Yoga Weekends

sharing from my other blog

Walking A Moonlit Path

I was so lucky to attend a yoga nidra immersion with Tracee Stanley my mind is still growing. Yoga Nidra is sometimes confused with lucid dreaming or deep relaxation, but  it is so much more!

Breaking down the words into sanskrit roots Yoga Ni+dra

yoga – union; of the self and the divine

Ni means void or nothing

dru is to squeeze out or to bring to the surface

We had three definitions we used for our class.

  1. sleep with awareness
  2. sleep in a cloud of yoga where you are transcend beyond waking, dreaming and sleeping to just the state of awareness with out judgement
  3. Yoga Nidra is conscious movement into the body merging your jiva (soul) into another jiva (soul) which you wish to become absorbed

visoka va jyotismati (yoga sutra 1:36) – The joy that knows no sorrow

visoko – that which is devoid of worry and grief

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Meditation and the Empty mind

“The power of the Universe will come to your assistance, if your heart and mind are in Unity.”

–  Lakota Saying, passed down from White Buffalo Calf Woman

I’ve debated with myself about posting this and decided that it’s something that needs to be said again.  It’s a conversation I have all the time with people when I teach a yoga class and we touch on meditation. Someone will ask “when will my mind empty?”

Well honey, I hate to be the one to tell you this but if your mind is empty your dead…

Somewhere in the translation of Citta has been distorted. One of the first times I heard the word citta it was attached to the phrase monkey mind.

In chapter two of his book “The Path of the Yoga Sutras..” Nicolai Bachman write about citta and he suggests that citta is the outer mind, the inner mind, ego and memory.  With awareness on our inner light (purusa) that we can try to understand citta

The second of Patangjali’s Yoga Sutra is:

Yogas citta vritti nirodha = The restraint of the modifications of the mind-stuff is yoga.

Yogah (yogas) = Yoga

Chitta = the mind-stuff, mind field

Vritti = midifications

Nirodhah = restraint

No were in either of these translations is the word empty.

I remember once being in a class on meditation and the instructor saying to us “Your mind is meant to tell you stories, to solve your problems, to analyses and teach you.”  I loved that your mind is meant to tell you stories because oh my goodness my mind loves to tell me stories, all the time.

Meditation is hard, we don’t need to make meditation more difficult by perpetrating the myth that when we meditate we think about nothing.  I blame Hollywood and its portrayal of eastern mysticisms.  When I meditate my mind is always going if it is focusing on counting my breath, repeating a mantra or letting my mind wander these are all different ways of meditation and learning to restrain the mind stuff.

If I’m taking a class and we are sitting in meditation at the end I try to focus on my breath but inevitably my mind will wander off to what I need from the store, how much is the price of gas, what should I make for dinner.  I try to remember not to feel frustrated when this happens, my mind is doing its job – problem solving and telling me story. But because I’m in a yoga class and trying to focus on this idea of restraint of my citta I go back to my breath. I focusing on the inhale on the exhale maybe say a round or two of my mantra then back to the breath. Once in a great while I get a synchronization a moment between an inhale and an exhale that is quite then poof it’s gone and the thoughts are off and running only to repeat the conscious pause and gentle refocus back to the breath.

Perhaps this is why I enjoy guided meditation and path working so much. Someone is giving you a story for your mind to follow to help you find this purusa, inner peace or enlightenment.  I have just started working with self-guided meditation where you focus on an idea or a deity.  No where in these styles of meditation is your mind empty in both you encourage the story telling aspect of your mind opening again to your inner wisdom your inner peace.

Meditation is a part of daily practice on my yoga path. On some days  I have an easy time meditating other days it’s a struggle and hard work. Learn to accept that my mind will chatter at me has been a delight in this work.

Let your mind tell you a story my friends learn to listen to your inner wisdom.

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The Path of The Yoga Sutras

Atha yoga anushasanam
Now, the teachings of yoga.
—Yoga Sutra 1.1

When most of us start our path of Yoga it’s because we went to a cool class, met a cool teacher and something just clicked. We (I) liked the physical aspect of how yoga helped you to reconnect with your body. And you keep going, taking more and more classes each week, becoming stronger more connected with yourself. Then IT happens one day, maybe it’s a substitute yoga teacher that you don’t mess with, or a class full of extra twisting but you come home and you cry for hours. That is the day you realize yoga is not just physical but spiritual, mental and emotional work as well.

This is the point where some of us give up yoga – its no longer that perfect pose you see in a yoga calendar – you know the one the beautify body doing some extravagantly  hard poses in the sunset on the beach.  Yoga is not longer about juices cleanses or the gluten free, vegan ethically harvested chai latte. Yoga becomes about the Yama(s), Niyama(s), dealing with your samskara and kleshas.

With luck you are introduced to Patanjali’s 8 limbs of yoga and the Yoga Sutras. Later in your studies you find the Bhagavad Gita as well as the Upanishads. These are not light I’ll breaze though them over the weekend kind of books. They are a mindful read. You will have to go through a few incarnations of these texts before you find the translation that sits right with you.

One of my latest finds has been Nicolai Bachman’s version of the Sutras “The Path of the Yoga Sutras a practical guide to the core of yoga”

I am going to be using this book over the next couple of months and sharing with you the journey.

We start with Atha – translated means the beginning of the study of who what and were we are.This is how the practice of yoga begins. A resolve to practice everyday, to move at the pace that is right for your body, mind and spirt  and to let yourself grow and evolve at your speed.

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Sweet Potato Bean Enchiladas – Missouri Style Sunday Dinner

One of the best things about being part of Millsap Farms CSA is the on farm experience.  I enjoy getting out once in a while and playing farmer then going home to the nice urban life style. I enjoy the connection that is created by my CSA to the farm, cycles and the vegetables grow on the farm

CSA Work Day 002

Last October youngest daughter and I got to go out to the CSA for our work share day and among a number of tasks we got to pick sweet potatoes

.  She’s also the reason why we are a mixed family. She’s my vegetarian daughter.

I am pretty sure this is a one of the sweet potatoes I picked because well, see the two brown spots on the top, those are where someone might have stuck a pitch fork though the potato as they dug them out

Feb 2013 048

These sweet potatoes are HUGE bigger than my hand and oh so tasty because we picked them.  Got all sweaty and muddy doing so as well. If you have never dug potatoes you should give it a try some time it’s lots of fun.

The other great part about being in a CSA is that you have to come up with very creative recipes to use up all your vegetables. We are in the middle of our winter CSA so it’s a lot of greens, squashes and sweet potatoes. Sunday night for dinner we had Sweet Potato and Bean Enchiladas, I’ve added the Missouri style just because I’m not sure these can really claim and true enchilada family status.

Pre heat your oven to 400 degrees and line a pan with parchment paper or silicon and dice up those sweet potatoes I used one huge potato and one smaller potato. Feb 2013 050Drizzle with olive oil and then empty your spice cabinet – really just empty the thing out. Because I was going for that Tex-Mex flavor I grab cumin, smoked paprika, paprika, garlic,  chili  powder, ground cayenne pepper, pinch of salt  and a bit of curry powder because it was there. Start with about a teaspoon of each adding more to taste – go ahead and taste your food.

Roast the potatoes in your oven for 20 to 30 minutes the size of your dice will determine how long they need to cook. Let cool as you assemble your other ingredients .

Drain and rinse two cans of your favorite kind of beans. Add one chopped onion, one chopped pepper – can be bell, Anaheim, jalapeno, poblano this is a chance to add the heat leave of your choice.

Feb 2013 0611 cup chopped squeezed cooked greens of your choice – spinach, kale, chard whatever you have.  Mix it all into a bowl.

Add grated cheese to taste – I am partial to a good sharp cheddar but use what you like.

Now pick your enchilada sauce I love a good roasted green pepper enchilada sauce but feel free to use red. I had a can of each and made  two pans of enchiladas so I mixed.

Now get your tortillas I had flour on hand but corn are more authentic and work just as tasty. I was just far too lazy to go to the store and buy more tortillas. Feb 2013 064Dump about 1/2 cup of your enchilada sauce into the bottom of your pan and start rolling up your enchiladas  About 3 to 3/1/2 tablespoons per tortilla is a nice ratio. Tuck the filled enchiladas seam side down snug up to one another and fill your pan.   Cover with more sauce and a good sprinkle of cheese be artist if you wish or just dump. I’m a fan of the dump method.

Feb 2013 065

Cover pan with aluminum foil and bake again at 350 deg. for around 30 to 40 mins, everything is already cooked so you are just warming it

 all up into a bubbly goo

ey mess of goodness.

When they have come out of the oven and have cooled from boiling hot lava to blister of the mouth serve and enjoy. We like ours topped with  sour cream, more cheese, lettuce, tomato, peppers, salsa, avocado  and meat

chorizo or diced chicken sprinkle on the top.

Feast and enjoy!

Sweet Potato & Bean Enchilada

2 sweet potatoes

2 TBL olive oil

Cumin, smoked paprika, paprika, garlic,  chili  powder, ground cayenne pepper, pinch of salt  and a bit of curry powder

2 cans of beans – your choice drained & rinsed

1 onion chopped

1 pepper of your choice – bell, bell, Anaheim, jalapeno, poblano

1 cup chopped squeezed cooked greens of your choice – spinach, kale, chard whatever you have

3 cups grated cheese – divided into (2) 1 ½ cups mix it up cheddar, mozzarella, jack

Enchilada sauce  (make your own or use store-bought).

Corn & flour tortillas ~ 20

Topping to feast upon out of the oven – sour cream, cheese, salsa, lettuce, tomato, pepper, chorizo ect…

Pre heat your oven to 400 degrees and line a pan with parchment paper or silicon

Dice up the sweet potatoes into bite sized pieces. Drizzle with olive oil and add your spices mixed everything well start with about a teaspoon of each adding more to taste – go ahead and taste your food.

Roast the potatoes in your oven for 20 to 30 minutes the size of your dice will determine how long they need to cook. Let cool in a large bowl appropriate for mixing.

Turn your oven down to 350 deg

Drain and rinse two cans of your favorite kind of beans add to the sweet potatoes one chopped onion, your chopped pepper, your squeezed (trying to get the extra moisture out of the greens so your enchiladas are not soggy) cooked greens. Mix it all into a bowl.

Add grated cheese to taste

Dump about 1/2 cup of your enchilada sauce into the bottom of your oven safe pan and start rolling up your enchiladas   3 to 3/1/2 tablespoons per tortilla.  Tuck the filled enchiladas seam side down snug up to one another and fill your pan. Cover with more sauce and a good sprinkle of cheese.

Cover pan with aluminum foil and bake again at 350 deg. for around 30 to 40 mins, everything is already cooked so you are just warming it all up into a bubbly gooey mess of goodness.

Serve and enjoy with toppings of your choice.

Feast and enjoy!

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Ardha Chandrasana – Half Moon Pose

I love these cookie cutters I had to look long and hard to find their creator

I love these cookie cutters not just because they are cool (kewl?) but because this is HOW I look – like a gingerbread cookie when I when I do yoga.  I also look like this

Yep… that is right when I do yoga I look like a round bright yellow chicken or a gingerbread cookie.

What I am saying is that I am not your typical yoga student or teacher. I am out of the box and round. I have curves – lots of curves and I am learning to love my curves and to embrace them. If I need a label I am a classic Kapha, overweight and fluffy.  I’ve talked before with doing poses I do not enjoy so today I’m sharing one with you that I love, this pose has to be in my top 10 favorite poses of all times.

Ardha Chandrasana – Half Moon Pose

(are-dah chan-DRAHS-anna) 

ardha = half

candra = glittering, shining, having the brilliancy or hue of light (said of the gods); usually translated as “moon”

Being one of those spiritual and not religious people I’ve had a love affair with the moon sense I was a young child, fascinated with each phase of the moon. I remember vividly the first time my yoga instructor talked our class of beginning students into Ardha Chandrasana – I cannot recall her words but I can recall the sensation – I felt free, open and strong.  I couldn’t understand why others were struggling with balance I felt this sense of peace and grace that I had not felt before in a yoga class.

One of the advantages of being more round of being Kapha is that we are strong and we are stubborn with that when we are healthy  we have balance. Poses that are about strength, balance and core work are where those of us who are Kapha’s can shine.

For me Ardha Chandrasana is not only a hip opener, back stabilizer and core work out it is a chance for my heart to open and shine.

If you have a chance tonight give Ardha Chandrasana a try open your heart feel the love and power of the moon flow through you.

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Cherry White Chocolate Biscuit

Oh lords above I’m in trouble

I have discovered a dangerous new recipe.

Cherry, White Chocolate Biscuits

Cherry, White Chocolate Biscuits

Cherry, White Chocolate Biscuits

There really isn’t too much else to say about this tasty bite of yummy goodness.

Oh I lied I’ve got plenty to say…

When I was prego with eldest daughter we lived in Madison WI, there was a bakery there on State St. that made the most amazing white chocolate chip blueberry muffins. They were moist not to sweet so the blueberry and the white chocolate just added the right touch of sweet to every bite. However being a poor college student at the time I could never afford the full price muffins I would always have to wait for the day old. Well that required an early morning rise – remember college student or that none of the other college students in town wanted a day old blueberry white chocolate chip muffin.

I have been trying for years to find something close to that taste that I remember something to take me back to those good old days of college.

A few weeks ago some wonderful person sent to my inbox a recipe for Sweet Blueberry Biscuits and oh yes they did peak my interest. Sadly just like in my college days, money and time got in the way of my trying the recipe before this morning.

By now I’m guessing that you are wondering how I got from blueberries to cherries. Well that is what I had in the freezer and I was too lazy to go to the store for blueberries. It also helps that I firmly believe in Food not Lawns (strangely most cities do not get upset if you plant fruit trees in your yard but they do if you put a veggie garden in your front yard weird huh?) so we have two lovely sour cherry trees in my front yard that gave me five gallons of cherries this year. I do have a freezer full of cherries.  Knowing that feel free to bounce back to the frozen blueberries if that is what you have in your freezer.

So without further ado the recipe

Cherry White Chocolate Chip Biscuits


2 cups AP flour

1 TBS baking powder

1 ½ tsp salt

3 TBS sugar

1 stick of unsalted butter (cold) cubed

¼ cup greek yogurt

¼ cold milk or butter milk

1 cup sour cherries (still somewhat frozen)

¼ cup white chocolate chips

1 stick salted melted butter

Preheat your oven to 500 degrees

Grease your cast-iron skillet, ah those magical cast-iron skillets you know that a recipe is off to a good start when they use cast-iron. The ordinal recipe called for just frying up a piece of bacon and using that to grease your pan. I wish I could say that I was all self righteous and that we didn’t eat pig bacon in our house but we do, this time though the bacon was frozen in the freezer behind the cherries so I just used cooking oil.

Combined all the dry ingredients (flour, salt, baking powder, sugar) together and then cut in the cold unsalted butter. Cut until butter is small pea sized bits, add yogurt and milk until just blended and then roll out onto a floured board.  Softly kneed your biscuit dough into a disk and then add about half the cherries and white chips gently kneed into the dough flatten again and repeat until dough has a nice mix of the cherries and white chips mixed in as well.

Cut your biscuits and place in prepared pan – I had to use two pans I only have a 10 inch skillet – sometimes sized does matter. 😉 Dec 8th food 010

Bake at 500 degrees for about 6 minutes then remove from the oven drizzle all your melted salted butter over the top and return to the oven for another 6 to 10 minutes or until biscuits are golden brown and done.  Remove from the oven and let cool for another 10 minutes.  While the biscuits are cooling make a simple glaze of 1 cup powdered sugar, 1 tbs vanilla & 2 to 3 TBS of milk your desired level of thickness. After the biscuits have cooled for 10 minutes drizzle with the glaze and enjoy.




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Tales of Kitchen Woes

Most of us who like and who enjoy cooking have stories to tell. I do consider myself a good cook by the way, I enjoy experimenting and trying new recipes. I have a good handle on spices and flavorings, despite some brilliantly tragic youthful experiments (fennel chili anyone? – really I recommend not giving that one a try).  I’m not afraid to view a recipe as a guild-line and substitute ingredients as I need for what I have in the house.  My kids no longer blink twice  and know if we are out of sour cream to look for the plain yogurt.  I’ve also learned when to just give up and order pizza.

There have been a few spectacular failures along this road of learning to cook, one of my favorites Banana Pork

The plan was for me to cook a wonderful meal for my family in the crock pot. So before heading off to work, I got out the crock pot. We had just gotten some beautiful greens – kale and collard as well as sweet potatoes from our CSA. I thought with the Chinese 5 spice pork roast I had in the freezer that would be scrumptious for dinner.  I was very proud of myself as I tossed everything into the crock pot grabbing the brownish blob from the freezer and not looking just dumping it into the pot. With a smile upon my face I headed off to work. Upon arriving home feeling relived because I didn’t have to figure out what to throw together for dinner (smart me!) I did notice that the house smelled just like someone had been baking banana bread.  LOTS of banana bread. I do remember thinking to myself… “hum that’s weird”. So I looked into the pot at a brown mushy mess…

In my rush I had grabbed the bag of frozen bananas not the pork roast. All thought the dish smelled lovely banana peals do not make for good eating.  With out further elaborations on the attempted tasting and faces made it was a pizza night.

Someday I will tell you the story of my first loaf of bread, or of the geranium lemon fish, or the first peach pie I made… someday




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