Wobblyogi Wednesday: Book Club Workshop and Eats

Last weekend our yoga book club met to talk, practice, eat, watch a documentary and talk some more. The three hours flew by. Jacqueline lead us through a beautiful asana practice inspired by mantras from the book.  We talked about the difference between ambition and greed, between pain and suffering. We talked about what we liked about the book and what we didn’t like. We talked beyond the book about the challenges of a home practice, about how we came to join the book club.  We watched and talked about the documentary: Yoga Is. It was movie night, book club and tea time rolled into one. What a wonderful way to spend a Spring Sunday afternoon!

Usually after practice we rush back to our respective lives. What a welcomed treat to sit and laugh with my fellow yogis.

Our snack menu included items to balance Spring Kapha flavored with heat building spices of ginger and black pepper.

Corn Tacos with Tofu and Bitter Greens Scramble

Cucumber Slices with Hummus and Feta Crumbles

Dates stuffed with Crystallized Ginger and Almonds

Roasted Chickpeas

Spiced Ginger Tea

All of the snacks were easy to assemble. The most “cooking” I did was the tofu scramble. The “heat inviting” meal ironically required very little fire to prepare.

Here are a few directions.

For the Corn Tacos (less gluten and dairy helps balance Kapha): Break up a box of extra firm tofu. Add any spice mix of your choice to the broken up pieces. I used a spring spice mix with turmeric, fennel, cumin, ginger, black pepper and chili powder. Heat a tablespoon of oil in a wide pan or wok. Add tofu. Let it dry out and even brown on one side before you move the pieces around. You can take the tofu out of the pan or just have it waiting on one side of the pan, while you wilt some greens (spinach, arugula, chard). You can also add onions or garlic, if you like. I didn’t. Once wilted, toss greens with tofu and your filling is done!Warm some corn tortillas with ghee, butter or an oil of your choice. Add filling. Maybe top with shredded carrots or avocado slices. Enjoy.

The stuffed dates were simply crystallized ginger and almonds pulsed together into a grainy consistency. Stuff the mixture into de-seeded Medjool dates.

The cucumber slices were just that. Sliced cucumbers topped with hummus and sprinkled with feta.

The roasted chickpeas (deep frying is tastier but not very healthy) were drained canned chickpeas, tossed with vinegar, oil and a spice mix (I used the same spring spice mix as the tofu) and baked at 400 degrees until crispy. Between 30-40 minutes. During cooking you’ll need to moves the peas around to get an even bake. That’s it.

The spiced tea was regular tea with milk, a touch of sugar, spiced with ginger and black pepper.

If you couldn’t join us, I hope you can find the time to enjoy the book, the movie and the snacks with your friends. Next time, join us.

Looking forward to our next book club meeting in late summer,

The Wobblyogi

 

 

http://yogaismovie.com/

http://www.judithhansonlasater.com/lly2/

My favorite Ayurveda Cookbook is this one by Kate O’Donnell. I modified the taco recipe offered in this book. It has many other recipes that are easy to to prepare and have easy to find ingredients. O’Donnell reminds us that Ayurvedic cooking is not limited to Indian food!

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Wobblyogi Wednesday: Yoga Book Club Notes #5

If you are reading along, we are up to the second four sections of part two in our book Living Your Yoga: Finding your Spiritual in Everyday Life.  Here author Judith Lasater addresses issues of Attachment, Suffering, Impermanence and Empathy.

Attachment is the process which occurs in the body-mind when you do not get your preference; aversion is a form of attachment. Both create bodily and emotional reactions. Aversion may create frustration, anger, and blame of self or others. I find that fear is often at the root of my reactions when I am in a state of aversion. Clinging to a preference, whether it is from attachment or aversion, creates suffering. It is also the precise moment when you can grow by choosing to recognize attachemtn or aversion for what it is.

How do I know when to persist and when to let go? When to notice a preference or aversion, honor it and when to simply go along? Any creative work involves a degree of attachment, sometimes veering on obsession. Shouldn’t that creative preference induced suffering be endured? I’m confused. When I ask “How should it be?” as Laster suggests, my internal answer is “better.” Do hope and aspiration lead to suffering? Should I not be attached to my preference for ease, clarity, beauty, calmness etc.?

I suppose this dilemma leads to questions about the nature of suffering, the next topic. Laster explains,

…we suffer because of the process of identifying with pain. If we have an internal dialogue that reinforces the belief that we are suffering, that we have no choice, that the whole world is doing it to us, then we will remain stuck in our suffering. The paradox about suffering is the no one can make us suffer. We can choose to feel left out, incompetent, or inferior. Others may act in unkind ways. But there is no way that we will feel left out, incompetent, or inferior unless we participate in the process. Although we may have feeling about what is happening to us, whether we suffer is up to us. It is a matter of choice.

The idea that suffering is a choice is an idea I’m working hard to hold. It requires a level of personal responsibility regardless of worldly demands, while at the same time promises a level of freedom from worldly demands. I can choose to bask in my suffering, big and small or refuse to identify with it. Again like addressing attachment, this is difficult. How can I honor what I am feeling without becoming imprisoned by my feelings? Surely if something irritates me, or hurts me, I should notice………. yet not let it become a part of me. My suffering may shape my experience but does not define me.

Identification seems to be a key switch between self-awareness and self-absorption. The next topic Lasater invites us to consider is impermanence. To illustrate the permanence of change she quotes Thich Naht Hanh, a Zen Buddhist monk, who summarizes the five remembrances:

  1. I am of the nature to grow old. There is no way to escape growing old.

  2. I am of the nature to have ill health. There is no way to escape having ill health.

  3. I am of the nature to die. There is no way to escape death.

  4. All that is dear to me and everyone I love of the nature to change. There is no way to escape being separated from them.

  5. My actions are my only true belongings. I cannot escape the consequences of my actions. My actions are the ground on which I stand.

As a philosopher (defined as one who practices the art of dying) this realization comes easy to me. Everything changes. It is both sad and wonderful. Everything is old and new, always. Including my kids. How limiting it would be to confine them to my memories and expectations. I try my best to see them as they are right now and not as I saw them when I first looked down on their little faces. That is my cherished memory, not theirs. Similarly, I enjoy whatever thing I have but I also know that these things do not define me. More things, big as property or small as books, will not solidify my existence into permanence.

If I consider all that I have in light of what those things help me do then the value of my laptop, my phone, my pencil, my coffee mug and my soft fuzzy boots emerge. I belong to my actions. I read-write, eat-cook and hopefully care for people in the process. Most of my life I have felt homeless, this realization gives me much comfort.

Completing this section about how we relate to others, Lasater talks about, empathy.

To cultivate empathy means to see the world through the eyes of another without judgment, without trying to “fix” it, without needing it to be different. It is acceptance independent of agreement, understanding without any implied coercion for oneself or the other to change. There is also no sense of wanting to “educate” the other person about how their perspective is wrong and ours is right.

As a recovering academic, the idea of not trying to “educate” is so counter-intuitive. It is difficult sometimes to just listen and support each his/her own journey. When should I “help”? Only if and when asked? The problem with empathy is that it makes me want to ease the suffering, makes me want to “fix” it. But, I suppose I’m only supposed to see from a different perspective without making it my own. So many unresolved feelings.

I have much work to do in addressing my attachments, suffering, impermanence and empathy.

How was this section for you? Do you find it as messy as I do?

Happy reading,

Wobblyogi

 

 

 

 

 

Lasater, Judith Hanson. Living Your Yoga: Finding the Spiritual in Everyday Life (Kindle Locations 1527-1530). Shambhala.

Wobblyogi Wednesday – Burnt Cookies and a Joyful mind

If you feel burdened by the expectation to have a Happy Holiday or a Merry Christmas   Here is a story about keeping a joyful mind from Pema Chodron that might help (and it involves food).

Once a cook at Gampo camp was feeling very unhappy. Like most of us, she kept finding gloom with her actions and her thoughts; hour by hour her mood was getting darker. She decided to try to ventilate her escalating emotions by baking chocolate chip cookies. Her plan backfired, however — she burned them all to a crisp. At that point, rather than dump the burned cookies in the garbage, she stuffed them into her pockets and backpack and went out for a walk. She trudged along the dirt road, her head hanging down and her mind burning with resentment. She was saying to herself, “So where’s all the beauty and magic I keep hearing about?”

At that moment she looked up. There walking toward her was a little fox. Her mind stopped and she held her breath and watched. The fox sat down right in front of her, gazing up expectantly. She reached into her pockets and pulled out some cookies. The fox ate them and slowly trotted away. She told this story to all of us at the abbey, saying: “I learned today that life is very precious. Even when we’re determined to block the magic, it will get through and wake us up. That little fox taught me that no matter how shut down we get, we can always look outside our cocoon and connect with joy.”

When in doubt go for a walk………….

A quick reminder to join the Community Yoga Book Club! We’ll start reading “Living Your Yoga” by Judith Lasater on January 4th. Order your copy today. I found an inexpensive used version on Amazon.

Please join me for morning vinyasa on Wednesdays at 6 am and afternoon vinyasa at 12:15 pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays starting January 5th.

Also, find me at two workshops in spring,  March 25th (Spring Workshop) and April 1st (Book Club Workshop). More details to come.

If you are new to yoga and in the area: Community Yoga is offering $54 unlimited yoga for your first month [a $99 value]. Please take advantage of the deal and try out all our classes and meet our wonderful yoga instructors.

Come to our donation classes on Sundays and give what you can. We are trying our best to make yoga accessible to everyone!

Wishing you joyful connections,

wobblyogi

Wobblyogi Wednesday – Book Club!

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Dear Fellow Yogis Near and Far,

I invite you to join the book club hosted by Community Yoga in West Lafayette (and Lafayette) Indiana. I’ll be offering bi-weekly notes and discussion prompts starting January 4th leading up to an April 1st workshop at the studio complete with an asana practice inspired by the reading, as well as a book discussion. Read along, join the open online discussion, the protected group discussion (email for a password at communityyogalafayette@gmail.com) and attend the workshop. Do it all or in part as your schedule allows.

Living Your Yoga: Finding the Spiritual in Everyday Life is our first book. I  was inspired by the Patanjali 101 online course I just completed with Judith Lasater. I enjoyed her commitment to cultivating yoga principles both on and off the mat. As a mom, I related to a lot of her stories and struggles. The book is organized in short thematic chapters that are easy to read. I found it a gentle introduction to yoga philosophy that avoids pedantic technical theorizing and perfect for starting conversations.

The main question she prompts me to ask myself is:

If the road to holiness passes through the world of action, what is your road? 

I hope you join the conversation and help me with directions.

Wishing you goodness and ease,

The Wobblyogi

p.s. Look up https://communityyogalafayette.com/book-club/for more information and to sign up for the protected discussion group and/or the workshop.

Wobblyogi Wednesday – Self-Study (svadhyaya)

The kriya yoga component of svadhayaya or self-study naturally resonates with the philosophical imperative to pursue an examined life. In the triad of tapas-svadhayaisvarapranidhana-kriya-yoga (Pada 2, 1st sutra), self-study connects, the seemingly opposing directions of actively approaching the difficult and again actively surrendering. Self-reflection, in the yogic context,  is the necessary intermediate key between engagement and repose, desire and release, friction and ease, heat and light, existential conflict and transcendental subsumption. Self-study, reflection, examination, all actions and events that return us to ourselves are moments when we decide to accept or endure.

In the Patanjali 101 course, Judith Lasater spoke of doing one thing a day that is difficult for us as an exercise of tapas or self-castigation, self-discipline, burning-desire (a jumping off the cliff moment). She also wisely warns that not everything difficult is helpful. The value of tapas “roughness” she explains is that it invites awareness (like an aching tooth and an inquisitive tongue). We decide to make our response to an experience helpful or hurtful. I like to think that awareness leads us back to ourselves to notice and decide whether that experienced difficulty is a practice of self-discipline (tapas) or self-surrender (isvara pranidhana). We’ve all experienced these moments. Many of us appeal to faith and submit to divine will, having done everything we could. Many of us push forward as an exercise of self-discipline and perseverance. In any given situation when and how we decide the tone of our energy is uniquely our own, the balance of discipline and surrender is uniquely our own. Learning when to engage and when to let go, finding our personal edge is a constant inner-dialogue, on and off the mat….. and uniquely our own.

Judith Lasater asks us to consider each pose as a question to ourselves. How does it feel to be in a forward fold, can I release even further? Instead of telling my body where to go and what to do, can I ask my body and notice the response? Can I be disciplined enough to practice a pose difficult for me and surrender to the attempt?  How does the dance between self-discipline and self-surrender work for me?

An unexamined life may not be worth living, but yogic practice demands more…. the ability to let go.  So difficult.  Letting go requires discipline. Self-study holds us in that uncomfortable and unresolved human tension.

Wonderful second week of the course! Also very much enjoyed the conversation about cultivating contentment, another exercise of discipline (of not engaging in the negative) and surrender (letting go to what we cannot change).

I’m inspired by the importance of personal practice precisely to allow myself time and space for my own questions (poses) and aware responses. As Lizzie said, in order to find my “personalized dosage” of awareness, of svadyaya, self-study.

Honored to be “self-studying” with all of you,

the wobblyogi