Wednesday, April 29, 2009
I love my life. These pictures capture that feeling. I am grateful to my daughter Morgane for the exquisite happiness and inspiration she brings my way on a daily basis; I am grateful to my friend Larry Stanley for sharing these moments with us on a hillside one fine spring afternoon, and for capturing the Montana magic. Larry surprised me with an early Mother's Day pressie by posting these on his blog. Happy Mother's Day, a bit early. Don't forget to honor all the moms in your life next Sunday. I'll be sure to remind you between now and then too. Namaste.
Monday, April 27, 2009
There's a lot of buzz out there right now about the neti pot, after the recent article in the New York Times entitled The Claim: Nasal Irrigation Can Ease Allergy Symptoms. YAWN. Nasal Irrigation?? Yes, that is the "technical" term, but couldn't the NYT have jazzed that title up a bit? Furthermore, the article is lukewarm (note: same temperature of the water used in neti). I mean, if I was considering trying a neti pot, this would not cause me to rush out and buy one. I may be entirely wrong, but I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that the author probably doesn't use one. Because if I wrote it, I would be raving. I am a neti pot addict. This very small thing has changed my life in a very big way. Since childhood, I had suffered from debilitating colds. Like stuck-in-bed-for-a-week colds. When we moved to Montana in early 2007, I was less than thrilled to experience that the über-dry climate here made that worse, and I was getting colds and worse complications from so many colds way too often. As husband put it to me then, how does someone so healthy keep getting so sick?! Indeed. After multiple visits to an ENT and one very uncomfortable procedure, I learned that I had a deviated septum. Alright, I thought, sign me up for that neti pot thing. As I'm sure those of you who haven't ever tried it can attest to, the thought of the neti is pretty much less than appealing. Perhaps disgusting? Well, I am here to tell you that it is actually less disgusting than brushing your teeth. I neti every morning now, and very rarely get sick or even sniffle. And if I do get a cold, I can function through it, unlike before. It's cheap, easy, and takes about 2 minutes. Morgane often tells me she needs to neti too when she feels like she has "boogers in her nose". As soon as her nose is big enough, I'm getting her one. I think it's cool that she views it as a normal part of our preventative daily health care. There are three things I must do to start my day, before anything else can happen: wash my face, brush my teeth, and neti. I am willing to rave about the benefits of the neti pot to anyone who will listen; I even did a neti demo on our last retreat. So if you suffer from allergies, what have you got to lose? Would love to hear your neti stories (seriously) or answer your neti questions. Btw, don't try that squirting up the nose technique and tell me that it works. You pour water in one nostril and it comes out the other (vs. staying up there for awhile), and brings yucky stuff with it. And that's why neti works. Lastly, neti neti does not mean the neti pot times two; it translates to "not this, not that". It's actually an ancient meditation that focuses on identifying everything that you are not so you can figure out what you are. And that is a lot harder than using your neti pot, believe me. More at Yoga Journal's blog that I like, Ancient Wisdom, Modern Life.
Friday, April 24, 2009
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
My little girl is quite articulate for an almost 4-year old (the other day, she actually used the word "nocturnal". Correctly.), but her pronunciation of "earth" comes out more like "earf". Those darn -th words are tough! We were talking about Earf Day today, and the things we can do in our daily lives to help earf be clean and beautiful (OK, I'll stop). And today, finally, I am giving our family the gift of compost - I've been wanting a composter for over a year now. What better day to make the purchase than Earth Day? I've also been eyeing Food & Wine's Grow for Good initiative, supporting sustainable agriculture and educating children about the benefits of environmental activism and wise food choices. Today I made my $50 donation, which felt really good.
Living in Montana has definitely taken my interest in environmental activism to new heights; being surrounded by all this natural beauty is a constant reminder of the need to preserve it. On our retreats we spend some time talking about how little things add up; it's really not hard to make simple eco-friendly changes to our daily habits and routines. Here's the Big Sky Yoga Retreats top 5, taken from the little gem of a book called 1,001 Ways to Save the Earth:
- Om comforts. Practice yoga on a mat made from a natural, organic, and recyclable material such as rubber, cotton, or hemp. They absorb your sweat, don’t slip, and can be cleaned and washed easily. They’re a much better option that the vast majority of today’s yoga mats, which contain PVC. This is considered to be the most toxic of plastics – just what you want to avoid when you’re realigning yourself physically, spiritually, and mentally to look after yourself and the planet. Try JADE mats, they are our new fave (more on JADE coming soon...)
- Know your plastics. Plastic comes in many different forms, and each type must be recycled separately. The only way of sorting plastics is by hand, so play your part by acquainting yourself with the identifying code numbers for different types of plastic, which are usually embossed within a mobius loop symbol, choosing the types that are most easily recyclable, such as PETE (code #1) and HDPE (code #2), and putting them into the appropriate recycling system when you’ve finished with them.
- Focused organic shopping. World consumption of chemical pesticides and fertilizers is exploding – from 30 million tons a year in 1960 to 140 million four decades later – and this trend is unlikely to stop unless consumers demand it. If you can’t get hold of a full range of organic groceries, or have a limited budget, prioritize buying organic items that are particularly laden with chemicals in conventional agriculture. Make an effort to always buy organic bread (and other wheat products), apples, celery, strawberries, peaches, grapes, spinach, and pears to avoid the worst chemical overloads.
- Two sides to every story. Whether printing a long formal report at work or doodling while you chat on the phone, try to use both sides of the paper. You’ll get through half the volume of wood and other resources to make it, and cut CO 2 emissions by 2 ½ lbs. for every pound of paper you save. If your printer has a duplex (double-sided) function, make it a default option – that way, you have to make an adjustment only on the few occasions when single-sided printing is essential.
- Home and dry. While in action, tumble dryers consume more energy than any other household appliance, so if you have one, try to use it only as a last resort, and hang clothes up to dry instead (outside, if possible, to make them smell really fresh). Cutting your tumble-dryer use by just one load a week will reduce your home’s CO 2 emissions by around 40 pounds a year. If you have to use the dryer, keep the filter lint-free and run loads back to back while the drum’s still hot.
Enjoy Earf Day! What eco-friendly changes are you making? Please share.
Monday, April 20, 2009
Here's a quickie yoga energizer for whatever Monday may bring your way:
- Start in downward facing dog for a few breaths
- Inhale forward into up dog (keep toes tucked under)
- Exhale back to down dog
- Repeat 10x
Whew! That oughta energize you enough to make it through your Monday. Here's my down dog and up dog pix, taken yesterday in our living room, when I needed to use husband as my yoga photog for an instructional piece I was writing. Back to the pros tomorrow - have a shoot involving Larry, Morgane, yoga mats and horses. I'll be sure to share those.
Friday, April 17, 2009
As if yucky winter tomatoes weren't enough of a bummer already, how about this for a real buzzkill: if you have eaten a tomato this winter, chances are very good that it was picked by a person who lives in virtual slavery. This is the subtitle of the article Politics of the Plate: The Price of Tomatoes in the March issue of Gourmet. As if I wasn't already somewhat of a fanatic about where my food comes from, this definitely upped the ante more than a bit.
The moral of the story here? Buy local, seasonal and small-scale. I know, I know, it's tough to find a good winter tomato. But did you really want those mealy suckers anyhow? Thankfully, spring is here, and tomatoes will not only taste a lot better soon, your options for local purchase will increase.
Things you can do:
- Don't buy tomatoes from Florida or Mexico
- Support your local farmers' markets
- Find out about your local CSA program (Bozemanites, here's ours, better sign up soon)
- Pick up a copy of Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle for some inspiration on eating local and healthy. Nice fresh springtime reading (btw, here's my book review).
Promise, more uplifting posts coming soon.
Monday, April 13, 2009
Need a pick-me-up this Monday afternoon? You have to see my photog friend Larry's photos from his visit with Mongolian Lamas to Yellowstone Park this past weekend. Yup. Do my friends do cool things or what?? This is Montana Magic at its absolute best. This one he captioned, "ancient tradition, ancient buffalo, modern man". Btw, according to Wikipedia, the name Lama is similar to the Sanskrit term Guru. Visit Larry's blog here.
I am thrilled because I get the opportunity to work with Larry again very soon...stay tuned.
Sunday, April 12, 2009
In Missoula with husband's family for the Easter weekend, and returned to one of my fave places to get lotions and potions, Body Basics. Just like the name says, they are basics - and after a lot of time participating in skincare product development that seemed overly complicated, I love this concept. They offer a limited number of simple body products that you can add a scent to. I felt absolutely indulgent scooping up some honey calendula moisturizer and mint-lime bergamot shea lotion, but my fave is the pink jasmine massage oil I got for Morgane's evening ritual. I've been massaging her almost every night before bed since she was born. There's this giant selection of essential oils to sniff at the store - but I was immediately drawn to pink jasmine. Nothing else mattered. It's so, well, Morgane. The name itself conjures up enough gorgeous, yummy images, but let me tell you, the smell is divine too. I've decided to make it my mantra for a bit, because it's just so utterly lovely. When husband woke me up because he didn't know "what to do" with the stuff for the kids' Easter baskets...? Said to myself, "pink jasmine" as I rolled over to go back to sleep. When Zuzu our rambunctious six-month old puppy accidently got in the house and beelined for my sis-in-law and infant nephew? Pink jasmine. I can tell this is going to be an effective stress-busting technique already.
Wishing you a Happy Easter, filled with pink jasmine thoughts (or whatever works for you).
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
The April issue of Quarter Horse Journal ran a fantastic spread on Cowgirl Yoga. The German version. I sure wish I knew what it said - I can read French, Spanish and Italian, but alas, no German. I was however able to see that they got my name right, hooray. I'll tell you, the Germans are quite intrigued by life out west...this is the second big feature we've gotten in a German mag - last year SHAPE Deutsche ran an article. Sure wish the American press would do the same...OK they have in fact noticed us, there's an article about to hit in the June issue of Yoga Journal that I am thrilled about. So watch for that soon.
This pic of me in baddha konasana in my cowboy boots took up 2 PAGES. Danke schoen, QHJ!
Sunday, April 5, 2009
After about 4 feet of new snow in the last 2 weeks, ski season went out with a bang. Well, it's not over yet - Big Sky resort closes on Easter - but it is for me, yesterday was my last day on the mountain and boy did I have fun in the powder with some K2 phat luvs. I know spring is coming and all - but I have to say that I'm a bit sad that winter is over (a reminder, for those of you wondering what is wrong with me: I live in Montana. I love snow and the winters here aren't dreary, they are glorious and snowy and sunny). My ski days have been not only getting out to enjoy the alpine air and exercise, but also doubled as dates with husband. So the somewhat sad wistfulness I'm feeling at the season's end has got me pondering the significance of the change in seasons. Most people who aren't big fans of winter are now relishing the arrival of spring; but every season brings shifts and changes that can cause us to feel unsettled, if we've gotten comfortable in our seasonal routines. We get attached and it's hard to let go (i.e., perhaps it's time to take down the Christmas lights in Morgane's room...?)
Interestingly enough I picked up a book last night that I check in with now and then, it's a lovely collection of essays on nature called Awake in the Wild - Mindfulness in Nature as a Path of Self-Discovery. And almost as if on cue, I opened up to this essay: "Embracing the Changing Seasons". Here are some reflections to keep in mind during seasonal shifts, to help us to embrace each one for what it has to offer us:
Nature teaches us that to hold on is to suffer. No matter how much we adore the bluebells in the woods in spring, or the flowering acacia trees in summer, to become attached to them is futile. Of course, that knowledge doesn't always hinder our resistance to letting go. We begin to let go only when we see the pain that's caused by holding on...
We all have favorite times of day, preferred weather, and attachments to different seasons. However, if things always stayed the same, we would appreciate them less. It is partly the very nature of transience that makes this world, and each singular thing in it, so special and precious. If a sunset lasted a week, would we care about it as much?
The deeper we are attuned to the natural world, the more our being begins to register the march of time. Every day there are noticeable yet subtle shifts in the seasons, in the light, temperature, humidity, and foliage. The blooming of flowers and color of leaves indicate the passing of time. Nature keeps telling us that there is only flow, change, metamorphosis. We can either join the flow of the river or try swimming upstream. One way is infinitely easier.
Embracing the changing seasons teaches us about equanimity, a state of heart that does not struggle against the way things are. Equanimity is grounded in an ability to rest at ease during both the ups and downs of life. This is the smile of the Buddha; it is resting at peace with whatever comes, neither chasing after something nor holding on, neither pursuing nor resisting any experience. It is the ability to embrace the truth that seasons come and go, and to see that resisting this reality causes suffering. By meeting reality just as it is, we foster a spacious attitude toward life that allows us to appreciate pleasure when it comes and let it go when it passes. As Blake succinctly writes, 'He who kisses the joy as it flies, lives in eternity's sunrise'.
Next week's forecast is looking sunny with spring-like temps for the upcoming Easter. So I will shift into spring rituals and look forward to Easter eggs, new spring recipes to savor, and saddling up to ride horses after putting my skis away.
Here's some pictures of the Gallatin River and Lone peak from yesterday. Happy Spring from Montana!