided it was appropriate for a field trip. Two of the ladies were able to go to class with me this week and more of them plan to attend in two weeks when I go again.

It was fun to be in the “student” role alongside my students, though hard to let go of my “teacher” half. At the fancy yoga studio she spoke almost exlusively in Sanskrit, and I was criticizing myself a bit for not teaching them more Sanskrit names. They would have had an easier time following along (but they ended up doing just fine anyway). The positioning of the room afforded me a view of both students and it was hard for me not to size them up and offer adjustments…it was great for me to practice turning that awareness inward.

Last night before class we had a good laugh about the trip. It’s common for this group to giggle during class, joke around, tease each other, and try things they wouldn’t in a studio — they’re not afraid to fail around their friends. The “church like” atmsophere of the studio class (look straight ahead, no whispering, this is serious stuff here) was majorly at odds with the way our classes generally go. Not to mention they got the “Rosetta Stone” experience of Sanskrit: full immersion!

If you ever get the opportunity to attend class with your students, I encourage you to go for it.  : )

On an unrelated note, Suburban Yogini has been doing blanks recently and I thought this would be a fun little thing right before the weekend.

1.  In the story of my life the actor who would play me would be Laura Linney. I think she’s so pretty in a wholesome, realistic way. She’s older than I am though so we’d have to get the timing just right.

2.  If I could change one thing about the world it would be more tolerance, less hate. More acceptance, less judgment.

3.  Yesterday I took a big step towards a future goal, and was reminded of just how much I love my hubby.

4.  My favourite comfort food is sweets. Things that are terrible for you but taste yummy.

5.  My new favourite blog find is A Little Pregnant. Julie has an amazing story.

6.  If I could meet any blog friend (who I haven’t met yet) in real life, I’d choose to meet Hmmm this is hard. Probably Y is for Yogini, because she’s just so sassy. But I think I’d have so much in common with all of you that it’s really tough to pick.

7. My favourite breakfast food is twofold: on workdays it has to be something sensible like granola or some healthy cereal, otherwise, it’s a long morning until lunch. But on the weekends I like to indulge with muffins or pancakes or big breakfast scrambles. So I guess I can’t really pick!

Namaste,
Jamie

Veggie update – day 10

Well I just wrapped up my tenth day with no meat. So far, the experiment is going very well. To sum up what I’ve learned so far:

  • The only thing I miss about meat is the convenience of meat. It’s always readily available and ordering a meal with meat at a restaurant is very easy. Planning veggie meals takes more forethought and careful studying of the menu. I don’t miss the taste of meat at all, and I don’t feel like my diet is lacking anything.
  • There is always something vegetarian on the menu. Always. Sometimes it’s a plate of onion rings and hey, what a great excuse to eat onion rings for dinner! Other times it’s salad and hey, what a great excuse to be healthy instead of ordering a cheeseburger!
  • Things that I’m used to eating with chicken don’t need chicken. I made a perfectly delicious and filling stir fry at Flat Top Grill last weekend with just veggies and rice. I was surprised that the meal didn’t feel like it was “missing something”.
  • When eliminating a food group, it’s very important to pay attention to your diet. When you eat a meal of primarily carbs, you have to follow it up with some protein or else you’ll feel like crap later. Lesson learned.
  • Switching to a vegetarian diet instantly made me more health-conscious. There’s always that extra step in your brain when you see food: “Is there meat in that?” It only took a few hours for additional questions to follow: “What exactly is this made of?” I’ve been doing a lot better at cutting processed foods from my diet and eating more nuts and natural snacks. (Of course I just admitted that I ate onion rings for dinner so I’m not exactly the picture of health)

  • It would take me years to adjust to being vegan, and I don’t think I’d ever be happy. Although I love my vegan breakfast of almond milk over granola, I have very much enjoyed my cheese. How do you vegans do it?
  • I’ve tried some new yummy things I wouldn’t have tried otherwise. One highlight was the mango quesadillas I had tonight. YUM!

No decisions yet on if this is a permanent change or not. Maybe I’ll take it month by month for a while : )

Have a great weekend!

Namaste,
Jamie


30 Days of Vegetarianism

For the month of September, I am going to “test-drive” vegetarianism.

why is this topic full of such hatred?

As it stands now, I only eat red meat once or twice a month. This is not due to some moral superiority, but because I don’t like red meat except in two or three dishes (a cheeseburger is one). I have never liked steak, and I don’t care for much pork. Again, I’m not smug about this – if anything, I wish I liked more meat because it would help my husband be more adventurous in the kitchen. And I make up for it by eating an enormous amount of chicken.

I have never tried to be a vegetarian before, and I’m curious to see how easy or difficult it’s going to be. I realize my motivations might be completely different from other people’s, but for better or worse, these are the two reasons I would consider someday eliminating meat from my diet:

First: I am an animal lover. I know this sounds cliché and childish to many people. But to me it is a very real thing. I think about how much I love my two dogs, and then I look into the eyes of a pig at a county fair.

I’m not convinced there’s enough of a difference there to create the distinction we are all so comfortable with.

At the same time, I know that every person sees the world through a unique lens and I understand other people don’t feel this way. It’s a luxury to live in a country where you can choose not to eat meat and still survive.

The second reason: I am frustrated with the agriculture industry in this country. I don’t feel like I am educated enough to speak on this topic…which is one of my points of frustration. There are so many problems with the situation that it’s hard to know where to start and whom to listen to. I have no interest in reading a pamphlet that vilifies meat eating or scoffs at vegetarianism, because I respect everyone’s dietary choices.

interesting

This problem extends far beyond meat products, as we know from the near-constant recalls of our vegetables, fruits, eggs, etc. In the United States in 2010, people should be able to go into a grocery store and purchase groceries that will not make them ill. This is something I firmly believe, and it doesn’t sound like an outrageous expectation. The beauty of this nation is that people can pursue all sorts of careers instead of attending to the task of trying to raise their own foods. (For instance, working full-time and teaching four yoga classes this week!)

Similarly, not everyone has the money, time, or resources to attend farmer’s markets or drive out to nearby farms and buy locally-grown food. I’d be happy to explain to you why these actions are a luxury of the middle-to-upper classes.

But I’m getting off track here. The point is: people should be able to purchase food in the grocery store that doesn’t make them sick. But even the foods that don’t make us ill are suspicious. The chicken breasts are oddly large and the apples are three times as big as they were when I was a child, yet strangely have less flavor. I don’t have to read up on the subject to know something is going wrong.

Giving up meat for a month will do absolutely nothing to change any of this, and I am completely aware of that. But I do hope it makes me more mindful of what I’m eating. I hope my body talks back and tells me how it feels about the situation. I hope to learn something. Follow me on twitter if you’d like to stay in touch with my project. Who knows, maybe more food projects lie ahead: a month of gluten-free meals! A month of no dairy! A month of no chocolate (yeah right)!

If anyone has any unbiased sources information on the topic, please share. I’d also love to hear your omnivore-vegetarian-vegan-related thoughts in the comments.

Namaste,
Jamie

Thoughts about the coming of fall, and a few words by Mary Oliver

In the blog world, people are discussing the coming of fall. Indeed, there is a refreshing chill in the air every morning, and I do love sweatshirt and jeans weather.

I feel fortunate for all of the blessings I have in my life and I treasure the idea of the seasons changing. However, watching this summer slip away has left me with a pervasive sense of melancholy. The days go by so quickly.

I have been swept up in a streak of nostalgia. I’m revisiting old music, reconnecting with old friends via email, lovingly remembering good times that are gone. It amazes me how much younger I look in photos taken just three years ago. But when I think of all that I have learned about life in the past three years…it seems fitting that those lessons left their mark in some way.

I have been contemplating the idea of my own aging in a way I never have before. Beyond wrinkles. This summer slipped through my fingers before I quite had a chance to grasp it. How many more summers will do the same? How many summers will I be blessed with in this life?

When one day closely resembles the last, it’s easy to become complacent. But when the seasons are changing right before your eyes, the passing of time is harder to ignore.

How do you feel about the coming of fall?

Namaste,
Jamie

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It is our nature not only to see
that the world is beautiful

but to stand in the dark, under the stars,
or at noon, in the rainfall of light,

frenzied,
wringing our hands,

half-mad, saying over and over:

what does it mean that the world is beautiful–
what does it mean?

-Mary Oliver, “The Leaf and the Cloud”

Guerilla yoga: setting an intention, or crying for attention?

I love getting pictures like this. It’s a fun and kind of silly thing to do, and it makes for a good photograph.

However, this is one pose. I have never practiced yoga, outside of dedicated yoga spaces. I know a lot of people who do, and I’m not “against” the idea, I just haven’t ever done it. One of my favorite teachers loves to practice at the capitol in downtown Indianapolis, IN. People practice in airports or other busy, public locations. Fans of this type of individual “guerilla” yoga feel that cultivating awareness and finding center in these places adds a new challenge and fulfillment to their practice. The space that they claim with their mat becomes their yoga studio for a brief moment in time.

yoga in times square (timessquarenyc.org)

Along with the individual guerilla yoga trend, many cities have outdoor yoga activities. I participated in one last summer with my friend Amy in Des Moines, Iowa. Chicago has yoga every Saturday in Millennium Park. EcoYogini plans her own yoga in the park in Halifax. It feels good to practice with a sense of community, feeling the sun shining on your face. As a group, yogis transform a public space to a public yoga space, if only for an hour.

nytimes.com/2010/05/06/business/06YOGA.html

Last Saturday I was in Chicago for fly yoga. While we were walking down Michigan Ave after class, on the outskirts of Grant Park, I saw a woman about my age practicing yoga. She was by herself, on a mat, in the shade. She was in a three-legged downward facing dog. I got excited. “Look! Guerrilla yoga!” If she hadn’t looked so Zen I would have cheered “YOGA RULES!” or something else to encourage her. Here she was practicing while thousands of people from all over the world were bustling by, shopping, yelling, rushing to appointments, and hailing taxis. I felt empowered for her.

Other people around me did not feel the same way. Two young women were rolling their eyes. One of them said something, her voice dripping with sarcasm, about how Michigan Avenue was just so peaceful, that obviously it’s a great place to do yoga. The general tone was “look at the silly yoga girl, why can’t she do that in her living room? Why does she need so much attention?”

yoga in millennium park (abclocal.go.com)

It’s a good question. When we practice in public spaces, we inevitably draw attention to ourselves, our bodies, our yoga. This seems acceptable when there is a group. Just a few blocks down the street and a few hours before, hundreds of people gathered in Millennium park for yoga, and no one blinked an eye. This girl, just a few hours later, was the subject of scorn and seen as attention hungry.

Is it just because she dares to do something as an individual, which others do only as part of a group? Is she just as self-indulgent as the girls wearing 4 inch heels with lots of cleavage tottering around Rush street at 11 pm? Is she cut from the same cloth as the guy wearing the sandwich board screaming about the Bible?

Are we supposed to limit ourselves to practicing in places that are already peaceful, or can we seek to create peace in unconventional spaces?

Is doing yoga alone in a public space some sort of cry for attention or recognition? Or is it an effort to rise above all of that?

Namaste,
Jamie