Asanacation One Year Anniversary

url-11I realized a few days ago that it has basically been a year since my asana practice fell apart. I’ve maintained a practice of yoga in terms of learning, pranayama, and meditation, but asana has been rare. I don’t know exactly how I do/should feel about it, and I’m not sure where I’m going from here.

There are many reasons for the change, but mostly it comes back to health. A surgical procedure in October of 2013 went wrong, causing problems that built up over late 2013 into the first months of 2014. By April, I was miserable. Getting through a day of work was a challenge, and asana was right out. At the end of May, I had a more invasive surgery to correct the prior one. But, then that, and some serious complications during healing, necessitated a continued break from yoga until September 2013. I thought that, by September, I would be back on track. It just didn’t work out that way, as rheumatoid arthritis had other opinions. Work schedule contributed by making the new times at my home studio impossible for me most days, and my home practice commitment just wasn’t strong enough to make up the difference when demands of household and work call. And time passed, and here we are in April.

There are weeks that I manage two classes. Once in a while, it might be three. But, my asana isn’t what it was. Muscles and tendons are tight and constrained. I’m physically weaker. My core is tired and balance is off. Meh. Yet, the RA isn’t significantly worse than it was 18 months ago and I had a more regular practice then. On the other hand, then I wasn’t on particular medication that slows my heart rate to 58, making every moment seem like a good moment for a nap. HA! So, what and where from here?

I want to get back to a more regular asana practice. I know the tricks like putting it on my schedule (though that does no good if I can’t get home from work until 6:30 or later and class starts at 6:15) and using videos and podcasts for home encouragement. But, I knew those last month and the month before, so something has to make the difference. I’m aware that clinging to the idea of an asana practice in a way that makes me feel bad, guilty, ashamed isn’t a good idea. But, I like how I feel when I practice more and (in a non-yogic truth) my clothes also fit better.

This is going to be one of “those” posts, where I end with a question for which I have no answers. It makes me a very not helpful vegan yoga blogger, but it’s where I am right now. So, WWYYD? (what would you yogis do?)

 

Tips for Making the Vegan Transition

IMG_0986webI have been a vegan for a longish time now (8-9 years) and a vegetarian for almost two decades. I am often asked by vegan-curious folks (sometimes vegetarian and sometimes omnivore) about how to make the switch. There is not one best way to make this switch, but having tried to be vegan a couple of times before it really took, I do have a few thoughts that I share with people contemplating the change, and I share them with you here.

1. Make a commitment. It doesn’t matter if you decide to go “cold tofurkey” on all animal products or if you phase them out one at a time. The key is to think it through and make a firm choice.

Decide what you plan to do and then write it down. If you are going to give up one item at a time, make an actual schedule and mark it on your calendar. If you are making the switch all at once, make yourself a list of things to eat (see below) instead of the animal products you normally consume.

Waffling on it, or just trying to move toward it by reducing overall consumption makes the whole process take longer, because there are going to be situations where it is a challenge to avoid animal products, and if you haven’t already made a firm choice and established your boundaries, you aren’t likely to make it though those.

2. Research alternatives before you start. You know what your animal product weaknesses are. Think about how you will replace them in your diet. Is it cheese? Milk? Jerky? Honey? Burgers? Almost anything can be replaced with something vegan that will satisfy the same taste urges, but you have to figure out what it is, and that’s easier when you aren’t starving or trying to cook dinner in 20 minutes.

There are so many sites online that can help you in this process. I like to think that this is one of them, but it’s certainly not the only one. Since this month is the Vegan Month of Food (VeganMoFo), there is a wealth of informational links available for you at http://veganmofo.com. Check it out!

3. Think about ways to maintain your usual ratio of “fun” to nutritious foods at first. If you are accustomed to having Doritos every night for a snack, and you go vegan and only eat fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, you are going to be an unhappy camper.

There is plenty of vegan fun (or “crap” depending on your frame of reference) food, so it is not necessary to deprive yourself. You can start changing the ratio after you get more comfortable with the overall choice. In fact, if Doritos are your go-to snack, I have an idea for you!

4. Be open to prepared foods for a while. I am not a big fan of them, but when you are first starting a vegan diet, it might be easier to microwave a Boca burger and some veggie baked beans, or an Amy’s meal, than to come up with a menu on your own. It’s more expensive and you don’t have as much control over nutrition, but that will come.

If it’s a choice between going vegan and eating some prepared foods, and not going vegan at all, then take the prepared foods. Mainstream vegetarian brands (Boca, Morningstar, Gardenburger) have some vegan items, but be sure to check the labels for milk and eggs. Lightlife brand has mostly vegan items, but again the label should be checked. Tofurkey brand is, I think, all vegan.

5. VARIED diet. I really can’t stress this enough. If you start out by eating salads for every meal, with the same set of four ingredients, you are going to get bored and frustrated and are more likely to crack and order an extra large cheese pizza from Pizza Hut.

Buy a cookbook or find a blog or website you like to peruse.  Even if you never actually  use any of the recipes, you will get some ideas about how to eat in a vegan style, and will probably be shocked by the amazing variety of choices.

If you make your meals interesting enough, then you will probably find that you forget what you aren’t eating. In fact, you may find that the things you thought you would miss aren’t a problem at all. I was sure that giving up cheese was going to be awful for me, but, it really wasn’t (and my cholesterol dropped 65 points giving up dairy and eggs).

Happy veganizing!

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Go Back to Class!

A joke for only the coolest Internet dorks.

As my Facebook friends know, I have a learning thing. I love to learn new things.

In the past six months, I’ve taught myself to knit, learned to use Photoshop, completed a set of classes on digital photography (doing more of that now), started really learning about vegetable gardening, and toyed with the idea of starting reiki classes in the fall.

This spring, another person sought my advice about adopting a vegetarian diet, meal planning, and nutrition. And it occurred to me that I could better serve the people who come to me with such questions, and even work that into my future plans for The VeganAsana, if I completed some real training in nutrition.

My good spouse, who has tremendous patience with my desire to learn and learn again, gave me a “gift certificate” for Mother’s Day to start my classes toward certification as a health and nutrition consultant. Sweet!

So, now I’m back in class, studying calories (4 per gram of carbs or protein and 9 per gram of fat, by the way), macro and micro nutrients, FDA labeling laws, and the like. Most of it is a refresher for me, as I’ve been studying nutrition for a long time on my own, but it’s great to have this organized curriculum, and I’m learning tidbits here and there that are news to me.

I’m sure you’ll be hearing more about nutrition on this blog in the coming months, so stay tuned (ominous or inviting, you be the judge).  And now, back to my books!

Namaste,

L