Previewing Summer Reads on Spring Break

One month ago today, I was lying on a beach in Isla Mujeres, Mexico. I vacationed with my dear friend E and we had similar expectations regarding the trip (which is crucial for traveling with friends). Basically, all we intended to do every day was eat guacamole, go to the beach, read, and drink a marg or two. I made it a true spring break in which I left anything that was school- or work-related in NYC. What I necessarily did the most of that trip was read for pleasure. While I have a summer reading list that includes a lot of career-related literature (that I am electively choosing, though!), I am so excited to read for pleasure this summer and to massively tackle my Goodreads (love that app!) “Want to Read” list.

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During my Mexico trip, I read and recommend so, so, so highly:

Flaneuse: Women Who Walk the City by Lauren Elkin

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Read with caution: it will make you want to travel and leave the comfort zone of one’s natal city immediately. A snapshot from my journal from the day I picked up this book (in the figurative e-book sense, that is):

I am thinking of Ta-Nehisi Coates and how he wrote of his time at the Mecca (Howard University) and how, in Between the World and Me, he would hole himself up in the library he loved so much. He would sit there, with a book and a notebook, and riff — superimpose — his own thoughts onto what he read. And I am now at Hu Kitchen and I just luxuriated with a matcha cupcake and Earl Grey tea. My Kindle is out and I am reading a sample chapter of Flâneuse. I am enchanted by the idea of flânerie, just like I was in 2012 when I took Anthropology of Cities at Wesleyan and read Baudelaire for the first time.

milk and honey by Rupi Kaur

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The only way to write about this book is through responding with poetry.

and then sometimes.

i think poetry.

is the only way to make sense of a nonsense.

world.

— finishing milk and honey by rupi kaur

— emulation

— resonance

 

 

 

The Big Life by Ann Shoket

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It was like reading Seventeen Magazine all over again…but updated to fit my present circumstances. This book gave concrete, no BS career and career-life balance advice that I have already started to bring into my own career situations.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BUST Magazine

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This is by far my favorite magazine. I feel like as a teenager, I spent a lot of time looking for magazines that represented my generation and what we believe in as much as BUST does. With DIY sections to the most amazing interview with the amazing Solange, this is the perfect beach read magazine!

Book Review: Yoga Beyond the Mat by Alanna Kaivalya, PhD

510EvEJ6n7L._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgAlanna Kaivalya is a yoga, spiritual, intellectual, and mythologically-oriented force to be reckoned with. I first knew Alanna as my yoga teacher – the first one that turned me onto the spiritual side of yoga. I stumbled into her class by accident; I was 15 minutes late for the hot yoga class I had planned on attending. The studio suggested I go to Alanna’s instead, and I don’t think I missed her Tuesday Jivamukti class for the rest of my senior year of high school. Then, when I was doing my yoga teacher training, I sent out a mass email asking for some pay-by-the-hour work to help finance it. Alanna responded immediately and I went on to work for her for three years. The last project I worked with her on was the chakra sections of Yoga Beyond the Mat: How to Make Yoga Your Spiritual PracticeI could not be prouder to hold the hard copy in my hands today.

Alanna is the author of two other “yoga books” (I put that term in quotes because her work extends well beyond that niche category). Myths of the Asanas: The Stories at the Heart of the Yoga Tradition (co-authored by Arjuna van der Kooij) is her physically larger book that tells the beautiful stories behind the yoga poses, complete with illustrations of both the mythology and the asanas. Sacred Sound: Discovering the Myth & Meaning of Mantra & Kirtan is her reference book for the yoga of sound that transforms a Western interpretation of Eastern mythology.

When I worked for Alanna I bore witness to something that I think many yoga teachers have in common: competing interests that define their lives and careers. As you likely know from this blog, those competing interests manifest for me personally in the forms of K-12 education, grassroots activism, and my love of teaching yoga. At the age of 25 I found that I have to put these various interests into stages in my life rather than attempt to do them all at once. When I worked for Alanna she constantly challenged me to move toward integration of these various interests and parts of me. In reading this book I now know why. She herself – a world renowned yoga teacher, mythology PhD, and and lover of the pleasures that this earthly life has to offer, has found integration. The integration of those various interests and parts of her are incarnate in Yoga Beyond the Mat: How to Make Yoga Your Spiritual Practice.

The crux and deep power of Alanna’s argument which she presents gently, but firmly throughout this book, comes from Chapter 4:

Each of us has our place in the world, and each of us must stand in our place firmly and without hesitation.

However, some people begin yoga and then jettison their life. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve seen it go through a yoga teacher training and get a divorce, move out of their house, change their careers, and make all manner of radical life changes in order to stop everything and teach yoga. In reality there are countless yoga teachers nowadays, but where does yoga actually have the most benefit? In places such as the hospital ER, The accountant’s office, and at the local middle school. No, I don’t mean rush to your local fire department and organize group classes. I mean that if you are a firefighter, be a yogi firefighter and save more lives. If you are a lawyer, be a yogi lawyer and seek greater justice…. Whatever you are, be that. Be no one else, they’re already taken.

The practices in this book are not only incredibly useful; they are extremely creative. Knowing Alanna, a next step for this book would be a supplementary material – an audiobook recording of only the practices, so that I and other readers can hear these samples of meditation, asana, dharana (Sanskrit for “intense concentration”) in Alanna’s own luminous voice.

Reading this book has made me desperately want to teach yoga again. I want to sit in class and read about the chakras in the targeted, reality-based, and utterly relateable way that Alanna lays out so clearly in this text. Then, I want to riff on the practices she offers with such abundant clarity. I recommend this book wholeheartedly to anyone who has started to get the feeling that there’s something more to this whole yoga thing. I recommend this book to people who have known that for years and have devoured the ancient texts, but are a tad unsure as to how they relate to our lives today. In an Instagram chat, I confided to Alanna that I think this is her best book yet (and I know her other books), and I mean that with all my heart.

Book Recommendation: Trauma Stewardship by Laura van Dernoot Lipsky

Welcome to the Radical Self-Care for Radical Action blog series. This series serves as a multigenre and strategic compilation of ways to avoid or heal activist burnout. During this new era, we need to keep activism and social justice efforts continuous and sustainable; we cannot afford burnout. While burnout and activism have had close relationships to one another, so have healing practices and social change methodologies. Every week, both leading up to and following the inauguration of a president that has Cortisol levels running high for many, expect a post on what it means to heal oneself in order to heal a country. From neuroscience to yoga to meditation to cardiology, learn how to systematically refuel in these trying times.

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Laura van Dernoot Lipsky is most widely-known for her TED Talk “Beyond the Cliff,” which begins with a day she found herself, without being able to articulate what got her there, feeling like she was going to voluntarily jump off the cliff she, her husband, and her in-laws leisurely hiked together. Lipsky opens her seminal book, Trauma Stewardship,  in the same way she opens her talk: through describing her process of recognizing how she found herself on that literal and metaphorical cliff in the first place, and how she learned to come down.

Trauma Stewardship: An Everyday Guide to Caring for Self While Caring for Others is everyday in only the most profound of ways. In it, Lipsky leads from learned experience. As someone who has worked with traumatized people since the age of 18 when she was inspired by a professor who talked about service, Lipsky walked the walk of secondary trauma, and lived to tell the tale. Like a good sustainable activist, she tells more than just the tale – the narrative – in Trauma Stewardship; she lets the reader in on her path towards wholeness while never once assuming that the same practices work for everyone.

Every time stories and anecdotes of secondary trauma start to take a turn for the depressing, Lipsky interjects, almost suddenly, the prose of systemic solutions. There are times when Lipsky’s writing feels too oriented to the American Psychological Association for an “everyday guide,” as her title promises. In her description of the effects of personal dynamics on the self, for example, or the burdens organizations and institutions place on individuals, writ large, Lipsky’s writing begins to feel esoteric. Yet, at that very moment when one would wish to put the book down because of that, she interjects with a universal truth or deeply meaningful personal anecdote, which make the reader simply want to read more.

Given its focus on trauma, oppression, and social justice, there’s a quality of urgency to Trauma Stewardship. Writing on trauma has often been relegated to the sphere of psychological journals in which the “I” is rarely used and “trauma” – inherently subjective reactions to personal or, in the case of secondary trauma, told-of experiences – is treated as objective. The format of Trauma Stewardship dares readers to insert themselves into the text and the issues it brings up in order to ask: How can I be of maximum service through taking care of myself in a way that serves others?

Book Review: The Art and Business of Teaching Yoga by Amy Ippoliti and Taro Smith

Yoga is the process of skillfully turning challenges, failures, hurts, and mistakes into opportunities. – Amy Ippoliti + Taro Smith

The Art and Business of Teaching Yoga: The Yoga Professional’s Guide to a Fulfilling Career (New World Library, June 8, 2016) by Amy Ippolitti with Taro Smith is a comprehensive guide to marketing yoga teaching as a sustainable business, while upholding the integrity that the practice demands. The book is part guide, part exercises and part memoir of Ippolitti’s and Smith’s already-achieved success as yoga business professionals. In fact, the second I received the offer to review this book in my email inbox, I immediately knew I wanted to write it…because I’ve admired Ippoliti’s work for years.
62ea9d1f-4979-4049-8a51-032bdb818944.jpgI was obsessed with the name and concept of her e-course, 90 Minutes to Change the World, even though I could not afford to take it when it was live. This book, however, takes that course and mass produces its most vital content because guess what? There’s room at the top for a whole lot of successful yoga teachers (and Ippoliti and Smith even take the reader through creating their own definition of success at the beginning of the book!).

There’s an irony in how, during the one time in my life I was making a living solely by teaching yoga, I could not afford to take that e-course. This irony is a problem, and one that Ippoliti aims to solve in her book. Here are my key take-aways for how to solve that problem, that I gleaned from reading this phenomenal book:

  • We need to make sure that our yoga business embodies the ethics that our yoga practice is about.
  • Yoga teaching is both an art and a profession.
  • Schedule everything in! Including self-care!
  • As teachers, we are responsible for being skillful, which means teaching to who is in the room and managing time well. 

With chapters like “Yoga Business Basics,” “Class Planning and Preparation,” “Presenting Yourself as a Teacher,” and “Social Media,” The Art and Business of Teaching Yoga speaks to yoga teachers at all levels, from the newly trained to the once-a-week teacher to those with their eye on national, multimedia reach.

“To be a yoga teacher is to embody what it means to have well-being in life, and in turn to impart that understanding to others,” writes Amy. “Trust yourself and your own authentic seat as the teacher. Carve out and claim the time to care for yourself, do your practice, and kindle your own fire. Then watch how your enthusiasm and energy can light up another’s fire. This is how we help wake up the world.”

The Art and Business of Teaching Yoga is an amazing and comprehensive take on all a yoga teacher needs to know to run their own business successfully, with savvy, and while keeping their integrity intact. Everything is full of the intention of usefulness behind it all. It has templates for creating your own yoga binder, marketing plans, and more. From a full guide for how to sequence a yoga class to how to gain control of your finances, Ippoliti doesn’t hold back. And, while being about business, it is not a book without heart.

When I finished reading this book, as I sat on my grandmother’s dining room table (this was most definitely my vacation read), lounging around in new Spiritual Gangster sweats and my “Hoosier Valentine” t-shirt (thanks, N!), I felt a jolt of inspiration flow through me. The first Yoga Sutra of Patanjali is “Atha Yogash Nushasanam:” “NOW, the practice begins.” I now feel able to apply that wisdom to my yoga teaching practice, as well as to my own practice on the mat. I feel inspired to create marketing plans for all that I am offering this summer, when yoga becomes my main business, versus my side job like it is during the school year. My computer has shared screens; one for the PDF of Ippoliti’s book, and the other for GoogleDocs: my own marketing plan buzzing with the excitement of being a container to help me teach and make a greater impact. I will not be letting go of this book anytime soon.

To order the book, click here.

For more information, check out Ippoliti’s website.

FridayING: First Week of April

readING

listenING

  • Taylor Swift
  • Tranquility du Jour: From Day Job to Dream Job (This week’s podcast was tres inspiring!)

watchING

teachING

Friday-ING: Week of February 21

df81660a9d208d880973616da07027d0.jpgAbout a year ago, I attempted to do a monthly “Link Love” column on the blog. It worked for a while until it got a bit too daunting. Instead, I am moving to a weekly format at Growing Up On OM to share all that I am readING, writING, listenING to, watchING, and teachING. It is my hope that this will help me document these things not only for my own reference, but as a source for constant entertainment and inspiration for all the readers of the blog. So here goes: my first FridayING post. Enjoy!

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  • Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin
    • This is my “after-work” read. In the morning, when I’m motivated, I devour my graduate school textbooks. But, after a long day of work, I need something a bit more mindless and this book is exactly that: a novel on New York City love and scandal.
  • Lean In for Graduates by Sheryl Sandberg
    • I started this gem this morning after a challenging day not feeling my best at work yesterday. And here’s a nice takeaway gem for some Friday inspiration:

We can reignite the revolution by internalizing the revolution.

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With the 1 Train going out of order over the weekend, I’ve been devouring podcasts like it’s nobody’s business.

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This week, I really developed a much greater understanding of how television and popular culture have a magical way of strengthening interpersonal relationships through providing common ground and fodder for thoughtful conversation. I spent a lot of the week having incredibly conversations about Downton and Transparent. So highly recommended!

teachING

  • Josie and the Fourth Grade Bike Brigade by A.B.K Bruno
    • I’ve written about this book before and I am overjoyed that I have the opportunity to teach this book again as part of my main curriculum, and to include within it a project on what my third graders can do to help with climate change!
  • Rosa Parks and Black History Month
  • Confessions of Former Bully
  • The Secret School by AVI
    • The highlight of teaching this book has been having the students teach their own lessons to figure out what it would be like for them to be the teacher, even if just for ten minutes.
  • Bhakti (at my other job over at Harlem Yoga Studio): the yoga of devotion!

A (Yoga) Room of My Own

When I decided to move back to New York City from Portland, OR, the last thing I expected was to find more space in my Manhattan apartment, compared to what I had in my Portland one. But Harlem was kind to me and my roommates, and we found (well, correction, they found it while I was still living in PDX) a fantastic four-bedroom apartment. One of the bedrooms just happened to be a “railroad room,” meaning it has two medium-sized rooms attached to one another. It was a no-brainer; I decided to make one of those rooms my Yoga Room.

The friends of mine who showed up for our housewarming party joked and said it was my office. But really, they weren’t joking. When yoga is at least part of your line of work, a space to practice is also a space to prepare and study. My yoga room is all of three of those things. And I would love to give you a tour of this space I am so proud of on this blog!

Furniture

When you have a lot of space, you need a lot more furniture. I decided on a mini coffee table that I’m using as a sitting desk (i.e. it enables me to sit in lotus and get sh*t – read: blogging – done). I also got a bookshelf that I use to store all my yoga texts. Having these in a separate space is actually making these books, teacher training manuals and journals so much more accessible. (All the furniture, BTW, was brought to me by the lovely and stressful Ikea – my yoga practice after that shopping trip was on point!).

Books

I have developed quite the collection of texts over the years. More important, though, this summer I had the opportunity to practice the yama (“restraint”) called aparigraha, which, in English, translates to “non-hoarding.” When I moved out of my apartment in Portland, I had a slight problem: I forgot to ship half my books in advance, and I ran out of room in my suitcases. These were books I loved and annotated. They were about the chakras, the sutras, the Gita and more. But books – and especially yoga books – are meant to be shared, not hoarded. On my last afternoon in Portland, I took those books in my arms and walked down Division St until I arrived at unfold, the yoga studio I taught at all year. I left them on the desk for other students to peruse, use, annotate and learn from. Here are the books I am currently left with in my new yoga room:

  • Myths of the Asanas by Alanna Kaivalya & Arjuna van der Kooij
  • Sacred Sound by Alanna Kaivalya
  • Love Poems from God translated by Daniel Ladinsky
  • The Red Book by Sera Beak
  • The Bhagavad Gita translated by Barbara Stoler-Miller
  • Yoga & Ayurveda (Frawley)
  • Healing Mantras by Thomas Ashley Farrand
  • Jivamukti Yoga by Sharon Gannon & David Life
  • The Tree of Yoga by B.K.S Iyengar
  • The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali by Edwin F. Bryant
  • The Little Book of Hindu Deities by Sanjay Patel
  • Narada’s Way of Divine Love by Swami Prabhavananda
  • be love now by ram dass
  • Tranquilista by Kimberly Wilson
  • The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz
  • Babar’s Yoga for Elephants (De Brunhoff)
  • Awakening Loving-Kindness by Pema Chodron
  • OM Yoga: A Guide to Daily Practice by Cyndi Lee

Mat

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Now that I am an official “member” at Laughing Lotus, I store my big, heavy Manduka mat in a mat cubby at the studio. The one I choose to use in my yoga room is an Athleta mat that I was gifted upon completion of my 5k at the Wanderlust 108 Mindful Triathlon. I also have the tote bag that came with hanging on the wall of the room as a reminder that I DID IT, and to store my pink boxing gloves because hey, boxing is a yoga practice all its own.

Props

Next to my mat are two blocks, a balance ball, and a meditation pillow. I also have a strap and on my wish list is a bolster and blanket.

Office Supplies

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When yoga is my line of work, a lot more is involved than practice. I also have to promote what I am doing so I can better share it with the world. That is why I have a Blog Planner from Etsy (so cute!) and a Poppin’ to-do list.

Wall Decor

I have little hanging elephants (Ganeshas) hanging from a beaded string that an old roommate gave me, my bandana and number from Wanderlust 108, and what was probably the best gift I’ve ever received: my very own Laughing Lotus graffiti wall that my dear former roommate A made for me for my 23rd birthday.

Deities

Also adorning my walls are deities: Goddess Guidance Oracle Cards (Doreen Virtue) I’ve chosen and Sanjay Patel‘s big book of Hindu deities posters. Atop a storage bin, I have a mini Ganesha statue…because after last year, I need a remover of obstacles.

G.I. Yogis / Yoga Joes

When I left Portland, former roommate J gifted me the sweetest lil things she saw on This Is Collosal: yogi G.I. Joes. Different poses are hidden in nooks and crannies of this room and provide endless inspiration for the asana practice.

Bottom line, here’s what I’ve learned from creating a yoga room, after coming from being a bit…space-deprived. You don’t need a lot of space to create a room of your own, but compartmentalizing yoga can sometimes be an aid to focused practice. Take some time and carve out a room of your own.

“There is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind.”
Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own

What I’m Loving: The In-Between Week

Two weeks ago, I moved back to NYC. Today, I’ll informally start my new job. My official start date is next Monday and next Tuesday, I’m scheduled to move into my new apartment. In the meantime, I’m basking in a lovely sort of limbo: staying at home, shopping for clothes I won’t be wearing until work starts, catching up with friends I haven’t seen in months…

A part of me wishes I started this column in Portland, where there was so much that I did – and still do – truly love. But I know that I’ll be back to visit Portland, with the idea that this will be a weekly column that will travel along with me.

So here’s the deal:

Each week, I will post 5 things I’m loving with a 3-sentence description of what it is and why I’m loving it (in case you couldn’t tell based on previous posts, brevity can be a challenge for me and concision is a skill I’d like to hone). This column is inspired by The College Prepster’s On My Radar and Gala Darling’s gratitude posts…but with my own spin. These “things” will be a wide variety of passions: places, books, podcasts, yoga studios, teachers, etc. to convey what it is that’s fueling my inspiration to keep growing on OM. Here goes…

This week, I’m loving

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

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Close friends have been recommending this book to me all summer long and I’m so grateful to finally be reading it. It is an extraordinarily well-written take on what it means to come to America from Nigeria, and discover what race means to a country fraught with its battles. The protagonist, Ifemelu, is also so genuine and likable that it’s made for the best subway read a girl could ask for, and one that keeps me thinking well after the 5 train arrives at my stop.

Laughing Lotus

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Baby, I’m back! When I arrived back in the city, I felt overwhelmed by the largeness of it all. Returning for class after class at Laughing Lotus, being hugged by my favorite teachers out there, getting lost in Lotus Flow sequencing, and running into people I’ve done trainings with over and over again has been one of the things that’s made me feel truly at hOMe.

Hu Chocolate

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Me, my mom, and my sister have gotten hooked on Hu chocolate. The three of us try to stay away from refined sugar and Hu, from a paleo eatery downtown (but they sell the bars at Fairway!) contains none of it; it’s sweetened with the wonderfully low-glycemic coconut sugar. The bar that we’re loving is their dark chocolate almond butter quinoa bar. Pro tip: eat a piece or two with a glass of red wine and bliss the eff out.

Elena Brower Summer School for Yoga Teachers

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A fellow teacher at HYS suggested this 3-day-long surge of inspiration to all yoga teacher colleagues and Facebook. These calls, which I listened to the recordings to via teach.yoga, were just the inspiration I needed to validate how much I love being a student, and how that dedication to studentship is what drives my desire to teach. Each call focused on different elements of what it means to be an independent-contracting (which most are) yoga teacher.

Poppin

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I am thrilled to be tasked with decorating a new office (which doubles as a supply room). I’ve been seeing Poppin office supplies pop up (pun intended) on some of my fave blogs and during my second back-to-school (this time as a teacher) trip to Staples, I snagged myself some gigantic post-it-like memo pads and adorable stylish pushpins. I still really want their gold pencil case…putting it, along with other items on the Pinterest wish list.

written from devachan hair salon, while wearing one of their fabulous gold robes

Those Summer Reads: The Reprise

Taken out of context, I must seem so strange. – Ani DiFranco

It’s been almost a year since I published Those Summer Reads as one of my inaugural posts on Growing Up On OM. I find myself touched by and resonating with what I wrote last September, even though so much has changed in these eleven and a half months. Here is my reprise of an introduction to this rather lengthy post:

While this is not true in life, when reading, I find myself again and again returning to my first love: young adult fiction. In many ways, this blog is about me learning what it means to be a full-blown grown-up, having been out of teenage-hood for over four years at this point. Yet why do I find myself returning, again and again, to books that leave permanent, gorgeous, wrenching imprints on my heart? 

Because there are parts of being a teenager that are timeless, the age itself encompasses a liminality that I find myself drawn to, especially during a time like this when I embody the space of my own many transitions. The words of Augustus Waters (The Fault in Our Stars; see below) both haunt and inspire me: “our own little infinity.” At 22, I find myself grateful for having experienced many infinities, that leaping into the unknown. 

And so this summer fiction-wise, I read a relatively even blend of literature about people younger and literature about people older than me. It is almost as if, in order to get into the present moment, I return to the past and gaze into the future and try to mediate the practical and figuring-out muck of adulthood with the drifting-away innocence of what it means to slowly grow up with meaning.

Now, to get au courant, the books I am sharing below I’ve read since April ended. April was the most stressful month of my professional life. I was consumed by work. Once it ended and May began, it was like my brain professed its hunger for what makes me…me: a deep and abiding interests in the books I unabashedly love. This year, there seems to be a geographic theme: European royalty (both historical and based on totally fake nations). There are few things better than being captivated in a book, missing bus stops in a flood of fictional emotions and crying on MAX (the subway-like trains in Portland) because your favorite characters die or fall in love or both. These books have done that to me, and I am thrilled to share them with you.

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

This book is based on something tragic and within that something tragic all these sweet moments are found. When I began reading this book, I had no idea what it would be about. From the first chapter, the first few pages, I thought it would be about London, glamour, sex, lust, careers, intrigue…you get it.

I was wrong.

Jojo drew the reader in with the same unexpectedness of tragedy that tragedy itself entails. It is a story about totally different traumas that unexpectedly intertwine. The result is a breathtaking portrayal of the complexity of love and life, and the loving that makes life on life’s terms worth it.

Me being me is exactly as insane as you being you.

Royal Wedding: Princess Diaries Book 11 by Meg Cabot 

The anticipation for Royal Wedding was super, super intense for me. I think I discovered that M.C. was publishing her first adult Princess Diaries book about a year ago. I was eager with a need to read the amazing protagonist voice of Mia Thermopolis since then. She so, so did not disappoint.

We want endings that leave us with a sense of hope, possibly because the world we’re living in seems to be falling apart right now.

The Here and Now by Ann Brashares

From the author of the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series came a very different kind of read. The Here and Now, a futuristic take on YA dystopias took me about two days to read. I highly recommend it as a beach read – definitely to be taken less seriously than the Sisterhood books, but I’d say it’s a worthwhile library rental.

Paper Towns by John Green

When I teach literature – in my future classroom of dedicated learners and writers – I want to teach its intertextuality, not teaching only the core text but all the texts that surround and influence it, showing how books, like people, are so interconnected and interdependent. In Paper Towns, John Green did just that for his readers. He wove traditional poetry into a mystery of his own creation. If you don’t compare Paper Towns to The Fault in Our Stars (I made that mistake when I first started reading it and those expectations thoroughly dampened my experience), it is an artful coming of age novel by a man who puts the literature in the genre of YA Lit.

But a poem can’t do its work if you only read snippets of it.

Talking to a drunk person was like talking to an extremely happy, severely brain-damaged three-year-old.

It is so hard to leave–until you leave. And then it is the easiest god-damned thing in the world.

Forever is composed of nows.

The King’s Grace by Anne Easter Smith

I am fiercely obsessed with Tudor England. When I finished reading almost all of Philippa Gregory’s novels, I moved on to Anne Easter Smith, who writes gorgeous works of historical fiction on the Cousins Wars (the generation, which preceded the Tudors). This novel, told from the point of view of King Edward’s “illegitimate” daughter, Grace, displays the intricacies of historical mystery in the vivid ways Smith is known for. What I loved most about this novel was its connection to A Rose for the Crown, the first – and best – book I read by Anne Easter Smith. I loved seeing some of those old and familiar characters pop up in new ways in this iteration.

The Royal We by Heather Cocks + Jessica Morgan

Oh, my goodness gracious, I cannot recommend this book enough. Reading it was like eating a really fantastic bar of dark chocolate. I totally adore Bex, the protagonist – a Cornellian who studies abroad at Oxford only to befriend – and then date – the prince of Wales. What was so great about this novel was that it was most definitely NOT a fairytale. It shone a light on the difficulties of having a life that is constantly judged and surrounded by unforgiving press. The love and lust these two authors portrayed, though, was fantastically written…and so FUN to read. I laughed out loud repeatedly at the smart wit of the writing that felt as if it was coming straight out of the lovable first person protagonist’s mouth. While I read it, I highlighted the places in London this book made me want to visit. I just can’t even begin to describe how fun this book was to read. Definitely a summer read that should be brought everywhere…including the beach (though I finished this one on my plane back to the east coast).

I told myself to carry this moment as a talisman of a time in my life when I was both truly content and lucky enough to realize it.

The breath right before you kiss your beloved is the sweetest one of all, because you realize you’re about to get exactly what you want.

Boxed wine–the official drink of emotionally confused women on a budget.

I’d never been the sort of girl who willingly took a seat on the bench without fighting for a starting spot.

Book Review: Restorative Yoga Therapy The Yapana Way to Self-Care and Well-Being

After all, yoga (yug = to yolk, unite) is trying to teach us that its practice is not just about “me” (the ego) or what I’m trying to achieve (the pose, breathing practice, life skill, etc.). It is about joining the two in a way that is mindful, is meaningful, and extends well beyond the yoga mat. – Leeann Carey, Founder of Yapana Yoga

On Sunday, I attended my first Laughing Lotus class since I moved back to New York. During the opening announcements, the teacher, Victor Colletti – a true teacher’s teacher – said to us all, “Every vinyasa teacher should have restorative yoga in their repertoire of tools.”

This piece of advice resonated with me. My mom started practicing yoga regularly two years after I did. While Beginner Yogi Shira gravitated towards hot power as a jumping off point, my mom began with restorative. She continues with it today, but there’s even one hot power class in her “repertoire of tools.” Seeing the transformative effects of restorative yoga on her body, and then going to some classes with her and seeing the practice’s effects on my own, I do not doubt for one second the potency of slowness, and the deep knowledge of what it means to stay in and with a given pose. Plus, after a year with an injury, restorative yoga saved my a$$. It allowed me to practice in a therapeutic way at the soonest possible opportunity. Restorative yoga…and yoga therapy, which I discovered at unfold, meet us where they are. I often say in the classes I teach that one of the things that makes the yoga practice so special is that it is one of the few forms of physical activity that is not aspirational; it is accepting of and conducive to where we are at the moment. Restorative Yoga Therapy, I learned through this Yapana Way to Self-Care and Well-Being is a specific combination of practices that is emblematic of that fact of yoga.

In Restorative Yoga Therapy: The Yapana Way to Self-Care and Well-Being, author and founder of Yapana Yoga Leeann Carey writes,

This practice meets people where they are. It is designed to encourage self-inquiry, reflection, and change, not perfection — the universe has already taken care of that part. 

Restorative Yoga Therapy is a comprehensive guide. Carey is upfront at the beginning of her book, revealing that yoga is more than just asana – the physical postures – but that for the sake of simplicity (a quality she values – and it shows in the clarifying structure of her book!), she uses asana, as so many do, as the doorway to so much more. One of my first yoga teachers used to say, as she transitioned us into Supta Baddha Konasana, “We are human beings, not human doings.” Appropriately and synchronously, Carey provides instructions for what looks like a blissfully propped up Supta Baddha Konasana in the “Being” section of her book. The asanas are separated into two sections: “Being” and “Still.” I honestly had no idea how many variations of savasana there could be until I read the “Still” section of her book, and I plan to incorporate many of them into my teaching.

Yapana, an ancient Sanskrit word meaning “the support and extension of life,” inspired Carey so much that she created her own unique combination of therapeutic and restorative practice to live up to the name. She defines Yoga Therapy, an emerging discipline in this wide-reaching field, as

address[ing] the needs of of the practitioners. Yoga therapy is not solely about practicing a relaxing yoga poses. It is about rightness: using the right pose at the right time, in the right way, for the right purpose. It fulfills an intention, a purpose, and a direction. And it is a process and a road map for discovering what works for you while giving you the tools to integrate a vigilant understanding of how you do life on and off the mat.

Wow.

You might ask who the intended audience of this book is. As a yoga teacher, I air on the side of hesitance to recommend asana books to my students. I know how vulnerable to injury we all are without proper instruction, alignment and even physical adjustments. But, I think that the fact that Carey includes a whole chapter dedicated to how and why to use yoga props lends a credibility that makes this book a good one for the novice, as well as the professional. However, as a yoga teacher, I would like to recommend this book to my colleagues in this field. There are an abundance of resources as to how to teach a class brimming with students. Four years into teaching yoga, nine trainings later, and being forced into physical therapy myself, I am only now beginning to discover and uncover resources for teaching to individuals. With practices that Carey somehow personalizes to a wide variety of ailments (low back pain, stress, stiff shoulders) and physical conditions that mirror the cycle of life (pregnancy, PMS, menopause), this is a great resource to start with.