Hot Yoga

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So for a month or so I’ve been going to a thing called “hot yoga” (otherwise known as Bikram yoga) with a girlfriend of mine. She’s been doing it for a while and finally persuaded me to go along with her. Bikram yoga is like regular yoga, only in 40c heat and 40% humidity. And also, where in normal yoga the routine changes each time depending on the students, Bikram yoga uses the same 90 min set every time.

If it sounds scary, that’s because it is scary. The first time I went, the teacher told me that if I feel dizzy, like a want to vomit or black out, I’m doing it right.

So why am I doing it??

In actuality it’s not that bad. Often, going into the pose I feel really ill but once I’m there and I’m breathing as the teacher is telling me to, I feel stable and not like I’m going to throw up. And I sweat. Everyone sweats. You have to bring a full towel to cover your yoga mat because you will sweat so much it’ll be as wet as if you’ve dunked it into a swimming pool by the time you’ve finished.

I went for the first time because I was looking at lots of photos of yoga people on Tumblr and I decided I wanted to be cool like them. I am ridiculously influenced by things I see around me. I’ve just finished painting my nails green after seeing a girl at work with green nails and deciding I want green nails too. I made the boyfriend a strawberry – avocado – spinach sandwich the other day because I saw a photo of it online and decided I wanted one. And so with yoga, I decided I wanted to be the people in the photos and so I joined my friend in her class.

I’m going to be completely honest here and say that while mental pictures of me being cool and flexible were what brought me to Bikram yoga, it is the changes to my body that keep me going. Sure, it’s water weight. But you burn about 1000 calories each class, and I do see a difference the morning after every session. My legs look amazing. So amazing I just go out wearing knee high socks and I don’t even care. I’m 26, I go to the gym often, I eat well and now I have this one thing that boosts my confidence and my legs look amazing and I don’t even care if I’m not “meant” to wear knee high socks.

The other reason why I keep going back is that I have pretty weak knees and the heat in the room makes the exercises a lot kinder to my joints. I’m a lot more flexible in the hot room, and my knees aren’t nagging me nearly as much any more. I feel they are much stronger which is great.

The downside is that it IS super scary. Being told that wanting to pass out is normal is usually a sign that you should get the hell out of there. I still can’t do the whole routine through. There’s this pose called the camel pose which looks simple but comes towards the end of the routine and I can’t even start to bend back – I just want to vomit. The best I can do it kneel “Japanese style” and wish for the day that my Bikram sea sickness goes away.

The last scary part is that the routine and the teachers push you. If you clicked on the camel pose video above you’d have heard the teacher say “it’s supposed to hurt”. Things like that are said often. They want you to push yourself beyond your boundaries and stretch that little bit more but often it’s said in ways that sound like they don’t have your health as their priority. However, when doing this kind of yoga you really need to just listen to your body – you know your limits – and use your common sense.

HERE is a nice video showing each of the poses in the routine. It’s pretty positive. But if you search you can find lots of negative things about the yoga and its founder. Personally, Bikram yoga makes me feel better about myself and as long as I look after myself, I don’t see it having a negative impact on me.

Merkez – Mediterranean Food

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It was late in the evening and we were hungry – fresh out from the FITS comedy show. So, we decided to head over for some hummus, because I love hummus. I’d been to Merkez before – back when I was on the Dukan diet we went there because you can order just a plate of meat, which was perfect. But now it was quite the opposite that I was hoping to have!

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I had the plate on top and the boyfriend had the falafel above – both were very yummy and well priced. They made my plate up specially for me – lots of hummus and no meat. The staff were all very friendly too.

In the heart of a slightly dodgy area, it’s always nice when you can go to a nice place with good food like this. I often find that the yummiest restaurants have the dirtiest looks to them – but while this place isn’t dirty, it looks very much like every other greasy kebab shop on the street and so can be overlooked. However, I say it’s worth having a look inside. There was enough for vegetarians, enough for wheat free people too (though it’s hard to look at hummus and not take a chunk of bread to dip into with…)

You can find Merkez at Münchener Straße 33, 60329 Frankfurt am Main

Thoughts on Vegetarianism

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On the first date with the boyfriend, we went for sushi, and he sat down and told me that he’s vegetarian. I’ve never dated a vegetarian before so I freaked out wondering what the etiquette is and ended up ordering the same veggie sushi set as him, even though I love fish based sushi so very much.

As we got to know each other more, and when it was obvious that we would end up together, I made the decision to be vegetarian when I am around him – if I was the veggie one, I would think it gross to kiss someone who had just eaten a load of meat, and also I don’t want to make him feel uncomfortable so it just made sense to me. What’s more, at home I rarely buy meat and the only time I eat it normally is when I’m out for a burger or some German food.

Since making this decision, I’ve seen food in a new light. Checking food labels all the time is kinda a hassle and finding that things I thought were clean actually having animal products in them makes me sad – things like Worcestershire Sauce and kimchi. I’d say that overall, Frankfurt is pretty good with vegetarians but still sometimes there are places with only one or two options. That kinda sucks too, especially when I’m restricted by my gluten allergy as well.

But when we cook together, it’s amazing. I’ve learnt that there are two types of vegetarian food – one type that pretends to be meat with all the fake mince and fake bacon and whatnot, and the other type that is just meatless by nature. He’s been teaching me lots about cooking the second type of food, though when I cook for myself I still like a good slab of pineapple curry flavoured tofu to replace the chicken I would have had otherwise.

I enjoy this new way of eating and I don’t feel like it’s a negative choice, or that he is forcing me to do this. However, I have been surprised by some people’s reactions to this small change. People turn their noses up at food I’ve chosen because it has no meat in it, even when it’s still veyr yummy. In this day and age where I can go to a bakery in Germany and get gluten free bread and where there are whole supermarkets dedicated to people who have special diets (Denn’s… you are heaven!), it should go without saying that you can live as vegetarian and still really enjoy food. But it seems that even now people sometimes treat vegetarians like they are just being that way to be difficult. It’s pretty shocking, really.

The only worry I have is that some day, I’d like to take the boyfriend to Japan and show him my “hometown” and all the places I used to go – Japan uses fish stock in pretty much EVERYTHING. So it will be a challenge like no other. But we’ll see. Maybe it’ll still be do-able…

Spring in Frankfurt!

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Spring is a good time in Frankfurt. The dark days of winter are finally over and the Germans start to very VERY VERY excited about things. One of the things they like to get excited about is spargel – asparagus. You would not believe how excited these white sticks make the locals…

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This was the area outside department store Galeria this morning – a man on a mic, lots of official veggie people, SO many people crowding round to get their hands on asparagus… and a bored sound man eating a sausage sandwich.

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But this is what we came for – the green sauce festival! Green sauce is a big thing here in Frankfurt and so we wanted to check out the festival dedicated to this herby, eggy sauce.

There is a closed off section that I think wasn’t open when we went. There are a handful of stalls outside, though, with 3 different green sauces to try with eggs, potatoes and sausages. Sushi circle have some special green sauce themed sushi variaties (none of which are vegetarian friendly) so there are a few things to check out there!

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Our potatoes, eggs and sauce was so yummy we forgot to take a photo before we dug in! The sauce was pretty sweet and creamy. I much prefer it when it’s chunky and herby but it was still very yummy! The festival is lasting through to next weekend so check it out at the Roßmarkt in Frankfurt!

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