Monthly Archives: October 2012

Got meat?

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An expected question that follows all new conversations with strangers about yoga and your practice is “So do you eat meat?”. I remember our long drawn debates and conversations about the pros and cons of consuming animal meat during our Philosophy class. Not once, not twice but on 3 different days all occurring at extensive lengths as one side proclaims that the human body was never made to digest animal meat, as the opposite end of the spectrum, interspersed throughout the wooden shala, would quietly whisper to one another “who cares? just eat whatever you want, and practice the yoga that you understand and accept”.

At one point, one of our classmates picked up all of her books and decided that self-study by the pool, with her notes and ipad would serve her much better than debating whether the animals’ suffering will become a part of her once consumed.

These days I put a lot more thought in my meat consumption. With the exception of those that come straight from the sea. More so in an effort to keep what I had gotten used to in Vikasa, the vegetable and seafood diet going. A classmate once shared that meat once consumed would usually require 48 hours before it is full digested by the stomach acids. That’s 2 days of chewed up, balled up meat with whatever else that was in your meal at that given time, sitting there, slowly being broken down. That alone, is a thought that does not quite sit very well with me. I have decided that when I do consume it (because I do still love a good, big, fat gourmet burger once in a while), I would allow at least a few days in between before it makes a reappearance on my plate.

Recently, while out on lunch with some colleagues, I told them about a new burger place that seems to be garnering excessive amount of patronage. One of the French man in my team who knew a little bit about my one month in Koh Samui and my involvement with yoga, asked “how does meat consumption fits in with yoga and your beliefs of it?”. To which I gave a simple answer of “I still take, in moderation, when I feel like I need it. And I make that decision and be happy with it.” After all, there is nowhere in Islam that says eating beef (at least the halal kind) is sinful.

Nevertheless, a little perturbed of this inquiry I sent a blackberry messenger text to my fellow Indonesian yogini whom I had grown close to while in Samui.

Me: Do you get people asking you this? “You are a yogi, but you eat beef?”

C: ..I answer I’m not a fanatic, I just listen to my body and do everything in moderation. Om shanti shanti shantihi 🙂

Which obviously got me laughing out loud in the middle of my lunch group as soon as I read the final sentence. An image of that blonde girl in Sh*t Yogi Says Lululemon ad instantly popped in my head.

Which brings us back to a similar thread that I had learned in Islam – there is no forcing. Everything should be done willingly for Allah. And again, during philosophy, when we learned that part of the Vedas urges the person to accept what they believe is right for them.

My next yoga attire

“Food, glorious food!”

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It is said, to make a new habit stick, do it for 21 days non stop. Whilst I was embarking on my training course as a yoga instructor, we were fed twice daily at Vikasa School. Once during brunch and another at dinner time. The food that was served consisted mainly of brown rice, vegetables – and LOTS of them, with one or two dishes with some fish or prawn during dinner. Accompanying this was fruits and freshly squeezed fruit and vegetable juice.

Needless to say, these meal times has changed my perception towards food preparation and vegetarianism. Sure, there were days when my taste buds wanted a little bit more taste than what we were served, and how it danced with joy when a couple of us went out for some Indian food one night. Overall though, it made me realize that meat is not always required and that I can actually get creative with how I decide to consume my greens.

So, inspired as I was, I spent the first full day back in KL buying groceries and stocking up my kitchen with the healthiest food I know I wouldn’t mind cooking/eating. At the organic store, I found a bag of wild purple rice which curiously looked a little like what we were served in Vikasa (home sick away from home maybe?). The grains turns the water a most amazing shade of purple when you rinse and cook it. I mean, hey, this feels almost like being back in Chemistry class all over again!

At the supermarket, I found myself trolling around the organic fresh produce section. Inspired by some of our mealtimes, when we sometimes had porridge, and sometimes hot vegetable soup, I decided I would make a porridge with vegetable soup as a base with oyster mushroom, some fresh cod, kailan, and purple cabbage. Yum!

Tonight, it’s steamed rice with stir-fry kailan tossed in sesame oil and mushroom omelet. Cooking with purple rice I realised, results in any adjacent kitchen utensils being covered in purple spots wherever the rice cooker decides to spit its steam. Willy Wonka would be proud of my effort tonight. Once everything was scooped onto my plate, I stood back to admire my art and was reminded yet again, of my meal times in the last one month. It almost looks like the meals I had while I was there.

Stir fried kailan, mushroom omelet served with wild purple rice

Excuse the tacky plate. I should really start to invest in one of those classy, all white dinner set. In my recent food adventure, I have discovered the availability of smoked garlic (whole garlic cloves smoked and sold by the kg) and how it absolutely smells D I V I N E and makes everything that it’s cooked in tastes equally as divine. I am already filled with so many crazy ideas of all its different uses in food preparation and the gourmet cook in me is tickled by this idea.

Virginia Woolf once wrote “One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well”. And dined well tonight indeed I have.

“Belief, I’m going to yell it from the rooftops”

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Post Vikasa, I have been trying to recalibrate my experiences and all that I’ve learned into the existing life that I had before I left a month ago. And to be absolutely honest, it has been very very hard. Not in a sense that I can’t seem to carry on my daily tasks, but more in the form of facing the rising questions that keeps surfacing in each silent moment I have with myself. When I wake up in the morning, and before I begin my pranayamas. When I get into my car to drive to work in the morning. When I get caught in the horrendous traffic trying to figure how it is possible that it takes me 1 hour to get home on a drive that usually takes 15 minutes. When I am walking towards the office. When I am sitting across someone who is trying to explain to me what needs to be done, or in a meeting and my mind gives up trying to decipher what is being discussed because the idea of teaching, and the idea of growing stronger every day practicing what I love the most – the idea of being involved in my own health and spreading similar messages to others is far more interesting to be entertained within the walls of my mind.

“WHY do I not feel authentic doing this anymore?”

Of course the answer to that question is pretty damn straightforward given the path that I just came from recently. But the questions that follow like “right, so where to from here?”, “where will the money come from??” and “surely, there MUST be a way to find a middle ground between what supplies me with a sense of achievement and money and what nourishes me and provides me peace, right? RIGHT?”

Before the TTC took place, I had many moments when I would escape from my workstation in an effort to run away from the intense pressure emanating within the team for a while, and stare our the window from the women’s bathroom (YES, the public bathroom) which overlooks a great big forested land across the river. I would day dream of owning a patch of the land and building my own sala and studio, Minangkabau style, with dark teak flooring and beams (sorry, not so hijau I know, I’ll most probably make it up by using eco friendly yoga mats for my students).

Today, I found myself doing the exact same thing again.

I had been meditating on the fact that I am Patience, in the last week at Vikasa all throughout this week when I got home. Amazingly, patience takes on a multitude of form. Patience with asanas and my practice on one day. Patience with the limitations of my strength the next. Patience with deliverance from the universe, and allowing God to reveal the next steps towards finally having my own practice, a stable foundation of students and clients and a steady stream of income coming from that very source. Of course, these days, it’s also patience with the crazy driver-zillas on the road too..

With patience, I’ve come to understand that it needs to be strongly supported by belief and faith. Because what separates complacency and patience, is believing that it will happen while simultaneously putting an effort into it. Of course, meditating on one thought always springs up a song in my head. On this occasion it’s Gavin Degraw’s awesome acoustic version of Belief:

Belief
I’m going to yell it from the rooftops
I’ll wear a sign on my chest
That’s the least I can do