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Finding a Bit of Tranquility in the City of Brotherly Love

Feb 12, 2012   //   by Yoga Lisa DC   //   Blog, vacation, Yoga  //  No Comments

Every February I make my way to the city of brotherly love, Philadelphia, to attend one of my fraternity’s annual leadership conferences. This February, I also made my way to find a dose of tranquility. I arrived in Philly at 8:15 AM yesterday and after settling in a bit, I met up with one of my first Tranquil Space (“TS”) teachers, Colleen at Dhyana Yoga to take an all-levels vinyasa class together. (We actually have been planning this for over three months.)

We went to Justin’s class at the Rittenhouse studio. It was exactly what I needed yesterday – a perfectly paced, challenging, core-building, sweat-producing yoga class. It’s been a while since I sweat this much and it felt great. We started the class right off with slow (5 breath) navasana crunches. The sequencing was intense at times, a lot on one leg, and holding poses for five long breaths before transitioning – but that was all part of the challenge. Justin emphasized not only finding your edge in each asana and listening to your body, but also pushing up against the edge to see if you can find a new edge. Although I wasn’t finding my way into handstand at each opportunity that arose, I did find myself having done over 120 navasana crunches to build core strength, flying into bakasana (crane), twisting and flying into parsva bakasana (side crow), and pushing myself beyond where I might otherwise stop. It was awesome. Next time I’m in Philly, I will be going back.

My brunch - the Healthy Elvis - it was delicious

After class, Colleen and I met up with a former TS tranquility concierge – Lisa, who’s also in Philly now, at Continental for brunch. Lisa’s been pursuing her 200-hr certification at Dhyana Yoga and Colleen is actually exploring one of their immersion trainings. We enjoyed a delicious brunch, while talking about yoga, teacher training, and life. It was really cool how Tranquil Space brought us all together. I even brought some of the new TS flair for them (maybe you can see it in the picture of the three of us).

Lisa, Colleen, & Lisa

After brunch, Colleen headed home, while Lisa and I made our way down Walnut Street to do some shopping. We had a great time making our way into Lululemon and then getting a little lost in Athleta – we found a few too many great pieces to outfit us for teaching and taking class, even bought a matching top, because it was just too cute. It was so much fun.

pants and patterned top from Athleta, blue & gray top and gray top from Lululemon

After the great afternoon out and about, i headed back to my conference. I had such a wonderfuk afternoon. I am definitely planning to get back up to Philly again soon for another visit filled with yoga, friends, and shopping.

A little bit of retail therapy

Feb 9, 2012   //   by Yoga Lisa DC   //   Blog, self-care  //  No Comments

Every woman knows that there are those days when you just need a little bit of retail therapy to make everything perfect again. And truly, retail therapy isn’t all about shopping. It’s sometimes just about taking time away to spend with your friends or a few minutes out just for yourself.

Last Saturday was one of those days for me. My friend Alison and I headed down to Potomac Mills in Woodbridge, VA. We walked the Mills, making stops at H&M, Gymboree, and Ann Taylor, just to name a few. Here are some of the fruits of our retail therapy expedition and I’m quite happy to say, not all of these are for me.

my new chair from our stop at Ikea - so incredibly comfortable to knit, read, and watch TV in

new going out and work tops from Ann Taylor Factory Outlet

a fruitful trip to Banana Republic Outlet... so looking forward to lounging in this sweatshirt and the dress will be adorable for the office...

some more going out tops procured at H&M... maybe a top for some future alumni gatherings

i may have had a little too much fun in Gymboree... bright side, some of this will be saved for Christmas.

So, you could say, I had a just a little bit of fun shopping on Saturday. I don’t do it very often any more, but when I do, I have lots of fun. And besides, who can beat time out with the girls, sometimes that is the true “therapy” in retail therapy.

When was your last retail therapy trip? Have one planned sometime soon?

A Yogini’s Knitting Corner

Feb 8, 2012   //   by Yoga Lisa DC   //   Blog, creativity, knitting  //  No Comments

So, it’s been a couple weeks since I’ve posted and that’s mostly because it’s the same three projects that I’ve been working on. Blankets, in general, take a while to make and when working three projects at a time, it is difficult to get anything finished – the benefits and drawbacks of multi-tasking. I have had a great couple weeks though – I got together with my friends to knit a few times (okay, with Alison two or three times and then the rest of the girls for our monthly knitting gathering) and I had a yarn accessory consultation with my friend Valerie. After making my friend, Julia’s scarf, and my mentor’s yoga socks, I told Valerie, I’d be happy to make her something too.

Julia's scarf... my first "commissioned" project

my mentor's yoga socks

the yarn for the accessory consultation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

the winner... Classic Elite Cotton Bam Boo in Providence Pink for a set of full length arm warmers

Valerie asked me for full length arm warmers in one of my favorite yarns. As soon as I finish at least two of my outstanding projects, I’ll be getting to work on these for her and probably a pair for myself in a different color. I can’t wait to design these and get them started.

I also got to have a morning of creative play – knitting with the girls. It enabled me to get some more work done on my bigger projects. I’m much further along on the blanket for my niece than a week ago. See the progress below:

 

 

 

this picture: I had 152 rows left to complete

this picture: I have 100 rows left to complete

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While I’ve been busy with the blanket, my friends have also been keeping very busy. Eve worked on her very intricate sweater when we met up to knit on Sunday. Alison has been working on a few different projects, the scarf below is one of four that she has in process.

Alison's infinity striped scarf in Berroco Bonsai yarn (colors 4155 and 4103)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When was your last afternoon of creative play? What’s your favorite activity for those kind of afternoons?

Another Afternoon of Art Journaling

Feb 6, 2012   //   by Yoga Lisa DC   //   Art Journaling, Blog, creativity, self-care  //  1 Comment

Saturday's art journaling workspace... a.k.a. a table at Starbucks

This last weekend was quite busy and quite fun. It involved a trip to Potomac Mills, an afternoon of art journaling, and a morning of knitting with the girls. After a morning of some retail therapy with Alison (check for a post later this week on that little expedition), I met up with Valerie for an afternoon of art journaling.  The girls are meeting up later this month and due to some scheduling conflicts I won’t be able to attend, so we set aside some time at the beginning of this month to catch up, tear some images, and do some journaling.

The afternoon was pretty icky, so it was nice to be seated inside with a cup of hot tea and good company. And unlike my last afternoon of art journaling, I was completely ready to get to work on pages. I tore some images and articles out of one magazine, but then, I started to put some pages together. Today, I was ready to find inspiration and start pulling a mis-mash of images collected from previous afternoons together. I found myself pulling together ideas of where i want to be, searching for my personal style, and reminding myself of some of my intentions for the year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was a really fun afternoon. I expressed my creativity, caught up with a friend, and stayed warm on a cold and rainy Saturday. I even had an accessory consultation (check out my yogini’s knitting corner for the details). I really enjoy my mornings, afternoons, and evenings of creative play – knitting, art journaling, cooking. For this particular Saturday, it was a really nice way to spend the afternoon and I’m really looking forward to more afternoons of creative play coming up soon.

When was your last afternoon of creative play?

Adventures in Cooking… sweetened quinoa

Feb 5, 2012   //   by Yoga Lisa DC   //   Blog, food, meditation  //  2 Comments

Sweetened Quinoa

For a while I’ve been striving to cook at home at least a couple times a week and to eat at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables everyday. Well, a few weeks ago I tried something new. My dad has pulled every breakfast quinoa recipe that he has found for the last couple years and sent them home with me. And in the last couple of years, I read them and then put them in a binder. I finally took some inspiration from those recipes and got a little adventurous in the kitchen – I made some sweetened quinoa. And after I tried a very basic recipe, I then decided that I would get a little more creative with it. Here’s my “more creative” recipe:

  • 1 cup coconut milk or vanilla almond milk
  • ½ cup quinoa
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • ½ tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger (if desired, said to aid in digestion)
  • 1 cup peeled and chopped small butternut squash or pumpkin or 1 cup chopped apple

1. Bring “milk” to a boil (watch carefully as it does tend to over boil). Add quinoa and stir constantly for 10 to 12 minutes until grain has fully absorbed the milk and is soft. After finished cooking add maple syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger.

2. Place squash or apple in microwave for 3 minutes to cook through and soften. Add cooked squash or apple to quinoa mixture. Stir in and enjoy.

3. Adjust spices for preferred taste level. Can be made in a large batch and refrigerated in small portions for heating up later in the day or the week. Stores well for up to 7 days.

I added the cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger after taking a workshop on Ayurveda and learning that they are great for helping balance almost all of the ayurvedic constitutions. And honestly, it gives it a nice taste, which does help me cut back on the amount of sweetener I add,

I had a lot of fun making it, even cleaning up the boiled over almond and coconut milk. And since I really had to watch this, making this recipe was definitely an exercise in mindfulness and I’m actually happy it was. Being more present when I cook, helps turn the basic act of cooking into a meditative experience. I am always looking for more opportunities to bring meditation into my life and if this can be another one, that’s just an added benefit.

I had been making this for my daily breakfasts, but then I got lazy. I am planning on making it again soon. It helps me save money during the week (fewer soy lattes = more money for other things) and is a lot healthier for me, since I can watch exactly what I put in it. I’m also hoping that breakfasts are just the beginning of more home-cooked meals. And I’m looking forward to making more variations of this breakfast quinoa.

What were your last adventures in the kitchen? Do you follow recipes or just play it by ear? What are your favorite home-cooked breakfasts?

It’s tea time… again…

Feb 2, 2012   //   by Yoga Lisa DC   //   Blog, tea  //  No Comments

I got a few different varieties of tea for Christmas this year. Among them was a wonderful set of flowering teas by Numi from one of my friends. The set came with this adorable glass tea pot (can’t boil water in the pot, so just add hot water – perfect for use in the office) and 6 flowering teas. So this tea time post is the first of a two part series featuring these flowering teas. This post will feature… Shooting Star, Sunset Oolong, and Golden Jasmine.

Shooting Star

Shooting Star – green tea and pink Amaranth bulbs have a buttery fragrance with fruity notes.

I decided that I would try to enjoy these in the order that they appear on the side of the tea box, since on the inside of the box none of the teas are individually labeled, just individually packaged. It’s definitely fun watching the tea ball “blossom” and the tea in the glass pot is beautiful to look at. (I’m looking forward to making the second Flower Craft from In Pursuit of Tea in this tea pot and seeing how pretty it will look.) The tea has a really nice flavor too. It has the caffeine kick that I want from a green tea with a little bit of a flowery, fruity undertone from the Amaranth. This tea tastes good and the pot is a natural strainer, so no tea leaves in the cup that I was drinking. I’m excited to use it for some of my other loose-leaf teas once I finish the flowering teas. This Shooting Star lived up to its name and gave me a nice bit of entertainment as I started the work day. (And as the package suggests, I was able to steep these tea leaves 2 more times before changing to the next variety.)

Sunset Oolong

Sunset Oolong – oolong tea leaves and Lily flower have a nutty richness highlighted by peach.

After enjoying the Shooting Star, I decided that I’d try the Sunset Oolong. The bloom was really beautiful, although I was a little bummed that it didn’t rest at the bottom of the little tea pot on the initial bloom – oh well. The tea was quite good. I don’t drink Oolong all the time, so it was a nice bit of variety. As the description mentions, this tea has a certain richness to it. I don’t know that I taste the nuttiness or even the peach, but there’s a decadence about it. Teas like this are good when you want to feel like you are indulging, but don’t want the calories or “guilt” that can come with indulging. It’s quite enjoyable.

Golden Jasmine – Golden-tipped black tea scented with delicate Jasmine imparts hints of chocolate.

Flower Craft

This black tea had a subtle flavor. I could definitely taste the jasmine, but didn’t really taste those hints of chocolate. It was light and refreshing though, which is not my regular experience with black teas. It took a while for this one to bloom, but once it did, it was pretty to look at. And this was a nice variation on the green tea with jasmine that I would usually drink. It was definitely a pleasure and something that I could see myself enjoying when I need a pick-me-up in the middle of a long workday.

And after I enjoyed these teas, I did enjoy the rest of the Flower Craft that I had left. Doesn’t it look even prettier in the glass tea pot?

A Yogini’s Knitting Corner

Jan 25, 2012   //   by Yoga Lisa DC   //   Blog, creativity, knitting, meditation  //  No Comments

arm warmers made with S. Charles Collezione Venus yarn

This last week, I’ve done a bunch of knitting. I finished the arm warmers for my colleague’s daughter, who was a great arm model (see the pics). I’ve spent some more time working on the baby blanket, there is still a ton to go, but it’s coming along nicely. I’ve also gotten further with my uncle’s scarf and started a pair of leg warmers for myself.

such a great arm model, don't the arm warmers look great?!

It’s been a quieter week as I haven’t finished many projects, but I keep moving along with the ones that I have in process. Here’s a sneak peak at the progress on those other projects.

still a lot more work to do on this baby blanket

 

 

 

 

 

baby pink leg warmers - in process

 

basket weave scarf for my uncle

 

I’m looking forward to finishing these in the next few weeks, so I can move forward with a few other projects on my 2012 project list. And there are more knitting creative gatherings on the horizon too, so hopefully I’ll be sharing some more of my friends’ projects too.

Do you have any projects on the horizon? What are you working on this week?

It’s tea time… again…

Jan 24, 2012   //   by Yoga Lisa DC   //   Blog, tea  //  No Comments

My aunt (okay, not really my aunt, but my mother’s best friend for 50+ years, who I call my aunt) and her husband are both avid tea drinkers. For months, they have been trying to get me to try their favorite tea brand – In Pursuit of Tea. I hadn’t gotten around to ordering tea from there, but they took care of that problem by giving me some In Pursuit of Tea for Christmas. I’ve really been enjoying the teas that they gave me and thought that I would share. So, this edition of tea time features In Pursuit of Tea… Flower Craft, White Peony (Shou Mei), and Elder Flower.

Flower craft - beautiful blooming tea

Flower Craft – green tea, various Chinese flowers.

Flower craft - before it expands

I got an entire set of flowering teas for Christmas with a beautiful glass tea pot to watch the flowers bloom. I wish I had that tea pot the morning I decided to give Flower Craft a try. The tea comes in this tightly wound up ball and I didn’t really know what I was expecting. So I added hot water and as the tea pouch said, I watched the show. It was incredible. This tiny little compact bud came to life. It was gorgeous to watch, but I couldn’t watch it forever, so I finally removed the bud and took a sip of the tea. It had a great flavor and I’m happy to say that even with enjoying the show, I didn’t over steep the tea. This is a very delicate green tea, with subtle notes of the flowers that were in the package of tea leaves. It was a nice accompaniment to my breakfast the day I tried this. With only one bud left to steep though, I’ve decided I’ll save it for when I can observe it bloom in the glass tea pot. This was a very enjoyable green tea and the little caffeine kick that I needed the morning I enjoyed it.

White Peony

White Peony (Shou Mei) – white tea

As you’ve probably read before, I prefer lighter teas (not that I don’t like black teas, but white teas are almost always my preference). And this tea is a nice light and slightly flowery white tea. The package describes it as having a lingering taste of bean sprouts and hints of chocolate. I do taste those elements, the chocolate being only a very tiny hint. It’s refreshing and was definitely the caffeine kick that I needed this morning. It’s interesting to me, how this tea is so similar and yet so different from the other white peony teas that I have in my cabinet. It’s amazing to me that where a tea variety is grown has so much of an impact on the flavor. I may have to do a study all about this sometime. For now though, this tea is light, bright, and a good variation on the other white peony varieties that I have.

Elder Flower tea

Elder Flower – tiny yellow blossoms of Elderflower

Elder Flower tea

I’ve heard of elderberries before, but never of elderflowers. Elderberries are in some of my favorite natural remedies. And now that I’ve done a little reading, I’ve learned that elderflowers carry many of the same benefits. It’s suggested that these are ideal for coughs, colds, and flu, even sinusitis. And may be useful in fighting a fever. This was then probably one of the better varieties of tea to get in the winter when I’m commonly fighting off coughs, colds, and sinusitis (thank you allergies). The flowers are so tiny. If you didn’t know better, you would think that it was potpourri since the flowers are so pretty. The tea definitely doesn’t have a medicinal taste, but it also doesn’t have the same flowery taste that I get with hibiscus or rose teas. It’s harder to explain. Also, there’s no underlying natural sweetness that many of the other flowery teas tend to have. It’s a nice caffeine free herbal and as I drink it, I can feel how it can help clear my nasal passages. I’m not sure that this will be an everyday tea for me, but I definitely expect to enjoy it when I’m experiencing a cold, cough, or sinus troubles.

I’m very happy that I received these teas as a gift, sparking me to give In Pursuit of Tea a try. I look forward to searching their website to find more teas that I might enjoy to give a try. And maybe more flowering teas that are pretty to look at. In the upcoming weeks, I am excited to be able to feature the flowering teas that I received as a Christmas gift from another friend.

Have you had tea time recently? Do you have a favorite flowering tea? What tea should I try next?

Evoking change… developing a daily practice

Jan 20, 2012   //   by Yoga Lisa DC   //   Blog, meditation, self-care, Yoga  //  No Comments

This last November, I was inspired to start making changes for what was left of 2011 and had begun setting my intentions for 2012. I am happy to say that as a result of that process, I have successfully been eating my veggies and fruits every day. Then in December, I committed to a 25-day Yogathon created by Teeg of Living in the (k)Now. I modified the requirements of her yogathon to fit into my life, while committing to change body, mind, and soul. My commitment was to:

- practice yoga everyday – at a minimum, 5 sun/moon salutations each day (mind)

my comfortable seat for meditation, I use a cushion too sometimes.

- develop a daily meditation practice – 5+ minutes of seated meditation each day (soul)

- eat healthier – 5 fruits/veggies each day, leveraging my November changes (body)

some of those veggies - a vegan pizza slice from Whole Food Foggy Bottom

I found that by changing my mindset of what it meant to do yoga everyday, it was a lot easier for me to commit to practicing everyday. I also found that by not requiring myself to do more than what works out to about 2 1/2 to 3 minutes of practice, that it became easier to build my home yoga practice. There were days that my body wanted more than the 5 sun salutations and I ended up practicing at home for a lot longer, sometimes 45 minutes or an hour even. There were also days where 5 sun salutations was exactly enough.

Through this “yogathon”, I also learned that I can sit and meditate without fidgeting. I would set the timer on my phone for 5 or 7 minutes the first couple days and when it would go off, I actually felt disappointed, I wanted to sit longer. So, then I increased the time 12, 15, 18 minutes and sometimes that even felt too short. I learned that I could sit, focus on my breath, and just be. It was amazing.

My preferred meditation was a Sanskrit mantra meditation, referred to as Soham or Hamsa. I would practice Soham during my yoga practice – inhale “so”, exhale “ham” (like hum), as I moved through my practice. And I applied a visual that one of my yoga teachers taught me, envision on “so” energy as a bright light moving down the spine, on “ham” see the light explode and leave the body in all directions. After I completed my practice, I would come to sit and practice the inverse – Hamsa, inhale “ham”, exhale “so”. I’d visualize the energy moving up the spine this time. In and of itself, this mantra is suggested to be the natural mantra. It is the natural sound of inhalation and exhalation. I think this is why it resonates so much with me.

These last 9 months, I had found that I was having a lot of trouble finding my practice again, after becoming a yoga teacher. I found this yogathon to be my way of coming back to my mat and my practice. And it was a nice bit of encouragement to help me develop a meditation practice. Although I do falter some days and my practice may not be exactly what’s expected, i’m learning to let that go and be happy that tomorrow is always a new day and another opportunity to come to my mat and meditation cushion.

Are there any daily practices that you have struggled with coming back to or have always wanted to develop? Are there any you “resolved” to start in 2012? What will you do to make it easier to keep them?

Another Afternoon of Art Journaling

Jan 18, 2012   //   by Yoga Lisa DC   //   Art Journaling, Blog, creativity, self-care  //  3 Comments

my workspace for this afternoon of creativity

This past weekend was another weekend full of creativity. I spent my Sunday morning knitting with the girls and then I spent my afternoon sharing in creativity and art journaling. I have to say, this weekend I didn’t do much journaling per se, but I did share in the creative energy.

me and Valerie (we've been meaning to get a pic of the two fo us for the last 6 months, so finally, we did!)

 

 

 

 

 

I met up with my some of my friends and fellow yogis – Valerie, Julie, Carol, and Rachel. And we were joined by Rachel’s friend Christina too. I spent the first couple hours we were at Teaism tearing out lots of images and phrases from magazines. I had been running low on pics and phrases, so this opportunity to collect more was exactly what I needed.

the table

a close-up of my workspace - yes, after i collected my images, I shared in the creativity by working on the baby blanket.

I had such a great time. I really enjoyed  sharing stories, getting to know these ladies even better, and being creative together. It was such a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon and a great way to spend the second third of my three-day weekend.

our collection of magazines

Have you shared creativity lately? When was the last time you enjoyed this kind of social time? Me – I’m can’t wait for my February creative gatherings and hoping to get a little creativity in every day until then.

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About Lisa

Auntie to two adorable little boys and a beautiful little girl. Sister. Friend. Yogini. Yoga teacher. Accountant. Knitter. Amateur photographer. Very amateur golfer.

Where to Find Lisa

Wednesdays, 8:30 p.m.
Yoga 1 (1 hour)*
Tranquil Space Arlington

Thursdays, 5:30 p.m. Yoga On-the-Go*
Thursdays, 7:00 p.m. Yoga 1*
Tranquil Space Arlington

Substitute Teach, As Needed*
Tranquil Space Arlington and Dupont

*Click here to make a reservation for any of these classes!

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