I have mentioned in previous posts that I am not a big fan of Yoga. I force myself to do it at least once a week, because it is so important. I have tried different types of Yoga classes over the years, but have never stuck with anything. It’s very difficult for athletes who prefer fast paced, endurance type sports to calm down, hold a stretch, concentrate on breathing etc… Yoga is difficult, physically and mentally. What I always realize is after I do it, I feel absolutely wonderful! My mother in law, Terry is a certified Bikram yoga instructor. She is hands down the best instructor. Truly dedicated to the development of the student. Anyhow, I am lucky to have her in my life. I attended my first Bikram class with Terry close to 12 years ago. I wasn’t sure what to expect. 90 min. of pretzel moves in 100 degree heat. I wasn’t sure if I’d make it out alive. For one, every participant is at their own level. There are no expectations to perfect each pose. The heat did not bother me at all. It really does help loosen the muscles. Having sweat dripping in your eyes while you’re holding a pose actually forces you to concentrate better on your form / posture. If you fall out of a pose and wipe the sweat away, you feel defeated for breaking your concentration. I remember seeing a man come in to class with a walker. He was amazing at every pose, even the standing positions. Unfortunately, he had been in a serious accident and told he would spend the rest of his life confined to a wheel chair. He refused to accept that. He started doing Bikram yoga and after about a year, he had progressed to being able to stand and use a walker. That’s just one example of healing progression. I do believe yoga, like most physical / meditation activity, offers a healing component for the body and mind. This man had determination. Like everything, you really have to want something to make it happen. Nothing is easy and every situation is different.
Bikram yoga is a complete dedication and difficult to do other activities if you really want to perfect each pose. Each class is 90 min. The good thing is you can go to any Bikram studio in the world and the series of poses will be the same. It is a total body work out, but you must be able to block off at least 2hrs. of your time. I was trying to do it 1 / week, but it just wasn’t working for me. Most Bikram students are completely dedicated and practice no less than 3 times per week. For me, I find restorative or gentle vinyasa is the best. I have a terrible time remembering the names of poses, so the precise instruction and focus on the stretch is key. I don’t really need the heat. I just want the stretch. In my area I’ve found a few classes that I like a lot. Foundry Fitness in Delmar has an excellent recovery class Friday nights. Shelby is an excellent instructor. She really focuses on whatever issues the students have. I love the vinyasa and hatha yoga classes at 365 fit in Delmar. I took a power vinyasa class with Denise recently, it was incredible. There are so many options. You just need to find what works for you.
For the past few months I’ve really been diligent to yoga once a week. I love to run and I really don’t plan to stop running marathons anytime soon. Yoga helps me run better. A couple of years ago I read Eat & Run by Scott Jurek. Scott Jurek is an Ultramarathon champion. He is in his 40’s and a true inspiration in the endurance running world. Anyhow, he mentions in his book that as we get older, we have to practice yoga in order to keep on running. The way I look at it, if Scott Jurek is saying that, it has to be true. I don’t want to stop running, so if that means sucking it up and practicing some form of yoga 1 / week, I’m doing it. Scott Jurek admits to struggling with yoga until realizing “yoga is a practice, not a competition”. It’s as much about the deep breathing as it is about the stretch. They all go together. Anyhow, even if you’re not a runner, I recommend reading this book. It’s also loaded with great recipe’s. Scott Jurek is not only Ultramarathon greatness, but Vegan too. I swear by his lentil – mushroom burger recipe. Absolutely delicious!
Lentil-Mushroom Burgers (Scott Jurek)
1 cup dried green lentils (2 1⁄4 cups cooked)
2 1⁄4 cups water
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1⁄4 teaspoon black pepper
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 1⁄4 cups finely chopped onion
3⁄4 cup finely chopped walnuts
2 cups fine bread crumbs (see note*)
1⁄2 cup ground flax seed (flax seed meal)
3 cups finely chopped mushrooms
1 1⁄2 cups destemmed, finely chopped kale, spinach, or winter greens
2 tablespoons coconut oil or olive oil
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon sea salt
1⁄2 teaspoon black pepper
1⁄2 teaspoon paprika
In a small pot, bring the lentils, water, parsley, 1 garlic clove, and 1⁄4 cup of the onion to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, for 35 to 40 minutes, until the water is absorbed and the lentils are soft.
While the lentils are cooking, combine the walnuts, bread crumbs, and flax seed in a bowl. Add the nutritional yeast, salt, pepper, and paprika and mix well.
Sauté the remaining onion, remaining garlic, the mushrooms, and greens in the oil for 8 to 10 minutes, then set aside. Remove the lentils from the heat, add the vinegar and mustard, and mash with a potato masher or wooden spoon to a thick paste.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the lentils, sautéed veggies, and bread crumb mixtures, and mix well. Cool in the refrigerator for 15 to 30 minutes or more.
Using your hands, form burger patties to your desired size and place on waxed paper. Lightly fry in a seasoned skillet, broil, or grill until lightly browned and crisp, 3 to 5 minutes on each side. Extra uncooked patties can be frozen on wax paper in plastic bags or wrapped.
Makes a dozen 4-inch diameter burgers
*Note: to make the bread crumbs, you’ll need about half of a loaf of day-old bread (I use Ezekiel 4:9). Slice the bread, then tear or cut into 2- to 3-inch pieces and chop in a food processor for 1 to 2 minutes, until a fine crumb results. The walnuts can also be chopped in the food processor with the bread.
****I’ve used panko bread crumbs instead of making my own. It doesn’t ruin the texture at all****
Do you practice yoga? Are you exclusively a yogi? Do you find yoga helps you continue other sports?