Friday, September 13, 2013

Poling Instead of Packing

It's almost time for our trip to Korea!!!  I'm getting really excited, though of course I haven't managed to learn a single word of the language or even begin to pack...I did buy the cats a new scratching post out of guilt for leaving them, and confirmed with the pet sitter that he'd be here.  Of course, part of whats slowing me down is that I'm so busy (and having so much fun with) my aerial yoga teacher training!  I have three more days of that, and the very next day I'm getting on a plane to take me farther from home than I've ever been...Skip is convinced that I'll be forced to pee on an airplane for first time of my life (which is pretty good since I fly at least four times a year, and have flown to and from Europe twice, and to and from the west coast once).  My goal is to sleep as much as possible so as to defuse the crazy jet lag, but I'm not counting on it.

Today I'm running to the library to grab some books in to take up the time I can't spend sleeping, and hopefully doing some of the horrifyingly large pile of dishes, never mind the multiple sinkfuls I've been doing lately.

Because I'm such a glutton for punishment, it wasn't enough that I went for a run and had a private aerial class yesterday, and have four hours of asana study tonight...I also had to sign up for a pole yoga class with my friend, Christine.  Because, hello?  Pole yoga??  Yes, please!
It's common knowledge in the aerial world that you can do way more with a pole than strut around it shaking your ass, and that while, yes, you do need a fair amount of skin showing to help with your grip, the stuff you can do looks way more tough girl impressive than stripper simpering sexy...which is not to say there's anything wrong with interacting with a pole in a sexy way if that's your thing, just that, well, if that's ALL you're doing, it's kind of a waste of a cool apparatus...
Here's an example of some seriously awesome sauce sexy poling.
And here is some fitness poling which, seriously, holy shit. How is that physically possible without selling your soul to the devil for special powers?

What I'm getting at is, when I discovered a pole yoga studio in Brooklyn, I knew we'd be challenging our strength and flexibility in exciting new ways, not exploring the best way to incorporate a come-hither stare into our downward dogs.

I also figured that, you know, I'm an aerialist, an aerial yogi, and just an all around kick-ass person, so I'd be doing advanced moves with one hand five minutes in.

WRONG.

Working with a pole, which is hard, and doesn't move, is almost nothing like working with a silk, which is soft, and conforms to your body.  If your apparatus isn't flexible, then you have to be.  And if your apparatus is made of brass, squeezing it between your limbs is going to hurt.  Constantly.

BUT, we had a lot of fun, did some amazing stretches, started to see the possibilities of kick-ass lifts, climbs, and shapes, and will definitely be back, after I'm back from Korea.

In my head, I'm nine steps ahead, already exploring the possibility of adding pole yoga to my teaching repertoire.  But before I do that, I'll have to stop making whiny faces when she says to squeeze  the pole harder in my armpit, or between my ankles. Which will take a while.

I make this point a lot but it bears repeating: what is yoga?  What counts as yoga?  The same Ashtanga routine everyday without the teacher telling you which poses to do next?  The same sequence repeated twice in a room that's over 100 degrees?  Doing chaturangas till your wrists give out?

Maybe.  Yoga is moving physically in a way that A.) helps prepare you to be comfortable sitting still on the floor, and B.) challenges you to focus and be present to what IS without resisting it over and over and over and over.

And it doesn't matter if what IS is sweat dripping into your eyes, the fact that you're the only one taking a child's pose, your throat clenching in fear as you tip back over the fabric into an inversion, or the pain of a brass pole flattening your calf muscle.  If you are actively trying to BE THERE, and not make excuses, disassociate, disengage, or blame, then you're doing yoga.

Which means you can be doing yoga right now.  Every second.  Great self- adjustments, everybody! ;-)

Live Omily,
~em

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Eating Omily: Kale Yes.

So, I have a slight obsession with kale chips.  Not just any kale chips: the 'cheesy' or 'nacho' flavored-kind.  In all the iterations I've seen, these crispy delights don't actually have any cheese, because cheese is just too heavy to put on top of something as feather light as a crisped piece of kale and not have it collapse.  Now, if you're like me, the idea of something meant to taste like cheese not containing any cheese is enough to make you cross the street to avoid it.  Trust me, the sequence of characters, 'chocolatey' (as in, 'we cannot legally call this chocolate because there is not enough cocoa mass in this product by weight') is enough to make me break out in hives.
BUT, have no fear: A combination of soaked, pureed nuts, veggies, and spices provides a naturally orange, zesty, ADDICTIVE flavor to these guys: no MSG, no 'natural' or artificial flavors or colors, no creepy stuff.  When I bought a bag at TJ's and inhaled it in twenty-four hours, I realized I was going to have to conquer this recipe for myself, or take on a second job to support my habit.

Looking at those options, I was quick to google 'raw vegan kale chips', and almost as quickly, I found this recipe, which seemed like a good place to start.

I was able to find the nutritional yeast in the bulk bins at Whole Foods, and it's common in Health Food stores as well. It's a popular vegan/raw ingredient, because since yeasts and bacteria are what gives cheese its flavor, this stuff has a distinctly cheese note itself.

I have not yet faced the fact that I'll have to find a Winter time substitute for the red bell pepper.  I'm thinking perhaps a combo of carrots and roasted frozen red bell peppers will do the trick.

The recipe is straight forward enough. I used local maple syrup instead of agave, and I didn't have onion powder, or turmeric powder, but I did have Trader Joe's taco spices, so I used nearly a teaspoon of that instead, and the resulting flavor is truly fantastic, with just the sublest punch of heat that makes them truly addictive.  They really do taste like what dorritos are trying to taste like: spicy, almost sweet, and perfectly light and crispy...and of course, with an ingredient list like this one, who can say no?

The catch is, A.) I had way more 'nacho' topping than I needed for one bunch of kale, and B.) I had to fill the oven with baking sheets twice in order to have enough surface area to bake/dry one bunch of kale.  Of course, through the baking/dehydrating process, these guys shrink up a lot, so a big bunch of kale becomes just a couple servings.

AND, in my 170 degree oven, these puppies take two days or so to dry out properly.  If you pull them early, they'll mold on you, and that's just sad.

I solved the first problem by pouring the extra topping into a jar, and popping it into the fridge until I had time to buy and prep more kale.  The second two problems just require a lot of patience.  You can play with turning up the oven, of course, but these taste best to me when there is no roasty-toasty flavor to the kale at all: just subtle, earthy green-ness.

Think you have the drive to make yourself some incredibly delicious snackage?  If you have drying racks, use them on top of your baking sheets to speed up the process a bit.  Let me know any tips or tricks you pick up from your attempt!
Here's the finished product!  I, uh, had eaten most of them before I managed to take a picture...they really are that good.
Nom nom nom!!!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Omily Tarot: Wishing on a Star for a New Blogpost

So last Monday being Labor Day, I was too busy canning tomatoes, giggling over non-jokes, and exclaiming over the absurd tastiness of shrimp nachos takeout to write a blog post.  I thought I would write one Tuesday...and ran smack into a smooth, solid wall of writer's block.  I thought I'd write one Wednesday...and still had nothing.  Thursday and Friday it was just hopeless as I had tons to do on top of getting ready for the first weekend of my Aerial Yoga Teacher Training at Om Factory!  Yay!!!  I had such a fantastic weekend of exploring alignment, anatomy, and pedagogy, meeting new people, finding decent lunch options in the Fashion District, and just getting my learn on.  I mean seriously.  I was really sorry to see that weekend end.

Of course, I want to blog about it.  Yesterday.  But, this has to be a Tarot post...lucky for me, there's a loop hole!  I drew a tarot card to sum up my (#)AYTT2013 experience thus far!  HOOHOOHAHAHA!!!!!

I got...The Hermit!
I was surprised by this card, considering the highly communal nature of teacher trainings in our culture.  We learn not just from a team of teachers, but from each other through observation, experience of the poses, and discussion.  Still, I can identify with this downcast figure setting off alone.  There were some doubts that plunking down more money than I've made teaching this year for another teacher training was a sensible move.  I really felt like this was the right thing to do though, and I had also already invested so much time and energy into growing in this direction, it didn't feel like an option to me at all to abandon all that progress now, which is what I would have been doing. I could see what I needed to do, and where it would take me, even if those close to me couldn't necessarily.

I've been making an effort to connect with my fellow trainees, and I hope to have new friends by the time the training is over, but I still find myself settling into old habits and doing homework, practice sessions, and even hammock adjustments on my own, just because I'm comfortable doing those things by myself, and it seems quicker and easier to just do it than to try to pick out a partner.  In this way, I'm remaining kind of hermit-ish, even in the midst of this group structure.  I haven't asked a question that reveals whether this is good, bad, or merely inevitable, but I'm going to continue making an effort to step outside of this inclination and let others help me as well as help others, especially when our teacher suggest we do that!

Another aspect of this card that's highly relevant relates to the blog post I already wrote about (#)AYTT2013: I'm taking a dip into this immersive learning experience so that I can come back and have that much more to offer to my students.  The hermit doesn't only go into solitude to grow closer to the divine and find important truths: she or he comes back and shares what he or she has learned with those she or he left behind.

I'm drawn to the star in in the hermit's lantern as well.  The star is such a potent symbol for me: my mom gave me a star necklace just before high school and I made up this whole narrative in my head that it was because I was growing into a bright, shining star, or that some day I would be a star...it just captured my imagination.  Going back before junior high, I dreamed of being a star as in a celebrity: I wanted attention, accolades, the whole nine yards, and I'd be lying if I said I'm not still tantalized by that idea.  The Star in the major arcana is also the card usually affiliated with Aquarius: my star sign.  Whenever I'm somewhere out of the big city, I'm arrested with pure awe looking up at all the stars in the sky...and if I ever have a huge change of heart and decide to reproduce, I know my first born's middle name will be Sahar, which means, "All the Stars in the Sky".  If not, I'll just name a cat that. Particularly when I'm feeling very suseptible to that siren call of fame, I have a feeling that I'm meant for something great, that there's an end game to all this that will be worth the trouble not just for me, but for the whole world, and i see it as a star burning painfully, brilliantly, in my soul...

Having the star caged in a lantern that I'm using as a tool is an interesting twist on all these ideas.  It's as though, instead of relying on this burning need as a sign that I'll get there no matter what, I'm pulling it out and actually harnessing that energy to move me forward.  That makes me think of Movement, also known as the Chariot, the card I drew as my 2013 card of the year.  It's looking more and more relevant these days!  Who knows where my star will rise...or how high!

I wonder if the hermit's staff also has special significance...it just might, but you'll have to wait for another blog post to find out!

Over all, this card suggests that (#)AYTT2013 is fitting snuggly into the narrative arc my life is creating, and is an important step toward larger goals, themes, and dreams I have for myself.  Sweeeeet!

Isn't it fun to pick apart a card's imagery like that, instead of taking a meaning from a book, or from your memory?  I find it's way more revealing, too!  Think you'll give it a try?  Let me know how it goes!