Adventures in Juicing

Please note that as of the end of summer 2014, I will be moving my blog to the following link (until that time all blog posts will be duplicated in both locations): http://confessionsofayogaprincess.wordpress.com

Yoga isn’t just about being in the hot room, not for me anyways. I’m always searching for ways to improve my health, to eat cleaner. For my birthday in April my mom bought me a juicer, an Omega 8005 to be exact. It arrived on my doorstep before my birthday, but stayed within the confines of its box for a month. I’m not exactly sure why I didn’t open it, but I didn’t, until one day in May…….

I decided the time had come. Probably because I started to tire of spending $8 or more on a bottle of fresh pressed juice. Most people would probably look up recipes online or buy a book, but not me! Whole Foods sells a beet juice that tastes out of this world to me. Something about the combo of flavors hits every taste bud, so I looked at the ingredients and did my best to imitate it.

Kale, beets, carrots and green apple: those ingredients comprised my first juicing experiment. I didn’t really know how much to include, so I guesstimated. A couple of medium sized beets, a couple of carrots, one green apple, and a handful of kale.  It equaled absolute yumminess!!!!

I’ve also been craving ginger A LOT, so I decided to add some ginger the next time I made juice and WOW!!!  Just the perfect zing. By the way, a little ginger goes a long way.

I did peel the beets before juicing. Juicing is work, but I’m worth it, and I’d rather do this kind of work than the kind of work it takes to get better when one falls ill.

This past Sunday my mom came over to have her first juice from my juicer. The first question out of her mouth was “will this make me f*rt and sh*t all day?” I love my mom.  The answer to her question is no. But there’s more to this discussion. Since I started juicing about a week ago, I’ve had on average one juice a day and I have experienced side effects—clean side effects. Pardon anyone’s sensibilities, but since I started juicing my movements (if you know what I mean) have been super clean and easy. You can tell so much about health through poop.

That Sunday I also had a hankering to try orange ginger juice, so I made my mom and I a small orange ginger cocktail (no alcohol involved) and it proved to be tasty too!

I’ve heard some people complain that they gained weight when juicing. Well, that may be true, but I imagine it depends on what one consumes overall. How much are you drinking? How much are you consuming? I’m learning to listen to my body. It tells me when I’ve had enough. it’s not always an easy task, but I’m getting there. Sometimes when I’m hungry, it’s more about needing water. Juicing won’t make me gain weight. Emotional dependency on food and relying on its false gratification will.

Oh and cleaning up the juicer=super easy as well. As quick as fast food? Probably not. But the real problem with fast food is that once it enters your body it takes a loooooooonnnnnggggg time to leave it.

I’m looking forward to continuing to play with my juicer and seeing what health adventures it takes me on. Find your health. Find what works for you. Find what your body wants and feed it.

If you have any favorite juicing recipes, please share them! I’d love to hear them!

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Breathing: the One Bikram Asana I DISLIKE(D)

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Breathing: the One Bikram Yoga Pose I DISLIKE

I know. I know. Breath gives life. Breath gives existence. Yet, I resist it. From the beginning I’ve resisted it. I didn’t want to engage my core in the opening sequence, nor in the ending sequence. Too difficult, too hard—those serve as excuses, don’t they? The greater truth lies in the power of breath, the power it has to manifest untold soul realizations.

Last Friday, I casually mentioned that I hated the breathing sequence. Didn’t really see its purpose. Of course, I knew better. Breath gives more than oxygen to the lungs; breath gives oxygen to all the muscles, all the cells in the body. The better I breathe in the first breathing sequence, the better my body will do in the remaining poses, and the better my mind and spirit will do during the rest of the day. My mind knows this truth, but my body and spirit resist it. That is to say they resisted it until this past Friday.

After my very casual comment, my instructor told me that breathing happened to be the most important asanas of the class—I kinda knew that but had been resisting it. Then he dared me to do the breathing at the beginning and end of the class and do no other poses in between. Just spend 75-80 minutes observing my breath. I suspect he may not have thought I’d take him up on it, but I did!

As I normally do two classes back-to-back I decided that I would put my all into my poses so I could really have a deep meditative breath experience during the second class. I didn’t tell my instructor I’d be taking him on the dare, but I’m me, and I’ve got a lot of mental sh*t to let go of, so I’m sure it didn’t come as a surprise!

As the second class began I immediately made a decision to fully place myself within my breath, allowing oxygen to fully embrace my being. I kept my core activated during the entire opening breathing sequence. As soon as the the class started the half-moon sequence I stilled my body. For a few moments I just stood there breathing.

Then I laid down in savasana and tuned out all the happenings around me: the instructor’s voice, the movements and breath of others. The difficult part, of course, involved calming my own mind. So many thoughts raced through for about 15 minutes. I watched a mental thought movie of my life: I saw so many negative messages pass through. Messages people told me through the years: “I’m too needy, too emotional. It takes too much effort to be my friend.” I can’t really remember all the messages now, but they came flying at a startling rate. I didn’t become involved with them though; I waited for them to pass.

The insecurities, the negativity, every crazy thought filtered through my mind. I found myself wishing that I could express my self more in the moment. I saw every wrong “thing” go through my head. I struggled to stay still but I knew if I just waited the thoughts would stop. Finally, they did. The voices shut up.

As my mind stilled, my body became heavy, so heavy that I no longer felt a part of it. A deep peace flowed through my body. My conscious relaxation became an unconscious relaxation. I had no awareness of my surroundings, of my thoughts, of any external or internal force. For about 40 minutes (a rough estimate) I experienced a deeper peace than I’d felt in any other meditation (I do meditate regularly).

My physical body apparently decided it needed to move at some point and the numbness of my ar*e melded my mind, body and soul out of its deep peace, not entirely though, but enough to start a slow awakening.

When it came time for the final breathing I didn’t want to move, to leave the calm peace I’d experienced, for I knew I wanted to avoid a rough reality.

Sure enough, as the day progressed, the blissful emptiness I’d experienced filled with so many of the negative thoughts I’d seen filter through my mind at the beginning of my meditation during class. I so want this to be a journey of complete mental, emotional and physical healing. I’m such an emotional eater that I know I have to be willing to see deep inside my self.

I have a hard time expressing my self in the moment. My emotions become so clouded by my past that I struggle with the simplest of expressions. I struggle with telling people how I feel. It takes a literal miracle for me to express my self if my feelings have been affected because I know my past experiences cloud my present emotions. Sometimes I feel like I don’t have the right to have my feelings because they’ve been forced down for so long—a survival mechanism for sure.

My struggle, my greatest battle is this: SEPARATING THE PAST FROM THE PRESENT TO MOLD A BETTER FUTURE.

After my yogic meditative experience I went on one of my favorite hikes. I knew I needed to give my self space to process all the sh*t that deep meditations can bring up. I wanted to give myself the space to feel, to experience, to wade through it all, so I could find my way out.

As I sat on a bench atop a hill I asked the universe for a sign, a very clear sign that would help me find clarity and beauty in the moment, and the universe delivered. I got my message in the most unexpected of ways, from the most unexpected of persons. The message didn’t solve my issues, but it made me smile and it told me very clearly that I had chosen the right path. That I would work my way through the muck to see the beauty.

Yoga really does heal. It doesn’t mean it’s always easy. But, in this moment, I know I’ll make it. I am determined to make it. Determined to let go of the past, to separate it from the present so I can create a better future.

Indeed that’s exactly what I’m doing: creating a better future.

I embrace the realizations that deep meditation brought forth. I embrace the work that lies ahead. I embrace the idea of spending a whole class lying in savasana again. Breath brings life. Breath brings hope. And now I have a whole new respect and perspective on breath.

Oh, and the next time you see someone spending the whole class in savasana know that they just might be having the most amazing transcendental transformational experience of their lives. Consider trying it some time! It’ll be the most amazing roller coaster ride of your life.

Follow more of my journey on Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/ConfessionsofaYogaPrincess

The Choices We Make

Yesterday I chose to go to two Bikram Yoga classes, back to back.  Why? Because I’m on a mission to live my life to the fullest, and I’ve seen what happens when people make choices that keep them from living their dreams.

In 1995 I met a wonderful woman by the name of Sharon. We connected almost immediately, and, within a short time, I became the daughter she never had. We laughed together. We cried together. She had a heart of gold and a zest for life, yet, in so many ways, she never really lived.

She wasn’t just overweight; she was “morbidly obese” to the point where she always had to call ahead to restaurants to make sure they had chairs without arms.  When it came time for her to buy a new car, the #1 factor in find the right vehicle? It had to be one she could fit in. She could barely walk a block and climbing up a set of stairs became a chore that would leave her gasping for breath as though she’d just run a mile. And flying?  Forget that.  Unless her boyfriend Don (a super-skinny guy) would fly with her, so then she could have half his seat.

I don’t mean to imply that she didn’t have fun.  Before she got sick we’d go on carriage rides at Christmas time and it would take so little for us to just fall apart laughing hysterically.

And yoga.  Sharon introduced me to yoga.  She practiced a gentle yoga at a local studio, and we’d often go to classes together.  One day, when I was going through a particularly rough time she surprised me by placing a stuffed iguana on my mat.  I still have that iguana, and whenever I look at it, I smile and know Sharon is with me in spirit.

In 2004 they found lump in her breast.  It turned out to be cancer, but discovering that was not an easy process.  For people who weigh more than 300 pounds (and she did) diagnosing diseases becomes much more cumbersome as most medical diagnostic devices come with 300 pound weight limits, so something as simple as a biopsy required surgery for Sharon.

For 4 years she was one of the lucky ones.  She entered remission.  But even then she never cared enough to even try to make her life what she wanted it to be.  That may sound harsh, but I was with her. I listened to her dream of traveling, walking with her dog, doing normal activities, but they stayed dreams. She couldn’t break the addictive cycle of needing the creature comfort of foods.  In spite of years of therapy she couldn’t push past the pain.

In 2008, she fell and broke her hip, or so we thought.  She spent three months in the hospital with a staph infection (from the hip surgery) before they diagnosed the “real” problem: bone cancer.  It wasn’t the doctors’ fault it took so long: I witnessed them doing their best. I hope Sharon forgives me for saying this, but, at that time, she weighed 500 pounds and that just made her more difficult to diagnose and treat.

She died a year later, on November 4 of 2009.  In the year that led to her death, she gave up when she didn’t have to. She had people who loved her and money to do things she always wanted to do, but, for whatever reason, she couldn’t push through the mental walls.

Knowing her changed my world, brought me love and laughter when I needed it. But that last year of her life I couldn’t spend that much time with her because she gave up on life long before it gave up on her, and the negative energy consumed her, and I could no longer allow it to consume me.

I remember delivering her eulogy, wishing she’d have made different choices so I could still have her with me, laughing and crying.

This is why I work so hard at improving my world, so someone doesn’t have to give my eulogy, thinking that they wished I’d cared enough to better my life.  I do care. I’m on a mission. To show the world and to show myself that all things are possible if only you/I believe they can be…………………..

IF you’d like, please feel free to follow my daily journey on facebook via my community fitness page:

https://www.facebook.com/ConfessionsofaYogaPrincess

 

Sharon, Veronica, and me at The Secret Garden for my Birthday

Sharon, Veronica, and me at The Secret Garden for my Birthday