Yoga In The Kitchen.
By Liz Huntly
Start with a recipe — something someone taught you.
The cherry flambé your father wowed your friends with every birthday until you were 12. Or your grandmother’s famous butter tarts, the way your mother showed you how to make them.
How to measure out in cups and spoons, how to fold in black pearls of raisins, how to let your loved ones lick the bowl. Start with the tongue of nostalgia, start with tradition.
Or start with a book, a sacred one perhaps — bake manna from heaven. Or a blasphemous one, if that’s what speaks to your gut — Thug Kitchen, for yogis who want to eat like they give a fuck.
Or start with a recipe passed on to you via the profound collective wisdom of the Internet. I have a favorite — an autumn special from a long-ago issue of Canadian Living for sweet potato muffins with a caramelized pecan topping. I’ve used it so many times that I know it by heart.
It’s morphed along the way — became vegan, traded pecans for walnuts, makes six big-ass muffin bombs instead of the puny 12 it was intended to. I’ve used it so many times that it’s become my own.
Pick your ingredients carefully. Look at things. The round brightness of an orange, the way it cringes and weeps as you grate away its skin. The lumpy weight of a sweet potato in your hand, its earthy husk. Notice the aliveness of these things.
Sift flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg. Sifting is an important skill — it allows us to refine, to remove impurities, to set aside that which we do not need.
Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Watch as the powder sucks up the juice. Imagine your dry lungs taking in the wetness of air. Imagine how nutrients are delivered from breath to blood to body. Stir a wet mass into a dry mass and know that osmosis is the most important thing, in baking, in life.
Chop almonds for the topping. Not too fast. You know how to wield a knife, but don’t get cocky. As we become skilled, we use sharper tools and in doing so increase the risks.
A careless blade is as dangerous as an unrestrained ego. The moment you think you know a thing is the moment you chop off your own finger.
Bake at 375°F for 28 minutes. Learn to wait. The kitchen smells like Christmas in the space of six seconds and little muffin heads start jumping out of their beds in 10, but Santa ain’t here yet.
When the time is right, remove the muffins from the pan and let cool on a wire rack. This food is a gift, unwrap it slowly.
See how the muffin tops have puffed up with joy? See how they spurt happy jets of steam from their brilliant orange hearts? A hot muffin is a bundle of emotion. Let these boys settle before you go burning your tongue.
The walnuts are a little bit charred, but never mind. Eat. See how the thing is good.
And your Yoga? Start with a recipe: a tradition, a modern interpretation, a YouTube video. Start with the practice that speaks to your heart.
Use it a million times. Knead it. Boil it. Add a little spice. Taste, chew, digest, until it becomes a part of your own physical substance.
Don’t get lazy just because you know the thing. Stay attentive. Be on the watch.
Breathe deeper. Let go of the bits you don’t need.
Have patience. Allow things to ripen in their own time.
Accept all outcomes.
Liz Huntly is a mover and shaker, a barefoot philosopher, a collector of languages. She mostly lives in Cologne, Germany, but feels at home anywhere she can comfortably get into Vrksasana. She’s infinitely curious about the body and the breath, plants, art, magic, beauty, failure, and how to find the sweetness of being lost in the world. She wants to watch you fall in love with Yoga. Liz teaches workshops and retreats internationally. For the multitude of ways to get in touch, visit her website.