On Yoga and Cultural Appropriation

This past week I got into a debate with some friends about cultural appropriation. It was on a Facebook thread, so it wasn’t an ideal forum for the conversation, but it began when I (a white person) posted something to my friend’s wall (another white person), and then a Chicano friend of ours stepped in to say, “Hey, hold up, this is cultural appropriation.” As a person who has spent over a decade immersed in anti-oppresive activism and education, I was quick to be accountable to the critique. I realized immediately that what I shared could indeed be understood as cultural appropriation, and I knew that it was a privilege that I didn’t think about that right away. As a white person, I don’t have to think about appropriation everyday, so sometimes I miss it.

Between this exchange and a couple other universe-nudges, I felt moved to revisit my relationship to yoga. When I started a regular yoga practice I had enough forethought to consider the cultural appropriation inherent in engaging in a practice that is usually understood as something emerging from communities of color in India. What did it mean for me as a white person to practice this thing that didn’t belong to me? What did it mean to hear young white women use Sanskrit words whilst sporting racist, Randian Lululemon apparel? How could I engage in something that has become a $6 billion dollar industry in the West by de-linking it’s philosophical/spiritual roots, and usually servicing white people?

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Yoga Journal: “Some would say you’re missing the point by removing the cultural and philosophical underpinnings of the asana you teach. How do you respond to this?” Tara Stiles: “I kind of don’t care….” (actual part of the featured interview)

I struggled with this in the classes I took. I struggled when I heard white Bikram instructors take on what sounded like the caricature of an Indian accent and tell me to “fold [myself] in half like a Japanese ham sandwich.” (wtf does that even mean?). But amidst my struggle, I was transforming. I was experiencing life changing breakthroughs and real healing in those spaces, and I didn’t want to give up that feeling for anything.

About three and a half years after I started practicing yoga, I decided to go through yoga teacher training. I still wrestled with these questions, but part of me thought that doing teacher training would educate me in a way that would provide me some more clarity on the subject. I was right.

On the first day of training we got a giant binder with all our study materials. One of the first pages included a timeline of yoga history. I saw the words ‘British empire’ and zeroed in. “Hatha yoga is greatly influenced by the gymnastics of the British empire and hybrid vinyasa styles of yoga are born out of the British occupation of India,” my manual read. Oh fuck, I thought. I am participating in something that is literally the product of imperialism. I was awash with white person guilt.

Over the next eight weeks, I would learn mostly about asana (the physical practice of yoga), but in order to get an official yoga certification, it’s required that you learn about the many other (and equally important) elements of yoga as well. I started studying in earnest the teachings of Patanjali, learned more about chakras, delved into the teachings of ayurveda, and memorized sanskrit. As I learned more about the various philosophical underpinnings of the practice, I was overcome with an incredible feeling. I’m sure it’s how many people feel when certain religions call to them–and, indeed, yoga has become a spiritual practice for me. Through the hard study of yoga, my practice began to feel humble rather than appropriative.

I was able to feel good about this in my personal practice, but what about the fact that I was part of a larger phenomenon of Western yoga that enacts appropriation co-optation? What about the fact that many yoga studios across the US ban sanskrit to make yoga more “accessible” (to white people)? What about the fact that it was still mostly white people that were getting rich off of this? I didn’t know how to reconcile these things.

But then I went back to that thing about empire that I read in the binder on my first day of practice. And it hit me. Yes, it’s not a great feeling to participate in something that was actually a product of imperialism, but if contemporary yoga practices are a product of imperialism, then what “culture” are we actually appropriating? That is to say, maybe this “exotic Eastern pure and untainted Other-yoga” isn’t actually real. Maybe, as Melissa Heather writes,

“We need to realize that Jois and Iyengar are products of a particular time and place, and that their teachings are not ancient, timeless pieces of wisdom. We need to move beyond the binary of everything Eastern being inherently wise, perfect and static and everything Western being devoid of any spiritual knowledge or content. We need to embrace the fact that yoga is and has been many different things to many different people and will continue to shift and change with time.”

Oh right. Here’s this other thing I’ve learned throughout my anti-oppresive activism and education: don’t fucking essentialize people and cultures. When we suggest that we’re stealing a culture it assumes that there is a monolithic culture to steal. It suggests that a praxis-oriented philosophy is static. And those things just aren’t true.

So does this let me and other white people off the hook for practicing yoga? No. Because regardless of the British influence on what we now call yoga, it’s still a practice that is not indigenous to this land. And those of us who practice yoga need to be accountable to history. It is our responsibility to educate ourselves about the roots of the things in which we engage. The same goes for yoga teachers who make money off of teaching it. It is our responsibility to remember that “only developing a physical practice is itself a result of privilege.” And this goes for teachers of any kind–if you’re going to teach something, you better have a seriously holistic understanding of what it is and always attribute knowledge to the rightful knowledge-producers. Critical pedagogues have the ability to do that in classrooms pretty easily, but yoga teachers can do it too by practicing and teaching yoga beyond asana.

When we feel upset or guilty about our own personal practice (or teaching), we also need to ask who else is upset by it. The Hindu American Foundation created the Take Back Yoga campaign in an effort to call out Westerners (not just white people) who practice yoga and don’t acknowledge it’s ties to Hinduism, but didn’t call on people to stop practicing. Decolonizing Yoga is an amazing website/organization that has a mission that the name suggests, but does so in a way by urging US yoga communities to be better, not to shut down. (And one of the better practices means being more inclusive in terms of race, class, ability, etc….Inviting more people to do yoga, not less).  And South Asian Art & Perspectives in Yoga in America (SAAPYA) is doing really bad-ass work, but none of it involves telling white (or other non-South Asian) people to stop practicing.

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Rather, it’s our responsibility, as yogis in the West, to ensure that yoga is not just the athletic, yoga-butt-striving, asana-only, ahistorical, de-contextualized, expensive version.  It’s our responsibility to be diligent to work against any kind of microagressions we may perpetuate. It’s our responsibility to make sure that we step back when South Asian communities say what we need to do or not do in relation to it.

And it’s our responsibility to make sure that we don’t focus exclusively on our personal, individual relationship to things without looking at how power is operating structurally. Because I think the way we approach the conversation about yoga and cultural appropriation can veer us off course; it becomes too much about individuals and it has the potential to distract us from fighting the structures that leave white supremacy and imperialism in tact….And it’s imperialism and white supremacy that create the foundation for cultural appropriation. As Chiraag Bhatka, the artist behind an instillation called #whitepeople doing yoga, said of his project:

“….it’s not even about yoga really, it’s about colonization. Yoga’s just the vehicle.” 

Here are some good reads with various points of view (not all in agreement with me) on this general topic:

Like it or not, Western yoga is a textbook example of cultural appropriation

“The yoga debate: An existentially challenged Desi chimes in”

“My practice: Yoga and cultural appropriation”

“Yoga’s extreme makeover”

“White folk wearin’ dreadlocks irks the shit out of me”  

“Dear Racist Yogini: It’s South Asia calling and we want our yoga back” 

Do you practice yoga? How can yoga in the West be better accountable to yoga’s original roots? 

Friday Five!

Hey pals, it’s Friday again. My week has been my week: work is good, yoga is good, and feeling feelings is good (even if it doesn’t always feel like that, right?). I continue to be busy, so another short intro today. Let’s jump right into four things from the internet and a list of things that made me happy from the week. But first, some good advice that I’m trying hard to internalize:

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Vegan Pumpkin Pie Energy Bars

Okay, I’m going there. I am totally that girl—(well, not tooootally, but certainly implicated!)—and now that it actually feels like fall, I have suddenly been craving all things pumpkin. #sorrynotsorry. These energy bars from Nutritionist in the Kitch look like perfect autumn snacks!

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Work It

I have some qualms with this essay about “Health Raves,” but I also appreciate a lot of what it says about the ways in which our culture of productivity is very clearly a product of capitalism. Max Pearl begins with a description of health raves as a way to discuss the difference between disco drug culture and today’s green juice sipping workaholics. Both partying and “being healthy” take work, but the unique juncture of both is what Pearl finds interesting. “The health rave shifts the orientation of the party away from the wasteful pursuit of pleasure, the nihilistic accumulation of stimuli leading up to the inevitable crush of black, towards the constructive goal of making oneself a better person. And if the end of partying is suicide, the ultimate refusal of work, then the day rave has attempted to wipe death out of the picture by positioning the party as a means to healthier living, and by extension, a means to productivity in the service of capital.” There are times that this essay felt very “We all just need to do more drugs and slack off to fight capitalism,” which majorly rubs me the wrong way, but regardless, it’s a thinky piece that acts as another illustration of the contemporary configurations of health in a neoliberal world.

Lesbian Obesity Study

Hrrrrmmm. I have some major problems with this article as well, but I think it’s worth discussion. Basically Mari Brighe provides an overview of recent obesity studies that tell us what we all know: BMI is bunk, health can’t be measured in weight, etc. She also points to studies that suggest that lesbians are more likely to be fat than their straight counterparts, but that studies also show that technically-overweight queer ladies don’t think of themselves as fat. Brighe continues,

“On the flip side, straight girls are more likely to think of themselves as fat even when they’re not. That’s right, “overweight” queer ladies tend to be less critical of their bodies than straight women.

Researchers want to call this a problem of self-perception, but I have a different theory. It could be, perhaps, that queer girl culture doesn’t suffer the incessant, unreasonable pressure of the male gaze in the same way that straight girl culture does. After all, if you don’t have to concern yourself with attracting men as romantic partners, it’s considerable more reasonable to not give a fuck about their photoshopped-magazine-and-mainstream-pornography-fueled beauty standards, and you might be less likely to internalize that garbage. A dig through some psychology journals show that I’m not making this up. One study showed that lesbians tended to rate the attractiveness of bigger women higher than straight women did. A later study showed that women who felt a strong connection to the lesbian community scored better in personal body image and had fewer indications of depression.” 

Um, can I just say, “yikes”? Here’s the thing about body dysmorphia (not to be confused with body dysphoria)—it’s not about attracting a romantic partner. Surely, that could fuel some people’s negative body perceptions (e.g., “No one will want to date me if I’m not thin”), but it’s a whole fucking lot deeper than just that. Anyone who has struggled with body image, eating disorders, and or body dysmorphia knows that it can’t be solved just by knowing that potential lovers (male or female or trans or GNC or whomever) think you have a sexy body. I know so many women who have partners who try so goddamn hard to convince them that they are beautiful in their body, and usually we—(they, the women in question)—believe that our lovers think this is true. But we don’t think it’s true.

The idea that EDs, etc. stem from not feeling like enough people want to fuck you is pretty offensive to me. ALSO, the whole “these overweight queer ladies don’t think of themselves as fat” erases all the queer fat-identified ladies who identify with fat-positive politics. So, that too. What are your thoughts?

Vegans on Ex-Vegans

I’m sure most of you reading this blog have already seen Sayward’s post about her Vegans Talking About Ex-Vegans project, but in case you haven’t, go look at it now! Basically Sayward and her “ex-vegan-studying partner in crime, Matt Ruscigno …[are] slowly but surely piecing together a new website, which [they] hope will be a hub of information and interaction regarding the important issue of why people stop being vegan.” There are already a ton of great resources on this post, so I can’t wait to see what else the website has to offer. Vegan MoFo seems like the perfect time to remember that veganism is a movement and losing people from it is something that those of us invested in it should be discussing.

 

Stuff from the Week that Made Me Happy

cooler, autumn weather

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autumn-inspired bouquets of just-because flowers

getting a lot of faculty support for the upcoming Ferguson event that I spearheaded at work

phone calls, emails,  texts, and care-packages from friends far and near

nutritious, healing food

my students & seeing them start to make connections

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reading for book club

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bonding with other people waiting in the forever-never-ending-line at the social security office

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figuring out what my Fall of 2014 music is going to be

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 What do you think about the above articles? What made you happy this week? xo

What I’ve Been Eating This Week: Smoothies, Soups, & Kitchari

I’m not a consistent “What I Ate Wednesday”-er, but I think Vegan MoFo is an excellent reason to post pictures of all the vegan food I’ve been eating, don’t you? This week is a fun and special week of eating because I’m doing a mini-CLEAN/auyrvedic-inspired cleanse. Every once in a while I like to stick to an eating routine that gives my digestion a bit of a break. I love the CLEAN program because you still get to eat actual food, but the first and last meal of the day are always in liquid form (soups, smoothies, or juices). For my solid lunches I decided to make kitchari from my auyrvedic recipe book Eat Taste Heal.

I’ve written about ayurveda before, and if you’re not familiar with it, I definitely encourage you to look into this alternative healing practice. The first thing to know about ayurveda is that we all have a dosha, or a constitution. I invited my friend Michael over to share in food prep for the week, and we both decided to answer the questions in the book to determine our doshas.

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Michael and our score cards!

I knew I was a strong pitta, but this round of self-analysis revealed that I am actually pitta-kapha. (Still more pitta, but more kapha than I had ever been before). I found this really interesting, partly because I had previously leaned more toward pitta-vata. The cool thing is that I have consciously done things to balance my vatta (anxious energy, in particular), and apparently it’s working, because I wasn’t registering that high on vatta! Cool!

Kitchari is a staple dish in ayurvedic cooking. There are many variations, and this was ours:

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millet, mung beans, coconut milk, turmeric, mustard seed, red pepper, cilantro, ginger.

My breakfasts and dinners have been a variety of soups and smoothies:

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On days that I feel hungry after lunch, I’ve been snacking on my favorite snack, carrots and almond butter.

It’s only been a few days, but I always feel great almost immediately when I do the liquid/solid/liquid plan.

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What have you been eating lately? xo 

Dear Rebel Grrrl: How do I Plan and Stick to a Workout Routine?

Hello readers and happy Monday! It’s another week of Vegan MoFo and today I want to talk about working out—it’s one of the things that all the vegan food I eat helps me do! I received an email from my friend, Lauren, who—(after flattering me silly by calling me “the healthiest person [she] knows”)—asked for advice on how to plan and stick to a workout schedule. We had a lengthy email exchange that I’d like to share because I think it might be helpful for anyone trying to get more into fitness.

A note of clarification: Lauren has a membership at Corepower Yoga. When she refers to “Vinyasa” she means a “C2″ Power Vinaysa Class. “Sculpt” is a class offered at Corepower that incorporates weights, cardio, and circuit training.

A disclaimer: I am not a certified personal trainer, but I am a certified yoga teacher and sculpt teacher!

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L: [Now that I'm starting grad school], I am trying to put together a running and yoga schedule for myself. Basically I’m trying to figure out if I should do something like run MWF, vinyasa in those evenings, Sculpt on Tu/Thu, rest Saturdays, Hot Yin on Sundays. Do you know the optimal way to organize that for optimal results (both physically and mentally) or can you refer me to a good website?

Also, any tips for sticking to it?  I’m really bad at being also at going all the time for maybe three weeks, then not going at all for three weeks, then going again, etc.  Thanks love!

R: I think your proposed schedule sounds *awesome,* as long as you don’t have any problems with running. I have almost the exact same schedule since I teach M/W/F and usually like doing something in the morning before teaching, then relaxing with yoga on those nights. The only other difference is that I do more High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)-style workouts in the morning because I have bad knees and can’t run more than once or twice a week without major problems. Sculpt is HIIT-esque, but I have a lot of luck with particular YouTube trainers who provide amazing workouts in under an hour.
 
That said, I think the variation you suggest—cardio w/o weights via running + yoga, two days strength training—is a good one. If you are interested in building more muscle, I would consider replacing one running day with HIIT because you get bodyweight resistance in a lot of those.
 
As far as sticking to routine, the thing that has worked for me is that it became completely habitual for me. If you make it a habit you will stick to it! I know that sounds simplistic, but I literally feel like working out is like brushing my teeth. I wake up and workout every morning and my body expects those endorphins as a sort of wake-up, like coffee. It takes 21 days to form a habit, so if you can stick to your routine for 21 days, you will be solid! It’s easier for me in the AM than the PM, so I would recommend trying to take Sculpt morning classes if possible. That way you are training your body to wake up and crave endorphins Su-Fr. As for getting to the night classes, I made it part of my self-care nights. Nights I didn’t go out. Nights I would look forward to showering and putting on pjs. It feels like a luxury and a wonderful gift to myself at the end of long days.
 
The other thing I’ll say is that the C2 classes are intense and could be a workout in their own right. As I said, I also end up doing two workouts a day when I take those classes at night, but just remember to properly re-fuel and definitely hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!
 
If it feels overwhelming, I would advise skipping one of your night classes or even trying two rest days instead of one. But I can’t stress enough the magic of consistent morning workouts. That’s not everyone’s experience, but it has definitely been key for me. If that doesn’t seem like a good trick for you, maybe consider looking into some fitness apps? I don’t use them very often, but I know people have a lot of luck with that stuff!
 
If you are interested in HIIT, here is my YouTube playlist that I do a lot.
 
 
L: Thank you! A few more thoughts/questions…
 
The schedule I gave you is the absolute ideal, albeit slightly ambitious.  The other studio near me does a Hot Yin in the evenings which is amazing stretching and helps me sleep.  I’ve found that I’m wide awake if I do something more rigorous right before bed.  So that’s another tricky part.  When you say I can add an extra rest day, is it better to do that mid week, like Wednesday, or on Sunday?  I had a coworker who said he went to the gym M-F, but if he missed a day he made it up on the weekends, which seems like a good plan since my weekend schedules tend to be inconsistent. But logic is telling me my body would prefer Wednesday?  Do advise!
 
 
Running is actually easier for me than yoga, as long as the weather is warmish.  I believe this is due to the habit I formed after joining cross country in high school, my love of being outside, and naturally strong legs.  My trouble is I don’t push myself enough- if I start feeling not so great I’ll turn around and head home sooner than the goal I set. I also tend to get stuck in a pattern of 2-3 miles at the same pace.  
 
 
During yoga, on the other hand, I tend to go all out. I think this is because there’s a instructor acting as cheerleader, an audience (even though I know I should just focus on me!), and I am paying a ridiculous amount so I want to get my money’s worth.  I lack arm strength however, so I shy away from sculpt or feel like the least fit one in the room when I do go.  I love Hot Power Fusion the most, get bored in C1 and feel lost in C2, ha!
 
 
In regards to apps, I’ve tried Map My Run and Runtastic (prefer the latter) to track distance and pacing. I feel so awesome when the voice announces each mile! I have not used the social aspect of it though, and perhaps should try to find more friends to connect with and challenge me. I am a big fan of MyFitnessPal because I find it fascinating and eye-opening, and it motivates me to be more intentional.  I go on streaks where I type both workouts and food.
 
 
R: Okay, first, yes, it is an ambitious schedule and it’s totally okay to not do that all the time! As for when to take a second rest day, I think your logic is probably right, but more than logic, you need to trust your BODY! You need to take a rest day whenever your body tells you to take a rest day. My friend and tremendously inspiring fitness guru, Lacy, recently did a post about her workout schedule and she notes that she never works out more than three days in a row without a rest day. Like I said, taking rest days is something I struggle with, but when I *do* give my body a break, I feel better and stronger during the next workout. So if your body asks you to take a break on a Wednesday, you might find that you kick even harder ass during your Thursday workout. The point is, it will all even out, and that you can trust your body! And if your body can’t sleep after C2’s, then take a Hot Power Fusion or the Hot Yin class. Totally great solution.
 
As for pushing yourself during running, I actually spent one summer doing HIIT-style runs and found those to be incredibly challenging (in a good way). As HIIT implies, you’ll be running in intervals. This is when apps could come in handy; here is one I found just searching “HIIT running app.”  OR, perhaps you could make a playlist with some very short songs and some longer songs. Commit to sprinting during the short songs, then going at an easy pace during the long songs.
 
I completely relate to your description of pushing yourself during classes. But actually yoga is an amazing time to challenge yourself to NOT push yourself. I once had a teacher tell us to do modifications for at least one pose and to not take the more advanced option for at least one more. (So, for example: do revolved crescent lunge on your knee; if you usually go into Birds of Paradise from a bind, just stick to the bind; etc.). It was so frustrating to not go to my max in that class, but it was such an incredibly transformative lesson. Since then, I’ve been able to listen to my body more and not feel like I have to push as hard if my body really isn’t feeling it. (Pro tip: revolved crescent lunge on your knee > revolved crescent lunge not your knee!). Yoga is a great way to tame our egos that tell us that we have to be “the best”! So, that’s my advice there.
 
As far as arm strength: GURL, lacking arm strength means you should go to MORE sculpt classes! I am such a huge proponent of strength—it’s such an amazing thing for women to possess. I know you are down with female empowerment, and actually physically embodying that kind of strength is *incredible.* Feeling like the weak one in the room is another great “yoga lesson.” It’s okay if you’re the weakest one in the room. Keep going, get stronger. Try push ups on your toes instead of your knees one day. Pick up a heavier set of dumbbells. Yes you can!
 
I realize the last two paragraphs are complete contradictions: “Back off, take it easy in yoga; push to your edge in Sculpt.” I think both those things can be true at once. But here is what it will always boil down to: listen to your body. Is your body telling you to push hard in yoga because you want to be the best? Then maybe reassess. Is your body telling you to stop doing pushups because you feel embarrassed that you can’t do as many as the person next to you? Then maybe keep going. Maybe your body will tell you different things. Just keep listening.
 
And if your body never tells you to do pushups, then tell your body I have a bone to pick with it. Because upper body strength rules. This past week, I had to lift an air-conditioning unit and a dining room table to a third-floor walk-up apartment by myself. I grunted, I struggled, I even cried a couple times —(‘Oh woe is single me! No partner to help lift up heavy things, I will surely die alone with no one but my cats!’, I bemoaned through tears)—but I fucking did it. That would not have been possible without my Sculpt arms (or my Sculpt leg muscles either, actually). Being able to do something like that on my own felt so bad-ass and certainly mitigated the aforementioned pity-party. You don’t need to have upper arm strength to be a bad-ass lady, but, for what it’s worth, it feels pretty rad to be a bad-ass lady with upper arm strength.
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Other fitness-enthusiasts, what do you think? Any other thoughts or advice to offer? Leave a comment! 
 

Friday Five!

Hello and happy Friday! School started back this week, which is a very wonderful awesome thing, but it also means that I am even busier than usual. So this post is going to be short and sweet…

The goal of Vegan MoFo is to post 5 times a week, and I’m pretty sure that’s not going to happen for me, BUT I’m still going to post as much as possible. SO, welcome to a Very Vegan MoFo Edition of the Friday Five!

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Autumn Kale Slaw

This recipe from Green Kitchen Stories is another one of those “transition recipes” to make as summer ends and fall begins. It’s light and fresh and crisp, but starts to incorporate richer fall flavors (like the combination of apples and hazelnuts). No-honey vegans sub maple syrup for the honey.

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Skinny-Shaming vs. Fat-Shaming

This controversial article argues that, although skinny-shaming is not okay, that it is not at all the same (and thus not as egregious) as fat-shaming. The article begins by pointing to thin women who are up in arms about recent pop cultural attacks on “skinny bitches.” Miller argues, “Skinny shaming may be as emotionally hurtful to the individual — ugh, that “eat a sandwich” bullshit. But, the fact remains that a thin body is the normative, mainstream ideal.” She goes on to point to studies that reveal mega discriminatory practices against fat people in hiring, housing, and trials. I think it’s interesting to consider hegemony in this conversation. If overwhelming cultural norms suggest that “thin=beautiful” can we really cry “reverse-sizeism”? Thoughts?

The Decolonized Diet 

Yes, “THIS” as the kids on the internet say. The decolonized diet refers to an indigenous-lead movement to try to get indigenous communities in the US to “recover [their] ancestor’s gardens.” That is to say—indigenous communities aren’t bringing on diabetes and obesity because of their own diet, it’s because of colonizers influence on their diet. The article discusses several groups trying to “help… native communities address acute and chronic conditions” through food.

The Joy of Cooking?

This article is a rebuttal to the Michael Pollen-esque argument that reforming our food system means we must all get back to the kitchen and be one with the joy of cooking. Now, obviously, I enjoy cooking and find that it has been a healing place for me and a space for me to think more about my own health and the health of the environment. However, as this article points out, “While Pollan and others wax nostalgic about a time when people grew their own food and sat around the dinner table eating it, they fail to see all of the invisible labor that goes into planning, making, and coordinating family meals. Cooking is at times joyful, but it is also filled with time pressures, tradeoffs designed to save money, and the burden of pleasing others.”  Basically, having time and resources to cook family dinners every night is not something that is afforded to everyone. The article goes on to discuss how this promotes a sort of bourgeois ideal of family and motherhood: “The idea that home cooking is inherently ideal reflects an elite foodie standpoint. Romantic depictions of cooking assume that everyone has a home, that family members are home eating at the same time, and that kitchens and dining spaces are equipped and safe. This is not necessarily the case for the families we met.” 

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I want to put in conversation this article with the above article about the decolonized diet (can you tell I’m back to teaching?). First, we must note that poor people and people of color are not always already unhealthy. AND we must also note that poor people and people of color have structural barriers to living as healthfully as they/we/some might think is best (which is it’s own can of worms beans). Point is, we all have a lot to think about in terms of the racial, economic, and temporal aspects of food justice.

Stuff from the Week that Made Me Happy

Classes starting and meeting my new students

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Yoga Sculpt

Beach day

Friends reaching out

Video texts of my favorite baby from my BFF

My capable muscles lifting all the things

Learning more about Feng Shui

 

What made you happy this week? xo

Bad Pictures of Good Food: Some things I’ve been eating lately

Hello! In honor of Vegan Month of Food, I’m trying to post a bit more on the blog. Thus, here are some shots of some of the food I’ve been enjoying since I arrived back in Boston. 

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My first and most urgent stop when I got back to the city was heading to my yoga studio that I had been missing all summer. I was delighted to discover the clementine-offering Buddha upon my arrival. (And, yeah, hey, if you’re in Boston and are interested in becoming a yoga teacher, ask me about Teacher Training!) 

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I headed to Life Alive the first week I was back as well. This restaurant is the hippiest place you can get on the East Coast, which obvs means totally delicious vegan food. This is the Green Goddess, my absolute favorite dish there. 

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Here’s a terrible picture of a salad I made. Red kale, cucumbers, lemon juice, nooch, and a bit of EVOO.

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Another restaurant stop was True Bistro. It’s my second favorite vegan restaurant in the city, and I shared these potato-kale cakes with my dear friend Michael!

 

img_5626I always consume tons of green tea while I work. This was at a coffee shop called Tamper. 

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And this was a version of my go-to miso soup that I make when I need to feel good health-wise or emotion-wise. I had just had a pretty rough day, so I took back-to-back yoga classes at my studio and came home to make a dinner that would re-hydrate me, provide me awesome nutritents, and also feel comforting. Miso cauliflower kale soup was born. (So easy to make, too. Just heat up cauliflower in a pot of water, then add in the kale, squeeze in some lemon juice, stir in some miso, and sprinkle a dash of red pepper. Voila). 

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What have you been eating lately? 

Bread SRSLY Review (+Discount Code!)

I am so very excited to bring you this review of the San Francisco-based company, Bread SRSLY. I first heard about this first ever gluten-free bread company from Lacy and was eager to sample their product. It’s a pretty big treat to find a bread that is both vegan and gluten-free, and after I made my order I spent my days day dreaming of all the bread-based things I could finally make again. Sandwiches. Avocado toast. Appetizer bread and dipping oils. I was getting stoked.

(all images courtesy of Bread SRSLY)

I ordered a four pack with two classic sourdough loaves and two kale sourdough loaves (yes, you read that right!). The company ships orders on Tuesday, and I ordered on a Thursday, so I knew it would be a bit before they arrived, but once I got my confirmation email that they shipped, the bread arrived just two days later! I was really impressed with that, especially since, when it comes to bread, the fresher the better.

The loaves arrived in adorable brown paper bags and also with a little information card from the company. It provided good tips for eating and storing, including that if you want to freeze your bread you should slice it before doing so. I appreciated that when I ended up putting two loaves in the freezer!

I enjoyed everything I had been craving: A delicious veggie and greens sandwich on toasted kale slices. Avocado toast on a classic slice (many times over). And I tore up the loaves into bite size pieces to share with friends over homemade kale pesto and hummus.

The bread is truly delicious. It’s a little gummy, but, to me, that felt very characteristic of sourdough and didn’t bother me at all. The outside of the bread crisps up perfectly in the toaster, but it’s also delicious to eat without toasting.

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photo by Bread SRSLY

 

For someone who can’t eat much bread, it was such a pleasure to enjoy so many fun dishes that usually upset my stomach. Unlike when I eat traditional bread, I didn’t have any bloating or discomfort. This is probably thanks to the fact that they use so few ingredients. The loaves are made with: Organic White Rice Flour, Millet Flour, Sorghum Flour, Arrowroot, Sourdough Starter (Water, Sorghum Flour), Xanthan Gum, Salt.

Check that out. No sugars of any kind. Organic ingredients. And not too many of ‘em. (Not even Food For Life–my go-to GF bread when I’m really craving it–can boast such a minimal ingredient list.)

I also adore the story behind the company. Sadie, the founder, really started this as a way to win the heart of a boy. (Spoiler alert: It worked!). Of course, Sadie was also invested in finding ways to feed gluten-intolerant people, but it sure was convenient that the apple of her eye had just gone gluten-free! You can read more of that charming tale here.

Sadie!

Sadie! (photo: Molly DeCourdreaux)

I also had the pleasure of corresponding with Sadie through email, and the customer service was exceptional. I got quick and friendly personal replies to my emails and an official notice when my delivery had shipped.

I highly recommend this bread to anyone who wants to have the pleasure of enjoying a slice of bread or two, but who doesn’t want to deal with the after effects of gluten. It tastes good. It’s made of simple ingredients I can pronounce. The customer service is stellar. And it was FUN to enjoy something I so rarely eat!

Lucky for us, Bread SRSLY has offered a discount code to Rebel Grrrl Living readers. If you want to make an order, go here and at check out enter “rebelgrrrl” in the code box. This offer is good until September 30th, so make sure to use it before then! 

Now that it’s getting to be fall, I plan to thaw some of the bread I have waiting in the freezer to make some delicious pumpkin french toast. Who’s with me?

photo by Bread SRSLY

photo by Bread SRSLY

 

*Note: I received a discount on my order, but was not compensated and all opinions in this review are completely my own.