#24SevenYoga Challenge with the Yoga and Body Image Coalition

0612_01B_760_428auto_int.jpgI am thrilled to announce that I am participating in the #24SevenYoga challenge with the Yoga and Body Image Coalition. Head over to Instagram (@GrowingUpOnOM) to see what I’m posting. Here’s what I’ve posted so far…

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But I am getting ahead of myself. First, I need to tell you what this challenge is and why I am doing it. I have been a long-time fan of the Yoga and Body Image Coalition. A longer post is forthcoming on the subject, but the work of YBIC is very near and dear to my heart. I started practicing yoga because I needed a way of moving my body that didn’t result in self-hatred. I never, beyond my wildest dreams, expected to celebrate my body. And that is just at the surface-level; yoga allows me to celebrate so much more than my body through my body. The Yoga and Body Image Coalition takes that sense of celebration, accessibility, and so much more into account in its vision:

Our coalition is committed to developing, promoting and supporting yoga that is accessible, body-positive and reflects the full range of human diversity. We advocate yoga as an essential tool in personal transformation, from the inside out, including a critical social justice component. We inform, educate and work with organizations that are ready to shift the current media paradigm to one that is more inclusive, equitable and just, and challenge industry leaders and media creators to expand their vision of what a yogi looks like.

The #24SevenYoga challenge, in partnership with Yoga International, is an attempt to showcase how yoga and mindfulness has the power to influence our daily lives both on and beyond the mat. Capturing the moments of the practice being infused into all that I do has been a mindful experience in and of itself, and I highly recommend it for those seeking some added deep breaths this week.

To Enter:

  1. Follow @carlystong, @ybicoalition, and @yoga_international
  2. Share your photos on Instagram using the hashtag #24sevenyoga

Additional hashtag suggestions (but not necessary):

#whatyogalookslike #whatayogilookslike #ybicoalition #yogabodyimage #ybic #everybodyisayogabody #smashingstereotypes #accessibleyoga #everybodyisayogabody

  1. Tag three friends.

Daily ways to practice #24sevenyoga (Share your photos of what these look like for you!):

Monday: Love yourself—maybe that means taking a yoga class, but maybe it means having a spa day, sleeping in, or saying “no” to people or commitments that sap your energy.

Tuesday: Spend time in nature—improve your mental wellness, boost your immunity and creativity, and get your daily dose of Vitamin D and fresh air.

Wednesday: Find balance—find peace amid chaos. Show us your progress pics or a picture of you falling out of a yoga posture, share a photo of you being productive in a messy space, etc.

Thursday: Meditate—move your awareness inward in any form, from stargazing to starting a journal to sitting in stillness.

Friday: Give back—practice the art of blessed action (seva): selfless service done for the good of others.

Saturday: Connect—spend time with friends/family, write a letter, meet someone new, etc

Sunday: Nourish yourself—share your favorite recipe and a photo of the end result!

15 Mindful Ways to Unwind After a Long Week

While this week has not been a long one by any means (I had Monday and Tuesday off for Rosh Hashanah), last week was. It was such a long week that on Saturday afternoon, after getting what I thought was a full night’s sleep the night before (hint: when you’re making up for a week’s worth of lost sleep, one eight-hour doze doesn’t cut it), I crashed, and I crashed hard. I crashed so hard that I had to call a friend to simply tell me to wash my face and brush my teeth as a way of pressing re-start at 7pm.

Which brings me to this post. Trust me – I know how to “unwind.” I have a whole repertoire of old habits that used to relax me. They involved sweets, popcorn, and binge-watching TV. But over the past eight years of seriously practicing yoga and other forms of mindfulness, I’ve realized that these aren’t actually ways to unwind. They are ways to check out. (Not that I don’t love some good TV time with popcorn and a glass of wine once in a while, but now I know that I can do this mindfully, in a planned and joyful way.)

Unwinding, however, should be part of life, not an escape from it. I am so grateful to build a repertoire of strategies that honestly allow me to unwind after a long week. I’m balancing work, grad school, and the rest of life; long weeks are just a fact sometimes. This repertoire is slowly, but surely outgrowing my old checking-out one, and here are the strategies I have to share with you.

  1. Take a Friday afternoon nap.
  2. Take a bubble bath. Lotion up after. Take in the scents.
  3. Wash your face.
  4. Brush your teeth.
  5. Go to an amazing yoga class.
  6. Do a half hour of a hOMe yoga practice.
  7. Sit on a block or cushion and meditate for five minutes.
  8. Go on a date to a nourishing restaurant.
  9. See a movie with friends. Savor the company.
  10. Do a handstand (or down dog, or child’s pose).
  11. Journal about how the week went.
  12. Have a dance party in your room, alone or in the company of others (these impromptu end-of-week dance parties are one of my favorite parts of my romantic relationship; playfulness is so important!).
  13. Check in a spin class. Let it feel like a night club on wheels.
  14. Spend time with family. Let yourself be taken care of.
  15. Organize your own tea time with a lil treat + cup of tea.

Deep breaths. Let go. Unwind.




Blog Updates


illustration by the amazing julia drachman for yoga u

Hi all! Long time no blogging – trust me, I know! In the past month or so since I last posted (sorry about that!), I’ve started up the new school year – both in graduate school and as a third grade teacher again. I also went back to blogging school; I took advantage of a massive Gala Darling sale and purchased The Blogcademy Online. My intention in taking this fabulous course is to be able to serve my readers even more. Not only that, I want to expand Growing Up on OM in all sorts of ways; I believe that growing up with mindfulness is more than a blog, more than these posts, and most of all, something that 20-somethings deserve to have reach them from multiple channels.

The blogging landscape looks totally different than it did a few years ago, and that’s great, but it’s also tricky. This is the crux of the online word: you gotta adapt, you have to keep evolving. For me, that constant sensation of transformation is what keeps things interesting. – Gala Darling

header.pngI spent a lot of time this weekend taking the online course, and I’m not even halfway through. I realized that not only does this blog need to be more than a blog – I wanted to make it easier to access. So, I took some time and created a few new social media accounts. Here’s how to get connected:

Facebook Page

Instagram: @GrowingUpOnOM

Twitter: @GrowingUpOnOM


I also majorly updated the About Page on this blog.

What are your waiting for?! Follow for some extra mindful inspiration!


P.S. I’m working to post more frequently so hopefully, I won’t go this long without posting in the foreseeable future – expect another later this week!

6 States, 12 Yoga Studios: My Summer of Wellness

I’m having a real first teacher summer…and am loving it! Besides producing online courses, working on a grant, and doing grad school online (I don’t like to be bored, okay?!), I’ve been traveling a bunch to see loved ones + friends. I’ve prioritized doing yoga or some form of yogic-like exercise every day this summer and the results are in in the form of all the studios I’ve visited across the country. That, and I’ve even re-discovered and just plain discovered some studios in New York that are, well, not Laughing Lotus. Here’s where I’ve been practicing this summer. It’s a long post because I am very aware that it has been a very long time since I’ve posted! Let’s go East to West, shall we?

New York, New York 

5 Pillars Yoga


  • Location: 92nd St + Madison Ave
  • Vibe: Upper East Side
  • Phenomenal Teacher(s): David Regelin
  • Asana Style: straightforward slow flow
  • Intention: Move with intention, steadiness, strength, and from a place of light-heartedness too.


Yoga Vida


  • Location: 11th St + University Place
  • Vibe: NYU (a great locale for students to go to)
  • Phenomenal Teacher(s): Domenic Savino
  • Asana Style: straightup vinyasa
  • Intention: A safe environment to explore the tried-and-true practices of yoga.

Laughing Lotus


  • Location: 19th St between 5th + 6th Avenues
  • Vibe: GLITTER
  • Phenomenal Teacher(s): Sheri Celantano, Deb Langley, Kenneth Frisby
  • Asana Style: Lotus Flow
  • Intention: Move like yourself…and sprinkle glitter all over!


Katonah Yoga


  • Location: 17th St + 8th Avenue
  • Vibe: Hard.Core.
  • Phenomenal Teacher: Abby Galvin
  • Asana Style: Katonah
  • Intention: Fuse Taoism with the bodily practices of yoga to open everything up in an extremely intentional way.


New Haven, Connecticut

Fresh Yoga


  • Location: 49 Orange St
  • Vibe: Get Your Yoga, No Strings Attached
  • Phenomenal Teachers: Kami + Ed Mikelis
  • Asana Style: Vinyasa Flow
  • Intention: Come in, get your yoga, open up your body, get a workout, and then move on with your day feeling refreshed.

Nantucket, Massachussetts 

Sconset Yoga Club


  • Location: 18 Baxter Road
  • Vibe: Move + Be Still in the Sun
  • Phenomenal Teacher: Jenavieve Varga
  • Asana Style: YogaWorks
  • Intention: Practice yoga in the beauty of the sunlight, scenery, peace + quite of Nantucket, MA. It’s evident that the whole operation was created with a lot of heart by ladies who grew up spending summers on the island and now teach yoga in NYC most of the time.

Aspen, Colorado

Aspen Shakti Shala

  • img_3256Location: 422 E Cooper Avenue
  • Vibe: Movement = Pleasure
  • Phenomenal Teacher: Jamie Butemeyer
  • Asana Style: Vinyasa
  • Intention: Take practice seriously + lightly at the same time.


Seattle, Washington

Grinning Yogi


  • Location: 345 15th Avenue E
  • Vibe: Fast + Fierce
  • Phenomenal Teacher: Nancy Hwang
  • Asana Style: Lotus Flow
  • Intention: Lose + find yourself at the same time…through movement.


Portland, Oregon

People’s Yoga


  • Location: 44th + Belmont
  • Vibe: Dedicated + Full
  • Phenomenal Teachers: This time around, I took class with Linnea Solveig.
  • Asana Style: vinyasa with heart
  • Intention: Feel a sense of complete spiritual flow + fullness while practicing in a room filled to the brim with like-minded people.


YoYo Yogi


  • Location: 13th + NW Hoyt
  • Vibe: Sheer Awesomeness
  • Phenomenal Teachers: Alex + Kristi Cole (yes, they’re a father-daughter pair)
  • Asana Style: joyful flowing cathartic vinyasa flow (yes, I am being redundant on purpose – it’s just that good!)
  • Intention: Move so fast and with such flow that you forget what you’re feeling when you walk in the door and walk out with those feelings processed + feeling good!

Love Hive Yoga


  • Location: 1847 E Burnside St
  • Vibe: Yoga w. Heart
  • Phenomenal Teachers: Jessica Garay, Audra Carmine + Roger McKeever
  • Asana Style: Vinyasa + Hatha
  • Intention: Move straight from your heartspace + while doing so, stay in touch with what your body needs + wants.


Grinning Yogi


  • Location: 30th + Division
  • Vibe: Fierce + Kickasana
  • Phenomenal Teachers: Chase Connolly + Tori Greising
  • Asana Style: lotus flow
  • Intention: Provide a dance-like flow that allows students to lose themselves in movement + the themes it’s paired with.


Written on the subway on my way to Laughing Lotus because hey, hOMe is where the glitteriest OM is!

On Being Unable to Teach Yoga

I would like to foreshadow this next stage of life by saying that I have a hunch that not teaching yoga will be a lot like when I’ve tried to leave New York; the chances that I will come back to it, and soon, are very real. I would also like to provide a disclaimer that this post does not have anything to do with my body right now. I’ve taught yoga when I was unable to walk and in crutches. Teaching yoga when my body was unable to demonstrate poses was invaluable for my teaching abilities. Now, though I’m coming from a place of physical ability and agility, is the time when I need to take space.

I’m writing this post because last year I worked three jobs and started graduate school…and I felt all of those things fall through the cracks because I was over-committed. From a boyfriend telling me a few months ago after 3 hours of sleep (and not for fun reasons) that I did more than most people to a dear friend who told me yesterday that this is just what I do (a lot…too much), I realized that something has to give.

In New York City, being busy is too often considered a compliment / congratulations / accolade. I grew up (and honestly still am sometimes) very competitive – and almost territorial – about how busy I can be. But, you see, I have had the unique opportunity of living on the West Coast where people are infinitely more competitive about how often they go camping (which doesn’t involve a lot of bopping around from job to job) than how many hours they work in a day. I love being busy doing what I love and I am so grateful that I love what I do, in all sectors of my (professional) life. I do not love failing those things by making too many mistakes or being burnt out because I am just too overwhelmed.

I didn’t want it to be yoga, but for now, it has to be. It is the only job I do freelance, on a flexible basis, and can afford to leave for the time being. I told someone this recently – that I am so sad to not be teaching yoga this year (melodramatic that I am, I believe I used the word “mourning”). They responded by reminding me that I am still doing yoga (daily, I might add). That, my friends, can be enough for now. For now, growing up on OM means infusing the vibrations of this practice I’ve been so dedicated to – the practice that’s been the only constant in my life over 8 years of change and transitions –  into all I do.

Time to practice.

About Yoga U: DIY Home Yoga Practice E-Course

The following post is part of a countdown series leading up to the release of my first e-course (!!!), which comes out on Friday, July 15th. You can pre-register here with a special discount rate using the code LIVELEARNER for taking the course LIVE. This excerpt comes straight out of the syllabus!

Ultimately, a home yoga practice is about your ability to personalize something general in a way that works for you. When I start off the in-person yoga classes I teach at Harlem Yoga Studio, I begin by saying, “Everything I teach is a suggestion.” You know your body, heart, + intention best. Use that knowledge to make this course work for you.

Speaking of the framework, this course is designed in a specific way so that you can take it at your own pace if you’d like, but, if you’re anything like me and thrive on structure, you can also move through it in a manageable week-by-week way. Here is what you can expect:

  • Two lessons per week (except for Week Three, where there will be 3 lessons that all go together) that include a variety of video, audio, written, and visual content. You should be able to complete each lesson (minus the hOMework) in one sitting during the span of 30 minutes or less. For example, you might choose to complete one lesson on a Tuesday and another on a Thursday. Or, if you plan to use weekends to take this course, you might want to do one lesson on Saturday and another on Sunday.
  • Look for the hOMework at the end of each lesson for you to complete in between lessons. The hOMework will often pair a prompt for a yoga practice that you will actually do on the mat with a reflection worksheet or journaling prompt.

What are you waiting for? Register for the e-course here. The discount code for registering by July 15th is LIVELEARNER.

Top 5 Tips for Taking Your Practice Off the Mat

The following post is part of a countdown series leading up to the release of my first e-course (!!!), which comes out on Friday, July 15th. You can pre-register here with a special discount rate using the code LIVELEARNER for taking the course LIVE. These 5 tips come from the final lesson: Off the Mat.

  1. Meditate. Allow the physical practice to fulfill its initial intention: to prepare for a seated meditation. Choose whatever format you’d like. Sit down. Set a timer for 5 minutes to start out with. Close your eyes and let the fluctuations of the mind pass.
  2. One of the best motivators for a yoga practice is to involve other people in it. A practice is often fueled by specific forms of service to others. Try volunteering for a yoga service organization such as Off the Mat, Bent on Learning, Lineage Project, SONIMA Foundation (there are so many!).
  3. Breathe. Practice taking deep breaths throughout the day. Set a reminder on your phone if you need to at the points of the day when you’d need it the most!
  4. Talk about your practice with your friends. Don’t proselytize it; simply tell them that you’re doing it. You never know when the ripple effect will take place.
  5. Intention. Let your intention fuel all that you do, off the mat as well. Practice recalling it throughout your day and check in rigorously throughout the day to see what tweaks you’d need to make to fuel it better.

Register for the e-course here. The discount code for registering by July 15th is LIVELEARNER.

Aspen Ideas Festival: Highlights

Hello from the Aspen airport, an adorable set of cozy cabins that apparently facilitate flights. As I mentioned in my last post about ideas on a macro scale, I’ve spent the past four days immersed in quite literally a land of ideas: the Aspen Institute Ideas Festival. The festival, which took place on this breathtakingly gorgeous campus, hosted both national and international leaders, artists, activists, academics, and more, to give talks on the ideas that make them tick.

Upon walking into the registration tent on Wednesday, I went straight to the Scholars booth…because a huge part of this festival, for me, was having the privilege to be amongst a cohort of awesome people who came from a wide variety of fields to experience the magic of Aspen courtesy of donors and the Institute itself. At the Scholars booth, I thankfully received a large tote bag that I used to carry my laptop and notebooks during the duration of my time. When everything is so inspiring all at once, it is so important to be prepared to integrate that inspiration into one’s own work…or so I’ve learned. I filled my notebook with notes from these phenomenal talks. Below are the highlights, as well as the titles of my favorite events. Enjoy!

Afternoon of Conversation: Bryan Stevenson, Equal Justice Initiative

The festival started off with a BANG. Bryan Stevenson is my new activism idol. Here are some of his genius beliefs.

  • We need to get proximate. If we stay far from the problem, we lose the nuances.
  • In proximity, there is power. We have to change the narratives underneath the politics.
  • We’ve allowed narratives in this country that say some children aren’t children.
  • As educators, we need to start talking about how we got where we are.
    1. Get proximate.
    2. Change the narrative.
    3. Stay hopeful.
    4. Choose to do the uncomfortable.
  • It take courage to be hopeful in a complex world.
  • Each of us is more than the worst thing we are.
  • The opposite of poverty isn’t wealth, it’s justice.

Academic Freedom, Safe Spaces, Dissent + Dignity 

I feel like I had just the right amount of distance from my undergraduate experience to truly listen to a diverse variety of panels on academic freedom on leading college campuses across the country (including my own alma mater). The conversation made me a) reflect a lot on the university I graduated from, which I love so freaking much, but also realize has many problems, and b) realize that one day I might actually love to work in higher education, to help students channel free speech on campus into activism off campus. Here are some excellent points that were brought up.

  • Academic freedom is a central tenet to the university yet it is often one we take for granted.
  • A core responsibility of universities is to prepare our students to be in the real world.
  • The problem of academic freedom goes beyond the First Amendment because the First Amendment covers public, but not private, universities.
  • College free speech is a microcosm of a larger national challenge.
  • Schools can’t be afraid of their students.
  • We need to come together, learn from one another, and question. The status quo should always be, “Be challenged.”

Job as Vocation: David Brooks + Arthur Brooks

Though not related, these two leading intellectuals share a last name and a purpose: to view work as a fueling force for a life well-lived. Here are some of their thoughts on job as vocation…

  • Always have something you’re writing (I’ve been feeling this one big time lately).
  • Serve ideals in your work that push the conversation away from the political and more toward the moral and personal.
  • Every day we are working to serve others.
  • Ask these questions:
    1. Who can I serve?
    2. What am I pouring my love into?
    3. Am I all in?
  • Pick the four best moments in your life. Do they have anything in common?
  • In your 20s and 30s, you should be exploring your new ideas (flashes of insight). Widen your horizon of risk in your 20s.
  • Shift ground continually.
  • What are you doing in your job when you’re the happiest? What are your circumstances asking you to do?
  • The happiest people feel like they’re needed. We need a society of people that put moral worth on who’s necessary.
  • A portfolio of life is comprised of:
    1. Faith
    2. Family
    3. Community
    4. Work

These are the talks and panels that dealt with the most universal themes of what it means to “grow up on OM.” I also went to some other really cool panels on podcasts (like the Slate Political Gabfest Live – !!! – and “Understanding the Podcast Explosion”) which were phenomenal. After all the ideas, though, I made sure the fuel up with a yoga hOMe practice, and a total treat of a class at Aspen Shakti Shala…ya gotta nourish the body too! 

Yoga Joy in July


photo taken by the lovely A last year in Portland, OR with a book that inspired much

Tell me, O quickly! dream of aliveness, the flaming source of your bright breath. ~ Langston Hughes

Happy July, everyone! I hope this new month is off to a lovely start for all of you, wherever in the world you are when you read this. I am writing you from the gorgeous Aspen, Colorado, where I am soaking up the annual and oh-so-inspiring Aspen Ideas Festival. Today is the third day of the festival, and more and more, I am reminded of the transformative power of ideas, and all they are capable of when put into action.

I think I am beginning to realize that ideas, when they aren’t put into practice and shared with the world, are dreams. Dreams are wonderful because ideas can be challenging to carry out, especially when we have many of them. Yet, there is something potent in what separates the ideas that make it up to the stage at this festival, such as Bryan Stevenson’s idea that children have a right to be children, regardless of crimes committed, or the ideas that Emily Bazelon espouses in the Slate Political Gabfest. These are dreams that people have transported into reality.

Speaking of, I would love to use this blog post to put some of my ideas into action. I am thrilled to share that I have spent many, many hours working on an online course for creating a yoga practice (a massive extension of the workshop you received emails about just a week ago, and one you can do anywhere).

But, before we launch into the e-course fabulousness (this email is chock-full of details!), expect some local yoga happenings this month in NYC! I’m teaching a Community Yoga class at Harlem Yoga Studio (i.e. donation-based! no excuses!) this Sunday, July 3rd, from 3:30-4:30pm. Because I’m having a summer full of travel, I will be mainly subbing so stay tuned on my website, as well as on social media, for additional sub dates as they come up!

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If you take the course LIVE with me starting on July 15th (and you can sign up anytime until then), you will receive a full 20% OFF with the code LIVELEARNER.
Yoga U Summer School is my online course that’s been in the making for years! Through taking this course, you will learn a plethora of strategies for starting + sustaining hOMe yoga practices that will blow your minds + keep you coming back to your mats!

Over four weeks, you’ll enjoy: 

  • a detailed syllabus that will lay out exactly how to create your hOMe practice in a manageable, step-by-step fashion
  • 9 detailed + fully developed lessons in total, which you can do at your own pace (unless you love structure like me and want to do it syllabus-style)
  • plenty of video content to bring the practice to life
  • a ton of encouragement, resources, essays, hOMework, visual cues + diagrams to make your yoga practice the best that it can be
  • unlimited email contact with me + a private Facebook group so that you can get answers to all your questions!

Curriculum Preview

    • About Me + Your Syllabus, Top 5 Tips, Journaling Prompts
    • Checklists for both what you need + what you might want, a tour of my own yoga room, creating a mood, + how to make a yoga playlist that fits your practice perfectly
    • Finding Your Sun Salutation, videos + PDFs of practice structures, hip opening + hip closing, peak poses
    • Using props effectively, meditation, service, intentions

Remember, if you sign up before July 15th, the price of this course will decrease dramatically…and the content will never go away! You’ll have full access to the wide variety of lessons + home practices to do at your own pace, whenever you want!

I hope to see you on the mat or online soon!

Online Offerings Cheat Sheet

I finally found some time to sit down after a few surprisingly hectic weeks of not officially working. Without my third grade teaching schedule, I’ve found myself fluttering about New York City, bopping from yoga classes to hanging out with friends I haven’t seen in a long time, to practicing other forms of self-care that are harder to come by during the school year. A friend reminded me the other day of the adage, “If you want something to get done, ask a busy person to do it.” With this newfound “freedom,” I’m learning that I need some more structure if I want to do this whole working-at-home / on-the-road-this-summer thang.

After a lovely breakfast at Friedman’s with the wonderful J, I now find myself at the Argo Tea on University Place with over an hour to spare before a class at Yoga Vida. It feels like the perfect time to share what I am up to this summer with the blog.

I am transforming and majorly extending both live workshops that I’m teaching at Harlem Yoga Studio into online courses through CourseCraft – a forum I am really loving for this kind of work. Here’s a bit of a preview, and a heads-up because if you register for the course to take it LIVE, there will be quite the discount.

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Cost: $99 

Live Student Discount: 20% off

Start Date: July 15th




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Cost: $50

Live Student Discount: 20% off

Start Date: August 1st 




Stay tuned for some promotional videos, samplers, and more to get you e-course ready. Please reach out to me in comments if you have ANY questions at all about the e-courses and what they will entail. I am still in the thick of the design process and would love to know what you think!