On Rainy Days, Activism & My Mom

On Rainy Days, Activism & My Mom

I’m sitting here with my legs snuggled underneath me, sipping hot coffee and listening to the rain slide down my windows. On this gloomy day (gloomy in more ways than one), I’m making a pointed effort not to tune in to see what’s happening at the inauguration. Instead, I’m lending my viewership to the live “Loveathon” on Facebook live, which is an updated twist on a telethon, benefiting Planned Parenthood, Earthjustice , and ACLU Nationwide.

Instead of adding to ratings for the shit show, I’m planning my trip to Sicily, going to work on stuff for my job, and later, go buy some local art for my house.

I’m also sharing this letter my Mom wrote to Friends of the River as her application be one of their Advocates, for which she was later accepted. She must dedicate 40 hours a month to advocating on our environment’s behalf and lending her skills as an experienced badass “nasty woman” to their mission to protect our wild spaces. As I write this, she is “unplugged” in the Sierra foothills training for her new role. Her letter to Friends of the River is amazing and inspiring. (Above, you can see my mother in her natural habitat, the banks of a river in Sequoia National Park.) She was fired up to act after the election, to step back into her political shoes she wore to the ground in the 70’s.

Proud of you and inspired by you, Mom!

Continue reading “On Rainy Days, Activism & My Mom”

Rediscovering My Drawing Practice

Rediscovering My Drawing Practice

In October, my boyfriend and I jumped into a 31 day drawing challenge for Inktober 2016. He opted to work on ongoing drawings to perfect the art of drawing stylized ocean waves. I worked with daily exercises, the official “prompts” from the IG challenge, and experimentation with various inks, methods and forms, from figurative to imagined to still life to stick figures. I had a slacking art practice where “inspiration” would only visit me on occasion, and so #Inktober gave me an awesome opportunity to re-commit to a “no excuses – draw anything and everything” mindset. While I started late and there was a day or so missed, I’m stoked that I was able to flex and build up my creative muscles again.

Select drawings are available for purchase and/or prints, just in time for the holidays. Please let me know if you’re interested! (Or interested in a commission inspired by any of the below.)


All art (c) Tess DiNapoli 2016. Please contact me directly if you would like to re-use, purchase use of, or purchase original of or print of any of the above drawings.

Chill Evening Wind Down (All Levels)

A sequence to practice when you just don’t want to stand up anymore, when your heels have been aching for days and all you can think about is my god my feet need some love like maybe a manicure or a deep tissue massage  – just for my feet – or maybe to walk over hot stones or does Bed, Bath and Beyond sell new feet? (I’ve been there three days in a row – that should be a freebie!)

After meticulously piecing together my new yoga practice space in my corner of the office I share with my boyfriend, I lit my new smelly candle, unrolled my mat, grabbed my blocks and my yoga strap, and got to work.

This sequence is perfect after a long day at work, a long road trip, travel, and just because. Set your mat up perpendicular to a wall, so the front edge of your mat meets the wall/floor.

Continue reading “Chill Evening Wind Down (All Levels)”

Stories of stuff.

Stories of stuff.

I tied up a few loose loose ends tonight on this piece, after my home practice and after reading a chapter of Jack Kornfield’s The Wise Heart.

It’s a story of jewelry, of stuff – yes. While packing boxes and sifting through piles of books and jewelry and miscellaneous decorations, I began to “curate” my jewelry, my books and my, well, stuff. I donated over half of my books, gave away jewelry, got rid of rogue “solo” earrings that lost their partners in dusty corners.

Every object has a story, even if you never really get around to finish fleshing out said story. The below is just an excerpt from something scribbled in 2014.

May 2014

The iron necklace tree graced glass countertops the small boutique with red floor in Portland, Oregon. Now, it follows me wherever I go, a relic from that first job out of college.

Ah, jewelry. Sparklies – the kinds of sparkles that catch periphery vision when wandering street markets and shopping malls alike, a passing glance and a momentary daydream with that perfect necklace nestled at the clavicle or the striking large, beautiful earrings that brush against the neck, accentuating the sternocleidomastoid.

Stories woven throughout jewelry collections like a tapestry, a quilt of memories sewn into hammered copper, mala beads, sterling silver and charms. It’s a story of stuff, of little moments and big moments and fleeting moments, the kinds of glimmering reveries that are priceless to all but me.

Two thin silver bands on my left middle finger, one with a small garnet and one a thin hammered silver band, remind me of a trip with my girlfriends in the Northwest.

A wide silver band clings to another finger, carefully ribbed to resemble a stack of rings in one piece. I look and I remember the dim alleyway around the corner from where I studied painting, figure drawing and art history in Parikia, Paros, in Greece, eight years ago. Shops carved out white-washed walls, many a silvery, sparkly thing tempting passerby’s wallets. My money that Fall living in Italy in Greece had been largely poured into art supplies, travel, groceries, apple turnovers from the bakery and dangerously delicious slouvaki from Zorba’s – but I managed to squeeze in this little ring that immediately takes me back to cool ocean breezes on the Aegean, wandering stone walkways, late nights of painting, later nights of indulging.

Jewelry can be like a postcard, a more lasting window into an experience with a place or an experience with people, or both.

Half of my earrings and essentially the only earrings I wear on a daily basis were acquired between 2008-2009, when I nannied for an artist’s son and sometimes, we would do work-trade – her “organic industrial”, tribal-chic hammered silver and copper earrings in exchange for spending hours dancing with, playing with and park visits with her son.


Sayulita Rocked My Bliss

Sayulita Rocked My Bliss


I woke up before sunrise in Los Angeles on February 1st,  scrambled to get my stuff together, tossing in last minute additions to my sixteen year old suitcase. Sleepy, underslept, a hot shower and a cup of coffee en route to the airport with my boyfriend as the sun slowly woke up with us. A kiss goodbye, a painless journey through security, and I was soon boarding the plane, simultaneously sleepy-eyed and wired from a late night of last minute packing and switching my flight seat number.

On the plane, toting my well loved and jam-packed Manduka gO tote, hugger mugger travel mat rolled up inside, I found my seat, one seat away from a girl who looked very Portland – closer to Portland, Maine than my college stomping grounds in Oregon, as it turned out. She glanced up through wide rimmed glasses and, seeing my mat, “Are you going on a yoga retreat?” I had barely sat down.

“Yep,” I said, beginning to smile a little more.

“Me too!” She smiled big.

“Rock Your Bliss?”


I go to high five her, she reaches the shake my hand, East Coast meets West Coast and we laugh at the awkward mashup of greetings. She’d be on my retreat!

Twenty minutes later I’m fast asleep, always. Bliss rocked into a nap. I woke up with enough time left to get some inspirational reading done, chat with my new friend and listen to some tunes.

We arrived; she split off to find a friend who’d come in on a different flight, and I navigated my way through customs, through a network of people haggling me to give me a ride to my final destination, looking for that one sign with my name on it. I metothers that’d be rocking their bliss with me, and after some confusion at an ATM and a bathroom pit stop, we piled into the van that’d take us to Hotelito de los Suenos. The shuttle driver immediately offered beer, soda or water; I tookthe water.

Leaving Puerto Vallarta, the van wound through serpentine roads curtained on all sides by overhanging trees. I was reminded of the drive from the airport in Kaua’i, from Princeville to what appears to be the setting of LOST in Hanalei Bay, but there was something unique about the drive from Puerto Vallarta to Sayulita, something I’m still trying to put my finger on.

Forty-five minutes later, we took a left off the main road; we had arrived. A carnival entryway greeted us with symbols from all religions painted in faded blue on white. The roads were dustier here. We made a few more turns, got caught in a traffic jam at a narrow intersection that would soon become all too familiar (mostly for the restaurant on the corner, Medusa’s, and their margaritas), and a few more turns, a glimpse of an elementary school and a couple dirt roads later, we arrived at the quiet Hotelito de los Suenos. The little hotel of dreams.

Hotelito de los Suenos is a small building off that dirt road around the corner from the Sayulita elementary school, with white painted walls and earthy red and wooden accents throughout. I got my keys to my room; ground level, corner, with a little kitchenette and a spacious sleeping area with one full bed and one twin bed. I was greeted by animals created out of bath towels: elephants, mostly, and a note written in neon pink and blue from our blisscrafting-goal-rocking hostesses, welcoming me (and my roommate, Maria, who had yet to arrive) to Rock Your Bliss. A moleskin journal, samples of face wash and lip balm by Zen Society were the first hints of the goodies we’d be receiving throughout the week.


Day one was a beautifully slow pace of introductions and arrivals. A group of us left the hotel to wander. Medusa’s is a bar-restaurant on the corner near the Los Suenos, and while they were not yet open for food, we were able to pick up freshly made pina coladas and margaritas – and walk with them in hand down the dirt road toward town. Later, we grabbed fresh coconut on the beach and sat; right in front of us, in the shallows of the ocean shore protected by a ring of rocks, a girl with coppery dark skin and long black hair was balancing on a rock practicing yoga. The timing was uncanny, as she moved from vrksasana to garudasana effortlessly, pausing in samasthitihi along the way. She was facing the vast horizon of the Pacific.

The Rock Your Bliss powerhouse: Mary Beth LaRue-Aporta and Jacki Carr. Photo Credit: Sera Lindsey
The Rock Your Bliss powerhouse: Mary Beth LaRue-Aporta and Jacki Carr. Photo Credit: Sera Lindsey

That evening, gathered at dinner, Jacki and Mary Beth introduced Rock Your Bliss to all of us, and we introduced ourselves individually to the group – our names, why we were here, where we were from, the name game. We were given Rock Your Bliss malas by Tiny Devotions, in the same way Hawaiians might greet you with a lei. Jacki or Mary Beth, big smiles, placed the malas in our hands. Lightly fragrant sandalwood beads held a delicately cut piece of white jade, symbolizing highest potential, with smaller beads of turquoise, white jade and rose quartz. Mary Beth and Jacki gave us a run down of the schedule for the week, excursions to be had and the pretty open daily agenda of yoga, goals and free time that awaited us. Dinner that night was an Indian inspired curry, spiced to perfection.

I woke up Sunday morning in time for the second round of coffee upstairs. Meals at Hotelito de los Suenos are prepared in an outdoor kitchen on the top floor, with a thatched, beautiful roof and views of the yoga pagoda across the way, and vistas of the jungletops of Sayulita. Breakfasts were simple and delicious fare of the most delicious tortillas ever tasted, eggs, beans, fresh fruit and fresh fruit smoothies. We ate, we chatted, and we were introduced to Heidi from WildMex, the local activity outfitter. She and the team at WildMex would later be leading us in a SUP Adventure, and we would have optional activities available through WildMex for the rest of the retreat, as well. We were also introduced to the hotel’s masseuse, which many people would treat themselves to throughout the week. And last but not least, we met Arturo, the manager of the hotel.

After breakfast and a bit of lingering, we all slipped into our swimsuits, decked ourselves in sunscreen and headed out to find the WildMex office to embark on our stand up paddle board excursion. After an on-land overview with Heidi, we were on the water, laughing, playing, some people falling. I brought my adventure proof camera – waterproof, freeze proof, shatter proof – and took a dozen pictures.

What happens when you put 22 yogis on stand up paddle boards? Playtime. We would paddle a bit, sit, practice fun poses (Mary Beth got into headstand), fall in the water, laugh some more. We were out for two hours, and when we were heading back, as I gleefully caught a wave on my knees on my SUP, I (and my camera) went flying off the board. I went into a panic. Tears. Pacing the beach. Hands gripped like claws. Everything I would learn that I feel when I’m low came up: the language I was using toward myself, inwardly and outwardly, was unkind. “How stupid,” I kept saying over and over again. My little bright orange adventure-proof Nikon was not Tess proof, not loss proof. The few pictures of the girl on the rocks practicing garudasana were gone.

Stand up paddle boarding would relate to our work with Jacki in goals, to our work with Mary Beth on our mats – everything we did in Sayulita wove into each other, a vivid tapestry of challenges, bliss, fun, margaritas, music, dancing and connecting to a group of strangers so fast and so deeply that by day three we felt like were all best friends.

Practice was on the yoga pagoda, which is also a regular yoga studio with an ongoing schedule of teachers from town. The pagoda would be our second home that week; we would face toward the ocean, seen through a sliver of jungle. Late afternoon breezes would soften the sweat on our skin. That first practice was strong, compassionate – sun in my face in prasarita paddotonasana C helped and a big sigh; nothing else mattered – I had arrived on my mat.

With Jacki that day, we began to explore our values (to be used like a “personal GPS”) and the language used to explore them. “Language creates the energy for your space,” Jacki said, one of many truth bombs she’d drop throughout the week. We wrote our top 10 values. “When you close your eyes, what do you see and visualize in the words you choose for the values you wrote down?”

Mornings would start earlier, with a cup of Mexican coffee touched with brown sugar and 7 AM yoga practice. Riding the waves of my breath with Mary Beth’s guidance through playful vinyasa sequences, with an underlying and constantly inspiring playlist of awesome, I practiced with my teacher – in Mexico. Our sessions with Jacki were in the late afternoon, just before dinner.

Notes from day three’s free time in my Rock Your Bliss Journal were scribbled while lounging on the Playa Muertos beach, alternating between sun-bathing, reading from Judith Lasater’s Living Your Yoga and swimming.

“RYB 2/3/14


‘Life is practice. Practice is life.
I commit to living my life fully in this moment.
All of the answers are within me.’

I am lying on Playa Muertos – we walked and weaved our way up out town, through a jungle graveyard and down to a secluded beach bookended by big rocks, and framed by hills dotted with a few thatched roof sprawling homes and forest, the beach shaded by palm trees.

The water is perfect, warm, with large and gently swelling waves. Children playing in the sand. Girls drinking from coconuts in the tide and waves rocking their laughter, as a man one step from Hulk stops, flirts and takes a photo with Sera, the photographer traveling with us.

We would dig in to the roller-coaster of observing habitual patterns with Jacki; exploring our selves and how we feel/act/speak when feeling good, elated and “above the line”, versus when we feel “below” –  and how to make a shift above, using tools she gave us and self-reflection, choosing how to show up in the world, “Check yourself before you wreck yourself!” being an apt mantra for this work. Mary Beth deepened the work by offering, “Things that hurt and bring pain aren’t true. Try that on. These are things we’ve picked.”

I watched the sunset over the jungles of Sayulita underneath the kitchen pagoda as the smell of onions and meat cooked, as citar music played in the yoga class going on across the way. Sunset showed itself in slivers of rosy gold over the hills and purple clouds, like silver linings on clouds that didn’t need them.

2/4/14. Everything shows up the mat. Listen to the inner ‘yes’.

2/4/14. The air is BALMY! While sipping iced coffee with Sera after shopping for textiles and buying ceramics from the street market.

“Tools” that Jacki and Mary Beth gave us would play out on the mat and in our exploring. In the following days, we’d explore the gratitude list, the circle of what we want and that which we don’t outside of it, visioning our futures, goals. We went on a snorkeling trip with WildMex off of Punta Mita, to the Marietas Island, and afterward spent a good four hours at “Surf Bar”, an exercise for me in letting go of the “agenda.”


Donde existe un gran amor siempre se producer milagros. Written on the vermillion red wall of Pedrito’s, my favorite taco place, painted by Roberto, the chef.  ‘Where there is love, there are always miracles.’ … something like that. Yummy coconut shrimp tacos loaded with veggies…

Yarn wrapped bicycles on the curb, Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” playing as clouds begin to roll in and a cool breeze picks up…”

Notes from my favorite lunch with Sera, where she ended up befriending a little boy with white-blonde hair and tan skin named McCoy. He was wide eyed and curious, and had lived in Sayulita his whole life. He danced through the street as Sera shot photo after photo, and she knelt down to show him how to use the camera, as well. Afternoons in Sayulita were bliss.

When not eating, there was shopping: patterned textiles created by local families, beaded jewelry strung by mountain tribes, ladies selling ceramic wares on the street by the river, sipping iced coffee while strolling by brightly painted storefronts, some with open windows, displaying hand painted ceramic skulls.

Nights all blur into delicious meals, wine bought from nearby little shops, silliness, laughter, karoake and nighttime wanderings.


‘Commit fully to your whole life.’ – Jacki Carr” 

Our last full day in Sayulita was an open day; like previous days, some people went off to do one adventure, others on another, and some opted to just beach it. Six or seven of us wanted to take a surf lesson with WildMex; I had promised myself I would while I was there. I love water, and being in places like Sayulita cements that love. Surfing resonates with yoga; it is a practice in patience, in letting go and in being confident.

Accessing what you want and who you are, truly, can be uncomfortable. This retreat with Rock Your Bliss was a lot about exploring the local areas, with all senses – the sights, sounds, smells, the feeling of place; travel itself can be simultaneously exhilarating and uncomfortable, and when we came to our mat each morning, many of us had various discomforts that come with travel to a new place, stomach problems, fatigue, anxiety… but it gets worked out, for the better: on the mat, in the sea, on the trail, in the laughter and the sweet moments of raw vulnerability with people who were strangers six days ago. What is it that they say? Everything can be cured with salt and water: sweat, tears, sea.


Unless otherwise noted, photography credit to Tess DiNapoli. Where noted, photography credit to Sera Lindsey (2 images.)

This is a more personal account of the “best of Rock Your Bliss” article featured on Seek Retreat, where you can also find  other professional photos by photographer Sera Lindsey (highlighted twice in this blog).

Want to learn more about the Rock Your Bliss Movement? Check it out.



Travel yoga and the ocean.

I’ve neglected my blog in the past month, mostly due to writer’s block. But, I’m back! I’ll be re-starting my Friday favorites column, playlist posts, photo posts and more.

When struggling with the motivation to write, I thought, well, what do I love? I love travel. Art. Yoga. I’m traveling a lot next year, including co-teaching my first retreat that happens to involve all of the above.

I’ve been traveling my whole life.

You might say it’s a love affair.

“I feel at home whenever
the unknown surrounds me
I receive its embrace
aboard my floating house”
-bjork, wanderlust

Every couple of months, I’m packing up my travel yoga mat, throwing a slew of yoga pants and jeans and tee shirts in a duffel bag and sliding off my shoes and breezing through security at LAX, either to travel somewhere new or visit someone or re-visit somewhere.

I’m writing this seriously overdo post from a deserted airport; apparently, people have better things to do on a Saturday afternoon than catch a flight. (Post-script note:  original draft of this post started on a Saturday.)

I’m a the girl who picks up her book when she sits down after boarding the plane, only to fall asleep like a baby minutes before take-off. I don’t wake up until after we’re up in the air, as if taxiing on the runway was my lullaby.

I texted my mother earlier this summer asking about my life of travel, asking how old I was when I first traveled somewhere, assuming I’d maybe get a one or two sentence reply.

“At 3 months we went to San Diego.
At 18 months, Maui.
You went camping at Tahoe at five months and were bathed on the picnic table… Ski trips in winter… more Hawaii at age 3, 5, 7, 10, 15.
You flew alone to Whittier at age five…”

Traveling solo at five: I remember this, or another solo trip, sitting in front of the plane with a special little American Airlines pin, visiting my grandparents in Southern California, happily munching on honey roasted peanuts with growing excitement about the certainty of Disneyland and chocolate milkshakes.

My maternal grandparents were always traveling with elderhostels, sending me postcards that still have the faded scrawly script of my grandma’s handwriting. They’d come home with t-shirts from places I’d never heard of, places that at the time sounded exotic and magical.

My late godmother traveled for business in her work with Levi jeans and lived in Singapore for some years; I have an elaborate marionette from somewhere in Southeast Asia from her in the shape of an elephant. And more trinkets joined the elephant, like a doll with sleek, elegant long fingers and undulating curves, a dancer bedecked in faux jewels.

Experiencing new places through a love of art settled in early, during stays in San Francisco with my aunt and uncle, learning how to use color pastels and with now hazy dream-like memories of drawing lily pads in Golden Gate Park, or learning how to use sea salt on wet watercolor paintings to create texture while on family vacations in Mendocino or Cambria. Toting a sketchbook under my arm, I was always armed to the teeth with pens and pencils and a discman. In high school and college, every trip to any art museum in any city yielded drawings and notes and endless scribbles. (If this reads like I was a big, big art nerd, then you’re reading it right. Nerd alert.)

International wanderlust set in at 16, when I went to Italy for the first time, first walked the halls of museums in Florence and Rome and wandered the streets of Lucca and Siena. At 19 I visited England, and then Spain, and in college, visited England again, then later had the opportunity to study abroad in Italy and Greece, with a stint in Paris beforehand.

Two memories fill me with joy and reverie and the itch to travel more from my experiences studying abroad in Europe:

Memory 1: September 8, 2006 (so says my sketchbook from that day). After a long day in Florence walking the halls of the Uffizi in Florence

Spending time with Fra Lippo Lippi's portrait of a woman in the Uffizi in Florence, September 2006. Travel and art entwined.
Spending time with Fra Lippo Lippi’s portrait of a woman in the Uffizi in Florence, September 2006. Travel and art entwined.

with our out-of-this-world amazing art history teacher, I lingered for three hours after the rest of the group had left, despite my museum-weary feet. I think most of that time was spent in front of a portrait by Fra Lippo Lippi. After another few hours outside sketching the Palazzo, I finally went to catch the train – still swimming in my mind through the halls of my favorite museum, and then drifted onto the bus in Pistoia to make my way up to the villa where we were staying. As I walked down the long driveway, the sky ablaze in sunset, a warm breeze picked up, and it began to rain lightly. A late summer/early Fall storm blew in just as I arrived, just in time for dinner at 20:00.

Memory 2: Paros, Greece. One of our day trips was learning about local archaeology via a snorkeling and boat excursion. Our boat was near an ancient Roman well, but that well was in eight feet of Aegean ocean. I left my snorkel behind, kept my goggles and dove deep to get a closer look. Something clicked when I was down there, gazing at a sea-sponge clinging obliviously to the side of ancient stones; the deep appreciation for experiencing places as if you’re living in them, breathing them, where even after years and years and years pass, these places are so clear in your mind haunting you in the most beautiful of ways.

And so we create new experiences, ways to see the world through the traveler’s lense.

I’m going on my first yoga retreat to Sayulita, Mexico in February, weeks before my 30th birthday – a retreat about yoga, sweat, fun, goal-coaching, and lots of bliss. A couple of weeks later, my best friends from college will be celebrating my birthday with me, via a roadtrip, wine-tasting, and laughter.

I just planned my 2014 vacation with my mom to Glacier National Park. I also want to make it to NYC with my boyfriend at some point. We’re going to Zion National Park, one of my favorite places that he’s never been to, for our 10 year anniversary next month.

New experiences, travel, art, and yoga: the fuel to my fire. My yoga practice teaches me presence, clarity and appreciation for each moment, to literally go with the flow despite what madness is thrown your way.

In travel, things can and do get hectic, crazed, unpredictable and difficult when you’re on the road, on the train, on the plane, on a trail…

But that’s part of the allure.

new class in westchester: all levels yoga

I met with Teri Roseman (owner of LiveYoga Wellness, where I teach and sub in Westchester) yesterday to catch up and discuss me picking up a new class on Thursday mornings.

Starting this Thursday, I’ll be teaching the 8:30-10 AM class! It’s All Levels. It will be a bit of vinyasa flow, a bit of workshop and exploration, and a bit of gentle yoga with a long cool down. I can’t wait!

saturday flow playlist: soften

saturday flow playlist: soften

Last night and tonight I threw together a soft playlist and let it inspire a sequence (rather than mapping the sequence out beforehand like I do when planning group classes, just going with the flow instead) to get me in the mood for reigniting my “King Arthurs” pose series challenge.


  • Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclining Bound Angle Pose) with heart opening (2 blocks – one at middle height, front edge at tips of shoulder blades, 2nd block at tallest height to rest back of skull on). 10-20 breaths: 3 releasing sighs, to Sama Vrtti (mouth closed, even breath, counting inhale 3/exhale 4, in 4/ex 5, in 5/ex 6), then settling in to Ujjaii (victorious breath, sweeping breath along the back of your throat as you breathe in and out through your nose, “ocean breath”) – rest in this starting pose at least 1-2 minutes
  • Baddha Konasana – Folded (Bound Angle Pose with seated forward fold) with forehead on block at tallest height if available – linger at least 1-2 minutes
  • Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose) with strap 5 breaths [R/L]
  • Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog “A.M.S.”) with blocks at shortest height/long-wise under hands. 10 breaths.  Then low to Plank on inhales/exhales back to AMS keeping blocks under hands, x2-3. Then flow/”roll” to Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (Upward Facing Dog “U.M.S”) on inhales x1-3
  • AMS to Low Lunge R/L (hands down)
  • AMS ~ Plank ~ Chaturanga (Four Limbed Staff Pose) – U.M.S. x1
  • AMS ~ Anjaneyasana (low lunge w/ arms up) ~ Twist (block under hand, twist toward bent front leg, other arm reaches up) ~ Ardha Hanumanasana (half splits)  [R/L then back to AMS]
  • Vasisthasana (Side Plank) “Kickstand” variation – top leg bent with foot on earth in front of hips [R/L]
  • AMS ~ Chaturanga ~ U.M.S ~ A.M.S. ~ Camatkarasana (Wild Thing) R/L ~ Pigeon pose ~ Ardha Matsyendrasana (Half Lord of the Fishes Pose, a twist) [R/L]
  • Move mat to wall to begin King Arthur’s Series [R/L]   5+ breaths in each pose
  • Janu Sirsasana (Head to Knee Forward Fold) [ R/L]
  • Paschimottanasana  (Intense Seated Forward Fold) – use strap if available to encourage lengthening rather than rounding into the fold
  • Viparita Karani, a.k.a “Legs up the Wall” pose – 5+ minutes, natural breath, release ujjaii/soften

Even though there’s a nice splash of effort in the downward dog, occasional chaturanga flows and planks, this sequence felt really comforting for an evening practice. Each transition is slow, deliberate, and drawn out with the breath. I love that first Downward Dog with blocks under my hands – it helps encourage me to press back with my thighs and send my heels down, makes it feel like you ARE sending your weight into your legs more than your hands. And I never came up to standing, so there are no “complete” Surya Namaskar cycles here. It’s a short practice. Feel free to try!

Playlist, called “Soften”:

Yoga Playlist Marina del Rey CA

friday favorites: yoga at home, chocolate and reading for fun

What I’m loving:

~ My home practice. While it makes me feel a little like a homebody, I’ve been enjoying the solace of practicing in the small space I’ve carved out for practice, on my Kharma Khare mat that pretty much stays here at home and waits for me to unroll it to play, for however long.

~Philosophie Cacao Magic superfood vegan protein powder. So freakin’good, especially with dates and bananas and almond milk. Makes a sweet tooth melt with delight.

~Teaching outside. I teach three outdoor classes in West Hollywood every week and love it, despite the commute. Even though during the commute I sometimes get all grumpypants, the moment I start teaching there, I forget about what it took to get there.

~Lululemon. AGAIN, I know. Shahr Salon & Wellness in West Hollywood is the featured studio for TWO different stores this month – both on Robertson Blvd and on N. Beverly. See my schedule on the right for more details!

~Life Before Man by Margaret Atwood, a gift from my Mom last Christmas. I picked the book out a couple weeks ago, looking for something fun to read after finishing my take-home test from the SmartFLOW teacher training, and opened up to the front page. Lo and behold, familiar writing addressed to my Mom, “Donelle, return”. A note from my grandmother – I recognized her writing instantly, having received a whole lot of postcards growing up from my grandparents’ world travels. Naturally, I had to read it.

One of the characters fantasizes about living among dinosaurs when she finds real life situations particularly unpleasant or boring or generally not as interesting as living among dinosaurs. Case in point during a game of cribbage with William. “Lesje’s hand is so bad there’s not much choice. She permits herself a walk by moonlight, along a path trampled by by the giant but herbivorous iguanadons; she can see the three toed prints of their hind feet in the mud. She follows their trail until the trees thin and there, in the distance, is the lake, silvery, its surfaces broken here and there by a serpentine head, the curve of a plunging back. That she could be so privileged. How will she ever convince the others of what she has seen?”

I think I’m loving the book even more knowing that this book was my grandmother’s book, too, that she likely picked it up at some used book store a long time ago (it has the feeling of a used book store purchase), read it and lent it to my Mom, who I assume read it and then returned to my grandmother. Upon my grandparents’ passing, a lot of my grandmother’s books ended up back on my Mom’s bookshelves. And now it’s mine.

A little weekend away with family.

I missed last Friday. Friday Favorites post and other updates to follow. But first, last weekend…

I was driving most of the day up to visit family in the Bay Area, with a pit-stop Friday night to spend the evening in Cambria with my Mom. Cambria is beautiful, serene. I arrived before her; marine fog was snuggling the beach just two blocks from where she lives, so I poured myself the biggest cup of water (hardcore, I know) I’d had all day, grabbed my book and tuned out work obligations for the rest of the night.

She made some Chicken Chili from her South Beach Diet cookbook, I picked out a white wine called Theresa from Denner Vineyards, and our dessert was mixed fruit, sprinkled with fresh mint. And then we watched (some of) Thor. Before bed, I managed to squeeze in some yoga and re-started my King Arthur’s series challenge and played around with attempting Adho Mukha Vrksasana (handstand).

Saturday morning, I drove up to San Jose, arrived at my Dad’s house before he got back from his morning run, perched on his balcony with a view of the mountains, and read my book until he got home. He brought home big sandwiches from Whole Foods, then we went to downtown Los Gatos and I picked up dresses for my niece’s 4th birthday. As per tradition, sushi for dinner, then gelato and home where Dad showed me a few episodes of a show he’s watching called The Bridge.

Sunday, I woke up early enough to get a yoga practice in with an online class on YogaGlo and added in the King Arthur’s series. Later, to Half Moon Bay, winding through green fog laden hills made me glad I last-minute switched to jeans before leaving warm Los Gatos. It was cold. My niece’s birthday was at Lemos Farm, where there’s pony rides and all kinds of fun things to do for kids. After a couple of hours of watching four year olds run amok, we went back to my sister’s house in Belmont and spent the rest of the afternoon eating leftover pizza from the party and drinking wine.

On the way home Tuesday, I got off the 101 in Oxnard and took the 1 the rest of the way home, which gave my mind space and time to let go of the long drive, and instead appreciate where I live – something that driving on the I-5 or the 405 just doesn’t do for me. Sometimes, if I detached my awareness from that drive being en route to Los Angeles, as I tore around curves and sailed through Malibu, I could imagine myself in the Mediterranean.

But then, no, this is home. I get the question, “Do you like living in LA?” a lot from friends and family friends and people I haven’t seen in eons. I hesitate for a moment, but I can’t lie, now. Through yoga (the yoga community, my extended family of friends all connected via yoga) and the close proximity to the ocean, I really can’t complain… until I get in a car and have to drive “across town” and it takes a gazillion years. But besides that…