Monday, August 25, 2014

Aerial Omily: Took a Tumbl

So, I self-identify as an aerialist. Writers write; aerialists...aerial. And I aerial. Big time. All the time. I like to show off the calluses and peeling skin on my hands from lyra training, those weird speckly broozes on my belly from smoothing out my star drops, my astonishingly sore shoulders from conditioning my skin the cats every. Single. Night.

Over the past four years, it's consumed more and more of my life, as I've gotten brave enough to let it grow and spread, feeding on the euphoria I feel when I wrap my fingers around fabric, or a bar, and hoist myself gracefully away from gravity...

and along the way, it's taken over more of my blog, too.

I'm not so solidly sure that this is a good thing.

Because, this blog is already about a lot of things! Yoga, eating sustainably, tarot...and, also, you know, Tumblr is apparently the shit. All the kids are doing it. Aaaaaaand the husband did just start working, I'm thinking it's just going to have to happen.

I'm getting a Tumblr. And it's going to be All About Aerial All The Time! So if you want your flying fix, whether it's pictures or videos of my badassery, or tips and tricks as you work your way toward your own, you'll be wanting to point your curser on over there now.

Don't worry, I'll try to keep things simple for you. It's no trouble for me to link to the new blog from this blog.

Speaking of which, I'm still trying to figure this out, but hopefully this is the link to the Tumblr. I don't know how all the kids have figured this platform out. It's the most difficult thing I've ever used.

Whew, getting that posted was exhausting. I'll see you next time.

Happy Flying! And Tumbling!
This is maybe kind of how I feel about Tumblr. Ok, definitely.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Eating Omily: Veggie Summer Love–Flavors that Belong Together

Have you been reading this blog long? Like, were you around last Summer? Because, if so, I don't have to tell you. But, in case you weren't, I will.

IT'S SUMMER!!! The time of plenty is here! Every delicious thing you can imagine is waiting for you at the Farmer's Market!

Tomatoes, blueberries, summer squash, string beans, peaches, chili peppers, raspberries, eggplant, corn, shelling beans, apricots, black berries, watermelons, nectarines, sweet peppers, cantaloupes, currants, potatoes, herbs, (the earliest) apples, okra, winter squash (ironically enough), radishes, and sundry heat-tolerant greens, just to name a few.

THIS is the time of year when you can eat (just about) anything you want. This is the time of decadence, of bringing home your bags of produce and feeling like Scrooge McDuck swimming in his money vault!
So, now that everyone knows this, what are you waiting for? Are you perhaps paralyzed by choice? Unsure what to do with this crazy beautiful bounty? Ok, here are a few of my favourite summer time combinations. Some of them are no-brainers: flavor combos that are so woven into our culture that you may not have realized you can eat them separately, and others are a bit more exotic. You should try them all.

Tomatoes and basil: Topping the obvious list, this particular veggie love affair began in Italy, and spread far and wide. You can punch it up a notch by adding mozzarella cheese (they've got it at the Farmers' Market, at Central Valley Farm, Union Square, Monday and Friday), olive oil, and balsamic, but you can also just chop our tomatoes and toss them with torn basil and a little salt for an easy, honest Summer salad that no one will think anything is missing from.
Leeks and stringbeans: My wonderful friend Karen (who just started a rad Etsy shop; you should check it out) makes the most delicious green beans. I've always enjoyed green beans cooked with a light touch: crisp, and vegetal, but her recipe cooks them down until they caramelize, and show off a complexity I didn't think string beans possessed! When I picked up a few leeks at the market on Saturday, I realized that their sweet, mellow oniony flavor would be a perfect partner for deeply cooked green beans. And are they ever! If you're like me and blanch (that's boil briefly, then plunge in ice water) lots of string beans for freezing and drying, you'll also appreciate knowing that the dish is just as good with caramelized leeks, and blanched and chopped green beans. The juxt a position of crisp beans, and smooth, sweet leeks is one guaranteed to not leave leftovers.

Watermelon and radishes: Lunch just got planned. Slice up a watermelon. Slice up some radishes. Chop the radish greens. Toss all of the above, perhaps with some nuts or goat cheese. YES, you can eat radish greens, and you should! I've seen this combination bandied about, but I get my version from Candice Kumai's Pretty Delicious.

Corn and tomatos: You know when you get home on a hot Summer night, and the idea of cooking makes you think starving might be preferable? No worries. This is a dinner-caliber salad you can throw together in just a few minutes. Shuck your corn, and slice it off the cob. Slice cherry or grape tomatoes in half. Toss together with salt, and optional olive oil, or for a richer flavor, pumpkin seed oil. Nope. No cooking. I know! It feels scandalous to eat corn raw, but damn, if it's wrong, I don't want to be right! It's sweet, crisp, and juicy!
Blueberries and basil: I know. Sounds crazy. Just relax. Throw some blueberries and a splash of water into a saucepan with a few whole basil leaves. Simmer. Crush the berries. Keep simmering. Depending on your level of patience (and the level of pectin in your berries) you'll end up with a thinner blueberry basil sauce, or a thicker blueberry basil jam, and you'll be happy either way. The sweet, refreshing, licorice notes in the basil do such happy things for the sweet/tart, almost medicinal qualities of the blueberries. Nom!
Summer squash and radishes: This one comes straight from The New Green Market Cook Book, where the principle ingredients are sliced on a mandolin and tossed, raw, with an herbaceous and lemony vinaigrette. It makes a big batch, but don't worry: it only gets better as it sits, and it will all get eaten.
Don't forget the big, Summertime combo dishes! Those seasonal dishes designed for this time of plenty: ratatouille, and gazpacho.

What are your favourite Summer time flavor combos? You know, besides mint and lime, or you and the beach? Think you'll give any of these combos a try? Try experimenting with some of your own, too! Just remember: What grows together goes together!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Snooze-Asana: Yoga Poses So Pleasant You'll Do Them All By Yourself and then Sleep Like a (Happy) Baby

Practicing yoga at home is hard. Even super experienced yoga teachers can struggle with it, myself included! Anyone can be intimidated right out of their practice when the first thing she or he tries is unrollling his or her mat in the morning for an invigorating flow.

Know what else can be hard? Falling asleep! Between electric lighting, and worse yet, electric screens (they mimic sunlight, keeping our brain from releasing melatonin, which is the hormone that eases you into sleep), and our go-go-go lifestyles, getting our minds to shut down and drift off at night is challenging for a lot of us.

So, what do these two issues have in common? The solution: Bed-time Yoga! Ready to give it a shot? Keep reading...

Get comfortable: your favourite pajamas, your significant other's old t-shirt, or nothing at all! It doesn't matter, just wear what makes you feel comfy and cozy. If possible, downshift from intensive physical or mental effort, and get your eyes away from those screens an hour or two before your planned bedtime. Never write a facebook status in the middle of the night about how you can't fall asleep. You're only making things worse for yourself, and you're also driving me crazy. Turn down the lights, and turn off the upbeat music. Something at low volume, and relaxing is fine.

Get in bed: Yay! Bed! Don't love your bed? Replace it! Try different sheets, different blankets, different pillows. Save up for a new mattress and/or bed frame...the husband and I are going to try a Casper mattress once we get back from our last trip of the Summer.

Ok, made it that far? Now, breathe.

I know, you've been doing it all day, but now, you're going to pay attention to the fact that you're doing it. How slow or fast are you breathing? How deeply are you breathing? For most of us, just noticing our breathing pattern is enough to change it for the better, but that's not the only reason to take this step. Taking your attention into your body automatically takes your attention away from the stress of your day, your to do list tomorrow, or whatever other irrelevant thoughts are racing around in your head.

Paying attention to your breath, and perhaps slowing it down or deepening it, is step one of the Breath Control practice known in yoga as Pranayama.

In particular, making your exhales longer than your inhales activates your parasympathetic nervous system. Never heard of it? Well, it's the opposite of your sympathetic nervous system, which sounds very friendly, but is actually responsible for the fight or flight response: that heart-pounding, stomach-clenching, mind-racing state we get in when we're confronted by a stressful situation. The parasympathetic nervous system turns all that off, and puts us in a state of 'rest and digest'. We feel calm, safe, and open to the world around us. Our appetite is better regulated, we're able to be sexually aroused given access to the stimuli we're into, and, we can easily fall asleep. Amazing, huh? Decisions, decisions... ;-)

By now, you may not even need too many yoga poses to ease you off into dreamland, but they'll feel great, and you'll benefit more from them with your parasympathetic nervous system activated.

If your bed isn't next to a wall, you may want to put it there, but if that's not possible, start with this shape on the floor, then move into bed for the rest of them. This is my personal favorite yoga pose for everybody. It's especially good for fatigue, tired or achey legs and/or feet, and headaches: Legs Up the Wall! Yep, it's just what it sounds like. Sit down with your hip pressed against the wall, then lean back and swivel around to get your sit bones pressed against the wall. It's a little tricky to get into, but well worth it. You can max out the inversion benefits of this shape by placing a pillow under your hips to slightly elevate them. Once you get there, just relax. Come back to your breathing. Your hands can come to rest anywhere on your body that needs some extra healing or love, or they can be out to your sides. You can open your legs up to a wide V, or leave them together. Try to stay for five to fifteen minutes. If your legs and feet get too tingly, you can bend your knees and slide your feet down the wall for a break before resuming.
Forward folds of all kinds are another great way to tune inward and leave your day behind. Resist the urge to pull yourself into your deepest stretch, as deep muscular stretches are stimulating for the body, and you may re-activate your sympathetic nervous system right when you want it switched off. Even if you aren't very bendy, just let gravity take you as far as it wants to into the stretch. Try using pillows and yoga blocks (books will do if you don't have blocks) to support the weight of your head.
Try seated forward fold to untie your ham strings after a long day of walking, or star pose, heels touching a couple feet from your pelvis, knees opened out to the side. This variation of the popular hip stretch is an excellent lower back release.
Encourage your psoas, a huge muscle that connects your upper body to your lower body and makes walking possible, to release for the night by laying on your back, and hugging one knee into your chest at a time. Intensify this stretch by elevating the hips slightly on pillows, but remember not to take the stretch past subtle sensation, to maintain the relaxation-inducing benefits.
You can give yourself a happy baby while lying on your back, if this is a pleasant pose for you. Skip it if the sensation in your hips is intense or unpleasant, or if hugging both knees toward your chest makes taking deep breaths difficult.
A gentle reclining twist can help you inhabit and feel your entire body before bed. Bring the right knee toward the chest, then let it fall gently to the left. Extend the right arm out to the side, and keep the right shoulder grounded down. You can support the right knee on a pillow, block, or books to keep the twist light and gentle. Be sure to do the second side!
The best part of bedtime yoga? Bed time Savasana! Let there be a few feet between your heels, and some breathing room between your upper arms and your torso. Make sure you have enough covers to stay warm even as your body temperature drops as you ease into sleep. If your arms keep rolling inward in their sockets, causing your palms to face the mattress, try picking up your upper back, and hugging your shoulders in toward your spine before easing it back down. If that still doesn't work, you may want to consider an alternative hand placement, such as palms down on your hips or your belly. If your lower back feeling tight or painful, place a pillow or rolled up blanket under your knees. Most of us living in modern society can benefit from an eye pillow: a small pillow usually filled with flax seed, and sometimes with dried lavender. The weight on the eyes induces them to close and settle, and by blocking out all light, your pineal gland is finally allowed to release melatonin. The lavender fragrance can be very soothing as well, though if it's not your thing, you can easily find one without.

Come back to an awareness of your breath. Don't worry about changing it in anyway, just let it work itself out. You may be shocked at how infrequently you're inhaling and exhaling after a few moments! Let yourself be soft, and receptive to absorbing the benefits of your practice. There's nothing else you need to do...

...except have sweet dreams. :-)

Live Omily,