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April 11 2021 Taking Time to Relax – Yoga is Not (only) Asanas – Black Bean Stew

I have spent the last few days on vacation in the Catskill mountains. Sometimes you do not know what you need until you are doing it. I suppose on some level I knew that I needed some time away - like most everyone in the world due to the pandemic I have barely left the orbit of my home over the last year. While I have spent a year really embracing a quieter life, and realizing how beneficial it was to me, I was anxious for the companionship of good friends (and my husband) and for discovering some new adventures. These days away are providing me some time for some good walks/hikes, but even more impactful is the close companionship that I have not experienced since Covid began. Just the act of preparing a meal with friends (our friends Lisa and David who were also vaccinated!) or sitting around a fire telling stories has seemed like a colossal treat! Human companionship (with those who do not live with you)- I think - is so necessary for growth and mental health. Our time away has seen some wonderful walks/hikes, a trip to the Woodstock festival site; I have most cherished mostly just being together sharing ideas with friends and reconnecting as only can be done with spending time in close proximity-not Zoom. I feel recharged and I wish for you all the opportunity to do this as soon as you feel safe. Good for the soul. I have found time for my own quiet yoga practice each morning which has also been nice-however I will admit that I have missed teaching this week as well as the more rigorous practice time that I have while following my teaching schedule. Looking forward to seeing you all soon.

Our practice

While I have been away, I have been reading articles about overuse of muscles. I think it is quite common for yoga enthusiasts to forget the real meaning and purpose of yoga and focus on trying to be super flexible or fit. As we have discussed in class, the only people that can do many of those poses that we see on the covers of magazines or in yoga books or even more so I would say on peoples’ social media posts are those that are hyper mobile. I have read about this a lot and I think that with consistent practice our bodies can change their range of flexibility maybe about 10%-and that is significant. But what we should be focusing on in our yoga practice is our overall mental and physical health. Are we gaining some strength and stamina from our asanas? Are we feeling calmer, more centered, more in the moment or present? Are we taking time to breathe more fully, and are we practicing self-care? Yoga at its core is a practice of breathing and centering. No matter what we “see” out there as yoga, pretzel poses are not yoga.

As you know I am a huge fan of T.K.V. Desikachar and he says, “The success of Yoga does not lie in the ability to perform postures but in how it positively changes the way we live our life and our relationships” -

And if that is too out there for you I love this one that I read today,

“Yoga. Because punching people is frowned upon.” — Anonymous

So, this week instead of focusing on the postures, I am inviting you to take your practice a little less seriously, embrace the outdoors or some activity that you haven’t done in a while that gets your body moving and your mind at peace - remember- this is yoga!

Meditation – Durga Warrior Goddess

Durga is my heroine goddess. This little statue that I bought in India reminds me of her strength and compassion every time I look at it.⁠

A friend has been going through some work challenges with people that are not kind nor professional, and I jokingly said to her that I would channel Durga (and her 8 weapons) to take care of the situation. ⁠

⁠What I can and would do, and we can, is channel the goodness and ferocity of Durga who used her powers to vanquish evil. Durga is a wonderful example for women. She embodies fierceness as well as compassion, equal parts destroyer, and Creator. Her life and story give women a wonderful example and inspiration to know that within us there is the ability to be both the protector and caregiver. ⁠

⁠I read an excellent article in India Times by Kartik Bajoria which tells Durga’s story and how it is empowering to women. Here is the link to the article:

Nurturing with Food – Black Bean Stew

Delicious Black Bean Stew doubles as burrito filling or soup!

I read several recipes for black bean stew and then ultimately created my own based on what I like and what I had on hand. This can be thinned out for more of a soup consistency or served thick on top of rice with tortillas and lime wedges on the side. This recipe serves 8-10 so can easily be halved for smaller groups.


his recipe is quick and easy to make (especially if using canned beans), serve as a stew over your favorite grain, use as filling for vegan burritos or thin with some broth for a delicious soup. Line to recipe here:

Looking forward to seeing you all this week if you are able to join me at class (still on Zoom). I do have limited area in the studio and will consider 1-2 students in person while Zooming, if interested, please text or call so that we can arrange.


Julia Anne

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