It’s autumn! Hiking sure feels more pleasurable when the temperature drops below 80 here in the mid-Atlantic, I can get excited about making soup and turning on my oven (more fall kitchen tips below), and as a creature of habit, I love the steadier rhythm that sweeps across the land once schools go back in session and lace up the looseness of summer.
On the other side, shorter and colder days can make it harder to be with (normal, naturally occurring) sadness without succumbing to it and closing ourselves off from others. Right as we’re hitting an orderly stride, we might feel our energy beginning to lag in preparation for winter hibernation, and less likely to make it through the lists of things we’d like to accomplish before year’s end. And as if all of that isn’t enough…there’s this election thing, right?
This one has been harsh. It’s painful to see that many Americans think and feel differently than I do. I try to remember that those with polar-opposite beliefs probably feel the same way. In our yoga classes, you may have heard me share this translation of “Namaste” from Ram Dass – “I honor the place in you in which the entire universe dwells. I honor the place in you, which is of love, of truth, of light, and of peace. I honor the place in you where if you are in that place in you, and I am in that place in me, there is only one of us.”
For those of us who are strong and grounded in our political beliefs, this is where we have a chance to live our yoga. We can’t just bow to those who practice beside us – on mat or on ballot. We have to open our hearts to those who seem furthest from us.
I’m working to recognize that candidates I passionately disagree with are human – vain, righteous, and stubborn. I’m all of those things too. I’ve become grateful for the opportunity that this election cycle has created for me to be with feelings I stamped down about my own past sexual harassment, and taken concrete steps to heal. I can’t say that that would have happened if not for this strange course of events this year.
And when I do find myself flustered and angered by the news, which is often, I call to mind this definition of yoga from BKS Iyengar: “Yoga is the method by which the restless mind is calmed and the energy directed into constructive channels.” Where is the constructive channel – the things I have control over? I can choose to get on my mat or my cushion for practice, in my kitchen to take out my feelings on some cabbage that needs chopping, or even jump on the ol’ Internet to get back to the administrative work of setting up the next service project – with the hope that my actions will return me to peace, and better the world in the process.
I hope that if election stress is hitting you, you too can find the constructive channel that directs your attention towards healing, and that you can try to be tender with your words and thoughts towards those who you disagree with. Let’s be real about what we find unacceptable politically, but full of acceptance for our fellow citizens: the deep-seated pain and suffering and fear that this campaign has brought to light needs compassion and understanding. Let’s offer all that we can.
Join your fellow yogis in an off-the-mat afternoon of service at Bread for the City, a nonprofit that provides food, clothing, medical care, legal and social services to DC’s neediest residents. We’ll be sorting produce that will be distributed to low-income residents through BftC’s food pantry, so please wear closed-toed shoes and comfortable clothing.
Meet up at BftC’s Northwest Center (1525 Seventh Street NW between P and Q, just 1.1 mi from Yoga NoMa) at 2 p.m., or if the weather allows, a walking group will meet up at Yoga NoMa at 1:30. Coming to the morning class? Pack a lunch or grab something nearby and we’ll eat together in the lobby before departing. If you're new to Yoga NoMa, check out www.yoganoma.com and email any questions to email@example.com. You can also sign up and spread the word to non-facebook friends with the following link: https://routeam.com/classes/24769-nov13-yoga-noma-serve-and-be-social-produce-sort-at-bread-for-the-city-2-4-p-m
Can’t make it? Check out ongoing volunteer opportunities at BftC at http://www.breadforthecity.org/ongoing-opportunities/ or donate at https://www.breadforthecity.org/givetoday/
first rule of fall // Always Be Roasting
The winds of the fall season can sweep us off our feet if we don’t set a steady routine. The Washington Post had a great article on one of my sanity stand-bys: batch cooking! I find that it takes a lot of the decision fatigue out of cooking and eating. While some adherents of batch cooking have weekly Thanksgiving-esque afternoons of cooking six things at a time, I generally prefer to cook one thing in a batch daily. Grains and roasting are pretty hands off – just heat oven/hot water up and go, so even if I don’t have time to attentively cook, something gets made. My go-tos are quinoa, millet, sweet potatoes, and Brussels sprouts. When I have more time to be attentive with spices, I'll make a vegetable soup, curry, or hummus. This way, I often have something warm and fresh (and an excuse to make my apartment warmer!), as well as other things to assemble a grain bowl out of. And it’s a little different every day based on what’s around, so I don’t get bored.
A couple things I have eaten several times a week in the past month and haven't stopped wanting to make:
- One cooked sweet potato with 3 or more of the following: black beans, salsa, roasted green beans or spinach, grains, handful of corn and cilantro, poached egg on top if I’m feeling a need for extra protein
- Cabbage bowl: Make this Madhur Jaffrey cabbage with fennel seeds (use less salt, imho), eat with quinoa or rice and tofu. Can also turn this into fried rice with a little soy sauce, rice vinegar, and sugar.
- Berbere bowl: Make this atakilt wat (Ethiopian cabbage and carrots – I usually leave out the potato), eat with extra sautéed kale, millet, and for extra protein add lentils, tofu or a poached egg. Out of berbere? Come practice at Willow Street Yoga in Silver Spring, where you cannot walk a block without passing an Ethiopian market!
where it's at // Silver Spring
Community week at Willow Street Yoga is Oct 24-30. Registered students can drop in for free to as many classes as your schedule/hamstrings will allow, non-registered students come for $10 to any class! Come slow flow and restore with me on Friday nights at 6:30 :) Pre-Halloween selfies with our in-room skeleton optional.
A little further up Colesville Rd in Silver Spring, did you know there is a yoga studio on top of the Trader Joe’s? Did you know that I teach yin there on Wednesdays (and Mondays this month while another teacher is out)? Did you know that the Northwest Branch trail is very very beautiful and right there and you should definitely go for a hike? If you knew all of that, congrats. You are an expert at fall.
not safe for yoga // nsfy // fall playlist