Friday, May 28, 2010

Off into the Sunset!

Tomorrow we finally leave for Charleston, South Carolina!! I might not have much time to blog because I'll be driving 9 hours a day or so.. but I'll try to take pictures at all the most exciting spots and post them here!

If I could wear pink (the color of a particularly beautiful sunset) from head-to-toe tomorrow, I think I would. As the sun sets on my time as a Californian I am so grateful for all I've learned in the last five years but I can't wait for my new adventure to begin.

Just for fun, here are a few of the things I've learned in California:

1. I learned how to be a yoga teacher. This was one of my biggest goals when I moved here for an internship I thought was going to last for 9 months. :)

2. An appreciation for Mexican food, and a new favorite fruit—the smooth, mushy, marvelous avocado

3. I can now have an intelligent conversation with successful people. I used to get nervous and say dumb things, but now I know people are just people and we're all just doing our best.

4. I can now stand on my head, balance my whole weight on my hands, and defy gravity. That's pretty awesome.

5. Most important of all, I think I've learned how to be more compassionate, more patient, and more understanding. (Anyone who's ever stood in line in one of those Oakland grocery stores on a Sunday knows exactly what I'm talking about!)

Monday, May 24, 2010

Ah-Ha Moment

I used to look at yogis in amazing poses and think to myself, "Wow! I could NEVER do that!" Then, I'd go home later, and try it just to be sure. In the very beginning of my practice, I would feel bad about myself for falling so short. Then, as I learned more about yoga, I learned the art of laughing at myself.

This past weekend, however, I think I reached a new level of understanding when it comes to advanced yoga poses. For the first time I was able to bend over in Prasarita Padottonasana, interlace my fingers, bring them over over my head, and actually touch the floor—all by myself!

This is one of those poses I'd seen pictures of, tried, and failed miserably at many times in the past. And I don't think my shoulders or hamstrings have opened anymore since a few months ago... I was just lucky enough to work with a teacher who showed me (through a few very awesome physical and verbal adjustments) the trick to getting my hands to the floor. You have to round your spine just a little. This is something I NEVER would've figured out on my own without the guidance of my teacher several months ago.

And that, my friends, is why we need yoga teachers. Sure, I learned how to get deeper into a pose. But, more important, was the lesson I learned about the practice months later. The advanced poses are more about developing the know-how and awareness than they are about your body's abilities. (And they really are within reach if you just have a teacher who will show you.)

I am humbled to have been able to work with such amazing teachers in my years as a yogi... My practice is a testament to their talents, not my own.

Image Source: AshtangaNews.com

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Committed to Elizabeth Gilbert

When I was little, I wanted to be just like Lois Lane from The New Adventures of Superman when I grew up, so I studied journalism and became a newspaper reporter. Well, being a newspaper reporter isn't really so much fun in real life. Teri Hatcher moved on to be a character I don't have any interest in mimicking on Desperate Housewives. And I needed a new strong, funny writer to look up to. Enter Elizabeth Gilbert.

I want to be Elizabeth Gilbert. Who doesn't? She's smart, witty, funny, wrote a wildly successful memoir, Eat, Pray, Love, and she even got to meet Oprah! (I don't know much about her fashion sense and I'm annoyed as heck that I can't seem to find her active Twitter account. But that doesn't change the fact that if I could have dinner with any person alive I'd choose her.)

So when her new book, Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage, came out I bought the hard cover, which is something I NEVER do. After Eat, Pray, Love, the woman could've titled her book Big Pile of Poo and I still would've bought the hardcover--and I'd venture to guess thousands of other women yogis would have too. I digress.

So it pains me to say that while there are many things about Committed that I liked, it was missing some of the personality and charisma of Eat, Pray, Love. I learned much by the thorough discussion on marriage in the Western world, and it definitely left me thinking about my own ideas about marriage and my relationship. While there were a few funny personal narratives, most of the book I just kept feeling like I had been magically telleported back to my college days and was reading a text book from a Women's Lit class.

My assessment: Gilbert found herself (and found love) while she was writing Eat, Pray, Love.. and that just happens to be loads more entertaining than a story about the happily ever after. But that just makes me want to invite her to be my dinner guest even more so I can learn her secrets.

Did you read it? What did you think?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

100 People Who Need Yoga

1. Glen Beck
2. Ann Coulter
3. Sarah Palin
4. Bristol Palin
5. Levi... Definitely Levi
6. Barak Obama
7. Michelle Obama
8. Former Presidents of the United States
9. Terrorists
10. Husbands
11. Wives
12. Sisters
13. Brothers
14. Moms
15. Dads
16. Politicians
17. Businessmen
18. Circus Clowns
19. Executives
20. Executive Assistants
21. Yoga Teachers
22. Editors
23. Writers
24. Musicians
25. Body Builders
26. Football Players
27. Pregnant Women
28. Stay-at-Home Moms
29. Working Moms
30. Stay-at-Home Dads
31. Children
32. Dairy Farmers
33. Milk Maids
34. Dog Trainers
35. House Sitters
36. Mailmen
37. Aunts
38. Uncles
39. Nieces
40. Nephews
41. Prison Inmates
42. College Students
43. Nurses
44. Doctors
45. Lawyers
46. Meg Whitman
47. My boss
48. Surgeons
49. Actors
50. Donald Trump
51. Simon Cowell
52. Justin Bieber
53. Beyonce
54. Jay-Z
55. My husband
56. My former college roommate
57. TV producers
58. Cowboys
59. Indians
60. Native Americans
61. Jews
62. Christians
63. Buddhists
64. Hindus
65. Magicians
66. Seamstresses
63. Martha Stewart
64. Florists
65. Dentists
66. Cheerleaders
67. Athletes
68. Runners
69. Ballerinas
70. Makeup Artists
71. Teenage Girls
72. Teenage Boys
73. Parents of Teenagers
74. School Teachers
75. College Professors
76. Swimmers
77. Candle Makers
78. Bloggers
79. Computer Programmers
80. Bankers
81. Retired People
82. Anyone Who Has Ever Had an Injury
83. People with one leg longer than the other.
84. Fat People
85. Skinny People
86. Young People
87. Old People
88. Grumpy People
89. Nice People
90. Pretty People
91. Ugly People
92. Tired People
93. Energetic People
94. People who are moving.
95. Office Workers
96. People who work from home
97. Cyclists
98. Environmentalists
99. Spoiled People
100. YOU!

Who did I miss?

5 Reasons to Do Yoga (When You're Packing to Move) ... (Again)



1. It will help you to yell at your spouse less when he isn't as careful with your delicate precious heirlooms as you think he should be.

2. No matter how busy you are, you'll feel better and be more productive in your working hours if you've taken at least a few minutes to recenter and recharge.

3. It will help you to remember that nothing in life in permanent—soon all of these boxes will be unpacked and life will be normal again.

4. Doing one task at a time seems a lot more possible after spending a few minutes practicing one pose at a time.

5. The car is in the shop (getting ready for the move), all your dishes are packed away, even your books are out of reach... the normal things you waste your time on are not even a possibility. This is the perfect time for yoga!

Monday, May 17, 2010

5 Ways to Spice Up Your Yoga Wardrobe

I love clothes—I know it's shocking, right?! But lately I've had a lot more fun mixing up my yoga wardrobe with accessories that can make any combination of yoga top and pants look fun, stylish, and totally appropriate for both the yoga studio and the pre-yoga trip to the coffee shop.

1. Scarves. Nothing turns a ho-hum outfit into a stunner like a beautiful, colorful scarf. Go for a lightweight scarf with a print on it for a breezy look. Plus, once you get to the studio, it can double as an eye pillow or a blanket in Savasana (Corpse Pose).

2. Ballet Flats. Sure, you could wear flip flops to yoga class. But a sweet pair of ballet flats always brings something classic, lady-like, and sophisticated to a yoga ensemble. They're comfy and they slip on and off quickly, which is a must for a yoga outing.



3. Earrings. I'm not saying you should wear big, dangly earrings while you're practicing yoga—that would be a big distraction! But cute earrings definitely bring attention to your face and help add originality to your overall look when you're wandering about town pre- or post-yoga.



4. Versatile Sweater Wrap. My favorite thing to throw on over my yoga clothes is a drapey wrap sweater. It's the only piece of clothing that you can wear so many different ways it almost never looks the same.


5. Yoga Mat Bag. Replace your handbag with a stylish mat bag to add convenience and style.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

My Healing Pose

As many of you know, I've been a teensy bit stressed lately. More specifically, I've been running around like a chicken with its head cut off which coincidentally tends to give me crazy tension headaches. I sit at my desk all day feeling my shoulders creep up toward my ears, my neck getting tenser by the minute, and by the end of the day my head throbs. I know part of my problem is postural. Like many desk dwellers who are stupidly glued to their screens even on their downtime, I sit with my chin jutted forward so my eyes are closer to my screen... kind of like this:

Since the tension starts in my shoulders, I always thought the yogic answer to my problem had to be backbending. But I've been almost as obsessed with backbends the last 5 years or so as I am with my computer, and it never did much for me. Lately, I've been experimenting with other poses and I'm finding that Shoulderstand (yes Shoulderstand) really helps undo all the damage I've been doing to my shoulders, neck, and head by being on my computer 15 hours a day.


Image from YogaJournal.com.

I don't know why I didn't think of it earlier! Everyone knows Shoulderstand is soothing to the nervous system—which means it's great at moving you out of the fight-or-flight state of mind. And, physically, it creates space in my cervical spine, which I compress most of the day while I look at my screen. Even when I don't have much time to have a full yoga practice, I can take just 30 breaths out of my day to practice Shoulderstand. Lately, it's been my ONLY home practice, and I couldn't be happier about it.

What's your most healing pose?

Friday, May 14, 2010

Day Dreams

Ch-Ch-Changes!

The last three months of my life has been the most stressful time I can remember. I quit a job that I loved to take another job that I was learning to love. My new job was too demanding to keep doing my part-time job, so I had to cut back on hours there, too. I had JUST moved my life from Oakland, California to San Jose, California, and began to settle into the rhythm of things when I learned that after a year of applying for jobs closer to family in the South East, my husband had finally gotten a job in a city we fell in love with on our one-year anniversary trip last year. It's as if the powers that be decided to play some kind of cruel--but also awesome--joke on us.

Did I mention how much I abhor moving? It's like my least favorite thing to do, right above quitting jobs ...

Now I have two weeks to blindly find a new place to live, get rid of the collection of unnecessary stuff I've accumulated the last five years, have the air conditioner in my car repaired, have one last coffee with hundreds of my dearest California friends ... the list goes on and on. But I'm sitting here beaming. I can't believe how lucky I am!

Maybe it's a lesson in impermanence, or maybe my husband and I are just young and impulsive. Either way, I'm ready for a new adventure (again)!

Now, who has any road trip music suggestions? I need about 7 days worth!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

5 Things Your Yoga Teacher Wants You to Know

1. When your teacher sees you struggling, she remembers what it was like when she first struggled with that pose, too. You might not get permission to come out of the pose early, but your teacher is oozing with compassion for you and hoping you will learn the same lessons from it that she did.

2. Though yoga teachers do get a crash course in anatomy, injuries are probably not your teachers forte unless he has experienced that injury at some point himself. It's your responsibility to take care of your body and make sure you're not pushing yourself too hard.

3. By trade your yoga teacher is probably not a comedian. She tries her best to entertain you during class and tells all her best jokes. She really wishes you'd at least give her a courtesy chuckle—even when she's not funny.

4. Unless your teacher is a special case, he's probably not making much money teaching. Instead, he's sharing his knowledge with you because he loves yoga and he wants to share it. He deserves your respect and appreciation.

5. Your teacher may appear nearly perfect to you—perfect poses, perfect body, or dazzling personality—but she's struggling with her own issues, trust me! We all find yoga because we need it. We're all human. And we all have faults—many faults.

So, how about it, teachers? What else do you wish your students knew?

Friday, May 7, 2010

The Chase

When she's not sleeping or curled up in a lap, my sweet dog Penny spends a great deal of her time chasing things. She chases balls, sticks, toys, dogs at the dog park, squirrels, birds, and our poor cat. When she's feeling particularly hyper—which is often because she's 9 months old—she chases her tail. She goes around and around in circles at full speed. Trust me, it is a sight to behold. Here's the interesting part: When she catches her tail she keeps spinning around, holding the tip of her tail in her mouth. At this point, I think she has completely forgotten the objective. She's just playing and enjoying the moment (which is really the only part of this scenario that makes her different than humans).

People spend a lot of time chasing things, too. We run in circles trying to obtain something all the time. And, like Penny, we don't know exactly what it is that we see out of the corner of our eyes, but we know it looks shiny and so we MUST have it. Fortune, fame, success, relationships, new shoes, whatever—often we don't fully understand the objects of our desire because we haven't fully experienced them. So when we finally reach our goals, we can't even recognize that we now have everything we always wanted. So we KEEP GOING! We turn our attention to some speck we see off in the distance even though we already have the thing that we set out to obtain in the first place.

There are really only a few possible outcomes to this scenario, which I've learned by watching Penny. We become so exhausted that we can't possibly run any more, so we give up. We lie down and settle for what we have, but always long for something else. (Usually we just try again after we're rested a bit.) Or we get so dizzy that we spin out of control and crash into a table leg (or, you know, whatever). When this happens we think we've been hit by an outside force, which has kept us from realizing our dreams (maybe a financial hardship, for example) when we might have really caused the fiasco ourselves by behaving like a 9-month-old puppy.. Or we can find a more productive way to channel our energy... I choose yoga. Penny, well, I should probably take her to the park more often. :)

I've been chasing my tail for a long time, and contentment seems like a much better choice. So I make a conscious effort to slow down and see how very blessed I am every time I step onto my yoga mat. And I think I'm slowly beginning to see myself form into healthier, more productive thought and life patterns.Thank goodness, because spinning in circles can make you crazy (and dizzy)!

What do you do to slow down and channel your energy toward positive things?

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Interview with Teacher & Style Icon Kathryn Budig


Kathryn Budig is one of those yoga teachers that I think everyone should know. She's playful, insightful, and her practice is beautiful and awe-inspiring. She's been featured on the cover and within the pages of Yoga Journal, her teachings are on YogaJournal.com podcast series, she's the face (and body) in the ToeSox ads, and you can find her on YogaGlo. She's also a regular contributor to Elephant Journal and Huffington Post.

I love her down-to-earth way of explaining things and her ability to make this ancient practice seem modern, hip—and, yes, fashionable.

I wanted to get her thoughts on yoga, fashion, and inspiration. Here's what she had to say:

Tell us about your favorite yoga outfit. What do you love about it?

I dig a great pair of tights and a beautiful yet functional bra. I'm a big fan of Elisabetta Rogiani's tights—super feminine and accentuate your curves in a loving way. Lululemon really nailed it a couple of times with their ballet style bra. That's my favorite practice combo.

We all look at your magazine covers, photographs, and DVDs and think we're seeing perfection! But everyone has parts of their body they're a little self conscious about, right? Tell us about yours.

I think it's important to remember that the grass is always greener on the other side and that there is an entire story behind a photo. Just because you're seeing one amazing photo doesn't mean there weren’t 20 bloopers for each stunning shot. I managed a pretty sweet face plant from side crow the first time I shot for Yoga Journal. I even left a nice big foundation smudge on my yoga mat. Classic and unfortunately not caught on film because I would share it in a heartbeat!

I love my body, but it's been a bumpy ride. I've always been a curvy girl and the minute I over-induldge it shows up in my hips (note: this is why I love Elisabetta Rogiani). I think it's important to see your own beauty because once you believe in yourself that confidence exudes and shines. Then we realize that perfection lies in each and every moment, curve and flaw.

Do yoga principles like Aparigraha (non-grasping) mean that yoga and fashion have to be mutually exclusive? Can you love both? How do you keep it all in perspective?

I hope not because I absolutely adore fashion! I think the key is finding yourself equally as beautiful in an old pair of college sweats as you would in a designer dress. If wearing something special makes you feel beautiful—then more power to you! Just remember that the real power is coming from underneath the fabric—then you won't feel as much attachment.

What inspires you? Tell us, so we can be inspired, too!

My mother's laughter, my father's drive, my quirky family, my cooing love-ball dog and my rock solid friends. Even breath, a well seasoned meal, a unique cocktail, a woman who drives stick and boys from the Midwest. :) Fearlessly supportive women of other women, people with a vision who aren't afraid to fall and those who can laugh even when their nose is flat against the cement. And a damn good book.

What's your favorite pose?

I will always love Bakasana (Crow Pose) the most. I feel like I learned almost everything I know from that pose. There’s a British government propaganda poster from 1939 that says, "Keep Calm and Carry On." I prefer to say, "Keep Calm and Bakasana On."

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

If Audrey Were a Yogi

5 Signs That Yoga Has Taken Over My Life

1. When my alarm went off in the mornings, I used to hit the snooze button and think, "I'll just sleep 8 more minutes." Now I think, "I'll just take 5 deep breaths, and then get up." (I still usually fall back to sleep before I get to the third breath.)

2. I'm always thinking about how I can wear my yoga clothes to the office, and my work clothes on the mat.

3. I used to waste all my time on Facebook, now I spend my computer time reading yoga blogs. (Notice that I don't consider yoga a waste of my time.)

4. Last week, we were having a technical problem at work. I looked my co-worker and without even thinking said, "You know, Mercury is in retrograde." He looked at me like I was crazy and asked what I was talking about. "Never mind," I said. (*Unrelated question.. Do any other planets go into retrograde?)

5. I instinctively put my hands together into Anjali Mudra to express gratitude—something I never did before I started yoga.

How has yoga spilled over into your everyday life?

Monday, May 3, 2010

5 More Reasons to Do Yoga

1. No one else is going to do it for you. If you want to improve your outlook on life, the length of your hamstrings, the quality of your breath, or the tone of your gluteus maximus (and who doesn't?) you have to do the work (and play) for yourself. This is a good time to start!

2. I've heard David Swenson say, "I've never finished my practice and thought, 'I wish I hadn't done that!'" Have you? No matter what's keeping you from unrolling you mat—laziness, allergies, or something else you want to accomplish in your spare time—you know you'll feel better after you've practiced. So just do it.

3. You've been looking for a good excuse to wear your most comfy clothes to the grocery store, coffee shop, and around town running errands. Just bring a yoga mat along and you'll be instantly in style. Seriously. Leave the stilettos at home.

4. Because you've forgotten how amazing you really are. Yoga reminds you of the all the fascinating wonders your body (yes, yours!) is capable of, and if that's not a self-esteem booster, I don’t know what is.

5. You just don't have enough time to go to the gym, take a nap, get a massage, AND catch up with friends. Yoga gives you some of the benefits of all of these (and more) all in one class. It's like multi-tasking, but you only have to focus on one thing: your practice!