Creating Space for Creative Space

I had the most amazing night.

I was a guest at Tantris Yoga. The GM invited me for a restorative class, and I was able to experience this week-old Yoga Center without the pomp and circumstance and distraction of opening night. I was able to experience the space as my most authentic yogic self.

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LOOK AT THIS SPACE! Wait… I have more pictures:

Right? RIGHT? Just gorgeous. Tantris is owned by Russell Simmons (he of Def Comedy Jam and the notorious Rush Card), and honestly he did the damn thing. This space is just gorgeous. Serene and yogic and practical all at once. Such detail. I haven’t even gotten into the actual practicing space (which I have not photographed… yet), which features the most amazing floors and windows. And there’s heat! INFRARED HEAT! You know I’m taking my tail back there for a heated class as soon as my little car can carry me through the canyon…

The class I took was restorative. Goodness knows I needed it, because 2 days of back to back strength yoga with the incomparable Nick Wilder have left my glutes and hamstrings in a STATE. I released my joints (there were literal POPS in my hips and low spine) in the best way with the help of props and deep breathing. It was everything. The class was taught by the Tantris GM Karen Russell. She has a way of making you release by imitating a ‘yawn’… and suddenly you’re yawning and releasing and falling asleep…

It was really over too soon. She said ‘final pose’ and I was like WHAT? WHYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY…

So good.

Afterwards, we chatted and she told me they’re holding auditions..? SAY WHAT? Ya’ll pray for me ’cause I’m for real trying to live there. No joke. Oh, and Habibi too. What, you thought I was gonna leave my baby behind? No dice.

I love this space. Here’s hoping it loves me back.

Coming with me to 2016…

The year is nearly up, and I refuse to make a single resolution. Instead, I’ve set short term goals (like getting the tint pulled off of Liz’ front windows ’cause after 5 years I got pulled over… AS IF! #lagirlproblems) because there’s a much better chance of achieving them. While there is plenty for me to leave behind in 2015 (the motto for the new year is SIMPLIFY), there are some practical items that I’ll be dragging along with me.

BODY:

Jade (thin) Yoga Mats. I know it doesn’t sound like a big deal but when I tell you that I keep several of these in my car, one in my suitcase (it never gets unpacked), jade matand one in the house… I’m not kidding. Since I probably exclusively practice yoga (what do I mean probably, and WHY haven’t I cancelled my gym membership? SMH Goal for 2016. Yep), I can pull one of them out anywhere and practice or meditate. They are damn near like a security blanket at this point. I love them because you can literally fold them down into a small square like a scarf and shove them into the tiniest spaces. They weigh next to nothing, and they grip like nobody’s business. That and a little bottle of homemade mat cleaner and I’m good to go. Since I’ve been training private clients (and the #1 excuse is: I don’t have a yoga mat), it’s easy to whip them out and lay them down and declare DOWNWARD FACING DOG. 😉

Habibi SPIRIT Deodorant

You’d think that a person who has access to so many fragrances wouldn’t SPIRIT1opt for the one universal unisex one, but I’ve been using this deodorant every single day since formulating it over the summer. The scent is light and non-offensive, and busts funk on men and women with a single swipe. Between practicing and teaching, there’s little to no time to freshen up between classes so literally a swipe is all I have seconds for these days. The best proof is after class #3 and someone is like: “You smell so fresh…” there have been times when I’ve lifted my arm to take a whiff, just to make sure they’re telling the truth. I gave them as gifts after my last training, and now all my yogi omies are singing the praises. It’s good stuff, even if I am a little biased.

Holika Holika Aloe Gel

Man look. I’ve already talked about having no time. When I tell you that there is a holika aloebottle of this in just about every mobile thing I own (I’m talking gym bag, purse, car…). First of all, the packaging is mad convenient. There’s a ton of product and a little bit goes a long way. If I have to shower at the studio, it goes head to toe… HEAD TO TOE. I’ll even slap some on the edges of my hair to keep it flat under my wrap (natural hair DO care) because the sweat/pouf struggle is real. It keeps my skin under control in a pinch because with all that heat, some bacteria is bound to try to sneak in these pores… and I am NOT having it. I rinse my face between classes, slap on some gel and follow with my next must have.

HABIBI Seven Veils Luxury Serum

It’s probably real raggedy for me to be toting this around like it didn’t seven veilscost a damn mint to formulate. But my excuse is that I make it, so I’ll take the hit for being ratchet with it. I keep one tucked safely a bubble pouch (see… raggedy) in my gym bag. I will run a pump through my hair with the aloe (what did I say about the pouf struggle?) and always ALWAYS one pump on my face. Sometimes a little around my eye and lip area. Everything gets so dry after teaching hot yoga, so healthy moisture non negotiable. Habibi was born of a need to deal with my own skin problems. So I practice what I preach early and often.

FACE:

I’ve been using NARS Radiant Tinted Moisturizer since it came out years ago. I’ve converted many a makeup skeptic to its wondrous finish and staying power. Now I hear that NARS is getting cute and thinking about discontinuing it. Why… WHY malagaFOR HELL would you discontinue one of your absolute best products? That had better be a rumor. As soon as I found out I had an appropriate meltdown and bought two. I might get two more while you playing. That is NOT cool NARS. Not cool at all. I swear up, down and all around by this stuff. And trust me when I tell you I’ve used all manner of foundations and tinted moisturizers and nothing holds a candle to this stuff for natural finish and performance. I’m so mad about this. I’m going to drag this relationship on for as long as humanly possible. Hmph.

beauty bakerie

Beauty Bakerie Lip Whips are a recent discovery for me. They require quite the learning curve (I’ve ended up with lips drier than the Sahara Desert… walking around lookin’ like Ashy Larry with a hint of color), but once you master the art of putting these babies on, they do NOT MOVE until you take them off with an oil based cleanser. They’re not kidding about the staying power. Although I love Dose of Colors, these actually last longer. I’ve worn them while teaching the hottest, sweatiest yoga classes, then food and drinks after, and my lips will look as good as the moment I first applied it. These lippies are EVERYTHING. Love.

And every oily girl must have Innisfree No Sebum Powder in her arsenal. Forget innisfreewhat you think you know about HD powders and oil control everything; this little pot of magic is cheap and highly effective. On my oiliest days I layer the tinted moisturizer BETWEEN layers of this powder. Stuff’s epic. I buy them 3, sometimes 4 at a time. Like the aloe, there is a pot of this everywhere I  need to be, including a backup in my glove compartment. I’m so serious about this powder. The only thing that would make it better is if I could get it from my local beauty supply instead of having to raid Amazon.com every few months.

That’s it! I’m dragging all this goodness into the New Year with me! What are ya’ll carrying through with you?

 

 

 

Attitude Adjustment: The Power of Inversion

“On our mat we are all students, and we are all teachers.”

I woke up this morning on the strange side of… something. I don’t have an reason or an excuse for the way I was feeling, but I was OFF. And although I slept very little, by 4am I was up and restless and annoyed all to be damned. So I got up to run.

During the run (told ya it clears my head), I remembered that there’s something I’m supposed to be doing. I have promised myself to invert… alone. Right now, I can only invert with the help of an aerial silk, or my lovely husband, at whom I screech every time he threatens to let my feet go. Inversion is good for me. Inversion is what I must do. Inversion is key.

So after a few miles, I trotted to the local gym studio to practice doing… something. I still wasn’t quite sure what I was going to do. I laid down a mat next to a support post, made a little triangle with my elbows and wrists and put my head down…

…and stayed there…

…for a long time.

Then I popped up one foot, and came back down. Then one foot and the other, and came back down. A girlfriend had already started coaching me on using my ‘hips’ to lift, and not to throw up my legs, so I tried that.

Didn’t work.

I looked at myself in the mirror and realized that my legs were getting a lot higher than I thought they were (I literally felt like I was only a couple of inches off the ground). Once I realized that, I got the courage to just go for it.

And I made it!

All the way up to the post, then a deep breath and one foot… then two feet in the air. I was so proud! I just knew that I looked like this:

But I really looked more like this:

But no matter… the point is that I made it! And I started to feel better. A LOT better. I can’t solve everything about everything in one fell swoop (this is often my preoccupation). I don’t know if it’s the reverse blood flow or the fact that I felt like I finally did something that I’ve been promising myself forever, but my perspective took a positive turn.

By the time I walked home with the sunrise at my back, I was right as rain. I’m definitely going to practice this until I get it right. I’m so glad I was able to do it this first time… and it’s the ‘practice’ that makes yoga what it is. So I’m going to do it and do it and do it…

Now I just have to work on looking more like a gazelle and less like a boulder. 😀

DDP Yoga: Are you up for the challenge?

THIS IS NOT YOGA!

That thunderous declaration can be heard at least three times a week, in a 24 Hour Fitness class, inappropriately named ‘Power Yoga.’ Instructor Averill Kessee (who trained under DDP Yoga founder/former wrestler Diamond Dallas Paige) walks through the class and demands that any new people ‘stand up’ so that he can take note of whether there are any injuries. Inevitably, someone either refuses to stand up or protests that he/she is familiar with yoga and can handle anything that might come their way in the class.

This arrogance is noted, and the class watches as the smug expressions of said person inevitably turn into grimaces of pain… and sometimes tears. No matter how many times this happens, it never gets old.

Maybe you know this guy. Diamond Dallas Paige made his fortune tossing his opponents (and himself) around a ring … when ‘show wrestling’ was all the rage. His career soared, but his body took one hell of a beating. It got so bad that the simple act of getting out of bed in the morning sometimes proved to be too much.

Paige’s wife suggested yoga, to which he immediately scoffed and declared that ‘Yoga was for Girls.’ Hmph. Eventually he gave in… tried it… and loved it. Paige says he created DDP Yoga for everyone… but especially men, who think that yoga is for girls.

This is Averill. Don’t let the body fool you. This man is as flexible as a dancer… a fact which often pisses off the dancers in any one of his classes. There is nothing relaxing about his class, or this particular ‘form’ of practice. Averill turns up the lights, turns up the music (which can range from Funkadelic to Insane Clown Posse), and yells at the class … sometimes with good reason, often with none.

For one hour (give or take), he leads you through poses with the most ridiculous names you’ve ever heard (Bird/Dog… Awkward Airplane… Lunging Touchdown – which is actually Crescent Pose), and twists your body into contortions that you didn’t even think were possible. And just as you look up to glare at him and dare him to do the same thing, you find that not only is he in the freakin’ pose… he’s in a more advanced version of it. Crap.

After you have been twisted, pulled, balanced and disrespected all to be damned… Averill commands you to sit on your butt and close the class properly.

“In this class, we do not say Namaste. We make the sign of the Diamond… raise our hands up… SLAM IT! Give yourselves hand…”

…to which we break into exhausted applause, utter one more cuss word for good measure, and crawl out of the classroom.

The trek home, and eventually into bed is brutal. Everything hurts. No matter how many times I’ve taken the class… everything hurts. Averill does something different each time, so your body is never bored. He firmly believes in muscle confusion, and he’ll make you a believer too.

Especially when you wake up the next morning and find that, despite the fact that you ache from the top of your head to the bottom of your toes, there is an inch missing from your waist. And your hips. And your thighs. WTH! This madness actually works.

Now, if you can’t make it to see Dallas (Santa Monica), or Averill (N. Hollywood)… fear not. This fantastically effective version of torture yoga is also available online.

Go HERE to check it out.

And while you’re there, check out Arthur’s story. Bring a tissue… it’ll make you cry. And say this to yourself: “If Arthur can do it… what the HECK am I whining about?”

Mind + Body Beauty: Changing My Perspective with UP Flying Yoga

I should probably start with a bit of history. I’m not new to yoga. I practiced actively for a decade or so… then left my mat for another decade {I see you trying to do the math and figure out my age :-). Cut that out.}

Last year, I went back to my mat with purpose. While I spent my youth practicing for exercise (and vanity), I began this time and set the purpose seek balance and acceptance.

This past Mother’s Day (what…being mommy to three dogs and a cat COUNTS), my amazing Husband asked me what I wanted… and I told him that I wanted Aerial Yoga lessons.

Say what?

I wanted to go ‘up’ in the air… invert…  let go… and really change my perspective. Aerial yoga seems like the perfect place to help achieve my purpose.

Today, I drove over to the UP Flying Yoga studio — declared myself an intermediate yogi — and dared Kimberly Simonetti to challenge me.

She did.

These swaths of silk suspended from the ceiling are the hammocks, and I soon learned… my best friend. Used properly, that fabric is as stable as the ground beneath your feet (well, maybe not MY feet… I live in earthquake prone California). I went from being skeptical (even after Kimberly told me the hammocks can hold 1,000 pounds), to being a massive fan. I felt like a kid again! I had to learn to really listen to Kimberly’s instructions so that I wouldn’t accidentally unravel. But eventually, I feel like I got the ‘hang’ of it…

I had the BEST time! Kimberly is very encouraging… and I found that I did best if I just closed my eyes and listened. Placement is everything. You don’t want to get up there and realize you haven’t secured yourself properly. I am so jazzed about this… I can’t wait to do it again!