Earlier this month I heard from Selim Dushey, the CEO of a new shoe company based in New York who’s trying to get the word out about his line of sandals. He offered to send me some samples to try out. Since I was intrigued by the design, I said, yes, please.
The most noticeable thing that sets Wellrox apart from other sandals is toe separators. I’ve seen more extreme versions of this idea in Yoga Journal ads, not as a shoe but as a plastic separator to wear between your toes. I’ve heard from a few yoga students and teachers that toe separators vastly improved their various foot conditions, relieving pain and cramping. So I was excited to see how my feet would respond to Wellrox sandals.
The Theory Behind the Shoes
Wellrox’s promotional materials explain that the padded toe separators and cushioned footbeds properly support the feet, which helps to align the knees, lower back and spine. Wellrox developed and trademarked something called GRABSTM technology, an acronym that stands for Grip, Relief, Alignment, Balance and Support. The promo flier also mentions the merits of spreading your toes for a wider, more stable foundation. Where have I heard that before? Oh, yeah, I’m always saying it to yoga students.
Wellrox pictures eight different styles on their website. Six are completely open in back like flip flops. One style, the Newport, has a second strap around midfoot, and one, the Dune, also has an ankle strap. Selim generously sent me three test pairs: black Dunes, brown Clouds, and a fun hot pink shoe from Pedi Couture, the spa line, which is not pictured on the Wellrox site.
Even though I’m a yoga teacher in Portland, Oregon, I’m not a fan of hippie fashions. When I wore the Dunes out of the house the first time, someone said, “Oh, are those Birkenstocks?” I cringed. I examined the Dunes from many angles, trying to decide if they were cute or not. I like the little cork wedge. Wellrox is definitely not a feminine looking line of shoes, except for the Chloe, which features a flower. But they have been growing on me for other reasons, despite my fashion confusion.
Most of the styles are cute in a simple kind of way, but enhanced by the toe separators, which I think look cool. The hot pink spa sandals are especially fun.
As you might guess from someone who writes a blog called Veg Travel and Fitness, I’m more of a pleather gal. But I do sometimes acquire leather goods, and if I have them I wear them. It would be lovely if Wellrox came out with a couple of vegan sandal options.
The Dunes and Clouds have leather uppers and rubber soles for traction. They seem to be quite well made. The spa shoes are regular plastic flip flop material.
My first attempt to get my toes in their proper slots did not go smoothly. But once I got the hang of it, I really like the toe separation. The padded toe separators are gentle, so it doesn’t feel like my toes are being forced apart. I have pretty good toe separating abilities to start with, and spend less time wearing shoes than the average American. I imagine these shoes would feel ultra-terrific if you have a life where your poor toes spend their days cramped together in constricting shoes.
The Dunes have considerably more arch support than the Clouds. The second time I wore them, I walked for about two miles. Honestly, they are probably the best walking sandals I’ve ever worn. While they’re not as rugged as Tevas—I wouldn’t hike in them—I really like both the arch support and the toe separation.
The Clouds function a lot more like flip flops. While better made and with a little more support than your average flip flop, it’s hard to walk at a normal pace. These are a meandering weekend shoe, not a get somewhere on time kind of shoe.
I always like to think of the travel applications of clothes and accessories. The Clouds are perfect for a resort, but maybe not for the big bad city or anywhere else where you might suddenly need to run. You could do more exploring in the Dunes. Of course, if you’re planning to spend all your time in a spa, the hot pink spa shoes might be all you need.
Yesterday was the seventh annual St. John’s parade. This neighborhood in way North Portland has a cute old downtown and feels almost like a separate town. West Coast Health and Fitness opened its first of three Portland gyms in St. John’s back in 1994. Yesterday was the first time the gym crowd marched in the parade. Since I’ve taught fitness classes at West Coast Fitness for almost ten years now, I figured I ought to join in the marching. Besides, I don’t think I ever marched in a parade before, so I was excited. Here are some photos from this year’s St. John’s parade.
Our last night in Quebec City, we ate at Panache, one of the city’s finest restaurants. It’s attached to a gorgeous hotel, which we got to tour before dinner.
The property started life as a wharf in the 1690s. Later an enormous warehouse was built, which now houses Panache. Beside it, workers dug a landfill to dispose of things that broke on ships en route from Europe. All this broken pottery and other household goods were thrown into the landfill. But what looked like junk, seconds and irregulars to earlier settlers looks like history and rare artifacts today. At least to people like me who love old things.
Fortunately, the Price family, one of Quebec City’s oldest and most prominent families, also love historic items. The owners of Auberge Saint-Antoine, they decided to incorporate the archeological theme throughout the hotel’s design. Each floor is devoted to a different period in the site’s history. Each room is named for an artifact found on-site, with a fragment of that artifact displayed by the room door in a lit-up glass box outside the door, and another fragment on the night table. Other artifacts are grouped in larger recessed boxes along the halls and in the reception area where other hotels would have paintings. The use of more than 700 artifacts throughout the hotel is extremely effective as far as being both attractive and relevant to the site.
Downstairs, on the lowest floor, the designers left exposed sections of the oldest walls. Enormous black and white photos of people working on the archeological dig decorate the halls. On this floor you’ll find a dedicated yoga room behind a door marked with an om sign. It’s a big space where you can do yoga on your own, join a weekly class on Saturday or have the hotel call a private instructor to give you special attention.
A little farther down the hall is a gorgeous gym. Four exercise bikes are grouped around a tree trunk. Unlike many hotel gyms, these aren’t rickety 20 year-old bikes, but modern ones with touch screens. The also offer weight machines, free weights, a good assortment of kettlebells and the opportunity to work with a personal fitness trainer. Another of my hotel gym pet peeves is the lack of natural light or a view. So often they’re crammed in dismal basements, making me rush through my workout to escape the depressing surroundings. But this gym is gorgeous. And has windows.
This is also the spa floor. Two massage tables await guests, as does the Finnish sauna in the dressing room, which is open from six a.m. to midnight.
The attention to detail is especially apparent in Panache. Like the rest of the hotel, as many of the original floors, walls and beams as possible are incorporated into the design. The stairway – a vintage reproduction – is a gorgeous ornate wrought iron, made in Ottawa.
Our group got to eat in the private upstairs dining room that opens onto a deck where the chef has his herb garden. It was still a little nippy for this year’s herbs to be planted, but we ventured into the cool air to admire views of the Saint Lawrence River.
Our first course, beet tartare, was beautiful, like everything that came out that night. Dumas paired the beets with strawberries and granny smith apples. As my group’s lone vegetarian, I was excited about a meatless starter. The mixed bread basket was also amazing.
Everybody else had steak or walleye, but the chef made me a special dish of smoked onions with mountain cranberries, garnished with a few lovely chard leaves. Our server told me to combine the onion and cranberry flavors in each bite.
Next came the cheese plate. As a mostly-vegan, I skipped the cheese but had some salad with truffle oil dressing, maple-coated pecans and an apple reduction with orange and honey (I know, honey isn’t vegan. I did say “mostly.”).
For dessert, Dumas made coconut milk ice cream with strawberry and Japanese parsley, plus a mixture of parsley and strawberry tails. The delicate rice lettuce leaves looked like angel wings on top.
In addition to being mostly vegan, I’m also a non-drinker, which sometimes adds to my embarrassment in a fine dining situation. I mean, people put a lot of thought into wine pairings, and then I stick to water. But the sommelier was extremely gracious. He offered me a mocktail pairing with every course! This was a bit excessive when I was already eating so much, but I did down two.
The maple iced tea was a tall and lovely mixture of Chinese white tea, maple syrup, two whole peeled lychees and lemon juice, with a carved lemon on top of the glass and a little plastic sword through one of the lychees. I have always loved drinks which include swords. I also drank a Shrekitini. Its ogre-green tinge comes from cucumber juice mixed with ginger, ginger syrup, lime juice and cranberry juice.
If you like history, mocktails, yoga, fine dining and fine hotel gyms, you can’t do better than Auberge Saint-Antoine and Panache.
This unusual restaurant is on the edge of Quebec City, out by farms and horse stables. They label themselves as “cuisine boreal.” Much of their food is influenced by the molecular gastronomy movement, but their website explains that they choose to distance themselves from that term because it’s too trendy. Instead, the site suggests “pentasensologic,” their term for an experience involving all five senses.
I had only a vague idea of molecular gastronomy, so I looked it up on a website called molecularrecipes.com. It described this trend as “a new style of cuisine in which chefs explore new culinary possibilities in the kitchen by embracing sensory and food science, borrowing tools from the science lab and ingredients from the food industry and concocting surprise after surprise for their diners.” That turned out to be quite true, as every dish was surprising. As did another bit on the site, “Many of these modern chefs do not accept the term molecular gastronomy to describe their style of cooking and prefer other terms.”
La Taniere – which means “the lair,” as in an animal lair – turned out to be a good experience despite my skepticism. As a vegetarian, I’m never in favor of mystery foods unless I’m at a strictly vegetarian restaurant. But our group’s amazing hostess, Paule Bergeron, made sure the chef was prepared for my visit.
Co-owner and executive chef Frederic LaPlante had planned a ten-course meal with wine pairing for us. The menu is very heavy on unusual animals. I don’t know how many vegetarians wander in, but since one of my courses came with what the server called “allergy bread,” I’m guessing they have some gluten-free customers. If you’re a vegetarian or vegan curious about La Taniere, I’d suggest contacting them ahead of time to make sure they can accommodate you.
I felt a little guilty that the chef had to come up with ten vegan courses for me. I was relieved when one of the other diners in our group asked if she could be vegetarian for the night. She’s an omnivore, but prefers common and easily identifiable meat, such as chicken. She looked pretty relieved when the second course came and she had mushrooms on polenta instead of a duck heart. Nor did she seem to be sad about missing out on bison, quail, monkfish liver or a whole bunch of other animals I’d never thought about eating.
Some of the flavors were very surprising. Perhaps the strangest was a shot of non-alcoholic pine drink with a grape-sized gel thing that exploded in my mouth. All the courses were small, exquisitely arranged, and unlike food I had eaten before. My whole group was intrigued and entertained. “It’s not a meal, it’s an experience,” said one, while another kept talking about how Le Taniere raised mindful eating to almost a spiritual level.
One course involved celeriac squeezed into a small white cube, the grain freekeh and spinach. Another featured homemade tofu with cucumbers. I’ll admit I was impressed to see homemade tofu amidst all the animal-based dishes.
One of the most over-the-top offerings was bacon-stuffed rolls with meat-glazed butter. I’d never heard of meat-glazed butter. I think this is when they brought out the allergy bread for me.
The wines were all private, small-batch varieties that civilians can’t buy.
While ten courses seemed like a lot to me, Le Taniere’s website recommends trying its 20-course dinner. I read a review of this meal on another website. The reviewer had to post it in two parts so he wouldn’t get carpal tunnel syndrome from typing a description of each dish.
If you’re visiting Quebec City and you’re an adventurous omnivore, this is definitely a place you should go. If you’re an adventurous vegetarian or vegan, call first. My trip to Le Taniere was a one-of-a-kind experience in my life thus far, and certainly worth having.
During an afternoon of sightseeing, a local shop owner asked where I’d been eating and what I thought of the Quebec food. I sheepishly told him I’m vegetarian but was eating at the city’s upscale restaurants with a group of non-vegetarians. He burst out laughing. “Those restaurants will love you,” he said. “You’re so cheap to feed.”
I hope they at least didn’t hate me. Cheap or not, I must have posed a challenge to restaurateurs used to being unbound by food restrictions. But my forays into Quebec City’s fine dining establishments couldn’t have been met with more gracious service.
My first night in Quebec City, we ate at Graffiti. This local institution is owned by an Italian family but has a French chef in the kitchen. The result is a combination of the two culinary cultures. The main chef, Robert Saunier, had the night off, but second-in-kitchen-command Patrick Boily did an excellent job feeding my group.
Graffiti is on a lively shopping street outside of the main tourist areas. Locals of all ages come here for special dinners and celebrations. The table next to us sang “Happy Birthday” in French to one of its diners.
Like most fine dining restaurants, Graffiti has a meaty menu. But I managed to avoid the foie gras, fish and snails and concentrate on the special delicacies supplied by the chef for me. The first course included adorable little asparagus-topped miniature toast and a cherry tomato stuffed with mushrooms and truffle oil. This was accompanied by plenty of fresh bread with balsamic vinegar and oil.
Our server, Suzie, was lovely and charming. Even though she’s an artist who teaches art and art history full time in a private girls’ college, she continues to work at Graffiti. She’s been there 12 years. Her late nights aren’t a financial necessity for her, but she doesn’t want to leave Graffiti. That kind of dedication speaks volumes about this friendly, family-run restaurant.
When I asked my driver en route from the airport to the hotel where to get veg food in Quebec City, he did not hesitate. Commensal, he said, which fortunately was a 10-minute walk from my hotel. As a very French place, Quebec City is not big on vegetarianism. This 22 year-old establishment seems to be the main veg destination in town.
I figured I’d better go there right away, as I’d be meeting up with a group of non-vegetarians for other meals. As vegetarians know, going to a veg restaurant is relaxing, since you don’t have to ask if there’s chicken stock in this or fish paste in that. You don’t wonder if the server is telling you the truth, and you don’t have to worry about annoying or embarrassing your dining partners with incessant animal parts-related questions.
Commensal went one better. This serve-yourself spot clearly marks each dish as vegan, vegetarian and/or gluten-free. Many dishes also list the ingredients. They bill themselves as “flexitarian,” and apparently have some dishes with fish or chicken, but I didn’t see any. Of course, I had taken a red-eye from Portland, so maybe I missed a few things. There’s a hot buffet, a cold buffet and a fruit and dessert area. Customers pay by weight, which always makes me rethink my selections, since complicated dishes cost the same as rice. My plate of hot food weighed in at a little over $9. If I wasn’t paying by weight, I would definitely have eaten more.
The dishes I chose were all good, and some even reflected a bit of the local cuisine. The Provençal stew was made with tomato, soy strips, black olives and thyme. Seitan bourguignon, also a stew, included seitan cubes, pearl onions, carrots, mushrooms, thyme and bay leaves. The coconut milk seitan was more Asian than Quebecois but also very good, with seitan strips, apples, spinach, raisins, ginger and curry.
Commensal surprised me by being quite large, with two floors of seating. I chose a nice spot in the window where I could watch the action on Saint Jean Street. The atmosphere was casual, as you’d expect at a place that weighs your food by the gram. I leafed through a New Age newspaper written in French while eating.
If you’re a vegan visiting Quebec City, this is an excellent spot to tank up on fake meats. While all the restaurants I visited had some kind of vegetarian option on the menu, it’s more difficult to find cheese-free offerings. Quebecers love their cheese. Another vegetarian restaurant, Zen Garden, is listed on Happy Cow. But the cashier at Commensal claimed his establishment was the only veg place in town. I never did stumble upon Zen Garden, so can’t tell you if it’s still open and/or whether it’s any good. Commensal also has outlets in Montreal, Toronto, and several other Canadian cities.
Coming up next: Being the lone vegan at fine dining establishments in Quebec City
Ibrahim Al-Nashashibi’s missions in life have been slowly revealed to him over many years. Born in Jerusalem in 1950, he left for Yugoslavia at the age of 17 to study medicine. Soon he realized that was a mistake. “I thought maybe Dad was right, I’m a lawyer,” Al-Nashashibi says many years later in Fairouz, his friendly San Diego restaurant. He studied law in Beirut and Alexandria, earning his degree in 1972 and moving to Dubai to practice law.
Later, he came to the U.S. to get a PhD in international law. Instead, he wound up opening Fairouz in the mid 1980s.
My mom and I have eaten here a couple of times in the last year. We’re both impressed with the length and variety of the buffet. It has all the vegan dishes we both like, and chicken soup and other meaty dishes she enjoys. There must be nearly two dozen cold and hot salad or vegetable dishes. Little signs let you know which are vegetarian or vegan, which I always appreciate. Between the menu and buffet, you can find all the Middle Eastern favorites, such as hummus, baba ganouj, lentil soup, chickpea dishes, vegetarian mousaka and cooling drinks like iced tea with rosewater or yogurt drink with mint. This is a perfect place to accommodate a group with different diets.
If you visit Fairouz Café, you’ll sit surrounded by Al-Nashashibi’s vibrant paintings. Yes, his gift of painting was revealed to him along the way, too.
A couple of years after opening Fairouz, he started painting in the restaurant between lunch and dinner. “People came in and said, ‘I didn’t know you were an artist.’ I said, ‘Me, neither.’”
Through the process of painting, he realized he was suffering from depression. He believes that creative work needs a flame, and his has been fueled by depression and loss. When his wife of 21 years was in a coma, dying of cancer, Al-Nashashibi had a vision. “I was looking at her in coma,” he said, “when a muse came to me and said I had creative ideas, some in colors, some drawn in words.” He started writing his first novel. “I believe in science,” he said. “Science says everything in life has a positive and a negative.” He dearly misses his wife, whom he portrayed as the muse Elegance in a series of muse paintings.
My favorite Al- Nashashibi paintings are bright, fantastic renditions of old Jerusalem buildings. He uses ink and acrylic paint, with lots of metallic. Art lovers around the world collect his paintings.
Vegetarians and vegans visiting San Diego will find a lot to eat, plus art to appreciate, at Fairouz. Find it at 3166 Midway Drive.
One of the biggest fears of old people is falling, breaking something important like a hip, then being confined to a nursing home because they’re unable to care for themselves. According to Lisa Shields, falls prevention coordinator of Oregon Health Authority, many adults who are admitted to a hospital for a fall never go home.
The Centers for Disease Control works on four fronts of fall prevention: home modifications, adjusting medication, keeping vision prescriptions current, and exercise. According to Shields, exercise is by far the most fruitful intervention.
- James and Suman are in front. We’re all parting the wild horse’s mane.
So that’s why I spent last weekend with about 20 other folks in a two-day workshop called Tai Chi: Moving for Better Balance, hosted by West Coast Health & Fitness. Dr. Fuzhong Li of the Oregon Research Institute in Eugene developed this simplified 8-form version of traditional 24-form Yang style tai chi. This means that instead of 24 more complicated moves, this program teaches only 8 simpler moves. Which turned out to be plenty to try to master, or at least absorb, over the course of a weekend.
I took a few tai chi classes in the ‘90s, and went along to my mom’s class a time or two more recently. But I do not know tai chi. The Moving for Better Balance program aims to teach laypeople like me—fitness instructors who know little to nothing about tai chi—as well as tai chi instructors who want to focus more on teaching seniors.
We were fortunate to have two master instructors, Suman Barkhas of Eugene and James Lusk of Portland. Both embodied that kind of contained energy you can see in experienced tai chi practitioners, where they’re basically doing the same moves I learned but with obviously much deeper things going on behind the scenes. A few times James demonstrated the martial applications of what at first looked to me like random moves. I quickly saw that if James chose to move faster he could easily kick all our asses. Lucky for us, that’s not the point of tai chi.
The CDC has determined that at least 50 hours of tai chi is necessary to reduce your odds of falling. So far, the most effective tai chi interventions consist of at least two hours of weekly class instruction over six months. Studies are ongoing. We were invited to participate in data collection once we start our tai chi classes.
By the end of the weekend, we had all been tested doing our forms in front of a panel of judges—Suman, James and Lisa—and passed. A few of my fellow students were already amazing at tai chi, having taught for years to a general population. Most were more like me, new to tai chi but committed to helping our senior students. When I watched the other groups perform the form, I was impressed by how graceful and convincing everybody looked after two days of practice.
I’m not sure yet where, when or how soon I’ll start teaching Tai Chi: Moving for Better Balance. But I’m looking forward to doing my part to reduce falls and keep my fellow humans as independent as possible.
Jennifer Siegel wants you to relax. “For every three power vinyasa classes you take, you might consider taking a restorative,” she said recently over tea at Floyd’s Coffee. Siegel, a massage therapist-turned 500-hour yoga therapist, trusts her students to know their bodies best. She does what she can to make poses more accessible, rather than to force someone’s body to conform to a pose. “I’m not trying to perpetuate dysfunction just for the sake of tradition. I’m an anatomist. I prefer science. If something doesn’t feel right in your body, I trust you to know it.”
As a young ballerina, Jennifer was familiar with traditions that stress form over function. She started dancing when she was very young. By the time she hit puberty, ballet felt all wrong. “Overextended joints and hyper-flexibility, combined with scoliosis, was really ugly for my body when it was growing and changing,” she said. When she developed curves, her dance teacher informed her that she was not headed for ballet greatness. She quit dancing. “My chiropractor said if I stopped moving, I’d get hit with a world of pain. He pushed me toward yoga.”
At age 15, Jennifer started checking out yoga books from the library. She dabbled in yoga for many years before deciding to teach.
Massage and Hospice
Jennifer became a licensed massage therapist in 1999. She developed a specialty of working with hospice patients. In 2005, a job was created for her as the only paid hospice massage therapist in Portland.
“I’m not afraid of dying stuff,” she said. “Some people have the constitution for it, some don’t. I’ve never wanted to work in an average context. I always want to be around the exceptional. People who have accepted their fate are exceptional, whether they’re homemakers or presidents of companies.”
She appreciated the wisdom her dying patients shared. “People become hyper-intelligent when they’re dying,” she said. “Lots of patients said they wish they’d taken advantage of their own inner wisdom before it was too late. They realize they could have been active about their health, not given away their power.” She heard lots of people say they wished they’d never had back surgery. And she met many people who retired, decided to take better care of their physical health, but found out they had cancer. “They worked, worked, worked, their whole lives. They literally worked themselves to death.”
While working in hospice, Jennifer cultivated the voice that would later serve her so well in her restorative yoga and yoga nidra classes. “When someone is physically uncomfortable, it helps to have a calm voice,” she said. She became so renowned for her voice that the nurses on staff at retirement homes she visited joked about her making a recording saying, “Residents, it’s time for lunch.”
By 2008, doing so much massage was taking a toll on Jennifer’s body. She decided to teach yoga. She began by studying yin yoga with Bernie Clark at a Buddhist monk retreat center in the Canadian mountains.
She followed that up with vinyasa training at Core Power in Portland’s Pearl District. Both the setting and subject matter were a big change from yin. Instead of holding poses for five minutes, suddenly she flowed through poses at a rapid clip in a 100-degree room with 50 other people.
“I realized I’d make my success as a yoga teacher by fixing injuries perpetuated by that form,” she said. “When you’re moving so fast through time and space with no thought, it’s an inevitability you’re going to get hurt.” But she learned some useful lessons at Core Power, including teaching yoga to a variety of people and using simple language.
Jennifer further refined her direction by taking a yoga therapy course at Kripalu in 2011. Through this, she got her 500-hour certificate with the International Yoga Therapists Association. At Kripalu, she discovered yoga nidra. Her yogic focus has since been nidra, restorative and yin. “I want a gateway to meditation,” she said. To her, yoga is not meant to be exercise. “If you need yoga to be a workout,” she said, “go to CrossFit. Learn functional movement.”
Yoga nidra, also called yogic sleep, is a deep, guided meditation done in savasana. The goal is to keep the mind awake while the body sleeps. While at Kripalu, Jennifer did yoga nidra every day for a month, guided by nidra experts—Joseph and Lillian LaPage and Jennifer Reis.
Most of the time, Jennifer fell asleep during the yoga nidra sessions. Her yoga therapy course was so intense and tiring, and nidra was so relaxing. “It was quite the respite for rebalancing my hip or straightening out my spine every day,” she said.
When teaching yoga nidra, the leader follows a script. She instructs participants to relax various parts of their body, and to set an intention for their session. To deeply relax the brain, she guides students in imagining opposites: lying relaxed in the scorching desert, then lying on a cool raft in the middle of the ocean. There’s also lots of counting backwards from high numbers.
Jennifer writes her own scripts, adapting them from Swami Satyananda Saraswati’s formula. Inspired by the hospice patients she worked with, she devises ways to get people to go deeper. “If we can go internal and truly listen to our body’s own inner wisdom, it saves so much heartache,” she said. “I believe completely that we have that potential within our puny human brains.”
Her scripts include scenarios like imagining yourself in another body in another time period, or driving your spaceship through quiet, dark space, whizzing by stars. “I feel like I’m doing experimental nidra work,” she said. “The worst that happens is we have a silly, fun experience. The best is we’ll prevent an illness.”
Nidra in Action
Jennifer feels that yoga nidra is the most efficient tool to accomplish what she wants to help people accomplish. Often she tailors the nidra to the client. She’s done one-on-one personalized yoga nidra at the mixed martial arts gym where she works. “I work with a female MMA fighter who throws a terrible punch,” she said. “Because she doesn’t actually like getting hit and she doesn’t really want to hit anybody. You can’t be like that in MMA. So if she’s actually serious, she has to get over her fear of being hit in face.”
Jennifer devised a nidra with the goal of improving the fighter’s punch. “I had her in her yoga nidra watching herself train, observing what coaches are telling her and if she’s taking in that advice.” Together they worked on her fear. “We did yoga nidra work where she watched herself get hit over and over and over again. It was effective because she’s not afraid of getting hit anymore. It was very powerful for her.” The fighter has since been hit several times and is no longer afraid.
One-on-one sessions have also helped clients cultivate love in relationships and get relief from pain associated with back surgery. Jennifer thinks nidra is especially effective in conjunction with talk therapy and somatic approaches such as Feldenkrais.
Currently, Jennifer teaches at Shakti House, North Portland Yoga, Next Level Fitness and Alive MMA, where she’s an injury prevention specialist. In the future, she’s considering doing more one-on-one yoga therapy and specific applications of what she’s learned in school. “I love the instant gratification of working with athletes. But I think it’s time to expand into other populations. I like working with medically fragile people. I’m a really good pain reliever.” She’s worked with patients with MS, and would like to work more with depression, diabetes and heart conditions. “I like cultivating love, not fear.”
She hopes that insurance companies will begin to create a culture of prevention rather than disease. “I’d like to come to a point where everyone could take control of their own healthcare, not have to buy into this system,” she said.
To prevent disease, people need to take more responsibility, Jennifer said. “They should try not to overreact, to give in to the triggers that lead to stress. If I can do it—I’m not any better than anyone else—there’s no reason other people can’t do it, too.”
Relaxation is essential to balance people’s stressful lives, Jennifer said. If you spend eihgt hours a day stressed, she said, you need to spend eight relaxing via meditation, sleep, or other outlets that relax you. “You have to balance it. You can’t live in a world where you just accumulate tension, accumulate tension, then just break.” She stops and thinks for a second, then acknowledges people’s responsibility. “I mean, you can. But you don’t have to.”
I recently had the chance to do a short email interview with Kurt Holle, co-founder of Rainforest Expeditions in Peru. In February, Kurt was named a social entrepreneur for the year 2013 by the World Economic Forum and The Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship. He joins a group of about 200 international award winners since the foundation’s inception in 2000.
Kurt co-founded Rainforest Expeditions with Eduardo Nycander in 1992. Since then, they’ve built three remote jungle ecolodges in the Peruvian rainforest. Lodgings started out pretty rustic, attracting scientists and hardcore nature lovers. But over time, they’ve upgraded to make the lodges more attractive to less rugged types. However, they’ve maintained a three-wall construction that leaves rooms open to the rainforest on one side.
Throughout its two decades, Rainforest Expeditions has partnered with local communities to pool expertise, experience, resources and profits. The native community in Infierno owns one of the lodges, Posada Amazonas, which it co-manages with Rainforest Expeditions. Together, the company and the community work on conserving forests and enforcing no hunting zones around the ecolodges.
If you have the opportunity to visit the Peruvian rainforest, you might see spider monkeys, macaws, howler monkeys, capybaras, giant river otters and, if you’re really lucky, a jaguar
Here’s my interview with Kurt:
Teresa: Where are most of your visitors from?
Kurt Holle: Most of our visitors are North American. About half of our visitors come from the US or Canada.
Teresa: Do you get many vegetarian visitors, or visitors with other special diets? Which special diets can you accommodate?
Kurt Holle: We get a lot of vegetarian guests, and guests with a special diet. For vegetarians we always offer alternatives to the main menu. For other special diets, we ask to be advised before arrival so we can accommodate.
Teresa: What do you feel like visitors take away from their time in the Amazon?
Kurt Holle: An experience they will remember their whole life. A deepened connection to nature and our past.
Teresa: What do you think visitors learn from indigenous people?
Kurt Holle: I think they remember rather than learn. I think they remember the value of time well spent, without a hurry. I think they remember how good it feels to have long conversations about nothing in particular. I think they remember to pay attention to the here and the now. I hope they remember those things for a long time.
Teresa: What is your favorite animal?
Kurt Holle: My favorite animal to encounter on a trail are white lipped peccary, a wild boar that hangs out in herds of dozens to a hundred. They have a great sense of smell but poor eyesight and hearing, so often they stumble right upon you and then stampede. It is a great feeling to be in the middle of them.