Thank You to the Rainbow Warriors

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

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

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

Love + Pride,
Shira

written from dragonfly coffeehouse in portland, or

December Link Love: Burritos, Heart + Justice

image via rachael taylor designs

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.

Warning: This month, brace yourself for some extra links. I’ve been at home with a broken leg, reminding myself of the face that the internet is a BFF of mine at times. There are links galore!

The son of one of my volunteers at the school I do my AmeriCorps service at started up the Burrito Brigade, an organization that fights food insecurity with vegan burritos in Oregon. Clearly, social justice runs in the family.

Speaking of social justice, this has been quite a month of fighting for it. Jezebel doesn’t know what to do with “good white people” and a student from my sister’s high school got arrested for walking under red tape at the protest he went to with his afterschool poetry club.

In case you haven’t gotten the picture already, the world needs changing. That change might lie in teenage girls.

Politicians and their machines need to pay attention to youth voters, and if they’re smart they’ll look to the internet to better understand the issues that are most important to them and — critically — how and where to talk to them about these issues.
We can’t assume loving a boy band prevents a girl from thinking critically about her experiences and the experiences of others. Don’t assume teenagers can’t understand complex social theory. Pay attention to teenage girls; they just might change the world.

And Michael Franti.

On a lighter note, these are apparently the best 15 cities for single women.

A beauty blogger reveals how she does her makeup every morning.

I claim the seat of a student with an injury as I seek guidance from my teachers.

Real Simple shared these DIY Christmas decorations.

So thrilled I get to start filling out my new daybook with this blog post on schedules by Kimberly herself in mind!

Gala Darling shares what it means to have a heart-centered business.

Being heart-centered means that you’re adding light to the world. Heart-centered or not, you are running a business. A business is a profit-making venture. Anything else is a hobby.You are only as powerful as you will allow yourself to be, so stop playing small! Don’t shrink down to make other people comfortable. Don’t water it down.Don’t be Diet You. BRING IT! We need you!
But in order to make the impact you seek, you have to step into your power fully. You have to own it.
Sometimes that can be scary. But if you really want to add to the world, you have to stand up and be heard.

What a f*cking FANTASTIC article. A feminist take on blogging. Truly inspirational.

A few months ago, I listened to Lena Dunham’s memoir as an audiobook. this article has me question if I can justifiably call it memoir. Though lately I doubt the valence of genres anyway…

Well & Good asked Daphne Oz how she stays healthy during the holidays. And they asked Alexis Jones what her tricks are for being a bada*s confident + inspiring woman. Oh, and I really want to start contributing to the I Am That Girl blog!

SoulCycle instructor from this Refrigerator Look Book started the Movemeant Foundation (not a typo) to inspire young women by helping them to feel confident about their bodies!

Guess who’s back? Back again? Mia’s back. Tell a friend! HOLY F*CKING SH*T. The most relatable princess on the planet is back! And better than ever. Reading this, with her voice still the strong and poignant feminist fictional role model that I had from middle school through high school would have made me cry…if it didn’t make me roar with laughter first. Goodness gracious, Mia Thermopolis, I’ve missed you. I cannot wait until June! Meg Cabot also wishes her readers a lovely happy holidays and I am so #thrilled that through this post I found out about this excerpt for the book I am anticipating most this year (Princess Diaries X…I didn’t know this day would come!!!) and a collection of Meg Cabot’s short stories!!! My sister and I were actually just having a conversation about how we are disappointed by the lack of three-dimensional female characters in young adult fiction. Mia Thermopolis, however, is proof to me that creating three-dimensional female characters with quirk, feminist inclinations, and sheer human awesomeness is totally possible. I am so grateful to have grown up with her!

J.K. Rowling made a Jewish wizard. L’Chaim!

I am really excited to see Still Alice when it comes out.

Tim Ferris tells us how to build a brand.

It’s been a year of T-Swift and neither me nor the NYT are complaining.

HerCampus reveals how life changes after graduation and they’re sad…and true…and sad because they’re true.

Whoot whoot to Cuban bloggers!

If you’ve ever struggled with body image, this Kickstarter is for you.

The Atlantic believes that there’s power in writing about yourself.

Here’s the history of one of my favorite bookstores in the world and the highlight of my trip to Paris.

Anne Lamott is one fierce spiritual lady.

A Curvy Yoga body gratitude printout…I’ll OM to that!

A 24-year-old author just broke J.K. Rowling’s sale record!

30 people under 30 who are following their passions.

What can I say? My generation is filled with “career jugglers.” I’m living proof.

The director of my kids yoga TT had a piece published on cross-country love lost.

Glamour Mag learned these 5 beauty lessons from Beyonce this year.

Love, love, love the movie Obvious Child.

New wellness site Sonima shares master teacher Raghunauth Cappo’s story.

The New York Times shares the best TV shows of 2014.

I am so glad that friends Z + N introduced me to the Happy Mindful People + their blog.

My high school writing mentor shares her year in books.

Ella tells us the parts of being 22 that T-Swift left out. Beautiful.

Tiny Buddha encourages us to be the best versions of ourselves a lot more often.

When I was studying abroad, a documentary filmmaker came to talk to us about the importance of the media – and just representation within it – in Cuba, a place where media is vastly more scarce than it is in this country. That was the first time I heard the name Assata Shakur – click for her open letter to the media – and I am hopeful that “restored” relations between countries will allow us to hear her name more often – on her terms – in this country where media is abundant and justice within it is scarce.

BONUS: This SNL GIRLS skit is a true gem.

Yoga + Social Change: Diary of a Training

Without leaps of imagination or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all is a form of planning.
Gloria SteinemRevolution from Within

Day One

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For the past four years, I “worked” my toosh off as a Feminist, Gender and Sexuality Studies major studying the theories behind social change. Gloria Steinem, bell hooks, Gloria Anzaldua, Cherrie Moraga – you name it, I’ve read it. But it is only now, half a year out of college, that I am doing what I studied. As a Community Involvement Specialist (I LOVE my position title!) at a Title I elementary school, I am doing so much of it that I forget what I studied. There is, I am realizing, a dire need for praxis in basic needs work: action and reflection working in constant dialogue with one another. This I learned from Paulo Freire.

But I today I learned from Molly, the director of the Samarya Center in Seattle and a pioneer in creating a field out of yoga therapy. Her words were praxis embodied. She gave us concrete things and actions to reflect upon as we discussed social change, our own biases, defined our terms rigorously and truly thought about what effective action means. With everything that has been going on in this country, I could not imagine a better time to do this training. But then again, sh*t is always happening. It is always a good time for a training like this.

Molly’s words felt like college. They felt like academia, but they also felt real. The “yoga” component of the training was hardly addressed; it was implicit (which was good because in case you forgot I attended this training with a broken leg. As it should be. This training reminded me that I want my yoga teaching and practice to mirror my overall philosophy on yoga: that it is a bridge and a way of life. Yoga is a technique for getting to higher practices…like doing the work and actually serving people and causes. Yoga is not a full time job; it is not its own “yoga world,” as many blogs and clothing stores and studios talk about. Yoga is fueled by real experiences. Experiences of social change and action and reflection. This is the work.

This is the time, as much as ever, to become engaged. Not surprised, not despairing, not unhinged. Engaged.

Participate in the everyday possibilities all around you. Gain and hone the practice and skills needed to co- create, to share a burden, to have your voice heard, to put your money where your values are, to let others’ voices be heard, to encourage inclusion and open mindedness and heartedness.

You can practice these things every single day. Become engaged.

Practice in the straight away what you’ll use in the curve. You say you want a revolution? The revolution begins within. – Molly Lannon Kenny

Day Two

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On the second and last day of this training, I thought a lot about the ripple effect of change. As Molly and others talked, I reflected in my notebook about how we see ourselves change gradually through these practices. When I first started going to Pure Yoga six years ago, for example, I would go to a yoga class every Tuesday night that made what Molly labeled yesterday as “boundless compassion.” When we chanted, I literally felt my heart physically expand. I dedicated every wheel pose to being of greater service in the world. Then, I owuld walk the five blocks home and start yelling at my mother for “messing up” dinner.

I was sixteen and angry. But a seed of mindfulness had been planted.

Fast forward five years and my mother grew so inspired by how, after more time of letting the yoga integrate itself in my mind and heart, I became actually more compassionate and tranquil at home and school. And with with my friends. And in the activist groups I became a part of. In short, I became less angry. But more importantly, my mom now goes to yoga every day. She feels better because of it. The irony of this whole ripple effect phenomenon that I am describing is that I thought I was so incredibly, utterly (I only half-apologize for the adverbs) selfish to be doing so much “for myself.” At my first yoga class with my skewed chatarangas, I had no freaking idea that I would become a yoga teacher. Or work in the service sector in such a hardcore way. Or teach hundreds of people. Or teach students their first wheel poses…students hwo would then go on to become yoga teachers themselves. I did not know then just how unselfish these practices become when we keep doing the work.

This, to me, is where yoga and social change come together as a natural pairing, lovers that birth revolution.