Archive | April, 2012

The Ashtanga Experiment: April Update Edition

30 Apr

This week has been really frustrating. I started developing a sinus infection that made any kind of forward bending a total freaking nightmare, unless you are really into someone stabbing you in the eye socket with a Phillips head screwdriver, which for the record I am NOT into. No amount of Neti Pot action was stopping this bidness, so I was driven back into the sweet, pink arms of OTC Allegra with a colloidal silver chaser. I still managed to get two days of practice in before it was um, “Ladies’ Holiday” time. Arrrgh! Well, April is almost over…I am curious to see what May will bring. I want to continue, despite my terror of group classes and my need for like nine million extra breaths sometimes.


The Engine 2 “5 Dinner Rule”

29 Apr

As I was eating a particularly tasty dinner tonight, I started thinking about something Rip Esselstyn had said when he did a talk here in Vegas at Springs Preserve this year. He suggested that if you feel totally overwhelmed by figuring out what to eat and how to cook on the Engine 2 Diet, just pick 5 recipes you like for dinner and master them. Eat them all the time, and make enough for leftovers for lunch the next day or even for a couple of days. Most people don’t struggle with breakfasts on E2 or any of the McDougall programs—it’s lunch and dinner that can be tricky to navigate, especially during the work week. I love this way of eating because A. it is not a diet, despite the name and B. it’s really, really simple. I need things to be simple!

Here’s my top 5 favorite Engine 2 dinners:

1. School Lunch Bowl: Vegan whole wheat Mac and Cheese with broccoli, cannelini beans or a cut up tofu burger.

2. Hippie Bowl: millet/aduki beans/kale/1 tbs tahini sauce. 2 tbs of hemp seeds are a nice addition.

3. Soul Bowl: brown rice/black eyed peas/collard greens/BBQ sauce.  Also good with roasted sweet potatoes.

4. Vegan Faux Fish Tacos: corn tortillas, seitan, sauerkraut or shredded cabbage, spinach, salsa. If I’m really hungry, I add a little avocado, too.

5. Zapata Bowl: black beans/yellow squash/spinach/corn/brown rice/salsa/fat free cheddar cheese sauce from Happy Herbivore.

All of these take not much time at all to put together, especially if you prepare the grains and sauces in advance. There’s also E2 compliant sauces available at Whole Foods or your local health food store if you don’t have the time to make your own sauces or condiments.

What are your fave five dinners?

Shoegazing or Navel Gazing? The 4AD-esque Playlist

25 Apr

I recently had a most excellent day of practice while listening to the Cocteau Twins’ Victorialand. I thought to myself, “Self, maybe you are onto something here.” Even metalheads need the aural equivalent of sticky buns sometimes.  Actually, I should have just called this the Gregg Araki soundtrack tribute playlist. Now I really want to have a little Gregg Araki movie party all by my lonesome.

Total practice time: 1 hour, 14 minutes

Lush, “Light From A Dead Star”

My Bloody Valentine, “Only Shallow”

The Breeders, “Glorious”

Cocteau Twins, ‘Those Eyes, That Mouth”

Lush, ‘Stray”

This Mortal Coil, “Kangaroo”

The Church, “Under The Milky Way”

Echo & The Bunnymen, “Killing Moon”

Siouxsie and the Banshees, “Christine”

Medicine, “The Pink”

Curve, “Want More, Need Less”

Throwing Muses, “Not Too Soon”

Ride, “Drive Blind”

The Stone Roses, “I Wanna Be Adored”

Cocteau Twins, “Heaven Or Las Vegas” (couldn’t resist!)

My Bloody Valentine, “Soft As Snow But Warm Inside”

The Jesus and Mary Chain, “It’s So Hard”

Slowdive, “Crazy For You”

Dead Can Dance, “The Arrival And The Reunion”

Creature From The Black Lagoon Green Smoothie Recipe

24 Apr


I do love green smoothies, even though I heard Rip Esselstyn say at a recent talk I went to that they are not suggested for Engine 2. Many of the low-fat, vegan diet gurus are now saying  juicing and green smoothies cause an insulin surge even if they have a high greens content. Not sure how I feel about this. Boy would I love to conduct an experiment on myself! I’m still drinking them some days—mostly it’s a convenience thing and some days I feel like  I just need more greens and I cannot face the idea of eating even one more salad. I would take a picture, but this smoothie literally looks like black sludge. All I could think of was The Creature From The Black Lagoon, hence the name. Very energizing and filling!

Creature From The Black Lagoon Smoothie

1 cup almond milk or alternate milk; I used the new Rice Dream almond/hazelnut/cashew blend

1/4 cold water

3 handfuls spinach

1 cup strawberries

1 tablespoon carob mint spirulina

1 tablespoon wonderslim cocoa powder

1 scoop Warrior Blend protein or any plant-based protein (Plant Fusion is good, too)

2 packets truvia or alternate sweetener

Put spinach in blender with water and almond milk, blend until completely smooth. Add the powders one at a time while running the blender and add fruit last. Blend until smooth and then drink and enjoy!


Kino Macgregor Yoga Talk and Demo, Beijing, China

23 Apr

Enjoy! I love how beautiful and muscular she is, but the yoga talk itself is what grabbed me.

Wiggle Your Big Toe

22 Apr

A lot of times, I feel exactly like Uma Thurman in the “Wiggle Your Big Toe” scene in Kill Bill. Sometimes when I am practicing, I am mentally telling my right leg to move forward into a lunge and it just…sits there. Stuck. Gristly. Stubborn. There are so many areas of my body that are a big mystery to me, and my entire right leg is the biggest mystery of all. I like that in Ashtanga, there is a system and it takes as much time as it takes for my body to open—no hurry, no judgement. Just acceptance of this is where I am today in practice, on the mat, breathing and listening to Slayer. Here we are!

I’ve spent a lot of time trying to decode my right side. Sometimes I think if my right side could just get unstuck, I would have some kind of massive spiritual liberation experience. All the secrets to my past are locked in that leg, that hip, even my big toe…which is now turning in on itself and becoming more and more painful. The idea of having to have more surgery makes me want to freak out and smash things, especially surgery on my feet.

I worked with a personal trainer who was also an IFBB professional figure competitor and bodybuilder back in 2009. I was really stuck in the binge/exercise purge cycle, and the problems with my right side always flare up more when I train really hard. She told me that I either want to be healthy and fit or I don’t, and all of the spiritual hemming and hawing and hiding out in my 12 step programs were not going to fix the problem. She was like a ripped, beautiful female Yoda: there is no try, there is only do. I could not handle this mindset at the time, and the training was brutal. She suggested I read Louise Hay’s You Can Heal Your Life, which is NOT what I was expecting her to tell me! Louise Hay’s theory about problems with the right side?

Right Side of Body: Giving out, letting go, masculine energy, men, the father.


I am used to calling my right side “my bad side”.  I’ve also spent time working with an excellent Thai Yoga Massage Therapist here in Las Vegas, which was very helpful. She suggested that my right side is not my bad side at all. I was like, “Say What???”. Surely you jest.  I was so used to blaming all of my physical, postural problems on that side—it is the root of all evil! Jaime said that maybe my left side was weak and the right side has been picking up the slack all of the years. She said that both sides needed to be worked on, worked through and integrated. Demonizing my right side might just make it even more stuck. She suggested breathing into that side and sending it mental messages of love and acceptance.

Recovering from an eating disorder and going through the process of becoming a healthy body weight without resorting to my old tricks of self-abuse/dieting is strange and new. My weight loss is very, very slow right now. I lost a pound last month during the Ashtanga Experiment. Part of me was not happy with this progress, and part of me knows that I need to get acclimated to the size I am now before dropping more weight. I’m still not used to being 78 pounds lighter, never mind the next 50 pounds. I’m also getting used to a daily yoga practice and figuring out how my whole life and schedule works with that as a focal point. I want to squeeze in other physical activity aside from yoga, and it is not happening right now. Having a hard time with timing my meals, meetings, service, family stuff. There’s not enough room, unless I want to start not eating dinner or not sleeping!

Sending mental messages of love and acceptance to myself all day long is definitely a huge part of the process. Declaring war on my body and war on my remaining extra pounds does nothing for me at this point. The diet mentality for me is like a feudal lord trying to squeeze the last bit of tribute from his vassals, and the vassals have nothing left to give. They are in revolt and about to storm the castle.

A last thought about my right side from Tara Brach, author of Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life With The Heart of a Buddha: “When we abandon our body for our fear-driven stories about pain, we trap the pain in our body.”


Ease Into Ashtanga DVD Review

22 Apr

I stumbled across this DVD on, and boy am I glad I did!

There are lessons for breathing, bandhas and each of the sections of the primary series. Even better–you can stop the DVD in the middle of the series and get a detailed tutorial if you need it for any of the asanas. There are two people demonstrating the tutorial: one showing the full version, and one showing modifications. The music is very peaceful, and the outdoor setting is gorgeous. I loved that there were a variety of genders, body shapes/sizes and ages in the class itself. There’s also short forms options if you need a shorter practice. Supposedly you can also change the instructor and choose a no music option, but I have not been able to figure that out on my TV/DVD player. I can’t say enough good things about this DVD—it was worth every penny! I wish I had gotten this four weeks ago.


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