Give something to the people around you today–a smile, an honest compliment, a piece of wisdom, a small courtesy. We’re all in this together. We just need to let each other in.
My evening plan of working out with my trainer fell through so I decided to spend the evening simply relaxing, thinking. Enjoying the sunset and city skyline that comforts me as I step out of my apartment. I live in the city that never sleeps - and sometimes I get caught up in the constant rush of trying to be everywhere at once, always thinking of what I need to do, where I want to be. But then, right here is the present - and it’s absolutely lovely.
Silencing my mind completely and connecting to the scenery, noticing all the beauty, taking it all in. This is my front yard. I am truly lucky.
Feet on Ground. Smile on face. Gratitude. Bliss. Peace. Sounds. Sensations. Light and Energy. Colors, beauty, vastness, and meaning. Connecting to the scenery, to the intricate surroundings, the sounds, feelings, smells, sensations I feel in my body. Silencing my mind completely and being in the present.
This is New York City. We rarely take a moment to just be. It’s such a strange feeling, but it’s strikingly blissful.
This evening I took an invigorating restorative yoga class taught by one of my favorite teachers, Ash, at my gym uptown on 76th street. I finished class feeling strong and flexible, deeply stretched and at ease. Ash shared with us his own words on the power of breath, and I’m inspired by his truth and wisdom. Sometimes the stress in my head makes me feel weak, when I’m not weak at all and it’s not fair to get so down on myself when I can’t accomplish everything on my to-do list or be everywhere I want to be, or be everything to everyone I care about. Unwind from the crazy city hustle, instead of negatively expressing stress and irritation, realize it’s completely ok to feel vulnerable. Breathe deep breathes of solace into my body, and just be here now, whereever it is I am.
“SEDUCE LIFE WITH YOUR BREATHS, INVITE IT IN, LET IT SPEAK SOFTLY TO YOUR EARS, SLOW DOWN, BREATHE & FEEL HOW IT CARESSES YOUR HEART WITH THE BREEZE OF ITS ETERNAL WISDOM. OPEN UP, DONT CONFUSE BEING WEAK WITH THE NEED OF BEING VULNERABLE ONCE IN A WHILE, VULNERABLE IS THE LOVING SPONTANEOUS CHILD, WEAK IS THE CONSTANTLY SHIELDED OVERPROTECTED ADULT WHO’S HURTS APPARENTLY DETERMINE THIS PRESENT & THE FUTURE OF THIS ONE PRESENT CONSTANT ETERNAL MOMENT. KISS, HUG, GIVE, KINDLY RECEIVE, MAKE LOVE EVEN WITH A SMALL SIMPLE GAZE, BREATHE TRU EVERY EMOTION GOOD OR BAD, DIVINE OR EVIL & EXPERIENCE IT ALL… ONE DAY IT WILL ALL VANISH & ONLY WHATS BEING NOT JUDGED BUT DEEPLY FELT WITH BOUNDLESS GRATITUDE WILL REMAIN WITH US BEYOND THIS BODY, BEYOND TIME.” - Ash Aviles
I just returned from two back-to-back classes at NYHRC, Leo’s bootcamp and then an abs/core class on bosu balls. Followed by some serious steam room and sauna lounging. It’s been my Tuesday night ritual for 3 years! Now, my apartment smells like pumpkin pie. Warm pumpkin muffins I baked while wearing a new hoodie. Fall has arrived and I am embracing it!
New Hoodie #1 - Oakley O-bonfire hoodie
New Hoodie #2 - a huuge spurge that I could not hold myself back from..
New sweater #3 - Billabong Sabra Sweater
And finally, my recipe for absolutely to-die-for pumpkin muffins:
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup almond milk
2 egg whites
1/2 cup safflower oil or whichever light-flavored oil you have handy
1-2 tablespoons of honey, more if you have a sweet tooth
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoon of pumpkin spice (or ground cinnamon & nutmeg)
Optional: Add applesauce, 1 of the single serving cups
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Line muffin tins with cupcake papers. If you have foil cupcake papers, these will work better because the muffins are heavy and may stick to the paper.
3. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together your pumpkin, almond milk, egg whites, safflower oil, honey, and applesauce (ALL WET INGREDIENTS)
4. In a second mixing bowl, whisk together your flower, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves. Optional: 1 cup of rolled oats, pumpkin seeds, raising (ALL DRY INGREDIENTS)
5. Whisk the flour mixture onto the liquid mixture and blend well, should be a thick, yet runny consistency. If too thick, add more almond milk.
6. Fill the muffin cups 2/3 fill and place in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick stuck in the middle comes out clean.
7. Take out of oven, place on cooling rack, enjoy pumpkin smell, enjoy muffins!
I’m happy that I’ll be eating one of these every morning this week. Packed with nutrition - raisins (iron) pumpkin seeds (zinc) pumpkin (vitamin packed A, C, beta-carotene, potassium) and almond milk (vitamin D, E, and calcium), healthy and tasty way to enjoy each lovely fall morning!
I love proud yoga moments, when I realize that YES, I can, and I will. There’s a huge confidence factor with yoga, a huge curiosity component too. How would that Wheel pose feel if I got there? Well, I’m going to push myself and do it because every ounce of my confidence believes that I can do it. I’ve been doing the easier, modified pose whenever the yoga instructor gives the option for with Wheel pose or Bridge pose. This point forward, I’m practicing Wheel!
Perhaps even more wonderful about this evening was that it turned out to be a semi-private session with Donnalynn, with only one other girl in the class. So, Donnalynn gave extra special attention to our alignment and used her strength to push against our body, pushing us deeper into the stretch or twist. She’s extremely nuturing and her strength gives me strength, it’s funny how energies ripple like that. Mondays aren’t so tough to get through when I have Donnalynn’s yoga class after work! Sessions last an hour and a half, which is longer than the lunchtime classes, so the evening classes after a long day take plenty of stamina, and in turn they give my body the nourishment it needs from sitting at a desk and empties my mind from the anxiety the day had collected. The aromatherapy, neck and back massage with healing lotion was a huge treat. I’m feeling renewed and completely happy in my skin, ready to rock the week ahead!
It’s been awhile since my last blog entry, but it has been anything but a hiatus in my yoga practice and training. This past weekend has been bliss, and I’m finally making time to share what I’ve been up to.
SATURDAY - September 17 2011
In the early afternoon, my friend Caitlyn and I ventured down to South Street Seaport for the Women’s Health all day “Are You Game” event where we took a spinning class out on the pier and harnessed ourselves in for a challenging climb. The Brooklyn skyline from the water (and my apartment in DUMBO!) while spinning on the pier was grounding, and seeing skyscrapers around me with each step up the wall made for a magnificent backdrop.
Next on Saturday’s healthy agenda:
My yoga teacher Donnalynn led a class, cooking demo, and tasting workshop with Kevin Archer, certified vegan master chef at the Jivamuktea Cafe at the Jivamukti Yoga School on Saturday evening. After recently discovering I’m lactose intolerant, and cutting dairy out of my diet, which was actually a blessing as my cholesterol is no longer through the roof! Plus, I have discovered more nutritious, and in my opinion, even tastier substitutes to milk and cheese (almond milk, coconut and soy, the list goes on and on) I’ve noticed a huge change in my energy and health, combined with the shift I’ve recently made to a mainly plant-based diet, with the occasional chicken or fish for perhaps a meal or two a week, but mostly raw foods, mainly vegan. I have noticed the biggest difference in my yoga practice. I am more graceful on the mat, my body moves with ease without having the toxins of heavy meats and dairy weighing it down. Donnalynn’s seminar provided even more recipes for superfoods and foods that help support an active yogi diet, foods that act as natural anti-depressants and stimulants, foods that fight inflammation, explained ingredients in foods that trigger stress and allergies, and how to maintain a healthy ph with acidic and alkaline food balance. The food that was prepared right in front of the class by the master chef of Jivamuktea was absolutely delicious, and filling! Seitan, tempeh, kale, quinoa, hummus… I’m excited to prepare the foods and smoothies, and definitely create some tasty meals of my own. I’ve been starting every day with a green smoothie and it gives a huge energy kick and has been filling enough to keep me satisfied until lunchtime!
Green smoothie recipe:
1/2 cup almond milk
1 teaspoon of Spirulina
1 stalk of kale (leaves only)
Blend until creamy ~20 seconds
The almond milk and banana make it sweet and it’s not overly veggie tasting. One day I added frozen cherries and I enjoyed it very much. I will begin experimenting - I’ve seen recipes with apples, mint, kiwi fruit and cucumber. The fun part about green smoothies is that they can really be made to your liking.
In Donnalynn’s lecture (and further research I looked into afterwards) I was shocked to learn the many benefits the ingredients in these smoothies have!
Dark, leafy greens, such as Kale, and Spirulina, which is a blue-green algae, can benefit your body in a number of ways:
• chlorophyll helps to purify and build the blood
• improved immune system function
• promotion of healthy intestinal flora and better digestion
• improved liver and kidney function
• the clearing of congestion, especially in the lungs and intestines
SUNDAY - September 17 2011
A bright and early rise and shine for race day, low 60s and sunny skies! Excited for my very first day wearing the new pair of Nike Lunarfly2+ my boyfriend treated me to! New shoes and brisk morning air made for a very very acceptable substitute for the typical Sunday morning sleep till noon followed by a grande black coffee and brunch.
Today I ran the Komen Race for the Cure, with every energy in my veins driven to run for all the women who have been fighters of Breast Cancer. Running with people in mind, people not only who I know, but also for those who I don’t know, people who have struggled through illnesses that have taken unbelievable tolls on their body, this is why I run. When I run for something greater than myself, I do not let myself stop or slow down, I am fueled with a world of energy. I pushed through the 5K in 27 mins. I’m happy with that, knowing that I ran my hardest and put my entire heart into every stride.
My friend who also ran the race saw the most touching conversation as she was leaving Central Park after the run, that pretty much sums it all up. An older couple was walking towards her and the man said to the lady, “look what they did for you!”
I returned home to Brooklyn Heights feeling inspired and at ease. After a quick shower, I toted my yoga mat down the block to Montague Street where the yoga studio I practice at held an outdoor class for Montague Summer Streets, an all day street fair. Doing downward facing dog, crow pose, and shoulder stands in the center of the street was surprisingly zen. You begin to forget that people are watching the class in awe, and your concentration focuses on your balance and your breath. My yoga teacher Andrea led a beautiful class, helped us fold deeper into each pose, and massaged our neck and back while deepening us into each challenging backbend and twist. Class was challenging, and in the crisp fall air I definitely worked up quite a sweat and got the best post-race stretch a girl could dream of!
Following the rejuvenating yoga session, I continued my Sunday stroll through my neighborhood to just down the street where the Montague Summer Streets dog show was being held.
Run, Yoga, and Puppies… if you were still wondering where the bliss was, you definitely could find it in my eyes now!
My Sunday bliss in my neighborhood continued as I ventured down the street to Pier 1 park at the Brooklyn Bridge, just steps from my apartment. My day has been filled with “I love New York” and “I love life” moments, and I didn’t realize at that point that many more were on the way. The Beautiful Earth group showcased the film “Home”, a documentary film by Yann Arthus-Bertrand that explores the beauty and fragility of the earth narrated by Glenn Close. I enjoyed the quiet serenity of sitting solo and taking in the cool evening air, watching the sunset toss around bright orange ribbons across the city skyline, and when the film began, I was completely captivated by Arthus-Bertrand’s hymn to the planet and humanity. Being surrounded by Lady Liberty to the left, South Street Seaport across the river, and the Brooklyn Bridge, Manhattan Bridge, and skyscrapers of Manhattan to the right, I felt completely immersed in the stunning city I am so lucky to live in.
Monday - nighttime yoga class at Yoga People
Tuesday - run, bootcamp, abs class. Triple threat Tuesdays!
Thursday - abs and core session with trainer
Friday - lunchtime yoga at Yoga People, lifted and abs for evening while waiting for boyfriend to get out of work and then enjoyed a much deserved big delicious feast at Watty and Meg in Cobble Hill.
Saturday - relaxing with the boy, afternoon walk, beautiful weather, two bottles of really really good Shiraz and thai food while watching football
Sunday - slept till 11:30am, more relaxing, brunch at Artica, walking around and shopping, Osteria Morini for dinner tonight, can’t wait for a charcuterie plate…
Be here now.