Thursday, April 30, 2009

Friday I'm in Love: The Celtics

OK, I know. You probably saw this one coming a mile away, as far away as Ray Allen's late-game three-pointer, shot from what seemed like the parking lot last night (especially if you read my tweets from the Gah-den on Tuesday night). Yet, I can't resist. I grew up cheering for Green- complete with life-size Kevin McHale poster on my bedroom wall so that I could measure my own lanky height as a kid next to his- which makes it doubly exciting to watch them once again as the team to beat. Unfortunately, the Celtics didn't win last night, but did you see them? They were playing out of their shoes! Ray Allen had more than 50 points! (And, yes, he was wearing compression sleeves, just like the ones I wore during the marathon).

Plus, love requires resisting the urge to keep score- and it certainly doesn't wane or falter before a Game 7 situation.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Gift Giving Ideas For Your Om-Mamas

One of my Mom's favorite gifts, to date, was a pile of crap. I'm not kidding. She's a talented gardener, so the big bag of manure that my Dad bought for her one year, for Mother's Day, was a success. Indeed, it could be said that "The shit was a hit."

However, I wouldn't necessarily recommend buying manure for your Mom this year. Instead, I've collected a quick list of some of my favorite chic and reasonably priced gift ideas that mom is sure to love. Perhaps as much as that macaroni necklace you made so many years ago . . .

If mom is still smitten with handmade goods, then you'll both score big on Boston-based bead queens Lisa Sisco and Carolyn Berluti of Family Jewels (befitting name for a gift for your matriarch, no?) fill their Etsy store with whimsical, beaded necklaces and bracelets that make perfect gifts. I rock a couple of their bracelets almost daily. They come in an array of colors and price points, mix well with your other baubles and bangles, or look stunning solo. Charm a new mom with a personalized pendant featuring her bundle of joy's initials or birth date. Countless vendors make some version of these on the crafty, hip website. Truthfully, you can find just about anything on Etsy, although that can sometimes be the downside for those who are inclined to hem and haw for having too many options.

If mom is less about bling and more about getting buff, hook her up with a private yoga, personal training, Pilates, or Gyrokinesis session. Be sure to do a little research first, to see which instructors and activities she likes best. If you're inspiring a new form of exercise with your gift, perhaps accompany the session with a book or DVD in the same discipline so that she can get the most out of her first class by brushing up on the basics in advance. Be a superhero gift-giver by topping off this wellness-themed gift with some cool gear, such as lululemon's heavenly Savasana Wrap (perfect for apres yoga, chilly nights out, or, as the name suggests, blissing out and wrapping up in sivasana) or a generously cut, extremely soft Running Shirt by Zensah.

If you'd prefer that your gift pamper rather than inspire peak performance, spa treatments are a no-brainer. Treatments too pricey for your budget? Opt instead for a few high-end beauty products that mom would never splurge for herself. My nature-loving mom digs the all-natural, handmade, Boston-based products by Violet Skin Boutique, especially the peony cleanser. Owner and master mixologist, Violet, recently created a 100% all-natural line for babies, following the arrival of her first grandchild- another perfect gift option for new moms. If you're nowhere near Beantown, choose Kiehl's products instead. They're amazing and environmentally-conscious (plus, visit the website now and you can ogle at beautiful peeps Kelly Slater, Adrien Grenier, and Erykah Badu in the company's new product campaign).

Perhaps mom is fond of gifts that do good? If so, TOMS Shoes are sure to get raves. Buy a pair for her and the three-year-old company automatically gives a pair to a child in a developing country. What's more, a pair of TOMS is the perfect summer slip-on for guys or gals. Order online and rest easy for having purchased a gift with style and substance.

Mom fed you for years, so why not take a similar approach? Instead of feeding her belly, however, why not feed her inspiration? Maybe mom is interested in becoming more tech-savvy, revisiting an old hobby such as playing the piano, or learning a new skill like skateboarding the half-pipe (hey, it could happen). Apple offers a wonderful program called One-to-One, which allows access to a private tech genius, one hour a week, for 50 weeks a year, in the form of tutorial sessions at a local Apple store. Fashion your own tutorials by enlisting the help of an expert in a field that interests mumsie. Have the teacher or coach come to her house, or locate an accessible adult education center, where she can further explore an activity or skill that she fancies.

Learning new things keeps our minds agile and hearts young, and what could be a better gift than that? Other than manure, of course.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Boston Yoga Community: Gabriel Feld Memorial Services

Over the weekend, the Boston yoga community learned of the tragic loss of one of its beloved and dedicated teachers, Gabriel Feld. Gabriel trained at Kripalu, taught at Back Bay Yoga, and assisted David Vendetti's recent Teacher Training.

Funeral Services will be held for him on Tuesday, April 28th 1:45 p.m. at the Sharon Memorial Park in Sharon, MA. If you need a ride, Back Bay Yoga is graciously arranging transportation as needed to and from its studio.

Donations can be made in Gabriel's honor to Kripalu. Please send to:
Kripalu Development Office
Attention: Gabriel Feld Memorial Fund
P.O. Box 309 Stockbridge, MA 01262 (checks made payable to Kripalu)

To Gabriel's family, friends, yoga students (some counted among O.G. readers); and the communities of Back Bay Yoga, South Boston Yoga, and Savin Hill Yoga; of which Gabriel was a part, I send prayers for healing and love.


Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Skeletons in My Closet

I've had a long-standing love affair with sneakers, beginning with my first pair of Reebok "princesses" in the fourth grade. They were gleaming white with raspberry trim and- in my mind- transformed me from a school girl playing at recess to an aspiring athlete, turned loose. These were not the casual tennies of gym class; these were Running Shoes, expertly crafted for competitive, organized sports.

By the time I started running track in high school, my sneakers and I had formed a unique bond. Choosing each new pair required an artful balance of aesthetics, economics (Mom and Dad were footing the bill, excuse the pun), performance, and fit. I flirted with several brands over the years, mostly in the name of frugality. Sure, I wanted Nike Airs from the jump, but I had to wait a year or two, and in the meantime, I opted, instead, for sick Adidas trail runners. Was I running any trails? No. Did I care? Negative. To me, the science of shoe-buying was thus:

Personal Style + Bargain Hunting x Cozy Fit= Killer New Kicks

Several years ago, one brand and model usurped all the rest. After a photo shoot for New Balance, I gratefully trotted home with a few pairs of sparkling new running shoes as a thank you on behalf of the Boston-based company. From then on, I was sold. The company makes plenty of flashy, high-tech designs, but I've remained loyal to the brand's cult-favorite 992, which possesses a retro vibe that I adore. It's largely made in the U.S., and it's sturdy as heck. What's more, it kept me blister-free during last week's 2009 Boston Marathon. I'm told it's not an ideal shoe for marathoning; the durability translates into added weight (so that's my excuse: had I been wearing lighter shoes, I would have been chasing down Kara Goucher). Nevertheless, I love this shoe. I love it like Carrie Bradshaw loved those "never been worn" Manolos, which eventually proved to be the catalyst for her reunion with Big (spoiler alert!) in the Sex and the City movie.

Like Bradshaw's swank Manolos, my throwback New Balances inspire more than strutting or striding; they make me feel more like me. Last year, I had a fling with a pair of Nike Air Shox, and it was exhilarating. They were exciting, sleek, and trimmed with metallic gold touches. They looked so fast that I would barely glance in their direction and feel the air whoosh past. However, the luster faded quickly, and I trotted back to my old faithfuls.

Together, we greet frigid mornings in Southie and dusky warm nights along the Charles. We notch yet another Falmouth Road Race each summer and lined up in Hopkinton last week to participate in one of the most storied athletic events in the world. We are one part gradeschool gal playing carefree at recess, one part serious athlete on the loose.

How could I trade that in?

(Photo: My closet, where retired New Balance sneakers go to die). Have a piece of sporty gear or yoga apparel that you can't live without- spill it! What's in your closet?

Friday, April 24, 2009

Friday I'm in Love: Viparita Karani

Last Friday, I was feeling a bit amorous, specifically while leafing through the April issue of Men's Journal featuring my frog-eating, freezing-lake-dipping, campfire-building, charismatic-even-while-wadding-through-bat-sh*t crush, Bear Grylls. So much so, that I was inspired to start a new tradition. Each Friday, I'll highlight something with which, of late, I am feeling smitten.

Why Fridays, you ask? Simply as homage to The Cure song from 1992 of the same name. Good title. Good song. Good topic for a regular blog post.

This week, there's one thing that's making me swoon. One tiny pleasure that sends joy right down, err, up into my aching, marathoning toes. It's possibly the single best yoga pose of all time, for all eternity: Viparita Karani.

After 26.2 miles, I wanted one thing- not Gatorade, not potato chips, certainly no more bananas or bagels- just the opportunity to put up my weary legs and let gravity take care of the rest. No need to endure a marathon to enjoy this asana though; it's wonderful for anyone who spends time on his/her feet. Fashionistas, it's near mandatory if you wear killer heels.

As always, please feel free to weigh in with your own thoughts. Is there a yoga pose, product, person, service, style, or trend that's sending your heart aflutter today?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Reader Query: Incense

Hi, Om Gal!

Love the blog . . . Keeps me entertained while I’m at work, painfully waiting for 5:00 to come so I can head to yoga!  Anyways, this email did have a purpose.  I was wondering if you knew anything about incense for meditation and for before/after yoga?  I tried to do a Google search for types of incense recommended for meditation or yoga, but I didn’t find many results.  More importantly, do you know of any cool stores that sell such incense?  I live in the North Shore area but would be more than willing to trek into the city if I have to.

Thanks for your help!


Hi Jill:

Thanks for your inquiry.  Not only do I have an easy answer for you, but you've spared O.G. readers from hearing any more about my first marathon for a while.  (Somewhere, yogis are bowing to you that they get to read about incense rather than the impending loss of my toenails).  

In my opinion, Nag Champa is the most authentic-scented incense.  You can purchase it online, here.  However, if you're looking for reasons to swing through Boston in search of items to enhance your yoga and/or meditation practice, consider the following.

Locally, there's a great place in Cambridge (Tibet Arts, on Mass Ave.) where you can buy incense, among other yoga and meditation trinkets, tools, etc.  Farther down Mass Ave., toward Harvard Square, there's another wonderful boutique called Utso.  I purchased one of my favorite pieces of clothing there last summer, a lightweight tunic with a Buddha print (above*). 

If you tire of incense, candles do the trick too.  Aveda and Pacifica  are among my favorites. Finally, I love my salt crystal lamp (available at Cambridge Naturals), which is said to purify the air, energetically.  I suspected it might be hocus pocus when my pal Coeli gave me one for a birthday, years ago, but I really love it and do find that I sleep better after having lit it.

I hope this helps.



*Photo: Me, Chanel Luck, and Roberto Lim (both of YogaThree) at Global Mala Boston 2008.  Credit: Deborah Perkins.    

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A Few Marathon Moments*

Picking up my number at the Boston Marathon Runners Expo.  I felt very elated and excited to be in the company of so many dedicated athletes.

Marathon Eve, I snapped a photo at the finish with my running pals Jack and Cara (of lululemon).  Official photo finish to follow (but, be forewarned, the chances of me looking unlike death-warmed-over in that one are slim). 

(Above).  The scene upon our arrival in Hopkinton.  Runners waiting in line for the portable bathrooms.

A little pre-race yoga in the Athletes Village.  I prepare my hips for the 26.2 mile trek with double pigeon pose. 

My running partner, the Canadian "Queen of the Newton Hills," Cara, and me, after relinquishing our creature comforts (e.g. warm clothes, Blackberries, and cameras) to the super well organized B.A.A. volunteers who would bus our things back to the finish line. 

Arriving home with my family after a brief trip to the medical tent.  Pictured here with Mom and Reece (who jumped in and ran the last 4 miles with me.)

*As for the really interesting, grisly race photos, you'll have to wait as they file in from friends and family along the course.  

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Putting On My Game Face

At last night's Greatest Party on Earth to benefit one of my favorite local causes, Artists for Humanity, with The Hulk, practicing my game face for tomorrow. Heartbreak Hill should be scared, no?

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Om Gal At The Runners Expo

Via Twitter, a new performance apparel line, Zensah, invited me to swing by their booth at this weekend's Runners Expo. So, I did, where I picked up some sweet gear, including compression sleeves, worn by the likes of NBA superstar Dwayne Wade. I was assured by the company's founder, Ze'ev Feig, that the sleeves are sure to make me just as fast as D-Wade. (Shhh, just go with it, OK?). Also, I picked up my numbah! How do you like them apples?

Friday, April 17, 2009

Friday I'm in Love: Bear Grylls

Me: [To a co-worker (the one who doesn't like to work out)]: Wanna see my crush?

Co-worker: Oooh, yeah. Show me.

Me: [Revealing this month's issue of Men's Journal, featuring Man vs. Wild star Bear Grylls on the cover]. Then to underscore his sex appeal, I say, You know, the guy who eats frogs and stuff?

Co-worker: And, like, poop . . . Soooo, heads up on that one [pauses]; he's wicked cute though.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Yoga For Tax Time

Ideally, the practice of yoga serves to connect us to the abundant nature of the universe, with its infinite possibilities held in any given moment. However, even the most dedicated yogis question the abundance of the universe during tax time, which is why I've rounded up a simple, easy, and quick sequence of yoga poses to help quell the stress that you might feel on or around April 15.

Start with an inversion to clear your head. If you're a newer yogi, just hang forward in "rag doll," putting your head below your heart; knees softly bent. If you're advanced, do headstand. Inversions are a very potent way to shift our vision, change our perspective, or bring a world into balance that feels as though it's been "turned upside down." By putting your head below your heart, you send fresh blood to your brain. In essence, you are clearing out the mental clutter and invoking greater clarity. I wish there was a pose to invoke a refund, but you'll have to settle for clarity. (Note: if you do headstand, be sure to rest in child's pose afterward).

Next, feel the stability of triangle pose (photo, above). The instability of tax time coupled with a wobbly economy can be unnerving, which is why I recommend triangle pose if you need to feel grounded. From geometry class, you might recall that the triangle is the strongest shape in architecture (think: The Great Pyramid). Do this pose to reconnect with the secure feeling of having your feet firmly planted on the earth. Extend through your limbs; open your chest, and breath deeply.

Then, restore balance with half-pigeon pose. Our hips are often a good indicator of how limber we are throughout the rest of our bodies. In fact, many knee problems and issues with back pain can be attributed to tightness in the hips. For this reason, half-pigeon is often an unpleasant posture for beginners; however, with the right modifications (e.g. sitting on a yoga block or rolled up towel), it can quickly become a very healing posture. Stress has a way of settling in our hips, from sitting for long periods of time at a desk, running, walking, biking, chasing after your small children, and all the rest. Therefore, easing tension in our hips relieves stress elsewhere in our bodies. Also, you'll notice that, in half-pigeon pose, the body is in a reflexive state, turned in on itself. In other words, you are restoring your energy by looking and turning inward.

Cleanse away negativity with a twisting posture. Sure, it's helpful to see the bright side of any situation; however, it doesn't serve any of us for me to pretend like tax time is fun or a struggling economy is hunky-dory. Yoga does not encourage us to deny that negativity exists; instead, it helps us cultivate an ability to see beyond it. Stress and hardship effect us all, and it's been said in many ways that happy people do not experience less hardship; they simply handle it better, through any number of factors. Twisting poses just might be one of those small factors to help you shake off the blues or the blahs or whatever you're inclined to call 'em. Twisting poses rinse your internal organs and help bring you back to center. Think of a piece of clothing being hand-washed and wrung out; that's the action of a twist, seated, standing, or reclining. From half-pigeon, I recommend sitting up, swinging your back leg around to the front, and performing a seated twist. (Note: if you feel like you're going to tip over, straighten your bottom leg).

Finally, rejuvenate and relax. Now that you've found clarity, restored stability, achieved balance, relieved stress, and cleared away toxins, it's time to REST in sivasana, also known as corpse pose. This would be the point where I make some joke about corpse pose befitting the old adage about death and taxes, but really, why bother? There's so many out there. Thankfully, you're nearly in the clear until next season.

Quote: The Marathon

"I tell our runners to divide the race into thirds. Run the first part with your head, the middle part with your personality, and the last part with your heart."

-Mike Fanelli

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Why I'm Running The Boston Marathon: Part 1

Countdown to the Boston Marathon (my first): One Week

In mid January, I found myself running around Castle Island in South Boston at sunrise, on a morning when the temperature dipped well below zero. It was dark, with only faint splashes of orange, the color of campfire embers, alighting the skyline opposite Logan Airport. Castle Island, it should be said, is not actually an island, as in a land mass surrounded by water. Instead, it’s a small bay, encircled by a footpath that typically draws throngs of runners, walkers, bikers, and loiterers. This morning, however, I am alone—save for some construction workers at Conley Terminal, who, when they glimpse me struggling to negotiate my way over sheets of ice, are barely able to conceal their shaking heads and incredulous expressions that all but say, “WTF are you are thinking, lady? It's freezing out here!”

Not that one could even discern that I belong to the female gender, dressed the way I am, buried beneath layers of fleece and wearing a knitted Red Sox hat down low over my brow. Admittedly, I more closely resemble a crazed and desperate bank robber on the lam rather than a lucid 20-something (OK, “late” 20-something) woman forgoing much needed hours of sleep in favor of a treacherous run through ice-encrusted streets, with a blustery ocean breeze to boot. Seriously . . . WTF am I thinking! Then, it dawned on me, there, at dawn, in Southie.

Maybe I should have experimented with drugs as a teenager.

I'm not kidding. This thought really crossed my mind. Why else would I be engaging in such ill-advised, half-witted behavior as running along the ocean, in the dark, when the wind chill could easily freeze my face off, and the roads are so slick I am almost certain to break an ankle? Surely, I would be home, warm and toasty in bed (like all the normal, well-adjusted adults), had I shaken this reckless streak in my youth.

So, there it was. The way I saw it, I could either start dabbling in the usage of illegal substances to fill what I speculated was some need for crazy, risk-seeking behavior OR sign up to run the Boston Marathon, a punishing course with a daunting (read: cold and icy) training schedule, particular for a first-timer. See, when you're "in training" for something, you can justify your insanity a bit. Plus, there's no chance of incarceration with marathon training (as opposed to drug use). Put simply, I have zero time for a prison sentence. Unless inmates are permitted to maintain blogs . . . Anyone? In which case, I could probably get A LOT of writing done.

To be continued (for now, I need some sleep; I suspect zombie yoga bloggers don't fare well on race day).

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Using My Brother, A Shameless Bid For Increased Traffic

Admittedly, I'm not super tech-savvy. I like technology. I blog. I tweet. I joined Facebook (after much kicking and screaming). I do LOVE texting; it's my preferred form of communication. Nevertheless, I always find myself playing catch up with various advances in technology. For example, I just bought an iPod shuffle, only to discover two weeks later that Apple released a brand new version that talks to you. I'm now rocking a vintage shuffle. In Apple years, two weeks might as well be the 80s. It's the equivalent of me running around Newton with a Walkman. (Kids, ask your parents about "Walkmans" some day).

Among my latest techie tasks is the ability to track analytics for this site, so I know when certain posts attract more traffic, which sites refer the most visitors, and how many minutes you all spend browsing through my thoughts on yoga and Pinkberry yogurt and such.

And, do you want to know which post generated the single most traffic last month? Aren't you just a little bit curious? It was the one about my baby brother. (Thank you so much for perpetuating the sibling rivalry, people). Now, I don't have any analytics relating to WHY this might be the case, but I suspect it's a result of our om gal readers, who might be a tad smitten with Reece. I just don't have the technology to back up that claim . . . yet. Instead, I have a video of us being dorks in New York City last weekend. Scratch that. I'm being a dork. The gals will likely find Reece as, uh, interesting as they did last month.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Thank You!

Thank you so much to the people and businesses that supported tonight's event to benefit Fit Girls, my marathon charity, which combines running, reading, and community service programs for girls in 4th and 5th grades, including but by no means limited to:

Sel de la Terre
Narragansett Beer
Mary Lee
Mini Luxe
Core de Vie
Back Bay Yoga Studio
South Boston Yoga
Mom & Dad

If you'd like to learn more about Fit Girls or make a donation, please visit or my marathon fundraising page,

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Quote: Fear

Do not allow fear to settle into place in any part of your life. It is a defeating attitude and a negative emotion. Recognize and zap it immediately. Replace it with a problem-solving attitude, faith in yourself, and hard work. Put that formula into working order for yourself and you'll be dealing from a position of power, not fear. That's winning.

-You'll never guess who said it on today. I'll give you a hint . . . "You're fired!"