About Me

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Springdale, Arkansas, United States
Yoga and reading are my passions - followed closely by jewelry-making and cooking plant-based meals. My husband is my guinea pig for my recipes and thankfully he's a willing subject! Be sure to visit my Etsy store: https://www.etsy.com/shop/TheBookishYogini?ref=search_shop_redirect

Monday, April 29, 2013

Top 5 Things We Loved about Long Island, NY

1.  Getting to spend time with family:  our son, soon-to-be daughter-in-law (and her wonderful family!), and our grandson.  Since we live so far away from them, this month-long stay was a luxury that has spoiled us getting to see them so much!

2.  The  Vineyards.  Out of the 60 some-odd vineyards on the North Shore, we were able to visit a good number of them.  The off-season timing of our visit to New York worked in our favor, as many times we were the only visitors in the tasting rooms and were able to enjoy many long conversations with the vineyard owners and staff.  Our favorite vineyard, by far was Castello di Borghese Vineyard.  They have the most wonderful Cabernet Franc as well as a luscious White Pinot Noir.   On our last visit there before going home, we got to meet the owner of the vineyard, Bernard, whose thick Italian accent was a delight to hear.


3.  The ocean.  We took advantage of our month-long stay to visit as many shoreline hiking trails as we could.  My favorite was Inlet Pond Preserve, right here in Greenport.  At the beginning of every sunny, warmish day, I would say to Fred, "Let's go back to Inlet Pond!", he would respond, "What is it with you and Inlet Pond?".  "It's just sooo pretty!" I would respond!

Montauk Point 
Shadmoor Preserve
Inlet Pond Park
4.  The parks and preserves.  There are tons of places to hike on the Long Island.  We hiked at Arshamomaque Preserve, Inlet Pond Preserve (twice!), Mashomack Preserve, Montauk Walking Dunes, Montauk Point, and Shadmoor Park.  

Inlet Pond Park
Walking Dunes of Montauk
Inlet Pond Park
Mashomack Park and Preserve
Arshamomaque Preserve
5.  The friendly people of Long Island.  Everywhere we went people were so friendly and welcoming to these two Arkansans.  The staff, teachers, and fellow classmates at NOFO Wellness in Cutchogue made us feel like we were natives.  There was one lady in Spinning Class who said she has a cousin who lives in a town in Arkansas with a lot of lakes and in an area called "The Highlands".  We said, "Hmm, we live in "The Highands", in a town with a lot of lakes".  Turns out the cousin actually lives in Bella Vista, AR too!  The folks remodeling the apartment above where we were staying were also great!  They were more than willing to help us out with anything we needed.  The friendly, family-owned shops and restaurant owners were to fun to visit with.  It turned out that even though quite a few attractions were not open yet in April, we were fortunate to see the North Shore as most natives to the area know and love the area.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Miracle Cure for Foot Cramps?

Periodically I suffer from cramping toes and calves.  A strenuous in-door cycling class or long bike ride will bring on the curling toes even though I drink gatorade during these activities.  Many times in the middle of the night, I'll be jolted out of sleep by a foot cramp that sends me springing out of bed like a jack-in-the-box to relieve the cramping.  Sometimes even in Yoga class the cramps will come, especially in sitting poses with the feet straight under you as during Child's Pose.   After a recent Yoga class with Barbara Steiper at NOFO Wellness, I asked her if she knew of anything I could do to relieve this problem.  Her immediate answer was "four ounces of tonic water before bed"!  Wonder of wonders, it works!  Little did I know that tonic water contains a small amount of quinine.  My uncle Loy, "Taterhead", used to pop quinine tablets for his leg cramps.  Apparently, quinine is not available without prescription these days, and the FDA apparently hasn't figured out how to regulate tonic water - a lot of gin and tonic drinkers would get mad!  

I have thoroughly enjoyed the Yoga classes taught by Barbara Steiper at NOFO Wellness Center in Cutchogue, NY.  She has enlightened my understanding and positioning for several asanas (poses). One example is the wide-leg straddle forward fold.  In this position, the feet should be in a wide stance straddled position with the toes pointed inward in a definite pigeon-toed fashion.   Then, the key to lowering the body closer and closer toward the floor is in the legs - actually engaging and twisting the inner thigh inward, allowing the lower back to release down closer to the floor.  With Barbara's coaching, I felt a definite difference in how this feels using this technique.

Another fun posture is used to prepare one for handstand (someday).  We place our palms on a wall at shoulder height, then move them down one palm length.  Then walk our legs back until we can drop our head, shoulders opening toward one another, pressing into our palms.  Actively pressing our weight into our palms, all the while visualizing and mentally feeling how a handstand will feel.  Wonderful!

Monday will be my last class at NOFO Wellness as the student, then it's back to reality in Arkansas.  I'm hoping my Yoga class at Highlands at the Crossing will have enough students signed up to actually have the class.   I'm looking forward to teaching again!!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Walking Dunes of Montauk and Shadmoor Preserve

Yoga is about the union of the body and the mind, and sometimes the body and mind just need to get outside and commune with nature.....so....

Wednesday, April 24, 2013, looked like it was to be a beautiful, warmish day.  So, my husband and I decided to take the Greenport, NY North Ferry to Shelter Island and then the South Ferry from Shelter to North Haven.  From there, we drove through Sag Harbor to East Hampton, NY, and on to Montauk.  In our opinion, East Hampton is the prettiest of the "Hamptons" that we have driven through - not that we would want to live there.  We actually prefer quieter towns with less traffic and no celebrities.  Haha!  

Our first adventure was to hike the "Walking Dunes of Montauk".  The dunes are part of Hither Hills State Park on the east side of Napeague Harbor.  The Walking Dunes can reach a height of 80 feet and are slowly moving southeast.  The dunes will "walk" when strong winds cause them to move, but as they walk, they bury forests, trees and anything that stands in their way.  The average dune "walks" about 3/12 feet per year.  Headlands are responsible for the accumulation of sand to the area.  These "headlands" are points of land that stick out into nearby Gardiner's Bay.  Ocean currents erode the sand from the beaches on the headlands, carry it into the area, then wash up on the beach where it is picked up by the wind.   

The Walking Dunes were truly unique!  All of the trails were made of sand, which was a challenge to walk in.  While walking on the trail, it was not windy, but once we crested the tall dune and came down into a "bowl" it was quite windy.  

Our second adventure was to hike the Shadmoor Park and Nature Preserve Trail.  Shadmoor Preserve was established in 2000, after being purchased by the Town, County and State, thereby rescuing it from becoming a subdivision (thank goodness!).  It is a 99-acre State Park.   Shadmoor at one time belonged to the Montaukett Indians who occupied the Montauk Penisula before East Hampton was settled by Europeans.  Montauk was then purchased by East Hampton's first citizens for the Indians in the latter part of the 1600s.  Some of Teddy Roosevelt's troops were encamped for a "quarantine" period here after fighting in the War of 1898 to free Cuba from Spanish control.

At Shadmoor, we followed the Roosevelt Trail to a beautiful ocean overlook.  Taking a short detour on this trail  you can still see the remains of the concrete bunkers that were erected during WWII for the purpose of artilliary ranging.  After admiring the view at the overlook, we continued walking along the cliff edge overlooking the ocean.  The shoreline here is made of dramatic bluffs which are being eaten away by erosion into fantastic forms called "hoodoos".  This area was particularly awe-inspiring.  

I hope you enjoy my ramblings!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

When Your "Sit-Upons" Hurt

Yoga has been very beneficial in improving my range of motion and flexibility, as it will for all people.  However, forward folds of any kind are difficult and sometimes painful for me due to irritation of the ischial tuberosity (sit bones) from Ankylosing Spondylitis.  I will probably never be able to touch my toes in these poses.  When I am in periods of little pain, I forget that I have this auto-immune arthritis, and often quit taking my Sulfasalazine, because -  "I must be cured!".  (I have the same mentality about my allergies - no symptoms - "I must be cured").  So, as we always do in Yoga, I honor my body, and if it says, "Nope, not going there today," I take the poses in a more gentle fashion, only going to the edge between ease and effort, or comfort and discomfort.  The important thing is to listen to your body and keep practicing.


Thursday, April 18, 2013

Give Love

"Give Love" - my new favorite yogi music is by MC Yogi and is just so HAPPY!   The artists' music style is a little hip-hop/reggae/Bollywood/dub style.   I downloaded several of his songs from FreeGal Music via the Bentonville Public Library website (free and legal!!).   I do still love music by Snatam Kaur for listening to during my practice, but it's always nice to have a variety of music on hand for whatever mood hits ya.

Monday's yoga class in Cutchoque, NY was my last session with Wendy.  She will not be back until May and by then I'll be back in Arkansas.  During her class, as part of our initial relaxation and focusing, she had us roll our blankets into a tootsie roll shape and then we lay on top of the rolled mat, vertically, placing one end of the mat at the base of our spine and the other at our head.  Then we simply let our arms hang at our sides allowing gravity to open up our chest, allowing our shoulder blades to come towards each other.  This was a wonderful feeling!  After a few moments in this pose, we drew our knees to our chest and rocked gently back and forth while trying to stay on top of the rolled mat. Very nice stretch!

Tuesday and Wednesday, the weather finally warmed up enough to take our Grandson hiking at several nature preserve areas on Long Island and Block Island.  It's a challenge these days to get kids away from their "electronics", and so important to do so, I feel.  He enjoyed the hikes, and we enjoyed watching him being an almost 10-year old boy throwing rocks and using sticks as swords, etc. as boys will do.

Finally, my review of "The Dog Stars" by Peter Heller.  When I started the book, I thought "Oh, this is going to be dark and depressing like "The Road" by Cormac McCarthy".  However, I was pleasantly surprised to find it much more hopeful and contemplative all-in-all.  Some reviewers don't like the writers style in this book - it is choppy, often lacking punctuation.  I found the style to be fitting given  what the narrator, Hig, has been through.  It is scary to consider some of the events in the story that led to the apocalyptic end - to think about the damage humankind is even now causing the earth.  Could we actually come to this?  What's also amazing to me is that the vast majority of people just don't care...they continue to over consume and pollute.  The best parts of this book are the relationships - how they develop and change, and the love and compassion that is still there in the end.  I definitely recommend this book.


"Love One Another as Christ Loves Us" - John 13:34-35
"Only love can cure hatred, hatred never cured hatred."  - Buddha

Saturday, April 13, 2013

A New Respect for Tadasana Pose

Yesterday I had the opportunity to take a yoga class from the third different teacher here in the Greenport, NY area.  This particular teacher has practiced yoga for over 20 years and teaches in Manhattan and SoHo as well as Cutchogue, NY.  Wow!  This was a great class!  The teacher began by  dimming the lights in the room and having the class start in "Legs Against the Wall" pose.  She told us that this is in the Iyengar style of yoga.  We were to quiet our minds and focus on our breath, keeping our legs straight.  Then we flexed our toes towards our face - and that's when the toe cramps hit me.  I tried to concentrate on my foot muscles, telling them to relax.  Eventually, it did get better.  

Throughout the class the teacher spoke of the philosophy of yoga - the eight limbs of yoga and especially the yamas and niyamas.  All of the asanas (poses) were attained in a very mindful, controlled manner.   The teacher demonstrated a little, circulated the room most of the time, making gentle adjustments in students postures as needed.  

We spent a good bit of time focusing on our Tadasana (Mountain Pose).  Focusing on grounding our feet, lifting our hearts, pulling our shoulder blades (wings) towards each other, and using our hands and fingers to form the gyan mudra (mudra of knowledge).  Mudras are sacred gestures somewhat comparable to Catholic and Christian gestures like the crossing of your heart and praying hands (anjali mudra).  To form the gyan mudra, touch the tip of the thumb to the tip of the index finger, with the other three fingers stretched out.  The outstretched fingers that point toward the ground channel the flow of prana (energy or life force) into our bodies upwards from the earth.  The tip of the thumb correlates to the pituitary and endocrine glands.  When you press the centers of the thumb with the index finger the two glands work actively.  When practiced regularly, the gyan mudra increases memory power and sharpens the brain, enhances concentration and prevents insomnia, and relieves psychological disorders like hysteria, anger and depression.  All I can say, is I definitely have a greater respect and understanding of the seemingly simple Tadasana pose.

The one thing I didn't care for in this class was some of her music - "Edelweiss" was one of her selections - it made it harder for me to focus on my breathing and posture because I kept thinking about the movie "The Sound of Music"!

Next posting I should have a review of the book I'm currently reading - "The Dog Stars" by Peter Heller.  

Thursday, April 4, 2013

What's Your Dosha?

In reading "Misadventures of a Garden State Yogi", I've come to the chapter "Ayurveda Revisited".  According to the The University of Maryland Medical Center (http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/ayurveda-000348.htm) Ayurveda is considered by many scholars to be the oldest healing science.  Ayurveda is a holistic approach to health that is designed to help people live long, healthy, and well balanced lives. The term Ayurveda is taken from the Sanskrit words ayus, meaning life or lifespan, and veda, meaning knowledge. It has been practiced in India for at least 5,000 years and has recently become popular in Western cultures. The basic principle of Ayurveda is to prevent and treat illness by maintaining balance in the body, mind, and consciousness through proper drinking, diet, and lifestyle, as well as herbal remedies. 

According to Ayurveda a person is a blend of three different proclivities, or doshas.  The three doshas are:  vata (ether/air), pitta (fire), and kapha (water/earth).  Each person is a blend of these elements.  So I took the short questionnaire to determine what my dosha is, and it seems that I am primarily vata (ether/air) - basically prone to be scatterbrained and wishy-washy.  To balance these proclivities in a vata dosha, Ayurveda recommends that I need to keep warm, eat warm and moist foods, take it easy on beans (difficult for a vegetarian!), avoid caffeine (oh no!!), white sugar (oh dear!), and processed foods, relax, spend lots of time in nature, and keep a regular routine (and actually LOOK at your calendar and to do list).  It seems that this 5,000-year-old practice may be right on the mark with my nature.  The biggest thing for me to reduce is caffeine, as I love teas and coffee.  Also, sugar - can't stand my coffee unsweetened.  

This morning I took a Yoga class from a local studio in Greenport, NY called Stirling Yoga (http://stirlingyoga.com/).  This studio teaches Ashtanga Yoga.  I have practiced primarily Hatha Yoga. Really there was very little difference between the two styles - just a slightly different Sun Salutation series.  I loved that there were blankets to sit on during the introductory breathing focus and for Savasana (final relaxation).  Toward the end of Savasana the teacher used what I think was a Harmonium to sing/chant a bit in Sanskrit (this was wonderful!).  Then he read a short reading and finally chanted something in Sanskrit and had the class repeat it.  I have no idea what it meant, but I felt great!  Although I thoroughly enjoyed this class, at $18 per drop-in, I'll probably stick to my unlimited plan at NOFO Wellness Center  for the month of April.  


Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Since this blog is about books as well as Yoga, I must share what I am reading right now.  Growing up, I don't know how I ever missed reading the "Anne of Green Gables" series by L.M. Montgomery.  A dear friend of mine, Lynette, told me how she had recently enjoyed reading the series and then watching the movie versions as well.  Soooo, I started by downloading the audio book from Library2Go through my local library.  This book is so cute!  It's quite wholesome, old-fashioned, and just sunny in how it reads.  It reminds me of "Little House on the Prairie" and "Little Orphan Annie" combined.  It is very easy reading, and I love Anne's saying "there's so much scope for imagination" in certain situations and locations she finds herself in.

The other book that I am currently reading is "Misadventures of a Garden State Yogi" by Brian Leaf.  Subtitled "My Humble Quest to Heal My Colitis, Calm My ADD and Find the Key to Happiness".  I am loving this book!  The author is quite humorous as he guides the reader through his journey to do exactly what he describes in his subtitle.  As someone who has an auto-immune arthritis, Ankylosing Spondylitis, and occasional IBS (I know - too much information!), I too, am hoping that Yoga will "cure" my afflictions.  This much I can say - Yoga does help - a lot!

My husband and I just arrived Monday on Long Island for a visit with our son, future daughter-in-law, and grandson.  We are staying on the North Fork of the Island where they are blessed with a multitude of wineries (so far we've visited 5 in 2 days).  The scenery is beautiful - vineyards, old homes, waterfronts, ocean,  - all good stuff!  Nothing at all like New York City - more like home - only different.  The very first day we arrived, even before getting the keys to our lodging - we signed up for unlimited classes and use of a local fitness center.  So far, we have attended two indoor cycling classes.  We got some new music ideas to take back to my husbands' spinning class.  Tomorrow, I am going to try out a Yoga Studio that teaches in the Ashtanga style.  I am mostly familiar with Hatha Yoga, so I'm looking forward to this adventure.

Everyone in this area of Long Island has been so nice and friendly.  We are hoping for a little warmer weather soon,  although I'm thankful that it has been sunny!   I am missing our cat, Lynxie, and I'm so thankful to our next door neighbor and my Dad who will be checking on her frequently.  Well, that's all for now.