Ooooooooooooooooommmmmmmm. I repeated that many times this week, along with lots of downward facing dogs, deep breaths and goddess poses (Kathy M, if you read this, please do not critique the pose I am portraying in the picture. I know it needs work!). For my time off this month, I decided on a practice that's become popular in the sluggish economy - a "staycation". I didn't stay home all week, but I did stay local. I had originally considered going to Boulder to visit my friend Lauri and spend a night at a yoga retreat center outside of Fort Collins, but I traveled a couple of times for work in May and I just didn't feel like getting on a plane again. So, I looked into Kripalu, a yoga center out in the Berkshires, less than a 3 hour drive from Boston. I had heard lots about it over the years and thought it was time I check it out. They offer lots of topical programs that focus mostly on yoga and health, but I decided to just go for the program-free Retreat and Renewal where you can attend yoga classes and other talks and workshops throughout the day.
When I first made my reservations, I booked a three night stay, but then I was hearing mixed reviews about the place, and realized I was going to miss Bike Night at Redbones, so I cut it back to two. I went in with very low expectations, and I think this tactic worked because I ended up having a very nice time. I enjoyed the yoga classes I took, had a couple of healing arts treatments, learned about Ayurvedic practices, sampled lots of the healthy food options, and met a new friend, Jennifer, from Maine.
The first thing I noticed when I got there is that everyone was walking around and looking up, totally aware of their surroundings, meaning they weren't texting or talking on the phone while going from one place to the next. There are very strict rules about where one can talk on a cell phone. Even as a self-proclaimed text addict, I found this to be very pleasant. In many ways they try to draw you into the moment, to be mindful of what you're doing. Even breakfast is totally silent. Imagine being in a large dining hall, with hundreds of people in it, and they are all just eating - not even reading or playing games on their phone. I'm all for technology, but it was nice to have a break. Of course, I'll admit I was playing Scrabble and texting the second I got into my room, but I put my phone away the rest of the time.
I'm not sure if I'll text less now that I'm home, but I am looking to work meditation into my daily routine. I also bought a cookbook to continue my exploration on the topic. You may see some recipes in the near future. Again, I was reminded to eat fresh food as much as possible. While I do a decent job with this, I think I can do a bit better.
Since I had some free time upon my return, I decided to make my own granola. I've been meaning to do this for a while and thought it a perfect task during a staycation. It came out pretty tasty, so here it is. I took it from one of my Moosewood cookbooks (Cooking for Health). I hope you enjoy it. Namaste.
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup honey or pure maple syrup ( I used agave nectar)
1 tspn salt
1 tblsp pure vanilla extract
2 cups coarsely chopped nuts
6 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup sunflower or pumpkin seeds
2 tbslpn brown sesame seeds (I didn't have any, so didn't use)
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut (optional, but I did use)
1. Preheat the oven to 325.
2. In a small saucepan on low heat, warm the oil and sweetener of choice. Stir in the vanilla.
3. Place the oats nuts and seeds in a large bowl. While stirring, gradually pour in the warm oil mixture until everything is coated.
4. Spread the granola on an un-oiled baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes, stirring after 20 minutes.
5. Remove from the oven and stir every 10 minutes or so, until cool to prevent clumping.