This week my yoga teacher was cueing poses and she instructed the class with one of my favorite phrases; “Root to rise.” We’re trying to make a shape with our body in a yoga posture and the teacher reminds us to root down in our feet, knees, elbows, or hips, depending on the pose, and find our foundation so we can rise up into the posture with stability, safety, and confidence. It’s planting the seeds of our poses.
Root to rise is a reminder that easily comes off the yoga mat into my every day world. Where am I planting my seeds? In meaningful conversations, inspiring associations, healthy activities? Am I laying a foundation that will yield results that I am proud of? Rooting to rise isn’t just going down to go up, it’s going in to go out. What is at my root? What is at my core? Are my thoughts and beliefs setting me up for success?
Roots obviously go back to our genetic history, the people who raised us, where we went to school or church, who our peers were, etc. I was blessed to be born into a strong base of support through family. I went to really great schools, and I am still close with the same friends I made when I was three years old. Hooray for my roots! I know there are some people who have had a more difficult set of circumstances from which to rise. Hooray for them as well!
Life can be hard and we don’t have control over where we came from. We really only have control of where we are going. Even with my super pleasant childhood, I’m continually laying down new roots. I seek out new relationships and I’m constantly creating new goals. Oh, and I start over a lot. I’ll make a choice that seems great in the moment but doesn’t really serve where I ultimately want to go so I end up returning to square one. Months will go by and all I seem to be yielding are weeds. It’s time to start over. So I pull my weeds, plant new seeds, learn the lessons and grow new roots that will hopefully rise and flourish. Re-grounding is healthy. Starting over can sometimes make us stronger.
Rooting to rise in daily life means minding my feet. They are the roots of my body and they keep me stable and safe. Am I stepping out into the world mindfully? Are my feet standing in healthy practices and places that are for my highest good? Where my feet land each day has an impact on the contribution I make to my communities, my work, my physical health, and my spiritual health.
Sometimes I document my life by taking pictures of my feet. If a moment is SO good, I’ll whip out my phone and snap an image of where I’m standing. I literally root down in that instant to build on that moment. I give gratitude for where I am and make a wish for where I’d like to rise. I may never plant my feet on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame, but I’ve planted my feet in some exceptional places.
So you know where I’m going here, right? Root vegetables! They are the culinary underdog. They grow down into the ground, they get dirty, and they thrive in the dark. The root is what we harvest - carrots, turnips, parsnips, beets, potatoes…and oftentimes the frilly tops that grow above the ground are edible too. Earthy, hearty, satisfying.
Here are two easy and creative ways I use sweet potatoes.
Sweet Potato Hummus with Roasted Beets and Israeli Spices
- 1 whole roasted sweet potato, peeled and roughly chopped
- juice of 1 lemon
- ½ t honey
- 2 t minced garlic
- 2 t olive oil
- 2 T tahini
- 1 16 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1 roasted and peeled medium sized beet, chopped finely
- ½ t za’atar
- ½ t sumac (these spices can be ordered online at http://www.kalustyans.com/, one of the best ethnic food markets in NYC.)
Method: Puree the first 7 ingredients in a food processor, spoon into serving bowl, top with roasted beet, and sprinkle on the spices. Serve with crudite, pita chips, or crostini.
Grilled Sweet Potatoes with Lemon Kale Pesto
- 3 sweet potatoes
- olive oil
- salt and pepper
- 1 bunch kale, stems removed and coarsely chopped
- 1/4 c pine nuts, lightly toasted,
- 1/4 c olive oil,
- juice and zest of 2 medium-sized lemons
- 2 cloves garlic,
- 1/2 teaspoon salt,
- 1 T honey
Method: Slice potatoes into wedges. Place a large pot on the stove with 2 inches water, lay the potatoes in a steamer basket and place in pot. Steam, covered for 5 minutes. You want them still a bit firm so they will hold up on the grill. Remove from steamer and lightly brush with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and place on a hot grill. Cook until you have desired grill marks, turning, approximately 3 minutes per side. Combine the rest of the ingredients into a food processor and process on high speed until everything is incorporated. Spoon the pesto over the potatoes.
Food images are by Cheryl Stockton of Stockshot Studio.