Thursday, May 26, 2011

Are Tweenie Yoginis in Turmoil?

To be cool. To fit in. These thoughts run amok throughout the mind of a tween. Aye Hanuman, talk about a monkey mind! Recently, I have been witnessing some strife amongst my little tweenie yoginis that I teach. Usually, the energy from these kids is positive and encouraging to each other, but as my class grows in size, the diverse and unique personalities expand as well. Some of them are downright stinkers.

In a recent session, two new boys appeared to be interested in participating in class as they took off their shoes and sat down on a mat. But, as I began to talk about what we would be doing in class that evening, one of the boys spoke up and loudly said, “I don’t like this yoga stuff...I don’t want to do this”.  The second boy chimed in, “Yeah, I don’t like it either. What is the use of this yoga stuff anyway, to be peaceful and quiet?” I replied, “Yes, yoga can help you with chillin’ out and relaxing.” With a raised voice and squinty eyes, the second boy answered, “Well you ain’t gonna get any peace and quiet from over here!” He then said that he didn’t want to stay, so I allowed him to return to the Kiddy Corral. The first boy was slightly stunned-- and no longer had a partner in crime.

Another outburst: an eleven year old girl proclaimed that she did not like yoga either. I looked over to see a tween who was back for her second class. I replied, “Really? Well I am very thankful and proud of you for coming back again this week to give yoga another chance.” She dropped her head and stared at her lap. I saw a soft expression on her face but not quite a smile. I sensed that she felt good about being recognized after one class, so she became pro-yoga after that moment. I thought to myself, “What is going on? Why do the kids want to distance themselves from yoga?”

My class plan went out the door as I switched gears to try and respond to the situation brewing in class. I decided to make it a “feel good” class… who doesn’t like massages and feeling good? I pulled out the foam rollers, and the tweens gave themselves back and leg massages. We used the foam rollers with balance poses as well. They loved it!
After class, the eleven year old girl no longer had a tough expression on her face but was beaming. The first boy (the one without an accomplice) even confided in me that he “kinda liked the class, it was ok.”  I hope this child will apply some positive peer power on his friend who left, and encourage him to come back another day.

At the end of the class, my questions still were not answered. Has yoga become geeky or nerdy? Do only pansies do that stuff now? Are tweens being pressured by peers to reject yoga because it’s uncool with their age group (because their moms do it)? I am intrigued by my own ponderings on the subject and would appreciate  you posting your experiences and thoughts on tweenie yoginis.


Monday, May 23, 2011

Love love Orange Cauliflower!

Whoda thunk... orange cauliflower? It is an amazing vegetable that you should try with this recipe I found from Three out of four of my family members liked the dish (if my son had given it a thumbs up, I would have had to check his temperature).

Information for my local peeps: I found this vegetable in the organic section at Kroger-Exeter location in Germantown.

Cardamom Roasted Cauliflower Recipe
SND Note: We've added the salt before and after roasting. While it's easier to salt the vegetables before roasting, the salt draws out the moisture in the vegetables, which makes them harder to brown and caramelize. Salting the vegetables after roasting is the recommended approach.

  1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil plus extra for greasing sheet pan
  3 green cardamom pods
  1-2 dried red chilies or 1 fresh Thai chili (optional)
  1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  1/2 teaspoon whole peppercorns
  1 head cauliflower (2 1/2 to 3 pounds) cored and broken into medium florets
  1 large red onion, halved and thinly sliced
  1 teaspoon Kosher salt

1.            Preheat oven to 425°F. Grease a sheet pan or jellyroll pan with olive oil and set aside.
2.            Grind the cardamom pods, chilies, coriander, cumin and whole peppercorns in a coffee grinder or mini food processor until fine. Mix the spices with oil in a large bowl. Add the cauliflower florets and onions and toss to coat. Add additional oil if necessary.
3.            Transfer the vegetables to a baking pan, spread evenly. Roast until they're tender and the onions are caramelized, about 30-35 minutes, stirring halfway through. Transfer to large bowl, sprinkle with salt and toss, adjust salt to taste and serve.
Makes 4 servings as a side dish
[Adapted from American Masala by Suvir Saran]

Monday, May 16, 2011

Grab a Tissue

Even though it was Memphis in May, it was a chilly afternoon in the Midsouth. The looming storm clouds cooperated and did not rain on Katie's day. I was inspired by the ceremony and wrote a poem in my fellow yogi teacher's honor...

(warning: I am not a poet)

Love’s Divine

A breathtaking vision
Perched atop a horse drawn carriage.
Tiara petite and veil complete,
Rivaling the Iconic Princess Kate
In grace, style, and beauty.

Your eyes met.
And, as you made your way
To the end of the path,
Your hearts embraced.

With a few deep, ethereal breaths,
Your jitters dispelled.
Then, the life force fell into a flowing, glowing
Stream of blushing light,
Awakening the inner beauty for all to witness.

Exchanging vows under the watchful eye
Of a grand Painted Lady.
With an enchanted, enamoured, unbroken gaze,
The power of the word
Transformed two compassionate spirits,
Uniting them in eternal love.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

That’s What the Coach Said...

What an epic moment! I see a tweet from a well-seasoned marathoner/triathlete about his blog post on finding yoga. I have known Kevin for many years (he married a pledge sister of mine), and yes, I have encouraged he and Karen to add yoga to their running recovery program. Like many competitive athletes, they have a very difficult time ‘slowing down’ to do yoga.
Kevin isn’t a weekend warrior. He is a RRCA running coach, Co-Host of Pure-Fit Radio and the National Coach for the Team McGraw Endurance Program. The TMF is a worthy foundation that enhances the quality of life of children and adults with brain tumors. The foundation also provides assistance to individuals with PTSD and traumatic brain injuries. 

I am thrilled that Kevin will be able to share his yoga experience with his team and future clients, and hopefully they remain on the road and injury free. Learn more about the TMG foundation by visiting, and read about Coach Kevin and his aha! yoga moment at

Monday, May 2, 2011

Striking Out on the Mat

I was thrown a curve ball when I showed up to class to practice with my ‘healing teacher’ and a sub was in to replace her. I refer to this particular teacher as my ‘healing teacher’ because no matter what pose she puts me in, I experience feelings of healing and regeneration. But this infield utility player (i.e. yoga sub) comes from a different farm system; not better, not worse, just different -and that is cool. It’s just not what I wanted that day (and how about that aparigraha imbalance?). My sub’s cues and tempo derived more from a strength training coach’s perspective than the healing, grounding perspective I knew and loved. I was out of whack- stumbling, fumbling and falling- and I didn’t like it! After that practice, I felt like I had struck out backwards. 
The next morning, while tweaking my notes for the yoga class I was to teach later in the day, a thought popped into my head. I remembered my own practice from the day before. I remembered the distraction and frustration and the thought of just walking out. I thought to myself, “That practice really stunk, I had absolutely no balance. I couldn’t focus, float or hit a handstand, and I was slipping around in my dog... I wonder why?”
I continued tweaking my asana line up and a few moments later... there was a response to my question. “Really, Sondra? Now what could possibly have you so unsteady in body and mind? Hhhmmmmm. Let’s see here, could it be:
  1. Two weeks of tornado drills, severe storms and flash floods? Nah, sleep deprivation wouldn’t wear on you.
  2. Yet again, your father is teetering on backing out of moving into an Assisted Living residence? After another doctor visit and trip to the ER as well as forgetting to take his meds this week, he desperately needs this living arrangement.
  3. Your son’s classmate was killed in an automobile accident while on his way to school Thursday morning?
  4. On Friday morning, your son’s baseball coach was involved in a car accident, flipping his vehicle three times?”
Ok, so there was enough chitta vritti swirling around my brain to throw me off my game.
In retrospect, the verbal cues from the sub seemed to be encrypted.  “Breath and sweat, that’s all it is, right? Stay with it,” sounded more like, “It’s going to continue to rain and flood and those infamous Memphis drivers aren’t going anywhere. Stay on your mat and breathe...focus and attain equanimity, ya weenie.” You know that old saying, “What you want may not be what you need”? Ha, so true. It’s very likely that my healing teacher would have allowed me to retreat to namby pamby land, and what I needed at that time on the mat was a different game strategy and coach. Even if your yoga feels like a bad plate appearance, there is always something useful from that experience to take back to the dugout. 
While I am so saddened by the loss of a young soul, faith and trust comfort me. Feelings of immense gratitude for this day, my practice, and all the yoga teachers that cross my path bubble up inside of me. At the same time, I am thankful that our baseball coach walked away from the accident and coached a double header that evening, chalking up two more wins.  The rain continues to pour as the Mississippi soars past flood stage, but, despite this fact, I won’t have to worry so much about my dad and his safety. He signed a lease and will move into a vibrant, healthy assisted living residence this week. With one less thing to worry about, it’s my hope that balance will soon be restored to my life… and my yoga.