Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Oryoki for Busy People

Oryoki is the name for the zen-monk's style of dining. A usual meal consists of three bowls. A small bowl for miso soup, a medium size for rice, and a large bowl for the main dish, which consists of light, in-season vegetables. (A small saucer of pickles is optional.) We bought this great book about it a few years ago which explains a lot more about the philosophy behind oriyoki.

While Gwen and I were on a zazen retreat last summer, we noticed how much healthier and lighter we felt on the 3 bowl diet. I don't know why, but the balance between carbs, protiens, hot, cold, plain and flavorful is just perfect for settling the mind down. After that, we determined to eat "monk food" a few times a week.

But, of course, life gets busy, and it's easy to wander into a restaurant or fast food place when you're hungry and the grocery shopping hasn't been done. So, it is in the spirit of compromise that I offer the modern, microwaveable, 3 bowl meal.

You can see in this picture 2 packages of microwave rice, two packages of instant miso, two bags of pre-cut microwaveable vegetables, and three varieties of pickles conveniently stored in plastic tubs. And seven minutes later...

a balanced, nutritious, and possibly radioactive, meal. Itadakimasu!

P.S. Recently I went on a Zen retreat and made this movie about the Oryoki tradition. Check it out!


Yoga Garden

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Yoga For All Seasons

The UN just released this report that says half of the world's population will be urban by 2007. Living in a city is a very disconnecting experience, especially when it comes to enjoying the change of the seasons. Moving from one climate controlled building to another (in a climate controlled car or train), hardly seeing a tree or grass, and having access to avacados and strawberries year-round, it can all make the seasons seem like a backdrop to our busy lives, nice to look at but unimportant.

But I think this is changing. This year I've heard so much in the mainstream media about Seasonal Affective Disorder. People are starting to get back to the idea that we constantly interact with and are changed by our environment.

Being sensitive to how your body is reacting to the changing seasons can also be brought into your yoga practice. During the winter, energy levels drop, muscles tighten, and circulation decreases. In yoga classes you can take notice of how your body feels at different times of the day and year. Your yoga practice can reflect the seasons, having a practice that allows the body to restore itself during the winter and burns off energy in the summer, for example, is one way to do this. Eating and resting habits, as explored in this article, should also reflect the seasons.

Relective, relaxing postures such as seated forward bends, legs up the wall, and reclining bound angle poses, all of which can be found on Yoga Journal's informative Pose Finder page, can be combined for a home practice that will allow your body to restore itself. These sorts of poses are also helpful in recovering from colds and flu.


Yoga Garden