Tag Archives: yoga

Dancing Baklava

Okay I’m not proud of the title to this post. But I haven’t written since last semester so I’m just warming up. Speaking of things I haven’t done since last semester – I took a little hiatus from teaching as I was paranoid about my knee injury and now I’m teaching today for the first time from 4-5 pm in Adams UCR. It’ll be rough around the edges but I’m pumped to get back into it.

Today I’m hoping to explore Natarajasana, also known as dancer pose. Strangely enough, none of my yoga books talk about this pose so I’m a little skeptical about how traditional this pose is. The one thing I know is it’s challenging for beginners to accept is how they look in this pose. Usually we want to look like this:

When it’s great to look like this:

Preparatory-Lord-Shiva’s-pose-Saral-Natarajasana

But really, none of that is important. What’s important is the long lower back, open chest, and thigh stretch. If you feel those things working, then great. I definitely don’t look like the first picture, so you don’t have to either. Fears abated? It’s all about, santosha (contentment): enjoying here not there.

natarajasana

Meanwhile, I created one of my favorite dishes a couple weeks ago. The friendly, exotic, heartwarming pistachio baklava. I borrowed the recipe from this website with a few tweaks.

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Syrup:
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup water

1/4 cup rosewater

1/3 cup honey
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon cinnamon

Baklava:
12 ounces raw unsalted, untoasted pistachios
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter (3 sticks), melted, and cooled slightly
1 pound frozen phyllo, thawed

cardamom and cinnamon to taste

To prepare the sugar syrup, combine sugar, water, rosewater,  honey, lemon juice and cinnamon in small saucepan and bring to full boil over medium-high heat. After everything dissolves, move to a small glass bowl and set aside to cool while making the baklava. (Apparently you can do this 4 days ahead of time and just leave it).

For the nut filling, pulse the pistachios in the food processor until very finely chopped (coarse sand!). Add the sugar, cinnamon, cardamom, and pinch of salt and toss to combine or grind a little more. Set aside a couple tablespoons of the ground nuts to be used later as a garnish on the finished baklava.

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Hopefully your phyllo dough will be 13″x9″, but if not, cut it so it fits your baking dish. TRUE FACT: Phyllo dough is insane to work with. It’s highly breakable so be wary of handling the phyllo dough. If it breaks, fear not, you can still make disjointed layers that look artisanal. Cover with a damp kitchen towel to prevent drying and cracking. Brush a 13 by 9-inch glass baking pan with some of the melted butter.

For assembly of the layers, it’s important to note here that you should save the best-fitting, most intact sheets for the top and bottom layers of the baklava. Place a sheet of phyllo dough in the bottom of the buttered baking pan, and brush the sheet until completely coated in melted butter. Repeat with 7 more well intact phyllo sheets, brushing each with butter, until you have 8 phyllo sheets stacked on each other.

Evenly distribute about 1 cup of the nuts over the 8 phyllo layers. Cover the nut layer with a phyllo sheet, and dab butter all over it (if you try brushing it on, the phyllo will slip all over the place). Repeat with 5 more phyllo sheets, brushing each with butter, for a total of 6 phyllo sheets on top of the nut layer. Repeat the layering process with another 1 cup of the ground nuts, 6 sheets of phyllo and butter, and the last 1 cup of nuts. Finish off the layering with 8 to 10 sheets of good, intact phyllo dough, brushing each layer with butter except for the final top sheet. Use the palm of your hands to press down on the layers, starting at the center and pressing outwards to remove any air bubbles. Then, drizzle 4 tablespoons of butter over the top layer and brush to cover completely. (so I actually didn’t have as many layers as this paragraph suggest, but just go by ear and figure out how you can evenly stack your phyllo dough layers and salvage the pistachio blend).

Using a good, sharp knife, cut the baklava into diamonds—I found it easiest to make one long cut from one corner of the pan to the other and then making parallel diagonal cuts every couple inches on either side. I then repeated this on the other side of the baklava, to make complete diamonds.

Bake in preheated oven until lightly golden, about 50 minutes to an hour. Once removed from the oven, immediately pour all of the reserved syrup over all of the cuts lines and then over the surface of the baklava. Garnish each piece of baklava with a sprinkling of the reserved ground pistachios. Cool to room temperature, for about 3 hours, then cover with foil and let stand at least 8 hours. (I didn’t actually end up doing the whole 8 hours because my friends mauled it, but it still tasted amazing. So I’m curious to see what happens after 8 hours). Apparently stores for a couple weeks!!

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Happy Sunday.

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Filed under cooking, dance, postures, yoga

Prithri Mudra

This week I’ve felt a little hectic what with interviews, deadlines, etc. Not that it’s new. Strangely enough, I’ve also found my hand making this mudra without any reason behind it, other than the fact I found it somewhat focusing and soothing for my stressed/irritated energy (more and more I also find that I have such a pitta makeup sometimes). It didn’t relax me in the way that a spa day would. 

So I checked out what mudra I was making and did a little doodle on it. Posting it before I dive into my essay on mobius strips and the Dao De Jing (ah, procrastination):

Image

 

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October 18, 2012 · 11:17 pm

Now do the horse…

Last weekend I experienced my first excess of “Obba Gangnam Style”, dance included. Not that I’m complaining (KOREANPRIDE).

Sorry, I meant this link.

Or Hasty Pudding’s version.

Completely coincidentally, I drew this up a couple weeks ago when I was trying to find out more about Horse pose. Turns out the actual yoga horse pose achieves things on a muscular level that can be done in much safer poses. What I understood to be horse pose was actually horse stance, a fundamental stance done in martial arts such as TaiQi and QiGong.

“Like you’re riding an invisible horse.” – PSY

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Filed under postures, yoga

Back to School Sickness

Well it’s only week 2 of school and I’m down sick. Success.

Ugh. I think this has happened pretty much every year. So I took the time to look up acupressure points and yoga poses that could help out with my symptoms. The one that really surprised me was the acupressure points on the outer upper tip of the shoulder blades (B36, called Bearing Support). I pressed these points for a while then massage out my shoulders/neck/upper back as best as I could…and then remembered to swallow. Wait, what? My insanely painful sore throat was completely gone. And hasn’t come back since.

God I love this stuff.

Acupressure Points for Cold and Flu

Yoga Poses for a Cold

More Yoga Poses for Cold and Flu

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Filed under health, yoga

Your Word is Your Wand

…and other teaching notes I’m deciding to jot down.

Oh, and I forgot, some Harry Potter moves.

SIDENOTE: Fascinating discoveries of putting “Harry Potter yoga” into google. Thought I’d share:

Harry Potter and the Chakras” – not accurate, but hilarious that someone tried to analyze anyways.

Harry Potter and Yoga are evil – says Catholic Church exorcist” – I would never predict those two words would be together in a news headline, never mind words from a Catholic Church exorcist…

Yoga Pants: Harry Potter Fanfiction” – A scene of romantic love between Ron and Hermione…and Hermione’s yoga pants.

So back to Your Word is Your Wand… 

It’s always important to notice the subtitles of language when teaching a yoga class. This is one thing I’ve always found so fascinating about the difference between teaching yoga and a sport – you’re also cultivating a certain mind resonance and thought processes in your students. Rather than hurtful, forceful terms, which would propagate negative language and self-views in the student’s minds, I would encourage students to be compassionate with themselves instead. Here are some examples:

pull: draw, bring, extend, lengthen

grab: take, clasp, interlace, hold, support

butt: (this may not be a bad thing, it can be kind of cute) glute, tail, seat, sitting bones, move the fleshy part of outer thigh

push, put, get, gripping, squeeze: draw in, place, retrieves, engage, contract, hug, hold, float, plant, root, press & draw

hopefully…: now we are in place, if…then…

delicious, explore, find the subtleties, gravity is supporting you, new fields to play, playtime!, it’s just yoga, dude. Spaces in between spaces. Shifting perspective. You may move into any variations you are working with. You are welcome to stay in this place if you feel comfortable. Options. Potentials. Possibilites.

Cue things closer to the center body (ARMS not hands up to the sky, raise the thigh bone)

More random teaching notes: 

BEGINNING OF CLASS: Always check for injuries and issues, connection to breathing, introduction to theme (if applicable), rolling – don’t roll over knee joint or on the lower back (if you roll on the lower back, crunch the abdominals)

– demonstrate pranayama (breathing), explain chants (what it means, spell it out)

– BREATHING CUES (on your next inhale/exhale)

Sequence Ideas

– Warrior I –> Warrior II –> Humble warrior

– Rock back and forth on heels and toes in Uttanasana

– Sun salutations without down dog

– Body scan

– Lie on stomach, let legs go left to right, then in circles, rotte ankles, feel grounded and gravity is always there for you

– Start with hands at armpits and draw fingers across chest, finish and heart and meditate

– Warrior I, straighten front leg (inhale), Warrior II, Rotate leg in, Prasarita Padottanasana, Come up with prayer hands, Warrior II, Warrior I

– Cross legged sitting – 1. cat, cow 2. side bends 3. twists (can hook arm around the side)

– Dancer, eagle, half moon, virabhadrasana

– Create a conversation with people

– Taking props/blocks with you

– Work on alignment from the ground up

– Cue the supporting leg

– Hamstring injuries can make balances difficult

– Neck injuries, be careful in bridge

– Lower back injuries should avoid apanasana *knee to chest pose

Also currently updating muladhara/root chakra exercises, check it out on the yoga page.

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Filed under Chakra, postures, yoga

Jaw Lov[ag]es Hips

Oooof, bad title. It’s early. I also woke up at 4:30 AM dramatically smacking my face with my arms because I had just been dreaming about a massive scorpion-wasp flying right for my face.

Not a big bug fan, if you can tell.

Karma Longtin led a fantastic class at Karma Yoga Studio on Sunday, emphasizing the subtle connection between the jaw muscle (the masseter, more precisely) and the hip flexors. The masseter symphasizes with the hip flexors, as both areas carry massive amounts of emotional tension. In addition, the masseter is one of the strongest muscles in our body (in terms of scale-to-size), prodcuing 117-265 lbs of force (vs. 974.99 – an Eskimo descendent!!), while the hip flexor is the “seat of the soul”, being the muscle in charge of our walking and the first to react when we’re about to fall.

You can do jaw muscle exercises (which I’ll update on the yoga/physio page) and also manually massage out your own jaw. Here is a small doodle I did for great core activation exercises:

Meanwhile at Clover…

Going through blog posts (1870 of them!), which actually has been one of the most invaluable learning tools so far, as Ayr has been extremely transparent with the building of the company. The only thing made largely confidential are things relating to investors and workers.

Coming up with a logo: focus on the sound, color, texture, type, environmental influences it creates.

Another thing I love is their food development meetings. We got to taste test a lot of up and coming menu items, as well as analyze how the day’s Chickpea plate was (Pickled veggies + salad + chickpeas + hummus).

One thing I loved that we tried was the lovage soda. It tasted almost like celery juice, with a little more intensity. It sounds strange, but it was actually very refreshing.

My taste drawing:

Lovage: has a slight taste of anise and also reminiscent of caraway (thus pairs well with things from Sauvigon Blanc, fennel, mint, basil, tarragon, etc.) It is rich is thymol and carvacrol, an essential oil of thyme, ajowan, sage, basil, rosemary, and mint.

Here are some excerpts from an awesome book called Jekka’s Herbs Cookbook:

Daily Nutritional Facts

Tried Peace O’ Pie, the local vegan pizza company, for the first time with my partner in crime Kara! We ordered the The Fresh: pesto (but it came with tomato sauce instead. Dissapointment 😦 ), broccoli, onion, and roasted garlic; as well as The Buffalo Chicken: tongue zapping buffalo sauce (as they claim – didn’t really taste it much), onions, and spicy soy strips. Conclusion? Decently good. The vegan part wasn’t so much the issue, but the pizza dough was pretty dissappointing (I’m also a fan of crispy flatbread, so a little biased. But it was very bland) and the flavors were underwhelming, although the spicy soy strips were delicious!

Last night made Rosemary Shortbread Cookies with my friend Alice, as we were inspired to do so my Harvard graduate Joanne Chang’s book, Flour. Definitely not gluten or vegan friendly, but was such an interesting concept (and I’ve never made shortbread either!) that I was dying to try. I loved the savory kick to it and am planning to try it again…vegan?! Does shortbread even work vegan? To be continued… I also threw on some cinnamon for a few bites and found the rosemary + cinnamon surprisingly pleasant.

Also, spot the unicorn in the photo. Winner may get the unicorn I adopted (named Blue) on my night out.

Recipe coming soon.

Also last shout out to: Nutmeg & eggs. I’ve done paprika before, but nutmeg? Who knew a pinch would be such an interesting twist. Becomes more like dessert than savory breakfast!

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Filed under adventures, anatomy, food, health, ingredients, postures, recipes, yoga

An Ode to Arm Muscle Contractions

So a girl asked for an intensive arms/core workout, and I thought building up to a forearm stand was a perfect sequence. Check this article out for more advice on building up to a forearm stand.

On a separate note, I made an effort to really understand the different kinds of contractions, and what yoga poses/physio moves were great for building arm strength in particular. Check it:

For more explanations for the types of arm stretches (ekabuhjaswastiakasjdflkwhuuuuuut?), check the article page as well.

I attended the Clover All-Team Member meeting this past Sunday at the HUB. I thought it was such an awesome concept, as all employees got free beer (Allgash White, to be precise), samples of the new 3pm special – blueberries and whipped cream, and a delicious chocolate cupcake. Again, somehow the chefs nail it with the mild sweetness but fresh taste of the cupcakes, with a light frosting that wasn’t overpowering, meeting its match with freshly picked peppermint leaves. Something about fresh mint in anything kills me.

Ayr gave a brief download on the environmental impact and growth Clover was having. My favorite part was the “tasting” game (where 12 unknown ingredients were provided and we had to guess what they were) and a food education presentation given by Chef Rolando. Both were powerful and so interesting (for me, oh the food obsessed). Interesting things:

1) Their parsnip sandwich, a combination of parsnip, cheddar, spinach (in the earlier versions), and caramelized spring onions that were caramelized with cider vinegar, sugar, cinnamon, mustard seeds, and fresh horseradish. The idea of cooking things that weren’t sweet with cinnamon intrigued me and I did a brief search and came up with these ideas:

  • cauliflower
  • parsnips
  • garlic cloves
  • sweet potatoes
  • carrots
  • zucchini
  • BBQ Brisket
  • Squash
  • Pizza
  • Orzo salad
  • Curried red lentil soup
  • Grapefruit

2) Wheat gluten (things to make your tempeh with) looks and smells like flour (even whole wheat), but once you taste it your saliva gets everything super gooey.

3) Determining the difference between cilantro and parsley for me is….difficult. I went to the Harvard Community Garden yesterday and tried both. The cilantro tasted more ocean-y to me, while the Italian parsley taste more clovery, sprouty, and sunny to me. Let’s see if I can remember that at all…

4) Belgian Wheat Beer can be flavored with coriander, who knew?

RESEARCH MOVES FORWARD, ALBEIT SLOWLY!

Finally, finally, finally the brain data was successfully converted into a format we could use and I could start doing the reconstructing and skull stripping. Alas, I was letting the program run over night and it only got through…3/15 sessions. Derp. Oh well still letting it run.

Meanwhile, I take over the world. Or in other words, find myself amused/fascinated by some of the figural responses on the TTCT as I grade them.

 

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Daily Nutrition Facts

Made myself a salad with red cabbage, kale, cucumbers, smokey tofu, and a mix of vegannaise and BBQ spice.

Also tried green gooseberries for the first time! They are possibly one of the most interesting fruits I’ve had. Fuzzy on the outside, filled with a grape texture inside, but also with seeds that are not unlike chia seeds. Kind of an adventure in the mouth. Tart and sweet like a green grape, but with slightly more complexity and hollowness to the palette. Apparently a recipe suggestion: “Stew gooseberries with coconut milk, Indian spices and vegetables, then serve as a curry over rice.” Omnomnom. I had the pleasure of trying red currents for the first time as well. I don’t have the patience right now to try a pie, but they were deliciously fresh and tart.

I got to adopt a Patty Pan Squash and harvest rainbow chard + kale in return for teaching yoga at the Harvard Community Garden (every Tuesday from 6 – 7 pm). So. Much. Love.

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Filed under adventures, anatomy, Clover, creativity, creativity research, food, neuronerd adventuretime, science, yoga