Relaxing Yoga in 12 minutes

Give your self the gift of 12 minutes today and enjoy massive benefits of soothing your nervous system; quieting the mind; relaxing the body; savouring each breath.

Find a spot on a carpet in front of a nice fire and take a little time for yourself with this relaxing yoga sequence (pictured above). Take one minute per pose while focusing on the breath.

YogiSilhouette.com

 

Plank Pose: Stack shoulder over hands, push into fingers for more support.

Locust Pose: Lift the hands and feet while breathing deeply.

Childs Pose: Sink hips to heels (place a blanket under knees, ankles or hips for added comfort)

Down Dog --> Twisted Needle (30 seconds each side)

Gate Pose (30 seconds each side) A deep side bend.

Tree Pose: Place lifted leg above or below your knee. Focus on an unmoving point in the room to help find stability. Hold onto a chair for extra support.

Twisted Wide Legged Stretch: Stay here longer if it feels good.

Bridge Pose: Squeeze glutes to lift higher and protect weak areas. Press the shoulders and head down, but avoid turning the head to protect the spine.

Forward Bend: Bend the knees to go deeper!

Pigeon Pose: Place that blanket under your hips again for added support. Stay upright or fold forward. Lie on your back, if there are any knee problems.

Legs Up the Wall Pose:  Left hand over the heart, right hand over the belly and listen to your own unique rhythms. If you stay longer than one minute, that's ok.

Sneaky Spiral of Doom

Free Stock Photo: Tornado and lightning

I quit one of my two jobs a month ago, the one with stable income. It feels like the single largest leap of faith I have ever taken in my life. I left that job to develop my own business—a choice that is exciting, exhilarating, freeing and… terrifying. I didn’t wait until the next new position solidified itself, but left my old one to make up the new one. Every day is a little up or a little down. The other night, when I was feeling more than a little “down” I caught myself feeling frustrated and tense about income prospects, around how my partner and I are shaping our newlywedded future together while I navigate these unstable waters. I had a meltdown. Life was feeling heavier and heavier with every passing moment. He astutely asked me what was wrong.

"What if I am not successful? What if I don’t make enough money?" And this was the hardest part for me to say out loud as anxiety gripped my chest and a few tears sputtered out, "I don’t want to be a burden on you."

He held me close. "What is the worst case scenario?”

“I-I-I-I don’t know,” the emotions and tears were fully flowing.  He held me close and laid out our worst case scenario game plan, and it really isn’t that bad. Not shabby at all and definitely nothing near  the emotional armegeddon that I feared.

Then he asked if I had gotten caught in a sneaky spiral of doom? I sniffled, “Yes, I think I did.” There is no bottom to the infinite spiral downwards when things are bad. In this moment, I realized I had been in this sneaky spiral like Alice falling down the rabbit hole for many month -- fear and anxiety had trapped me in a job that wasn’t working and kept me from pursuing my dreams.

My mom coined this phrase, sneaky spiral of doom, when my sister was in elementary scool. She was driven, focused, confident at a very young age. Many years her senior, I was always inspired and surprised at her level of perfectionism and how well she did in school. The flipside, would be an emotionally fraught breakdown triggered by the smallest glitch: “My pencil just broke and I can’t find another one and I lost my sharpener; so I won’t be able to finish my homework; I am going to flunk this class; I’ll fail high school; Ill never get into college; Ill never find a job. I am going to die ALL alone.”  It was completely honest, completely overwhelming and encompassing and simultaneously sad and funny to observe. You could give her a well-sharpened pencil and her emotional state would switch on a dime.Free Stock Photo: Illustration of a pencil

Why is it when one thing, big or little goes wrong the whole world can feel like it is spinning down the tubes?

Radical Gratitude

I have never been able to put my finger and identify the cause, but October turning to November is an emotionally difficult time of year. I feel less motivated, it is a little harder to leave the house and get to work, life feels heavier. Ayvuredic doctors have told me I am vata deranged; therapists have prescribed antedotes; my mother has recommended I go for a run.

Autumn Aspens

After decades of struggle, I now allow myself to draw inward, reigniting my meditation practice & allowing myself to go to bed earlier than I think adults should. I make yoga dates to trick myself into not only getting out of the house-- but to get into the studio to practice. I have recently started practicing ukulele. But most of all I get radically grateful. Some days I have to fake it until I make it (and the sun sets before I have made it). Ill whisper my thanks to the birds and the wind in the yard, the changing trees. I send spontaneous thank yous. I bake for friends. I say "thank you" instead of "I am sorry". The laundry list is long and growing longer. At least for me, this crowds the heaviness out and there is no room at the party for anxiety, doubt or deep sadness. 

Most of all I love celebrating Dia De Los Muertos. The grief wrapped around those I have lost and fear of loosing those I loveand fear that is wrapped around death has been heavy in my life. To celebrate the lives that I have loved and loss, turns everything around topsy-turvy in the most joyous way. Marinating in my favorite memories of those near and dear to me, sharing stories also helps me take stock of where I have come from, who I am influenced by and where I am going. I am so profoundly grateful for how well loved I am and have been.

"When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight." Kahlil Gibran

 Dia De Los Meurtos Family

Dia De Los Meurtos Family

Spring Cleaning: Natural Recipes

Among the many jobs I took to support myself as a fledging actor/yoga teacher was “natural house cleaner”. Needless to say the job was short-lived, but the skills I learned were priceless. Avoiding super processed home cleaning products is easy, definitely cheaper, as long as you are willing to put elbow grease into your weekly regime.

NATURAL HOUSE CLEANER- good for kitchen & bathroom

Mix in a spray bottle: one part white vinegar + one part distilled water + 5-15 drops eucalyptus, citrus, lemongrass, rosemary or tea tree oil.

I prefer lemon + eucalyptus for the kitchen, and tea tree + sweet orange for bathroom. Lavender & Tea Tree have potent antibacterial qualities. The white vinegar (5% acetic acid) will denatures the cell walls of bacteria and viruses (as well as most types of salmonella, but not all).

BATHROOM CLEANING:

Sprinkle baking soda in sink, tub/shower and in toilet. Spray with pre-mixed cleaner & let stand for 5-10 minutes. Scrub vigorously and rinse.

Baking soda has naturally antibacterial properties and kills many germs/bacteria.

DRAIN CLEANER:

Pour baking soda + apple cider vinegar down the offending pipe, let sizzle for 10-15 minutes and repeat if necessary. Much less toxic then other options.

WINDOW/MIRROR CLEANER:

Spray or sprinkle seltzer water + newspaper + elbow grease for a streak free, clean reflective surface.

These are just a few that are tried and true for me. Here is another resource if you want to go deeper into the realm of natural household cleaners.

Practice is perfect

IMG_3115Inspiration from friends/Introduction to last week's yoga class I spent the weekend with dear friends from college, we ate good food, swam and unwound. This was fun and very relaxing, but the part that delighted me most was how we helped each other—we all made dinner, we all did the dishes, we all washed the sheets and closed up when it was time to go. No one did everything, and no one did nothing. So what does this have to do with yoga? As you start your practice today focus for a moment on all the different circles in which you are an essential cog: your family near or far, this community in Bend, your office. Think of all the things you do to keep one or all of those circles running smoothly, as well as the numerous moments every day that you are tired, frustrated, annoyed, empty, but you keep going. This fire, this dedication in yoga philosophy is called tapas.

You cultivate your endurance to that which you are dedicated, your tapas every time you come to your mat and take an hour to take care of yourself.

I practice so I can have more availability, patience, equanimity, levity in the face of the day to day and week to week demands of life. Take a moment, a few breaths and focus on what you would like to cultivate in your practice today so that you can be available to all the circles that need you.

 

"The victory is in beginning" ~ Judith Lasater

A Recipe for Self-Care

ImageA few weeks ago in Thailand I received a 2.5 hour massage session—body scrub, full body oil massage and facial for $30. It was indulgent and wonderful.  When I arrived back in the States I was jetlagged and a little dehydrated. I had to get creative with my resources to give myself a relaxing treatment at home.  The first step in this kind of self-massage/self-care is to determine how much time you have and make it as indulgent as possible. Indulgence is "characterized by doing or tending to do exactly what one wants, esp. when this involves pleasure or idleness." This is the perfect, and possibly only rule of thumb for this exploration in self-care. Getting Ready:

-find organic sesame or almond (winter/cold regions) or coconut oil (summer/warm regions)

-favorite essential oil (I recommend lavender or rose)

-skin brush & wash cloth

-humidifier & shower or bathtub

-epsom salt

-double boiler or small glass dish

-optional: candles, chillax music, extra soft towel, cup of tea, cooshy bathrobe

During cold seasons or cool evening: gather your preferred materials and prepare the oil by lightly heating in a double boiler, or microwave. It should simply be warm to the touch. Mix in a few drops of your preferred essential oil.

recipe #1 mini facialIMG_3146

home-made facial scrub: mash up one part avocado, one part coffee grounds, one part oil. gently wash face as normal. place a    washcloth saturated with warm to hot water for 1-2 minutes. apply home-made facial mask in small circular motions moving outward to inward. sip your tea and enjoy doing nothing for as long as you like. rinse and spray with toner or rose water and moisturize with preferred oil or facial lotion (my favorite is Pangea Orgranics Argan Oil).

recipe #2 quickie self-massage/dry shower

lock yourself in the bathroom & turn the humidifier on and use the skin brush over the body starting at the feet and moving towards the heart. this gets your circulation going and sloughs off dead skin. follow by massaging the oil of your choice + essential oil in a circular motion over the whole body. wrap your body in the towel or extra comfy robe. sit still for one minute. rock out into your day.

recipe #3 extra-nurturing shower

as you start the shower begin with recipe #2 skin brushing + oil massage. when you and the shower are ready step in and give yourself a good salt scrub. you can actually avoid soap and simply enjoy the hot water + oil, my skin has never felt more nourished, soft and supple.

Favorite candles

recipe #4 full indulgence bath

light some candles, put on some chill music and make a cup of relaxing tea. as the bath fills begin with the skin brush (circular motions towards your heart starting out at the feet, working up and in). add oil + epsom salts to the bath. use the washcloth + salt scrub over the feet and legs to give a little extra exfoliation.

 

******

blooming peonies

 

I also enjoy getting myself flowers or a pedicure, if not both.

How can you indulge yourself this week?

Sweet Potato Pancakes

2 sweet potatos

Image1/4 cup gluten free flour + 1 teaspoon each baking soda & baking powder + 1/4 teaspoon xantham gum
OR

1/4 cup Pamela's Gluten Free Baking Mix

2 eggs

milk or milk alternative

coconut oil

optional: hemp protein, coconut flakes, nutmeg or cinnamon

Grate the entire sweet potato into a mixing bowl. Turn the skillet on high heat and oil with the coconut oil. Mix flour, eggs, milk (splash enough to gently moisten) and any optional ingredients. When the skillet begins to smoke, turn it down to low-medium and drop batter to cook. Flipping 2-3 times until the sweet potato turns from orange to yellow and is soft through the pancake (more similar to a zucchini or potato pancake). Enjoy with candied pecans, or a little bacon!

Spring Cleaning - Natural Recipes

Among the many jobs I took to support myself as a fledging actor/yoga teacher was "natural house cleaner". Needless to say the job was short-lived, but the skills I learned were priceless. Avoiding super processed home cleaning products is easy, definitely cheaper, as long as you are willing to put elbow grease into your weekly regime. NATURAL HOUSE CLEANER- good for kitchen & bathroomRosemary

Mix in a spray bottle: one part white vinegar + one part distilled water + 5-15 drops eucalyptus, citrus, lemongrass, rosemary or tea tree oil.

I prefer lemon + eucalyptus for the kitchen, and tea tree + sweet orange for bathroom. Lavender & Tea Tree have potent antibacterial qualities. The white vinegar (5% acetic acid) will denatures the cell walls of bacteria and viruses (as well as most types of salmonella, but not all).

BATHROOM CLEANING:

Sprinkle baking soda in sink, tub/shower and in toilet. Spray with pre-mixed cleaner & let stand for 5-10 minutes. Scrub vigorously and rinse.

Baking soda has naturally antibacterial properties and kills many germs/bacteria.

DRAIN CLEANER:

Pour baking soda + apple cider vinegar down the offending pipe, let sizzle for 10-15 minutes and repeat if necessary. Much less toxic then other options.

WINDOW/MIRROR CLEANER:

Spray or sprinkle seltzer water + newspaper + elbow grease for a streak free, clean reflective surface.

These are just a few that are tried and true for me. Here is another resource if you want to go deeper into the realm of natural household cleaners.

Letters to A Young Poet By Rainer Maria Rilke

A decade ago, my first voice teacher, Beth McGuire told me to read this book, "Letters to a Young Poet". If I were to embark on being an actor, then these were the questions to ask. I look to the next phase of my life as if I was looking over a cliff into an black abyss, but the cliff is too comfortable and so it is to find only solace in Rilke and get ready to jump.

"You are looking outside, and that is what you should most avoid right now. No one can advise or help you - no one. There is only one thing you should do. Go into yourself. Find out the reason that commands you to write; see whether it has spread its roots into the very depths of your heart; confess to yourself whether you would have to die if you were forbidden to write. This most of all: ask yourself in the most silent hour of your night: must I write? Dig into yourself for a deep answer. And if this answer rings out in assent, if you meet this solemn question with a strong, simple "I must", then build your life in accordance with this necessity; your whole life, even into its humblest and most indifferent hour, must become a sign and witness to this impulse. Then come close to Nature. Then, as if no one had ever tried before, try to say what you see and feel and love and lose. Don't write love poems; avoid those forms that are too facile and ordinary: they are the hardest to work with, and it takes a great, fully ripened power to create something individual where good, even glorious, traditions exist in abundance. So rescue yourself from these general themes and write about what your everyday life offers you; describe your sorrows and desires, the thoughts that pass through your mind and your belief in some kind of beauty Describe all these with heartfelt, silent, humble sincerity and, when you express yourself, use the Things around you, the images from your dreams, and the objects that you remember. If your everyday life seems poor, don't blame it; blame yourself; admit to yourself that you are not enough of a poet to call forth its riches; because for the creator there is no poverty and no poor, indifferent place. And even if you found yourself in some prison, whose walls let in none of the world's sound - wouldn't you still have your childhood, that jewel beyond all price, that treasure house of memories? Turn your attention to it. Try to raise up the sunken feelings of this enormous past; your personality will grow stronger, your solitude will expand and become a place where you can live in the twilight, where the noise of other people passes by, far in the distance. And if out of , this turning within, out of this immersion in your own world, poems come, then you will not think of asking anyone whether they are good or not. Nor will you try to interest magazines in these works: for you will see them as your dear natural possession, a piece of your life, a voice from it. A work of art is good if it has arisen out of necessity. That is the only way one can judge it. So, dear Sir, I can't give you any advice but this: to go into yourself and see how deep the place is from which your life flows; at its source you will find the answer to, the question of whether you must create. Accept that answer, just as it is given to you, without trying to interpret it. Perhaps you will discover that you are called to be an artist. Then take that destiny upon yourself, and bear it, its burden and its greatness, without ever asking what reward might come from outside. For the creator must be a world for himself and must find everything in himself and in Nature, to whom his whole life is devoted.

     But after this descent into yourself and into your solitude, perhaps you will have to renounce becoming a poet (if, as I have said, one feels one could live without writing, then one shouldn't write at all). Nevertheless, even then, this self searching that I ask of you will not have been for nothing. Your life will still find its own paths from there, and that they may be good, rich, and wide is what I wish for you, more than I can say.

     What else can I tell you? It seems to me that everything has its proper emphasis; and finally I want to add just one more bit of advice: to keep growing, silently and earnestly, through your whole development; you couldn't disturb it any more violently than by looking outside and waiting for outside answers to questions that only your innermost feeling, in your quietest hour, can perhaps answer."

Searching for yoga and coffee in Chiang Mai

And thai massages. And mango sticky rice. On a daily basis.

At the end of the first week my exploration have been successful.

Day # 1: After studying Thai Massage seriously in the States for three-four years, I received my first massage in Thailand in the common area of a temple (1.5 hours 200 bhat/$7 USD). It was quite an experience, and different from what I expected, not as relaxing, not for the tender or feint of heart. The practitioner really worked me and I was sore for a few days afterward.

Wandered until I found a cafe down a side street. The owner made me a yellow curry and sat down with her dog to talk to me while I ate. Spicy (nose-watering) and flavorful in all sorts of ways. Out of courtesy I sipped the water with ice that she gave me. Then I remembered maybe I shouldn't. I finished both the curry and the water in the end and hoped for the best. (60 bhat/$2 USD)

Day #2. After a day of working in my poolside "office" at The Eco Resort I found my way to Wild Rose Yoga. The atmosphere is exquisite, sacred, magical. I have heard about this place for years from nomadic friends. It is a can't miss for the traveling yogi. Helen was the teacher for this first class, I have learned she specializes in yoga for bodyworkers which is apparent in her focus on the subtle energetics and importance of breath, coupled with creative vinyasa and some strong core work. She was attentive, so present and inspiring.

Dada Cafe: I met a friend for a late night dinner, this place is owned by a German man. I was a little hesitant to try my friends' salad, but it was full of sprouts and avocado and delicious. The frothed coconut was amazing.

Day #3. Mosaic Cafe: excellent coffee down the road from Eco Resort.

Blue Diamond: Another fantastic salad with amazing dressing. I didn't think I would be eating a salad for months and have been surprised and delighted a second time! I can only hope to replicate the gluten free cookies in the deli one day (a mix of seeds, coconut and yum), for now I keep a stash on me at all times for snacking. Down the street from a tourist friendly market.

Namo Yoga: the website was confusing and a little off-setting, couldn't quite tell what the address was, or if there is a physical space. There is! And it is a refreshing blend of yoga and massage, great setting. I am looking forward to taking a class.

Day # 4 Nice Kitchen (I am tickled by some of the names here): the best panang green curry (lunch) and most delightful yogurt fruit (breakfast) I have experienced. Amazing coffee.

Found Pranam on a friend's recommendation and received a 1 hour full foot massage (150 bhat). I will return for a full body massage today.

Day #5. Yoga Tree: an absolutely gorgeous space, so open and surrounded by greenery. I attended a kirtan and experienced the ex-pat/international hippie community in full force and the sweet tunes of the yoga version of a jolly James Taylor- Steve Gold. The event was facilitated by Wild Rose, but held at Yoga Tree-- which reveals a really lovely synchronistic, non-competitive relationship that is inspiring.

Day #6. Weekend Night Market. I was intimidated at the thought of such masses of people, but it was amazing. I only purchased food-- but tasted and tried many things (all gluten and vegetarian, my stomach can confirm today!). Taro, potato crisp stick, grilled sticky rice, mango sticky rice, rice ginger curry (will return for this dish next week), juices and so many things to look at! Hope to enjoy a grilled banana one day...

Now for week #2!

RDM to CNX = Chasing the Sun

I woke amidst the black, cold starry night in Central Oregon and spent a day chasing the sun halfway around the world. My body is still not sure if it is today or tomorrow, neither really does my mind. It has become apparent I am in the land of ganesha, venerated for the elephants known to the area in more ways than one.Image

I arrived to a monk-like room at a jungle resort in the middle of the city and realized I could spend the next month drinking pineapple smoothies, writing and hardly speaking to anyone, if I so choose. Such are my simple joys of complete independence. Image

Yesterday, I woke up, my body so grateful for however long I slept in a real bed, rather than the seat of a plane. Two temple visits, a self-guided walking tour, one superb home-made curry and a Thai Massage later my day was complete.

Delicious.

I forgot about bugs in Oregon, or that I can use insect repellent. Besides this minor issue, I wonder if I will ever want to leave?

.Image

Finding A Comfortable Seat...

If you have been to a yoga class, you have may have heard the following instruction, "find a comfortable seat." This can be confusing and problematic, if you are not comfortable sitting in a cross legged position on the ground, as a newer practitioner or someone suffering from knee, hip or lower back issues. Sitting on the ground with your knees in your armpits, is not going to be conducive for stretching, breathing or meditating, especially if it is the first pose of the class. Let's look at Sukhasana this Sanskrit word translates as "easy, comfortable pose". The classic pose would be arranged with one ankle crossed in front of the other with the feet flexed, sit bones rooted on the floor, the spine long and the head stacked over the middle of the pelvis.Your sit bones (ischial tuberosity) are the pointy boney bits below your bum that you rest on when sitting.

Forget about what you think  this pose "should" look like and let's get down to making it feel right for your body. If your knees are higher than your hips, you should try a modification because it indicates stress in the hip flexor. To alleviate the stress neatly stack 1,2 or 3  blankets under your sit bones until your hips are higher than your knees. This will alleviate stress on the knees, hips and lower back. If you knee problems are severe, straighten one leg. The important thing is that you have options, so you can stay easefully in a sitting position longer. If you are dealing with knee or back problems that make it hard to get to the floor, then you can simply sit in a chair and find a tall spine.

Once you find the most comfortable seat for you, sit for a few minutes and simply observe your breath. This is an excellent, simple relaxation practice. Ideally, you can allocate a time each day to sit, watch your breath, journal a few lines about how you feel before and after. See what happens.

Ideally, as  written in The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, every pose you experience in yoga will feel like a steady comfortable seat, “Sukha sthira asanam” Ch. 2.46-2.48

The Year in Review

I kayaked with a manatee (so massively inspiring). Snorkel Heaven

I didn't live in the same place for more than five weeks, maybe six...

I snorkeled with a shark (I was frightened, he didn't care. at all).

I celebrated my dad's 60th birthday with our family.

I tried to take a bus in Key West (recommended if you are up for adventure, but not actually getting anywhere).

I endured two east coast blackouts.

I took a tour of east coast beaches with friends!

I participated in my first fun run (paddle-run-paddle-run-paddle-run).

I tried to paddle in a surf-ski (and only got thrown once).

I fell in love with one little girl & three new little boys: Ruby, William, Finn & Hudson.

Waiting for a bus in paradiseWaiting for a bus in paradise

I climbed a mountain above 10,000 feet.

I kayaked with sea otters, birds & jellyfish in Monterey Bay.

I visited Canada & Mexico, each for the first lovely time.

I went on my first road cycle for the sake of cycling.

I laid in a pool in a hot spring water park as the sun rose and the birds migrated.

I taught yoga and AcroYoga at my first retreat.

I stopped eating gluten & got experimental baking.

I went snowshoeing for the first and second time.

I visited so many homes of friends, it was ridiculous.

Just awesome.

I got settled in Oregon.

My Traveling Hat is On...

St.Louis MO November 20th, 2012 Restorative/post travel practice this morning to recalibrate my body after a long day of travel. I worked diligently on the endless droves of workey-work assigments I currently have. Told the world I am taking off tomorrow (which means I will still work, but not necessarily answer emails or phone calls-- shhh don't tell). Made chicken stock from scratch in preparation for full fledged cooking tomorrow/Thursday. I also got a great massage at Morgan Ford Massage Therapy (highly recommended)! Now to find a couple of plane tickets (some people have utility bills, I buy tickets to travel).

Portland to St.Louis MO November 19th, 2012

Planes & airports. Woke at 4:15am, as arduous as that might sound, I decided since I was traveling east, I would experience this early hour as if I had already arrived and thus will not have to deal with jet lag. I think I tricked myself rather well. Would have posted yesterday’s post yesterday, but couldn’t figure out how to log into my blog… I would love to roll out my mat for an hour or two—but I have to check in on work. Ill listen to some inspiring vibes…

Yoga Inspired Playlisti got my hat! I am ready!

Pretty Lights | An Empty Station

Bonobo | Eyesdown

Pretty Lights | Understand Me Now, Stay

Ratatat | Grape Juice City, Sunblocks

Emancipator | Safe in the Steep Cliffs

Bon Iver | Blood Bank

Subterranean Sanctuary | Desert Dwellers

Day #2 I enjoyed yoga in bed (I am getting flexible in a multitude of ways)

 

Bend to Portland, OR Nov. 18th, 2012

I am on the road for the next twenty-two days.I happily woke up to shower and blow dry my hair (zero degrees means my hair must be dried) at 5:45am.  Watched a deer family cross the highway under windblown pines trees. I took a shuttle bus from the high winter desert through the snow covered mountains of Mt.Hood and felt like I traveled in time into the late wet fall of Portland. I spent the day with the dearest of friends catching up and delighting in our shared company as we ran errands together. I love the sensitivity of the foodies in Portland—gluten free pub menu to die for whilst I felt like the country mouse visiting the “big city”—shopping, walking, enjoying coffee. I plan to practice and write everyday. Let’s see what kind of yoga I find along the way.

Day #1: Opted out of a basketball game in favor of spending time solo. Yoga practice on the road: “Reconnect to your back body & open your heart” with Elena Brower via YogaGlo.com

 

I love pumpkins

Whether you call them winter squash or by a more specific name (acorn, butternut, pumpkin, kobucha or spaghetti), they are reliable, nutritious and tasty all year long. The other day I suggested, " We could have acorn squash for dinner, because it's finally winter squash season."

My friend replied, "With you it's always the season for squash."

And I realized she was right. I love to look at them, carve them, eat them, roast them and grow 'em when I can.

[gallery orderby="post_date"]

Here is one of my favorite recipes

Preheat the oven to 375F. Cut your winter squash of choice in half, scoop out the seeds and set aside.

Pour olive oil, salt, pepper and a few cloves of garlic in the center.

OR

Place a few pats of butter, sprinkle cinnamon and nutmeg.

Cook for 45 minutes, or until just mushy. Enjoy.

What is your favorite way to prepare a pumpkin or winter squash?

Monster Cookies

[slideshow]Just like the squirrels are storing away their food for the winter, I wanted a portable yummy chock-full-nutrition snack. I think this is it and it has been a hit with everyone I shared it with-- easily modified to be gluten free, gluten full or vegan at your desire. I modified the recipe from the Bob's Red Mill All Purpose Flour Bag.

Gluten Free Monster Cookies 1 1/2 cups gluten free oats 1 cup GF All Purpose baking Flour (Bob's Red Mill) 1/2 cup organic sugar 1/4 cup Flaxseed Meal 1 1/2 tsp Xantham Gum 1 tsp Baking Soda 3/4 cup Coconut Oil or Canola Oil 6 tablespoons butter or applesause 2 Tablespoons Vanilla extract 1 cup chocolate chips 1 cup pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, pecans & walnut mix

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Prep your cookie sheets. Mix the dry ingredients, add in the wet, saving the chips, nuts and seeds for last. Cookie 12-15 minutes rotating the tray half way through.

Granola!

I was amazed when a friend said she made her own granola from scratch-- it seemed like a magical and mystical accomplishment. I tried it myself and it is SO easy, much less expensive and super satisfying.  I am very picky about extraneous sugar in my life, so I doctored the following recipe to make it high in seeds, nuts and yum, low in sugar/fat. After a couple tries I decided to "go big or go home" when it comes to granola so I can gift some when I make it. I encourage you to use this recipe as a reference, but experiment with your favorite tastes.

Deven's "Go Big or Go Home" Granola 

All ingredients are local and organic when possible.

1 cup each raw pecans, almonds, walnuts, cashews
1/2 cup each sesame seeds, sunflower seeds,pumpkin seeds, flax seeds
2 lbs old-fashioned oats (naturally gluten free, but has to be processed in a gluten free facility if you are super sensitive/celiac)
1 stick butter (or equal amount sunflower oil)
1/3 cup maple syrup (or honey, I prefer maple syrup)
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
1/2 cup chopped dates
1 cup raisins or dried blueberries
1/4 cup dried apples
2 tablespoons pumpkin pie spice or ground cinnamon & nutmeg
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Farenheit. Spread the nuts on 1-2 baking sheet and roast for 10-12 minutes, just lightly browning them. Transfer to a board to cool and chop. Set aside.
Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees F. Pour the oats and seeds into a mound in the center of each baking sheet (2).  Melt the butter in a small pan and mix in maple syrup mixing constantly. Add the salt.  Drizzle this into the center of the oat/seed mounds. Stir well and spread in an even layer on each baking sheet. Bake the oat mixture for 30 minutes.  Let cool.
Combine the oats, dates, raisins/dried fruit, reserved nuts and spices in a huge bowl and mix. Eat, enjoy, repeat!

Wanderlust + Love + Vermont

I spent this past weekend at Wanderlust Vermont—a veritable smorgasborg of music, art, yoga and fun. The weather was beyond perfect, there was just one afternoon of thunderstorming rain to remind us that we can get wet, we can be flexible about where exactly we practice and we are really at the whim of mother nature. When I arrived on Thursday, little did I know that the long weekend would keep coming back to love.  It was a simple and sweet through line—as if an inspirational memo had been passed between the presenters.
For my first class I joined Jenny Sauer-Klein for a much needed dose of self love & self care in her “Luminous Moon” woman’s only class. I can’t tell you too much (gasp a man might be reading), but it was such a delightful, non-linear exploration of movement. I walked away feeling more relaxed and grounded than I have in a long time—really truly breathing deeply.   
I have never seen Ani DiFranco perform live before, although many of her most angst ridden albums served as a soundtrack at the most trying times of my younger years. I had no idea the  inspiration and energy I was in store for as she took the stage.  I was enraptured, and surprised I sang along and rocked oldies but goodies.
 And boy has she changed her tune- with a husband, baby and happy home songs from her newer albums spoke of love love love, happiness and the road to get there.
I arrived at the most obscure, and possibly most beautiful tent in that it was almost entirely encompassed in the woods with a flawless breeze wafting through —“The Lair of the Conquering Lion”.  The teacher, Kelly Morris instructed us to smell the grass and try to embrace rather than squeam about the bugs.  I moved my mat to the side and sat down on the earth.  Then she asked us to, “Think of someone who is utterly bereft of the notion that we are totally interconnected, interdependent and supported.  Dedicate your practice to them, in that moment it shifts from being about you to being a sacred worthwhile practice.” Feeling so embraced by the earth beneath my sit bones I felt that expanding love with each earth/sun balancing breath during her guided pranayama. 
It has been a long wait for MC Yogis new album and it has been absolutely worth it!  The album rocks with great beats, inspiring words, again transporting ancient stories of Hanuman, Citta & Ram, Ganesha to the modern yogi.  Every single song and the flow of the album is what I always hope for from a favorite artist.  What an absolute delight to get to see him with his team of vj/dj’s turn it up live—particularly with AcroYoga performances erupting from the audience during “Born to Fly”. The energy was incredible and once again the message was One Love—woven through song,  stories and hip hop beats.
 
My final class was with Jenny Sauer-Klein & Adam Rinder, “love + light + flight: AcroYoga Therapeutics”. They opened with a chant and Adam telling the story of Citta and Ram the lovers.  It was a simple, relaxing class— super mellow meditative asana was followed by a relaxing Thai Massage and a short flight in Folded Leaf. Jenny & Adam kept it clear and inspiring with a class of over 200 people. It was the perfect ending to the perfect Festival weekend. I am that. I am love.