This weekend was the 2022 Front Range Yoga Festival! I had the most incredible time teaching and learning from other yogis from all over the state and around the country. It was such a joy to share my Freeing Your Feet Workshop and see the lightbulbs go on in so many faces.
After the festival I stopped in at Two Medicine on my way home and took a quick hike to Aster Falls. I spent about 85% of the hike barefoot and the rest of the time in my Bedrock Sandals. It was hilarious to watch people notice my bare feet and the array of reactions that followed their realization. Some folks said something, and some wouldn’t even make eye contact with me afterwards 😹
The first ten minutes without shoes on is always the toughest. The nerve endings on the soles of my feet were absolutely fizzing with information. My whole body got warm and I even had a prickly sweat going on a hike that is so easy I normally wouldn’t even bat an eyelash. About 10 minutes in my body seemed to settle in. My feet started feeling so good and my movement and gait pattern shifted to adjust.
Even now as I write this the following morning I can feel every bit of the skin of my feet. They feel vibrant and awake. I do this sort of thing a lot, so I have a tolerance built up from experience. I don’t recommend everyone goes out and hikes multiple barefoot miles right away. I suggest you start small. Walking around your yard or an outdoor place with soft soil, flat rocks, grass or mud. Spend at least 10 minutes standing and moving gently on a variety of surfaces to get that neural feedback going. Build up to walking distances over varied terrain.
When you aren’t actually barefoot - there are so many great hiking footwear options that won’t elevate your risk of injury. I spend a ton of time hiking in my Bedrock Sandals, which are a Montana brand! When sandals aren’t practical, I wear my Vivobarefoot hiking boots.
Given that we all have differently shaped feet, I recommend you trace, measure and study your feet, then look for a brand that will fit your particular foot shape. Anya’s Reviews page on hiking boots is a great place to start and her website in general is an amazing resource for all things foot-shaped shoe related.
The first time I read that quote by Michael Pollan, I was in high school. I was taking a summer course in Nutrition at a local community college. It struck a chord because it so perfectly summed up the “secret” to good health (with the appropriate exercise added into the mix as well obviously.) It’s no-nonsense simplicity really aligns with my ideals, and it’s backed up by tons of credible scientific research.
I am not a registered dietician or a nutritionist though I’ve studied it extensively out of personal fascination. None of this is advice, below I’ve simply collected my favorite recipes to share with you, as well as some of my own practices in the kitchen. I’ll probably pop back in and periodically add and update the list. Share your favorite recipes in the comments if you feel inclined!
Store-bought bread is full of preservatives to make it shelf-stable long enough to be shipped to your store and beyond, and is usually wrapped in plastic. I like to make my own whenever possible!
My husband is more frequently the cook, and I’m the baker. Many of our go-to meals are Asian inspired dishes because you can load them up with veggies, they’re dairy-free, and if you happen to want to add meat, it’s usually pretty easy to marinade up a little venison to add on the side. We do them over rice or noodles, depending on the night. I usually take the leftovers (if there are any😂) to work with me for my lunch.
Desserts & Treats -
Nothing wrong with sweet treats in moderation. Better to have a fully decadent real food treat than a super processed or “low-fat” lookalike. Just stick with small portions. I make up a batch of cookie dough, ball it up, and freeze them. I put the date made, type of cookie, and baking instructions in with it. Then when we’re ready for dessert, it’s easy to pull out & bake just 2-4 cookie dough balls at a time to bake. The big bonus is that they’re always fresh & warm!
This winter I had no regular weekly yoga classes scheduled for the first time since I joined the Flathead Valley yoga community. It was both refreshing and isolating, and it got me thinking about why I teach, and how I want to practice the yogic tradition of seva or self-less service.
My father is a Vietnam veteran and sadly lives very far away from me. My mother instilled in me the value of community service. I spent many hours of my youth volunteering my time for worthy causes. Seniors, and particularly our aging veterans are an underserved part of our community in general, and the modern yoga practice as it’s offered can be pretty prohibitive to this demographic especially. I received my Accessible Yoga Teacher certification through the Accessible Yoga Training organization this past summer at Wildflower Society, and I had been mulling over the best way to integrate these experiences into my teachings. I reached out to the Montana Veterans Home, and was delighted to be welcomed as a volunteer to offer classes for the residents.
It has been a little over a month of weekly classes and the experience has been a delight and an education. I recognize the privilege of teaching to able bodies, and the challenge of adapting the practice to folks who are wheelchair users has been incredible for me as a teacher. These students have spirit, boundless humor (bordering on silliness at times), and a willingness to try new things even if they are quite dubious about the entire process. Their delight at rediscovering movements in their bodies has brought a smile to my face every week.
I will always love teaching mat classes, but these chair yoga practices have expanded my horizons for what yoga can look like, and how it can incite precisely the same feeling, even without the downward-facing dogs. Facilitating people in discovering how much better their bodies can feel, simply by taking the time to pay attention to them, and move them with intention, is for me, one of the highest joys of teaching yoga.