Tag Archives: yoga

10 Days in Chile: A Not Remotely Exhaustive Gallery of Valparaiso Murals

The sunburn faded. My delicate stomach is back to its natural equilibrium. My suitcase is unpacked and back under my bed. It’s kind of hard to believe that less than a week ago, I was here:

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The glacial lake at Cajon de Maipo, outside of Santiago, Chile

I spent 10 days in and around Santiago, from Valparaiso to the Valle de Elqui, traveling with a dear friend and making some new ones. We saw sea lions dozing on harbor rocks, hiked snow-covered peaks, ate sopaipilla upon sopaipilla and palta upon palta, gazed at the Milky Way through the clearest sky in the hemisphere, and even took a yoga class in Spanish (turns out Sanskrit is Sanskrit wherever you go).

In the Museum of Memory and Human Rights I listened to Allende’s last address to the country while La Moneda was bombed around him. In the Salvador Allende Museum of Solidarity and Resistance, I saw works of art by Miro and Picasso donated to the people of Chile. In the homes of Pablo Neruda, salt and pepper shakers were labeled Morphine and Marijuana, water tasted better in red and green glass, and merry-go-round horses were repurposed into living room decor. In the Chilean Museum of Pre-Colombian Art, I saw Mapuche grave markers, Andean weaving, and Inca quipus (knotted string accounting tools).

And then there were the murals of Valparaiso. Chicago is not known as a city of great street art (though we do have a few notable exceptions), and so I always find myself stunned by the simple joy of paint on walls in other cities. Not that this is just paint on walls, no, it’s anything but your average scrawled signature or fuck-the-man anti-establishment tagging. This is gorgeous, moving art that nestles itself between buildings, becoming part of the architecture of the city instead of merely hanging on the side of it. A few examples, but believe me, I could go on:

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Related Post: Bringing back lady art

Related Post: On the Inca Trail

 

 

 

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Even Skinny Girls Deserve Compassion

As you may or may not know, I began yoga teacher training a few weeks ago. This is part of an ongoing “plan” (I wish it were as organized as a plan) to diversify my income, learn more about yoga, give back to the yoga community I love so dearly, and get way more OkCupid responses (because seriously, dudes go nuts for yoga teachers… they think we’re super bendy.)

It was only on the first day of training that I realized, OMG, I’m going to be teaching beginners…. Somewhere along the line I had let this small fact slip away. I had envisioned myself designing killer sequences and deep, thought-provoking themes. I didn’t so much visualize the part where I’d be teaching people for whom “square hips” doesn’t mean anything, for whom “mountain pose” and “chair pose” are new concepts. Don’t get me wrong, I’m super pumped for the challenge, it’s just a different challenge than the one I’d been planning for in my head.

Part of training is observing other teachers as they teach the beginner sequence. In one such observation, I became supremely focused on one Barbie-like girl in the back who, in full make-up, was seriously struggling. Instead of feeling compassion or observing the teacher’s directions aimed at helping her, I felt a little thrill. It’s embarrassing, but sometimes when I see thin people struggle with exercise, I gloat.

As a non-thin person, I routinely face assumptions about my exercise habits that are patently false, and I’m regularly reminded about how little we can tell about someone’s fitness and wellness just by looking. So, this week for Role/Reboot, I wrote about my own struggle to be a little less judgmental, a little compassionate, and give the same benefit of the doubt to the skinnies as I expect given to to me.

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Related Post: Obesity is a problem, so is body-shaming.

Related Post: On wrinkles and love your body day!

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Yoga Is for Everyone, (aka Can it, Jen Caron)

I refuse to link to Jen Caron’s terrible essay at xoJane about how tough it was for her, as a skinny white woman, to be in a yoga class with a large black woman. It’s awful on every level. You’ve probably already seen it because everyone and their mother is sharing it with hashtags like #gross and #stfu.

I love yoga. I love yoga so much I’m going to learn how to teach it so I can help other people love yoga. I think yoga is for everyone, and I think its emphasis on self-awareness, mindfulness, self-care, and gratitude is lovely and inclusive and accessible to any and all type of people. That’s why it kills me when people try to ruin yoga, which Caron attempted with a racist, presumptuous, condescending post about a woman new to her studio who appeared to be struggling with the postures. I’m getting mad just thinking about it.

If you would like to read more of my thoughts on Caron, yoga, inclusiveness, etc, check out my Role/Reboot piece this week:

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Related Post: 1 in 4 women don’t exercise because they’re unhappy with the way they look

Related Post: The problem with strong is the new skinny.

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1 in 4 women don’t exercise because they’re unhappy with their looks

This week for Role/Reboot I went back to basics on body image and exercise. Inspired by the Sports Bra Challenge, I wrote about the damaging and oddly pervasive idea that exercise is only for people that are already fit. 1 in 4 American women don’t exercise because they are unhappy with how they look (in addition to other things they don’t do with the same rationale, like apply for promotions, talk to new people, go to parties)

. This is a thing, and it makes no sense to me. The last time you should feel self-conscious about your body is when you are actively trying to treat it well.

Screenshot_4_11_13_1_50_PMRelated Post: Why is it okay to put 16-year-olds in lingerie ads? It’s really not.

Related Post: Model behavior and a train of thought.

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Filed under Body Image, Republished!

Sports Bra Challenge

Wish I lived in New York so I could attend the Sports Bra Challenge. This sounds so fun and it is so in line with my feelings on exercise and self-confidence. The moments when you’re actively trying to take care of your body should be the last time you should be feeling self-conscious or insecure.

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I don’t usually exercise in just a sports bra. I would tell you that it’s for some practical reason that I don the requisite t-shirt or tank, but 9 times out of 10, the truth is that I’m just embarrassed. I’m often one of the bigger girls in yoga or at kickboxing and stuff shakes when I move around, you know? There’s a little extra around the middle that jiggles when I get going and it’s easier just to cover it up.

Every now and then I do go to yoga in just a sports bra, usually because I forgot a top. At first, all the mirrors psych me out and I get distracted by the softer parts of my anatomy and how they may or may not be hanging over the band of my yoga pants. Eventually, though, the zen of yoga kicks in. The focus it requires to move my body through the air with any mindfulness is enough to make the mirror fade out. Then, usually, there’s a moment where I’m holding some posture I find difficult, and I catch a view of myself sweating and starting to shake, and I look super strong and super focused and the roll of belly that has folded as I twist is suddenly, obviously, completely beside the point.

For me, the point of something like the Sports Bra challenge is to remind myself the reason that I exercise. It is not for the other girls at my studio, nor for the dudes running on the lakeshore, it’s for me. It makes me feel good. It makes me feel like I can do things. It is the enabler for many other things I want to do, like take more walks, hike the Inca Trail, attempt to surf, live in a fourth-floor walk-up.

One of my least favorite celebrity-spotting trends is the criticism we level at women (and shockingly it’s almost always women) about how unkempt they look when they exercise. No make-up, the horror! Sweaty ponytail, oh my! Stretch pants and a bit of cellulite, alert the media! Except, we actually do alert the media. It’s like they don’t understand that constant exercise is the only way these stars stay in the shape we expect them to stay in, and that mascara and hair gel are not the best gym accoutrements.

If you are exercising, then you are an exerciser, whether you look like one or not. You have no obligation to look like anything for anyone, ever, but you especially have no obligation to look like anything for anyone when you’re explicitly devoting time to self-care. Wear what makes you comfortable and able to focus on why you’re there in the first place. If that’s a hoodie and sweatpants, that’s fine. If it’s a sports bra and shorts, do you girl, whatever gets you out here and keeps you moving.

Related Post: Wait, is that an average sized fitness model?

Related Post: What if you don’t look like a runner?

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Filed under Advertising, Body Image

More on Resolutions

For Role/Reboot this week, I elaborated on my position on resolutions. Bottom line: December 31st = not important, taking stock of what you want/need = very important.

Resolve To Ask Yourself What You Need, Then Go For It

Related Post: Feminism and raunch humor for Role/Reboot.

Related Post: Comparing church to dating.

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I Hearby Resolve…

…to attempt to keep this New Year’s Eve post at a tolerable level of cheesiness, but I make no promises. It’s 8:00 and I’m still in sweatpants reading my book and listening to revelers get an early start on the block below. My house is quiet, for the moment, and it’s kind of nice to have a few hours to myself before it’s time to hop and wiggle into some tights and a dress, try to make my hair look like this, and go see some people I really like to celebrate the end of 2012.

One of the many adjustments New Englanders make when they move west is the realization that when the ball drops on Times Square and Ryan Seacrest’s spray-tanned mug splits into a manic grin, it will only be 11:00 here. The east coast really does think it’s the center of the world, so settling in Chicago has been more of a mental shift than a geographic one to me. It seems fitting for the second city to have the second New Year’s.

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One of my favorite moments in yoga is when we’re asked to put our palms up if we’re seeking energy, palms down if we want to feel more grounded. It’s a question that forces us to consider, even briefly, what exactly we need at that moment. Are we on our way up or or the way down? What is coming and where does my mind need to be to make the most of it? Personally, I don’t ask myself these questions nearly enough, so the end of a yoga practice is as good a time as any.

Which brings me to everyone’s favorite NYE topic: resolutions. I fully admit they are arbitrary and unlikely to be fulfilled. That said, this is a moment, silly and sensationalized as it is, to think about what I want for the next year, and so here’s what I’ve got:

1. Drink more water.

2. Eat more delicious things, like bagels and cream cheese, cupcakes, guacamole, fresh fruit, and bacon. Eat less fake shit, even if there’s enough sugar and salt and sugar and salt substitutes to temporarily trick me into thinking it’s delicious.

3. Take more walks. Have you seen my city?

4. Do more yoga.

5. Call my parents more. Talk to my brother more. Take the 21 minutes I could be watching a sitcom and call someone I haven’t heard from in a while.

6. Give away what I don’t need.

7. Read stuff that doesn’t reinforce what I already believe to be true. I don’t know about Fox.com, but there has to be a middle ground, right?

8. Drink more water (It needs to be said again!) In fact, I’m going to go get some right now.

9. Do things that make me make this face (↓) as much as possible:

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See you all on the other side!

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