August + September Link Love

view from one of my first runs back (central park reservoir)

view from one of my first runs back (central park reservoir)

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.

August and September were possibly the busiest months of my adult life. I always hesitate identifying a “busiest month,” because I tend to (pathologically?) make myself busy most of the time. But objectively, moving back across the country + finishing a year-long AmeriCorps service + moving to my first apartment in NYC as a grownup + starting a new job = WHOA.

Anyways, because of all that, I’m combining these two Link Love columns into one. The more aggregated media the better, right? Doesn’t everyone say that?

I have the yoga teacher training bug…again. #consistentstudentship #lotuslove

Maybe, it’s just a deep desire for more consistent studentship. One day, I will take one of Kimberly Wilson’s e-courses.

NPR publishes a list of 100 swoon-worthy romances. And, NYPL publishes a list of the best New York books, in order of neighborhood.

It’s back-to-school season! And I’m going back as a third grade teacher. I found some great tips online for how to prepare over the summer.

GOOD magazine features Jessamyn (@mynameisjessamyn) as the awesome yogi that fights to change the “typical” yoga body.

Happy back to school season! My stepmom recommended this article for chic n cheap ways to revamp the classroom (via BuzzFeed).

On the more intellectual side of B2S season, here’s a book review of The Prize by Dale Russakoff.

Here are 16 healthy + yummy snacks for running.

Glamour reveals 15 mind-blowing facts about Pixar’s Inside Out.

I. Am. Obsessed. With. This. Lady. #feelthebern (in the form of Symone Sanders!). Oh, and here’s the Brooklyn story behind this candidate.

Well & Good provides readers with 5 observations about fitness + body image from the wonderful Lena Dunham looking fierce in her running gear! On a different note from the same site, I am super pumped that the half-bun hair do is back in style!

The New Yorker has some gorgeous advice for young writers.

The Chalkboard provides 8 healthy living podcasts.

After the Columbia Teachers College lecture I went to last night, I am obsessed…simply obsessed with Dr. Christopher Emdin, a professor of the intersection of hip hop + science. Oh, and man’s got swag! #HipHopEd

My dear friend Katie co-started this blog on what it’s like to deal with chronic health conditions in her twenties, a time the general public associates with “perfect health” and being “at our prime,” or whatever that means. This blog is a beautiful retelling, and a space for identification.

Brene Brown is just simply awesome.

Just…read this NYT Modern Love column.

In “The Myth of the New Orleans School Makeover,” the NYT reiterates a deeply true fact: it is better to invest in improving existing school systems than to make new ones.

Via an Opinionator article by David Borenstein, we need the heart and smarts to teach kids about their emotions!

A scene from Friends got deleted after 9/11, but you can watch it here.

I miss the Class of 2025 (OPB) so freaking much. Speaking of, you must, must, must watch this Graduation Rate slide show / animation featuring my beloved Bulldogs!

written from o cafe in the west village

What I’m Loving: TED Talks

Today, I’m doing something on the blog that I rarely do: I’m writing mostly in videos. TED Talks are surprisingly controversial. Many people at my university believed they weren’t “academic” or “critical” enough, that they presented too simplistic a view on specific niches of the world. My alma mater believed this so much (either that or it was out of their admiration of TED) that they made their own variation of talks that were video taped, lasted for a similar amount of time, and fell under a different label, having to do with “thinking big.” But I love TED talks for the exact reason why many people dislike them (I know, that’s an old trope – one person’s trash another’s treasure…). They make large concepts that can be highly intellectual or scientific even very down to earth. And that is awesome! So, below are my favorite TED talks that might perhaps show you how interdisciplinary of a pursuit it is to grow up on OM.

Mark Brackett: Educating the Whole Child (And Adult) With Emotional Literacy

As part of my new position, I get to learn directly from the research of Mark Brackett, a scholar on social-emotional learning, otherwise known as the missing link in education. This TED talk breaks down the vitality of SEL, and why teaching kindness and proper use of emotional capabilities is vital for success.

Brene Brown: The Power of Vulnerability

This is an oldie, but most definitely a goodie.

Molly Barker: The Seen and the Unseen

Reconnect to what it is like to be 10 again with this TED talk by the founder of the amazing organization Girls on the Run.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche: We Are All Feminists

After reading Americanah, I became obsessed with this phenomenal author. Recently, at a diversity committee meeting, I was asked why I identified as a feminist (we were doing a hokey self-identifier activity). My answer was, “Why wouldn’t I?” Granted, this wasn’t my most articulate answer, but this TED talk brings me back to the deep simplicity and rightness that question brings up.

Christopher Emdin: Teachers Create Magic

I saw this guy speak in person last night and my. mind. is. BLOWN. It just keeps getting better and better when it comes to my upcoming graduate career accompanied by all that’s available as a TED talk already.

written from o cafe in the west village

Wanderlust 108

Leave it to me, now that there are actual readers of this blog, to take a hiatus. It’s been back-to-school season (i.e. back-to-work season for teachers) and on top of everything, I’m teaching at a new school so…I hope you, dear readers I now (think) I’ve acquired, will understand!

But I, as usual, digress. What I really want to write about is this thing I did about ten days ago that I meant to write about nine days ago, but that now has added days of reflection and perspective to fuel this post. Ten days ago, I did something I never thought I would do – or would want to do. I did something that, just six months ago, would have made me laugh in your face – or cry out of frustration – if you told a recovering-from-a-broken-leg me I would do it.

Last Sunday, I ran a 5k.

And I did it in true yoga teacher style: as part of a “mindful triathlon” where I ran an untimed, noncompetitive 5k, took two yoga classes and meditated. I am excited to share the details of each part in this post.

I arrived in Prospect Park at 10am. While I am infamous amongst friends for having claimed that “I’m not outdoorsy enough for Brooklyn” (living in the PNW probably changed that), I had zero trouble finding my way to the event. Beginning in Manhattan, I was joined on the subway by hordes of yoga-mat-toting and sneaker-wearing participants. All I had to do was follow. It felt good to feel like one of many; this sensation was the general vibe of the day: rejoicing in multitudes doing their own thing, but together.

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The 5k itself was…hard, but great. I went at my own pace and made it feel as normal as possible. I’d been consciously training on a beginner’s training plan for six weeks. My physical therapist suggested I run to a metronome so I put on my Urban Ears just like I did when practicing on the Reservoir and Riverbank State Park and blasted Spotify Running. I also, it turned out, underestimated how long this 5k was (whoops…). Around the time I hit 3 miles, I walked for a minute…and I was in good company. I’m OK with that and that – that lack of perfectionism and an ability to be proud of effort – is major progress for me.

A dear friend met up with me as I rounded the bandshell. We took some time to explore the Wanderlust “Uncommons” together. A few summers ago, I was a volunteer at a full Wanderlust event at Squaw Valley. The fact that the Wanderlust team/corporation (I don’t mean that meanly, but they, I feel, are basically spokespeople for yogic consumerism) could make a one-day event in a park feel just as full and rich as their four-day events at ski lodges is seriously impressive. A few free tote bags, temporary tattoos and coupons later, I headed over to MC Yogi’s class on the lawn, which was followed by Dharma Mittra’s precise asana teaching.

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There is a saying that I love: “Don’t quit before the miracle.” Often, the miracle is the grounding of physical practices in meditation. This is to the masses that left once the yoga classes ended: DON’T QUIT BEFORE MEDITATION, PEOPLE. Sage Rountree, a fitness and life coach, flew to New York to teach us Metta – lovingkindness – meditation. It so happens to be my favorite kind of meditation. Running on a plethora of endorphins, practicing this kind of meditation amongst hundreds of people rather than on my own cushions, moved me deeply and offered up a different perspective on what is probably the only practice I don’t get a ton of professional guidance with. The whole day was like banging a tiny hammer on a glass. Cracks were made with each nudge. The meditation, I think, cracked me wide open.

If you’ve been reading this blog, you know that this year has been one heck of a journey – physically, emotionally, and spiritually. When I suffered two open fractures and major surgery in December, I seriously started to doubt my physical capabilities for the future. I had a physical therapist (who I emailed on the train back from Brooklyn that Sunday) who believed in me. Six months after my surgery, she put me on a “Return to Running” plan to eliminate my last bit of atrophy – atrophy which was once so intense I could barely look at my leg without crying. The joke at the PT office when she put me on that plan was as follows.

PT: We’re going to put you on a Return to Running plan.

ME: Um…what am I returning to?

My sister reminded me that when she flew out to Portland to take care of a post-surgery immobile me, I was so frustrated with my inability to exercise that I told her I was going to run every day after “it was all over.” I likely said that without fully believing that day would come. She reminded me of that while I was training. One day, over frozen yogurt on the Upper East Side, she asked me, “What do you think of while you’re running?”

I think, “I can RUN!” I told her. Crack. That realization always made my eyes well up just a bit.

However, on my way out of Prospect Park, my eyes welled up quite a bit. Well, let’s face it, I burst into tears and couldn’t stop crying until, like, I was halfway back to Harlem on the 2 train. My tears were a concoction of endorphins, gratitude, and relief.

So…thanks, Wanderlust 108, for making me cry a much-needed cry, and for creating the most chill event ever for my first 5k.

written from jivamuktea cafe with sheer glee after discovering the top secret spicy tempeh recipe

one class. once a week. giving it my all.

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For the first time in a while, I released a newsletter (to sign up for my email list, register on the homepage of ShiraEngel.com). Here is part of that letter.

My intention with my weekly open-level vinyasa flow class on Saturdays at 5:45pm that I will teach at Harlem Yoga Studio is to bring all I’ve learned about yoga teaching to the table. I want to develop this class on a deep level and pour all my yoga-teaching ENERGY into it. Teaching yoga is an art…it’s my art. I never gravitated towards painting or lost myself fully in writing. But when it comes to sequencing a class of 20 people so that everyone’s bodies move in a harmonious and yet individually opening way…THAT gets my creative juices flowing. Come be a first time student, maybe a regular student, and lose and find yourself simultaneously with me on the mat.

Let your Saturday evening be a ritual to open yourself up to whatever the rest of the weekend may hold.

Namaste,
Shira

Now, for some more explanation and the yoga teacher nerdy-ness for why I’m so excited to teach “just” one class a week.

There is a yoga teacher named Amy Ippolitti. Years ago when I was doing my first yoga teacher training she had a e-course called at 90 Minutes to Change the World. Now, this isn’t a blog post about how I took that e-course (I never did; it was too expensive for a new yoga teacher and college student to purchase). But for years her title has reverberated in my mind…especially every time I have the chance to teach a yoga class where there is the time, space, people, and energy to incorporate a complete mindfulness education in the span of 90 minutes.

When someone first hears the phrase “90 minutes to change the world” in a yoga teaching context there can be assumptions about the ego of the person who is using 90 minutes to change the world – ostensibly, the yoga teacher. But upon meditating on this phrase, what comes to mind is not the teacher but the space and people who fill the space that open themselves up to changing the world by devoting 90 minutes of their time to the practices of yoga.

In December when I took the Yoga and Social Change training at unfold Molly Lannon Kenny opened the training up by saying that you can draw a direct line from mindfulness to what is happening in the world today. Today, atrocities are happening all over the world. The direct line of mindfulness to those atrocities that can be drawn is that there isn’t much mindfulness on the other end of them. There are times when it can feel hopeless watching the news or talking about the state of the world. I use the yoga practice as an outlet to deal with that hopelessness to make it feel manageable when it can feel very unmanageable. More than that, I use it as a place and space to refuel so that I can actually do something to change the world. This does not mean that I am the one changing the world; clearly I am not. You can also draw a direct line from the people who dedicate themselves to these practices so that they become so ingrained that they spill over into the work that they are doing.
As a yoga teacher that believes in cultivating sustainable practices, here is my suggestion:

Carve out 90 minutes in your week to really study these practices that can easily be taken off the mat. Let yourself be a student of self-care. Allow that to facilitate a collective changing of the world.