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 out.com

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

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.

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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.

everystevenseagalmovie.com

everystevenseagalmovie.com

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.

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

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(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: officiallizaminnelli.com

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 picmonkey.com, meme-ify to your heart’s desire, save and share it, all for free. No registration required, unlike the also popular quickmeme.com and memegenerator.net.

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.

How Many Lady Parts Does It Take to Build a Yoga Motorcycle?

This article was published on YOGANONYMOUS 10/24/12. 

By Hally Marlino

What does a hybrid of female form, yoga and motorcycles look like? Feast your eyes on a masterpiece of bodypaint, guts and glory.

This spectacle is half freakshow, half miracle. Sounds like a job for yogis, right? The stunt couldn’t have been pulled off without flexible, muscular “yoga gurus”, so called by Erin Bates, sports reporter. She is also a dirt bike rider and the featured moto-model.

How many licks, brushstrokes and pairs of leather chaps were sacrificed to get to the center of this wild idea?

See this rad video for all the answers:

Ryan Berman, founder of i.d.e.a., spearheaded this project for International Motorcycle Shows. He said: “The concept really came to life when we were able to find Trina Merry, who paints bodies for a living. She was up for a challenge.”

L’artiste, Trina Merry said: “I’ve been on hyperspeed…delving into the motocross world. I couldn’t sketch it. I really needed to work with my hands. Making a sculpture come to life? It’s about coming together to express a sub-culture through the language of bodypaint.”

Why use Play-Doh yogis as an art medium? Merry wanted to know, “How does a body bend? What muscles in that person’s body are strong? What are their physical attributes that make them so key to that engine, or that wheel or that handlebar?” The end result is beautiful, modern and racy.

Here’s what happens when the rubber hits the road.

Check out more of Trina Merry’s art here.

Jam of the Week | Ellie Goulding “High For This” (The Weeknd Cover)

This article appeared on YOGANONYMOUS 10/23/12.

By Hally Marlino

Back by popular demand – the YOGANONYMOUS Jam of the Week — a chance to discover new (or old) music that you can incorporate into your practice, or just rock out with anytime of the day.

Strap on your puffy headphones and and bump this track. The helium-throated girl-next-door, Ellie Goulding, is here to take the edge off your day. Her cover of The Weeknd’s High For This is a study in contrasts. She sounds like she’s made of cotton candy, but the beat comes in chunky. Lean with it. Rock with it.

These beats are perfect for a rainy day home practice. The highs and lows might just balance your crown and root chakras. Go ahead, get lucky.

420? Notice, this song is a tantalizing four minutes and twenty seconds long. Ellie says, “Trust me boy,you wanna be high for this.” Shawty must be talking ’bout green tea.

Pumpkin Guts and Feelings

Over le weekend I…

Went to an ambassador party at a yoga boutique. They gave us presents, hors d’oeuvres and hugs.

Taught three steamy yoga classes. Fell in love with the yogis of Vendredi and Samedi.

Found a 10 hour loop of a beloved XX song.

Saw Argo at Sundance. That sh*t was tight.

Learned how to spell ‘hors d’oeuvres.’

Learned how to make chia seed gel for smoothies.

Missed my son, who was in La Crosse.

Looked at rainbow photos a la Google with Susie on my lap. She loves rainbows. She demands rainbows.

Was treated to pumpkin pancakes made by my husband.

Realized that no matter what, people around me are good, kind, generous. Even when I royally f*ck up, someone (family, friend, stranger) offers a soft word, a shirt off their back.

Why?

I think of my father and my brother, who have left this world. I think of my still-livin’ up north bro who I rarely see. Miss them all.

Both my father and one of my brothers spent time in jail, years ago. Not always at the same time, but once, twice, their visits shared a moon. I  grieve the loss of the time I could have spent with them. Could have sat and stared at them through thick glass. Asleep, I write to them and burn the letters before morning.

I drove away to college and left them in the dust of my hometown. Kept them at arm’s length. Got on with my life. Maintained my solid C+ average and behaved better than my hung-over, slept-around friends.

My brother and I are cool now. He knows I love his bones and I know he loves mine. We have time to repair.

But my father is lost and gone. Before he drank himself to death and turned yellow (cirrhosis), he was a big strapping guy. Tan, blond, blue-eyed. Everyone noticed him.

He holed up in the house our family owned for a hundred years. He drank a hundred bottles of cheap ashtray vodka.

When I was home on spring break, he served me purple soda in a champagne flute. It was a nice gesture. He locked the filthy rooms upstairs so I wouldn’t see.  There was a melted candle on every surface. Half the summer, his lights and power had been cut off by the city. He’d already begun to leave his body.

Dad told me he dreamed of Walker Texas Ranger and spiders invading my uncle’s basement. He didn’t dream it. That was a detox attempt.  He barricaded himself in the sun porch, locked the door and told his sister if she wanted in, she had to get past Walker. He always had a wicked sense of humor.

He played a Joe Satriani record for me and said, “You look great. Tell me about English 350. Are you writing a play?” He was destroyed and lonely, but skillful at making other people feel good about themselves. There was no personal struggle he couldn’t understand. He had a big heart, but it was ticking away.

The last few weeks of his life, he became a hologram. His hair fell out and he gave up the fu manchu mustache. Moved into a nursing home at age 47 and never came back. The last time I saw him he’d turned green (jaundice) and he couldn’t stay awake to smoke his last cigarettes.

My aunts and circled around his bed while he dozed. My baby son was passed from lap to lap, not knowing he’d never hear his grandfather speak again.

Dad let us kiss his sunken cheeks, but his eyes barely recognized us.

I’d like to buy his house, paint it white and fill it with happy old photos of our family. My dad looks like some kind of  Zeus in those pictures. Maybe I will. Or I will let him go and know that he lives in my hands, my favorite songs and the kindness of strangers.

Can you relate?