Mellow Monday

This weekend has certainly been a whirlwind.  As I have mentioned in my previous post, this past Saturday was  our Volunteer Appreciation Brunch.  Months of compiling slideshow photos, planning all of the decorations and crafting the center pieces, my manager, our committee and I could finally sit back and watch our volunteers enjoy their afternoon.  It was certainly worth it; I love the Volunteer Brunch because it is a fun way to honor all of the volunteers who care for our animals.  Even a little Saturday drizzle couldn’t damper our day.

The fun didn’t stop there: on Sunday, (after an early morning yoga session) my family and I attended my cousin’s baby shower (who is currently expecting twins!)  The baby shower was held at The Inn located in New Hyde Park, NY.  The room was beautiful! I wish I took more photos, but I was a little preoccupied enjoying some delightful champagne and the company of my cousins and my cousin’s girlfriend, Steph.  The four of us had an afternoon full of laughs, twin trivia and brunch (which is always a win). 

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After such a busy weekend, my brain was a little fried (but in a good way).  After conking out at 7pm and sleeping for nine hours, I awoke this morning feeling a little foggy yet experimental.  For a while, I have been wanting to make another berry crumble, but I was curious to see if I could make it a little more portable.  After searching for berry bar recipes, I played around with the ingredients, hoping to use the same flavors that I use for my crumble.

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The result did not go as expected; instead of a soft and chewy bar, I had actually created a moist and squishy cake!  Although this wasn’t my intended goal, I am not too disappointed with the outcome.  Not only will I have another chance to try and execute the berry bars, but now I can say that I created my own recipe. Not bad for a mellow Monday.

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The Perfect Game

No.  Not today.

This was the mantra that was running through my head as I drove to my Sunday yoga class.  For the past few weeks, I have been letting irrational thoughts or emotions interrupt my practice (let alone my life): taking the words or attitudes of others more personally than I should, imagining negative scenarios that have not even happened, and on the flip side, forgetting my place, believing that words or actions mean more than they do and letting my daydreams get ahead of me.  Regardless, nothing was going to interrupt me this morning: no emotions, no thoughts – I was heading to my practice prepared to focus and challenge myself to a task that I had never attempted before.

I wanted to go for a perfect game.

What is a perfect game in the yoga world?  I am not even sure if it’s a coined term in the world of yoga, but there were four classes scheduled for that Sunday: three traditional hot yoga practices and a YIN class.  My plan was to take all four of them.  This was going to be the hardest challenge of my life; I have completed double classes before, but never a triple with a YIN on top.  I have been wanting to deepen my practice for a while and gain strength in my postures, but completing this challenge meant more than that:  I wanted to prove to my mind that I was in control.

Walking into my first class, I held my plan close, deciding not to reveal it just yet.  I was afraid that saying it out loud would cause it to dissipate.  Nevertheless, I entered the room and began my practice.  Trying to pace myself throughout the class, I felt that I was sloppy and not as smooth as I had hoped.  Leaving the room though, I felt okay and was ready to face the second class.  I certainly felt the drain of the first class, as I was a little more wobbly on my feet during the standing series.  However, after we hit the ground for the floor series, I thought I was getting my stride back.  That is until I stood back up.  Despite drinking water and refueling with fruit, my hands were jittery; I had experienced this feeling once before, and I did not take class that day.

It was then that I revealed my plan to Stephanie and Tommy (another instructor and the General Manager of HY4Y).  Maybe I jinxed myself in that moment (as the first rule of a perfect game is not to talk about a perfect game), but  Stephanie had mastered the art of the trio classes, and she could see that I was fading fast.  She expressed the importance of knowing restraint, and how pushing forward may not yield the practice I had hoped for.  Although my mind and spirit were still on board with my plan, my body giving in.  Ultimately, I conceded to sit out of the third round of the traditional practice and save my energy for the YIN class.  Although a slower and gentler practice, the YIN class is my biggest challenge, forcing me to remain trapped with my thoughts for longer periods of time.  This YIN class, though, ran the smoothest it ever has for me, despite gecko posture feeling like an eternity.

Although I was a little disappointed that I couldn’t achieve my perfect game, I do have something to be proud of: I completed my first triple! And sometimes, knowing when to restrain yourself and protect yourself can be just as powerful as pushing yourself through a challenge.

Now, I have something to work towards, something to focus on, something to help push me further into my practice and help keep everything else out.

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Similar to the events at my yoga class, these cookies proved to be a test for me.  With Spring upon us, I wanted to make a lemon thumbprint cookie with raspberry-blackberry middle for my fam at the yoga studio.

The first batch, though? They were horrible.  The dough had mixed for way too long, creating a cake-like cookie that grew staler by the minute.  I accidentally added too much water to my jam, creating a runny consistency.  I could not bring myself to bring this batch to my friends.  I realize that mistakes are a part of the learning process, but I was disappointed.  Within the next few days, I knew that I would have the opportunity to try again.
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With a slight tweak to the recipe, I stepped up to my mixer with a new determination; I had to believe that I could do this. I am glad that I was forced to remake the recipe; it reinforced that I am not always going to succeed on the first shot, and that is okay.  We always need to keep trying, to keep learning; failures and setbacks give us something to strive for.  And similar to pulling off these cookies, in the terms of my yoga practice and my perfect game, I believe I can – so one day, I will. 

There’s No Place Like Home

This past week, a coworker invited me to a wellness retreat that was set to take place at Sands Point Preserve.  Knowing that I practice yoga, I thought it was very kind of her to tell me about the retreat. The retreats were designed to enhance our health by improving self-knowledge and self care.  Seeing as outside thoughts and emotions have been creeping into my yoga practice lately, I thought that a wellness reset at a new and neutral location would be beneficial.

Plus, it gave me something to write about this week. (Do it for the blog!)

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Pulling up to the preserve, which looked like something out of the Great Gatsby, I wasn’t sure what to expect.  Once we began, the day flowed smoothly: we practiced light yoga (using our chair as a modifier), we were led through a guided meditation (which was quite interesting; I have never done savasana under a blanket and with a bolster before!), we completed a quick journal exercise, and we finished our day with a discussion on “spring vitality.” This is how I would rate the day:

Retreat PROS:

  • One of the things that I really enjoyed about the retreat was our quick discussion of Ayurveda (the belief that health and wellness depend on a balance between the mind, body and spirit). Remembering my friend Steph mention this at the studio, I was eager to learn more.  During our journal session, the instructor had us breakdown the different elements (earth, water, fire, air and space) and where we felt we landed within them.  The instructor explained that this wasn’t for judgement, but to be used as a tool to build and strengthen our yoga practice.
  • There was one thing the instructor said that really stuck with me: we often surround ourselves with statements of “I’m trying to…” and by doing this, we surround ourselves with “trying” energy.  By using declarative statements, such as “I am a baker” or “I am a photographer,” we can change the energy that surrounds us.
  • The coffee was delightful.

Retreat CONS:

  • I wish I had learned more.  I felt that the Ayurveda discussion was cut much too short.  Instead of the “spring vitality” discussion (aka: how to grow your own wheat grass), I wished that the instructor explained how we could strengthen ourselves within the elements.  I felt like our discussion only touched upon the surface of the topic; instead of elaborating on Ayurveda, the instructor simply plugged a separate set of workshops that we could register for.
  • It wasn’t home. As I mentioned in a previous post, I have truly found happiness within the community at HotYoga4You RVC.  Despite trying to keep an open mind, I missed my studio (and the HEAT!).  Every movement, every posture, every moment during the meditation felt unnatural.  Dorothy Gale had it right when she said, “there’s no place like home.”

The way that HY4Y has become like a second home to me, I have to remember that baking is my wellness.  Baking keeps me calm and in the moment, protecting me when my mind and emotions are on overdrive; it helps me connect to others, even if it is only for a second;  and if my baking can brighten someone’s day, even in the slightest way, I know that all of the time and effort was well worth it.

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One thing I am also thankful for is how willing my yoga fam is to be taste testers for my baked treats.  With Spring just around the corner and wellness on the brain, my mind settled on the idea of making something fruit-based.  This week, I decided to bake a Blackberry-Raspberry (“so good it should be illegal”) Crumble.  Between the tartness of the fruit and the sweetness of the oatmeal crumbs, I feel like crumbles are a perfectly balanced dessert (and they’re almost healthy, right?). IMG_0965

Overall, I had an interesting (but enjoyable) adventure in wellness.  I do truly appreciate that my coworker thought of me and invited me to join her.  I’m glad that I was brave and decided to give it a shot.  Although it is comforting to know, that no matter where you go or where you may venture off to, you can always come back home (especially when you come equipped with berry crumble).