Do Yoga! Easy as 1-2-3!

July 20, 2010 § 35 Comments

Or simple as do-re-mi
A-B-C, 1-2-3, baby you and me, girl

Yes, everyone can do yoga, even if you are the most inflexible person on the face of the planet. My favorite pose out of thousands of yoga poses is easily this:

Savasana
Corpse Pose
(shah-VAHS-anna)

Savasana is a pose of total relaxation, in which your body is in the most natural and neutral position.Β It is mostly used at the end of a yoga practice for the body to relax its muscles after usage and for the mind to savor the blissful moments of yoga. In our high-stress, fast-paced world today, everybody needs a little savasana now and then.

Benefits:

  • Calms the mind and eases stress
  • Relaxes the body
  • Reduces headaches, fatigue, and insomnia
  • Helps lower high blood pressure

Well, it definitely is not called “corpse pose” for no reason! In this position, you should be as limp as a dead person, your breath so still that you can barely hear it yourself, and your muscles so relaxed that you feel like your entire body is sinking to the floor beneath you.

How to:

  1. Lie down on a comfortable spot (duh). Make sure you got plenty of space around you so you don’t feel cramped.
  2. Check the alignment of your body. Make sure your legs are angled evenly in respect to the mid-line of your body, and let your feet fall naturally to either sides. Your pelvis should be resting lightly on the floor. With your hands, lift the the base of the skull away from your neck and and release the back of your neck towards your tailbone (you can use a folded towel to support your neck too).
  3. Let your shoulders, arms, and back relax. Imagine yourself sinking. If it helps, reach your arms toward the ceiling, perpendicular to the floor, to help broaden your back and shoulders. Then release back down. Rest the back of your hands gently on the floor and release any tension.

[Source: http://www.yogajournal.com/poses/482%5D

As simple as this pose may seem, it is harder than you thought. Sure, all you are doing really is lying on the floor in some sort of spread-eagle style, but willing your body for total relaxation is not such an easy task. After years and years of practice, I still struggle with Savasana. Sometimes my mind will be racing, thinking about what to wear for the day, what to eat for breakfast, and going through my mental to-do list. Sometimes my muscles are still contracting, subconsciously.

However, over the years I have developed a mental checklist before I delve into Savasana.

Step 1: After you’ve lied down on your back (as described above) and aligned yourself, take a few deep breaths. Inhale into your tummy, and exhale through your mouth. With each exhale imagine the tension and stress being released from your body.

Step 2: Starting from the top of your head, scan your body mentally to make sure every inch of you is relaxed.This is where it gets interesting, because what you think is a “relaxed” state isn’t really. Soften your forehead, your eyebrows, the root of your tongue, the wings of your nose, the channels of your inner ears, and the skin on your face. Let your eyeballs sink towards the back of your head, and give in entirely to gravity.

Step 3: Clear your mind as if you’re about to enter a deep slumber. But don’t fall asleep! It’s a tough trick to achieve the balance between falling asleep and maintaining an awaken mind. If thoughts arise in your head, don’t force it away. Instead, observe it as if you’re an outsider, and watch it subside. You’ll find that your thoughts are really like waves. They come and go, some large some small.

I like to do a little 5-min Savasana before I go to bed each night. Not only does it help me relax my entire body, it sort of “prepares” me for bed. Something like a “transition” from being awake to going to sleep. It tells my mind and body that it’s that time of the day to rest. I’m generally a very light sleeper, and I find that this little exercise before bed helps me fall into a deeper slumber 100% better! If I don’t do this pre-bed ritual, I’ll fall asleep but not be as rested.

+ Do you have a “pre-bed ritual” that you like to do?

After my Savasana of the morning, which follow my yoga practice, I needed some refueling to tackle the day. I’m glad to announce that Ms. Buddha Bowl is back! πŸ˜€

It’s a yogurt-cottage cheese banana soft-serve fruit bowl with french toast waffle sticks! Whew, long name. Okay, so from bottom to top:

  • ~ 2 tbsp plain nonfat yogurt (all that I had left 😦
  • 1/3 cup cottage cheese
  • banana soft-serve using 3/4 of a medium banana
  • sliced fresh strawberries and fresh blueberries
  • French toast waffle sticks

For the french-toast waffle sticks I used Van’s Wheat free/Gluten free Blueberry Waffles. I cut them into strips and dunked them into an egg white mixture of about 1/4 cup egg whites, cinnamon, vanilla, and a splash of almond milk. I cooked them on a pan sprayed with butter spray till crispy and browned. Yumyumyum! πŸ˜€

The banana soft-serve + cottage cheese + yogurt combo made the perfect dipping sauce for the french toast waffle sticks!

I don’t usually take pictures of my lunch, since they’re usually leftovers from the night before. When I do have interesting lunches I always share! But for now…

Hi, my name is Elaine and I’m addicted to jam + cheese sandwiches.

I was totally going to make a kick-butt dinner tonight, but I got home late and my laziness settled in. I usually just want to whip up something quick ‘n’ easy when the clock is ticking close to 7 o’clock.

+ Do you have a time that is “too late” to make fancy dinner that requires alot of assembly, chopping, standing by the stove, etc?

Needless to say, roasted broccoli is the staple quickie dinner veggie (for me at least).

I also had some more leftover roasted butternut squash.

But what made the dinner interesting was this:

Some sort of eggplant roll-up? So I got the idea of rolling up eggplant from Jenny (who is a big MJ fan btw :-)). I wanted to roast some eggplant. But I also wanted to eat the tempeh I got last weekend. I also didn’t want cheese.

Please don’t judge me. I don’t know where I got the crazy lady idea of rolling the eggplant with tempeh.

I cut up some TJ’s 3 grain tempeh into bite-sized chunks and microwaved them till warm. I then put one little chunk in the middle of each slice of roasted eggplant, topped with TJ’s Garlic Marinara sauce, and rolled them up with more marinara sauce on top. Oh, and don’t forget that my dinner was doused in nutritional yeast.

Like I was saying, please don’t judge me. It was delish and satisfied my “tempeh-tooth.” I must admit that the first time I tried tempeh I was slightly taken aback by its pungent flavor. But I’ve come to love it! I love the grainy texture and the slightly nutty taste. It’s filling and high in protein too!

Before I go, I’ll leave you with this:

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a date with some crispy green seedless grapes.

Ciao~ πŸ˜€

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Pizza my heart!

July 18, 2010 § 18 Comments

It seems like everyone’s opting for Plan C with the bike riding. I like that idea too. However, we must take into account that Newport Beach is about 50 miles away from where I live. Dmitri have been doing alot of research all day today, looking up bike trails and roads to take. So I might be able to make it there on bike, but the question is, will I be able to make it back? It would totally be like a bike marathon or something like that.

So-Cal has officially entered summer. I cannot believe how hot it was today! I feel like I’ve been in some sort of semi-heat stroke the entire day–woozy, dizzy, heated, while downing H2O like nobody’s business.

The morning started out nice enough, about mid-80’s, when Dmitri and I headed out to TJ’s and Sprout’s for our weekly grocery run.

Guess what I found at Sprout’s?!?!?!??!

An 18-oz box of blueberries for $1.88!!! This was definitely a steal. I was screaming in excitement to Dmitri when I saw it: “Oh my gosh! A humongous box of blueberries for $1.88?!?! Do you know how rare this is? Look how plump they are!”

Dmitri didn’t answer, but only held out the basket. The end. I couldn’t resist. This week has been such a good week for me in terms of steals, from the $3 locally grown and organic plums to this Hugh Jass box of blueberries. Life is good.

We lounged by the pool for a little while after we got back. Well, it got too hot too soon. Not to mention it was almost noon with the blaring sun right above us. I refuse to get skin cancer!

Once back in our shadier and cooler sanctuary, we whipped up a pizzalicious lunch featuring TJ’s Garlic Herb Pizza Dough. Obviously, I failed at making my pizza “round,” but who said pizzas must be circular? Heck, I can make them heart-shaped for all I want. But again, that’d be too hard for me. πŸ˜›

I didn’t go the “traditional” pizza route, i.e., I didn’t do the whole cheese shebang. Instead, I used Mae’s humnut cheese. I’m not a big fan of the uber cheesy pizza, but I am a big fan of hummus! This was delicious!

I topped the pizza dough with TJ’s Pizza Sauce, the humnut cheese, some broc, eggplant, tomatoes and roasted red peppers.

Perhaps it was the heat, perhaps my breakfast was fillin’, but I only ate half of this long pizza. Oh well, leftovers are good πŸ˜€

The heat made both Dmitri and I very lazy and sluggish, and we ended up spending half of the afternoon just bumming around the house. Him watching Lost while I blogsurfed and watched one episode of Gossip Girl. We finally decided we couldn’t stay in the house forever, and braved ourselves to step out to the sweltering heat and into somewhere with AC.

Target. Barnes & Noble. Shoe Store (Dmitri needs ’em).

My family has a strange addiction to flavored-water drink powder. Okay, I confess I had one too! But I am trying to limit my intake as I know now that they’re nothing more than just chemicals, fake sugars, and artificial yucks. Nevertheless, while throwing in boxes after boxes of Crystal Light, Propel, and Target-brand drink powders into the basket, Dmitri and I couldn’t help but notice this enticing flavor.

Let’s just assume it somehow creeped into our basketful of Crystal Light too.

It certainly made me drink my water though! I am now well-hydrated πŸ˜€

Is this going to turn my tummy red?

It was a tad sweet, and tasted nothing like Strawberry Daiquiri. It’s still a nice way to slurp up ice cold water nonetheless.

We kept dinner simple, with the “main” course as this amaaaazzzinnnnnnggg salad.

I tossed together some sliced strawberries, spinach, arugula, toasted walnuts, toasted pine nuts, and feta cheese. In another bowl I mixed together about 1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar, 1/4 cup of olive oil, some salt & pepper, and an overflowing teaspoon of honey. I added the dressing to the salad and tossed tossed tossed.

Voila! Summery salad in minutes! I’m so glad that I made more than enough, because that means I’ll get to eat this again for lunch tomorrow! Yay for leftovers again!

Dmitri decided to go the pizza route again, but this time using toast as the “crust.” I stuck to roasted butternut squash, again leftovers from the other night.

I topped half with leftover arugula pesto and some parmesan cheese, and the other half with marinara and cottage cheese. Both halves were equally yummy!

So now, here we are again, another Sunday night. The dreaded night before the Monday. BUT! Last week of research for me!!! I’ll be at my Home Sweet Home in 1.5 weeks πŸ™‚

————————————

+ What are your favorite pizza toppings? Do you like cheese on top of your pizza?

Did you know…?

July 17, 2010 § 14 Comments

I know, I know. I’ve been gone for too long. Two days in the real world is equivalent to 2 weeks in the blogland. Hah, I feel like I’m referencing Inception.Β  GREAT movie by the way. It really got my mind all out of whack when I left the theaters last night. I swear I was in some sort of daze for 20 min afterwards, just thinking about the complexity of the mind, the conscious, the subconscious, the super-subconscious, the super super-subconscious…

Personally, I think the mind has nth dimensions.

Well, I don’t want to give too much of a spoiler for those who haven’t seen it yet. It’s something that you must pay attention to for the entire length of the movie, or else you can get easily confused. I don’t think I’ve ever concentrated so hard on a movie before. Ever.

So two weeks two days away from the blogland naturally ended with me having way too many pictures to share, so I’ll just give ya’ll some highlight ;-).

Did you know that cottage cheese melts superbly when heated up?

Lunch #1: Frozen veggies and spinach thawed in the fridge overnight, topped with cottage cheese, and microwaved till melty when lunchtime came.

Did you know that thawed frozen spinach is delicious with marinara and cottage cheese (melted)?

Lunch #2: Spinach w/ cottage cheese and TJ's Garlic Marinara sauce.

Melty and cheesy!

Did you know that you can make pesto out of arugula?

Roasted Squash with Arugula Pesto

(Recipe inspired from here; the arugula pesto from the back of the package of arugula)

First blanch about 2 cups of packed arugula in boiling water. Immediately plunge into cold water to stop the cooking process. Drain and use your hands to squeeze dry the leaves.

Two squished cups of arugula into one fistful!

About 1/4 cup of toasted pine nuts.

Blend in food processor the arugula, toasted pine nuts, some salt and pepper, a dash of cumin. Blend till you get a mushy paste. Then add olive oil till desired consistency (I added about 1/3 cup)

Kind of chunky pesto...

Also roasted some butternut squash at 350 degrees for 45 min, sprinkled with cumin.

Golden.

Roasted squash says: "Gimme the pesto and more pine nuts please!"

Complete meal with a side of Swiss chard sauteed with onions, crushed red pepper flakes and garlic.

Tip: roasted butternut squash is also very good topped with butt loads of parmesan cheese!

Did you know that I got a tub of mini plums for $3 (~a dozen) at the Farmer’s Market at La Verne on Thursday evening?


Did you know that I am currently obsessed with anything cheese + fruit related?

Sliced up and ready to be sandwiched.

Plum with Laughing Cow cheese on Sandwich thin. Yum!

Speaking of the Farmer’s Market, there was some sort of “petting” area filled with goats, pigs, chickens, and bunnies there?

What can I say? It was a sight to see. I felt horribly sorry for the animals, because there were literally a dozen or more 3-8 year old kids in this tiny pen, all chasing after some animal or the other. Of course, there were lots of shrieking involved as the children ran after the bunnies.

At least this little girl seemed gentle enough to the chickens.

Did you know that Chai Spice totally blew my mind away?

Obviously, I needed something to munch on while I read this boring exhilarating paper. Upon first bite I was taken back to when I first tried chai tea. This bar totally captured the essence and the spice of a warm or cold cup of chai tea!

Needless to say, my last Kardea bar was pretty darn amazing too–the Lemon Ginger. I am now a sad little girl because I have finished all my Kardea bars :-(.

I loved all of the flavors of these Kardea bars. They are true to their words in terms of flavors. Each bar was unique in its taste and with each bite you always get hit by its intense aroma of either chai, ginger, almond, or banana. I am a satisfied taste-tester! πŸ˜€

Anyways…

Did you know that last night, my boyfriend and I went to a Thai restaurant, where we were constantly attacked by flies, and the waitress was swatting them just a table next to ours? Um…yeah. Not a very enticing atmosphere. The food sort of made up for it though, but I don’t think I’d go back to get attacked by flies or the fly-swatting lady again.

Hah! Dmitri was trying to act “Asian.”

My turn. I always laugh at the instructions on the chipstick slips.

I don’t know why I had that surprised look on my face. LOL I looked like a dork.

Thai salad: Iceberg lettuce, cucumbers, carrots, onions, hard-boiled egg, with spicy peanut sauce. Plain, simple. The spicy peanut sauce was good though!

Pad-see-ewe: flat rice noodles stir-fried with Chinese broccoli and tofu.

Vegetable medley with rice.

And this! My fav dish: rice biscuit stir-fried with bean sprouts, eggs, and came with hot sauce. The lady said it was house-specialty.

Chewy and sticky.

Did you know that this wrap made the perfect post-run breakfast this morning?

Banana + PB with cinnamon on a La Tortilla wrap, pan-fried till crispy. Side of yogurt for some dipping action!

Gooey and melty inside!

That pretty much sums up the past couple of days when I was MIA. We’re off whale-watching off the coast of Newport Beach this afternoon! Since it’s blue whales season, I’m crossing my fingers that we’ll get to see some blue whales! πŸ˜€

Have a great Saturday!

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