Saturday, December 19, 2015

Eating Omily: The Gift of Living La Vida Local

I love presents! I love giving them, and I love getting them! But, sometimes BOTH of those activities can be rather fraught. You might not know what to get someone. You may feel like they have so much STUFF, there's just not another object out there worth the amount of space it would take up in your loved one's home. To say nothing of all the stuff in your home! And all the ill chosen gifts you find yourself stuck with...and all that stuff that ends up in a landfill, sooner or later.

That's why, especially for those less well-known giftees in your life, food makes such a spectacular gift. Everyone loves food! And you eat the food, and then its gone! Guilt free! Of course, you don't want to just show up with a bag of organic kale, or a jar of peanut butter. You want something special!

How about exotic flavors of homemade jam? Creative sweet maple treats? Unexpected honey applications? To-die-for baked goods? Sparkling wines? Small-batch spirits?

But maybe you can't put your finger on that perfect gift for your NYC-area-based recipient.

Or maybe you've been nudging your buddy to check out the farmer's market for months, and they just haven't gotten there yet.

Presenting, The Perfect Gift:
Yep. Gift tokens. That are accepted by nearly every single Greenmarket vendor. Let them eat stolen! And chocolate-coconut vegan, gluten-free snowballs! And maple cotton candy! And Caramel-covered pretzels! And yes, kale, sweet potatoes, apples, the whole nine yards!

I saw this sign today, and just couldn't believe what a great deal it was! It made me wish I did more gift-exchanging with my friends here in NYC. Most of the people I give gifts to live near my hometown in Ohio.

But you don't have to live in NYC to take advantage of this gift idea! Every area on the planet has its regional specialties. Figure out yours and get gifting! Maybe even try your hand at making them yourself, if they're more of a dish than an ingredient.

Have fun! Happy Holidays!!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Evolving on a Revolving Apparatus

I love the lyra. I love that its a circle, I love that it spins, I love that it allows for three levels of play (below the circle, in the circle, and above the circle), tippy lyras, with their ability to rotate in two different directions, blow my mind...I just really get the lyra, you know?

But up till now, though we've had a few rendezvous, I've loved the lyra from afar. I haven't been able to get past its bruising, steel exterior to the graceful, flowing nature within.

The damn thing just hurts too much! Sitting on it? Hurts. Knee hangs? Hurts. Don't even get me started on single knee hangs, and then of course, to do all the beautiful flowing choreography, you don't just pick a pose and grit your teeth. You MOVE. You flow over the steel, up, down and all around, so that every tender inch of flesh gets a chance to be scraped, bruised, banged, and crushed.

Now, I know, for many people, that would be the end of it. I mean, we can't do everything, right? I'm never going to ride massive roller coasters, or join one of those community dodgeball leagues, for example.

But LOTS of people lyra, lots of people I KNOW, people who don't seem to have a higher pain tolerance than I do! So I've kept holding out hope that one day a switch would flip and I would love being on the lyra...

And Sunday was that day.

What was it that flipped the switch? It was SHARING the lyra! I took Megan Hornaday's amazing Aerial Partnering 101 workshop in which she and her partner taught some basic moves, transitions, and sequences for aerial partnering on silks, and on lyra. Silks were fine. I flew, I based, I hit the mat a few times...tons of fun! Then she moved over to the lyra, and I visibly winced. I knew what was coming.

But when Colleen and I inverted and hooked opposite knees on the same spinning hoop, my attention was entirely taken up with maintaining visual symmetry, and staying out of my partner's way. I couldn't spare a thought for my knee, gripping the curved bar at an awkward angle. We shifted and rolled through the whole sequence, and if it was painful, I was completely unaware of it. I was too busy communicating with my partner to notice, or care!

The next day I noticed it: a bruise under my knee, abraded skin around my ankles, but who cares about that? I couldn't wait to get back up on the lyra and try the second side, and start exploring other shapes and transitions!

I think there's a lesson in this. Something about focusing on others instead of on ourselves making tough times easier...and that's a great take-away, obviously, but I think there's something else, too: something I learned from yoga (P.S. just took another class; high five for me!!).

I've been looking with longing at the lyra for years, and I've taken a few workshops and classes from time to time, but when it wasn't working for me, I didn't force it. I didn't make myself take a class every week, or spend half an hour on the lyra at open workout. I just left it alone. And then one day the planets aligned, and now I WANT to take a class every week and spend time on the lyra in every open workout.

All the pushing and the forcing in the world will all too often not lead to the change you seek. You won't get more patient, eat better, listen more, be more assertive at work, or whatever it may be, if you're fighting with yourself to get there. It takes time to be ready to change, and that inner work is just as important, and as noble, as the obvious outer change.

Let yourself evolve gradually, from the inside out. As I like to say to my students, be prepared to surprise yourself. You never know what could shift.

Live Omily,

Friday, December 4, 2015

The Yoga Experiment Part II

You can read Part I here.

It took a while. Over a month, in fact. But I once I made it a priority, it was bound to happen. I finally went to my first hatha-vinyasa yoga class in months. Since I was signing in that class, and the one after it, I had to start fifteen minutes late, and sneak out five minutes early, but it was enough.

As I shifted between cat and cow, and luxuriated in a foot-peddling down dog, I was pleasantly surprised at how instantaneously my ujjayi breath switched on. My body remembered this. It remembered all of it: not a single transition felt rusty, and not only that, I found myself stronger and more limber, making deeper connections in binds, shifting more fluidly through chaturanga, and reaching for my deepest back bend in upward dog. This state of affairs I credit entirely to my continued aerial training. It does suggest that I wasn't crazy to think that yoga wasn't doing much for me from a strength/flexibility standpoint.

But it was doing something.

My brain felt different within minutes of joining class, and by the time I scurried out to sign in the next class, I was buzzing with that tranquil euphoria the insiders call, 'yoga brain.'

And even assuming that's all there was, that was enough. I made it back into the studio two days later for another class.

But that wasn't all there was.

Days later I strolled through Manhattan between my home base aerial studio and Trader Joe's, enraptured by the sound of my breath, the architectural trim, the people hovering on and off the curb while waiting for the light to change. It felt like meeting an old friend, this simple experience of being present to a walk through a familiar area of my home city. How in the world had I not missed this when it had faded? What an incredible gift!

They say there's no zeal like that of the convert, and maybe that's doubly true for the re-convert. Maybe that's why it's almost inevitable for us to drift from our yogic path from time to time, so that we can experience it all anew when we come back, and remember why we do this in the first place.

I still don't know how yoga does what it does. Maybe being such a kinesthetic person, the asana practice is just an easier gateway for me toward a meditative state than the seated practice. Maybe it has to do with how the asana practice tricks you into practicing pranayama for an hour or more straight. More experiments need to be done...mostly those involve taking more yoga classes...I'll see you on the mat.

Live Omily,