It’s Never Too Late For Yoga Month

This post is generously compensated by Athleta, who gave me a gift card for the two adorable and autumnal jackets pictured below. As always, all the opinions stated here are my own.

Well, I’m the yoga teacher who missed yoga month. I admit it. September was wild for me – starting graduate school, finishing my west coast trip, and just trying to keep my serenity in tact while moving back to NYC.  When the kind folks at Athleta asked me to talk about what my yoga is, I kept meaning to write about it, but (as all bloggers are at one time or another guilty of) I was living it, instead of writing about it. 

athleta jacket

My yoga is so much more than Asana. My yoga is remembering to look around at the world around me, to take it in, to appreciate the leaves and the air. My yoga is to remember and appreciate nature even in a city as busy as New York.  

October brings changes.  Changes in the air, with the temperatures getting cooler, temperatures in school, with assignments becoming more real, changes in light.  Sometimes, my yoga is simply to take in the changes with acceptance and grace.  My delight is also to help others take in those changes with grace and love. 

athleta jacket

Of course, I practice asana as much as feels right to me and my precious body. Of course, there is so much delight in the physical shifts yoga can bring. But, when life is overloaded with the “Busys”, sometimes the best yoga I can do is simply pause, look around, read a book, sit with my heart, and be. Yoga gave me that capability, and I will forever be grateful for my practice and for the delights that support me in it.  Yoga month is this month, and this moment, and this moment.

May every breath of your life be infused with the awesome and divine power of yoga. 

How do you #ShareYourOM?

 

Yoga in Sonoma: Yoga Community

It’s been a while, guys.

I hope you’ve been able to check out my new blog, www.wherethesidewalkends.com. I learned a new lesson – it’s hard to maintain two (or even one) blog while moving into a new apartment, seeing family for the first time in eight months, going to weddings, and taking a trip down the West Coast! In fact, it may make me feel like this a bit:

Ross the cat

Ross, the above cat, was one of the many cool folks I’ve met on this amazing trip down from Seattle to LA. He was in Sonoma, at a great yoga studio called Yoga Community, right in Sonoma, California. 

yoga community

Yoga Community is a beautiful studio serving the Sonoma valley area.  They have a beautiful space, experienced teachers, and a wonderful shop loaded with beautiful, artisanal objects and wonderful books and clothes. 

yoga community

I desperately needed a class after an 18 hour train ride became 24 hours of nearly straight sitting. So, I wandered into Sophie’s 7:00am gentle hatha class (the stronger classes and advanced classes were midday, which just didn’t work into my schedule.) What blew me out of the water was how much the studio lived up to it’s name. Everyone, including the teacher, knew everyone but me, and how they practiced.  It was so nice to see people helping each other with gentleness on things (the class had a lot of Iyengar inspired partner work) and cheering each other on.

But back to Ross – the cat above.  He is the sweetest, gentlest cat ever. He wasn’t hissing a bit in that picture, he was talking – if you say “hello” to Ross, he replies with a fabulous “meeeoh” that is so funny. He’s 2 and a half, and up for adoption. My favorite part of the yoga community is that they foster cats who need homes until they’re adopted.  Such a karma yoga policy.

If you’re ever in Sonoma, be sure to check out the Yoga Community – I look forward to practicing there again some day!

Where the Sidewalk Ends

Hi guys!

It’s been a while – again. Moving, working, packing, saying good-byes – all are a bit tiring, and take a lot of focus and energy.

It’s taken a while to try to figure out the direction of Balance and Spice. It was quickly becoming a farming blog, and it just didn’t seem like an appropriate venue for that. However, I am becoming more and more passionate about micro farming and growing, making, and creating our own lifestyle that is less dependent on fossil fuels and intense energy usage, and is more local, lower impact, and all around awesome.

So, may I introduce my new blog, Where the Sidewalk Ends.

WTSE

Where the Sidewalk Ends encompasses our journey towards self-sufficiency with a sense of adventure, curiosity and humor.  Join us as we delve into a year of homesteading, growing our own food, canning, sewing, and living locally – right in the middle of one of the biggest cities on earth, Harlem, NYC. Join us for a DIY project per week, which discusses the history and makings of items as common as mayonnaise and sausage, as well as a comparison of whether it is worth it to make, or just to buy it.  There will also be book reviews, restaurant reviews, travel tips, and more.  Not to mention, photos of the cutest dog in three counties!

Don’t worry, Balance and Spice will still be here.  My focus for B&S is to go back to it’s original purpose – a yoga and lifestyle blog, with some commentary along the way.

Please subscribe to Where the Sidewalk Ends right here

Thanks all, and namaste!

Currently

Oh, my goodness.  

Well, in case we’re not Facebook friends or you’re not in my immediate family, I have an announcement to make…We’re moving back to NYC, and I’m going to Columbia University! Wahoo!

I’m studying Psychology, and I’m thrilled.

However, we’ve been totally exhausted, and I admit the move, and even my normal day to day activities just sound less fun to discuss right now.

So, instead, I’m going to do this fun survey that was on Julie’s blog.  Hopefully, it’s a nice bit of confection to entertain.

 

Currently…

Current Book(s):

The Primal Blueprint, by Mark Sisson. After obsessing over his phenomenal website for what feels like a millennia, I finally remembered to take this lil’ gem out of the library.  I’m also reading Nourishing Traditions, the quintessential book of the Weston A. Price school of research.  Enjoying both thoroughly. 

Primal Blueprint

Current Music:

Stu Larsen, Amos Lee radio on Spotify, and this amazing disco practice that I borrowed from my bosses iPod.  I love Spotify – $10 a month for all the music you could want? Yes please!

Current Guilty Pleasure:

tea with coconut milk, tahini, yogurt with carob powder, awesome goat cheese from the farmers market…ooh, what that pleasure or pleasures?

Current Nail Color:

Nude. As a yoga teacher, I can’t really have nail polish, because they chip.  Actually, as a Kat, I can’t, because I chip them as soon as I breathe. 

Current Drink:

Sparkling water with apple cider vinegar. I used to have it with stevia, but I’m trying to cut back on that.

Current Food:

tomato, cucumber and tahini salad, roast chicken and veggies, yogurt.  Oh, and the other day I made an amazing shakshuka. 

 

shakshuka

Tastes sooo much prettier than it looked!

Current Favorite Show:

Grand Designs. Kevin McCloud is sooo much better than any anti-anxiety medication could ever be. Besides that, we don’t really watch any TV, which feels awesome.

Current Wish List:

To sell my bike, and Anthony’s desk. Ooh, and if it’s wishing for something, for an All American Pressure Canner. I want to can tomatoes while the sun shines, baby!

Current Needs:

To be gentle on myself, in the midst of all this crazy moving.  Besides that, absolutely nothing.

Current Indulgence:

Coconut oil. On my hair, on my face – it feels so spa like and indulgent.  A Sunday morning vegging on the couch.

Current Blessing:

Living with family we love, beautiful, local food in the fridge, time to walk and relax, the ability to donate to our favorite charity because of our engagement party.

Current Outfit:

Loose, blue linen pants, my blue patterned shirt, and a blank.

Current Excitement:

NYC in six weeks and six days – oh, how wonderful!

Question of the Day:

Your turn!

  • Current excitement?
  • Current reading?
  • Current blessing?

 

 

5 Things To Look For When Choosing a CrossFit Box

I unequivocally love CrossFit, and am a bit obsessed with our box, CrossFit Northside.  The more I do it, the more I deeply and totally enjoy it.  It’s fun, incredibly challenging, and has transformed my body in a way I never thought was possible. Because of CrossFit, Anthony and I are both stronger, more confident, and healthier. It helps that we do have an excellent, if ever so slightly awkward, coach.

James

Coach James Sheahan

Who can’t help but take a self-portrait if he gets his mitts on anyone else’s camera, but that’s not the point. The point is, he has created a really wonderful environment, and keeps his athletes safe, while consistently challenging them to be better. He has also hired several other amazing coaches to support him in this, namely Adam, Dimmity and Nicole, who share his passion for excellent technique and being hilariously awkward. And drinking coffee. Our box is also made up of group of amazing athletes that have become our friends. Without those pieces, CrossFit would just be an expensive gym.

Kat dim and Nicole

Coaches Nicole and Dim, with me in the middle

The weekend before my foot surgery, I went up to watch team CFNS compete in the All Stars finals.  To make a long story short, one of the athletes couldn’t finish the event, and gave me her blessing to step in to take her place for the last bit of her teams competition.  It was the one of the most enjoyable 20 minutes I’ve ever had, and I have done at least twenty competitive fitness events before (always run races or triathlons.)

team photo

It was so fun because I was with a team of people who truly couldn’t have cared less how fast I was, as long as I tried my best.  Which I did, though trying my best mostly meant trying not to drown or get sick in the pool.  I was successful. Hurrah!

In spite of my love of CrossFit, you can’t help but hear horror stories of people really hurting themselves from this incredibly challenging sport, sometimes quite seriously. We really lucked out by finding CrossFit Northside, but looking around at the competition, in which there were many athletes with seriously bad (and dangerous) form, I realized how easy it would have been to choose a box with less conscientious coaches and a less encouraging atmosphere. So, for any CrossFit newbies out there, here are my recommendations on what to look for to make sure your box is the best for you. Of course, none of these are “be-all and end-all” but they might be helpful guidelines to narrow down the decision.  

Plus, as a bonus, a bunch of gratuitous photos of me competing!  Or pretending to! Lucky you. 

  1. Coaches who have a background that is not just CrossFit. One of the biggest complaints I have about CrossFit is that the certification process is just two days.  That’s right, I can be a random Jane from the street, and after two days, Boom! I’m a CrossFit coach. For comparison sake, my NASM personal trainer certification took six months, and my 500-hour yoga teacher training took a full year. There is absolutely no way that after two days, you have enough knowledge and awareness to be a coach of anything, let alone one that involves lifting hundreds of pounds over your head.  I would highly recommend a coach that has a wide range of background activities and experiences, particularly weightlifting, as that is the place it is easiest to get seriously injured.KB swingFull disclosure: Not actually competing here.  Just pretending to.
  2. Coaches who do not constantly tell you to lift more weight. For the first full month I was at CrossFit (and I went five to six days per week) I didn’t lift anything heavier than the 20kg bar.  The coaches all wanted me to get better with my form before I started lifting heavier weight. Three months later, however, when we tested our one rep max, most of the time I was able to use fairly heavy weight with really solid form. I have heard so many horror stories of coaches telling people to add more weight, simply for the sake of doing so, and people getting injured.  If the coach is constantly telling you to RXD, or pile weight on and it simply feels too heavy or you injure yourself, that to me is a sign of a coach who is more interested in inflating their own ego than improving their individual athletes. IMG 5626
  3. Supportive Fellow Athletes. One of the best things about CrossFit that I hear almost across the board is how amazingly supportive and caring fellow CrossFitters are. Perhaps because of the significant amount of suffering involved, CrossFitters tend to bond and be really welcoming. If you happen to stumble into a box where folks aren’t welcoming, or are not as supportive of the person coming in last as they are of the person coming in first, I’d suggest finding another box.  The community is what makes the experience.Kat and Shan
  4. A Wide Range of WODs. If you look on most CrossFit websites, they post their workouts daily.  Now, this is just an opinion, but I personally believe that the workouts should be wide ranging, and not insanely long or heavy every single day. I’ve heard stories of boxes who do a Hero and a Benchmark WOD (internationally recognized workouts named after heroes and women, which are internationally renowned as freakin’ hard) every week, religiously. Don’t get me wrong, the Heros and Benchmarks are phenomenal, and great ways to check fitness and strength, but twice weekly? I think I’d probably be dead by now.WOD
  5. They Don’t Just Offer CrossFit. My favorite sessions at CFNS are actually Olympic Weightlifiting sessions. These are the times I get to really work on form and technique, and of course, chat a bunch with whoever else happens to be there. While this one isn’t a deal breaker, I really respect boxes that create the time for athletes to really hone their skills. 

Do you have any other things to add? Place them in the comments below!