Thursday, June 30, 2011

A pinch of this and that: Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp

Anyone can make strawberry rhubarb crisp. Anyone.

I grew up with a huge rhubarb plant in my backyard. For a treat, my sister and I would take a rhubarb stalk and a tiny cup of granulated sugar...dip stalk in sugar, bite, dip stalk in sugar, bite. It sounds gross now but it was heaven then!

My dad has taken to growing a field of strawberries in the backyard. My mother has made strawberry rhubarb pie for many years. I'm not a fan of pie crust. I like my oatmeal crumble topping. I can make a strawberry rhubarb crisp with my eyes closed and I think you can too!

Grab a dish - preferably an 8x8 but any size close to this will do (a pie plate, a brownie pan, a 9x9 dish).

Chop rhubarb into small pieces until you have 2 cups. Set aside. Slice 1 cup of strawberries. Toss the rhubarb and the strawberries with 1/2 cup to 1 cup of sugar (depending on how sweet or sour you like your dessert!) and add 1-2 tablespoons of flour (add more flour if you like your crisp more thick...add less if you like it more runny).

Butter your dish and add the strawberry rhubarb mixture.

Place 1/2 cup of flour, 2 T to 1/4 cup sugar (brown sugar is great here!), a pinch of cinnamon, and 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of oatmeal in a bowl (rolled, not quick). Blend together and cut in 2-4 T of butter depending on how crumbly and buttery you want your topping. Sprinkle your streusel over the fruit.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 - 40 mins - just until the gooey goodness bubbles up around the edges and the top gets a tan. Remove from oven, let sit 15 mins or more, devour.

See? Told you it was easy. Go make one right now!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Feel Your Way: After 108

108 at Just B Yoga was a one-of-a-kind incredible experience. Mentally and physically it is one heck of a journey. We were lucky to have scored two incredible musicians. One to play crystal bowls for the first half and the other to play an African drum for the second half. Hitting the 28 mark was rough. Surya Namaskara A...over...and over. Full body prayer no matter how you spin it. Getting to the modified Surya Namaskara B was rough too...but when we hit the count of 70 I could feel an end in sight. Taking time to hold certain postures and deepen in really helped me get through it.

Did I do all 108 Sun Salutations? I doubt it. I don't care. I practiced something new and significant with a room FULL of amazing people.

The next day my body wasn't nearly as sore as I thought it would be. The repetition made me notice important pieces of my practice. I fall heavily onto my left heel when repeatedly standing...I dump into my right shoulder a bit going down through chatturanga. These things I may not have known without trying 108.

My practice has been altered by the 108 class. I feel myself "leading with my heart" more. I feel like I've solidified my space. It feels great. I feel good...

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Summer Solstice and Rosaries: Change, Connect, Practice

Today is the Summer Solstice and the day I check try 108 Sun Salutations at Just B Yoga. To prepare for this experience, I've been detoxifying my mind and body. I cut out processed foods (not that I was eating many in general), greatly reduced the amount of grains I'm eating, added more fruit and vegetables and protein, cut out all chocolate/candy/alcohol and took in a lot more H20.

I'm grateful for the amount of information on the web and for the blog posts Belinda has been putting out about how to prepare for 108. In preparation, I attended a yoga class.

On my way to class, I walked into a beautiful conversation with a wise friend about letting go of habits and hobbies that you just aren't that interested in to make room for other things. Beautiful. Then I went to Ashtanga class at Hilltop Yoga. I haven't been to Ashtanga in two to three months. As the foundation of vinyasa and power yoga, I feel like getting to know Ashtanga is important, even if I can't get into the second half of the postures. Last night's practice showed me how far I've come in 10 months of "doing yoga". Our sangha re-energized the space. Again, beautiful.

Reviewing B's blog entries, I started reading up on malas. Immediately I connected the concept to the Roman Catholic rosary I grew up with. Last night I dug around in my jewelry box to find my rosaries. I have one from my first communion, one that belonged to my Mom, and a small rosary that was also part of my Mom's family. The latter two have tarnished with age...there were old stories of praying on rosaries and having their metals transmute to gold. I no longer pray on rosaries, but I find their significance important. My love of lore and myth and the spiritual world began there.

I plan on bringing the small rosary with me to focus my thoughts and energy as I move through 108 Sun Salutations to the best of my ability. There is no time like the present to make positive change. Whether or not I get through all 108 isn't the is a practice, not a perfect. Life is a continual practice...not a perfect. Happy Solstice.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

One Hundred and Eight Sun Salutations...Really?

As our yoga teachers are fond of reminding us in the middle of the sweaty dirty crud-melting part of surya namaskar A (Sun Salutations)..."some people wake up and do 108 of these!" Really? 108 Sun Salutations. That is one hundred and eight of stand up, fold down, half flat, float back, plank, chaturunga, upward dog or cobra, down dog, float up, half flat, fold down, all the way up. Yeah. And that's just "A". At first glance this seems like something that will require extreme physical fitness and endurance.

It looks something like this:

Yep, I'm sure doing 108 Sun Salutations is going to require physical fitness, a high energy level from a great night of sleep and eating really well and a lot of pure guts and uumph in the endurance category. But, I'm already thinking of the strength that is going to be required on another level. There is no way to make it through 108 repetitions of a sequence without a solid mind. I just don't see how this is possible without tapping into my spiritual well. Keep my mind free from the mind clutter - yogash chitta vritti narodha. Yoga is the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind. My mind already intends to fluctuate.

I've been in classes where the instructor has led us through far too many (see, I already have an issue with too many!!) Sun Salutations for a typical Power Yoga class. I've done probably 30 - 45 mins of Sun Salutations. My mind is what catches me up every time. My mind is mostly silenced in a class with changing sequences and postures I can't yet get into. I have to focus on breathe and movement and let my mind still just to stay balanced in the posture.

It is the holding and repetitive asanas that make my mind wander further. Tadasana. Utkatasana. What am I going to make for dinner? Did I send that last document at work? I wonder what my husband is up to...did he clean the dishes like I asked? Then comes the deeper stuff. What am I DOING?! Why am I doing this? This is boring. This makes my joints sore. I keep getting sweat in my eyes. I'm slipping on my mat. I'm losing my breath. Why am I doing this? What am I achieving? And finally...what is my purpose?! What am I supposed to be doing with my life? How does this all fit in?

Oh yeah. Personally, I fully anticipate getting to that deep of questioning by the end of 2 hours of Sun Salutations. The dark nitty gritty mind wandering that happens with repetitive motion or stillness. I'm excited for the challenge. For the depth. For opening my practice to something new and intimidating for me. I am learning to silence my mind, I'm learning how to flow through gracefully and with peace and my muscles are learning to stay strong and yet take REST when needed.

I'm grateful to be surrounded by the beautiful community at Just B Yoga as we go on this 2 hour journey. Thank you to Belinda for putting on this great event! Tuesday, June 21 - 6-8pm. Bring it on. Try something new.