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August 7 – Joy and Joni – Dancer Pose - Ratatouille

Updated: Aug 8, 2022

Can we talk about Joni Mitchell? I was so fortunate to be at the Newport Folk Festival when Joni Mitchell surprised the world by appearing as the final act on July 24. To say that I am a Joni Mitchell fan is to put it mildly. One of the first albums I was ever given was Court and Spark which was released in 1974 when I was 12. Truthfully, I did not play it much when I first got it, likely more obsessed with pop bands like the Bay City Rollers and Chicago. No worries, my music taste did improve! 🤣😂

Several years later, and likely recognizing it from my parents playing her albums, I discovered my love for Joni Mitchell. Some 47 years later, I am still enthralled. Her music speaks to me and when I blast her while I am alone in my yoga studio and sing along I can imagine that I can actually hold a tune and I am living life vicariously through her. I think that the appeal of Joni for me is that she somehow expresses through her music a free-spirited joyful adventure-ness that I wish I had had in my younger days (weirdly, I am far more adventuress in my old age!). I listen to her and like to imagine that if I had been 22 in 1974 instead of 12 that I would have followed her lead and explored the world, been more independent and been more expressive about feelings and heartbreak. She took on social justice causes including war, abuse and the environment. And, frankly, I just thought she was cool. Still do.

So all day as the rumors circulated that she was coming (and my friends told me it was impossible that she was sick and could not sing and lived in CA and wasn't going to travel that far), I focused on what I knew: that she had started to sing in her living room soirees, that she could come to Newport and be a spectator and that she is Joni Mitchell, and she could hire a freaking private jet! When they started setting up the living room furniture, I knew. So, I did what I said I would do. I would join my husband and friends Shelly and Paul -in midst of the crowds by the stage - only if Joni Mitchell was there. And she was. And it was one of the most memorable days of my life.

So, my theme this week is about sparking your joy. Joni sparked my joy two weeks ago. I have not stopped thinking about her and the joy she brought to me and thousands of fans of all ages last weekend.

Find what sparks your joy this week – rinse and repeat. One of Joni’s most joyful songs is Chelsea morning, hope you enjoy the link to her performing it in 1969.

Our Practice - Dancing (to Joni?) and Dancer (Natarjarasana) Pose

I suggest sparking some joy by blasting some of your favorite tunes, dancing, and then move into Natarjarasana, dancer pose. Maintain a sense of humor, and have fun!

In addition to being fun, dancer pose is a wonderful pose for improving balance and concentration. It strengthens the feet, legs, core and arms while opening the front of the body as well as the hip flexors and shoulders.

  • Start in tadasana, mountain pose, standing firmly and focusing on a drishti out in front of you about eye level.

  • Bend your right leg and bring your left foot back to your buttock and hold your foot (inside or outside) with the same hand. Hold that pose, firming up the standing leg and finding your balance before moving on.

  • Keeping your torso upright, the chest open and the tailbone lengthening to the floor. Start to shift your weight forward, hinging in the hips, pushing your left foot back and into your hand raising the leg until the thigh bone gets parallell (maybe) to the floor. Lift your sternum in a gentle back bend. Knee is toward the ground (rather than opening the hip).

  • Lift your right right arm in front either parallel or next to your ear. Stay for 5-10 breaths, gently come down and repeat on the other side.

For more detail on the pose and its benefits refer to the attached article in Yoga Journal.

Meditation - Both Sides Now

Because this Joni Mitchell song has always been somewhat of an anthem for me, it has a place in my yoga playlists, and it brought me to tears as she sung it last week in Newport, it is my meditation for the week. I hope you find something special in it.

The clouds on a recent morning in Charlestown seemed to be sending streams of light downward, it was so incredibly beautiful and wonderful given my obsession with this song this past week!

Both Sides Now – Joni Mitchell

Rows and flows of angel hair And ice cream castles in the air And feather canyons everywhere Looked at clouds that way

But now they only block the sun They rain and they snow on everyone So many things I would have done But clouds got in my way

I've looked at clouds from both sides now From up and down and still somehow It's cloud illusions I recall I really don't know clouds at all

Moons and Junes and Ferris wheels The dizzy dancing way that you feel As every fairy tale comes real I've looked at love that way

But now it's just another show And you leave 'em laughing when you go And if you care, don't let them know Don't give yourself away

I've looked at love from both sides now From give and take and still somehow It's love's illusions that I recall I really don't know love Really don't know love at all

Tears and fears and feeling proud To say, "I love you" right out loud Dreams and schemes and circus crowds I've looked at life that way

Oh, but now old friends they're acting strange And they shake their heads and they tell me that I've changed Well something's lost, but something's gained In living every day

I've looked at life from both sides now From win and lose and still somehow It's life's illusions I recall I really don't know life at all

It's life's illusions that I recall I really don't know life I really don't know life at all

Enjoy the YouTube video of Joni singing this in Newport on July 24. I get teared up every time (about 40 times now.....)

Nurturing with Food – Garden Inspired Ratatouille

Nothing makes an almost vegan happier than a dinner dish that incorporates every vegetable in a summer garden. Peter and I both made variations of this dish before we met and found inspiration in Julia Child’s classic recipe. It is very forgiving, and many vegetables can be swapped out, use what you have in the amounts on hand. We enjoy it over homemade creamy polenta. The left-over polenta can be spread into a sheet pan to harden/chill. Cut into squares and grill and enjoy the reheated ratatouille the second day on top of the crispy polenta blocks. Yum.

Link to recipe:

See You on the Mat!


Julia Anne

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