Everything In Moderation; Yoga Included.

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What do you love? Yoga? Running? Painting? Hiking? Horseback riding?  Awesome! But, does it consume you?When your passion, or hobby, keeps you from seeing friends, taking trips, or experiencing other things…it may be time for a change. Let me see if I can explain this.

When I first started my practice 4yrs ago, I was on my yoga mat 5-6 times a week. I had just got out of a 2.5yr relationship, and he was still living with me for a month until he found a new place. I wanted out of the house.  I mean, why wouldn’t I keep myself that busy?? My life at that time was work, yoga, eat, sleep, and repeat. It sounds really dull, but it was what I needed in order to maintain my sanity for that full month, and for a while after that. I’d rather be exhausted from a long day of work and yoga, rather than arguing with my ex about something petty. Yoga gave me an outlet to release my tension and worries. It went on like that for many months after my ex moved out. I used yoga as almost like a crutch, to mend my unhappiness. I remember sometimes, I would take two yoga classes, back to back, after a 8hr work day; only to go to my teacher’s house later that evening, for a private. I became somewhat obsessed. After being a bad situation for such a long time and you find something that really makes you happy, you want that feeling to stay around as long as you can. I didn’t know what to do with all of my sadness, other that take 5-6 classes a week. I didn’t know any other way. I just knew it kept my mind off of my troubles. However, it did do the trick.

When I moved back to Los Angeles, I was in better spirits, and happier overall. Which, in turn meant, not as many yoga classes (3-4 a week). I slowly started to realize that yoga couldn’t solve all of my problems. I also started to realize that I was saying “No”, or “I can’t” , very frequently, to invitations from friends, coworkers, even dates. In my head, it became another job where I was required to be on my mat 3-4 times a week, without fail. This probably makes no sense to a lot of people, but try to understand…

With the exception of countless bumps and bruises, nothing bad has come from the 4yrs that I have spent on my yoga mat. Nothing. I have met some amazing people, and have done some incredible things because of yoga. So, my thinking was, “Yoga has been so great to me. Therefore, I owed yoga my time, energy, and full attention. I needed to be on my mat at least 5 times a week, consistently, every week, without fail.”

“Hey Justin! You want to take a ride to Malibu, lay on the beach, and grab dinner afterwards??”
‘Nah, I’m good. I’m taking a class around noon, and by the time I get back and dealing with traffic, it’ll be late.’

Nowadays, that seems a little silly to me. Over the past year, I’ve learned to slow down, relax, and experience new things off of my mat. The yoga studio will be there if I skip a day or two. It has been so far. :-)
It finally dawned on me that the one thing I was extremely passionate about, was hindering my social life. I’ve learned to find the balance between my practice and my life off of my mat. I will continue to practice yoga as long as possible to stay fit, and use it as a location for “me time”. However, I won’t let it rule my life either. Sometimes, I don’t want to rush out of my apartment to take an 1.5hr class.  Maybe I want to sleep in, have coffee and a nice breakfast? Or, just simply be at home. Or, no, I don’t want to pay hundreds of dollars to take an immersion with a well known teacher. At this point in my life, I feel as though I am reaping all of the benefits from my practice. I may be taking fewer classes a week lately, but I’m getting the same results I was getting when I used to take 5-6 classes a week.

Plus, for me, there is more to life than yoga (yes, I said it).

It is a part of my life, but I will not let it control me. I hope you guys understand what I’m trying to get across here. It is so great to have something that you are passionate about. But, you have friends and family who love you; and they want to see you too. Go to the beach, go to the movies, see a friend, take a trip…give yourself  a break from your passion/love. There’s a whole world out there, and people who care about you. There is something that I have learned from all of my inversions, downward dogs and backbends. I may love them, but I’m not going to miss out on new and exciting things, just to go to a yoga class.

Yoga will be there when I get back. :-)

 

 

IG: Jaimenk80
Twitter: JDYogi

“What do you mean he don’t eat no meat?!?”

voula

 

 

 

First of all, I would just like to apologize for this ridiculously late blog entry. I will try harder to keep up on this. Life, clearly got in the way. :-p

In regards to this blogpost, I’ve pretty much adapted a pescatarian lifestyle. I do have some “uh ohs” here and there when it comes to not eating red meat or poultry, but they are almost phased out completely.

Well, I’ve become what I have always feared and tried to fight against; the centered, happy yogi that doesn’t eat meat. I became a statistic!! This wasn’t supposed to happen to me.
I was born in southeast Texas. This means the moment we come out of the womb, get our butts slapped, we are handed a canned beer and a ribeye steak. Oh, and a cigarette, let’s not forget the cigarette.
Fried chicken, brisket, pork chops with all the trimmings, was always on the menu growing up.
If you turn down meat in southeast Texas, people look at you as if you’re some sort of alien.
In their eyes, you might as well be a gay Democrat.
Oh wait… :-p

I used to LOVE a good ribeye steak, love it. Chicken tenders with side of fries? Don’t mind if I do!
It was just what I did growing up, like my parents did, and their parents. I enjoyed the taste of it, I did. As I have gotten older, I also realize that we are all product of our environments. When you are surrounded by people that all do the same thing, chances are that you will do it as well.
I used to think that if there wasn’t red meat or chicken on my dinner plate, then it wasn’t a complete meal. Looking back on it now, it seems a little ridiculous. But, it was just my frame of mind at the time.

Over the past few years, I guess I have just acquired a distaste for red meat and poultry.

Since moving out west to Los Angeles back in 2004, I have definitely acquired a healthy lifestyle in general. It was a bit of a shock at first. I found out very quickly that a Budweiser
drinking-smoker from Texas, was not looked upon as “cute”.
I became more active outside, running, hiking, etc. And, I eventually gave up smoking because I can’t very well do these new and “foreign” outdoor activities when I sounded like a wheezy Kathleen Turner! Smoking and exercise seem to cancel the other out, and apparently you need ALL of your lung capacity to really help you through workouts.
I live in West Hollywood, Beverly Hills and Hollywood adjacent. This is the land of “beautiful people”. The people here tend to eat healthy and exercise very frequently. So, I adapted to my environment and followed suit. And, people eating at healthy restaurants talk about other healthy restaurants they should try on their next outing. It’s quite funny.
Reasonable portions of grilled veggies and baked chicken replaced my usual plateful of fried chicken a fries. Water began to replace Coca-a-Cola. Soft drinks in Texas is a must have accessory to go with, well, almost any meal. Think of it as a beautiful Lous Vuitton Purse to accessorize with your stunning Dior dress. It’s a MUST HAVE!
Coke-a-Cola. Steak. Fried chicken. Beer. Cigarettes. Get it?

It wasn’t until I started my yoga practice 4yrs ago that I was introduced to more vegetarians and vegans. The yoga community is saturated with these non meat eaters! I was introduced to many restaurants/recipes by my yoga friends over the years. And, apparently, salads aren’t the only thing vegetarians and vegans eat. Who knew?!
I slowly began realizing that I rarely ate red meat anymore, and was really getting tired of chicken. It was actually easier than I thought. I was also a bit irritated at myself because I didn’t want to become one of those loving yogis that didn’t eat meat. What a cliche’ !

A friend of mine, who is a vegan, once told me, “Justin, what are you doing?? Just be a good yogi stop eating meat!!” Of course, my first thought was, “I’m going to pick up a ribeye at Ralph’s on the way home just to spite this vegan asshole!” Which, is exactly what I did, I believe. Pushing people on their personal transitions is a good way to get nowhere fast. At least, with me it is.
I had to phase it out naturally, on my own. I have also watched a few documentaries on the meat and poultry industry that were pretty eye opening. I’ve also done some research on agricultural biotechnology corporations, such as Monsanto and others like them.  These incredible discoveries about these corporations definitely made an impact on my decision as well.

Like I said before, you are a product of your environment, and the people you surround yourself with. Currently, I am seeing someone who is a pescatarian, with occasional “uh ohs” along with way, much like myself. Over the past few months, he has  introduced to tons of new delicious, vegetarian recipes. It’s been a refreshing treat!
I can make you a mean “Cornmeal encrusted tofu over couscous and mushrooms, drizzled with BBQ sauce”.  :-)

I may go full Vegetarian one day, I may not. But, it will be my decision on my terms.

The main reason for this new diet of mine is this: We are all going to die one day, of something.
I just want to live as long as I can, as healthy as I can. This combination  of diet and exercise will allow me to rock out some kick ass yoga poses for a long while.

I mean, I want to keep putting my leg over my head, and doing awesome backbends for years to come!

It’s my body, and I want to take care of it!

 

We are all connected to each other.

 

yogis

 

 

First of all, I would just like to apologize that it has been so long since my last blog post. Inspiration hits when it hits, I suppose.

I was in a packed class the other day, of about thirty plus people, mat to mat. It’s mid summer, hot, and were are all sweating somethin’ ugly. With all of us so close together, we were grazing each other with our hands and arms during the class. Most of us just smile and keep going with our sun salutations. No big deal, right?

Suddenly, I had a flashback to when I first started yoga in the gym. I remember this woman who was next to me in class. We were starting our sun salutes, and I accidentally touched her hand with mine. She immediately made a “Oooh, I know you didn’t mean to touch me, but I really wish you hadn’t” face. Then, she moved her mat farther away from mine, to make sure we wouldn’t make contact with each other again. I have to say that her actions didn’t make me feel too good about myself, or about her.

It’s funny how things like that stay with you.

When I started going to yoga at my studio, it was completely different. My teacher encouraged touch, connection with other students. She would encourage looking each other in the eyes and smiling. A lot of the time, we would all face our mats in a circle during class. That way, we couldn’t help but see each other’s faces. It was nice. Yes, I realize that sounds like a very “Peace and love” kind of attitude. But, it made me realize how rarely I did these simple things. A lot of people are so caught up in their own lives, that they forget they are sharing this world with other people. And what they do affects the world around them.

Living in LA for so many years, I’ve learned that a lot people would rather walk past you on the street, than make eye contact. And, God forbid…say hello. So, I try to look at it as more of a game. So, whenever I’m out in public and catch someone’s eye, I say “Hello”. I have seen a wide variety of responses. I have had people stop, say hello, and comment on the weather. Some people give me scared, half grins, and quickly start speed walking. Others give me eye contact with no facial expression. Then there are the people who don’t acknowledge me at all. And, that’s okay.
It just surprises me how many people aren’t interested in connecting with people that they don’t know.
Maybe it’s that Texas boy coming out in me. I don’t know.

Yoga, to me, IS about connecting with other people, especially in class. When my teacher comes around and just pats me on the back, I feel more plugged into class. He could say, “Good job, J.”, and I’m grinning like an idiot. Something so simple can make such a huge difference for me. It makes me feel good about myself, and brightens my day. I recently held hands with someone I know, during savasana. After that, I was beaming from ear to ear. Are you kidding?? Human touch can be very powerful also, but you have to be open to it.  I’m not saying to go and grab someone’s hand during savasana, either. If you don’t know them, they may not be down for that.

What I am saying, is that we as individuals, have the power to affect the people and world around us. You have the ability to single-handedly put a smile on someone’s face, or completely fuck up their day. So, I choose to say hello to people, make them laugh. It’s what I’ve always done to the people I know. But, yoga has reminded me to do the same to others that I don’t know. It gets me some funny looks, but like I said, I’ve made it into a game.

What I learn in class, I use outside of class.
Yoga has definitely broken down some emotional walls for me, and has got me out of my shell quite a bit.
It has made me a more confident, loving person.  And, for that, I am grateful.

So, maybe the next time you pass someone on the street, look at them instead of through them. Say hello and smile. It could potentially brighten their day!

Lastly, if you happen to graze someone in class, I promise… you will be OK. And, so will they.
Just brush it off, along with the sweat, and finish your sun salutes! It’s not that serious.

In a way, we are all connected. We are all one.
Maybe we should start acting like it?

 

Will you listen to yourself???

 

Before:after

“Let’s listen and bring our voices together with three, sweet oms”, my teacher says.

The students, one by one, begin chiming in with their voices to produce the sound on an “om”. It starts out so sweetly and innocent.
And, then out of nowhere, you start to hear, “aaaaaaAAAAAHHHHHHH”. This sound will seek out a grown persons spinal cord, and your body starts to twitch as a result.
I always sit in the very front, so this off key “om” hits the back of my head and engulfs my body like Santa Ana winds.

“WHOOOSH!!”

Of course, the first thing I say to myself is, “What the fuck is wrong with this girl? Is she tone deaf? In the room of elephants, does she NOT know she’s the pink one??” I usually roll my eyes to myself and try to clear this irritation from my mind, and pray that the end of the “Oming” comes soon. I also quickly realize that I’m in a yoga studio and it’s not nice have asshole thoughts while I’m on my mat.
She needs to LISTEN! Listen to herself and the people around her.

Listening is a skill, I believe. And, I’m still learning. I posted a side by side picture recently on my facebook page. It was a picture of me with a black eye, next to a picture of me recently, smiling. The one with the black eye was when I was in my slightly abusive relationship and before yoga. The other was post yoga, full of happiness, and maybe a little vodka. :-)
Right after I posted that picture, I was flooded with comments and support. I also received a few private messages from people telling me that they are/were in similar situations. They reached out for help, an ear.  And, I was more than happy to oblige. I know what it’s like to be not happy in your life and not know what to do. Actually, I did know what to do. I just didn’t have the courage to do it.

Looking back on that whole experience, I can honestly say that I had absolutely no business being in a relationship at that time.
Period.
I wasn’t happy in general, at that point in my life. I especially had no business moving to another city to be with someone who constantly put me down, and made me anxious. No business. It’s because I wasn’t listening to myself, my gut. We all know when something isn’t right in our lives. A lot of times we may perk up, take notice, but ultimately fall short on taking action. If you want to change your situation, changing your way of thinking is a great start. Listening to yourself would be step one.

“Why am I so unhappy? Why do I hate my job? Why does my mate make me want to vomit from anger?” 

For the longest time, my life was just in chaos, a true mess. Until I found my yoga practice, I had no idea that my life could harmonize with the world around me. I had no idea that I could be happy. Did you know this??
Since I started yoga three years ago, I’ve been able to find clarity in many things that were hazy for a long time.  But the trick is that you have to listen and recognize what is making you unhappy or stressed.

I think a lot of us tend to put up with certain things because we think that they can’t be changed. And, a lot of times that may be the case.
However, you do have control over one thing…yourself.  You have the ability to make better choices, which help to improve your mental health.
When I finally realized that I wanted my life to change, I did the following:

1. Listened to myself and the people who cared about me
2. Made a list of goals for myself
3. Surrounded myself with good/positive people
4. Did a “friend cleanse” (I was tired of hanging around with assholes and negative folks)
5. Stayed focused by going to yoga (yoga might not be your thing, so find something that keeps you steady)

This WORKS!

I truly believe that once you rid yourself of the crap in your life and stay focused, good things will come.
With that being said, you have listen to yourself and recognize the “crap” that is causing your problems.

Your happiness is worth more than anything. Take care of yourself and make a change.

Most days you can find me on my yoga, at the studio. And, PLEASE, listen to yourself when you’re “Oming”.
The voices are supposed to become one.
If this is a problem for you, let me know ahead of time.

I’ll bring you a bucket so you can carry a tune!

Yoga, Religion, And Spirituality…Oh My!!!

 

I went on a date recently.

“So, tell me a little more about yourself. What are your hobbies? Are you religious?”, I asked.
“Actually, I am. I’m a Christian. I don’t like the gay churches because I feel like they push gay pride on people. They aren’t there for that reason. So, I just go to the churches that don’t accept me, sit in the back, and listen to the sermons. I like the overall message at those churches.”
“Are you serious? Because that doesn’t make any sense.  Well, I’m agnostic with Atheistic tendencies and I haven’t been to church since I was eighteen. By the way, how was your steak?”

I quickly flagged down the waitress and gave her the universal “finger check sign”. I practically hurled my debit card at her.

Religion/Spirituality and Yoga. Can there be separation, or is it all intertwined?

Religion and Spirituality are always touchy subjects for me; I guess they are for most people. I grew up in a conservative town in southeast Texas and attended Catholic masses every week. I went to church camps, catholic retreats, fundraisers, attended CCD classes, and even sang in the church choir. Not to mention that I was an altar boy for several years! So, I knew my way around the catholic church.
After practically growing up as a Catholic, I never really felt good, saved or accepted. There was always something missing; this was even BEFORE I realized that I was gay. I remember the parishioners outside of church calling people names, and doing “unholy things”. I couldn’t understand how people could in “the house of God”, hear these great stories about love, and then walk outside talking shit about people. It just didn’t make sense to me. It wasn’t right.
As I’ve grown older, my views of religion and spirituality have changed quite a bit. I don’t really believe in a giant ark with two of every animal on board, talking snakes, and taking ribs from people. It’s even harder to swallow due to the fact that these are stories/interpretations written by people (some illiterate I might add) thousands of years ago. What might have been blue with yellow dots last week, is now purple with black stripes today. Stories ALWAYS change with time.

With that being said, I DO believe there might be “something else” going on besides what we see. I do believe in spirits. And, the only reason why I say that is because my sister and I both have had personal experiences with them. Plates moving, hearing noises, seeing lights, and something grabbed my foot when I was alone one night. I can’t explain them, I just know that they happened.

When I started my yoga practice almost three years ago, it was all about the asana. Gaining muscle, flexibility, and working up to that sweet savasana. Then, I began to hear stories about Hindu deities, buddhism, miracles, purple rain, and elephant gods during classes. I started to shutdown and tried to separate the two.  And, “What the hell are mala beads anyway??”

I didn’t want any part of it.

I mean, how could I? I was a self-proclaimed Agnostic that was leaning towards Atheism. If I wasn’t sure about Jesus, why would Lord Shiva and Ganesha be any different? I was very conflicted. Because most religions/spiritual groups seem to believe that they are “right”, or know best.

So, what’s the answer here?

I sure the hell don’t know. I say to myself, and other people, that I don’t consider myself religious. Yet, I have a 16″ Nataraja murti on display in my living room. I have it because of what it means to ME. I’ve heard the stories and meaning behind this murti (why he’s positioned this way, what he’s doing, why he’s doing it, etc…) and I like them. I like the stories and how they relate to MY life.

I recently had to part ways with a friend of mine due to our differences in regards to religious beliefs. I said that people should “believe what they wanted to believe in. Just as long as they weren’t hurting anybody. And, that there are many ‘Truths’ with everything.” She didn’t agree and we had to end our friendship after a several heated discussions. This was upsetting because we should all be able to believe in whatever without judgement or fear. Unfortunately, this is not a current reality.

I DO believe that there are many “Truths”. It doesn’t mean one is more “right” than the other. Just different. One of my favorite stories, that I heard in yoga class, was the story of the six blind men and the elephant. Check it out HERE. I think you might enjoy it!

I’m still on the fence about Gods, religions, purple rain and spirituality. I can only do what I feel is right for me, and my own personal experiences with them. I’m not saying that my way of thinking is right. It is what I believe, to be my “Truth.” Everyone needs something to believe in. Whether it be Catholicism, Buddhism, Hindu, Science, or nothing at all.  I think belief systems become a problem when one tells another that they are wrong, and “this is what is going to happen if you don’t believe this.” Spiritually/religion/whatever should stay within ourselves, make it our own. Our own truth.

I thought these stories in class were going to affect my downward dogs and handstands. But, they didn’t. I take from them what I want, make them my own, or just tune it out. Some of the stories are fun. It gives me something to listen to when I have my leg behind my head. :-)

And that’s the truth!

Good Yogis don’t wish their neighbors an early demise.

 

So, I’m getting the hell out of here!

My first apartment in Los Angeles, from 2004-2008, was a great place that is located on Crescent Heights, in West Hollywood. It was fun, beautiful, neighbors were nice, convenient, close to work, perfect. I moved to Las Vegas with my partner at the time, and lived there for 2.5yrs. After my breakup in June of 2010, I stayed in Vegas for 6 more months before moving back to Los Angeles. I started searching for places in LA around November, 2010, when I received a phone call from my friend and old neighbor.

“Dude, your old apartment became available again! You should call the management company and find out what the rent will be.”
So, I called them. I felt a little nauseous after they told me that the rent was $400 more than what I was paying before. But, at that point, I just want out of Las Vegas, leaving my ex and a lot of bad memories behind. In addition to that, I was literally moving back “home.” Despite the rent increase, moving back into my old place was very comforting among all the chaos.
December was a crazy month. My mom had just died, I got laid off from work, AND I was moving. I would have probably paid $500 more in rent to ensure my comfort.

I’ve currently been here one year and nine months. After the first six months, I started to remember some of the things that annoyed me about this apartment complex. I live in a 25 unit building, shaped like a “U”, with a pool in the middle. It had a lot of esthetic value, but this place began to become my personal hell. The neighbors are fucking crazy!!!

This place is nicknamed “Melrose Place” because of all the drama that happens here. Neighbors sleeping with each other, cops are called on a regular basis, late night skinny dipping (which these people had NO business being naked in public). I would not be surprised if someone ended up drowning in the pool.

I usually keep to myself, but it’s hard when you are literally surrounded by people you can’t stand. And, with thin walls, it’s hard to get sleep, especially when your creepster neighbor has his TV against your bedroom wall. I’ve talked with him many times about the noise, and even called the cops on him a couple of times myself…but nothing changes. I cursed out the elderly couple upstairs because they said something to me that I didn’t like. Many times have I slept on the sofa,  just to get a decent night’s sleep. I would find myself feeling extremely anxious and resorted to taking Xanax on a regular basis. I would get SO wound up and filled with anger at the slightest hint of noise from either one of my surrounding neighbors.
I remember saying to myself, “Ya know, if my neighbors dropped dead right in front of me, I wouldn’t think twice about it. And, I’d probably would step right over them.”

Okay, as a yogi, I can tell you, that isn’t good.

My teacher once told me, “You can’t change others, you can only change yourself.”

Remembering that, I saved up money, found a place that was close by, and put my notice into my apartment complex. I moved at the end of the month, and I couldn’t be happier!
The new place is a street over, a cute space, great owners/management, they take pets, underground parking, has a pool, QUIET, rent controlled, AND it’s $240 cheaper than my current apartment. I CAN’T WAIT to get out of here.

I realized that I was happy in all other parts of my life, except in my home. The one place I should be happy.

I’m looking forward to my new apartment, a new chapter in my life. And, coming home, day after day, NOT wanting to strangle my neighbors.

 

New York, New York

 

“I hate Cedars Sinai, I fucking hate Los Angeles, I just want to be back in New York! My flight was delayed due to weather last night. I only had four hours of sleep before having to come here today. The only reason I even bothered to show up was because I didn’t want you to give me another verbal warning like you did the last time. I’m in no mood to take care of patients today!”

I’m ninety-nine percent sure that those were my exact words to my supervisor, on my first day back to work. I had just got home from my first trip to New York City. It was a little fuzzy only because I was balling uncontrollably for about ten minutes in his office. I had my face in my hands, crying. I was crying like a little girl who’s brother had just ripped the head off of her barbie. And, the only reason my hands left my face was to curse and to tell him how much I hated where I was geographically.

It was really something.

Following the “Cry me a river” meeting, my boss sent me home.  I couldn’t have been there for more than thirty minutes.

To say that my first trip to Manhattan/New York was amazing, would be a bit of an understatement. It’s still hard for me to find the right words to describe my six days there. I’ve always heard how great the city was for years, but never had a huge desire to go. Once I finally got there, I got it. I just got it.
The friend who I was visiting was an incredible host. He was able to spend every day with me while I was on my vacation, from morning until night. He lives in the East Village, which was so cool. I didn’t want to do a lot of touristy crap. I wanted my friend to show me HIS New York. Here are some of the memorable highlights:

1. Spent the first day basically restaurant and pub hopping. We were drunk most of the time.
2. Times Square
3. Assisted my friend while he did makeup on the Tranny who got kicked off of America’s Next Top Model.
4. Took the subway, a choo choo train, a bus, and a ferry in order to get to Fire Island.
5. Running running hand in hand through the sand, drunk, from one part of island to the other, at 3am. (We had just left from watching a bad drag show)
6. Falling off a peer and scraping the shit out of my leg on the island.
7. Eating a dessert that you would step over your own mother to get.
8. Holding hands with my friend and running around the city.
9. Going to the Central Park Zoo
10. Seeing a broadway show (Peter and The Starcatcher)
11. My friend agreeing to take a yoga class from an amazing teacher I know in Brooklyn.
12. Seeing The Stonewall Inn
13. Seeing Carrie Bradshaw’s apt
14. And, on my last day…my friend showing me The Statue of Liberty on his computer because we ran out of time to see it in person.

 

I never realized it before, but by comparison, Los Angeles is really boring. Everyone has the same car, wears the same brand name clothes, and strives to be buff and beautiful. Yes, New York loves its fashion, too.  But, for the most part, everyone wants to be unique individuals. I also found it easier to strike up conversations with people in NY. People just love talking in that city, which is the opposite here in LA; no one wants to know anyone.

I met/saw more interesting people in six days than I had in a long time on the west coast. It was incredible, and very inspiring.
Naturally, halfway through my vacation, I asked myself, “What the hell am I doing in Los Angeles?? How and when can I move here?” I truly fell in love with the city and I am looking forward to my next trip out there.

I also realize that I was on vacation. I’m not walking around in the snow in the winter, and sweating profusely in the summer. I’m not hauling groceries up three flights of stairs or paying an outrageous amount for rent. I was completely free of responsibilities and it felt amazing. It wasn’t my every day reality.  But, it’s nice to escape every now and then.

 

For now, LA is my home, my reality.  My dog, cat, amazing friends, and yoga kula are here. LA is a great city;  you just have to see through all of its bullshit to really appreciate it. And, I can. :-)

And who knows, I may move to NYC one of these days. And, if not, I will always remember the incredible experiences I had during my first time there. The first, of many times to come.

Thanks for everything, C.

XOXO.

 

PS- If you’re ever out that way, check out Julie Dohrman’s classes at VIRAYOGA, in the city. She also teaches at Bend And Bloom in Brooklyn. You won’t regret it!

And, you can grab that Prune/mascarpone cheese dessert at Frankies 570 on Hudson St in Manhattan. You’ll DIE!

I realize this post wasn’t very “yoga-ish.” But, ehhh…it is what it is. There were also way too many moments during my trip to write down or to put into words. And, I don’t know…most of the specials ones, in my mind, are just for me. :-)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Date A Yogi? Or Dip Into The Population?

 

Dating: is a form of courtship consisting of social activities done by two people with the aim of each assessing the other’s suitability as a partner in an intimate relationship or as a spouse.

So, I’m actively dating again. Hooray?? Let me start out by saying that dating can be very rewarding. On the other hand, nothing causes more anxiety and sheer frustration than “getting back out there.” Dating men, to me, is much like potty training a puppy. They can both be cute, sweet and loving companions. They can also be totally annoying, won’t listen to a damn thing you say, and can do things that make you want to choke them out. Fortunately, only one will piss on your rug (if you’re lucky).

It’s been exactly two years since me and my ex broke up. It wasn’t an awful relationship, but it was pretty bad. It took me a while to feel good about myself again, to love myself. My yoga kula, along with my close friends, definitely were the ones who lifted me back up where I needed to be. I literally told myself, out loud, “You will focus on yourself and get back on your feet, emotionally.” And, I did. So, yes, as of this very day, I’m extremely content with my life. I have a good job, good friends, my yoga practice is better than ever. I’m good!

I truly believe that when a person is happy with who they are and where they are emotionally, others are drawn to them. And, that’s exactly what happened. Over the past six months, I’ve noticed that I have been approached a lot more by men, and more opportunities in my daily life have presented themselves to me. It’s funny how that works. I’ve actually had people ask for my advice in how they can improve their state of minds. The only thing I can tell them is, “Go take a yoga class.” :-)

But, here’s my “problem” with dating. I find it hard, sometimes to relate to other gay men who aren’t in the yoga community. I’ve actually used to get anxiety about it. For the past two years, I’ve found solace in the yoga community. And, I’ve met some amazing gay men along the way. I’ve seen the gay community in a different light with yoga. They are extremely sweet, supportive and are incredibly hot in handstands. They are a good example of how I would like the entire gay community to be.

Gay pride just passed a few weeks ago, here in Los Angeles, and one of the first things a friend of mine told me about Pride was, “Happy Pride! Use a condom!” This is not what I think about when I think about Pride, but unfortunately, it’s a reality. There were countless parties to go to all around town, and I was invited to several. But, when I was considering actually going, I became anxious. I’ve been to the parties where everyone is loaded on alcohol or cocaine. It’s extremely hard for me to relate to a “community” like this these days. Because it’s just not me.  I’m not saying everyone who doesn’t do yoga, puts cocaine up their noses. There are exceptions to every rule, of course. Yogis aren’t perfect either.

I’m just saying that my life is so different since I started my yoga practice. I have a 16″ Nataraja murti wrapped in Mala beads, in my bedroom for God sake! Anyone that I date just has to understand that I’m going to do be doing yoga three to four times a week as well. It’s not just exercise. It’s become a part of my life and it keeps me smiling. It’s taught me to care more about people, try to find the good in everything, and not to be quick with judging others. It would be nice to find someone like that as well, ya know?

I spoke with a friend of mine, who is a yoga teacher, and is also gay. And, I talked with him about my dilemma about dating a yogi or a non yogi. He told me something that really resonated with me, and opened my eyes a bit.

“My practice too, has changed me, much like yours has changed you. We just have to remember that there are so many great people out there…all different types, and everyone has something to offer.

For a long time, i would judge people without really getting to know them…especially if they were like west hollywood boys, party drinker boys. I didn’t think i was judging, but i was…i was just looking at that aspect, and writing them off…I thought i only can date someone who is x y and z, and is interested in yoga, spiritual things etc.

But then i realized there are so many ways people connect to life…and although they may not all have an asana practice or this or that, my criteria grew into, is this person being authentic?  That’s really all that matters. ”

So, with that, I’m keeping an open mind and heart for someone… authentic and caring.

I’m ready.

“Me? A Yoga Teacher? F**k That!”

 

 

I’ve only been practicing yoga for two years now, this past April. I may have had countless hours on my mat, own a Shiva Nataraja murti, and listen to “yoga music” on the regular, but I still consider myself a newbie when it comes to yoga. Just when i think I know a pose thoroughly, my teachers always have a way of making me feel it like I never have before. There are always revisions or tweaks to everything.

 

It’s a very humbling experience when you think you know something, but then quickly realize that you know nothing all.


I am a very good student. I follow instructions very well, I am very dedicated. I’m always wanting to know more. If anyone were to watch me in class, I would probably  be staring at my teacher in awe and admiration. Much like a five year old would gawk at an animated Pixar film.

Many people of my friends have asked me, “Why don’t you just become a yoga instructor?” Karen, my teacher in Las Vegas, was even making me keep track of my studio hours just in case I decide to teach one day. As flattering as it is for people to think of my practice in that way…nothing sounds more disgusting to me.

There’s something to be said to just being a student. As a student, I get the full benefits of yoga. Every day I am able to walk into class and be inspired, get plenty of exercise, have an amazing savasana, and leave completely blissed out.  I think to myself, “All of this was for me.” Why would I want to change that?

As a teacher, my experience with my practice and yoga would change completely. It would force me think about things like:

1. Do I have enough students in the class so I can make “X” amount of money?
2. Would I be financially stable as a Yoga teacher?
3. I’m limited in what I can do in class because there are so many new people.
4. When can I make time for my own practice?
5. I would feel responsible for people if they got injured in class.
6. I’d have to hear about teachers sleeping with their students or other colleagues.

I’m not interested in ANY of it.

Some teachers can do this effortlessly, but I know it takes a lot of work. I am grateful for the teachers who can accomplish this. Without them, I wouldn’t be in class. You have to have that “something” in order to teach yoga. Well, I have come across teachers who don’t have this “thing” about them. But, you won’t see me in any of their classes. :-)

There is so much more to yoga than just downward dog and warrior two poses. After two years, I feel like I’m just beginning to scratch the surface of what yoga really is all about. How could I try to teach others something that I don’t even completely understand? It doesn’t seem right. I don’t feel comfortable teaching someone handstands when I can’t even stay up in the middle of the room more than ten seconds.

I go to class three or four days a week to be inspired, to grow emotionally and physically. And, I want that feeling every time I’m in the studio. Being a teacher, I feel, would take all away from me. I wouldn’t be fun anymore.
Having fun is one thing that I’m interested in doing.

I’m so thankful that I have teachers who inspire me everyday.
I’m a damn good student. But, me, a yoga teacher?

F**k that!

 

 

I’m A Yogi, Not A Hippie: I Like My V-necks And Tight Jeans

 

A friend mentioned to me recently, “I really dig that you are so into yoga and that you’re not a hippie.”   “Are you kidding? I take baths on the regular, I love shopping at H&M, and I wouldn’t be caught dead at Burning man. I don’t even have an interest in going to Coachella. I love yoga, but it doesn’t mean I love wild eclectic dancing and sweating profusely in the desert.”

I have found that most people associate yogis with hippies. I mean, I thought the same thing until I actually became a part of the “community.” My first teacher in Las Vegas was, by no means, a hippie. She plays nothing but rock music in her classes. Going to festivals like Shaktifest and Wanderlust were not on her agenda. This was my first real experience with yoga; rock music in class, long holds in poses, and a firey teacher that had lots of fun. I didn’t even hear true “yoga music” until I moved to Los Angeles.

California yogis are quite a bit different than what I was used to, and it took me a while to adjust. It seems like every other month, there is some festival going on where yogis from all parts of the country, get together for hours of asana, music and dancing. And, honestly, all of that sounds pretty unappealing. The fact is, is that these kinds of festivals are not me. When I moved back to LA, I noticed that my practice became more than just poses and trying to keep my mind off of my crazy ex boyfriend. Tony Giuliano, my teacher in LA, was the first person who introduced me to “Yoga music.” There are some great Kirtan artists and other types of musicians out there. I started to appreciate this music because some of  it is really beautiful. I began to become interested in the philosophy part of yoga as well. I learned more about all of the Hindu deities, what they represented, and paid closer attention of the ancient stories behind them.

So, my practice, I realized, was more than just the asana. It became a way of life, essentially. My relationships with other people improved, my eating habits changed, my physical body changed as well. Eventually, I realized that my selfish, asshole ways of thinking were slipping away, and it wasn’t just about me anymore. This new way of thinking was reenforced by every class I attended, or with every conversation that I had with my teachers. I try to look for the good in other people first, and I am constantly setting good intentions. It helped me to smile quite a bit more.

Then I thought, “Oh my god, I’m becoming of those yoga people. Today, I’m listening to yoga music and smiling at people for no reason. Does this mean I have to go to the Bhakti/Shaktifests, while dancing wildly to chanting shamans tomorrow? Am I going to have to eventually own a big, flappy shirt, linen pants, and straight man sandals???” Because I’m just not the one to wear something like that.  I honestly think I am somewhere in the middle. I just happen to be a gay guy who loves “yoga music”, such as Shantala (who I’m going to see this Friday), but also likes his espresso, fitted jeans and light blue H&M t-shirts. They bring out my eyes for god sake! So, to me, I have the best of both worlds. I’m not that trendy, but trendy enough to not be a hippie. Does this make sense? :-/

After two years of practicing yoga, I finally got it. No one in the yoga community really cares about what you wear, or how you choose to to live your life. I have great friends who love these yoga festivals and who are self proclaimed hippies. But, again, that is not me. Ultimately, we all just want to travel through life lightly and happily, while setting good intentions for ourselves.

I may do some rockin’ asana while listening to some Kirtan music, but you won’t find me in the desert with no air conditioning. That is NOT the business! And could you imagine me in straight man sandals? The one’s with the velcro? Yah, YOU KNOW what I’m talking about. All stars are more my style.  :-)

 

XOXO.

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