So What Is Kundalini Yoga All About, Anyway?

Back in 2011 I was in the kind of downward spiral that can take you under  forever or spit you back out with the possibility of turning it all around. A chance purchase of       a $20 Groupon led me to a Kundalini yoga class.  I  had no idea what Kundalini was, but I figured ten classes for $20 was a good bet. If I didn’t like the studio, no big financial loss. Instead, I found a lifeline.

Kundalini was nothing like any yoga I had ever practiced. The breathing techniques gave me pains in my collarbones; the postures could be exhausting; there was some chanting; there was a gong at the end of the practice. After that first class I was hooked.  I left wanting more.

A Kundalini class is built around “kriyas” or motions designed to support all aspects of our being. A kriya can be motion or a series of motions designed to clear and support our physical, emotional and spiritual systems. There are kriyas for strengthening the adrenals, the lungs, the kidneys, the immune system. There are kriyas to help release anger, boost our courage, loosen knotty places in the subconscious. There are heart openers and mind openers, stretches for the spine and for the spirit. The purpose of all this is to release the energies stored in the root chakra, using it to empower the entire energy system.

I’ll never forget one of those first classes.  The teacher had taken us through a vigorous heart opener and then had us do the breath of fire in camel posture. All of a sudden I was overtaken by a huge desire to scream, an impulse I dreaded giving in to. How could I let loose and scream? How could I not? There were only three of us in the class; the other two students were teachers of mine. I figured if I did let loose they would understand, and if they didn’t well, that was on them. I was there for my own well-being. If that meant giving in to the urge to scream then I had to trust what my body was signalling me to do.

I screamed and screamed and screamed. I felt green poison geysering from my chest. It felt completely awful and totally wonderful, much the way throwing up is awful and yet you know once all that yuck is out of you, you will feel so much better. That class was a turning point. Whatever I released that morning made room to begin the healing I so badly needed. 

Over time, I grew stronger. My collarbones adapted to the “breath of fire,” and I began to enjoy how contracting and releasing the muscles in my abdomen powered up my lungs. My abdominal and neck muscles began to support me in a challenging stretch, each session a few seconds longer. 

This summer will mark ten years of my Kundalini practice. It remains a lifeline. Over time the practice has enabled me to turn my life around, one breath of fire at a time.

 

Photo by Mimi Ditchie licensed by Creative Commons. “Star Trails Over the Alabama Hills”

 

Jonesin’ for Scones

I come from bagels, not scones. In fact, not until Starbucks do I think I’d ever seen, much less tasted a scone. I tried my hand at them. They’re a cinch to make, adaptable to all sorts of innovations, and make a pretty gift when you are visiting or simply want to offer someone a perk-me-up treat.

Here’s the recipe.

INGREDIENTS

3 cups all-purpose flour (I use King Arthur. Good flour, good company.)
1/2 cup white sugar                                                                                                         5 tsp baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup butter (keep it in fridge till you’re ready to use)
1 egg, beaten
1 cup milk

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 400º F.
Lightly grease a baking sheet. (I use parchment paper; instead; less mess. )
In a large bowl combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
Slice the butter into slender pats and cut it into the flour mixture  till it’s crumbly. If you don’t have a pastry blender, use two knives and “crosscut” them through the mixture to incorporate the butter into the dry ingredients.
Mix the egg and milk together in a small bowl. Stir into the flour mixture until moistened.
Turn dough out on a lightly floured surface and knead briefly. Roll dough into a 1/2″ thick round. Cut into 8 wedges and place on your baking sheet.
Bake 15 minutes in your preheated oven or until golden brown.

OPTIONS

I divide the dough into two balls, roll them out and cut each circle into 8 wedges. The more scones the merrier. Before kneading, add dried fruit, nuts, chocolate bits, whatever your tastebuds direct.  Want savory scones? Add a healthy handful of shredded cheddar, olives and rosemary before you knead the dough. Magic!

If you make these and have your own twist, share in the comments below.

Bon appetit.

 

Image courtesy of Katrin Gilger. Apple-Oatmeal-Scones is licenced under Creative Commons.

Make Your Own Glass Cleaner

I head to Crunchy Betty any time I want a homemade cleaning potion. Here is her glass cleaner.   Windex Shmindex. Stay with Crunchy Betty.

ALVIN CORN Glass and Window Cleaner

1 c. filtered, very hot water
1/2 Tbsp cornstarch
1/8 c. rubbing alcohol (at least 70% isopropyl, if not more)
1/8 c. white vinegar

Boil your water and let it cool just a bit. Add cornstarch to your spray bottle, and then the hot water. Shake well to dissolve. Add the rubbing alcohol and vinegar, and shake again. Every time you use this, you’ll want to shake it up to avoid clogging the spray nozzle with undissolved cornstarch. Use liberally and happily. Smile.

 

Best Socks. Ever.

I love my Darn Tough socks. They are what they say. I’ve never had a pair wear out, including the ones I’ve hiked in for six winters straight. The company offers an unconditional lifetime guarantee. They’ll take back their socks, no questions asked, if you’er not satisfied. I can’t imagine that happening. I pretty much live in mine They’re snug, cozy, warm, and come in great colors and patterns. They run from $21 – $28 and wash and dry perfectly. On a cost per year basis that’s pretty unbeatable. 

Darn Tough® is a  family-owned company located in Vermont where they’ve been making these great socks for three generations now. The Merino wool they use is responsibly sourced. From the info on their site, they are are using up their stock of non-RWS wool (Responsible Wool Standard) toward the goal of using 100% RWS wool in their socks. 

Back to the praise. If you’re a sock hound, check out Darn Tough. Your feet will thank you. 

( I do not receive payment or product for this review.)

One Potato, Two Potato

I’m not prone to waxing enthusiastic over potatoes, but am making an exception for The Little Potato Company. This not-too-big bag of little spuds is filled with Creamer potatoes, the smallest variety there is. They are nutritious, quick and easy to cook, and taste all buttery, creamy and delicious. They’re just sweet fun little things.

The Little Potato Company { https://www.littlepotatoes.com/our-story/ } was founded in 1996 by Angela Santiago and her father in Alberta, Canada. It’s still a family-owned company and that makes it all kind of cool, too.  In addition to recipe ideas, they offer an entire section on cooking with kids (organized by age and skill level no less!) stressing the importance of making time and space to prepare meals with our kids. 

I usually toss my taters with a bit of olive oil and seasonings (latest fave is TJ’s Everything but the Bagel) and pop them in a 350º oven for 30 – 45 minutes. The recipe offerings on LPC’s site are inspiring me. Perhaps it’s time to expand my repertoire.

 

(In case you are wondering, I have no arrangement with The Little Potato Company, nor am I compensated by them in any way.)