The Yoga Teach Recommends: How I Spent My 4th of July Weekend

I am rarely in the city on July 4th (and yes, I am one of those painfully self-aware obnoxious New Yorkers that refers to this one tiny city as the city). Yet this summer, I had so much travel planned before and after the holiday weekend that I knew I’d need to spend this holiday weekend at home…and it was just so fabulous! Walking around New York and simply living my life minus the massive crowds in the heinous humidity and work / giving myself the abundant permission to relax…it was just what I needed. I went in with very few solidified plans. It turned out that most of my friends were in town as well and equally excited to take advantage of the manageability of this usually chaotic urbanity. Being patriotic and therefore consuming media and doing activities that encourage critical thinking and deep questioning about the country we live in can – and, I think, should – be done all year round. Take what you like from this post and do it / consume it any time of year.

This Fourth of July weekend,

I ran…

The Rise Up 5K

I’d been training for this 5K for a few months now and am so humbled by and grateful for the process of steadily improving at something with a beginner’s mind (post on why I run forthcoming). I did it with my friend E and we accomplished our one goal: to run the whole way. As we exited Corona Park, we reflected on how great it felt to run for such a good cause (the proceeds / registration fees for the Rise Up 5K go to the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, the Center for Reproductive Rights, Natural Resources Defense Council, the National Immigration Law Center, the Trevor Project, and the Southern Poverty Law Center. I can only assume that they’ll continue happening across the country and cannot recommend it enough (lots of people walked the whole way as well – it’s a 5K that’ll meet you where you’re at)!

I did yoga at…

Laughing Lotus and taught yoga at Harlem Yoga Studio.

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the lovely Laughing Lotus welcome area

I lounged in…

Central Park’s Great Lawn.

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I ate at…

Community Food & Juice (for that post-run brunchy brunch) and Sweetgreen. I love the summer seasonal menus at both of these spots!

 

I listened to…

This OnBeing episode on the power of telling all of US history, especially the parts white supremacist culture has tried to hide all these years. It blew my heart and mind wide open all at once.

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image by Titus Kaphar / Jack Shainman Gallery, via OnBeing.org

The Hamilton Mixtape. Not gonna lie. I was pretty hardcore about having this playing the entire Fourth of July. The Hamilton Mixtape takes history – a complicated, convoluted, amazing, and often deeply problematic set of narratives – and breathes life and power into it so that we can use a recognition of history on our own terms to understand how to shape the future. BTW, “Helpless” by Ja Rule and Ashanti is my absolute favorite.

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Civics 101 (Podcast). This podcast is amazing! In short (10-15-minute long) episodes, Civics 101 is a podcast from NPR that explains the roles of various jobs in the White House and essentially, how our government functions (both in its intended ways and in the inadvertent roles it takes on).

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How did you spend your Fourth of July weekend? What are the ways in which you stay civically engaged? … What’s your favorite song on the Hamilton Mixtape?!

written at moss cafe while sipping my very first matcha latte

6 States, 12 Yoga Studios: My Summer of Wellness

I’m having a real first teacher summer…and am loving it! Besides producing online courses, working on a grant, and doing grad school online (I don’t like to be bored, okay?!), I’ve been traveling a bunch to see loved ones + friends. I’ve prioritized doing yoga or some form of yogic-like exercise every day this summer and the results are in in the form of all the studios I’ve visited across the country. That, and I’ve even re-discovered and just plain discovered some studios in New York that are, well, not Laughing Lotus. Here’s where I’ve been practicing this summer. It’s a long post because I am very aware that it has been a very long time since I’ve posted! Let’s go East to West, shall we?

New York, New York 

5 Pillars Yoga

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  • Location: 92nd St + Madison Ave
  • Vibe: Upper East Side
  • Phenomenal Teacher(s): David Regelin
  • Asana Style: straightforward slow flow
  • Intention: Move with intention, steadiness, strength, and from a place of light-heartedness too.

 

Yoga Vida

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  • Location: 11th St + University Place
  • Vibe: NYU (a great locale for students to go to)
  • Phenomenal Teacher(s): Domenic Savino
  • Asana Style: straightup vinyasa
  • Intention: A safe environment to explore the tried-and-true practices of yoga.

Laughing Lotus

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  • Location: 19th St between 5th + 6th Avenues
  • Vibe: GLITTER
  • Phenomenal Teacher(s): Sheri Celantano, Deb Langley, Kenneth Frisby
  • Asana Style: Lotus Flow
  • Intention: Move like yourself…and sprinkle glitter all over!

 

Katonah Yoga

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  • Location: 17th St + 8th Avenue
  • Vibe: Hard.Core.
  • Phenomenal Teacher: Abby Galvin
  • Asana Style: Katonah
  • Intention: Fuse Taoism with the bodily practices of yoga to open everything up in an extremely intentional way.

 

New Haven, Connecticut

Fresh Yoga

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  • Location: 49 Orange St
  • Vibe: Get Your Yoga, No Strings Attached
  • Phenomenal Teachers: Kami + Ed Mikelis
  • Asana Style: Vinyasa Flow
  • Intention: Come in, get your yoga, open up your body, get a workout, and then move on with your day feeling refreshed.

Nantucket, Massachussetts 

Sconset Yoga Club

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  • Location: 18 Baxter Road
  • Vibe: Move + Be Still in the Sun
  • Phenomenal Teacher: Jenavieve Varga
  • Asana Style: YogaWorks
  • Intention: Practice yoga in the beauty of the sunlight, scenery, peace + quite of Nantucket, MA. It’s evident that the whole operation was created with a lot of heart by ladies who grew up spending summers on the island and now teach yoga in NYC most of the time.

Aspen, Colorado

Aspen Shakti Shala

  • img_3256Location: 422 E Cooper Avenue
  • Vibe: Movement = Pleasure
  • Phenomenal Teacher: Jamie Butemeyer
  • Asana Style: Vinyasa
  • Intention: Take practice seriously + lightly at the same time.

 

Seattle, Washington

Grinning Yogi

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  • Location: 345 15th Avenue E
  • Vibe: Fast + Fierce
  • Phenomenal Teacher: Nancy Hwang
  • Asana Style: Lotus Flow
  • Intention: Lose + find yourself at the same time…through movement.

 

Portland, Oregon

People’s Yoga

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  • Location: 44th + Belmont
  • Vibe: Dedicated + Full
  • Phenomenal Teachers: This time around, I took class with Linnea Solveig.
  • Asana Style: vinyasa with heart
  • Intention: Feel a sense of complete spiritual flow + fullness while practicing in a room filled to the brim with like-minded people.

 

YoYo Yogi

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  • Location: 13th + NW Hoyt
  • Vibe: Sheer Awesomeness
  • Phenomenal Teachers: Alex + Kristi Cole (yes, they’re a father-daughter pair)
  • Asana Style: joyful flowing cathartic vinyasa flow (yes, I am being redundant on purpose – it’s just that good!)
  • Intention: Move so fast and with such flow that you forget what you’re feeling when you walk in the door and walk out with those feelings processed + feeling good!

Love Hive Yoga

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  • Location: 1847 E Burnside St
  • Vibe: Yoga w. Heart
  • Phenomenal Teachers: Jessica Garay, Audra Carmine + Roger McKeever
  • Asana Style: Vinyasa + Hatha
  • Intention: Move straight from your heartspace + while doing so, stay in touch with what your body needs + wants.

 

Grinning Yogi

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  • Location: 30th + Division
  • Vibe: Fierce + Kickasana
  • Phenomenal Teachers: Chase Connolly + Tori Greising
  • Asana Style: lotus flow
  • Intention: Provide a dance-like flow that allows students to lose themselves in movement + the themes it’s paired with.

 

Written on the subway on my way to Laughing Lotus because hey, hOMe is where the glitteriest OM is!

Yoga U.K.

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

While in my 15 Minutes a Day post, I made clear that I did not go to Europe to do yoga (that’s what my Laughing Lotus unlimited membership in NYC is for), I did have to try the best yoga studio in each of the cities I stayed. Because duh. Because, when I first walked to the flat we were staying in in London, I saw that TriYoga was right across the street (like, a 30-second walk away). And I don’t believe in coincidences.

So here you have it, readers. Some mini-reviews of the yoga hot spots of two U.K. cities.

Meadowlark Yoga

Edinburgh, Scotland 

 

  • Location: 43 Argyle Place
  • About / From Website: “Meadowlark is so named because of its location at the Southern border of the Meadows, in the heart of Edinburgh, Scotland. As a concept, our community is built around the pursuit of health through Yoga, mindful eating, sensible therapeutic interventions, and going outdoors for enjoyment. Meadowlark is set up as a not-for-profit organisation, so we invest everything in the gradual improvement of our infrastructure and people in order to provide the highest standards to our clients and fellow practitioners.”
  • Teacher Who Taught: Nadine Watton
  • Class Taken: Gentle Vinyasa
  • Observations: Everyone was lovely. The teacher was extremely warm. The class filled up quickly. The gentleness of it all (as is part of the class title) mirrored the pace of the city.

TriYoga Camden

London, England 

 

  • Location: 57 Jamestown Road
  • About / From Website: “triyoga offers you a place that is dedicated to looking after you, and somewhere everyone can belong. Start or deepen your yoga practice here, learn about cutting edge personal development, yoga philosophy and meditation, or take Pilates mat + equipment classes. In addition, we have an amazing range of treatments with the best therapists. Whatever you choose, it takes place in beautiful studios or treatment rooms. We have designed an environment, class schedule and treatments schedule to nurture the health of every individual: men and women, babies, kids and teens, through to seniors – everyone triyoga!”
  • Teacher Who Taught: Eileen Gauthier
  • Class Taken: Mysore Ashtanga
  • Observations: It was very easy to just stroll on in and take class. The teacher gave the most adjustments I’d ever received in Mysore (a primarily independent practice). I am not sure, seeing as I only took one class there, but the studio does seem to specialize in Ashtanga. The studio itself was absolutely gigantic – very much so the Pure Yoga type. The locker rooms were beautiful, as were all the spaces in general. Definitely gets a lot of clientele.

The Yoga + Coffee Guide to Portland

One of my most favorite pairings in the world is that of yoga + coffee. Caffeine takes on its ultimate effect after that natural buzz of a great yoga class. Portland – the home of Stumptown Roasters – is a city that is definitely known for its coffee culture. With the creation of YogiNation and the gentrification of all neighborhoods into yoga studio pods, Portland is also a haven + hub for the asana practice. One week away from transitioning out of Portland and back into New York City, I am starting to deem it time to finally publish the post that lingered in my mind eleven months ago, when I first moved here and started benefiting from incorporating my favorite pairing into my day to day. So, without further adieu, here is your yoga + coffee guide to this awesome city of roses. Oh, and this list is actually totally geographically based (a rarity for this directionally-challenged blogger), ranging from Southeast to Northwest Portland.

Yoga Union + Good Coffee

image via yelp

Yoga Union

  • Location: 50th + Lincoln
  • Vibe: Hard-Core (The fact that they have Paleo snacks upfront was of no surprise to me when I did my first new student special there last August.)
  • Phenomenal Teachers: Chris Calarco + Annie Adamson
  • Asana Style: strength-building + muscle definition
  • Intention: Advancing the practice.

Good Coffee

  • Location: 48th + Division
  • Vibe: Uber Friendly + Young (A barista helps me carry a separate mini carafe of almond milk to my table.)
  • Style: Berlin-esque (The furniture is very un-American; think sloping leather chairs and geometric tables.)
  • Brew: extra strong
  • Intention: Kill ’em Keep them coming back with kindness.

People’s Yoga + Common Grounds

image via citysearch

People’s Yoga

  • Location: 44th + Belmont
  • Vibe: Dedicated + Full
  • Phenomenal Teachers: Jessica Garay + Audra Carmine
  • Asana Style: vinyasa with heart
  • Intention: Feel a sense of complete spiritual flow + fullness while practicing in a room filled to the brim with like-minded people.

Common Grounds

  • Location: 43rd + Hawthorne
  • Vibe: 80s Anonymous Hippie
  • Style: Living Room Cozy / Eclectic
  • Brew: cheap, but decent
  • Intention: Coffee and print media for the masses!

unfold + St. Honore

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  • Location: 33rd + Division
  • Vibe: Slow + Steady
  • Phenomenal Teachers: Leigh Drake + Tony Roberts
  • Asana Style: yoga therapy
  • Intention: Unconditionally welcoming.

St. Honore

  • Location: 33rd + Division
  • Vibe: French Patisserie
  • Style: High-Quality European
  • Brew: strong (to be tempered with a delicate pastry)
  • Intention: Provide a large space for people to do with what they wish, be it mingle with one another, take their kids when they wake up too early on Saturday, have work meetings / first dates, or get work done.

Grinning Yogi + Dapper & Wise Coffee Roasters

image via portlandfresh.com

The Grinning Yogi

  • Location: 30th + Division
  • Vibe: Fierce + Kickasana
  • Phenomenal Teachers: Chase Connolly + Tori Greising
  • Asana Style: lotus flow
  • Intention: Provide a dance-like flow that allows students to lose themselves in movement + the themes it’s paired with.

Dapper & Wise

  • Location: 31st + Division
  • Vibe: Up-and-Coming Relaxed Freelancer
  • Style: get sh*t done + relax while doing it
  • Brew: strong + chocolatey
  • Intention: Provide high-quality straight-up coffee in this roasting company’s first cafe, in a neighborhood that lacks straight-up artisanal coffee.

Bhaktishop + Little T Bakers

image via chocolate hippos

Bhaktishop

  • Location: 26th + Division
  • Vibe: Ooey Gooey Devotional
  • Phenomenal Teachers: Lisa Mae Osborn + Monicka Koneski
  • Asana Style: lunar vinyasa
  • Intention: From their website – a “celebration of the gifts of this deep, dynamic and divine tradition that is yoga to a wider community through integrated, intelligent practices, grounded and authentic spiritual study, therapeutic principles and in general, a deeper way to go about living life.

Little T Bakers

  • Location: 26th + Division
  • Vibe: Yummy
  • Style: educated + filling
  • Brew: medium roast
  • Intention: Eat delicious food on your way to work in the morning!

Art of Movement + Ford Food + Drink

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Art of Movement

  • Location: 12th + Division
  • Vibe: Weird
  • Phenomenal Teachers: Nick Mattos
  • Asana Style: grungey Ashtanga with a twist
  • Intention: Provide something for every counter-culture yogi.

Ford Food + Drink

  • Location: 12th + Division
  • Vibe: Spacious Freelancers
  • Style: passing time + working grind
  • Brew: medium roast
  • Intention: Get stuff done in good + anonymous company.

Yoga Bhoga + Water Avenue Coffee

Yoga Bhoga

  • Location: Water Avenue
  • Vibe: Holistic
  • Phenomenal Teachers: Emily Light + Kris Olson
  • Asana Style: vinyasa meets physical therapy
  • Intention: Care for body + soul with intention and attention to anatomy.

Water Avenue Coffee

  • Location: Water Ave (same building as YogaBhoga)
  • Vibe: Quick Coffee
  • Style: read a good book
  • Brew: Water Avenue Coffee Roasters
  • Intention: Pass the time in a place that smells deliciously of coffee.

Yoga Pearl + Prasad

Yoga Pearl

  • Location: 9th + NW Davis
  • Vibe: Fancy
  • Phenomenal Teachers: Chris Calarco + Sarah Lakey
  • Asana Style: power vinyasa
  • Intention: Get a holistic yoga experience with an intense amount of ambition on top!

Prasad

  • Location: inside Yoga Pearl
  • Vibe: up-scale hippie
  • Style: holistic yoga food + drink
  • Brew: unsure (they’re more known for their tea + smoothies, which I can attest to as being ah-mazing)
  • Intention: Do your own thang while having a bowl of sheer deliciousness or cookies made of agave + nut butters that will fuel your yoga practice.

YoYoYogi + Barista

image via endlesslyenraptured.com

 YoYoYogi

  • Location: 13th + NW Hoyt
  • Vibe: Sheer Awesomeness
  • Phenomenal Teachers: Alex + Kristi Cole (yes, they’re a father-daughter pair)
  • Asana Style: joyful flowing cathartic vinyasa flow (yes, I am being redundant on purpose – it’s just that good!)
  • Intention: Move so fast and with such flow that you forget what you’re feeling when you walk in the door and walk out with those feelings processed + feeling good!

Barista

  • Location: Same building as YoYoYogi (the smell of coffee wafts into those classes)
  • Vibe: a bar for coffee
  • Style: chill + efficient
  • Brew: strong
  • Intention: Get your work done or meet up with someone in their outdoor seating; equal measure take-to-go and stay and enjoy.

DIY Yoga Continuing Education Binder

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After that initial 200-hour yoga teacher training, the desire for more and deeper information drives many of us yoga teachers to pursue a wide variety of continuing education. From workshops to retreats to 300-hour trainings to 50-hour modules to lectures and professional development through the yoga studios we work at, the information comes at us from many different angles. Unlike a 200-hour where most of the information is likely contained in one singular manual, the continuing education information comes in many different packets, books and leaflets.

This is what I would love to make clear through this post: There is vitality in keeping all that information in one place. When I started taking 50-hour modules through Laughing Lotus, I also had trainings under my belt in yoga service (Street Yoga) and kid’s yoga (OmSchooled). Decorating the messy floor of my bedroom were handouts from guest teachers and notes taken in workshops. I made a decision one day my senior year of college, mid-way through doing that 300-hour comprised of 50-hour modules and the random classes I took along the way. I went to the campus bookstore, bought the widest-rimmed binder I own, and started three-hole-punching.

While this might seem like an office-y blog post, there was a metaphorical relief that came out of putting all that living, breathing information on what yoga is and what it can do for us and the philosophy behind it in once place. It integrated all this knowledge so that, rather than being disparate pieces of information, each one confined to its own lineage, it was part of one beautiful whole of the meaning of Yoga – Union, the yoking together of various ways of getting to the same point: Wholeness. When you make your own continuing ed binder, you actually have the opportunity to define and own what yoga means for you.

Here is a brief how-to:

  1. Buy a large binder.
  2. Start 3-hole-punching all manuals (go a Staples or OfficeMax if you have to to hole punch the larger ones).
  3. Insert these paper pieces of wisdom into the binder. Insert them either in chronological or categorical order (i.e. kid’s yoga info goes with kid’s yoga info, yoga service grouped together, etc.).
  4. If there are poems that have resonated with you as you’ve pursued your yoga teaching career + education, photocopy them and insert throughout.
  5. Decorate the cover with stickers from yoga studios, poetry, quotes, whatever makes your heart sing and return again and again to refer to what got you to where you are!
  6. Write your name on it! Own it! Because when it comes down to it, this amalgamation of texts is what gives you your own unique yoga teaching voice, through honoring the wide variety of places you’re coming from.

Yoga Class Practice

At the beginning of the month, I posted about how I am doing at the Living Yoga Yogathon. It recently struck me that my goal, which I am documenting daily on Insta, might seem a bit strange. Why not just do yoga every day for the month of April, you might ask. Why a class every single day and why does it not matter if I’m teaching it or taking it?

My answer is both simple and complicated.

Yoga classes were my gateway into the practice. They were how I first got to know the poses and they were when I was first told to breathe deep. In more ways than one this year has been like learning to walk again. We were lucky when we were little and walking for the first time. We did not know what it was like to walk once and we do not know the pain of not being able to do what we were so used to doing. From leaving the complicated and frenetic nest of New York to breaking my leg and quite literally not being able to walk, I know the pain that makes for great breakthroughs and the necessity to return to the beginner’s mind.

Here are some of the many reasons why I made yoga classes in particular my goal for this month:

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1. Listening. I will never forget one afternoon class I took with Ali Cramer, a dear teacher of mine, where she shared a dharma talk on the power of just surrendering to listening. At the ends of long days, we are all exhausted and sometimes, we need to just have someone else tell us what the f*ck to do. A yoga class, versus a home practice, can provide us with that kind of decision-making surrender. When this month feels like a series of long days (in a good way!), yoga classes become just what I need to have someone else make the decisions for me when I spend my whole day making them at work.

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2. Well-Rounded. There is a lot of power in a complete practice. Complete practices, for me, move through all seven chakras, include a robust playlist that matches the mood of the class and provide the surrender of savasana. I have yet to see a class that is not a complete practice because classes set sacred boundaries around the practice in ways that only very premeditated and prepared home practices do.

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3. Any and Everywhere. I want to prove this month that you don’t need a spare two hours to take a yoga class. You don’t even need to go to a yoga studio. There are a plethora of resources online and in podcast form that can help us take our practices to the class level. Yoga is accessible and it’s basically my life-long mission to prove that in whatever ways I can.

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4. Newness. Taking a yoga class a day has enabled me to return to the yoga studio life of Portland, which is, to say the least, positively fantastic. So far in this yoga challenge, I’ve taken classes at Yoga Union, Unfold and The Grinning Yogi. What I am about to say blows my mind: they are all in walking distance of my house. Coming out of college where I basically started an organization to provide walking distance yoga to students, this is such a huge relief for me. It aids in feeling like Portland is and can be hOMe.

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5. Because I Can! Every time I do a warrior pose or an arm balance, I feel like I could cry out of gratitude. I had a gigantic injury this year and while returning to the practice isn’t easy, it is a tremendous relief. Sometimes, I stand in tadasana while others are doing standing balances in the class. I am not used to child’s pose – what used to be my resting pose – being painful, which it still is (oh, hay, flexion). But it feels like a gift to be able to show up, to have working legs that can take me to a class, to be able to see my imbalances on the mat and work on balancing them…through yoga. I am hyper-aware that yoga is not all about the asana and my feeling of can-do is only metaphorically expressed through my asana practice. More than anything, crazy arm balance or not, it’s about coming hOMe to my body, in all its trauma, ups and downs and abilities.

written from my breathtakingly gorgeous porch this sunday morning  – sunshine, trees and all!

A Perfect New Haven Day

Last week, I spent the first day of my brief return east in New Haven, Connecticut, home of Yale and the last four seasons of Gilmore Girls and good pizza (yes, I have my priorities on straight). I was expecting it to be a chill day where I could get work done before heading to Wesleyan to teach oodles of yoga. I was pleasantly surprised, however, by the day’s chill fullness. Here’s my brief 24 hours guide because sometimes I like to imagine that I am (or can be) a New York Times travel writer.

Cedarhurst Cafe

There were three things that drew me to this coffeeshop:

  1. They use medicine/yoga therapy balls as chairs.
  2. They serve kale chips.
  3. It is located directly across the street from Fresh Yoga (see below).

I spent my Wednesday going in and out of Cedarhurst to get my AmeriCorps work done. My barometer for judging cafes usually has to do with how much my work feels like work while I’m there (the less it feels like work, the better). That’s what gives Cedarhurst a high rating in my book. That…and the unofficially free refills (a big thank you to the owner for that!).

Capture Salon Spa

photo via their website

photo via their website

Ever since the whole broken leg fiasco and being in a surgical boot for months on end, my feet have been lusting after a luxury of the past: a pedicure. That said, having still a recovering leg and ankle area, I wasn’t going to trust just anyone with my right foot. This place was the perfect choice (you know you have a good manicurist when they act like a bit like a therapist). The ambiance was lovely and it is located in a historic water production building, making every inch of it look elegant – it was an excellent welcome back to the east coast! I got the whole room to myself for my pedicure and the color that I chose was called yogi toes!

Fresh Yoga

This with another excellent example of why this day was great. I went into this Fresh Yoga class with low expectations. These expectations were irrationally low – I’d heard nothing about the teacher before and I haven’t been to the studio in years. But oh my goodness was this class amazing! While on the schedule it said that it was a beginners to intermediate flow, it definitely aired on the side of intermediate. I grew highly aware that I was back on the East Coast when the person on the mat next to me kept popping up into a handstand whenever she said she said chataranga (it is a coast of overachievers). My face was one big sweaty smile throughout the entire hour. It was exactly what I needed before teaching at Wesleyan. For the first time since I broke my leg I felt capable in my body. Kami’s focus for the class was on loving our bodies as they are. She kept reminding us of that focus in the context of maybe not taking a vinyasa when she offered it. But I, on my mat in the front of the class, took every single one because I was so grateful that I could do it.

Archie Moore’s

Known for the best wings in New Haven, this pub is a staple for Yale graduate students…and N’s coworkers when they go out together. The three best things about this place were definitely the company, the waiter that we had and the fact that they played 90s and 80s hits the whole time.

Well, folks that was my magical Wednesday in New Haven. And if I learned anything from my college experience it is that one of the reasons why Connecticut is so great is because you go in with low expectations and once you get to know the state, they are always exceeded.

Yoga, Yoga Questions Answered

I am about to get all PBS commercial (I know, an oxymoron) on you, but in truth, this blog is made possible by…other blogs. Specifically by the ones I’ve included in the sidebar: women bloggers who totally rock my world with their content.

One of these bloggers, whom I’ve followed since I was in college, and who seems to always be just one year ahead of me, is Carly from The College Prepster. She blogs about organization, the art of blogging, style, writing in general and what it’s like to be your own boss (the new meaning of BYOB!). These are all things I am interested in, which was reason enough to read this blog for a few years…so imagine my delight when this morning, I found this post about how the lovely Carly is about to take a yoga class…in my own stomping grounds, the UES of Manhattan, no less! One of the reasons I loved this post was because of all the questions and vulnerability Carly posed to her readers. As a reader, and yoga writer in my own right, I am thrilled to provide some answers for the newbie yogi or returner!

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My post-writing warning: this post has kind of turned into a lengthy manifesta…but I think it’s worth it!

How early do I show up for class? If you’re already wearing your yoga clothes (which I recommend!), show up 15 minutes before class. As someone who now has a ton of experience working MindBodyOnline at yoga studio front desks, it’s just nicer to the people signing you in…and I have yet to meet someone who goes to yoga to be mean. Plus, if you get signed in early and set up your mat, take the time to do your own practice. This can mean child’s pose, meditating or my fave – a supported bridge pose with a block underneath the sacrum.

Where do I put my clothes? Only some large studios (usually chain ones/franchises) have lockers for you to put your clothes in. My suggestion: take up two cubbies in the studio room – one for your clothes and another for your bags. It makes the clothes way easier access because the most competitive part of yoga is the post-class mad dash to the few dressing rooms afforded in most studios.

Will everyone be in tiny shorts and a sports bra? No and yes. Sorry, but as a veteran of the Upper East Side, the chances of tiny shorts and a sports bra are definitely high, especially for hot yoga classes at Pure Yoga, New York Yoga and Earth Yoga (studios on the UES). And you can bet on it at any Bikram studio…but that’s a whole other ball game and my diplomatic opinion on that is…to each their own, but if it were me I wouldn’t venture there. If you go to a regular vinyasa, the tiny shorts + sports bra is a 50/50 chance. If you go to Slow Flow or Yin or Restorative (all options are so yummy!), you’re likely to find lovely leggings and fitted full-length tops. This latter option – in any yoga class – is my bias as a yoga teacher. When adjusting students, I adjust over the clothes and depending on the clothing brand/how much you’re willing to invest, the clothes will prevent your mat from getting too sweaty.

photo via laughing lotus nyc

photo via laughing lotus nyc

Where do I put my mat? Middle of the room! Next to a wall! Why? You can look to the people at the front of the room as a reference for proprioception. If you’re near a wall, you can use it as a prop for balancing poses, inversions and some restorative poses – plus, you’ll avoid the rush when the teacher will tell you to go there anyways.

Now that we’re past the etiquette, here are some of my answers to Carly’s more direct questions (yes, this is a maha post!):

Does anyone have tips for overcoming that gym/studio fear that sets in?

Breathe! Remember that everyone is there for themselves just like you’re there for yourself. They’re too busy worrying about their downward dog to worry about yours.

Has anyone tried a yoga studio that they love in NYC or on the Upper East Side?

Pure Yoga East on 86th and 3rd  is where I first got my education. I met teachers there who inspired me to become one myself. There are still some fantastic educators, but the ones I “grew up on OM” with have moved on elsewhere…and it’s on the very expensive side. For New York Yoga, I recommend Chloe’s classes and they have two locations: 85th and Lexington and another on 86th and York. I discovered Earth Yoga more recently (before I moved to the West Coast and on a particularly chilly winter). Every teacher I’ve taken class with there is a power house (Matt is particularly amazing), but be ready to be hard-core and combine some martial arts with yoga! And then there’s the gem of House of Jai that has an awesome two weeks unlimited new student special on 76th and 1st. If I were a beginner, I’d go there. My friend Leo Rising teaches there and he’s a doll. But really the best place for beginners if you’re okay with making a trek to Harlem 125th is Harlem Yoga Studio, my beloved studio that I taught at when I lived on the East Coast.

Any must-have products? What kind of routine has worked out best for you?

Not at first. Go low key. Rent out studio mats for a dollar or two and figure out which one you like best. Then – and only then – invest. The usual internal battle is between Jade and Manduka.

~ a yoga blog post written (not ironically?) from the orthopedist’s office ~

Dating Yoga Studios

written from the albina press café on 50th & hawthorne

As a person, I don’t really date…I tend to just fall into relationships with best friends. Me and the dude get to know each other really REALLY well, have a ton of friends in common and then add other stuff into the mix and poof: love.

Well, nothing is ever just “poof,” is it?

But remember this is all ONLY an analogy (does it have basis in reality? depends on how well you know me). 😉

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Since the fetal years, I’ve been in a relationship with the 92nd St Y, the community center my mom is a director at. This was also the first place I found and fell in love with you. At the Teen Ashtanga class when I was a junior in high school (preparing my first romantic relationship) and then at Sandi Boerum’s Sunday evening flows. The relationship got serious and changed conditions until I was ready to soar, full-fledged, into the next one: Pure Yoga. Pure and I never dated. Going to five-plus classes a week from the start, we straight-up COMMITTED. Then came Three Sisters. Then my highly uncomfortable noncommittal fling with the yoga passbook (the first time I yoga-dated) and then Laughing Lotus (again, a VERY close and intimate relationship).

Welp, New York and I are on a break. Seeing as I’m unsure of when or if we’ll get back together, I have started dating yoga studios here in Portland. Since arriving here, I have been to four different yoga studios (more detailed post with reviews on those to come) on a casual basis. “New Student Specials,” it turns out, are the first dates of the yoga world. I take a few classes, see what I like and don’t like, and then move on to the next one. There isn’t one that I’m fully ready to commit to quite yet, but I am testing the waters, keeping an open mind and learning so much about myself and what I value in my own practice in the process. In a way, it is like I am learning what dating is all about: dating oneself, understanding what I value and the compromises I am and am not willing to make.

image from my "first date" with the bhaktishop in pdx

image from my “first date” with the bhaktishop in pdx

And at the same time, I find security in the knowledge that one day, I will find true love in a yoga studio that I can call hOMe.

On the Thrill of Summer and My First-Ever Teaching Schedule in NYC!

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writing from a water taxi en route to the venice airport

I love summer. This is because I have bad both the best of times during the summer (practically incomparable and completely set aside from life the rest of the year – making all else seem mundane) and the worst of times (but the best of times have been so fantastic that they overcompensate for the worst of times in a way that redeems the entire season). I used to leave it up to chance: every other year is Great Summer; every other year is Sad Summer. But when I leave it up to chance like that, I lose my own opportunity to – to use a total cliche – take life by the reins and gallop (okay, I made that last one up, recalling my first of very few horseback riding lessons from ten summers ago). I had a great summer last summer: exhilarating, fulfilling, joyful, content. And this summer I will too! Opportunities already abound and I’m in New York this summer…maybe for the last summer in a while. I already went to Italy and have so much to look forward to.

One of these things is (drumroll please) A TEACHING SCHEDULE. Why is having a teaching schedule vital to my summer happiness and fulfillment, you ask? Well, let me tell you.

For the past 3 years, I have found boundless joy, energy, and satisfaction in teaching yoga at school. Confined to a college campus, I had a fixed community in which I could be of service through helping people move their bodies, release tension, and connect to cOMmunity. The last class I taught at school ended up teaching me two things:
1. Teaching gives me so much joy and being able to test tube this passion of mine in a college environment with such a thriving social component has made my first three years of teaching yoga deeply personal and enriching.
2. At the end of the class, I mentioned that the following week I’d be teaching a demo class at Harlem Yoga Studio so if anyone was in NYC, they should stop by. People came up to me with sheer enthusiasm about this prospect. This taught me a very important lesson: my “last class” at school was one of the “first classes” of a lifetime!

A week later, I was hired as a summer sub at Harlem Yoga Studio and given a full teaching schedule. A new shipment of Larabars (I’m an ambassador for that fantastic company) will arrive in July so there will be freebies to fuel the practice like at school. I hope to see some familiar faces, but almost more than that I am thrilled to meet new faces that will soon become familiar as well. And I also just found out that on the summer solstice (June 2oth) in the middle of Times Square, I’ll be assisting a ginormous class giving hands-on adjustments as per the fantastic Ali Cramer’s cue. This, I earnestly believe, is my Summer Dharma.

What’s yours?