Wednesday, August 22, 2012

yoga is my church

as some of you know, i am a strong advocate for the practice of yoga and its physical and emotional health benefits. i've been practicing yoga for 10 years, and i started doing it at home. i had gone to a few classes here and there, and when i was living in Chicago i began my home practice. i had a tiny little TV with the built-in VCR, and i watched Rodney Yee's videos (if you don't know about Rodney Yee, Google him. he wears awesome tiny black yoga shorts that always made me giggle.). it was a great way to start my home yoga practice, in a comfortable, non-competitive environment.

when i first moved to Minneapolis in 2006, i practiced and studied yoga with my teacher Ben Vincent, from One Yoga. as i delved deeper into my practice, i learned more and more about myself and the practice of yoga itself. it is manifested in different ways for different people, and we all have different abilities. i rarely practiced at home, since the studio was a half block from my apartment. in Truckee, i became close to my friend and teacher Ann Marie Sheridan, who now owns Namaste studio and utilizes a similar teaching style to Ben. this consistency in teaching improved my practice and my understanding of yoga. as some of you read previously, i found a great spot at my most recent house in Truckee to practice, outside in the backyard among giant pine trees. it was magnificent.

Warrior 1 pose

now i am back in Minneapolis getting ready for grad school in a few weeks and my yoga practice has become grounding for me, during a time of readjustment and new beginnings. i'm living with my parents (you can laugh but its FREE) and they have an awesome Midwestern rec-room, multi-purpose basement. with a huge space sometimes used for the grandkids' playspace, i am also able to use it as a yoga space when i want to practice at home. this week i am house and dogsitting for my sister while she and the family are in Seattle, and once again i was able to find a small space to lay my mat. she has a massive walk-in closet (filled with lawyer-y clothes, amazing vintage pieces and tons of beautiful shoes) with a small wood floor space just big enough for my mat and some standing poses.

Tree pose - a practice in balance
some of you are probably thinking, "how the heck can i practice at home if i'm not that 'good' at yoga?" well first of all, there's no such thing as being 'good' or not at yoga. it is a practice and should be viewed that way. i may be able to do advanced poses, but i don't think of myself as being 'good' at it. it may be easier to begin a home practice after you become more familiar with poses and are not fearful of injuring yourself. for beginners, i recommend attending at least a few classes to gain some ideas about what their home practice could look like, and to learn proper alignment for those poses.

you may also be wondering how you can cultivate a home practice if you are not a trained teacher. how will you know which poses to do and when? for me, this is the beauty of the home practice. i generally don't start my home practice with a specific idea for the poses i'll do, but i naturally fall into a routine that i've gotten used to through different classes and teachers. if i start to feel lost as to what to do next, i take a minute to breathe deeply and check in with how my body feels. this will usually tell me what i'd like to do. sometimes i only practice for 20-30 minutes, other times i practice for an hour or more at home. without a specific agenda in mind, the home practice allows me to be fully aware of my body's needs, and to practice without any distractions.

i encourage everyone to consider a home practice of yoga and/or meditation at either a regularly scheduled time or sporadically. everyone's needs are different. for more ideas about poses and a home practice, check out these online resources:

10 tips for practicing yoga at home
Yoga for beginners at home (video)
A home practice

Sunday, August 12, 2012

betty roots run deep

last week, i moved back home to Minneapolis from Truckee to get settled before i start my graduate program at the U of M. living with my parentals again as an adult will surely be a challenge, but luckily my mom and i have lots in common, primarily that we are super resourceful betties. my mom is the original; she taught Erin and i how to make the most of what we are given and to do it well. here in the midwest, gardening comes more easily than in the mountains. the other day, my mom made lunch for me, Trevor, her husband Gary and herself, using home and locally grown ingredients (primarily).
chilled Cucumber-Avocado soup, made with homegrown cucumbers
Tortillitas with shrimp and scallions; yellow
cherry tomatoes and cucumbers from
mom's garden
not only does my mom have a garden full of massive cucumbers and squash, but she has both curly and lacinato kale plants that are as big as small trees. having these resources readily available makes us more likely to put them to use and not waste what we already have. as a kid i was not totally excited about all of the vegetables in our garden, but now that i am older i thoroughly enjoy eating every kind of homegrown vegetable i possibly can. not only is it healthy, but eating this way is good for our environment. along with the chilled soup, my mom made tortillitas with shrimp and scallions (imagine small pancakes with savory goodies inside). to complete this perfect summer lunch, she picked yellow cherry tomatoes from the garden and served them with freshly cut cucumber slices.

now that i'm home in Minnesota i will certainly miss the mountains and the incredible friends i made in Tahoe, but i am excited to begin a new chapter with graduate school and reconnect with my Midwestern roots. soon enough i'll be back to visit Tahoe and snowboard like crazy, but until then it's family, school and work here in the Twin Cities.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

san francisco on the quick

Trev tries on his favorite team's
helmet at a Mission thrift store
earlier this week, Trevor and i decided to head right down the hill to the great city of San Francisco for a quick trip to see friends and enjoy the city. the drive down is only 3 hours from Truckee and beautiful through the foothills. if i have the time, i usually stop at Pedrick Produce in the Valley, to stock up on local fruits and veggies. our first day and night were spent mostly socializing and going out in the city, which can be costly, but we managed to not spend a total fortune on alcohol.

Mexican Cokes
the next day we nursed a serious hangover with brunch at Eats Restaurant in the inner Richmond district. after our meal, we headed to the Castro so i could swing by Crossroads to sell some clothes. i've been cleaning out my closets as i get ready to move to Minnesota and i was able to sell a few things, though that particular Crossroads was already well stocked. while i did my errand, Trevor and his friends went to hang out at nearby Mission Dolores park. after a food coma and nap we got ready to head out of town, hitting up the famed Mission Chinese restaurant on our way out of the city. i've been hearing about this place for a while, where authentic, traditional Chinese cuisine takes center stage and the public comes pouring in. the sign outside is for the previous restaurant, named Lung Shan (it's yellow and hangs overhead; have to keep an eye out!). the vibe inside is hip yet traditional, featuring lanterns and huge paintings of the General Mao and his comrades. we ordered 4 "Mexican Cokes" (Coca-Cola in a glass bottle) made with real sugar and got to work on the menu.

between the 4 of us, we ordered one soup, one chicken dish, and two vegetable dishes, one of which was a cold appetizer. all food is served family style and the portions are appropriate, even at a fairly inexpensive price. without realizing it, we did all order fairly spicy dishes and the kitchen staff certainly does not skimp on the spice. after sufficiently stuffing ourselves and relieving our burning mouths with cold Coke, we paid up and tipped the very aloof hipster server. including tip, we spent under $80 (his aloofness prompted only an 18% tip).  with a little time to kill before rush hour ended on the Bay Bridge, we headed to a nearby thrift store on Mission and 17th. the place was like a huge warehouse, yet i found nothing (and i am trying hard to stop collecting items right before i move).

cold Garlic Cucumbers at
Mission Chinese

we made it home to Truckee that night around midnight and i was supremely exhausted, but it was all well worth it. San Francisco is my favorite city and i was happy to have one last trip before heading east again for school.
Mongolian Long Beans with Leeks
(this was the spiciest and my favorite dish!)

the spread: Kung Pao pastrami, Garlic Cucumbers,
Mongolian Long Beans and Smoked Beef
Brisket soup