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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: 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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  • Meatless Monday: Basmati & Black-Eyed Peas

    Last week I sang the praises of one-pot meals. Just last evening, I enjoyed a one-pot meal of spicy Indian descent from Vegan Richa’s Indian Kitchen. I got this wonderful book from my niece for Christmas a few months ago. So far, every single recipe I’ve made from it has been a winner.

    The ingredient lists of Indian recipes can look intimidating—longer than most recipes. Don’t let the list length intimidate you though. The list is longer than usual because it contains small amounts of various spices. If you mix these up beforehand, the cooking process is pretty quick.

    As the author...

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  • Pranayama: Linking Body and Mind

    Supine Pranayama with Pranayama Pillow and Blanket

    The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali outline an eight-limbed framework for yoga practice. These limbs, in their written order, include:

    Yama: Ethical precepts, including non-harming, truthfulness, non-stealing, wise use of sexuality and non-greed
    Niyama: Daily practices, including cleanliness or simplicity, cultivation of contentment, commitment to practice, study of self and sacred texts, dedication of your practice to something bigger than oneself
    Asana: Physical postures
    Pranayama: Refinement of the breath
    Pratyahara: Releasing attachment to the senses
    Dharana: Concentration
    Dhyana: Meditation
    Samadhi

    While the limbs are not hierarchical—all of them operate simultaneously to feed into the whole Self—they do build on one...

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  • Meatless Monday: Meal in a Soup Pot

    Two things I love about vegetarian cooking (besides the taste!):

    Vegetarian cooking lends itself to cooking from scratch. Because I quit eating meat in 1978 when vegetarian convenience foods were non-existent, I had to learn to cook from scratch. In the process I discovered how much I enjoy making meals from scratch, and how much better they taste than processed foods.
    Vegetarian cooking lends itself well to one-pot meals, those soups, stews, sautés and bakes that contain everything you need, but also combine well with a simple side salad.

    Today’s recipe is a brothy, but hearty, soup from Veganomicon, an entertaining cookbook of...

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  • Meatless Monday: Spring Galette

    I love trying new recipes and new techniques. Today’s Meatless Monday recipe includes several new techniques—using a mandoline and making crust in a food processor.I’ve wanted to buy a mandoline for a while, and when I saw this recipe from Bon Appetit, I decided now is the time. I bought it at a local kitchen tool paradise called Spoons ‘n’ Spice. I have to say that the ease of slicing the potatoes in this recipe made me realize that I may be using my new mandoline more than I’d originally thought.I’ve made many a pie crust and galette crust in...

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  • Sustainable Yoga Practice

    Happy Earth Day! This Friday, April 22nd, we’ll celebrate the spectacular planet we live on and recommit to living in a way that allows it to flourish.

    Earth Week is a great time to reassess our energy consumption and decide where we can refine or let go of patterns of overconsumption. This includes all areas of our lives—how we eat, how we travel, how we work and how we play. It also includes how we practice yoga.

    One way to “green” our yoga practice is to use mats, blocks, straps, etc., that are made from sustainable materials—rubber, TPE and PER yoga mats...

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  • Ahhh … Lateral Bending on a Bolster

    Lateral Bending on a Junior Bolster

    There really aren’t a whole lot of day-to-day tasks that require lateral bending. That’s probably why most people find side stretches in yoga—such as Parighasana (Gate Latch Pose), Talasana (Palm Tree Pose) and Parvrtta Janu Sirsasana (Revolved Head-of-the-Knee Pose)—so invigorating.

    Lateral bending can also be woven into Restorative Yoga practice. Practicing a supported lateral bend early in a Restorative session not only feels wonderful, but it also helps prepare your thoracic spine for other poses, especially for supported back bends such as Supported Setu Bandhasana (Bridge Pose) or Viparita Karani (Supported Legs...

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  • Meatless Monday: Veg Soup with a Difference

    I’m not sure what possessed me to do this, but the first time I made today’s Meatless Monday recipe I made it for a potluck, probably 20 years ago. Normally I contribute tried-and-true recipes to potlucks to avoid the embarrassment of a possible flop.

    I’d just barely bought the book this soup came from, Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant. It’s a huge book—734 pages—and I randomly opened it to the page that featured this soup and decided to try it. Sometimes you have to live dangerously. Fortunately the recipe turned out to be a winner.

    Unlike most vegetable soups that often have a...

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