Lately, I have been going to one particular yoga class. It is a vinyasa yoga class and while it is not specifically designed as a hot yoga class… well, it is Tucson in the summer. So it’s basically hot, sweaty, vinyasa yoga without the branding and for cheaper. I love the class — when I’m not cursing chair pose under my breath — but all the same, I am jealous.

Jealous of the two regular guy students who arrive in class and promptly strip off their shirts like, “Of course this is socially acceptable here.”

Jealous of the regular woman student who nonchalantly favors strappy, cut-out crop tops.

Not, mind you, because any of these people are doing anything wrong; they’re not.

Rather, I am jealous because at home, I practice is shorts — not gonna lie, sometimes men’s athletic boxer briefs — and a sports bra. I’ve gotten comfortable in this attire, to the point where, during the warmer months — which, in Arizona, is the majority of the year — any more clothing feels cumbersome. Left to my own devices, I’d bring an extra towel to wipe the sweat from my belly and my back rather than wear the extra moisture in the form of a soggy shirt.

Only, I’m not sure I can do this in the studio.

Rather, I’m not sure I can do this in this studio — where I am often one of the biggest people in any class — and have it be a non-issue like I’d like it to be. You know, the way it is for these other people. Thinner people.

I realize, of course, that I can’t truly predict how folks at this studio would respond. Maybe no one would care.

Except, of course, I have ample personal experience to suggest that people would not, do not respond to my fat, shirtless body the same way they would respond to similar clothing choices made by someone thinner.

If I had a dollar for every time I heard a generic comment that a fat person “can’t get away with” a more revealing item of clothing, this would be a non-issue. Because I’d be able to afford private sessions at a studio.

There are magazines and websites and television shows designed to tell people how to obscure their bodies — in part, to ask that fat people please not have the gall to look so damn fat.

I’ve heard personal acquaintances say that bigger people, specifically when pursuing athletic endeavors, shouldn’t wear short shorts or anything midriff baring.

I’ve been verbally and physically harassed for running in just my sports bra (and shorts and shoes).

I’ve had people with my own body type and size say that “we” can’t make these clothing choices — and expect me to agree.

I have not even counted the pairs of raised eyebrows.

So if I’m concerned about pushback — even in a place where I otherwise feel pretty safe and secure in my body — I have reason. While I fully understand that body and clothing policing happens to a variety of people for a variety of reasons and that no one is immune — the reality is that, in this particular case, if you subtracted ten from my clothing size, fewer eyebrows would raise.

And I think that is what I am most jealous of: the ability to pass unnoticed. To have my personal choices remain as such, rather than being seen as sociopolitical statements or as a potential affront to the people who “have to look at” me. It is not a pleasing thing to realize that my body is often viewed as either an offense or a curiosity.

Still, I grow tired of being jealous. Of not jumping fully into the game of my life. Of settling for “good enough” or second best. One day, I will wear whatever the fuck I want to yoga class. And if anyone’s eyebrows want to raise, they will be more than welcome to keep their eyes on their own damn mats.

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Where I am when I’m not blogging.

Let me tell you a story.

There once was a state that had a long history of terrible Superintendents of Public Instruction. It was also a state with a booming industry of privatized, for-profit prisons — but I digress.

Over the years, realization about this terribleness slowly grew among the people. Businesses, service industries, and pretty much anyone who came to rely on human interaction in a professional capacity discovered that glorifying standardized testing while removing all funding for actual learning was not a sustainable model.

And into this realization came an election cycle.

One candidate was like, “Our standards are too high**! No standards for anyone!”

One candidate was like, “Our funding is too low!”

And one candidate — the Evil Incumbent — was like, “I will blog offensive hyperbole anonymously while never taking a principled stand on the actual issues!”

Here, dear readers, is where the story gets really interesting.

In the primary election, Evil Incumbent was actually defeated.

But replaced with someone even worse.

So now the people are left to choose.

There is one candidate who supports adequate school funding, who supports educational standards but believes standardized tests should not be used as the sole determinant of mastering those standards, and who supports career and technical education (which often leads to skilled and productive career paths with or without the student attending a 4-year college).

And there is one candidate who supports the abolition of state standards, who would allow for the diversion of public funds into private schools, and who actively worked against anti-discrimination policies for LGBTQ students.

And there are still a lot of people who — while they see the difference — don’t see the importance. Won’t vote. Don’t care.

That last paragraph is where I come in.

** Okay, so she was really like, “These standards are an overreach of the federal government! Bad Obama!” even though, you know, Arizona has been a voluntary participant in Common Core. But I was going for a theme here.

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What Yoga has Taught Me about Teaching

  1. Set an intention / Create an objective. — Because if this is a thing worth doing, it’s worth knowing why you’re doing it. At the very least, this will help bring you back when the forces that be try to distract you.
  2. Prepare your foundation. — Just like I wouldn’t enter into headstand or any deep backbend before doing the physical and mental preparation necessary to do it safely, it’s also not a great idea to proceed through a lesson without a pretty thorough understanding of the overall plan. Both have increased odds of doing something embarrassing in front of a class.
  3. Speaking of which, you will do something embarrassing in front of a class. — Fart. Fall over. Wear two different shoes and not realize it until fifth period. Unfortunately, I’ve found that the best way to make peace with these moments is to have as many of them as possible. Fortunately, I’ve found that both teaching and yoga are happy to comply.
  4. Learning to remain calm and focused in — physically or emotionally — uncomfortable situations has value. — See above.
  5. It is good to learn your limits and to be able to see them coming in advance. — For safety and all.
  6. A meaningful best practice — yoga or teaching — is one that is sustainable. — Being the most awesome for five weeks is less great if you burn out at ten.
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This is going to get me through the month of August.

You know, that month when I’m back to school with children, once again honing my time management skills from pretty good to superhero-esque. This time of year asks that I become very particular and focused about what I want from my asana practice:

  • I’m probably not going to have a whole lot of time on any given day, so I need something that’s safe to do in about 30 minutes or so. In other words, no “peak poses” that require extended prep or warm-up work: August is not my month for perfecting splits.
  • It is likely I will want a practice on the more vigorous end of the physical spectrum, either because I have physical energy or because I want energizing.
  • My mental focus is not going to be at the top of its game. This means both that I’ll want a sequence that offers a relatively lot of repetitions of relatively few postures** and that I’ll want to avoid postures that require me to be paying the most attention. Just like hanumanasana, upward facing two foot staff should probably not be in my regular short-term rotation.

Also, I realize that I do not need and ultimate transformative practice for this point in time. Rather, I need something that is solid and sustainable and good enough for right now.

In light of all that, this is what I’ve come up with:

  1. One warm up sun salute with:

    • 5 rounds in and out of forward fold;
    • 5 rounds in and out of cobra;
    • 5 breaths in some kind of mobile down dog
  2. 5 rounds of sun salute A;
  3. Modified sun salutes B, one each:
    • 5 breaths in and out of Warrior 2;
    • 5 breaths holding Warrior 2;
    • 5 breaths moving between radiant warrior and side angle;
    • 5 breaths holding side angle;
    • 5 breaths holding triangle;
  4. 5 more sun salutes A;
  5. 1 sun salute A with a held plank, moving into and out of one-handed plank for 5 breaths on each side;
  6. camel, 10 breaths;
  7. low lunge twist, 10 breaths per side;
  8. wide-legged forward fold, 10 breaths;
  9. reclined twist, 5 breaths per side;
  10. savasana.

    The few times I’ve tried this, it’s taken between 25 and 35 minutes, depending on the day and how long I hold savasana.

    This is a routine to which I can commit — most days — through one of my busiest months.

    ** But not too repetitive because then I will be like, “Fuck this shit,” and I won’t do it.

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Things that are Awesome

I am pretty proud of my interview with Dr. David Garcia, candidate for Superintendent of Public Instruction who is endorsed by both the Arizona Education Association and Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona.

If you’re in Arizona, you should check it out.

If you’re not sure why any Planned Parenthood affiliate is endorsing a candidate for Superintendent of Public Instruction, you should especially check it out.

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Dear Spam Mail

You would probably get further in life, albeit only slightly, if you amended your salutation to be more inclusive than “Dear Sir.” This is pretty much a red flag that you didn’t even try.

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Quick Note: Light Posting Here, Heavy Posting Elsewhere

It’s election season in Arizona again, which means I’ve rejoined the nefarious underground of citizens in support of candidates who stand for such “extremism” as:

  • Public education that is adequately funded and that values the contributions of education professionals. (Because, you know, we can either fund public schools or private prisons; I see no reason we should give preference to the latter.)
  • Affordable and accessible health care, including sexual and reproductive health care. (Because, you know, people are actually the bosses of their own gonads, after all.)

I’ll link back here when things get published, but if posting volume seems lighter than usual here, that is why.

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