Tuesday, January 31, 2012

running and yoga are complementary...right?

I'm on the struggle bus.

Running and yoga are supposed to be perfect complements. Yoga keeps you strong and supple while running keeps your heart happy (physiologically, anyway). Running, Yoga...I love you both equally...so, why can't you two get along???

Since the beginning of time, I have had a very tough time finding a good balance of my two loves (especially since I still have to work for a living and want to spend time with my fiancĂ©). For some reason, when I'm knee deep in marathon - or half marathon training -  yoga falls by the wayside. The same is true right now, when my mind, body and soul are walking down the path of yoga teacher training, I've only been running about 3 miles every two weeks.

Is there ever going to be a balance? I guess I don't know.

When I recapped my 2011 races, I talked about all the races that I want to do in 2012...one of those was the Cleveland Half Marathon in May. If I don't get my act together right now, I won't be able to run a half marathon in May.

Last year at this time, I was running running running. This year, life's all about yoga (well, there's wedding stuff, and lacrosse...but as far as personal fitness and mental well-being go - yoga). Again, I'm just not able to find a balance.

So, my question to you...is it possible?

Right now, all I want to do is find a warm yoga studio or the comfort of my own home to downward dog my life away. Going outside is the last thing I want to be doing. Since the Cleveland Marathon last year, I've wanted to stay in half marathon shape year round, but I just haven't been able to find the motivation to get there.

Right now I don't feel like I'm a runner OR a yogi. Can I run the half marathon in May AND get certified to be a yoga teacher? I don't know.

How do I find my balance?

Monday, January 30, 2012

The First Chakra

**this is very strange. I posted this last Thursday and somehow, it was nowhere to be found on my blog. In my google reader, however, the post was there! Magical, right?! I wanted to re-post just in case anyone missed it...and I apologize if this is your second time reading it.!**

{photocred: http://leonardodavinci.stanford.edu}
I consider myself lucky that I had an anatomy background before deciding to embark on the YTT journey. In December, we spent an entire weekend learning anatomy, and honestly, we barely scratched the surface. The human body is such an amazing piece of machinery. Something we briefly touched on in our anatomy lessons was the chakra system. If you're unfamiliar, it's a system of energy centers in your body that are associated with your beliefs, emotions, and physical health. The chakras are very closely linked with your endocrine system (the glands that secrete every hormone in your body). 

Today, I want to talk about the first of the seven major chakras; what physical and emotions channels that it governs, how to tell if there is an imbalance, and what you can do to get it back into balance. The first chakra is the Muladhara Chakra (mula = root, adhara = support) and it resides at the base of your spine. It is your root chakra, associated with the earth element and and your adrenal gland and your bones and blood. This chakra governs your sense of stability and connection and the foundation of your emotional and mention function. An imbalance in this chakra might manifest when things that have to do with your home, money or job or feeling that you are unsafe or insecure in the world, basic survival needs, groundedness, etc. This will causes lots of stress which comes about because of increased levels of the cortisol secreted by the adrenal gland - cortisol is your stress hormone and the adrenal gland governs your fight or flight response.

Muladhara chakra color: red

So you're probably like, "great Becca, how is all this information helpful to me?" 

Here's how - a muladhara chakra imbalance can manifest in your body in many ways, some of which are: 
  • back pain
  • sciatica
  • loss of balance
  • loss of memory
  • anxiety/stress, even depression
  • arthritis
  • skin problems
If you are suffering from any of these things, you might want to try some exercises or meditations to bring your first chakra back into balance. Poses that help bring the first chakra back into balance are standing poses to open and strength the lower body (your support!) and poses that stretch the hamstrings, because when the hamstrings are tight, contraction creates a sense that we're constantly prepared to run away. Supported restorative poses are also helpful to settle your mind and allow you to surrender to what is. You might try:

Uttanasana (Standing Forward Fold)

Janu Sirsasana (Head-To-Knee Pose)

Salamba Supta Baddha Konasana (Supported Reclining Bound Angle)

If asana isn't your style, then a first chakra meditation might help:
  1. In a comfortable seated position, let the thumb and the index finger come to touch. Close your eyes and concentrate on your root chakra, the place at the very tip of your tailbone. Repeat the mantra, LAM (lah-mm) silently to yourself, until you are ready to open your eyes.
  2. List five things you would like to do, things that you enjoy. Try including an activity that involves contact with the earth. After you've listed them, one at a time, visualize yourself doing those activities and how it feels to do them.
  3. Imagine your Root Chakra. The color of this chakra should be a beautiful, clear red. If you see any other color, remove it and imagine the chakra being filled with red energy. Once you are able to imagine the proper color filling this chakra, imagine it spinning in a clockwise direction. Spin it faster and faster as you fill it with red energy.
If you want to use stones or gems, Ruby, Bloodstone, Smoky Quartz, Hematite, Black Tourmaline, Obsidian, and Garnet are great for balancing the root chakra. You can carry them in your pocket or place them at your feet. Also, going for a walk is a great way to open and balance your first chakra. It enables you to feel connected to and supported by the ground beneath you, which is inherent to the first chakra.

Has anyone ever felt a root chakra imbalance? What did you do to help yourself feel more grounded and secure??

Friday, January 27, 2012

Good Karma Friday

I wrote a whole post on the airplane (using my blogger app) about "good karma fridays" and somewhere between airplane mode and a real internet connection, it got lost. So I'm going to do my best to try again.

I was reading about karma in my Jivamukti Yoga book and came across a suggestion for a practical way to invite good, positive karma into your life. The Buddhist teacher, Geshe Michael Roach, suggests that in order to increase our own good karma, you should reflect on the good karma of others.

If you're unfamiliar with the concept of karma, it's more or less a law of cause and effect. Every single one of your thoughts and actions have a karmic effect that stays with you forever and beyond. It's the law of "what goes around comes around" and it comes with the idea that a person's lot in life has nothing to do with luck, but is a direct effect of their past karmas, whether good or bad. It obviously behooves us to effect good karma in our lives.

Increasing your good karma works like the law of attraction...the more you increase your good karma, the good karma will be attracted to you (this also works for the bad). It's like a karmic magnetic field, of sorts. Geshe Michael Roach's suggestion to increase your good karma seemed like an easy, and logical way to incorporate more good karma into my life, but I wanted to take it one step further. Instead of just reflecting on the good karma of others to myself, why not share it with the world? Then this bubble, this magnetic field of wonderful, yummy karma could permeate the blogosphere too!

Thus, my idea for good karma Fridays was born. A forum for me and my readers to reflect on others' good karma and increase that magnetic field of karma around all of us. Here are my thoughts for the week.

(1) The dad's who coach youth/middle school lacrosse in Strongsville! They are doing their part to instill healthy values in our youth (and create excitement for the best sport!)

(2) Last weekend, Ashley and Nate (or the Cheeses as we like to call them) got married! Mr. and Mrs. Cheese are the people who we get cheese from at the farmer's market and have become good friends of ours. Committing to love each other for the rest of their lives is such a great thing to celebrate!

(3) The policeman who pulled me over for an "improper" left turn after yoga last Friday night...he was doing his job to keep me and other drivers safe on a dark, snowy night.

(4) Friends who let me practice teaching yoga to them. I don't know what else I can even say about this. I'm so incredibly thankful to have such wonderful people in my life.

Okay, your turn! What are some great and selfless things that you've observed other people doing? Take a little time to appreciate and rejoice in them today!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Giveaway Winner!!

I had a great post that was going to go up yesterday, but I have no idea what happened after I hit publish! It's a case of the disappearing post!!! Oh well, I'll try again later.

Now is the time to announce the winner of two tickets to the Great Home and Garden Expo!!

I didn't want to use the run-of-the-mill random.org to pick the winner, so I cut up on of my business cards, wrote everyone's name down (don't worry, the extra entries got entered more than once). Then I put the names in a box, closed my eyes, and picked!

Congratulations Heather!

I'll follow up with an email shortly and tell you how you can get your tickets. Enjoy the expo!!

If you didn't win, but still want to go to the expo, you can get $3 off your ticket by buying online and as a special treat to the PL&B readers, if you enter the promo code PEACE when you check out, you will get another $1 off the ticket price! To get a total of $4 off your expo tickets, click here.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

MYO Laundry Detergent

**CLE-ers: have you entered my giveaway for 2 tickets to the Great Big Home and Garden Expo at the IX Center, Feb 4-12??? Leave a comment on this post to enter!**

I have a hard time with laundry detergent sometimes. I could stand in front of the laundry detergent aisle at the store for hours trying to decide what scent, how strong, whether I want to be environmentally friendly or not, how much do I want to pay, etc, etc, etc.

I'm pulling the Libra card on this one. Decision making is not my strong suit.

I do know how to make my own laundry detergent though. It involves a grand total of three ingredients:

That's right folks, 1 cup of borax, 1 cup of washing soda, and a grated bar of Fels Naptha. All of which you can probably get at your local grocery store for less than $2 each. Becca 1. Tide 0. Score one for the little guys!

You use about 1 tbsp of this stuff per load of laundry. I personally think it works great! But if you're a laundry snob and like your laundry to smell like Autumn Rain or Clean Cotton or whatever...this probably won't do it for you. I'd be curious to see what you guys think!

Do you have a common household item that you make instead of buy??

Friday, January 20, 2012

Home Improvements + a giveaway!

A few days ago I was contacted about attending the Great Big Home & Garden Expo at the I-X Center. Can anyone guess what my immediate answer was?

Hell yes.

Home Depot dates are an actual thing in our relationship and now that Brandon and I are refinancing the mortgage together , that means I’m going to be a homeowner!!! So when you say “home and garden” to us, we both get kind of geeked out.

Last year, we had a number of home upgrades that we got to work on (p.s. all these pics were taken by Brandon):
    Fenced-in the backyard

    Paint the upstairs bedroom

    Build 2 raised bed gardens

And a few that didn’t:
Paint the anteroom to the upstairs bedroom
Build a chicken coop

And, of course, there is an ever expanding list of things to renovate in 2012 (Brandon, I know you’ll have plenty to add when you read this):
Finish insulating in the attic and the basement
New grass in the backyard
Install a more robust fence around the gardens (Buck doesn’t understand that chicken wire means KEEP OUT)
Build a chicken coop (yeah, this is definitely still on there)
Turn half of the basement into a workout room
Finish painting the anteroom to our bedroom

I’m sure you all have home renovations that you want to get to this year too! Why not start getting some ideas at the Great Big Home and Garden Expo? I have two tickets to giveaway to one lucky reader!!! The expo will be chock full of live demonstrations and exhibits for all things home and garden related…there even several culinary exhibitions/demonstrations!

PRIZE: 2 general admission tickets to the Great Big Home and Garden Expo at the I-X Center in Cleveland, February 4-12. Check the expo website for times.
TO ENTER: leave a comment telling me what home improvement you want to work on in 2012
BONUS ENTRIES: like Peace, Love &Bagels on Facebook, post your home improvement goals on the PL&B facebook page, or tweet about this giveaway (don't forget to mention me, @peacelovebagels). Leave a separate comment for each extra entry.
GIVEAWAY CLOSES: January 26, 2012 at 12:00 pm EST
HOUSEKEEPING: Make sure I have your email address if you enter, you will be contacted via email on January 26 if you are the winner. Tickets will be made available in your name at will-call at the expo. 

FULL DISCLOSURE: I was asked by the Great Big Home and Garden Show to promote the upcoming event. In exchange, I receive 2 general admission tickets for myself and 2 to give away to a reader. 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Mexican Chocolate Crisp

Does anyone else love Nestle's Crunch bars?

No? Just me?

Good, then you probably don't want to make this DIY chocolate bars. 

Ashley's popped amaranth cereal turned into one of the best chocolate add-ins ever! Popping amaranth is just like popping popcorn on a smaller scale. To learn how, check out this post.

Whoops, that one didn't last long!

Mexican Chocolate Crisps

by Peace, Love & Bagels
Prep Time: 5-10 minutes
Cook Time: 0 minutes

Ingredients (about 12 small pieces)
  • 1/2 bag chocolate chips
  • 2/3 cup popped amaranth
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
Melt the chocolate chips in the microwave for 30 seconds at a time, mixing the chips in between each nuke session, until the chocolate is fully melted.
Stir in cinnamon, cayenne and popped amaranth.
Pour melted chocolate out onto a cookie sheet covered in parchment. Spread out chocolate so it's about 1/4 inch thick.
Place cookie sheet into freezer until chocolate sets. Take it out and break it into bit-sized pieces.

Are there any weird/unique chocolate recipes that you love?
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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Best Save-The-Date Idea Ever

Drumroll, please...this is my very first vlog (well, kinda). I want to let you guys in on our brilliant save the date idea.

Brandon and I are trying to keep our wedding on the inexpensive side. One of the things we decided on to keep our wedding costs down was the save the dates...no snail mail for us. I've seen a couple of people skip the save the dates all together, but we figured since we have a lot of out-of-towner's coming in, we wanted to let everyone know the date well in advance. The solution?

Video Save-the-Dates!

Don't mind my sweatpants with the pockets turned out and my poor percussion skills. Luckily, I have a very musically inclined fiance. He wrote an adorable song for the occasion.

The video is going out to our guest via email, although special phone calls are being made to those grandparents who haven't gotten on the email boat yet.

Alright, I know...this might be the cheesiest thing we've done yet. Lots more cheese to come. Just you wait!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Some Blogspiration

I think I’ve figured out why I’ve been lacking blogging inspiration lately. It’s because I’ve been too busy to read other blogs.

My inspiration often comes from outside of myself, I find that many times it can be the best place to find it! From my readers, from my fellow bloggers, from my friends and colleagues…all of you inspire me.

Last year I wrote about the CLE bloggers who’ve inspired me. I think it’s high time that I give you the next generation of that list. In the last year I’ve connected with so many wonderful people through my blog and I am continually humbled by the incredible friendships that we’ve created. Even when I take a step back from the blogosphere, they’re always there to help and support and inspire!

Rachel and I met accidentally at a bike tour/wine tasting in Conneaut (a deal I couldn’t resist from Livingsocial). We didn’t realize who each other was at the time and it was only when we both posted about it that it clicked. Her “Monday Mantras” are a must read at the beginning of my week.

Crystal was the one with the brilliant mind behind my Pumpkin Beercakes and I will be forever grateful to her for that (“I am not worthy…I am not worthy…”) since beer was apparently the ONE ingredient that actually makes my pancakes edible.

Erin might just be my favorite person in the whole world. I haven’t met her (irl) but I feel like I have!  She always has some way of inspiring me to just get real. Whether it’s because she’s training for a triathlon or volunteering or one of the million other things she’s involved in – I absolutely love reading her posts. She’s the one who prompted me to take the plunge into a full time standing desk at work!

Holly…Holly’s just awesome. She was willing to be one of my first ever yoga guinea pigs and I didn’t realize it, but we’re both about the same height (towering, obviously). I go straight to her blog when I need some motivation to get moving.

Amie’s posts constantly encourage me to get creative in the kitchen, which has been especially important lately – it’s been a lot of chips, cheese and salsa for dinner! Plus, she’s got some really amazing tips on all sorts of cooking related things (like, cooling coffee to make it iced without melting the ice cubes!)

Maria is just wonderful. Whether she likes it or not, I’ve dubbed her my yoga teacher training big sister. She’s not only an awesome yoga teacher, but each one of her posts is a chance for me to learn a little bit more about yoga, from another point of view. And get ready, there might even be some Street Yoga in Cleveland’s future!

This list doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of the other bloggers that I look to for advice, friendship, and inspiration. It’s like a blogosphere satsang! Satsang is a concept we talk a lot about in teacher training. From Wikipedia:
sat = true
sanga = company
(1) the company of the "highest truth,"
(2) the company of a guru, or
(3) company with an assembly of persons who listen to, talk about, and assimilate the truth.

And although the concept of satsang was introduced long before the wonderful world of the internet, the idea can really be used across any medium. I have so much love for my blogging satsang. Even if I find myself out of the loop for a while, I always know where to find the inspiration to jump right back in.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

2011: A Year In Races

2011 Race Results
St. Malachi 5 Miler 44:58
Cleveland Ten Miler 1:36:49
Cleveland Marathon 4:58:32
Memorial Day 4 Miler 35:59
AkRUN 5k 28:03
Akron Marathon Relay 3:58:13/26:03 for my leg
Towpath [Half]Marathon 2:04:40
Twinsburg Turkey Trot 46:09

We’re well into 2012 and I haven’t put more than 6 miles on my running legs yet, but I want to take a second to look back at my last year of running…and to let you know that I have big aspirations for the year ahead.

I can’t give you my total year’s mileage because somewhere in the middle of the summer, I stopped wearing my garmin. I’ve loved every single minute of my life without knowing my pace and mileage, so I think I’m going to keep it that way.

69.5 miles

My 2011 race mileage.  I know that would be dwarfed in comparison to other CLE runners (ahem…Kali, Moja) but I’m pretty proud of it. I’m even more proud to say that almost all of my races were run side-by-side with my best friend. Brandon. (*cough*cheeseball*cough*)

The year started with an awesome showing at the St. Malachi 5-miler where we busted out a 9 minute mile on a beautifully sunny winter day downtown. It wasn’t a PR but it felt great, despite the monster hill/bridge at the end.

The Cleveland10-miler was our warm-up for the main event – the Cleveland Marathon – and it just so happened that it was another amazing day for a run followed by a huge Easter dinner.

I can’t say the same for the marathon….as you probably already know, it was 60 and misty at the start and 50 and sopping wet by the end. It was my toughest race of the year, but worth every second.

The Memorial Day 4-miler was one race I ran solo. Brandon was hurt at the time, so he tagged along with the pups. It was basically in my backyard and even though it was the first 90-degree day of the year, I busted my butt through those miles and had the best finish-line cheering team around!

The AkRUN 5k was my only PR of the year! Even though it was a PR by 3 seconds, it was a PR and it felt good. I celebrated with ample brewskis, since there was a post-race pub crawl.

Thanks to twitter, I teamed up with Kali, Julie and a few other to run the Akron Marathon Relay. Even though I ran the shortest leg, I doubled it up by running back on the trail on Sand Run Parkway. Including running to and from the exchange points, I totaled about 7.5 miles…all in my vibrams!

Best race of the year? The Towpath Half Marathon. I won’t say I didn’t train, but I never had a set schedule for training. It was a PR for Brandon and the second fastest half I’ve ever run!

Rounded out the year with a Turkey Trot in Twinsburg. We ended up skipping out on the CLE Turkey Trot so we could get to our turkey dinner in PA as quickly as possible. It was another beautiful day in the neighborhood and we were happy with our time.

So that was my running 2011…what’s next in 2012? Probably less races…but these are the ones on my 2012 wish list:

  • March – St. Malachi 5 mi
  • April – Cleveland 10 miler
  • May –Cleveland Marathon, Half Marathon
  • June – Towpath 10-10
  • September – Akron Marathon Half Marathon or Relay
  • October – Towpath Half Marathon (maybe, it’s on my birthday)
  • November – a turkey trot
  • December – the great NYE race (also a maybe, New Year ’s Eve is typically our night in!)
  • Sometime before October 7: a destination race

How did your 2011 races go?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Green Smoothie Ice Cubes

I’ve been slacking on posts lately.

It’s a combination of a lack of inspiration for good quality posts and just being way busy. Weddings, yoga and lacrosse will do that to you. (p.s. wedding post coming up soon!)

…wait, did I tell you guys I’m coaching lacrosse at Strongsville High this spring?? I’m pumped and you should be too. I’ll write a post on them when we get into the season.

After the new year, Brandon and I decided we needed a mini-cleanse.  Lots of sugar and processed carbohydrates and minimal exercise will make you feel that way. We decided to intentionally eat more raw fruits and veggies. After all, 2012 is the year of intention.

No, not like our raw foods cleanse.

Just more fruits and veggies, less crap. Cue green breakfast smoothies, stage right.

My problem with green smoothies is that I buy a bunch of spinach and kale, then make one or two smoothies and the rest of the veggies end up going bad. What? It’s wintertime! Raw veggies can be tough to swallow when it’s 30 degrees outside and there isn’t a single leafy green that could grow in the ground right now.

Anyway, I figured out a fix. Why not blend up all those yummy greens and freeze them in ice cube trays?!

Brilliant! (a la those old Guinness commercials)

That way, when I’m in the mood for a green smoothie I don’t have to run out to the store only to buy more spinach than I need and watch half of it go bad. I can just go to my freezer, pop out a few cubes and add whatever else I’m in the mood for. Pure genius is what I call that.

Green Smoothie Ice Cubes

by Peace, Love & Bagels
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Keywords: raw vegan vegetarian kale spinach all seasons

Ingredients (~20 smoothie cubes)
  • 2 cups organic spinach
  • 2 cups kale leaves, torn off of the spine
  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup water
Blend all the ingredients in a blender, adding more water as necessary to get a good, green puree. Pour into ice cube trays and allow to freeze completely. If you only have a few ice cube trays, you might want to take them out of the trays once they’re frozen and keep the cubes in a zip-lock bag in the freezer.
When you’re ready to make a green smoothie, just pop a few of those ice cubes into the blender with all or any of the following:
Almond milk
Coconut water
Chia seeds
Rolled oats
Nut butter
Blend and enjoy a healthy dose of raw fruits and veggies
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Trust me, your intestines will thank you.
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