Spicy Lessons From Veggies: Yoga Lessons From the Farm

06/30/2015 02:38 pm ET | Updated Jun 30, 2016

I have the honor of teaching yoga in a very beautiful barn at a local farm. When the yoga season started this summer at Amee Farm in Pittsfield, Vermont, the tomatoes were seedlings, roughly an inch tall, growing indoors. All striving to be full grown tomato plants that would produce fruit and thus "survive" as future seeds. Their dharma is simply reproduction and species longevity. The act of living that dharma, however, is called tapas or burning zeal.

All the plants at the farm share a similar tapas. As do the trees in the Green Mountain National Forest surrounding the farm. They don't try to be anything other than what they are, nor do they judge one another for such authenticity (at least as best as I can tell). Every now and then, one of the offspring will share a different tapas than its ancestors and go off to be something more than seeds for a future plant. For example, the tomato may become caprese salad, a spectacular sauce, or heaven forbid it gets wild and becomes a spicy salsa (those jalapeños are quite an influence!)

In any case, tapas means nothing when the conditions aren't ripe for growth. If the soil isn't balanced, the rain/water and sun aren't in correct proportion, and predators are attacking, the plant cannot grow to its fullest and it certainly will not produce much, if anything.

When humans try to resist their dharma or take on the dharma someone else expects of them, they immediately challenge their tapas. The "soil" of the souls garden isn't balanced. It is hard to nurture a dream that is not your own. The heart will manifest ways to self-sabotage until one day you have to listen to it and choose to follow.

Making the choice to step into your dharma and living a life in alignment is like rehabbing an old, neglected garden. When you look at the land that once healed a garden and now is covered in weeds, you may feel overwhelmed and not know where to begin. Start by being willing to create a garden. This requires surrendering any ego around preconceived notions. Rather, open your heart towards a little spiritual guidance. Ask the sports for some help and be willing to be surprised at where you receive help.

Next you start removing the weeds: doubt, unworthiness, rage, jealousy, comparison and fear. Once the soil is free of weeds, plant the seeds. Tend to the seedlings with your tapas, pulling the weeds as they appear, watering when there is no rain, and providing the right amount of light for continued growth. Believe in your dharma and observe with childlike curiosity once growth begins because you never know the details until the plant is mature and producing.

The amazing thing about tending to your own soul's garden is when you are providing the nourishment, you cease to look outside of yourself for the answers. There is an inner strength, confidence, and courage that evolves out of this work. The miracle, I think, comes when you start seeing how you tending your own garden inspires and nourishes other soul gardener's around you. Sometimes, at harvest, you get to share your crop and create a magnificent meal as unique as the plants and farmers themselves. Happy gardening!

Wild Thing Salsa

1 medium jalepeno chile pepper, seeded
1 small sorano chile pepper, seeded
1 thai chili pepper or habanero
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
1 cup fresh corn kernels (from 2 ears), or 1 cup frozen corn, thawed
1/2-whole bunch of chopped fresh cilantro
2 large tomatoes chopped
2 tablespoons chopped sweet onion
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/4 c. apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sugar or agave nectar


Preheat a grill to medium high. Brush the chills with 1 teaspoon olive oil and grill, skin-side down, until charred but still firm, about 5 minutes. Cool slightly; peel and finely chop.

If using fresh corn, bring a small pot of salted water to a boil. Add the corn and cook until tender, 2 to 3 minutes; drain. OR grill until cooked.

Mix the corn (if using frozen, add it here), peppers, cilantro, tomatoes and onion in a bowl. Stir in the remaining teaspoon olive oil, the lime juice, sugar and 1/2 teaspoon salt.

You can eat right away, but tastes much better if you refrigerate for 2-6 hours.

Wendy Reese is a lifestyle strategist and coach, author, yoga teacher, and speaker. Learn more at