Sunday, December 4, 2011

How clean is your window?

A yoga sutra study group started up tonight at Near East Yoga, the focus tonight was the vrittis. I would like to share a drop of wisdom that I learned. Vrittis can be useful if you stay mindful of their purpose. Asana, pranyama, all of this is a type of vritti. These particular vrittis (and others) can be used as a window cleaner to scrub your window clean, clear the seer's vision of reality. However, if you get addicted to the window cleaner and stop seeing it as a tool, your window just gets foggy with spray. You might as well be spraying dirt on the window. Maybe this is the purpose of breaks in practice, such as moon days off. After polishing the window for two weeks, you can sit back and look through with clarity at what is real.

Saturday, November 26, 2011


Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It is such a pure holiday, despite the attempted corruption by an ever-earlier Black Friday. I spent it with Dan, Matt, and the three dogs. We had a very delicious, local meal that stuffed us all. I hope that everyone else out there enjoyed their thanksgivings as well. I give thanks for the abundance of delicious food and drink found locally here. I also give thanks for the Portland yoga community that I sometimes have the rare treat of indulging in when school eases up a bit.

Don't count on many posts until the new year here. As a busy chiropractic student, things are heating up. The biggest test of the program is approaching in January, and as such, things are very intense until it wraps up. After that, many more practices with Near East Yoga, kirtans at the BhaktiShop, and perhaps even some fun at the Yoga Space too. More local food too.

One promised post...a reflection on an observation of a great yoga as therapy doctor.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Yogi Wrists

Nothing in the nine years I've been practicing yoga has been as hard on my practice as chiropractic school. Seventh quarter was especially was hard on me, and hard on my practice. At the end of the quarter I went several weeks without so much as a surya namaskara. Now I'm trying to get back to practice. Besides the tigher hips and hamstrings, and maybe a slightly less tolerance for 10 surya namasakara that crept up while I was being lazy, the thing that prevents me from my pre-break practice habits is the wrists. It's not a pain that lasts after savasana, or even really a pain at all. But rather an ache that develops in my wrist a few asana into the primary series. When I experience this, I simply go on to finishing. In fact, instead of doing a proper bridge or upward-facing bow I will simply place a block under my pelvis and breathe for 25 breaths instead to avoid weight bearing on my wrists. What is going on?

Of all the things that yogis and non-yogis ask me about yoga, the wrists are number one on that list. Questions like: what do you do to ease the pressure on your wrists, my wrists are too bad to practice yoga, and do your wrists get messed up from yoga. All of these things and more come up. I even get questions about people wanting to do push-ups and think that the yogis have the answers.

The thing that many people don't think about is that your bones are living things. And as living things they change in response to stimuli. How often in your everyday life are you weight bearing on your wrists/ much as your body weight? Not so much. In many yogasana you are supporting half to all of your weight with your arms. That's a lot for them. Bone remodels according to the stress it regularly experiences. This is why astronauts will come back to earth after living without gravity and have bone loss. It's why your bones are not perfect lines and cylinders, the muscles create stresses on the bones at different points when you're growing and the bone grows to accommodate that. This is also why weight-bearing exercise is recommended for those with, and at risk for osteoporosis, it can give the bones strength where it's needed.

Your body can change a lot in a few weeks. It takes 120 days for cortical bone to fully remodel against a new stress and about a year for the medulary bone to accomodate that same stress. A study monitoring bone strength in patients on bed-rest found that their skeleton changed it's strong parts from places like the heel to the new weight bearing places like the back of the head in a course of 17 weeks. All of this makes me think that it is likely that my body started to change during that break in my practice schedule. During that period of practically no weight bearing on my arms, I likely lost some of the strength there. I can no longer tolerate nearly 50 vinyasas in a practice. The way to get back that strength. Practice. Repeat. The science says at least 3 times a week will do you.

As a yoga teacher I think this is a valuable lesson learned. There is a reason to focus on the standing and seated asana with beginners and especially so with elderly students new to yoga. Let their bones get stronger. Encourage regular practice, at least 3x a week. Build them up from just one or two vinyasas and one short inversion. Take the pressure off the arms and let them grow gradually. Let these students know that if it hurts in their wrists, it's okay to ease up. Teach the very valuable half-sun salute as an alternative in beginners classes. Let them insert this variation as needed. Gradually increase the amount of weight bearing in the arms. In time, a hand stand and vinyasas will be much more tolerable.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Canning Wrap-up

This weekend I really devoted myself to wrapping up the year's canning. I canned plum jam and pickles of all types. Below are the grand totals for canning season 2011:

12 pints clam chowder base
6 1/2 half pints strawberry rhubarb jam
1 gallon frozen strawberries
2+ gallons of frozen cherries
10 1/2 half pints blue-raz jam
3 gallons frozen blueberries
21 1/2 half-pints blackberry jam
12 quarts peaches
2 gallons frozen peaches
1 1/2 gallons frozen blackberries
47 quarts tomatoes
12 half pints plum jam
10 quarts pickled beets
18 quarts dill pickles
3 pints refrigerator breat & butter pickles

Many thanks to my sources of fruit and veggies for canning: ABC seafood, New Seasons Market, Sauvie Island Farms, Pat & Marina, ODFW and USF&W for providing the space for blackberries to grow free, Josey Farms, Karam Farm, Giusto Farms, and Growers' Outlet.

Nuts will be ready for sale at Josey Farms this November, they have hazelnuts and walnuts in big sacks. They're the best nuts I've ever tasted. They come pre-cracked, but you need to separate shell from nut, but it's rainy and cold out anyway so it gives you something to do. The shells make excellent fire fuel if you have a fireplace or woodstove. We don't but we do give them to a friend who says they burn super warm!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Summers Off?

Most kids in America get the summer off from school. A lot of us see summer as a time to kick back, go on vacation. Summers off is actually a relic from times where nearly everyone had a family farm. Summer is such a busy time of harvest and food preservation that families couldn't afford to have their kids at school. They needed all hands on deck at this time of year.

This summer I've been going to school, manning my little dirt spot of a garden, visiting the local u-picks, and preserving food for the winter. This leads to a lot of late nights and stuffed weekends. It should all pay off in the end though.

So far this year I have stored up:

* 12 pints of clam chowder base (add the dairy when you eat it)
* 6 half-pints Strawberry-Rhubarb Jam
* 1 gallon frozen strawberries
* 2 1/4 gallons frozen cherries
* 10 1/2 half-pints blueberry-raspberry jam
* 3 gallons frozen blueberries
* 21 1/2 half-pints Blackberry jam
* Several baggies of dried herbs
* A basket of garlic
* 12 quarts canned peaches
* 2 gallons frozen peaches

My freezer is now packed to it's limits. No more freezing this year. A deep freeze is my dream for when I move into a house.

I still hope to can a bunch of tomatoes, some pickles, some beets, and try my hand at some plum jam.

The last chore of the harvest will be to get the walnuts and hazelnuts from Josey Farms. They come pre-cracked, but you need to separate the nuts from the shells. The nuts are ready in late october/early november.

With all of this I don't have a lot of free time during the summer, but I'm fitting in a few roadtrips anyway! We're off to the Redwoods during my 'fall break' from school.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Wake-up Call

Lately I have been reading Awake At Work by Michael Carroll. The short chapters are thought provoking and take a couple days or weeks to sink in and take hold. It is so appropriate that I should read chapter 14 'Be kind to yourself'. "We want to be seen as competent and capable--and then we have to live up to our own aspirations. Tight timetables, complex challenges, risky decisions, and much more can keep us going at a pace that is just asking too much." It really brought to light something that Kathy Cooper had said to me when she was here in the spring, to be kind to yourself and not confuse willpower as prioritizing practice; realize that you need your sleep.

Seventh quarter in chiropractic school is very demanding. I think the whole point of this quarter is to see how many balls you can juggle at once without collapsing. I asked my boyfriend how I could practice daily, fufill the demands at school, eat, and sleep. He replied that he didn't know, that I'm pretty much maxxed out. I shouldn't be so hard on myself.

After just about 3 weeks of this schedule I came home today and collapsed on the couch without taking my dog out to pee...for two hours. Talk about crashing. I have been barely practicing at all, getting very little sleep, and beating myself up for not practicing 6 days a week like I did in Philly and not sleeping enough. This is not productive. It leaves me too drained to even practice on the weekend, when I actually could enjoy yoga, sans timer, pehaps even make it to the studio!

Clearly this is not the way. The first limb of yoga is the yamas, the first of which is ahimsa. I have not been kind to myself. I DO need to get through these 10 weeks, successfully. I will do what I can to make that happen. But perhaps I should stop beating myself up about literally making the choice to sleep. Cut the "mandatory" practice to the weekends/holidays. At the end of these ten weeks, I can go back to a daily practice over vacation.

Yoga has many parts, not just asana. I think my weekday practices will change to something new for now. I am contemplating meditation on a daily basis. Perhaps after the dog's after-school stroll.

Has anyone else ever felt like this? What did you do to get through it?

Monday, July 4, 2011

When God Says Wait

When I was in Sunday school as a kid my teacher one day told us that God always answers your prayers. God always says yes, no, or wait. Well, for the people of Portland praying for strawberries in May, God said wait. At last, the strawberry crop is ripe for the picking. Talk about independence from a "fruitless" existence! The apples from the CSA stopped pouring in weeks ago.

All the waiting has basically turned the U-Picks on Sauvie Island into a bit of a scene. Today I saw too many people in very nice outfits showing up with five gallon buckets. Sundresses and pretty white capris abounded. I sat there in my clothes that are meant for getting dirty...literally sitting in the dirt for three and a half hours. Picking the juicy bundles of early summer sunshine for a total of 7 1/2 pounds. The pretty clothes people walked about bending every so often to pluck a berry, commenting on how low the bushes were. They left with maybe a quart in their buckets. Strawberry picking is dirty work, as well as the rest of farming. Come prepared and reap the rewards!

I picked Hood Strawberries. A local favorite. These berries remind me of the field of wild strawberries across from my parents' house. Delicious and tiny. The only difference is they are bigger, but not by much. They are much smaller than the average berry you find in other varieties.

Seven and a half pounds of strawberries will keep me busy after my shower. Tonight I will make strawberry-rhubarb jam. I will tart freezing berries...hoping for a gallon to make treats throughout the year. The rest will be for us to eat in their most simple form throughout the week.

At the farm they mentioned blueberries and raspberries will be ready next week. This summer is moving right along. It looks like another batch of jam will be cranked out within a week or two!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Spring Salads

The best sign that spring is in is the way my refrigerator screams SALAD when I open it. It may be officially summer, but here, the spring crops are still in season. Strawberrries are just now ripe for the picking and the first cherries came in today's CSA box.

My favorite spring salad?

Saute chopped garlic scapes, asparagus, and chives in butter. Hardboil an egg. Chop radishes and a small amount of cheese to add to whatever greens you have on hand. Combine the whole thing and dress simply with a bit of red wine vinegar, olive oil, and a dash of salt and pepper.

Sometimes I'll make some croutons by drizzling some baguette pieces with olive oil and toasting them in the toaster oven. You can also rub them with a split chunk of garlic scape or add salt if you like.

Dessert can be a piece of chocolate or strawberries/cherries when they become available.

At least another two weeks of salads at my place.

Strawberries are popping and jam making is in order now. Some other spring preserving I do is to freeze a gallon each of cherries and strawberries. This gives me something to make smoothies out of throughout the year. Another smoothie prep I'm adding this year is to juice a watermellon and freeze it into cubes.

Monday, June 6, 2011

drishti and inversions

I am afraid of the eyedoctor; I haven't seen one for at least a decade, maybe longer. I've been practicing yoga for 9 years. This could be a problem. Here is why I'm vowing to make an appointment soon.

Glaucoma affects 15% of people in their 60s and up. This disease creates irreversible vision damage due to increased interocular pressure pressing on the II cranial nerve which supplies your retina. Inversions, all of them, including downward facing dog and child's pose, can increase interocular pressure and aggrevate glaucoma. You would think that the solution is just to not practice asanas with your head lower than your heart if you have glaucoma, and you're right. Except, many people that have glaucoma don't know it until big damage has been done. The disease starts by gradually eliminating your peripheral vision, you really don't see it coming. The only way to find out is to have an eye exam by a professional.

Who is at risk?
*Caucasians 50+
*African Americans 35+
*People with a family history of glaucoma
*People with cardiovascular disease
*Near-sighted people
*People with hypertension
*Those that experience vasospasms

*Likely at risk people: migrane sufferers, the obese, smokers, heavy alcohol users, those with anxiety or high stress levels

I would like to hypothesize that regular yogasana practice including inversions would help your body to learn to control and tolerate increased interocular pressure. However, I could find no research to support that hypothesis. On the bright side, there is also no evidence that yogis have a higher glaucoma rate.

The Mayo Clinic lists weight & blood pressure control and excerise as good prevention, all of which yoga practice provides.

They also recommend eye exams every 3-5 years, every year if you're over 60. I'm clearly due. The good news is the reason I dislike eye exams is the air-puff glaucoma exam. Apparently, this went out of style years ago and now a more accurate, non-air-puff test is used. Nothing should hold me back now.

What do I recommend for the inversion-loving yogi?
1. Get regular eye check-ups.
2. If you have glaucoma, follow doctors orders and practice ahimsa by modifying your asana practice appropriately.
3. If you are a yoga teacher, teach inversions with great reverence and perhaps encourage your students to love their drishti with a eye check-up.

A side note: Corticosteroids, especially those in eye drop form can increase interocular pressure. The effect can last a few weeks to months after you are off the drug. If you are on these drugs for any reason, it may be wise to modify your practice until this time period passes.

Appropriate asana practice modifications would be to keep your head above your heart as much as possible and definitely no shoulder, head, or hand-stands. Perhaps prop your head on a folded towel for legs up the wall instead. Make your backward bends all ones that start from the belly down position. Spend little if any time in standing forward folds and downward facing dog; instead practice your forward folds seated. Get creative and protect your drishti!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Kathy Cooper 2011

Kathy Cooper once again blessed our Portland Mysore community with her presence this May. I was lucky enough to have a clear enough schedule to join for a lecture, a women's forum, and one class. Kathy Cooper is definitely the softer side of Ashtanga yoga. I can definitely relate with this as I feel this practice is more gentle due to the ability to set your own tempo and meet yourself on the mat in a more individual way. She talked about Guruji and the much smaller Ashtanga scene in the 70's when she started practicing. The beauty of the practice for her is about the efficiency of it. You can get to your mat, move your energy around, and take that into the rest of your day.
My favorite quote from the lecture was that "Ashtanga yoga has a reputation of being serious and severe, but it's not that at all; rather it is very sincere."
Here are some other gems I took away from the experience:
*A main key to this practice is moola bhanda, by engaging it you can contain all the energy that you gather in with practice instead of it all draining out of you.
*Morning practice has the effect of connecting you to the world around you.
*Personalizing your practice is the best thing you can do to strengthen it.
*Marichiasana is about sending the energy up the shushumna nadi, you need to sit up to make that happen.
*Prasarita is about opening your back body, breathe into your kidneys.
*Sometimes the only thing holding you back is fear. This is where a teacher comes in handy. They can give you a safety net that can allow you to realize what is true.
*Lighten up. Do what you can, and come back to your practice tomorrow. This is a practice that can last a lifetime.
*Pranayama is essential past 60. Be strong enough for it.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Great mid-week practices continue

Today's practice was good. A full practice sans egg timer is so luxurious. I really put my all into it. You know that is true when your last downward facing dog ends up collapsing into a puddle-like balasana. Finishing started out with a supported bridge so I could recuperate for inversions. Juicy savasana, complete with a pup snuggled up to my side. It really is too bad that now I must go to school...

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Wonderful Wednesdays

This quarter I have long days...7:30-5:30 most days. To fit in practice I have started rising at 4 AM. It has required coffee and an earlier bedtime, but is well worth it. Two days and I feel more at peace and more like myself. I hope to continue! Wednesday I have a 9:30 start and the boyfriend and dog don't make their way out of bed until 6:30 most days. This all adds up to an extra hour of sleep tomorrow!!! I'm hoping to adjust to earlier days soon, perhaps a few more weeks?

Friday, April 8, 2011

Polishing off the rust

The past month has been very trying on my practice. Finals, boards, exhaustion. Now I have recovered from that. Something Manorama said stuck hard: You can't willpower your way through yoga, just hold steady with a formal practice that fits. I have one that fits, but not always. I just can't say I'm going back to a full on 6 day practice that I did before Portland. It's too much, too soon and I'll burn out and not practice at all. My new idea is to polish off this rusty practice in a more natural way for myself. Everyday I will set the intention to practice. If my intended morning practice doesn't happen because I hit snooze for too long I won't be upset because my body needed sleep. Instead I will do at least one sun salute in my pajamas before getting ready. It takes no time and will keep a steady habit of morning practice. Hopefully the small regular effort will be able to grow into a steady habit of real morning practices. "Do SOMETHING every day." -Manorama

Saturday, April 2, 2011

An Evening with Manorma, Reflections on the point of yoga

  • Last night I was blessed in many ways to spend time with Manorma, an amazing teacher, at the BhaktiShop. Blessed in one way because yogis trust one another. My wallet was stolen on Thursday. I had to cancel all my cards and thus, have no access to my money until the bank sends me a new ATM card. The very sweet BhaktiShop received and e-mail from me explaining the situation and immediately extended the offer to pay them when I could. I don't practice here and don't know these people, but yogis CAN trust one another because yogis are bound by ahimsa, satya, and asteya to not harm each other, not lie, and not steal; we can trust each other. I will send them the money AND a thank you card when I can.
  • On the greater level, I am blessed that Manorma (which translates as charming to the heart, delight to the mind), comes to Portland from New York at all. Here is some of what I took away from just two hours. I highly recommend that you go see Ma even if you have little interest in Sanskrit at all. Her spiritual knowledge is the best. Check out
  • Manorma talked about the point of yoga: Yogas citta vrtti nirodhah. (Sutra 1.2) Stop fueling the spinning of the mind. Without giving it energy it can't keep turning. Asana, chanting, meditation pranayama-these are all tools we are given to achieve this task. Eventually you will drop all tools. The mind and the body are also tools. We should use them to play, but remember that they too are merely tools for this lifetime. DON'T do anything that doesn't come naturally-the point is not to be crazy. The point of yoga is to come closer to answering the question "who am I?", not loose yourself. How to do this? Have some formal practice using the tool(s) of your choice-go all the way with that particular tool. Manorma highly recommends meditation. I really should do more of that. No one likes meditation, especially me! This is because it is the height of intimacy and you might get TMI from yourself. The point of meditation is to cultivate witness consciousness. this witness helps you function in the world without becoming controlled by your mind and body, but rather control them. The best way to answer the question "Who am I?" and stop the spinning of the mind is two-fold:

1. Have a formal practice of some kind. Do this every day. Why? YOU are different every day. If this is true, then you need to expose every piece of yourself to the practice to learn more about YOU.

2. Be conscious in your life. Notice what your mind does in every waking moment and don't let it carry you, you carry it in its like/don't like duality. Use it as the tool that it is. Meditation helps with this.

  • Always keep your rhythm. It will hold you steady. The rhythm is breath, mantra, heartbeat.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Perfect Spring Lunch

People have different signs for spring: daffodils, robins, spring peepers... Mine is the fact that I have the ingredients for a spring-like lunch. Today's lunch was just that. Microgreen salad with vinegrette, pickled beets, hummus, and a home-baked walnut bread. Many of the ingredients are from stored foods like the beets, chickpeas, and beets...but the microgreens make the whole thing fresh and bright. Here's to the beginning of salad season!!!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Practice and Unattachment

The two keys to yoga are practice and unattachment. I learned this lesson well in the past few months. I finally found a way to make a daily practice a priority. My early morning practices were happening pretty regularly. It was worth the early wake up.
Then I injured my ankle and had to give up practice for a while. I felt like crap, sickly due to lack of practice after being quite regular with it. But what could I do when even walking was painful? I was forced to be unattached to a regular practice schedule.
Returning to practice was hard, I couldn't get back to the solid practice schedule when the ankle healed. It was too close to finals and board exams. I wish that picking practice up was easier.
I promised myself to indulge in studio practices all break for a bit of a tune-up complete with a teacher and breath of others...but the bank account is completely exhausted of funds until the next student loan check. Board tests are expensive.
So here I sit in my half cleaned house nearing the halfway point of break. No practice, unless you count the immense tapas I have had to perform the past few days of cleaning my house. Most people associate spring cleaning with saucha...but for me it is a tapas. I really am not so much a cleaner. I have been cleaning for the health and happiness of my dog and my boyfriend. Personally, I would rather look the other way at the filth. After today's dusting and vacuuming practice on my carpeted floors will be much more hospitable.
Practice will resume officially next week if not before. I have set up a new practice schedule for myself for next quarter. Ten weeks of wake-ups at 4 and 5 before school. Next week will be a trial period, that will allow naps.
Unattachment to my inability to practice with others on hardwood with a teacher is a much harder tapas than even scrubbing rugs. Love and admiration to all of you that swim in that pond often.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Chronic Users

Some fun facts about chronic usage from nutrition class: Chronic consumers of potato chips (160 g/day) significantly increase their chance of atherosclerosis when all other factors are accounted for. Chronic bean consumption (20 g/day, at least 4x a week) with all other factors accounted for reduce their mortality rates by 7-8% from all causes. Further, for each 20 grams of daily bean intake, you can decrease your mortality by an additional 7-8%. So, ditch your processed, likely un-local chips and embrace your local bean farmer. I heart beans!

Local Carbs

The great thing about local carbs is that they are getting easier to come by. You can buy Stone Buhr white flour and trace it to the farm which usually comes from Eastern Oregon/Washington area. Not the most local, but close. The Grain and Bean project (see the blog from A2R farms) is promoting food-based seed crops to old grass seed farms. Two perhaps 'unhealthy' carbs are a regular part of my local diet. Honey and potatoes. I know what you're thinking, you should just use sweet potatoes. And I ate a lot of sweets and yams back in Philly to be sure. But they just have too long of a growing season here. I did buy some from California to satisfy a big craving, but I didn't feel good about it. Potatoes can be redeemed by the way you cook them. The worst forms of potatoes are the heavily processed ones like chips, fries, hashbrowns. The best thing about a local diet? Processed foods are easily eliminated. If you want to make your own french fries or hashbrowns it's labor intensive, so you just usually don't do it. Honey is a special thing. I gift from bees that pollinate most of our other food. It is tasty and delicious. The best thing about local honey is this: it can reduce your susceptibility to seasonal allergies. You get a small dose of that pollen regularly, so the sudden blast in the spring isn't such a shock to your system. You can usually find some local honey by a roadside sign just outside your town in a slightly rural area. It will likely be on the honor system, ditto for local eggs. We went and picked up a 1 gallon container for $40 just yesterday. There are a wealth of other reasons to get local honey that include your health, the environment, and human welfare. If you are interested in learning more about honey, bees, and the pollination machine I highly recommend the book Fruitless Fall by R. Jacobsen. BTW-we got our honey from Wessels Family Honey in Forest Grove, OR. We made the trip doubly good by visiting a great biodynamic winery in the area too.

Egg-timer Yoga

I have been struggling with holding a strong practice schedule since I started chiropractic school. At first I got done at 4:30, which afforded me the time to take the bus to the Mysore studio for a slightly late 5:30 practice time; this in turn put me to a 8:00 getting home time. Then we got a puppy that needed walking and my days grew to a more regular 7:30 AM-5:30 PM schedule at school. Thus, my travels to the studio have fizzled. I can still make it on days off and plan to really reinvigorate my practice during my two-week breaks at the studio. Despite my best efforts to keep a good home practice, I have failed to practice more than 3 times a week for a long time. I miss my Philly life with Wake-Up Yoga a quick walk from my apartment and a flexible work schedule that allowed me to practice 6 times a week most weeks; many of those at the studio.
I believe I have found a way to get a more solid practice schedule going now; however non-ideal it is.
On Mondays and Tuesdays I am blessed with an 8:30 start and a boyfriend willing to drive me to school on his way to work. This used to mean sleeping in. But this week (and hopefully many more to come) it meant waking up at 5. Lots of inspiration including Corina's mass e-mail about tapas and Jill's facebook post about waking at 3:15 AM in Mysore lead me to the conclusion that I must get up and face my mat.
When the alarm goes off I brush my teeth, wash my face, and put on the yoga clothes. The dog doesn't even want to get up yet, so I have the downstairs to myself. I light some candles and roll out my mat and set the timer. I know that if I get up at 5 I have an hour and a half to practice, if I hit snooze, I have to cut that many minutes from the timer I set. I set it for 1 hour 20 minutes if I get up on time. I start my practice. When I glance at the timer and see 10 minutes left, that means time to start the finishing poses, where ever I might be. (Usually this happens as soon as I find myself seated in Dandasana because I hit snooze too much.) When the timer sounds I must stop and put in the toast and turn on the tea kettle. Then I take Savasana until he toast dings and the kettle sings. Usually my boyfriend wakes up when I'm in shoulderstand and sleepily will call out, 'Sweetie, are you practicing?'. The floor is carpeted. This is not a complete practice. I'm lucky to get any of the primary series in at all.
On 7:30 mornings, this is not happening; I catch a 6:30 bus. Those nights I will practice some yin yoga with my dog snuggling up to me and Dan watching TV. Friday afternoons I get home around 1:30 and hope to start practice, but this week I was too tired. Maybe next week will be more successful.
This is not ideal, and it's no Philly practice schedule, but at least it IS a regular practice.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Local Fat

This quarter I am taking the first of a series of nutrition classes. I've been finding myself evaluating the health benefits, and limitations, of a local diet.
When it comes to fats and a local diet, it is super easy to avoid the worst fat-trans fat. It's just unnatural. It usually comes pre-packaged, and I don't mean the cardboard box my csa delivers in. The key beyond trans-avoidance is to limit your saturated intake and balance your omega 3s and 6s one to one. The average American diet has the 6s way out of control. A long chain omega-3 supplement (food or pill) is recommended.
My diet does not look like this ideal. My cooking fats (the local ones) are not oils, they are butter and leftover fats from meat. (When I do eat meat, I use the whole meat. It's out of reverence for the animal. Eat bacon, save the grease. Make a roast, skim the fat; ditto for gravy and broths. I save the fats and use them to saute.) Animal fat is saturated any way you spin it. Adding full-fat cream to coffee, scones, and pies is another way I'm just rampantly consuming these 'bad' fats.
Local sources of healthy fats in the diet are here: walnuts, hazelnuts, salmon, tuna, and oysters. But I don't like to consume the precious fish in the sea daily, even weekly. It is too much, more than my allotment in my opinion. Some would recommend a fish oil supplement, but then, that's coming from might as well just eat the fish whole instead.
I do use oils when cooking if I'm out of left-over fats. I always have some canola oil around. A note about that though, we are switching to organic only canola. Small farmers are being penalized by big gmo companies because the 'roundup-ready' gene is infiltrating their rapeseed crops. The big company just samples a small-timer's field and can prove that they 'stole' the gene. A lot of little farms get shut down or at least have to pay a settlement to the big guys this way. Organic farmers have a leg to stand on because they don't benefit from a 'round-up ready' rapeseed gene. I encourage you to support the organic canola industry as well.
Another fat that gets a lot of use around my house is olive oil; mostly just used for dressing salads. We buy it in bulk and keep a small bottle in the cupboard that is continuously refilled from the giant tin. Buying giant tins of olive oil is better than buying individual glass bottles because at least you are downsizing on the amount of packaging that is used and shipped. I also try to buy a California olive oil instead of one from Europe. It's the more local choice overall; but southern Cali isn't exactly local.
While I do get some omega-3s from the walnuts in my homemade granola, I could stand to add some more. We canned a whole tuna this summer and we consume those jars periodically. In addition, Dan caught two steel head trout, one or two fillets remain in the freezer. I do think that we could stand to have some more of these polyunsaturated fats in our diet though. Perhaps adding some flax seeds in our granola could be local?
After some Internet searching I found a local farm, A2R in Corvalis, that is going organic with flax seeds, oats, and wheat. Unfortunately I just missed their recent 'stock your pantry' sale. I am penciling it in for next year. A good thing I learned from this research is that Nature Bake has just come out with a bread with a lot of this farm's products called Oregon Grains Bread. I'll be sure to check it out!
Eating locally might not be the best answer for your body's health, but for your overall health as a human it can be the right choice for you. I will continue to eat local fats, despite the high amount of saturated fats that I'm consuming. Using some organic canola oil and California olive oil as supplements to my fat intake seem to be reasonable, as well as supplementing some flax seeds into my morning granola.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Locavore Lament

It has occured to me on many occasions that it has been ages since I've had a sweet potato. Since I was living in Philly to be precise. Today I inquired about this at the farmers market. I appears that the growing conditions in Oregon don't last quite long enough for this plant. You need at least a 100 days for one variety...much more for most others. Perhaps someone in the valley has figured this out somehow. If you know a farmer in the PDX area growing sweet potatoes, let me know.