Thursday, October 31, 2013

Get your Chakra On: Building a Foundation

"To lose connection with the body is to become spiritually homeless. Without an anchor we float aimlessly, battered by the winds and waves of life." - Anodea Judith

First Chakra is the Muladhara (Root Chakra)
Color is Bright Red

You already know what the muladhara chakra is. When you come to sit at the front of your mat in a comfortable seated pose, with your legs crossed and tailbone rooting down into the earth, you are engaging a powerful energetic field in your body. This simple and easy seat anchors us into the floor and allows the rest of the body to rise and stack on top of it. In this pose, we find presence, stability, grounding: we find a balanced foundation. From this place, "our attention is concentrated in the here and now, bringing a dynamic intensity to the way we present ourselves. Our experience is direct, sensate, immediate. We are confident yet contained, connected with our own source of support," (Anodea Judith).

According to Anodea Judith's incredibly beneficial book, Eastern Body,Western Mind, "a chakra is a center of organization that receives, assimilates, and expresses life force energy." We unconsciously connect to this energy while sitting, walking, and/or lying down. Our body is able to move and grow from this deep seated place of inner strength. Accessing this chakra begins with the physical body: noticing how we breathe, how we feel connected, how we feel safe, how we feel taken care of. When we play with this chakra we begin to notice that we are self contained centers for healing. When we begin to acknowledge this source of inner strength we can grow, expand and change with ease and excitement rather than fear and uncertainty.

This is a concept that has been very resonant in my life at the moment. I was talking to a dear friend yesterday about fear and it's creation within each and every one of us. She was very astute to note that fear is self-made. It's an abstract concept that is built within our own heads. This is kind of amazing if you think about it. If we create our fears than we have the power to eradicate them from our lives. We are bound to encounter moments of uncertainty and change, I know that my life is full of these feelings at the moment, if we reached into the unknown with a sense of curiosity, we might begin to manifest not only positive change, but we might also be able to take on our fears. This is not an easy task, but it is worthwhile to consider and try on.  Anodea Judith notes that, "fear exists as an ally of self preservation, teaching us of our own importance and the need to take care of ourselves." Fear is our body telling us that we need to examine our roots. We were know where we are, we can figure out how to expand and flourish from this supported place.

Take a moment to find a quiet seat and then repeat these phrases to yourself.
 Don't worry, you will feel them when you are ready. 

You are here.

You are safe. 

You are supported. 

You are abundant. 

You are rooted. 

You are home. 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

New Spaces: Yoga Shelter

(I'm still working on my chakra post for next week! So here is the monthly New Space!)

I was interested in trying out this yoga studio mostly because of it's First Week is Free offer for new students. New Students are encouraged to show up early to register for class with the front desk greeter. The studio has a large front window with a bench to pass the time while waiting for class to begin. The lobby has a small retail section with limited yoga clothing brands. Mats, clothing, and books are available in this section. There are two small changing rooms in the retail lobby as well. The lobby has a few cubbies for belonging, but not a lot of room to keep your stuff with you. I would recommended that you leave what you don't need in your car. The studio space is a fairly large yellow room with natural light streaming in from a row of windows above the back wall of the space and two small windows near an alter at the front of the room. There was plenty of room for the 25 or so people that took class. Our teacher, Hanna Ketai, met each of us at the entrance to the space and was enthusiastic and encouraging about trying out the studio for the first time. Everyone in the room seemed to know each other and the room was filled with a lot of energy and talking before class.

I took Hanna's Yoga Rocks class from 8:00am-9am on Saturday morning. There are very nice things about this space if you it resonates with you, but unfortauntely, this class left me feeling really off-balance, and really discouraged me from coming back. The class was taught very different from vinyasa classes that I am used to taking. The class is taught from the left side to the right side of the body. This may not bother someone who is relatively new to yoga, but for someone with a full-time, established practice they might find this style very jarring. Hanna was a very mindful teacher, but throughout class she stopped cueing posture names and breathe cues, which made it difficult for me to maneuver through the challenging sequence.The class was also taught with a microphone attached to the teacher. In my opinion, the space is not large enough to justify the use of the mic, it only served to bring me out of my practice and feel like I was in an aerobics class at the local gym.

If you are interested in trying something new and different from your traditional practice, give this studio a try. If you are firmly rooted in a studio you love and have an established flow, you might want to sit this one out.

Yoga Shelter

Address: 12408 Ventura Blvd. Studio City, CA 91604 (lots of street parking available, most of the streets around the studio are first two hours free).

First week is free for new students
60 days of Unlimited Yoga at $99 for first month
Accepts Passport to Prana Card
$20 for Drop In Class
Mat Rental available & Water available to purchase
Lots of other packages and monthly membership options

No props offered in the space

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Home is where you make it

Our House
Home means pulling up to the driveway and feeling all put together, feeling contented, feeling safe, and feeling loved. This house holds holds a whole lot of love. It's been ten long months since I've been back home. I've missed a lot about Colorado, but mostly I've missed the people (and animals) behind this front door.

I spent the week basking in the cool fall air, listening to crickets quietly chirp to each other on my mom's back porch, found time to read a few blissful pages in a new book, helped my mom work in a new client's garden, watched some movies on the couch, visited the Botanic Gardens, saw my sister in all her glorious success, took a full breath of some really fresh air, went jeeping in the mountains with my dad, saw the Aspens in their full yellow beauty, took a really long nap, had dinner amongst my dearest friends, curled up while it snowed outside, and quietly admired the place that I miss but have also grown out of.

The craziest part of growing up is realizing that home is where you make it. Home for me will always be encased in the walls of this house, but home is also bursting from the seams in Los Angeles. This was the first time I went home and missed the ones I left behind.

Downtown Denver the Terrace where my sister lives
My girl, Nola. 
Jeeping! Happy Happy!
Dad and I on the trail!

Me and my girl!
The Botanic Gardens with my Mom! Gorgeous Sculpture! 

One of my favorites from the day! Beautiful Cactus!


Mom and I! Happy as clams!
Seeing a movie in the middle of the day!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Bourbon Banana Bread with Pumpkin, Chia and Poppy Seeds

Happy Fall! Here's the first of many recipes that revolve around my love affair with loaves!

Everyone knows how much I adore Joy the Baker. She's a self-taught, sharp witted, super inspiring baker. If you don't know her, check out her blog here.

Adapted from the Joy the Baker Cookbook.

2 cups whole wheat flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) of unsalted butter, softened (let it get soft before mixing, it matters!)
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 cups mashed ripe bananas (4 bananas, the more ripe, the better)
3 tablespoons bourbon (the good stuff, it also matters)
1/4 cup Chia Seeds and Poppy Seeds (mixed together, you can add more or less)
3 tablespoons raw pumpkin seeds (more or less, depending on your love of pumpkin seeds)

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour an 8x4 or 9x5-inch loaf pan. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, backing power, and salt.

In a bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes.

Add eggs one at a time, beating for 1 minute between each addition. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl and add bananas and bourbon. Beat until well incorporated.

Turn the mixer to low and add the flour mixture all at once. Beat until almost incorporated. Stop the mixer and remove the bowl from the mixer. Add the chia and poppy seed mixture to the dough. Stir until incorporated. Stir mixture into loaf pan. Sprinkle additional poppy seeds and all of the raw pumpkin seeds to the top of the loaf. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until a skewer inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and allow the loaf to cool in the pan for 20 minutes. Before inverting onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Bread will keep for up to five days, well wrapped, at room temperature.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Finding a Tribe

"There is a river flowing now, very fast. It is so great and swift and that there are those who would be afraid. They will try to hold onto the shore. They will feel they will be torn apart and suffer greatly. Know that the river has it's destination. The elders say we must push off into the middle of the river, keep our eyes open, and our heads above the water. See who is in there with you and celebrate. At this time in history we are to take nothing personally, least of all ourselves, for the moment we do that, our spiritual growth comes to a halt. The time of the lone wolf is over. Gather yourselves: banish the word, struggle, from your attitude and vocabulary. All that we do now must be done in a sacred way and in CELEBRATION. We are the ones we've been waiting for." 
-Hopi Elder, from Mediations on the Mat by Rolf Gates and Katrina Kenison


There are moments in life when you realize that you've found THEM. The people who inspire you, challenge you, fight for you, cry with you, hold you, lift you, change you, and guide you. These people come from places and situations you once never knew existed and the joy they create is utterly profound.

On my drive home tonight; with a song coursing through my stereo at a beat thumping tenor, it kind of hit me out of nowhere. The past four months I've built two new tribes in my life. With these people I feel more myself, more connected to others, more involved in my community, filled with more purpose and compassion, and have gained a new understanding of myself and those around me.

My yoga family at CorePower Yoga and the incredible family I've built at the Slamdance Film Festival over the past four months has irrevocably altered my everyday existence. They show me, on a daily basis, what it means to have passion, vision, joy, challenge, hunger, gratitude, generosity, cohesion, faith, trust, friendship, drive, fun, love, contentment, and self worth.

I am so profoundly grateful for these tribes; these amazing human beings, that make me want to be better than I could have possibly imagined for myself.

Tonight as I lay in bed next to my loving boyfriend, with a cool breeze, a good book, a warm blanket and my glowing computer screen; I am truly humbled.

Thank you for leading me back home.

(to my family and friends: the gratitude is boundlessly immeasurable)