Yoga for Two

12 Jan Also, they post belly selfies.  Here's one of me!

So I’m about six-and-a-half months pregnant. And since I can still do yoga (and write about it!) I figured I’d better start getting on the internet again, because that’s what pregnant ladies and new moms do, right?

Also, they post belly selfies.  Here's one of me eating a popsicle.

Also, they post belly selfies. Here’s one of me eating a popsicle.

Like a friend recently pointed out, pregnancy doesn’t have to be a big deal. It can be kind of a “new thing” about you that people notice at first, but then kind of don’t notice at all. You know how sometimes a friend will grow a beard or get a sanskrit tattoo or start wearing leg warmers all the time just because they’re sort of bored and want to change things up? Being pregnant is kind of like that, except instead of bangs you’re rocking an extra twenty pounds (see above photo).

Ashtanga yoga, while totally safe during pregnancy, is not your typical prenatal practice. Google “prenatal yoga” and you get this:


There’s lots of stomach touching and earnest quotes…

And stomach touching with earnest facial expressions, too.

And stomach touching with earnest facial expressions, too.

Actually, the kicking is not super pleasant when trying to do pretty much any pose.

Actually, the kicking is not super pleasant when trying to do pretty much any pose.

Google “ashtanga pregnancy” and here’s what comes up:





From  There's also a video of her doing dropbacks that is amazing.

From There’s also a video of her doing dropbacks that is amazing.

Practicing “ashtanga for two” has taught me more in six months than every yoga teacher training I’ve taken combined- so much, in fact, that I would love to write a whole BOOK about it- something like “The Yoga Girl’s Guide to Pregnancy.” If you’d read this book or want to help me write it, please contact me, I’d love to hear from you!

Because the world needs more books written by people who take their own anecdotal experience for real science, right?

Because the world needs more books written by people who take their own anecdotal experience for real science, right?

When I first found out I was pregnant, one of the first things I thought was “but my practice!”  I felt like some essential part of me would probably die if I wasn’t able to do catching backbends anymore.  I had only just been able to kind of do karandavasana after almost two years of trying.  What if I was never able to do it ever again? I shouldn’t have worried- this is a video I took last week:

It’s not that great, but it’s not not being able to do it.  Even if all I could do was put my elbows on the ground (honestly some days that’s as far as it gets!) I can always do some small part of a pose, and that’s always better than sitting on the couch eating bonbons.  The best part about practicing Ashtanga yoga isn’t being able to do the tricks- it’s not being able to, and feeling like shit about yourself because you can’t, but trying anyways.


I never thought I would miss Marichyasana D, but I do.

Whether you tell yourself you’re not trying something because “my body just doesn’t move that way” or “I’m not feeling it today” or even “I am almost seven months pregnant,” the real thing you’re saying is that you don’t think it’s worthwhile to try. Doing .01% of something isn’t so different from not doing it at all, right?

It took me several months of pregnancy to realize that doing .01% is about a billion times better than doing nothing.  Ashtanga taught me this, tough-love style: be okay with doing the same hard thing and being really bad at it almost every day until you stop caring about the badness.  Realize that trying hard at something- even if you never get very good at it- is worthwhile.

I’m getting bigger every day, and I’m not making any “gains” in my practice- no new poses, no old poses getting better, no new “goals” being met.  And weirdly enough, I don’t even care. I even feel happy and thankful that I can still move around, that I don’t have gestational diabetes, that the tiny human inside me gets to flip around and do my backbends with me… It’s not like I traded those things for the handicapped practice- it’s more like getting rid of my expectations freed up space for a new (probably healthier) perspective.


Sometimes the best thing I can say about my practice is that I did it. If I could boil down what I’ve learned to one sentence, it’s this: Something is better than nothing.

Not sure if this pose is advocated in any Ashtanga sequence, but the quote is real.

Not sure if this pose is advocated in any Ashtanga sequence, but the quote is real.

I used to think that the above quote meant something like, “Do your practice and you’ll be a happier, nicer person and all areas of your life will improve because you’ll have a better attitude.” But Pattabhi Jois isn’t Yoda. I think what he meant was this: don’t think about why your practice is the way it is. Just DO IT. Just practice, because you’ll get something out of it no matter what. Whether you’re pregnant, injured, out of shape, too tired…you don’t need to go full power, and you don’t need to do everything.  Just do your very best with what you’ve got. Trying is always better than not trying.


Life is too short to half-ass anything. Here’s to going whole-ass this year.

Mysore Sunrise

24 Feb
"If you squint hard enough, all you really see is the palm trees- it's like you're at the beach!"

“If you squint hard enough, all you really see is the palm trees- it’s like you’re at the beach!”

The Butterfly Effect

13 Feb

Is Rachel McAdams only in movies about time travel? Usually I would not pick this movie, but on a 14 hour flight, you take what you can get:


“The Time Travelers Wife,” and “Midnight in Paris,” were also about time travel, therefore all of her movies are about time travel also. That’s how science works, right?

The main point of most romantic movies about time travel (and don’t worry, this is not a whole article about those) usually goes something like this: traveling through time makes one realize the importance of the million tiny things that had to add up to make the present what it is.

This was the idea behind the surprisingly okay movie "The Butterfly Effect."

This was the idea behind the surprisingly okay movie “The Butterfly Effect.”

Time traveling movies wants us to appreciate (and not go back and try to change) the bad things, because they’re just scenes on the train to something better.  Like in Candide: all this terrible stuff happens to the main character, but right afterwards, something really good happens because of it.  And then something terrible happens because of the good thing.  The point is supposed to be that sometimes annoying things really do have no payoff (unless you count “getting wiser at dealing with annoying things”).

I don’t believe this.

Irrational as it might be, I agree with those emo time travel movies and what the internet quotes Marilyn Monroe as saying: things fall apart so better things can fall together.  So after a string of delays, flight changes, and 20+ hours of travel, I was figuring that the universe had its bases loaded and had just nodded a reliable slugger up to bat.  It delivered:


This is exactly what it sounds like: a room with thousands of colorful butterflies swarming you.  At the airport!


Look at how close to my head they are! Some landed on me but I couldn’t make them pose for photos.



Those are Kallima inachus, whose wings look like leaves.

If the planes hadn’t been grounded in San Diego and made me miss my connection, I would have arrived in Singapore in the middle of the night, when the garden was closed.  I felt like that “Double Rainbow” guy (see below for facial expression), standing wide-eyed and incredulous and thinking that nothing could be better than tons of butterflies sitting on your shoulders and head:

Now that I see this picture of myself, the “best thing ever” right now might be a tie between said butterflies and having a shower.

Now that I see this picture of myself, the “best thing ever” right now might be a tie between said butterflies and having a shower.

I am not married to Rachel McAdams, so I can’t go back in time and change the weather or any airline policies to have made my travel more seamless.  I’ll just have to believe that I was meant to take the butterflies.



“Well, I must endure the presence of a few caterpillars if I wish to become acquainted with the butterflies.”
― Antoine de Saint-ExupéryThe Little Prince

Dear India…

11 Feb P1020651

Hey India, I’m coming back!

I’ve got my plane ticket, my shala reservation, and have been taking extra probiotics for two weeks now.  I’m excited to come back, India, but there are some things I’ve really got to get off my chest before we reunite.  Because India, I love you.  But you’ve really got to get your shit together.  I mean that metaphorically, but also literally, because there is actual shit everywhere:


Cow, goat… and probably other kinds, too.

There’s trash everywhere:

Even on an amazing beach like this one, in Havelock.

Even on an amazing beach like this one, in Havelock.

Sometimes it is on fire:


“Stupid humans, lighting these trash fires.”

More accurately, “Set it on fire!” seems to be the best way to deal with unwanted materials of any kind: 


“There’s so much trash, shouldn’t we try to set up some kind of recycling program?” … “No, man, set that shit on fire!”

Yet in spite of all this, India, I miss you.  I think about you all the time.  I’ve only been back for 8 months, but I still spent a significant portion of yesterday researching hiking in Arunchal Pradesh, a place where, according to Wikipedia, you need a special permit to visit because Chinese, Indian, and insurgent army members are known to harass tourists.

But it looks so beautiful! Anyone wanna go to with me?

But it looks so beautiful! Anyone wanna go to with me?

India, I know you’re a solution-oriented, positive place.  You can produce some awesome things:

Awesome entertainment.

Bollywood movies.

This guy, who stars in many of the aforementioned movies.

The best nonsensical outfits ever, as modeled by this Bollywood actor. I picture him thinking “Okay, got my hair gelled, my necklace… a belt, yeah… what am I forgetting? Oh yeah, sunglasses!”

Pattahbhi, also rocking the shirtless look.

Also rocking the shirtless look.

Finally, someone with a shirt.  That was probably made in India.

India is awesome at large-scale tee-shirt manufacturing. Oh, and Ashtanga Yoga, that’s also a good one.

Yeah, and that, too.

Maybe even better than Bollywood movies.

India, you built the f&*ing TAJ MAHAL.  So here is some unsolicited advice:

Get organized.  Why does every restaurant have 10 waiters standing around for every one person sitting down? Why do I have to present my boarding pass getting off the plane?  Oh, yeah: So someone can have the job of checking it!


Well, I guess we do that, too.

In India, you need to show some piece of paper- any paper!- to do pretty much everything.  You’re supposed to show a printout of your ticket confirmation just to walk in the door of most Indian airports.  Heightened security?  Not quite. I still got waved through (three times!) with my laptop open to a random airline website.  I could probably bring a piece of construction paper with “AIR TICKET” written on it in pencil and would be able to get on the plane. You just have to show them something.

True story: when going through “customs” (a hut on the pier) at Havelock Island, a girl at a desk marks the number of incoming visitors as they check in.  Not by noting the name of each visitor or even by making a tally mark to calculate the day-end totals, but by writing down what actual number of visitor you are and crossing out the prior one.  So when I arrived as part of a party of two, my traveling companion was visitor number 37.  She wrote “37” on the page after “36” and crossed out “36.” And then I walked up and she wrote down “38” and crossed out “37.”  Her notebook page had the numbers 1 through 37 written down and crossed out, one number to a line.  I’m sure that notebook page later became kindling for a trash fire, too.

India, you’re a resourceful place.  You must have noticed that there are way too many guys with nothing to do, and that’s why you gave them all jobs at the airport.  But instead of having five different people stamp my baggage tag, maybe put these dudes to work doing things to improve your infrastructure (you know, electricity- how you make light from wires?) because it currently looks like this:


Filling out a form will not fix this.

The upside of this plan is that all these men (and there are so, so, SO many) will then have an actual, physical outlet for all their excess energy.  Which brings me to…

Be realistic about sex.  Remember all those old articles about female infanticide in places like India, because there was a preference for sons over daughters?

529429_10153765426570300_449166059_n (1)

This picture was taken a few weeks ago by my friend David Schuester.

The geniuses that came up with this idea apparently didn’t consider that in a few decades, their population would be inconveniently almost all male.  When you add in the prevailing attitude of “no sex until marriage,” you end up with an abundance of dudes roaming the streets with only one available outlet:

Each other.

Each other.

On my first trip to India, I was so surprised to see this kind of thing.  I actually remember remarking with naïve delight how nice it was that Goa (a fairly liberal, heavily-touristed state) had a gay neighborhood, given how conservative India seems.


I thought it was more weird that they were wearing jeans and sneakers on the beach.

Actually, those people are not gay- in India, holding hands with your male friend is totally straight.  So is one guy putting his hand in another guy’s back jeans pocket, high-schoolers-at-the-mall style.  I know this because the dudes aren’t just lobster clawing each other- they try to do it to random girls, too.  It’s equal opportunity groping.  At least if you grope your male buddy, there’s a chance he empathizes and sort of shrugs it off, whereas a normal girl will punch you in the face.  I know that it’s a gross overgeneralization to say that all Indian men act like frat guys at a strip club.  Individual Indian men have, by and large, been chivalrous and gentlemanly in my presence.  But there are just so MANY of them that their energy takes on a junior-high locker room quality:


Men gaming in Kolkata.

As much as I would like to fix this by simply walking around in western-style clothes and exercising my right to punch someone in the face when they try to cop a feel, that’s probably not a reasonable plan.  India, you’re going to have to handle this with good old fashioned home-grown feminism. Start by making school mandatory for girls until age 17, and see what happens.

Be nice to (all) animals.  You’re off to an awesome start with this whole ahimsa concept.  The cows in the street look really happy.  How about extending that kindness to the dogs and cats? And also, to the women?

I know it’s tough to consider the plight of a street dog when there are, you know, humans with polio living in the streets.  But this problem is actually pretty easy to fix (not the polio, Jonas Salk did do most of the heavy lifting on that one already):  if you don’t want random animals roaming around, figure out a way to spay or neuter them.  There are certainly enough available men (see #1) to perform this job function.

Protect your environment. In 2013, there’s no reason that so much of your country should look like this:

Pretty... oh, wait, it's full of trash.

Pretty… oh, wait, it’s full of trash.

Or this:

Trash everywhere.

Trash everywhere.

Come on, India.  You’re better than that.  Ban plastic bags.  Work on getting potable tap water so that people don’t have to buy so many plastic bottles.  Make Coca-Cola or Pepsico or whoever is selling people all this trash develop a way to recycle said bottles before they’re allowed to sell anything within your borders. With so many smart and entrepreneurial people among your ranks, there’s no excuse for your most luxurious beaches to look, well, like something from the third world.

After reading this, you’re probably wondering why I’d ever want to go back.  You know how when your friend breaks up with her boyfriend and tells you a bunch of horrible stories about him, and then they get back together, and you always sort of hate that boyfriend from then on, even if he’s not even a jerk and actually sort of nice to you?  That’s what most casual observers think about my relationship with India.  They’ve seen me come home gaunt and jetlagged, hoarse-voiced and sad.

But I’m sad because I miss it.

Because for all of the inane disorganization and casual sexual harassment, India is amazing for so many reasons…

Everything is weird and beautiful.  Being in India is like having synesthesia.  In the good way.  In my memory, India is all orange swirls and jangly silver:

Babas in Haridwar.

Babas in Haridwar.

There's this.

There’s this.

And this.

And this.

People draw mandalas on their doorsteps each morning.  The ladies in saris and full jewelery at the market put our yoga-pants wearing Encinitas moms to shame.  It’s like every small action is a work of art for all to enjoy.  Which totally fits with the community-mindedness of the culture, because…

Everyone cooperates.  You’d think that in a country with millions people diving around every day, there would be way more traffic accidents.  Or at least more road rage.  Or more petty crime.

But India feels safe.  India is like that Jose Saramago book Blindness: the true measure of a collective character is illuminated when everyone is anonymous.

Anyone can be anonymous in a huge crowd, and the crowds in India are the most remarkably huge I’ve ever encountered.

Anyone can be anonymous in a huge crowd, and the crowds in India are the most remarkably huge I’ve ever encountered.

Random criminality isn’t really as much of a problem as you’d expect.  Driving in the flow of traffic, no one really cuts you off.   It seems like everyone just wants to get along.  Maybe it’s because…

Relationships are practiced and lasting.  Jared Diamond writes about this in his book The World Until Yesterday.  In “Traditional Societies,” which in this respect India seems to be, relationships are built for the good of the collective whole.  This is amazingly refreshing and realistic- you don’t find a partner to “become your best self” but to become part of something greater than the sum of its components.   There’s a connection to tradition and the past that feels real and alive.  I mean, think about it: why do so many white people take up chanting and calling themselves Radha when they were born a Stacey?  How come that pretty much never happens in reverse?

I’m not qualified to opine on if or why westerners fetishize and/or appropriate “traditional cultures,” but if I had to give a reason for the white-people-singing-kirtan phenomenon I’d say that what we’re really trying to create (or emulate) is their connectedness- to each other, to their physical “place,” and to their shared past.

And this is why “going to India” has that hazy spiritual sheen for so many people.  It’s jaw-droppingly wonderful and appallingly terrible.  It is contemporaneously mind-numbingly slow and lightning fast.  It is out-of-this-world inspiring.  It has its faults, but it is perfect- or maybe just perfect for me.  If that doesn’t sound like true love, I don’t know what does.

So.  I’ll see you soon, India. You must have known I couldn’t stay away for too long.


Sunrise in Goa.

Typical Indian redundancy.

Typical Indian redundancy.

But yes, it IS great.

But yes, it IS great.

Sasha Obama: a unicorn?

25 Nov

Well, she wears them:

The sweater sold out, and the company that makes it had to re-up stores.

The sweater sold out, and the company that makes it had to re-up stores.

Please, Obama family, can one of you wear this one next?


This would look great on Michelle OR Barack.

Are You a Yoga Hipster?

18 Nov

ace-hotel-palm-springs-wedding-photos-01“Can I request a song?” I asked.

“Yeah, you can request one,” came the reply from Mr. Hipster DJ at Amigos, the bar at the Ace Hotel.  His inflection indicated that he was probably just going to play whatever he wanted anyways, and that it would probably be one of the worst songs ever.  And by “worst,” I mean very bad according to the following categories:

1)    Listenability

2)    Songs people have ever heard before or ever want to hear

3)    Songs that don’t sound like Devendra Banhart imitating Tool (yeah, think about that one.)

I had seen him wearing jorts (see below) in the jacuzzi earlier, so I knew his taste was questionable.


Maybe his fashion was influenced by this guy?

Requesting a known-good song seemed like the only solution: “Do you have ‘Pass this On’ by the Knife?”

DJ: “What year was that album?”

Me: “2009, I think.”  I was prepared to offer a backup request, but his reply left me speechless:

“I wouldn’t know that song.  I only play esoteric music.”

Screen Shot 2013-11-18 at 12.28.48 PM

Did hipster DJ not understand because he hadn’t heard of it, his word choice qualifies my song to be played?

I was so surprised that a person would actually say this that I asked to take a picture with him.

Note: furry hat when it's 80 degrees outside in the daytime.

Note: furry hat when it’s 80 degrees outside in the daytime.

And then a subsequent picture where he was smiling:


Because you can’t be a douchebag when you smile!

After that we left.  Because the music was so terrible.

Hipsters freak me out a little bit, because they make me wonder if I sort of am one.  I mean, I wear outfits like this:

"I bought this shirt in Japan." No, I really did.

“I bought this shirt in Japan.” No, I really did.

I like to think I enjoy things on their merits, and when I find good things I try to share them.  But I still do sort of meet the best definition of “hipster” that I’ve ever found:

Editor and contributor to the book “What Was the Hipster?,” Mark Greif writes that the hipster is the “hip consumer.” According to Greif, the hipster is one who does not create but instead consumes in all the right ways, whether it be eating the right food, wearing the right clothes or listening to the right music.

The thing is, obscure things can be good and you can really like them.**  What makes it “hipster” is the lack of creating (and no, creating an amalgamation of esoteric cultural references via your outfit, home décor, or general mannerisms totally does not count) combined with really, really wanting to show that you’re different and cooler for picking the things that you do.

“There are the those whose own vulgar normality is so apparent and stultifying that they strive to escape it. They affect flamboyant behaviour and claim originality according to the fashionable eccentricities of their time. They claim brains or talent or indifference to mores in desperate attempts to deny their own mediocrity.”
― Katherine DunnGeek Love

I get it: none of us wants to be a “norm,” because we all think we’re really special.

“Everybody is identical in their secret unspoken belief that way deep down they are different from everyone else.”
― David Foster WallaceInfinite Jest

The above sentiment boils down why we practice yoga in the first place: we’re all the same, and we all need the same things. This is hard to remember, because hanging out in the yoga scene for a while can start to make you feel like you are, indeed, a special individual.*   How many of us yoga people have lamented that certain businesses (#corepowerandlululemon) have diluted “the practice,” made it “all about asana” or other similar opinions?


“Vinyasa Flow is so, like, watered down.”

It’s okay if you’re just starting to realize you might be part yoga hipster.  The evidence suggesting that I might be one is everywhere.  For example, here are some terms people have searched to find this blog.  Um, “hipster yoga meme?”

Note the 4th one down.

Note the 4th one down.

And if you google “hipster yoga meme,” here are the image results.  Check out the bottom right corner.



We like to make fun of hipsters (and don’t want to be considered one) because they’re trying so SO hard to do the right, cool thing.  Because they take themselves too seriously.  Because their layers of ego are as thick as the lenses on their Elvis Costello sunglasses.

But this is lame, and here’s why: trying hard at something is cool.  Hipsters have half of the equation figured out, and should keep trying really hard.  The part they get wrong is what to try at.  Instead of doing this:

"The sound quality is so much better and totally makes lugging a RECORD PLAYER TO A COFFEE SHOP worth it."

“The sound quality is so much better and totally makes lugging a RECORD PLAYER TO A COFFEE SHOP worth it.”

Do this:

I know, this guy looks way less cool, huh?

I know, this guy looks way less cool, huh?

Instead of this:

The real caption from this chick: "pampering myself with some new lulus!"  Yeah, okay.

The real caption from this chick: “pampering myself with some new lulus!”

Do this:

Now that's a pretty solid leg-behind-head!

Now that’s a pretty solid leg-behind-head!

What if we all took the energy that we consume thinking about and influencing other peoples’ opinions about ourselves and redirected it into creating something amazing?  Just imagine: no more look-how-hot-I-am or my-life-is-awesome Facebook posts, no more pretending that Nickelback doesn’t have some okay songs***, no more reading into or caring what kind of car someone drives or what kind of bag they carry or books they read.

Because things can still be beautiful, even if no one thinks they're cool.

Because things can still be beautiful, even if no one thinks they’re cool.

And things can be beautiful if lots of people think they're cool.

And things can be beautiful if lots of people think they’re cool: see, lobby at the Ace.

If we pool our hipster energies, we can make a world that looks like the carefully curated lobby above: thoughtful, considered, and weirdly beautiful (or at least awesomely comical, which is sort of the same thing).

Part of growing up is not waiting in line at a hipster breakfast restaurant. The eggs taste the same across the street. I promise. – Jason Segel


*As soon as you start to think like this, you should do better/more yoga, because it isn’t working.

**Just like all the other hipsters.

***Just kidding.  Everyone knows Nickelback is horrible.

Yogi Food: Easy Vegan Apple Crisp

13 Nov

If you’re a baker, making bread, you’re a baker. If you make the best bread in the world, you’re not an artist, but if you bake the bread in the gallery, you’re an artist. So the context makes the difference.
Marina Abramovic 

I hate kitchens. I don’t understand these enormous American kitchens that take up half the living room and then they just order pizza.
Also Marina Abramovic

Fall is the best time to bake, especially if you have one of those big American kitchens.  I know everyone and her mom is posting recipes on the internet these days,  but I like to think that since I’m such a lazy (efficient?) baker, this one is worth trying.  Even if you just approximate the measurements (I usually do!) it will turn out great. 



6 apples

1 cup raisins

¾ cup sunflower butter

¾ cup sugar

1 tbsp cinnamon

1 tbsp allspice

1 tbsp ground cloves

2 tbsp orange zest

1 cup vegan milk of choice

¾ cup flour


¾ cup sugar

¾ cup flour

¼ cup olive oil

Mix the sunflower butter and sugar together.  Add the rest of the ingredients in the order above.  It will look like pancake batter.

Cut up 6 apples into little cubes.  If you are very lazy, outsource this to someone you live with.

Place cut apples and raisins in a baking dish (Any kind is fine.  See, lazy!) pour pancake-ish mixture on top.  Use the empty mixing bowl to make the crust- put all 3 ingredients required and stir it around with a fork until it looks like crumbs, or very dry, not-stuck-together cookie dough.  You can eat some if you like with said fork, it’s good.

Scoop out the crumb part onto top of the apples and gooey stuff.  Bake in the oven at 425 for about 30 minutes, or until it gels together and gets brown on top.  If you knife it in the middle to test doneness, it will always be gooey- go by looks instead.  Try to take a picture of yourself doing a handstand in your kitchen while it bakes:

Photo on 11-13-13 at 2.26 PM

Yeah, “try.” You can also figure out how to make your timer slow down so you don’t have to run and jump into said handstand in the span of 4 seconds. Note to myself: don’t wear flesh-colored shorts in pictures, it looks weird.

If you accidentally undercook it, that’s fine- it’s vegan! You can eat it absolutely raw with almost no chance of getting salmonella.

Put on some Van Morrison (I don’t know why, it just seems to fit with fall and baking) and eat it straight from the pan.

Photo on 11-13-13 at 2.21 PM #5

Still trying to figure out that photo timer.

“There are only four great arts: music, painting, sculpture, and ornamental pastry- architecture being perhaps the least banal derivative of the latter.”
― Julia ChildMy Life in France

Yoga for Unicorns is back!

12 Nov

Yoga for Unicorns has not retired.  It has moved!


This is not my new house. But that would be awesome.

See, I'm working on it already!

See, I’m working on it already! Also, if I get those unicorn taxidermy heads, they will be faux. It’s not cool to decapitate unicorns!

I was at a dinner-ish party shortly before the aforementioned move.  One of the guests, a cheerful and super honest woman I had never previously met, was asking me about my upcoming location change.

“So you live in Del Mar, right? Wow, Del Mar is so nice.”

“Yeah,” I said. “But I’m moving this weekend! To Ocean Beach.”

“Oh.” The look of surprise and confusion she suppressed was so obvious that it made us both laugh.  “Well, that is about the biggest change you could make just moving from one part of San Diego to another.”

That lady is right.  Del Mar and Ocean Beach (OB) are the geographic bookends of San Diego proper: they represent two culturally almost-opposite ends of the city while still maintaining so many fundamental qualities in common.  It’s sort of the difference between skiing and snowboarding: anyone unfamiliar with both usually thinks they’re largely the same.  Yeah, they’re both things to do in the snow.  But check out these people:

Tea before our next run? Why not?

Tea before our next run? Why not?

Do they look like they’d be friends with these guys?

Found from googling "snowboarders."

Found from googling “snowboarders.”

Probably not.*  But maybe, right?

Both Del Mar (well, Carmel Valley) and OB boast locally owned “healthy” grocery stores.  Both have an unusually high percentage of people who are really into crystal healing and are presently attending a yoga teacher training. But, as a wise person once told me, it’s the differences that make all the difference.  Have you seen those charts in the New York Times Magazine that compare two couldn’t-possibly-be-more-different but somehow matching things? Here is my version of one for Del Mar and OB:

Homeless People

Ocean Beach:

Spotted in town.

Spotted in town.

Del Mar:

Wait, homeless? Like, people that have no house? That still happens? I’m going to start a nonprofit for that!

Coffee Shops

Del Mar: None.  Seriously, and this always sort of bugged me.  Unless you count Starbucks, which was closed for renovations when I moved. I witnessed a disoriented pride of triathletes rolling up one morning, all incredulous and outraged.  Del Mar needs a coffee shop, business-y people.  It would be a very successful venture.

Ocean Beach:


I don’t even know what a Cray-nut is, but if it’s made at Azucar I bet it’s delicious.

What the surfers look like

Del Mar: To steal a line from Alice Gregory’s amazing recent piece for N+1, “posess(ing) all of the features that constitute a modern, normative standard of beauty, but to a ghoulish degree… so blond and so tan so lean that it actually starts to look like one big mess of congenital disorders…” (sounds harsh, but that story is so awesome, click on the link above to read it)

OB: Same as the above, but also some mustachioed hipsters.

What are people doing at 9am?

OB: Going to yoga, after just waking up.  Or maybe after waking and baking.

Del Mar: Going to yoga, after drinking a gluten free kale and cashew juice and spending half an hour taking pictures of themselves on the (great lighting!) patio #doing #yoga #every #day.  #soblessed #gratitude

What are people doing at 2pm?

Del Mar: Confirming a Reiki appointment for their dog.  Or going to one of the many puzzling events at the Del Mar Library.

A clown at a library?! But I'm trying to read!

A clown at a library?! But I’m trying to read!

OB: Playing hackysack, hula hooping, or going to the OB Crystal Store.  While drinking a pumpkin-kale-goji juice.

Outfits often spotted

Del Mar: Current/Elliot Jeans with Yves St. Laurent Tribute heels and a seasonally appropriate top.

OB: What you slept in, or yoga-ish clothes that would be impossible to actually do yoga in.  Or this:


I’m sort of not kidding.

Represented by…

Del Mar: Darrell Issa, a 60-yar-old republican white guy former CEO (the wealthiest member of congress!) from Cleveland, Ohio who moved to California after a huge fire consumed his Midwestern office space.  Fortunately, he had increased his insurance policy 462 % and moved all the important files and computers out of said office a few weeks before the fire.

Darrell Issa is SO blessed.

Darrell Issa is SO blessed.

OB: Susan Davis, a former social worker whose claim to fame is authoring a state law giving women direct access to their OB/Gyn doctors without requiring a referral from their primary care physicians. After graduating from Berkeley, she worked with at-risk youths in Israel and traded living on a kibbutz for living in Japan with her Navy-guy husband.

Susan Davis: so hard to make a joke about because she seems like a really nice person.

Susan Davis: so hard to make a joke about because she seems like a really nice person.

You get the idea.  Del Mar is nice/fancy “hippie” and OB is hippy Hippy hippie.  This store is here, and it is real:


I used to have this idea that people were a function of the place they lived.  Traveling to the Midwest during college one fall, I noticed that everyone was so sedentary and would talk about how much weight they were gaining.  “How dumb,” I remember thinking.  “Why don’t they just go for a jog or a swim?”  I got my answer the following morning.  I never knew that 30 degree weather meant like, literally freezing. I got as far as the mailbox before turning around and deciding I’d just drive the three blocks to get a coffee. Not only is there no ocean to swim in, there’s also no lap pool in the yard. Southern California is warm and beautiful for most of the year, so everyone exercises more and more easily. Geography as destiny, right?

After living in San Diego (and Del Mar, which is technically its own city) for eight years now, I’ve changed my mind.  The place doesn’t make you a certain way; a certain type of person moves to the place that fits her.  It’s like Hollywood in the early 20th century, when the olden days equivalent of the most theater-major/homecoming queen person from every little town in the Midwest moved out to LA for the chance at a part in a “talkie.” Like in the 1850’s when you could move out here make a theoretical fortune panning for gold.**

People can’t help where they’re born, but where you land is up to you.  And if you can pick your landing spot, chances are that the people already there picked it for the same reasons you did.  Which is why the surfers everywhere look pretty much the same, and so do the triathletes.

And so do the ashtangis?

And so do the ashtangis?

I guess my point is that your “home” can be anywhere, and even multiple places at the same time.  Even places that are really different from one another.

“Home is the nicest word there is.” 
― Laura Ingalls Wilder

So sayonara Del Mar; I’ll keep you in my heart.  Here’s a handstand on the deck to prove it.


The “good” one that took a million tries to get. Seriously, instagram people, this selfie stuff is really hard!


*Side note: the pic of the ladies is from an article called “how to look cool while skiing,” an article I hope no one I know has ever read.

**It’s often remarked that Californians, being the progeny of these types (gold rushers, starlets, etc.) contains an especially risk-comfortable gene pool.  This is similar to the theory that ADHD is more prevalent in the US because we’re the great-great-great grandkids of everyone who decided they were bored with where they were from and adventured to new and unknown parts.  I think both of these theories are great.

Why I love Mysore-style Yoga

24 Sep

This article sums it up pretty well.

“If you feel lost, disappointed, hesitant, or weak, return to yourself, to who you are, here and now and when you get there, you will discover yourself, like a lotus flower in full bloom, even in a muddy pond, beautiful and strong.”
― Masaru EmotoThe Secret Life of Water

Top 11 Yoga Tee Shirts

17 Sep

This morning, I saw a yoga student wearing this shirt:

This shirt only comes in sizes XXS and XS.

This shirt only comes in sizes XXS and XS.

Which is, of course, supposed to be the way to build more strength if your arms give up and go on strike after your second Surya Namaskar B.  I was so impressed with this shirt that I took to the internet to find it.  Instead I found these.  In no particular order, some of the best yoga shirts around.



This guy should stand next to YOGA RAGE in class.  FEEL that gratitude, yo!

Unsurprising that someone named their yoga wear line “Gratitude.” This guy should stand next to YOGA RAGE in class. FEEL that gratitude, yo!

He also owns YOGA RAGE.

He also owns YOGA RAGE.


Live by yoga. And these muscles.

Shirt: just okay. Model: almost as good as the biceps dude.

Shirt: just okay. Model: almost as good as the biceps dude.

He only bows as he's walking away from you.

But he only honors that spirit as he’s walking away from you.

Um, mom?  Is there something you've been meaning to tell me?

Um, mom? Is there something you’ve been meaning to tell me?

No, I don't.

No, I don’t.

I feel ya, T-Rex.

I feel ya, T-Rex.

Ultimate yoga badge: "Yeah, I got this shirt in India."

Ultimate yoga badge: “Yeah, I got this shirt in India.”

"I totally would LOVE to go to India. My shirt says so."

“I totally would LOVE to go to India. My shirt says so.”

And I know it’s not a shirt, but:

Seriously?  Seeing someone wearing these to yoga might send me into a YOGA RAGE.

Seriously? Seeing someone wearing these to yoga might send me into a YOGA RAGE.