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Freedom

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.

Germaphobe

The waiter walks over and sets a glass of ice-water on the table.

“Ew,” my mom says when he walks away. “I don’t like it when restaurants put lemons in your drink.”

For years she’s claimed that lemon wedges have tons of bacteria – picked up because of how much they are handled by bare human hands – and this YouTube video seems to prove she’s right, reporting that over 77% of lemon wedges in drinks tested positive for disease causing bacteria.

My husband has an issue with restaurants that place the silverware directly on the table instead of on a napkin or tablecloth. When I tell him the tables are washed, he says, “Yeah, but have you seen those ratty rags they use?”

What a bunch of germaphobes!

Except I have my issues too. I don’t like touching menus. I especially can’t stand it when a waiter places a menu down on top of my plate. I mean really, when are menus cleaned?

I’m totally of the belief that exposure to bad bacteria can build my immune system. And, logically, I know that menus are only one of many places I’m coming across a boatload of germs. But still, menus freak me out.

Do you have any quirky things you’re a germ-freak about?

A Time to Feast

I’m hanging out with my parents when my dad sees me frantically rubbing my thumbs against the palms of my hands.

“Are you nervous?” he asks.

“Yeah,” I say.

He wants to know why. How to explain?

My parents have been visiting the past few days. I haven’t seen them in over six months. It’s the longest period of time we’ve ever been apart (even when I lived in Europe after college I saw them at least every four months). The past few days have been one big party. We’ve eaten red meat and fried foods. We’ve had Grasshoppers (ice cream and alcohol) and cookies. I think I munched on a vegetable in there somewhere – yes, I steamed spinach one night – but other than that, I can’t say I’ve been practicing “mindful eating” since Saturday. And my home yoga regime? Completely cut off once my parents arrived (although my mom saw my mat, which was rolled out on the floor, and she practiced sun salutations).

“I’m not sure what to blog about for Wasa this week,” I finally say to my dad.

“Well, let’s think,” he says.

“I’m supposed to blog about yoga and mindful eating, but I’m not inspired given my eating habits and lack of yoga practice,” I explain.

My dad is silent for awhile. “You could talk about how yoga is important for old people like me,” he finally says. “As people age, they are at an increased risk of falling. So write in your blog that yoga is important for balance and to do yoga with a Wasa cracker.”

“Uh, okay. Thanks,” I say.

“Just trying to help,” he says.

My mom chimes in too. “Oh, I know,” she says. “Blog about the fact that we bought a juicer.”

It’s true. My parents read the Wasa blog and were inspired to buy a juicer.

“Last week we made peach juice with vodka,” my mom says. “It was delicious!” She pauses. “Am I missing the point?”

Well, I do wish they would make vegetable juice instead, but maybe I’m the one who is missing the point. As I drop them off at the airport, I know what I’m going to blog about: A Time to Feast. This week we’ve hit up good restaurants and had fun cooking in too. We played cards and watched baseball and talked, all over scones for breakfast and steaks for dinner. It was a reunion. A celebration.  A time to enjoy life. Not that we couldn’t have done that over Brussels sprouts and brown rice, but eating well most of the time makes it easier to allow the exceptions. Not to mention, those “exceptions” are much appreciated.

Turkey and Avocado Wasa Sandwich

Ingredients

3 slices Havarti cheese, sliced thin
½ avocado, sliced thin
3 slices turkey breast
1 teaspoon olive oil
¼ cup tomatoes, finely minced
2 tablespoons purple onion, finely minced
1 tablespoon Italian flat leaf parsley, chopped
Salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
3 pieces WASA Hearty Rye Crispbread (may substitute any WASA Crispbread flavor)

Directions

Combine olive oil, tomatoes, purple onion, parsley, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Mix and set aside.
Place 1 slice of Havarti cheese, 1 slice of turkey breast, 3 thin slices of avocado on each crispbread. Top with tomato and onion mixture.

Serves 1

Nutritional Value Per Serving

Calories 180
Total Fat 9 g
Saturated Fat 1 g
Cholesterol 34 mg
Sodium 150 mg
Total Carbohydrate 11 g
Dietary Fiber 3 g
Protein 13 g
Calcium 10% of daily value

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