Thursday, October 23, 2014

How to be Alive...

Practice yoga and drink juice.  I promise you, it will make you feel alive. 

I have been a substance abuse counselor for 17 years.  One principle of sobriety is to rely on a Higher Power.  Throughout my years of counseling, people always stumble on Step 3 of the 12 Steps of AA (or whatever _A group you attend).  The step states "Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God, as we understood him."  Many people misunderstand this step.  They believe that some kind of magic will happen when they get to this step and they will not have anymore "bad" thoughts or behaviors.  If you break down this step and really look at the words, it will take on a different meaning.  To make a decision does not imply action.  A decision happens in one's head.  After making the decision, then there will be action steps to realize that decision in a more concrete manner.  In AA, those steps follow in steps 4-9 of the 12 step program. 

Yoga has a similar misrepresentation.  Sometimes people think that practicing yoga makes a person automatically become calm and fluid.  Like some stressed individual who just popped 2 Valium with a glass of Moscato.  This could not be further from the truth.  I practice yoga.  I practice yoga almost daily.  However, I still over-react to most things that occur in my life.  I can throw out curse words like I was raised by the merchant marine.  I hate confrontation and I'm definitely not all "Namaste" about things all of the time.  That doesn't make me any less of a yogi or any less enlightened then anyone else.  See, yoga teaches the principles of tuning into your inner peace but like recovery it's not a black and white deal.  You don't either have it or don't have it.  You cultivate it, little by little, breath by breath, posture by posture.  The difference is, today I may recognize my neuroses a little sooner and have tools available to me to find my center again.  In this way Yoga makes me a better person, even when you don't see that side of me. 

Yoga has 8 limbs.  Only one of those limbs has to do with the physical postures, called asana.  In making one's way to true enlightenment, one has to pass through the Yamas, the Niyamas, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, and Dhyana.  Only then can you get to Samadhi.  As I study some of the sacred yoga and Hindu texts I have come to the conclusion that I may never want to be "that" enlightened.  I enjoy worldly things and indulgences.  I also sometimes enjoy the chitta (mind stuff) that allows me to be sarcastically humorous at appropriate (and inappropriate) times.  I enjoy the taste of food, the feeling of making love to my husband and the sound of good music.  I have no desire to renounce those things or even become indifferent to them...maybe in my next lifetime.  For this one though, I will enjoy life, act wildly inappropriate sometimes, use the "f" word excessively sometimes, laugh uncontrollably and sob inconsolably sometimes.  Through all of that, I will be a yogi.  A perfectly imperfect expression of life and love.  I will honor the light in myself and the light in you.  I will not apologize for my tarnished yet authentic expression of self.


Today's Juices


Tropical Greens (Jamba Juice)
A combination of spinach, apple, chia and carrot
**I also had a single shot of wheatgrass while I was there.


Carrot/Beet Surprise (I made up the name)
2 carrots
1 apple
1/2 smallish beet
1/2 lemon
ginger (my juicer is a cheap one so it takes more then most juicers require) 
**I'm hoping Santa brings me a new one for Christmas


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The 60 Day Yoga and Juice Challenge

10/22/14 Wednesday.

I am embarking on a new challenge and I am going to share it through this blog.  I am committing to juicing and yogaing (is that a word) everyday for the next 60 days.  After completing the Detroit Marathon last weekend I have decided I need to try something different.  Running and other high intensity activities have served me well for the last few years but I am at a place where it feels that something is missing.  As a part-time yoga teacher I have determined that a personal yoga practice may be what is missing.  When a teacher steps away from her own mat, everyone around her may be effected by that.  Including her students.  So, my number one reason for embarking on this journey is to rediscover myself.  My second reason is to help my students discover themselves.  The physical practice of yoga teachers how to feel your body from the inside out.  How to find rest in the difficulty of pushing to your edge,  How to connect the breath to movement and in turn quiet the rambling of the mind.  But mentally, the physical practice of yoga teaches you take those things you find on your mat and apply them to the other areas of your life.  How to be grounded in the midst of a storm.  Working in the substance abuse field, raising teenagers, marriage, traffic, ex-husbands, bills, home ownership, pets, etc. all can create static in my life.  Being a reactive person doesn't always work,  Okay, being a reactive person rarely works.  Find a base in a yoga practice not only changes your body, it changes your mind and spirit too.  I took to my mat again a couple of months ago but now I am going to be exclusive with my mat. I am committing to have a daily date with my mat and my breath.  This is an experiment to see what I can shake from the tree (aka: my mind).  I am hoping to develop deeper physical expression in the asanas but I am also hoping to develop a more positive relationship with my body.  I will be chronically this journey through this blog.

So, where does the juice piece fit in?  A few weeks ago, as I was finishing my preparations for the Detroit Marathon, I did a 3 day juice cleanse to drop off those few extra pounds before I started carb loading.  What happened was astonishing!  Three days of juice and I felt lighter, cleaner, more focused, more energized, more mentally positive and my sugar cravings disappeared.  I am now committing to learning more about juicing and replacing one meal and one snack per day with fresh juice for the next 60 days.  The 3 day juice cleanse I participated in was prepared and delivered to me.  Now I will learn how to do this myself to fit my life and my needs. 

I do not have a weight loss or aesthetic goal for this challenge.  It is a challenge to feel better from the inside out and enjoy participating in my life again, even the not so good stuff.  I hope you will join me for this journey.

With all that being said, I will report that so far today I participated in Rocket Sculpt Yoga at It's Yoga and had a post workout juice.  I also have a cleansing beet and grape juice prepared for this afternoon.  Day 1 and so far, so good.  Until tomorrow....


Post-Workout Juice
1 stalk celery
1/2 cucumber
2 apples

Cleansing Beet and Grape Juice
1/2 smallish beet
1/2 largish cucumber
2 cups grapes (red for sweeter juice or green for tart juice)