Everyone talks about yoga the way they talk about sex when they finally get good at it, or the way a few friends from [insert high school, college, grad school, work, summer] talk about [insert pot, shrooms, Levain chocolate chip cookies, God, Clapton, David Foster Wallace, Princeton]. I tried yoga about a decade ago (and yes, I am now old enough to be able to toss around phrases like "a decade ago") -- and I hated it.
In short, yoga was this thing that I tried, didn't like and moved on from.
This past year -- which in David Foster Wallace lingo would be dubbed, "The Year of the Shit" -- I fell. Back stairs, ice, kids calling 911 -- you get the picture. I was in bed in the un-fun way for a couple of weeks.
Brief detour here to say that I go to the gym every day. I'm pretty fit. I take care of myself. I like playing sports but I'm hopeless at dancing. So I loathe any exercise class that involves, say, "grapevining" or generally humiliating dance-cum-jazzercise moves. Not because I am embarrassed. Because I find it hilarious. The kind of hilarity reserved for eighth grade math class or someone else's kid's French horn concert. Anyway, I like to whack the crap out of a baseball and smack a squash ball but I don't like to keep score. I just like to hit and laugh and run around.
So on one hand, I always felt too bitchy for yoga. I don't want to breathe for an hour. I have to do that all day long. But on the other hand, I'm too nice for organized sports. No, you take the point. Good shot!
When I fell, I fell hard. On the ice. And my friend Maryanne bugged me about yoga. Not in an annoying way; not in the fervor of the recently converted. Just in a "you've been a hermit this whole 'Year of the Shit' and now it's time to emerge" way. So I did.
And of course, I found yoga -- or it found me -- when I needed it.
I still think I could do without the "ooommmming." But I like doing the difficult poses, breathing and stretching in the 100-degree heat (yes, it's hot yoga). I like being able only to focus on yoga at the time I'm doing it. And there's no score. I've taught the kids a few poses and I manage to get through the classes (all except one) without dissolving into a fit of laughter.
It's nice to find new experiences, new tastes and new friends in my late 30s.
Here's a healthy recipe to go along with your yoga practice:
Coconut Mushrooms and Asparagus (+/- Chicken)
2 lbs asparagus, washed and trimmed of tough ends
2 lbs mushrooms, washed and roughly sliced
2 tbsp coconut oil
2 tsp sugar
1 pinch salt
1/3 cup light coconut milk
Place cut mushrooms into pot. Add coconut oil and heat on high. Coconut oil will melt (it starts as a solid) and begin to saute to the mushrooms. Meanwhile, cut asparagus on the diagonal into 1-2 inch pieces. Once the mushrooms have begun to cook down (about 5 minutes), add the asparagus, sugar and salt. Let the mushrooms continue to cook and let the asparagus just start to brighten and cook. Now add the coconut milk. Let simmer until asparagus is just tender.
Serve with sticky rice -- or with tofu if the yogis have gotten to you, or with spinach if you eat raw, or with a big old slab of humanely raised, grass-fed beef. If you like, you can add the tofu or chicken cutlets directly to this and let it steam until fully cooked. Om.