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Yesterday was the first day of Summer, and the hottest day of the year so far. To celebrate, there was a (free!) massive (and massively sponsored) yoga event  in Times Square–what started with 3 people a few years ago grew into 14,000 participants this year. It was a unique yoga experience to be sure.

I took the 3:30pm class, and when I arrived at 42nd street and Broadway (aka Hell on Earth to any New Yorker) the line for registered ticket holders winded around the block while a yoga clothes fashion show took place on the stage and blasted from the dozens of speakers. After a short wait, I was given a free yoga mat (!) and a bag of goodies from the sponsors (hummus, water, magazines, yogurt, etc)  and then ushered by the NYPD to a spot of pavement smack dab in the center of it all (and unfortunately right next to a heat blowing vent for one of those flashy electronic signs).

There were peppered amongst the thousands, some hardcore yogis (there was even a couple showing off some acroyoga when the class ended), but at least around me, it seemed a lot of first timers or at least people who don’t practice regularly. Which is pretty awesome, if I was new to yoga I don’t think I’m choose a 95 degree day in Times Square with thousands  of other people to try it out. And while thousands preregistered, there was also a sizable line of people (some dressed for yoga, some in business or street clothes!) that just walked up and decided to do some yoga in the middle of the hottest and longest day of the year.

The event was called “Mind Over Madness” with the tag line: “ Anyone can find tranquility on top of a mountain.
Can you find it in the middle of Times Square?”  And yes, it was more distracting than a quiet zen studio class, but I’m kind of used to classes with noise coming in from the hallway or weight rooms, or  from the street below, or practicing in the park with lots of noises, or in my living room with the cats going crazy and the birds chirping. And there was nary a moment of silence in the room when I taught a bunch of 5 year olds yoga.  Yoga is a practice of drawing your senses inward and noticing but not attaching to the distractions and thoughts vying for your attention.

More distracting than the noise of Times Square was the spectators–dozens of people lined the barriers and just watched and took pictures and a giant screen projected the class and the instructor. I was towards the center but off to the side, so my mug never made it up on the big screen, but I’m sure I’m sweating  in a lot of strangers’ photos.

It was a unique and fun yoga experience, and even if you’re not into yoga at all it’s kind of a once in a life time experience to lie in the middle of the road in Times Square and stare up at the clouds in the blue sky past the buildings.

A quick update on my teaching schedule:

The 3-week beginner series that I was slated to start teaching tomorrow evening at Joschi Yoga Studio has been cancelled. All the more reason to come to the 3 remaining Sunday classes at the Brooklyn Zen Center from 7-8pm. The space is beautiful, the classes are super affordable and tailored to whatever level you’re at!

As always, check the Classes page for the latest details.

I’m very excited to announce that I’ll be teaching a 3-week beginner workshop series at Joschi NYC (this is the studio where I did my teacher training). The three, hour-long classes are Wednesday nights from 7:30-8:30pm and are designed to be taken as a series, as each class will build on information and poses from the class before. If you have never tried yoga before, this is a perfect, non-intimidating place to start.  As always, check out the Classes Page for all the details. Hope to start 2012 with you in this or my 4-week open-level classes at the Brooklyn Zen Center!

Tis the season for consumerism! Especially now I’m a big believer in giving time or effort or something heartfelt over pricey wasteful plastic crap. But it’s also hard to not want to buy things for people. The new year is almost here and many people make a mental and/or physical health resolution (or should!).

I truly believe that anyone can benefit from yoga (I just ordered a yoga DVD for my 83-year-old grandma) So if you or someone you know wants to get into (or is already a yogi) take a look at my Yoga Holiday Shopping List. I hate magazine lists where the items are things like a $370 pair of gloves that the editor got for free, so take heed:  Nothing on this list is over $25, and none of these companies have ever given me anything!

1) Giam Yoga for Beginners Kit  ($25) I don’t have this, so I can’t speak to the quality of the mat or the content of the DVD, but $25 for a mat, block, strap, and DVD?! That’s a deal, and I love deals! The DVD has two 20-minute sequences, and introductions to meditation and using props and is by Rodney Yee, one of the most famous/popular yoga teachers, I have a few of his videos and I like them very much. This seems like a great gift for someone who wants to get started with yoga. (There are also about a billion books and DVDs for beginners, in fact I might write a future post about the best ones, since I just recommeded a bunch to a friend.  But the best path for a beginner (or anyone!) is to go to a class–the teacher can see you and therefore can help adjust your alignment and give you modifications that a DVD can’t!

2) Gaiam Eco-Friendly Reversible Yoga Mat ($18) Can you tell I like Gaiam? Unlike some other yoga/fitness apparel companies that charge shamefully high prices for what (let’s be honest) are glorified sweatpants, Gaiam has nice looking products that from my experience are good quality at reasonable prices. This is the exact yoga mat I used for over five years and it’s now the one that my fiance uses. After 5 years there’s a little wear in the downdog feet spots but that’s about it. (note: the reviews say it’s slippery if you sweat a lot or take hot yoga–which I don’t, but if you do you might want to get a I got this one for my birthday and while it has a nice feel (and it’s my two favorite colors), it’s coming apart a bit at the seams and it’s not as thick as the other one. Which is a life lesson for you–don’t pick a yoga mat because you think it looks pretty–there are tons of mats with cool designs but you won’t care what the mat looks like if it feels wrong or falls apart. Blocks and Straps are also good gifts that will get lots of use (hint: get two blocks).

3) Gaiam Tree of Life Yoga Mat Bag ($19) This is an area where you can pick something that looks pretty. Most bags do pretty much the same thing, and if you want to be basic about it, there’s straps that serve the same function. I like this one because it has two different straps for different ways to carry it. If you are carrying around your mat a lot, a bag is worth the money.

4) Foldover yoga pants ($17-$19) Did I mention $150 yoga pants are stupid? Old Navy is good because they have a huge range of sizes for petites (like me–it’s hard to find pants short enough) to plus and tall sizes. These are good basic yoga pants that at under $20. They also have flattering tops with bulit-in bras.

 

5) Comedy Yoga Shirts and bags ($20-ish) The “downward kitty” and “I’m just here for Savasana” shirts and tote bags might only make me laugh because I’m a crazy cat lady/yoga geek, but if you are shopping for someone who is also like that, then they make make a good gift. Besides people take yoga SOOOO seriously much of the time and could benefit from a little chuckle.

 

6) The Yoga Bible ($14) There are tons of books on yoga and books and decks of cards of yoga poses, but this one has good pictures, is really well organized, and has good concise information. If you want a reference book of yoga poses this is the one to get.

7) A class card to a yoga studio, gym, or with a teacher. This is really the best gift for anyone who wants to do yoga or has restrictions like injuries. Studios can be expensive, and getting a year-long membership is a big commitment. But there are a lot of options for discounted month-long passes, or 10-class cards. If you are shopping for a beginner, look around for a beginner workshop or private lessons as not so intimidating introduction. (note: this item is likely over the $25 limit, so it might be the everyone chips in type of gift)

To the point of #7, if you are in the NYC area and are interested in something like that, please contact me and we can work out something affordable and totally tailor made!

Want more inspiration? Here’s my personal yoga wish list (there are some more expensive items on it…it is a WISH list after all)

It was with great interest that I read this article in the New York Times about NYC’s “Yoga Sleuth.” It’s about Brette Popper, a former journalist  who runs YogaCity NYC. She visits yoga classes all around the city undercover and then takes notes and writes detailed reviews on the site. Throughout the Times article she appears with dark glasses with her face and hair obscured. Being a journalist myself it took about 5 seconds on google to find her full bio and headshot at the studio she teaches at–Yogamaya. So if you’re a yoga teacher in  NYC, it would be pretty easy to spot the “sleuth” in your class and amp up your teaching to make a good impression.

Aside from that though, I was also a little disappointed to read that if she has a negative experience in a class or feels the teacher was lacking that she keeps the information to herself. Her reasoning is sound– “Everyone’s practice is different, and for me to say something is not good, when there are other students who find a connection, is not what we do.” It makes sense especially in the yoga world of positivity, but as a student who has endured many teachers some who were just not good and others who had a style (like drill sergeant yelling) that was just not for me, I would love an honest resource to scope out a class or teacher before I spend the money, time, and effort to attend a class that I won’t enjoy.

As a teacher too, I’d love to get the feedback, although having my class trashed online would be jarring, I’d love Brette to sleuth on in to one of my classes and let me know if she found something lacking (like she remarked noticing the lack of attention to alignment a teacher gave in her class thus deeming it “not worthy of a review”). In so much of life we get no feedback. After my lay off in January I’ve applied for nearly 200 full-time journalism positions and received no feedback from potential employers as to why I wasn’t hired ( just the generic, “we went with another candidate”). I’m a big girl, I can take criticism, even if it hurts, even if I don’t agree with it, it’s the only way to see outside of yourself and change.

 

 

I really enjoyed November’s Sunday evening classes at the Brooklyn Zen Center, that I’ve decided to do it again (with all new themed classes) in the New Year! Details below and on the Classes Page. Spread the news far and wide! Hope to see you there!

4-week Open Level Vinyasa Yoga Series

 

Brooklyn Zen Center
505 Carroll Street, Suite 2A Brooklyn, NY

Sunday January 8, 7-8pm
Sunday January 15, 7-8pm
Sunday January 22, 7-8pm
Sunday January 29, 7-8pm

$10/class (cash only) Please Bring Your Own Mat

All Levels Welcome!!

I just posted about about being thankful, so I’d be remiss if I didn’t publicly thank everyone who came to my four-week open level yoga series at the Brooklyn Zen Center. It is a beautiful space, made all the more so by the wonderful effort and presence of my friends and students. The series ended last night with a  restorative themed class (and cupcakes!).

I’m already thinking about what’s next and putting together plans for a January series at the Brooklyn Zen Center. It would be the same day and times, Sundays from 7-8pm. Any input on what you’d like to focus on will be incorporated as much as possible (more advanced? more basic? more props? more abs, balance, backbends?, more breathing exercises? more relaxation?)

As always stay turned to the Classes page for all the updates and details, but I’ll no doubt post more about the next series soon.

The Moving Studio where I was scheduled to start my Friday morning classes tomorrow has to settle some issues with the transition to new ownership, so all classes are suspended for the moment. Always check my classes page for updates. I’ll be at the Brooklyn Zen Center this Sunday night for my next class in the 4-week fall series!

I’ve taught my first two kindergarten yoga classes this week and have my first preschool class coming up, I’ve also been volunteering at several different yoga classes, including one for autistic middle school kids. It has certainly given me many different perspectives on yoga. I’m still processing it all, so expect a post on it at some point in the near future.

It so easy as a yoga teacher and as a yoga student to feel like you “get it.” As a student, I’m totally guilty of cherry picking the classes on any given schedule that “sound like me,” beginners class? boring, I know all that stuff. “Boot Camp Yoga?” Sounds punishing. I gravitate towards the same sort of Vinyasa classes no matter what studio or gym I’m going to. And most of the time I enjoy it, and there’s always something to learn, especially from trying new teachers. But when I do branch out and try something totally different, even when I don’t enjoy it, is when I learn the most.

While I process all that I’m learning from all of my new teaching experiences, more opportunities are coming in! Starting next week I’ll be teaching at The Moving Studio in Downtown/Fort Greene Brooklyn every Friday morning from 8:00-9:00am. I’ll also be subbing Monday nights from 8:30-9:30pm on November 21, 28, and December 5th. The price is sooo reasonable ($10/class) and the view from the 30th floor  is amazing.  Between this and my Sunday night classes at the Brooklyn Zen Center, you have many opportunities to take affordable classes are gorgeous locations. More info on everything here.

I haven’t posted in a while, but it isn’t because I haven’t because I have nothing to say about yoga, in fact, quite the opposite, my silence has been in part because I’ve been busy setting up exciting new teaching opportunities. Here’s a brief run-down of what and where I’ll be teaching starting this Sunday!

  1. My four-week  open-level Vinyasa series starts this Sunday at 7pm at the Brooklyn Zen Center and happens every Sunday night until Nov. 20th.
  2. On Tuesday Nov. 1, I’ll start teaching twice week after school yoga to Kindergarteners at Brownsville Leadership Charter School with Fit4Life Kids.
  3. On Friday Nov. 4, I’ll start teaching two weekly morning yoga classes to pre-schoolers at Hudson Guild Community Center as a team leader with New York Cares
  4. *coming soon: an early morning weekday class at The Moving Studio in Brooklyn.
As always, check the Classes Page for all the details, and check back here, I have lots of ideas for blog posts and my next “Yoga Explained” video.