Thursday, October 17, 2013

Looking for a simple, short Iyengar practice with video instructions?  I just did the practice demonstrated by David McLaughlin on YouTube and found it to be short (but you can hold the poses a lot longer to extend the practice) but well-demonstrated and with instructions that are super-clear and pertinent.  You may need to take further precautions than what David suggests (e.g. if you have tender knees, you might use a strap behind the knee in Triryang Mukha Eka Pada Paschimottanasana in addition to sitting up on sufficient height), but he gives excellent cues!
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Friday, October 4, 2013

Learning to use Blogger at Bourbon Cafe...

If you have ideas for things you'd like to see me post, please get in touch!
We were considering adding a Gadget to the blog and one that looked appealing was the "Cute Puppy of The Day" picture...but we decided against it.... But if you have to get your Cute Puppy fix, go to:

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Workshop Has a Sweet Ending -- Cookie Recipe!

Years ago I remember taking a class with my beloved teacher Larry Hatlett in Palo Alto, California and thinking during a standing pose (perhaps trikonasana?): "What about my feet? Where should the weight be, how can I use them most effectively?"  

Fast-forward to Sunday April 7th, 2013: Karin Stephan and I taught a workshop entitled "All About The Feet."  This was a concentrated, thoughtful and intense exploration of some of the ways we can and should work with the feet during the yoga practice.  It was a delightful group and for many of the participants an entree into a completely new way of working their feet!  Thanks to Karin there are hundreds of us now walking around in the greater Boston Area with a profoundly different sensibility with regard to our feet!  

Our tradition in The Art of Teaching is to end each workshop with tea and snacks and have time for Q&A and comments on the workshop.  One of the special snacks we like to serve is homemade vegan peanut butter chocolate chip cookies.  If you'd like to tray making them yourself the recipe is below:

Michael's Peanut Butter Gems
Makes 40 2-inch cookies
Discovered in a great resource for healthy treats: Sweet and Natural Desserts – East West's Best and Most Wholesome, Sugar- and Dairy-Free Treats, from the Editors of East West Journal

1 lb.           (454 grams)     peanut butter
2/3 cup (158 ml)               corn or vegetable oil
1 cup         (237 ml)          maple syrup or brown rice syrup (or a combination of the two)
1 tsp          (5 ml)              vanilla extract
3 cups       (450 grams)     sifted whole wheat pastry flour
                  for gluten-free use brown rice flour or almond flour
                  or a combination of the two)
1/2 tsp       (2.5 ml)           sea salt
6 oz.                                  vegan mini chocolate chips (or grain sweetened chips)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Cream the first four ingredients together until smooth.  Sift together flour and salt.  Gradually add the sifted flour, mixing well.  Form 2-inch balls.  Place them on a lightly oiled cookie sheet and flatten them slightly with a fork.  Bake the cookies for 10 minutes, turn the pan around 180 degrees to allow for even baking.  Bake for ~5 more minutes or just until golden.  Allow the cookies to cool for 5 minutes before removing to a rack to cool thoroughly. If using brown rice and/or almond flour only the cookies will be a little like shortbread and will need to cool on the pan a bit longer before being moved, otherwise they may crumble!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The hip flexors: who knew?

In my effort to balance my hips and figure out how to re-balance my pelvis I did not start out with any particular muscle groups in mind, but every time Elaine (Elaine Coolbrith, my body worker at Balanced Wellness in Watertown) began to work on my me, among the tightest muscle groups by far were the hip flexors: the iliopsoas, the tensor fascia lata, Sartorius (as well as the adductors, but that is another story!).  

Finally, after about three or four sessions I began to see and understand the pattern staring me in the face: I needed to do much more regular, focused work on my hip flexors if I wanted to re-balance my pelvis and improve my alignment.

With this in mind I have begun a daily practice of hip opening, focusing in particular on the iliopsoas and quadriceps (which, when tight, can strongly counteract any lengthening of the hip flexors!). I've developed a sequence which includes stretches for hamstrings and quadriceps, lunges, and, of course, downward facing dog.  It all culminates in pigeon pose, one of the best ways to stretch all those hip flexors!

Download a pdf of the sequence to use in your own home practice.