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2020 21st Street
Boulder, CO, 80302

Richard Freeman and Mary Taylor's home.

MUSINGS

Food Practice: Practice All Day

Mary Taylor

 

We’ve all heard Richard say it before: “Practice all day, every day!” I distinctly remember the first time I got the advice; it was in the first class I ever took from him. I chuckled at the idea, imagining myself hopping out of bed in the middle of the night to touch my toes or do a handstand.

I was heading out to a yoga center on the East Coast to spend a week with my close friend Diane; she’s the one who’d introduced me to yoga about 10 years earlier when I was at University. It had been about 3 years since I’d actually taken a yoga class, so I figured I should brush up with a local yocal here in Boulder before heading out east to the real thing. I found my way up the rickety stairs beside the Pearl Street Market and into Richard’s classroom feeling rather smug that I’d be a pro within a couple of weeks too–getting up at the ungodly hour of 6am to meditate and do yoga for 7 days running!

And as they say, “The rest is history!” The class was sublime. I was re-inspired and was eager to get to the retreat center. But during the week out East, I found myself doing full-body double takes–the yoga in that class in Boulder seemed much more like the “real thing” than the sighing and wiggling around we were subjected to at the retreat center. Obviously, that “style” of yoga was not the one destined to capture my interest.

However, one aspect of the retreat I did find fascinating was the food. For one thing, it was all vegetarian, but more impressive was the idea that the meals were eaten in silence. The entire huge dining hall was a talk-free zone! In fact, there was one section of the room where residents sat not only in silence, but ate a cleansing diet together; brown rice and more brown rice from the looks of it. Granted this seems pretty standard to me these days, but you have to put me in context for all this.

 

The more you talked, the more you ate, the more you laughed the more you were getting out of the meal. Not so here at the retreat center.

 

I’d been back a few years from studying French cooking in Paris (white sugar, white flour, butter, more butter and every meat imaginable) and I’d been catering, running a restaurant and teaching cooking since my return. Especially in those days, much of the culinary profession was meat oriented, and no culinary training I’d ever had said anything about keeping your mouth shut. The more you talked, the more you ate, the more you laughed the more you were getting out of the meal. Not so here at the retreat center.

Within the week I’d adjusted. We’d get up early, meditate, walk silently to yoga class, wiggle, walk silently to the dining hall, eat quietly and then walk silently back to our rooms for a break before the afternoon sessions repeated the pattern. On occasion, to normalize the experience, Diane and I would dash off into town for a quick cappuccino and the opportunity to laugh without being glared at by others.

On the plane ride back home as I reflected on the experience, I recall thinking that the routine I’d grown used to over the week might be bordering on what Richard had meant when he’d said to practice all day every day. Now, almost 30 years later, the seemingly disjointed pieces of the puzzle that was shaping up to be my life (a love for yoga and food) do seem to fit together just right. Gradually yoga became a more central focus and I began to recognize everything–including cooking and eating–as just another opportunity to practice; a chance to bring consciousness into action.

This food blog is the result of my combined love for food and my deep devotion to the mysterious art of practicing yoga. I plan to offer weekly menu ideas, recipes, and information about food as they relate to the practice of yoga as well as insights I’ve had into the conjunction of the two fields. Please tune in regularly.