10 Ways to Work in a Relaxed Way

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Illustration cred goes to Julia Drachman, from the book Yoga U: The College Student’s Tools for Balanced Living.

Hello from Florida, where I am taking a break from my NYC overwhelm to celebrate my grandma’s 94th birthday. That said, I came with a backpack full of work. (And the backpack is my latest obsession that I purchased last week to aid in my grad school + work + yoga triple life: a STATE bag.)

From now until June 17, it feels like I have an inordinate amount of things to accomplish (report cards, promo for my yoga workshops, graduate school summer session, the list goes on!). I wanted to use this three-day weekend to get ahead on these important tasks, or at least to feel less like I was drowning in them.

So…during my Uber ride en route to the airport, I set an intention: “I intend to use this weekend to work in a relaxed way.” This feels fairly revolutionary to me; I am used to working under deadlines, with stressed-out coworkers, in cluttered offices, all while feeling like, no matter how much I try to work, the hum and buzz of the city I love so much seems to distract me.

My intention has ended up in this list, for your enjoyment, and calm work habits. Without further ado, here are 10 ways to work in a relaxed way!

  1. Bring your laptop to the nail salon and write, write, write while your toes get polished, polished, polished.
  2. Take readings to the pool so that you can lounge back and contemplate those important texts.
  3. Use exercise as a way to contemplate your work. Go for a run with the intention of, for example, thinking up a blurb for that next workshop.
  4. Do mindless tasks that still allow you to cross a lot off that to-do list while watching TV.
  5. Chunk It Up. Make a list of small tasks you need to get done…maybe the ones you dread doing, and then, after accomplishing each one, treat yourself to doing something super fun!
  6. Listen to music while you work.
  7. Make your work fashionable. Find brands that you love to tote your work in. I personally love Poppin office supplies, and looking at them makes me excited to do my work (I judge a book by its cover!).
  8. Stay inspired. Similar to “chunk it up,” after accomplishing each task, read a piece of what I like to call “professional development literature” by people you admire to inspire you to do more.
  9. Go to a coffeeshop. Order a latte, or a drink of your choice, savor it, and get inspired by those working around you in their own relaxed ways.
  10. Pair work with another activity. In Better than Before, my favorite tip from Gretchen Rubin was to pair habits together. For example, pair coffeeshop work an exercise class, so that you know that one signals the other. This makes you feel like you have a fuller life, which in turn translates into happier work time!

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

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

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

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

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

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

pigeon pose ~ eka pada rajo kapotasana

proud pigeon ~ urdhva eka pada rajo kapotasana



other side

seated forward fold ~ paschimotanasana

one-legged seated forward fold ~ janu sirsasana

plow pose ~ halasana

shoulder stand ~ salamba sarvangasana

knees to ears ~ karnapidasana

fish pose ~ matseyasana

meditation ~ dhyana

written from my yoga mat, in pigeon pose

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

What I’m Reading (and What I Think You Should Read Too!): Small Apartments, Loving Criticism & Writers on Trains

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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.

Goodbye, September’s links! October, I can’t wait to see what you have in store!

5 Steps to Moonlighting as a Yoga Teacher

Moonlighter. Sounds so sexy, right? A word that screams 1950’s secretary turned burlesque dancer when she leaves the office at 5. “Moonlighter” also invokes the lunar cycle, which us yogis can be rather nerdy about. The term also makes me think of Superman (by night) who is actually Clark Kent, big shot journalist, by day. While I believe that this is a term that will fade as my generation grows up, the time for its demise is not yet here. While many of us work a “day job” followed by a “passion job,” only one of those professions is recognized as the money maker or the “real job.” What is beginning to happen (and this is really why I think this term is gonna phase out) is that a) people are trying more and more to erase the work/life divide and choose to follow their passions both day and night and b) the idea that people can have multiple dominant professions concurrently will become the norm.

Yoga teaching is a MAJOR moonlight profession. So much so that most teacher training programs are designed around the schedules of those who work 9-5’s in fields other than yoga. Even more so, Yoga Journal published an entire cover story issue that interviewed moonlighters about 2 years ago. Yoga teaching in itself is a profession that combines many others.

This summer, I enter the work world…for good. Because I love to see how yoga (and yoga teaching, which can be it’s own practice) infuses and impacts all other parts of my life, I am not only teaching yoga. Like the majority of yoga teachers out there, I will get on the mat (and instruct others to do the same) once I leave the office (which, for me, is often classroom – yay!). Because having two jobs can feel stressful, I am compiling a guide below for myself and for some of you to use in the quest to bridge two worlds and to “have it all.”

Without further adieu…

1. Infrequent,  but consistent wins the yogis. This is a variant on “slow and steady wins the race” and is absolutely true. Yoga teacher celeb Amy Ippoliti offers an e-course for yoga teachers called 90 Minutes to Change the World. The premise of this course is to show yoga teachers that it’s not about the number of classes they teach a week; it’s about the quality of the select few classes they teach and how that quality, in turn, brings greater quantity per class of students. This is so true of successful moonlighters!
2. Costume Change. Let dressing up be fun and an expression of your own unique self! Let it also symbolically – like the sound of OM at the beginning of a yoga class – represent a shift of activities, focus, and mindset. This is what Clark Kent did when he took off his plaid shirt and put on his Superman jumpsuit and cape. Wake up and put on your work outfit. Go to the bathroom before you clock out and change into yoga clothes. Know what that means? Leave the rest at the office! Your yoga identity has begun for the night!
3. Learn to Pack Well. Have a checklist for when you pack your bag, which includes:

  • A bag with lots of pockets (tote or backpack)
  • Pens
  • Notebook/journal
  • Digital device: small laptop or iPad
  • Yoga travel mat
  • Yoga mat carrier
  • Water bottle (fold-up ones are fantastic for keeping things light)
  • Wallet
  • Snacks – LaraBars are great for the go!
  • A full yoga outfit (pants, shirt, bra)
  • Planner/calendar
  • Reading material

4. Plan Well. Become friends – not enemies – with your iCal. Purchase a paper planner too. I highly recommend the Tranquility du Jour Daybook, which very much so incorporates yoga into the day-to-day planning. Carve out some sacred time on Sundays to meditatively look at the week ahead. Map out first what you absolutely have to do (this can look like the day job + the yoga classes you are teaching afterward). When you map this out, write down the addresses of each place. Factor in commute time and then begin the oh-so-fun planning around those times. And remember that in terms of calendars, white space is your BFF.
5. Don’t think of it like 2 jobs. Bridge the gap. Let your yoga inform your other work and your non-yoga work experiences inform your teaching. Be a constant observer of the world around you…this means that yoga alone cannot be your whole world. Have a reason to get on that mat in the first place!