Keeping it local and organic is what Austin is all about, right? After much searching for a place to teach very close to home where my students and I could feel inspired and supported, I found a buddhist/yoga studio a few blocks away right here in our very own Zilker. Yay! One of my students/Zilker mom friends requested that “it HAS to be walking distance from the school, so I can drop my kid off and come take your class…or take your class and easily walk over to pick up.” Because I have an on-going private practice as well, I needed to be available to my standing clients and avoid driving out of the area. I’ve taught the first class of the 8 week series and loved seeing the Zilker parents from my neighborhood looking up at me during Apanasana (vital air pose). That’s what we ALL need to do during this SOLA construction; Keep Breathing More Vital Air! I’m so grateful for the support and encouragement of my neighbors, students, friends and family. My goal is to stay out of my car and on the yoga mat, to share my gift of teaching and love with others, and to do it all right here in my neighborhood. We can’t all work from home but what would it look like if we could develop South Lamar so that we stayed closer to home for many if not all of our life needs? What more could we discover about our neighbors if we kept it all local? Looking at the sweet faces in class on Tuesday, I thought, “These are the Yogis in my neighborhood!” (cue Mr. Rogers theme). I think it’s a good place to start.
Holistic health has been my interest, academic pursuit and lifestyle of choice since my first year of college. After experiencing some tough life lessons (such as ‘no, kraft mac and cheese really isn’t the best food to eat on a daily basis’). I went to California and became one of “those” Yoga studying, Deep Breathing, Juice drinking types. Very fortunately, I was able to study with some fabulous wise and learned teachers in San Francisco; primarily Donna Farhi – my first Yoga teacher, whose exacting and dynamic style that emphasized the inner body and inner inquiry still informs my teaching and practice of asana and movement today. I was also able to take incredible Holistic Health courses at SFSU in my undergrad, including Qi Gong, Meditation techniques, and Wellness in Aging from professors who were professionals in their fields and based their work on solid research and science. These courses, along with the Physical Therapy coursework in my program, helped shape my approach to health and well-being as an integrative, body-based approach. Body, Mind and Spirit being interconnected was a concept that made sense to me but I certainly had a mostly academic understanding of this idea. I practiced A LOT of yoga but didn’t have a very balanced diet or lifestyle. I did learn the Pilates Method from the incredible Madeline Black, who emphasized that Joe Pilates developed his exercise regime to heal his lungs and improve his immune system. My fascia and core were in great shape but my periods were a wreck! Back then, I knew that belly breathing and core strength could keep me healthy and I knew that certain foods worked better than others for me but I was like a collector of information that needed “digesting”. My life was forever changed when I experienced the cooking of Simran Kaur, a chef, meditator and one of the most amazing women I have ever met. She was a foodie before foodies were cool. She took Macrobiotics and made it fun – and easy! Simran showed me how my emotions, hormonal and immune system (among many other benefits) could be strengthened by eating “con gusto”; with pleasure and enjoyment; with less rules, more savoring and definitely more joy. It revolutionized my approach to eating for health. But…. I was still eating waaaaay too much fruit and raw salad and wondering why I was always cold and low energy when I met my husband who cooked for me on our second date. The meal was so sumptuous and yet simple; steamed chicken and steamed vegetables. I felt like Sheena after that meal – for many reasons:) My training in Oriental Medicine only reinforced this idea that the warmer and happier you are on the inside, the stronger your defenses are on the outside. One of the most amazing teachers I have ever had was my Eastern Nutritional Energetics teacher, Dr. Lisa Wilson, who managed to help us learn about how to implement an individualized Holistic diet for healing while keeping a sense of humor and unconditional acceptance towards ourselves and the patients with whom we work. Eating fresh, in season, whole foods in accordance with your individual constitution is ONE key to wellness. Being rigid is not. When I first began to work on my relationship with food, I experienced how much my diet affected EVERYTHING. It was easy to become very detail oriented (“crazy!”). Eventually, life changes, choices, foods, and moods, together with the passing seasons, tidal daily energies, and the needs of the young souls around me necessitated that I get back to basics, get organized and plan! Although there is no “right” way to eat, having a meal plan and good recipe ideas that inspire and appeal to me and my family makes the cooking and eating process a whole lot easier. Less scrambling and More Yoga! I find great food blogs and books and share ideas with other like minded folks around me; which is part of what food is meant to do; bring folks together. Being an “airy” sort of constitution, I do best with warm, protein rich meals. Eating soups and stews seems to keep the bugs away, keeps me grounded, and is a great way to show those around me that I care. I have had many soup mentors along the way. I once learned how to make a wonderful Miso soup from my rocker girl roommate who cooked a giant batch whenever any of us got a cold. Thank you, Leslie for the original probiotic soup! My acupuncturist Lifang Liang, in San Francisco, always said; “cook soup now!… and you won’t need makeup” and after cooking enough soup, my whole hormonal system normalized; much better than blush and mascara, believe me. Dr. Lisa showed me how to make bone broth to stave off flu and weakness and as a way to make other foods more nutrient rich and I share this technique with all my friends and clients. So many people are asking, “Should I get a Flu shot?!” That is individual choice, but either way, I say, “Cook Soup Now!”. And come to Yoga class! I am offering some great new group classes in a wonderful Zilker Zen healing arts studio so please check my schedule out on the Classes page. Stay well, and enjoy.