Releasing Perfectionism, On and Off the Mat

 

citizen article mandy learo perfectionism auburnRead my February column for The Citizen Newspaper here.

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Yoga Playlist for Letting Go Class Theme

letting go yoga playlist oknamaste mandy learo

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Super Healthy Bran Muffins

bran muffins.jpg

A few days ago I entered the third trimester of my first pregnancy. My energy has vanished, my nose is constantly stuffed with boogers, and my navel has become a soft knob that protrudes from the mound beneath my sports bra.

Statistics show that almost 50% of women gain too much weight during pregnancy, but gaining too little weight can be just as dangerous to both mother and baby. In light of this, I’ve been making a conscious effort to eat more frequently: healthy, nutrient-dense snacks throughout the day.

Bran muffins remind me of my year at boarding school, Walnut Hill in Natick, MA. It was 2001, I was fifteen, and 9/11 had just cracked a hole in the world. After our workshops, all the writing program kids made a daily afternoon pilgrimage to the village downtown. We got stoned, chain smoked Marlboro Lights in the common park, and ate pastries from a small coffee shop. I fell in love with their dense bran muffins, how they made me full and comforted even as the spectacular New England fall turned to winter.

The problem with bran muffins is that they are often a “fake healthy” food. Most of the ones you find at chain coffee places, bakeries, and grocery stores, are full of butter, oil, and white sugar. Even though they may be high in fiber, they are no better for you than a cupcake sprinkled with some psyllium husk.

I’ve been experimenting with different recipes to find one that uses great ingredients AND is really tasty. The below recipe is a result of trial and error, a hard-won victory for my pregnant appetite. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

4 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

cup canned unsweetened coconut milk

cup unsweetened almond milk

2 cups unprocessed wheat bran

2 cups whole wheat flour

1 1/4 cups coconut sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons baking soda

generous sprinkle of cinnamon

small sprinkle of nutmeg

4 overripe bananas, pureed

3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 Fahrenheit and spray muffin tin with nonstick canola spray. Whisk together eggs, vanilla, milks, and wheat bran. Fold in banana puree and applesauce. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

Walk away for a bit (five minutes or so) so that the wheat bran can absorb the wet ingredients. Then, fold together dry mixture and wet mixture. Spoon into muffin cups, filling to the top. Bake for about 20 minutes or until inserted toothpick comes out clean.

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Sankalpa: The Yoga Alternative to New Year’s Resolutions

sankalpa article mandy learo

My monthly column for the Citizen Newspaper came out today– a piece about sankalpa, or intention, for the new year. Read it here.

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Whole Wheat Honey Banana Muffins

banana muffins

Not too sweet. Filling and comforting.

Ingredients:

3 cups whole wheat flour

1/2 cup toasted wheat germ

2 teaspoons baking soda

heaping teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 cups mashed ripe banana

2/3 cup honey

4 eggs

1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract

2/3 cup canola oil

1/2 cup whole milk

close up banana muffins mandy learo

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325 Fahrenheit. Fill muffin tins with 24 foil/paper liners. Stir together dry ingredients. In separate bowl, beat oil and honey together; add eggs and beat well. Add bananas and beat to combine. Add dry ingredients to wet, alternating with milk; mix well after each addition. Spoon batter into 24 muffin cups; bake at 325 degrees for 20 minutes, or until muffins are golden brown and test done. Remove from oven and cool on rack.

banana muffins mandy learo

Beginner-Friendly Meditation Techniques

meditation

Read my latest article for the Citizen Newspaper here.

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How are you? No really. How are you?

ravens in conversation oknamaste mandy learo

I’ve taken a few weeks off from regular blogging because I’ve not been feeling well– for the best reason ever not to feel well. I’M PREGNANT!!!

Now that the first trimester is over (with its nausea and intense fatigue and consuming anxiety over whether or not the pregnancy will “stick”), I’ve been able to start sharing my condition with friends, acquaintances, and yoga students. And the most wonderful thing has begun to happen:

People ask me how I am feeling. All the time. Constantly. But wait, there’s more. They ask me how I am feeling, and then they pause. They look at me, they blink a few times, and they actually wait for my response.

To have others interested in how I am doing has been such a treat. Despite myself and my generally un-warm-fuzzy personality, it is truly awesome to feel cared about, and to have that sweet pause in time to share a sentence about what’s going on with me.

“I’m good– for some reason I want sauerkraut all the time.”

“I have really bad heartburn. Did you have that with your daughter?”

“All is well. Slept like a baby. Thanks for asking!”

We are all guilty of the passing hi-how-are-you as we walk by, not particularly interested in the response. I do this all the time, especially out at the grocery store or the gym. I sometimes say “hihowareyou” without even looking the person in the eye or slowing down as I continue to walk past them.

But having people ask after me and genuinely care to listen has made me rethink my approach. It feels so great to be cared for that it makes me want to spread that feeling to others. Only an extra minute is required to stop and listen, a mere minute to give someone my attention and make them feel seen and significant.

I am taking this lesson into my life, and I intend to spend my pregnancy asking about how others are feeling with genuine care for the response. It is not only pregnant women who deserve the warmth of that extra moment, the eye contact, the kindness behind the eyes.

Asking after people and caring for their answer is an easy way to make a difference in the way people feel- so why not commit the minute and do it?

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