Monday, January 9, 2012

Community, Yoga, and Vegan Gin and Tonic Cupcakes

(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.

Today was my husband's birthday.   When I asked him what kind of a cake he'd like, he told me that he wanted a "custom" flavor: gin and tonic cupcakes (because gin and tonics are one of his favorite adult beverages, and because I've done adult beverage cupcakes before) ... and then he said that if it was too much trouble I shouldn't worry about it.  The thing is, when I bake, even late into the night, as I'm wont to do, I'm not depleted.  I'm renewed.  Because I know that what I'm doing is going to make other people happy.  It's why I used to bake for my classes, or for my colleagues.  Feeding people feeds me.  In both the literal, and the not-so-literal, sense.

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.
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  1. ok, first off the video is hilarious.
    two, are those cupcakse tasty? I have never heard of such a thing and am intrigued..
    three, happy b-day mr. half-baked!

  2. @InB: Mr. Half-Baked thinks that they are among my best cupcakes. I'm not sure I agree completely, but they're definitely tasty. :)

  3. I often go through that cycle with yoga---I love going to class, but then I skip many weeks and just need to go once in order to have all the reasons why I love it come rushing back to me! In fact, I did that on Friday.
    I have seen that video and it is pretty darn funny. The What Vegans Say video is pretty funny too :-)

    Cupcakes look delish!! Happy Birthday S!

  4. Wow, I'm totally going to have to show my brother this recipe. Very cool and man is that video hilarious oh and I love your stained glass cookie recipe, need to bookmark it for future reference. Hope all is awesome!! Namaste.

  5. That video made me laugh out loud. Thanks for sharing! Sadly, I know girls like that.

    I love that you invented a new cupcake for your husband. Happy birthday to him!

  6. I agree completely with you on how you feel about baking. I can spend an entire day in the kitchen and feel so fulfilled and energized when complete.

    Those cupcakes look delicious!

  7. You desciribed exactly how I feel about baking. I wish I was selfless in all parts of my life, but the one place I am is when it comes to baking. That is the one place where I just really do want to make other people happy (and if you would as them, fat). :)

    Thanks for your sweet comments these last couple of weeks. I really do appreciate it.

  8. You want to see where I can put my leg?
    You *want* to see where I can put my leg.

    Amazing. That video had me laughing so hard.

    Also, I'm dying to know how those cupcakes taste. As a gin and tonic person myself I'm very, very curious.

    I love how your teacher tells your class that you should leave feeling renewed. That is always when I know I've had a good class, when I have more energy walking out than I did walking in. That happened the last two times I went and I'm itching to go again. Hopefully soon.

    I also love the idea of our yoga touching everything we touch. The other day I came home from a great class and Ben was totally despondent after a horrible diaper changing session with Isa. And for the first time I just listened, with empathy to what he was saying and I finally understood his struggle, without judging him for not being able to handle it better. It was amazing and I'm sure it was possible because of yoga. I was so glad I went that day so I could finally understand where he was coming from. Yoga is so, so wonderful.

    Thanks for sharing all of this.

  9. Okay, so I laughed my butt off at that video:) I think you're right about bloggy self-censsoring...the words have tremendous weight. They have the power to make someone feel less alone, or to get underneath someone's skin. And because of the roads we've walked (and the roads many readers are still walking) the last thing we'd want is to hurt or offend. Anyway, it got me thinking.

    The cupcakes sound great:)

  10. That video is hysterical. I have to say that there have been a few people sporting that vibe at some of the classes I've been to. I used to love to swim (I think I still love to swim and I cling to your previous thoughts about body memory in hope that I will get to swim regularly again someday) so I went to the classes offered at the gym/pool where I belonged. I think they were just too big and filled with too many "ultra fitness types". I'd love to find a class like yours one day.

    ps. I emailed that cupcake recipe to one of my closest friends who is vegan and she is whipping them up this week - Thank You Justine!!!

  11. Yoga is simply muscle relaxation exercise. I love doing yoga with music RAV Vast


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