Saturday, January 29, 2011

Brrrr it's cold out there!

I'm back in Montreal. Quel différence en température! Quite the shock going from +30 to -30 degrees Celsius within 24 hours! We arrived on the coldest day of the year, which I believe was -42 with wind chill. It seemed like the minute we landed, my skin dried up, my lips became chapped, and everything started aching.

I know, boo hoo... I'm really grateful to have been able to spend two weeks in Caribbean. And it's warmer now in Montreal. Negative ten never felt so hot!

As promised, here's the recently launched video number two for January. It features suggestions on what kind of practice with help beat the winter frost and was filmed by Alex Zuno at my studio, Om West, during our holiday yoga practice and veggie potluck on Dec. 12.

Lastly, I need your help. Something very cool is about to happen, but before I can leak the news, we need 1008 Facebook fans to join my Yasmin Yoga page. Can you support? I promise, no bullshit. Here's the link:

Friday, January 14, 2011

Buddha Breath - video

It's been a while since I posted a video, so we'll see it works... This one features the simplest yoga practice in the world: Buddha Breathing on the couch! I've been doing a lot of this lately and for the first time yesterday, I noticed a big difference in ability to breathe into my diaphragm. (Intercostal breathing is generally way easier for me.)

If this video isn't up to par, I have the wonderful Alex Zuno work on it when I'm back. My intention is to do a least two videos a month this year, so there is more to come!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Beaches, Palm Trees & Deep Reflection

We have escaped the Canadian winter in favour of a couple of weeks in the Caribbean.  We've been in Sint Maarten for just over a week and I'm finally settled in. It takes me a while to get into vacation mode, so I'm grateful that this time we are able to be away for more than a few days.

Sint Maarten or St Martin is absolutely beautiful. The mountainous landscape of tropical forest, stray goats and turquoise water takes my breath away each time our little rental car turns a corner. I am so thankful to be here. The people are lovely. It really is the "friendly island." 

We are spending our days exploring new beaches, walking, talking, swimming, and reading. I am currently entranced in The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. The book is divided into four principles or "agreements" that are meant to guide the reader towards personal freedom and that is exactly what I am seeking in the year 2011, or 20-HEAVEN. 

Here's a little summary of the Agreements:
  1. Be Impeccable with Your Word-- Use words that heal rather than destroy or harm.
  2. Don't Take Anything Personally-- Recognize that everyone is going through their own shit and that other people's reactions toward often have very little to do with you.
  3. Don't Make Assumptions-- Instead of trying to mind read and guess what others are thinking, ask questions and get more clarity.
  4. Always do Your Best-- Give as much as you can, no more, no less, and know that "your best" will change according to the condition you are in and/or what's already going on in your life.
I like this format and it makes sense to me. These Agreements seem like an effective way to heal and let go of unnecessary suffering and stress. My Resolution or New Beginning, as I prefer to call it, is just this: I am freeing myself from the bonds of fear and becoming a more confident decision maker.

When I am not mesmerized by the scenery around me, reading or spending time with Craig, I am self-reflecting. I sit or lie on the beach and I contemplate my existence. What am I here to learn? And what can I improve upon? I question the nature of the limitations I place on myself-- what is my fear and why do I carry it around with me? 

Sometimes I notice that the area around my diaphragm is so tight  I find it hard to take a deep breath. I recognize the emotion sitting in my belly is anxiety or fear, but most of the time, I have no idea where it stems from. These sensation must have been there a lot longer than I've been conscious of them. So, I am using the tools I acquired through my practice to help soothe my being and let go of these deep seeded fears, one layer at a time. I close my eyes and I breathe slowly and rhythmically into my abdomen while envisioning the tension releasing itself from my body and disappearing. Some yoga asana also helps me loosen up.

And what are your New Beginnings or New Year's Resolutions for 2011? Are you seeking to clean up your mind like me? Are you trying to kick a bad habit like smoking, as my beloved is doing? (Congratulations for being smoke free for over a week, my love!) Or are you seeking to start an new project?

Whatever commitments we make to ourselves at this turning point is our New Beginning  and an opportunity to grow. The roads may not always be smooth, but it's important to stay focused and know why we are heading in a particular direction. Detours are unavoidable. My suggestion? Weave the commitment into your practice and make the yoga work for you. Like a ritual, every breath and every pose can help motivate and inspire you to stay on track.

The Warriors are my favourite poses for this purpose. As I practice them, I imagine I am embodying the courage, strength, stamina, calmness, focus, determination, stability and nobility of a true warrior that can overcome any and all adversity. I know this may sound a bit silly or cheesy, but this really helps me engage with my practice and helps me get more out of it.

For a little inspiration, here are some photos of Craig took of me last night on the beach in front of our pad:

Warrior I - Virabhadrasana I

Warrior II - Virabhadrasana II

Warrior III - Virabhadrasana III

"We search for everything we believe we don’t have, not knowing that everything we are looking for is already inside us. We are born with it."
Don Miguel Ruiz Quote

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Food Glorious Food!

As promised, here are some vegetarian recipes to inspire you this holiday. They come are from Om West's potluck brunch of Dec. 12th.

Graham's Masoor Dhal
  • 4 tablespoons oil (Graham uses extra-virgin olive; not very Indian but a nice flavour contribution)
  • 6 cloves
  • 6 whole cardamoms
  • 2 pieces of cinnamon stick; 1 inch (2.5cm) long each
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • Fresh ginger root, peeled & chopped; piece about 1.5 inches by 1 inch
  • 2 fresh green finger chiles, de-seeded & cored, then finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon of garam masala
  • 1 1/3 cups of Masoor lentils (they're very orange when uncooked)
  • Juice of 1 fresh lime
  • Pinch of salt
Heat the oil in a pan. Add the cloves, cardamoms, and cinnamon and fry until the cardamoms split open. Add the onions and cook until translucent. Add the ginger, garlic, chiles, and garam masala. Cook for 5 minutes; medium heat. Add the lentils, stir thoroughly to incorporate the other ingredients, and cook for 1 minute. Add enough water to come about 1 1/4 inches above the lentils. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for about 20 minutes. Stir in lime juice. Remove cinnamon sticks, but keep aside to add as a garnish, along with a dried red chile if you have one for the presentation. (Serves 4)

Bon apetit!

Mango Chutney (also from Graham)
  • 6 green mangos, still firm to the touch and too bitter to eat
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 4 red finger chiles, de-seeded & cored, then roughly chopped. Hot red Thai chiles are perfect. The cooking & pickling process will relieve most of the 'fire'.
  • 1/2 pint (300 ml) malt vinegar
  • 14 ozs (400 gms) sugar
  • 1 1/2 ozs (40 gms) fresh ginger root, peeled and chopped
  • 4 ozs (100 gms) mixed unsalted nuts and raisins, roughly chopped
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
+ Pickling jars, sterilized. They must be glass top mason type jars. Metal top jars will react with the vinegar.

Peel the mangos and grate the flesh into a bowl. Sprinkle with 2 teaspoons salt and set aside for 30 minutes.Grind the chiles (mortar & pestle is best), then add a little of the malt vinegar to form a paste. Place the remaining vinegar in a pan, add the sugar, and gently simmer untill sugar dissolves. Squeeze the grated mangos with the back of a spoon to extract the juice. Discard the juice. Add the mango flesh to the pan and gently simmer for another 6 minutes. Add the crushed garlic to the ginger root and mix these 2 ingredients well. Add the mixture to the pan and stir in. Add the chile paste to the pan and mix well.Add the cumin seed and ground coriander to the pan. Cook the mixture for 12 minutes. Add a pinch of salt to taste. Stir in the nut and raisin mix and cook a further 4 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Then Bottle the cooled chutney in the jars and seal. Refrigerate for 1 week minimum before unsealing the jars.

FOR DESSERT, try these Amazing Vegan Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies from Nathalie...

  • 1 cup quick cooking oats
  • 3/4 cup unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1/3 to 2/3 maple syrup (depending on desired "wetness" of cookies)
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/2 cup sunflower oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon molasses
  • 1/4 cup dried fruit/ chocolate chip/ peanut butter chip..   (chop, if dried fruits used are big like apricot or plums)
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts or other nuts
*Ideally use all organic ingredients! 
Blend wet and dry ingredients separately and then mix together. Cook for 10 - 12 mins at 350.

Yum Yum

Here are a few pics from our lovely community pot luck:

(Bruce, Real and Marta, my mom in our community kitchen enjoying the spread.)

(Jas & Yas-- two peas in pod...)

(Om Westers feasting!)


Oh yes, check out this link. It's an awesome five minute Ted Talk given by this young kid about the nature of food and the agriculture industry:

Jan 1, 2011

Happy New Year!

I know I've been a little lax on my blogging lately and I apologize for that.  There was a lot of studio related craziness before the holidays and Christmas was nuts, as it usually is.

I imagine you are recovering from a wonderful evening of toasting and carousing. How did you bring in the New Year? With family and friends? Quietly? Reflectively? Can you believe that I got to bed at 8 am today?! Neither can I. 

We're staying just outside of Toronto at our friend Ryan's pad, and we missed the last Go Train heading from the city back to Burlington. So we wandered around downtown T.O. for a while, connecting with friends speckled around the CBD. Eventually, we ended up back at the house party we started at. We rested on our friend's couch for a couple of hours and took the first train out at 6:45am. I almost never pull all nighters, so I'm feeling a little groggy today. At least the two glasses of champagne I nursed all night aren't weighing as heavy on me as the beverages consumed by my beloved, who despite his headache is oddly playing Ryan's Guitar Hero video game...

It's unusually warm outside. I think the temperature is something like +12, and it's damp and cloudy, so it feels a lot like London. I just finished my first 108 of 2011 and get this, I did a set of 18 outside on the balcony in my pajamas! It was really refreshing and probably could have done more, but I was near the end of my practice.

As with every January 1st, I'm feeling a bit nostalgic. Perhaps more so this year than previous ones, because of all the extraordinary events of 2010. It really was most incredible 12 months of my life to date. My mom says than what you do on Jan. 1 sets the tone for the rest of the year. It did last year. We were staying with friends in the Eastern Townships, two hours south east of Montreal and I got up before everyone and did 108 sun salutations in the basement then proceeded to do nine consecutive days of 108.

Today, I am happy to be with Craig and Ryan, happy to be writing, and happy to think about heading off to St Maarten tomorrow with Craig for two weeks of beach strolling, lounging, reading, writing, exploring and yoga-ing. Amazing. I am so grateful.

I wish you all the best, my friend.

May 2011 bring you exciting adventures, beautiful sun sets, stimulating conversations, deep contemplations, blissful meditations,  mind alerting revelations, divine inspirations,  cosmic creations, sweet dinner parties, great music, health, wealth, friendship, joy and love.

PS  Vegetarian recipes coming... Stay tuned.