Monday, May 7, 2012

Warrior II: Vegetarian Tamale Pie

We spent a significant part of last month in yoga class doing hip openers in order to practice our virabhadrasana II (warrior pose).  I've always loved that pose: it's named after an incarnation of Shiva, described as having a thousand heads, a thousand eyes, and a thousand feet, wielding a thousand clubs, and wearing a tiger's skin, and when I'm standing there, grounded, arms out, feet spread, I feel powerful.  To practice it correctly, though, is a challenge.  I consider myself pretty open in the hips (I have a dancer's "turnout"), but even for me, after the third week of holding a block against the wall with my knee in vriskhasana, I was actually having a hard time walking around after class.

The practice of the month made me appreciate, though, the necessary coexistence of the seemingly antithetical positions of openness and either defense or aggression.  We often think of warriors as people who take a position and hold it firmly, who are closed-minded, driven, bent on their own goals.  But yoga reminds us that the strongest warriors are also people who are open to their opponents; who stand firmly, feeling the ground firmly under their feet, but who can accept otherness and perhaps even respond based on the actions of their opponent.  There's a definite vulnerability to virabhadrasana II; while you focus on what's in front of you, and your arms and legs are spread wide, your body is completely open.

How many times have I assumed "fight" stance in a closed way?  And how much more powerful might I have been if I'd been flexible, open, strong but still willing to be vulnerable?

We were talking about leadership and conflict in the youth group I work with on Sunday, and one of them said something truly inspiring: she said that she used to be a much more angry and aggressive person, but she's come to believe that if something or someone is persistent enough to find its way into her life, that she should receive it as a gift, with thanks, even if she doesn't like them and doesn't agree with them.  It was an impressive, inspiring thing to say for someone who is only 15, even if she doesn't technically live that belief all the time.

I'm waging quite a few battles of my own these days.  Perhaps a change of stance is in order.

What are your battles?  Have you tried being open?  And if so, have you found it a more effective approach?

(This recipe is good for the days when you're battling against the clock to put dinner on the table.  My husband didn't like it because it has coconut oil in it (though you could easily sub in another fat), my son wanted to eat mostly cornbread, and my daughter picked out the black beans, but I still think it's a good recipe for "clean" eating, which is another war many of us wage on a daily basis.)

Vegetarian Tamale Pie
(a recipe for the crockpot)

3 cloves garlic, minced
1 28-oz box diced tomatoes
1 8-oz pkg sliced baby Portobello mushrooms
1 cup diced yellow onion
1 large zucchini, diced
1 large red bell pepper, diced
1 15-oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 tsp sea salt
2 tsp ground cumin
3 tsp chile powder
1 tsp dried oregano
1 1/2 cups whole-grain yellow cornmeal
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 large egg
1 1/2 cups skim milk (almond milk or soy milk is OK)
1 1/2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp melted coconut oil
1/2 cup low-fat shredded cheddar cheese

 In a 5-6 quart slow cooker combine garlic, tomatoes and accompanying juices, mushrooms, onion, jalapeño, zucchini, bell pepper, beans, chile powder, cumin, oregano and salt. Stir to combine, cover and cook on low for 6 hours.

Increase slow cooker heat to high. Meanwhile, prepare cornmeal batter: In a medium bowl, whisk cornmeal and baking powder. In a large glass measuring cup or small bowl, whisk egg, milk, oil and vinegar. Add to cornmeal mixture and stir to combine. Stir in cheddar.

Remove lid from slow cooker. Pour cornmeal mixture over top of vegetable mixture and spread evenly to form a crust. Place a clean dish towel over top of slow cooker and replace lid, resting over top of towel (this will prevent condensation from wetting the surface of the cornmeal crust). Cook for 1 hour, until cornbread sets. Remove lid and towel and slice into wedges.
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  1. What a wonderful post. And what an inspiring point of view that girl has. She is definitely wise beyond her years. I also have a hard time with truly opening my hips in Warrior II, I can't get my bottom hip all the way under my top hip. It's very hard for me. Just as being open to certain situations is difficult for me.

    As you already mentioned on my recent post, what I'm struggling most with right now is not being attached to the outcome. I have so many projects that I'm working towards and none have a definite outcome. That is hard for me. So I'm trying to focus on the parts that bring me joy and leaving the other bits behind, as much as I can.

    I hope you find the openness you're looking for.

    1. Thanks, E. We do it with practice, don't we? Just like yoga.

      Hope you, too, can find opennness to your joy.

  2. One of the things loss does to a person, well, to me anyway, is a forceful opening up, of at least recognizing that much in our lives is far from under our control, and, again, for me anyway, that was a chance to (eventually) start living in a more 'opened up' way. Choosing anger and aggression is sometimes a much easier choice than choosing openness and love. Much, much easier sometimes.

    My daughter's memory verse from church this week is "A friend loveth at all times" and we've had a lot of talk around here about the "at all times" part of it. That means even when your friend is out of sorts and not very lovable. I also love that Jesus tells us to love others, even those that don't treat us well, and that is such a challenge - it's so easy to only be open to and love those that are like us or are nice to us but truly being open to others means at least trying to extend grace and kindness to those who may not deserve it in that moment.

    Anyway, I'll wrap it up. That quote from the 15 year old struck me and made me think of all these discussions we've been having in my house lately. :)

    1. Thanks for this, Jenn. I agree with you about loss ... and about the ease of choosing anger.

      My yoga teacher always ends class with the same verse, which, translated from Sanskrit, means "may all beings everywhere be happy and free." I think sometimes of the people who have hurt me, and it is difficult to wish them happiness. But that's really what we strive for, isn't it? The strength within us that allows us to do things like that.

      So glad the words resonated with you this week.

  3. My main battles are internal: worrying (needlessly) about how I will cope with Eskil's next stage, wondering what is happening with my job, worrying about putting Eskil into child care if I have a job, etc. So you'd think I could win these battles. :-/ Strangely enough food is coming into place for Eskil and as is breastfeeding (well, pumping breastmilk). I have a book I love, Wholefood for Children. I think it is Australian, but you might be interested in it. I LOVE it. Also recipes from Baby Lead Weaning Cookbook. I think this recipe is one I'll try!

  4. I've been struggling with similar stuff, and I also love Warrior poses. My teacher told me to consider my, uh, frenemies (for lack of a better world) as "teachers" instead. So I've been trying with varying success to do so.

    I'd forgotten about tamale pie, a recipe I used to make once in awhile. I'll be trying this one out soon!

  5. I see some amazingly important and kept up to length of your strength searching for in your on the site
    Warrior II Or Virabhadrasana II


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