Take the Vinyasa of Your Choice

Downward Facing Dog

The first time I heard the title phrase, visions of condiments danced in my head as though  I’d been offered garnishes for a curry. Not quite. I was a newbie in a yoga class, dazzled by the lithe, twenty-something instructor with rubber joints. (For non-yoga practitioners, a vinyasa is a series of poses starting and ending with a downward facing dog, pictured above. A “good dog” is not a well-behaved Lab, it involves spread fingers and toes, limber hamstrings and steady in- and exhalations. My dog is  not all that good but very game.)

Since the condiment class, I’ve taken yoga classes on beaches, in gyms and spas, in living rooms,  at home and far away.  India, birthplace of yoga, has classes everywhere. In  many temples like the Meenakshi Temple in Madurai,  in the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu, there are impromptu yoga groups scattered about the huge complex.  If the practitioners were aware that people like me watched for a few moments, they didn’t pay the slightest heed.

Meenakshi Temple, Madurai

In the U.S., the public posture of yoga devotees is often includes healthy eating.  If practitioners snarf up Big Macs, they don’t say so nor do their lean bodies.  Lentils are a protein dream, third only to soybeans and hemp seed (anyone ever eaten hemp seed?)

Here’s a recipe for lentils with leeks that I’ve used as a base for salmon  It’s delicious on its own and you can use it any way you please. Namaste.

Lentils with leeks

For mustard-herb butter:

3 Tbls. unsalted butter, softened

1 Tbls grainy mustard (like Dijon)

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

1 Tbls each chopped chives and tarragon (if you have them handy, taste is still good if you don’t)

For lentils and leeks:

1 cup French green lentils

4 cups water

2 leeks (white and pale green parts) chopped and well-washed

1 Tbls. unsalted butter

1 Tbls. fresh lemon juice

Bring lentils, water and 3/4 teaspoon salt to a boil in a heavy saucepan, then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered until lentils are just tender, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand five minutes. Reserve one cup cooking liquid and drain the rest.

Chop leeks, wash and cook in a tablespoon of butter over medium-low heat, stirring a little until softened, 6-8 minutes. Add lentils with the reserved cooking liquid to the leeks and add the 3 Tbls. mustard-herb butter until lentils are heated through and butter has melted. Add the lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste.  Serve under cooked salmon for the classic French Saumon aux Lentilles–or not.  Like yoga, it’s about you.

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