Monday, February 13, 2017

9 Yoga & Mindfulness Podcasts That Will Feed Your Soul


New article out today. Check out these smart, thoughtful yoga & mindfulness podcasts.

Back in the day you used to have to travel for hours or days to learn from many of the world’s most studied experts. Nowadays all you have to do is turn on your phone. It’s pretty righteous.

Thanks to Yoga Trade for publishing.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Hillary's Toughest Yoga Pose

Street art by Pegasus


I wrote this new piece for YogaDork. It's been on my mind since the moment I saw Hillary step out of her town car to attend the inauguration. No matter who you voted for, holy shit: you've gotta admit what a gut-wrenching, shattering experience it must've been for any human being with a heart to have to sit up on that stage watching her opponent being inaugurated. Thanks to YogaDork for being brave enough to publish political schtuff. And thanks to Hillary Clinton for teaching me yoga. Because politics is yoga is life. πŸ’•πŸ’ͺπŸ’‹πŸ™
 
 
* * *

There's a long-running yoga teacher cliche that goes something like this: "The hardest yoga pose is savasana."

I beg to differ.

The hardest yoga pose is Hillary Clinton sitting silently onstage while her former opponent (a man whom she beat by 3 million votes in the popular vote and who was possibly/probably elected via illegitimate Russian means) is inaugurated as President of the United States.

I mean, can you imagine?

I stood in my kitchen Friday morning and scanned Twitter for inauguration updates. Slate tweeted a video of the Clintons stepping out of their town car and preparing to walk into the ceremony, Hillary clad in peaceful winter white. That's when it really hit me: My God, this poor human has the hardest job in the world today. She's gotta stride in and smile gracefully and sit on that platform with all the other former Presidents and their wives and pretend that she's not totally, wretchedly miserable. 


No matter where you stand on the election, you've gotta have sympathy for the agony of that experience for any human being.

What pure torture to walk onto that stage and know the world's eyes are upon you, just waiting for you to betray a glimpse of pain, and to have to stay calm and pleasant when your insides are screaming bloody murder.

This is also known as: yoga.

We walk into the yoga studio knowing, every single time, that at some point in the practice we'll feel uncomfortable, awkward, frustrated, inadequate, angry. It comes with the territory. You hold a pose long enough, all your unresolved issues flare up. But you unroll the mat and stay, taking a deep breath, knowing it's just a matter of time til everything complicated and ugly burbles to the surface and your mind screams, "Just give up and run outta here already!" But, no. Your job is to sit with the discomfort, watching it, noticing it, resisting the urge to run away or give up, and using the breath to remain tenderly with the pain until it passes.
 

It's a practice of choosing how to react; of learning to watch the mind and not get caught up in it, realizing it's not you; realizing you don't have to get swept away in all your big feelings.

Which is EXACTLY what Hillary had to do last Friday. 

Over the course of the campaign, much was made of her steely demeanor and untouchable poise, deliberately cultivated after years of living in the critical public eye. But this? This was a new high. A masterful performance. The ultimate yoga practice.

Hillary could've chosen differently. She could've — very understandably — bailed on attending the Inauguration. She could've bawled her eyes out mid-ceremony and run off the platform. (Which would, of course, have wrought a media shitstorm.) But to sit there onstage, listening, witnessing, the whole world watching, cameras trained on her face waiting for the slightest hint of a reaction, knowing she's no doubt deeply in pain, and to manage to remain graceful and equanimous?

That, my friends, is yoga.


That is Buddha-level mastery.

(Okay, yes: maybe it was Xanax, too.) 


She may not be the Commander In Chief. But she's the yogi-in-chief, for sure. 

Hillary: thanks for teaching me yoga. I am grateful. I hope you downed a cocktail the size of your head when that shit was finally over.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

King Pigeon Posture Clinic


Super stoked to be leading this King Pigeon posture clinic next month at YoYoYogi. Join us on Feb 12th as we break down this much-loved/loathed pose. We'll flirt with a few cousin poses like Natarajasana (Dancer's Pose), too.

Register here.

Monday, January 23, 2017

How To Survive Snow Days As An Introvert Parent


New article out today! I wrote this for introverted parents everywhere who die a little inside when school is cancelled. :) Thanks to The Huffington Post for publishing.



Thursday, January 19, 2017

Point Reyes Yoga & Hiking Retreat


Just confirmed! Save the date for our 3rd annual Point Reyes Yoga & Hiking retreat: Sat. June 24th. I miss my California peeps and can't wait to see you all again. Details to come.

10 Ways To Make Friends With Your Body During A Hot Yoga Class


Thanks to The Huffington Post for picking up my recent article about 10 ways to make friends with your body during a hot yoga class. You can read the full piece here.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Easy As F*#k Comfort Foods That Won't Leave You Feeling Like Sh*t The Next Day


Oh hey.

Here we are, January. Four days in. Have you blown your resolutions yet?

I know lots of folks aspire to "eat healthy" in the New Year. That's often easier said than done, right?

I've been meaning for awhile now to throw up some of the favorite easy (vegan & gluten-free) comfort foods that have been rocking my world for the last few months. These recipes are perfect for the lazy non-cook (speaking from experience). They're not fancy and they're definitely not gonna show up in some famous foodie blog (way too many shameless short-cuts involved here).

But most importantly, two things: 1) they're fucking DELISH, and 2) they're vegan and gluten-free.

Going gluten-free back in 2009 was pretty easy, because I immediately felt so much better that it wasn't worth the occasional tempting bagel. But I struggled for a decade to go full-on vegan and stick with it, in spite of being totally ethically and philosophically on-board, mostly because cheese and ice cream are SO DAMN DELICIOUS. Even though my mind knew I'd feel waaaaay better and be waaaaay kinder to the planet/my body without them, I couldn't resist the siren call of melty mac 'n cheese or chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream. It took getting pregnant to really inspire me to go cold turkey.

(Seriously, folks. Shaking those drugs was like kicking heroin.)

What I learned is that the key to turning the vegan corner and never looking back is finding good comfort food substitutes that didn't make me feel like I'd be living the rest of my life deprived. It was no longer a matter of forever relinquishing melty goodness; it was just a matter of finding or creating versions of favorite foods that didn't leave me feeling like shit the next day.

And people, the great news is: it's totally possible! I've done it, and I'm a terrible cook!

So here's the first in what will become a semi-regular series, otherwise elegantly, succinctly known as

Easy As F*#k (Vegan + GF) Comfort Foods That Won't Leave You Feeling Like Shit The Next Day

For our first installment, you get:
 
Photo via Detoxinista
Homemade Vegan Mac 'N Cheese

I found this recipe on Detoxinista after trying out a few others from all over the place.

OMG, people: this one is so. friggin. easy. I really never thought it was possible to find an easy go-to homemade mac 'n cheese recipe. I mean, usually, what a pain in the butt, right? But this one you can get done in literally five minutes using only a Vitamix, and it's based on cashews, nutritional yeast, and a few spices. SOLD, bitch.

The first time we made it I already had some leftover naked noodles in the fridge, so I just warmed those up, added some quick broccoli and peas, and poured the cashew cheese sauce on top. Heaven. You can also add frozen chopped spinach or cauliflower, too. It's good however you do it.

All you have to do to make this recipe gluten-free is to use brown rice or quinoa-based noodles. My new favorite trick is to use the organic black bean spiral pasta at Trader Joe's, so my kid gets a ton of protein while thinking he's just scarfing down delicious mac 'n cheese. We even tried long spaghetti noodles last time, and those worked well, too. The original Detoxinista recipe calls for baking it, but we usually don't even bother with that, and just dive in.

This one's a big hit with both guys in my household. We make it at least once a week, and will be making it for years. Highly recommend introducing it to your rotation of regular hits.


Photo by Bowl of Delicious

Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream

Ok, so this is another easy vegan substitute that will make you forget Ben and Jerry's ever existed. My little guy is two and he loves to help me make this. And I love the fact that he can eat "ice cream" without getting his insides glued-up by all that antibiotic-laced cow's milk junk that's really only meant for baby cows to eat.

I'm a firm believer in the whole "just throw shit in" approach to cooking, so apologies in advance for a not-very-specific recipe here. You really can't mess this one up. If you want more of an official recipe, check out this example over at Bowl of Delicious. But even that one is fancier than we usually go for.

Yesterday, for example, we just threw these ingredients in the Vitamix and voila!
Two fresh bananas
A couple tablespoons of baking cocoa powder
Hemp seeds
Chia seeds
Vegan protein powder (see how I'm sneaking in a ton of protein and my kid doesn't even realize it?)
A big scoop of almond, sunflower, or peanut butter
A strong pour of coconut or almond milk
Ice cubes
You're smart, you can figure out proportions. Experimenting with it is part of the fun. I like to add some coconut shavings, or peppermint extract, or frozen cherries, to play with different flavors. And if you REALLY want to re-create your beloved chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream, buy a few Cookie Dough flavor Lara Bars, chop them up, and throw them in. Perfection.

We used this recipe to make sweet-ass chocolate robot popsicles the other day, too. Fill up your popsicle molds and you can enjoy chocolate treats that won't send your kids' blood sugar through the roof.



Ok, friends. That's your comfort food dose for today.

Look forward to a belly-friendly twist on your favorite Italian classic and killer pumpkin protein balls to come.

In the meantime, start noshing. And don't be surprised to find mac 'n cheese on the menu next time you roll over for dinner.

Food is medicine, yo. Hit it.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Things I've Learned In 2016



Staring down the ticking clock that will mark the end of 2016. What a year.

Here are a few things that've stuck. Stream-of-conciousness style, because, well, I'm sitting in a coffee shop cranking this out before my kid wakes up and that's what you get.


1. We may have left San Francisco, but we definitely still live in a blue bubble. Ahem. Never saw THAT coming. (Cue memories of Berkeley, 2004, and our total sense of joyful certainty that Dubya could never, ever, possibly, ever be re-elected. Same story, different election. 'Murica, I hardly knew ye.)

2. Library is king. We are so in love. Two libraries within striking distance, and we are there 3-4 times a week. My kid doesn't know what a mall is, but he knows where to find Franklin, Babar, Strega Nona, the Berenstain Bears, Moana, and Lightning McQueen. Thank you, God, for the ongoing divine revelation that is the public library. You give me hope.

3. Social media is great. Say what you want about it, especially in the mindfulness/yoga circles I traverse, where it's so easy to demonize as a time-suck, yada yada. But Twitter, FB, and Instagram bring such good things to my life. Twitter is ensconced as my go-to source for political news and commentary (although my relationship with it has changed dramatically in the last few months; now I mostly feel anxiety on opening it up, wondering "What did he do now?"). It's smart and, if you follow the right people, remarkably content-rich. FB keeps me connected to the many wonderful people from all corners of the country where I've lived. Everybody's busy and nobody has time to talk on the phone. I'm so grateful to get a glimpse of all your lives: your children, your work, your passions. Don't diss it. FB keeps us connected in a way we otherwise wouldn't be. And Instagram. New to me, but great. Another wonderfully-pleasant surprise, connecting me to new and old friends and colleagues all the time, and lending a window of beauty to my life. In spite of the detritus: I am grateful.

4. Speaking of: FB birthdays offer a sweet little opportunity to practice lovingkindness every day. Take the time to wish people a happy birthday. Send them a quiet breath or two of metta before you move on. It's such a sleeper of a tender, simple daily practice. And, you know what? It makes people feel seen. And isn't that so nice?

5. Dig in. Cultivate the relationships you have. Go deeper.

6. Simple is best. I read Simplicity Parenting earlier this year and it really reinforced this already-dear sentiment. My little family has a lovely, boring routine of hiking, library, school, church, and work. It feels just right. Nothing sexy. Nothing over-committed. Just right. (Routines matter. Especially when you have little kids.)

7. Cook at home. Crockpots are ideal for lazy cooks. You throw some shit in a pot, turn it on, and ignore it for five hours. WIN. Forks Over Knives continues to be my best friend. Check it out.

8. Vegan, gluten-free is still the way to be (for me). Turning 38 next year, and I've never felt so strong, healthy, and flexible in my life. That is not an accident. It can take hard work at first, but the GF thing is now eight years strong, and damn if those haven't been the best eight years of my life.

9. Having a small child gets easier. My kid is approaching three, and this is such a sweet spot. We are finally sleeping like humans (most of the time) and he naps two hours a day and plays harmonica and reads books and does badass puzzles and goes to a darling Waldorf preschool where he sings cute songs and learns puppet shows about jack-o-lanterns. I have time to do yoga and read and write again. Sure, most days it's tough to get him to wash his hair, and it can take 45 minutes to get out of the house. But we laugh as much as we grit our teeth, and he's so goddamn cool.

10. Life is fragile. Don't take it for granted. A couple of physics professors from Portland State were just killed in a car accident last weekend. Their 4-year-old son was in the car, and survived. That poor child. We were out that way driving to Mount Hood last weekend, too. Could've been us. Don't take a single moment for granted. Death comes quickly. You never know.

11. Living near family is incredible. Game-changer. (Now if we can just get my other siblings out here, too...)

12. Holy shit this year did not end up as I pictured it would. This country is much-divided. I'm not sure what to do with it all. Vacillating between political passion and existential disenchantment. Constantly resisting the urge to hold up my Bernie sticker and say I TOLD YOU SO!!

13. I'm gonna miss the hell outta the Obamas. (SAVE US MICHELLE)

14. Aim for 100 rejections a year. Or a week. (Dude, I can manage 20 a day.) Rejections mean you're 1) doing creative work, and 2) putting it out there. YOU ARE MAKING YOUR ART. You win whether it gets published or not.

15. Practice makes practice.

16. Do what you can with what you've got. This dumpy little blog is 10 years old now. She's practically a grandma, and totally outdated, and hasn't been updated since like 2009 (social media share buttons, whaaa?). But she's a comfortable old friend, and a literary practice mat, and a journal of sorts, and a record of my life this last decade, and she started as a humble little blog that nobody read, and turned into a freelance writing career that now includes bucket-list publications like The Washington Post and Tricycle. Don't underestimate the power of shitty first drafts that nobody ever reads. Sometimes they turn into much, much more.

17. Health is everything. I read this article in the NYT documenting the year-long process of two gastric bypass patients the other day while my sick little guy napped on my lap, and I can't stop thinking about it. Made me appreciate so much. Little things like being able to tie my shoes and touch my toes. My life may be quiet and humble but I am grateful for a body that is healthy and strong, and a labor-of-love kind of job that incorporates holistic wellness into my family's everyday life. You don't have anything if you don't have your health.

18. Listening is learning. Podcasts continue to teach me so much. I'm an introvert, so I've always preferred the learning process of sitting back and soaking up information as opposed to engaged group-work style conversation. I love so much the fact that every day I can dial up a podcast as I hit my mat or drive to work and learn, learn, learn. So grateful for a new crop of podcasts (Rich Roll, Yogaland Podcast, Yoga Revealed, Sounds True Insights from the Edge, Sharon Salzberg, etc.) that is teaching me so many lessons about life, meaning, and wellness.

19. Almost-3-year-olds do not like to wear pants. Working on this one.

20. The Bay Area is not far away. Grateful for the quick flight, and for a few trips back over the last year. Looking forward to being there more often to teach and play in the year to come.

21. I may never be able to forgive evangelical Christianity for electing Drumpf. That's another story.

22. Amazon Prime saves my life on the regular. Two-day shipping ftw.

23. Some of the best articles get written on the fly as you dictate on your iPhone Notes app. Don't disregard the creative potential of stolen moments. Making art is not something that can be logistically or linearly dictated.

24. Don't try to drive in Portland when it snows. #shitshow

25. Grating potatoes is not for weenies. I grated three big potatoes for the most delicious Christmas morning breakfast burrito bake and my arms were sore for two days after. Cross-train your rock climbing and your yoga with a little potato-grating and you'll be good to go.

Grace and space to you in 2017.

2016, don't let the door hit you on the way out.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Why Hot Yoga Isn't Punishment


My new article, out today: on why hot yoga isn't punishment, and a few tips for making friends with your body during a hot yoga class. This time of year especially, I want to shout this from the rooftops!!

Thanks to Yoga Trade for publishing.

Here's a little blurb:


Friends, friends: it’s that time of year.

I’ve taught Saturday and Sunday mornings for seven years now, and every December around this time folks roll into class ready to sweat out every canape and martini they half-drunkenly inhaled at the office holiday party the night before. Sometimes they’re wearing six layers of clothing in a 99-degree room so as to “detox” all the pinot and the feta and the gingerbread, armed with liters of coconut water and a couple of big towels for mopping up the evidence.

This always makes me a little bit sad.

I mean, I totally get it. I remember countless hazy, hungover twentysomething mornings spent rolling into Bikram classes feeling like I needed to do the same thing. Too many yoga practices that felt like atonement for the night before.

A decade later, as a hot yoga teacher myself, I cringe to think that my class could ever be complicit in my students’ self-abasement.

So here I am to remind you: hot yoga is not a punishment.

Read the rest here.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Do.


So great. Thanks to Lodro Rinzler for the morning laugh.

Monday, November 21, 2016

11 Things You Didn't Know About The History Of Yoga


New article out today!

Did you know old-school yogis used to expel their semen and then recall it? Um, yeah. This, and more, in the 11 Things You Didn't Know About the History of Yoga.
"If you’ve ever heard your teacher wax poetic about how early yogis were doing sun salutations on the banks of the Ganges River 5000 years ago, now you know: they’re full of crap. Nobody was doing Surya Namaskara A 5000 years ago."
Read the full piece here.

Thanks to Yoga Trade for publishing.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Why Colin Kaepernick Is The Yoga Teacher We Need Right Now


I wrote this new article on Colin Kaepernick, football, and yoga. It will no doubt piss some people off. (That's ok.) Thanks to YogaDork for publishing.


Why Colin Kaepernick Is The Yoga Teacher We Need Right Now

So Donald J. Trump is our President-elect.

In the week since Trump won the Electoral College, we’ve witnessed an uptick in hate crimes across America. Monday night, Trump appointed Steve Bannon, alt-right head of Breitbart News and a known white supremacist, as chief White House strategist. Former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke has celebrated Trump’s win as a victory for his white nationalist movement. And swastikas are appearing all over churches, schools, and bathrooms walls across the country.

It’s already been hard to talk about the results of the election with our children. Now, with white supremacists at the helm, civil rights are in a bad way. As parents, we’re wondering: where can we look for progressive activist role models for our children?

The first thing I’m gonna do is buy my son a Colin Kaepernick jersey.

Kaepernick is a stealth yoga teacher. And it’s got nothing to do with his tight pants.

Kaepernick first declined to stand for “The Star-Spangled Banner” before the 49ers’ August 26th preseason game against the Green Bay Packers because, as he put it, he couldn’t “show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.” Kaepernick’s move has sparked outrage across the country, eliciting nationalist critiques, burned jerseys, and even death threats. Earlier this month, just prior to the election, Kaepernick quietly launched a Black Panthers-inspired “Know Your Rights” camp empowering black and Latino students in Oakland, CA to combat oppression.

A few weeks after Kaepernick kicked off his peaceful protest, I led a yoga philosophy training for current teachers. We covered philosophy basics from old school yoga texts like the Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita, and revisited the often-murky history of yoga. Then we dragged yoga philosophy into the 21st century, brainstorming about where to find alternative texts—the kind of postmodern yoga teachers that hide out in unexpected places, like Ferdinand The Bull or Fight Club or (gasp) even Donald Trump.

One student raised her hand. She brought up Colin Kaepernick.

Brilliant, I thought. Yes; this is what yoga looks like in the real world....

Full article is here. Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Here's Something You Can Do Right Now



One of the many reasons that people are freaked out is that the new administration denies climate change. So here's a way you can protest peacefully with your body, right now: GO VEG. Stop eating meat.

A vegan diet is literally the most powerful thing you can do to help save the planet. And it doesn't require passing any bills or protesting any elections. So if the new EPA director is going to call climate change a hoax, you can counteract that in this very breath.

Start today. Watch the documentary FORKS OVER KNIVES. Check out their website. Get their app (hundreds of delicious plant-based recipes!) and then start cooking for yourself and your family. Listen to Rich Roll's podcasts. Read his books. Look up Neal Barnard and Dean Ornish. Google "John Robbins " and learn how the Baskin-Robbins heir left a fortune behind because he realized eating vegan was the only healthy, ethical way. Read Carol J. Adams's book "The Sexual Politics Of Meat." See the ways in which Trump's pussy-grabbing attitudes toward women and his obsession with valuing beauty queens for their looks are ingrained in American culture, and how they're related to the way we objectify animals as meat, and how you can resist (and show solidarity for the poor and the vulnerable and the underprivileged) by simply choosing to eat differently. Look up "ahimsa" and think about the ways in which your eating habits might create less suffering.

PETA says: "If you’re serious about protecting the environment, the most important thing that you can do is stop eating meat, eggs, and dairy. The fastest way to address climate change would be to dramatically reduce the amount of meat people eat.” Quitting meat can reduce your carbon footprint more quickly than quitting driving.

We cannot put this off 4 more years. We can't wait for someone else to do it. So start now. Here. RESIST. For your kids' and your grandkids' sake. Put your money where your mouth is — and stop eating meat.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Things That Give Me Hope #1


Things That Give Me Hope #1: 

Finding this beautiful children's book in the mail from Oakland author and badass illustrator Robert Liu-Trujillo last week amidst vast disappointment about the state of the world. Reading it to my boy as he sits on my lap and remembering how his little open mind is such a sponge for goodness right now. Recommitting to raising him aware that his reality is only one of many in the world and that the hard important holy work of his life as a human being is to see the divinity in every single fucking living creature and, knowing that, to celebrate and fight for and lift one another up. πŸ’ͺ

Read it, buy it, gift it for the holidays instead of some plastic shit.

Children's books are one of the few things giving me hope in this bleak moment.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Feel Your Shit. Stay In The Fire.


Hey, yogis? This is not the time for spiritual bypassing. Feel your shit. Be in it all the way. Anger can be holy, too. Anger can be fierce and righteous and sacred and life-giving, of its own accord. And it might just be what gets us through the next four years.

I dunno about you, but I've been living in Revolved Triangle for about the last 18 months. And as much as I was hoping to wake up feeling light and celebratory today, flowing through that much-needed vinyasa to rinse out all the knots and the pain, to move the prana and reset, it looks like we're gonna be staying here for several more years. So buckle in and take a deep breath. Our job is to stay calm, raise hell, make art, and maintain some kind of equanimity. I was ready to let go of this teacher. But he's apparently sticking around until we learn a much-bigger lesson about compassion and unity and all that gooey yoga shit.

If you feel heavy/somber/furious today, dammit, let yourself FEEL it, all the way. Yoga and meditation are not about denying ugly emotions. They're about noticing them, staying with them, realizing they're not us, and that eventually they'll pass. Grief takes time. So be gentle with yours.

Stay in the fire. Refuse to succumb. MAKE ART. Get your IUD today so Mike Pence can't make your reproductive decisions for the next four years. And, by god, set up a monthly auto-donation to progressive non-profits who will fight for equality.

Atha Yoga Anusasanam. FUCK. Now it really is the time for the yoga to begin.

May all beings be peaceful and free from suffering. Yup. Even him. And them. And us.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

This Nasty Woman Voted



Wearing my white today. Voted two weeks ago. 'Bout to bake me an election cake.

I don't think I've worn white since my wedding day. Busted out this old jacket that I bought back in college. I remember seeing Hillary speak in Philly in 1998. She wore a pantsuit. Back then I vowed that I'd never get married til my gay brother and friends could get married, too. Well, guess what? Here we are. Marriage equality, one beautiful son, and one thoughtful husband who's also #withher. We've got progressives and Democrats to thank for that. So vote BLUE up and down ballot. Cuz nasty women get shit done.

Now if you'll excuse me, I've got a cake to bake.

#election2016 #imwithher #nastywomenvote πŸŽ‚

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Make America Cake Again


Hey friends.

So I've got a Really Serious question for you.

But first: a little backstory.

Some of you who've been around for awhile know that back in the day — waaaay back, like 2008, before the advent of any small children or Twitter or the yoga industrial complex, when all I used to do was roam SF's used bookstores and do yoga and shake cocktails and go to the opera — I used to bake. A lot.

In fact, that half-assed, booze-heavy, frosting-driven practice turned into my first Yoga Journal article. Even though I wasn't particularly good at it, and many of the recipes relied shamelessly heavily on cake mixes and Jell-O pudding.

(What can I say? I'm a lazy baker. Only in it for the sugar.)

Anyway, my girl Toni sent me this recent NPR article about election cakes and it got me all fired up to turn on the oven before November 8th. (Did you see it? If not: it's called "A History of Election Cake and Why Bakers Want to #MakeAmericaCakeAgain." Skim it for more, though the title pretty much says it all.)


Got me reminiscing about the Black Russian cake we made as a nod to Sarah Palin's doofus statement about seeing Russia from her house. And the Blueberry Cream cake we made for Election Day 2008, to usher in a much-needed new Obama era (and to celebrate Jinny's birthday on the same night).

So I'm feeling inspired to whip out the dusty bundt pans and make a 2016 version. I mean, it's only patriotic, right? (Though this year's will definitely be more on the vegan and gluten-free side of things.)

But what recipes am I supposed to use? Help me out, hivemind.

For Donald: Something orange? Grand Marnier? Definitely something highly processed and nutritionally questionable. Nutty? Boozy? How do you make a racist narcissistic sexual predator cake?

For Hillary: I could go the blue route again (for Democrats), like we did with Obama's, but surely there's gotta be something more appropriate as a nod to the first woman President, right? Help me out.

So open the floodgates. Send me your Election Cake recipe suggestions. We've got two weeks to bake some stellar bundts. Healthy or no. Edible or no. Bonus points for booze.

Though the frosting is still pretty much all I care about.

(Oh, and flipping the Senate, too.)

Monday, October 24, 2016

Done. Your turn.


So I just voted for a lady president and a lady governor. The 18-year-old Gender Studies major in me has her fist in the air. #ivoted #imwithherπŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ #election2016

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

What To Do When You're Teaching In 15 Minutes & You've Got Nothing To Give


New article is up! Teachers, this one's for you. Thanks to Yoga Trade for publishing.


What To Do When You're Teaching In 15 Minutes 
& You've Got Nothing To Give

Teachers, does this sound familiar?

You’re drained, running on empty, burning the candle at both ends. You’ve taught 12 classes already this week, and with four to go, you wonder what you have left to give anyone.

You haven’t gotten much sleep. You’ve not eaten all day and you’re super low-blood-sugar. Or maybe you’re just feeling kind of quiet and blue; your dog just went in for surgery to remove a lump, or your grandmother is ailing, or you just found out you didn’t get that job (or that date) you really, really wanted.

Whatever the case — your gas tank is empty, and you’re feeling decidedly short on the kind of chutzpah required to power through being an inspiring yoga-guru for the next 90 minutes. How are you supposed to emcee a dance party when you’d rather curl up under the covers and hibernate?

I’ve been mentoring a few [awesome] teachers lately as they study for their 500hr certifications, and this is one of the topics that has repeatedly come up. Most of us wellness professionals can relate to this, yeah? If you teach long enough, you’ll surely experience burnout at some point. It’s the nature of the biz. (And the nature of being human, to be honest.)

For newer teachers especially, who are often hustling from location to location teaching 10-15 classes a week, it’s not an option to cut back to a more reasonable number. Add in urbanity, commuting, and a high cost of living, and you need to keep teaching a robust regular schedule to afford to pay your rent and eat a decent meal now and then, too. The luxury of cutting back to just a few inspired classes a week is one that’s often only available to established teachers with large followings, or folks with another full-time job that takes the financial pressure off yoga teaching.

Wellness professionals — whether yoga teachers, Pilates teachers, massage therapists, acupuncturists, you name it — well, we give a lot. The very nature of our craft is that you put yourself out there, physically AND emotionally. You can’t just hide in a cubicle with your headphones on and fritter the workday away online waiting for the clock to hit 5pm so you can escape to your sofa. You need to show up, in every way — whether you’re feeling en fuego or exhausted.

The upside for those of us who really love teaching is that so much comes back to us, too. How lucky are we to do the kind of work that makes us feel MORE alive when we finish? Many times over the years I’ve walked into a class feeling kind of neutral (shall we say sattvic, or quietly balanced, to keep it Ayurvedic?), and walked out feeling buzzingly-alive, connected, inspired. How cool is it that we get to do that kind of work? It really is a blessing.
Here are a few things to remember on the days when you might struggle for inspiration:

Read the rest here.

World Mental Health Day

 
Yesterday was World Mental Health Day.

Mamas: new motherhood can be cray. Trust yourselves. Be gentle.


Hungry Ghost Season



How are your Hungry Ghosts treating you? What insatiable craving is driving you these days?

It's the perfect time of year to say hello to your own ghosts. This is an old favorite of mine, written in the greys of October in SF a few years back.

"Can you be brave enough to glimpse your own Hungry Ghost in the mirror, and, rather than running away from her, or numbing her out, or shutting her down, give her a loving nod, maybe a wink, maybe a curious tilt of the head, seeing her for what she is, and thanking her for the inadvertent teaching she's wrought in your life?"

Read the whole piece here.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

#notjustmoreidlechatter


My girl Claudia directs the incredible Buddhist-inspired modern dance company The Anata Project. Amazing new show opens in two weeks. Follow 'em. Go.

#notjustmoreidlechatter

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Why Yes, I'd Love To Jump Into That Teeny Bed

Dissected Buddha, By Gonkar Gyatso (2011)

I've been hunkered down the last few days prepping material to teach 15 hours' of philosophy workshops this weekend. It's nerdy-awesome and of course waaaay too much information, but I dig it. And am always vaguely surprised and delighted that anyone else would like to tawk about this sort of thing.

Most afternoons while my kid naps after preschool I've been throwing on a history or philosophy podcast and squeezing in my home practice. Love listening to some of these Big Deal yoga scholars (most of them male) being interviewed and hearing small children chattering and hollering in the background while they're trying to have Big Serious Conversations about sannyasins and Tantric mudras and the Bhagavad Gita.

It gives me hope.

Inspires me that these folks are getting Big Things Done whilst still chasing tiny little butts around the house trying to get them to wear pants. 

Picturing these Smart-As-Hell British Philosopher Dudes muting their phones and hustling over to the doorway to whisper "Shhh! Take the cat out of the washing machine and pipe down, Nigel!" and then jumping back into the conversation trying to be cool, as though they totally didn't just miss that whole thread about Vivekananda slaying it at the 1893 World Parliament of Religions in Chicago.

Makes me feel like a comrade in the struggle to strike some kind of elusive work/life balance.

It's hard to blend the life of a yogi (ascetic? monastic? contemplative?) with that of a middle-class householder. Really hard. But the teachers I respect most are the ones who've figured it out. Or who are trying to figure it out.

(Steph Snyder, anyone? Jason Crandell, anyone?)

It's pretty easy to be peaced-out when you're sitting on a mountaintop meditating listening to coyotes. Or when you've got gazillions of bucks for nannies and house-cleaners so you can focus on your AAAART

But I am moved to seek out teachers and friends and scholars, yes, who are standing knee-deep in the compost pile of unfolded laundry and scattered Play-Dough and ten thousand library book variations of Old MacDonald.

It's kind of like deciding to take a hot yoga class. You already know, walking into a regular yoga class, that at some point you're gonna feel awkward or tight or frustrated or off-balance. But adding in the 100-degree element kicks the intensity up a notch or seven. More opportunities to practice, right?

This is parenting whilst being a yogi.

More opportunities to practice, baby.

A little bit of quiet can go such a long way. A few deep breaths behind the bedroom door. You can find it in the stolen moments, in half-assed catches of stillness, in remembering to let go and begin again. (Emphasis on the half-assed.) Until you hear the kid waking up, and you roll up the mat and accept that you're gonna get a 20-minute practice in today and that's ok, even if you only did one side of Revolved Triangle and half a backbend, so you scramble up the stairs and take a deep breath and jump out of the meditation and into the relationship.

Michael Stone describes enlightenment as intimacy. A closeness with what is. A clear-seeing. A realness. So jumping into that teeny-weeny toddler bed and scrunching your knees up into your armpits while still half-sweaty from Sun Salutations to snuggle a sweetly-rumpled-waking-up little boy is just another kind of yoga, right? 

Toddlerbedasana. Remind me to trademark that. 

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Next Weekend At YoYoYogi

I'm delighted to be teaching three big fat days of Yoga History & Philosophy next weekend at YoYoYogi. Please join me for a little or a lot. This is gonna be goooood. 
(I promise to keep it real.)
There are 3 options to participate:

1. The Full Weekend: $299
September 16 - 18

Curious about the roots of yoga, but not sure where to begin? Wondering what the heck all that Sanskrit's about? Ready to dig in a little deeper? Here's your chance. Join Rachel for a fascinating weekend packed with the wild, renegade history of yoga (for real!), the brilliant philosophy behind the poses, down-to-earth tools for working with a racing mind, and so much more. This stuff will rock your world, deepen your practice, and change your life.

2. The History of Yoga $49
Friday, September 16 from 6:30 - 9:30p

Did you know yogis were once such scandalous rogues that no decent person would be seen with them? Or that sun salutations are really a hybrid of British military exercises, Indian nationalist wrestling, and Scandinavian gymnastics? The yogic tradition is rich with mind-blowing history, most of which is news to us contemporary practitioners. Come on down for a glimpse of the dishy roots of yoga you never knew existed. Get the lowdown on all those lunges, the true story behind the Tantra, and so much more.

3. Foundations of Yoga Philosophy $49
Saturday, September 17 from 2-5p

Join Rachel for a down-to-earth look at the inspiring, powerful philosophy that underlies the asana practice we know and love. Here's your chance to break down some of the key concepts and texts of yoga, both on and off the mat, in super-relatable ways. Learn how to apply yoga philosophy to your crappy job, your gnarly commute, and that pain-in-the-butt boss. You'll walk out lighter than you walked in. And your practice will never be the same.

You can register here.


Tuesday, September 6, 2016

4 Ways To Find More Santosha In Your Everyday



Do you scroll through people's perfectly-curated FB feeds and feel like your life sucks? That you'd be so much happier if you could just get that dream job or lose 20 pounds?

This one's for you.

My new piece for Yoga Trade:

 4 Ways To Find More Santosha In Your Everyday
In yogic philosophy, the word Santosha basically translates as “contentment.”
This isn’t contentment as in, Hey, let’s get stoned and sit on the couch eating donuts and bingeing on Netflix for the next five hours.
It’s not contentment as in Eh, my life is pretty decent as it is, so why bother learning a new language or playing piano or planting a garden or traveling to Greece?
This is contentment, as in looking around at your perfectly-imperfect life, waking up to the little graces, and being ok with it, instead of constantly seeing happiness over there, once you get that body or that car or that job or that partner or that kid.
Buddhist scholar David Loy calls this grass-is-always-greener phenomenon LACK. It’s the ubiquitous, unsettling sense that there’s something intrinsically missing, a perpetual void, always the experience of not enough.
You see this everywhere. Capitalism stokes the fire. Our economy is fueled by the message that YOU ARE NOT ENOUGH. That if you just buy this moisturizer or that Tesla or that pair of sneakers, you’ll be lovable, you’ll be popular, you’ll be complete.
BULLSH*T.
We all know that’s not true.
Because as soon as you get the Tesla, you’ll want the newer model. And as soon as you get the McMansion, you’ll want the one with the pool next door. And as soon as you get the trophy wife, there’ll be a younger one with fewer wrinkles and better boobs around the corner.
So we practice cultivating santosha.
And you know what one definition is for enlightenment, right?
That’s right: WAKING UP.
Here are 4 things you can do to find more santosha in your everyday:

Read the full piece at the link.


Sunday, August 21, 2016

Washing The Dishes, Waiting For Death



I wrote this new piece for Tricycle: The Buddhist Review. (Feels kind of like a bucket-list publication for me, as I've long read and respected their work.)

It might be helpful for anyone who loves someone who's terminally ill (oh hey, that'd be all of us). Or for anyone with a mind that's busy thinking, planning, or worrying.



The first time I really “got” meditation, I was standing at my kitchen sink washing dishes.

My father was dying. Cancer.

Hospice bed in the living room-style cancer.

I’d flown back to Nebraska to see him one last time, to hold his hand, say goodbye.

Now, the haunting question of when.

I was 26, living in a 100-year-old flat in San Francisco, bartending my way through grad school, subsisting on coffee and cocktails. Standing there at the sink, I could hear the young couple upstairs vacuuming, the Chinese family across the alley clattering pans, and the cable car clanging one block over on California Street.

My mind was obsessively circling the drain.

When would Dad die? Where would I be? Walking out of class? Trudging up Nob Hill? Shaking a martini? Tomorrow? Next week? I should buy a black suit. I should book a flight. I should cover my shifts. But no. That’s so morbid. He’s still here. But when? How am I supposed to prepare for this? How am I supposed to think about anything else?

You can read the full article here.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

This Is Us.

Meet YoYoYogi.

These folks, led by the kind, grounded, and lighthearted Alex and Terri Cole, are just the best. Here's a glimpse into what we do there, and why it's such a warm, welcoming place.

I am delighted to be teaching history and philosophy as a faculty member for the 200hr and 500hr trainings this fall. We have an interest meeting coming up tonight at 6pm if you'd like to learn more.

August 8th Playlist

Heya friends.

I had a few requests for last night's playlist. You can find the majority of it here. (Apologies for the crummy screen shot. My iTunes isn't syncing today.)


("The Greater Silence" is by Bombay Dub Orchestra. And that dreamy savasana song was Ingram Marshall's "Entrada: At The River" from his Evensongs album.)

Happy listening.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The word "Namaste" is overexposed. Played out. But here's why we need it.



My new article is published today on Yoga Trade.

I've been having a hard time writing about yoga lately. It feels crass and trite given everything going down in the world. Here, some thoughts on that overexposed word "Namaste," and why the hell we need it now, more than ever.

(Thanks to Kerri Kelly for inspiring.)


 
The word “Namaste” is pretty played out these days, isn’t it?

You can find it everywhere: on yoga mats, on bumper stickers, on water bottles. You can buy a “Namaste In Bed” t-shirt on Amazon. You can pick up Namaste bracelets and handbags and trucker hats on Etsy. You can dig into Namaste-brand gluten-free pizza crust and chicken noodle soup. You can walk into Namaste-branded pilates studios and wellness centers.

(Not to mention the hilarious yoga-world-skewering web series Namaste, Bitches.)

The word itself has taken on a certain cultural significance. It’s become a brand, recognizable even to someone who’s never stepped foot on a yoga mat.

Buddhist teacher Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche called this phenomenon spiritual materialism. Spiritual materialism occurs when a spiritual concept or practice is turned into a product for the purpose of making money. It’s rooted in the idea that you can buy and sell spiritual qualities like peace, grace, or transcendence.

Namastizzle, baby.

There’s no going back now.

*

I’m having a hard time writing about yoga lately.

There’s such a cruel juxtaposition of things going on in the world.

It’s summer yoga festival season. My FB feed is packed with photos of half-naked tan bendy people decorated with henna tattoos and patterned leggings doing yoga poses on mountains everywhere I look. And they are having so much FUN and sweating and chanting and living and doing their thang, you know? And I’ve been there and done that myself, and oh man yes, is it so fun. Right on, people! Namaste! Jai Ma!

But those yogis-gone-wild posts are bookended with videos of awful shootings in Baton Rouge and Minneapolis and Dallas and heartbreaking massacres on the French Riviera and hand-wringing from the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, where fiery speakers are calling for gun rights and white supremacists are offering prayers.

How are we supposed to even reconcile the two?

It feels crass, doesn’t it? To share happy-pretty-shiny yoga pictures on Instagram when the world feels like it is, quite literally, devolving into chaos?

I’ve only got one word...

You can read the whole thing here.

Monday, July 25, 2016

In Which This Bernie Gal Says: Sigh, Ok.


 I know I've been an outspoken Bernie Bro. (Since we Sanders voters are all white hetero bros, right? Ahem).

But, can I tell ya? I am really feelin' the DNC right now. Really, lemme say it, excited. Not just because Boyz II Men just sang Motown Philly. Not just because there have been more people of color onstage in the last few hours than in last week's entire RNC. And not just because there's a stellar line-up of speakers this week that pretty much makes me want to camp out in front of my TV with a notepad, nodding, til Thursday night.

But because last week's faux-patriotic Drumpf shitshow reminded me how important it is that we all come together to ensure that this demagogue doesn't get elected. There are smart, passionate folks out there right now like Elizabeth Warren and Robert Reich who also find their hearts more aligned with Sanders' policies. But they GET how important it is that Drumpf not be elected. I mean, the prospects are terrifying. Not just for us, but for our kids.

I think Jill Stein is great and my political stances certainly align more with hers than with Hillary's. Yes, she's more progressive. But she's not going to win. And if I vote for her, that's one more chance Drumpf does. So for the sake of the Supreme Court ALONE, we need to ensure HRC gets elected.

From there, we elect progressives down ballot. We ensure that Bernie continues to lead a movement (and maybe a new party) of New Progressives for folks like us who don't see our leftist values reflected in the current Democratic Party. And we keep chipping away at the establishment bullshit that allowed folks like Debbie Wasserman Schultz to rig the primaries.

Not that I know what I'm talking about. Not that I am a political pundit! Unless perpetually scrolling Twitter in search of more #DemsInPhilly news makes me such. I am a yogi. A student. A human. A mother. And I am looking forward to hearing what the mothers of Eric Garner and Trayvon Martin and Michelle Obama and Joe Biden and Cory Booker and President Obama and yup, even Bill and Chelsea Clinton have to say before the big final HRC speech Thursday night.

Sometimes you gotta know when to let go. That's yoga, right? Don't get attached? Bernie's telling us as much.

I feel sad. But I listen to folks like Gavin Newsom and Elizabeth Warren speak, and I feel a little more hopeful. At least this party affirms LGBTQ rights and religious diversity and the right to choose. It's far preferable to the alternative.

So let's watch. See what happens. Over the course of the last 9 months, I have felt fired up and demoralized and excited and disappointed. But right now I am just grateful there is an alternative to Drumpf, even if a far-from-perfect one. Now we just need to make sure she gets elected.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Poker Chips, Meet Yoga



Hey friends.

First of all, I hope you dig my new fashion inspiration. Gonna be wearing that yellow ensemble on the right tonight to teach.

In all seriousness, I've been doing a lot of thinking and reading and listening lately. There's some really intelligent and thoughtful dialogue in the professional yoga world right now about hands-on adjustments: whether we should actually be adjusting people (since many yoga teachers are not trained bodyworkers), what the purpose is, and how adjustments feel for folks with a history of trauma (which, according to some statistics, is 1 in 4 women — whoa, right?!).

Do the math. That means in your average class of 32 people, you've got 8 or so who might be super-triggered by a seemingly-innocuous adjustment — and that's not even counting men! (I don't have the statistics in front of me right now, but they are sobering, and that's just the reported cases. Glad to dig them up for you if you'd like more info.).

Needless to say, we've come a long way from the days when Pattabhi Jois and BKS Iyengar would just crank students into poses, whether their bodies were ready to go there or not. There's a ton of fantastic cultural commentary coming from folks like Matthew Remski in the wake of the recent Jivamukti scandal (and the many other yoga-world sexual harassment scandals which have preceded that one), much more nuanced than I could ever write. So I encourage you to follow what he's saying, and to stay engaged in the evolving conversation.

In just my own anecdotal research, I've discovered tons of hot and cold opinions about adjustments. A lot of people say "Ohmigod, I love them!" Which I totally get. Because usually I do, too. There is nothing like a great forward fold assist to get you just a little further than you realized you could go...especially when you're a bendy person who doesn't feel much in some of those poses by yourself.

So, yes, I usually love them too. That is, unless they feel creepy, or inappropriate, or I don't really know what the teacher's trying to get me to do, or I just ate a huge lunch and I kind of want to be left alone, or I'm having a challenging practice and really want some space, or if I'm not sure if the teacher is really qualified to be giving assists, or if my knee hurts, or I'm pregnant, or injured....

You get the drift. For every person who's told me they loooooove adjustments, there's another who says "Hell no, get out of my space, unless I know you, or you've been my teacher for years, or you ask me ahead of time, and I give you permission." Which I totally understand, too.

I have very distinct memories of being adjusted in Downward Dog some 7 or 8 years ago. I wasn't prepared for anyone to touch me, didn't know the assistants, and was already feeling contracted and anxious on a rough day. The minute the assistant (a wonderful, warm, well-meaning woman) touched my low back, I felt my whole body tense up. I tightened. I retracted. I got angry. I wanted to shove her away, shake her off, scream at her to leave me alone.

But of course I couldn't do that. I just got even quieter, turned even more inward, and stayed tense until she finally moved on to the next person.

Then again, there was that class at Yoga Tree Castro back in 2009. I was hiding in the back row doing my thing. Debbie Mobley (then a stranger, later a dear friend and colleague) came up and adjusted me in Happy Baby. She smiled and made a nice comment and I felt warm and welcome and seen, in the midst of a roomful of sweaty strangers. It made me want to come back.

So, you see? Adjustments are such a shitshow of possibilities. And what I'm learning, the more I listen to senior teachers like Jason Crandell and read nuanced commentary by folks like Matthew Remski, is that maybe the best thing to do right now is step back a bit. It's not enough to just offer folks the ability to say "Thanks, but no thanks." Many people might not feel comfortable doing that in a class setting between vinyasas anyway — especially folks who might not have a strong self-care voice due to past traumas.

Let's be frank here: I have been witness to inappropriate adjustments myself. I have heard too many stories, seen the aftermath of too many invasive and presumptuous adjustments that left students afraid to return to a studio, or a particular teacher. And, honestly? Even the kind of adjustments that left students feeling sexually harassed.

And that's flat-out wrong.



So for the time being, meet my new yoga assistant: poker chips. This cheesy little turquoise OM bag will come with me every time I teach a class, and you can find it on the stereo by my iPod. All you have to do if you want to be left alone is grab one, place it on the top of your mat, and I will happily give you tons of space. Whether it's a matter of being injured or being hungover or just wanting to be alone in your practice, I'm so glad to honor that.

I am grateful to my teacher Rusty Wells and the staff at Urban Flow, who first devised this "No Thanks, No Touch" chip back when we were teaching there. In classes that could sometimes swell to 175 students, it was an easy, elegant way to communicate that desire to just be left alone, for whatever reason. I spent years assisting Rusty and MC Yogi there at Urban Flow, and will always be grateful for those hundreds of hours of hands-on time that offered me an unmatched opportunity to be quietly with people's bodies, in all their sweaty, stretchy glory. And I am glad to be able to share some of that learning with students now.

My sister Mariah and I are in the process of developing a curriculum for trauma-sensitive trainings for yoga teachers. She's a dance/movement therapist who's got a terrific amount of knowledge to share about somatics, embodied trauma, and empowering students to observe and adjust their own bodies. I look forward to sharing more of this with you in the weeks to come. 

Thanks and love to you. See you on the mat. With or without a poker chip.