Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Kind Life

Just as many do around the first of the year, I decided to make a few resolutions of my own:

- work less/make more time for friends
- embrace a complete vegan diet
- start a compost
- start a rainwater collection

I made great strides toward my first 2 resolutions in the first few weeks of the New Year. For my birthday, I hosted a Vegan Birthday Brunch.

I crafted these "paper balls" from an old newspaper and used them as a hanging center piece. (My girlfriend Claire crafted the really wild ones)

The simple recycled craft paper table runner dawned these beautiful fresh flower and soy candles.

The menu --
Cafe M's Vegan Benedict with Smart Bacon
Almond Cocoa Pancakes
Tiny Toasts with Grape Jelly
Fruit Salad with Soy Yogurt
Fresh juiced Orange and Apple juice

aaaand Mimosas, Bloody Marys, and Screwdrivers. Brunch staples.
None of my friends are Vegan (or Vegetarian) however, they are very open minded and tried all of the food. There were rave reviews!
The food was delicious and the company was lovely.
The attendees (a few neighbors, including one  that I met in yoga class and had never hung out with, a few old friends, and some very new ones as well) all got along wonderfully.

The Vegan Birthday Brunch is going down in my culinary experience as a success!

Monday, January 2, 2012


My arms and legs are still beaming from what could truly be considered a Yoga Marathon. My first but definitely not last.

It was my year of many many firsts:
- First year juicing
- First year strength training
- First year of working (not interning) at an Agency
- First year to buy a car (by myself)

AND - First year to complete around 100 of 108 Sun Salutations at Yoga Yoga Austin!

The class (marathon) began at 1:00pm on New Year's Day which to me really meant no acting wild on New Year's Eve. Which for the first time (another first) I openly accepted. Ringing in the New Year felt like wiping my slate clean. Which is what I have heard is the mental thought associated with A Sun Salutation. It all seems to align perfectly.
So, I spent the evening with a few friends in Austin. I had my obligatory glass of champagne at Midnight and shortly after I was off to bed!
I woke up bright and early on New Year's Day, a sense of renewal already brewing in my heart. I drove the desolate streets of South Austin to Juice Planet where I found a few other early birds. 1 Mean Green juice later I started feeling pretty excited.
I showered and dawned my yoga costume.

The studio was packed! As soon as I walked in the door I saw a sweet friend of mine from Art School! We squeezed our mats close in together. The entire room was filled with mats all around 6 inches apart. Wow!
Three rounds of OM left my ears vibrating with positive energy as we started in.

The Surya Namaskar A series went as follows:

1. Mountain Pose (Tadasana)
2. Standing Backbend
3. Swan Dive to Forward Fold (Uttanasana)
4. Inhale and look forward
5. Jump back to Plank Pose
6. Up Dog (Urdhav Mukha Svanasana)
7. Downdog (Adho Mukha Svanasana), hold for 3 breaths
8. Jump forward to Forward Fold (Uttanasana)
9. Inhale and look forward
10. Standing Backbend
11. Mountain Pose (Tadasana)

The first 10 or 12 were smooth. By 12 or 13 I started to sweat. A lot. Somewhere??, who knows where.. around 45 my sweat began to go up my nose -- because of the amount of time spent inverted: forward fold, downdog, forward fold. I began to cut my "hold for 3 breaths" to "hold for 1 breath" and spent the 2 residual breaths in Mountain Pose so my sweat could drip down my face rather than up. I also had to start using my shirt to wipe down my face. Not a great class to forget a towel! Eeekk.
My arms felt warm and the 8. Jump forward to Forward Fold began to seem quite difficult. This must have been the point when I took my first Child's Pose. Just a simple seated resting pose. I hoped back up and started again reminding myself that I should treat each Sun Salutation as it were the first. Retain integrity.
The first time I looked at the clock it was 2:30 - I decided in my mind that I was DONE. I was ready to roll up the mat and say "Good Enough" -- the class was come-and-go, a handful of students had already left and a few came in throughout the practice. Just as I was ready to quit, one of the instructors came in and announced "Alright everyone, we are at 80!" We all started to yell and scream. I quickly decided that if I HAD MADE IT TO 80, that I could certainly go all the way! Stick to it.
I took a few more Child's Pose throughout the last 28. And took a few forward lunges into forward fold eliminating the jump forward. WHEW~
Counting is a great technique that I use in my Strength Training sessions. I seem to work well in numbers -- So, I tried to count the last 28 in my head. My brain was focused only on the finish so I lost count somewhere around 4! But I rolled with it keeping in mind that this would end. It would not continue forever. Just as all things in life -- this challenge too would end.

I persevered on -- the instructor announced "LAST ONE!!!" We all started to yell and scream again! We finished the 108th Sun Salutation around 3:00pm. It was followed by an amazing cool down and a 5 minute Savasana (RELAXATION POSE).
The practice was followed with a loud round of applause. I reached over and hugged my friend, neither of us cared that we were dripping in sweat. We rolled up our mats and were greeted with warm tea as we exited the studio.

Right after class, I headed to pick up my riding buddy, as we were scheduled to leave for Lubbock that day. I ended up letting him take over and drive because my head was swimming in happiness, I couldn't get the grin off my face, and I felt high on life -- and on yoga. (Not sure if that is considered a legal intoxication).

This was truly one of the most AMAZING experiences. I predicted that I could get to around 75. I never dreamed that I could go all the way!! I am so thankful to have the ability in this lifetime to experience something so incredible.

So much happiness into the first day of 2012! Namaste