Literary London Travel Guide

As you all will have recalled (because I expect you to memorize everything I write on this blog goshdarnit! — JK.), I set intentions for each leg of my travels this summer. My intention for England was to explore literature, as I was there to do a creative writing programme at the University of Cambridge. My three days in London allowed me to make the switch from writing to reading (to do a literary refuel if you will) by visiting copious amounts of bookstores and literary monuments…in other words, this is a post about why London is an English major’s heaven.

Daunt Books

Daunt Books is organized by country, which is insanely cool. I love a well-organized bookstore!

Persephone Books

Persephone Books is a publishing company with a storefront that sells books by Twentieth Century women writers. Their storefront also has an adorable section entitled “Books We Wish We Published.” (A feminist literary must!)

Exploring Cultures of Rest: Tea Time

Series Description: This new series of blog posts revolves around cultures of rest and what it means to take time out of the day – to pause and recharge – so that one can be their best self the rest of the time. I am not saying that the glorification of busy is unique to the United States. I am saying, rather, that being busy has been glorified in the United States and there are many cultures around the world that build rest into the day in a way that a 9 to 5 work schedule does not. They build rest into the day through culturally specific rituals. 

After my first trip to the UK, I wrote a post on this blog about just how much I love tea time. This second trip the UK did not disappoint and I fell in love all over again with this specific ritual of rest that happens from 2-5 (and according to this infographic, after as well).

Where to Tea Time in England

Fitzbillies (Cambridge)


Fortnum & Mason (London) 

Tea Time Checklist

  • tea
  • milk / cream
  • clotted cream
  • jam
  • scones or a baked good
  • a good book or good company

 

Cambridge, England Travel Guide


I got to know Cambridge pretty well this summer through doing the University of Cambridge’s two-week-long creative writing intensive. I fell in love with this manageable, yet extremely cosmopolitan city. The historic colleges, enchanting bookstores, expansive shopping centers, and excellent coffee culture drew me in. Here’s my guide if you ever find yourself in this lovely scholarly city.

CamYoga

It’s a yoga blog so I must begin with the yoga. I went to a Jivamukti class at CamYoga my second week there, and the lovely flow hit the spot!

Sweaty Betty

Sweaty Betty is a British yoga clothing brand and while they have amazing stores in NYC, they preview a lot of their clothing in their British stores, and also have an underground yoga studio where they offer free classes on Mondays.

Heffers Bookstore

I am obsessed with Heffers. They have a whole section of the classics with special beautifully-crafted covers. Sadly, my carry-on couldn’t fit two different gorgeously-covered Pride and Prejudices, but alas, I left with a beautiful copy of Villette by Charlotte Bronte.

Fitzbillies

It took less than 24 hours for me to become a regular at Fitzbillies: a restaurant + bakery + coffee and tea shop that is everything fantastic about Cambridge compressed into a lovely bustling cafe.

Outdoor Market in the Square

In the middle of the most urban area of Cambridge is a lovely outdoor market with incredible (and cheap!) dumplings, more books, jewelry, and crafts.

The Fitzwilliam Museum

This museum has a fantastic collection of Impressionist and Fauvist art. It’s under construction for the next year, but it’s still a must-do.

Exploring Cultures of Rest: Aperitivo

Series Description: This new series of blog posts revolves around cultures of rest and what it means to take time out of the day – to pause and recharge – so that one can be their best self the rest of the time. I am not saying that the glorification of busy is unique to the United States. I am saying, rather, that being busy has been glorified in the United States and there are many cultures around the world that build rest into the day in a way that a 9 to 5 work schedule does not. They build rest into the day through culturally specific rituals. 

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As far as people go, I’m fairly low-maintenance. Scratch that; I would more readily refer to myself as middle-maintenance. But high-maintenance? I’m often too independent to a fault for that. That said, the one thing I get fairly high-maintenance about is being brought drinks. This refers to all sorts of drinks: coffee, tea, wine, beer, seltzer, you name it. I took a 5 Love Languages (Dr. Chapman) quiz about a year ago and one of the five – one I deeply appreciate – is “Acts of Service.”

Can vacuuming the floors really be an expression of love? Absolutely! Anything you do to ease the burden of responsibilities weighing on an “Acts of Service” person will speak volumes. The words he or she most want to hear: “Let me do that for you.” Laziness, broken commitments, and making more work for them tell speakers of this language their feelings don’t matter. Finding ways to serve speaks volumes to the recipient of these acts.

When I am brought a beverage, either in the morning or before dinner time (especially by a lover), I feel overwhelmed with a sense of deep ease. The ritual of coffee tells me that the day is beginning and there’s goodness to come, and the ritual of sitting down with a glass of wine or seltzer with some grapefruit juice squeezed in tells me that the day is over and there’s not much more I have to do except relax. That feeling – especially after a busy day – is a truly amazing one. The fact that it’s before dinner and the only expectation is to sit around and watch the sunset is and feels beautiful. That is aperitivo, the culture of rest we’re exploring today.

This article from HuffPo explains it phenomenally.

Aperitivo originates from the Latin verb aperire which means ‘to open’; the idea being that the drink opens (or stimulates) your appetite.

I have loved resting into the aperitivo ritual while in Tuscany. At 7:45pm every evening, we all pour ourselves a drink – alcoholic or non-alcoholic (it REALLY doesn’t matter!), sit around the sunset and enjoy one another’s company. It’s a daily ritual for slowing down nested into another ritual (dinner), which I so appreciate.

So pour yourself a drink, or demand that your partner does as an act of service. Lean back in a chair. And rest.

Exploring Cultures of Rest: Riposo

Series DescriptionThis new series of blog posts revolves around cultures of rest and what it means to take time out of the day – to pause and recharge – so that one can be their best self the rest of the time. I am not saying that the glorification of busy is unique to the United States. I am saying, rather, that being busy has been glorified in the United States and there are many cultures around the world that build rest into the day in a way that a 9 to 5 work schedule does not. They build rest into the day through culturally specific rituals. Screen Shot 2017-08-02 at 1.34.26 PM.png

 

 

 

A riposo, like a siesta, is Italy’s midday nap. I witnessed how it affects society yesterday while in Pienza, a lovely medieval Tuscan town. When we arrived at 2pm, most clothing stores had signs that said they were closed until 3:30. They were closed because, like in many areas around the world – especially regions that get very hot in the middle of the day (yesterday it was over 100 degrees by that time), businesses shut down so that the body can carry out its natural rhythm of sleeping through the hottest parts of the day.

riposo is usually taken after lunch as a way of digesting what for many is the main meal of the day. Waking up from a riposo feels luxurious and rejuvenating. It also just makes sense in my body and it allows for the day to be and feel expansive – almos to feel as if there are two days in one. So what are you waiting for? (You certainly don’t have to be in Italia to take one.) Eat a delicious and nourishing lunch. Find a place to lie down. Close your eyes. Rest.

Where to Follow Growing Up On OM

I am not the greatest at promoting this blog and I’m writing this post as both a first step and as a way to ask you, dear readers, for some help. I love writing Growing Up on OM. It gives me such joy to put my passions into words and share them with the world. It is where I let my yoga nerd self run wild and it is my outlet for the yoga teacher aspect of my career and where I work out how that aspect fits into the larger picture of my life. I also love social media in a variety of forms, and the ways in which each medium has a unique offering. When it comes to the content of this blog, it does not only appear on WordPress. And, if you’re one of the busy 20-somethings that this blog is geared towards, you likely forget to check it often. Social media serves as both a reminder and bonus content for what this blog offers. Read on to see where to follow Growing Up on OM, and what you’ll get out of each site / app.

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FACEBOOK

Growing Up on OM has a fan page on Facebook. LIKE it! Invite friends to like it! On this page, you’ll find:

  • links to interesting articles from other blogs, as well as links to videos from other teachers (both yoga and in life)
  • notifications for when there’s a new blog post on Growing Up on OM
  • my yoga teaching schedule

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INSTAGRAM

love the Growing Up on OM Instagram. I love photography. I am looking forward to building the Instagram so that it can become a standalone medium. On it, you’ll find:

  • yoga how-to’s
  • travel photos
  • my NYC yoga schedule
  • photographs of yoga studios
  • documentation of my blogging process
  • notifications of new blog posts and the photos in them

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TWITTER

FOLLOW it. Twitter is fairly self-explanatory, but on @growinguponom you’ll find:

  • quotes from yoga classes I either teach or take
  • links to articles, videos, memes, etc.
  • retweets of my favorite poets and teachers
  • links to blog posts and tags of the people / brands / places I feature in them

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PINTEREST

On Pinterest, I basically pin whatever inspires me. I pin:

  • photographs that represent the different blog posts I write
  • blog posts from the Growing Up on OM archive
  • tips on blogging
  • tips on yoga

Please pin to your Pinterest if they inspire you.

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TUMBLR

Tumblr is my OG blogging experience. I still use it for

  • posting versions / previews of my Growing Up on OM blog posts,
  • reblogging other awesome posts & videos
  • making Growing Up on OM (the WordPress version) more visual

I hope to see you all over these lovely interwebs!

<3, Shira

 

10 Reasons to Go on a Yoga Retreat

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DISCLAIMER: I, of all people, know how hard yoga retreats are to afford and how even mention of them can trigger the big green monster inside. That said, yoga retreats come in many shapes, forms, and locations and, like everything, I do believe that there really is something for everyone (post forthcoming on how to plan to attend or to create a retreat that works for your lifestyle, budget, and time off). Here are some reasons why yoga retreats can be so beneficial in the frenetic lifestyle we’re faced with today.

  1. Connect with like-mindedful people. A yoga retreat is an opportunity to be unself-consciously yoga-obsessed. In regular life, I surround myself with people who aren’t as obsessed with yoga as I am and who most definitely don’t believe in concepts like the chakras or Ayurveda. This retreat is like heaven because I get to get my yoga nerd talk out of my system so that, quite frankly, I don’t have to resent my friends for not wanting to listen to my yoga babble.
  2. Restore the body. I am taking a big breath in as I write this one. There is pure freaking magic in practicing yoga twice a day. Breathing that deeply for increasing chunks of time only does a body good. That, combined with the large amounts of physical rest a retreat provides time and space for (i.e. relaxing by the pool, sitting for long meals, eating nourishing food, etc.), restores the body to its fullest potential.
  3. Rejuvenate the mind through active pursuit of hobbies and passions. My one big tip for yoga retreats: bring books! Read a lot. Take a lot of photographs and work on your photography skills. Bring a journal! Write. Bring a sketchbook! Sketch. Pursue the hobbies and passions that make you, you and allow for you to be your best self and live your best life (because that’s also what retreats are for).
  4. Heal the heart. There are multiple people on the retreat I’m currently on who are dealing with the devastating effects of breakups. One of the reasons I am on this retreat is because I am coping with my boyf moving away (i.e. to another continent) for a year. The openness and rawness that yogis bring to a retreat allow for healing. That, and the fact that a lot of emotional healing is physical as well, means that retreats that fuse together the powers of mind and body can do wonders in facilitating the healing process.
  5. Travel to a new place. Retreats are held everywhere – from upstate New York to Cuba (my dream is to lead a retreat there!) to Italy to Virginia, there’s really a retreat for exploring most new places. Traveling on a yoga retreat means bringing wellness in to focus the travel experience.
  6. Ease major life transitions. I am currently going through a few fairly major life transitions (mainly concerning job and relationship). They are very overwhlelming to deal with when confronted with the frenetic nature of the day-to-day. Using a yoga retreat to pause, reflect and offer gratitude allows for spaciousness during the compression brought on by transitions.
  7. Experience cultures and rituals of rest. This is my biggest takeaway of all the places I’ve traveled to. In Latin America and Spain, we have siestas. In the United Kingdom, we have teatime. In Italy, we have reposito and apertivos. Find the specific rituals of rest and make them part of your personal retreat routine.
  8. Take advantage of time off in a structured way.  I don’t know about you, but sometimes when I am confronted with an entirely unplanned day, I stand there in shock of having nothing to do and oh, my goodness, what am I going to do with all of this time?! A retreat is a truly beautiful way to build in activities so that you can just be along for the ride.
  9. Try something new. Along with being along for the ride, yoga retreats are an amazing time to try something new, be it a handstand, a different style of yoga altogether, or even slacklining, take advantage of your companions’ talents and learn from them!
  10. Reflect; catch up with your life. As mentioned previously, it’s really hard to reflect on life when living the mundane of it simultaneously. Going on retreat allows one to keep living life, but to also take the break from typical routine necessary to reflect on all the rest that happens when living a full life.

Have you been on a yoga retreat? Do you have any tips n tricks on how to do it up right? I’d love to hear them! 

Where in the World

 

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I am writing this at an old wooden table, sitting on an old wooden chair, with the above lush landscape directly in front of me. Gorgeous doesn’t even begin to cut it. Breathtaking might.

I recently realized that in the midst of the working two jobs, test-taking and friends-visiting madness of July, I haven’t made it super public that I’m spending this whole month of August out of the U.S. of A doing the things that nourish my spirit: yoga, writing, and exploring new places. So I’m using this post partly to brag about being in Italy right now facing the picturesque view and also to articulate just what it is that I am doing during a full August off, and why.

The best way to explain this is also my favorite way to plan for a yoga class: through themes. Each leg of this five-week trip has a different theme. I’m sharing them below.

Italy: Pleasure

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photo via cocceto.com

I am currently in Tuscany on a yoga retreat with the talented Francesca Bove and a dozen-plus lovely yogis. It’s only day two and so far, I went on a run / walk through the hills surrounding the villa we’re staying at, dined on a breakfast of fresh-cut prosciutto, eggs and muesli, took an hour-and-a-half-long yoga class, and sat by the pool to read and nap. The theme of this trip is pleasure because too often pleasure gets misused in the work-hard, play-hard culture New York City immerses itself in. Pleasure, in a relaxed way, means (for this trip) not only drinking a glass of wine with dinner, but going on a wine tour. It means eating slowly to taste the most subtle flavors of artisan olive oil…and attending a tasting at the vineyard it’s made at. It means practicing yoga with an abundant view of the Italian countryside, and it means putting sunglasses on during savasana and letting the sensuous sensory experiences Italy is so known for marinate so that there can be space to take it all in.

England: Literary

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photo via britishtours.com

Right after this retreat, I’m going to England to take two continuing education creative writing courses at the University of Cambridge. This year, when I took Teaching of Writing as part of my graduate program, I had a lot of feelings surrounding wanting to make sure that I am a teacher-writer / writer-teacher, and not only a teacher of writing (I’m studying to be a middle school English teacher). In other words, I want my practice as an educator and as a writer to disrupt the narrative of “those who can’t do teach” and change it to “those who can do teach.” I also have an extraordinarily hard time writing in New York City, and I’m sitting on quite a few works in progress. I would say that I need to carve out the time, except for the fact that with my working-grad school schedule, the time just simply doesn’t exist, and I’m starting to think that small geographic changes to encourage creativity can be a good thing. We can do it all…just not all at once, after all. But back to my plans for the trip! While I am spending the weekdays intensively writing and attending plenary lectures, I’ll spend the first weekend in Oxford doing a tour of the medieval literature that was born there and hopefully getting enough free time to go to the Bodleian Library for the Jane Austen exhibit! That second weekend, I’ll be in London (yay!) and plan on going to the British Library, as well as both Daunt and Persephone Books!

Finland: Design

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photo via finland.fi

I’ll be spending my last 10 days of this trip in Finland with my boyf who’s moving there for the academic year. He’s moving there to study wood architecture and I’m traveling there so that we can experience Finnish culture together before his courses begin. Finland has a magnificent history and practice of design in both broad and specific ways. Finnish society seems to set itself up for success using infrastructural and architectural design. During this trip, I want to attend some art festivals going on and explore the amazing architecture throughout. I want to focus on something that I really do believe is the backbone of how society functions: design. I want to be able to carry that knowledge with me into all that I do because it can only help when we see the world through a variety of lenses including though not limited to pleasure, literature, and design.

The NYC Summer (Sand) Bucket List

As I write this, sitting at the airport about to board a flight to Nantucket for one of many getaways this summer, I semi-ironically decided to write a post about the city I tend to leave so often these hot few months. If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you’ll know that I love New York with all my heart. I was born in Manhattan, raised in Manhattan, left to Connecticut for College, and then to Portland for AmeriCorps, and then I returned to the city that birthed me. I return, again and again, because wherever I go, I am a New Yorker through and through. I’ve been a New Yorker in Oregon, in California, in Cuba, in Florida, and all over the globe really. And while staying in NYC 24/7 is definitely unsustainable for me (hence the frequent getaways), there is so much the city that never sleeps has to offer…especially in the summer!

Here are my recommendations for what to do during a summer in NYC (all tried and true, I promise!).

Shakespeare in the Park

 

I miss the days of camping out in Central Park, getting kicked out when the park would close, and then ushered (pun intended) back into the outskirts of the Great Lawn. Shakespeare in the Park is one of my absolute favorite initiatives in NYC. Put on by the Public Theater and held at the Delacorte Theater smack dab in the middle of Central Park, the whole experience from waiting in line for hours for those FREE tickets to seeing the show itself is so, so special and worth it. A Midsummer Night’s Dream is headed into its third week!

Outdoor Yoga

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There are quite a few options for this one and I’ll list all of them below. All have rotating teachers. Click the links to find out more. Oh, and all except the Laughing Lotus one are fo free!

Smorgasburg

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Smorgasburg is this former Portlander’s dream. Series of the most gourmet and hipster food trucks line up in both Prospect Park and Williamsburg. There are plenty of picnic tables and small bites to enable trying out a wide variety of yummy-ness.

Wanderlust 108

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I ran the 5K and did the meditation + yoga in this mindful triathlon almost two years ago and it was such a highlight! Find out more by reading a former post here. It’s coming up in the beginning of September.

The Rockaways

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photo via nycgovparks.org

My mantra for beaching it up in the Rockaways is as follows: TAKE THE A TRAIN! Last summer, I seem to have forgotten that I am in fact a New Yorker and let the boyf drive and finding parking was one of the most miserable beach experiences of our lives. If you go, suck it up and take the A to the depths of Queens. Get off. Walk a few blocks to the boardwalk. Grab arepas and taro fries (a must!) at Caracas. Then, find a spot on the crowded beach and soak up the sensory overload…and the sun.

Summer Yoga Teaching: July

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July Yoga Teaching

Saturday 7/1 5:45pm (60 min) Yoga Open Level at Harlem Yoga Studio

Monday 7/3 7pm (90 min) Vinyasa 2 at Harlem Yoga Studio

Thursday, 7/6 7:45pm (60 min) OmPower Flow at One Yoga for All

Friday, 7/7 10:45am (75 min) Yoga Open Level at Harlem Yoga Studio

Wednesday, 7/12 5:45pm (60 min) Community Class at Harlem Yoga Studio

Thursday, 7/13 7:45pm (60 min) OmPower Flow at One Yoga for All

Friday, 7/14 10:45am (75 min) Yoga Open Level at Harlem Yoga Studio

Wednesday, 7/19 5:45pm (60 min) Community Class at Harlem Yoga Studio

Wednesday, 7/26 5:45pm (60 min) Community Class at Harlem Yoga Studio

Thursday, 7/27 7:45pm (60 min) OmPower Flow at One Yoga for All

Friday, 7/28 10:45am (75 min) Yoga Open Level at Harlem Yoga Studio

The theme at Harlem Yoga Studio for July is third chakra – manipura – and the theme at One Yoga for All for this month is “letting go.” The third chakra is centered around personal power – our core (physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually). Its element is fire and its actions are those of transformation. Pairing this concept with “letting go” has been an exercise in the true meaning of yoga itself: union…in order to find balance. The third chakra is often misperceived as the chakra of control – of toughness – yet the work of transformation cannot be done without letting go of that which does not serve us.

More specifically, because this month began with a long weekend that encouraged us to reflect on the state of the country – of the world – I decided that I wanted to focus my classes on how we can use this sense of personal power and letting go of that which takes us out of the present moment to focus on kindness. The yoga practice can fuel our ability to be kind in the world, if we use it to nourish ourselves from the ground up. And so I continue to close my classes (and this blog post) with a poem to inspire a fruitful transition from savasana into the rest of the waiting world.

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Read the full poem here.

Want to stay up to date on my yoga goings-on? Follow me / the blog on Instagram at @growinguponom!