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May 28-Celebrating Memorial Day-Hiking & Yoga-Vrksansana (Tree Pose)-Chickpea & Kale Stew

After last week’s blog thinking about adventures found locally, I set out on my own. After reading a Boston Globe article one morning at about 5:30 M about a new trail in the local Carter Preserve dedicated to Tarzan Brown (more on him to follow), I got inspired to follow my own suggestions. Instead of walking to the beach on my usual walk, I drove over to the Carter Preserve and had a glorious walk at sunrise. Truthfully, I never found the new trail (I will however) but the walk was amazing. The woods were blissfully quiet except for the bird song and the sun shone through the trees in a shimmery way. I felt so lucky to be on that walk. I practiced some meditation techniques, very short intervals of quiet focusing on nothing, and truly felt awash with joy after I was done. Made going to work so much easier!

In the spirit of finding yoga in nature, let’s celebrate Memorial Day weekend with at least one outdoor activity – one of mine will be practicing yoga outside on Sunday!

Our Practice - Tree Pose (Vrksansana)

This pose is one of the first balancing poses we try in yoga. As I have said to everyone in class, and I say this from experience, the most important things to do in tree pose (or balancing in general) is to maintain a sense of humor and breathe. Whenever a pose challenges me, I always find myself holding my breath. Giggling a little and breathing helps!

Before we try tree pose, we will warm up with some other hip opening poses to prepare (figure four, lizard, knee to sky in down dog) and come to tree pose as a “peak” pose. Tree pose helps strengthen our core and legs, stretches our groin, and opens our hips.

Building balance is important especially as we age; balance, along with a strong core, will help keep us active and healthy for a long time!

  • Start in mountain pose (tadasana), hands at heart center. Check in with your alignment head to feet, and that your feet are rooted into the floor evenly through all four corners.

  • Begin to shift your weight into your right foot, lifting your left foot off the floor. Keep your right leg straight but don't lock the knee.

  • Bend your left knee and bring the sole of your left foot high onto your ankle, calf or inner right thigh. If on the ankle, youcan keep your toes on the floor, hip is open to the side.

  • Press your foot into your leg and your leg into the thigh, engage your core, focus on your drishti (focal point that is not moving). Take 5-10 breaths, adding your arms (branches). Remember, it is most important to maintain humor, smile and breathe.

  • Don’t forget the other side.

Meditation – Memorial Day

Many of us, especially in New England, think of Memorial Day as the kick off to summer. We have barbecues, we plant our gardens and our potted plants, and we think about going to the beach! While having fun and getting ready for the months ahead, let’s take a bit of time to also remember why we celebrate this day. Memorial Day, according to the Congressional Research Service, is a day of reflection and remembrance of those who died while serving in the US military. Many of us commonly use it as a time to commemorate all people who have served. On this Memorial Day let us pause for a moment to honor them all.

“Our nation owes a debt to its fallen heroes that we can never fully repay.”- Barack Obama

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter the words, but to live by them.” – John F. Kennedy

“Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it.”- Mark Twain

Nurturing with Food – Chick Pea and Kale Stew

This dish was adapted from several other versions I have tried. The longer it cooks the better the flavors meld, so I start it on the stove but transfer it to a crock pot to let the flavors deepen. I had some kale in my garden that over wintered, it was delicious. If you choose to use a more tender green, add it later. This is one of the vegetarian recipes that I served for dinner recently that Peter really liked. Really.

See you on the mat,


Julia Anne

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