I was “birthed” into the world of yoga through the Iyengar style where precision and alignment are emphasized. My teacher would adjust our poses starting from our pinky toe (literally – she’d have us lift it up and try to spread it away from our other toes) all the way to the tops of our heads (which, she would tell us, should be lifting toward the ceiling, as if a string was attached to our scalp and someone was pulling).
I’m one of those follow the rules, read the directions, life is in the details type of girls, so I ate Iyengar yoga up. The fact that my hamstrings are tight, my shoulders are scrunched, and my hips are narrow make Iyengar a fitting practice because I benefit so greatly from the blocks and straps and blankets that are generously encouraged in that style of practice to help with proper positioning.
From time to time I’ve experimented with other yoga styles – this article describes various kinds – and recently I found myself in a session where the teacher was leading a flow with pretty much no regard to form whatsoever.
At first I was distraught.
“Beautiful!” the yoga teacher said when I moved into Virabhadrasana II (Warrior II).
“Oh, yeah, right,” I thought to myself.
In an Iyengar class, the instructor is always adjusting my Warrior II pose. I’m like a toy where you push one section in and another section pops out. If she moves my left thigh, my right knee tweaks to a different place. If she tilts my pelvis, my arms plummet. If she tells me where to fix my gaze – whoops – there goes my thigh again.
Anyway, I realized pretty quickly that I didn’t want to spend the entire practice mentally upset that this yoga teacher wasn’t going to focus on form. Other than calling out the pose, she was giving no instructions, and deep inside I knew that was okay. Because yoga really isn’t about form. Not at its core. It’s about being in a present state of mind. Finding a place where I’m not worrying about the future or obsessing over the past, even if those thoughts relate to yoga itself. As I continued the flow, I let go of the details and the precision and simply enjoyed the movement.
I felt warm and flexible and free.
My car crunches over the gravel as I pull into the parking lot of the yoga studio. Climbing up the rickety stairs of the wood building, I’m filled with hope.
This is the ninth yoga instructor I’ve tried since moving to DC. For whatever reason, I can’t seem to find a teacher that feels like the right fit. In part, I’m grieving the loss of my instructor from Los Angeles whom I adored. And I admit I don’t mind the teachers I’ve practiced with here, but I find yoga easier to maintain when I feel a strong authentic connection.
A few months ago I tried a class where the teacher did seem like a great fit. But when I returned, she was no longer there. I scoured the web searching for her to pop up in another studio around town. I only had a first name to go off of, but I think I might have found her and that’s why I’m here today.
I sign in at the desk and walk into the studio. The teacher is asking the class to get two blocks, a blanket, and a strap. Yep, that’s her. I can tell by the sound of her voice.
She walks by me on her way to close the door of the studio, but she pauses before reaching her destination. She watches me as I pull back my hair back into a loose ponytail.
“Hi. I’m Jenny. I’m a drop-in,” I say.
“I know you,” she says.
I sigh in relief. She remembers me.
“I took a restorative yoga class you taught in another studio a few months ago. I’ve been looking for you ever since. You’re hard to find,” I explain.
“Yes,” she nods, remembering the class. “It’s taken me awhile to get going and figure out where to set up shop.”
Well no wonder I couldn’t find her. She’s a new teacher. Later, I discover that she had a health scare which caused her to re-evaluate her entire career as a molecular biologist. Once she recovered, she decided to become a yoga teacher. Love that (I had a similar experience three years ago and that’s when I began writing).
We open by chanting three Oms. Then she tells us to be sure not to miss class three weeks from now. She’ll be teaching it outside where we will all face the trees so we can experience a “yoga foliage festival.” Oh yeah, she’s my kind of yogi.
1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, sliced
Salt to taste
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1 teaspoon olive oil
½ teaspoon chopped oregano
½ teaspoon chopped marjoram
½ teaspoon chopped thyme
½ teaspoon chopped sage
1 ounce reduced-fat feta cheese
2 pieces WASA Light Rye Crispbread
Place tomatoes on a flat plate and microwave on high for 2 minutes. Remove from microwave, sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss.
Sprinkle tomatoes with herbs and feta. Return to microwave for 1 additional minute.
Spread onto crispbreads.
Prep time: 10 minutes
Nutritional Value Per Serving
||7% of daily value
The first time I tried to stop drinking coffee I was working as a lawyer. It was a busy time at the firm, so I honestly don’t know what possessed me to quit cold turkey. I began having headaches on top of the long hours. Six months went by. The headaches stopped (the long hours didn’t). Eventually, I caved. I wanted that energy jolt again. Plus, the taste. Mmmm…the taste.
The second time I tried to stop drinking coffee I was trying to get pregnant. This time I weaned myself slowly. I ordered a small instead of a medium. Then a half regular, half decaf. Finally I made the switch to non-caffeine tea.
After I lost the baby (miscarriage), I was drinking coffee within days.
When I made a commitment to Clean Eating, I thought, Third time’s a charm. But now that I’m well on my way down the path of eating wholesome foods, I’ll say this: drastically reducing my intake of sugar and white flour while drastically increasing my fruit and veggies has been pretty smooth sailing. But the coffee…oh, how I miss it when I don’t drink it.
I just can’t seem to kick it (well, it’s more like I’m unwilling to give it an honest try). I keep reading articles about the benefits of coffee (antioxidants, etc), but really, part of me think that’s like those articles that claim dark chocolate is good for you for the same reasons (antioxidants).
Really, shouldn’t we just eat blueberries?
To make a long story longer, I’m still on the fence about coffee (thus have not given it up). I enjoy the aroma and flavor so much. Plus, unlike sugar which makes me feel bleh inside, coffee makes me feel good (but I know, I know…it increases my blood pressure and doesn’t help with my anxiety issues). So I sit in confusion. I tell myself that out of all the vices in the world caffeine isn’t so bad. (Can you tell I’m piling on the excuses here or what?)
I’d love to hear from others who are dedicated to eating clean, healthy foods. What’s your take on your morning cuppa joe (or lack thereof)?