Love Your Length

23 Aug

Yesterday, I did a wicked good (I’m in Massachusetts right now :D) power flow yoga class with my friend, Amanda. I always like to get out of my usual NYC yoga studio and stretch my horizons a little (or a lot, like in Anti-Gravity Yoga), so this class was a treat.

The yoga instructor, Annie, brought incredible energy to the class. I honestly felt challenged throughout the entire 75 minutes.

Annie also helped me make some really great adjustments. At one point, she (gently) pulled my neck out of my body, just like a turtle 😀

I want to share with you a few of Annie’s adjustments, because with any luck, they might make a difference in your next yoga class…

3 Tricks for Tricky Poses

1. Downward Facing Dog

Turns out, it’s not so much about down, as much as it’s about up. Annie pulled my hips up, into the air, and… WOW! This simple change displaced a great deal of weight from my arms to my legs. My arms were thrilled to have some relief, and the back of my legs got a deep stretch 😀

So, try to lift your hips straight into the air. If that doesn’t work, there’s always this option… 😀

2. Pigeon Pose

For pigeon pose, the trick is in the set-up: If you start in upper push-up plank and bend your leg just under your elbows (see below), you should do 3 push-ups there. Then, you simply lower your body from upper to lower push-up plank and BAM– you’re in your perfect pigeon pose! No twitching of the legs, no child birth pain in the hips, just a thorough stretch… for lack of a better word 😀

This guy has the right idea, but his legs are too high in the air. Of course, if you can do that,  all the power to ya!

3. “Love Your Length”

This is Annie’s mantra, and I used it the whole class! I am convinced it can be applied to every single yoga pose… unless you can prove me wrong 😀

When I took Annie’s advice and concentrated on lengthening my poses, I found that my practice became mentally easier and physically deeper. Love your length–this mantra is definitely a keeper 😀

Smile out loud,

Rachel

NYC Restaurant Edition

22 Aug

Thursday: Of all the pizza places in Manhattan, I have to say that POSTO (18th street & 2nd ave.) is the best, hands down. When you taste the spicy, garlic, veggie pizza, you will see what I mean 😀 Quite simply, the pizza is delivered straight from heaven!

Friday: Speaking of heaven… The eggplant parmesan at Angelo’s (53rd street & Broadway) is to die for.  I didn’t take a photo of my plate this time, because I was enjoying time with family from home. Don’t worry, though, you’re in luck–Madonna ate at Angelo’s recently, so there’s plenty of photos from her dinner! If it’s good enough for Madonna, it’s good enough for me 😀

Saturday: After filling the car with my life in boxes, my parents and I strapped furniture to the roof (quite the scene!) and drove uptown to my dorm apartment. By dinnertime, we were starving… moving is a lot of work!

Thank goodness Campo came to the rescue 😀 I ordered a thin crust pumpkin pizza. I’ve never thought of pumpkin as a pizza topping before, but I do now! SO DELISH.

Meanwhile, my mother ordered gazpacho with shrimp and raved about it, but I was too busy eating my pumpkin pizza to take a picture of it… 😀 Anyway, it looked something like this:

So, now you know how I’ve been spoiled rotten while eating over the last few days 😀 I hope you’ve had some awesome eats recently, too!

Smile out loud,

Rachel

Confessions of a 21-Day-Old Yogini

21 Aug
I’m on day 21 of 31 Days of Yoga, my project to practice yoga everyday for the month of August, and I have a few confessions to share:

Day 1: I realized it would have been smarter to do 31 days of yoga in a month that was not so humid– December or January would be perfect 😀
Day 3: My hips were so tight that pigeon pose made me want to scream like I was giving birth.
Day 5: A lovely purple towel by Yogitoes moved to the top of my wish list. On July 31st, I would have said there was no good reason whatsoever to spend money on a “yoga mat towel.”
Day 6: My thumbs, wrists, biceps, shoulders, hips, hamstrings, Achilles tendon, and toes agreed on the fact that downward facing dog will simply never be a natural position for me!

Day 7: I got so annoyed with slipping on my yoga mat that I sold it on craigslist that night.  I’m much happier with an old yoga mat from my closet that says Jet Blue all over it. Not to mention that I’m $20 closer to being a billionaire (dream big) 😀
Day 10: Someone in yoga class complimented me on my Natarajasana, dancer’s pose, and it made me smile. However, the truth is, I’ve had a few years of ballet training…

Day 11: Jamie and her series on Confessions of a Yogini inspired me to write this post 😀 Thank you, Jamie!
Day 12: I learned I can look up and let my back fall right into camel pose. 5 hours later: My spine informs me that this was not a good idea.
Day 13: I felt like a force to be reckoned with in Warrior II 😀
Day 15: I skipped two days of yoga in a row due to traveling… poor life choice!
Day 17: After two double-headers in 2 days, I began to hear “Now, move through your flow sequence” in my sleep… I may be taking a break from vinyasa after these 31 days.
Day 21: Even though my arms are starting to look more muscle-man than yoga-goddess, I really love having a regular yoga practice 😀
Smile out loud,
Rachel

Smile In Your Liver

19 Aug

Tonight I gave my body a rest from 31 Days of Yoga. Too many hours spent yoga-ing and packing over the past couple of nights have made me exhausted! What better way to sit back and relax than to see Eat Pray Love 😀

I absolutely loved Elizabeth Gilbert’s novel, so it was a treat to see all the details fleshed out in film. Italy, India, and Bali (and don’t forget Manhattan :D) are such beautiful places. I felt like I was on vacation for two hours 😀


The above picture features Elizabeth Gilbert and Ketut, the medicine man in Bali. My favorite line, of course, was Ketut’s:

Why they always look so serious in yoga? You make serious face like this, you scare away good energy. To meditate, only you must smile. Smile with face, smile with mind, and good energy will come to you and clear away dirty energy. Even smile in your liver.

Ketut’s message is closely related to the reason I started this blog. Smiling not only proves that someone is happy, but it also creates happiness. That is a killer combination 😀

So, smile in your liver… hmm, new blog name? Maybe 😀

Smile out loud (in your liver),

Rachel

Yoga Super Granny

18 Aug

When I grow up, I want to be this woman:

She looks like she’s done one or two yoga classes before 😀

But, seriously…

I noticed in yoga class tonight that I rarely ever see anyone over the age of 35 years old in classes with me. At first, I couldn’t figure out the reason for this, but then I realized it bothers me–because I want to be in yoga class when I’m older. Moreover, I hope that I’m still doing yoga when I’m really old!

After all, being Yoga Super Granny would make for one pretty cool grandma, if you ask me 😀

Anyway…

31 Days of Yoga is almost over, and I believe that getting into the habit of going to yoga class everyday has made a world of difference for my practice. This challenge has forced me to re-prioritize my yoga practice, and I am so glad I finally did 😀 I learned that, sometimes, I just need to take the leap in order to get where I want to be… whether I’m ready or not!

Is there a leap you’ve been waiting to take?

Smile out loud,

Rachel

Movin’ On Out

17 Aug

Moving 3 miles uptown may be the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

I’m packing up my apartment and moving back to the Upper West Side before classes begin. Yikes, my room looks like a tornado swept through… too much stuff, too little boxes!

I need to be fully moved in uptown by Saturday, so I’m cleaning out the closets– and the refrigerator. With a freezer full of bananas and cinnamon raisin bread, I decided to have vegan french toast for dinner 😀

For dessert, I chopped up some mangoes. They were just 75 cents each on the Upper East Side tonight!  Who says Park Avenue is only for the rich 😀

Anyway, I must get back to packing. It seemed like a good idea earlier to pack now and not stress about doing it later…but, it’s getting late, so procrastination (in the form of sleep) might become the new game plan 😀

Hope you’re having a productive night!

Smile out loud,

Rachel

Make this Salad Now!

17 Aug

At 1:00 PM today, my boss announced she was going to Spoon, my beloved restaurant, for lunch. At 1:01 PM, I promptly invited myself to come along. You gotta do what you gotta do, right 😀 Above is my Spoon spinach salad, complete with figs, blueberries, blue cheese, and walnuts. I was starving, but I took a quick (blurry) picture with my phone, before devouring 😀

I simply adored this salad. If you’re looking for something DELISH, you must make this salad for yourself right now 😀

Smile out loud,

Rachel

My Doubleheader and Asparagus “Sausages”

12 Aug

This is how I felt tonight, after I finished my doubleheader (of yoga classes, not baseball :D):

A picture is worth a thousand words, right? ‘Nuff said 😀

On to the food!

First, here’s a quick background story for you: On the first day of my internship this summer, I handed my college I.D. to the office building’s security guard for identification. Then, the person behind me also handed over her college I.D., at which point we realized we both go to the same college! We’d never met before that day, but we got to know each other over this summer and she is a very cool person! Coincidentally, she looks exactly like one of my cousins and it still surprises me every time I see her…

Anyway, today was the last day of her summer internship (at a firm 12 floors below mine) and tomorrow is her birthday. If this situation doesn’t qualify for a celebratory lunch, I don’t know what does 😀

She chose a restaurant for us called Dogmatic that specializes in sausage dogs. However, we are not talking about your average dogs. These sausages are free of hormones, antibiotics, and nitrates, and naturally low in fat?! That sounds like some sort of scientific breakthrough to me, but I wasn’t sure my stomach was quite up to the challenge of a sausage for lunch. Instead, I opted for “the sausage of vegetables.”

I loved it, and I don’t even like asparagus very much! So, if you’re looking for something different to have at your next backyard barbeque, stick a couple of asparagus spears in a hot dog bun. A vegetarian will thank you 😀

That’s all I got tonight! See you tomorrow 😀

Chipotle Hummus: It’s What’s For Dinner

11 Aug

Today I’m giving my body a rest from yoga. That means I have two yoga classes in a row to look forward to tomorrow 😀

In the meantime, I’m about to eat dinner: miso soup (thank you, Trader Joe’s :D) and spicy, zesty hummus on a pita…

Chipotle Hummus

2 cups of chickpeas/garbanzo beans
2 cloves garlic
Juice of 1 lemon
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon (or more :D) red chili flakes
2 tablespoons virgin olive oil

Puree all of the above in a blender (or a food processor, if your kitchen is more decked out than mine :D) to desired consistency. Add a few drops of water to make your hummus as creamy as you want 😀 *Note: this recipe yields a ton of hummus, so grab your tupperware!

My hummus wasn’t ready for a glamour shot tonight, but these gorgeous summer flowers certainly were:

Wednesday night… that’s pretty close to the weekend, right 😀 Almost there!

Yoga Mat = Slip ‘n Slide

10 Aug

Today was day 10 of 31 Days of Yoga. There was some light rain this afternoon, so no yoga on the roof tonight! Instead, we were inside the studio, and, let me tell you, it felt like the most humid day of the summer so far. My yoga mat just about turned into a slip ‘n slide!

Luckily, 3 of my friends were at class as well, so the heat and (a whole lot of) sweat were slightly more bearable… Yoga buddies are the best 😀 Here’s a photo of one of my favorite yogini-friends from another yoga class we attended this summer (coincidentally, I was wearing the same shirt today!):

After yoga, we went to the movie theater to see Inception–have you seen it yet? I’m not a movie expert by any means (it’s a miracle if I stay awake through an entire movie :D), but I thought it was fantastic. It was definitely worth 2 hours of your time, if you’ve got any to spare 😀

When I got home tonight, there was a package at my (apartment building) doorstep. I had completely forgotten that I got lucky recently and won a giveaway on Suburban Yogini–an awesome blog, also written by a Rachel 😀 It took over a month to ship, because Rachel lives in the UK! So cool, right? I’ve never been there but I want to live in London after grad school, at least for a couple of years. Back to reality…

The prize contains a variety of flavors of Ultima Replenisher, “the balanced electrolyte drink.” However, the box is sitting unopened on my kitchen counter, because I got home so late tonight. I’ll let you know how it tastes in the next few days!

Now, it’s bedtime for me. Sweet dreams, everyone 😀