Archives for posts with tag: life

I haven’t posted in a while because I’ve been sort of burnt out.  I’m teaching three yoga classes a week, which is awesome, but there for a while, I was a little yoga’d out.  If I saw one more cheerful Kathryn Budig post on my newsfeed, I was going to barf. If I read one more kitchy list or crunchy essay on Doyouyoga or Yogananmous, I was going to sell my yoga mat and sign up for CrossFit. (Just kidding.  The CrossFit-ters would sniff out my Type B personality in seconds and put me in a protein shake.)

So. I’ve been sort of lying low. Keeping my social media consumption to a minimum. Reading a lot of non-yoga related books. Back at the gym, I’m running more, and even lifting weights. I had to diversify there for a minute.

 I’ve streamlined my classes so the “three classes a week” is not so overwhelming. Since my students range so widely (from the “I have an unlimited pass at the local studio” to “this is my first yoga class”, plus an array of injuries and levels of interest), I was trying to tailor each class to each group. THAT WAS FRIGGIN’ EXHAUSTING! Finally, I gave up and decided upon a MUCH simpler approach: Each week, I pick a theme.  Last week was backbends. This week is hip openers.  I write a skeleton of a class, and then tailor the class to the group. As it’s happening!! (That last part is really sort of scary for me!)

This is taking a LOT of improvisation. Many moons ago, when I studied acting, I loved improv. I wasn’t particularly good at it (read: I wasn’t all that funny), but I wasn’t the person who got tagged in and the rest of the class silently thought, “Oh, God no.” 

When I first started teaching yoga, improv was definitely one of my weaknesses. I wrote a class; I taught that class. I didn’t have enough experience, or confidence, to stray far from my trusty page. Not surprisingly, when I first started, some of my classes were total flops. I would see that some of the students weren’t able to keep pace, and I just panicked. I offered modifications, or props, or adjustments. Going completely off script was simply too terrifying to even contemplate.

Over time, and with experience, I’ve been able to – HAD to, at times – more or less scrap the class I walked in with and, instead, teach a class that my students needed. This little exercise, the themed week of classes, has really strengthened my teaching skills. It takes some time, as you’ve got to develop a well of alternative routes (as well as transitions! That can be a real bitch on the fly!), but it can be done.

As scary as it can be, I’d suggest that new teachers (who share my fear of having NO PLAN) try the skeleton approach. Workshop several different ways the class can go. Be ready to break it down – waaaaay down – or help students into wheel or headstand if that’s the direction the class takes and that is what your students NEED.

Be prepared to be scared as shit. And fumble a little. And screw up some cues. And maybe have a real stinker of a class now and then (if you learn from it, it’s not a total waste). Try to stay receptive and aware, and one of these days, you’re gonna surprise the hell out of yourself. 

Alright, Kathryn Budig and Kino MacGregor, I “unhide” you. I’m coming out of yoga hibernation. (Hally Marlino, you and your beer and cheese and balls-to-the-wall yoga, you were never gone!) 

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Mainly I mean taxes and yoga. I’ve been spending the last month trying to get everything ready to go for tax season.

This is not going to be exciting, but if you’re a yoga teacher (especially a new one, especially if you made over $600 teaching last year), listen up:

1) Get thee to an accountant. A good one. Get references from friends or your studio owner. Go talk to them. Do you like them? Do you TRUST them? No lie, accountants can be strange folk, especially if you’re coming from the bendy, breath-y world of yoga. You know who’s even harder to understand? The IRS guy who comes to audit you if your taxes are all screwed up.

2) Document the hell out of everything. Start a folder, or an envelope. Keep every yoga-related receipt you get. Buy a new mat? Keep the receipt. Travel to a training? Keep the damn receipt. For everything. If you’re a hella-nerd like me, start a spreadsheet. Mmmm, nerdy goodness right there.

3) Know your write-offs. Um, can I expense mileage when I go to teach a contract class (2014 federal mileage rate was $0.56/mile)? Yep! How about those blocks I bought for my students? Indeed! Talk to your accountant. Ask everything you can think of. Then ask more.

4) Be organized and prepared. Don’t walk into the accountant’s office with a fistful of receipts and a smile. Catalog it, organize it, whatever works for you. Make their job easier.

5) Don’t get ripped off!!! It can actually be cheaper to go to an accountant than to try to suffer through Turbotax or spend all that time trying to figure out what in the fresh hell Schedule C WANTS from you. Shop around. Find a good price.

An IRS audit is a world of pain. We may not all know this from personal experience, but we deeply suspect it from a primal place in our brains. Keep an eye out for those 1099s and get ready, yogis. Find your accountant and give them a hug. It will freak them the hell out.

Namaste,
SY

I had a great New Year’s post! It was clever and even had some photos! I spent a long time working on it. Guess what? I didn’t finish it. Then it was New Year’s and now New Year’s is over and the post is irrelevant.

So now I’m back. I don’t have anything earth shattering to talk about or share. But I’m tired of my procrastinating, perfectionist ways so I’M POSTING ANYWAY, DAMMIT.

Ahem.

Okay, I lied. I do have three things to share. None of them really have anything to do with the other, but nonetheless:

1) I found the best natural deodorant in the world!! This also had its own post, long unfinished, of course, but you don’t need the backstory! It’s a standalone, awesome thing! Suffice it to say, I tried many, many, brands of natural deoderant. Some of them were better than others. Some of them, at the end of the day, would leave you with lavender-scented BO. Mostly, they just leave you with BO, the main difference being if the BO started at 11 AM or 3 PM. I hate being smelly! As an active person, I needed something that could keep up. And everything I tried fell on its sweaty, smelly face. Until Truly’s.

*cue herald of angels singing

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This stuff! This stuff works! Yeah, it’s weird smearing the stuff on you or armpits at first, but you get over it. Find it here. Do it now.

2) Infrared yoga class. I tried this tonight for the first time. I was a little dubious, I will admit. There are a number of very crunchy health claims about the power of this heat (clean heat, detoxifies you, fountain of youth, yadda yadda). I can attest to this: it rules. If you’ve ever taken a traditional hot yoga class, this is very similar but without all the smells and the humidity. If you have access, get on that ish.

3) Frankincense oil. I got this stuff in my little essential oil starter kit. I read that it was great to use on your face. Anti-aging and all that miracle stuff. I thought, “If it’s good enough for baby Jesus, it’s good enough for me!” And oh, my. I got hooked on the stuff. I slathered it on every night. It smells a little funny, but I got right over that.

One day, I went to tip my little bottle and lo! It was empty! I skipped to the website to reorder it, and nearly shat myself.

It was a heart-stopping $75!! For a tiny, little 0.5 oz bottle!!

Before I go any further, let me tell you: there are oily purists out there and I am not trying to discredit them. I do agree that higher-quality oils are a better product. However, for $75 for a 0.5 oz bottle, you’d have to convince me that this product was being sourced from infant tears on the lip of an erupting volcano in deep Nicaragua. (Then I’d say, “What! Who would do that to an infant?! Away, you deviant!!” Of course. Also, $75 is STILL too much for that stuff.)

So I found an off-brand. Something that’s mixed with jojoba oil. And guess what? (Cover your eyes, oil purists!)

It’s rad. And for a whopping $4.99 for a bottle, it doesn’t hurt my feelings.

That’s it! That’s all I got! Happy New Year from this ace procrastinator!

I haven’t had a lot of time lately to write! I’ve been working two part-time jobs in addition to my very full-time job. Luckily, things have started to quiet down a bit. I’ve been feeling very impatient. With a schedule that was stretched so thin, I started to get snippy.

I didn’t have time to get on my yoga mat as much. I didn’t have time to write. I didn’t have TIME. But you know what? That’s some BS right there.

I had time. I was trading it for US currency. What little free time I had left over after work and teaching yoga, I decided to farm out to a part-time retail gig. The job itself was not awesome, but I met some great people there. At the end of the day, though, I was exhausted. I wasn’t hitting the mat enough. Yoga keeps me sane. I wasn’t writing at all. I enjoy writing.

Finally, the other week, I decided that it wasn’t worth it. The extra dollars in my pocket were not enough compensation for what I was ultimately losing. The Universe, call it what you will, usually knows exactly what you need. It tells you in subtle ways, at first. If you’re bullheaded like me, it takes some considerable knocking to get the message across. I wore myself out. Like a damned fool.

As soon as I decided to “retire” from my third job, I got an offer to teach another yoga class. Then another. I will be still doing the side hustle (the one I love), but it will be muuuuuuch easier on my schedule. Funny how, when I made a little room in my life, Awesome slipped right in.

On another note, the whole “time” thing is especially poignant for me tonight. A friend of mine – a hilarious, snarky, sweet man – is in the final stages of cancer. He is far too young, too bright of a spark, to be dimmed so early. As I sent thoughts and prayers up to his husband and family tonight, I thought a lot about time.

For me, these events have lined up in such a way that I will really give thought to my “time” in a different way now. It was a lesson I’ve needed to learned (knowing my bullheadedness, I may well have to learn again down the road).

Now that I have had a refresher on “time”, I plan to post more regularly. Weird stuff. Deoderant. Recipes. Essential oils. Yoga sequences. Guys, I’ve been gone a while. We’ve got lots of catching up to do.

Namaste,
SY

When I don’t post for a while, it’s always because there’s been some shakeup in my personal life. My attention has been drawn elsewhere. These past few days, as I’ve been hanging pictures and sorting things in my new apartment, I’ve been plagued by the nagging feeling that I’ve forgotten something. Something important.

Plunger? No, I bought a plunger.

My ridiculous Ganesh bedspread? No, I saw that in a box somewhere…

Oh! It’s this! This writing thing I sometimes do! This thing that, besides yoga and my family, has been the only constant in my life over the past 15 years!

I’ve been hustling, working three jobs, so what little free time I do have has become very precious to me. I’ve been trying to build a life here in these hills of West Virginia, in an environment that is simultaneously completely foreign and the closest thing I’ve ever known to home. See, while I was a big, bad New Yorker for thirteen years, I grew up here in Appalachia. My family moved from Western New York to Eastern Kentucky when I was about ten. Uprooted from everything I’d ever known, the landscape (the rolling hills, the dips and valleys they called “hollers”), the climate (coming from the Snow Belt, the heat was oppressive until it became a old friend), the people (intensely guarded yet polite, until they took you in as one of their own, at which time they would, unblinkingly, die for you), were so strange and unknowable to me. Until I started to know them.

This was my first real lesson in adapting.

Being faced with something new is always scary. New jobs, new homes, new friends, new love – all are sort of terrifying until you get your bearings. It takes a certain amount of patience before you can navigate it with any confidence. And if you do this enough times, eventually this, too, becomes something of an old friend. This fear eventually propels you, challenges you, and forces you to grow.

I’m not saying that people who have faced minimal change in their lives are somehow less. Being born and raised in the same place, surrounded by the same people, staying there and forging your own foundation, are things I will never know. I imagine it requires a different kind of courage.

But this constant change has made me the person I am. The idea of changing jobs or living spaces sends a certain familiar thrill up my spine now. I know it won’t be easy, and many times it won’t be fun, but I’ve grown to embrace the challenge. Because soon, this, too, will become familiar. Soon, this, too, will become home.

Aluminum foil! That’s what else I’m forgetting!

It’s time for a new adventure.

I recently purchased a car. This was a huge deal for me, as I didn’t have any payments with my old car. It hurts my feelings to think about this chunk of money leaving my bank account every month, but it had to be done. My old car was one breakdown away from sending me to the poorhouse. So! I have enacted some austerity measures in hopes of maintaining the extremely posh lifestyle to which I am accustomed (hahaha! Only joking about that last part – my goal here is to NOT live paycheck-to-paycheck. That’s it.).

Yoga encourages such behavior! Look at the yama aparigraha , or non-attachment! Before I bought this car, I had been thinking about doing a yogic Spring Cleaning anyway. I was going to purge my closet of things I hadn’t worn this winter, and started a purge of my Facebook friends list (for every person, I asked myself: if I saw them in the grocery store, would we both be delighted to see each other? If the answer was no for me, or I suspected it would be no for them, I un-friended them.).

So now I have to extend this principal to my finances. Lucky for me, one of my dear friends happens to be the amazing L Bee of L Bee and the Money Tree. Years ago, she dogged me to start a budget. “It’s fun!” She chirped. “You’ll get addicted!” I smiled and nodded, but tracking money has always seemed like a horrible drudgery to me, sort of like a micro version of doing my taxes. Every single day. So, I avoided it! I likely made some bonehead financial moves (ok, I definitely did), but it was fine! I wasn’t rich but I wasn’t poor. I was blissfully ignorant. Until now.

I finally started using Learnvest.com, years after L Bee’s urging. Know what? She was right! It IS addicting! They even have a nifty app I have on my phone! I also now religiously delete ALL the sale emails I get without opening them (I miss you, J. Crew!). I set a budget for myself and do my best to stick to it, regardless of the multitude of temptations that surround me (today’s temptation was a grey sweatshirt that says “I’m just here for the savasana” in sparkle letters).

It’s not perfect, but so far, this is going pretty well. If I come up with more money-saving tips (or steal them from L Bee), I will share!

I’ll close this with a wish for prosperity for all. (‘Cause wishes are still free!)

Today is my 35th birthday. I can’t say why exactly, but I’ve been really dreading this one. It just seems so…old.  

I don’t feel old. I don’t look old (or at least I don’t think I do!). I don’t act old.  So how did this happen?!? Soon I will be looking down the barrel at – gulp – forty!! I’ve struggled to maintain some sense of perspective on this (as well as a sense of humor). It’s been tough, as I don’t have many of the significant markers so many others my age have – 2.5 kids and a mortgage.  I’ve had to remind myself, over and over, that I’ve chosen a different path in life. I don’t feel SAD that I don’t have these things. I don’t feel any pressing desire for them. (I’m leaving the door open, mind you! Maybe someday I will want these things. Just not today.)  But then, how DO I measure my life? How DO I measure my success?  

Happiness, perhaps?  Health? Financial stability? I’m still not sure. It’s a weird, vaguely exhilarating sort of unease when you find yourself far afield from your peers. I’ve always known I wasn’t following a traditional path; I suppose this is the first time I’ve looked around and realized I was more or less by myself. There are no markers here because these are uncharted waters. That’s sort of scary! But also sort of freeing! I was wavering between finding this really scary and really liberating, and then I saw this video.

I’m going with liberating. 

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/81533752″>35 and Single</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/newyorktimes”>The New York Times – Video</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

Happy birthday to me! 

The past week has been so crazy with holiday stuff and work travel, all of my smug wellness efforts have fallen to the wayside. Green smoothies? Haha! Kale salads? Nope! Raw until dinner? Not unless French fries are now considered a raw food! 

I have really been trying to stay as healthy as I can, but demands on my times have forced me to pare back to the ultimate bare minimum.  In the absence of time and access to groceries/kitchen, here’s what I’ve been doing to cling to some semblance of sanity:

Water! Drinking plenty of water is pretty easy, and honestly, sometimes it is the only healthy thing I can do in a day. It’s what holds me back from a complete slide into “I’m officially Jabba the Hut” self-loathing.

Yoga! Even if it’s just a couple of sun salutations, I try to squeeze in even the tiniest bit of yoga each day.  Lately, I’ve been teaching Restorative Yoga, and let me tell you: That sh!t is NO JOKE! Legs-up-the-wall pose! Have you tried that? Do it! Do it right now! Find a wall, face it, and sit like 6 – 10 inches away from it.  Gently lay yourself back and straighten your legs, sending your feet up the wall. That’s it. Stay there for three to five minutes. Get up. Dance away like Bob damn Fosse because you feel SO REFRESHED! 

Breathing! Yes, I realize this is involuntary but doing full yogic breathing isn’t.  At least for me, it’s not yet.  Periodically during the day, though, I try to check in with myself: Am I doing wimpy little chest breathing? (Yes, usually the answer is yes here.) If I am, I forced myself to take some full, deep breaths.  Sometimes I even go back to pranayama 101 and put a hand on my abdomen to make sure. No cheating!!

So that’s my little arsenal of tricks! I’m thrilled to report that, so far, I have been arrested zero times in spite of the sometimes homicidal rage that the “not enough sleep + crappy food + unrelenting stress” cocktail induces.

Happy friggin’ holidays! 

I started this blog with the intention of actually keeping up with it, honest I did. But then life sort of happened. 

At my last posting date, I was working towards a goal of completing a half marathon.  I was also experimenting with a strictly vegan diet.  More or less at once, both of these fell to the wayside.  In respect to the running, I suffered from an injury I just couldn’t get past. The more I pushed my body to work through my hip injury, the more my bum hip protested. When it reached a point where I couldn’t complete a run without popping a couple Advil in advance, I faced the sinking realization that I might not be able to reach my goal. Allow me to rephrase:  I might not be able to reach my goal without looking at a substantial time/money commitment to physical therapy. And I was unwilling to do that to my body, or my pocketbook.

That was a real hard pill to swallow.

Even now, six months later, I feel sad and disappointed when I think about it. 

On the vegan front – a different and happier story. I was really enjoying the hell out of the vegan diet and found that, in my experimentation, I had discovered a real passion:  I love cooking! I love vegan cooking, specifically! While I don’t adhere to a strict vegan diet, I do still enjoy puttering around in the kitchen.  I still love the challenge of “veganizing” a recipe.  These days, my focus is more on enjoying whole, seasonal foods. I rarely consume dairy, but I don’t NOT eat it.  I found that, especially when eating out, life is much easier as a vegetarian.

So what am I going to write about?? 

I’m going to return to my original vision for this blog – all things yoga and wellness related. I have had many changes in my life since my last post! A new city, a new job, a new boyfriend! 

Oh my! 

“Rather than letting our negativity get the better of us, we could acknowledge that right now we feel like a piece of shit and not be squeamish about taking a good look.” – Pema Chodron

So, what to do when life hands you an unexpected surprise? Not the good kind of surprise, like winning the lottery or finding your favorite T-shirt you thought was lost. The not-good kind of surprise. What is the best way to handle sorrow?

While doing a swan dive into a bottle of Merlot and/or a pint of Ben & Jerry’s is extremely tempting, it’s not the Skeptical Yogi way. I’ve spent most of the day today thinking of positive ways to deal with loss, and I’ve decided to post them here, both as a blueprint for myself and for anyone out there who needs it.

1) Take some time to be with the sad feelings. It sucks, but it’s important. Masking them with alcohol or food or anything else doesn’t make them go away. Our feelings are what make us human, and it’s healthy to honor them, even when it’s not fun. But don’t get too caught up in this part, because then…

2) Get the hell out of the house. Allow yourself to dwell and feel miserable, but not for too long. I put an expiration date on my “Sad Bastard” phase. It’s important to allow yourself the Sad Bastard phase, but after a while, it stops being a phase and you become an actual Sad Bastard. After a crummy breakup a couple years ago, I decided (after the Sad Bastard phase) to become a “yes” person. I said yes to every single thing I was invited to for two weeks. In that two weeks, I had my fortune read by a psychic and met a fire-breathing clown named Colin, to name just two experiences. Also, I developed relationships that changed and enhanced my life forever.

3) Fake it till you make it:  Studies have shown that simply smiling (even if you’re faking it) can trick your brain into thinking it’s happy, so do something that makes you smile. This is what Will Farrell movies were created for.

4) Exercise. This is key. It’s a quick, easy mood booster that can even be free. It’s also a good way of working through residual emotions that tend to pop up.

5) Remember: This too shall pass. I’m usually a die-hard optimist, but during times like this, even I sometimes forget this one. Life is all about learning, but sometimes we can’t see the lessons right away. This sucks, but the universe is the ultimate teacher, if you have some patience and trust its wisdom.