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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!

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 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.

I volunteered with New York Cares yesterday morning at a community center called Hudson Guild in Manhattan. It was two back to back yoga classes for pre-school aged kids, and my job as a volunteer (there was 4 of us) was simply to participate in the class showing the poses and encourage the kids. The team leader on the project led the class is songs, games, and lots and lots of creative animal poses. The experience was in a word: joyful.

I’ve always loved children and have thought a lot about working in early childhood education, and of course after getting my 200-hour teaching certification I figured I’d probably add a kids certification at some point. In the meantime however this was a remarkable experience that I think anyone with an interest in yoga (even if you aren’t interested in teaching) should try. It was so refreshing to see how yoga can be approached and adapted to suit anyone. But my biggest take away was something I think everyone involved with yoga from teachers to students often forgets–how much FUN yoga can be.

So much in classes I (and most people) find myself with a super serious look of concentration on my face–brow scrunched, I’m doing YOGA, I must get this pose RIGHT. In this class we howled in upward-facing dog, said hello to our toes in Uttanasana, sang our OMs and  namastes. In tree and dancer poses when kids started to topple, they reached out to hold on to the person next to them to stay up, smiling the whole time.

Not every kid participated in everything, but the focus that these 3 and 4 year olds demonstrited was still better than most adults–if some one got up and started running around in your next yoga class, would you carry on joyfully with your balancing pose? I was also very impressed with the teacher–so much creativity and quick thinking goes into teaching kids. You know the poses when you teach adults, in this class the teacher went around the room and asked every child what animal they saw, she already had poses for the monkeys, dinosaurs, lions, tigers, etc, but a “spiderman” or “princess” pose? Now that’s some improvisation!

I’ve been a volunteer with New York Cares for over 5 years and have enjoyed every project I’ve participated in (there are over 1,000 projects a month people!!–sooo many fun worthwhile things to do!) Since yoga is now such a big focus in my life I decided to take my volunteering with them a step further and last night I completed my training to be a Team Leader, so soon I’ll be teaching a yoga for kids class!  I’ll keep you updated on where and when my kids yoga class is, so you can sign up to volunteer in my class and bring some joy into your practice.

I’m very excited about my next scheduled classes!

I’m renting a beautiful space (see below) at the Brooklyn Zen Center in Park Slope for a 4-week open-level vinyasa series. Sunday nights 7-8pm Oct. 30, Nov. 6, 13, 20.

I was feeling so inspired that I made this fall-themed art project/flyer last night. Hope to see you there ( and as always, check out the classes page for more info)

It’s easy (especially in New York City) to get image wrapped up with yoga. Yoga has for many, become associated with upper-middle class skinny white women, and can seem from the outside to be very elitist.   Beyond even the comparisons of body types and ability, there is so much consumerism tied into yoga–so many cool yoga mats and props, so many pretty $180 stretchy pants. On one hand I get it, there’s a lot of opportunity to make money and a lot of people willing to spend it. On the other hand though it’s the thing that bothers me the most about yoga.

I truly believe that anyone from any background,  with any body type, at any age, wearing any clothes, standing on any piece of ground can not only do yoga, but benefit from and enjoy it. Which is why I found this blog post on Yoga Journal (by Erica Rodefer). Here’s the outline of the article, click the link to read the whole thing:

The 5 things that yoga does require:

1. An open mind.

2. The willingness to look silly.

3. An adventurous spirit.

4. A sense of humor.

5. Body, breath, and spirit.

I found this list and the entire post very refreshing, and I wholeheartedly agree– I espically love this line:

“It’s a comforting thought that you were born with everything you need to do yoga.”

I would add to the list though the following two items:

6. Patience. I’ve talked about it some already, but it’s really so relevant in all aspects of life and especially in yoga. My wonderful fiance only does yoga because he wants to support my teaching endeavors, and he gets frustrated with himself for not being able to get into some of the poses. He’ll say his body isn’t capable of doing those things, but it is– he’s only done yoga a handful of times, he (and all beginners) just have to keep trying, keep practicing, be patient.

7. A Teacher. This one could be argued, you can certainly learn yoga and pratice yoga all by yourself– and as many people in the “yoga world” will tell you, a good solo pratice is important. But I’d say it’s essential to have as least periodicity practice with a teacher. There’s only so much you can learn from reading or DVDs, and even if you’re practicing in front of a mirror, without a teacher you could have the wrong alignment and never know it. Tiny adjustments, guidance, someone to ask questions to and encourage you, I’d say those things are pretty essential to yoga too. (but of course I would say that, I’m a yoga teacher..)

So the much-hyped, much prepared for hurricane Irene was downgraded to a tropical storm by the time it visited NYC early Sunday morning. And while many trees were knocked down, and power did go out for some, by and large the storm just wasn’t what everyone was fearing it would be. Some people are complaining it was a lot of build up for nothing, or expressing disappointment that it wasn’t more exciting. It seems morbid to lament the lack of destruction, but what I think people are really expressing is the anticipation of something out of the ordinary.

Surviving in an actual crisis is anything but fun, but the idea of being removed from your daily routine can be really exciting and refreshing. At first it was annoying that all of my weekend plans were cancelled, but then the forced new approach–we couldn’t take the subway, the two times we left the apartment we walked through our neighborhood more slowly, noticing and observing  more. Saturday preparing for the storm was most an excuse to be lazy.

But Sunday, after the storm had passed,  while I was glad there was no damage, I was, like many not ready to let go of the publicly sanctioned break from reality. So I told my fiance that I wanted to pretend that the power was out (to my surprise he played along all day until we “used the generator” to watch a movie at 10pm). (Of course, we benefited from the power actually working keeping everything in the refrigerator cold.)

It was so peaceful to slow down like that, no music, no internet, no TV. So much of everything I do has some sort of background noise. But yesterday we could literally sit a talk, watching the wind outside the window. Mark read aloud as I made dinner by candle-light. I turned the clocks off, and we didn’t feel artificially rushed to do anything.

In the preparation for the worst a lot of people were reminiscing about past storms and the fun they had huddled in the basement playing board games, spending that oft talked about “quality time.”  If there had been no storm, Mark would have had his birthday party, we would have gone to a baseball game, I would have gone to my weekend yoga classes, we would have set the alarm, and kept to our weekend schedule, we would have had a nice weekend. As it was though, I enjoyed our break from reality.

I even suggested that we try to instate a “hurricane day” once a month or so. A day when the “power goes out” and you don’t know what time it is, when you have to slow down, really listen, really see. When you notice that everything looks more beautiful in candle-light.

I read a quote the other day:

“Habit is overcome by habit.”

 Thomas a Kempis

I’ve been doing a lot of yoga lately, and trying to write everyday. I’ve been trying to form new habits, but today in the pre-hurricane preparedness everything (from my normal Saturday morning yoga class to the entire MTA system) has shut down. But, even though so far everything is the same at home (it’s just a little dreary and rainy outside, but we still have power and everything), I have let this change of events serve as an excuse to take a “snow day” from all my progress and good habit building. Part of me feels guilty and lazy, another part of me feels like it’s good to let yourself take a break sometimes and just lay on the couch reading listing to the rain outside.

What do you think? What good and bad habits do you notice yourself building?

It may seem like a counter-intuitive thing for a yoga teacher to say, but I’m a cynic and a pessimist by nature. I come from a long line of worriers and can usually find the worst case scenario in most situations. But I think that’s part of what makes me a good yoga teacher– I’m striving to not take things so seriously, I’m working on just being me in the moment, I’m no guru, I’m a real person (a jaded New Yorker with a friendly Midwestern core).

They say when the student is ready the teacher appears. Well, one particularly gloomy late winter day this year, I was walking home from a yoga class feeling pretty sorry for myself and all that was wrong in my life, when I saw this book propped up on the steps of a brownstone.

I’ve been reading The Happiness Project on and off before bed for the past few months, and I just finished it last night. It wasn’t life changing (well at least yet), but it did get me thinking, and I really appreciate her approach of research, theory, and practical  implication.

There’s a lot in the book (and the ongoing project on the blog) that have relevancy to the mindfulness of yoga and the goal of taking your practice off the mat, so I’ll no doubt come back to it in future posts. For now though, one of the main thoughts I’m left with is one that’s mentioned throughout the book:

“It’s easy to be heavy, it’s hard to be light.” 

People (to a certain extent myself included for a long time) think that being happy shows a lack of depth, an innocence or naivety, while unhappiness or dissatisfaction is “cooler”, and smarter. But in reality, it’s so much easier to complain than to be satisfied, to be discontented or ironic than to be enthusiastic and smile.

Especially when life is handing you lemons, making lemonade is not effortless. Being lighthearted is sometimes a difficult pursuit, but maybe that’s what the real idea of the pursuit of happiness should be–not that we should strive for some home and car ownership dream of  happiness, but that we should endeavor to be more appreciative beings, easier to please, and quicker to forgive.

I’ve been practicing yoga for six years at the same place, I love the classes and the teachers, and the membership price is affordable and location is convenient.  But, now that I’m a yoga teacher myself and I hope to teach around the city, I figure it’s time to explore a little more. So, I’m calling this week the week of yoga exploration and I’m trying out four new studios. The classes that work best with my schedule are all vinyasa, but in future yoga exploration weeks I’ll try out some different styles. With hundreds of places to do yoga in the city, I could have a year of yoga exploration if I wanted to.

Here’s where I’ll be this week:

Monday 8/8:
Open Vinyasa 2:15-3:45pm at Park Slope Yoga (Union St)

Tuesday 8/9:
Power Vinyasa 4:30-6pm at Yoga to the People (St. Marks Place)

Wednesday 8/10:
“YogaWorks style” 11am-12pm at YogaWorks (soho)

Thursday 8/11:
Open Vinyasa 9:30-11am at Jaya Yoga (8th Ave Park Slope)

Friday 8/12:
My normal Vinyasa class 10-11am at Prospect Park YMCA