Sweet Potato Tacos!

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These tacos are deelish. They got the seal of approval from Matt and, I think the star ingredient in these is the sweet potato. After the potato gets done baking, it has a nice golden crust on the outside with a soft sweet core. The mixture of sweet and spicy from the jalapenos and cilantro is a killer combo in my opinion. This recipe is just a taco base, you can really add anything to the sauté mixture (E.g. bell peppers, broccoli).

Ingredients:

1 Sweet Potato cubed into approx. 1in cubes

1 red onion

1 handful of cilantro

1 clove of garlic

Kale or a leafy green of your choice

2/3 cup of corn (canned or frozen)

1 can of black beans drained

canned sliced jalapenos (optional)

Salt and pepper

Paprika (optional)

Cayenne Pepper (optional)

Preheat the oven to 425F. Toss the cubed sweet potatoes in olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper, paprika and a couple dashes of cayenne pepper. Spread on a baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes turning halfway through so the potatoes brown evenly.

While the potatoes are roasting dice your onion, garlic, and sauté on medium heat for 5 minutes. Add the corn and black beans. When everything is warmed, add your sweet potatoes to the mix. Warm corn tortillas in a sauté pan on low heat and then add the contents of your sauté mixture. Add sliced jalapenos and then the kale and cilantro as garnish. Enjoy. I’ve also made these tacos dirty, which means I add a little cheese and let it melt on the tortillas before adding the filling.

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Happy Weekend!

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Everything starts with you, within. This is a lesson I’ve only recently learned. Before, I always believed in waiting for the external to fall into place before I could be truly happy. Now, I realize that the external is often, determined by what we think, how we act, how we react, and what we believe. Wayne Dyer says “we don’t attract what we want, we attract what we are”. Therefore, if you work on the internal, on the self, on your thoughts, and your beliefs, everything around you will change as well. Peace and happiness come from within, from a life well-lived. Happy Weekend.

The Yoga Regional Asana Championship!

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This Saturday was the Yoga Regional Asana Championship for California, and it was my first year competing. I’ve only been practicing Bikram for a little over 2 years, and I’ve never watched a yoga competition before, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit I was scared shitless. However, I reminded myself of a lesson I learned in yoga “if you feel uncomfortable in a posture, that’s good. It means you’re changing your body. Sharp pain means back off”. Discomfort in a posture is often a sign of stretching or strengthening. In life discomfort is often a sign that you are pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and growing. Competing was definitely out of my comfort zone. In yoga class, when I would demonstrate my routine, my heart would beat wildly and my entire body would shake from nervousness. It’s scary.

Two weeks before competition, the reality of it all hit me and I got scared. Then I got injured. I’ve written about this in recent blog posts. Then, I got over it and lived my life for the last week. The day before competition I was scared again, worried of falling out of postures, but when I arrived day of and met with all of the other competitors I felt relieved. Everyone is so nice, and gracious. Everyone is rooting for you to nail your postures. It doesn’t feel like a competition based on the attitudes and actions of the yogis. I think of it as one big celebration of yoga, everyone who takes part is demonstrating what they have been working towards for months/years. We all just want to do our best, not necessarily with the goal of doing better than the other yogi.

The entire experience is so inspiring. Every competitor was amazing. Every competitor was beautiful and graceful, and the event was a true celebration of yoga. There were 3 masters (55years +), 10 men, and 30 women in total. What’s amazing to think of is that I was one of these 30 women in the entire state of CA to be a competitor. That’s an honor. I returned home feeling like I had been part of the yoga community, like I had been part of something great. I feel inspired to see how much better I can get in another year, and inspired by all of the amazing yogis I was able to watch during the competition.

Also, I conquered my fear and I am stronger for it. I am more confident in my abilities to compete again next year. I am more confident in my abilities to perform those 7 postures, and I learned a lot about strategy. In Bikram yoga, we do 2 sets of each posture. I’ve heard it said that the first set is your diagnostic set. It’s like when you walk into a room and take measurements, get a feel for the lighting and the layout. The second set, is the set that you own. The second set in a posture is when you walk back into that room and you’re rearranging furniture, fluffing throw pillows and kicking your shoes off. That’s how I hope next year’s competition is. This year was the diagnostic experience. Next year, I’d like to rearrange furniture.

Happy Weekend!

Sorry about the late post (Happy Weekend is usually posted on Saturday not Sunday) but I was at the regional yoga asana championship in Petaluma, Ca yesterday competing for the very first time! It was such an awesome experience and I will do a blog post on this later in the week.

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This quote is so true. For example, the anxiety I wrote about in my last post “Don’t Take Things Personally” was consuming me. I’ve heard it said that things start out as a whisper and then turn into a scream. I believe I had been taking things personally for a while, probably my entire life, but it was time to learn that lesson, and thus became a scream, so loud I couldn’t ignore it. If you find yourself placed in situations repeatedly that feel negative, ask yourself “what is the lesson I haven’t learned yet”. For instance, do you always feel like the victim, do you always feel disrespected by others, or alone, or left out? What part are you playing in placing yourself back into these situations? What lesson haven’t you learned yet? Or, is there someone in your life that drives you crazy with resentment, anger, annoyance? What can you learn from them? I believe that life is a journey in which we are constantly provided with opportunities to learn and grow if you know how to recognize these opportunities. Often pain and suffering is a growing opportunity disguised. “Nothing ever goes away, until it teaches us what we need to know”.

Don’t Take Things Personally

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In my last post I mentioned the injury that occurred while I was practicing my headstand. I went to the chiropractor and, thankfully, I’m better now, but the injury put me into my own head. It phased me. I thought to myself “why me” and “why now” so close to the yoga competition. I got into a place where I wasn’t in the moment for a few days after the injury and I felt this weight on my mood and my mind. Then I listened to a podcast where Oprah interviewed Jon Kabat-Zinn, the man credited for bringing mindfulness to America. He discusses the concepts of mindfulness, which he defines as “paying attention, in the present moment, on purpose, and non-judgmentally”. While I had the awareness part right, the piece I had been missing was the non-judgmental aspect of mindfulness. I had the awareness that I felt fear and anxiety about the competition, fear about my injury, and some resentment as well towards the injury. I knew I wasn’t living in the present moment, and so while I was experiencing these thoughts and feelings, I was also experiencing dismay by these thoughts and feelings. The dismay was caused by my judgment that these thoughts and feelings were bad, wrong, unwanted. Eckhart Tolle says “What you resist persists, and what you fight, you strengthen”. By fighting my feelings and emotions, I was actually making them stronger. Part of being in the present moment is accepting whatever is your reality at the time and one of the core components of mindfulness is that when you simply notice a negative thought or emotion, the thought/emotion will fall away naturally. I stopped resisting and moved to a place where I simply noticed negative thoughts and negative feelings. The thoughts/feelings fell away (seemingly magically).

The second component of the interview was Kabat-Zinn’s description of our tendency to “take things personally” (not just actions from other people, but also, with experiences). I often get this concept in social situations, however I had never thought about the concept of “not taking it personally” in life situations. For example, I was taking my injury personally asking myself “why me” and feeling sorry for myself. It wasn’t personal. Shit happens. The better question is to ask “why not me”. Eckhart Tolle talks about how the situation is always neutral but that our thoughts and reactions to the situation are what make us deem the situation either good or bad. Accordingly, our emotions are affected by our thoughts on the situation. We cause ourselves so much more suffering by taking it personally.

If you find yourself stuck in a negative rut like the one I just described, where you realize that you are not living in the present moment. Stop. Take a few deep breaths and just observe. Let yourself stop judging or fighting whatever it is that you are thinking or feeling and just notice. Observe. Whatever you are feeling or thinking is okay. If you do this, you will truly be in the present moment, and I bet, you will begin to feel better, lighter, and freer.

Happy Weekend!

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I was feeling sorry for myself this morning because I injured myself in headstand a few days ago while practicing my yoga routine for competition. I went to a chiropractor and I’m going to be fine, but for a few days I can’t practice my full routine. The choices we make consistently, everyday, speak more about our values, beliefs, integrity, faith, and character than words ever could. Remember that today is your temple and you have the opportunity to fill it with whatever you want your religion to be. I want to fill my temple today with gratitude, happiness, love, integrity, and faith that everything will be okay. What will you fill yours with today? Happy Weekend!

There’s Power in A Decision

One lesson I’ve learned from training for the yoga competition is that there is power in a decision. My body has changed drastically in just a few simple months and my postures have improved as well. I’ve become stronger, mentally and physically, and while I have been doing more yoga than I typically would have, I think the real power lies in having a goal to work towards.

I have heard time and time again artists and musicians say that there came a time when they had to decide their occupation was going to be their art. Adam Duritz from the Counting Crows discussed his decision to be a musician in an interview. He reported that he had to make the decision that he was a musician (not someone who wrote songs or played music on the side). After he made that decision (that commitment), things began to unfold for him and his musical career.

If I had waited until I was “good enough” to compete before I committed to competing, who knows if I would have ever been “ready”. There is power in a decision, and sometimes you have to take a leap of faith. With yoga, as with life, so much of what we do is based on faith. You work on a posture everyday in class and change happens so slowly sometimes, that you don’t even notice it until one day, suddenly, you can touch your toes in triangle, or kick your foot above your head in standing bow. This is true of life as well. You can’t only begin journeys when you can see the finish line from the start. Often, you must take single steps, with faith that one day you will get to your destination.

These two pictures show the progression in just a couple of months of standing bow pose. Remember: there’s power in a decision…in a leap of faith.

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Standing bow at the end of October/beginning of November

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Standing Bow end of December/beginning of January

Happy Weekend!

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Don’t get me wrong, traveling is great and wonderful, because often, it opens you up and gives you new perspectives. However, there are also many ways to gain new insight. For instance, I have read books that have changed me. I have read books that, afterwards, I was a different person because those books gave me new eyes. Yoga, also, has lead me to discovery and to gain new insights on life. This is what we should seek. We need to seek experiences that help us to grow and transform…to see the world with new eyes. We need to seek experiences that give us fresh perspectives. Perhaps seeking new landscapes gives one new eyes, and perhaps it doesn’t. Depends on the landscape. Depends on the person. Depends on the particular experience. The point is to seek experiences that give you new eyes. Happy Weekend!

Can Money and Success Satisfy the Soul?

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I was thinking about this the other day as my graduate school nears the end and I begin thinking about my future career. There are so many choices to weigh as far as careers go, especially in the psychology/social work field. Should I choose a job that pays well but is not so enjoyable, so that my day-to-day may be a little less joyful, but I’m able to afford vacations, self-care, nice dinners out. ? Which will make me happier, or is there a balance? Continue reading

Where Have I Been?

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I’ve asked myself the same question these past few months. I’ve been busy! I’ve been busy with graduate school, working on my final research project to graduate (which is a long painful process), I’ve been working, and interning counseling children exposed to trauma. Also, I’ve been training to compete in California’s asana competition this month, which is exciting! Training has forced me to bring my awareness to every aspect of the yoga practice, not just to performing the asanas, but also to focusing on maintaining stillness, transitioning out of postures with grace, and it’s forced me to become stronger physically and mentally.

I’ve written about this before, but the problem with being too busy is that there is no space for the amazing things to happen. For example, I haven’t felt inspired. I believe inspiration needs space in order to form. Because I have been so busy, I haven’t allowed for the space necessary to just think, feel, and connect with the inspiration awaiting all of us. I’m so looking forward to 2014, and to reconnecting with this blog, with all of the readers, and with the inspiration that drives my writing. I’m going to try to recommit to posting regularly again, even if it’s just a quote, or update on my yoga life.