news + musings

Updates, special classes, guest teaching and musings

make waves + thanksgiving day practice

How do we learn to move the parts of ourselves that usually don’t? I think about this (a lot) as I try to teach yoga in a way that enhances our knowledge of our bodies and makes moving with greater freedom possible. One of my recent successes was figuring out how to use a block (something that almost every yoga studio has - but you could attempt this with a large paperback or a tightly rolled up towel at home too) to help my students isolate movement at the thoracic spine (aka the middle back) in a few exercises that can be pretty tricky to do solo. Give it a try by watching the regular-speed video above (no sound, totally SFW) - I think you'll feel some shifts in parts of your ribcage that would love to open up and move! How does it feel to breathe after?

When we roll up and down as attempted in the video, we're creating more segmentation in our spine - rather than moving the same piece over and over again that already knows how to move well, we're learning how to move other pieces. How different would our lives be if we could mobilize the parts of ourselves that are used to being stuck?

Change isn't easy, but when we have greater awareness of our own patterns, it's easier...

big hug,

emily

ps. Will you be in town over Thanksgiving? If yes, I hope you’ll join me on Thanksgiving Day for a special class focused on cultivating gratitude, steadiness, and joy. We will free up any life- or travel-induced tightness (bring your out of town guests!) with self-massage, flow with newfound ease, and practice strengthening actions within traditional poses. You'll be thankful for all that yoga and moving well can do for you :) Details:

Thursday, Nov 22 / 9 - 10:45 a.m. / Yoga Bliss in Gaithersburg

$15 Early Bird Registration by Nov. 10th

$20 Registration Nov. 11th - 21st

$25 Day of Workshop, space permitting

pps. Marylanders, did you know that our state has a question on the ballot about same-day voter registration? Regardless of where you land politically, I hope you'll consider supporting this measure, which would allow people to register to vote on Election Day (currently, voters only have until Oct 16 to register by mail and until Nov 1 to register in person). Don't we want everyone who has moved since the last election to be able to vote? You can read more about the issue here. Even if you don't want to vote on who should fill any other office (you can leave those parts of your ballot blank if you choose), you can do something that allows others to have this right. I'm a believer in living our yoga off the mat, and this is a real way to ensure that more of our fellow citizens have a voice. It's like saying 'namaste' (the divine/light/humanity in me sees the divine/light/humanity in you) through action. 

visual cliff notes: make a regular practice possible + workshop survey

Have you ever gone to a yoga class, liked how you felt afterward, but couldn't remember what was so special about it when you tried to re-create your studio practice at home? I'm testing out a new tool that is meant to help you make your yoga practice consistent between in-person classes with me - videos! Since I teach a lot of unique movement in my yoga classes, I wanted to find a way to remind students of what we've done in class, and I'm hopeful that these will be a way to jumpstart your memory if you get to your mat at home and don't know what to do.

Unlike yoga videos that include verbal instruction, the hyperlapse videos that I've been sharing on facebook and youtube show a sped-up version of a yoga practice. They provide the visual cliff notes of a yoga class - it's up to you to use them to guide your experience at your own speed. Did you love the bridge and locust variations we used to teach our glutes how to engage and support us in asymmetrical ways last week? Then give this video a look and try them again on your own.

Let me know how it goes - and if you're looking for more, you can become one of my one on one students and I'll design a practice around exactly what you need + give you written notes about what we work on each week :)

Workshop Survey

I'm doing a bit of workshop scheduling and could use your feedback - can you take 4 minutes and fill out this survey? It'll help me figure when, where, and what we should dive into! Check it out: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/WRCKM6H

I can tell you that the next workshop will be Thanksgiving Day at Yoga Bliss in Gaithersburg. Sign up now and save, and get excited for some sweet self-massage, agni-igniting (aka digestion helping :) ) flow, and strength-building through innovative prop usage in traditional postures.

the power of paddling

triptych nashville hang dd lunge.png

Hi there!

I recently returned to DC from visiting family in Nashville, where I went stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) for the first time. It was easier in some ways than I imagined – I am very proud to report that I did not fall into the Cumberland River – and harder in others – I could feel my feet getting sore from the wobbling and shifting involved in staying upright as boats went by, and I’m someone who does a whole lot on ankle warm ups and footwork in my yoga practice! But by the end of my rental, I was more fluidly getting down from standing to kneeling to lying down to bask in the sun to back up again, and more confident in the mechanics of paddling.

When the SUP yoga craze hit a few years ago, I was solidly anti. I felt the same way about yoga with goats, beer, kittens, etc. Not what I need! I thought. I find balancing and focusing in ‘regular’ yoga hard enough, thanksverymuch!

While I don’t think you’ll see me leading classes with furry animals (as much as I love them) or on the water anytime soon, my thinking about the many ways we practice and what we might need to keep our practice fresh has evolved. I've learned more about how our bodies often feel tighter in areas where we are weaker, and how we can often sense our body in space better when we're holding an object. So if 'regular' yoga is feeling challenging, we might need to practice movements that involve external resistance, like a paddle, a weight, or yes, even a kitten. While I’ve never taken a SUP yoga class, I can see how the pulling movements involved in paddling out on a board can balance the pushing that a classical yoga practice emphasizes. And while I live in a pet-free home, I can see how having a dynamic creature (other than ourselves) on our mats can be playful and not so serious...maybe some of us need that, especially when the world around us feels scary.

But for those of us who don’t live close to the water, there are ways to bring a whole lot of pulling movements into our yoga practice and life. Did you know I’m teaching a new workshop this weekend on this very topic at Blue Heron Wellness in Silver Spring?! {Sign up here – we gather at 2 p.m. on Saturday, August 18.} We’ll use stretchy resistance bands (aka therabands), a few optional partner exercises, and some blanket-sliding movements to wake up muscles that have been hiding out in our upper back, shoulders and legs. Just like a yoga class, I’ll be encouraging you to balance effort with ease, and you’ll see lots of familiar poses – but you’ll get to practice them in ways that are challenging and fun. So it’ll be like SUP yoga + goat yoga, but in the security and comfort of an actual yoga studio, and without smelling like the Potomac or a goat :)

Due to the demands of grad school, it’s unlikely that I’ll teach more workshops until December 2018 (if that), so I hope you can make it, or you can join me on Wednesday nights at Circle Yoga in Chevy Chase – where therabands have been making very regular appearances in class, to the delight of all involved. Scholarships are available.

Benefits of learning new pulling possibilities in poses:

  • Your brain lights up when your body learns novel movement. In terms of sensation, it’s like tasting magical candy, but without a sugar rush/cavities, and with the nutrient density of kale.
  • You’ll practice efficient and hilarious ways to clean wood/tile/linoleum floors.
  • Did I mention that giving your shoulders and hamstrings more pulling actions might increase your range of motion/feel really great in your body/allow you to do more fancy “pushing” things like this here titthibasana (firefly pose)? Well, now you know.
titthibasana firefly nashville.JPG

When life pushes and pulls us in different directions, may we have all we need to stay grounded.

All love,

emily

modern times, post-modern practice + 2 workshops left this summer

A little wobbly, but that's why I'm practicing! Sliding on a blanket in and out of Warrior II challenges different muscles (oh hi inner thighs) than the held version. I was doing this between appointments with  private yoga  students in my office, because even yoga teachers have to squeeze in movement time on busy days. We'll likely practice regressions and progressions of this move in my  "Pull Up Your Practice" workshop  next month at  Blue Heron Wellness . Hope you can come! Read on for more about what's up with Warrior II + opportunities to practice together this summer (before grad school takes over my schedule in September)

A little wobbly, but that's why I'm practicing! Sliding on a blanket in and out of Warrior II challenges different muscles (oh hi inner thighs) than the held version. I was doing this between appointments with private yoga students in my office, because even yoga teachers have to squeeze in movement time on busy days. We'll likely practice regressions and progressions of this move in my "Pull Up Your Practice" workshop next month at Blue Heron Wellness. Hope you can come! Read on for more about what's up with Warrior II + opportunities to practice together this summer (before grad school takes over my schedule in September)

I’m still processing my getaway last month to study Axis Syllabus at Earthdance in Massachusetts. On the way back to DC, I stopped at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, where an offhand sentence in their “Modern Times” exhibit jumped out at me more than any one painting, and helped to lend clarity to my exploration into non-yoga territory in the first place: it was a description of Henri Matisse as “an artist who emphasized brilliant colors over realistic tones and used that vibrant palette to change how people perceived familiar subjects and places.” I’ve long loved Matisse – I had a poster of one of his paintings in my teenage bedroom – and when I read that, I thought Oh! That’s what we’re doing in yoga. That’s Warrior II. It’s a bold shape that we’d probably never place our body in outside of a yoga studio (unless you are also a fencer), and yet, it can make us more aware of our body – this familiar place that we spend all of our time in, but so often tune out of.

I used to really, really love Warrior II. It’s a pose that a lot of people feel a sense of strength in. You get to take up a lot of space in Warrior II – something that many of us perhaps feel as though we're not allowed to do off of our mats.

I still love Warrior II, but when I practice and teach it now, it’s unlikely that I have us hold it for five unmoving breaths, and I don’t repeatedly enter it from down dog or Warrior I as in some styles, and I don’t obsess about the front knee making a 90 degree angle. Not because it’s wrong to do any/all of that for some yogis (though yoga teacher and physical therapist Ariele Foster has made a strong case for a shorter, higher stance based on the how the pose affects the hip of the back leg)  – but because there are myriad other ways of moving and being still, such as the blanket-sliding version of Warrior II above. And when we spend all our time moving in the same ways, we lose out on other ways of learning to be strong. We can learn other movements, practice them in repetition to create a sense of flow and ease, and play with load and resistance. We can be movement artists, and movement scientists, and still be yogis.

Once a practitioner’s perception of the self is there, lit up by the vibrant palette of traditional yoga postures, we don’t have to keep painting with the same shades to stay in presence. I even think that after we’ve got a firm grasp of traditional yoga, we’re due for finding vibrancy in other ways, exploring the colors and textures that aren’t on the palette in front of us. We can embrace subtlety, and still feel ourselves. Or try different combinations, mix up our landscapes (the kind of surface we practice on), the tools we use to create our movement art in the first place (props) – all ways to challenge our ability to be present in a world of changing conditions. Because if we start getting so familiar with Warrior II that it doesn’t take much focus to be in it, we’ll need to practice it in a new way so that we’re perceiving ourselves with fresh clear eyes again.

all love,

emily

/ / /

summer workshops:

Fortify Your Foundation - Strengthening Practices for Your Wrists and Ankles - this Saturday, July 21 @ 2 p.m. at Willow Street Yoga Takoma Park. So many movement practices focus on our core muscles and our spine - for good reason, we definitely need them to cooperate! But if we can't transmit the strength of our body into what actually connects to the ground, then arm balancing let alone walking isn't going to happen with ease. I can't wait to teach a few new exercises + tons of others that have made lightbulbs go off for people who attended the previous two iterations of this workshop. If you're a yogi with so-called weak wrists or balance issues, I so hope you can make it. There's a lot we can do to 'wake up' and strengthen tissues in your hands and feet so you can transition into and hold a greater variety of yoga postures (or do anything else that asks for articulation of the hands and feet, like climbing, cooking, biking or dancing). More info + registration here. 

Pull Up Your Practice - Saturday, August 18 @ 2 p.m. at Blue Heron Wellness in Silver Spring

One of the joys of starting a yoga practice is moving in lots of ways it doesn't usually move, and over time, perhaps feeling stronger and more open in shapes that once felt impossible. But after months or years of consistent practice (or even on and off practice!) of the same families of poses, many yogis' movement learning slows, as we keep asking the body to perform the same kinds of poses and transitions. In particular, we do so much pushing in yoga with our upper body, but not much pulling, and lots of glute/hamstring stretching, but not as much glute/hamstring strengthening. In some yogis, this leads to imbalances across joints that may contribute to pain and instability.

Have you ever wondered, why can I do push-ups or even handstands, but not pull-ups? Why can I do a deep pigeon, but not get up and down off the ground with control without using my hands? In this workshop, we'll do some course correction - adding some pulling movements, incorporating props in different ways, and filling in some of the missing pieces of a healthy movement diet. If you're feeling stuck, bored, or uninspired in your yoga practice, come. If you love yoga, but don't feel as strong as you used to, definitely come. Register here. 

/ / /

I've got 2 more weeks of Thursday night beginner classes at Simon Says Yoga in Bethesda, and am delighted to support mamas-to-be next month at Circle Yoga in Chevy Chase. Keep track of all my guest teaching gigs + other group classes right over here.

to spring with love

As I promised many of you, here's a recipe for a beet and carrot (or just carrot) salad that I made for passover, for lunch, for anyone I could corral into my apartment...just like a new movement that I get obsessed with (were you around for toe-pointing week, as inspired by the above home practice?), once I get into a new dish, I want to try it and refine it and tell everyone about it, until my muscles/taste buds are ready to be set on fire by something else. So here's my toast/invitation/intention to spring 2018 - to keeping things fresh, to growing and changing at a sustainable pace, to eating raw vegetables again! I hope you'll have a chance to join me for a varied-movement yoga class, a wrist and ankle strengthening workshop, a service project at Manna Food Center, or a one-on-one session next month:

pots + pans drive @ willow street yoga

Through May 15, bring a gently used or newpot or pan to either Willow Street Yoga location in Takoma or Silver Spring, and it will be donated to A Wider Circle, a local organization that provides basic need items to individuals and families transitioning out of homelessness, fleeing domestic abuse or otherwise living without life’s essentials. We ask that donations honor A Wider Circle’s Dignity Clause and be clean and in good or excellent condition. You'll be thanked for your donation with either 20% off a boutique purchase, or a free class pass - would love to see you in my Takoma Park Tuesday 4:30 p.m. Aligned flow!

fortify your foundation / strengthening practices for your wrists + ankles

simon says yoga / bethesda / sunday may 20 / 2 - 4 p.m.

I was so excited to share this workshop last month in Silver Spring, and now you can catch version 2.0 across town in Bethesda! When we think about building strength, we often focus on large muscle groups (quads, glutes, pecs etc) and the poses that ask those groups to work – think chair, lunges, and planks. But if you are going to have the stamina for long holds and repetitions of these postures, your hands and feet need to be in tip-top shape. In this workshop, you’ll learn specific exercises that target tissues in your wrists and ankles that you need to be mobile and stable if you are using yoga as your primary movement practice or ever want to progress towards arm balances that ask your hands to support the full weight of your body. All attendees will receive a handout to help make these exercises a regular part of your home practice or pre-class warm-up. 

box packing at manna food center with calmaraderie + yoga bliss 

sunday may 27 (memorial day weekend) / 2 - 4 p.m. 

Yoga Bliss yogis are gathering for the fourth time at Manna Food Center in Gaithersburg (9311 Gaither Rd, Gaithersburg, Md, 20877). It's truly a fun, family-friendly activity - I always bring my portable speaker to play some tunes in the warehouse! If you've been looking for a way to get involved with Manna's mission to end hunger in Montgomery County, I hope you'll join us. Friends, family members, and kids over age 8 welcome. Please register each individual - we can only bring so many yogis, and this service project typically fills up! - and bring cash, a check, and/or items from Manna's most needed foods list if you are able. 

one on one: your body, your mind, your practice

Do you have a busy schedule, a special condition, or an injury - or all three - that makes attending group classes challenging? Want to make your practice more personalized and relevant to your life right now? Reply to this email if you'd like to discuss meeting for practice privately with me - some students have me over a few times to help address a specific issue and then return to group classes with modifications, others wish to schedule an ongoing weekly time to commit to their practice with guidance. 

Working together, we'll create a practice that helps you take care of you. It won't necessarily look like a 'typical' yoga class (unless that's what you want): it'll be the things you like +plus+ the things we find that you need to grow stronger and more resilient -minus- the things that don't work for you right now. As you change, the practice will change. 

the latest NSFY playlist: to the youth

removing obstacles: strengthen your wrists, ankles + resolve

Y’all. We’re 10 weeks into 2018. Let me guess – you set an intention for the year, you’ve made a bunch of changes that were way easier than you thought they would be, and now life is a constant parade of puppies and rainbows!

If this really happened to you, mazal tov. But I’m guessing that for a whole bunch of us, every week has thrown a rusty wrench into the works, or we’ve had to recalibrate our expectations, or we’ve given up, because it just feels too hard right now.

Enter Ganesha – remover of obstacles, and god of new beginnings:

Pic taken by my kid sis in Mauritius

Pic taken by my kid sis in Mauritius

A little background according to Hindu legend – Ganesha is the son of Shiva and Parvati, and yup, human body, elephant head, due to having his regular human head cut off during a disagreement with Shiva when he was a teenager. Being decapitated sounds like the end of a story, but Ganesha’s new, huge head serves him well – there’s a lot of room to think and dream big, large ears to listen carefully with (before speaking!), and a trunk, which the internet tells me can pick up things as small as a blade of grass and as heavy as 1000 lbs.

When we invoke Ganesha in our practice, through mudra or elephant trunk pose or by chanting Om Gan Ganapataye Namaha (listen to a couple of my favorite recordings here), we're not really asking Ganesha to ride over on his rat (though that is how he gets around; it’s next to his left foot in the photo) and stomp through our obstacles, clearing our paths for us. Here's what I hope we’re setting as an intention:

May I be wise enough to seek and receive help.

May I clearly see the obstacles on my path, and those that can help me through them.

May I use my creativity to move around them, chip away at them, and use them as springboards.

May I embody the spirit of Ganesha, and offer my strength to others.

We can use the ritual of meditation and chanting to give ourselves a break, to acknowledge that we are tired and ready to receive help from others. But then we must do the active work of figuring out who to ask and what to ask for, or what small steps we can make to move through the obstacles on our path. Because if we are all made of the same universal consciousness, then we must remember that the forces in our lives that appear much bigger than ourselves are actually made of the same stuff – people power – as us.

/ / / /

If you’re feeling that wrist tenderness and/or ankle instability is an obstacle that keeps you from coming to your mat to create these sacred, strengthening pauses, you gotta come to my workshop next weekend: Conditioning for Your Wrists and Ankles at Blue Heron Wellness in Silver Spring, Sat. Mar 17, 2 - 4 p.m. 

If you are going to have the stamina for long holds and repetitions of vinyasas, warriors, down dogs, and planks (or marching in the streets or running), your hands and feet need to be in tip-top shape. In this workshop, you’ll learn specific exercises that target tissues in your wrists and ankles that you need to be mobile and stable if you are using yoga as your primary movement practice or ever want to progress towards wheel, crow, and handstand - poses that ask your wrists to hold you while in extension. All attendees will receive a handout to help make these exercises a regular part of your home practice or pre-class warm-up. FWIW, I didn't think I had weak wrists/ankles, but doing these exercises has made me feel much more stable in my handstands and stronger in my vinyasa hops – so it’s truly for everyone! Can’t make it this weekend? Email me at emily.star.yoga@gmail.com and you’ll be the first to know when I’m offering it again, or we can set up a time to work one-on-one.

eka hasta bhujasana / elephant trunk pose - not for the faint of wrist extension.   see the progression towards it here (and feel free to facebook friend me!)

eka hasta bhujasana / elephant trunk pose - not for the faint of wrist extension.

see the progression towards it here (and feel free to facebook friend me!)

the water-moon guanyin + new class alert

Picture someone meditating. Is she sitting, spine upright and legs crossed? Did you automatically think of a man, or of someone of a particular race? Where is the student sitting? We so often carry an image of how meditation and spirituality should look, and try so hard to mirror it, even if it’s very different from our embodied experience. For some people, sitting in the same way, at the same time, for the same amount of time, first thing in the morning, every day – it works for them.

But for me, when my practice is strongest, it’s flexible. I’ve accepted that my meditation practice is more likely to end with a chime from an app on my phone while I’m sitting or reclining in my parked car at random times of the day than with me playing a singing bowl in my apartment. I sneak in yoga breaks in the gym below my classroom, and go for walks on the Capital Crescent trail between one-on-one clients. Forcing myself to adhere to a super strict practice schedule and only counting sitting meditation as the real deal doesn’t fit with the reality of my life and what I want from my practice. It doesn’t bring me into a deeper relationship with my self, it puts an external frame on what I have to do to hold myself in high esteem. It becomes an extension of old disordered behaviors, and I’m not bringing that extremism into my kind, loving, and accepting practice.

water moon guanyin

That’s why I love this 15th century life-size sculpture of Guanyin, which I saw recently at the Baltimore Museum of Art. Guanyin is a bodhisattva in the Chinese Buddhist tradition - her Indian counterpart is the bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, which translates to “Lord who looks down with compassion.” She has attained enlightenment and could enter nirvana, but chooses to stay on earth to help others and share the Buddha’s message. She has 33 different appearances, some human, some not, as different students learn best from different teachers. In this version, the Water-Moon Guayin, she is often shown perched on a rocky surface, watching the reflection of the full moon in a body of water. Her eyes are downcast but open, and she is not even trying to sit cross-legged! Her arm supports her sitting posture. You get the sense that she’s letting herself be comfortable, maybe even enjoying her practice, dangling her toes in the water and feeling a soft wave roll through them.

What if this became our standard image of a body in meditation? What if we saw our practice as not separate from communing with the elements around us, the water and the moon? What if we imagined ourselves in meditation atop messy piles of laundry, rather than in pristine surroundings? Would we do it more often if it seemed more accessible, and more joyful? Something that could happen on uneven rocks, not only in a silent, flat meditation hall?

Don’t get me wrong, this practice is not supposed to be easy. We can’t only meditate lakeside under the full moon. But it is supposed to be doable - so I can begin lying down on the floor asymmetrically and notice my breath if the idea of having to sit up makes me groan. I can practice restorative yoga while I listen to a dharma talk. Or move and flow to music. If it makes me more compassionate off the mat, it counts. We’re not just supposed to notice our own bodies in tadasana (mountain pose) and when seated and when in savasana. We’re to bring awareness to our relationships with each other and the environment – so why not practice in as many contexts as we can? Especially now when we are close to the winter solstice & are experiencing great asymmetry between darkness and light, our practice may need to change if it is to stay consistent.

The comic Ali Wong has a great joke – she says she doesn’t want to Lean In a la Sheryl Sandberg, she want to lie down. Do you feel this way about your yoga practice? I think that’s ok! As mindfulness practice in the West gets co-opted by business leaders, who seem to want to use these tools only for their own economic betterment and efficiency (with the emphasis on the Sit up taller! Focus better! parts of practice)….it’s important for me to not lose sight of images of Guanyin – who is out there trying to heal the world with her compassion and gentleness, and perhaps that starts with how she sits herself.

Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe in that sculpture, Guanyin is coming out of a classic seated practice. Maybe her eyes are just beginning to open as she steps away. But my friends, that’s the important part – going back into the world. What kind of practice helps us do that?

///

may your 2017 end with grace and 2018 open with space,

emily

p.s. there is another story about Guanyin getting overwhelmed by the endless needs of the world & her head exploding into 10 pieces. yet another reason to be gentle with ourselves…

p.p.s. for further reading on whether we overemphasize the aesthetics of symmetry, see Jenni Rawlings’ article on The Myth of Symmetry in Yoga in Yoga International; for more about how our experiences in practice relate to systems of oppression, see Ruth King’s Being Mindful of Race from BuddhaDharma Magazine.

///

I’m baaaaaaaaaaack!

At Simon Says Yoga this week and Circle Yoga in 2018:

  • Christmas Day 10 – 11:30 am Flow and Restore at Simon Says Yoga in Bethesda. Stability, mobility and tranquility. Lovely movement and stillnes between your xmas morning / Chinese food and a movie afternoon (there are 2 Asian restaurants in the same shopping center as SSY)! Plus, subbing Friday’s level 2 morning class on the 29th.
  • NEW weekly class alert! Wednesday evenings Level 2 at Circle Yoga @ Chevy Chase Circle (DC/Maryland border).  I’m so glad to be back at this cooperative yoga studio. Scholarships available. If you’ve felt a plateau in your practice (not a bad thing, unless you’re bored and in danger of becoming inconsistent…), come learn some movement skills that may make more intermediate & advanced postures possible. I’ve learned new tricks in the last year that have dramatically increased my wrist and hamstring strength & I want to show them to you! Can’t make it or want to create a home practice that is more specific and personal to your needs? Reply to this email and let’s set up some one-on-one time :)
  • NSFY holiday 2017 playlist - good for moving off of your mat. enjoy!

looking at Eshu's hat + xmas day yoga

Hello friends,

I hope you’ve had a meaningful Thanksgiving. Mine was filled with lounging {finally watched Moana with my family}, eating white bean and rosemary dip, refreshing my non-yoga playlist, and sharing a story, from the Yoruba people of Africa by way of Joseph Campbell. Here’s how I remember it:

One day, the trickser Eshu decided to play a game on two friends who had adjoining plots of land, one just to the east of the other. Eshu wore a beautiful hat – it was 3 feet tall, and adorned with ribbons and bells that clanged as he walked between the two fields while the men tilled them. Later, one farmer said to the other, “What did you think of that red hat that Eshu was wearing?”

“You mean the white hat?” said his friend.

“Umm, it was definitely red.”

“It was white!”

“Are you going blind? It was red.”

“You’re crazy - IT WAS WHITE!”

And on and on in it went. The men came to blows, only pausing when Eshu reappeared, hatless, before them. “Eshu, you must settle this once and for all!” they cried. “Were you wearing a white hat or a red hat?”

 

“I was wearing my hat that is red on one side, and white on the other,” Eshu said.

 

///

 

Maybe you too have experienced these white hat/red hat moments, where a situation looks very different from your vantage point than it does to your boss, your partner, your child. Sometimes, if it’s really something as small as the color of a hat, it’s worth letting go of our need to be right. Or maybe we can acknowledge that something is more complex and multi-faceted than how it appears to us. But when the stakes seem higher, and there’s no trickster Eshu behind the conflict or able to offer a verdict from on high...what’s a yogi to do?

I don’t think there’s only one answer. But in so many conflicts, keeping the peace by going silent doesn’t actually solve anything. In this moment of reckoning in America, how grateful I am for the women (and men) who have chosen to name their experiences, to tell us what they’ve seen, even when it seems unbelievable that a treasured actor/writer/comedian/journalist/politician/(pick any occupation, there’s probably an exposé coming…) could be capable of such behavior. I hope that in these situations - and the ones that arise in our own communities and workplaces - when our cultural upbringings might cause us to have kneejerk reactions of disbelief or downplay what we’re finally hearing, we’ll listen and believe the accusers. And do the work of changing our culture, so that no one has to wait decades with secret shames, hiding in the shadows of those who have wronged them.

When I told this story last week, I also meant to share this poem from the Persian mystic Rumi:

 

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing -

         there is a field -

               I’ll meet you there.

 

When the soul lies down in that grass,

the world is too full to talk about.

Ideas, language, even the phrase each other

doesn't make any sense.

 

It’s a beautiful poem, one I’ve read before savasana many times. Comforting. How badly sometimes we might want for this all to be over, to lie down in that grass where we don’t have to deal with the troubles of the world. But if we never deal with the conflicts of our times, while we’re here, we’ll just be leaving them for the next generation. So this practice demands that we don’t escape into fantasy for long – that we take breaks to recharge, but that we come back to examine how our present is in fact affected by the past, and that we act mindfully and compassionately to not become stuck in it.

May we use our mindfulness practice to train us to listen carefully & to speak truth.

May we practice courageously & full-heartedly.

May we practice tenderly, giving ourselves space & time to sort out all that is.

May we practice.

emily

ps. I'll be teaching fewer weekly public classes in 2018. I'd love to keep our work going one-on-one or in a small group, and I welcome staying in touch over facebook, especially if you have cute pets that you share photos of!

xmas day!

flow and restore at simon says yoga in bethesda

·  mon dec 25 / 10 - 11:30 a.m. /  simon says yoga / flow and restore

this christmas, give yourself the gift of mobility, stability, and tranquility. we'll build awareness and strength through movement skill work, see how that affects our flow practice, and mellow out on our mats. fellow members of the tribe: there is a chinese restaurant 3 doors down from simon says :) register here.

 

Thoughts on branching out / how i'm like a tomato plant

tomato

Quick recap if I didn’t see you last week: A few months ago, I got a tomato seedling – this was a big deal, as I haven’t even been able to keep succulents alive in the past and the only other greenery in my apartment is a picture of a plant that I stuck in the pot of the last plant that I killed. I became very invested in watering it, occasionally singing to it, and turning it every so often so that it would grow up straight as it grew towards the sunlight.

This worked for a while – the seedling sprouted more leaves, its stem thickened to the point of woodiness at the base, and it got much taller. But at about six weeks, the amount of growth seemed to overwhelm the plant – I thought it might snap off at the middle. So I acquired a garden stake, and tied it to the stem in a few places. It looked a lot happier, and this week, voila! Little tomato flowers, and then little tiny tomatoes began to appear!

If only the support we needed to become steady, blossom and bear fruit could be acquired for a buck at the hardware store. But what I hope this story shows is that sometimes we need to look outside our immediate environment for support. A few years ago, my yoga practice seemed to provide for so many of my needs. I gleaned so much from it - greater peace around body image and perfectionism, friendships, party trick poses that I never thought I'd be able to do. I wanted to do it more than I wanted to run or lift anything, so I relegated my sneakers to the occasional hike and stayed away from the dumbbells, because I was getting enough strength from all my chatarangas, right? I also started teaching more – a lot more, and for the most part stopped applying to non-yoga jobs. I even stopped applying to yoga jobs that didn’t fit a fairly narrow definition of how I myself wanted to practice. I felt very loose and free in my body, and I was given a lot of latitude in how I wanted to teach by mainly working with independent studios and schools and offering free classes at shelters, but I also felt unsteady in a lot of ways. I believed that I would never ever hold a handstand or a 9-to-5 job – that was just not how I thought my body or my brain worked.

As I learned more about functional movement and what’s missing in vinyasa-land, including some research about longtime yogis who have become injured possibly because of an over-emphasis on flexibility and resisting pain messages among other matters, I snuck in more non-traditional movements. (Have you been in a class where we in between some vinyasas, we worked our glutes, inner thighs, or core in a way that felt more pilates-esque or old-school gym class than old-school yoga? Sometimes I worry that you’re annoyed and are thinking “THIS ISN’T YOGA!!” But mostly I think that you’ll feel stronger and more stable, so, you’re welcome.) I lace up my sneakers more often to walk and occasionally jog around my neighborhood, I hike, I march in the streets for protests, I dance to music that is too loud and fast to end up in a yoga playlist, and sometimes I even pick up my dumbbells. Classical yoga asana (both active and restorative) and meditation is still a bigger part of my daily life than any other practice, and I credit it for most of my wellbeing. But I don’t depend on it solely to keep me upright and productive, because the reality for me is that it isn’t enough right now. I feel so, so much stronger when my stretchy-flowy-sweet yoga practice is in balance with other movement practices.

For better or worse, the same is true of my professional life. A few years ago, my teaching schedule spanned from 6:30 am to 10 p.m. on some days, I taught every day, I taught 3 year olds to seniors, beginners to longtime practitioners. I learned how to approach this practice in a multitude of ways, and got to see how lots and lots of different bodies moved and responded to my cues and sequences (and games for the younger crowd). For the most part, I think it made me a better teacher. But I also felt exhausted frequently and worried about how I’d keep it up as I got older. So I gave up some group classes as I started to teach more students one-on-one and at work to help sustain me financially and energetically. This gave me more space to stay up to date on movement research, sleep, and develop Calmaraderie, our collective of service-minded yogis. I felt better about my direction, but the same fears about being self-employed and whether I was doing enough to live my values surfaced. I’m generally of the opinion that we can’t really push away our thoughts in meditation – they’re there for a reason. We can look at them, accept them, and see what’s underneath them. Take action surrounding the thoughts that repeatedly come up. This is hard work – there have been times in my life where I feel myself avoiding meditation and slower-paced yoga because I don’t want to face the fears that rise to the surface when I become still.

So this fall, I’m going outside my familiar container and starting a part-time masters program in social work. I’m telling myself that I’m taking baby steps – seeing how the first semester goes before I commit myself to the second year of the program – and staying open to all the possibilities that present themselves as I move through it. I might discover that I’m best off returning to teaching full time. But I think it’s more likely that by taking on purposeful study and work that isn’t directly tied to my teaching, I’ll be more focused in how, why and what I teach, and more grounded and stable in other areas of my life.

I hope that as you too dive deep into your mindfulness practice, it will reveal the things outside of it that you need to support yourself, grow, and affect change inside and outside your life. There’s a mythic, up-by-your bootstraps way of thinking in some spheres of yogaland that tells us that if we practice enough, all other things will fall into place. I hope that we can recognize that that isn’t true for most people – the less affluent, the stigmatized, the disenfranchised – but that our practice can lead us towards action that can realign the world, not just our spines.

with abundant hope,

emily

purity vs pickles

Dear yogis,

Significant life accomplishment alert: I now know how to make pickles. And not just any pickles – really, really good spicy coriander-mustard seed zucchini and jalapeno pickles (recipe here). When I tasted one, I considered adding a facebook life event: “2017 – learned how to make pickles.” I doled them out slowly so I could try them on everything - they made my grain salads pop, my breakfast scrambles zing, and I can’t even tell you how delicious they were on tacos. They pulled me out of a cooking rut and gave me that shout-from-the-rooftops feeling that most people reserve for professional sports teams.

Cut to last week: I was reading yoga teacher Shiva Rea’s guide for living with the seasons, Tending the Heart Fire, in which she recommends avoiding pickled foods in the summer. Technically, they are dehydrating – but that’s why they go so well in water-rich salads! And what are we supposed to eat on veggie burgers, Shiva??? I ignored her advice and continued to eat a pickle a day. 

Then, in preparing to teach recent classes on saucha (purity, the second yama), I saw that BKS Iyengar in Light on Yoga also advises against eating pungent foods (also sour, bitter, salty, burning, stale, tasteless, and heavy foods, fyi). It began to feel like a vast conspiracy was afoot to keep me from bliss, which as I now understand it is pickling things with my own two hands.

Sometimes, you have to follow the guru within your own heart/intestines, because here’s the deal with saucha – and really, all of yoga, IMHO: the tools that bring about a sense of pure presence are going to be different and need to be applied differently to each of us, and may change throughout our lives. Perhaps someone suffering from digestive distress does need to adopt a more basic diet, as Iyengar suggests. But for most of us, eliminating so many textures and flavors from our life only puts us on a black-and-white, all-or-nothing, unrealistic and unappetizing path. Further, if we’re never supposed to pickle things, how are we supposed to use up the bounty of fresh produce that arrives at summer’s peak and avoid food waste? {I was even able to use the leftover brine to cold-pickle cabbage and cauliflower cores!} I found myself eating more fresh produce and wanting to cook more simple dishes at home than I had B.P. (before pickles), because I had a delicious special ingredient to use up. 

So perhaps pickles are to our summer diet what a dance-y, pop-y song is to a yoga playlist – something to pepper here and there to brighten up what we’re putting in our body, something that can excite us when what we’re doing has become boring or stagnant (or to entice us back to a wholesome practice or meal if we need some spark to get going), but not something to lean on exclusively. The balance will be up to us to find.

May you learn things that enrich your life, that you wish to share with others, and that use what you have lying dormant, be that some lingering desire or a vegetable that's been hanging around in your fridge...

emily

p.s. I'll definitely bring a new batch to next month's  picnic and service project at A Wider Circle in Silver Spring !

p.p.s. wanna talk more about how we could adapt our practice for summer? come to tomorrow's workshop at Blue Heron Wellness!

Fire and water // grains and greens // Volunteering with Manna Food Center

When we talk about the necessity of self-care, two images come to mind for me: the flame of a candle, and a pitcher of water. The flame of a candle burns out if it is not transferred to another, and a pitcher of water goes empty from filling other cups if it is not refilled. I have to remind myself that I am not the only flame around, or the only pitcher – that I don’t have to do everything, and I can’t. Especially during weeks like this one, while as some of you know, I’m recovering from a car accident. Practicing gentle asana as I heal from my concussion and whiplash is a real lesson in not attaching to what my practice looks like, but being present with what it feels like. I’m lucky to have worked with private students with similar restrictions before, and the practices I’ve created for them are becoming my own as I move and flow without putting my head below my heart. It’s been an invitation to be gentle with myself, do what I can, and let go of what doesn’t serve.

As part of my renewed effort in not burning out, I’ve made a few adjustments to my teaching schedule. I hope that we can still practice together, and that your yoga practice is a place where you can tend your flame and replenish your waters so that you have all that you need to move through the world. Beyond that, a few ideas for continued care in this cold one day, warm the next season:

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creating actionable intentions for 2017 + volunteering at A Wider Circle + NSFY Jan playlist

Thank goodness this year is almost over, amirite? I know that so many of us want to create as much distance as possible between this fall and ourselves, and having the mark of a different year on our calendars feels significant. But for deeper levels of change in myself and my community to occur, I know that I need to make bigger, yet sustainable steps into the future that I want to see than ritualistically burning my calendar (Kidding. It’s going into my recycling. . .after I tear it apart.)

For many of us in DC, we’re looking at a future that looks to be filled with roadblocks. But the magic of yoga practice is how it carves out spaces for light during dark times – how even on a rough day, it allows us to appreciate the expansion of our intercostal muscles in a side bend; how we can expel a sense of stuck-ness by flowing or holding utkatasana (chair) until we break into beads of sweat; how we can move with a childlike sense of playfulness on our mats. Let’s look to our practice for hope, for space, and as a way to spark our creative fires this year.

Not convinced? Does it feel selfish or fake or impossible to you to remain hopeful that change is possible? I hope that you will find these words from historian Howard Zinn elucidating:

“To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness.

What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places—and there are so many—where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction.

And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.”

So what changes shall we make in the new year, friends? What can we actually do?

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Ending 2016 by Stepping Forward

Dear yogis, 

You know it’s been a tough month when your car gets towed, and you are actually excited to have a fairly cut-and-dry, fixable problem. So it was for a few weeks ago, on a day when I was scheduled to teach four classes in three different locations. When I left my apartment to head out to the first one, my car was not where I had parked it the evening prior.

While I wouldn’t recommend purposely parking your car illegally (I really thought I was in a legal spot! in my apartment complex lot!), or otherwise creating such expensive problems for yourself to solve as post-election pre-holiday stress relief, I would recommend finding ways to take action on problems that do exist. I’m reminded of these words:

Don't be discouraged by your incapacity to dispel darkness from the world. Light your little candle and step forward. ~ Amma, the hugging saint

For me, this sounds great…for about two minutes. It’s harder to put into practice. How can I meaningfully “step forward” when there are only 24 hours in a day? How can I show up for rallies and protests, make time to call my representatives, and volunteer for local organizations when my schedule involves…a lot. Here’s the thing – that has always been true. The questions can become, how can I use my yoga practice and self-care to generate energy and manage my time, so that I have more time/money/energy for stepping up? How can I live my values and own my choices?

Here are a couple ideas to get you started:

1. Get sleep. It is really hard to smash the patriarchy without a good night’s rest. For me, keeping a circadian rhythm means that I have to stop practicing handstands, reading upsetting news, or looking at a screen well before bedtime. If I’m doing my asana practice late at night, I try to keep it on the gentle side, or at least eliminate jump transitions. (If you need to look at a screen when it’s dark out, I highly recommend installing the app f.lux – it filters out some of the blue light from our screens at night.)

2. Be with your body – get upside down, rub your feet, put on a heating pad. Inversions are said to be a very generative category of yoga poses, as they change our perspective, invite gravity to work on our lymphatic and circulation systems in a different way, and they’re fun! When I’m exhausted at 5 p.m. and it’s already dark outside, I’ll try to go into legs up the wall for a few minutes for a recharge – because I know that if I crawl into bed, I will stay there. Similarly, rubbing my feet or placing a heating pad on my neck is a way of caring for my body without asking for it to work that hard. (Psst – Marietta Vis and I are co-teaching a workshop this month that’s all about breaking up restrictions that keep us from moving with ease and getting upside down in a supportive way – see details and sign up here).

3. Say no. When someone invites you to do/buy something that you don’t want to do/have, say no! It can be so hard to say no, especially around the holidays, and especially if you are a natural caregiver and people-pleaser. But if you keep saying yes to things that drain you, then you will have less time/money/energy for you and things you care about.

4. Simplify food. Once or twice a week, can you roast a bunch of cut up hard greens (broccoli, Brussels sprouts, green beans) and roots (carrots, onions, sweet potatoes, winter squash)? Simultaneously or on another day or two, can you cook up one pot of grains and one pot of beans (or open a can!)? Tada! You can get in the habit of always having the cooked ingredients ready to make simple, nutritious comfort food. For a bit more warming bite and variety, add a salsa, chutney, or spice mix to each mixed-up bowl of plant-based goodness.

5. Let go of doing everything perfectly. Spend less time attempting to find perfect gifts and write perfect emails. It’s the thought that counts.

What self-care practices are non-negotiable for you? Do those.

If coming and practicing with me this month is non-negotiable for you – here are a couple extra practices I’ll be leading this month:

- Sunday, Dec 18 // 2:30 – 4:30 p.m. // Align Into Action with Marietta Vis at Blue Heron Wellness // In this workshop, Critical Alignment Yoga teacher Marietta Vis will help yogis release fascial restrictions that inhibit function and range of motion in the shoulders and upper back. Then, I’ll lead a progressive practice that strengthens and integrates healthy movement patterns for the whole body. We'll close with supported inversions using special Critical Alignment props (all the way from the Netherlands where Marietta trained in CAY), so that we can enjoy the benefits of going upside down without putting weight through the cervical spine.

- Keeping Spirits Bright at Willow Street Yoga

When regular classes are on break at Willow Street over the holidays, we practice as a mixed-level full-hearted community of yogis. From Monday, December 19, to Friday, December 30, there is a 10 a.m. practice in Takoma Park and a 7 p.m. practice in Silver Spring every day.  I'll be teaching the following special $10 drop-in classes:

· Friday Dec 23 / 7 - 8:15 p.m. / Vinyasa Flow / Silver Spring

· Sunday Dec 25 / 10 - 11:15 a.m. / Yoga / Takoma Park

· Monday Dec 26 / 10 - 11:15 a.m. / Vinyasa Flow / Takoma Park

· Friday Dec 30 / 7 - 8:15 p.m. / Vinyasa Flow / Silver Spring

I hope to see you before the year draws to a close. But either way, I hope you know that I am grateful to you and wish peace unto you, peace unto me, peace unto us all….shanti, shanti, shanti…

Emily

ps. One of the yoga teachers I have trained with wrote a new book! If you are looking for resources about a body-positive approach to yoga, I highly recommend Anna Guest-Jelley’s teachings. Check it out - Curvy Yoga: Love Yourself & Your Body a Little More Each Day

pps. December 2016 NSFY playlist:

Fall 2016: making peace and playlists, plus batch cooking and silver spring yoga

Hello friends,

It’s autumn! Hiking sure feels more pleasurable when the temperature drops below 80 here in the mid-Atlantic, I can get excited about making soup and turning on my oven (more fall kitchen tips below), and as a creature of habit, I love the steadier rhythm that sweeps across the land once schools go back in session and lace up the looseness of summer.

On the other side, shorter and colder days can make it harder to be with (normal, naturally occurring) sadness without succumbing to it and closing ourselves off from others. Right as we’re hitting an orderly stride, we might feel our energy beginning to lag in preparation for winter hibernation, and less likely to make it through the lists of things we’d like to accomplish before year’s end. And as if all of that isn’t enough…there’s this election thing, right?

This one has been harsh. It’s painful to see that many Americans think and feel differently than I do. I try to remember that those with polar-opposite beliefs probably feel the same way. In our yoga classes, you may have heard me share this translation of “Namaste” from Ram Dass – “I honor the place in you in which the entire universe dwells. I honor the place in you, which is of love, of truth, of light, and of peace. I honor the place in you where if you are in that place in you, and I am in that place in me, there is only one of us.

For those of us who are strong and grounded in our political beliefs, this is where we have a chance to live our yoga. We can’t just bow to those who practice beside us – on mat or on ballot. We have to open our hearts to those who seem furthest from us.

I’m working to recognize that candidates I passionately disagree with are human – vain, righteous, and stubborn. I’m all of those things too. I’ve become grateful for the opportunity that this election cycle has created for me to be with feelings I stamped down about my own past sexual harassment, and taken concrete steps to heal. I can’t say that that would have happened if not for this strange course of events this year.

And when I do find myself flustered and angered by the news, which is often, I call to mind this definition of yoga from BKS Iyengar: “Yoga is the method by which the restless mind is calmed and the energy directed into constructive channels.” Where is the constructive channel – the things I have control over? I can choose to get on my mat or my cushion for practice, in my kitchen to take out my feelings on some cabbage that needs chopping, or even jump on the ol’ Internet to get back to the administrative work of setting up the next service project – with the hope that my actions will return me to peace, and better the world in the process.

I hope that if election stress is hitting you, you too can find the constructive channel that directs your attention towards healing, and that you can try to be tender with your words and thoughts towards those who you disagree with. Let’s be real about what we find unacceptable politically, but full of acceptance for our fellow citizens: the deep-seated pain and suffering and fear that this campaign has brought to light needs compassion and understanding. Let’s offer all that we can.

with love,

emily

 

next Calmaraderie service project // Sun, Nov 13 from 2-4 p.m. // Sort Produce at Bread for the City

Join your fellow yogis in an off-the-mat afternoon of service at Bread for the City, a nonprofit that provides food, clothing, medical care, legal and social services to DC’s neediest residents. We’ll be sorting produce that will be distributed to low-income residents through BftC’s food pantry, so please wear closed-toed shoes and comfortable clothing.

Meet up at BftC’s Northwest Center (1525 Seventh Street NW between P and Q, just 1.1 mi from Yoga NoMa) at 2 p.m., or if the weather allows, a walking group will meet up at Yoga NoMa at 1:30. Coming to the morning class? Pack a lunch or grab something nearby and we’ll eat together in the lobby before departing. If you're new to Yoga NoMa, check out www.yoganoma.com and email any questions to yoga@yoganoma.com. You can also sign up and spread the word to non-facebook friends with the following link: https://routeam.com/classes/24769-nov13-yoga-noma-serve-and-be-social-produce-sort-at-bread-for-the-city-2-4-p-m

Can’t make it? Check out ongoing volunteer opportunities at BftC at http://www.breadforthecity.org/ongoing-opportunities/ or donate at https://www.breadforthecity.org/givetoday/

 

first rule of fall // Always Be Roasting

The winds of the fall season can sweep us off our feet if we don’t set a steady routine. The Washington Post had a great article on one of my sanity stand-bys: batch cooking! I find that it takes a lot of the decision fatigue out of cooking and eating. While some adherents of batch cooking have weekly Thanksgiving-esque afternoons of cooking six things at a time, I generally prefer to cook one thing in a batch daily. Grains and roasting are pretty hands off – just heat oven/hot water up and go, so even if I don’t have time to attentively cook, something gets made. My go-tos are quinoa, millet, sweet potatoes, and Brussels sprouts. When I have more time to be attentive with spices, I'll make a vegetable soup, curry, or hummus. This way, I often have something warm and fresh (and an excuse to make my apartment warmer!), as well as other things to assemble a grain bowl out of. And it’s a little different every day based on what’s around, so I don’t get bored.

A couple things I have eaten several times a week in the past month and haven't stopped wanting to make:

- One cooked sweet potato with 3 or more of the following: black beans, salsa, roasted green beans or spinach, grains, handful of corn and cilantro, poached egg on top if I’m feeling a need for extra protein

- Cabbage bowl: Make this Madhur Jaffrey cabbage with fennel seeds (use less salt, imho), eat with quinoa or rice and tofu. Can also turn this into fried rice with a little soy sauce, rice vinegar, and sugar.

- Berbere bowl: Make this atakilt wat (Ethiopian cabbage and carrots – I usually leave out the potato), eat with extra sautéed kale, millet, and for extra protein add lentils, tofu or a poached egg. Out of berbere? Come practice at Willow Street Yoga in Silver Spring, where you cannot walk a block without passing an Ethiopian market!

 

wsy halloween

where it's at // Silver Spring

Community week at Willow Street Yoga is Oct 24-30. Registered students can drop in for free to as many classes as your schedule/hamstrings will allow, non-registered students come for $10 to any class! Come slow flow and restore with me on Friday nights at 6:30 :) Pre-Halloween selfies with our in-room skeleton optional.

 

A little further up Colesville Rd in Silver Spring, did you know there is a yoga studio on top of the Trader Joe’s? Did you know that I teach yin there on Wednesdays (and Mondays this month while another teacher is out)? Did you know that the Northwest Branch trail is very very beautiful and right there and you should definitely go for a hike? If you knew all of that, congrats. You are an expert at fall.

 

 

 

 

 

not safe for yoga // nsfy // fall playlist

you're welcome

end of august news : on pain and attachment, yin and yang workshop, late summer nsfy playlist, stuff I’ve been eating, serve and be social, and more

pain, attachment, a playlist, a recipe, yin and yang yoga, serve and be social, literally everything i am doing this fall (that i know of)

As some of you know, I was recently in Glasgow to hold the huppah up at a good friend’s wedding and extended my visit by hiking the Great Glen Way, a 77-mile trek running along the lochs from Fort William to Inverness…in five days. The first few days on the trail were amazing – it had looked like there would be heavy rain every day on the forecast, but the clouds only drizzled here and there (ok, one time I got pretty soaked), and it was exciting to feel strong winds in the mountains propelling me forward. I’m fairly new to solo travel, and it felt like Mother Nature was protecting me and supporting my journey. {Yup, that’s the most woo-woo sentence I’ve ever written. It was a really good vacation.}

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Serve & Be Social, going away for a bit, & looking ahead

Hello dear ones,

I have three wonderful pieces of news to share! 

serveandbesocialsandwich

1. Serve & Be Social! Next Sunday, July 31, join me at Yoga NoMa at noon (or come to my 10:30 class right before) and we'll make lots and lots of PB&J sandwiches and pack lunches for So Others Might Eat, an amazing anti-poverty organization that operates a soup kitchen just half a mile from the studio where 400 people are served every day. Get to know your fellow yogis and practice karma yoga, the yoga of service. You can invite your friends to come through our facebook event, register for the class before here, or just show up! 

2. July 31 also happens to be my last Sunday 4 p.m. class at Extend Yoga (that's not the wonderful news), which will also be my last class before I take a real vacation (THIS IS THE WONDERFUL NEWS). Many thanks to the crew of teachers (Andrea, Sabina, Donna, Janet, Tali, Mary Lou, & Kara) who will be covering my public classes while I'm away. I'll be back to teaching August 10. And when I come back, it won't be too long before I teach my first workshop at Extend on Yin and Yang Yoga - join me August 28 at 3 p.m. and learn all about all the good things that happen when you balance all the moving around your mat in a vinyasa practice (yang) with chilling out in passive poses for 3-5 minutes (yin!). 

3. New Friday night class this fall: You heard it here first - I'm finally going to teach somewhere within walking distance of my apartment! Willow Street Yoga, Friday nights, 6:30 - 8 p.m., Slow Flow and Restore. We will peacefully say goodbye to the week and welcome the weekend starting September 23.

July 2016 - How to cool down with yoga, favorite podcasts, NSFY July playlist, and more!

Hi there, fellow yogi ~

I hope you have all that you need to stay cool this summer – a friend to vent to, some space to practice lunar moon salutations to calm the body, and a freezer to transform leftover smoothies into popsicles. If you’ve got all that but you still feel your pitta dosha (aka in Ayurveda, the part of you that is fiery, sometimes in a good and productive way….but also sometimes in an overly perfectionistic and demanding way) blazing through your body and threatening to burn down anything in its path, well, welcome to the club. Summer is high pitta time, and I’ve felt myself jumping to conclusions and simmering in anger and anxiety. To counteract this, I’m trying to notice and accept how I feel, turn the heat down by not taking myself too seriously, and practice cooling twists, heart-opening backbends, anger-releasing side bends. Jump-backs and hopping into handstands? Eh, maybe not until I have to wear layers outside again.

Other cool things:

- Extend Yoga yogis raised over $300 to support the Orlando victims fund at my Flow for Orlando class. Maha gratitude to you all & see you at 9:30 and noon on Monday, July 4th. 

- Listen & Feel Heard - This Terry Gross interview with Tony Hale, who you may remember as Buster from Arrested Development. I found his story - of not feeling present during one of the most conventionally “successful” periods of his life, and recognizing that he needed to practice contentment where he was - real and refreshing. If you’ve never listened to Fresh Air with Terry Gross, what are you waiting for? Her voice is eerily similar to Tara Brach’s and she radiates warmth, curiosity, and wisdom. And if you’ve never gone to Tara Brach’s meditation class in Bethesda (or listened to her podcast)…it’s gonna be on break July 13-27, so go this week.

- Work-in with Yin - Remember how I had a lot of weekend classes subbed out over the last few months so I could marinate in Yael Flusberg’s Yin Yoga Teacher Training? Fantastic news – I’ll have a class dedicated to sharing all the juicy yin goodness with you starting July 13 at Blue Heron Wellness in Silver Spring. Practice runs Wednesdays from 1:30-2:45 p.m., as beloved yinster Machelle Lee (who is opening a yoga studio in New Brunswick) teaches her last regular class July 6. Thankfully, she’ll be back for workshops!

- Got an extra mat or spare props? I’m starting a new gentle yoga class for the seniors at So Others Might Eat (S.O.M.E.)’s Kuehner House, and the yoga program could use your gently used yoga gear. If you’re coming to any of my public classes this month and have a spare mat, bring it, and I will give it a good home. If you’re a yoga teacher interested in assisting this class, or learning how to teach in this kind of environment, please contact me at emily.star.yoga@gmail.com. I’m familiar with the joys and challenges of teaching in supportive housing, and would love to help you share yoga in this way. If you are interested in off-the-mat service, also drop me a line – I’m still working on ways to bring yogis together through community service projects, and will have more to share soon.

- Last, but not least, a great way to decompress is to cut loose with music that's too groovy (read: umm, explicit/wordy/loud) for me to play during yoga. That’s right, it’s the Not Safe For Yoga (NSFY) July Playlist:

all love,

emily

May 2016 - NSFY (not safe for yoga) playlist, $5 prenatal class for DC Yoga Week, and summer guest teaching

picture taken by my mother on Mother's Day after class at Yoga NoMa

picture taken by my mother on Mother's Day after class at Yoga NoMa

Hello internet,

I've got a couple things cooking:

- In honor of DC Yoga Week, my prenatal yoga class at Circle Yoga in Chevy Chase is $5 on Saturday, May 21 at 11:30 a.m.

- I'll be back at Simon Says Yoga this summer! While Lika Elwood is away, I'll cover her Thursday evening beginners (6:30 p.m.) and mixed level vinyasa (7:45 p.m.) classes June 30 - July 14.  

- I'm still working on creating service opportunities for yogis to connect off the mat this summer. Got a few minutes? Take a look at my intention outline and give feedback through the form at the bottom of the page about what kinds of seva (selfless service) you would like to take part in with me! So far, I've co-hosted a clothing swap at Yoga NoMa benefitting Martha's Table and Interfaith Works, and made pottery at the Corcoran Ceramics Studio (under the encouraging eye of GWU professor Robert Devers) that was sold at fundraisers for So Others Might Eat. Many thanks to my friends (old and new) and family who have come out and joined in! Want to know about the next event? Drop me a line at emily.star.yoga@gmail.com and I'll make sure you're in the know.

- Last but not least, here's a NSFY (not safe for yoga) playlist of tunes that are too loud, fast, wordy or whatever for class, but too good not to share with you. Enjoy!

 

Donation and $5 classes for DC Yoga Week, new classes and more!

I'm excited to be offering two new late night classes at Yoga NoMa starting this week! Since their launch coincides with DC Yoga Week, they're only $5 to drop in and all proceeds from this week's classes will go to Bread for the City, an amazing organization that provides food, clothing, legal services and medical care for DC's low-income families and individuals. Sign up for Yoga for Beginners (Monday nights at 8:15) and Slow Flow and Restore (Wednesday nights at 8:15) here!

Looking for more affordable yoga? All weekday morning and lunchtime classes at Yoga NoMa (including my Wednesday 12:30 p.m. class) will be $5 through May 8, and Extend Yoga in Rockville will also have $5 classes each day through May 9, including my Friday noon class.

Also, mark your calendar - I'm subbing for the first time at Past Tense in Mt. Pleasant on Memorial Day (May 25) at noon. See you on your mat!

 

February 2015 Updates: FREE!!! Class in NW, New Regular Weekly Class in NE & More

Happy snow day, Washington D.C.! I hope you are enjoying the 4-day weekend, were able to snag some half-price fancy chocolate now that Valentine's Day is over, and are feeling strong and fearless enough to brave the rest of winter. Here's what I've got going on for ya:

FREE (!!!) class at Past Tense Yoga in Mt. Pleasant. Level 1.5 Flow - Saturday, February 21 @ 4 p.m. I'd love to see friendly faces as I audition to join the substitute teaching team at this welcoming, spacious neighborhood yoga studio. Register here!

NOW OPEN! East Side Yoga at 518 10th St NE between F and Maryland Ave. Ridiculously close to Toki Underground and all that H St NE has to offer. I'll be teaching a one-hour, mixed level Energetic Flow class on Thursday nights at 5:30 p.m. Sign up here and you can even snag one week of unlimited classes for $15! More classes will likely be added over the next few weeks/months, so if nothing fits your schedule there now, you might want to follow the studio's page on facebook for updates. 

CURVY YOGA LAB - Shoulder and Hip Opening - Saturday, February 28 @ 3 p.m. at Lil Omm in Tenleytown. Think about what happens when you wear shoes that are too tight - how your toes crunch up and your foot gets cramped and spastic. Our bodies react the same way when life scrunches them up for hours a day in front of a computer or when we feel cramped by our calendars and responsibilities. In this decompressing practice we will work tension out of the periphery of the body to create space for the spine. We will seek to gain knowledge (vidya) of our postural habits so that we may find release (moksha) from what is causing us to suffer. Cost: $20.

Extra Lunchtime classes at Yoga NoMa - I'll be guest teaching Lisa Loring's Monday 12:30 p.m. class on February 23 and March 2. And I'm regularly there Wednesdays at 12:30 p.m. and Sundays at 10 a.m. I LOVE teaching at DC's most affordable yoga studio. How is it possible to have experienced teachers leading these classes? Find out

Next month: Friday night 6 p.m. Prenatal Yoga class at Simon Says Yoga in Bethesda resumes March 6.