While searching my other, mostly private blog the other day, I came across a survey I had taken when I joined a group called “Happy ‘n’ Healthy.” It was a great little community in which we talked about yoga/meditation/exercise, eating right, and simply enjoying life’s little pleasures (kind of the gist of my current blog!). Unfortunately, not too many people joined in, and the group slowly moved toward inactivity.

Anyway, I though it would be fun to post the survey here and compare my answers from then (June 2005) to now (nearly 6 years later). (Crap, has it really been that long?)

1a. If you practice yoga, which asana is your physical favorite, for its over-all health benefits?

2005: Twists and forward bends always help with my digestion ;-), but I do love chaturanga dandasana, because it has made my upper body and arms so strong!
2011: Hands down, the pose I do most often for pain relief is supta matsyendrasana. Sometimes when my sacrum locks up, this pose will get my back to ::pop, pop, pop:: and everything goes back into place. The before-and-after of doing this pose is a difference between total discomfort and absolute relief. And since it’s a twist, it helps with the digestion too!

Image courtesy About.com

1b. Which asana do you get the most spiritual/peaceful feeling and benefits from?
2005: Dancer’s pose. I love when I hit it right on the money and could stand there for hours. I feel so strong.
2011: Extended side angle. There are so many things going on in this pose; everything is engaged and active, and I feel like I’m giving my body total, 100% attention. The spine twists, my head turns toward the sky, my upper hand extends into the infinite, and I usually place my lower hand into jnana mudra so I can deepen the connection.

Image courtesy of iYogaLife

2. What food do you love to eat and you just feel so good after consuming it?
2005: Kashi’s Go Lean cereal, with bananas and raisins and/or fresh strawberries. I eat a bowl of that for breakfast almost every day, and it has enough protein and fiber to jump-start my day.
2011: OK, let my start off by saying that I LOVE cold cereal and I still start off most days with a bowl of Kashi Go Lean, but the food that feels even more nourishing is a bowl of hot oatmeal, the old-fashioned kind, that takes more than a minute to cook. I’ll mix in a tablespoon of peanut butter, some kind of fruit butter, raisins, either half a banana (adding halfway during the cooking process) or apple chunks, and sprinkle the finished product with some Kashi GoLean Crunch (yes, I top cereal with cereal).

3a. What non-fiction book completely changed your life in the positive?
2005: Fast Food Nation, by Eric Schlosser. It made me swear off fast food forever (though I do still get salads and parfaits from McDonald’s). 😦 Nickel and Dimed was also a valuable insight into the working poor and stopped me from ever shopping at Wal*Mart EVER again.
2011: I’m happy to say that I don’t eat at McDonald’s anymore. And although I’m not a regular at Wal*Mart, I have had to make emergency stops there for cold medicine, greeting cards, and a kid’s tugboat toy (don’t ask). But–back to the book question–the book is no doubt Sweat Your Prayers by Gabrielle Roth, founder of the 5Rhythms movement/dance modality. Everything I have ever felt about dancing is reinforced in this book, and it opened my eyes to a form of dancing that so perfectly follows the natural rhythms of the human persona and the natural world. When you read the first chapter of a book enthusiastically shouting “Yes! Yes! So true! YES!,” it’s a good sign that the book is going to impact you in a positive way.

3b. What fiction book?
2005: It didn’t change my life, but I love Daphne DuMaurier’s Rebecca. At first it looks like a romance, but then it takes a completely different turn…!
2011: Paulo Coelho’s The Witch of Portobello, about a mysterious girl who loves to dance but others are intrigued and sometimes frightened by the intensity of her moves and mental states when she’s engaged in the act, leading the community to treat her like a witch. I hope no one sees me as a witch, but there is a bit of self-consciousness when I break out into dance in the park or parking lot (which has happened before).

4. Which website do you like to go to for inspiration of any kind? ie: artistic, spiritual, wellness etc…
2005: I get an email every day from DailyOM, and I also regularly visit Yoga Journal’s site. A lot of my online blogging friends are very artistic, so just reading their posts is inspirational.
2011: What a coincidence, because today I just stumbled upon the websites Makes Me Think and its cousin, What Money Cannot Buy, in which readers post short snippets about experiences that really made them think and little things in life that bring satisfaction, respectively. And, as I did 6 years ago, the place I go most often for inspiration is to other people’s blogs, my favorites being the YIOM community and Spirit Moves Dance.

5. Which movie nourishes your soul?
2005: Love Actually. The beginning and end of that movie, the Heathrow Airport scenes, always make me cry. I just love seeing all of those people hug and kiss and embrace each other. It makes me want to visit my nearest airport and watch all the arrivals!
2011: I still love Love Actually, and it’s my and Bryan’s traditional Christmas movie. However, I have to add a bunch of Pixar movies to this answer, including Up, Wall•E, and Toy Story 3, as well as Disney’s Lilo & Stitch. These four movies hit me in the gut, and I feel happy and sad at once and can’t even watch the opening credits without tearing up and wanting to grab a stuffed animal, crawl under some blankets, and cuddle Bryan to death. Confession: I got teary-eyed just writing this response.

6. If you could only recommend one tea for someone to try, which would it be?
2005: Stash’s Creme Caramel Decaf is great with a little bit of milk.
2011: I’m only a tea drinker in the middle of winter on dark, cold nights, but I bought this orange chocolate stuff from the The Vitamin Shoppe last year, and it was pretty damn amazing.

7. What kind of art work/creative outlet do you do when your spirit needs lifting?
2005: Dancing! I come from a dance background (ballet, jazz, modern, hip hop), so I always need to blast the stereo and just MOVE without inhibition. I’m known for just breaking out in grocery store aisles and parking lots!
2011: Ditto!

8. If you do strength-training, what is your favorite exercise or part of the body to work?
2005: My arms. They show the most (especially in the summer), so I like when they look strong and powerful.
2011: Same answer. My arms are easy to tone, and now more than ever it’s important to keep them strong so I don’t injure my shoulders when swimming. My favorite strengthening exercise is the wood chopper with a medicine ball.

9. If you practice mantras/prayers/chants, while meditating or out walking, which ones help you the most?
2005: I haven’t incorporated mantras, etc into my lifestyle yet.
2011: Oh, 24-year-old Jennifer, you just wait! Thanks to kundalini yoga, I chant Sat Nam when stuck in traffic or repeat it silently in my head when meditating. And I swear chanting “Om Namah Shivaya” while drumming in my living room got me my current job back in 2007.

Image courtesy TheRainforestSite.com

10. Who are your role models/gurus for living a peaceful, centered, well-rounded life?
2005: My three main yoga teachers are by far the most inspirational people. I see them every week, and they always have me exit the studio feeling like a better person. They know exactly when to push and when to lay off. Also, my friend Cristin is so vibrant, so her personality is always a boost when I’m around her. One more person … my coworker, Carrol, who is THE most positive person I’ve ever met. Nothing “bad” ever happens in her life because she sees everything as a learning experience. Whenever there’s a problem or crisis at the office, she never freaks out. I admire her outlook immensely!
2011: Carrol, my “old lady friend” as she calls herself, is still a pretty darn inspirational and optimistic woman. And I admire my coworker Amanda for her connectedness to nature and the earth, the way she gardens, raises milking goats, tends to a greenhouse, and finds so much joy in her kitties and golden retriever.

"Old lady friend" Carrol

So those are my answers. Anyone else want to play?!?!?! If you complete the survey on your blog, be sure to comment here so I know where to look!