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Author Archives: Charlotte Bell

Charlotte Bell discovered yoga in 1982 and began teaching in 1986. Charlotte is the author of Mindful Yoga, Mindful Life: A Guide for Everyday Practice, published by Rodmell Press. Her second book, Yoga for Meditators (Rodmell Press) was published in May 2012. She writes a monthly column for CATALYST Magazine and serves as editor for Yoga U Online. Charlotte is a founding board member for GreenTREE Yoga, a non-profit that brings yoga to schools and to underserved populations. A lifelong musician, Charlotte plays oboe and English horn in the Salt Lake Symphony and folk sextet Red Rock Rondo, whose DVD won two Emmy awards in 2010.

  • Meatless Monday: Spicy Roasted Chickpeas

    Yesterday I was invited to celebrate a milestone birthday with a friend and colleague. The gathering took place in one of Salt Lake’s expansive city parks and included longtime friends from the city’s diverse healing community.

    The gathering was a mid-afternoon snack potluck. My immediate impulse was to contribute hummus, perhaps using some unexpected bean—cannellini or butter beans—as a base. (If you haven’t tried this, it’s worth doing for the change in taste and texture.) But hummus has become a staple at potlucks. Surely someone else would bring it.

    I looked through my favorite cookbook, Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison...

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  • Mindful Speech: The Power of Words

    If you like to keep up with national politics, this year is a doozy. The interesting clash of personalities has made the dialog perhaps even more contentious than it’s been in the past.

    This pattern is reflected in many of the toxic communications among online observers. Even people who stand on the same side of the issues regularly hurl insults about each others’ candidates of choice. It is sad to see such divisiveness.

    This is not especially new though. Online communications in general are a minefield. The proliferation of anonymous commenting on blogs and social media has allowed people to insult others...

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  • Supported Fish Pose Eases Tension

     

    Matsyasana (Fish Pose) is one of yoga’s traditional poses. Because it expands the chest and throat, it is often practiced as a counter pose to Sarvangasana (Shoulderstand).

    In the traditional version of Matsyasana, the neck is placed in extreme extension as you bend the neck back and place the top of the head on the floor. I no longer teach the full version of this pose. In my opinion, it is difficult for most people to do it safely. Extreme extension of the neck, coupled with pressure on the the cervical spine, often causes dizziness or nausea, and could, in extreme...

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  • Meatless Monday: Chopped Kale Salad

    The greens in my back yard are at their peak now. With 12 kale plants ready for picking, it’s kale salad season again. I published several favorite kale salads last summer, and tried a new one last evening.

    This recipe comes from a blog called COOKIE and kate. (Kate is the actual blogger and Cookie is her canine cooking companion who catches the crumbs.) The site is filled with fresh vegetarian recipes. I’d never visited COOKIE and kate before yesterday, and am looking forward to exploring further.

    This salad is colorful and filled with so many different textures. The gingery dressing, along...

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  • Try an Alternate Meditation Posture

    Sitting on a Round Bolster

    Do you find sitting meditation uncomfortable? You’re not alone. For many people, sitting cross-legged is not ideal. The good news is that cross-legged is not the only way to sit. Perhaps an alternate meditation posture can help create ease in your sitting meditation.

    If your knees are higher than your pelvic rim when you sit cross-legged, your back will naturally have to round. This means you will have to tighten your core in order to sit up straight. This is not a sustainable position and will likely cause you to tire easily. It...

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  • Meatless Monday: Calming Kichari

    Summer is officially here. Highs for the past few days have jumped rather precipitously to the upper 80s and low 90s. Seasonal transitions seem to be times of vulnerability, at least for my body. While on one hand, I’m craving cool, raw foods, especially as my lettuce gets closer to harvesting every day. On the other hand, I’m also craving something easy to digest.

    My go-to when my digestive system needs calming is kichari (a.k.a. kichadi or kitchari). Kichari is a stew with a base of proteins, carbohydrates, veggies and herbs. In Ayurveda, where kichari is a staple food, the specific...

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  • How to Choose the Best Yoga Bolsters for Your Practice

    Do you ever feel the need to just lie down and do nothing? It’s no wonder. Most of us spend most of our time working, running from one scheduled commitment to the next—either at work or at home—until we fall into bed to sleep. Or course, sleep is essential, but so is rest. And there is a difference.

    According to Judith Hanson Lasater, rest differs from sleep, at least partially because in deep sleep our brains are still being stimulated by dreaming. Dreaming, especially stressful dreaming, can create tension in our bodies. When we consciously rest, the aspects of our physiology...

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  • Meatless Monday: Garden Pizza

    A few days ago I opened my last pint of garden tomato sauce. Last fall, I made two different kinds of sauce with overflow of my tomato crop: fresh and roasted. The jar I’m currently dipping into is fresh, and so flavorful.

    Not wanting to waste a precious drop of it, I’ve been using it in various combinations all week. My favorite treatment so far is a pizza I made on Saturday.

    I’m a longtime pizza fan, having put myself through Indiana University working as a server at Mother Bear’s Pizza Barn for four years. The job was fun, owing to the...

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  • How to Use a Pranayama Pillow

    One of the first bolster-type pillows that Hugger Mugger made back in the 1980s was the pranayama pillow. Made to BKS Iyengar’s specifications, the pillow is designed to support the spine and expand the chest for free respiration in supine pranayama practice.

    Until the 20th century, pranayama was always practiced in a sitting position. BKS Iyengar discovered that not all his students could sustain this position easily for long periods of time.

    Using props, he designed a way for practitioners to practice lying down instead. This allowed students of all body types to practice pranayama with a neutral spine. Placing a pranayama...

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  • Shedding the Yoga of the Past

    In July I’ll celebrate 30 years of teaching yoga and 30 years of practicing Insight Meditation. I began practicing in my mid-20s and have practiced continuously since then. A whole lot has changed over the decades.

    Yoga’s popularity has exploded in the past 15 years. And what constitutes popular yoga is completely different from what it used to be. In the ’80s and ’90s, Hatha Yoga was the most common form, with Iyengar-style practice as its most popular subset. Kundalini Yoga had a strong, but smaller following. Ashtanga was starting to get a foothold, but except for the relatively sparse Ashtanga...

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