Monday, November 22, 2010

OM for the Holidays Part 1

*This article will appear in its entirety in a yoga newsletter over the holidays. In advance, I'll be posting sneak peeks to provide you with yoga assists for your most common holiday scenarios.

The holidaze is upon us. How can your yoga practice support, ground, and boost you through the season? Here are five common scenarios and possible yoga assists.

Holiday Scenario #1: Somewhere between Logan, your layover, the phlem-y cougher next to you, and the recycled plane air, you started to feel sniffly…and now are in the midst of a full-blown cold.
Yoga Assist: It's common knowledge that being stressed, getting little sleep, and taking on too much puts you at greater risk for getting sick. During the holidays, it's easy to fall prey to all of these. Fight back with yoga, which can reduce stress, boost immunity, and help ensure you sleep better
all keys to preventing and recovering from the sickies. Also, as cold viruses live in the nasal passages, try the ayurvedic practice of using a neti pot, available at any pharmacy or health food store.

Already sick? A vigorous practice may sound about as appealing as a root canal. If so, a few gentle restorative poses might be just what the doctor ordered. You'll still harvest all the immune-boosting, stress-reducing, sleep-inducing benefits.

Start with balasana (child's pose). Bring your toes together and keep the knees a bit wider than the hips. Rest your forehead on a block or your stacked hands. You can gently roll your forehead left and right as you slowly inhale and exhale. This can feel really good for sinus congestion, and may enhance the relaxation response. Then roll onto your back and take supta baddha konasana (supported butterfly). Draw the soles of the feet together and support under each knee with blocks or pillows. Place a rolled blanket or towel under the neck for support and gentle elevation. Next, try viparita karani (legs up the wall pose), supporting under the hips with folded blankets or a bolster. If you have one, place an eye pillow over the eyes. Hold each pose for 5-7 minutes. Come out slowly by resting in the fetal position before gently sitting up. 

Stay tuned for Part 2! 

Friday, November 12, 2010

A Gift From the Gardening Gods

Just in time to get the weekend started off on a good note! I got my organic produce delivery. And there, nestled among the butternut squash, bananas, lemons, and various other veg, was this magnificent example of just how awesome nature can be...

 And just in case you missed it...

And in case you need the close-up in order to see the naughty...

Happy Friday!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Earthbox Update - Week Twenty-Nine: End of Season Assessment. OR: What Should I Plant?

Ok, so I'm coming to grips with the fact that the season's really over (except for lettuce and herbs, but more on that later).

Come spring, I can imagine a world in which I'm buoyed up by the hopefulness of a new season stretching out in front of me. Intoxicated by the endless possibilities and with winter having dulled my memory of things like the ten plagues and cucumber beetles, and monsoons and aphids, and zucchini that can't get it on without my help, I can imagine myself planting again this seasons biggest losers.

So to keep the scent of incredibly putrid cucumber beetle-eradicating measures fresh in my mind, to remember just what a pain in the ass it is to wash every single effing leaf (front AND back!) by hand with soapy water, and lest I forget that I didn't really enjoy acting as a zucchini sex aide, here's a rundown of the seasons winners and losers:

Winners. AKA "I'd like to thank the academy..."
  1. Peppers. Fun to grow, disease-free, and produce plenty of fruit to make it all worthwhile. I recommend Carmens (horn-shaped sweet reds) and golden bells.
  2. Tomatoes. See above--fun and disease-free. Lots of fruit. Also, a perk for us urban gardeners, lots of foliage to provide a green screen from neighborhood eyes. Try the Mortgage Lifter and the Black Krim.
  3. Green beans. Try the Bush Bean Contender. Quick to harvest, lots of beans. Easy to care for. Disease-free.
  4. Herbs! Rosemary, oregano, parsley, sage, thyme, and basil. Nary a problem and very productive. Highly recommend. Next year I want to also try dill and chives. My gardening guru, Aunt Joan at Primex, tells me my herbs are perennials (they'll come back next spring if I let them die/rest over the winter). She also said I can transplant them inside for continual harvesting. I'm opting for the latter - who doesn't want fresh herbs all winter?!

Losers. AKA "I blame my agent, the director, the screenwriter, the makeup artist and that homeless guy on the corner..."
  1. Cucumbers. Disease- and pest-magnets. If there is an aphid, cucumber beetle, predatory bug, a bug that nobody's ever heard of, or even a hint of powdery mildew within a 200-mile radius, it will find your cucs. Unless you enjoy the smell of rancid farts (in the form of organic pesticides) or have absolutely nothing better to do than wash each leaf front and back with soapy water (to treat aphids), SKIP. Soooooo much work and not one single cuc. SKIP. SKIP. SKIP.
  2. Zucchni. Same as above. You might as well put out a welcome mat and advertise in neighboring counties. Aphids, cucumber beetles, and powdery mildew will make a beeline to these plants. Too much time spent spraying those buggers with organic pesticides and soapy water. Also too much time spent compulsively showering after treating them in a desperate and futile attempt to remove the scent of rancid fart and millions of dead aphid carcasses off me. All that and only one zuc?! BIG FAT NEVER AGAIN.
  3. Basil. Basil's going on both lists because the first crop mysteriously died and had to be replaced--picky little bastards. If you can get it to grow, big winner. Fresh pesto is fabulous. If you get a picky little bastard batch, try again. If the second kicks the bucket too, then you know it's a sign.
So there we have it--a rough guideline for the spring that will hopefully help at least one other gardener. Any and all suggestions are welcomed and encouraged! :)