Gentle July Yoga Sequence

Lola ready for yoga

I don’t think I’ve shared it here…but everyone who’s a regular reader (shout out to my brother!) probably already knows…that I got my RYT-200 Yoga Teacher certification this spring. It was a roughly 9 month course, and I learned so much. The biggest thing I learned was how much more there was to learn. For me, that’s exciting.

Since completing the program, I have not been able to find a teaching gig. Granted, I have not tried very hard. The current available options in my town can’t jive with my regular 9-5, and I know upon which side my bread is buttered. Oh well.

It feels less than stellar to learn all this amazing stuff, make great progress in developing my vibe and voice as a teacher and then do nothing. It is a skill that needs continual work, especially when starting out.

Some friends casually mentioned that they would be interested in doing yoga. The husband had back surgery within the past year, and the wife is a great sport who was interested in developing some flexibility. I saw my opportunity and offered to give them classes for free at their home. Beggars can’t be choosers afterall, and the practice for me is totally worth it. (Also, they’re generally cool people, and I would probably be chilling with them anyway.)

We are only 2 classes in, and I’m loving it! I’m developing sequences and studying poses that are safe and accessible. I’m considering how to transition, offer modifications, time movement with breath and share other tidbits. During the certification process, I did these things constantly, but since I completed the program, I had stopped. There wasn’t need when I went back to only being a student, so these karma classes are proving to be a great education for me on the teacher’s mat.

Last week, we did a very easy class by some standards. We remained close to the ground most of the time, only doing 2 standing poses. The focus was on stretching, gentle movements and slightly longer holds. I was worried going into this class that it would be too easy or too boring. The feedback was positive though, so I wanted to throw this sequence out to the world for your enjoyment, too. Sometimes, slowing down and doing mindful movement is exactly what your body, mind and spirit need. Namaste!

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Gentle July Yoga Sequence

  • Begin supine, laying on your back in corpse pose.
  • Bring both knees into your chest, hug them closer.
  • Extend the left leg back down to the mat with the foot flexed. Squeeze the right knee into the chest.
  • Extend the right leg toward the sky, gently hold the back of your thigh and pull the leg forward ever so slightly for a deeper, yet gentle, stretch. Remember, you’re still warming up.
  • Release your hold, bend the right leg at the knee, and gently let the leg fall across the body, coming into a supine twist. Try to keep your shoulders touching the mat but don’t fret if you’re not there. Extend the right arm out away from the body and gaze toward your fingertips.
  • Bring your right knee back to center and let it gently open out, keeping the sole of your right foot in touch with your left inner thigh, coming into supine tree.
  • Release, extending your right left long on the mat, matching your left. Bring your arms and hands overhead, creating a nice full body stretch. Release your arms back beside the body.
  • Keeping the right leg extended this time, squeeze the left knee into the chest.
  • Extend the left leg toward the sky and gently stretch, grabbing the back of the left leg for added assistance if desired.
  • Release your hold, bend the left knee, and gently let the leg fall across the body for supine twist. Reach out with your left hand and gaze toward your fingertips.
  • Bring your left knee back to center then let it gently open out, falling toward the floor, for supine tree.
  • Release, extending that left leg once more. Bring your arms and hands overhead, reaching out for a nice, long, full body stretch.
  • Keeping your arms overhead, engage your core and begin to roll up slowly to a seated position.
  • With your legs still extended and your arms overhead, scan the body quickly. Does your spine feel aligned? Are you grounded into the earth through your tush? Make any little adjustments you need.
  • Then, with feet flexed and a flat back, bend forward, reaching your heart toward your thighs. If you can reach your feet, awesome. If not, no worries. You can place your hands on your thighs, the floor beside your legs, your shins, wherever you can reach. If your legs are really tight, keep a little bend in the knees.
  • Gently raise up, keeping your arms overhead and your core engaged.
  • Bring the sole of the left foot in to touch the right inner thigh. Bend forward, reaching your heart toward your right thigh. Again, if you can reach your foot, awesome. If not, use the modifications and enjoy where you are.
  • Gently lift back up with control. Extend the left leg back out.
  • Bring the sole of the right foot in to touch the left inner thigh. Bend forward, remembering to keep a flat back as much as possible. Use any mods you need.
  • Lift back up to a seated position. Shake out your arms and legs a little.
  • Spread your legs as wide apart as is comfortable for you. Slowly walk your hands out in front of you to create a nice stretch in your seated wide angle fold.
  • Walk the hands back in. Bring the soles of the feet together for bound angle.
  • You can stay seated as you are in bound angle, or if you want, you can fold forward into the stretch a bit, maybe using your elbows to apply a little light pressure to legs, deepening the stretch.
  • Rise back to a seated position if you aren’t already there, and then flip over, transitioning onto your hands and knees in a tabletop position.
  • Inhale and drop the belly toward the floor, lifting the gaze up. Exhale, tuck the chin, round the spine, pushing the earth away. This is cat/cow. Do this for several breaths then return to a neutral spine position in tabletop.
  • Lift the right hand out to your side then thread it behind the left arm, bring your right cheek and shoulder to the mat. Keep your hips where there are. The left hand can remain where it is as a support, or you can wrap it behind you, placing the back of your left hand on the small of your back for an added shoulder stretch.
  • Placing your left palm back on the mat for support if it isn’t already there, begin to lift yourself back up and unwind.
  • Repeat this for your left side now. With the right hand planted on the ground, lift the left and thread it through, gently resting on the left cheek and shoulder.
  • With your right hand for support, lift yourself back to tabletop.
  • Sit back onto your heels, heart melting into the mat, coming into child’s pose.
  • Lift back to tabletop. Keeping the hands on the mat, plant your right foot between them, keeping the left knee on the ground. On an inhale, lift your torso for a modified low lunge. Arms can reach overhead or be on your hips.
  • Shift your weight back onto your left leg, straightening your right leg and keeping only its heel connected to the mat, for a half hamstring stretch. Hands can rest on the floor if you need the added stability.
  • Shift forward again into your low lunge.
  • Place your left palm on the mat next to your right foot. Lift you right hand toward the sky, coming into revolved low lunge. Really Reach through the right fingertips and work on opening your heart.
  • Release your right hand back down. Slide the right foot back, coming into tabletop once more.
  • Plant your left foot between your hands. Keep your right knee on the ground. Lift up into low lunge. Arms can be overhead or on your hips.
  • Shift your weight back, straightening your left leg, keeping the left heel connected to the mat, flexing the foot, coming into a half hamstring stretch.
  • Shift forward again into your low lunge.
  • Place your right palm on the mat next to your left foot and lift your left hand to the sky – revolved low lunge.
  • Release your left hand back down to the mat. Slide the left foot back, passing through tabletop, as you rest your hips down onto the feet and melt your heart down to the mat for child’s pose.
  • Lift back to tabletop. Feeling strong, lift the hips up and back, creating a lovely V shape with your body for down dog.
  • Slowly walk your feet toward your hands, coming into a standing forward fold. Once there, maybe grab opposite elbows for rag doll.
  • Roll up to standing.
  • Feeling grounded and strong in your right leg, bring the sole of the left foot onto the right inner calf, opening the knee out to the side. This is tree. If you’d like more of a challenge, bring the foot higher to touch  the inner thigh. Arms can reach overhead or stay in prayer in front of your heart. Lift through the crown of the head, creating length in the spine.
  • Release your left foot back to the mat.
  • Ground through the left foot, and when you’re ready, bring the sole of the right foot to to the left inner calf. Try a different arm position this time.
  • Release your right foot back to the mat.
  • Ground through your right foot and lift the left heel back toward your tush. Grab the inner arch with your left hand and begin to open up into dancer pose. To find more extension here, push the left foot into the left hand as you tilt forward slightly. Use your right arm as a counterbalance as it reaches up and forward.
  • Release and shake it out.
  • Ground through your left foot and lift the right heel back. Grab the inner arch with your right hand for dancer. Remember as you work on the pose that your two sides might feel different. Maybe you can go farther on this side; maybe you can’t. It’s ok.
  • Release and shake it out.
  • Meeting in a standing position toward the front of the mat, widen the feet out to the edge of your mat. With hands in prayer in front of your heart, slowly lower the hips down for a yogic squat. The elbows can help push the knees back for a deeper stretch.
  • Release your hands and lower onto your bum.
  • Keeping a flat back, engage your core and lift your feet off the mat. Lean back slightly, creating a V, for upward facing boat.
  • Gently release the pose and lower all the way onto your back, returning to where we began in corpse pose.

Enjoy!

-L

Loaded Baked Potato

Loaded Baked Potato from Relish the Feast

After three 12+ hour days at work this week, I wanted nothing more than to curl up on the couch with a yummy dish and watch some back episodes of The Daily Show. Enter: Loaded Bake Potatoes. This is a classic comfort food that each person can customize. It takes a little longer than some meals, but your actual hands-on time is very short – perfect for lounging while you cook.

The base of this dish is the baked potato. Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Clean 1 potato per person at a minimum. Stab it a few times to allow for venting while it bakes. Place each potato on a sheet of aluminum foil. Before you fold the package up, spritz the potato with Pam or drizzle a small amount of olive oil on it and sprinkle a little salt on it. Wrap up each potato tightly. Set the potato packs directly on the rack in the oven. Bake for 45-60 minutes.

For the toppings, the world is your oyster. I used the following: sour cream, margarine, cheddar cheese, dill, salt, turkey bacon, green onion and a sauteed mixture of corn, peas and mushrooms.

Enjoy!

-L

DIY – Patriotic Door Decoration

Patriotic Door Hanger from Relish the Feast

The Fourth of July is nearly here, and that means red, white & blue everywhere. On Pinterest, I saw this cute decoration, which inspired me to update my front door. Using that as the inspriation, I made this simple DIY using items I had in the house, which = free! Total time spent: less than an hour. #winning (Is that still a thing? Probably not.)

What you’ll need:

  • A wooden dowel, stick, rod of some kind, roughly 1.5 feet in length. (I really wanted to use a stick from the woods, but we’ve had rain every day. Wet stick = no bueno for crafting. I used an extra paint stirrer that I had around.)
  • Variety of scrap fabric/ribbon/etc. in red, white and blue
  • Drill (optional)
  • Red, white and/or blue paint (optional)

Directions:

  • Drill a hole on each end of your stick where the ribbon hanger will attach. This is optional. The alternate option will be to tie the hanger all the way around the stick in order to hang it.
  • Paint the stick. Again, optional. My stick color was boring, so I painted it. If you are painting your stick, wait until it is dry to attach the fabric/ribbon/etc.
  • Cut the red and white fabric/ribbon/etc. into strips that are about 2 feet in length. No need to be exact.
  • Cut the blue fabric/ribbon/etc. into strips that are about 1 foot in length.
  • Attached the strips of fabric/ribbon/etc. to the stick, staying inside the drill holes or point where you’ll attach the hanger. Alternate red and white along the length of the stick. Only do blue on the left third. That’s your field of blue like the flag. I looped the strips through themselves and tugged until they were tight. For the small, shiny ribbon, I had to tie a knot to secure it. (Alternately, you could cut your blue strips the same length as the red and white ones and only use blue on the left third. Get creative!)

Ties for hanger - Relish the Feast

  • Cut an extra strip of fabric/ribbon/etc. to use for the hanger. Slide one end through each of the holes and tie a knot on the backside to keep the hanger from slipping out of the hole. (If you didn’t drill holes, just tie the strip onto your stick.)
  • Hang it up and celebrate the Fourth in style.

Back tie for hanger - Relish the Feast

Enjoy! If you make one for your home, I’d love to see it. Share it with me (@relishthefeast) on Instagram.

-L

Banana Rice Porridge

Banana Rice Porridge from Relish the Feast

This dish was a happy accident. It began as cheater maduros, which is a Caribbean sweet plantain dish that I alter and make with bananas. Then it was going to be bananas in coconut milk, a Thai dish. As frequently happens in  kitchen, I ended up with something totally different. Creamy, sweet, more of a rice porridge. Delicious fresh out of the pan for dessert or breakfast.

Ingredients

  • 2-3 ripe bananas, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1-2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1-2 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 1 can full fat coconut milk
  • 2 cups day-old cooked jasmine rice

Directions

  • Melt butter in a large sauce pan on medium heat.
  • Add bananas and stir until the bananas are golden and shimmering.
  • Sprinkle brown sugar and cinnamon on the bananas. Stir.
  • Pour coconut milk into the pan and keep stirring while it warms up. Feel free to mash the bananas a little if they aren’t doing it on their own already.
  • Slowly add the rice, continuing to stir (think paella). You don’t want anything to burn, but you want it nice and steamy.
  • Stir until the mixture is pudding-esque. You don’t want standing liquid. Then remove from heat and dish up.

Consistency - Relish the Feast

I topped this with pecans at breakfast, and it added a great texture and heartiness. It would also be good with other nuts, sliced fruit or a small, small drizzle of honey. Enjoy!

-L

Cosplay: Steampunk March Hare Concept

2014 DragonCon photo by Wade Bishop Photography

DragonCon, a convention similar to Comic-Con that takes place around Labor Day each year in Atlanta, is a mere 3 months away. It’s a crazy jumble of experiences that I highly recommend if you enjoy people-watching, creativity and/or costuming. (Or sci-fi, comics, fantasy, steampunk, anime, gaming, alternate history, space, robotics, etc., etc., etc.) Describing it succinctly and wholly is a monumental task, so Google it for yourself.

2014 DragonCon Outfits with Relish the Feast

This will be my second year attending. For a newbie last year, I think I set my bar high by agreeing to create 2 costumes. My takeaway from that? Totally worth it. Totally fun. Totally need to start making the things earlier. Ideally, I would already be constructing something or done with an outfit; however, I only recently drew out my concept for 1 of the 2 cosplay outfits I plan to wear this year. (That’s me as Kaylee from Firefly and as Vanellope von Schweetz from Wreak It Ralph.)

Steampunk March Hare Concept by Relish the Feast

This is my initial concept drawing for one of this year’s outfits: a female steampunk March Hare from Alice in Wonderland. The color palate will include maroons, oranges, browns, gold and blue. Starting at the top, let’s dissect.

  • Jaunty ears
  • Headband of straw (an homage to the original work where the March Hare was depicted with straw on his head which was a sign of madness in that time)
  • Large silky bow tie
  • Faux metal, ornamental collar
  • Necklace TBD
  • Short sleeve button up most likely
  • Corset
  • Crop jacket with half sleeves and ruffled
  • Spoon bracelets
  • Skirt with a poofy longer back
  • Weapons belt with ladle and tea cup
  • Tall socks
  • Lace up boots that hit mid-calf

Wish me luck! I am not an experienced seamstress, but I can follow directions and love a good YouTube tutorial. I’m sure I’ll learn a lot during this process, and I’ll be scouring area thrift stores to see what I can find to save some time and effort. I’ll keep you posted on the progress.

Enjoy! Mad thanks to Wade Bishop Photography for letting me use some of his images in this post!

-L