I’ve cried, like, 6 times.

I’ve cried, like, 6 times in the past 24 hours.

bennettTwo of my best friends in the whole-wide world welcomed their newborn son into this world.  The delicacy of Bennett’s front lip and
the courage of his mother to endure 12+ hours of labor made my eyes well with tears.  (Here he is; he is gorgeous!)

Then BKS Iyengar, a  man of legendary wisdom and courage who pioneered yoga as we know it, made his transition out of this world.  (Thank you, Mr. Iyengar for showing us that ankles do not exist and that yoga can heal all bodies.)bks

 

WESTPORTYOGA1My students, whom I sorely missed while I was adventuring around the world, welcomed me back into their lives with open arms and an insatiable curiosity to learn. We ended our Vinyasa class listening to the sound of the fan blowing our collective breath into the night and nothing else.  I quietly cried in awe of our community.  (You people are the BEST!)

A friend from San Francisco posted on Facebook the most beautiful tribute to his doggie, who ‘saved his life more than once’ and ‘loved him when he could not love himself.’  I wept for his sorrow.

My favorite person (no offense, but I honestly believe that my Ironman is the best person ever invented) texted me just to say ‘have a great day’ and to share his happiness of a perfect lunch hour.  You can’t expect me not to happy-cry at that one, as I marveled at just how lucky I am to be in love with life. The list goes on. IMG_0858

(I mean, I took Russell Clive to the groomer and he looked so handsome when I picked him up, I found out one of my grad school classes is completely on-line so I may not actually die of sheer exhaustion this fall, my parsley is growing like crazy and I have abundance to share… the list DOES go on.  Trust me.)

Sometimes, it just feels good.  It just feels good to allow myself to experience the fullness of the moment—even the tiny moments. 

What tiny moments are meaningful to you, today?  Not tomorrow, but actually TODAY.  What tiny moments did you experience with fullness?  Emotion is just energy… we attach judgments to that energy as either ‘good’ or ‘bad’, but in the end, our response to this energy is what determines our moments.  What are you feeling today, and how can you express that?

 

mushroom and walnut stuffed bell peppers: vegan goodness.

mushroom and walnut stuffed bell peppers: vegan goodness.

Last March my Ironman made these delicious mushroom and walnut ‘meatballs’ to go with a spaghetti squash dinner.  Three months later we were still talking about them. stuffed peppers

Oh holy cow they were insanely delicious.  I set out on a mission: how else could I enjoy the earthy combination of mushrooms (high in vitamin D) and walnuts (high in protein and folic acid, which you can learn about here) in new dishes?

Well, thanks to the trusty VitaMixx, I found it! Vegan Mushroom and Walnut Stuffed Bell Peppers– Mediterranean Night: here we come!

Ingredients:

  • 8 button mushrooms, washed
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 1 to 2 Tbsp homemade hummus,  check out my recipes here
  • 2 handfuls fresh dill
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 bell peppers, sliced in half
  • drizzle of grapeseed oil

Combine first 5 ingredients and blend on low until a paste forms.

Slice bell peppers in half and clean out the seeds  (If you slice them top to bottom, they dads-stuffed-bell-peppers-1hold more stuffing!)

Spoon stuffing into pepper boats, place in an oven safe glass platter.  Drizzle the tops of each pepper with grapeseed oil.

Put in the oven at 350 F and bake for about 35-45 minutes.

Serve with fresh veggies and hummus, and a Greek salad… on your back porch… in the summertime.  Yes, it’s a charmed life.

Let me know how it tastes. Enjoy!

-lisa

the art of transfiguration.

**Author’s note: I’m travelling abroad this month (I’ve been dreaming of seeing the rainforest since kindergarten, and dreaming of climbing Machu Picchu since I was in undergrad), and as I prepared for this journey to Peru, lessons I encountered a few years ago while on a journey across the western United States kept occupying my thoughts.  This article was originally published on sf yoga mag in 2011.  I’m re-posting my own words… you’ll want to read until the end, because I recommend two must-read books.

 The art of transfiguration.  

by Lisa M. Ash, 2011

Peering up from the highway to the ridge of a jagged, red-rock horizon, I was awed by the evidence of creative transfiguration that is manifest in exquisite landscapes. Nature’s features, simultaneously time standing ascetically still and time moving at the staggering speed of creation.  I recently drove from Kansas City, Missouri, to Orange, California: camping, hiking, and meditating along the way. The myriad of scapes racing past my window as I traveled across the country served as a humbling reminder that nature’s course was chosen millennia ago.

What I saw was a blessing of the moment.  It was just one momentary meeting of the immutable, and undeniably phenomenal, cooperation of wind, water, movement, change, and Nature in motion.

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photo cred: EMA

 

Gorgeous landscapes—whose rock faces, sandstone formations, and courageous fauna are in the midst of constant tumultuous change—simply accept the change as perfectly normal.  Continuous molding, drifting, forming, burning, growing, shrinking, living and dying are all unceasingly embraced.  This embrace of transformation honors the natural ritam, or rhythm, of life as constant transfiguration.  This embrace honors Being. This honors the spirituality of the yogi:

“Spirituality is the art of transfiguration.  We should not force ourselves to change by hammering our lives into any predetermined shape…. It is far more creative to work with the idea of mindfulness rather than with the idea of will.”              –J. O’Donahue

An inspiring example of this is the sandstone formations that shelter the rugged, unforgiving terrain of southern Utah.  The unique formations reveal millennia of rock layers shaped by the forces of erosion and weathering acting in concert.  Made famous by the extreme sport and tourism industry of Moab, Utah, these tall, proud rocks are the face of a drastic desert-scape that inspires adventure.  For the yogi, the constantly evolving desert formations inspire contemplation; they are visible evidence of the Bhagavad Gita’s charge to embrace change as a necessary part of physical existence, understanding that the Essence of Life remains immutable even in the face of the storm.  In my eyes, the absolute power of the Living God is the invisible face of this ever-weathering sandstone.

The cavernous formations not only inspire a sense of humility by their sheer enormity, but they lend testimony to the miracle of transformation through surrender to creative power.

What if we, like the rocks, began to trust in the creative power of transformation through surrender, as opposed to personal will?  What if we, like the rocks, sensed the Divine touch of wind and water shifting and moving little bits of our lives, not with resistance but with a welcoming of erosion?

photo cred: McCormick

photo cred: McCormick

I believe the challenge of a yogi is, in fact, to embrace the immense creative potential in each gust of wind and in each passing breath. There’s really nothing new in this: for centuries, humans have been humbled and awed by the role of wind in the crafting of nature.  Just as each whisper of wind shapes the wild vastness of an epic rock-scape, one mindful breath can awaken creativity, change, and transfiguration in the lived experience of an individual.

The testimony of the desert-scape is that

creation is meant for transformation through breath.

 The challenge is to use our yoga practice as life practice.  The challenge is to breathe into the forgotten spaces of our lives, trusting in the embrace of this breath will be an embrace of the transfiguration of our spirit.  I challenge you to breathe with me.

-lisa

When has a travel experience changed your outlook on life?  Tell me where you went and how you learned to breathe?  When has your life been changed in drastic ways and you’ve learned to trust the movement of the breath?  I’d love to hear your stories….

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photo cred: EMA

Further Reading:  

Hawley, J.  The Bhagavad Gita: A walkthrough for Westerners.  New World Library: Novato, CA. 2001

O’Donahue, J.  Anama Cara: A book of Celtic Wisdom.  Harper Collins: New York, NY. 1997

 

 

 

the benefits of yoga.

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the benefits of yoga.

Like we need more convincing?  I’m heading to Peru for the next few weeks, following a life-long dream of sleeping in the rainforest (kindergarten teachers really do inspire our future). So, while I’m out of the country, here is a little motivation to keep practicing!

June 10

“Yoga makes you happy”… that one is my favorite!

See you soon,

-lisa

what does it mean to ‘travel lightly’?

What does it mean to travel lightly? 

One backpack.  One.  One backpack for 2+ weeks in Peru, where I will be on the sun-scorched beach and in the snow-covered peaks of the Andes, sprawling in the humid rainforest in an open air cabin, huddling in tents and sleeping in un-air-conditioned hostels…. an one is all I get.  How do I pack for that?!  It doesn’t make sense to pack a bikini and my winter gloves, but somehow I need to be prepared for both extremes.  What do I pack?  What do I leave behind?  What will I take with me, only to realize after 36+ hours of cars, planes and buses, that I can’t carry the weight of it?

photo 1 (2)

one bag. are you kidding me?

I just read the novel Wild, by Cheryl Strayed, about her trek up the Pacific Coast Trail from the Mojave Desert to the Bridge of the Gods in Washington State.  She named her hiking backpack Monster.  She quickly realized she could not walk 19 miles a day in the mountains under its weight, and spent the first few weeks of her journey ditching items that weren’t 100% necessary for survival.  Near the end of her journey, Cheryl realized what else she carried with her – unresolved grief over the passing of her mother – doubled the weight she carried with every step.  When she let that go, her traveling became lighter.

I found this picture featuring a quote from Yogi Bajan a few months ago, and it has consumed my thoughts since then.  It says: “Travel light, live light, spread the light, be the light.”  (Yes, English Grammar Nerds will notice that it should say: ‘travel lightly’ and ‘live lightly’ but I actually really like the play-on-words that results from mis-using the word ‘light’ as an adverb.  ‘Live Light’ and ‘Live Lightly…’ they are both excellent pieces of advice.)

June 27

Anyway, back to packing my bag for the trip of a lifetime:  it’s excruciating.  I want to be prepared for EVERYTHING.  I keep asking questions like: but what if I NEED a cute top and skinny jeans because we stumble across a nice restaurant?  But what if I NEED my hair straightener and blow dryer (never mind that we don’t have electricity in the Amazon rainforest) and what if I NEED extra supplies in my first aid kit, 6 pairs of gloves, 4 novels, 2 extra towels and 1 yoga mat?  I mean, I need to be prepared for anything, right?  Otherwise, won’t I feel anxious?  Unprepared?  Stupid for not packing the ‘right’ gear for this epic adventure in Peru?  I DON’T KNOW WHAT WILL HAPPEN!!  How do I prepare for THAT??  Reality Check: We NEVER know exactly what will happen in our future.  That’s the thing about life and creation—it is constantly in motion, and it is constantly changing.  We get one day…. We may get one million days. 

Then I see this again:

June 27

Hmm…my job is not to be consumed with collecting all the items that will protect me from uncertainty.  This only adds to my anxiety.  My job is EVERY DAY, to “Travel light, live light, spread the light, be the light.”

Boy, that sure takes the pressure off.  I don’t have to be prepared for everything, I just have to be prepared to Live Light.  And travel lightly on this Earth, leaving only soft imprints (which means, I guess… not carrying around a 40lb backpack, complaining with every step.  But yes, I will be packing my first aid kit.)

Stay tuned for Peru updates and pictures; my Ironman and I are super excited for our adventure-vacation.  (For those of you who are concerned, Russell Clive will be staying with his grandparents.)

-lisa

photo 2 (2)

p.s. it totally fit. i’m a pro at packing this bag!