As few weeks ago, we had a substitute teacher in yoga class. He had us do a series of poses where we moved from one warrior position to another to another then back to the first one. And so on.
The Dance of the Warrior, he called it.
The dictionary defines warrior as “one who is engaged in or experienced in battle.”
The battle in yoga, I suppose, is with the anxious, unstable, and not-so-Zen side of myself.
Can I learn to stay centered in the face of fear?
Can I find my balance when life seems to be throwing me in loops?
Can I take action with insight and compassion?
In other words, can I find the way of the peaceful warrior?
As I moved through the series, my muscles trembled, my body wobbled, and my breath labored. At least, part of the time it was like that. At other times, I was calm(er) and stead(ier) and moving in rhythm. Slowly, I’m learning the dance.
I glanced at a weather map of the United States today and it’s orange, darker orange, and red all over. In other words, it’s hot.
I tend to have a high tolerance for 90 degree weather, so I revel in it, but my yoga teacher says the heat makes a lot of people irritable.
She thought we should focus on cooling poses in class today.
We worked on variations of Downward Facing Dog – using a chair, then a wall, then the regular way – and then spent some time in Child’s Pose, Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend), and Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Bend*).
“Forward bend poses are great for settling you down when you’re feeling agitated,” the teacher said. “You may sweat while you’re in the pose, but they’re calming on the nervous system.”
I must say, it is amazing how as the class continued I felt myself grow into silence as I streeeeeetched out, my heart resting peacefully inside.
So if you find yourself snapping at people (including yourself) or not tolerating the traffic or noticing that things that you usually don’t mind are bugging you, take heart. It might simply be the heat. Try breathing a few times . . . and don’t forget to bend.
*In Seated Forward Bend, I have to sit on two blankets and lasso a strap around the balls of my feet to hang onto and pull myself forward because I can’t reach my arms to my toes. The teacher looks just like the lady in this picture when she’s in the pose, but she mentioned that 18 years ago she had to use blankets and straps too. So. By my calculations I should be able to do Seated Forward Bend without props in 15 years. I wasn’t discouraged by this. I was excited. The human body is amazing. Anyway, I’m pretty sure you’re not supposed to think about those things in yoga class, but sometimes I can’t help it!
My family members like to tease me about the fact that I don’t have a very high tolerance for discomfort. I claim to be “dying of heat” or “freezing cold” (rather than a little warm or a little cool). I’m either “bouncing off the walls” or “exhausted” (instead of simply awake or sleepy). And of course I’m never hungry. I’m starving (that is, when I’m not totally stuffed).
When I am starving it’s never a good situation. My hands start shaking. My mood turns sour really fast. I need food. ASAP!
When you’re trying to eat healthy, it’s important to prepare for emergencies. Otherwise, it’s too easy to grab the sugary, chemically-laden junk food that abounds in stores and fast-food restaurants and vending machines. So here’s what I do to prepare for the week: I usually bake some sort of muffins on Sundays (blueberry, apple oat bran, or other kinds where the recipe doesn’t call for sugar and refined flour). I also hard boil 6 eggs for easy snacking. I make a bag of trail mix: raw almonds, raw walnuts, dried cranberries and/or organic raisins. I keep baked tortilla chips in the cupboards and homemade salsa in the fridge. I love raw green beans (there I go being dramatic and extreme again), and I have been known to steal a handful of those as I head out the door. And now that fall is here, I’ve been stocking up on apples – such an easy, delicious fruit to grab on the go.
What are your favorite healthy snacks?
I’m about to fall asleep when my husband, Ron, reaches out and shakes my shoulder.
“Are you awake?” he asks.
“Yes,” I say.
“What do you want for your birthday?”
“Hmmm,” I say. “I don’t know. Let me think about it.”
But I do know. I’m debating between various brands of juicers (Green Star or Omega – any thoughts?). Ron is going to keel over when he hears this. In the six years we’ve been together, I’ve never asked for a single item relating to the kitchen.
Not a pot.
Not a pan.
Not a knife, a spatula, or a whisk.
Growing up, I never learned how to cook. My girlfriends and I — we were women of a new generation. We were going to be doctors, lawyers, and mathematicians (and we are). There would be no time for preparing meals. (I’m not sure what our eating plan was — hired help? fast food? — we didn’t think about that part). I do vaguely recall taking a Home Economics course in high school. Men were required to take it too. We baked a pie. I stared at the aluminum container holding the crust and debated between leaving it or removing it. I wasn’t sure aluminum should go in the oven so I took it off. My pie looked more like a pancake.
People change, though.
Now I see our kitchen in a whole new light. Cooking spinach lasagna the other night, I sipped a glass of wine and turned on some tunes. I had to call my mother — twice — and ask her whether I was supposed to cook the whole wheat lasagna noodles or layer them in the dish uncooked. (The first time she said, “Cook ‘em!” and the second time she said, “Yes, I’m positive. Cook ‘’em!”) I cooked the noodles. The food was delicious. I’m no longer intimidated by the kitchen. Bring on the juicer!