31 Dec 2012

EAT, PRAY, LOVE IN THE NEW YEAR

My journal was given to me several years ago by a dear friend who had lugged it back from India in her backpack. The day it was given to me was the day I finished reading Eat, Pray, Love. We started the Journal Project last month at Prairie Yogi Magazine. So here I sit, lounging on a sail boat anchored off of Cobia Island in the South Pacific (so Eat, Pray, Love of me- right?) writing in my journal.

From time to time, I'll look back at older entries. In the very first few pages of my journal I had transcribed two excepts from Eat, Pray, Love. I seem to always go back and skim over them at just the right time in my life. I wanted to share them with you and if one – or both- resonate with you, I encourage you to transcribe them in your own journal. They've been awesome navigation points for me if I'm feeling a little unbalanced or unsteady in my life.

Petitioning the Universe
I explained to Iva my personal opinions about prayer. Namely, that I don't feel comfortable petitioning for specific things from God, because that feels to me like a kind of weakness of faith. I don't like asking “Will you change this or that in my life that's difficult for me? Because who knows?- God might want me to be facing that particular challenge for a reason. Instead I feel more comfortable praying for the courage to face whatever occurs in my life with equanimity, no matter how things turn out.

Iva listened politely, then asked, “Where'd you get that stupid idea?”
What do you mean?”
Where did you get the idea that you aren't allowed to petition to the universe with prayer? You are a part of the universe, Liz. You're a constituent- you have every entitlement to participate in the actions of the universe, and to let your feelings be known. So put your opinion out there. Make your case. Believe me. It will be at least taken into consideration.”

Relationships
I have a history of making decisions very quickly about a man. I have always fallen in love fast and without measuring risks. I have a tendency not only to see the best in everyone, but to assume that everyone is emotionally capable of reaching his highest potential. I have fallen in love more times than I care to count with the highest potential of a man, rather than the man himself, and then have hung on to the relationship for a long time (sometime far too long) waiting for the man to ascend to his own greatness. Many times in romance I have been a victim of my own optimism.

Ending the calendar year is always so much fun and it's one of my favourite times to write in my journal. I list all of the goals I've accomplished this year, note the changes in my life and plan my intentions for the year to come. I'm a strong believer in the law of attraction, and for me, writing down my intentions always seem to keep me on track with what I want to have manifest in my life. Do you use intention/inspiration boards to attract things into your life? Has it worked?

Happy 2013!

Reporting and sending love to all of our Prairie Yogis from Cobia Island, Fiji!

Monique


Monique Pantel is a photographer, writer and passionate yogi living in Winnipeg, Canada. She also happens to be the online editor and creative director for Prairie Yogi Magazine. Monique loves to create, whether it's writing, cooking, painting, photography or free-styling fun sequences on the yoga mat!
Find Monique online at her website here.

22 Dec 2012

TO GIVE OR NOT TO GIVE

Just like that, yes, the holidays are in full effect. With the big day only days away, many of us are still preparing by cooking, baking, buying, wrapping, checking off lists, and dashing out here, there and everywhere. So what is that we are really preparing for? What is it that you are really giving or not giving this holiday season? Self admittedly, I use to get so wrapped up in all the details of my table display the perfectly creased edges of all my meticulously wrapped gifts, and making sure that everyone on my shopping list was taken care of and that I had spent an equal monetary amount on everyone! This year, and over the past few years, my perspectives have started to shift.

I knew the holidays were coming fast and furious as they always do but I found myself not even allowing the stresses of the holiday season to cross my mind. Instead, I find myself enjoying the time and the choices that I've made to prepare. All the while knowing that these things don't have to be prefect. This way, I don't lose myself in trying to please everyone that I think needs pleasing. I am able to really give who I am and be present. I can take the time to spend quality time with those who mean something in my life. I don't feel guilty about stepping on my yoga mat thinking I should be somewhere else preparing for something else.


The journey of yoga will take each of us to many different places, lighting up new paths, placing new obstacles before us, forcing us to spend time inside of our bodies while learning what it feels like to be honest. Ultimately, finding out that if you are honest you can be real, and if you are real you can be true.


So this holiday season, in the spirit of giving, be true to you and give to yourself by letting go of the expectations of what you think should be happening. Dash through the snow instead of the mall. Spend time mindfully with someone you love instead of spending money. Be present right now instead of giving a gift. And lastly, be grateful for all the moments you've been given and don't forget to do some yoga. 



Written by Mei-Ling Chow-Mintenko

Mei-Ling Chow-Mintenko lives in Moose Jaw, Canada. She teaches yoga at Body in Mind Yoga. Mei-Ling is a proud mother to her little boy, Sam. Her favourite thing about being a mom is getting to watch Sam grow and share yoga with him. Mei-Ling loves to teach what resonates with her and to share the journey of yoga both on her yoga mat, in the studio and in writing. 
You can find Mei-Ling here.

17 Dec 2012

“I Love You” Chocolate Banana Gingerbread Cake


December is the best time of year to bake. Winter is setting in, and what better way to warm up the house than with delectable smells emanating from the oven? This is the time of year to be gathered close to those you love, so with some gingerbread cake on a plate accompanied with a pot of tea, invite your family and friends over! There are few things that communicate your love as clearly as something sweet and delicious.

Last year during this time, I had a dalliance with chocolate gingerbread, and this year the courtship continues. However, having had a whole year to mature my culinary capabilities, I think I have arrived upon a new rendition that approaches the zenith of gingerbread glory. This latest version uses freshly grated ginger and nutmeg to accentuate their warm flavours against the dark sweetness of molasses, while the addition of bananas keeps the cake moist but light. As with most good things, patience is required: a low baking temperature is used to bake the dense gingerbread through the middle without burning the outside. I love the symbolism of a circle for representing unity and togetherness, so I baked my gingerbread in a round cake pan. If you aren't as hung up on metaphor as me, you can be practical and bake it in a shallow rectangular dish, which would probably reduce the baking time and ensure even baking.

I relish the comfort and security that tradition can bring, so my plan is to bake some version of gingerbread each year from hereon as my own way of embracing holiday ritual. I am so pleased with this year's version, but of course there is always the potential for change (as our yoga practices remind us!), and perhaps next year it will be the same, but different. Until then, I plan to offer this up with warm fuzzy feelings to my loved ones.
------

“I Love You” Chocolate Banana Gingerbread Cake

3 ripe bananas (frozen and then thawed)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup molasses
1 egg
1-1/2 cups milk
1 cup brown sugar
4 tsp white sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg (a rasp or Microplane does the best job)
1 tsp freshly grated ginger
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cocoa
icing sugar (optional, for dusting)

In a large mixing bowl, mash the bananas. (I tend to freeze super ripe ones and then thaw them later - this way I'm not pressured to use them before the fruit flies appear on the counter, and more importantly they are super mushy after this freeze/thaw process.) Add the oil, molasses, egg, and milk. Whisk together until homogenous.

In a separate bowl, combine all the dry ingredients (sugars, spices, baking powder, flour, cocoa). Add the dry ingredients to the wet ones and mix with a spatula until just combined. If you really want to go all out, mix in some chocolate chips - everyone will think that your cake is the cat's whiskers. Pour the batter into a greased baking pan and bake at 300 F for 40-50 minutes. Baking time will depend on the size of your pan and how spread out the batter is. If a longer baking time is required, increase the oven heat to 350 F. Mine took a looong time to bake (over an hour), so if you are energy conscious you might want to bake a casserole for dinner at the same time. Or dry your clothes in the oven. Or something.

The cake is finished when the top is dry to the touch and a knife or skewer comes out of the middle cleanly. Let cool thoroughly before dusting with icing sugar. Doing this while it is snowing outside makes the activity extra romantic. Serve with love.

Written by Adrienne Shum
Photos by David Quiring

Adrienne Shum is a yoga instructor, an Ayurvedic lifestyle counsellor, and has a Masters in Food Science. She likes to cook, bake, and plan dinner parties. When she is not in the kitchen she is sewing leather pouches and journals (www.facebook.com/branniganandbarry). Please contact her for Ayurvedic nutrition consultations and upcoming workshop dates at adrienne.shum@gmail.com.






Fuelled by an ever growing passion for visual storytelling, David Quiring documents a gamut of life experiences through photography and cinematography. Alongside his photography, David maintains a strong personal yoga and meditation practice, deeply rooted in the principles of Yin yoga. He embraces the opportunity to teach Yin and share the lessons from his own journey, as he believes that the quiet form of Yin is a welcome and necessary complement to the busy Yang lifestyles that people often lead. Find David and his works at www.davidquiring.com.


13 Dec 2012

KEEP YOUR COOL OVER THE HOLIDAYS!



Jingle bells and mistletoe have arrived- but so has the added stress involved with the extra activity December brings. Winter holidays can be a busy time with all the parties, shopping, planning, and baking we want to do. Though this extra activity can be a fun thing, it can also lead to stress and sensory overload. This time of year is the perfect time to find tools to balance our minds, bodies, and spirits.

Yoga, meditation, and conscious breathing are lifesavers during times of stress. The health benefits are instant. Try it: next time you’re feeling stressed, stop and take my Five-Alive break. Find a quiet, comfortable space to sit. Inhale for a count of five, hold for a count of five, and exhale for a count of five, and hold once again for five. Repeat for five times.

Here are 3 more ways yoga, meditation, and breathing can bring calm over the holidays:

1. Do Viparita Karani
Aka legs-up-the-wall pose when you need a break. This pose helps to calm the sympathetic nervous system, the fight-or-flight system, and activates the parasympathetic nervous system, the rest-and-digest system. It also gives your heart a rest by pumping the blood from your lower body back to your heart with ease. Put on your favourite song and hang out upside-down for a bit. Bound to help you face a challenge with a proactive perspective.

2. Take it one step further and find a restorative yoga class. 
Not only will you get to do poses like Viparita Karani but other supportive postures just like it. Restorative yoga uses various props, bolsters, blocks, and blankets, to help you relax in poses such as a twist and child’s pose. The benefits of restorative yoga come with long holds and deep breathing.

3. Find a quiet space and take two minutes or more of meditation at the start or end of your day. 
Don’t forget to set a timer—this way you won’t wonder how much time has passed. Find a comfortable position and an even rhythm to your breath and soak in the silence. You can also silently repeat a mantra, like “let” on the inhale and “go” on the exhale, or a word you would like to cultivate in your day, like inhale/exhale “peace.” If you get carried away with thought, notice and bring your attention back to breath for the remaining period of time.

I hope you find these three tools helpful in dealing with the busyness of the holidays. Remember to take care of yourself first so that you are better equipped to take care of and love those around you. 
Keep calm and carol on!

 Lynette is a 500-hr certified yoga teacher, specializing in meditation and restorative yoga. She also has a BA in Communications, works as a freelance photographer, writer, and communications/social media consultant. She is from Saskatoon but loves to experience the world around her and has lived in Mexico and Montreal to name a few.

Lynette is the Saskatoon Community Coordinator for Power of Movement—a national event that raises money for arthritis and autoimmune disease research.

5 Dec 2012

GIVE THE GIFT OF SHRI - THE JOURNAL PROJECT CONTEST

We at PYM know that this season of giving and abundance can be hard on the wallet, and we want to help you out...

We are giving away a custom made Shri Of Life cowel (worth $120) that you can use as a gift or for yourself!
All you have to do to WIN is comment on Prairie Yogi's The Journal Projectwith your favourite intention or yoga story. Every comment counts as one entry!

Be sure to 'like' Shri of Life on Facebook, where artist and prairie yogini Corey-Jill shares her intentions and inspirations regularly.

Contest closes Thursday, December 13 so enter today.

Love + Light + Laughter

3 Dec 2012

TOP 3 WAYS TO ENJOY THE OUTDOORS THIS WINTER- SNOWGA!


The prairies are notorious for those northern winds sweeping across the plains, wind-chills that dip below -40C and snow that piles higher than your waist. 

Now, for most people, the thought of a climate like that has them running straight to the fireplace with blankets and hot chocolate in tow. But, Prairie Yogis have a fun alternative that lets you enjoy the prairie chill- SNOWGA!

How do Prairie Yogis keep warm in the winter?...

#1 We dress for the weather and for play!
The real downer in cold weather isn't the cold itself- it's your gear not being warm enough! Dress in     comfortable, breathable clothing that protects you against the elements. Mocassins, warm toques, mittens and ski pants are just a few of our outdoor must-haves.

#2 We find a fun location!
Go and explore your area. There may be parks, small forests or paths you've never taken before. Make your outing adventurous! Sometimes we're lucky enough to see deer and other wildlife within the city limits! 

#3 We bring some friends!
The holidays are known for a time of over-indulgence. Get quality time with your friends and family by having an adventure outdoors! Try some snowga!





Monique Pantel is a photographer, writer and passionate yogi living in Winnipeg, Canada. She also happens to be the online editor and creative director for Prairie Yogi Magazine. Monique loves to create, whether it's writing, cooking, painting, photography or freestyling fun sequences on the yoga mat!
Find Monique online at her website here.