Finding ‘Hull Speed’

Scan 131260001From as early as I can remember, I’ve always loved boating. It was my parents’ main passion, and every sunny day off in the summer, we’d find ourselves motoring off somewhere. Often, my mother wanted to go faster than my dad. She’d get a little bored with the puttering and ask him to “let it out a little.” And often he’d indulge her, taking us on a short but fun, super speedy ride.

Dad, on the other hand, wanted to go even slower than he usually did. He had always wanted a trawler, a boat that’s meant to go that slow (but my Mom wouldn’t give in on that point). 

When I asked him why not just go slower if that’s what he wanted, he explained about ‘hull speed’. READ MORE >

A Fall Soup to Ease Summer’s Passing

It’s fall. Yep, I mean, there are still summery days, but fall is in the air. I refuse to wear socks, or boots, yet. But I admit it. I love fall. It’s so awesome to be able to throw on a scarf and walk in the crisp air, it really makes my heart sing. But it’s always a little sad to say goodbye to the easy breezy summer lifestyle. Salads with fresh tomatoes. No need to turn on the stove. Flip flops and a sun dress.

This soup will ease the blow. It’s creamy and comforting and about as fast as a home-cooked meal could be. It may be the easiest soup of all time, and it’s about as delicious as any I can think of. READ MORE >

To Sharath or not to Sharath? That is the question. Or the “Tin Cup.”

The BHH and I have a term we use for things we have a mental block against. We call them a “Tin Cup.” It’s because long ago we had the movie Tin Cup sitting around our house for months on end and couldn’t bring ourselves to watch it. We just thought it was going to be painful and irritating somehow. And when we finally watched it, we liked it a lot. Anyway, any time either one of us doesn’t want to do something, watch something, etc, we say “Is that going to be a Tin Cup?”

So, I haven’t practiced with Sharath Jois in kind of a while. He’s the grandson of Pattabhi Jois, I guess you’d say the founder of ashtanga yoga, and he is the current torch bearer for our tradition. Not only has it been since, oh, 2011, but I don’t have a close relationship with him to begin with. I’ve only had the one trip to Mysore, India, plus a few NYC led classes. And I’ve never really done my full practice with him. Being a nervous, shaky-poodle type, this has led to something of a “tin cup” situation.

The past couple of years when Sharath has been teaching near-ish, it’s been Connecticut. Too far for me to get to easily and work as well. Also, I’ve been out of town when he’s visited, so no decision to be made.

But this year, I found that I would be in town during the “Sharath week.” And not only that, but he is teaching in NYC, close to my teaching and work and home. 

The choice was pretty obvious. I was going to have to get over my “Tin Cup.”

Today was day one. An ‘easy’ day. Primary series only. Not that it’s ever easy in a led class with a mischievous Indian man slowing down the counts at just the hardest moments. But at least it’s a comfortable series. Sweaty good fun. No real “speed bumps” to worry about. And there were long-lost friendly faces from near and far.

We stood for Samastitthi the same way we do in every led class anywhere in the world, and in that traditional comforting way I began to breathe a little easier. Everything felt so familiar. That’s the power of ritual and tradition in action.

Mind, you know it’s a hard class when you get sweaty before the last sun salute, lathered by middle of the series and tired and almost cool before back bending. The whole arc in less than an hour and a half. But the old magic was there. The same way it can always be, in any ashtanga room anywhere, as long as I focus my mind.

I left the room beaming and ravenous and cleansed in body with a slightly quieter monkey mind. Joined friends for a brunch dosa as big as my carryall and headed to work with a spring in my step. Not a bad way to start a Wednesday morning.

Now, to get over the second series hurdle..I may need to quit coffee and invest in some kind of calming herbs for that. But I’m on the track for the week now. There’s no turning back. No way to let it keep being my “Tin Cup.” What a relief.

keep calm shirt

Going West, in Pictures

Did you miss me? Aww, glad to hear it! I’ve been away and it’s been soul soothing and wonderful, but it’s also nice to be back.

The BHH, delectable Dad and I all took a trip west to visit my brother in Tahoe this week, and wow, it was wonderful. Not being a fabulous photographer, I missed many great shots. We ate some amazing food and drank some amazing wine I just wasn’t able to get right! But here are a few shots that kind of capture the feeling of the trip. READ MORE >

Can a yogi drink wine? Or, musings on judgement.

Have you noticed that although I profess to write a blog about food, wine and yoga, it almost always ends up being about food? It’s true. I’m often more creative with my food than anything else. So perhaps it’s time for some wine-ing. Or some yoga. Or hey, both at once?

Here’s the funny incident that prompted this post. I was sitting at my favorite restaurant last week, at the bar, with a book, about to order a glass of wine. And let’s just stop and examine that sentence. This in itself is actually a wonderful thing in a way! For so much of my life I was too shy and nervous and concerned about what others thought of me, I’d never have been caught dead alone at a dining establishment! I would rather have starved! But there I was, having made myself a healthy meal and needing some “out in the world” time for some reason and I just headed out on my own. This is huge progress. And I attribute it to yoga. I have only recently begun to just be whoever I am, both on the mat and in the world, rather than trying to shape myself to fit a certain situation. Man, it’s taking a long time!

So anyway, back to the evening. I was sitting there with my wine menu open and a yoga teacher I know and love walked in and came over to say hi. What did I do? Immediately slammed my menu shut! As if to cover the idea that I was going to drink wine.

She did what any normal, adjusted person would do. She laughed and hugged me and sat down at her own table. To “sneak out and indulge in a huge pile of pasta,” as she put it.

But after she left me, I had a good think. Why do I still feel this need to justify my choices, to anyone at all?

Here’s what I feel about wine: I like it and I’m not addicted to it. I have never ever been a big drinker. In fact, as a younger person I didn’t binge drink or even really go out to bars because I just could not handle my liquor and was too embarrassed to be a liability or to even try to use a fake ID.

I only grew into my love of wine while helping my Dad run his wine shop. And I know a lot about it. I drink it reasonably, not too often and not too much. But I do enjoy it. Is that so bad? No. the problem I have is not with overindulging in alcohol, it’s leftover judgement from the early years of my yoga obsession (now that’s something I’m addicted to). When I first started practicing, I decided certain things were good (austerity) and certain things were bad (wine, coffee, chocolate,  enjoying anything too much). It’s like if it wasn’t austere, it couldn’t possibly be yogic, present. Actually, I’m kind of embarrassed to say that ‘out loud’, so to speak.

It took me a long time to get over most of that. I had to go back to the beginning and rethink the point of yoga. I had to examine the philosophy in detail, for myself, rather than looking at things in big sweeping statements or from other people’s perspectives.

But certain vestiges of this remain, obviously. As in, “drinking is not yogic.”

And in that moment at Fragole, I decided to let the sweeping statements drop  away.

Guess what, I like a great glass of wine. Enjoyed slowly. With great pleasure. From time to time. I realize that clouding one’s life experience with substances is not a way to be truly present. But I also think aversion is the flip side of attachment. Life is an ebb an flow. And rocketing from extreme to extreme isn’t the way I want to flow. I’ll take the gray areas thank you very much.

So, I’m going to share with you  the really special wines I find. That doesn’t mean I encourage YOU to drink. Especially if you have a problem with alcohol. There are some things that you just can’t conquer with mindfulness and “everything in moderation.” I’ve known a few alcoholics, and can say for sure that moderation is not possible there. Getting help is absolutely necessary. For me, the addictive, sticky substances are different. Food, mostly. But I also got help. Some issues just require a helping hand.

What I want is for you, everybody, to examine your thoughts and make sure they’re your own. Also, check in, are you judging yourself more than you’d like, and hence also judging others? Maybe it’s time to drop the judgments and get back to a more connected, compassionate, really present way of going through the days and making decisions.

It’s not easy, in these human bodies in this crazy world with minds that think they are ‘everything’ and try to run the show. You’ve gotta still those swirling thoughts a little, step back from the world a little and drill down to what’s true. And that’s the yoga. It’s no easy feat. It’s certainly harder than learning a sun salute or (for me) putting  your leg behind your head. But it is possible.

And by the way, that hour with a simple glass of Montepulciano was maybe one of the best times I’ve had in a while. After I got over my own “stuff” and got out of my own way I thoroughly enjoyed that barstool and book in a way I might not have done if I were at home. I didn’t click around the internet or keep checking my phone, I just tuned in as I slowly sipped. Mindfulness in action, I’d say.

Whatever your issue, I encourage you to do the same: slow down, tune in, and get out of your own way.

After all, It’s hard. Living in these human bodies. This business of consciousness thrown together with matter with swirling mind stuff, it’s gets cloudy and confusing. But I think it’s possible to work it out. I strive to get better at it. And I raise a glass to the idea of fully embodying this human incarnation, all the quirks that make me me this time around.



What Pains You?

Hi all, happy spring! Can you believe it’s really here? Today I feel it. Total spring fever. I want to go for a massive walk and get away from the blinking screen so much! But you know, it’s a workday. I’ll have to settle for a shorter walk and some gazing out the window. I’ll take it!

Anyway, I am writing today to ask for your help READ MORE >

What I Love Wednesday

Well, here I am again, trying STILL to adjust to the NYC winter after the full on steam bath of India. I’m almost there. Things feel almost normal. Same same. Only different. Not a bad way to be. But I’m still missing a little of the “out of my comfort zone/new comfort zone feeling” the trip induced. Ah well, those feelings remind me how incredibly lucky I am. READ MORE >