Archive | September, 2012

Heavy Metta Hiatus

19 Sep

courtesy of durchpropkeepco.blogspot.com

I will not be blogging for a little while, as I will be attending the Natural Products Expo East trade show in Baltimore, MD. Working for almost two weeks straight, so I will be using my spare time to practice and go to meetings and sleep. Hopefully there will be some nifty new vegan products at the show—I will report back with details if I see anything exciting. See you in a week or so!

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Kino MacGregor on Real Fear vs Imagined Fear in Ashtanga

18 Sep

Kino, reading my mail again. Well, not literally—but she might as well be.

 

Kino MacGregor on NOT Being a Dancer or a Gymnast

18 Sep

The take home message? You don’t have to be a super flexible or super athletic person to start Ashtanga yoga. You just have to do it. As Kino says, “If I can do it, you can do it!”. I always come back to the similarities between the recovery process and Ashtanga; it’s not for people who want it, it’s not for people who need it, it’s for people who do it.

In the spirit of just doing it, I took my second Intro to Ashtanga class with Julia on Sunday and it was great…except for the parts where I kept wanting to kick the dude in front of me in the freaking head. Anyone who interrupts an Ashtanga class to try to correct the teacher, does their entire own series of poses, loudly rearranges his mat during savasana or hits on new women in the class needs a kick to the head in my book. This guy did all of the above. Speaking of recovery, defects of character/hindrances anyone? Arrrrrgh! Damn you, Step 6!

This is why I like to practice in my safe Slayer yoga cave–I get all tweaky and twitchy in yoga classes. The only person I can get mad at in the Slayer Shala is ME, cuz it’s just me, my mat and Tom Araya screaming about raining blood from a lacerated sky or some other such stuff that makes me giggle. And really, this was just another instance of me being mad at myself–being mad that I am injured, being mad that I am fat, being mad that I am “old”, being mad that I am stiff, being mad that men in my past have been dicks, being mad that I am me. I don’t know this guy and I don’t know his deal or what he’s going through; it’s not my job to run things or correct his behavior. I’m getting mad at him for trying to run the class and in the meantime I’m doing the same exact thing by wanting to “run” his behavior! I crack myself up. I could feel the angry bear in me gearing up to kick some ass! I had to tell her to go chill out and take a nap or something. No mauling tourists today, no picnic baskets and no swiping in class. Got it? We are not trying for this:

courtesy of fiendbear.com

But we are moving toward this:

That bear is definitely way more flexible than I am!

The Mysterious Ashtanga Oil Bath

17 Sep

It’s Saturday and it’s a Moon Day and that means as an aspiring Ashtangi I get to sleep in, rest, and attempt to perform an Ashtanga Oil Bath. I will admit, I have been avoiding this…probably because it means that I am taking this Ashtanga “experiment” very seriously. I also had a very bad experience with hot oil treatments when I was a teenager–I ruined my hair before my confirmation party and had a meltdown of epic proportions which in retrospect was *hilarious*. I looked like an extra from the set of Grease, and I’m not talking one of the Pink Lady extras, either.

I used almond oil instead of Castor Oil, especially since the drains in our house are already a little wonky. I started with my head and really massaged the oil in well. I have really long hair, so this took quite awhile. I’ve read that you should only leave the oil on your head for about 5 minutes the first time. It’s suggested that you slowly increase the time to up to two hours over the course of six months or so.

After 5 minutes I greased the rest of my body up, following the suggested instructions to massage any of the areas where you have pain in particular. That would be everywhere, so there was a lot of rubbing going on! I could NOT believe how much oil my skin sucked in! It was crazy. I used up more than half a bottle!

I left the oil on my body for a little over 5 minutes, not including the time it took to massage it in. I chilled out on the bathroom floor on an old towel. Then I started to feel really nauseous! I was very shocked by this, as I’ve slathered myself in oil a million and one times–I live in Las Vegas for chrissakes. It was very odd. I hopped in the shower and it wasn’t that hard to get all of the oil off with my regular shampoo and good old Chandrika soap.

courtesy of veggiefitness.wordpress.com—check them out!

Unfortunately, the nausea continued for a while even after I was lying down in bed. I grabbed some crystallized ginger and rode it out. Quite odd. Obviously, there was something going on here so I will be trying the oil bath again when I get back from my trade show in Baltimore. I don’t want to chance taking a oil bath and then having to work the trade show sales floor while I’m sick as a dog!

I know that oil baths are used as a treatment in Ayurveda (especially for Vata dosha), but I’ve always been hesitant to take one because of my Kaphic ways. Oil baths are supposed to be excellent for dissolving ama, excess gnarly toxins. Kapha doshas can use mustard oil, but I don’t even know where the holy heck one finds mustard oil. Traditionally, the oil is “cured” before it is used. Curing basically involves heating the oil on a stove on a very low heat for about 15 minutes. I did not do this step, but I think I will next time. I found this lovely paragraph on Banyan Botanicals website:

“The Sanskrit word sneha can be translated as both “oil” and “love”. It is believed that the effects of abhyanga are similar to those received when one is saturated with love. Like the experience of being loved, abhyanga can give a deep feeling of stability and warmth. Sneha is subtle; this allows the oil/love to pass through minute channels in the body and penetrate deep layers of tissue.” 

Oil=love. Don’t tell that to the Engine2 or Forks Over Knives people!

Any of you more experienced Ashtangis have any particularly interesting oil bath stories? I am very curious about this as far as long term effects, or lack thereof.

Herbivore or Vegan? Say it Loud, Say it Proud!

16 Sep

 

I’ll just come clean: I really don’t like calling myself a vegan lately. It seems like when I finally “out” myself to someone, I’m met with a look of horror or derision. Or I get the, “don’t you feel upset that you are killing all of those plants?” question. Or the, “I could never do that!” statement. Then there’s the other side of the coin: the Vegan Police…fellow vegans who critique me for a million and one reasons. They don’t like that I work for a non-vegan company or that I live with omnivores and frequently date omnivores . They scrutinize my shoes (yup, they’re vegan), scrunch their noses up because I eat at restaurants where meat is served and have to take medications that are not vegan. I do my best, but I can’t live in a 100% vegan bubble. I would love to work for a vegan company and I would really love to not have to take medication every day. However, that is not happening anytime soon (especially the medication). I try to act with compassion and conscience and practice the principle of non-harming in all of my affairs. I always go back to what one of my earliest vegan role models, Joanne Stepaniak, says about the issue:

“Because there are no perfect alternatives for every animal-based item, vegans must choose to tread as lightly as possible by selecting the most compassionate choices available. The amount of animal ingredients used in some plastics is trifling when compared with true animal commodities, such as leather, wool, or down, which directly fuel the continual slaughter of animals. After a while, it becomes exhausting and nonsensical to dissect the microscopic elements of our lives and rifle through every last belonging in search of the elusive animal ingredient. What would be the point? Purity? Consonance? Moral righteousness?

As vegans, we must confront the fact that our world, our options, and even our own actions are fallible. As much as we may want to be fastidious in our elimination of animal-based commodities, there are realistic considerations that make this impractical. From the perspective of compassion, economic impact, and the ability to inspire change and create a demand for genuinely humane products, our present-day substitutes, despite their drawbacks, are far superior to commodities that represent obvious suffering and death.” 

Lately I’ve been thinking that I’ll just start calling myself an herbivore if anyone asks me. So when the kind folks at Vegan Cuts asked me to start reviewing vegan products that they are featuring on their website (a vegan version of groupon? it’s about time!), I initially felt torn. I try not to make my blog this in-your-face vegan blog. But yeah, I’m a vegan, dammit. I read labels. I only buy cruelty-free products. I have Happy Cow bookmarked on my phone. I special order my freaking vegan vitamins even though I work for a vitamin company. But I want to stay in the closet about being vegan 99% of the time!

So imagine my surprise when the first item I get to review was this extremely cute necklace from Design Specimen:

That’s right: HERBIVORE. I love it! I’ve gotten lots of compliments on it.

Here’s the vegan design:

from vegancuts.com. Cute!

http://vegancuts.com/company/design-specimen

My readers can get a discount at vegancuts.com if they use the code BLOGFRIEND –  Save an additional 10% off your order, doesn’t apply to shipping, expires Oct 31/12.

Being vegan has been one of the best things I have ever done for myself. I celebrated my two year vega-a-versary on August 16th. This is me two years ago:

Me on my 40th birthday with my sister-in-law

And here is me two years later:

I feel healthier and happier at 42 than I did when I was 22. This was me at 22:

Me, 22, Baltimore, MD

Ironically, I will be in Baltimore next week for a trade show. I’m going to have to take a picture so we can have a side-by-side 20 year comparison! It’s the inner transformation I wish I could somehow capture for people to easily see–I am so different now that it’s crazy. Being vegan and living a really clean life full of yoga, metta meditation, heavy metal and love: it’s revolutionized me on every level.

Acid Reflux and Ayurveda: Pitta Party

15 Sep

When I was in my 30’s and drinking like a fish with a death wish, I had HORRIBLE acid reflux. My alternative doc sent me home with Mastic Gum capsules, probiotics and DGL lozenges and it worked like a charm. Behold, Pistacia lentiscus AKA the Mastic tree (thanks, wackipedia!):

I actually can’t remember the last time I had reflux, but I have many friends who struggle with this. I was curious about what Ayurveda would have to say about acid reflux, so here are some links and videos if you are interested. Of course, I am not a doctor; I’m just a very curious layperson who loves Ayurveda and who happens to do a lot of nutrition-related research for a living at my day job. I don’t advocate any particular kind of treatment, but information is always helpful. And where else will you get Ayurveda, health and heavy metal in the same blog? Freaking nowhere, man!

Dr. Partap Chauhan on acid reflux–a little more nuanced discussion of the possible combinations of problems that cause acid reflux and dosha imbalances. The first part is cheesy, but the good stuff comes starts at 1:10 :

Simple Ayurvedic home remedies for reflux–I’m a (shhh don’t tell anyone) vegan, so I can’t vouch for the milk cure. However, I bet you could just substitute almond milk for all of you Pittas out there:

John Doulliard, MD and Ayurvedic practitioner, with a few videos on acid reflux and digestive imbalances. He has some good books about Ayurveda (including co-author of The Yoga Body Diet). He also has a few DVD’s about Ayurveda for Gaiam that are simple and straightforward:

Vasant Lad has a PDF document that talks about food combining from an Ayurvedic perspective; there’s all kinds of helpful things on this page: http://www.ayurveda.com/online_resource/index.html

My Friend Goo

10 Sep

 

I finally made it to an Intro to Ashtanga class and was pleasantly surprised. I could do it and not die! It was actually not as hard as my morning solo torture at home. It was definitely not as hard as the workshop I went to last month (I am still shocked that I did not expire during that workshop!).

The instructor, Julia Toy, was really great. I liked her voice and her laugh. I like anyone who can laugh during Ashtanga. The most pleasant surprise was my youngest brother coming with me to class! It made it even more awesome. I like practicing with my family. He really enjoyed it, although at one point he looked at me and said, “This sh%t is no joke!”.

I am considering trying the Level 1/Level 2 class this week. I can do it!! I am consistently amazed by how crippling my fear of yoga in public can be…it’s crazy. It’s like yoga agoraphobia. There’s also frequently an intense fear of pain, of injury, of moving the wrong way and just hearing something snap or tear. Or, of having things *move* around physically and feeling the corresponding hideous, sticky, grimy, emotional release. Sometimes I feel like I have invisible black psychic goo oozing out of my pores, and I’m the only one who can see it. It’s very much like the above scene from Dune—like I have put my whole body in that box every time I step on the mat.

Hit the mat 6 times this week, with an extra 7th time for the Yin yoga “Stress Relief” class I took last Monday night. I am going to go again tomorrow night…the dreaded Yin. I’d rather have my a$$ handed to me during Ashtanga than take a Yin class any day of the week. Yin is soooo stressful! I can barely walk after. I have hips of steel. It’s extremely good for me—I spend the whole class in tears and it makes me far more grateful for my 5am home practice, ha ha. Yin is all about surrender. Apparently, I like to sob hysterically until I break while oozing invisible evil black goo. That’s my surrender.

 

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