movies, travel, Yoga

A Recent [Silly] Discovery

So, anyone who knows me knows that Teen Witch is absolutely my FAVORITE childhood movie.

The first time I saw it, I was on a family summer vacation to Cancun, Mexico. I was probably nine, going on ten.  The day had started out sunny and bright, but it began to rain early in the afternoon. So we had lunch in the hotel’s restaurant and went back to the room. My parents put the TV on and fell asleep. My sister and I looked for something to watch and I found Teen Witch on HBO.  I was instantly enthralled.

In the movie, Louise, a nerdy sixteen-year-old girl, finds out she’s actually a witch. She uses her superpowers to make herself the most popular girl at her high school– she suddenly gets a curly perm, begins rocking tiered miniskirts instead of dowdy dusters over sweaters, she gets the lead in the school play, and the captain of the football team conveniently forgets about his girlfriend, Randa, to begin dating Louise. It’s all fluff and fantasy and totally ’80s cheesy– but it’s quite hilarious to me!  There are all these random scenes when the characters burst into song and dance.  Including this one:



Allow me to explain what’s happening here.  Louise, the redhead, and her best friend, Polly, are just riding their bikes around the neighborhood after a game of tennis, as nerd girls are apparently wont to do.  Louise has only recently been informed of her status as a descendant of the witches of Salem, so she starts out practicing easy spells.  Her link to her powers is the amulet you see her reach for– it plays a key role in nearly every spell she casts.  And she makes Polly, played by Mandy Ingber, become a rapper and go toe-to-toe with her crush.  *yowls in laughter*

Moving on to the silly discovery. Little mousy Polly grew up  to be Jennifer Aniston’s YOGA INSTRUCTOR! (There’s a cool interview with Mandy at the link.)  And how did I learn this, you ask?

Well, sometime last week, I found this article on Jezebel, which made my day. A stage show called Teen Witch: The Musical actually EXISTS!  And a commenter mentioned that Polly was a yoga teacher to the stars.  Which is how I found Mandy Ingber‘s blog.  It is totally worth reading.

Is it completely silly for me to say that I am deeply satisfied by this discovery? I just think it’s so cool that this woman, who grew up acting, just decided one day that her practice– which she’d been taught as a child by her father– was what made her whole, and that she was going  to make a living doing it.  I also think it’s cool that I grew up watching her (my parents got me Teen Witch on VHS when we got back to the States, and I bought the DVD about four years ago), and came to the same conclusion on my own– though I doubt I’ll teach yoga full time. It’s just something I love, and I want to share it.

Speaking of sharing…last weekend, my teacher training resumed and we spent all day Saturday practicing hands-on assists, and all day Sunday practice teaching.  I now have Surya Namaskar A and B completely memorized, which is amazing!  And I got to practice savasana assists on my classmates AND during Laurie’s class last night, which I was observing.  I love savasana assists. They’re so delicious.  If you ever come to my classes, be prepared for a long, lovely savasana!

Fitness, Yoga

Notes on Overcoming Injury

feet of a running woman


The last time I ran was during a physical therapy session in October.

My therapist said I was getting stronger, and he wanted to test out my bum knee.  I had been in physical therapy for my patellofemoral pain syndrome for nearly three months by that point, but I was skeptical. I didn’t think my knee was ready.  He set me up on the treadmill:  a brisk walk for ten minutes, then a slow jog for five.  While I warmed up, he went around visiting his other clients.  He came back and watched me jog for three minutes.

“How do you feel?” he asked.

“Fine,” I replied.  My knee didn’t hurt.  I didn’t feel any tightness, grinding, or locking.  I smiled. He smiled back.

“You’re not even out of breath,” he said.  He increased the treadmill’s  speed slightly.  I picked up the pace and felt the sweat begin to trickle behind my ears.  He smiled again, and then went off to assist an older woman with a shoulder injury.

While he was gone, I grinned to myself in excitement.  Soca was blaring in my ears.  My feet connected with the belt in a perfect, pounding, familiar rhythm. I had missed that rhythm more than I ever thought I could.

I was so caught up in my running reverie that my therapist’s sudden appearance startled me, and I nearly stumbled.  I caught myself, though, and laughed as he brought the treadmill’s speed down to a slow walk.

“You look excited,” he said.

“I am!”  I smiled so hard my sole, very fickle dimple showed. The last time I’d gone for a run was in June, and I’d stopped after a mile and hobbled home in an alarming amount of pain.  I couldn’t even stand the next morning—my knee buckled as stepped out of bed.  I called in sick from work, and took myself to my general physician, who recommended physical therapy, though she couldn’t tell me exactly what the problem was.  It was only later, after seeing a sports medicine doctor, that I was diagnosed.  And I hadn’t even looked at my Brooks since.

My therapist told me to ice my knee if I felt any pain, and to try running again on my own– no more than a mile, on a soft surface, preferably a track, before our next session.

Hurricane Sandy struck on what was to be that next session. I went back for two of my remaining four sessions, then became preoccupied with taking classes with Laurie to fulfill my YTT requirements.

And now I’m afraid to run again.

My knee doesn’t hurt.  I don’t know if it will ever feel normal, if it will be the same as it was before my injury.  Perhaps I’m just hyper-aware of it now.  For the last few weeks, I’ve done pigeon in class, rather than taking the reclined modification.  I told myself that if I felt any tension in my knee, I’d come out of the posture—but I didn’t feel anything at all.  I used to have the strange sensation that I was strangling my knee when I did pigeon before. But it felt okay. Not comfortable, because pigeon is a deep hip-opener. It just wasn’t painful.  So I continued to do it.  And I’ve been pain-free.

Yet I am still afraid of lacing up my sneakers and getting on my treadmill.

I am afraid of getting hurt again.

I’m afraid of the consequences of getting hurt.  The pain, the frustration. The ice packs and daily Naproxen cocktail. The doctors’ visits and twice-weekly physical therapy sessions.  I don’t want to go through that again.

But my body misses running.  It is heavy and sluggish, and it craves movement—more than it gets even with all of the Vinyasa classes I take every week.

I’m trying to figure out the balance:

How do I prevail over the paralysis of fear, so I can give my body what it needs?


What Does a Yoga Teacher “Look” Like?

This is something that has been on my mind for a while now.

When I first started my training in September, I encountered an older Black woman who had just begun teaching a meditation class at Bonda; let’s call her Anna. She also trained with Laurie, and we chatted for a bit one evening while waiting for Laurie to arrive for class.  She told me that she’d had an interview scheduled at a popular gym earlier that day.  But when she arrived, the woman interviewing her refused to make eye contact with her and barely asked her any questions.

Anna said, “The moment I stood up and introduced myself to her, she became disconnected.  I knew I wouldn’t get the job.  She couldn’t see me as a yoga teacher, teaching  at that fancy club.”

I asked her what she meant and she replied, “I teach at a local library.  On the first day of class, five out the seven people who showed up asked if I was the teacher. And they were totally shocked when I said yes.  No one expects a woman who looks like me to be in front of the class.  They barely expect me to be in the class.”

Anna is in her late fifties, with smooth skin the color of unshelled Brazil nuts. She  is  five feet eleven inches tall; curvy, with broad shoulders, full breasts and hips, and large hands.  She has a gravelly voice which softens to a hoarse whisper when she teaches. And she is a really great teacher.

I thought about my own teachers, and what they look like:

Rei is short like me, always tan, with thick eyebrows and a bushel of shiny black curls perpetually tied in a topknot.  She is slim, but we wear the same–very large–bra size.  She laughs loudly and jokes about having to move the flesh out of the way so that her sit bones can connect to the earth.  She is fun.

Laurie is also short, pear-shaped with impeccably dyed red hair and expressive brown eyes. She is more quiet than Rei, and softer.  She is older, too, and more self-deprecating. She is honest about her body image issues.  She says it took her a long time to accept her generous hips and bottom.

I can’t say I looked at either one of them and thought that they didn’t look like yoga teachers.  But sometimes I wonder if my future students will react to me in shock and think: What’s she doing here?

Because when I asked Anna what she thought her students had been expecting she said, “You know. Someone in their 20s. White. Thin.”

And I am none of those things.

So what do you think?  If any of you practice yoga, did you have any expectations as to what your teacher would, or should, look like?  Do you think it even matters?

I’m inclined to believe it doesn’t matter.  But I do know that lots of people are drawn into yoga by photographs like this:

eka pada koundinyasana


They want to be bendy and do cool poses like Eka Pada Koundinyasana, and they want their teachers to inspire them. So what happens if a teacher doesn’t fit a student’s physical expectations? Are they any less inspirational?


An Update

I didn’t mean to leave you guys hanging in the new year.  There’s so much I that I want to write about– I’ve been bookmarking websites and taking notes and telling myself: THIS NEEDS TO GO ON THE BLOG!

But I’ve also been scrambling, trying to wrap up my requirements for my yoga teacher training, which ends in just two months. It sounds like I have a lot of time left, but I don’t!  This morning, I finished my final class with Laurie– which means I’ve attended 20 classes with her since October 18, 2012.  Next week, I’ll resume observing classes; I have to observe fourteen, which I should be able to finish in a little over a month if I observe three classes a week (let’s pray for good weather!!).  And let’s not forget that I have to take eight classes with other teachers, finish my homework, memorize the scripts for Sun Breaths, Sun Breaths with a Lunge, Surya Namaskar A, and Surya Namaskar B.  I still have nine hours left of practice teaching family and friends to complete. Oh, and there’s also the  final exam to study for. It’s a lot, right?

I have no intention of abandoning this space, however. So here’s what you can expect:

I will post at least once a week– every Tuesday by 1 pm, from now until the end of March.

Wish me luck, dear readers!  And please know that I appreciate each and every one of you.

Goals, Personal

Happy New Year!

New Years Resolutions

I’ve been inspired by all the beautiful chalkboard lettering I’ve seen on Pinterest lately, so I set out to learn how to do it on my own– WITHOUT Photoshop.  Luckily, I found this super helpful post by Kellie at Nest of Posies, and my efforts yielded the above. Cool, right?

These aren’t resolutions. I’d prefer to think of them as things I’ve been meaning to do, but I haven’t gotten around to doing them just yet. I don’t want to waste anymore time!  I want to have FUN this year. A while ago, my mother went to see her friend who is a reader; her friend told her that I had forgotten how to laugh.  And in some ways, it’s true. I take myself way too  seriously sometimes. So this year is about lightening up. Learning how to fly.  This post by yoga teacher Jennifer Pastiloff  pretty much sums up the way I feel!

How about you guys? Have you set any goals for yourself as we begin this new year?