Favorite Healthy and Delicious Summer Salad

I love this and make it all the time.

Try it. I found the recipe online and tweaked it until it worked for me.

I suggest you play with it until it tastes exactly right. Like much in life, the trick to this is finding the balance in all the ingredients.

1/2 Ripe red watermelon, cut into chunks.

1 container good feta cheese, crumbled.

handful of basil leaves

1/4 lime

Chunk the bright red watermelon and place in a bowl.

Crumble some feta on top. Don’t go crazy, you want to add some salt to the dish, but not make it a cheese and watermelon salad!

Roll up 3 or 4 basil leaves. Cut crossways with sharp knife to create pretty green ribbons.

Sprinkle basil on top of the feta. If you get too much, the salad will get slightly bitter. Too little and it doesn’t work either. Taste as you go.

Now, squeeze that good fresh lime all over the whole thing. Again, too much, you’ll be sour. You want a tang and acidity from the lime, without overpowering the other elements.

Cover and refrigerate for one hour at least!

Enjoy.

Great as a starter, or by itself for lunch.

My Crush With Eyeliner

Sadie Nardini is like an older, wiser sister to me, even though we are pretty much the same age. I’ve known her since 2001 or so, when I got dragged to one of her first yoga classes at The Movement Salon in the East Village. The first time I took her class, there were about four students, and the 2nd time, it was just me and a friend. Sadie taught the classes with so much kindness, grace, and humor that I felt I was hanging out with a very knowledgable old friend. I’d only done yoga with VHS tapes at that time, and though I knew the idea of what the poses were supposed to be, I didn’t really get the why, and really didn’t understand the alignment of the spine, or how to breathe into a pose, or much more than basic outlines. Sadie took me under her wing, and taught those early classes just like they were private sessions. I felt as though my life changed, and I fell in love with yoga because of her.

She inspired in me a desire to read everything I could get my hands on about yoga, and to become a yoga teacher. I was honored to do my first (and two subsequent) teacher trainings with Sadie, and even more excited to be asked to teach for her in a studio she was putting together a yoga program for. I learned a lot working side by side with Sadie, and have been thrilled to be hired over and over again to work with her…whether as one of her main subs, an assistant teacher, manager of the studio she ran on 5th Avenue or director of her own yoga studio when she opened The Fierce Club in Soho. Sadie asked me to go to Costa Rica with her as her assistant on a yoga retreat, and generously gave me a daily teaching slot on the retreat. Sadie got me gigs teaching at other studios, on television, and at various amazing venues around New York City. When I wanted to bring Punk Rock Yoga to New York, Sadie encouraged me to do it, and has always promoted me as one of her favorite teachers.  My career as a teacher exists because of Sadie.

Sadie has also been a real friend to me. When my uncle Larry died a few years ago, I was pretty broken up. Sadie was right there for me, giving up some much needed personal time to meet me in the city and drink with me (or nurse a cocktail while I guzzled a few,) and she listened to me talk about a man she’d never met. She helped me work through some guilt I had about not being able to be there for Larry’s funeral, and as she always does, made me feel better just by being there and sharing her hard-won wisdom. When a student questioned my decision in teaching a yoga class especially for gay men, Sadie had my back. When people doubted the authenticity of Punk Rock Yoga, Sadie was one of the first to jump in and school them in what it truly is.

Sadie is always a loyal friend. When the studio I worked at was struggling, and it looked as if my hours would have to be cut in order to keep the studio open, she volunteered to make up the difference in my pay out of her own pocket so that I could stay in my position without having to take on a part-time job. She’s been there for me whenever I needed her, for 10 years. She’s one of the first friends I made in New York, and one of the best I’ve ever had. I’m so grateful that she is part of my life, and am so excited for her success.

She’s had to make some tough business decisions, but they have ultimately been wise decisions, which were in line with her own personal integrity and her philosophy. I know there are people who will disagree with some of these decisions, but I think that Sadie made them from the heart, after careful consideration and a lot of soul-searching. Sadie knows and teaches that if you are in a situation that isn’t serving you, you cannot serve others, and Sadie really lives to serve others.

Sadie works harder than anyone I know. She is constantly studying yoga anatomy. She is always looking for ways to deepen her teaching and refine her techniques. Her knowledge of yoga is vast. She has practiced yin yoga, kundalini yoga, vinyasa, and ashtanga yoga, and knows a lot about restorative yoga as well. She is kind and respectful to everyone she meets, and doesn’t gossip or talk shit about people behind their backs. If she has a beef with someone, she will tactfully tell them to their face. She is respectful of other’s beliefs. She is hilarious. She is actually pretty quiet in real life, and quite content to hang out over a glass of wine, just catching up with friends, not talking about herself at all. She believes that she should be able to make a living doing what she loves (which she also happens to be really good at.)

She’s a damn good cook. She’s well-read. She likes a good dirty joke, and a good horror movie once in a while. She has a sense of humor about herself. She came to a birthday party of mine where one of my friends had a little too much to drink and spent most of the night hitting on Sadie’s boyfriend. Sadie just shook her head and smiled her Sadie smile. When I mentioned it to Sadie later, she just laughed and said “It’s ok. She was drunk.” She’s actually the kind of person most people want as their best friend. I’m just lucky enough to count her among mine.

Her yoga classes have helped many, many people change their lives. I’ve seen people get motivated and accomplish miracles of transformation after they became Sadie’s student. Sadie doesn’t take the credit. She has often said she’s just giving people tools to use. What they choose to do with the tools is up to them. I’ve seen people begin taking her classes with bodies that looked old and tired, stiff and bound. After practicing with Sadie, they walk with a different spring in their step, and they look ten years younger. I’ve seen people who were constantly angry become lighter and happier. I’ve seen people who slumped around with no self-esteem develop confidence. I’ve also seen Sadie talk to people who were too thin, and tell them they don’t need to be doing her class three times a week. I’ve seen her turn away people from classes she thought were not right for them. She is not greedy for students, and will not allow people to practice who do not need to practice her style.

So what I have to say to anyone that would question whether or not Sadie Nardini is a good teacher or a good yogini is this. She is fan-fucking-tastic. She’s knowledgable. Her teaching is valid and consistent with yoga philosophy. She is a real friend. She is loyal. And she walks the walk. Anyone who says differently doesn’t know her, or they are lying.

Take it from someone who has known her for over a decade.Image

Namaste.

Clear Eyes, Full Hearts…

I just started watching Friday Night Lights on Netflix. I realize I’m way behind on this one, but I can’t stop watching the show. I can easily watch three episodes in one sitting when I have the time.

Where I grew up, you were either for Auburn or Alabama, and if you didn’t care, like I didn’t, there was something wrong with you. Eventually, when I was in high school, and started going to the games, I began to get a little interested in sports.  I never understood why people got so excited about a game they weren’t actually playing, though.  Friday Night Lights sort of helped me understand that. I’m a fan of the Dillon Panthers, which is a fictional team. I want them to do well. But it’s not for the reasons that most sports fans probably care about their favorite teams.

I’m moved every time I watch an episode. I’ve really grown to care for the characters as if they are real. Some of them annoy me, some of them charm me, but I really want good things to happen for them. A lot of it has to do with the writing, and the excellent acting on the show. Without exception, the performances are spot-on.

If you haven’t seen it, you should really watch it. It’s amazing.

What does any of this have to do with yoga? I find it quite relevant, if you’ll bear with me for a moment.

The guys on the team are really there for each other. The encouragement and support the players show for their team-mates is really inspiring.  It made me think.  What would it be like if students in a yoga class were like that? If we went out on a limb for each other, and encouraged each other? If we took the time to get to know each other a little bit, and to  really create a community? I used to see that in the classes I took in New York about 10 years ago. It’s different now. Yoga isn’t what it was then, which is both positive and negative in many ways.

I am working to bring a sense of fun, a sense of community and a team spirit to my classes. I would love for you to come and be a part of my fun little group of Friday Night yogis. We laugh, we chat, and we practice together in a little room, and we learn from each other. It’s a small group of lovely people, and there is definitely room for you in the class. I’d love to see you there tonight.

The second thing I am always moved by on Friday Night Lights is the motto of the team: Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can’t Lose. It speaks to me. And it speaks truth. If we are open, if we see the world through clear eyes….we are in a minority. To me, this means looking at things, and seeing them as they are, and not judging them so much as accepting them. To look towards acceptance is challenging, because sometimes it is very easy to be in the heat of the moment. It’s easy to react. It’s always easy to tell yourself “My boyfriend just said something shitty to me, and I hate him. The relationship is over.” That’s easy. But is that seeing the incident with clear eyes? Or is it reacting in the heat of the moment? Yes, it sucks when people say things that hurt your feelings. And if someone is abusive, that’s one thing. But an off the cuff remark might have been said when your partner’s eyes weren’t clear. Maybe they were reacting to something else. Yoga teaches us to absorb first. To breathe in, and then process before we react. To react with clear eyes, from the place of the witness, rather than to fly off the handle. So the next time someone says something you don’t like, take a breath. Look at the situation with the clear sight that reflection affords you, and then say what you need to say.

Full hearts. What fills your heart? What makes you passionate? What gives you joy? Are you doing those things? Are you connected to people, to books, to places that inspire you? Do you make a point of listening to your favorite music? Do you like to cook? If you do, when was the last time you bought yourself a great cookbook, and tried out one of the dishes? Do you like art? If so, when did you spend a rainy Saturday wandering around a museum, soaking in the inspiration of the Impressionist wing at the Met, for example? When we live in a place of inspiration, we are fired up, ready to do something, to create, to teach, to inspire others. Looking for love? Are you treating yourself well, and making yourself a priority? The best way to find love is to enjoy your life as it is! Do things that make you happy. That full heart makes your light shine brighter. Go out and get something out of your life!

Then you can’t lose.

Namaste, y’all.

Delicious, Nutritious Brunch In 15 Minutes!

I love brunch! Not only do you get to have a cocktail for breakfast if you want, but you get to load up on yummy fatty foods. I’m not your typical yogi–I don’t like sprout, pumpkin, sesame trail mix, and will never tell you that I’d rather drink kale juice than have some bacon wrapped breadsticks. (YUM!) But, a couple of years ago, I figured out that you can have a healthy breakfast that tastes and feels as decadent as your typical bacon, egg, biscuit and sausage fest that we like to eat down in Alabama, without kicking your cholesterol up to levels that would make Paula Deen proud.

I went to Costa Rica on a yoga retreat, and was totally surprised to discover that I can get down with some vegan (or almost vegan) food. This amazing woman named Ozlem owned a great cafe in Montezuma called Organico, and they made our breakfast every day of the retreat. There were always eggs, but no meat. She made up for it with delicious guacamole, and lots of fresh fruit along with other treats.

Today, I got a craving for something like Ozlem used to make. I ran up the street to Gristede’s, and spent $20. I had the best brunch I’ve had in a long time, and at half the price of a typical Manhattan brunch for two.

Here’s what I made:

Brian’s Brunch for Two-

Scrambled eggs with vine ripe tomatoes.
Whole wheat toast.
Simple guacamole.
Strawberry Cantaloupe smoothie.

Scrambled eggs with Vine Ripe Tomatoes.

The trick here is the butter. Try to find Plugra salted butter. Plugra rocks!

3 organic eggs.
Small amount of Plugra butter (just a tiny bit does the trick)
1/2 smallish vine ripened tomato.
Salt to taste.
Black Pepper.
Cayenne.

Just put a sliver of the butter in a non-stick pan.
Crack the eggs into a bowl.
Add the salt, pepper and cayenne. Remember that
the butter has salt in it, so go easy. You can always
add more at the table if you want it.
Beat the eggs just until everything is mixed up.

Now make the easy guacamole.

1 avocado.
Shallot to taste.
Quarter of a lime.
1/2 tomato, chopped.
Pinch of salt.
Black and cayenne pepper to taste.

Chop up the shallot (doesn’t take much!)
Take your avocado, and put it in the bowl.
Add the chopped tomato, shallot, squeeze of
lime, and seasonings. If you want to get fancy,
chop up a little fresh cilantro into the bowl.
Take a fork and mash everything up until it is
of guacamole consistency–you know what I mean!

Throw the bread in your toaster–(whole wheat, please,
no white bread!)

In your blender–

4 or 5 big strawberries.
Cantaloupe (I used 6 big pieces)
2 TBSP of Plain yogurt.
Some coconut water (I like the mango/peach flavor)
Fresh lime.

Blend it up and make sure you have no chunks of fruit.

Check your toast. If you have a two slice toaster, put
two more slices in!

Turn on your stove, and cook the eggs while your
toast is going.

Just pour your eggs into the pan with the rest of your
tomato that you chopped…no big deal.
Cook on medium heat until they are bright yellow.
Your toast should be done, or almost..don’t overcook
your eggs.

Once toast is done, put two slices on each plate.

Throw six or seven ice cubes into your blender and turn it
up. You want to put the ice in at the very last minute so
your smoothie doesn’t get watery.

Put your eggs on the plate.

Guacamole on the side or make a sandwich.

And I have to confess, I did have a little tiny bit of butter on my toast.

YUM!

Total time (including eating it–) was 30 minutes.

Have a nice Saturday.