Sunday, September 27, 2009

Quote: Mary Oliver

Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes, over the prairies
and the deep trees, the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting--
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Make Your Saturday Sweet

Attend today's Alignment Workshop at Inner Strength, and you'll leave with a whole new level of yoga mastery. Ask all your technical questions, gather new found inspiration, and infuse your practice with plenty of fun! Drop-ins are welcome. See you there!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Lovable Loser

Recently, an om gal-pal contacted me with a clandestine mission. She revealed that she and her cousins had devised their own version of the Biggest Loser, and she was seeking a competitive edge. I was to be her Jillian Michaels—albeit without the motorcycle jackets, TV contract, or endorsement deals. A poor man’s Jillian Michaels, if you will, and I’m OK with that . . . In fact, I love the idea.

My friend, a dedicated yogi, was off to an admirable start with regular asana practice and brisk walks with her toddler son in tow. Still, she suspected that she'd need to bring in the big guns if she wanted to play hard ball with her newly motivated relatives.

She also knew that her individual goal is among the most difficult to achieve. You see, my friend is not overweight, but she is trying to whittle away the last few, stubborn, post-baby pounds with which many women struggle. This creative family affair seemed like a good opportunity to regain her svelte pre-baby self once and for all. In other words: She was ready to wage battle with the hardest pounds to lose. These pesky critters don’t respond kindly to mere brisk walks and a sensible diet. They don’t defer to a few extra crunches. They don’t magically slide off while you’re in viparita karani. Few people lose these last lingering pounds and say, “Gee, that was a piece of cake!” No pun intended.

To be fair, my pal doesn’t eat cake. Judging from the many meals we’ve shared over the past few years, I’d say that her nutrition plan needs little tinkering. Her workouts could use a little jolt, however, which is why she summoned my input via text last week. First, I asked, “Have you tried running yet?” To which she provided the colorful response: “Running? I only run when there’s a shoe sale, and someone is grabbing the last 7.5.” And, the rest of the conversation unfolded thus . . .

Me: OK, my first instinct- and ur not gonna like this- is that you need a few activities that really jack your heart rate.

Gal Pal: Pls do not suggest I wear a leotard . . .

Me: No, but I might suggest old school Reebok “pumps.”

Gal Pal: Are you going to make me run (insert pout face) . . .

Me: Will you do jumping jacks maybe? Any big hills in your neighborhood? What about a pool?

Gal Pal: Jumping jacks? Fo real, Jane Fonda? Yes lots of hills. No pool. Would rather run. How about a jump rope?

Me: Can u jump rope? If so- that’s the jackpot.

Gal Pal: Well, I am my middle school’s reigning champ 4 yrs in a row.

Me: Oh snap! THAT’S MY GIRL! OK, ur golden. Will send a workout via email now.

Me: My computer is acting batty. Google: om gal jump rope.

Gal Pal: Perfect. I heart you.

The following day, my pal reported back that my No B.S. Most Efficient Workout Ever nearly killed her. (She has a flair for the dramatic—charmingly so). If anything, the workout killed only fat cells.

Any expert will tell you that weight loss is a mathematical equation. You must subtract (burn) more calories than you add (consume). Losing the last few pounds is toughest because your body becomes cozy with its current metabolic state and level of activity. In fact, once your body knows how many calories it requires to maintain a certain weight, it will convince you that this is the amount of calories you need by sending hunger signals when there’s a deficit.

For someone like my friend, who eats healthfully and is already active, the solution to shedding her last traces of post-baby weight depends upon the quality and nature of her activity. Let’s face it: There’s no sense in recommending that she slash calories if there aren’t many excessive calories left to slash. I believe this firmly and try to steer readers, friends, and students far away from starvation diets masquerading as a nutrition plan or “detox” program. Instead, I recommend altering your workout routine, adding some high intensity intervals, trying a more vigorous style of yoga, or exploring a different physical discipline that forces you to work harder than your standard ho-hum workout done on autopilot. Any trainer worth his/her salt will tell you the same thing: Don't workout longer; workout smarter.

The day after our text message repartee, my friend only worked out for 30 minutes, but the nature of the jump rope routine that I gave her was so intense that she blasted as many calories as her usual, brisk, 90+ minute walk. So, if your workout needs a little lift or your scale is hoping for a dip, try elevating your heart rate. Jumping rope is killer, but jumping jacks are great too. If you’re a hard core yogi, try integrating several rounds of kicking up into handstands against a wall into your daily asana practice. If your joints need gentler options, get thee in a pool and start swimming or water-jogging. These activities are bound to get your ticker pumping, and while you probably won’t win the Biggest Loser crown (and I’ll never own a Harley like Jillian), you can still count on seeing some winning results.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Quote: Guillaume Apollinaire

Come to the edge
We can't, we are afraid
Come to the edge
We can't, we will fall
Come to the edge
They came
And he pushed them
And they flew!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Global Mala Boston 2009: Celebrating Peace Day

The 3rd annual Global Mala Boston occurred on September 20, 2009, to mark the U.N.'s International Day of Peace. Yogis convened on Boston's Common to practice yoga with some of the city's best teachers and support two charitable causes, Trees for the Future and the Food Project. Simultaneously, thousands of yogis throughout the world were doing the same thing.

The scene on the Common before the Global Mala festivities began.

I opened the 108 sun salutations with a round of Oms.

Some of my treasured om pals: Chanel Luck, co-founder Global Mala Boston, Roberto Lim, co-founder Global Mala Boston, and Bonnie Argo, Acro Yogi extraordinaire.

Chanel Luck and Me.

In case you missed yesterday's Global Mala celebration, find your own way to celebrate Peace Day, today. Meditate, do yoga, spend some time in nature, attend a spiritual service, volunteer, breath deeply . . . Share your favorite peaceful activities by posting a comment.

(To see more pictures of Global Mala, become a Fan of on Facebook).

Friday, September 18, 2009

Friday, She's In Love (With a Sweaty Sweetie)!

I love my friends. Wow, big shocker there. Who doesn't love their friends? Who doesn't think their friends are the bees' knees? "Frenemies," you say? I do not compute. Real yogis don't have frenemies. Let me repeat: Frenemies- as in friends that secretly resent each other- are, in a word, TOXIC. Avoid these cliques, crews, homies, entourages, and posses like the plague. They will sap your power. Yuck.

I love friends who tell it like it is, hug it out, make killer playlists, help you break into your apartment when you've locked yourself out, peel you off the floor when you're a weepy puddle of life-crisis goop, cheer you on, pledge to run a marathon with you, drag their baby out to mile 24 to watch the marathon as you run, err, hobble past and don't let on that they're the least bit disappointed that you didn't see them in your delirious Oh-God-Get-Me-To-The-Finish-line state, stop everything to listen, and- well, let's be honest- read your blog . . . And, swear that they love it . . . With a straight face.

I feel so grateful for my pals that I often wonder if I can possibly contribute enough in return, so I was pleased as tofu chocolate pie to field three separate yoga inquiries this week from three separate friends. I include my fav inquiry below, in case it's relevant to the rest of the blogosphere. Hopefully, my answer helped me earn my friendship keep with a pal who once insisted that I dump a guy who was altogether wrong for me (and I knew it) but "nice and cute." "If you want something 'nice' and 'cute,' get a puppy," I vividly recall her saying. Sound advice, actually. Here's her question about finding the perfect yoga mat for her perspiring perfect match.

hi lady,
my sweaty husband has been slipping and sliding around on his mat and is desperately in need of a different one. he's been researching less-slippy mats and has so far been recommended manduka and jade harmony. i figured i'd ask a trusted expert what her thoughts were. any advice?

Hi N:
I hope you don't mind me sharing our Facebook exchange with the rest of the worldwide web. (And, by the way, I know I still owe you a wedding gift; I'm on it; I swear). The Manduka recommendation is a sound one. While earlier models were very heavy and not-so blissfully portable, they've since expanded their line to include lighter and more eco-friendly versions. Jade was early to the eco-chic yoga mat game, but some readers report back that the mats' biodegradable materials don't fare well outdoors (in case hubs ever wants to practice on a sunny Cape Cod porch or Cali mountain top). Plank designs the most artful and unique mats on the planet. Be forewarned, though, the price is steep (around $95), yet your hip hub just might become so inspired by his portable masterpiece that he'll practice enough to make it worthwhile. Currently, I roll with a lululemon mat, presented to me as a gift at last year's Global Mala event (this year's event takes place on Sunday!). I looooove it and have never slipped or fallen on my ass, even during the sweatiest of practices, but sadly, this specific model is no longer in production. Finally, I am a big supporter of local businesses, and Lotus Pad mats is a Boston-based company specializing in tacky (not the design, the non-slip texture), eco-conscious, lightweight mats. Remember Boston, N? Where you're from? Where you should, um, move back? Because I miss you! Oh wait, sorry . . . I forgot we weren't talking on Facebook anymore.

Much love to you & hubby,

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Get Your Global Mala On!

This weekend marks the third annual Global Mala event, occurring throughout the world and held on the U.N.'s International Day of Peace (or thereabouts) as a way for yogis to join together, practice yoga with a selection of senior teachers in their cities, and contribute to charitable causes in their communities. I'm teaching at the Boston event, which occurs on Boston Common this Sunday morning. I look forward to seeing you there! The above photos feature teachers from the past two years at the events held in Boston, including its founders Chanel Luck and Roberto Lim, both dear friends of mine (that's the three of us in the first photo). For more fun (and bendy!) photos and event information, please visit: For yogis in other cities, check out:

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Come to Class; Bring a Friend!

Who: Boston area yogis
What: A fun, challenging, and creative yoga class taught by Rebecca Pacheco
When: Sunday, September 13

Photo: Rebecca Pacheco shot for lululemon by Jonathan Pozniak.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Quote: Loss

"Your absence has gone through me like thread through a needle. Everything I do is stitched with its color."

-W.S. Merwin

I found this quote while searching for a simple way to acknowledge the anniversary of September 11th. For many people, on a personal level and even more on a psychological level, the events of that day triggered immense feelings of loss, which still color their daily lives. I chose this quote because I believe it suggests that living with loss can become bearable and even beautiful, depending upon what we choose to stitch and how we choose to honor those we lost. May their positive qualities live on by coloring our lives with love, courage, compassion and healing.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

September's Sweet Indulgences

I love vegetables. I crave them. And, if I experience even brief periods of vegetable deficiency, I high-tail it to the nearest Thai restaurant where I order a pile of steamed produce, packed with vitamins and topped with tofu. I am near silent while obtaining my fix, save for the times when I can't resist yumming and mmmming and declaring how much I looooove vegetables. I say this with the same enthusiasm as a small child recounting her favorite flavors of ice cream. It's true; I feel comforted by foods that have no business being considered comfort food. When life gives me lemons, so to speak, I give myself a cornucopia of broccoli, mushrooms, carrots, and cauliflower. Toss in some bamboo shoots and pea pods, and I'm in heaven. In fact, I'm thinking of creating a line of T-shirts that read "Fresh produce is my Prozac."

Wanna buy one?

Perhaps not. Maybe I'm annoying you, with all my healthful non-indulgence indulging. So, let me assure you; I indulge. I dig dark chocolate. I gush over gelato. I have been known to skulk around an office or two in the late afternoon hours, in search of the candy kept lock-safe in the desk drawers of my colleagues. I don't drink coffee but have a serious addiction to black tea, and, where summertime indulging is concerned, there's an ongoing debate in my family about whether I could single-handedly devour a whole watermelon. Look, I could; I know I could. I'll prove it someday . . .

Today, however, I'm busy considering all the sweet treats that September brings-- and these need not be edible ones exclusively. Last night, for example, I attended an event hosted by the Anti-Defamation League, at the JFK Library in Boston, where I encountered a bevy of PR gals commenting on the outfit of another. "Is it too early for red lipstick?" asked the cutely dressed one. "Nooooo!" exclaimed the fashion forward gaggle, "It's September!"

Indeed, it is. So, I'm curious: How will you celebrate this month, as a seasonal or psychological turning point? New fashion statements. Calling in "sick" to enjoy the good weather (don't worry; we won't tell). Red lipstick. Fantasy football. Eeeking out the final beach days of the season. Starting a new exercise program. Returning to hot yoga classes now that the summer heat has subsided.

What are you looking forward to this month? (Remember, broccoli is taken).

Friday, September 4, 2009

Friday, I'm in Love: Meryl Streep, Pencil Skirts, & Summer

I am love with the most recent movie I saw Julie & Julia and now feel compelled to imitate Julia Child each time I take to the kitchen. Well, more accurately, I imitate Meryl Streep imitating Julia Child. This was particularly amusing- for me at least- when I attempted to knead bread for the first time last week.

I am also in love with the current book I am reading, Book of Secrets: Unlocking the Hidden Dimensions of Your Life by Deepak Chopra. (He gave me a hug on my 30th birthday, in case you missed the Twitter feed from Kripalu last month- or haven't seen my mom lately, who surely would have told you). Specifically, I am digging some of its small scientific factoids, such as:

In Africa, certain trees that are being over-foraged can signal other trees miles away to increase the tannin in their leaves, a chemical that makes them inedible to foraging animals. The distant trees receive the message and alter their chemistry accordingly.

How cool is that?

Speaking of cool, I am in love with my new skirt from American Apparel. I opted for grey, though I have nothing against eggplant (the color or the vegetable), shown here.

Of course, I would be remiss not to mention how smitten I am
with the weather in New England right now. The air is clear, the ocean a vibrant, sparkling, deep blue, and the sun is out and unobstructed by haze or humidity. Ahhh, I heart summer. Regular Om Gal readers might recall a love letter that I penned (err- typed) to my favorite season last year. I'm re-posting it today, with a few timely updates.

Dear Summer:

I understand that you’ll be going away soon, and I thought I might persuade you to stay a while longer. Perhaps another trip to the Cape would change your mind? I could try to score some Red Sox tickets for us; they're still in the Wild Card race. Heck, I’ll buy you all the Pinkberry you want. I’ll overload your closet with perilously short sundresses in all your favorite blindingly bright colors and serve watermelon and farm stand corn on the cobb at every meal. I promise, you can even use the good beach chair this time.

I respect your position on the issue. If you stick around too long, Autumn gets cheated, and then we’re all stuck with Jack Frost longer than we’d like. Look, I don’t want to come off as disrespecting my elders, but the guy is infamous for overstaying his welcome, particularly, here, in the Northeast. Not to mention, he could really lighten up around mid February. I mean, just because he's single doesn’t mean that he's at liberty to put the deep freeze on everyone else around Valentine's Day. I suspect he's still bitter about April giving him the cold shoulder several centuries ago. Quit the pity party, pal; she’s not your type! She flirts with everyone. She puts on airs like she's the warm, bubbly type, but c'mon, we know better by now. She's chillier than Anna Wintour-- or is it Meryl Streep channeling Anna Wintour in The Devil Wears Prada?

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I hear you when you say that the only constant in life is change, and nature abhors a vacuum. You’ve made that painfully clear every year of my entire life, but you can’t cut me some slack? Just. This. Once. Please, spare me the malarkey about being like the poor
meter maid who’s already written the parking ticket and can’t recant it once it’s “in the system.” You MUST have more authority than that. Delay your flight. Stay an extra week—or 12. For the love of God, at least consider a LAYOVER! Puh-leeeez. You’ve always been my favorite, Summer. That line about liking Autumn was a load of bull. She makes me anxious. At any moment, she's liable to go cold on me. A gal can’t live like that!

[Insert grimace]. Oh, my. Now, look what you’ve done. You’ve shamed me in front of my readers. I’ve been caught desperate and begging . . . for the manipulation of Mother Nature, no less! How un-yogic.

With any luck, the om guys and gals out there will understand my angst as a simple error in judgment and an attachment to my own selfish, summer-loving ego rather than an appreciation for the interconnectedness of all living things, the natural order of the universe. Of course, you need to take a holiday, Summer. I understand. You deserve it. Plus, the foliage always gets so giddy when you go (it’s a shame you can’t see it!). The air smells amazing. And, did I mention that long blazers and textured tights are going to be huge this season?

Finally, let's be honest; I didn’t have a prayer at getting those extra Sox tickets. It’s practically playoff season.

XO Om Gal

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Quote: Happiness

"And now I have to confess the unpardonable and the scandalous. I am a happy man. And I am going to tell you the secret of my happiness. It is quite simple. I love mankind. I love love. I hate hate. I try to understand and accept."

-Jean Cocteau

[Photo: A lotus flower given as a random act of kindness on my 30th birthday earlier this month by a stranger who didn't know it was my birthday. The lotus flower in Buddhism symbolizes our ability to be happy and "blossom" in spite of negativity. Although it evokes beauty and purity in appearance, the lotus flower grows out of the murkiest, dirtiest waters.]