“Look down, pull your head towards your toes, and find a gentle gaze towards your legs – breathe“. These words, uttered by the calming and omnipresent voice of Rebecca the yoga instructor, sink in mindfully as I am beginning to wind down my yoga practice on a bright Sunday morning with clear skies and once again unnatural February temperatures. I am just getting over a horrendous cold that has crippled my physical activities for days now, but it feels like weeks. My laundry is done. My bathroom – thanks to the power of organic, biodegradable pre-sprays, is waiting patiently for me to return home and wipe away lemongrass-scented scrubbing bubbles. I am at yoga, on time despite going to the wrong location, and I manage to complete most of the vinyāsas (poses), find my mountain pose, and my head is a respectable (if not pretty impressive for not practicing in a while) distance from my head. In short, I am feeling good.
I am right at the part where I am finding my “gentle gaze” when I look down at my legs and am shocked to find very prominent black hairs sticking out up and down my calves like cactus prickers, drops of sweat dripping down between them like little sweat highways. And here’s where things start to spiral downhill. Where just a few seconds ago my mind was clear and focused, an internal monologue commences in my head: “Uh, are these my legs? Ugh, they totally are my legs. How am I supposed to zen out while I am hunched over a week of stubble? Wouldn’t my yoga practice be so much better had I decided to shave before settling into my downward dogs? I wonder how those scrubbing bubbles are doing? I should really hurry back home and help Megan with desserts. My eye itches.” And just like that, I am out of zen and back into life and I can’t slow my brain down again. I fear this is a common occurence for most of us, trying to zone out, take a break from the rigorous comings and goings of everyday life – commutes, work, bosses, boyfriends, girlfriends, husbands, wives, kids, deadlines, bills – and it doesn’t often work as we want. We are pulled back into our whirling minds and I certainly feel at times I will never get back to the place I like to be mentally. I don’t know if it’s mediation. I have never really had a strong meditation practice and am not really sure if I have the patience or the time or the willpower to drop into what many people talk about as having a completely clear and conscious mind. But for me practicing yoga (and similarly running if any of you are interested) gets me into a state of mind that sitting still in a room chanting with prayer beads or focusing on my breathing cannot. A place where I cannot really consciously remember what I am thinking, if I am thinking anything. And on this particular day I take it as a huge victory that I made it 45 minutes without really thinking about anything that didn’t have to do with being on my mat, listening to Rebecca, and taking a break from the rigorous comings and goings of everyday life – at least that I can remember.
So my legs remained unshaved. Not just until I got home but another whole day because really, if I can’t tune out the imperfections of my own physical state, how will I tune out street noise outside the studio, or the bills at home I have, or the problems of greater world? One step at a time, right?
By the way, I take yoga at Greenhouse Yoga in Williamsburg and it’s AMAZING. They have three different studios in the area and there is almost always a class that fits your skill level at anytime of the day. And yes, you did see correct – I mentioned both my roommate Megan and the word “desserts” – two different desserts to be precise that were prepared for a potluck we attended this weekend. I have included both recipes below because:
a) they were delicious!
b) they were super easy!
c) what kind of a person would I be if I kept delicious, easy, affordable desserts to myself? 🙂
They are pot-luck tested and mom-approved. Maybe not the mom part. (Yet) Enjoy!
Delicious Banana Pudding
From www.cooks.com, serves 8 to 10.
1 (5 1/2 oz.) pkg. vanilla pudding, instant
3 c. cold milk
2 c. whipped topping
50 nilla wafers
Prepare pudding according to package. Fold in 1/2 topping. Reserve 6 wafers, 1 banana. Slice 3 bananas, put layer of wafers on bottom of dish. Spread 1/4 pudding over wafers, add banana slices. Continue in layers with the pudding on top. Cover and chill 3 hours. Slice rest of banana and add wafers, add topping. Put around edge and top of bowl.
Peanut Butter Chocolate Pudding
From www.food.com, serves 6.
2 cups cold skim milk
1 (1 1/2 ounce) package instant chocolate pudding
In a small bowl, mix 2 tablespoons milk and peanut butter until smooth. Fold in ¾ cup whipped topping; set aside. In a mixing bowl, beat pudding mix and remaining milk until blended, about 2 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes. Spoon 1/2 of the pudding into 6 parfait glasses or bowls; top with peanut butter mixture and remaining pudding. Garnish with remaining whipped topping.