2017: What Are You Practicing?

practice-project-1-0-victor-wootenIn one of the top five experiences of my life happened while I was teaching contemporary music to middle and high-schoolers in Idaho. Victor Wooten, electric bass great (or wizard, as I like to call him) blessed us with his presence at the school for an all-school assembly / workshop. Later that evening he played at The Knitting Factory in downtown Boise with his band.

During the workshop a student asked him a question, wanting to know his recommendation about “the best way to practice.” Mr. Wooten’s response hit me like a rainbow-on-fire, shooting out little balls of explosion that melt into sparkly warm fuzzy bits of enlightenment. Or something. He said, with his eyebrows raised, and looking very intently at the student:

“You’re always practicing SOMETHING.”

This is the idea behind the Yoga With Calley Practice Project. Its about coming back to what we are already doing – already “practicing,” even if we’re not thinking of it that way. And through commitment, repetition, and observation, we develop and interact with “what we’re already doing” so that it evolves in a way that works with us. With our bodies, with our minds, with what each of us needs at this phase of life.

So I took this idea, added a good dose of research that tells us it takes anywhere from 8-12 weeks for new concepts to become concrete, where learning goes beyond just information intake and becomes information application… and viola!practice

Yoga With Calley Practice Project is meant as 9 weeks of supported group practice. Most of our time will be spent practicing, but at the end of every session will be time to share small amounts of information about specifics of asana and philosophy. The goal is simply to learn about YOU, so that we all may help guide our observations and knowledge to work toward greater health, and develop new healthy habits that we can take home with us. It’s like growing a “yogi-in-your-pocket” that you can then take home as your friend, and whip out when you need a little help.

 

Email me if you want to sign up, there’s a few spots left and I’ll never be the pot calling the kettle black for being last-minute! calley@calleybliss.com

 

Allergy Hacks From a FORMER Sufferer

Hi folks!

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Click Here –> These Health Hacks helped me kick allergy meds

Well, the sun is shiiiiiiiining in Minneapolis after a week of rain. If you have any kind of seasonal allergies, this is prime time for feeling like poo. Having allergies sucks. It is literally your body attacking itself in order to try to get rid of the thing you’re allergic to, and that’s preeeeeetty much what it feels like. Awful.

I feel you. Actually, correction –  I can’t tell you how happy I am to say that I no longer ACTUALLY feel you, but for years and years I struggled with allergies that put me down for the count for a month at a time. I had to miss work, was a walking emotional basket-case, and spent thousands of $$ over the years on medicine and medical treatments.

Hopefully  my decade of reading, research, trial, error, and hashing out every trial with my sister-the-doc can benefit you all. I wrote a blog post last year with ALL my tips and tricks to help ease your allergies. I’ve incorporated all of these things into my life, little by little, and I have been amazed every step of the way how much relief these tools have given me. I went into the trenches in 2008, determined to figure out how to bring back my quality of life from the allergy-robber, and by 2010 I made the leap to stop taking my medications and haven’t looked back since.

Now, please take note – these remedies are not like the quick fix that we’ve come to expect from pills. You usually have to do a combination of them, and give them a week or even several weeks to see noticeable difference. (Except the cider vinegar one! That stuff is IMMEDIATE – try it!) But for ME, I’ve found that difference to be greater than that of using medicine alone.

Happy Flower-Sniffing!

Our Physiological Reactions

How YOGA teaches the discipline needed to overcome them…

This is a re-post from an emailer I sent out last week:
A few weeks ago a student of mine told me about something called the Prison Yoga Project, and how she had become obsessed with it. Yesterday I took some time to look at the website, look up the founder, and read a little about what the project is, and why its working for inmates. The physiological effects of stress on the body are intrinsically connected the mind, which is true for us all… and I got a little obsessed with the ideology behind the project, and how it applies to everyone in varying degrees.

“Most prisoners suffer from Complex Trauma, chronic interpersonal trauma experienced early in life such as abandonment, hunger, homelessness, domestic violence, sexual abuse, bullying, discrimination, drug and alcohol abuse, and witnessing crime – including murder. We call this “original pain.” These experiences, imprinted by the terrifying emotions that accompany them, are held deeply in the mind, and perhaps more importantly, in the body, with the dissociative effects of impulsive/reactive behavior, and tendencies toward drug and alcohol addiction as well as violence. Carrying unresolved trauma into their lives impacts everything they do, often landing them in prison, where they experience even more trauma…

…Traditionally, cognitive behavioral therapists have helped people process unresolved trauma, but more recently psychiatrists, psychologists, clinical social workers — many working with US military veterans — acknowledge that embodiment practices such as yoga enriched with mindfulness practices can have more impact in alleviating the symptoms that lead to both reactive behaviors and stress related disease.”

So, I watched the video. And they showed these big, burly, rough looking men, silently struggling to stay in down dog, twists, and seated meditation. You could see their struggle with various poses, but you also heard them commenting in interviews on how they had learned to use their yoga practice to withstand the effects of other struggles in their lives. It was teaching them discipline to manage their own reactions…

We all have our own versions of stressors and problems, and while some of us have ones that are “worse” or “easier” than others, we all feel the effects of stress and past pain. These things take a physiological toll on the body, and affect our psychological expectations and reactions. You can’t avoid all of these factors in life, but I found this to be a beautiful reminder that we can help our bodies and our minds to process and release our experiences in healthy, effective ways.

Hope to see you very soon,
~ Calley ✨

Sugar Kicker #5: Apple Crisp

This stuff was so good I ate the whole bleep bleep pan before I could take a picture of it. But you know what apple crisp looks like…. like this:


+  

 = 

Or something.

Try it. It’s delicious:

BOWL #1
– 4 cups apples, cut up into wedges (I mixed Jonagold, Honeycrisp, and Zestar) Skinned if you prefer.
– 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
– a few drops of pure almond extract
– 1 cup chopped up dates

BOWL #2
Mix in a separate bowl
– 1/8 cup quinoa flour
– 1/8 cup corn starch
– 1/2 cup oats
– 1/2 cup sucanat — this stuff is pricey, but has the best flavor of the “low glycemic sugar substitutes” that I’ve tried. I’ts basically raw maple sugar, and has a nice nutty flavor I like, similar to maple syrup. You could also try maple syrup, but the liquid factor might make your crisp a little gummy. Sucanat is a powdery granule substance like sugar.
– 1 tsp cinnamon
– 1/2 tsp nutmeg
-1/2 teaspoon salt
– 4 Tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces.

Use your hands and mix all of bowl #2 together, crushing the butter into the mixture till its crumbly.

Grease a 9 x 9 pan
Throw the apple (bowl #1) in the bottom.
Sprinkle bowl #2 on top.

Bake at 375 for 40-45 minutes.

Let stand, serve with any goddamned thing you want, its delicious with anything.

Sugar Kicker #4: Read Your Labels

Alright friends –

It’s been two weeks since I posted – If you’re itchy to get to the part about the sugar, scroll down.

I’ve been reflecting on change a lot this past week, as I had a death in the family. We lost my 94-yr-old grandmother. As to be expected, there’s been all kinds of photos and stories coming out about my very creative, very progressive-for-her-time grandma, and I’m very much feeling the winds of change this week, as one chapter closes, and I have begun two new ones –  I’m working with Laurel Van Matre to plan her first 200-hr teacher training track through yoga alliance this coming winter at Yoga Garden (!!!), and I’ve started my first round of voice lessons out of my brand new Entertainment Jill Studio for this fall in NE Minneapolis. (!!!!)

It’s the season for change – the cold weather came blasting in this week in Minneapolis, and my students seemed to be feeling the slow down that is inevitable with this process. Leaves are turning, temperatures are dropping, animals are stockpiling or leaving in preparation for the winter, for hibernating. It’s appropriate that we would also be feeling the effects of these changes, and so you can expect some extra time in lengthy floor poses, stretching out, and really taking the time to sink into some deeper versions of poses. It’s also a perfect time to prep your system for the cold, and kick a sugar habit.

So here’s my #4 trick for kicking sugar: read your labels. You’ve been good to not drink soda, and not eat dessert. Here’s the next step where things can reeeeally start to feel different.

But a forewarning, this is an under-taking. If you have never been a label-reader, you might get a little overwhelmed. May I attempt to ease your mind, and remind you to take things one step at a time. Change one food per week, or per shopping trip.

Sugar has been snuck into just about any pre-packaged food you can find these days. (Unless of course, the product is jumping on the sugar free bandwagon.) Bread. Crackers. Sauces. Dried Fruit. Bottled juices and smoothies. Yogurt. Soup, for crying out loud. Why is this? Well, I’ll bring up my favorite article from WebMD about how addictive sugar is. Those food companies are a business, and when you buy more, they win. So putting a slightly addictive substance in their product is more likely to get you to eat it more often. It’s a primal response to a substance our brains are wired to like a whole whole lot. It also does just make things taste better.

Now, I’m not saying all food companies are evil. (Ok, if you talk to me, I’ll say some of them are evil, alas I digress from a rant.) But I am saying that eating sugar in small amounts of ALL food ALL day long…. well, it doesn’t take a food scientist to know that it’s not good for you.

So one way to help boost your energy level – and I mean a LOT – is to start buying foods that don’t add sugar to your day-to-day meals and snacks. That way when you want dessert, you JUST have dessert, and your body doesn’t just become a sugar-processing factory.

Aaaaaaaaaaand end soap box.  Happy label reading!!

P.S. tip #4.5 – this is why I shop at co-ops. There are many more brand options that subscribe to a “no added sugar” ideal when making their products.

P.S. tip #4.75 – changing your taste habits takes as much effort and will as not eating dessert, or any other change. Give yourself time. Try for brands you actually like eating. Allow change to happen slowly, and go for one item at a time.

Sugar Kicker #3: "Caramel" Sauce

Ok, I went ahead and put “caramel” in quotations because this really isn’t caramel. It’s like vegan “sausage”… it’s NOT sausage.

That said, whatever you want to call this, it is DELICIOUS, and is rich and sweet and creamy like caramel sauce. Right down to the ooey-gooey- texture we love about caramel.

Go nuts and put this on ice cream, apples for fall, as a lovely dairy-free frosting for a spice cake… or you know… spoon & jar.

NOT-CARAMEL SAUCE

Ingredients:
½ cup coconut oil
1/3 cup almond butter
½ cup maple syrup
seeds from ½ a vanilla bean pod or 1 tsp vanilla
up to ¼ teaspoon salt (start with a pinch)

Preparation:
Blend all ingredients, starting with a ¼ teaspoon of the salt, in a food processor or very strong blender.  Pulse until well combined, then let it process for several minutes. Taste to check salt level and add more if desired.  The mixture will warm slightly in the processor and the textures will meld, eventually forming a gooey, delicious caramel.

When you’re done, it looks like this:

Aaaaaaand, if you want to watch a rather humorous video with a couple of women who show you how its done, and who really enjoy this stuff, CLICK HERE.

I had a student tell me today that she lost 10 lbs in the month of September, just from keeping sugar out of her diet.

Now again, I feel the need to disclaimer – I’m not a doctor, or a licensed food or health coach, and the whole point of what we do in yoga is to familiarize yourself with YOUR body and they way it reacts to things. Your age, stress level, the rest of your diet, activity level, genetics… they all play a part, and everyone is different. But in my corner of the world people have been telling me they have more energy and have been surprised at the difference, and I hope you’re all experiencing some change in energy or feeling of well-being as well.

Hope to see you in class this week!

Sugar Kicker #2: Chocolate Avocado Pudding

Ok guys – The Banana ice cream was more of a “one-size-fits-all dessert, because who doesn’t like Bananas?

This one might be more for the adventurous of you…. or those who really like avocados, like me. I’ve been told by some that this is a delicious alternative to other creamy, sugary treats. Aaaaaaaand I’ve been told that my taste buds are warped. There are a few *key* things that make this recipe work in my opinion, of which these items have been starred:

Avocado Pudding:

2 *chilled* ripe avocados (The ones on the left are perfect – the one on the right is a little over-ripe for my taste.) Scoop em out, and throw them in your food processor, VitaMix, or any *high-powered* blender.

– 1/4 cup *good* unsweetened cocoa powder. Ain’t no Hershey’s gonna cut it here, if you want it to taste like something you want to eat.

– *1 TB coconut oil.* Makes it smooth and creamy, and adds a little rich sweetness.

– 1/4 – 1/2 cup honey. Depending on your taste and how sweet you like it. Careful, a little goes a long way, so start with less, and add more if you want.

– 1 tsp. *real* vanilla extract. 

– 1 ice cube. For some reason, this recipe tastes sooooo much better cold.

Throw all this in your food processor, VitaMix, or any *high-powered* blender, and blend it till its smooth and creamy. If it tastes chalky, add a little more honey and vanilla. If its too sweet, add a little vanilla and a pinch of salt.  It’ll look something like this:

Sugar-Kicker #1: Banana Ice Cream

All it is is frozen bananas, ripened to your liking, blended in a food processor or blender.

That’s literally it. And it tastes delicious.

If you want a little more for flavor like me, add some unsweetened cocoa powder (2-3 Tablespoons), and a teaspoon of vanilla. Or really, any other flavor you like: hazelnut extract, cinnamon, penut butter, vanilla extract by itself….

If you reeeeeeally need to see a whole step-by-step recipe, click here.

Happy no sugar-ing! Hope to see you in class this week!!