Wednesday, August 31, 2011

make your yoga yours

Being a yoga teacher gives you a whole new perspective on class. You hear how everyone is breathing, you see them making small adjustments in their posture, and you pick up on the energy of the room. It's wonderful. Just wonderful.

There's something funny about being a yoga teacher though- everyone does exactly what you say. If I say inhale and lift your right leg (even though we just did right and I meant left- that happens less frequently lately) people lift their right leg anyway. If I offer a way to move deeper into the pose for those who would like to try it almost everyone will do it.

Therefore, I consider what I say in yoga class carefully and know that it is an honor to teach.

However, asana is only a small part of yoga. In the home of yoga, India, (I have heard) that most people don't practice the poses at all. Yoga there is meditating, breathing, and devotion to God. While that's in yoga classes in America also, there can be some misconception about yogic texts here. Some teachers talk about Patanjali's yoga sutras in class and from one teacher to another you can find different perspectives on it. (Also, teachers never seem to refer to the hatha yoga pradipika- what's up with that?)

The writings in Yoga Beyond Belief by Ganga White (my teacher!) really resonate with me. (It's a great read and I suggest anyone interested in furthering their yoga practice pick it up) In making his point that you have to find your yoga and what it means to you Ganga mentions how the concept of brahmacharya is interpreted as responsible sexuality or making your sexual union special when it is more likely referring to celibacy. People take the text and choose to read into it what they need. He goes on to say,

"We can learn from and use the tradition in an approach tempered by the realization that what we call tradition is truly our own, or another's, interpretation of what something may have been in the distant past... Relying too much on doctrines and texts for guidance in living cuts one off from direct perception and from the living awareness of insight. Yoga should be viewed as an art as well as as science. Structured, more scientific, aspects of yoga and techniques also involve unstructured, indefinable dynamics that require artistry and awareness to apply. Living in wholeness and creativity has structural components, but life is more an art than a science...Yoga is practiced within the tradition but must be applied according to the uniqueness of wach person's life and situation. We should not simply idealize the past and assume that teachings, purportedly unchanged from the ancient past, are perfect, superior, or appropriate for the present...

We cannot learn to fly by following the tracks left by birds in the sand, We must find our own wings and soar"

The best yoga practice is your practice. Returning to your mat daily, sitting in meditation, taking pauses frequently to deepen your breath, and showing compassion to your neighbors. I'm not at all saying that you should or shouldn't read the ancient texts- like the translations of the Yoga Sutras. I'm attempting to humbly suggest that by noticing your thoughts, using your body, and finding some peace you are practicing yoga in all its glory- your yoga.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

what is that chanting?

Pretty often I get a huge compliment after yoga classes: people are always asking me about my playlist and saying how much they like them! I am so very pleased that my students are enjoying the music I choose for their classes. I take time when making playlists and almost always have a home practice to the music before playing it in class. It's important. Sometimes we use more gentle music, with less vocals, and sometimes we play chants in sanskrit or popular music that you hear on the radio. I hope that you've all enjoyed what I've played so far and continue to in the future. 

This week I received an email from a student asking me to share my playlists. Well, I think I will :) 

I'll start with a June playlist from lunch flow (which is a 60 minute class) and soon follow up with my July lunch flow classes. In September I'll share my August playlist for lunch flow. If you'd ever like to hear my longer playlist- from all other 1.5 hour classes, please just leave a comment or email me. Here ya go!

If you click on the linked songs you will go to youtube so you can listen to them, but they may not be the 'official' videos.

June Lunch Flow Playlist- 13 songs, 1:08:26 total time
8) Elephant Power (feat. Bhagavan Das)- MC Yogi (another live video, not a great one- sorry)

Enjoy! Please also let me know what you think by leaving a comment. And, don't judge me for putting New Soul on there. It's a great song even though it's played way too often in yoga classes ;) 

Thursday, August 25, 2011

goodbye home


When I go "home" to Greenwich, CT I go to my grandparent's house. Pretty soon i'll be taking a short weekend vacation so that we can have a big family party and bid the house adieu. It's pretty crazy. If it had happened while I lived in Boston I might've gone a little nuts, but contrary to what my grandmother believes, living on our own in the south has toughened me up a little. I'm not at all happy about it. But, I'm glad that they are making the right choice for themselves. 



I decided to flip through my old photos to find some of the house that we're saying goodbye to. I'll also take some while I'm there :)
October 2008- studying outside
December 2008- table set for dinner. looks like crab or lobster salad appetizers. and lots of wine.
June 2009- the boys in the 'cuzzi
December 2009- decorated for Christmas
Ah, it's too much for me. I'm gonna stop. But, I'll get some nice ones while I'm there and I'll try to remember that it's about the people and fun times and not the location- although this is a super nice location.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Artz Bagels (review)

Restaurant Review: Artz Bagelz

This little bagel place on 9th, right off of Magazine Street, opened today! I am a serious bagel lover but trying to find them in New Orleans is not the easiest. I've been getting mine at the Crescent City Farmer's Market  and also buying them at Whole Foods and freezing them. Stein's is also a good source- but I've always heard that they import them from New York (that could be a huge rumor). There are also a few restaurants that make their own bagels. 

Anyway, we walked the few blocks to check out Artz Bagelz on its opening day. I forgot to ask them about the name, I'm not a fan :P 
I'm not going to write a long review, since they just started and probably have to work out some kinks, but here's some info and photos for you. 
not open on Monday (obviously, since it's New Orleans) and pretty normal hours 

Good selection of bagel options from sesame and poppy to cinnamon raisin.


Asiago cheese looked good to me.

There's a window to watch the magic happen, but we didn't see anything exciting going on.

The photo above shows their brightly colored interior.


Simple, clean, and bright. Reminds me of Ikea.


The ceiling lights are shaped like bagels... :)

 There's seating outside. It also looks like they put a dog bowl out there.

Now, onto the food. Ben went with the tunafish sandwich on whole wheat bread. You have the option of a bagel, bread, or croissant sandwich. (mmm croissants). He then opted to pay the extra $1.95 for a side salad- I believe it would've come with fruit or coleslaw if he didn't opt for the salad. He thought his sandwich was good but he wondered where the other half of his egg was...

I ordered an egg and swiss cheese sandwich on a sesame bagel. It comes with a meat choice but I asked if I could switch the meat for avocado. After some confusion on their part, I got some lovely avocado slices added. You can tell they just opened today as they're a little nervous :) it's cute



They didn't ask me how I wanted the eggs, which made me assume that the only option was scrambled (like Stein's). But it came out fried, which was great. The bagel was very small (in the first photo you can't tell that it's taking up a tiny spot on the sandwich tray) and I realized that $5.00 was just way too much for such a small meal. (I'm just super cheap right now and realized I make the same thing for $1.50 at home all the time). I think it would be good at $2.50 without meat and $3.00 with an added option for meat/avocado/etc. Anyway, the quality was good and I was happy.



If you wanted, you could get some cookies! They didn't look great to me, so I passed. Also, I missed how much they are on the menu. But, if you want to plan out your meal before you head over, here's a photo of the menu options for you. The lafayette square salad (sans the bacon) sounds good.


Overall, not bad, pretty good even- they get extra points for being in my neighborhood :-D. I would probably pick up a few bagels here- or even a bagel with a schmear- rather than shell out the $5 for a sandwich. Because I live only a few blocks away I'm sure I'll return and take bagels home.

I'd love to know what you think when you try out Artz Bagelz. Leave me a comment when you do!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Linens in August

People down here always say that August is too hot for festivals- but there are two this month that are held at night, fans are passed out, and we wear white linens to *try and keep cool. Of course, it doesn't work and even in the middle of the night you sweat through your clothes. But, it's fun. At the first one, art galleries (and there are at lot in New Orleans) in the Warehouse District open their doors and invite us all in- it's lovely.

We went to our second White Linen Night this month. Read about last year's white linen here. This year we went with friends but didn't have such an easy time finding as many free drinks or food as last year. Also, it was incredibly crowded- making it difficult to appreciate the art when people's sweat is dripping on you. We decided to leave a little bit early and walk over to our friend's new place in the quarter, and try to see the apartment next door that he thinks we could move into. On the way there we found a little buffet with jambalaya, cheese dip, crackers, and drinks. So we spent some time there and then moved on.

Here's just a few photos that I took on the way there and at White Linen Night:
i love the architecture here



a little break in the sea of white
live models- i liked the outfit on the one on the right
that man barely moved and the woman is a great model, using her body in beautiful shocking ways
gorgeous

Last weekend was Dirty Linen Night. You're supposed to wear your dirty white linens, but I was surprised that people were in their regular colorful clothes. Maybe I got it wrong. Or maybe a lot of them were tourists, because dirty linen night is in the quarter. We saw many beautiful pieces of art and thought it was much more successful than the week before. My camera battery died so I didn't have the opportunity to take photos at dirty linen- which is a little bit of a blessing because sometimes it's more fun to put the camera away and just enjoy the night.

Here's what I got at Dirty Linen:
my friend and I in matching outfits with the same purse, unplanned


Pretty common to have a parade with live band walk by you in New Orleans.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

finding gratitude

Sometimes, to get away from your own difficulties, you either have to focus on helping someone else out of their struggles or take the time to notice the wonderful things in your own life that you feel grateful for. 

Here's what makes me happy today:

1) this incredible man i get to live with every day. i am so lucky. and i know it.
he's wearing all those beads so that i can just wear the pink, purple, and silver ones we caught so far that day
2) my education. my grandparents put me through both undergrad and graduate school and while i know it's disappointing them to that i'm not currently working as a mental health therapist, i am so grateful for those experiences and everything i learned, and who it made me. plus, i see the knowledge i gained from it helping me out in my every day life. i wouldn't change a thing.
that's my friend Leigh on the left. hi Leigh!
3) A hot rod sno bliz from Hansen's. well, the photo is actually a chocolate milk snoball from Beaucoup ( i wouldn't go that direction again, but their mango is ammaaazing). anyway, on a hot day there is nothing like a snoball from Hansen's but to make it even better you can get a scoop of vanilla ice cream in the middle. i will wait in line for 45minutes in the sun for one of those. it's less than $5 and blissful.

4) Savasana (corpse pose). Lie down on your back, spread your arms and legs wide, shoulders pulled onto your back, close your eyes, relax every muscle in your body, and just be. along with this i'd like to add my gratitude for restorative yoga is immense as it has gotten me through a lot.

5) my general good health. sometimes i think that my wrist pain, bursitis, rib problems, migraines and whatever other little physical ailments i have remind me that overall i am healthy. yes, i have physical problems that bug me and not having health insurance is a pain. but, i am not dealing with any long term physical illness that requires painful procedures or intense medications and i am grateful for that every day.

6) good friends. friends are the family that you choose and i have some really truly incredible ones. ones where you don't see them for a year but you talk all the time and when you're back together it's like a little piece of your heart has fit back into place. 

that canon was burning my thighs 
7) my bike. it's two trillion degrees down here but i'm gonna pump up the tires (why are they always losing air?) and ride to work in a little bit knowing that my body can take me places, i can breath in fresh air, and i don't have to pollute the environment to get around. plus, my car is out of gas. hehe

8) my family (and technology). they seriously drive me crazy sometimes. seriously. and i'm sure i really bug them at times too. but, watch this video of my little cousins from December 2009 and you just have to smile. at one point D punches Ben in the crotch and then goes to get a little gun toy to shoot him. C is so young then and just wants to be in the mix. thank goodness for photos and videos... (i've never posted a video...hope this works!)
9) we have been so lucky to live in some amazing places. I was privileged to grow up in such a nice place as Greenwich, CT. Ben moved around a lot but as a teen he got the land he (truly) needs in NH. I got 8 whole years in Boston before moving to New Orleans. and i'm grateful for what each city has offered me.
Ben, Boston, November 2009 
New Orleans, November 2010

What makes you happy? What are you grateful for today?

Saturday, August 6, 2011

hot hot heat

Living in New Orleans, you learn a thing or two about heat. There's just no other way to put it, it is hot down here.

after my first ever full class (at Audubon park) my friend Sora on the left and me (drinking water) on the right
I  recently had the incredible opportunity to take a trip back up North where they suddenly had a heat wave that coincided with our arrival (and we've heard that Nola cooled off with daily thunderstorms). We got to spend an entire day in Boston with my friends having breakfast at Zaftigs, strolling around Newbury Street, and just spending time together out in my former city. (We also ate Naked Pizza, which I think is hilarious because it's a New Orleans company). Anyway, the weather that day said that Boston got up to 103F. Only last year I would have been melting right on the pavement, just like my friends were. But, 103F in Boston does not feel that hot to me anymore, although it is a tad warm :p. Before you think I'm crazy, consider that in New Orleans we live in the mid to high 90's for a majority of the year but we also live in humidity that matches the tropics. The other day the temperature was 92F but the heat index was at 115F which means that the temperature plus the humidity made it so that we were living in 115F weather! Heat + Humidity = swamp like warmth, we're talking about just constantly being sweaty like you're living in a sauna.

Since moving to the south and becoming a yoga teacher I've had to consider the heat quite a bit. I've asked my fiance to teach me about why and how we sweat and cool ourselves (being in his second year in medical school I pretend he knows everything a seasoned doctor would know). I've had students tell me they want to sweat out toxins in class, I've had students tell me it's just too hot to move, I've had times when we left the air conditioner on high throughout the entire class so that they were only heated from the inside using movement and ujjayi breath.

In my own practice I know I'm going to sweat. I bring a bandanna to class to wipe my own sweat when I'm teaching- and that's just walking around the room talking and adjusting people! The humidity down here immediately covers me and in classes where the windows and doors are open I sometimes leave a puddle on my mat. But, I have to say that I'm not one who would take a class (although I have) in an intentionally heated room (i'm talking Bikram and hot classes) because that's just not for me.

I recently came across this article on elephantjournal called "Are supporters of excess heat & sweat in yoga class just full of hot air?" by Dan Pitko that I really liked. He has done some research and makes everything clear and to the point. He makes the argument that yogis need to exercise caution when practicing in a hot room that is also humid.

I'd love to know what you think about heated yoga. Do you need a heated room to feel warmed up enough to stretch? Do you believe that the warmth of your movements and breath is enough? Have you ever felt woozy in a heated yoga class (I have!). Leave me a comment!

(Also, no matter what type of yoga you're practicing and where please make sure that you are staying hydrated and always do what is right for you (ie take breaks when needed and lower your head to the ground to cool off)

Friday, August 5, 2011

#winning

I've had some good fortune on the interwebz lately. For the past few months I've been keeping my eyes open on twitter and facebook while playing around and entered into a few contests. 

For instance, all I had to do was retweet a blogger's tweet and I won this beautiful rose necklace from Odelma (on Etsy).
Then, I commented on SlowSouthernStyle's blog and won a Emma Graham skirt!
Then, and I can't even remember how, I won a book called Writing Yoga from YogaDork.

Last weekend we were able to go to the International Piano Competition Finals because I won tickets on twitter from 89.9 WWNO, which I saw on twitter! We were soo lucky!! Also, in case you ask, Ben made us leave right before they announced the winner...so we could think of them all as winners- they were Incredible!

Then I saw a post on Yogitoes' facebook asking us to post a photo of our vacation or staycation with our Yogitoes skidless towel and they would choose 5 winners. There were beautiful scenes with gorgeous asanas but I thought I had something special. So, I posted this photo of Benjamin in vrksasana (tree pose) near this amazingly beautiful old New Orleans tree:
i can't find the original! so i had to nab this from facebook...

this is my yogitoes skidless towel that i use over my mat when i'm sweaty (ie all the time)

And I won!! Probably due to my great model. For a while the five photos that won were on the front page of the Yogitoes website. 

As a winner, yogitoes told us they were sending a special little something along and I recently received this package in the mail:

Yay! How fun! 
Those are four bright and summery Yogitoes hBANDS which are headbands, wristbands, eye covers in savasana...or if you're my fiance they're awesome things to wear on your thighs while you run around the house. We may have also wrapped them around our heads like gauze :) hehe  What a great present!

But, it gets even better. Two of my most favorite things in the world are yoga and chocolate. And Yogitoes gets this... I also won my choice of whatever flavor fearless chocolate bar I wanted!!


I chose Exploding Coconuts, which is a bar of "rich raw coconut flakes detonate in palm sweetened (low glycemic!) cacao bliss...70% cacao." The ingredients are only organic raw cacao, organic coconut palm sugar, organic raw shredded coconut. 


Awesome right! Ah, but there's more!! Fearless Chocolate also sent along a one month subscription to their chocolate-of-the-month club, which they call Eat Mail. You pay your subscription dues and then each month they send along whatever they think of making!! I received two whatta-a-melon seedy bars.



front and back
If you haven't tried Fearless before go check them out. It's a really great company. Their icon is a toy elephant, my favorite animal! The chocolate is 100% Kosher, Dairy Free, Gluten Free, Soy Free, and they don't overcook the chocolate so it's technically RAW meaning there's so many more antioxidants than regular ol' chocolate bars from the corner store. One day I will be wealthy enough to be in the Eat Mail chocolate club. Until then, thank you so much to Yogitoes and Fearless for the great prizes! 

Next time you see a contest and think "aw i'll never win," give it a try! You never know what could happen :) 


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

beach daydreams

It's Wednesday and halfway through the work week for some people. I remember my short stint in an office setting (after counseling and before yoga teaching) where I didn't see the sun from 8am to 5pm and my butt didn't leave the chair too often. When you're sitting in an office all day it can be rough- I know I just could not ever do it again- and a lot of people put up photos on their computer backgrounds of the beach or daydream of beach weekends. While it's getting hot down here and a beach day would be a scorcher, it's still perfect beach weather up North. So I thought I'd post some photos of our beach trips from two weeks ago! :-D

Starting with some from the Cape
Tobey's Island, Cape Cod 

 
 
 
Ben brought me on a little row in fatty knees 
not either of Grampy's boats...just one I liked

This sums it up, I lie on the dock while Ben jumps in and out of the water and climbs on things


Now we're up in Mass at Nantasket Beach in Hull. The water was perfect.

beach houses
soft sand

foot tan from my Toms
the water is so clear!

I guess I didn't take any photos of Pirates Cove in NH. Also a lovely beach. I was probably too immersed in talking with Ben's mom and watching him out in the ocean spearing things while jumping off rocks. Our beachy vacations were wonderful!

I hope wherever you are you are enjoying your Wednesday and get to enjoy a beach day at some point this summer!