Summer Yoga Teaching: July

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July Yoga Teaching

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Read the full poem here.

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

 

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!

Oh, Mindful Day!

Even though I am a yoga teacher on the side, as a first-year elementary school teacher it is rare that I can and the day feeling like I am truly practiced a large amount of mindfulness. But today was different.

I did what I usually do in the morning. I woke up, showered, made and eat breakfast and got to the school that I am an assistant teacher at. In the morning I put my lesson plans together and even got the flat ladder ready for when I would teach health last period.

Health Class

Fast forward to the health class I teach to the whole third-grade. I am constantly gratified but the freedom my house around the curriculum. It allows me to fused together a wide variety of passions: pedagogy, curriculum, yoga, overall health and well-being, and the work I did all year in physical therapy that made me oh-so-aware of where my body stands in space on a daily basis.

For these two weeks my lessons are about proprioception. I begin by teaching the kids that large, impressive word. Then we do our first routine of health class: the check-in. For this check in because we were talking about how we move in the spaces we are in each student has to call out to an emotion word that represents how they’re feeling and Perritte with an action physically that also represents how they’re feeling. As the check-in progressed, we each acted our emotion in motion plus all the emotions that preceded them in the circle. When I was in my kids yoga teacher training I believe we called this “mudra vinyasa” and that term has stuck with me to this day.

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Our second routine of health class is the yoga deck. The yoga deck, formally called “Yoga Pretzels,” is definitely the kids’ favorite part. The most well-behaved student (oh, hay positive reinforcement) gets to come up to the front, close their eyes and pick the card we use. Then, we all do the pose / breathing exercise / meditation / yoga game together. This week, the kiddos were being particularly rowdy so after they chose their card from the yoga deck, I chose one for them as well: Rainbow Meditation (i.e. a guided savasana). And wow, did that work!

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The third routine we have in Health Class is Freewriting! I introduced Freewriting on the first day by saying that me and one of my best friends from middle school, T, freewrite together every Sunday night. We’ve been doing this for over seven years and create our own prompts and our own rules. I wrote those rules into this poster that I carry around with me everywhere.

After Freewriting, we do our activity. This lesson, on proprioception, involved me leading the activity I did for months and months for physical therapy. The thing with breaking your leg is that you kind of regress in terms of remembering where you are in space. The thing about physical therapy is that not only do you re-learn it, but you get even better at it! The thing about Third Grade is that these kiddos are constantly growing and their relationships to the spaces they occupy are constantly changing. Teaching proprioception as a skill is hard work. To make it easier, I snagged a floor ladder from the high school football coach. The name of the game? “Quiet Line.” Students couldn’t touch the ladder with their feet while doing a repetitive movement. When I said LINE, they had to freeze. It was the most fun I’ve had teaching health so far!

Mindfulness 101

After teaching Health and dismissing all the kids on their buses, I headed downstairs to the cafeteria for some scheduled professional development. We had a woman from The Mindful Classroom give us a mindfulness 101 presentation. Here were my main takeaways:

  • Do body scans with the kids lying down / with heads on desks.
  • No one pays attention by being told “pay attention.” Instead, we can teach kids how to pay attention and that is profound.
  • Tell kids that mindfulness is paying attention with awareness, curiosity, and kindness.
  • Mindfulness is a set of skills.
  • Hourglass timers can give kiddos a point of focus.
  • Do Metta meditation with the kids! Have them develop their own lovingkindness mantra!

I highly recommend taking a workshop with this fantastic educator. All the teachers left feeling so relaxed (it was like an extended savasana). I’d take that over a regular old faculty meeting any day.

Lotus Flow

I walked to the subway stop with the school guidance counselor, so I had a chance to debrief our PD workshop after it occurred. A lot of it had to do with Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). unfold, the Portland studio I worked at last year, focused heavily on MBSR. I struggled with that focus because I de-stress at times by moving so fast that I forget what I was worrying about before I started moving. And this very reason is why I love Lotus Flow. This very reason is why I became a member at Laughing Lotus this year, my first year as a full-time teacher. It is the antidote to my brain at times. That night, I went from the beautiful stillness of the mindfulness workshop to the gorgeous fluid movement of Lotus Flow vinyasa with the fabulous Sheri Celantano. She centered the class around Mary Oliver’s latest poem. Let us end this post Mary’s mindful words:

I don’t know where prayers go,
or what they do.
Do cats pray, while they sleep
half-asleep in the sun?
Does the opossum pray as it
crosses the street?
The sunflowers? The old black oak
growing older every year?
I know I can walk through the world,
along the shore or under the trees,
with my mind filled with things
of little importance, in full
self-attendance. A condition I can’t really
call being alive
Is a prayer a gift, or a petition,
or does it matter?
The sunflowers blaze, maybe that’s their way.
Maybe the cats are sound asleep. Maybe not.

While I was thinking this I happened to be standing
just outside my door, with my notebook open,
which is the way I begin every morning.
Then a wren in the privet began to sing.
He was positively drenched in enthusiasm,
I don’t know why. And yet, why not.
I wouldn’t persuade you from whatever you believe
or whatever you don’t. That’s your business.
But I thought, of the wren’s singing, what could this be
if it isn’t a prayer?
So I just listened, my pen in the air.

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!

Stop acting so small. You are the universe in ecstatic motion.

Rumi

Have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.

Rainer Maria Rilke, in Letters to a Young Poet

Namaste to Maya Angelou

Namaste to Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou

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photograph from mayaangelou.com

This week, Maya Angelou passed, but only in the most literal sense of dying. When someone creates such a lasting, pervasive legacy, they die less as their work lives on more.

Today, I took a class at my beloved Laughing Lotus with a fantastic teacher of mine, Ali Cramer. One of the aspects of Laughing Lotus that I began to incorporate into my own classes this year has been their use of poetry, of reading poems during dharma talks, while students lie in savasana, and before OM is chanted at the end. Today, Ali read us two Maya Angelou poems and though she did not read it, I was reminded of my favorite.

Phenomenal Woman

BY MAYA ANGELOU

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms,
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.
I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It’s the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.
Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can’t touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them,
They say they still can’t see.
I say,
It’s in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.
Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing,
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It’s in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need for my care.
’Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Maya Angelou, “Phenomenal Woman” from And Still I Rise. Copyright © 1978 by Maya Angelou. Used by permission of Random House, Inc.

I read this poem first in a time of serious need. I would never and absolutely have never labeled yoga as a cure-all for any kind of social, psychological, or physical ailment. However, if someone forced me to pinpoint the moment I started loving my body, I would have to say that it was during a yoga class. I do not know which yoga class, but I know that the asana practice enabled me to love my body in all its “phenomenal woman[ness]” because it taught me to love what it could do while it moved…the shapes I could transform into. Eventually, the more subtle aspects of the yoga practice, of sadhana, enabled me to love my body in both stillness and in movement, while I practiced on and off the mat. It made me feel more attractive and, as I felt more attractive, I became more attractive, as Maya Angelou wrote.

Today, in Ali’s class, I gracefully moved into pigeon pose. I “reached my arms” out and appreciated the “span of my hips.” Now, in reflection, I think of what that means, what confidence means, and how much Maya Angelou, a phenomenal woman, has taught me to embody it.

Thank you, Maya, for teaching girls to love their bodies with your words.

Om Shanti Om. Rest in peace.