Sunday, February 10, 2013

Green: Toasted Kale and Coconut with Farro

I am, and always have been, the sort of person who does best in the gym through peer pressure.  It's not that I don't want to go, but more that I just don't enjoy running on the treadmill or using machines; I can't bring myself to watch TV and live in my head for that long while I'm doing reps.  I like the social aspect of group exercise classes; I like the friendly joking, the camaraderie and encouragement of fellow class members, even the collecting grunting and groaning during a particularly challenging class.  Like comments in blogging, it makes me feel a little less alone.  In fact, this is so important to me that it determines where I go to the gym; I go to our local YMCA because I love the mix of people there, I love the fact that I don't feel like I have to walk shamefully through rows of perfect bodies and people primping, I love the fact that people come as they are, in all shapes and sizes, and the goal is not perfection but wellness.

So I was sort of surprised when I realized that I'd been attacked by the green eyed monster at the Y today.

My group exercise classes are mostly "regulars" -- people who show up for the same classes every week.  Some of us show up for class at the same time every day.  Monday is Kick.  Tuesday is Tabata.  Wednesday is Step.  Thursday is Groove.

Usually the instructors are encouraging of everyone, regardless of ability.  But I know that they're also always on the lookout for potential teachers.  And in the class I love most last week, the instructor asked after "friend x," mentioning that she wanted to get her into an upcoming training.

I like "friend x" a lot.  I think she's good at the class.  She is skinny and athletic.  She remembers all of the steps in a routine.  I've known that this instructor was trying to tap her for some time.  And it's not as if the instructor doesn't encourage me, too; she's mentioned that I would be a good fit for teaching a different class (which, in my opinion, is full of people who do it even better than I do).  But still I found myself thinking, "why aren't I good enough to get trained to teach this class?  Why won't she pick me?"

I spent the rest of the class feeling shamefully inadequate.  And envious of my friend.

Yoga teaches us that behind every block, every painful feeling, every surge of resentment, is life force waiting to be freed.  When we get stuck in asana, we breathe, and the breath re-creates the flow of prana, often allowing us to move more deeply into the pose.  Instead of worrying about what we don't have, or where we fall short, we focus on freeing that energy, on allowing it -- as it wants to do naturally anyway -- to shift and move, to become something else, to become more creative.

And then we're called to practice mudita,or empathetic joy.  The more we cling to our selves, the more we get stuck in "I"-ness, in our achievements, the more we are limited.  The reality is, we don't have to be good at everything.  That's not what it's about.  It's about practicing to the best of our ability, and resting in the joy of others as they do the same.

And when I think about it, that's at the heart of the Y, anyway, at the heart of the success of our group fitness classes.  Not to be caught up in what we do best alone, but what we do best together, experiencing joy when others can reach their fullest potential.  The spirit of non-competitiveness.  I can do this when people experience joy in things that I don't want; now it's up to me to practice joy even when the achievement is something I would have wanted, too.  Because the fact that someone is attaining joy near me makes me part of that joy, too ... makes me an integral component of it.  I am part of the energy the makes that joy possible.

So that's what I'll be working on this week.  Looking my teacher and my friend in the eye, cheering her on, and making sure that my green says where it belongs, in my salad bowl.

Toasted Kale with Coconut and Farro

This recipe comes directly from Heidi Swanson's cookbook, Super Natural Everyday, which I bought myself with a gift card as a treat during the holidaysI haven't bought a cookbook in years, and it was absolutely worth it; I haven't been disappointed in a recipe yet.

Respecting the intellectual property of other bloggers means not reprinting recipes as they are written without permission from the author.  And I didn't alter this one very much, as I usually do.  So instead today I'm posting a list of the ingredients, and a link to Serious Eats, which did get permission from Heidi to reprint her recipe.   I used a bit more kale than she did, which I've reflected below.

Suffice to say that this was the most amazing kale dish I think I've ever eaten.  I literally could not stop devouring it.  If you liked the kale chip phenomenon, this dish will rock your world.  And start to finish it took me about 20 minutes, with minimal effort.  If only working on my other greens was this easy.

1/3 c. extra-virgin olive oil  
1 t. sesame oil 
2 T. shoyu, tamari, or soy sauce 
4 lightly packed c. chopped kale, stems trimmed, large ribs removed 
1 1/2 c. unsweetened large-flake coconut 
2 c. cooked farro or other whole grain (optional)
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  1. Yay! Something else to do with my newest favourite vegetable!

  2. This is so true....its easy enough to not be jealous when it isn't something you personally want. I'm impressed you exercise so regularly! Good for you! I do miss group exercise but not in the cards right not logistically or financially.

  3. And I'm simply jealous of the people who get to attend those classes with you.

    Sigh...I'm happy for your friend, working out next to you.

  4. Such an important point: "I can do this when people experience joy in things that I don't want; now it's up to me to practice joy even when the achievement is something I would have wanted, too."

    It is so easy to feel that joy when you don't feel like you're missing out on something. But when it hits close to home, when it's something you want too? So hard.


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