Thank You to the Rainbow Warriors

This time last year, I was privileged to teach yoga on the day of the Gay Pride Parade in New York City. I taught a class at Harlem Yoga Studio to the above pride playlist. Two weeks ago this year, I stood at the waterfront in Portland, Oregon, as I saw people I know – dear friends – march in the parade. My heart swelled in the form of pride. Pride for people who show their pride. Pride for growing up with people who had the courage to celebrate love.

The above playlist feels even more appropriate and salient today, two days after the Supreme Court ruled on same-sex marriage in all 50 states. While this victory is not the be-all and end-all in this constant struggle, what makes my heart swell still is the readiness of so many to CELEBRATE.

You see, my yoga practice is founded on the basis of celebration – a celebration of all bodies, a celebration of love, of feeling love through the body, and on cOMmunity. One of the first new poses that I discovered when I started going to Laughing Lotus – a place that screams pride, was Rainbow Warrior. Everything right now feels blissfully saturated with rainbows. From signs outside coffeeshops to Facebook to the header on WordPress.com right now, rainbows are everywhere! They are a sign that the Rainbow Warriors – those who are fearless in an effort to celebrate love and in just plain human rights – won a small battle that is, unfortunately, one of many. Rainbows signify a celebration of sun after the rain. Let there be more. Feel free to take this playlist into your practice and dedicate it to love because really, that’s what all intentions boil down to anyway.

Love + Pride,
Shira

written from dragonfly coffeehouse in portland, or

Since Graduating College

A month ago, my alma mater’s class of 2015 graduated. With the photos on Facebook and texts of congratulations I sent to younger friends, my brain and heart couldn’t help but fill with memories of when I stood at the top of the hill and took my diploma from the university president. I remember dancing on said hill for the last time since. I remember crying my eyes out on move-out day.

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More than that, though, this graduation that was not my own felt like cause for me to reflect on all that has happened in my first year post-grad.

Since graduating college, I

* traveled to italy *

* worked in nyc for a summer *

* did a courage + grace yoga TT at laughing lotus SF *

* moved to portland *

* drank red wine *

* ate dark chocolate *

* sipped coffee *

* joined americorps *

* took a course on gardening at PSU *

* became a yoga teacher at unfold portland *

* took a yoga + social justice training *

* broke up, got back together + broke up again with an ex *

* got hit by a car *

* regrew my tibia + fibula *

* watched all of friday night lights + the newsroom *

* worked my a$$ off in physical therapy *

* taught yoga again at my alma mater *

* traveled to seattle a few times *

* applied to graduate school *

* got accepted into my dream program *

* continued living life on life’s terms… *

College was an amazing four years. But I don’t believe the rhetoric of “college is the best four years of your life.” No, I believe that college sets us up for many amazing years to come. With all endings come new beginnings, and with all beginnings come opportunities for endless growth and potential.

Yoga for Educators

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As you’ve likely heard (because let’s face it; if you’re reading this blog, chances are that you’ve been to a yoga class or two), the Sanskrit root of the word yoga – “yog” – means to yoke together, or to unite. Yet oftentimes, as someone who works at an elementary school by day as a part-time yoga teacher/glittered, bindi-wearing vinyasa practitioner by night, my professional identities can feel rather separate. This distance between the two aspects of where and how I spend my time makes it all the more exciting when I find ways for these two to yoke together.

My Yoga for Educators workshop and series is just that! When I spoke with Leigh, co-owner of Unfold, the yoga therapy studio I’ve been teaching at since I moved to Portland, we discussed what my “ideal client” might be. After I explained to her the joy I’ve experienced in teaching staff yoga at the school I serve at and teaching to AmeriCorps members through my AmeriCorps Yoga workshops, she informed me that it sounds like I love teaching to the “unsung heroes” in our society. I think she’s right.

So it is with same great joy I teach from and to that I bring you the announcement of the Yoga for Educators workshop and series at Unfold. In the workshop happening in two weeks, I will cover:

  • DIY Yoga: creating a sustainable home practice that works within those unique educator schedules
  • Yoga for the Classroom: using mindfulness, meditation and stretch breaks to cultivate more engaged teachers and learners, and
  • Breathwork: to balance our parasympathetic nervous systems in the path to being more present

The series will be a lot like the workshop – just WAY more in-depth. The Yoga for Educator series introduces the wide-reaching practices of yoga in ways that make sense for educators: society’s day-to-day warriors. This series is designed to empower educators with self-care tools for themselves and professional development tools on mindfulness in the classroom. In this series, participants will:

  • Reflect on the importance of the mind-body connection and parasympathetic nervous system
  • Create your own yoga practices for different times of the day and schedules
  • Learn different breathing exercises for both students and teachers; learn how to harness students’ attention through mindfulness and
  • Relax! And develop a whole toolkit for relaxation that can be practiced during the summer, and easily transferred over to the school year!

If you know of any educators in the Portland area, please let them know about this offering (I will also be blogging the highlights so stay tuned) and check out the below links:

Unfold Website (scroll down! sign up!)

Facebook Event for Workshop

Facebook Event for Series

Personal Website ShiraEngel.com

yoga for educators2015 (flyer)

written from dragonfly coffee house in portland, or

May Link Love: Pilgrimages, Princesses + Pantries

Introduction to the monthly Link Love column: One of my favorite blogs (and a total blogger role model of mine) is Gala Darling. Every month, Gala Darling publishes a link roundup in a narrative form of what she’s been reading. Lounging in bed on lazy Friday mornings (when I was in college) or Sunday mornings (now that I’m a working lady), I open up the links Gala posts like presents on Chanukah evenings. I want to create a similar experience for my readers…with the added bonus of documenting these reading gems so I no longer have 17 tabs open on Google Chrome. So, without further adieu, thank you Gala for the inspiration. Here is a delightful (Central Park) link carousel of my own.  What a month May was! In April, I kept saying, “May May May” with the idea that May would be when things would finally slow down, but, as per usual, I was quite wrong. Things just kept going. Especially in terms of future-planning, which, while important, also requires a delicate balance of being able to stay in the present as well. The good news was that I finally had the spaciousness of mind to read some fiction! I read a truly gorgeous book that made me cry sob in my bedroom on public transportation.  The book was Me Before You by JoJo Moyes, and it was a great read for a month that involved a lot about planning for the future and taking life by the horns or reigns or whatever expression that is. On that note, here is what I read, including that which is relevant to the present, the future and, of course, some distractions to both. An old bearded yogi friend of mine is going on a pilgrimage and this is what he has to say on the subject. I had the privilege of attending the Seattle Girls School luncheon this month and hearing some of these amazing young women speak in the flesh.

There was quite the emotionally eventful moon cycle this month! Speaking of, Yoganonymous offers up some Mercury Retrograde basics. This truly gorgeous Sonima article on yoga as a healing practice for survivors of all sorts of trauma is a must-read. Privileged to have some friends featured in it. Also from Sonima, if you’re tired all the time (like I was the past few days), here are some simple energy boosters. Well & Good shares some healthy desserts we should all be eating tonight. They also share the morning ritual of the owner/founder of Satya Jewelry. Also via Well & Good, here is what you can learn from the cast of GIRLS about fitness and body image (!!!). HuffPo shares the most recent books women should read in 2015. Bitch Mag (and I wonder): Are you going to watch Game of Thrones after that episode?

My sis came to visit PDX last month and we did this NYT tour of Mississippi Ave. 

One of my favorite parts of my AmeriCorps service is helping to run a food pantry. This NYT article highlighted some serious ways that we can keep innovating as that service gets offered everywhere (I would like to constantly offer the reminder that healthy food is a right, not a privilege).

Breaking news (for me): I’m thinking of moving back to New York. I’ve been doing heaps of research regarding just how affordable this city that I’ve lived in my mother’s house in, actually is (if I were, you know, to be a real life grownup). Brick Underground shares the most affordable NYC neighborhoods for recent college grads. And the Broke and Beautiful Life shares how much one really needs to live in NYC.

This year, through coaching it, I became obsessed with Girls on the Run. I’m excited to one day be involved with their middle school program, Girls on Track.

I had the pleasure of eating cookies for breakfast…and not feeling guilty about it!

On a more fictional note, there’s (shocker) a new HBO miniseries coming up!

Want to daydream a list of the best coastal yoga retreats? Dream away!

First, the Power of Positivity says what we should all do before 10amThe Muse offers the best ways to start our days. my favorite – guess why:

Instead, my morning meditation is making a perfect cup of pour-over coffee. Not only does the coffee wake my body up, but the process of getting the grind right, heating the water to exactly 204 degrees, and brewing by hand wakes up the creative side of my brain. It’s nice to make something from scratch to start your day.

Welcome to Queen B’s 22-day vegan “revolution. Oh, and this is that kale sweatshirt of hers from the video where I was like, “Wait, does that say kale on it?!”

Here’s what the founders of Soul Cycle have to say to the Chalkboard, where they’re guest editors this month.

The NYT features the best and worst places to grow up in NY.

Finally, and this is the epitome of looking forward for me, I want to do the Wanderlust 108!!