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Run Like a Yogi

I am not a runner. As I write this I am training for a 36 mile trail run, but I repeat, I am not a runner. I despise running, and I know darn well it’s not good for me. For 5 out of the past 6 years, my family and I have participated in the Rachel Carson Challenge. The afore mentioned 36 mile trek is something I have a love/hate relationship with, and as it might be my last attempt at it, I’d like to go out with a bang.

I have absolutely no background in running, or any idea how to train for a long distance trail run, but I am a Forrest Yogi, so I came at it from the only system I know: the four pillars of Forrest Yoga.

Breath This is 85% of what I focus on when I run. How to get more oxygen into my lungs. How to connect breath with movement. Not choreography or vinyasa, but symbiosis, fueling my body as efficiently as possible. Most importantly for me, I use my deep connection to breath to target and release stitches in my side or recurring pains in upper trapezius. This has been a lifesaver.

Strength Being physically and mentally strong is a must for any sort of endurance task. My Forrest yoga practice allows me to unwind the muscles that propel me forward during my runs and our long holds condition my mind to stay steady and calm. The stability and strength from my feet to the top of my head have come from Forrest Yoga.

Integrity For me, running with integrity means listening to my body and taking note of my surroundings. I’m constantly tracking the feedback of each foot strike, how my knees and hips are doing and of course my breathing. I’m always adjusting my stride and looking out for potential cramps and tweaks. I also allow the landscape to dictate my pace. When it goes up, I walk, this allows me to stretch my calves and avoid wasted energy. When it goes down -and on the Challenge it really goes down- I let my legs to go as fast as they need to.

Spirit The thing I have most trouble with on the mat is the easiest for me on the trail. Those instances where the terrain points straight down and others are scooting on their bums, that, is when I shine. Running with abandon down shale and root covered hills, my body and mind are alive and ready for the next steep ascent, ready to appreciate the next view from the top.

The unofficial fifth pillar, Go Deeper, is so appropriate for an endurance challenge. An event like this asks you to dig deep, physically and mentally. You have to reach down to find what drives you. Why are you out in the woods walking for 15 hours? Why would you RUN on the same trail? When your legs cramp, when your side starts to stitch, what do you do? All these questions and more bubble up while you’re out there, and that’s probably what keeps me coming back year after year.

It’s surely not the running.


So I guess for the time being, you can call me a runner, but after June 24, I will probably never run again. AHO!

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Coffee and Yoga

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Coffee and Yoga

2.20.16

 

 

Coffee and yoga. Do they go together? That all depends on who you listen to, or if you listen to anyone at all. Before deciding to embark on a partnership with Luna Caffe, I had a few things to think about.

 

 

During my Forrest Yoga Teacher Training we were asked to give up coffee, alcohol basic addictive and habitual things. Not only did I drink coffee every single day, but I drank 3-5 cups a day. The caffeine had no effect anymore, I did not need it to wake up, it was simply ritual. I also liked to use milky type coffee drinks in the place of a meal. (I’m not great at eating) Was I worried about this abstinents of my beloved arabica? Sure, but I was surely willing to do whatever I had to for this opportunity.

 

 

What I found half way thru my training, when unfortunate events unfolded, was that I wasn’t physically addicted to coffee. I had been getting by just fine for two weeks. It was that I was emotionally attached the sweat brown liquid. For me, and probably for a lot of people, coffee was like breaking bread, it was how I was social and most importantly sitting down with a cup of coffee usually meant I was sitting with my dad solving the world's problems.

 

Coffee was a security blanket, it represented a feeling of family, intellectual discussion and normalcy.

 

So what next? How do I interpret this new information about myself and this habit?

 

I believe that what Forrest Yoga asks of its teachers and practitioners is not to identify all of your habits and addictions because they are inherently bad. But to look at the rituals that make up our daily life, step back and decide which ones truly benefit us. Which ones serve us instead of inflicting harm.

 

Why I choose to link a yoga practice and a coffee shop? While I think the marriage of yoga and beer, yoga and wine, yoga and chocolate and so on bring new people into the world of yoga who would have probably been unwilling to try is great. They sometimes appears to not really be connected and in some ways ethically opposed depending on your style of yoga. Coffee however, at least the way I view it, and the way I brew it, do share a connection. Forrest Yoga asks the practitioner to focus on one task, on one intent during the whole practice. Sort of a moving meditation. This is a difficult task in our modern world of multitasking. Eating and driving, eating and watching tv, taking on the phone or texting while doing any number of things, we don’t really know how to slow down and focus on just one thing. Coffee for me is a moving meditation.

 

 

To find out how any product makes its way into your cup or onto your plate starts to shine some lights on the amount of respect these products needs. Once you realize the coffee fruit tree takes four years to mature and produce fruit, and that all of the coffee cherries are picked by hand by farmers who, in this country would be considered living in poverty. When you learn about all of the processes, the fermentation, the care someone puts into roasting a quality bean, well then you damn well better not screw up your end of the deal. I brew by hand because of this. It allows me to wake up, weigh my bean, hand grind them, prewet my filter and carefully saturate every last ground of coffee with the same respect and precision as all of the hands that touched it before me.

 

Maybe this from my time as a line cook and chef, but it allows me to focus on just one thing for just a few moments everyday. It keeps respect fresh in my mind everyday. Aho!

 

Please join me at the lovely Luna Caffe on Castle st. in Wilmington NC every Sunday @7:45am!

 

-MIke

 

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