When I first moved to Washington DC, I was surprised to discover the average cost of a drop-in yoga class was $20. Back in California it was easy to find classes for almost half as much – maybe because there are yoga studios on practically every street corner in LA. Working off of a freelance writer’s budget, it is challenging to come up with the money for regular yoga classes. If you’re also on a tight budget, good news: yoga classes are and can be accessible to everyone. Many places offer a free class if you’re trying their yoga studio for the first time, and some instructors volunteer to give free classes on a regular basis. Bartering might be another option — attending yoga classes in exchange for working a few hours behind the desk. Finally, keep an eye out for donation-based classes. This growing movement suggests payment on a sliding scale, allowing students to pay what they can afford. To find out more about what options are available, simply ask. And most importantly, don’t forget to pay it forward by sharing with others what had been shared with you.
I enjoy the beginning of yoga class because the opening is generally “easy” – well, at least physically (the meditating part can bring up its own set of challenges).
But before we practice some of the more difficult poses, we usually we open by sitting in Sukhasana for a few minutes. And then maybe move onto our hands and knees to practice Dog Tilt and Cat Pose. It’s a place for gentle movements. A time to bring awareness to our breath.
The other day at the beginning of class, we were on our hands and knees with a neutral spine (tabletop). The teacher asked us to lift our right arm off the ground and straighten it so it pointed forward. Both of our arms were engaged. The left one pushing the floor away, and the right one reaching for the wall in front of us (in a way where we weren’t scrunching our shoulder blade up to our neck). She had us hold that position. For a long, long time. It was hard. (Don’t believe me? Try it.)
“Some poses can be deceptive,” the teacher said. “Not as easy as they seem.”
I love that about yoga. I love that I don’t need an expensive gym membership or fancy equipment or special shoes to build flexibility and strength. I just need my body, my mind, and my spirit.
The street is cleared of traffic, the tents are up, and the vendors are selling summer squash, cherries, and herbs. It’s the second week this season the farmers’ market has been open in town, and my husband escapes from the office so we can enjoy lunch together and wander by the open-air booths. We buy bread (baked from scratch) from one of our favorite vendors and discuss what we can grill, cook, and drink over the next few days.
As we walk, I start thinking about how I’ll be spending a lot more time at farmers’ markets this summer than I have in the past – it’s easier to find local, sustainably-grown food here than at the grocery stores. I’ve always enjoyed farmers’ markets, but I’ve tended to reserve them for “special occasions.” When I lived in Los Angeles my friends and I would load up with market goodies before going to a concert at the Hollywood Bowl, or for a picnic at the beach, or if we had guests coming to town.
With over 3500 farmers’ markets in the United States (visit LocalHarvest.org to find one near you) there are plenty here on the east coast where I currently live. I’ll be visiting more of them over the next few days to get a feel for the ones I prefer, talk to vendors, and gather local meat, eggs, and more fruit and veggies. I know I have my work cut out for me this summer as I learn how to prepare meals, can tomatoes, and make my own salad dressing. But taking the first step and creating the intent to eat clean is one of the biggest hurdles. Besides, it feels good to realize that what used to be a “special occasion” will now be a part of daily life.
2 cups acorn squash, cooked
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons fat free half and half
½ cup diced onion
2 leaves fresh sage
2 teaspoons maple syrup
¼ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons roasted pumpkin seeds
1 package WASA Hearty Rye Crispbread
Slice open acorn squash and remove seeds. Place sliced side down in an 8 X 8 inch glass dish, cover and microwave on high until tender (approx 10 minutes).
Scoop out meat with a spoon when cooled and set aside.
Heat oil in a skillet. Add onion and whole sage leaves. Sauté until onions are transparent. Remove sage.
Add squash, half and half, maple syrup, and parmesan cheese. Mix well.
Spoon into bowl, sprinkle with pumpkin seeds and serve hot on a platter with crispbread.
TIP: May substitute WASA Oat, Sourdough Rye, Multigrain, or Rye Crispbread. Leftover dip may be stored in refrigerator for to 3 – 4 days.
Prep time: 20 minutes
Nutritional Value Per Serving