pardon me while i get all yoga on you…

pardon me while i get all yoga on you…

sometimes sanskrit is the only way of capturing certain sensations.

one of which, i felt after having a movie and plant-powered pizza party for friends made during our last 40 Days (of yoga, meditation and mindful eating) workshop.

what i felt was sangha,

a sanskrit term for a group of spiritually inclined people that gather and support each other’s unique way of navigating their way toward their best life.

civilians say it takes a village.
yogis say it takes a sangha.

a sacred space to check in and fill up,

with others who simply get it.

without judgment.

sanghas remind us we are not alone.

in them, we see our sameness, our struggles, our desire to shine within each other.

sanghas are sacred because they are rare.

they don’t only happen in yoga studios…

in fact, yoga does not make or guarantee sangha.

the people within the studios do.

sangha takes effort, off the mat.

getting together, listening, encouraging, sharing is what makes sangha.

studios certainly don’t have to organize sangha for you.

you can do that yourself.

with friends who do or don’t do yoga,

just ones who share a desire to create their best life.

sangha is essential because we can not do it alone.

our mind will get in the way every. single. time.

telling us we’re crazy for trying, we will never change, we are not capable.

we need sangha to step in and stop the madness.

a gentle reminder that others struggle too.

that this madness is normal.  it’s part of the process.

a gentle nudge to simply acknowledge it and keep going.

however, sangha is not enough.
svadhyaya is kinda key too.

think of svadhyaya as self-imposed-for-the-rest-of-your-life-for-the-sake-of-becoming-your-best-self school.

it is a regular practice of consistently making an effort to observe and learn from others struggling and shining through life.

it comes in the form of books. podcasts. blog posts. workshops. and movies.

like Yogawoman.

the movie of choice for our movie night.

i love that movie.

it makes me feel like i’m part of something big.

because yoga IS big.

it is powerful, useful and available to each and every one of us.

throughout every part of our life.

young. old. sick. limber. stuck. successful. injured. in jail.

(let’s hope that doesn’t happen, but if it does, after seeing this movie, you know that yoga can get you through that too 😉

i also love that it reminds me of my all-time favorite yoga lesson:

that all of this showing up and stretching

is ultimately preparing for us death.

that’s right.

all this breathing is really about dying.

sivasana, aka “corpse” pose, symbolizes the deepest surrendering, acceptance and hopefully, overwhelming sense of pride and well-being.

wouldn’t it be great to lie on your death bed,

truly at peace with what just transpired,

no matter what your age?

like, wow…

what a crazy, amazing, beyond belief adventure that just was.

and i nailed it.

thank you.

on to the next one.

i’m out.


in every single practice (even the 5-minute ones),

we are given a chance to “practice” showing up,

being grateful for what we’ve got, where we’re at and what we’re capable of.

we have a chance to dabble, bobble, get it, not get it, then let it go.

we experience our strength, flexibility, capability and grace.

we sense we are not alone.

when it’s all over, we lie down and let the magic of all of those gifts and lessons ,

the ones that happened, right there on our mat, a moment to settle in our bones.

we feel supported. light. loved. happy. free.


thank you for being part of my sangha.

it doesn’t matter if you were actually at the pizza party.

sangha can simply be showing up for each other, via email, facebook,  a chat after classs, a walk in the park, a thought, a prayer. it all counts.


(the goodness in me, sees and appreciates and learns from the goodness in you)



a plant-powered pizza party: cauliflower pizza crust, kale salad, avo choco mousse, coconut milk whipped cream

Pizza is my world.

photo 1

The only thing that prompted giving cauliflower pizza crust a go was Robert and I were doing a Whole30 (30 days w/o grains, dairy, sugar, alcohol, etc, etc) and I happened to be hosting a movie night/pizza party right in the middle. Google delivered all kinds of options.

I chose this one because there was only 1/3 cup goat cheese (not Whole 30 perfect, but come on… it’s a pizza with only 1/3 cup goat cheese… + goat cheese can be easier to digest for the dairy intolerant.)

Many out there had lots of mozzarella, even bacon (yikes) in it. Totally unnecessary.

I topped it with Heidi Swanson’s 5 minute tomato sauce (but you could use any w/o sugar), sauteed spinach, mushrooms, artichoke hearts, jalapeno, olives and a Brazil Nut “parmesan” (pulse 1/2 cup brazil nuts in a food processor. add garlic powder, nutritional yeast and salt to taste. perfect for caesar salads or wherever you prefer your parmesan.)

I liked everything about Detoxinista’s crust, but I might try the method, not the ingredients, in this recipe to see if it comes out a bit crispier.

Party planning tip:

Give yourself some time to put this together. maybe make the crust in the morning, or at least “rice” the cauliflower the night before or earlier in the day.  If you use a mini chopper/food processor like me, it will be messy and you’ll have to do the cauliflower in small bits. No big deal, just takes a bit longer than a grown-up food processor.

photo 2


photo 3


It took 3 heads of cauliflower for a crust that would fit this 9 x 13 pan, which was plenty of pizza for eight.

photo 4


I also served this kale salad,
store-bought sweet potato chips + guacamole from Costco,
Giada’s avocado chocolate mousse (minus the chocolate chips… nice, but not necessary)
topped with Danielle Walker’s coconut milk whipped cream and berries. (note: I agree with her brand reco’s but I would add So Delicious culinary coconut milk to the faves and not even try Trader Joe’s coconut cream. It tastes “off” to me.

One thing I’ve noticed, as tasty as it is, I’m not tempted to over-eat this pizza. Like two small pieces is plenty… very unlike me. Did I mention, pizza is my world?

When you eat pure nutrition, your body knows what to do with it and will tell you when it has had enough, so you don’t eat as much food.

When you have empty-calorie, low-nutrient foods, your body keeps you hungry, hoping you’ll send something of substance its way… resulting in over-eating.

My point? You don’t need a ton of pizza for a plant-powered party. One big pan was plenty for eight.






wedding kale salad

We wanted a simple, festive menu for our at-home wedding reception, without a lot of fuss going on in the kitchen. So we jumped on the food truck wagon and hired Vero Amore and their renovated fire-truck equipped with an italian pizza oven to whip up pizzas in our driveway. They were great to work with, even making gluten-free, dairy free and lots of  veggie variety.

To balance the pizza and cupcake situation, (when I say simple, I mean simple. that’s all we had… pizza. cupcakes. salad.) I  wanted a super-chopped, super-nutritious, full of flavor salad. I knew just who to go to…my friend and The Organic Kitchen cooking school founder, Rachel Yaseen.

photo 3-1

And did she ever deliver.

I am still getting emails and texts asking for the recipe for the kale salad she created for our special day. For some reason, men are particularly fond of it. I made it for a family Easter gathering and several men commented on how they normally don’t like kale (or salad) and they loved this recipe!

This is a party crowd pleaser and a perfect make-ahead-keep-in-the-fridge-for-a-few-days salad.

I highly recommend checking out Rachel’s other recipes here. She is a salad and sauce master.

Oh, and a special shout out to Cup Quequitos for the over-the-top amazing  cupcakes. Vegan, naturally sweetened, pretty, even some gluten-free, made special for me and my daddy, who has celiac disease.


Rachel’s Wedding Kale Salad


as many raw, unsalted almonds + raw, unsalted sunflower seeds as you’d like.

take one egg white and beat until fluffy, add just a bit of coconut sugar or maple syrup. coat the almonds and the sunflower seeds in a bowl. bake at 375 or 400 until they’re kinda crispy.

as much kale as you’d like, ribs removed, chopped super fine.

in a bowl, massage the kale with about a quarter of an avocado. (you can use as much avocado as you want, but for the whole batch of wedding salad she only used 3/4 of one huge avocado.) do this with your hands, really massaging the avocado into the kale until it softens.

finely chop celery, radish, carrot and jicama. i use my all-time favorite chopper .

she added goji berries for the wedding salad but also recommended pomegranate seeds which I used for the Easter version. Both are great.

add some black sesame seeds and black Hawaiian salt (I get this at AJ’s) – to taste. she uses a very tiny amount. she swears by this salt and the black sesame seeds, so try to find/use them… but if you can’t, sea salt works too.

add unsweetened shredded coconut if you’d like. (not in the wedding version, but she recommended it.)

dressing is 1/2 citrus to 1/2 maple syrup grade b, organic if possible. for citrus, she mixed fresh squeezed orange juice and lemon juice. whisk together.

toss all of the above with the dressing…

here’s her web site for more recipes if you’d like 🙂

and here’s to you, as you enjoy this salad. may you feel loved, light, happy and free!

toast and laughing


Page 4 of 67« First...23456...102030...Last »
© Copyright Denese Russell: Writings | created by: IZUMI STUDIOS