Registration is open for our 3rd annual Mountain Hut Yoga Get-Away in August! Come with me to the high mountain backcountry of Colorado for a special weekend retreat with potent practices and unforgettable views.
We have nearly made it through another winter. You probably notice the days feeling longer, and I hope you are enjoying the sunshine (and ALL THE SNOW in the mountains if you’re here in Colorado). I have always loved this time of year, with the first hints of growth and warmth blowing in on the gusty winds.
As we move toward spring and into whatever happens next for each of us, it is natural to feel a shift toward lightening, letting the old unnecessary things fall away or dissolve – which may include material stuff, thoughts, relationships, unhelpful habits, patterns, expectations, whatever. In cases of big transitions or letting go, it can feel like the ground dropping away from beneath you, and you may need to be patient, and trust your own wings.
As always, take good care of yourself: Make time to get outside, drink plenty of water and tea, eat nourishing foods, and don’t forget to look at the sky. I also recommend learning about Ayurveda (the Indian “science of life”, which considers and treats each individual uniquely, based on your own constitution for optimum health and well being).
And now, a spring treat and retreat!
Dreamy Sweet Potato Soup
You will need:
- 2 sweet potatoes
- 1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and chopped coarsely
- 1 can coconut milk
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, sesame oil, ghee, or coconut oil
- Spices (bay leaf, black peppercorns, cloves, turmeric, cardamom, cinnamon)
- Cilantro for topping
- Cut sweet potatoes into slices, roast at 400 degrees F until soft.
- Blend sweet potatoes with chopped fresh ginger and coconut milk in a blender (add as much water as needed to blend smoothly).
- Heat oil in a pot, toast whole spices until they sizzle.
- Pour blended sweet potato mixture into pot, add ground spices and salt to taste, plus water as necessary to get the desired consistency.
- Bring to a boil, then simmer as long as you like (5-30 minutes).
- Serve with chopped cilantro, a fresh salad, and warm crusty bread.
I am so looking forward to being back on the beach at Hacienda del Secreto in May! This special retreat over Mother’s Day weekend is the most luxurious and in-depth retreat I am teaching this year, and there is space for you!
It is impossible to adequately describe the magical feel and rhythm of the place, but it is an absolute dream. Just a few days of dedicated, unhurried practice and refreshing rejuvenation in this setting have a way of working on us in unbelievable ways. You simply have to experience it for yourself, and I would love for you to come.
Stay in touch, keep practicing, and I hope to see you again some day soon.
Heaps of love,
Season’s salutations to you! As we find ourselves in the shortest, darkest days (here in the northern hemisphere, anyway), it is a natural time for reflection, introspection, and quite possibly some changes.
You have probably noticed by this point in your lifetime the wavelike nature of it all – the ups and downs, highs and lows, good days and bad days, success and failure, clarity and confusion, inspiration and aimlessness. These waves do not necessarily follow a regular periodic rhythm or have equal amplitude from peak to peak, but we all experience the fluctuations of being alive. To be truly skillful in navigating the course of your own individual life, it is helpful to be able to observe yourself in these different phases – without becoming overcome by the low troughs or ungrounded in the soaring heights. If you can train yourself to do that, you will find a state of equanimity, able to fully appreciate both the glowing bliss, as well as the opportunity to grow as you pull yourself out of the muck. You might be surprised what you find there.
A few recommendations:
- On the dark days, make sure to get outside and find movement. Go to the water or the mountains, or go for a short walk.
- If you feel isolated and alone, reconnect with a friend you haven’t seen for a while, go to a yoga class, or volunteer to serve others.
- When you are overwhelmed by time with family, holiday parties, conferences, or being around people in general, take a break to be alone. Go out for a run, make music, paint, or curl up to read or write. Be still, be quiet, and let your awareness go inward, toward the deep internal calm that is always there.
- Breathe fully. Let the breath move freely through the entire body.
- Make time for what you need.
On a personal note, this fall has been an interesting transition time (see my Big Decisions post from October). After a few months of not being fully involved in science, but teaching more studio yoga classes, I realized that that was not the right balance at this point. So here is the next next Big Decision in coming back toward a state of balance and riding the waves: I have accepted a Postdoctoral Fellow position starting in January, up the hill at NCAR (the National Center for Atmospheric Research, based here in Boulder at the iconic Mesa Lab overlooking the city), modeling the polar ice sheets and their interactions with the atmosphere and oceans to understand the changes that are coming with changing climatic conditions.
It is always amusing to see what falls into place. This decision in no way compromises my commitment and dedication to the practice of yoga, or to passing on those teachings. In fact, it gives me the freedom to fully follow both paths of science and yoga, and will also allow me to teach you in the most effective way. Starting in the New Year, I will be teaching much less in the form of regularly scheduled weekly classes, and I sincerely encourage you to consider joining me for one or more retreats next year. This actually follows more closely the way yoga has traditionally been taught by sages and teachers in the Himalayas for a long time – where you physically spend time with your teacher only occasionally. The real potency lies in what you take home with you from those periods of practice and study, and how you cultivate that over time through your own individual effort and practice. So I invite you to join me in Paonia in February and/or Mexico in May! See what grows out of it.
Enjoy the holidays. Please stay in touch, and know that I am here to support you in any way that I can.
With great love,
To immerse yourself in yoga practice in an unhurried way, to explore new territory both externally and internally, to access more of your individual potential, to spend quality time with new and old friends, to eat well, to return home with a sense of lightness, expansion, and clarity about your role in the world – join me for a yoga retreat in 2019.
I am delighted to announce three carefully selected retreats on the calendar for next year – there is something for everyone to look forward to. Reserve your spot early! Details are here.
At various stages through our lifetimes, we are faced with big decisions about what to do with ourselves. Beyond providing for our own individual basic needs, this becomes a question of how to be most useful to the world, leveraging all our experience, training, privilege, and unique inclinations and circumstances.
You may know that I was in graduate school for the past several years, developing numerical models of ice sheet dynamics and meltwater drainage beneath glaciers. This is arguably important work, as these processes have significant consequences for sea level rise and global climate effects in the coming decades, and we need accurate predictions in order to properly prepare and adapt. Upon completing my PhD in civil engineering this summer, I was presented with some very nice, stable, well-paying opportunities for postdoctoral research in academia and at national labs to continue similar modeling work. After serious consideration, I turned them all down.
What have I done? Why would I do such an irresponsible thing and not “use” my degree? I see a distinction between the ice sheet modeling work, which is useful for predicting sea level rise and dealing with problems that are coming, and teaching yoga to people, which has great potential to actually change how things move forward.
After visiting my parents last week, I received an email from my dad, a retired astrophysicist who spent his career studying cosmic rays to understand the origins of the universe. He wrote: “I’m not sure there is any way to get there from here, but wouldn’t it be neat if the world were full of compassionate and mutually supportive rational beings? We should collectively kick away the ladder of evolution, which got us this far up, and start perceiving things in a better way.”
This is precisely why I am drawn to the path of yoga. In a way, the decision was already made long ago. The practices and teachings have somehow always seemed familiar; some people would assert that this is a result of practicing in previous lifetimes, but you can think what you like about that.
Sometimes there appears to be a divide between yoga and modern Western science or physics, with each side misunderstanding or misrepresenting the other perspective, or trying to draw inappropriate comparisons. This usually isn’t intentional, but is typically a result of not having the proper background in the language of advanced mathematics or the subtle internal language of yoga. Both disciplines provide systematic methods of understanding the nature of reality, and I find myself in a somewhat unique position of being relatively highly trained in these seemingly distinct realms. It will be interesting to see how this might be useful, and what doors open along the way.
I am delighted to be teaching at The Yoga Workshop now, in the Ashtanga tradition, which is a tremendously effective approach to personal yoga practice. Beginning next week on October 22, I will be teaching guided Short Forms classes on Mondays and Wednesdays at noon, and I am also assisting Ty Landrum in morning Mysore classes on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.
I’ll look forward to seeing you again, and I would love to hear about what you have been up to, along your own path.
With great love,
Whatever you might think yoga is, it is probably not quite that. This is the beauty of it, the endless inquiry through experience that opens itself up and keeps unfolding. Part of it is technique, creating the right conditions in the body and mind and surroundings, and that requires sincerity, discipline, and consistency. Once you have some amount of structure and competence, a significant component of yoga involves softening and giving it away, letting things merge in ways you might not expect.
If you understand this in some way, that is good. If you have no idea at all what I mean, that is also good. We all experience life in different ways, depending on the particular circumstances we find ourselves in. And instead of becoming complacent in our situation, we can continue to look inside ourselves and look outside at the complex world around us, again and again, with fresh, bright eyes. It is all right there, but we have to remember to look.
I hope you are enjoying the summer so far, soaking up all the sunshine and adventures. Stay in touch, and I’ll look forward to crossing paths again some day soon.
With much love,
Summer Garden Pesto
Growing up in Utah, my family always grew an abundance of basil in the garden to make pesto all summer, with even enough to freeze to tide us over for the winter. This year, I have two basil plants in my patio garden that are doing quite well, so it has been a good pesto year. (The past few years, the basil didn’t thrive, and we had to make do with arugula and kale pesto – which is quite good, and still tastes like summer.)
This is how I usually make my pesto these days:
What goes in:
What to do:
Put the basil leaves in a food processor, with some olive oil and fresh-squeezed lemon juice. Run the processor briefly until the leaves are chopped finely. Add and grind the walnuts in, then salt and pepper to taste. Adjust the consistency by adding more olive oil or walnuts.
I like to eat pesto with bread and salad for a delicious, fresh dinner on late, warm summer nights. It is also obviously excellent with tomatoes, gnocchi, pasta, rice, in quesadillas, on sandwiches, or in many other settings…