Who knew that learning to make a good soup in the kitchen could yield wonders on the yoga mat? By Victoria Jackson
I’ve always been intimidated by my friends who make their own soup. Doesn’t it take hours of simmering on the stove, not to mention the hassle of chopping all those veggies up so finely? How do you figure out what ingredients go well together? And what about variable cooking times of the veg? I was sure I’d end up with some gloopy overcooked mush in which some half-raw lumps floated.
But after enough times of throwing away (yes, I know…!) those floppy veggies that were left over from the weekly veg box, I decided I needed to take action. To start, I followed a few recipes slavishly. And then I had a small culinary eureka moment – I knew how to make soup! I understood the fundamental recipe from which all other fancy or fashionable recipes were created. All I needed to do was soften an onion or something similar as the base, chop up whatever veg were lurking unloved in the bottom of the fridge, add stock, and finally throw in some rice or pasta if I wanted to make it more hearty. Yes, there was some fancy stuff with seasoning and a decision about whether to blend smooth or not, but they were just details to decide at whim.
And so it is with the recipe of yoga. I’m going to push this analogy from the start and compare going to class with following a recipe in contrast to home practice where the real creative cooking comes in. I reckon for many of us home yoga practice is a bit like my initial fear about soup-making – it starts off as an intimidating jumble of poses, lacking structure and a rhythm, and something you’re sure you don’t really have time for. It’s something other more talented folk do, perhaps.
Then my on the mat eureka moment came when I saw past the confusing multiplicity of possible yoga ingredients and realised that poses could easily be classified into groups and that each group had its place (give or take) in the practice. Just like the soup-making, once I’d grasped this I could figure it out more intuitively, experimenting with what combinations worked best for me, or what I had the taste for on any particular day. The base of the practice is warming up and surya namaskar variations, followed by a sprinkling of whatever ingredients I fancy on the day – standing postures, balances, backbends, inversions – finished with some twists and folds before garnishing with savasana. And on the really creative days I might season the practice with pranayama, mantra, and meditation.
Soup and yoga – both nourishing and both easier to do at home than you might think!
Victoria Jackson will forever be a beginner yogini