July Link Love

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view from the hawthorne bridge while exploring portland for these last few weeks of living here…what july has been about!

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.

The caption to the above photo pretty much details what July was about for me: living and loving in Portland for a few more weeks, and soaking it all up (plus, I had out of town visitors in the form of elementary school and college friends to make sure that happened!). Here are some of the truly amazing articles I read this month.

Teaching With a Mountain View provides suggestions for preparing for the new school year (Eep! I can’t believe it’s coming up so soon!).

I recently visited Nourish NW, a beautiful holistic nutrition institution in Portland, and fell head over heels in love with their approach to nutrition and celebrating the Abundance that is food.

HerCampus reveals the 7 types of people you become after college.

I am so sad I am just finding out now about Mikdash, an intentional Jewish social justice community in Portland. Meh! Makin’ me want to stay. Thank goodness for Romemu.

Gala Darling answers 10 questions about life, rapid-fire. In her “Whatever Forever” blog post, Gala Darling writes on why to not “play it cool” on the interwebz. I shared my favorite quote about it on my Tumblr.

I am trying like heck to scheme my vacation time to be able to attend the Penning in Paris 2016 retreat with Kimberly Wilson! #dreamingsohard #makeithappenuniverse

Glamour suggests some easy summer work outfits.

Macy Gray wrote a love song to her vibrator.

David Brooks from the New York Times writes about the (economic) structure of gratitude. Interesting read not to be taken at first value. Also from the Times, Jennifer Weiner exposes her daughter’s desperate texts from camp (my mom sent that one to me because, well, it rang true for this New Yorker). And finally (on a very different note), the Times magazine necessarily details what happens when people leave prison, and what options are available to them for moving forward.

During the last month of my AmeriCorps service, OPB came to my school to film the amazing class of 2025 that make me tear up with gratitude daily.

According to The Chalkboard, this is what what happens when yoga, therapy, and, yes, bootcamp, have babies.

This essay on what it means to go through a gender transition in an ashram, and so much more, from a fellow yoga teacher and former colleague, made my heart swoon and ooze. A must read.

Meet 2 millennials helping to educate girls around the world! Oh, hay, She’s the First, nice to see you on the Today Show!

This news of people stabbed at the Israeli gay pride parade is just too heartbreaking for words. And beyond, beyond, beyond unacceptable. Let freedom reign…everywhere. Lokah Samasta Sukhino Bhavantu.

A teacher of mine, Francesca Bove, shares a totally gorgeous article on SONIMA about how the sequence of a yoga class affects your body, by brilliantly providing readers with an analogy that links sequencing to how we move through our days in the most optimal ways possible!

If you were to close your eyes and visualize an ideal day in your life—a day that combined work and play, effort and grace—what would it look like? In the yogic tradition we think of an ideal day as one that is all about fulfilling our dharma, or lawful duty. When one finds his or her dharma, work does indeed begin to feel like play. Work and play intertwine and unite, and balance becomes progressively easier to create. A well-sequenced yoga class is just like that: the quintessential analogue of a day well lived.

An elementary school friend of mine made it big in the poetry scene when we were in high school…and she keeps going!

Women’s Running Magazine had a “plus-size model” on the cover. Progress, but we still need more of it!

Alexandra Franzen provides advice for the predicament of how to charge for something usually done for free. Helpful for me as I start to teach yoga privates!

written from starbucks on hawthorne

Outside In, Inside Out: Reflections from the Mat on the Mind-Body Connection

Tonight’s yoga practice was an unexpected yoga practice (the most meaningful kind). It was one where my body expressed a deep and spontaneous need for it…and I actually listened. More than that, it stirred up so many thoughts on the practice, why I practice and how I practice. Practice, practice, practice.

Tonight’s yoga practice reminded me of Cuba, of my body knowing on the deepest level, what it needed, and when, without me even needing to try. I remember that month of a home practice when I was so far away from home that blew my mind every time I stepped on the mat. I remember exhaustion from Havana heat and dirt, the way it smacked me in the face every time I left the air-conditioned residence. I remember using my practice as an internal refuge during a time of so much transition. Now, four weeks away from moving back to New York, in the middle of a Pacific Northwest heat wave, I find myself doing the same.

So often I get bogged down in formulas: the Ashtanga Primary or a class or even the extroverted fluidity of Lotus Flow. I rarely trust my body to want what it wants…except in those moments when I have no choice but to do just that and trust. Usually, those moments are those of exhaustion, of knowing there is nowhere else to turn to for comfort and that is A-OK, because the tools I am given are enough.

In the nonprofit world that I’ve been immersed in this year, we talk a lot about depth rather than breadth. In my practice this evening, I stayed in the most introverted of poses. I abandoned my wheels and fast chataranga-ed ways of releasing anxiety and surrendered myself to forward folds and Pratyahara, this sense of Drawing In. The beauty of the yoga practice is that it is intended to balance out – to complement – the rest of our lives. Usually, I think this means physical rigor. But then there are nights like tonight when the exhaustion – blissful in its own way – catches up. I spent all weekend being so present for other people and then today, I had the Gift of being present for a group of third graders. And then there is the being present with difficult feelings that working through a trauma and a breakup and struggling family members bring up.

Last night, I read the Young Adult novel that I wrote back in November and found myself gasping with surprise at the plot twists I forgot I included. That was how I felt this evening when I discovered that yes, I can indeed breathe that deep and oh, yes, Karnapidasana was what I needed after my shoulder stand. Sometimes, we are left with no choice but to draw in. To start on the inside and move to the outside. Usually, I choose outside, in. But tonight, I let my body choose for me. Without any further adieu – and thank you, readers, for your patience with this long post – this is what my body chose.

pigeon pose ~ eka pada rajo kapotasana

proud pigeon ~ urdhva eka pada rajo kapotasana

stargazer

vinyasa

other side

seated forward fold ~ paschimotanasana

one-legged seated forward fold ~ janu sirsasana

plow pose ~ halasana

shoulder stand ~ salamba sarvangasana

knees to ears ~ karnapidasana

fish pose ~ matseyasana

meditation ~ dhyana

written from my yoga mat, in pigeon pose

P.S. To find all these poses, and more, check out my e-book Yoga U: The College Student’s Tools for Balanced Living.

Inaugural Happy College Girl Podcast

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College life presents a lot of challenges – maintaining good grades while managing your social life and taking time for self-care doesn’t always feel possible. The demands can feel endless!

Yet it is possible to be successful in school and in life without loosing your sanity – and I share that as someone who did just that!

That’s why I am so excited to extend a special invitation to hear a story of how yoga helped me to keep my sanity, and even to find peace and productivity in college. My hope is that it will help you, or anyone you know who is in college, to do the same. 

Join me on the inaugural episode of The Happy College Girl Podcast!

Sarah Greenberg is a coach for college women to support them as they navigate the demands of college – and life – with ease.

Sarah started The Happy College Girl Podcast to provide college women with practical tools and inspiring wisdom so that you can have peace while accomplishing their goals in school and in life. 

Tune in for my episode, where I talk about my college experience, how yoga helped me deal with the stress and chaos of college, and how college students can incorporate yoga into their own lives.

If you want to be peaceful AND productive in college, then sign up right here to get access to my episode of The Happy College Girl Podcast. Here’s the link again. 

Peace and productivity await you, college girls!

Love + Light,

Shira

PS – Sarah Greenberg was one of the yogis featured in Yoga U’s Yogi Valedictorians sections! I love it when these things come full circle!

Tell Me About OM

the glittery OM at yoyoyogi, the studio i've been loving practicing @

the glittery OM at yoyoyogi, the studio i’ve been loving practicing @

Below is my yoga teaching fairytale of the weekend. Enjoy!

“Tell me about OM,” my yoga student said after class.

I took a deep breath. We – yoga teachers, that is – say these words so often that sometimes we forget their simple potency, their meaning.

“Great question,” I responded. “OM, as I was taught it, is the universal sound. It can mean everything and it can mean nothing. I include it at the end of classes, yoga privates, and my own practice, because it is a seal. We open up a practice with the sound of OM as a way of leaving everything that happened before we begin the practice – the chaos, the mundane, whatever – outside the practice, secluding the practice off as a sacred space where we can recharge. I believe in closing the practice with the sound of OM because it seals all that we do in one hour in, setting it apart. Make sense?”

“Yes. Now, tell me about Namaste.”

I take a deep breath. “In Sanskrit, Namaste translates to…” I backtrack. “There are so few direct translations from Sanskrit to English so Namaste can be interpreted as ‘The Light in me honors and appreciates the Light in You.’ It means thank you. For the purpose of what we just did, Namaste means, ‘The Teacher in me honors and appreciates the Teacher in you.’ While we have this time together once a week where I am teaching you yoga, the rest of the week you are your own teacher. It’s nice to end the practice with an acknowledgment of that, of what’s to come. Make sense?”

“Interesting.”

written from bed

DIY Yoga Continuing Education Binder

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After that initial 200-hour yoga teacher training, the desire for more and deeper information drives many of us yoga teachers to pursue a wide variety of continuing education. From workshops to retreats to 300-hour trainings to 50-hour modules to lectures and professional development through the yoga studios we work at, the information comes at us from many different angles. Unlike a 200-hour where most of the information is likely contained in one singular manual, the continuing education information comes in many different packets, books and leaflets.

This is what I would love to make clear through this post: There is vitality in keeping all that information in one place. When I started taking 50-hour modules through Laughing Lotus, I also had trainings under my belt in yoga service (Street Yoga) and kid’s yoga (OmSchooled). Decorating the messy floor of my bedroom were handouts from guest teachers and notes taken in workshops. I made a decision one day my senior year of college, mid-way through doing that 300-hour comprised of 50-hour modules and the random classes I took along the way. I went to the campus bookstore, bought the widest-rimmed binder I own, and started three-hole-punching.

While this might seem like an office-y blog post, there was a metaphorical relief that came out of putting all that living, breathing information on what yoga is and what it can do for us and the philosophy behind it in once place. It integrated all this knowledge so that, rather than being disparate pieces of information, each one confined to its own lineage, it was part of one beautiful whole of the meaning of Yoga – Union, the yoking together of various ways of getting to the same point: Wholeness. When you make your own continuing ed binder, you actually have the opportunity to define and own what yoga means for you.

Here is a brief how-to:

  1. Buy a large binder.
  2. Start 3-hole-punching all manuals (go a Staples or OfficeMax if you have to to hole punch the larger ones).
  3. Insert these paper pieces of wisdom into the binder. Insert them either in chronological or categorical order (i.e. kid’s yoga info goes with kid’s yoga info, yoga service grouped together, etc.).
  4. If there are poems that have resonated with you as you’ve pursued your yoga teaching career + education, photocopy them and insert throughout.
  5. Decorate the cover with stickers from yoga studios, poetry, quotes, whatever makes your heart sing and return again and again to refer to what got you to where you are!
  6. Write your name on it! Own it! Because when it comes down to it, this amalgamation of texts is what gives you your own unique yoga teaching voice, through honoring the wide variety of places you’re coming from.

June Link Love: Presidential Possibilities, Privates + Practical Self-Care

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.

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June was filled with early mornings and late nights out and about. I filled myself up this month with smoothies, heaps of yoga at YoYoYogi in Northwest Portland, time with friends and long walks in this sweltering heat Portland’s been getting. I started a fiction-writing class at The Attic Institute and returned to my NaNoWriMo novel. As a result, this Link Love is shorter than usual…because I’ve also been busy writing and doing the things we write about in the first place. Enjoy!

Gala Darling shares these really amazing, tangible, and do-it-now goal-setting tips she learned from her dad.

HerCampus shares 15 things you should know how to do before you turn 25 (I’d say I have a year and a half and 10 things on that list left to do!).

A dear student of mine is profiled in SONIMA, on how is brain injury led him to his truest self. It is vital to remember that we all come to the mat for different reasons, some of them critical and chronic and deep experiences of healing and expansion of life.

I just don’t know who to vote for in the primary! In an effort to show that I haven’t been basing my personal political preferences on binge-watching The West Wing, I’ve done some research on Bernie and Hillary Clinton’s 20-something campaign workers had just as hard a time as I did finding an affordable apartment in New York. Here’s Hillary Clinton on the issues…and here’s Bernie Sanders. (#conflicted)

This month, I discovered the amazing-ness of Tommy Rosen and his thoughts on recovery.

My own personal authorial guru on most things, Meg Cabot, shares 12 ways to improve your love life and if I’m going to take advice on any of that from anyone, it’d be from her.

Well + Good shares low-sugar cocktail recipes!

Watch Obama’s eulogy. Let the feelings flow through you.

The Examiner profiles Heather Shrock on the intersection of nutrition and mental health – a necessary and innovative examination.

I am so excited to check out these bar specials near Columbia when I move to the area!

Apparently, the right dose of exercise for a longer life will surprise us.

The Abundant Yogi has some great teachings on lifestyle design!

Teachasana helped me out big time this month by sharing pricing strategies for yoga privates.

A nutritionist from The Chalkboard shares her thoughts and concrete tips on self-care. There are some serious gems in this piece:

Self-care is prioritizing and engaging in things that help us function well in our lives; things that make us feel balanced and allow us meet the inevitable stressors of daily life with energy and (ideally) perspective.

Self-care is not just the occasional pedicure or afterwork cocktail. It’s about identifying your own needs and building a repertoire of habits that make you feel grounded and like your best self.

For more super concrete (can you tell how much I love the practical?!) tips from The Chalkboard, check out this Ayurveda article on balancing Kapha. Proud to be drinking a cardamom latte while reading this one!

written from my bed