How to Protect Yourself from Thinspiration Disguised as Yoga

Have you noticed? Spring is the time of year when some people go on wood-chip diets and others try to sell you weight loss shakes made of hooves.

Is there an undercurrent of Thinspo masquerading as Health behind certain promotions put out by your gym or local yoga studio?

Be skeptical about words such as fitness, slim down, lighten, wellness and bikini season when they’re being used to sell you yoga. Hammer, don’t hurt ‘em, but discern.

Recognize. This kind of marketing does harm. It cheapens the sublime bearing that yoga can have on our lives.

Flip that biscuit. Don’t settle for anything but real gravy.

You might have to get a little macho, as in:


1. Courageous, potent, robust, lusty and vibrant. Okay then. These words stick to your ribs. Sounds like yoga.

From what my teachers have passed on to me, yoga is a practice of sustainability and recognition that we’re more alike than different in our hearts. Yoga is shelter. It’s not about comparison or punishment.

Your overall health isn’t something that is caged within your physical frame, anyhow. It’s not identifiable by your appearance.

My best teachers deal in the subtleties of kindness, tough love and what is wholesome. They’re experts at holding space. They walk beside us as we learn.

I won’t say anything about the turkey burgers who make cracks about kicking your ass or detox yoga because my resting bitchface happens on its own.

Here is my DIY list on how to protect yourself from thinspiration crap disguised as yoga:

  • Hide the tweedledees in your newsfeed whose greatest wish is to hook you into their powdered lunch replacer pyramid scheme. (It’s gonna taste grozz and costs like forty dollars plus arms.) Wish them venison jerky for Christmas.
  • Make the squats, make the pushups, make the asana. Lift and lower the heavy things. But only if it gives you satisfaction. You may accomplish this in your garage without giving a single dollar away. Because you are a whip smart machine. Fair warning- these activities will make you hungry. Cook a can of beans over your grill like some cowpoke. That’ll put hair on your chest.
  • Hang out with athletes who say, “Yes,” when you ask, “Wanna ride bikes and get nachos?” (Jocks tend to be jovial, reasonable people who like nachos.)
  • Don’t give your money to studios or gyms whose marketing feeds the culture of fear and inadequacy. If the language coming from a place implies that there must be something wrong with you that they can fix, remember what DJ Unk said in 2006 and Walk It Out, away from there.
  • Get some sexy knives. The Wusthof company will monogram your whole set. You should have a couple sleek tools to prepare your gorgeous meals. Slaughter cantaloupes. Peel potatoes for homemade gnocchi like you mean it. Making dumplings from scratch is aerobic, especially if you walk to the corner store for eggs. Fait accompli.
  • Cut the sleeves off of your Duran Duran tee shirt. Get some sun on your biceps. Feel the outdoors up your lungs.
  • Enjoy decent wines, stank cheese, bone marrow and fish heads. If that’s what you desire. You choose. Or you know, legumes and greens. What gives you fuel to get your life’s mission popping? You and your grandma know, it won’t come in bar form. You won’t find it in a tub with a plastic cover. What you need might smell like buttered rutabaga and bacon. Ask your Grams for the recipe. She probably understands balance.
  • Go to your garden (anybody’s garden). Pull a carrot out of the ground. Rinse it with the hose. Is there still a little dirt on it? Good. Take a bite. Tastes orange, right? Stay close to this feeling you get from your hands pulling food out of planet earth. Vegetables are self care.
  • But for cripes sake, if you forget about the majesty of Ritter Sport, or Flamin’ Hot Cheetos remind yourself. You’re not just a pretty face. You’re compassion, one-armed planks and bechamel sauce.
  • Arm-wrestle people who do not want to arm-wrestle. You’ll probably win. Stud.
  • Be so good to yourself. If you’re struggling with this one, let someone else be good to you. Reject the ‘you have to love yourself first’ theory. People who say that are the same ones who tell you they like all music except rap and country. They’re missing out on a motherlode of love.

Give ‘em hell.


ps: This isn’t a scholarly article. It’s something I’d write for you on the back of a napkin at the roller rink, and I hope that means more.

My Beef with Yoga Journal


I wish I could cheer for Yoga Journal. *puts poms poms aside*

The current issue is breaking my balls though.

Page 88 reads, “Avoid spaghetti straps and regular t-shirts, which can widen the look of your shoulders…”
Burn the book. Let’s meet at the speakeasy.
I encounter men on the bike path at night. Experience tells me I must ‘widen the look of my shoulders’ to say, “Don’t fux with me.”
Lions do the same thing. I wish I didn’t have to.

The light in me honors the light in you, stranger. But, not so fast. Not too close.
In the world, I want to look male gymnast thick. But I enjoy being a girl.  I consult GQ.
I cut off a quarter inch of my hair every day. It grows back immediately.  Part woman, part reptile.

We gather in a yoga room to risk.
You light a cone.
You split the ocean in half to see who is on the other side to take you in.

What should you wear to practice?
Strip down. Paint the ritual all over your body.

I Stole from Liberace, Tias Little and My Pink Chinchilla. You Can Too.

Matt Damon kissing Michael Douglas in 'Behind the Candelabra'. Yer welcome. via

Matt Damon kissing Michael Douglas in ‘Behind the Candelabra’. Yer welcome. via

Sunday night promises glamour.

I will watch the Liberace movie and later, practice Yin yoga in the living room with my daughter. We’ll use her stuffed pink chinchilla and Totoro as bolsters. We ball on a budget.

I’m taking Tias Little’s advice. He wrote this bomb article, which I found on elephant journal, that is full of right thought. His words soak my heart and brain with curiosity. What happens next?

Here are a few golden eggs from T.L.

Practice ahimsa (non-violence) within the practice of tapas (intense practice). . . Avoid excessive tapas, what I like to call “stupid tapas.”

I get ‘stupid tapas’ when the yoga teacher calls out, “Ten Urdhva Dhanurasanas- Go.” As a competitive person, I want to meet the challenge because I can. I have an occasionally crusty wrist though. Ten breaths in one wheel is enough. If you are me.

You can sustain a vigorous practice and feel no pain. That’s precisely where right action comes in. Make the right action for your body as you move. Choose kindly. Challenge yourself compassionately.

Avoid practicing too long and too hard. This steals from the spirit.

We must learn to practice in a way that fosters healing. Pile on strength. Exhale and open your chest. All full court press all the time may attract injury. You ain’t got time for that.

Of course, there are days when you should absolutely make out with someone you love instead of going to yoga. Right? Action.

Always keep the practice fresh, alive and interesting. The practice should be full of experimentation, discovery and surprise.

I circle back to take class with my favorite teachers every week. Ritual and tradition are the most strongly tethered tenets of yoga.

Luckily, those teachers are continually unpredictable. They study, travel and bring back a treasure trove of modifications, new modalities and ripe wisdom.

This is why we take yoga field trips to different studios and different teachers so often. It’s like breakfast. You don’t want to eat the same cotdang steak and eggs every day. Sometimes you need a three onion and gouda frittata with a side of potato pancakes up in your grill.

Be nourished.

Namo namah.

Bathe In This Song All Night Long

Tuesday, October 29

Right this second:

I’ve had this track on repeat for six moon salutations, half a banana and two fire log poses.

The train goes by. It shakes the crumbs on my plate.

Gold lilies we bought two weeks ago are perfectly fat and intact in a too-small vase on the kitchen counter. I can’t get over it.

My heart breaks a little because I think my father would have loved that song. He’ll never get to hear it. He would have thrown the doors of his house open, cranked the volume too loud and pissed the neighbors off.

My Dad disappeared on a detox mission once. He resurfaced thinner and blonder. He cooked an elaborate meal for me and my best friend, chain-smoking in the kitchen, talking to his dog in perfect German.

He quizzed us on Alice Cooper songs and said we ought to watch Death Wish 4 followed by Under Siege, starring Steven Seagal. We talked him into The Lost Boys instead.

As if that weren’t enough:

Panda to Steven Seagal: "GTFO."

Panda to Steven Seagal: “GTFO.”

The next day, he bribed me and her to drive to his favorite restaurant in Green Bay to bring him back gnocchi. When we got back to his place, he served us homemade apple pie and Tab sodas. That was the last time I saw him healthy, with steady hands.

The loss still chokes me. Now that he’s twelve years gone, I think of him as if he were a child all along. I remember him most often just when the trees go bare. This is the time of year when he was most lost.

You’d never meet a nicer guy. He could figure out what you loved most and get you to talk about it. You get disoriented by the sheer size of a personality like his.

We all have our vices. It’s no secret that empathy doesn’t come easy. Shared experience is what tells us to soothe a crying child or to laugh at a joke.

I know that the person next to me in the grocery store checkout line has as much to mourn and as much to celebrate as I do.

A quiet life surrounds me. My family is close. I have plenty, and I get to teach yoga tonight. The room will be dark. People will open the door for each other, and step on to a warm floor.

How does it begin?

“This is a one hour yoga class.” Friendships forge. Courage rears its head in every corner.

We all go home softer, tougher and a little more truthful than before. We try and try, anyhow. Shaky hands or not.

How to Avoid Yoga Tapout | Muscle Failure and Macarons



Before I taught yoga, I was a mediocre pastry chef at Sundance.

Tapas means ‘to cook’, ‘to burn’. In yoga philosophy, we usually talk about tapas in terms of discipline. We need that fire to remain (or become) pliable and motivated, but nobody wants to be the overcooked egg.

If you don’t get a chance to move all day, you may need your yoga practice to be vigorous. Go get ‘em.

Do you prefer a peaceful asana practice? No desire to make your yoga a ‘workout’?  Hike, bike and climb sh!t to get your cardio fix and then your mat time stays restorative. Give yourself permission to be omnivorous about it.  Yeah, AC/DC. Go both ways. You can have Yin and Vinyasa. Go full-court press one day, and meditate the next.

Acknowledge that yoga can do neat things for your waist to hip ratio, but don’t enslave yourself to it. If you do, you may push your bones too hard and attract injury. Keep some peace in each posture and your practice will be sustainable.

For example, if you feel a sharp wrist pain during chaturanga, modify or skip it until the hurt subsides. Ask your instructor to check your alignment. They’ll help you find solutions. Yoga teachers love to troubleshoot.

Make time to roar. Keep your macha /macho. . Rattle the lion’s cage once a day or you’ll never leave your velvet cushion.

Baking is manual labor. So is asana. If your practice takes you to muscle failure, treat it more like macaron batter.

You know, yogi.

Beat until soft peaks form. Soft peaks. Fold in more sugar. Pipe it into shapes.  Your pastry, your body, both need nurturing.

Got bubbles? Bang against a hard surface until they release. Like you would with your yoga, be firm, yet gentle.

Wait for a smooth surface to form.

The process might take longer than you want it to. That’s yoga. That’s macarons. Let ‘em sit for an hour. Patience is strength.

Heat them up. Heat them up good. Your oven (your constitution) might run warmer or cooler than your neighbor’s. Practice. Experiment.

Allow time to cool before you get fancy ideas about jam and nut spreads. That jazz.

Your poses, your sweets- make those sons of b!tches in different colors. Be dough. Roll around on the floor until it feels right.

Whether you end up with yoga or cookies, people gon’ be happy to see you.

Yoga Pants Are Not Pants? What the Actual F**k.

(This article was published on YOGANONYMOUS, 2/27/13.)


Confession: I’ve been sans pants for the better part of a year.

That hair-splitting minx, Miss Popular Culture has decided that yoga pants are not legitimate pants.

Blissful with ignorance, I have schlepped from studio to coffee haus to home in ain’tpants, fauxpants and nopants.

If you’ve got beef with yoga pants, you’ve got beef with yogis. You can clutch your pearls and give us the side-eye all you want. We’ve got our thighs on the prize and will cling to these almostpants until our last ujjayi breath.

Not familiar with the war on britches? Here’s what doodes on the worldwide web preach about questionable bottoms:

“Don’t be a slut.”  Don’t be a jerkstore.

“Leggings wearers sh!t me to tears.”  Okay, that one is funny. I luh me some hyperbole.

“Become a fan if you HATE when ppl wear leggings as pants.” Exuberant as this invitation is, all caps are also not pants.

“So i was in class today and this girl walked in with brown leggings, as pants of course, and i could see her thick-seamed, white panties with pink polka dots through them.” This kind of inspection reveals that you’re a pervertosaurus and your mom should smack your punk ass.

Does it disturb you that there are creepers out there who might sneak up on your innocent hindquarters and put the invasive results up for comment in public? It should.

I pity the fool who would try to slink into my blind spot for a photo opportunity. Yogis are strong-legged. But, ahimsa (do not harm), forevah.

People who think yoga pants are not real pants are the same people who think expresso is espresso. There is no ‘x’ in the Italian alphabet and there are no real pants in my closet.

Let’s put a fine point on it; I’m a yoga teacher, so if yoga pants aren’t pants, I only make money when I’m pantsless. Everything seems to be in order here.

Over yonder, at lululemon, customers have coined their own acronyms to cover their asses. VPL= visible panty line, DDC= down dog check.

Opacity is key for us yoga bunnies. We’ve got this down. No need for unsolicited opinions in our pantaloons. Women do not have to take this ish.

Does it offend your sensibilities when leggings masquerade as pants? Like my girl Stevie Nicks said,“You can go your own way.”

There’s a threadbare line between fashion policing and slut-shaming. Is there an outcry over men who wear Zubaz (and Speedos) to vinyasa flow? Nyet. There shouldn’t be. If some gentle soul shows up to my yoga class in Zubaz, I will salute them. To wear Zubaz is to have courage.

Yogis tend to cherish comfort over formality, on and off the mat. We’re too busy practicing astavakrasana (all eight angles of it, motherhugger) in our leggings that do not qualify as pants to iron slacks.

The fact that Ganesh, Allah, the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother Earth and Almighty Gawd gave us these yoga pants is proof that they want us to be comfortable. We must enjoy this bounty and coexist in bum-cuppin’ coziness and harmony.

Go ahead honey, declare yourself Huntress of Nearlypants. Own them.

Sure as the moon waxes gibbous, I’ll be over here, rolling with my omies, sportingnopantsarethebestpants.

ps: Liza Minnelli rocks nothing but hardlypants and she’s a goddamn legend. ermahgerdlurza

Bottom photo:

Make Your Own Bootleg Potpourri


Before tying on your sexy Yes, Chef apron to bake up a storm, check the dates on your spices. If you find some that are expired, don’t despair. You can use them to make homemade potpourri. Forget the commercial bagged stuff spiked with faux scents and yellow number five. Follow the recipe below for a soft and inviting wintry mix that’s sure to please your Jack Frost-bitten nose. Bubble it up on your stove while you fix a mug of cocoa for your sweetheart. Your crib will smell like fresh hot cross buns.

In the interest of health, I’d like to add that pumpkin-spice flavor and apple-cinnamon flavor are not actual fruits. Do not be fooled by slick packaging and promises of festive contentment.

Spicy Bootleg Potpourri 

2 cups water

1 T. whole cloves

3 cinnamon sticks

1 whole nutmeg or 1 t. ground nutmeg

1/4 cup orange peels, finely sliced and dried

Simmer all ingredients in a medium pan. Add additional water and spices when needed. Behold, the marvelous aroma. Set range to low or remove from heat.

If you’d like to reuse the mixture of holiday aroma surprise, cool it, jar it and refrigerate. Reheat as often as you like for up to two weeks.

Prepare for the smellgoods, you smart cookie, you.

If you have a stuffy nose, but your ears are in proper working order, you may enjoy my latest article on YOGANONYMOUS: Hot Buttered Mixtape from Your Kapha Yoga Teacher

Don’t Talk About the Change, Be About the Change and Other Non-Menopausal Holiday Sparkles

You are North.

Hear Bruce Springsteen sing, “In My Hometown.” Y’know, hear it in your mind.

The Boss didn’t pluck that tune out when he played Madison one hot minute before our hero Barack Obama won re-election. It just stuck in my head driving three hours northeast to, you guessed it, my hometown. It’s on the icy edge of Lake Michigan, about an hour past the city of Green Bay.

Imagine a cold wonder of a place where you may buy beer until 2 a.m. I know that’s enough to entice you to say yah to da U.P., eh, but there’s more. It’s a museum of natural mystery.

My family of four stayed with our Aunt Gee. Her house meets your nose like baby powder, cedar and Dove Soap. It smells just like my Grandma’s (rest her soul) makeup drawer. I love the aroma. Le husband says, “There are cats everywhere and you’re afraid to step on them, but you don’t know which ones are real.” The top floor of her home is filled with guest bedrooms and exotic plants, if you know what I mean. I’m talking flowering banana trees.

La pièce de résistance

We drove across town, to pick up Aunt Dee for yoga. She showed us a five pound mincemeat pie, boozy and fragrant with bacon. Be still my vegan heart. Well, not really. I’m the most half-assed vegetarian on the block, especially when it comes to family recipes. After a spoonful of pie, I washed my hands and she handed me the most cushy towel I’ve ever known. I buy the ones that are a couple dollars and scratchy.

As a hen trio, we gave yoga a run for its money and headed to the homestead for Uno with the dudes. We shared Fatty Boombalatty Belgian pints and the loudest wisecracks on the block. A baker’s dozen of Mickey-Lu cheeseburgers were sacrificed that night in the name of buying local. No dilemma for this omnivore. I’ll return to the plant-based fold just in time for x-mas.

Uncle Fred likes his soda cold.

My son and I stole away for a midnight cruise in our slippers. You can go to the grocery store in my hometown bun-headed & slipper-shod and no one will judge you. Madison is cool like that too. I don’t want to live anywhere with a stiffer dress code. In keeping with festive tradition, there were cops parked on every corner. Not a soul on foot. I wager the municipality made little money on traffic tickets that night.

We watched The Walking Dead and turned in. The lighting of the prison on that show reminds me of my old Catholic church. I remember sitting involuntarily around the basement for catechism. I’d try my luck jousting zombies rather than spend one more Sunday in that church of  fire and brimstone.

Napkins for the recovering Catholic in your life

In my aunt’s house, the beds are are always squarely made. She fluffs the pillowcases; sharp yellow softness, feather full of every dream you left since last time. Lay your head down, it all comes back to you.

No one talked about bullsh!t mindfulness, said we should write gratitude haikus, or told me to set an intention. But I kinda wished there were an espresso drive-through within, oh a hundred miles. Surely I’m going straight to hell for that.

People stick voodoo positivity pins in the social mediasphere all day long. See “If you want to feel rich, just count all the gifts you have that money can’t buy.” That’s downright whimsical, but I’d rather get a raise. Mama’s got bills to pay, kids to keep warm and the corner store only accepts real greenbacks for gasoline. The warm-fuzzy feelings usually come after basic needs are met. Not trying to be a Scrooge.

I have a face-friend who slaps Einstein, Marianne Williamson and Gandhi quotes on the newsfeed every morning. Rarely, she puts quotation marks around them, and she never credits the original source of the quote. Yeah, I’m sure she came up with, There was a star riding through clouds one night, & I said to the star, ‘Consume me.’  No. That was Virginia Woolf.

The staggering amount of white people posting stuff they’re thankful for is what gets me. Can we take a hint from Usher (Usher, Usher, Usher, Usher)? Don’t talk about it, be about it. I know that’s more sage advice, but cowboy, if it ain’t broke…

I want someone to explain how to live up to the meme. So your mantra is, “Speak the truth, even if your voice shakes.” I like it. It’s got cheap feel-good appeal. Still, please stop. Who are you speaking for? Yourself? Someone in need? That’s what I want to know. Spare me the McQuotes. Or at least put a creepy photo behind the text. I like creepy  photos. Pretty ones are so easy to come by.

What Dafoe did I just make? A misquoted meme.

For fun, you can upload any photo to, meme-ify to your heart’s desire, save and share it, all for free. No registration required, unlike the also popular and

Who cut the cheese between Oms? Probably someone who posts word-pukelets on Facebook like, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” Just, no. What doesn’t kill you sends you to therapy. What doesn’t kill me maims me. Didn’t Kelly Clarkson write a song about it? She also endorsed Ron Paul for president. She’s no golden font of wisdom.

Nor am I, because this one I dig:

Fourth Thursday of November, thank you for words like barley, rendered, hay mow, brethren, pastured fowl, taco dip, and ratios of a horse a piece and half butter, half potatoes.