Surya Namaskar, or Sun Salutations, are often the first series of poses that many new yogis learn; a sequence of postures designed to warm-up the large muscle groups and invigorate the body. Doing a few salutations to the sun is a great way to self-practice while bringing focus and clarity to the mind. For students who are building a self-practice at home, or for beginner teachers, the basic formula of these salutations is easy to build onto, allowing you to incorporate different poses on a whim, or according to a plan. That said, it can be easy to fall into a Sun Salutation rut, repeating similar poses due to their ease, but not necessarily challenging your body and expanding your mind.
If you are beginning to explore a self-practice, giving yourself a few boundaries to work with can lead to the creation of some interesting sequences. I like to let my yoga asana book fall open and then work around the first pose I see on the page, or try doing a whole practice without any downward dogs. As a wise teacher of mine once said, “Freedom attracts limitations, to create more freedom”.
Our recipe this month is inspired by working from a formula with a few boundaries. Soup illustrates this concept very well: the basic formula is a mirepoix (onion, carrot and celery); a feature ingredient; a volume of liquid; and seasonings. Knowing this, you can make infinite types of soup, switching up any one of the variables based on what you have on hand or are in the mood for. Cooking freedom… at last!
Curried Carrot Soup
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, diced small
2 stalks celery, diced small
2 lbs./10-12 carrots, peeled and diced
Liquid: 8 cups/1.9L total
6.25 cups/1.5L broth (vegetable bouillon cubes are a pantry staple)
1 can/400 mL coconut milk
1 stalk lemongrass
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup fresh ginger, grated
2 Tbsp curry paste or powder
salt and pepper, to taste
3/4 cup toasted coconut flakes, for garnish
In a large pot, sauté onion and celery until translucent. Add carrots and cook for about 8 minutes more. Bruise lemongrass with a heavy pot or the back of your knife. Add lemongrass, garlic, ginger, and curry and stir to coat vegetables. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 25 minutes, or until carrots are tender.
Remove from heat and discard the lemongrass. Purée in batches using a food processor, blender or hand blender. Return to the pot and add coconut milk. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve sprinkled with toasted coconut.