As I sit here on the last day of my raw food challenge, bloated and besieged with heart burn, I can’t help but feel that this raw diet might not be for me.

If you are considering eating a raw food diet, I have the following pieces of advice for you:

1. Ease into it. Raw foods have significantly higher amounts of fiber, and can take more time and energy for your body to break down and digest. Changing your ratio of cooked to raw food gradually will help your body learn to absorb nutrients in a new way, and you’ll be much more comfortable for it.

I do tend to be an all or nothing type of gal, but this challenge could have been more tolerable had I been a bit more prepared, both physically and in other ways, which brings me to my next point.

2. Have both a blender/food processor and a dehydrator on the ready. Premade and packaged raw foods are crazy expensive, so if you plan to eat anything other than produce, and you don’t want to break the bank, you’re going to have to do a lot of creative cooking yourself.

There are a ton of wonderful blogs, with great recipes I would have liked to try, but having no dehydrator meant I would have to use my oven at a low temperature. That is totally fine, if it works for you, but I don’t live somewhere or have the time where I can have my oven on for 12 hours at a time. If you choose to use your oven, be prepared. As for a food processor, you can use it to make smoothies, raw soups, and nut milks, among other things. Almost everything that you buy at a store is pasteurized, and that means cooked. Be prepared to make everything from scratch.

3. Hang in there. It makes people uncomfortable when you go to a restaurant with them and don’t eat. It feels awkward bringing your own food everywhere. It made me feel left out and hungry watching my friends eat breakfast while I sipped on peppermint tea. Here’s the thing: couldn’t we all use a little more practice feeling uncomfortable? Couldn’t we all stand to benefit from bucking the norm for a while and standing our ground? What’s wrong with shaking it up every now and then? I will say that this challenge provided some great conversation this weekend.

I won’t be sticking with this challenge for any longer, but I have come away with some new information about myself. Homemade almond milk is amazing. It’s ok to go to a restaurant and not order, just make sure you eat first. I actually really love herbal tea, and it only takes 24 hours to detox from my caffeine habit. Raw “superfood cookies” make a delicious and healthy dessert. Hail Mary’s macaroons are even better. Avocados are good for heartburn, and kale is the most versatile veggie I’ve seen yet.

And with that, I think I’ll go feast on cooked food.

Scorchingly yours,

C

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Last week, my coworker’s suggestion that we try a cleanse this weekend inspired me to try something I’ve been wanting to do for a while now: try a raw food diet!

I originally became interested in raw food last year, when almost in the same week, I went to a restaurant that serves raw food, and I reunited with an old friend who had a girlfriend who ate a raw diet.  I reacted to it like “huh…. why would anyone want to do that?”  I still think it would be hard to exist in a world with hot bowls of soup on a cold day, or mashed potatoes.  period.  All of my comfort foods are hot or warm, and all of my comfort foods are definitely cooked.  Not to mention I LOVE to cook.  Is there anything better than seasoning a pasta sauce to perfection, leaning over the pot, and inhaling the salty, moist steam?

That being said, I definitely did some re-identifying of comfort foods when I became a vegan a couple years ago, and I’m sure given the right motivation, I could do it again.  For the purposes of this particular challenge, I will only be going raw for one weekend, that is one long weekend.  I started my challenge yesterday, and I will be completing the raw food challenge on monday evening.  My intention is to explore what makes a food comforting, how we interact with food in social situations, and how eating a raw diet makes my body and my brain feel.

Wish me luck!

rarely yours,

C

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When I started my challenge this spring, I was unsure of how it would feel.  I was afraid to start something I wouldn’t be able to finish, and I was worried that my horrible, consuming sadness from my last challenge would come back.  It didn’t.  My goal for the challenge was to release the negativity from my practice, and open myself up to joy.  

It was about finally letting go of something sad and hard and difficult, and letting myself continue on with a practice that could encompass happiness again. 

Having been done with my 30-day challenge for a few days now, I can honestly confirm that it was the easiest challenge I’ve ever done.  Throughout the month I felt more energized and alive than I’ve felt in a long time, and during many classes I felt like I was powered by pure exalted joy.  I was able to be so present in my happiness, and it was wonderful.  Truly wonderful and magical.

The first few weeks were mostly a breeze.  I had the usual foot dragging that I think everyone experiences when it’s time to get up on monday at 5:00 a.m., but once I was there, most of my classes were so marvelous.  I felt my body totally opening up to new depths of flexibility whereas I usually make more noteworthy gains in strength.  

I have always kind of thought that it takes a lot of courage to take your flexibility to new depths.  You have to be willing to push through the pain of your lengthening muscles and ligaments and tendons.  You have to trust yourself enough to know what bad pain is and what good pain is.  You have to literally open yourself up to completely new sensations; and you have to, at some point, just go for it.  There has to be an element of “fuck it” in there somewhere – otherwise you’ll never push yourself hard enough!  This is so appropriate for where I was mentally and emotionally in my challenge.  My gains in flexibility definitely reflect what my goals were, and that I got there.   

I love practicing close to the mirror now, because I can see the anchor on my arm, pushing me to be better, go deeper, stretch further, work harder, and be healthier.  It reminds me that the bad events in our lives never go away, but at some point they become a part of who you are, and they endure through the happiness too.  Just as part of who you are.  Simple truths, right?

Glowingly yours,

C

P.S.: For those of you who keep track: nope, I’m not doing the 60-day challenge because *someone* is taking me to Coachella.  I know – poor me, right? 

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March is Sailing season.  There is literally a race to sail in every weekend in March, so when I started my 30-day challenge I thought I would go in knowing I would be missing a couple classes.  I thought “ok so this won’t be a *true* challenge by the rules, but it’s a good for me.”  A few days into my challenge, however; I started feeling like I really didn’t want to miss a day.   wasn’t ready to skip a day!  I was enjoying my practice, my progress, and the momentum I was feeling.  After talking to some of my teachers, Katie and Gary, I decided I would do yoga on the days I was sailing, and I would do it at my home.  

Originally I was planning to just do the series to the best of my ability by memory and time the postures in my head, but Gary suggested I try using the Bikram audio recording.  I bought it and I would really recommend it to anyone who wants to try doing the series at home. Bikram is funny, and encouraging, and it was actually really cool to be able to listen to him delivering his own series and dolling out his own tips and feedback (yes I even said “mama give me money” when I did standing bow… what?  He told me to.)  Listening to the recording, as with any experience with a new teacher, did change some of my postures.  I especially improved my half-moon pose by bringing my chin up more and my upper body back more.  

I found it especially surprising that I didn’t miss the heat the way I thought I would.  I love the heat.  I know some people think of the heat as something they have to suffer through as a part of their practice, but I really love the humidity and the temperature.  I love the way it makes my skin feel, I love how the sweat can make some postures more challenging, and can help in others.  The way you can kind of just slide the top of your foot right down your sweaty calf into a perfect eagle pose never ceases to please me.  I love it.  So I did miss the heat in that way.  I realized, though, that it doesn’t affect my flexibility the way I imagined it did.  In fact I didn’t notice that the depth of my postures significantly changed at all.  In standing head to knee pose last night,  I almost locked my kicked out knee, and I really believe I could have, but I stopped myself because I didn’t want that monumental achievement to happen when I was by myself in my room.  That brings me to my next point…

I missed the energy of taking class with lots of people.  Until this month I thought crowded classes were satan’s gift to yogis, and that if someone smacked my hand again in full locust, or brushed my leg when we were going into standing separate leg stretching pose one more time, I would flip out and have to lie down and have a tantrum on my mat.  I realized how much I enjoy and how much I depend on other peoples’ energy in class.  There are times when I almost want to go up to people and tell them that it was a joy practicing near them.  I love the unspoken support that the yoga room provides.  I like struggling alongside other people who are facing their own challenges.

The last difference I experienced – and this is a big one – I was completely un self-conscious.  I did things that I haven’t done in the studio, but I don’t think I realized that I was limiting myself that way.  It’s actually really funny because one of the poses this most affected me in was standing separate leg stretching pose.

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As you can see in the photo, the goal is to touch your forehead to the floor, and you do this by grabbing your heels and pulling your body down, while simultaneously rolling your weight forward into the balls of your feet.  Now the teachers always say that if you can’t touch your forehead to the floor, open your legs wider and wider until you can.  I will open my legs wider to a point, but I always stop when I guess feels good enough.  I have rather inflexible hamstrings, but alone, in the privacy of my own bedroom, I decided to go for it.  Do you know what happened?  I nearly somersaulted into my mirror.  Really I did!  I actually fell forward and had to catch myself!  

So things I have taken away from this experience?  

1.  I love the crowds.

2. I miss the heat, but I don’t need the heat.  That means I might like other kinds of yoga!

3. I limit myself, and I shouldn’t.  If I’m somersaulting out of postures I think that means I’m trying hard enough.

FInally, although I would rather head to the Sweatbox any day, this experience gave me the confidence to practice in my own home at times when I just can’t make it to class, and that provides a lot of freedom.

Oh and the final thing I learned?  How to use my new version of itunes.  

Domestically yours,

C

 

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The problem with my yoga clothes is: I keep forgetting them.

On Tuesday I woke up ready to sweat, but due to poor planning and un-forseen dog walking time delays, I arrived at the 6:00 a.m. class only to find the door locked.  Luckily, I was able to get out of babysitting around 8:00 that night, leaving me plenty of time to get to the 8:45 class.  When I got there, however, I realized that all of my clothes for yoga were actually freshly laundered in a pile on my bed.  Not in my yoga bag.  Once again I had some luck because I was already wearing a pair of Lulus that I could french roll and make work, but what about a shirt?? With five minutes to Pranayama and only the long sleeve shirt I had on, I turned to Gary and Frani for some advice.  Borrow an old sweaty one from the lost and found, wear the long sleeve cozy cotton shirt I had, or buy one of the Onzie Bandeau tops.  Yikes.  I went for the purchase, thinking it would probably be ok.  The top is adorable and I’m sure I will wear it again for something, but I found myself self-conciously tugging it up after most of the standing postures.  Truth be told I’m not sure that I was actually about to have a wardrobe malfunction, but I figured that a class full of people was not the place to test the limits of my new garment.  To make matters worse, I hadn’t brought my contacts, forcing me into the front row, right below the podium – a terrible spot for a very tired and very poorly dressed yogini.

Today I was determined to go to my 4:30 class at Shoreline (does anything feel better than lying on my mat in that warm room after a long day of work?) but once again I seemed to have forgotten my clothes.  So I guess I’m headed to the 7:00 p.m. at the Capitol Hill studio – shorts and top are in my bag ready to go.  These outfit snafus are not something I wish to repeat, but after 20 days of yoga, I guess something’s got to give.  

Nakedly yours,

C

P.S: 2/3 of the way through!  Also – that photo is not me.  

I remember once in class, Lena said “always come in and expect the class to be hot and hard.  Be surprised when it’s cold and easy.”  I have since tried to bring that to other areas of my life, and boy has it made things more doable.  When I sail a race and I expect it to be long and freezing, I can relax and have fun out there because I got what I expected.  It’s a tiny shift in perspective that has made a huge difference.  It has made me realize that managing expectations is so paramount to the realization of happiness.

Often times for me, managing my expectations has more to do with having no expectations.  I do best on my yoga mat when my mind is clear, and I am able to focus on what is presently happening.  Not bracing for a flailing standing bow if i was failing at standing head to knee.  I just want to enjoy the moments when I am doing well, and work through the moments when I could be doing better.  By doing this, I think I can truly live in my moments of happiness, and I have definitely been having a lot of those lately.

Of course that’s the kicker: you have to be willing to stay present in your moments of sadness as well, and that’s not nearly as simple.  How easy is is to count down the seconds until balancing stick is over, or to try to think about something else when your throat is choked in rabbit pose?  Those are the times when staying mentally engaged in the postures is difficult, and similarly the difficult times in life are when I would rather have a glass of wine (or four) than problem solve.  

More later, I have to run to class.  Day 13!

Presently yours,

C

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Lately I’ve been feeling the need to make a change. I’ve been avoiding commitment for so long, but I think I might finally be in a place in my life where I’m ready to put in the extra work to have something truly special. I want to cut some bangs.

For many women, this wouldn’t be such a huge decision. You go to the salon, or you lean over the sink with your kitchen shears, and you snip snip snip. Done. You may have a minor issue with beach hair or bed head, but most of the time it’s a quick style and go look that can add some serious attitude to your every day attire. Not for me! Bikram yoga sisters, am I right?

My daily routine is something like get up, go to yoga, shower at the studio, towel dry hair, and go to work. No make up. No blow dryers. Often times not even a brush out! (I know it’s bad … I rock a wet bun most days).

My studio does have a hair dryer that we can use, but I’m not sure if have time to get coffee if I added on the few minutes to dry my bangs, and even if that somehow worked, what about the other activities I do? Sailing doesn’t exactly lend itself to delicately wind tousled locks, and winter hiking hat hair? No thanks. So what’s an active, fringe-loving girl to do? Must I resign myself to lusting after Zooey Deschanel’s look forever?

I guess I could compromise and try out some longer side bangs. But first things first: test out some headbands. If I’m going to be in that hot room with bangs, I’m going to bring a strategy to keep them right out of my face too. So let the testing begin. First up: the lulu lemon swiftly headband I already own that one so its a good one to start with!

Hot yoginis, what do you do with your do?

Frizzily yours,

C