10 Reasons to Go on a Yoga Retreat

IMG_4946

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! 

Travelogue: Weekend in Chicago

Last weekend, I went to Chicago and had an unadulterated blast. We did so much in so little time and caught up on sleep. What I love so deeply about traveling is the way time seems to slow down and speed up and take on a life of its own all at once. That weird stretching and tightening of time was the making of a phenomenal mini-vacation. Here’s what we did:

Art Institute

I’ve been to Chicago before and knew that this time, I needed to go to the Art Institute. The spaciousness and quality of the museum represents what Chicago is all about: all the goodness cities have to offer without the cluttered feeling they often give off.

Bad Apple Brewery

ee808fa261a16d968a418f1f168e7856.jpg

image via Pinterest

This place had an overall awesome vibe with an insanely lovely waitstaff. It made me really realize I wasn’t in New York anymore. The burger I had, too, was extremely satisfying (it was topped with fig puree and goat cheese!).

SoulCycle

The Hip Hop Saturday class we took at the Southport location (which is in such a cool part of town!) was absolutely phenomenal. Kirsten opened class with my fave track from the new Kendrick Lamar album, and it was at that moment that I knew I was in for a kickass ride.

Amazon Bookstore

I didn’t know that these existed before coming across this one! I love going to bookstores as a core way of exploring a new city, and this concept store (basically, it’s Amazon prime, but with physical books) was not a disappointment in the least! They also had a Stumptown Coffee Roasters inside (score!).

Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams

Confession: I’m not a huge ice cream person, but the #basic in me is a major lover of frozen yogurt. Jeni’s, which is known to have the best ice cream in the midwest, has their own way of making froyo: with buttermilk! In case you can’t tell by the joy on my face, it was absolutely delish.

Violet Hour

violet hour house rules.jpg

We went for before-dinner drinks at the chicest cocktail bar I have ever been to in my entire life: Violet Hour. I went there during my first trip to Chicago, and it was classy AF.

Big Star

4D-980x595.jpg

Image via Groupon

Right across the street from Violet Hour is Big Star, where we went for delicious tacos and an avocado-pumpkin seed salad that had me smacking my lips. It was an overall joy-filled time!

Intelligentsia

En route to the airport, we had to stop at Intelligentsia because a major way to know a city is through its coffee (in my humble opinion). When I walked in, I had a sudden desire to be a freelancer there.

Where’s your next weekend vacay? Care to share the fun places you go? 

Travelogue: My Week in Indiana

2017 is and will continue to be a year of travel for me! You can expect plenty more posts like these, inspired by both domestic and international travel, and can see them all in sequence by using the hashtag #travelogue2017. While this blog began as a yoga blog and you can be sure – like any daily practice – I will feature a yoga studio or two per city, I am deeply grateful for a yoga practice that seems to fit into my life naturally without dominating all my travel. There are only a few cities in the world that boast yoga as a main attraction (i.e. Portland and San Francisco). So, sit back, relax, and get ready for some well-rounded travel writing!

Oh, Indiana! The hoosier state! On a long walk to Upland Brewery with my boyf who recently moved back to his hometown of Bloomington, we talked about the people we became friends with in college, and the geographic diversity that attending a small liberal arts school in the middle of Connecticut miraculously gave us. While I grew up in Manhattan, I can count on one hand the number of New Yorkers I befriended in college. Instead, I have friends all over the country (some all over the world!) and that has opened up a myriad of opportunities for travel. That, and being in a long-distance relashe, make getting on a plane a monthly occurrence!

Without further ado, here’s what we did, and what I recommend to do, in the hoosier state!

Bloomington

Laughing Planet + Soma

Our first stop my first day in Bloomington was a familiar one. Laughing Planet is one of those quirky chains (two words that can tend to feel like oxymorons) that exist in both Bloomington, Indiana and Portland, Oregon. Their burrito bowls are innovative yet somehow simple and delish. They can also, if desired, provide a welcome break from all the (ethical and sustainable) meat eating that B-town has to offer. One of the great things about Laughing Planet is that it’s housed right above Soma – this lovely and adorable coffee shop that I so wish was in my college town.

Busman’s Holiday

Screen Shot 2017-04-08 at 1.00.07 PM.png

On Thursday, we went to see a local band perform. The band is composed of two brothers and some other musicians that chime in for various other songs. Both bros have great voices, though one is the lead vocalist and the other drums on a suitcase! It didn’t take long to realize that most people in the crowd knew them personally. I quickly downloaded their music on Spotify and couldn’t recommend it more!

Upland Brewery

Portland and Bloomington have more in common than Laughing Planet. Something I’ve missed from my time away from the East Coast is brew culture. Breweries have a whole ethos to them that is hard to replicate. They are relaxed, easygoing, and have prioritize quality with all that they serve. We went to Upland my second night there, and then I made us return three days later because I loved the vibe so much. The beer, too, is above par (oh, and all of their meat is locally and sustainably sourced – environment for the win!).

Know Yoga Know Peace

I went to a $5 class (those are offered once per day) at this studio tucked into a street in downtown Bloomington. I’m a sucker for the integration of yoga philosophy into the asana practice without being too over the top and I’d say that this beautiful dimly-lit studio accomplishes that. It was a welcOMe break from the more fast-paced vinyasa flow that my New Yorker self has become accustomed to, and left me feeling like I had breathed deeply which at the end of the day is the marker of a meaningful practice.

Hopscotch

The one coffee shop besides Soma that I passed through was Hopscotch (a walk away from Know Yoga Know Peace). This Café had a way more hipster-y vibe. I got a turmeric latte with espresso and was able to sit outside with a copy of the New York Times, which was lovely. Inside was a hub of laptops, working students and professionals.

Indianapolis

Milk Tooth

Usually, I tend to not feel like a foodie. Going to Milk Tooth, however, and the sheer enthusiasm I felt before, during, and after that meal, definitely made me cross over into foodie territory. We may or may not have planned this whole trip to Indianapolis to be able to go to this acclaimed restaurant on a weekday so that there wouldn’t be a weekend brunch rush. If we did…it was totally worth it. The layout of this restaurant was kind of tent-ish (there were no walls facing the outside seating area), allowing for tons of natural light to pour in on that sunny day. The silverware and napkins on each table was stored in Café Dumonde tins (way to my heart!).I ordered a blueberry buckwheat scone, chickpea frisée salad, and root vegetable latke. N ordered an escargot tartine and carrot cake waffle. We feasted!

Record Store

With full bellies and doggie bags, we walked along Mass Avenue to check out Indy. We came across a fantastic record store (that also had a cafe inside!). We perused and N even managed to find a few $3 ones to buy and play on his legit unreal custom-made speakers that we used for more than one dance party of two.

Columbus

Miller House Architectural Tour

We also took a day trip to Columbus, Indiana. Full disclosure of my New Yorker self here: I didn’t know Columbus, Indiana was a place. I am learning that the point of travel is to broaden horizons and to de-center the places we know to be home. This can only happen when bubbles get popped. It is a shame I didn’t know about Columbus, Indiana beforehand because dang, is it awesome! We went on an architectural tour of the Miller House, which is owned by the Indianapolis Museum of Art. From the website:

In 2000, the Miller House became the first National Historic Landmark to receive its designation while one of its designers, Dan Kiley, was still living and while still occupied by its original owners. The house showcases the work of leading 20th-century architects and designers: Eero Saarinen, Alexander Girard, and Dan Kiley.

What I particularly loved about the house was the conversation pit and Finnish suite-style minimalist bedroom – common area design. I was fascinated from start to finish and could not recommend this tour more as a way to gain context for so many architectural designs we take for granted today.

Anyways, that’s the story of this New Yorker’s time in the Midwest. So grateful for this trip, and all the discoveries along the way!

4-Day Weekend: Livin’ it Up in this City

Last weekend was one of the most fabulous extended weekend stay-cations I’ve ever experienced. New York has so much to offer that it’s rare to feel as if one is fully taking advantage, but this weekend with a combination of friends coming into town, getting some movie-watching in before Oscars weekend, and the kickoff of Harlem Restaurant Week, it felt incredible to be one of many that chose to stay in NYC during a long weekend and do things to actively appreciate this unbelievably incredible city that has a multiplicity of greatness to it that I am humbled by.

Friday

Riverbank Run

Eager to see my guy who was in town for the weekend, I rushed home after work to join him for a run around the track at Riverbank State Park. The cold literally made my phone stop working and while I was at first severely disappointed to go on a music-free run, I eventually began to enjoy the meditative experience of running (jogging, really) in silence.

ROKC Ramen + Double Date

Screen Shot 2017-02-26 at 9.32.44 AM.pngI live in upper West Harlem, which is apparently the land of hidden gems. At the suggestion of my roommate, we went on a double date to ROKC, which has fabulous ramen, cocktails, and wait staff. I couldn’t recommend it more.

Saturday

Soulmates SoulCycle

This was unlike any other Soul Cycle class I’d ever experienced. It was led by Sue and Sean, a couple that met at SoulCycle, and are now both instructors. Between sharing their love story and playing cute 80s love songs, they led a sold-out class at W77.

I Am Not Your Negro Documentary

maxresdefault.jpgThis was by far the highlight of the entire weekend. I Am Not Your Negro should be required viewing for every American. I remember sitting in my high school English class, desks re-arranged in a circle, for the purpose of discussing Baldwin’s essay “If Black English Isn’t a Language, Then Tell Me What Is.” It is so rare that we get to contextualize change-makers on their own terms. At the end of the documentary, the credits Written by James Baldwin appeared on the screen and they seemed so appropriate; even though the documentary was made after his death, his words leave a legacy that this world – this country in particular – need so desperately right now. I am planning on doing a Baldwin author study group this summer – let me know if you want in!

Harlem Shake

logo_circle.png

After we left the Magic Johnson Movie Theater, we walked the few blocks to Malcolm X, trying to process the film and yet unable to process it all at once. We arrived at Harlem Shake, got burgers and beers, and talked about the place of all of this in our world today.

Red Rooster

static1.squarespace.png

We did not want to leave Malcolm X that night. It was bumpin. So, we walked into a totally crowded Red Rooster, ordered some drinks, and danced and talked some more. It was the perfect Harlem evening.

Sunday

Yoga at Laughing Lotus

Image result for laughing lotus nycWe woke up on Sunday because the boyf had a soccer game to go watch and I had some yoga to do. This Soul Sweat class was true to its name and by the time we reunited on 14th St, I needed some food.

Taim

Screen Shot 2017-02-26 at 9.38.09 AM.pngThe fact that Taim isn’t packed for how incredibly delicious it is baffles me. To me, my family, and everyone else I know that’s gone there, it is the best Israeli food in the city (I highly recommend the sabich – eggplant and egg – sandwich)!

Toilet Paper Exhibit at the Cadillac Showroom

We then took a walk to the Cadillac Showroom, a totally weird place with a fantastic Joe the Art of Coffee inside. I don’t completely understand what the exhibit was about, but it was definitely fun to walk through. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.

Monday

Call Congress

I woke up on Not My President’s Day, put on my Nasty Woman t-shirt and started calling congress using 5calls.org, which now has an app that I highly recommend downloading.

Chelsea Market

We then went down to Chelsea Market, followed by Milk Bar, for some lunch and good company.

The Bachelor

In the evening, my roommates and I opened a bottle of wine and settled in to watch The Bachelor. These cozy moments of connection aren’t anything short of critical of our popular culture today, and I mean that in the most fun way.

Tuesday

Arts ‘n Crafts

IMG_4086.JPGMy stepmother dropped off my 9-year-old sister at 8:45am Tuesday morning. The first stop on our day together was to a pottery studio on the Upper West Side, Little Shop of Crafts.

Books of Wonder

I have found it tremendously comforting to spend time in bookstores lately. Being surrounded by literature that opens up new worlds and possibilities is deeply healing and inspiring. The sis and I each chose three books, found a bench, and began to sample them all by reading the first chapter of each, before choosing one to continue with.

Yoga at Laughing Lotus

I ended the day in one of my favorite ways – with a wonderful heart-opening Lotus Hour.

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.

15 Mindful Ways to Unwind After a Long Week

While this week has not been a long one by any means (I had Monday and Tuesday off for Rosh Hashanah), last week was. It was such a long week that on Saturday afternoon, after getting what I thought was a full night’s sleep the night before (hint: when you’re making up for a week’s worth of lost sleep, one eight-hour doze doesn’t cut it), I crashed, and I crashed hard. I crashed so hard that I had to call a friend to simply tell me to wash my face and brush my teeth as a way of pressing re-start at 7pm.

Which brings me to this post. Trust me – I know how to “unwind.” I have a whole repertoire of old habits that used to relax me. They involved sweets, popcorn, and binge-watching TV. But over the past eight years of seriously practicing yoga and other forms of mindfulness, I’ve realized that these aren’t actually ways to unwind. They are ways to check out. (Not that I don’t love some good TV time with popcorn and a glass of wine once in a while, but now I know that I can do this mindfully, in a planned and joyful way.)

Unwinding, however, should be part of life, not an escape from it. I am so grateful to build a repertoire of strategies that honestly allow me to unwind after a long week. I’m balancing work, grad school, and the rest of life; long weeks are just a fact sometimes. This repertoire is slowly, but surely outgrowing my old checking-out one, and here are the strategies I have to share with you.

  1. Take a Friday afternoon nap.
  2. Take a bubble bath. Lotion up after. Take in the scents.
  3. Wash your face.
  4. Brush your teeth.
  5. Go to an amazing yoga class.
  6. Do a half hour of a hOMe yoga practice.
  7. Sit on a block or cushion and meditate for five minutes.
  8. Go on a date to a nourishing restaurant.
  9. See a movie with friends. Savor the company.
  10. Do a handstand (or down dog, or child’s pose).
  11. Journal about how the week went.
  12. Have a dance party in your room, alone or in the company of others (these impromptu end-of-week dance parties are one of my favorite parts of my romantic relationship; playfulness is so important!).
  13. Check in a spin class. Let it feel like a night club on wheels.
  14. Spend time with family. Let yourself be taken care of.
  15. Organize your own tea time with a lil treat + cup of tea.

Deep breaths. Let go. Unwind.

Namaste,

Shira

 

On Being Unable to Teach Yoga

I would like to foreshadow this next stage of life by saying that I have a hunch that not teaching yoga will be a lot like when I’ve tried to leave New York; the chances that I will come back to it, and soon, are very real. I would also like to provide a disclaimer that this post does not have anything to do with my body right now. I’ve taught yoga when I was unable to walk and in crutches. Teaching yoga when my body was unable to demonstrate poses was invaluable for my teaching abilities. Now, though I’m coming from a place of physical ability and agility, is the time when I need to take space.

I’m writing this post because last year I worked three jobs and started graduate school…and I felt all of those things fall through the cracks because I was over-committed. From a boyfriend telling me a few months ago after 3 hours of sleep (and not for fun reasons) that I did more than most people to a dear friend who told me yesterday that this is just what I do (a lot…too much), I realized that something has to give.

In New York City, being busy is too often considered a compliment / congratulations / accolade. I grew up (and honestly still am sometimes) very competitive – and almost territorial – about how busy I can be. But, you see, I have had the unique opportunity of living on the West Coast where people are infinitely more competitive about how often they go camping (which doesn’t involve a lot of bopping around from job to job) than how many hours they work in a day. I love being busy doing what I love and I am so grateful that I love what I do, in all sectors of my (professional) life. I do not love failing those things by making too many mistakes or being burnt out because I am just too overwhelmed.

I didn’t want it to be yoga, but for now, it has to be. It is the only job I do freelance, on a flexible basis, and can afford to leave for the time being. I told someone this recently – that I am so sad to not be teaching yoga this year (melodramatic that I am, I believe I used the word “mourning”). They responded by reminding me that I am still doing yoga (daily, I might add). That, my friends, can be enough for now. For now, growing up on OM means infusing the vibrations of this practice I’ve been so dedicated to – the practice that’s been the only constant in my life over 8 years of change and transitions –  into all I do.

Time to practice.

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.

London in Four Days

This post is part of my EuroTrip 2016 series on the blog.

Cheers from Edinburgh, where I actually have more time and less external stimulation to reflect on London, even when I experience a new place in the U.K. I thought that it would be nice, for the purposes of this blog, to take a categorical inventory of all the places I went to in London, with just a few words about each. That way, if any of you, readers, are planning a trip to the U.K. soon, this can be a quick + curated reference!

Without further adieu, here are the sights I saw, the art I experienced, the food I ate, and the libations I drank.

SIGHTS
Regents Park – I was impressed by the number of outdoor areas there are to experience in such a metropolitan city. Regents Park was an excellent first one and led us straight to downtown.
The Lloyds – N aptly described it as “what 1980s architects thought the future would look like.” The Lloyds are a series of banking buildings with cranes permanently lodged atop them. This architectural landmark literally looks like the guts and intestines of a building, with elevators and pipes on the exterior for all to see. 
St Paul’s Cathedral – Not too old, but exquisite to look at.


The Tower – Here began my tour of my beloved Philippa Gregory books. While the area around it was quite touristy, the sight itself was the pinnacle of well-preserved history.


The Thames – To exit the Tower, I proceeded to take a long, solo, contemplative walk along the River Thames. It was absolutely beautiful with grand bridges with even more historical significance.


Westminster Abbey – While I didn’t go inside Westminster, I did get a good vibe for its grandiosity and continued function to this day. The coolest part of seeing historical monuments in London is that they are living history; many of them are still in use! Seeing as it was a Sunday, I got to see the guard of Westminster lock the gate.

ART
British Museum – This is an ironic name for a museum because it is really a global museum of art from all around the world. I could go back ten more times and still not see everything.
National Portrait Gallery – I loved the small room Bronte exhibit that is going on until April, I believe. Located at a side entrance to the National Gallery, it is a very accessible and manageable museum to see a variety of focused art.
National Gallery – This museum was definitely on par with, if not larger, than the Met, if the Met had even older goods + art.
Victoria + Albert Museum – This was definitely our favorite because it was a museum of real, usable artifacts that spanned time periods. It all felt perfectly curated.

LIBATIONS
Fortnum + Mason – This unbelievable shop of tea, everything that could possibly be associated with tea, and beautiful stationery was actually the highlight of my whole London trip. Breathtaking + energizing = bliss. 
Foyles – While this was a five-story-tall bookshop, I spent most of my time there at the cafe, which was definitely the best bookstore cafe I’d ever been to! I had a delicious crushed ginger tea! Also, the cafe is right next to the bookstore’s art gallery. Very cool for book lovers, tea lovers, and art lovers alike!


Fifty-Five Bar – I got my first of two smoking cocktails there, called “The Zombie” (i.e. a flaming corpse reviver); this place is located in Camden Town.

FOOD
NOPI – One of Ottolenghi’s finest restaurants with unbelievable food. A highlight was getting to see the kitchen right from where we sat!


Hawksmoor – We ordered an insane full-on English breakfast for two there. When I say insane, I mean it was the fullest platter of breakfast meats (many of which I did not know actually existed) I’d ever seen! Like I said when I went to Cuba, I had to say it again…goodbye, vegetarianism.

EuroTrip 2016: Day -10

The above photo of me as a baby emotes perfectly how I’m feeling now, pre-trip. I’m 10 days out! In 10 days, I will be galavanting in the UK with my guy (in London) and then with my sister (in Edinburgh). At this point, I can actually say that I’ve been looking forward to this trip for years. I’ve wanted to go to London for as long as I can remember and when reading Harry Potter, I wanted desperately to go to Edinburgh, the place where J.K. Rowling’s magic began.

But what does my (brattily-named) EuroTrip have to do with this blog?

huge part of Growing Up On OM has to do with doing everything that life has to offer mindfully. Travel is one of the hardest and most rewarding things to do mindfully. Travel inspires us to life life to the fullest. Going someplace new and stimulating offers countless opportunities for personal growth and development. The yoga of traveling is challenging to maintain, but during this trip…and especially when traveling with loved ones – there is nothing more important than maintaining a balance of excitement, enthusiasm, and positive energy.

During AmeriCorps, I did a lot of event-planning. The rule of thumb with event planning is to have a solidified plan ten days out of a given event. That way, there are ten days to modify that plan…but at least there is something in place to modify in the first place.

Ten days out from Big Ben, here’s my plan:

Sights to See

  • Fortnum & Mason
  • Westminster Abbey
  • The Tower 
  • Borough Market 
  • Millennium Bridge
  • British Museum
  • Elgin Marbles
  • Foyles Bookshop
  • Daunt Books
  • Sir John Soane’s Museum
  • V&A museum
  • National Portrait Gallery  (Vogue 100, Charlotte Bronte Exhibit)
  • Hamstead Heath
  • Calton Monument
  • Rose Leaf Cafe
  • Arthur’s Seat
  • The Castle
  • Camera Obscura
  • Elephant Cafe
  • Meadowlark Yoga

Sanity Plan

  • (Possibly) Try TriYoga Camden (London)
  • Yoga at Meadowlark Yoga (Edinburgh)
  • Purchase Lara Bars for Trip
  • Journal, Journal, Journal
  • Airborne Vitamins
  • Meditation + Pranayama on Planes

Blog Inspiration

In ten days time, expect updates. I’ve always wanted to be a travel blogger, so this blog will most definitely take on that format when I am abroad. After all, it’s all part of #growinguponom.