Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

So today I worked and did yoga, and now I'm sitting in my room stalking people on facebook... it doesn't so much feel like Christmas as it feels like a normal day.

Kripalu tries to pretend that Christmas isn't happening. I guess mostly because there are a bunch of people here trying to pretend the same thing? For some it's a retreat from hectic holidays, for some a retreat from a lonely time when you're not supposed to be lonely. Good ol' Kripalu, always the retreat center.

We did have a special meal, which was nice, but the only sign of Christmas is a tree for the volunteers that is relegated to the basement.

I'm not really bothered, I had a nice time with my mom and Grandma last week in Florida, and my Dad and Stepmom came to visit Kripalu for a couple nights, and left today.

But I did want to say Merry Christmas to those I love and am far away from

- there are too many of you to phone individually! (which I've realized will always be true -that's what happens when you travel around the world collecting friends and then go live in a place far away from all of them and your family... serves me right I suppose! but I do still love you)

Christmas Morning at Kripalu:

Sun Dogs in the icy sky:

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Free, at Last!

I ate some honey today, it was quite sweet.

Free? well, not really. For me, freedom would be if I didn't care that today was December 8th because all my sugar cravings had ceased.

I must say, they have significantly dropped off in the last week. So that, on the first day in a month where I could have any sweet thing I wanted, I just had some honey and a couple pieces of chocolate, and didn't want much else.

But I did indeed care that today was the 8th. The other night I actually had a dream that I came across some really nice chocolate and took some ONLY to save for the 8th, and the next thing I knew, I was stuffing my face! I woke up feel ing all guilty and stressed out... Layered, I tell you. This sweets things in layered in my subconscious.

I learned some very interesting things in my month:

1) Sweets are Stealthy:

When you're not eating something, you begin to notice how often you would've eaten it on a normal day. In my month I noticed all the unnecessary sweets I would normally consume.

There are the obvious ones like cookies and cake, but I started noticing jam, granola, soymilk, every time I would've put honey in my tea, how many sauces for lunch and dinner have sugar in them, even soups... juice, crackers, bread, maltose, dextrose, maltrodextrin, sucrose, fructose... it's everywhere!

2) Sweets are like Crack:

Okay, maybe not that bad, but even a little bit makes you want more. I had a spoonful of cranberry sauce on thanksgiving, and for days my cravings were in full tilt! They had been abating a bit, but after that I thought about sugar all the time.

3) Sweets Numb Your Tastebuds:

This one isn't going to be popular, but the most interesting, least expected thing I noticed was that I tasted everything more.

One might expect that my sense of taste for sweetness would become more sensitive (which it definitely did), but what surprised me was that all the other flavors came through more clearly as well. I stopped putting salt on things, plain vegetables or brown rice were more delicious than ever.

Also, I desired lighter, healthier foods. It made all my other dietary goals easier. Bread, cheese and anything rich or heavy turned me off. I couldn't eat it. Give me steamed Kale! Bring on the Spinach! Collards here I come!

Last night I stopped eating the piece of bread I had thought would be so good, and got a second bowl of plain steamed collards... because my tastebuds wanted it. Who am I?

In conclusion, I would recommend this experiment to anyone interested in their health and their body (I also happened to lose about 10 lbs, if that's your thing).

Life is not always how we think it is, and doesn't have to be like it's always been.

In other news, this is what Kripalu looks like: (hurray!!)

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Exploring the Yoga of Life

Before I came to Kripalu, my Dad asked me why I do yoga. My stock answer is "because everything in my life is better when I do yoga".

And it's true.

I feel better emotionally, physically, and spiritually, I'm calmer and more present, I enjoy things more, I eat better and have more energy. I make better decisions and my mind is clearer.

The other thing I really love about yoga though, is that it's a metaphor for life. On a very real level for me, yoga is life/life is yoga, because it's a way of looking at things, and a way of living.

Kripalu's slogan is "exploring the yoga of life" and I couldn't think of better words to describe why I'm here.

Yes, I'm here to live my yoga.

The yoga that most people are familiar with (asana: postures) is only one part of it, but it is where most people start and is a very important part of the path.

Asana is like practice for life:

We purposely put ourselves in stressful situations (postures that require strength and/or flexibility), to practice dealing with whatever comes up (discomfort, anger, fear, frustration). It brings into focus how we react to situations in daily life. It breaks down our patterns so they're easier to see.

How you are in yoga, is very likely how you are in life.

When your muscles start to quiver, do you immediately back out of the pose? or do you stay steady? Do you push you edge?

If you usually back out, can you stay in? If you usually push, can you back off without judging yourself?

If the teacher guides the class into a pose you've never done, do you sit back and say I can't do that? or do you try it out?

I think my favorite thing about yoga (and it shares this with outdoor adventure activities) is that it allows people to do things they thought they couldn't do.

Which hopefully prompts the question: what else in my life can I accomplish that I think I can't?

Through my experiences as a TRiP leader I saw many students climb a rock they thought was impossible or raft a whitewater river that scared the crap out of them. To see that look of surprised confidence on their faces was the most rewarding part of my job. I'm not a yoga teacher (yet) but I can imagine it's a similar experience.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Tempting Fate

Week 4 of my 1-month fast from all things sweetly delicious.

Right now I work in Veggie Prep (VP) to earn my keep here at Kripalu.

As much as I love chopping Kale for hours on end (actually, I really do like my job), I'm moving on next semester to learn a thing or two about commercial baking! I got accepted to work in the bakery for next semester (only two volunteers get to do this awesome job).

I've been going into the bakery on my days off from VP to train and get a feel for the place so I'm not starting from scratch in January (pun intended).

I love baking so much, that when I'm done in there, it still feels like I had a day off.

It puts me in a bit of a situation for right now though...

Baking brownies and not eating any?
Throwing away the last little bit of cookie dough?
Washing off a perfectly lickable spatula full of icing?

One day last week, I found myself with fingers inches from my mouth, maple syrup dripping off them after a slight spill... years of tasting-while-I-cook habits propelling my movements... then slowly, deliberately, I brought my fingers down to my apron and wiped them off as tear slid down my cheek (okay, so it wasn't quite that dramatic, but it was a big step for me!)

December 8th, I have my eye on you.

ps. It's SNOWING!!! (after 8 years living in places that don't have winter, I'm actually excited that this is the view from my window)