Yoga is a very humbling activity. At least to me it is.
After 5 years of practice, it still feels like learning a foreign language as an adult: suddenly I’m unable to communicate in even the most basic terms.
And you know what? It sucks. It royally sucks.
I've always excelled in sports. I was convinced that somehow I was naturally born that way — but yoga has taught me a different lesson.
Suddenly I’m the slow kid in the class, and that’s a first for me.
There’s no going around it: yoga is difficult.
I practice Vinyasa yoga which is a dynamic flow of one yoga posture into the other, with breath linking the two.
In Vinyasa you bend and stretch your body into alien and often unnatural positions. You then hold these poses until the teacher says you can come out.
You’re asked to try things you’re afraid of, that you think you can’t do: like standing on your head or on your forearms.
For someone like me who’s really stiff, due to years and years of competitive sport activities — or as one of my yoga teachers likes to say of “abusing your body!” — even the most basic stretch can be a real challenge.
Just to give you an idea, I can’t sit on my heels because my knees are too tight. So yeah, not easy for me…
The fact that it's challenging is what makes it so valuable, it’s kind of the point.
Because no matter how hard and painful it is, after class I feel relaxed and energized.
That’s why I always come back for more.
But that’s not all, yoga made me taller.
Last week I decided to measure my height for the first time since starting yoga. In 2008 when I was last measured as an adult I was 6.23 tall. Today after 5 years of yoga I am 6.3.
I know it doesn’t sound like much, but it is.
To me that’s bordering on the miraculous.
Now yoga isn't magic, I don't think for a minute that it actually made me grow.
However, yoga lengthens what is short, stretches what is tight, and gradually reverses the dramatic effect of gravity on our physical body.
It has strengthened my lower back, elongated my spine, and as a result my posture has improved and I now stand straighter.
How cool is that?
You know what else is cool?
This Smoked Paprika Chicken.
Because let’s face it, we all get busy and tired and stressed. Yoga helps, but having a recipe like this in your repertoire helps even more.
It tastes great, uses five simple ingredients, and the prep takes only a couple of minutes. Literally: 1+1 minutes!
The cooked breasts are perfect for slicing over a fresh salad for a protein and flavor boost.
But it's so good, you can eat it by itself — which is what I did.
Note: not all smoked paprika is created equal. Look for one that smells smoky and strong. A good smoked paprika has a mesquite-like essence and it’s not too spicy. If you can’t find smoked use sweet paprika.
4 boneless chicken breasts
2 tablespoons smoked paprika (or sweet paprika if you can’t find smoked)
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried parsley
¾ teaspoon fine grain sea salt
3 tablespoons olive oil
In a small bowl, combine smoked paprika, garlic powder, dried parsley, salt, and olive oil to create a smooth paste.
Brush each chicken breast with an even layer of the paprika paste. Let stand for at least 20 minutes to allow the flavor to infuse the meat.
In the meantime, set the oven to broil and place a rack in the upper third of the oven.
Place the chicken breasts on a foil-lined baking sheet.
Place the chicken under the broiler for about 7 to 8 minutes, or until a crust begins to form around the edges.
Flip the breasts and cook them under the broiler for further 7 to 8 minutes, until cooked through (the temperature should register 165°F on an instant-read thermometer.)
Cooking time depends on how big the chicken breasts are and how hot is your oven, the most important thing is that the chicken is cooked through.
Once cooked, let the breasts rest for a minute or two before serving to allow the juices to evenly distribute through the meat.
Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve.
One serving yields 238 calories, 11 grams of fat, 0 grams of carbs, and 36 grams of protein.