Saturday, December 23, 2017

Sticks and/or Stones

At the end of college, I bought myself The Art of Imperfection, knowing it was what I needed in my life. After a five-year stint in undergraduate and graduate school, perhaps I knew I was poised on a precipice where I no longer needed my parents' funds (ha). In short, I knew I could @*^% up... be imperfect on purpose. But as knee-deep in imperfection as I would get, the book itself opened a gentle gateway towards the notion, offering photos of old trees with gnarled branches that twisted this way and that. Quite an unmanicured debacle. But, as the quote underneath the photo read, nature does not much care for where it goes... or something like that. What may have looked disorganized was in fact interesting and unique. And it's nice to know that nature does not care much about what we think. Perhaps that speaks to a greater truth about ourselves. Anyways, I digress. What I meant to talk about was flower arranging, or, more aptly in winter, twig arranging... those stems which take the long-road to perfection, twisting and turning this way and that. Sometimes, that is how life goes.

I don't know much about flowers but I've started to like natural things indoors (and unnatural things like Glade plug-ins to be outside of the house, in the garbage). And winter provides the perfect opportunity for a beginner like me to feel less pressure when working with the limited options of the season. So while I may learn more about the topic in preparation for spring, we'll ease ourselves in with a winter crash-course on "flower arranging". Enjoy!

Imperfectly perfect.

Sight: As far as I can tell, flower arranging is a bit like cooking where sight and smell are the primary senses engaged. According to professional flower arrangers, the use of negative space in minimalist or sparse arrangements can be a point of interest but instead of looking at the spaces in between branches, I find that nature usually delivers in the shape of the branches (or twigs) themselves. As we learned in yoga training, "every-body is unique" and the same is true of branches... each with their own small faux-pas. So whether its a large flower arrangement at the Plaza or a few simple twigs arranged in a glass, there can be a unique fondness for nature brought into the home. The difference is that with small branches in winter, one need not necessarily sever them from their source as they would with flowers. The benefit of the season is that such branches have already fallen, waiting, perhaps, to be reused.

Smell: While sight seems to be a key point in any arrangement, smell is often employed as well... usually without the downside of allergies when working with hardier plants. Where winter reigns, plants within the family Pinaceae, mainly fir, cedar, pines and spruces (among others) present a pleasant if not strong smell reminiscent of the holiday season. And while such scents are included in cleaning products that sanitize everything from your home to your hands, such goods are often chocked with fragrances, chemicals and other synthetic components that can act as hormone disruptors, etc. A'int nothing like the real thing, baby.

So how do we create a simple winter arrangement? Like many things minimal, we can look to the Japanese where I've heard exist sound minimalists (people who chose to actively surround themselves with minimal noises) to your more minimal ascetic found in now stateside stores like rikumo (highly recommended). It is here that the art of Ikebana or Japanese flower arranging has been employed for centuries. According to Ikebana International:

 Ikeban phenomenon.

In Japan, something from the outdoors is usually brought within (the home or car) and "[t]he Japanese have always felt a strong bond of intimacy with their natural surroundings." And, of course, if you wish to leave nature entirely outside the home you can practice the art of forest bathing or Shinrin-yoku (also fashionable in Japan). But if you wish to create a small arrangement for the holiday table or your own enjoyment, a few tenets lie below.

1. Choose your vessel. This is where I like to go a bit exquisite in contrast with the simple arrangements to be employed within them. Of course, like anything, I do like my vessels minimal but classy (see Tiny Vessels) but really, any mug, vase, or pitcher will do... as long as you like it. :)

2. According to Marcia Gay Harden (by way of the Martha Stewart Show), the art of Ikebana employs tall, medium or short elements or, specifically, elements of "heaven, Earth and man". In this sense, when collecting materials, be sure to look for a variety of heights in the elements around you. Of course, you can always cut them (underwater) because...

3. Just as Ikebana employs the elements of tall, medium and short, it also utilizes the three points of the... triangle. In this regard the tallest element of your arrangement (which should be twice the length of your vessel) goes in back, the medium element (which should be three-quarters the length of your longest piece) will serve as one of the triangle's bottom points and the shortest element (which should be three-quarters the length of the medium element) will serve as the other (to watch the full video and its follow up, click here and here, respectively). The only thing left to do will be to...

4. Sit back and enjoy.



 





 


Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Micro-Movements (and Things)

The prefix "micro" seems to be having a moment, lately. We see micro-greens on the menu... and maybe that's about it but "micro" is at least having a moment in my own mind. In Kate Hudson Sucks, I spoke about minor adjustments which can make or break a posture (or limb) in the world of yoga. To demonstrate, within the vinyasa series there's a pose entitled Warrior I in which I'm constantly trying to square my hips (a.k.a headlights) towards the front mirror. It's a minor movement (if not a painful one) but once the adjustment is made, it creates a domino effect whereby my other limbs and appendages begin to align... allowing me to move deeper into the posture than I may have been moments ago. In short, these micro-movements, when done at the right time, in the right way, seem to be greater than the sum of their parts. And this is not only true in the world of yoga (although that seems to be the only world I'm inhabiting at the moment - g d teacher training). As I've found, the slight movements, choices or ingredients we work with can have a greater effect on our health than their size would otherwise indicate. And so, I've brought together some small things which I find make significant difference in how I feel. Enjoy!

Yoga: Of course we start with the world of yoga. What else do I think about these days? However, there are some movements which can make anyone feel better. Indeed, they're small but, as stated above, they can at least put us in touch with our bodies... a communication that can make a large difference in how we begin to treat ourselves. There are a few movements I like to (or am instructed to) engage in over the course of a yoga class which work to help my alignment and thereby body as I move forward into the day.One simple adjustment lies below.

Spiraling your Pinkies towards the Mirror: I've just come out of a vinyasa teacher training which is a far cry from the world of Bikram. The movements are different, the mode of instruction is different and the amount of heat pumped into the room is very different. And whereas Bikram yoga asks one to focus on alignment, vinyasa's entire focus seems to be concerned with the issue... consistently instructing students to stack their knees over their ankles, their shoulders over their hips and so on and so forth. One instruction which I've found particularly useful is to spiral one's pinkies towards the mirror (in front of them when lifting their arms over their heads).

In vinyasa yoga, one places their hands (or arms) over their head quite a bit. It is here that, when one spirals their pinkies forward, they allow their shoulders to relax a bit more. If you'd like to try, simply raise your hands straight over your head with your palms facing forward. Then, spiral your pinkies forward, allowing your palms to face one another. It may take a moment but you'll likely feel your shoulders drop down your back. Of course, you may not be engaging in yoga poses throughout the day but it's a gentle reminder that our posture matters, not only for aesthetic purposes but for the sake of our own bones and muscles as well.


Mad Madam Mim

Ingredients: During a recent tutoring session, I offered a clip from The Sword in The Stone in order to communicate the concept of the trickster in literature. In the clip, Merlin and (Mad) Madam Mim square off in a battle of strength and will in a fight for Arthur's life. Within the duel, the two contestants seem to change themselves into bigger and badder creatures until one of them (Merlin) surrenders to strength and morphs himself into a germ. Although too small to be seen, Merlin succeeds in defeating his opponent due to the exponential havoc he causes in comparison to his size. And, of course, there are microscopic ingredients which we cannot see but can wreak havoc on our bodies when we consume them repeatedly (and often unknowingly).

Red Dye: Back in the 90's, red dye in food was pretty ubiquitous. Found in products such as Gatorade, chips and most of the processed foods I love, the dirty secret about the dye is its reliance on bugs to create it. Originating from the cochineal insect, red dye is produced when the shells of said insect are crushed and combined with water. And while this produces a cringe factor in regards to our food, Bob Alderink of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences is quick (and correct) to point out that such bugs serve as a natural (and renewable) resource. In reality, the alternative to such creatures is synthetic and can possibly cause greater harm than a turned stomach.

While there's no significant evidence to cite Red Dye 40 as a contributing factor to ADHD in children some studies have cited a connection between the two. There aren't too many recent articles on the topic, however, one 2016 article by WebMd made reference to a study (done in 2007) which found that, "the consumption of foods containing dyes could increase hyperactive behavior in children." And whether it does or does not, the notion that it could follows the idea that small "ingredients" such as preservatives, parabens (found in many makeups) and pesticides (a.k.a. things we cannot see) can be bad for our systems if consumed or exposed to in high doses.

And while in yoga they tell us to communicate what one should do over what one shouldn't, I've included a few recipes (or one) which you may want to cook based on their natural (and tasty) ingredients.

Jerusalem Artichoke Salad with Spinach, Red Onions, Radishes and Walnuts: I effing love Mimi Thorisson. Lady seems to have it all including a killer blog entitled Manger (meaning "to eat" en francais). To get the delicious recipe, go to the link... scroll down, keep scrolling and scroll some more and you'll finally find the recipe above. Bon appetit!

Perspective: So enough with the doom and gloom above. While I do believe what we eat is connected to how we feel, it's certainly easy to make minor adjustments in our perspectives or actions in order to generate BIG happiness.

Small Acts of Kindness: Tis' the season, bitches. Small actions can have big consequences in our own happiness any time of year. It's not something I've researched, it's something I found for myself once I lay down any defensiveness which began to creep in with age. Simply saying hello to a coworker in the morning when you're tired AF, giving someone a hug or truly listening to someone in need can create the "dual happiness" for you and another, sending ripples throughout the community. It's not just something I say, Gisele says it too... so you know it's right.


The caption is difficult to read but claims that,
"Expressing your love with a hug, a smile, or
just being there for someone is the best gift you
can give anyone during the holiday season..."


Friday, October 27, 2017

And the Winner Is...

In movies, there's often a theme whereby two characters, dissimilar at the start, undergo a challenge and, at the end, form a bond that we detect in a knowing nod or a wink of the eye that says, "I've got your back." Think: Mean Girls, The Breakfast Club, or even Bad Teacher as prime examples of the above dynamic. And when you spend an hour-and-a-half each day stretching in 105 degree heat, you sometimes pass the same glances with your fellow yogis. Ergo, it's pretty hard to leave your studio, particularly the one in which you began your practice. But, while I have no reason to leave my Virginia studio to begin with (there's a studio in Connecticut which I'd love to part with), they've moved a bit up the road and, paired with a new work schedule, I've had to rely on some local gyms to fill the void on days I can't make the trek across my small county. Luckily for me, my bougie neighborhood continues to have a series of trendy gyms move in, providing me with access to a CorePower, Pure Barre and Orange Theory studio, all within walking distance. Even more fortunate, as I really shouldn't be living/paying rent in a bougie neighborhood to begin with, each studio (with the exception One- think "O") provides a free week in which I can sweat without cost. Ergo, I was able to try each gym for a bit and can offer some pros and cons to those actually able to afford a membership. Enjoy!



How can you not love this ending?

CorePower Yoga

CorePower Yoga was my first stop. In a sense, I was likely trying to remain with the yoga theme when I couldn't attempt my preferred brand of yoga. The studio offers a free week (of unlimited classes) and doesn't take your credit card during this time. While my schedule seemed to allow for me to attend only one "brand" of class (yoga sculpt), the gym seems to offer a variety of classes including yoga derived from both the vinyasa and Bikram models as well as your more traditional classes built on cardio (yoga sculpt).

The facilities at the gym are pimp as shit, some of the more bougie elements include (but are not limited to)...

1. A small boutique of yoga clothing which carries brands such as Alo Yoga, Lululemon and, my favorite, Spiritual Gangster. They even sell Buddhist beads and offer complementary tea which comes in great during teacher training (more on that later).

2. Nice showers. After showering in many Bikram studios over the years (where most money seems to go into heating the hot room) it's nice to finally shower in a facility which treats you like a human. And not just any human... a human that lives in Arlington! When there's a Whole Foods next door, you pretty much have to keep pace with the neighborhood and CorePower definitely delivers with its clean showers offering soap, shampoo and conditioner and sinks with mouthwash and whatever else girls use to its side.

(Pro-tip: Check the signs on the locker rooms so you don't change in the wrong one.)

So, overall, CorePower provides and array of strong yoga classes in a spa-like studio. I give it two snaps and a (spinal) twist.

Image result for two snaps gif
Give it a little snnnnnappy.

Orange Theory

Orange Theory was next on the list, offering an array of classes throughout the day because, what's a bougie neighborhood without people working from home? As far as I can tell, Orange Theory does not advertise the type of class they provide in each time slot but the one I attended was great! Having fallen off the runner's wagon but attempting to get back on (being the free alternative that it is) it was great to get a workout which combined elements of running, rowing and lifting into a nice, neat hour. There's a whole theory (surprise) behind Orange Theory but, from what I could tell, they seemed to calibrate the timing of each circuit above so that it's not overly intense while still providing a strong workout (I believe I took the tornado training). A few pros and cons exist below.

1. As stated above, you'll get a good workout, leaving you a bit sore and a lot hungry. The workout sufficiently combined elements of both cardio and weights to really work your entire body.

2. The instructors are as good as the workout. Granted my evaluation encompasses a one off experience but my instructor was informative [and] enthusiastic... a pretty potent combo for helping you keep morale as high as your heart rate (fun fact: you wear a heart rate monitor so don't wear one of those small sports bras where it can slip out - happened to a friend).

3. Unlike CorePower, Orange Theory attracts members of the opposite sex. And I believe mixing genders in a workout can be fun, not so much for the social aspect, but because each group brings their unique energy to a workout. Plus, seeing Johnny with the big weights gives you some inspo. when the workout gets tough.

4. Anyone can correct me if I'm wrong but there didn't seem to be a locker room inside the studio. There were, however, lockers with locks.

(Pro tip: Don't forget your sneakers. It's not yoga.)

How I feel after a workout at Orange Theory


What I actually look like after the workout.

Pure Barre

Rounding out the bougie triumvirate is Pure Barre which, rightfully so, appeals to the small ballerina who remains perpetually young in the Neverland of our bodies. Even as someone reserved about participating in feminine activities, I couldn't resist the notion of barre work (plus they give you a free week). However, just as "feminine" and "pretty" are no longer synonymous, Pure Barre has taken a cue from today's modern woman and pairs the historically feminine with the tough (which pretty much means they offer a course in ballet). And Pure Barre is truly a ballet class which, like our bodies, is no longer built for a small child and offers the basic fundamentals of the sport. This means no leaps through the air or "pretty arms" done against the background of Bette Midler's Wind Beneath My Wings. It is a tough workout.

To some extent, I'd be at a loss to explain how someone who attends more than two classes at Pure Barre would leave with anything less than a twelve-pack. The workout seems to be divided into two parts: ab and seat work... which, may be the same workout which kicks off the day of an average ballerina. As a more foundational workout in the realm of ballet, the intermediate class (as well as the beginner and advanced class, I assume) works those foundational parts of our bodies later needed to perform all those fun stunts we once tried out as a child. This means it will kick your ass and abs but will eventually leave you learning for a more full body workout.

If you sign up for a free week, they will find you... and they will try to sign you up for a membership.

At Pure Barre, the teachers seem to really know what they're talking about but (in my experience) seem to carry the same strictness of a classical ballet teacher, replete with a neatly tied up bun. In this sense, that feel-good participation you might feel in yoga or the endorphin rush of an Orange Theory workout might be replaced by some trepidation as though you were actually a youth in ballet. S'all good though.

One con... they will track you down after class. If you do sign up for a free week, they'll want membership and they'll try to get it through email and they'll try to get it through text. It's a little odd having a fitness instructor text you after class but it does make you feel (however falsely) that you kicked ass an they want you back.

(Pro tip: Wear an old shirt and baggy shorts which elicit odd stares from the Lulu-clad crowd and then confirm nice clothes won't help you do squat(s).)

So, my friends, if I could get a drrrrrrruuuummmmm rrrrrrroooooooooolllllllllll....

The winner is...

Image result for shocked gif

CorePower Yoga: Mostly because I love yoga but more due to their combination of a variety of classes, peeeemp facilities and awesome, little boutique. Plus, I might be teaching there soon!

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Kate Hudson Sucks

It's true. I really can't stand Kate Hudson. If I'm to truly confess to this fact... it's because she used to have big cheeks. I know, it's the weirdest bias ever but I think that, deep down, I despised my big cheeks for so long that I began to project this dislike onto celebrities who possessed them (think Charlize Theron in the 90's). But, in a very real sense I do hold a grudge against the children of celebrities who become celebrities themselves. It's not a jealousy thing... it's just a lack of originality which make my blood boil. And Kate Hudson has served as the quintessential celebrity's child who came to fame through her parents' access... apparently to roles in subpar movies. But Hudson no longer inhabits the silver screen alone. She has now branched out to the fashion industry with her new line of "fabletic" clothing which apparently offers the same amount of quality as her movies.

Of course, like many celebrity lines, Hudson serves as the face of the company rather than it's founder. And while Fabletic's parent company, JustFab, has come under fire for its uncertain subscription practices (apparently its membership is harder to cancel than Comcast's) I take more issue with the company's advertisements which feature Hudson in non-existent yoga poses which demonstrate she is about as good a yogi as she is actress. And, perhaps, at the end of the day, this is what irks me about actors in an otherwise competitive industry who have literally had the red carpet rolled out for them through their parents' connections... everything's easy. And yoga or "union" with ourselves is anything but. So, while I'm sure Hudson has had her struggles, I feel justified in throwing a little shade her way... especially when she's exemplifying bad yoga form. Enjoy!

Upward Dog

According to the publication Yoga Journal, "[upward dog] is one of the most common yoga poses which makes getting it right extra important." In a significant sense, upward dog aims to strengthen one's spine while stretching the chest and lungs (among other things). And while your average yogi might not be hamming for the camera, if applying adequate effort, they'll likely look like this...




Not giving the camera a smoldering eye, ร  la...


Also...

This pose would only be used if you're selling sub-par clothing.


And while Hudson does seem to have some good moves when displaying other poses, there is an array of "Insta-yogis" and bloggers who attempt to achieve depth over form for the sake of their audience. It doesn't bother me so much that such people might seek to impress through their slightly askew poses, it's that the benefits of yoga don't really come through lest one maintain proper form. It might be a pain in the ass but you're in yoga to get your ass in gear, most likely. As such, I feel little remorse pose-shaming some people out there to impress through yoga rather than to instruct.

When I took gymnastics as a youngster, our coach would always instruct us to keep our, "headlights forward" which, looking back was an odd thing to say but what he meant was to keep our hips aligned in the direction we were facing. When coming out of a cartwheel, our hips were not to face to the side but forward as our faces. And, as far as I can tell, the same rule applies in yoga.

The Balanced Blonde

It's likely no surprise that bloggers talk about themselves a lot (yeah, ha ha) but the Balanced Blonde talks ad nauseam about her workouts. I've heard it said that people who talk constantly about their diets are more self-centered than others and perhaps talk of workouts is not far behind. Either way, workouts involving yoga on the beach are pretty difficult what with the sand and the balance and the who knows what else. As such the Balance Blonde's photos involving yoga leave a little to be desired, like...

Camel

A Bikram Yoga class is split into two series... the standing series and the floor series. And while triangle pose represents the height or most difficult part of the standing series, camel pose represents the height of the floor. It is a difficult pose and one that I usually skip but, as stated above, one should keep their hips parallel with the wall... making sure they are not leaning back but bending their spine to rotate backwards, allowing them to look something like this...


And not lounging in a dress like...

Bow Pose

Bow pose is kind of a fun one because, when you cheat... you look pretty badass and the more you practice, the more badass you become whether you're doing the pose correctly or not. I tend to cheat on the pose in class and a lot of people cheat on the pose online. So it's of little surprise that we mostly this...

Hips turned out...

Instead of...

Hips square.


So, what have we learned from all this? I, for one, have learned that I'm a pretty big asshole who enjoys nitpicking the poses of unassuming blondes. But, while alignment in postures can be subtle (even seemingly unnoticeable) these small adjustments can create benefits larger than the sum of their (body) parts.

We tend to rely on several parts of our body to get us through the day. I, for one, would cramp my feet a lot, relying more on my foot muscles than others to effectively move myself around. But imagine (if you're a teacher) only calling on the student you know has the answer. Whether or not the other kids would rather be left alone, they're not being worked as well as they could be. We can put our bodies through a similar scenario, relying on only a few muscles we know can get us through our postures or runs or whatever. And while relying on our other muscles through proper form can be painful, you eventually arrive at a place where you can delve deeper into your workout than you ever could by cheating.


And if you'd like to check in with your form as I often do when I see myself cutting some corners, a few ways are showcased below: starting with an easy exercise and moving onto one more difficult.

Balancing Stick

Balancing Stick is one of those poses that's a welcome respite from the more demanding ones surrounding it. That said, it's important to take note of your form in a posture which can sometimes foster laziness through its simplicity. Annnndddd, checking your form in this posture is super easy. To preform the asana, stand with your feet together and your arms by your side. Lift your arms over your head, interlacing your fingers and releasing your pointer fingers a la... 


Kali mudra.


1. Step your right foot forward and lift your left foot behind you.

2. Keep tilting your hands down and leg up until your body forms a "T'.

3. As you remain in this "T" form, make sure that your left hip faces the ground. As we lift the leg, there is a tendency for the hip and foot to turn out to the left. As long as the top of your foot and hip face downward, you're literally in good shape. 


Balancing Stick Pose

Camel (again)

Camel is a pretty important pose in yoga... so much so that I don't want to explain its movements myself. But there is a drill which can place us in a "mild" form of the position while ensuring our alignment is straight.

Camel Pose

1. Place a yoga mat against a wall and stand on your knees so that your thighs, torso and shoulders touch it.

2. Place your hands with your fingertips downwards against your lower back.

3. Push your calves into the floor. Stretch your spine up before bending it back... KEEPING YOUR BELLY BUTTON ON THE WALL THE ENTIRE TIME.

4. Reach back for your heels. Hold for a few seconds and come up. Congratulations, you made it!

Again, do each drill at your own will and make sure not to push yourself too hard. THIS IS A DRILL, PEOPLE. And if you don't want to check in with alignment, you can simply watch the video below in which the featured yogi does everything correctly. See, I'm ending on a positive note!

The girl in this video has some serious moves. (The girl).

Monday, October 9, 2017

You-can-lyptus

When I was in Girl Scouts, a very long time ago, my mother taught our class a song entitled, "Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree." Not knowing what a kookaburra was but knowing the song was of Australian origin, I simply assumed that a kookaburra was an alternate moniker for a koala... (full disclosure, I really only learned what a kookaburra was through the development of this post). And while I assumed a kookaburra ate gum "sitting in an old gum tree", I wasn't having it when I learned koalas ate eucalyptus leaves. But why shouldn't they? As I age and get out of my own silly head, I've learned that eucalyptus leaves (from the gum tree) are something of a benefit not only to koalas but to us humans as well.



Several weeks ago, I saw a photo of Meghan Markle walking home with an armful of eucalyptus stems. And while I've consistently wanted to get on board with essential oils in my diet, I'm really bad at two-step processes (as you may have noted through the story above). So, seeing a beautiful woman with an armful of beautiful petals in her grasp inspired me to simply go out and get a bunch, knowing that eucalyptus is not the most expensive plant and that its got a few health benefits.

  
 Eucalyptus: second row from the top.

As the old saying goes, "anything worth doing is worth doing well." And, as such, using eucalyptus which has been dried, pressed and turned into oil carries a myriad of health benefits including, acting as a fever reducer, mitigating coughs and bronchitis and even helping to heal wounds. But simply buying the plant and smelling its scent can carry benefits as well. According to HowStuffWorks.com, the simple scent of eucalyptus can, "increase brain wave activity and counters physical and mental fatigue." Ergo, simply placing the plant on your desk can help to stimulate your senses and (potentially) boost your productivity. Plus, eucalyptus costs a lot less than them fancy plants which cost another bundle than the one you'll carry home. So do yourself a favor and place some long stems in your study for both your eyes and mind. Both will thank you. Enjoy!




Thursday, September 28, 2017

You Rock

You rock! It's true. While my next post attempts to make us feel better by judging others (an admittedly favorite pastime), this post actually makes us feel better through positive thought and action. When I was in high school, our English teacher once asked us, "when a 16 year old girl is mad, what does she do?" To be honest, I had no idea what, specifically a sixteen-year old would do (retail therapy?) nor did I have any idea why our teacher was asking the question but I was intrigued by the response. According to Mrs. Teacher, a sixteen-year old girl would often run upstairs and lay down in the fetal position. It was my first indication that what can bring us comfort in times of stress is a reversion back to our younger selves... perhaps a time when we were safer before having to pay our own bills or something. And yoga can sometimes key into this notion, placing us in poses that hearken back to our younger days.

Happy bay-bay.

Soon after we spent time in the fetal position or womb, we were often rocked. We were rocked in rocking chairs, we were rocked while our parents likely paced the house at 3 a.m., we were rocked in one of those baby swings we'd all like to own as adults. And rocking, just like every parent knows intuitively can have a calming effect on the body. According to Pasadena Villa, "rocking triggers the brain [to] release this feel good chemical (endorphins)." Furthermore, the article points out that author David Givens has stated, "rocking, whether back and forth or side to side, simulates the 'vestibular senses,' referring to parts of the inner ear and brain that regulate eye movement. These senses are closely aligned to the part of the brain that manages pain and stress." This, frankly, is why we might see those in really down-and-out situations rocking back and forth on a stoop. And even if we're simply experiencing problems which are more first worldish, its helpful to rock our selves a little bit for good measure... in yoga, we would attain such action through the very aptly-named, "happy baby" pose.

Happy baby pose is one of those postures which hearkens back to our infantile years, not only through its employment of a gentle rocking motion but also through its similar appearance to a pose held by most babies. When we're young, we're generally a bit more flexible which is why we can rebound more quickly after an injury and/or chew on our toes. As we age, through stress, growth or whatever, our flexibility lessens which is why we do yoga and other unpleasant endeavors. However, while yoga can be a boon at times with its heat and uncomfortable stretches, it can make us more limber and appear incresingly young. As such, happy baby pose is one to do on the daily, giving us a gentle stretch and reminding us that we're young at heart. Below is a video which helps to demonstrate the pose. Enjoy!


Once you get past the woman's voice, the pose is very calming!

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Boiling A Calf in its Mother's Milk

When I was in Hebrew school (for what seems like a million years), there were a series of pictures on the wall. From what I could tell, the series featured images of what we were not supposed to eat... a small image of a pig surrounded by Hebrew letters, a lobster and some other shit. But towards the bottom of the images, there was a calf standing close to a cow and although I was specifically in Hebrew school to learn some of the language, I could not for the life of me make out what that image meant. I had seen my relatives eat red meat and veal and I knew we weren't supposed to eat our young so when I asked my teacher what it meant she claimed that, "we don't boil a calf in it's mother's milk." Still unsure what that meant but likely unwilling to stay in class longer than I had to, it was a few years before I learned that within the Jewish faith, one was not supposed to eat meat and dairy in the same sitting. And while I'm not going to go down the path of whether what's kosher is deemed so for health over religious reasons, the rule does seem to make sense from a nutritional standpoint. However, as my father began to leave Judaism for Eastern religion and vegetarianism by proxy, I began to eat more veggies as well and pretty much proverbially began boiling a calf in its mother's milk on the daily.

While veggies can be better for our hearts and waistlines than a daily T-bone, they can be lacking in flavor when eaten raw or without seasoning. As such I like to drench my veggies in veggie based dressings, essentially boiling a calf in its mother's milk (or dressing). While a trip to the farmer's market can leave us with an abundance of veggies we may or may not need, veggies sauces or dressings can be a great way to stretch such products in unique ways. Below is a bit of a matrix which attempts to pair veggies with a veggie-based dressing that complements it.

Note: When it comes to veggies, if you want to go clean (and boring) the healthiest thing you can likely throw on them is some salt and lemon. However, since you're eating veggies to begin with, I've tried to include recipes below which are a bit more decadent. Enjoy!


Roasted Brussel Sprouts: I loooove Brussels Sprouts. As stated in Food is Family, I'm a brassica kinda girl. As such, particularly in winter when I'm bored with the potato, such sprouts are my go-to. Here, the New York Times provides a recipe which is simple enough to be paired with the more decadent dressing by Heidi Swanson.
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An Exceptional Ginger Carrot Dressing Recipe: I love this dressing. I love anything Heidi Swanson puts out. Made with coconut milk, turmeric and brown rice vinegar (among other ingredients), the recipe creates a balance of flavors which provides new dimension to the basic but beautiful brussel sprout. 

Pumpkin Gnocchi with Brown Sage Butter: This recipe seems to straddle both categories of providing a vegetable based dish with a vegetable (or herb) infused sauce. Gnocchi is one of those things on my bucket list to make, perhaps as a weekend project within the fall months. Based on its relatively small list of ingredients and hands-on methodology, it also seems like a good recipe to prepare with kids (or  your boyfriend). And, according to the recipe's creator, not only will you end up with a delicious sauce but will experience some aromatherapy in the process!

Roasted Broccoli: As I've gotten older, I've had to come to the realization that I like (or only have time for) simple foods. And this is not to be meant in the trendy sense of foods that are fresh from the ground and need little seasoning. I'm mean dishes like hummus that can be made from throwing things in a blender and take two minutes to blitz. As such, I don't mind a good (vegetable) roast... throwing things on a sheet pan and doing laundry while they're in the oven. Here, I enjoy broccoli... roasted so that it's a little softer and more flavorful and topped with a lota marinara.

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Marinara Sauce: Recently, there was a video on Funny or Die (link here) which featured an "Italian spelling bee". Here, contestants, had to spell, phonetically, Italian words such as mutzadel (a.k.a. mozzarella) and madanad (a.k.a. marinara or, according to the video, the stuff your mother cooks for five hours cooking every Sunday). And while the previous recipe included pasta, I tend to enjoy my marinara on... brussel sprouts. But I also enjoy it on broccoli or brocly raaaab (as it might be spelled in the above spelling bee). Above, I've included Mario Batali's recipe for the sauce because, while it's not as much of a classic Italian recipe as Marcella Hazan's recipe, it includes more veggies (think carrots). And if you're getting tired of all the veggies featured, it's also a great sauce in which to braise chicken thighs.

So there you have it. A few combinations to keep you vegetabundant or such. Not only can such recipes keep the presence of flavor in your diet, they can also be mixed and matched to suit your tastes as fit. And, of course, they're kosher. ;)

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

The Attention Economy

There is nothing so disobedient as an undisciplined mind.
There is nothing so obedient as a disciplined mind.
~Buddah

Note: This post was to be written in the dog-days of summer with light content to match the lightness of the days. However, with the beginning of the school year, the post has become heavier and more dense like our own schedules of the season... Enjoy!

As a teacher, I'm still unsure as to the purpose of education. Is it to teach content? Is it to teach youngsters how to think? It is to babysit people's kids? Like any good question, there doesn't seem to be one good answer but as my own preference seems to dictate, I prefer the "middle way" or the middle option of teaching students how to think while getting in some content and babysitting on the side. But whichever way we choose to teach students, it's of little doubt that school is where we have our minds trained. As painful as it can be (like any good workout class) we can't help but get our mental wheels turning through the papers we write, the lectures we attend and/or the discussions we carry on. And there does seem to be this discrepancy in society which posits education as something elite and "other" (although the two things are almost mutually exclusive). In general, education may not make you a better person but for better (not worse) it often gives you a stronger mind, a facet completely necessary as we move into our brave, new world.

Several months ago on Real Time with Bill Maher, a guest named Tristan Harris (pronounced Trist-on) was featured and spoke about something coined "the attention economy." While I had to break through my initial judgement towards both his name and occupation (he formerly served as a design ethicist at Google), I found he truly had some relevant things to say about what appears to be a new and emerging "market." According to our friend, the attention economy is the new battle for our individual attentions. Having broke free from the chains of regularly scheduled programs, we, the consumer, are at liberty to search a multitude of sites, social media platforms and such other things for entertainment. Knowing full well that the foxes must now chase the hounds, companies and other entities, are in fierce competition to grab our attention where they can get it. And as quickly as our interests might veer from site to site, their entreats for our fixation and ultimately, our cash, must be increasingly catchy. But while the products sold by such companies come at a cost, so might their marketing strategies.

When I was younger, I once found my father watching Zorba the Greek. Intrigued by the fact he was sitting and relaxed while the sun was still up (not one of his typical past times), I sat beside him and watched with curiosity what had grabbed his attention. Growing bored with the black and white film, however, I was about to get up when I heard my father murmur to no one in particular, "they don't make films like the used to. Now scenes have to be short and full of action. They just don't let the story unfold." While I still walked away, I was intrigued.

Just like an actual economy, the attention economy seems to be based on the concept of scarcity. Since, theoretically, there are not enough goods to go around, how we chose to distribute them warrants its own field of study. In the attention economy, however, it is our attention which lies scarce in comparison to the onslaught of information from news and social media and the advertisements which give both platforms a general reason to exist. In this sense, news stories, stories on Snapchat and/or advertisements must become increasingly exciting, provocative and/or interesting in order to grab our attention when so many other things are reaching for it. And while competing for our attention can be innocent enough in its own right, appealing exclusively to our limbic systems or upping the level of stimuli to our brains can take its toll on how we process the world around us. 

Within the aforementioned show, Tristoooooon stated that within this new "economy", since information is so vast, news sources (and the advertisers who support them) find that, showing quick, sensational stories which confirm our beliefs garner more attention than complex stories which leave us with more nuanced versions of reality (a.k.a. stories which make us think for ourselves). And while this can leave us in the dangers of our own echo chambers of political divisiveness, it's ability to spark addictive behaviors can be even more of a hazard. Since we are playing the roulette wheel when we open our phone (perhaps we've gotten a text, perhaps we'll see a salacious article, etc.) it can become an addictive entity. So where does this leave us? As I believe, it comes full circle to the issue of education. 

Perhaps education is, like reality, an ever-shifting experience without one particular purpose. While we don't teach much in the way of agriculture now that we exist in a more tech-based environment, perhaps it is prudent to strengthen students' attention spans in an age when so many sources are reaching for it through technology itself. While one could argue that companies are not looking to do explicit harm through their ads, their loyalty (I've heard) lies more with their shareholders and less with their customers. Ergo, between the food companies who seem to stop just short of addiction with their products and advertisements which don't require much more than a reptilian brain to interact with, we owe it to ourselves (and our students) to maintain our independence against forces which don't appeal to our greater goodness. But what to do? Here is where my simple idea from the summer comes in...

As I spend much of my time in the car, driving between school and tutoring, a simple trick I employ to expand my bandwidth of attention is to simply listen to a song in its entirety. Much like the news and social media, Sirius XM (while a great product) has opened our listening experience to a multitude of stations. And often, when I'm bored with a song on Hip-Hop Nation, I know there's a good chance that I'll like what they're spinning on Shade45. But with such ease of having our attention satisfied consistently, it's easy to forget that life outside (in the literal and figurative sense) does not cater to our desires so readily. So, in efforts to guide my attention through the excitement and boredom of a single song, I try to listen the whole way through and I've found it helps. Recently, I've been letting my mind languish through a song rather than click click away. I've also noticed I've chosen songs to listen to which I otherwise would have dismissed (think Regulators over Gin & Juice). So it's quite an experiment. I like it... a little challenge for the car ride. 

So, congratulations! You've effectively sustained your attention through one of my longer (and more boring) articles. Well done my friends. Stay woke, as the kids say and jam on...


Figured we'd (appropriately) end with a twelve-minute diddy.

 


Saturday, September 2, 2017

Mind Over Body

In Things You Say To Yourself In a Bikram Yoga Class, I mentioned how it's often my body that demands attendance in a yoga class. Once there, however, it's often my mind that takes over... mentally pushing my body towards limits it otherwise "thought" impossible. As Ghandi once said, "[h]armony can be attained when the body, heart and mind are in alignment," or something. And it's true that at the end of yoga class, your mind and body are in both esoterically and physically aligned... too tired to really reach conflict over what to do. But at the beginning of class, my mind usually plays the annoying cheerleader which guilts my body into holding poses when it'd rather run for the door. And so it is in the warm up series that my brain uses one pose to show my body who's boss.

I spoke about Awkward Pose a bit in previous posts and it is broken into three separate postures, the last of which I use to put the kibosh on any predilections towards laziness. To preform the posture's finale, one stands up a bit on their toes, places their knees together and lowers into a seated position to the count of ten. Holding the pose for several seconds, one then ascends up the way they came. And while I often, simply stand up, neglecting to rise slowly like a good yogi should, I do try and go down as slowly as possible... fighting with my body along the way to remain at the points that cause discomfort.

You can perform the posture too, whether done within the scope of the Bikram series or done in isolation. The point is to simply place one's mind over the body, guiding it through discomfort for the sake of future benefit (i.e. that cool triple muscle you get in your thighs when worked hard enough). Done at the beginning of the day, it's a gentle reminder that we can get through what is painful or scary with a little focus. To get a better idea of the posture, you can watch the professional below or you can watch the amateur. Enjoy!

Profesh... and the posture done in its entirety.


 ... and amateur hour.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Packing Light... and Right

The are a few pieces of clothing I really love... and never wear. In a closet already pared down from its unneeded and unworn pieces from high school, a few key pieces remain. And of those few key pieces, there are a several that make a debut once a year... so they don't get wrinkled, don't get dirty and don't get breathed on wrong. 

The irony of being a minimalist is that the few pieces I choose to purchase are often sold at prices high above my budget. I justify the purchase by the fact(s) that a) I really want it b) its presence in my closet makes me happy (within reason) and c) it's usually my second of three clothing purchases in a year. But while I can suck it up and drop some cash on a piece I really like, the constant dry cleaning it often requires drives me up the wall. Ergo, such pieces usually sit at the back of my closet until they're pulled out for a wedding, the holidays or, in this case, a vacation. 

On a recent trip to Ireland, I began the packing process early, ensuring we had everything we needed in order to prepare for what wasn't sold abroad. Within the packing process, I began to think of clothes and figured that, since even my camera-shy fiancรฉ, would be taking a lot of pictures, it'd probably be one of those scenarios where looking a bit better might be in my best interest. Also, clothes have been my only defense recently against what seems to be a decaying body. So, with that in mind, I set out to pack...

Plane Ride: Giants Sweatshirt (obvi.)
While it's not one of my favorite articles of clothing or even my article of clothing to begin with, who gives a shit what you look like in the Hartford airport or on a plane. And while nice sites suggest you to bring a warm pashmina or some slippers for a long ride... they can go eff themselves. A sweatshirt and a stiff drink are the two things essential for an international flight. So, nailed that one.

Damp, cold and beautiful.

Dublin: Things get weird.
So, while I have some nice tops that I love, the bottom half of my wardrobe is pretty scrubby... and I like it that way. So, while I forced myself to wear some silk tops which rarely make an appearance in the off (wedding) season, I found myself wearing breezy Adam Lippes tanks with mesh shorts snagged from my school's lost and found. So, nailed that one too.

Galway: Things get cold.
On the middle of our trip is where I found the "middle road" of my dressing routine. While the temperature rarely reaches above seventy-five on the Emerald Isle and my body rarely feels comfortable below that number, I often paired a wool or thick dress with a cotton hoodie. When you're far away from home, it's comforting to wear what you would everyfrigginday when you're back there.

If you look closely, you'll see the gray hair matches the gray jackets.

Kilkenny: Things get normal.
Just as any resolution for change, my motivation began to diminish towards the end of the trip. This meant hoodies more often, mesh shorts more often... yoga clothes more often. Luckily for me, Kilkenny was a lovely but decidedly less cosmopolitan destination than our previous two. In this sense, urban sophistication and (Irish) trendiness gave way to a more rural air of ease... in both culture and in clothing. 

Plane Ride Home: Fuhgeddaboudit. 

So what did I learn? 1.That my nice clothes won't melt when I take them out of the closet. 2. That I should probably stick with my routine of wearing simple dresses and hoodies for days since that is my default here and across the pond and 3. The Irish are too nice to care what you wear. Slainte!

Friday, August 4, 2017

A Decrease in Worries for Vegetarians

I'm not enamored with the title of this post... deciding it sounds more like a headline than some witty play on words. And while breaking news stories and the headlines which accompany them often carry cutting-edge information unbeknownst before publication, the information presented herein has come to me slowly... and contains things you probably could have learned on your own. Nevertheless, enjoy!

Just as the information contained in this post has come to me slowly, so has my engagement with vegetarian practices. In middle school, it seemed my mother cooked a meal with meat each night. In high school, when sometimes left to my own devices, I ended up eating turkey sandwiches on the daily and in college, I went full-fledged vegetarian before bouncing back to a routine where I presently eat mostly veggies and some meat (along with a shit ton of sugar). And this is because I've seen the way my dad eats and have simply fallen in line. I would never tell anyone to eat a certain way because everyone has developed a way of eating that is uniquely theirs. And, frankly, I've never understood the idea of cutting out entire food groups if you're not a card carrying member of the "severe allergy tribe." This being said... there are a few ways eating (mostly) vegetarian makes your life a bit simpler.

Aside from the health benefits of a reasonable, vegetarian diet (i.e. one not wholly reliant on carbs) there are a few advantages of vegetarianism when it comes to cleaning. During the school year, a hectic schedule means I eat very little meat: too impatient to heat it up when I can dunk broccoli in a bathtub of blue cheese dressing. But during the summer, when I have more time and a carnivorous fiance, I cook meat pretty much each day. Ergo, I've noticed I have to plan a bit more (which is nice) but also use a few more dishes compared to when it's just me, myself and the flexitarian I.

Let's, for a moment, switch to water usage. While I didn't want to wax poetic about how much environmental damage we can diminish when we don't eat cows who eat massive amounts of plants and shoot methane up in the air, eating more veggies makes quite an environmental impact in our daily lives. While my father's medical background led him towards a vegetarian diet, it also instilled in him a slight fear of germs. Ergo, we learned from an early age that anything which came in contact with raw meat was to be washed thor-ou-ghly. This meant plates, our hands, forks and cutlery. It's pretty much the one thing I learned from my dad in the kitchen. And when it comes to washing our hands and plates and then sterilizing the latter in the dishwasher, we're talking about a whole lot of water. So lets... breakitdownmeow...

 dance amy schumer dance moves golden globes 2016 break it down GIF
Break it down, meow.

Washing your hands

 Cheezburger water raccoons GIF 

Washing your hands is pretty essential after touching raw meat. While my experience with doing so often involves me unwrapping a pound of chicken breasts, people often handle them for longer periods when making cutlets or cutting the meat itself for kabobs, etc. And so if we wash our hands for a good 20 seconds like we should to kill ecoli and bacteria, it takes about four gallons of water to effectively do so.

Number of dishes used to cook meat

Cheezburger animals wtf monkey stream GIF

Along with washing our hands after they came in contact with meat, we were also told to do the same with dishes (like any normal household). This does create a few extra dishes when cooking meat, however. When my fiance and I grill chicken in the summer, there's the plate which holds the raw chicken (where you season it and then wash your hands) and the fork which brings the chicken from plate to the grill. There's also often the knife in which we use to check for "doneness". Then there are the plates and utensils we use to eat the meat itself. Needless to say... all this stuff is rinsed and then thrown in the dishwasher when it's done which adds up to a hefty amount of water down the drain(s).

Granted, salad often has to be prepared on a cutting board and placed in a bowl with tongs which eventually need washing. But me, being the somewhat crunchy kinda-vegetarian I am often just gives these items a soapy rinse before putting them in the drying rack. Additionally, veggies don't often require a knife for consumption. For a family of four, that's four less utensils per night or about 1,500 less utensils in a year which need cleaning.

Clean Up After

 snow white cleaning GIF 
This counts cause it has animals and Snow White.

If you're cooking either meat or veggies indoors, cleanup is generally the same. In this regard, cooking elements in the oven often amounts to throwing out some aluminum foil while stove-top cooking (which I like) often involves more soaking and scrubbing of the pan. But, over time, cooking meat, which releases oil, as opposed to veggies which release water may require one to clean their oven more often or scrub their pans more thoroughly. And, if you're like me, you just end up throwing those pans in the dishwasher (which takes about 15 gallons of water to run).

When it comes to our diets, small things add up. If you look over at the website, Meatless Monday, you'll learn that when Americans cut back on beef from 2005 to 2014, "the resulting reduction in pollution [was thought to] equal the emissions of 39 million cars, or about one-sixth of the number of cars registered in the United States," according to the New York Times. And while we need meat, a slight reduction can help our cleaning routines, the environment and, of course, our waistlines.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Change in Routine

"Change in Louise" is one of my favorite songs and, while it doesn't rhyme I always get the tune in my head when I hear the term, "change in routine." Many a well-healed girl might see constant changes in her (beauty) routines, perhaps having one for the weekend with its abundance of time and one for the week with its emphasis on work. I, however, have about two changes in routine... one shifting between the cycles of winter and summer or basically warm and cold weather and one which changes with the cycles of the moon (or month). And while these changes in routine might sound minimal, I'm hoping my bare-boned approach will shine a light on practices that even the grubbiest of girls can't do without. Enjoy!


Change in Louise

Hot/Cold: Many women change their routines within the course of hot and cold weather... as both the temperature and their activities change. And while I tend to add things to my simple routine of washing and moisturizing in the evening, the face wash and moisturizer I use rarely change. So while you'll see an array of products below, you can rest assured they're added to the use of my gentle cleanser (read: Mantle Pieces) and my mild moisturizer.

๐ŸŒž: Like any good tomboy, my summer routine is pretty bare-boned, relaying mostly on the sun's rays to "cover-up" my cosmetic flaws. But one practice that does get amped up in the summer months is exfoliation... both on my locks and face. While most of us are outside more in the summer months... gardening, running, doing whatever, it stands to reason that we're exposed to more dirt and buildup on our skin. In this regard, exfoliating once or twice a week goes a long way in helping us to feel a little cleaner in the "sweaty season". And to do so best, I suggest Mario Badescu's Gylcolic Foaming Cleanser which can also double as and exfoliant.

❄️: While I don't consider myself a big user of beauty products my small collection  of them increases exponentially in winter as my skin gets quite dry. This means lotion on my hands, balm on my lips and oil under my moisturizer for and added (hydrating) boost. Some of my favorite products be...

๐Ÿคš: I am still looking for a hand cream that will save me from cracked skin and dried cuticles. Try as I might, nothing has remedied my genetic predisposition for gross skin. So far, a good pair of gloves have proven my best defense against winter weather but, honestly, Keri Lotion is a close second.

๐Ÿ‘„: While my hands began getting quite dry in middle school, my lips have only become a problem in recent years. And while lip exfoliators have hit market in recent years as well, they're a bit expensive for a mixture you can likely make with ingredients in your own kitchen. Ergo, I've included a video below (created in the heart of winter) which displays how to make your own lip exfoliant for chapped lips.


๐Ÿ‘ฉ๐Ÿป: My face is pretty oily, which makes it the least likely to be affected by cold weather. This being said, while I don't often change up my moisturizers between each season, I often add an extra step to my routine in winter to generally up my self care in harsher conditions (see Putzing). And for me, self care often means treating myself to something a little luxurious and beyond my budget. Enter Sunday Riley... a brand which is a little pricey but completely worth it. Since my birthday falls in November, I often ask for the brand's night oil so I can have it in my vanity before the winter season.

Month to Month

Like many women, my skin seems to take on different forms throughout the course of each month... ranging from oily to more oily. In this regard, while my body isn't feeling up to par anyway, I like to relax in a mask to take a bit more time out of my daily schedule for self care. For those times when my skin seems to be on a sebaceous bender, I use Origins Active Charcoal Mask To Clear Pores or, if I'm feeling a bit more fancy/less oily, I use May Lindstrom's The Honey Mud... or just honey.

So there you have it... a few things you probably know but stuff I figured I'd share nonetheless. Every skin needs something different, of course but, like most things, we are not so different. For example, I'm sure you all liked that video ;).

Friday, July 21, 2017

Things You Say to Yourself in a Bikram Yoga Class

Although I've never experienced such a situation in real life, I imagine my relationship with Bikram Yoga is much like one's relationship with a relative they can't stand... try as you might to get away, they're generally always there. And while we prize the mind for its lucid ability to process complex ideas and concepts, it's usually my body which gently prods me towards a yoga class while my mind kicks and screams like a two-year-old. Hence, there are a lot of thoughts that run through my mind during a typical morning's worth of yoga which I figured I'd lay bare here.

(Note: Since there is my own internal dialogue during a yoga class, the dialogue of the yoga instructor and the events and postures occurring around us, I placed actions in [brackets], instructions of the teacher in italics and my own thoughts in a regular font).

[Enter room]

Ok, it seems quiet. This is nice. Phewwwwwww.

The Late Show With Stephen Colbert yes stephen colbert sigh late show GIF

[Teacher walks in.]

Ok, good morning. Let's start class with a deep breathing exercise. Take a deep breath in and deep breath out. 

Jesus, why did I come here? Why did I come here... I'm missing out on cuddle time with my man. 

Lift your arms over your head and breathe out...

Ok, I'm here, I'm here. Let's do this.

[Silence] 

[Silence]

[Silence]

Standing head to knee pose!

*&%$#@^%$#@&^! I hate this pose. Ugh, that guy behind me is doing it so much better. He's cute though. Ha, he fell out of the pose, what a sucker. I'm such a baller. 

 dance family kris keeping up with the kardashians kris jenner GIF

Bow pose!

Ugh, I hate this pose. Actually, it's not that bad. Wait, am I actually getting good at this...

 wow beautiful shocked shock lovely GIF

[Next few postures go by at light speed].

Whew. Savasana. 













[Quiet] 

[Quiet]

[Quiet]

Wow, my mind is really beginning to relax. Wait, why am I thinking of those times I was bullied long ago? Oh @&$*, old memories, old memories, old memories...

 the office hiding hide GIF

Ok, back to yoga poses. $%^#, that was the most stressful part of class.

[Silence]

[Silence]

Full locust pose!

&^%^, I hate this pose. Gotta rally, gotta rally...

Elissa, try lifting your head a bit higher. Higher...

Is this *^&%$ talking to me!? I've made it seventy-five minutes through the class and this joker wants extra effort!? Why I oughta...

 movie film goodfellas robert de niro 1990 GIF

Ok. Ok. Class is almost over. I can do this. I can do this.

[Silence] 

[Silence]

Ugh. One more posture. Just get me out of this hot room. GET ME OUT OF THIS HOT ROOM.

 food cw GIF

[Final savasana]

Ugh. I am so relaxed. Going to class was the best decision of my life. 

 cute dog puppy sleeping passed out GIF