Category Archives: yoga: off the mat

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!

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Odds and Ends

happy Fall!

I am on my third week of my first ever “No Fear Yoga” session, which has confirmed my belief that beginners are definitely the most fun and most rewarding to teach. They are easily impressed, willing to try, and notice improvement almost immediately.

I have 13 people in my class (12 women, 1 men), ages ranging from early 20s to early 60s. About half of the class is friends/coworkers and half strangers who found me through the Parks and Rec catalogue. We do a lot of slow flow, gentle stretching, nothing too strenuous. My goal each time is to get them feeling good so they’ll come back. So far it’s working and I have two ladies in particular who stayed after class last time to ask me when my next session begins. : )

Private one-on-one lessons with K are going quite well. Two sessions ago we did headstands, last week we worked on shoulderstand. It’s lovely working with her!

Andy and I attended a community education class at the local community college on Saturday: “Massage Therapy for Friends and Family”. It was taught by a massage therapist/yoga instructor whose wife owns the fancy yoga studio in town (theirs is the 200 RYT I would be doing if you didn’t have to pay the thousands of dollars upfront!). For the first hour of class we discussed the background of massage and the instructor did a demonstration of his massage approach. Then we spent an hour giving and an hour receiving massage, playing around with approaches and techniques. It was really fun and relaxing.

There is so much overlap between massage and yoga. I’m sure Suburban Yogini could tell us more about it! His language and the overall principles he taught (breath deeply, move slowly, relax into every movement, follow your intuition) sounded awfully familiar.

Other than that we are keeping busy painting our bedroom, planning a Halloween party, and enjoying fall. : )

my view on a recent dog walk

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

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

My crazy schedule: finding balance off the mat

My teaching life is getting very exciting these days. Maybe some of you out there are wondering: “Jamie, are you super woman? How do you teach yoga and hold down a full-time job, friends, a marriage, a house and two dogs?” Well, I will attempt to answer that here.

For the past several months I have taught my private class with 2-6 ladies here in town on Sundays and Thursdays, and at the gym on Wednesdays and the occassional Saturday. I take yoga on Mondays nights. It was a schedule that worked great, leaving me all of Tuesday night to myself.

Then I had a very exciting opportunity fall into my lap: teaching through the Bloomington Parks and Recreation department for the fall (if you’re in the area, check out the link on the right hand side). It meant a lot more exposure and came with the potential to turn long-term. Of course, I jumped on it. I set up the class on Thursdays, which would mean I’d teach twice on Thursday evenings. That was fine, but something had to go.

Realistically, I realized I had to drop the gym. Although the ladies there are lovely, I also drooled at the idea of having Wednesday night free. It’s a much-needed “break” night in the middle of the week. Also, since I have such little time to devote to teaching while I try to find a balance with working full-time, I had to look at it in black and white. The gym pays me less and gives me access to a smaller sector of people.

So my last class at the gym will be September 1. My Bloomington Parks and Rec class starts on October 7, so I gave myself a nice break, teaching only twice a week, hoping to pursue taking more classes myself in that time. Or so I thought…

Then I got an exciting email from a colleague of Andy’s requesting one-on-one private lessons every other week on Tuesdays. If she had requested weekly, I would have had to consider turning her down. I had just dropped the gym and here I was adding another class? But bi-weekly is perfect because it gives me “off weeks” that I can see myself desperately needing.

So heading into the fall, it looks like this:

Sunday: 7:30 private group class
Monday: 5:30 take yoga class
Every other Tuesday: 7:30 one-on-one class
Wednesday: break day
Thursday: 5:30 Parks and Rec class, 7:30 private group class
Friday: break
Saturday: break

I will be busy for sure, but I think I’ve found a nice balance. In my “off” month of September I hope to show my face at the only (!) studio in Bloomington-Normal. I’m ashamed to admit that I have only been there once, it was a few years ago, and the class didn’t rock my world so I never went back. I think now is the time to correct that.

How do you find balance in your hectic, busy lives?

Namaste,
Jamie

PS- stay turned, tomorrow I’ll be talking about my first one-on-one session, with my new client, K.

Confessions of a very real yogini (footnotes version)

It’s been a while since I did a confessions post. Rachel over at Suburban Yogini did one recently, and it reminded me of some things I need to get off my chest and confess ; )

  • I am a very bendy person, but I can’t credit it all to my hard work in yoga. Yoga has greatly increased my flexibility, but I have been bendy my whole life.
  • Ironically, I have also been un-athletic my whole life.*
  • I don’t get on the mat every day. I don’t even want to.**
  • I strongly believe in yoga and all it has to offer, but I also have feet firmly rooted in the non-yoga world. Sometime I crack jokes about unleashing my kundalini on Andy. You’ve got to have a sense of humor about life.
  • I know yoga is not about the asana and the ego, but there is a certain joyful pride I feel when I reach a new milestone in my practice. It’s an incredible feeling and I don’t ever want it to go away.
  • I am not a vegetarian. I very rarely eat red meat but I eat a lot of chicken.***
  • I love refined sugar. Cookies, ice cream, all of it. Yum.
  • I spent all of middle school, high school, and college with extremely low self-esteem and body image. I still have bad days now and then but I’m finally pulling out of that funk. Thank you yoga!
  • I do not have that calm, inner peace glow that I see in a lot of yogis. I am sarcastic and often biting in my humor. I can’t decide if I want to work on this or not.
  • I am someone who is, by nature, very tightly wound. I’m trying desparately to find a balance between lightening up a bit and accepting myself.
  • I have a lot to learn.

*In school we always had to do the presidential fitness test which included lots of torture like running a mile, sit ups, pull ups on a bar, etc. The only one I ever met the “president’s” standards on was the “sit and reach”.

**Sometimes it feels like yoga to just lie on the floor and snuggle my dogs, or spend quality time with my hubby.

***I entertain hopes of someday being a vegetarian, but I think it would put a big strain on my marriage — especially since I want no part of cooking, ever. So for now we try to buy meat that is antibiotic and hormone-free as much as possible. I have yet to find a non-hypocritical way to reconcile the animal lover inside my heart (who can hardly watch her cousins catch a fish) with the chicken lover inside my stomach (who is often drooling).

Some of my other confessions posts:
Confessions of a Yogini with Multiple Personalities
Confessions of an Absent Yogini
Confessions of a Grouchy Yogini

Need to make a confession? The comments section is ready for you. Come on, you’ll feel better afterwards. : )

Namaste,
Jamie