Are you Sweet, Strong, or Spicy? Part Two: Strong

imgres-3 This week we are moving toward strong vinyasa, and as such I was able to hear a refreshing and new perspective from a student in the strong vinyasa class at Smiling Dog. What I enjoyed about this week is that it allowed me to realize that these labels of different vinyasas are what you make them. Some people enjoy strong vinayasa because they feel strength within themselves in accomplishing a ‘hard’ class, other people move from class to class for the instructors that teach them. So this week we are not only asking “Are you sweet, strong, or spicy?” but also, “What do those labels mean to you?”.

Here is a review from a student in the strong vinyasa class on Wednesday evening.

imgres-2“I don’t really pay attention to the strong or sweet aspect, it is the teacher. They’re seems to be a gray area between what is strong and sweet, so it is whoever comes in and the people who make up the class that determines the class. I personally prefer not to use strong or sweet, because every class is different. Today was slightly different than yesterday’s class, today was more focused on postures and movement. It calms my mind and works on my body, that’s what brings me to yoga” – Bob

Thank you Bob, for that great review. I am glad you pointed to how yoga morphs and changes through each class, and supports focusing in the present.

When I first started yoga I was intimidated by the classes that were characterized as “hard” or “strong”, because I felt incapable of doing them. As time has gone on I have realized that it is just as important to not let those labels pressure me into staying within my comfort zone, but instead to see growth in enjoying a practice for whatever it is sweet, strong, or spicy. This leads me into a wonderful recipe that I have for you all today. It is a Veggie Pot Pie recipe and is wonderful! I made it earlier this week, and what is spectacular about it is that you can add whatever flavors or spices you choose to manipulate it into your own special pot pie. So enjoy getting out of your comfort zone and trying something new.

Easy Individual-Sized Veggie Pot Pies 5517563313_ce0ecf0c7b

This makes about 4 servings, depending on how big your serving dishes are. The vegetables for the filling are fairly flexible – just use whatever you have that sounds like it would be good in a pot pie!



For the filling:

  • 1 large potato, peeled and chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and chopped fine
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped fine
  • 1 medium onion, chopped fine
  • 1 large shittake mushroom or 4-5 white mushrooms, chopped
  • About 3/4 cup chopped broccoli florets (optional)
  • 1/3 c . frozen peas
  • 1/3 c. frozen corn
  • 4-6 cloves garlic, chopped fine
  • 1 Tbsp Corn Starch (or potato starch)
  • 1-2 tsp salt (to taste)
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 2 c. water or vegetable broth
  • Black pepper, to taste

For the crust:

  • 3/4 c. Amaranth flour
  • 3/4 c. White Rice flour
  • 1/4 c. + 2 Tbsp Potato Starch
  • 1 Tbsp Arrowroot
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 Tbsp Coconut Oil (at room temperature)
  • 3 Tbsp Canola oil (or some other neutral oil)
  • 1.5 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 2.5 Tbsp cold water (or more, see below)
  • Olive oil (optional – to brush over the top of the crust)


To make the filling: Sauté potato, carrot, celery, onion, corn, mushroom, broccoli, peas, and garlic in a medium pot until softened. Add water or broth and whisk in corn starch. Add bay leaf, oregano, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes and heat, stirring occasionally, until sauce is thickened and bubbling. Remove from heat, remove the bay leaf, and fill your serving dishes with 1/4 of the mixture in each.

To make the dough:  Preheat oven to 350°. In a large bowl, stir together Amaranth, White Rice flour, potato starch, salt, and Arrowroot. Add in coconut oil, canola oil, apple cider vinegar, and water and mix with a fork or your hands until a cohesive dough ball forms. If necessary you can add a bit more water or amaranth to make it more wet or dry, as needed.

Roll the dough out on a smooth clean surface into a 1/4 inch sheet. Cut out circles slightly larger than your serving dishes. Using a wide spatula, transfer your dough circles onto the top of your filled serving dishes. Gently press your finger around the edge to create a wave, if desired. Brush a thin coat of olive oil over the top of the crust and bake at 350° for 15-25 minutes, checking every few minutes to make sure it doesn’t burn, until surface is slightly cracked and a light golden brown. Let cool for a few minutes and enjoy!

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Are you Sweet, Strong or Spicy Vinyasa? Part One: Sweet

The time of year has come upon us where the darkness sets in a little earlier every evening and the rain comes down by the bucketful, and we find ourselves eager to keep the warmth alive with a flow class. Now as many of you know there are different types of these flows to choose from. Some are sweet, some are strong, and some might even be a little spicy. So in order to bring you some thoughtful comments about these choices of vinyasa at Smiling Dog, I am here to bring you reviews of each kind paired with a recipe to inspire.

This week we start with Sweet. I’ve had the loveliest of pleasures to interview some one who is sweet and dear to me, my mother in law. She has been practicing yoga at Smiling Dog for the last 6 years. One of her favorite classes at the Dog is the Sweet Vinyasa class and here is what she has to say about it.

What do you like about Sweet Vinyasa? What makes it ‘sweet’ to you?

“I think sweet vinyasa is a wonderful introduction in beginning a yoga practice. It is a step up from a basic yoga class, because the vinyasa flow allows you to experience combining your breath and postures and movement. To me, yoga is all about combining movement with mind and meditation. When I am doing the sweet vinyasa flow, because you are moving from one pose to another, you are just in the moment all the time. Pretty soon you just stop thinking. You are able to listen to the instructor, and you are allowing a moving meditation to take place. It is a nice way to experience that without a lot of exertion like in a strong vinyasa, which is more developed. I think the ‘sweet’ comes from the mind. To me sweet vinyasa allows me to turn off the ‘monkey mind’ and just get into a flow. They talk all the time, how wonderful it is to experience a flow. I loose all sense of time, I am experiencing my body without overthinking. Sometimes I’ve been in a flow class, and I get lost in the joy of the movements. The other thing I really enjoy is the creativity the instructors express in a flow class. I am always so impressed by the different ways they put together postures starting with breathing, warming up, to exerting more, to getting to the point of becoming breathless, because you are going through a whole cycle over and over again.”

Thank you Jan for that wonderful review. If you think you might be feeling sweet vinyasa, check out the schedule at Smiling Dog’s website.

To go along with the feeling of sweet this week, I have a delicious sweet recipe that will make your heart sing.

Coconut Macadamia Nut Candy!!

  1. Heat Coconut Cream Concentrate so it can be stirred by placing the jar in a large bowl of hot water and let it sit for about 30 minutes. Make sure you do this slowly or the jar could crack or even break.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine coconut cream concentrate, coconut oil, macadamia nut butter and vanilla extract and mix until smooth. To make things easier, use a stand mixer.
  3. On a sheet pan lined with parchment paper, evenly spread out macadamia nuts and chocolate chips.
  4. Pour coconut cream mixture over macadamia nuts and chocolate chips and spread out evenly.
  5. Place sheet pan in the freezer for 30 minutes to let it set.
  6. After mixture has set, remove from freezer and break into pieces.
  7. Serve immediately.
Place pieces in a freezer container and store in freezer. Coconut bark pieces are to be served immediately from the freezer due to the low melting point of the coconut oil.
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Yoga in the News

(I found this article on

New 2012 Study Tells Us How Many Millions More Do Yoga and How Many Billions of Dollars It’s Worth

The 2008 study has finally been eclipsed by new data from a study via Yoga Journal. So how many millions of Americans are down with the yog? A whopping 20.4 million! That’s 8. 7 percent of American adults, a 29 percent increase from 2008′s 15.8 million and a hell of a lot of coconut water. We know because the cash flow heated up like Santa in Bikram class: spending on yoga classes and products, including “equipment, clothing, vacations and media” is estimated at $10.3 billion a year, almost double the previous estimate from the 2008 study at $5.7 billion. We can hear the distant cheers of joy from retreat centers in Tulum and Costa Rica now.

It should be noted the data was gathered by Sports Marketing Surveys USA on behalf of Yoga Journal, not at lines in grocery stores and the DMV where we might have suggested. Honestly, we don’t know how the surveys were conducted, exactly, but the results seem to have yielded a lot of the obvious. More women do yoga than men (despite our love for them, male pro athletes’ and superstar endorsements and hearty crude jokes) and most practitioners are under 45. Only the Guinness World Records’ Oldest Yoga Teacher may be surprised by that one.

The study also found that 44.8 percent of practitioners consider themselves beginners which means the other 45.2 percent need a refreshing reminder that they are, too.

Here’s the 2012 info:

•82.2 percent are women; 17.8 percent are men.

•The majority of today’s yoga practitioners (62.8 percent) fall within the age range of 18-44.

•38.4 percent have practiced yoga for one year or less; 28.9 percent have practiced for one to three years; 32.7 percent have practiced for three years or longer.

•44.8 percent consider themselves beginners (22.9 percent are new to yoga; 21.9 percent are beginning to practice yoga after taking some time off); 39.6 percent consider themselves intermediate; 15.6 percent consider themselves expert/advanced.

•The top five reasons for starting yoga were: flexibility (78.3 percent), general conditioning (62.2 percent), stress relief (59.6 percent), improve overall health (58.5 percent) and physical fitness (55.1 percent)

Another interesting tidbit is that ‘of current non-practitioners, 44.4 percent of Americans call themselves “aspirational yogis”—people who are interested in trying yoga.’ And for these folks, Lululemon and all of the yoga pants fairies of the land rejoice, for it’s the “aspirational yogis” who will lead us into the future snug butt first.

For the rest of this article, click here.

Stay tuned for next week where at I will have a review of a Vinyasa class at Smiling Dog, to help warm you up this winter.

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Restorative yoga for the stress of the Holidays…

Well, it sure has been a busy few weeks with most everyone. Whether you have been traveling, visiting friends and family, eating all day, or just taking about the upcoming plans I find myself ready for some distressing classes and some relaxing poses. Most recently I had a little crash on my bicycle, nothing major but fractured a disc in my elbow falling on it wrong. This has left me with a sore left arm, which I am told by doctors, that I need to stretch and move so that it can heal properly. Well as I can only put little to no weight on it, I turned to my trusty and helpful Yin class. Now, I can only speak from my own experience with this particular bone that this was a good idea, but please consult your physician if you are attempting to do any yoga classes with an injury. As many of you may have experienced, you have to be diligent not to push yourself too far and let yourself take a break here and there which can be a good but humbling experience. That being said I was able to attend Anahata Lovely Day’s Yin Yoga class at 10:30 am on Monday morning. I talked with a student after and was able to get this thoughtful testimonial from Sandy, an avid yogi at Smiling Dog.

“I come to it pretty much every week. I like the mental peace, and it has also helped me to become much more flexible. I used to be very stiff and now over several years of daily practice I am much more flexible. I always say Yin class is like a massage you give yourself, because you come out so peaceful and centered, it is amazing feeling that. Anahata has such a nice gentle direction, when she talks is doesn’t interrupt the flow of relaxation. I can keep my eyes closed the whole time. I don’t need to look to see what to do. So I can just stay centered and relaxed through the whole class. I believe all world leaders should have to have a yin practice before their day, so when they go into those big meetings they can be much more peaceful.”    -Sandy

 Thank you Sandy for a wonderful review. For any of you interested in checking out a Yin Class take a look at the schedule.

I couldn’t help but share this simple recipe that turned out amazing paired with coconut ice cream over Thanksgiving. I love desserts that aren’t packed with butter, dough, and other dangerous sweets and this worked out great. Hopefully this Vegan Gluten Free alternative will be just as tempting!

Five-Spice Roasted Pears 

by: a Couple Cooks
Makes: 4
 What You Need
  • 4 ripe pears
  • 1 lemon
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon butter (or Vegan Earth Balance)
  • 2½ tablespoons honey, divided (or agave)
  • ¼ teaspoon Chinese five-spice
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt (I used coconut yogurt or coconut ice cream)
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla
  • ¼ cup sliced almonds
What To Do
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease a dish with butter.
  2. Peel the pears. Cut them in half, then remove the cores.
  3. Grease a baking dish with butter. Place the pears in the dish cut side down; then squeeze with the juice of 1 lemon. Pour 3 tablespoons water around the pears and place small chunks of 1 tablespoon butter around the dish. Drizzle with 1½ tablespoons honey and sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon Chinese five-spice.
  4. Bake uncovered, brushing frequently with pan juices, until the pears are tender and golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes.
  5. While the pears roast, prepare the Greek yogurt and almonds: In a small bowl mix 1 cup Greek yogurt with 1 tablespoon honey and ¼ teaspoon vanilla. In a dry pan over medium heat, heat the almonds, stirring occasionally, until browned – about 3 to 4 minutes (make sure to watch them constantly so they do not burn).
  6. To serve, place 2 roasted pear halves on a plate. Garnish with a dollop of vanilla Greek yogurt and toasted almonds.
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Vinyasa Yoga for the Winter

Leslie St John, skilled Vinyasa instructor at SDY, shares her thoughts on and experience with Vinyasa yoga.

Vinyasa. “Breath-synchronized movement.” “Moment-by-moment awareness.” “Toned, glowing bodies flowing in unison from one pose to another in a preordained script I didn’t get a chance to read…” This is how I used to think of vinyasa. As a dancer I was attracted to the dance-like flow of the class. As a poet, I loved the word: VIN-yasa. It felt like a cursive S to say; but I was a clumsy Q in my first few classes. The music was too loud, too new agey. I missed the teacher’s cues, always one foot or breath behind the ever-synchronized group. I mixed my right and left, got stuck on my sticky, and hurt my neck craning it from impossible shapes to see if I looked the like teacher. I didn’t. I most definitely forgot to breathe.

But I kept practicing.

And a few things changed.

As I inhaled to arch my spine in Cow, exhaled to curl into Cat; as I inhaled my arms overhead, exhaled to fold into my legs, my center—I began to hear this whispery, leafy rhythm. Could it be…my breath?


Sure. We breathe all the time, every day. Right now. But do we notice it? I’d mostly only be aware of my breath when it was short, say while running; or moth-like when nervous around a guy I liked. But this was different. I felt it filling me up, guiding me from pose to pose, supporting me moment to moment. I’ve got your back, it seemed to say. So, feeling my breath, hearing it, also helped me hear my small voice. That big S-self inner guidance system the yogis talk about.

And this—the breath-centered, moment-to-moment, dance-like asana, self-awakening experience is…vinyasa. As I know it.

And now that I’ve experienced it inside the classroom—Inhale, slide into plank pose. Exhale, roll into vashistasana—, I have tastes of it outside the classroom: driving to Oakland to visit a friend—Inhale, soften your grip on the steering wheel. Exhale, wobble the spine and release the shoulders—, seeing an ex-lover in the Trader Joe’s parking lot– Inhale, I am fine. Exhale, all is well. Inhale, I am still fine. Exhale, all is well. Really!

So, in this sense, vinyasa is a most effective yoga practice because not only does it help us integrate and coordinate breath with movement, but it also helps us be present in this moment…and this one…and this one. Whether that moment is breathing into bridge pose or Christmas shopping or grading papers.

Some days I like my vinyasa sweet; other days, strong. A lot of the time: spicy! (Someone once told me my Sunday classes are “sweet-and-spicy” vinysasa).

As winter pulls its quilt over us, I like to use the vinyasa practice to build internal heat. It keeps me warm and open and energized during these early-darkening days. Whatever flow I’m in, I always do three heating poses: utkatasana (use your inner samurai for this one), sirsasana, and urdhva dhanurasana, followed with some cooling hip openers, such as pigeon or janu sirsasana.

Check out this heat-building sequence (with video) from Roxy, inspired by Shiva Rea: Namaskar 1008.

And keep breathing. Keep moving. Now do that at the same time. VIN-yasa. 

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For this installment of our new Pose of the Month feature, we turn to utkatasana, often known as “chair pose” in English, but actually best understood by its literal meaning, “powerful pose” or sometimes, “fierce pose”. As with so many asanas, the name says it all: this pose is powerful and fierce, and practitioners often have strong responses to it as well! Regular practice of utkatasana cultivates our own sense of physical power; mentally, it fosters focus and determination. In winter, it is also a welcome pose for the internal heat it can generate.

Shiva Rea, in an enlightening article on utkatasana for Yoga Journal writes, “Yoga postures are good teachers. Some of the asanas are gentle and nurturing, showing you how to relax into your being. Other asanas are strong and direct – the kind that don’t pussyfoot around. Meet utkatasana, one of those vibrant asana teachers that you’ll likely never forget.” (To read Shiva Rea’s full article, click here.)

With this approach to asanas in general and utkatasana in particular, we can better set our intention for the month: to set aside time each day for utkatasana, time to be taught by utkatasana. With our broader December goal of firing up our internal furnace for the winter months ahead in mind, the intensity of utkatasana gives us some powerful kindling indeed.

Baron Baptiste, in his Journey into Power, offers the following utkatasana practice:

  1. Stand up straight with the inside edges of your feet touching. Work from a strong base and move upward. Keep rooting into the floor. Drive your legs down into the earth and lift your sternum to the sky, creating traction between the souls of your feet and the top of your head.
  2. Inhale as you bend your knees down deep to 90 degrees and bring your hands up over your head, arms alongside your ears. Squat down as if you were sitting in a chair, bringing your hips/tail slightly back.
  3. Lift your toes off the floor and shift the majority of your body weight (80 percent) back to your heels. You want to create lower body strength, upper body length.
  4. Hips low, heart high. Squeeze your sitting muscles in toward each other and lengthen your spine, reaching your arms up like a thunderbolt.
  5. Spread your shoulder blades apart. Pull your fingers up out of their knuckles. Spin your pinky fingers in toward each other, rotating your thumbs outward. Gently lift your chin and look up through your hands.
  6. Hold for at least five full breath cycles.

Baptiste notes, “It may feel a little stressful to hold this pose for the full five breaths…. In moments of stress in life, we tend to tense up and breathe less. But in the middle of stress – in life or in this pose – you have the perfect opportunity to reverse that pattern and rewire your nervous system. Rather than breathing less in stress, breathe more.”

Baptiste also offers a variation of utkatasana – utkatasana with a twist. According to Baptiste, “The twist creates flexible strength in the mid- and lower back. It squeezes and rinses the organs and muscles of the mid-section of the body like a sponge, including the kidneys and digestive organs.”

  1. From utkatasana, reach up through your hands, and as you exhale, bring them down into [anjali mudra, prayer pose] at your heart.
  2. Inhale and spin your left elbow to the outside of your right thigh. Keep your feet and knees together and dip your hips low. Pull your butt back and your chest plate forward, lengthening your spine. Pull your sitting bones in toward each other.
  3. Now straighten your arms. Ideally, the lower hand comes to the floor with your five fingertips set into the floor, like a claw. You can use a block if you need to, or, if you are more flexible, set your palm flat on the floor.
  4. Bring your right hand straight up to the sky, stacking it directly above your right shoulder. Bring your lower shoulder blade forward and pull your upper shoulder blade back. Look up and start to work on your twist.
  5. Match your breath to each micromovement. On the inhalation, lengthen the spine; on the exhalation, twist your torso open. Every two or three exhales, see if you can spin a little bit more. Be sure to twist from your torso, not from your arms.

And with advice perfectly timed to New Year’s resolutions, Baptiste concludes, “Putting actions to your intentions is the same as putting postures to your prayers. Let your intention for growth flow through your movements. Relax and ask for guidance and support and you will receive it.”

Yes, when the student is willing, the teacher appears. This month, our teacher is utkatasana. How will you chart your experience of utkatasana this month? By keeping a journal of your emotional response to the pose? By recording the time you are able to stay with the pose? However you choose to take on this practice this month, we’re eager to hear all about it! Come back by the blog any time in December and share your insights and your challenges in the comments section.

The painting above, “Bonsai Yoga Utkatasana” by Roger Schultz, can be found at



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On and Off the Mat: Pranayama

“Breathe to feed the fire in your heart,” my tai chi instructor insisted. “Without air, the fire goes out.” Years of martial arts practice before that tai chi class had failed to drive home such a simple understanding of breath: Without air, the fire goes out.  Previous meditation work had made me aware of my breath, but my tai chi instructor’s directive suddenly gave that awareness purpose.  I had a reason – beyond mere survival – to breathe.  I had an internal fire to tend.

Years later, in my first yoga classes, that sort of purposeful breathing returned – with a vengeance.  Ujjayi breathing is a staple of hatha yoga practice, and I happened to be practicing in a studio where the audible, ocean-like breathing was cultivated deliberately. There was no movement without audible breath. Breathe in, reach. Breathe out, fold. Breathe in, open. Breathe out, close. And on and on all the way to shavasana.               With yoga, I had another reason – beyond my heart-fire-tending – to breathe. If I wanted to move, I had to breathe.

Claudia Cummins, writing for Yoga Journal explains why breath is such an integral part of our asana classes: “Pranayama, the formal practice of controlling the breath, lies at the heart of yoga. It has a mysterious power to soothe and revitalize a tired body, a flagging spirit, or a wild mind. The ancient sages taught that prana, the vital force circulating through us, can be cultivated and channeled through a panoply of breathing exercises. In the process, the mind is calmed, rejuvenated, and uplifted. Pranayama serves as an important bridge between the outward, active practices of yoga—like asana—and the internal, surrendering practices that lead us into deeper states of meditation.”

Indeed, in Patanjali’s version of the eight-fold yogic path to samadhi, the blissful spiritual state of being wholly at one with the One, pranayama is the fourth step on the path to bliss, preceded by the physical practice of asana and followed by the mental practice of pratyahara, sometimes translated as sense withdrawal. Pranayama literally means “extension of the life force”, and according to traditional yoga philosophy, there are dozens of ways to extend our life force – both as part of our asana practice and apart from it. In fact, pranayama practice may be the perfect place to turn when we crave the physical benefits of our asana practice but are unable to get to our mats. The benefits of yogic breathing are many and the approaches plentiful, but the ultimate purpose is singular.

 “The elegant shapes and impressive contortions of the asanas may be the most eye-catching element of hatha yoga, but yoga masters will tell you they’re hardly the point of practice,” writes Cummins. “According to yoga philosophy, the postures are merely preludes to deeper states of meditation that lead us toward enlightenment, where our minds grow perfectly still and our lives grow infinitely big. But just how do we make the leap from Downward Dog to samadhi? Ancient yoga texts give us a clear answer: Breathe like a yogi.”

We can breathe to feed the fire in our hearts. We can breathe to fuel our motion. We can breathe to cleanse our internal systems. We can breathe to experience bliss. We can breathe like a yogi — on and off the mat.

For more on how to do just that, you can find Cummins’ full article, including an exploration of six pranayama practices from different yoga traditions, here.

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A Mountain Woman Yogi Moment

Wood Pile Art!

As our house’s main source of heat comes from a beautiful wood burning stove I have begun to take much pride in the daily ritual of building a fire when socks and sweaters aren’t enough. There is something about this process that makes me feel like a strong capable mountain woman. I gather the necessary newspaper and kindling and find a small collection of logs that will keep the heat going through the evening and take great joy and accomplishment in warming the house. This ongoing ritual soon turns me towards wearing jeans, flannel and boots, roasting vegetables, practicing tree pose, and going on hikes with the dog.

Given this feeling, I have a few things to share with you this week. In a recent visit to Roxanne’s Café I was able to talk with the owner about her amazing food. If you are new to Smiling Dog, this is a wonderful vegetarian and gluten-free place to grab some juice, kombucha, tea or an amazing meal in the midst of your day. Roxanne’s café is open Monday-Saturday 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. All of her baked goods are gluten free and they provide many options for Vegans or Vegetarians. For more info check out our website.

Roxanne gave me the lovely idea of a recipe that will inspire you all to do a little more in your kitchen. A cooking technique that she likes to do is roasting vegetables. It is easy and the flavors come out in delicious ways. What is great about this is that you can gather whatever vegetables are in season at your local farmers market and roast away. You can have them on salads, as a side dish, puree them into soups, or just about add them to anything.

Here is a great recipe I found on roasting vegetables. It is simple, delicious and will be the perfect activity to bring out the mountain woman in you. 

(Reposted from Richard Westley Wong)

Here’s what I use:
For the drizzle
Olive oil
Locally sourced honey
Fresh Lemon juice
For the veggies
*try to keep the sizes somewhat similar by halving and quartering. Carrots and potatoes will take the longest to cook so don’t cut them too big!
Small red onions
Small apples
Seckel Pears
“You really don’t need a recipe, just use enough “drizzle” to coat the veggies lightly. Roast on a lightly oiled baking sheet at 400 degrees checking every 15 minutes. Towards the end things will move more quickly so keep a wary eye out! Finally, roasted veggies hate being crowded – they should just touch, and definitely shouldn’t be piled on top of one another. If they do, use an extra pan to spread things about a bit. Olive oil with a hint of honey helps to bring out the natural sweetness and a bit of lemon juice keeps the individual flavors bright. Use your favorite woody herb and salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!”

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Yin Yoga Review and a Tasty Recipe

After a lovely past weekend spent in the colorful and stunning Yosemite, I find myself eager to enjoy the gradual decline of temperature and take notice to the trees that are all around and everchanging. Over the course of this weekend trip, a forgotten passion was reinvigorated within me. Cycling. With the weather cooling down, I am eager to start the days off with a long bike ride. What better than to bike to the yoga studio and then decompress with a yin class. With so much activity abound it makes sense to have a low maintenance food that will keep me going through it all. This week, I have a blog post that fits this mood perfectly, with Bree’s Corner reviewing Angela’s Yin class and a recipe to cuddle up with after a long day.

Bree’s Corner:

I had the lovely privilege of attending Angela’s Yin class last Thursday at 10:30 am. As it was the day after Halloween and also the Mexican holiday Dias de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead), she had a wonderful sequence designed with corpse pose being the theme, placing it intermittently between some of the poses. I was able to get a wonderful review from one of her avid Yin followers. Here are some of the comments made about Angela’s Yin Class:

“What I like about Yin is that you hold poses for longer periods of time, which allows for deeper movements. Holding poses allows the stretching to be in your tissue. And it is not just stretching it is also working on cleansing your organs. Each pose helps with different organs. It is also a non-threatening oriented approach that is kind and forgiving. It is geared towards what you can do, and I always feel relaxed after class. As I’ve gotten older and been doing yoga for a few years I’ve seen the benefit it can have on my life. And when she comes over and lightly massages your neck it feels like angels.”               – Nancy

Thank you Nancy for that great review. If you are curious about Yin Yoga check out this, it gives a more descriptive account of Yin yoga and some suggestions for different poses.

I have an amazing crockpot lentil stew recipe that is delicious! Who doesn’t love the crockpot cooking technique, fill it up with ingredients in the morning, go out and enjoy the beautiful day and come back to a comfortable home smelling of wonderful spices.

Slow Cooker Lentil Cauliflower Stew

(I found this recipe on The Shiksa in the Kitchen blog)

As with all the recipes I post on Smiling Dog I like to keep them yogi-friendly, meaning Vegan and Gluten Free. What is great about this is you can add other ingredients as you please if you prefer to not follow this regime. I added shredded chicken on top of my partner’s as he is a meat-eater. Also, keep in mind this recipe serves 8-10 people. So make sure you have a crockpot or large pot that can hold this much stew.


  • 16 oz dried lentils
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped (about 2 cups of onion)
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 lb. cauliflower, chopped into very small florets
  • 2 leeks, white and green parts only, halved, washed carefully, and chopped)
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 3 celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme or 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 tsp kosher salt (or to taste)
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne  (spicy—add less than 1/4 tsp for a milder flavor)
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 8 cups low sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 large can (32 oz) diced tomatoes with juice
  • 2 cups chopped kale or Swiss chard


  • Plain yogurt, herbed goat cheese, feta, crème fraîche, grated Parmesan, Greek yogurt or sour cream (I used Tofuti Sour Cream to add a little creamy flavor)

Prep Time: 15 Minutes

Cook Time: 90 – 8 Hours

Total Time: 105 – 8 Hours 15 Minutes

Click the link for the rest of the Slow Cooker Lentil Cauliflower Stew Recipe

Check us out every Friday for a fun new blog entry!

– Bree

Posted in ayurveda, nutrition, practice, Uncategorized, yin | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Traveling with Yoga Anywhere!

I trust you all had a wonderful Halloween filled with candy, candy, and more candy. I know I am ready to get back to yoga and a healthy diet of greens in order to feel some balance in my sugar levels again. November has arrived and with it comes the feeling of fall, the changing of the leaves, and the approach toward Thanksgiving.

In this day and age we find ourselves traveling quite often, either by car, train, or flight. With the holidays approaching I thought I might share an article with you about yoga studios opening in airports. As we are a city that has a choice of two equally distant larger airports to fly in and out of maybe this article will help you make that decision next time you are planning your big trip through Los Angeles or San Francisco. It is not only the airports themselves that are changing but it is also the awareness of the effects yoga can have on you while traveling. I think a large portion of us avid yoga practitioners have at one point or another done yoga poses when we were sick and tired of sitting and waiting all day. If you’ve ever experienced an international flight, some of which I have been on are over 10 hours long, you may have found yourself in the aisles in downward dog or in warrior two thanking the stars for these stretching poses. This memory led me to want to create a yoga sequence that is suited for the airport layover. Any ideas? What are your favorite yoga poses to do in airports, on flights, or in the midst of traveling?

Check out these poses if you need some quick deepening stretches on your next trip.

(I found this article on USA today from Oct. 24, 2012)

6:14PM EDT October 24. 2012 – Roseann Day can’t go without yoga, especially when she’s traveling. That’s when she says she needs it most, what with cramped seats on airplanes and luggage to haul.

“Yoga’s a wonderful exercise that doesn’t require any special equipment yet helps with strength and flexibility,” she says.

If she can’t find the time to take a class, the Massachusetts-based information technology consultant will do yoga in her hotel room in the morning.

Now, more than ever, yoga enthusiasts have plenty of options for maintaining their routines on the road, yoga instructors and hospitality industry experts say. A number of hotels offer classes or in-room equipment. And if they don’t, yoga instructors say, there are many ways to practice the craft even on a plane, in a hotel room or outdoors at a park or beach.

“Yoga is one of the most feasible ways to exercise while on the road — limited amount of equipment: You lay down a towel if you don’t have a mat. (It) can be practiced indoors or outdoors,” says Marshall Sanders, a registered yoga teacher at VIDA Fitness and EPIC Yoga in Washington, D.C. “And you don’t have to worry about bringing multiple pairs of shoes because you practice barefoot.”

Interest in yoga has grown over the years. A 2012 study by Yoga Journal, a national yoga publication, indicated that 20.4 million Americans practice yoga, up from 15.8 million in 2008. And they spend $2 billion a year on yoga retreats, up from $630,000 in 2008.

In an Omni Hotels and Resorts survey last year, 26% of respondents said they wished their hotel would help them find nearby yoga or spinning studios.

Read the rest of the article here.

Just a quick note before I sign off, if you are a big traveler and find yourself making big trips a few times every year check out this blog about the top three lightweight travel yoga mats. You may be surprised to find that that favorite yoga mat of yours comes in a lightweight travel version and we even have a few at the studio for sale.

Next week, I’ll have reviews of the two Yin classes offered at Smiling dog Yoga as well as a delightful new Yogi friendly recipe. Stay tuned!

– Bree

Posted in mats, philosophy, practice, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment