Monday, December 23, 2013


I've seen this inspirational text floating around a lot. I think Mr. Keonig might not have known my friends.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Shoulds and Shouldn'ts of Yoga

I have read a plethora of articles and blogs telling me not to be so judgmental, egotistical, list of flaws goes on. The inference being that I am not a real practitioner of yoga and possibly a bad person to boot.

I recently read an article, "Signs your yoga practice is no longer your own."* What the eff does that even mean? Lululemon has put on your skin like a meat-sack and is currently forcing your downward dog? (If this has actually happened to you, please contact me, that is some seriously cutting-edge marketing and I want in.)

Yogis, you are not evil for wanting your fancy mat. It is correct that you don't NEED it. I don't need a chocolate cookie for breakfast either, but I sure do prefer it. I am happy for the yogis that practice on dirt in robes made by hand from recycled dryer lint. I am not there yet and that's okay.

Yogis, you are not evil for wanting your toosh off your thighs. If I am concerned about my hypothetical ginormous floppy ass right now, that's okay. I hope to move past it, but maybe I will remain fixated on it for the duration. I'll do my best to ignore my ass obsession if everyone else does too.

Yogis, you are not a bad yogi for pushing yourself to go to yoga. I have read so many, "don't force yourself to go to class. If your body doesn't want it, don't." My body wants donuts. Lots of them. And once my body gets the donuts it hates me for letting it have the donut. It reacts to yoga in the exact opposite way. I will stop 'pushing my body to go to class' when I get my hands on that Lululemon meat-sack trick. I will wear other blogresses' carcases like a cape and joyfully skip into yoga each day. Until that day, don't make me feel guilty for forcing myself into the room.

We're not always going to walk into the room a mirror image of Gandhi and that's okay. Your yoga practice is your practice, not Gandhi's. Unless you are wearing him like a meat-sack.

I didn't draw anything for this post so here's a drawing I did of Thor fighting Ice Giants instead. 

* I want to give citation but I can't find the damn thing.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Look, Ma! This Isn't a Complete Waste of My Time Like You Said!*

Look, an ad! No, scroll down. There, on the right. Click on it for porn! Just kidding. It'll take you to some info about yoga.

Don't hate me. I've spent roughly a million hours on this site so when someone said, would you like money? I said, "HELLZ YEAH!"

Make it rain, biotch! Ouch, ouch, ouch! Wait, make it stop! This hurts!

So that you can feel like I have some integrity I will say that I wouldn't have agreed had the ad content been contrary to the site's principals, but really, I've pretty well steered clear of any principals here. I guess don't torture little animals. Or people, I guess, but really I'm more concerned about the little animals (messed up, isn't it?). So, yeah, I can definitely say that if the ad were touting the benefits of animal torture I would have said no.

Probably. I mean, we don't really know what we would do unless we are tested, right?

So the secret message to Tyson is: Make me a an offer. But it's gotta be big, 'cause there are moral grounds here.

*Actually, my Ma is unreasonably supportive.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Loving Ustrasana

I love it when the teachers say the sanskrit names for yoga poses. I could pretend it's because I enjoy the connection with yoga's long history but that's not it at all. It's because when we get ready to do camel pose teachers say, "Ustrasana." Which sounds to me like, "Ultra Asana."* Which it is, really. But the vision in my head is:

That's right. When the teacher says, "ustrasana," I am Voltron.

Not one lion either, the WHOLE. DAMN. THING.

Why is Voltron my vision of "ULTRA"? Maybe it's because when I was younger and staying overnight in a hospital a man made me come out of my oxygen tent so he could pray for my soul. I was bewildered at the time, but later thought it was a sweet gesture to help an ill little girl.

In my adulthood, my mom confided that the man was trying to save my soul because she was letting me watch Voltron.

My mom is awesome for letting that man pray for me and then still refusing to change the channel. I guess my reaction is an unnatural affinity for the satan-inducing show. Probably not the effect the man was going for.

*Also, in my head, the teacher's voice turns metallic and super growly. Like a Scandinavian death-metal singer.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Go to Yoga

We have all had those days. I am too tired to go to yoga. I am too depressed. I just can't find the time. After a million (not really) zombie yoga classes in a row I can honestly say that despite the lack of sleep, I am better off having gone. I just did a class today despite wicked cramps all day. The only time I haven't felt mildly nauseous in the last 48 hours was in the hot room. 

Granted, the tired, nauseous, cranky days are not all going to result in stellar yoga classes. So here is a chart to help guide you to your best choice in your current situation. 

You may notice a pattern. Follow the chart as if you don't.

If you are sick the hot room will help you. It clears congestion. It raises your internal body temperature (just like a fever would) to kill your little ickies. It boosts your immune system and gives you a rush of oxygen to help your body knock out whatever is trying to wreck havoc on your innards. You can get a lot of those benefits in savasana, so don't kill yourself, do the breathing and see where it goes from there. If it goes to the floor, so be it.

Are you tired? I've heard it said a million times, "yoga gives you energy." While I'm not 100% willing to jump on the 'yoga is magic' bandwagon to make that claim, I am sure that I feel much better after a class. The more tired you are the less you can focus on what needs to get done so you can do it and get the eff to bed. Taking the time out to clear your head, regroup and then re-tackle your day will lift that fog. You know what else lifts the fog? A hot 1.5 hour nap. If you need the nap, go ahead, take it, but get yourself in the room to see if that's really what you want first. Most likely, the boost of oxygen from the initial breathing exercise will jazz you up enough to keep you going.

Stressed, depressed? Exercise and meditation have been independently proven to alleviate symptoms of stress and depression in both the short-term and (even more importantly) the long term. Yoga as a combination of meditation and exercise is powerful medicine.

So yes, I mean it. Get your butt in the door. It is HARD to get up and go, so if you want to wallow, go ahead, there is value in that too. But when you've had enough wallowing and you want to fix it. GO TO YOGA.

Thursday, October 17, 2013


It has been brought to my attention that not everyone is familiar with the regional bastardizations of pizza America has created since stealing the dish from the Italians.* As a chick in Chicago, I would like to remedy this situation by the following chart:

Please note that I stole the GF/Vegan idea from my friend, Nick. He makes a good case, no?

*Originally pizza was not really a dish you looked forward to. It was like stew. You made it to get rid of all the leftover crap from previous dinners so as not to waste food. Crust, sauce, yesterday's meatloaf,** the salad remnants from the night before, crud, these peppers look like they're gonna go... and cheese to hold it all on there!

** Be aware that this part is made-up. Leftovers didn't exist in plenty the way they do now, there were no refrigerators. I imagine if you had some peperoni but not enough to really feed someone for a meal, that would go on there but that sounds way too appetizing to get my point across. The truth is, olden-day leftovers must have rocked. 

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Cat Chart

We recently moved to a home with CLOSETS. And CUPBOARDS, which are just mini-closets. We've been here three months and I am still finding new cubbies. Sometimes I put a single box of mac n' cheese in a cupboard just to have something in it. I don't know how many boxes I have hidden this way. I will live this winter like a squirrel, my whole kitchen being a treasure-trove of stashed food surprises.

Sidney, our cat, however, is not so excited by the new space. Or rather, the placement of her litter box in the new space. The bathroom seems a fine place for urination to me. In fact, it was designed for urination. A whole room dedicated to keeping unsanitary things in an easily-disinfected space! Genius!

The cat does not think so. She would rather pee in my office. She communicated this to me by doing so before there was a litter box here. Thankfully, I figured out (after about the third puddle formed under my desk) that this is her preferred urination station and bought a new litter box for just behind my desk. I am not happy about this, but I am a heck of a lot less unhappy than I was a week ago when she was trying to tell her stupid human where she wanted her furniture.

The last week of watching my cat pee (I can't help it, I don't have a lid for the thing yet and she is RIGHT THERE) has been very informative. It has informed me that my cat is bad at peeing. For two days I thought she was pissing just outside of the litter box to spite me. In actuality, she just can't figure out a litter box.

This is a picture of a cat peeing in a litter box. Note that the cat should turn 180 degrees so her butt is to the high wall.

Sidney does not follow this cart. She walks straight into the litter and, butt hanging out the entrance, all four paws planted firmly in litter, pees right out the "in" spot.

She also exits the box wrong. The Boy and I woke up to a clatter and Sidney running for the opposite end of the house like her ass was on fire and her whiskers were catching. In my office, the litter box was exactly 90 degrees rotated.

After peeing (butt hanging out the "in"), she CONTINUED WALKING OVER THE BACK WALL nearly tipping it over. Not one turn had been executed during the whole process.

I intend to print out the above chart and hang it over her litter box. Now to figure out how to spell, "instructions for litter box use" in cat.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Welcome To Night Vale

Always the last to jump on a band-wagon, or even know a wagon is being boarded, I have recently discovered* the #2 itunes podcast, (only beaten out by This American Life) "Welcome to Night Vale."

If anyone else does not know about this podcast:
1) Hooray! I am not the technically last one to know, and I have found proof!
2) Hooray! I can show you something I think is cool! +5 hipster points awarded to me for hearing about it first!

Think of Welcome to Night Vale as an NPR radio station happening in an H.P. Lovecraft novel.

I loved the podcast so much I did a yoga/Night Vale mash-up poster! If anyone wants one for their home or studio (because, really, who doesn't think subtle references to the occult and bondage are good for a yoga studio?) Send me an email ( and we'll get one printed out for you.

Also, I did this drawing too. It started out as a Neil Gaiman's Sandman reference but while listening to the podcast, it turned into a library reference. I love the library in Night Vale almost as much as I love the Dog Park. If I lived in Night Vale, the dog park would be my home. Even though it's off limits to all residents and their dogs.

I will leave you with one of my favorite Night Vale proverbs: Look to the sky. You will not find answers there, but you will certainly see what everyone is screaming about. Very yogic, amiright?

* Discovered via the Universal Geek podcast, of which I am a periodic supporting host. I am supposed to contribute, but mainly I just giggle a lot. But you would too, these people are fantastic to listen to.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Another Great Moment in Yoga History

I have a friend, Sara, who continued to practice yoga regularly throughout her first, and for most of, her second pregnancy. As she can pride herself on her determination, I can pride myself on my lazer focus on the posture. The two glorious attributes plus pregnancy postures proved an embarrassing combination during full locust.

I am incredibly glad that Sara and I are friends and that she has a very good sense of humor.

In fact, she is such an unflappable yogi that she actually did try to lift me -- by lifting her chest -- before I figured out that my hand was not actually resting on her shoulder. Great class.

(Sara is the author of a new blog you should check out too! The title says it all, "Dude, I Hope You Step on a Lego.")

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Great Expectations

We all know that we are supposed to look at our practice without judgement, without expectation. We also all know that his is a little bit bullshit.

Ideally, yes, I would not care what I did yesterday, or that with this many hours logged I should TOTALLY have a locked out knee by now. But my postures are not ideal and neither is my yogic attitude. I'm working on both, but if I admit that this is a process I must also admit that I'm not there yet and that's okay too.

With that said, I have found myself doubting my progress. As a result, when I drag myself into class lately I feel like I have been dragging a lot of baggage too.

I work hard but I find yoga frustrating, rewarding, time consuming, and necessary. For every reason I love it I also want to just walk away. It's painful to feel that way toward something you, at times, love so much and gives you so much in return.

I asked Gianna Purcell, a yogi I have watched in astonishment for the entire four years I have been practicing, how she kept her enthusiasm.

She told me (and this is WAY paraphrased because it happened like a month ago) that she sometimes felt like other people's expectations, although only put upon her by her own head, were a bit weighty. When that happens she'll walk away for a bit, take a few Ashtanga classes then come back to Bikram renewed.

'Other people's expectations?' YES! I've been feeling that but I know I shouldn't, 'cause, you know, "no expectations"? Nobody in my studio is expecting me to be a godess. They will be happy that I show up even if I stay on the floor the whole time breathing. They say this almost every class.

Still, in my own head it is hard not to feel like people want a certain level of practice from me. It comes from the first-timers in the locker room asking how long I've been practicing. From the wounded yogi working their asses off to heal themselves telling me I'm inspirational (I want to shake those people, "Look in the mirror for better inspiration, Yahoo!").

So my reaction to this new knowledge is two parts. Part one: I know I need to knock it off. It's all in my head. If I have to lie down all class just to prove to myself that nobody is going to care, I should do that. If I have to walk away for a bit, I need to do that.

And here is the second part: This is what I do to Gianna's practice. To Allan's. To Aura's. To Jessica's. To Liz's. The list of my yoga idols is extensive. The amount of fawning I do over them a little extreme. I have always intended this to be complimentary. It never occurred to me that these poor yogis are getting pressure from my words. So, to all my idols, please here this:

While I want your poses, what I really want is your cool. I idolize the self-assuredness. The ability to be in a room and own it without so much as a word. My idols have a passion for life and a determination that make it possible to achieve amazing craft. It is that craft, that attention to detail, the knowledge that working towards a goal, slowly, steadily, for years and years and years, is worth it.

If you never do another yoga posture again, I will still feel privileged to know you. I will probably still fawn over you (although I'm going to try to contain myself from here on out, you know, play it cool like some people would infront of rock stars). I will definitely still try to emulate you.

We surround ourselves by people we like. We hope they want to surround themselves with us. It is not a perfect bow that makes us fun at a party, comforting in a hospital room or strong in crisis. It is not a perfect bow I want from you.

I love you all and all of you.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

And I'm Not Even Fully Vegetarian

It occurs to me that my norms may be a bit out of whack.

Rooming with several yogis at a friend's house in St. Louis, we came home from the studio ravenous to find our host cooking his dinner. I got super excited looking into the pan and identifying the delicious smelling contents. 

"Texturized dehydrated vegetable protein! YUM!" I exclaimed.

I got an odd 'I would face-palm myself if I weren't holding this spatula' look. Then he informed me that I was looking at hamburger meat.


When I first was introduced to dehydrated vegetable protein I called it, "de-homogenized, re-homogenized, texturized, veggie crap" because who names food like that?!? At this point it's a fairly normal part of my diet.

Oh, how the mighty have fallen.

Friday, June 7, 2013


My mom is buying me a Vitamix blender. This is an epic event for me.

She came across the idea when she graciously housed a couple of my yogi friends and I who happened to be in St. Louis for a yoga seminar. For the week-long event each yogi had a single backpack.

She was remarking on our ability to consolidate our gear to the bare essentials when we produced a giant Vitamix blender from one of our packs. Im pretty sure it looked like we were pulling a lamp from the Mary Poppins bag.

Just the essentials, folks.

She was a little perplexed that a second t-shirt was considered non-essential but the blender, well, that HAD to go with us.

We are not unusual. Yogis traveling via plane call ahead to see who is bringing a Vitamix. Crash-pads are established by who owns a Vitamix. Vitamixes are the proverbial office water-cooler around which we gather.

So, yes, I am excited. Like, new car excited.

Here are the reasons I am excited:
  1. Participation in the ritual of packing a Vitamix + a weeks worth of travel-gear in a single backpack.
  2. No more chunky smoothies!
  3. There is something you do with grains in these things. Im not sure what, but there is a cookbook included. I look forward to getting my naughty-carb on.
  4. Raw Power!
  5. Cleaning without taking up the whole dishwasher; a drop of soap, turn the blender on, done!
  6. No more poking at kale with a chopstick to get the bits moving.
  7. No more, "Ka-CHUNK!" as the chopstick gets caught in the blade.
  8. No more eating bits of chopstick. (Im sure that will make them taste better!)
  9.  A SEVEN year warranty.
I may paint flames on the side of this bad-boy. Wonder if they make a shaker-hood accessory...

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Vegas, Baby!

I just got back from Vegas! Yes, I know, excess, water in the desert, waste of electricity, blah, blah, blah. Look, The Boy hates warmth.* He got sent to Vegas for a conference. It was my one shot at a warm-weather vacation with my sweetie. I took it, environmental concerns be damned.

To alleviate the guilt, I look at it this way, I've lived around the Great Lakes most of my life, from which Vegas gets most of it's water. So, really, the water is mine. I should be able to enjoy it wherever it ends up.

And they did a fabulous job with my water. I gave them a pure, natural, resource and they bedazzled the eff out of it. 

Michigan Water  / Vegas Water
I am used to Great Lakes water. It is wholesome, woodsy, you fish in it, grow strong strapping young boys around it. Vegas took our water and made it FABULOUS. Capital F. Capital ABULOUS. The raw material for Zsa Zsa Gabor is evidently Mumford and Sons. 

I stayed at the Mirage with the intention of never leaving the pool. The Mirage pool is called a lagoon. It is exactly not like a lagoon at all. The "lagoon" is never more than 4 feet deep because it is very hard to doggy paddle with a 22oz margarita. 

There are multiple waterfalls majestically falling over faux rocks that appear to be designed by the same team that did the zebra exhibits in any zoo that concerned itself with authenticity in the 70s (St. Louis, Detroit, San Diego).  Two, maybe three secluded hot tubs are tucked away in coves near the pool. All of this is surrounded by lush greenery and sky-scraping palms. There are actual cabana girls.

After lounging four hours in this giant, sunny, adult play-pen, mojito in hand, I was shocked back into reality by a cloud. The puffy white bugger had moseyed right between our not-lagoon and the sun! 

Instantly, the entire pool, about 300 tipsy adults, started BOOING the cloud. The beach-ball stopped being thrown, girls' twittering stopped, the only noise was the singular "boo!" that arose from the entire crowd. Every human in the pool had taken up the same indignant skyward glare.Thirty seconds later the cloud had passed. The pool instantly resumed its revelry, each person content they had done their part to shame the poor forsaken cloud.

And THAT is exactly what Vegas and it's grand desert castles is like. Booing a cloud; a false sense that we, and our 300 new bff's, control the universe. And it is grand.

* Doubt this statement? He wants to go to Reykjavik. Our prior vacation spots include Bosnia, in fall. Italy, in the fall. Whitefish, MT, in the winter. Traverse City, the most Northern point in Michigan before you reach the upper peninsula, AKA: Canada, USA. All my summer vacations involve winter coats.

Monday, April 22, 2013

CISPA Day of Action

CISPA passed the House. Please raise your voice before it gets through the Senate.

Hi All! I know this last week has been such a rough ride that most of us want to bury our heads in our pillows and not peek out again until the land is covered in gumdrops and rainbows. I am right there with you.

Bombings, rape, racism; mother nature even kicked us when we were down with flooding. You feel pretty powerless, right? Dedicating a class to world peace just doesn't have the same gratifying release as kicking a nazi in the teeth, does it?

Well, I have some good news for you! There is a real baddie out there that we can all help stop together! Like, for real action is needed! CISPA* is back, and it passed the House. A day of action has been called to stop it from passing the Senate.

Please call your Senator or write a quick email, it will take less than 5 minutes of your time and you will feel like you have control in beating back the bad guys for once. Hooray! Good guys triumph!

*CISPA, first introduced in 2011, would allow corporations like Facebook and cell phone companies to share internet traffic information with the US government with few safeguards on when and how the government can monitor a person's information.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Days of HTML

My last three days has been staring at code. I am not a programer.
I have found my own personal hell. 

Thursday, March 21, 2013

OMG Hot! Don't Panic! (or do, but then stop)

The heat isn't a big deal...until it is. At first you notice your sweat has made its debut unusually early to the class. You return focus to your breath and keep going, maybe a little more cautiously. By the end of eagle pose hysteria has taken hold and you are absolutely positive that you can see your heart-beat in your chest. And your big toe. And the rest of the room. Oh, god! Your eyeballs are beating! You sit down.

Focusing on your breath becomes near impossible with all the heart-beating around the room but you try anyway. Then your impending death occurs to you and you start to question your life choices. Especially that one about going to Bikram Yoga. The rest of the class is spent laying on your back, with an internal monologue that could win a Oscar drowning out the teacher.

So when this spiral starts, don't panic. You have your towel safely beneath you.* Be aware that this is a common spiral and that this is why you are here. Some days you get to work your edge on the physical posture some days you get to work your edge on the mental posture. Congratulations, you are having a doozy of a day for mental improvement!

Some days your ability to focus is helped by the heat, some days, you are fighting it. That is okay. In fact, it's good. Liken this situation to any other stressful situation:
You get in a fight with someone very close to you. During the course of the fight, emotions run high, voices get raised. Eventually, you are seriously contemplating putting your fist through his or her jawbone. The rest of the room just falls away. You don't hear the argument anymore, what you hear is your internal monologue telling you what a horrible, spiteful, fool this other person is. 
Feels kinda similar to what you just felt in the room, doesn't it? It is. Your mind has gone waaaaay off track and is working against you. You need tools to steer it back on course, to slow it down and to make the escalation stop.

The controlled stress of the room puts you in a safe environment (nobody is judging you, trained experts are watching you, and there is an emergency phone, coconut water and air conditioning 5 feet away) where you can experience intense mental pressure and learn, safely, to work through it.

So when you start to spiral, take a breath and start talking yourself down from the spiral. With enough practice in the room you will get good at it out of the room. The DMV, fights with family, when the landlord neglects to mention that the fumes from the work he's doing to the first floor of your building on Christmas day will be so bad that you have to huddle under a pile of blankets on your couch with the windows open fearing for each dying braincell in your poor cat (maybe I could use a little more work myself), will get much easier to manage.

Not fair. You have a fur coat.

*42. If you don't get the joke by now, please get off the internet. I say that for your own protection. I am afraid 4chan may eat you alive.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Blog Statistics

Google Analytics is a powerful marketing tool. When used in conjunction with my business site I can see how people find me, track their journey through the site and scrutinize how long viewers are perusing my portfolio pages.

When used in conjunction with my yoga blog I can see that the number one search term that leads people to Yoga Badassery is, "farting in yoga class." Followed closely behind by, "do people fart in yoga class." An equally high number of Yoga Badassery readers use more concise language and search simply by the words, "farting during yoga."

What? People do that during yoga?!

I am thrilled and honored, although not surprised, that people come to me looking for such high-brow humor. In an effort to further increase my SEO I submit the following:
  • fart
  • flatulence
  • poot
  • pass wind
  • wind removing
  • message from the interior
Google Analytics also shows the search words, "peeing during hot yoga" has lead someone here. Whoever typed that one in, welcome. I sincerely hope that search was not post-experiential.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

And Sometimes You DON'T Fall Down

My sister, brother-in-law and twin nephews drove from DC to New York City to surprise me at nationals. They missed my performance by a mere 20 minutes because I went on early. I don't mind because she didn't mind. I got to hang out with them either way, so I'm happy (Thanks guys! Love you!).

The reason I was early was because nationals was running late.

Nationals were running an hour behind when I checked to estimate what time I would be on. A three-minute routine is a three-minute routine so I figured we were safely on track to continually run later. They couldn't ask people to change to a two-minute format half-way through the event. I added the number of females before me at three-minutes each with a half-hour break that I would be first after, and figured I had roughly two-hours. Plenty of digestion time.

I ran across times square and grabbed a bag of disappointingly bland wasabi peas and some tea. I carried them up to the fifth floor, an area of the adjoining hotel we had taken over, and settled down with a good book.

I was holding a handfull of peas at an 80 degree angle, letting them roll into my upturned mouth, when an organizer, Griffin, appeared at the foot of my couch. "You're on next."

I nearly spit my peas.

Instead, I pushed them into my cheeks like a squirrel holding nuts and shouted, "But I'm EATING!"

Can you come back at the end of the chapter, please?

While they could not change three-minute routines to two-minute routines, they could eliminate breaks to push everything quickly forward. I had neglected to consider that option.

I scooped my belongings into my arms. Peering over the pile to my phone, barely grasped by my fingertips, I texted The Boy, "Schedule change. Up next." We headed down the elevator, bypassing the warm-up room, which I had no time for, to the stage.

My devoted coach, Jessica Rask, and the lovely MJ were calmly filing people on stage; giving a quick hug, words of encouragement, laughter, or a quick nod, each according to the competitor's temperament.

Panic-stricken, I confronted my coach with a singular sentence I hoped encompassed both my unpreparedness and the current affliction I would have to cope with, "I was EATING!"

She calmly looked back, "Kate, you are ALWAYS eating."

Each according to the competitor's needs. I laughed. She laughed. It didn't matter. Part of the mastery of yoga is a mastery of your own breath, your own calm. Slow your breathing, calm your mind. I ran through the mental check-list of things that needed to be done before going on stage. I had lotion still on my leg and hand. I was directed to a sink backstage. I lifted my leg into the sink and soaped it off. I hugged Jessica, hugged MJ, rolled my shoulders back, smiled into the bleaching white of the stage lights and walked on stage.

I am very proud of my performance. My postures rocked, and by that I mean that they teetered, weebled, wobbled, but I did not fall down! I brought none of the seven poses to what I am fully capable of. I forgot to announce the first three entirely,* which I think means that they can't score them at all. But I came off that stage BEAMING. I did it. I competed in nationals, a feat I never thought myself capable of.

Please, when you set out to accomplish something, give yourself credit for the effort. Try something new. Be proud of the effort before you evaluate the shortcomings. No matter how flawed, the attempt itself is glorious.

* Coach and I laughed about that later. I remember very clearly getting into floor bow and thinking, "Hey, this is going really well! Wait...isn't there supposed to be sound?"

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Nationals Approach!

The USA Yoga Federation's National competition is in just a few days. I will be leaving in less than 24 hours and make it to the NYC theater (if my good luck with Southwest Airlines holds) within minutes of registration closing.

One of the beautiful yogis that is sure to do amazing things at nationals, Roxanne Janecki (drawn above), posted this on Facebook just before leaving yesterday for nationals:
All packed up and ready for NYC. This year's USA Yoga National Asana Championship is going to be awesome! 2013, you really are proving to be a memorable and extraordinary year for me. I already have so much to be grateful for and the opportunity to demonstrate my yoga, connect with friends new and old, and to take a moment to reflect on and appreciate all that is and all that was, is icing on the proverbial cake. I'm ready for a week filled with yoga, friends, love, and lots of good times. In the the words of my favorite Living Legend, "How great and glorious is my life?" Time to get on the road with the best partner a girl could ask for.
See what I mean about these yogis? So balanced, so centered.

In the meantime, I am not packed and keep thinking, "OMG OMG OMG OMG! WHEEEEE!!!!! OMG OMG OMG!"

I am experiencing a roller-coaster ride. I'm having a blast but with the distinct impression that I am barely holding on.

My goal for my three-minute routine is firmly in place: BE STILL. And through my flurry of activity from now until my three minutes of slow movement, punctuated by perfect inner and exterior stillness, I will remember to be thankful for whatever I accomplish, what I have accomplished, and what is yet to come because something amazing is happening.

PS For those who would like to watch the championships they will be streaming live on USA Yoga's site. I am told I will be on after the 5:30 break on Saturday, March 2. But be forewarned that these events are about as organized as 52 card pick-up because yogi herding is more complex than cat herding. So times, although presented as fact, are merely a suggestion.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

MJ And The All-Stars

I am privileged. Not just, "white American" privileged, but like, "must have been the dalai lama in the last life" privileged. I have an un-imaginably wonderful boyfriend, family and friends. All of whom are also astoundingly interesting people. Doing what I love (graphic design) provides me enough money to live in Chicago, my city of choice, while also leaving me enough time to do other things I love, like yoga.

To top it all off, I have just returned from St. Louis where I had six days of amazing yogi camaraderie. My teacher hosted a group of national competitors (some slated to go to internationals) and Mary Jarvis, a teacher with 29 years of experience with Bikram yoga, for a week of intensive learning and preparation that I refer to as, "MJ and the All-Stars."

Being notified that I could attend was like getting a golden ticket to be backstage at The Oscars; if I liked movies, or TV, or whatever it is that The Oscars promotes. Watching the list of attendees grow I got more and more awestruck…and nervous. I wasn't sure if I could keep up. Nobody expected me to, not even me, but I still wanted to match everything they did, backbend for backbend, push-up for push-up.

I pictured myself on day one trying to pull off a casual, "Uh, you guys keep going. I forgot I left a Tofurkey in the oven…in Chicago." as I slipped out the door.

I am pleased to say that I only missed one round of push-ups the whole week and that was only because I was too busy talking to a new friend to notice that everyone was already in the next set. The scene could have easily been me as a 10 year-old kid at summer camp; too excited about all the new stuff and people to focus on the task at hand.

The beauty of the training was that, like the Bikram Beginning Series, it was equally challenging yet manageable for myself and the h.o.b.* yogis. Or at least I think so. Really, it was hard to tell through all the smiling.

So, now that I have attended the Yoga-Oscars I will proceed to the movie-set itself, the nationals. I am eagerly looking forward to seeing everyone again. Unlike movie stars, when you get to know the All-Stars as actual people the magic isn't ruined, it's deepened. I find it hard to believe that some of these people exist. They are like more patient, kinder, more flexible and stronger versions of humans -- the personality equivalent of tiger-scorpion. And like tiger-scorpion, I'll get there too, I just need time and yoga. A LOT of yoga.

* head-on-butt

Friday, January 25, 2013

Yoga & Competition

No matter the company, when I mention that I am a competitor in the Asana Championships the temperature in the surrounding room drops. From yogis who do not compete I have instantly become a viper, waiting to lash out and poison their practice with my egotistical Western ways. From non-yogis, I get confused stares. Sometimes I am lucky and the person asks, "How does that work?" While the question itself is phrased to inform me that I have obviously missed the point of yoga, I am eager to explain. It is far preferable to the judgement that hangs in the air unspoken when people don't ask.

Like yoga itself, yoga competition originated in India (according to the USA Yoga Federation, there have been asana championships in India for 2000 years) and are common (daily, according to the same source). While frequency does not make something right, it does relieve the competition from the burden of being, "Western," a word spit with spite from many yogis mouths. Many have nurtured an opinion that all Western thought is egocentric, while all concepts generated from Indian Gurus are sacred and the path to enlightenment. In the words of my dear friend and teacher, Aura, "Not all things in India are beautiful."* 

With the misinformation out of the way, I challenge you to look not at the words' juxtaposition, but only at competition itself. I believe it is actually this word that makes people's skin crawl. 

Let me use an internet meme to illustrate. 

The word, "competition" is derived from the Latin word, "competere," meaning "to strive in common." You band with other yogis to strive together, to support each other, to rejoice in growth, to bitch about how much your buttocks hurts.

There is a goal, certainly, and some people will come closer to reaching that goal than others. But everyone competing benefits. Winning itself is not the goal, merely to attain the closest proximity to perfection one can. Which, for me, is about like standing on a piece of paper to get to the moon. I do try to stack my little pieces of paper with each competition though. 

If you are questioning why would I do that knowing I will forever be so far from the goal, your focus is in the wrong place. It's not the winning, it's the striving that matters. For three months (6 months this year due to a schedule fluke) I dedicate myself as intensively as I can to my practice. For those months coaches and friends form a 360 degree support net for me. It takes a lot of dedication, a level of dedication I can not commit to year round. The training becomes a bit like a meditation retreat, or a detox program -- sometimes those are part of training. 

This support system is essential because there are so many days you just don't feel strong enough. Sometimes it's emotional, sometimes it's physical, sometimes you just have a case of the fuckits. For the days you just can't bring yourself to do backbends you have a friend willing to be strong for you…or just guilt you into it. You have a coach willing to say when you've gone too far, or when you haven't gone far enough. You allow your postures and mind to be open to intense scrutiny in the interest of becoming a better yogi.

So why not do all the work without a 'competition?' 

The final 3 minute demonstration offers closure at the end of an intense period of change. A culmination of all the emotional, spiritual and physical growth you have worked for. A time for you to acknowledge your hard work and give thanks to your support system, and yourself, for all that work. It is a beautiful release and intensely emotional. So intense, in fact, that I usually end up getting a wee snookered with my support system afterwards. I mean let's be honest, improved, yes, perfect, no. 

* She made this very pertinent remark after we both watched a documentary on pilgrimages in India. A man had left his family to reside with a guru. I was horrified, in that society the man essentially left his family to starve. She was pointing out the beauty of belief.

PS All that being said, much to my surprise, I managed to place this year (don't ask how I pulled that off, I'm in shock myself) and am going to compete in New York in a month. I am snowboarding in MT next week but will post all my adventures as they happen when I get back. I get to train with Mary Jarvis and a bunch of yogis I have total ga-ga eyes for, like Allan and Gianna and Zeb. I'm calling that week of training, "MJ and the All-Stars (+Kate)!" If they're cool with it, I'm going to blog about my experience with them. 

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Introducing the R&B Cleanse

I have invented a new diet. I expect it to be all the rage. Angelina Jolie will be singing its praise in Vogue by the end of the month. Am I a dietitian? No. Do I know if it has any medical benefits as opposed to the diets already out there? No. Is it really just a cleanse that I am too lazy to do properly? Yes.

I don't think that really matters. It's weird and has a catchy name: R&B. Hollywood will eat it up.

This is how the R&B diet came about:

I was attempting my first juice fast when I realized I do not own a juicer. No problem, smoothie fast.
Day 1 of my smoothie fast: Yum. But I realized I had leftover cheesy pasta. I hate food going to waste. I'll just finish it up real fast.

Day 2 of smoothie fast: I feel like I am just shoving whatever I can find into a blender. This inspires an idea, Can't I just shove a steak into the blender? I mean, technically that would still be a smoothie.

I don't purée a steak, but I decide maybe there isn't much difference between my smoothies and salads anyway. So I eat a few salads. I decide "raw" is a much better way to describe my diet. I mean, aside from that cheesy pasta.

Day 2, 12th hour of my raw diet: I don't have nearly enough seeds in the house to make anything remotely appealing and it is too cold outside to gather nuts from the grocery store 30 feet from my house. I spot the chocolate covered banana in my freezer. The banana itself is raw; it's just the chocolate that isn't. I peel most of the chocolate off, then procede to pick at the chocolate pieces. Close enough.

Day 2, 16th hour of my raw diet: I decide that I should have planned better, stocking up on nuts and spirolina like a squirrel before winter. I am so tired I am ready for bed at 4pm. I decide randomly that I must not be getting enough protein. I decide beans are okay. I make a salad with spiced beans. I eat the whole can. The R&B diet is born: Raw + Beans.

Day 3: I figure these are supposed to be short-term cleanses anyways and decide to let myself off the hook. If I can make it raw (and beans) for the rest of the day I will consider this cleanse a success.

I make it until 8pm. Good enough.

Contemplating the Nature of Leaves

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Salsa Recipe

In the spirit of New Years resolutions (and to appease the salsa god, Danielle, for the vegetarian post), I would like to post a helpful hint for keeping healthy.

For those of us who enjoy the occasional green juice but are massive fans of solid, hearty food, here is my favorite salsa recipe. Mainly, it's my favorite because it's easy, and cooking is more time consuming than any necessity has a right to be, but it's got good flavor too:

A bunch of tomatoes (4 maybe?)
A handful of fresh basil
1 TBSP olive oil
1/2 an onion

2 chili peppers (sloppily deseeded*)

Salt and pepper to taste (go ahead, indulge in salt, we sweat it out)

Throw everything in a food processor and give it a whirl. (Do the tomatoes last so they don't get all frothy.)

You can make this salsa in a minute and it will add massive flavor to your meals without many calories. Added bonus, by topping your food with chopped fresh veggies you're adding nutrients too.

Things to do with your salsa to make an instant meal:

Instead of salad dressing
Top a pile of beans
Top a pile of quinoa
Top a pile of steamed root veggies
Top a pile of ...well you get the idea.

Happy 2013 everyone!

* Sloppy = be lazy about it. No anal retentive cooks here. Get a good 60% out and call it good enough. The lazier you are the hotter the salsa will be.