Saturday, November 28, 2015

Mindful Fooding: How do we eat with presence?

We think of nutrition as "what we eat," but how we consume our food matters. Cooking mindfully stimulates digestive enzymes, and eating with presence helps us consume appropriate portions. We can call this "eating mindfully," or, in the case of our recent Teacher Training class: Mindful Fooding.

Throughout training, each Saturday we participated in a mindful potluck. Trainees prepared food inspired by the chakras, Yoga Sutras and … in some cases … by the only foods they could cook (Dave may have taken all the gorgeous photos on our website, but he can only cook one thing.)

Want some inspiration? Check out the tips below for eating mindfully, or explore the cookbook created by Namaste Yogi Kimberlee Cordova here.

  • Prepare your food. Take the time to make your food visually appealing, and even enjoy some music while you make your meal. This is not only fun and present, it also stimulates digestive enzymes.
  • Sit with good posture. I like to sit on a yoga block and place my food on a low bench.
  • Put down your silverware in between bites. Seriously. I know, this is the hardest part.
  • Chew each bite fully and completely, paying attention to taste and sensation as you eat.
  • Keep conversation to a minimum until after you are finished eating.
Join us on our patio the first Saturday of every month for 'make your own' oatmeal, coffee and tea. We hope this inspires you to eat mindfully in your daily life.  

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Student(s) of the Month: Ron and Jolie Matty

We say it a lot, but it is the biggest truth about what we do as a studio: our students are the life of our business, our space and our growth. Two of those students who light up our yoga rooms frequently were kind enough to sit down and tell us about their yoga journey and lives. Ron Matty and Jolie Franciscus Matty can be found practicing mat-to-mat in many of our classes, and we wanted to know a little bit more about their lives off the mat. 

NHP to Jolie: Who started practicing yoga first, you or Ron? How did you start practicing together?
We actually started practicing at the same time. We were smokers and had recently quit. We attended our first kundalini yoga class in 2008 at the local Y in hopes that it would ease the desire to smoke.

NHP to Ron: Do you remember your first yoga class? Tell us about it.
I had no idea or expectations and I was at a point in my life where I was newly sober and open to trying anything new reaching out for new experiences. We chanted the mantra "ong so hung" and for 10 minutes Joile and I fell into a laughing fit and we tried to stop without much success. The instructor had acknowledged us and said, " It was ok! It happens." I walked away thinking it was oddly interesting. It had me ... the freedom, the weirdness and the chanting. Things I had never done before.

NHP to both: What superpower does yoga give you? Do you agree with each other's answers?
Jolie: "I became Plasticman" (Ron: "Hahaha Jolie thought the question was Superhero!)"
Jolie: If yoga were to give me anything that I would consider a superpower, it would be the confidence in my strength and flexibility, to try new poses that at one time seemed out of reach. It also has given me an internal stillness that can often feel like a superpower, physical and spiritual powers.
Ron: Humility and awareness. This is has been the start of what has been a life changing experience. Humility- I am made vulnerable, yoga keeps me teachable and open to new ways. It has taught me to laugh with myself and challenged me to experience new movements which seemed inconceivable. The awareness of self- how it's not always about pushing limits, but ease sometimes may also be most effective as well. A new perspective on selflessness from the instructors who have shown a dedication to teaching, the honesty and conviction to practice has made me rethink my beliefs about my levels of commitment.

We both agree with each other's answers!

NHP to both: What is your next goal in your practice?
Both: Combine our practices in Acroyoga.
Ron: Eka pada sirsasana. A handstand without kicking up.
Jolie: Just to keep advancing, and really stick a handstand!

NHP to both: Has your relationship changed in any way since yoga came into your life?
In so many ways- an appreciation of grace and respect in the physical aspect, the beauty and strength of movement, the advance and growth has created a new found admiration and respect for each other and how we move and how we move together in life. Spiritually we have deeper connection, on a soul level when we return to savasana we are one, it's the most amazing experience to connect on such a meaningful level. As our practices continue to evolve yoga has allowed to experience each other in new ways on and off the mat. It has encouraged us to deepen our spiritual connection and live with a mindfulness and awareness of one another. This promotes a healthier understanding of each other and more effective communication. Doing yoga together has added harmony, balance and synchronicity to our busy schedules. It is in our practice to combine schedules to make sure we do have quality time together.

NHP to both: Do you have a go-to class?
That is determined by how we feel on any given day we enjoy so many of the instructors each bringing something different to the table. We are confident we will get exactly what we need out any class we take.

NHP to both: Do you have a teacher who you just think gets you?
It has been our experience that all instructors whose classes we regularly attend get us. (NHP loves this answer!)

NHP to both: Where can we find you guys when you’re not at Namaste?
Jolie: I am a hair stylist at Ellouise Salon in Pasadena, and I am active in service work to the recovery community, and an avid ultra runner running trails in the mountains throughout California. I love spending time with our 3 pups and 4 kids.
Ron: I'm a classically trained chef and personal trainer. When I'm not in the gym or kitchen, I love spending time with my wife and family doing anything outdoors. Open water swims, hikes, BBQ's, digital art and movies with Jolie.
Both: We love experiencing new adventures together.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Creating Connection at Your Table

As human beings, we are constantly in search of connection. We want to connect with each other, and we want to connect on a deep level with something great inside of us and around us. An essential element of a yoga studio is facilitating an environment where connection is possible. It is no surprise, then, that a yoga studio owner has some inside knowledge of how to connect people through a simple dinner. Here are some tips from Vanda's table, where our teachers meet annually for a Thanksgiving Dinner.

  1. Less fuss and more fun. Keeping things simple is one way to make everyone feel comfortable. Rather than creating a 'formal' environment for our dinner, Vanda set a rustic table outside, lit by dozens of tiny lights and heated by a space heater and fire. The mismatched plates and chairs felt chic and intentional
  2. Let your guests participate. Playing host is fun, but most people love the chance to showcase their own contributions to a party. As your guests to contribute a side dish, dessert or bottle of wine (or non-alcoholic wine in the case of so many of our yoga teachers!). Allow your guests to share food with each other, and if they are not inspired to share food, guests can always contribute a playlist, some flowers for place settings or help wash the dishes. You may have heard it's bad form to allow your fiends to wash dishes at your house, but it's actually an intimate invitation to allow them to take a lead role even when in your home. So, when you're planning a party and someone asks to help, take them up on the offer!
  3. Plan one simple, shared activity. We've all been to those baby showers with game, game, game. Those parties feel like more work than simple connection, but it's also nice to make sure all your guests come together for at least one special activity. It can be a simple toast, photo slideshow, meditation or - in our tradition - a gratitude circle. As we share our gratitude for each other and our community, we immediately feel connected.
  4. Skip the "decorations" that will end up in a landfill and opt for simple additions to your table. Decorate your table with fallen branches or cut flowers from your yard. Opt for candles or colorful water jugs to add ambience. If you are going to purchase decorations, try to keep them simple enough that you can use them again and again. Our table was set with LED candles (buy them once and reuse them forever), jars of lavender, a simple burlap runner and rings of moss.
  5. Do you know If you are planning an intimate dinner with less than 20 people, use this site to help pick a date. This is not feasible for larger groups, but it simplifies the planning process for smaller groups.
  6. Nothing is more important than good lighting and great music. 

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Teacher's Pet: Shoshana's Dory

This month, we celebrate Teacher's Pet "Dory"! Her human is our teacher, Shoshana. Shoshana and her hubby, Mike, live in Highland Park in a serene home with their fur babies. Here is the story of one of them.

Pet name(s):  Dory

Age: 2.5 years old

Background:  We got her from Kitten Rescue. (Hooray, Shoshana for saving another life!)

Likes: She loves to lick! She is a crazy licker! My husband was just joking that if she wrote a memoir it would be about all the things she has licked. She also loves to pounce on our 12 year old cat, even though he clearly does not want to play. She loves to eat! So much so that she wakes us up every morning at about 5:30am for breakfast. She loves to participate in my macrame making -playing and chomping on all the strings. She also loves being involved in my yoga practice, usually trying to catch my braid or earrings when I'm in Downdog.

Dislikes: She sadly dislikes being picked up and held. We still try, but it's almost always met with lots of wriggling :(

Special abilities/tricks: She's really good at being super cute and melting our hearts. She's also really good at darting around the house super fast and doing kitty gymnastics.

Favorite place to sleepShe loves to sleep on our dog's bed, which is super cute since it's huge and she is so little. He's so polite and just lets her. We can't wait to catch them snuggling together.

Favorite way to be bad: Her favorite way to be bad is to jump on the kitchen counters and eat our food. We are still trying to train her not to go on the counters, rather unsuccessfully.

Favorite way to be good: She is an amazing snuggler and has very special flopping abilities. When she honors us with her snuggles we will sit still for quite a while to drink in the love.

Namaste, Dory!


Friday, November 6, 2015

Teacher Feature: Chris Reed

Where could we find you as a child? 
Usually skateboarding somewhere or down the street attempting to play music with friends.

Do you remember your first yoga class? 
I do! I remember this overwhelming feeling of bliss coming over me during savasana during that first class.

What was the first yoga class you ever taught? 
While still in my training I convinced the local SPCA where I was a volunteer to allow me to have a weekly yoga class in the cattery. The first few weeks no one showed up so I said the words as I practiced along. I bet whoever was watching the cameras thought I was a nut.

What do you hope people will take away from your classes?  
That same feeling of bliss that I found during my very first practice.

What advice do you wish you could give your younger self?
Be kinder. Things will be fine.

What do you do when you are not in the studio? 
I really enjoy to ride bikes, hike, run (although I don't run as much as I'd like), really anyway that I can explore the area. I'd like to go to the beach and camping more.

What two or three books would you always recommend to a friend? 
I've given quite a few copies of "Don't Sweat the Small Stuff... and it's all small stuff" by Dr. Richard Carlson away to friends. I also really enjoy Rolf Gates "Meditations from the Mat." I'm also a big fan of fiction. I generally suggest something by Chuck Palahniuk, Nick Hornby or Bret Easton Ellis usually things that are less yogic and often twisted.

Do you have a favorite place to meditate? 
Sometimes I sneak into the sanctuary when theres no class and meditate. It's so quiet back there.

Where is your favorite place to hang out in LA? 
I generally spend most of my time in the neighborhood, downtown, or anywhere on this side of town. there's so many rad spots to discover.

What is something that most people would be surprised to learn about you?
In my early twenties I was very overweight, largely due to poor eating and a heavy drinking habit. I finally decided to get active and pursue a better life. I started running, eating better and eventually quit drinking and was able to lose a lot of weight and begin to actually live the life I had imagined for myself. 

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

2 Ingredient Organic Face Scrub

As we age, our skin stops turning over as quickly as it used to. This process makes it more important to exfoliate our skin to promote healthy turnover of cells. Here are some basics to help give your skin a healthy glow:

  1. Sleep! If you are tired, your skin will show it. Get at least 7-8 hours of sleep each night.
  2. Hydrate. Proper hydration will keep your skin "plump," while dehydration will increase the appearance of fine lines.
  3. Eat a healthy diet full of antioxidants.
  4. Put some of this antioxidants on your skin. This is where our recipe comes in for an organic, simply face and body scrub you can make with items you likely currently have in your pantry.
Coffee is one of the world's strongest antioxidants. It is also highly acidic, so it can be tough on the gut when consumed. Thankfully, we can use coffee in our beauty regimen to benefit from its potency. For this scrub:

  • Organic olive oil
  • Fine ground coffee (I recommend fresh grinding to an espresso grain)
  • Ratio is 3:2 coffee to olive oil
  • Whisk it up until it is the consistency of grainy mud
  • It is messy! I recommend scrubbing in the shower or tub to keep things contained.
  • Apply liberally to your skin and rub in circular motions, careful not to press too hard, especially around the delicate skin of your eyes.
  • Rinse away.
  • Coffee
    • Antioxidant
    • Rough grain is perfect for exfoliation
    • Subtle darkening of skin like a fake tan without the chemicals
    • Caffeine will constrict your blood vessels to decrease puffiness
  • Olive Oil
    • Incredibly hydrating
    • Don't worry about getting all of the oil off of your skin. Instead, allow a little to sit to encourage your pores to close back up after your scrub.
That's it! Your bathroom will smell awesome after this one.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Sondra's Secret to Vitality

Disclaimer: This recipe is not vegetarian-friendly. We fully support efforts to eliminate animal cruelty caused by factory farming. 

The first time I told Sondra I wasn't feeling well, she said, "You need bone broth. Wait, you're not vegetarian are you? Of course you are."

At the time, I had been vegetarian for about five years. I was diagnosed with multiple auto-immune diseases a few years into my stint as a vegetarian, and doctors everywhere were telling me I needed to change my diet. My M.D., who is also an Ayurvedic doctor, told me I was eating wrong for my body type. My acupuncturist encouraged me to eat some meat to heat up my digestion, as vegetarianism is actually contraindicated in Chinese medicine. 

Sondra took one look at me and knew my dosha type - vata dosha - and knew it wasnt't being served by my diet. It took me some time to come around to the idea that some meat may help me heal. Once I did, I set out to find the healthiest and most responsibly sourced meats to add to my diet. Here is my experience making Sondra's prescribed "bone broth." As a recovering vegetarian, I'll warn you there is a chicken caracas involved. 

But, my theory has always been, if I'm going to eat the meat, I want to feel very connected with the animal and use its gift to the fullest potential. This recipe certainly does that.

Step One: Find a responsibly-sourced chicken

I recommend Healthy Family Farms which makes weekly visits to the South Pasadena Farmer's Market. From their website: "Healthy Family Farms is a sustainable, pasture-based farming operation in Santa Paula, California." You can even tour the facilities to see for yourself how the animals are raised. Animals raised in a pasture-based system are not only happier and healthier but serve the Earth they live on.

I purchased a half-chicken, bones and skin, for my recipe. If your farmer will sell you chicken carcass  (i.e., the left overs from their butchering), you can skip straight to step four. I enjoy using the chicken in my own meals first.

Step Two: Roast the chicken and enjoy it for a meal

I love a simple roast chicken. It helps connect me with the food I'm eating, which stimulates digestion and pays homage to the life given for my health. 

Here is my recipe:
  • Preheat oven to 200
  • Clean chicken and pat dry
  • Prepare a roasting dish with a tablespoon of olive oil or grass-fed butter
  • Dust the chicken in salt and pepper, rubbing in with your hands
  • Line the pan with chopped carrots
  • Rub minced garlic (3-4 cloves) over the chicken
  • Sprinkle thyme over the chicken
  • Pour a tablespoon of olive oil or grass-fed butter over the chicken
  • Roast for 30 minutes, covered at 200 degrees
  • Increase temperature to 400 degrees, roast for 30 minutes
  • Take lid off the roasting pan, watch for the chicken to start to brown
  • When internal temperature of the breast and leg have reached 180*, take the chicken out of the oven and allow it to rest for 20 minutes. It should continue to cook to 190* while resting.
  • Enjoy!
Step Three: Pick the bones

Pick the leftover meat off the chicken bones. If you have pets, this is a great add-in for their meals to give them some good fats and healthy protein. If you have some quality meat left over, it is excellent on salads and sandwiches for your week. You'll want to pick the bones relatively clean before making the broth. 

Step Four: Chop your veggies

You can add any veggies to your stock, but I recommend at least setting a base with aromatics. For one-half chicken, I recommend:

  • 3 large carrots
  • 1 head of celery
  • 1 medium onion. I replaced onion in my stock with leeks because I love their flavor in soups and broth.
  • Anything you have in your fridge! You can add mushrooms, radish or beets to your stock. 
  • Reserve part of the onion or leek if you'd like to add it to your broth as a finishing ingredient. I love some fresh leeks or green onion on soup. I also reserved some radish for topping
Step Five: Prepare your stock pot
  • Start by adding a very small amount of olive oil or butter to your pot, and turn the heat on to medium
  • Add your seasoning FIRST! This is an Indian cooking tip that will greatly improve your flavor profile. Here are some spices you can use:
    • Celery salt
    • Bay leaves
    • Oregano
    • Thyme
    • Ground pepper
    • Cinnamon (just a pinch)
    • Mustard seeds
  • Once your spices start to smell yummy, it's time to add your onion or leeks. Cook these down until just translucent.
  • Add the rest of your veggies, stirring with the spices for about 5 minutes
Step Six: Add the chicken bones
  • Add the chicken bones
  • Add enough water to cover your bones and veggies with at least a few inches to spare
  • Turn down the heat to low
Step Seven: Walk away
  • Stir about once an hour for 6-8 hours
  • Add water if needed
  • That's it! Drain your both over a strainer. The ingredients can be used again for a second stash. Your soup should have a healthy dose of collagen (i.e., should have a jello-like element to it). This is the beneficial part! 
Step 8: Enjoy warm

Spoon your broth as is into a cup for drinking or a bowl. The benefits of bone broth come from the collagen, which will help nourish you from the inside out. The warmth will stimulate your digestion and heat up your agni (inner fire). 

Step 9: But for real, what about the vegetarian/vegan folks?

We hear you, it's not easy eating meat. If you are adamantly veggie, you can still enjoy the benefits of broth. We recommend fermented vegetable broth for the biggest health benefits. You can find great stuff at Dave's Gourmet Korean, featured at the South Pasadena Farmer's Market (and others around town).