Early Summer Yoga Challenge: Completed.

I blog today to officially end the early summer yoga challenge I extended to you yogis (of all ages, levels, shapes, sizes) out there. I did some yoga every day without fail…almost.

Last Friday, I am somewhat ashamed to report that I did not roll out my mat and down-dog it up. I was set to attend another Boot Camp Yoga class at my home studio when some car problems arose and I was enlisted to chauffeur my family around to their destinations. After a few deep breaths and mental replays of everything my parents have done for me, I overcame my resentment about this abrupt change in my schedule and promised myself that I would do some yoga that evening.

However….that evening saw a mass of packing boxes and paper, as I, along with several of her high school friends, helped my cousin/roommate prepare for her move to Michigan the following day. After helping to fold a growing mountain of laundry, clearing out cabinets, and sharing an abandoned, unopened can of chocolate chip macaroons I found as I rummaged through the kitchen, I made it to bed around 3am. Was flipping on a yoga podcast on my mind? I think not.

So, with the exception of last Friday, I managed to do some yoga every day. I used Tara Stiles’ Yoga Anywhere DVD and several podcasts to take me through some relaxing, intense, and energizing routines. Therefore, I dub this early summer yoga challenge officially completed. This week, I aim to attend a couple of classes at my home studio so I can revel in the heated room and the encouragement of a few of my favorite instructors.

During the past few days, I have embraced my new found identity as a baker. Yesterday I whipped up a batch of Black Bean Brownies from a recipe I found on Crazy Sexy Life, the website of Kris Carr, a wellness warrior currently the object of my obsession. Much to my dismay, their odd, somewhat creamy and grainy texture turned off my mother, a woman who’s baking skills and intuition astound and inspire me.

After this slightly crushing blow to my fragile confidence as a novice baker, I felt vindicated and comforted by my friend Jenna’s delight and approval of the brownies. Her and I usually enjoy food from health and wellness recipes that call for non-conventional ingredients, so I was mostly excited to share these treats with one of the closest people to me. Plus, she paired my brownies with some Tango Peach wine, a lovely addition to our girls night of creamy chocolate, fruity alcohol, and the gaudy and overwhelming Real Housewives of New Jersey.

Black Bean Brownies

Jenna's hand and her dog, Lucky, who lasciviously circled the brownies

Today, I tried my hand at Alicia Silverstone’s (I seriously contend that Cher Horowitz’s intelligence, eloquence, and sophistication renders her an Austen-esque character that more of us women should emulate) Kale Chips. They were easy, cheap, and fun to make, though I baked them for too long and salvaged only a few.

My washed kale drying on a bath towel in the kitchen

My oiled and salted kale pieces ready to bake

I think with a few minutes less in the oven, these babies will serve beautifully as a nutritious, salty, snack.

Slightly burnt kale chips, but still tasty!

To bolster and enliven my yoga practice even more, I am attending a zumba class tonight with a friend. I love incorporating zumba or any dance/workout class into my routine simply because it’s fun. As a 20-something woman who grew up with booty-shakers like Jenifer Lopez, Britney Spears, and Beyonce, and who currently lusts after (that woman makes me seriously question my heterosexuality) everything Madonna does or says, I quite enjoy shaking my butt and sweating up a storm in the name of health and sexiness.

Plus, I like to think that zumba forces my brain to access different physiological and physical skills, skills that I rarely use in my everyday life, as my academic and professional lives do not require me to learn choreography, i.e. move my hands and legs in different ways at the same time. This comforts me, as I harbor a constant fear of exhibiting early stages of Alzheimer’s. I figure the more I learn new tactile concepts, like a short dance routine, the more I stimulate my brain and stave off that debilitating disease. Of course, I have no medical background or knowledge to substantiate this belief, but it makes me feel better.

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