food, Yoga

Welcome to Foodtopian Yogaland

Inspired by some friends’ and acquaintances’ blogs–notably fellow Veda Vinyasa yoga teacher training graduate Tom Griffen’s very enjoyable blog Leave of Absence, about following his heart to an internship at Farm Sanctuary and Baltimore friend Dan’s entertaining blog about dog-walking and the state of things in Charm City–I’ve decided to have a go at blogging again.

2012 has been a roller coaster ride of a year thus far, with a big move and a major job change.  Asheville’s mountains, sunshine, and ridiculously good restaurants have long beckoned me, and an unexpected job opportunity surfaced, so just four months after leaving my job at UNC’s North Carolina Cancer Hospital pharmacy to pursue teaching yoga full-time in the Triangle area, I decided to return to a full-time job in Asheville as a Pharmacy Data and Automation Analyst on Mission Hospital’s Pharmacy Informatics team.

The move was a whirlwind–I had an interview at Mission in mid-January, a job offer a week or so later, rented a condo in late January, and moved here February 8.  Meanwhile, I found someone to sublet my Carrboro duplex, continued teaching my yoga classes in Carrboro and Chapel Hill up until February 6, packed the whole house in a day and a half, and wrapped up a renter’s insurance claim from major water damage that happened in my Carrboro home in November.  To add to the chaos, my partner John had previously planned a trip to Idaho and had to leave a day after the move.  So, we loaded up the truck, drove to Asheville, unloaded the truck, and he went back to his parents’ place in Durham for a day before taking off for the Northwest.  I couldn’t possibly write about my move without mentioning the amazing support I’ve received from my awesome Mother, Alexis.  She came to stay with me for the first few weeks I lived here while John was away and her help in getting my house unpacked, cleaned, and organized was invaluable.  She is truly one of the kindest, most compassionate people I know.

Unsurprisingly in retrospect, Western North Carolina is significantly different than the Chapel Hill/Carrboro area.  Even after visiting several times and talking with people who’d lived here, I expected Asheville to be a huge version of Carrboro, and it’s not.  Surprise!  Western NC’s sensibility is a little more Southern and individualistic, maybe because of its mountainous location close to South Carolina and Tennessee.  As time goes on, I’m missing Carrboro less and embracing all of what Asheville has to offer more while recognizing what a very special community Carrboro really is and how lucky I was to live there for nearly four years.  There’s a more diverse group of people to learn from and connect with here, from hillbillies to hippies and everyone in between, and more opportunities to expand my own view of the world.  Having said that, there is also plenty of the stuff I expected to find here.  Those who know me best know that my life revolves around yoga and food, and Asheville has some of the best of both.

The yoga community includes many spaces to practice, including Asheville Yoga Center, West Asheville Yoga, Happy Body, The Cosmic Groove Massage & Yoga (where I’ve been teaching), Lighten Up Yoga, One Center Yoga, and Asheville Community Yoga all within Asheville’s city limits (there even more places in Black Mountain, Weaverville, Hendersonville, and beyond), offering literally hundreds of classes per week, many on a donation or sliding-scale basis, along with lots of workshops, teacher trainings, and events like outdoor yoga, yoga dance parties, movie nights, kirtans, and potluck dinners.  I feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface of all the Asheville yoga scene has to offer, but my favorite weekly classes in town so far are Hot Flow and Yin with Shala Worsley (Asheville Yoga Center), Tibetan Heart Yoga with Michael Johnson (various locations), and Vinyasa Flow with Sonya Klepper (Happy Body) .

I love sharing the healing practice of yoga with others, especially those new to yoga, and intend to continue teaching a few classes a week.  Right after graduation from the 230-hour Veda Vinyasa Yoga Teacher Training in Carrboro (which I highly recommend if you’re looking for a training in the Triangle area), I enrolled the 500-hour advanced studies yoga teacher training program at Asheville Yoga Center. I completed my first module (of eleven), Life Force Yoga to Manage Your Mood with Amy Weintraub, my first weekend in town.  I started teaching two classes weekly at The Cosmic Groove Massage & Yoga in South Asheville starting the day after I moved here, but quickly realized that I had taken on too much at once, with a brand new full-time job, new city, and new routine, so I scaled back for a month or so.  But I’m all settled now and ready to get back to teaching, so look for two new classes from me this spring starting within the next few weeks.

Asheville considers itself the world’s first Foodtopian Society, a lofty assertion to be sure, but it’s true.  I’ll save most of my comments about Asheville food for future blog fodder, but I’ll tease you with a few gems.  The French Broad Chocolate Lounge on Lexington Avenue offers six varieties of vegan truffles, a cayenne pepper and cinnamon brownie, lavender creme brûlée, and the best hot chocolate ever in a cozy atmosphere, often with live music.  It’s a great place for a date night with your honey or to take out-of-towners.  The local kombucha brewery Buchi makes my current favorite beverage, Buchi Air, flavored with pineapple, mint, and infused with Gaia echinacea.  Yum!  Plant, a totally vegan and totally yummy restaurant on Merrimon Avenue, will please carnivores, herbivores, and everyone in between with their amazing cinnamon rolls at brunch and Ginger Fire Saute at dinner.

Nourish & Flourish, a beautiful, airy space in the River Arts District, has an amazing fresh juice bar, Nia classes, and a weekly kirtan with Sangita Devi.

So, three months into my Asheville adventure, I’m starting to feel like this is home and I know I’m in the right place.  I plan to use this blog to share my new experiences with you, and as a way to make new connections.  Thanks for reading!  Namaste.


3 thoughts on “Welcome to Foodtopian Yogaland”

  1. While, obviously, a much smaller and less celebrated place than Asheville (which I love), I’ve always enjoyed “taking the waters” at Berkeley Springs. For a tiny town, there’s an interesting vibe: rednecks, hippies, and the occasional DC yuppie. And of course, the once-famous warm springs which, for their healing powers, I find superior to most others. Congrats on the new venue and the new blog!

    1. My good friend Megan and I spent our 25th birthdays in Berkeley Springs getting spa treatments and drinking cheap vodka in nearby Hancock, MD, (Berkeley Springs didn’t seem to have any vodka after 9:00pm, which was very upsetting to me at the time.) Now that you mention it, the two towns do have a lot in common, especially the interesting mix of folks one is bound to meet. I’m really enjoying reading your blog–it reminds me of all I love and loathe about Baltimore.

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