Cambridge, England Travel Guide


I got to know Cambridge pretty well this summer through doing the University of Cambridge’s two-week-long creative writing intensive. I fell in love with this manageable, yet extremely cosmopolitan city. The historic colleges, enchanting bookstores, expansive shopping centers, and excellent coffee culture drew me in. Here’s my guide if you ever find yourself in this lovely scholarly city.

CamYoga

It’s a yoga blog so I must begin with the yoga. I went to a Jivamukti class at CamYoga my second week there, and the lovely flow hit the spot!

Sweaty Betty

Sweaty Betty is a British yoga clothing brand and while they have amazing stores in NYC, they preview a lot of their clothing in their British stores, and also have an underground yoga studio where they offer free classes on Mondays.

Heffers Bookstore

I am obsessed with Heffers. They have a whole section of the classics with special beautifully-crafted covers. Sadly, my carry-on couldn’t fit two different gorgeously-covered Pride and Prejudices, but alas, I left with a beautiful copy of Villette by Charlotte Bronte.

Fitzbillies

It took less than 24 hours for me to become a regular at Fitzbillies: a restaurant + bakery + coffee and tea shop that is everything fantastic about Cambridge compressed into a lovely bustling cafe.

Outdoor Market in the Square

In the middle of the most urban area of Cambridge is a lovely outdoor market with incredible (and cheap!) dumplings, more books, jewelry, and crafts.

The Fitzwilliam Museum

This museum has a fantastic collection of Impressionist and Fauvist art. It’s under construction for the next year, but it’s still a must-do.

10 Reasons to Go on a Yoga Retreat

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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! 

Where in the World

 

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I am writing this at an old wooden table, sitting on an old wooden chair, with the above lush landscape directly in front of me. Gorgeous doesn’t even begin to cut it. Breathtaking might.

I recently realized that in the midst of the working two jobs, test-taking and friends-visiting madness of July, I haven’t made it super public that I’m spending this whole month of August out of the U.S. of A doing the things that nourish my spirit: yoga, writing, and exploring new places. So I’m using this post partly to brag about being in Italy right now facing the picturesque view and also to articulate just what it is that I am doing during a full August off, and why.

The best way to explain this is also my favorite way to plan for a yoga class: through themes. Each leg of this five-week trip has a different theme. I’m sharing them below.

Italy: Pleasure

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photo via cocceto.com

I am currently in Tuscany on a yoga retreat with the talented Francesca Bove and a dozen-plus lovely yogis. It’s only day two and so far, I went on a run / walk through the hills surrounding the villa we’re staying at, dined on a breakfast of fresh-cut prosciutto, eggs and muesli, took an hour-and-a-half-long yoga class, and sat by the pool to read and nap. The theme of this trip is pleasure because too often pleasure gets misused in the work-hard, play-hard culture New York City immerses itself in. Pleasure, in a relaxed way, means (for this trip) not only drinking a glass of wine with dinner, but going on a wine tour. It means eating slowly to taste the most subtle flavors of artisan olive oil…and attending a tasting at the vineyard it’s made at. It means practicing yoga with an abundant view of the Italian countryside, and it means putting sunglasses on during savasana and letting the sensuous sensory experiences Italy is so known for marinate so that there can be space to take it all in.

England: Literary

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photo via britishtours.com

Right after this retreat, I’m going to England to take two continuing education creative writing courses at the University of Cambridge. This year, when I took Teaching of Writing as part of my graduate program, I had a lot of feelings surrounding wanting to make sure that I am a teacher-writer / writer-teacher, and not only a teacher of writing (I’m studying to be a middle school English teacher). In other words, I want my practice as an educator and as a writer to disrupt the narrative of “those who can’t do teach” and change it to “those who can do teach.” I also have an extraordinarily hard time writing in New York City, and I’m sitting on quite a few works in progress. I would say that I need to carve out the time, except for the fact that with my working-grad school schedule, the time just simply doesn’t exist, and I’m starting to think that small geographic changes to encourage creativity can be a good thing. We can do it all…just not all at once, after all. But back to my plans for the trip! While I am spending the weekdays intensively writing and attending plenary lectures, I’ll spend the first weekend in Oxford doing a tour of the medieval literature that was born there and hopefully getting enough free time to go to the Bodleian Library for the Jane Austen exhibit! That second weekend, I’ll be in London (yay!) and plan on going to the British Library, as well as both Daunt and Persephone Books!

Finland: Design

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photo via finland.fi

I’ll be spending my last 10 days of this trip in Finland with my boyf who’s moving there for the academic year. He’s moving there to study wood architecture and I’m traveling there so that we can experience Finnish culture together before his courses begin. Finland has a magnificent history and practice of design in both broad and specific ways. Finnish society seems to set itself up for success using infrastructural and architectural design. During this trip, I want to attend some art festivals going on and explore the amazing architecture throughout. I want to focus on something that I really do believe is the backbone of how society functions: design. I want to be able to carry that knowledge with me into all that I do because it can only help when we see the world through a variety of lenses including though not limited to pleasure, literature, and design.

The NYC Summer (Sand) Bucket List

As I write this, sitting at the airport about to board a flight to Nantucket for one of many getaways this summer, I semi-ironically decided to write a post about the city I tend to leave so often these hot few months. If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you’ll know that I love New York with all my heart. I was born in Manhattan, raised in Manhattan, left to Connecticut for College, and then to Portland for AmeriCorps, and then I returned to the city that birthed me. I return, again and again, because wherever I go, I am a New Yorker through and through. I’ve been a New Yorker in Oregon, in California, in Cuba, in Florida, and all over the globe really. And while staying in NYC 24/7 is definitely unsustainable for me (hence the frequent getaways), there is so much the city that never sleeps has to offer…especially in the summer!

Here are my recommendations for what to do during a summer in NYC (all tried and true, I promise!).

Shakespeare in the Park

 

I miss the days of camping out in Central Park, getting kicked out when the park would close, and then ushered (pun intended) back into the outskirts of the Great Lawn. Shakespeare in the Park is one of my absolute favorite initiatives in NYC. Put on by the Public Theater and held at the Delacorte Theater smack dab in the middle of Central Park, the whole experience from waiting in line for hours for those FREE tickets to seeing the show itself is so, so special and worth it. A Midsummer Night’s Dream is headed into its third week!

Outdoor Yoga

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There are quite a few options for this one and I’ll list all of them below. All have rotating teachers. Click the links to find out more. Oh, and all except the Laughing Lotus one are fo free!

Smorgasburg

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Smorgasburg is this former Portlander’s dream. Series of the most gourmet and hipster food trucks line up in both Prospect Park and Williamsburg. There are plenty of picnic tables and small bites to enable trying out a wide variety of yummy-ness.

Wanderlust 108

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I ran the 5K and did the meditation + yoga in this mindful triathlon almost two years ago and it was such a highlight! Find out more by reading a former post here. It’s coming up in the beginning of September.

The Rockaways

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photo via nycgovparks.org

My mantra for beaching it up in the Rockaways is as follows: TAKE THE A TRAIN! Last summer, I seem to have forgotten that I am in fact a New Yorker and let the boyf drive and finding parking was one of the most miserable beach experiences of our lives. If you go, suck it up and take the A to the depths of Queens. Get off. Walk a few blocks to the boardwalk. Grab arepas and taro fries (a must!) at Caracas. Then, find a spot on the crowded beach and soak up the sensory overload…and the sun.

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! 

 

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

15 Ways to Re-start the Day (after it has already begun)

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I don’t know about you, but there are days that just don’t go as planned…or that just don’t go well. I find it a lot harder to do a mental re-start at, say, 3pm, than at 7am, yet the need to re-start, rejuvenate, and recharge can be just as necessary when the day is halfway through.

Okay, I’ll get less abstract here. As you all know, I went to Indiana over my spring break to spend time with my guy. The morning we were going to do our day trip to Indianapolis to go to this fantastic brunch place, I overslept…by three hours. The people who know and love me best were so proud of me when I told them this; balancing work, graduate school, and a side hustle has left me with a fairly high strung and generally early schedule that makes sleeping in a challenge. However, I did not see my morning of necessary rest in this light (heck, I didn’t even see the rest as anything resembling a necessity). Instead, I woke up totally freaked out that I wouldn’t have time to do yoga before being in a car for an hour and a half. I had an icky feeling all day, was a tad reactive to certain situations, and deeply craved a more grounded and yogic perspective. It wasn’t long before I realized what I needed to do: start my day over! So, to spread the love of the starting the day over in the middle of the day practice, I am sharing this list of ways how here.

  1. SUN SALUTATIONS – While they are meant for the morning, doing them in the middle of the day is a phenomenal way to channel that morning fresh start energy. My yoga teacher suggestion is to do five rounds of Sun Salutation A. If you’re feeling ambitious, three rounds of Sun A and three rounds of Sun B work great as well!
  2. MAKE A CUPPA coffee or tea – Allow the ritual of the beverage to re-set your brain, heart, and mind. Make it a mindfulness practice as you sip the beverage peacefully and maybe catch up on blogs, the paper, or magazines as you do so.
  3. WASH YOUR FACE – Splash cold water over your face and apply face wash and moisturizer. Breathe deeply as you massage your cheeks. This is especially good if one of the reasons you need to restart your day is because you need a bit of a wake up!
  4. SET AN INTENTION – Write down an intention for the rest of the day. How do you want to act? How do you want to perceive yourself? How do you want others to perceive you?
  5. INVERT THE BODY – Go upside down! This can be a downward facing dog, shoulderstand, headstand, or handstand (it can even be legs up the wall!).
  6. MEDITATE – Set a timer for ten minutes. Put your hands on your lap. Press your feet into the floor beneath you. Close your eyes or focus on one point in front of you. Breathe deeply. Namaste.
  7. 10 DEEP BREATHS + PRATAYAHARA – Pratayahara is one of my favorite niyamas (abstentions) of the yoga practice. It means to shut out some / most of the senses as a way of drawing inward. It can be incredibly rejuvenating, especially after a long day with a lot of external stimulation.
  8. SEX – Speaking of stimulation…with yourself or someone else sometimes it provides just the reset.
  9. 1-MINUTE DANCE PARTY – Blast some Beyonce. Turn off the lights. Rock out.
  10. PHONE A FRIEND – This 75-year-long Harvard study says it all: connection is the most important contributor to happiness. Feeling connected can be as attainable as a call to a long distance bestie.
  11. JOURNAL – Write about why you need to re-start the day, and how you can go about doing it. You might be surprised by what comes up!
  12. TAKE A NAP – Literally go asleep and wake up anew. This is something that I tell my students when they emerge from savasana: to stretch out like they’re waking up first thing in the morning…even if it’s 7pm. Start fresh!
  13. TAKE A WALK IN NATURE – Go outside and breathe in some fresh air. Fresh air, plus the lateral motion required in walking can do wonderful things to simply re-set the brain.
  14. SING IN THE SHOWER – Just do it. You’ll thank me later.
  15. STRETCH – Forward fold. Roll up vertebrae by vertebrae. Lift your arms up in the air and flex the palms like you’re doing a handstand on the ceiling. Take a big breath in. Really, it can be that simple sometimes.

What to Pack for a Weekend Getaway

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As I believe I’ve been making clear on the blog, 2017 is a year of major travel for me, for so many reasons. There’s something special that can happen in your mid-twenties, I’m learning. Me, and many of my friends, have this lingering feeling that we are untethered for what may be the last time for a long time. Untethered to other people, a specific geographic location, future plans, a long-term job, the list goes on. We have this burning desire to make the most of this time that we are not permanently accountable to others, and many of us are choosing to use that time to see the world.

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While I’m still at my day job, I am doing a lot of weekend trips. Recently, I’ve been to Pennsylvania, Mexico, and this weekend to Chicago. I usually leave from work and have to pack accordingly. I have a tendency to over-pack (whoops!), which creates a lot of unnecessary wardrobe confusion once I arrive. Hence this post where I hope to aggregate good packing list resources, as well as my own personal – but customizable – weekend getaway packing list.

  • SoulCycle Uniform or Yoga Outfit. I have one complete outfit made entirely of SoulCycle apparel. I call it my SoulCycle uniform (branded sports bra, tank top, leggings, socks, and headband) because I only wear it to SoulCycle and nowhere else. This saves a lot of time when I’m looking for exercise clothes. If you’re going the yoga route, I suggest that you bring one pair of leggings and one top with a built-in sports bra.
  • Going-Out Outfit. What is an outfit (only one!) that you can wear from dinner to drinks?
  • Flats. Make sure that they are easy to walk in!
  • Boots. Again, make sure that they are easy to walk in (and relatively waterproof in case it rains).
  • Daytime Outfit. Jeans, a shirt, and sweater are perfect for this (i.e. the layering effect).
  • Pajamas. I suggest light ones (a t-shirt and shorts).
  • 3 Underwear. The necessities.
  • 3 Pairs Socks. The necessities.
  • Bra(s). One white and one black is usually a good rule of thumb.
  • Packed Toiletry Case. I personally love this sprinkly Kate Spade one.
  • Jacket. Suggestion: Wear it on the plane!
  • Small Purse. Something that can hold a wallet, keys, and cell phone, but no more (oh, and don’t forget to pack those things either).
  • Kindle. Make sure it’s charged and connected to WiFi before you go so that all your reads can download properly!
  • One Pair of Earrings. Make the colors fairly neutral (I like hoops for this!) so that they can go with a variety of outfits.
  • Sunglasses. You never know and one of the worst feelings is being without sunglasses when everyone else is squint-free.
  • Headphones. Seriously, these are a travel game-changer…especially if they’re noise-canceling!
  • Backpack for Main Carry-On. I love this one from State Bags.
  • Journal. Documenting is so important when on the road!
  • Pens. Pack only two or three to be a minimalist.
  • Planner. love, love, love my Lily Pulitzer planner when it comes to traveling because it has an entire gorgeous section for “Escape Plans,” as they call them. These pages, as you can see above, have spots for packing lists, itineraries, and activities / excursions. Those pages are where this blog post idea originated!
  • Cell Phone. I’ve been using the Netflix Download feature a lot to pre-load my phone with some TV and movies pre-travel.
  • Chargers. I can use the same one for my Kindle and Beats headphones, and I pack a mini iPhone charger.
  • Deodorant. Shove it in there!
  • Small Fragrance. I got a pack of mini fragrances from Anthropologie a while ago and they’re a game changer; I can just grab one and go!
  • Tea or Beverage Mix. I love Bengal Spice Celestial Seasonings teas and Nibmor hot cocoa mixes.
  • Snacks. My go-to’s are Rx and Lara bars and pre-portioned bags of almonds.

Here are some of my favorite blog posts on weekend packing lists:

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

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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!

Yoga + Social Justice: The Preliminary Inner Work

YogaSocialJustice-HomePage4.jpgAs part of the Yoga + Social Justice training that I am thrilled to be able to participate in at Laughing Lotus San Francisco, I was required to fill out a detailed and thought-provoking questionairre. As part of Radical Self-Care for Radical Action (#RSC4RA), I am documenting every element of this training for this blog! I am writing this now from San Francisco, two hours away from joining the training myself. I missed the first day and, unfortunately, Jasmine’s class this morning because of train troubles and needing to be in NYC an extra day, but such is life. In the spirit of this training and RSC4RA, I am setting an intention for the day: gentleness + calm.

Anyways, I want to share with you some of my answers to the deep questions asked of me by the organizers of this training. Here goes…

What is social justice to you?

Social justice is a collective understanding that all members of society deserve to and should be treated with dignity and respect. It is the belief that all people deserve everything needed for physical, social, emotional, and spiritual well-being. Yet social justice does not stop at that understanding. Rather, that understanding translates to direct action that bridges gaps so that individuals become closer to obtaining all that they need to be Whole and have their existence in the world affirmed.

What is your understanding of privilege?

To this day when I think of privilege I still think of the Peggy McIntosh article on “invisible backpacks” that we all carry. I probably read it for the first time when I was in middle school and realized that my own backpack contained within it the fact that I’ve never been in a situation where my basic needs were not filled. With that privilege comes a complete lack of understanding for what that is like for others. I remember when I filled my first emergency food box as part of my AmeriCorps work and was told that I filled it with the bare minimum. My supervisor told me that when people are in crisis – when they lack in their basic needs – we need to approach our service work from a place of abundance. That was when I realized as well that my own privilege informs my biases. In this new year, my primary intention involves learning when to listen versus when to speak up, and in doing so, to call myself and others out – in the most gentle and implicit ways – on our privilege.

How do you navigate privilege and/or social justice as a yoga instructor?

I want my yoga teaching and practice to mirror my overall philosophy on yoga: that it is a bridge and a way of life. Yoga is a technique for getting to higher practices…like doing the work and actually serving people and causes. So, for me, I navigate social justice as a yoga teacher by not teaching yoga full time. I don’t yet know if that is the right decision for me, but what it does mean is that I get to infuse my day-job as a third grade teacher with as much yoga (both the asana and a yogic attitude) as I can. This comes with practice. Through practicing at Laughing Lotus NYC I am able to refuel so that I can give to others. I have had times when I’ve had very little to give because I wasn’t refueling. This is a tension I find in my activist and teaching life in general: taking the time to fuel up so that I can respond rather than react to all the various chaotic life that comes up when immersed in service.

What is the relationship between yoga and social justice and privilege?

During this new era, I believe that we need to keep activism and social justice efforts continuous and sustainable; we cannot afford burnout. While burnout and activism have had close relationships to one another, so have healing practices and social change methodologies. We need to learn how to systematically refuel during these trying times. Yoga is a thoughtful, spiritual, emotional, and physical way of refueling so we can approach Social Justice Work from a place of intentionality and responsiveness.

What are three Yogic teachings or practices that bridge Yoga and Social Justice?

  • Tapas – steady discipline (this means writing down actions – representatives to call! – in my planner, and carefully planning out the lessons I’ll teach).
  • Aparigraha – non-possessiveness – as a way not to hoard conversations around social justice. As mentioned previously, my intention for the new year is to gauge when I need to listen versus when I need to speak up. Also, determine when I need to speak up and do so thoughtfully. And then, I intend to act from that space. I think it is imperative to act with intention. To act unintentionally is to act carelessly, and we can’t afford carelessness. I also want to acknowledge my own privilege and my own unique experiences. I want to use them to be a better listener anda better activist…which are really one in the same.
  • Setting an Intention – As a yoga teacher and a practitioner, the asana practice offers me a specific time and ritual around intention-setting and asking myself (in the post-election words of writer Elizabeth Gilbert), “Who do I want to be in this situation?”

written from stanza coffee in san francisco’s mission district, a convenient 1/2 block away from laughing lotus sf