Monday, February 4, 2008

Anusara Yoga Retreat

This weekend, I attended an Anusara Yoga Retreat at Prairiewood Retreat Center in Hiawatha, Iowa. Marsha Nieland, who owns Fusion Studio in Cedar Rapids, had the idea to do a retreat centered around the book "Eat Pray Love." On the first day, we had a two-hour yoga class, then lunch--Stacey Berg catered. She made delicious roasted vegetable panini, an incredible minestrone soup (see picture), and turtle bars.

After a break, we spent the evening hanging out, playing games, finger painting, talking about the book and the parts we loved, laughing a lot, and eating Indian and Italian food from local restaurants. The Aloo Gobhi (cauliflower and potatoes) was especially good, also the Dal, Nam, Raita, and rice pudding, which the restaurant (Taste of India in Cedar Rapids) threw in just to be nice. After dinner we broke out an incredible array of chocolates from Vosges out of Chicago, and drank lots of a wine called (appropriately) Bitch. It's a red-fruity wine, very easy to drink and juicy but not sweet. The next morning, we did more yoga, pranayama, meditation. Everyone had an amazing time.

My friend Rachel, pictured above doing a lovely split across the beds in the room we shared at Prairiewoods, has just returned from Denver as a certified yoga teacher and is now specializing in Anusara, studying to teach that style. She's my BFF so she wanted me to try it. It's an open-hearted style of yoga, fun and compassionate, not so serious in tone as Iyengar but yet rigorous, based in many of the same principles as Iyengar. I feel great after the weekend--I almost wish we had done more yoga classes (but it's not every day you get that much premium-quality chocolate piled up in front of you so seductively, so I'm certainly not complaining).

Today, to balance out the weekend's diet extremes, I'm doing another raw day. Raw Monday, Raw Friday works for me so far. I'm making one exception: A cup of good hot black coffee. For breakfast, a carob orange smoothie, which I invented based on ingredients I happened to have around--raw pistachios, very ripe bananas, lots of oranges, and a big jar of carob powder:

Carob-Orange Smoothie

1/4 cup raw pistachios
1/4 cup carob powder
1/4 cup filtered water
2 very ripe bananas
juice from one freshly squeezed orange
orange wedges for garnish

1. Grind the pistachios in the blender. Add the carob powder and water. Blend to a paste.
2. Add the bananas and orange juice. Blend until smooth.
3. Serve with orange wedges--squeeze them over the top. This will be room temperature unless you use frozen bananas, which also works.

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