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7 Days of Joy and Juice

Well, I did it! I thrived on 7 days of fresh juices, mineral broth, tea infusions and nut milk. The challenges were not what I expected they would be, nor did they come up when I thought they would.

Half of the produce I acquired at the Junction Farmer's Market to set me up for a week of juicing.

My reasons for doing the community juice fast were fairly simple. I’ve always been curious about them and the timing felt right. My boyfriend was away so there would be no tempting food around me, and my sweet tooth needed to be curbed. I love hitting the refresh button with a gentle cleanse about twice a year, but this time I kicked it up a notch. Here is a peak into my experience this week:

Monday:

I had a really restless sleep last night. It’s been freezing in our room even though I’ve been going to bed all bundled up. I had strange dreams, tossed and turned and woke up with a super sore neck. Thank goodness for the chiropractor appointment I have scheduled for later. Regardless of my poor sleep, I sprung out of bed excited to move through my day.

By 9:15am I had made my tea infusion, oil pulled (more on that to follow), folded all my laundry, meditated, made almond milk and juice, dry brushed and showered with hot/cold water therapy; and was out the door for a meeting.

My first morning juice was delicious! Grapefruit, orange, apple, celery and romaine. Yum!

My first oil pulling experience is worth sharing - stop reading this paragraph now if you’re squeamish. ... For my first attempt, I used coconut oil in it’s solid form, thinking that it would easily melt in my mouth. Well it MIGHT have, had my gag reflex not been going crazy!! Maybe it was the squishy, oily texture? Despite my good intentions, I had to spit it out. It was too out of control. I was determined though, so I warmed the oil up so that I could try again, starting with it in its liquid form. Success. Definitely less gross, but still challenging. Significantly less gagging, but how anyone could sit and meditate while they do just that is beyond me. I had to busy myself doing ANYTHING to make those 20 minutes go by. Maybe it gets easier?

Overall my mood today was good. My energy felt a little more “still”, but it was certainly manageable. And no hunger! I’m shocked! Bring on day 2!

Tuesday:

Still feeling good!! I definitely notice that I have no desire to move quickly though. My morning routine was significantly expedited today, as I had to be out the door at 5:50am to lead this month’s Motivational Morning workshop with Amanda. The rest of my day was way more restful and it felt wonderful. I visited with friends and had a quiet night at home which I welcomed. My overall mood for the day was calm and grounded. Still no signs of hunger or cravings, though I did feel a little more fatigued.

Evening green juice on Tuesday: cucumber, celery, romaine, lemon and pear.

Wednesday:

This is the day I was most worried about... The infamous “day 3” combined with a packed schedule. I woke up early to have lots of time for a leisurely morning. My second go at oil pulling was way less intense. Still not my favourite thing to do, but I love how clean my mouth feels afterwards. After the first class I taught in the morning, I stayed for the restorative class that follows and it was exactly what I needed. In the afternoon I had a couple hours to juice for the evening and prepare for the rest of my classes this week. 

I find that I’m really enjoying drinking the mineral broth every day. It’s warm and savoury and comforting. I made a giant batch on Monday and froze about half of it in small containers to take out throughout the second half of the week. To make the broth use all the veggie scraps you might usually put in the compost bin: leek greens, asparagus stems, kale ribs, celery leaves, potatoes that have started to grow ears, etc. To that, you can add carrot, cabbage, leafy greens, onion, herbs, and sea vegetables like dulse, nori and kombu. Fill a big pot with all of your stuff then cover it with water, bring it to a boil, then let it simmer for 3 hours. Strain it to remove all the veg, enjoy!!

A giant pot of mineral broth in the making. Once strained, I kept half of the liquid in the fridge and froze the other half in small containers so that I could pull them out daily throughout the second half of the week.

Thursday:

Ahhh! Another quiet morning to myself. After waking up, oil pulling, preparing my tea and morning juice, meditating and showering, I spent the day accomplishing various tasks that I had been saving for this week. I have felt content and nourished since the beginning of the fast, and have even had moments when I’ve thought “I could totally keep going!” ...And then I walk by the bakery and see the beautiful crusty sourdough baguettes in the window. Those will have to wait. The energy in both of my classes tonight was beautiful and I was reminded of how grateful I am to be doing something I love so much. I can’t believe tomorrow is Friday already. I’m feeling great!!

Friday:

It’s become clear to me throughout this fast that I love my mornings slow and quiet. Having a morning ritual really helps me feel grounded. Some of the new practices that I’ve integrated since Monday will certainly become part of my regular routine. I’m going to have to start looking for a used juicer online : )

This has to have been one of my top 3 juices. It's SO yummy!! Fennel, carrot, apple and orange.

I made the mistake this afternoon of starting to plan ahead for my meals next week, knowing that I would have to buy groceries at some point on the weekend. Breaking the fast is a slow process when done intelligently, and realizing how long it might be until I can actually bite in to one of those beautifully made baguettes, has me feeling a little grumpy. I have loved every one of the juices and broths I’ve had all week, but I’m definitely feeling ready to move back to solids. Who knew that day 5 would be the day that the hungry wolf would come knocking? And all for a piece of (really good!) bread with butter - not my usual chocolate or sweets craving!?

I couldn’t wait to get to the studio to teach and then practice. Being on a juice fast is a little isolating unless you’re hanging out with other juicers, so I’m definitely craving the human interaction (and distraction). At night I was seriously contemplating breaking my fast the next day, so I decided to watch Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead (an inspiring documentary about juicing). It helped a bit, but I think I just needed to go to bed.

Tomatoes, spinach, sunflower sprouts, garlic, cucumber, celery, red pepper and parsley, soon to be gazpacho in a glass.

Saturday:

Last night’s sleep did me good. I feel ready to tackle my final two days. Both juices I made this morning and afternoon were incredible, although my trip to the farmer’s market after class was nothing short of torture. Today was the last Junction market of the season, so I wanted to stock up. My freezer is full of local and happy meat and gorgeous bread, but I had to completely say no to my favourite pastries since they wouldn’t keep long enough for me to enjoy them. I picked up some delicious hummus, berries and yogurt at the grocery store so that I’m ready to gradually re-introduce things this week; but in the mean time I had to hide them behind my juice ingredients to lessen temptation. I can’t wait to make soups and eat warm veggies and grains!! The sudden drop in temperature here has meant that I’ve been cold all the time unless I’m in the hot room teaching, or taking a bath. I think the next time I choose to do something like this I’ll wait for warmer weather. Darren has expressed his interest as well, so we’ll try one together next time which should be fun.

Ingredients for two beautiful juices: pineapple, celery and orange; as well as fennel, grapefruit, celery and apple. Fennel is officially my favourite thing to juice.

Sunday:

I woke with the sun shining this morning and I knew it would be a great day. My juice was rich and delicious, I felt excited about the prospect of breaking the fast later in the evening, and was very much at peace with the whole experience. I spent time with some friends in the afternoon and made my way to Caroline’s house in the evening to break the fast with the community. She prepared a beautiful fruit plater with apples, oranges, celery, romaine hearts, bananas, grapes, watermelon, pomegranate seeds, soaked prunes, figs and apricots. It was delicious! 

Sunday morning juice ingredients: carrot, beet, celery, apple, cucumber, orange, swiss chard and spinach.

My biggest take away from this week was observing how some of the things I’ve been working on in my life through other practices, also came forward through this experience. As a person who sets pretty big personal goals, I often catch myself planning for things way ahead of time. I don’t mean like 2 or 3 months, I’m talking 3-5 years. I’ve been working hard at being fully present so that I can find more joy with where I currently am in my life, and over the last few months I can say that I’m getting better at it and it feels really good. 

Interestingly enough, this lesson came up again on days 5 and 6 this week. Although I had felt nothing but wonderful all week, on Friday when I decided to read about how I should mindfully break the fast over the course of 6-7 days (or longer if the body feels resistant to digesting solids), it seemed like an eternity! Ultimately, this is what made me grumpy and anxious!! Not the fact that I was missing bread, or feeling like I have been anti social throughout this fast because of my limited diet; but that I was anticipating what was to come instead of finding joy in the moment. The 7 day community juice fast heightened my senses in a lot of ways, but it was also an excellent reminder of how powerful it is to be present. It’s easy(er) for me to do that on my mat then in my everyday life, but I’m learning. As long as I take it day by day and hour by hour, I have no doubt that this upcoming week will be as nourishing as the last one was. On that note I raise my glass - of green juice - and say cheers, to less fear and doubt, and more joy.

Finally, I would like to extend a special thank you to my aunt Caroline Dupont for her generous guidance throughout this experience. The passion and care she pours into her offerings made this week transformational. To find out more about her practice and the community juice fast, visit www.carolinedupont.com.

 

For Oma, with love.

Growing Pains

Trying new things is hard. The growing pains are uncomfortable. 

As I continue to process the information I received over 8 days at the Kula Yoga Project’s advanced teacher training, and embark on an 7 day juice fast for the first time, the growing pains are eminent.

The Kulafied clan of yogis, soaking in the final morning of ocean air and sunshine.

Kula Yoga Project is a studio based in NYC. If you’re in New York and love yoga, GO. It’s awesome. Studio Director Schuyler Grant has developed a signature Kula style that seamlessly combines the breath based flow of Ashtanga with the precision of Iyengar alignment, to create a sweaty and incredible mind/body experience. Spending 8 days with her was a privilege, and man did I ever learn a lot. Here are a couple of my favourite take aways...

Kula’s style is definitely unique in that unlike in most yoga classes, the teacher will not demonstrate (unless absolutely necessary). Instructors use concise cues to guide students through the practice, so that they can have their own experience initiated from inside themselves, instead of trying to recreate a shape that they see in front of them. One of my goals coming out of this training has been to completely stop demonstrating in all of my classes. Obviously this means that as a teacher, my cuing has to be impeccably precise (which it isn’t yet, but I’m working on it), and it also means that I have to sit with the discomfort of students sometimes looking lost when my cues are less than perfect. 

In addition to all of that, the students have to become proficient at actively listen, so the learning curve for both myself and any practitioner that isn’t used to learning this way, is steep. But hey, I’m not perfect and I’m learning too. So sometimes I just pop down to the ground and show something real quick. Students are creatures of habit though. If they get used to watching, they don’t learn how to listen. So I’m trying incredibly hard not to give in to the urge to demonstrate, ever. The whole point of teaching yoga is to help make people present, so as teachers we have to be present ourselves; and we can’t be lazy. If I’m demonstrating on my mat for 2/3 of the class, the students are only getting my full attention 1/3 of the time. I can’t fully teach to the room, if I’m not SEEING what is happening to the bodies in the room from all angles.

The other skill I’m practicing is teaching to the metronome: guiding class to a steady rhythm from start to finish, with very specific breath and movement cues, to allow students to unconsciously drop into a flow that is so much more than your typical Vinyasa. That rhythm is what makes it a moving meditation, and is one of the reasons Kula classes feel SO good. Again, if you’re in NYC go: http://www.kulayoga.com/kula/

So I’m trying to teach with incredibly precise cues, without demonstrating, while simultaneously adjusting, and while keeping a metronome-like rhythm. It’s a lot and it’s hard. ...For now. 

So, why bother with these new “practices” if teaching felt so beautiful and seamless before I started applying them? To inspire. Every day I hope to inspire students in their practice, whether it be physically, mentally, or spiritually. Kula’s advanced training blessed me with the guidance of teachers who have inspired me to grow; so I have to do the work. I trust that it’s worth the effort. Like everything else we’ve ever had to learn to do, it will become easier and more embodied with practice, patience and time. Right now, some days it feels really great and natural. And other days it feels frustrating and significantly less great. But that’s part of learning and growing, and I want to be the very best that I can be for my students and for myself.

My first morning juice: apple, grapefruit, orange, celery and romaine.

In the spirit of bettering myself, I’m beginning my ritual fall cleanse this week, but with a bit of an added spin. I’ve set my intention, and am on day 2 of a 7 day community juice fast. In the week leading up to the fast, my intention was met by some “shocked” reactions (to say the least): “7 days? ... Why so extreme? ... But you’ll lose weight? ... You don’t need to cleanse, you’re already clean?!” Guess what folks, we live in big smelly city where our pace is significantly faster than what is “healthy” and where most of us consume processed foods. We could all use a little cleansing! Myself included. And sure, maybe juicing is considered by many as being one of the more extreme ways of doing it, but I am being led by an incredibly knowledgable teacher whom I love and trust completely. Her name is Caroline Dupont and for a taste of her magic check out: www.carolinedupont.com 

The fast is done in a community setting so that everyone feels supported throughout, and let me tell you, it makes a huge difference to have that support. At the group meeting that marked the beginning of the fast, we gathered together, sipped on samples of broth and almond elixir, set our intentions and Caroline led us through a beautiful Kirtan. One of the most challenging things leading up to the fast was that I found myself doubting whether I should do it or not, not because of my thoughts and feelings around it, but because of other people’s opinions. I did my research. I’m not alone in this journey and I’m not crazy. I am brave.

Tonight marks the end of day two. I have honestly felt better over the last two days then I did last week when I was omitting things gradually from my diet. My energy level is a little lower, but it’s a welcomed change of pace, and I have not felt hungry at all. Meal time is so simple and I love it!! Do I want tea, juice, mineral broth or almond milk? Done. WAY simpler!! Don’t get me wrong, chewing on something will feel amazing when this is over, but for now I am very much at peace with the process.

So cheers to being brave, overcoming obstacles and blossoming into new possibilities. Some lessons are harder than others, but everything is a practice. We all have our stuff, and we do our very best with the tools that we have to grow from our experiences.

Check back in next week to hear about how the rest of the juice fast goes.