(You're intrigued by the title of this post. I know you are.)
This past week I got back to yoga class for the first time in weeks, and it felt really, really good. Not only to practice, but to be back in that room, part of the community, the sangha, of my yoga studio. Sure, I could practice on my own (and sometimes do). I could watch yoga videos. But I've come to the conclusion that my practice of yoga both is and is not about me, a lot like blogging, and quite honestly, a lot like everything in my life that is meaningful to me.
A friend of mine posted this video caricature about yogis to her facebook wall, and I've now watched it at least five times, laughing out loud every time.
I probably don't need to tell you that most yogis aren't really like that. Shallow. Self-centered. In fact, every class at my studio ends with the chant Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu: may all beings everywhere be happy and free. My teacher talks about practice as something that is for us, but also something that we do with an intention for something greater ... that our yoga touches everyone we touch, which again touches everyone they touch, and so on. Because yoga is about allowing prana, the life force, to flow better through you, out into the world and back ... not about achieving some kind of smug satisfaction from turning yourself into a pretzel.
I remember when I was younger my old world Catholic father telling me that nuns did good for the world by praying, and thinking that being a nun must be a good gig (discounting the poverty and chastity bits, of course), since it looked to me like what they were doing was a pretty self-centered form of nothing. But I think now that I see it a little bit differently: that the most inward-facing activities, the most mindful activities, can be the ones that affect us, and therefore everyone else, the most. I suspect that's why some of us self-censor a bit in our blog writing: because we know that there is an audience out there, and if we're lucky enough to get comments, we begin to know who they are, and how our words become larger than ourselves.
My husband sent me a link to a NYTimes article about how yoga can wreck your body. I told him that my teacher wasn't like the teachers in that article; that she doesn't push us to go deeper (though she does "adjust" our asanas). In fact, what she says is that we know we're doing it right when we don't feel depleted after class, but renewed and rejuvinated. To me, the community is part of what makes that renewal possible.
Yoga doesn't exactly go with adult drinks, unless you're doing wheat grass shots, I guess. But I'm posting these in the hopes that you'll know we're not lushes.
Lokah samasta sukinoh bhavantu, and happy birthday, S.
Gin and Tonic Cupcakes
1/4 c. tonic water, stirred vigorously for about a minute to get some of the fizz out
1 1/2 t. lime zest
a few drops of lime juice
1 c. unsweetened soy milk
1/4 c. vegetable oil
1 T. gin
1/2 t. vanilla extract
1 c. sugar
1 1/3 c. flour
1/4 t. baking soda
1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
Preheat oven to 350F. Fill a 12-cup muffin tin with liners. In a large bowl, mix together tonic water, lime juice, lime zest, soy milk, oil , gin, vanilla and sugar. Sift in flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Whisk until just combined. Divide evenly into muffin tins. Bake for 20-24 minutes, until a tester comes out clean and the cakes spring back when lightly pressed. Cool completely before frosting.
Gin and Tonic Frosting
1/2 c. butter (or equivalent), softened
2 T. vegan nonhydrogenated shortening
2 t. gin
2 t. tonic water
a few drops of lime juice
2+ cups confectioners' sugar
Cream together butter/nonhydrogenated shortening (depending on whether you want the frosting vegan or not). Add confectioners' sugar. Add lime juice, gin, and tonic. Beat well and add in more sugar as needed to make frosting desired consistency. Spread or pipe on cupcakes.