Go with the flow

Trying yoga for the first time can be an intimidating experience. But that misses the point of this ancient practice that combines stretching, breath … and peace

Yoga instructor Petri Brill strikes a pose at her studio YogaSport, which provides beginners’ classes for the uninitiated. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

Yoga instructor Petri Brill strikes a pose at her studio YogaSport, which provides beginners’ classes for the uninitiated. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

JEF TINGLEY  | Contributing Writer

Some do it for their mind, some do it for their body, some do it for both. But all yoga students have one thing in common: Making the first step and taking up the practice. And while this age-old combination of stretching and breathing is meant to calm the mind and strengthen the muscles, a maiden voyage into a posterior-lifting position like downward-facing dog in a room full of strangers can send one’s heart racing. But that doesn’t have to be the case.

“People new to yoga should remember that everyone in class was a beginner at one point,” says Petri Brill, manager of YogaSport Dallas on Lemmon Avenue. “Yoga is a journey, not a destination. There is no perfect practice or perfect yogi or perfect yoga body. I think people worry about they’ll look [or] feel foolish in their first down-dog [and] that they’ll be judged. Our [yoga] community is diverse, encouraging and accepting: no judgment here!”

Mary Pierce Armstrong, who teaches at MarYoga, agrees that you should always look inward. “Yoga will come to meet you no matter where you are starting from. As long as you take the breath and the breaks you need, you will be doing awesome.”

For Wendy Moore, a 44-year-old yoga newbie, has taken these words of wisdom to the mat — literally. Moore recently completed her second MarYoga class as part of her new year regime. Any inhibitions she had about the experience were dispelled during her first visit.

“[I was] concerned about my general lack of bendy-ness, and not knowing where to put what arm and leg,” she says, “but if you look around you will figure out where your limbs are supposed to be by what others are doing.” Moore has continued to work on poses between classes with some slight variations mimicked by “what her cats are able to do.”

Keith Murray, a 37-year-old registered nurse, tried yoga for the first time more than eight years ago and was immediately hooked. He was taking classes three times a week before long. “I was a little intimidated about the whole thing at first,” he says, “but after my first couple of sessions my intimidation grew into excitement.”

A busy work schedule has kept Murray from his regular routine over the years, but he is trying to change that. “I still maintain a crazy life and work routine, but building yoga back into my life has really helped me to find balance again.”

According to yoga teacher Jennifer Lawson of SYNC Yoga & Wellbeing, it’s not just busy schedules and bundled nerves that keep people from the practice of yoga; it’s also our cultural fixation on success. “There tends to be so much emphasis on achievement and perfection that many of us are becoming accustomed to playing it safe in order to avoid the possibility of shame.”

Lawson recommends coming together as a group in a class with experienced and inexperienced yogis to create an environment that emphasizes the experience and process of yoga and not the destination or end result.

For Anisha Mandol, a 42-year-old business development manager who has been practicing yoga for about two years, these words ring true. “Once you understand your expectation from practicing, no one else’s matters. The benefits of yoga are fluid and dynamic, and each person has their own unique experience. Own yours,” she says.

And so it would seem that just as the journey of a million miles begins with one step, the journey toward a yoga-filled life begins with a single stretch on the matt (and maybe a little Namaste for good measure).



Options are plentiful for the budding yogi looking for a class. Get your stretch on at these studios in and around the gayborhood. You can also find information on their class offerings and schedules on their websites.

Yoga Sport Dallas
4140 Lemmon Ave, Suite 280

SYNC Yoga & Wellbeing
611 N. Bishop Ave.

MarYoga at Chi Studio
807 Fletcher St.

Sunstone Yoga
2907 Routh St. (and other locations)

Gaia Flow Yoga Uptown
3000 Blackburn St., Suite 140B

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 17, 2012.

—  Michael Stephens

‘Tempest:’ You, us

Kevin Moriarty is a director who embraces the full spectacle of Shakespeare, and while you can disagree with his decisions sometimes, you have to respect his commitment. He likes elements we might consider by-products of the Elizabethan Age, its Hey-Nonny-Nonnyisms: Interludes of courtly ballets and minstrel-strummed songs, arresting, fourth-wall-violating asides to the audience, expository speechifying — everything Chekhov and Ibsen and a host of others steered away from.

But he’s also a director who appreciates contemporary stagecraft: Reconfiguring the structure of plays, emphasizing the astonishing pageantry of an evening at the theater — sometimes taking us out of the play, but often with grandeur. The balance isn’t always an easy one, but it can take your breath away.

There are several such gasp-inducing moments in his staging of The Tempest, starting with the opening scene, set on an airplane instead of a boat. As the wizard Prospero (Chamblee Ferguson, pictured left), like Desmond from Lost, rips the jet from the sky, the stage instantly transforms into a barren wasteland, as stark and beautiful as any set the Dallas Theater Center has ever produced. There are trap doors and bits of magic and flying fairies. It will make you say, “Wow.”

But there are also the many edits. Yes, some of the talkiness is removed, but also some of the scope. And keeping it without an intermission leaves one’s butt castigated by those Wyly seats for nearly two hours.

This Tempest feels more like a series of vignettes than a single story: The comic relief, the sappy romance, the political intrigue, the long-stewing recriminations, bracketed by Ferguson’s Ahab-like Prospero. At first, he’s a vengeful terrorist and hypocritical zookeeper, enslaving his island’s native fauna, the ethereal Ariel (lithe, white-eyed Hunter Ryan Herdicka, pictured right) and its Orc-ish Caliban (Joe Nemmers, delivering us Quasimodo of the mud with poignancy and humor). Then Prospero changes gears, softening and showing mercy, moved by his daughter Miranda’s love for his enemy’s son.

The Tempest is problematic Shakespeare, neither comedy nor history nor classically tragic, but a romance with obscure motivations (how quickly Prospero’s mind is changed by Miranda’s capricious libido, when her suffering for two decades went unnoticed) made more obscure in this version — Prospero seems more like ringmaster than protagonist. Ah, well: The Bard was a better poet than playwright, so let’s give credit to Moriarty for taking this Tempest out of the teapot.

— Arnold Wayne Jones

Wyly Theatre, 2401 Flora St. Through Oct. 9. DallasTheaterCenter.org.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 23, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

The 42 Member Senate GOP Holds Its Breath and Stomps Their 84 Feet- While MY Rep LEADS.

HuffPo has the letter here

Reason Number- what? Seven Billion and Twelve?– as to why I love my “Congress Critter”, Maine’s First Congressional District Representative Chellie Pingree.

First off. I can’t photoshop all 42 of these yutzes acting like spoiled widdle children with puffy blue faces, so this will have to do:

WASHINGTON – Extortion apparently is the name of the game for Republicans in the Senate.

Today, all 42 GOP senators signed a letter to Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., stating that they will blockage all legislation in the lame-duck session this month if they don’t get their way on government spending and on extending the Bush tax cuts.

Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and GOP whip Jon Kyle threatened to block any attempts to vote on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” which is attached to the national defense bill.

Harry Reid quickly and decisively fired back, with all the heat, emotion and force we’ve come to expect from him:

Reid sharply rebuked the Republican maneuver.

“With this letter, they have simply put in writing the political strategy that the Republicans pursued this entire Congress — namely obstruct, delay, obstruct, delay action on critical matters and then blame the Democrats for not addressing the needs of the American people,” the Nevada Democrat said on the Senate floor.

YAWN. So we can pretty much see that this is gonna be a clusterf*ck- until someone gets the gumption to just DO this, already!

Enter Chellie Pingree, who had something to say today about this partisan mess- and priorities:

Mr. Speaker, in the remaining days of this Congress we have some choices to make- and those choices couldn’t be more clear.

Are we going to extend tax cuts for the rich, giving millionaires an average tax break of over 0,000?

Or are we going to continue unemployment benefits of about 5 a week for out of work Americans?

Are we going to approve a giveaway to high paid CEOs that the Congressional Budget Office puts at the bottom of their list of what will stimulate the economy?

Or are we going to extend the unemployment benefits that the CBO puts at the top of that same list?

Are we going to hand out tax breaks to the wealthy that will add 0 billion to the deficit?

Or are we going to keep funding unemployment checks that generate   in economic activity for every in benefits paid.

The American people sent us here to set priorities and make tough choices.  Putting American workers ahead of millionaires and billionaires should be our priority and shouldn’t be a tough choice to make.

Damn, but I do so love having Chellie represent me!

So what is she gonna be doing tomorrow? Check out this media advisory I got late today:

ADVISORY: Tomorrow (Thursday) Congresswoman Chellie Pingree to lead important debate on tax cuts for the middle class


Congresswoman Chellie Pingree will lead the debate in the House on a bill that would extend tax cuts for the middle class while ending tax breaks for those  making over 0,000 (or couples making over 0,000)


U.S. House of Representatives. CSPAN 1 (channel 16 on Time Warner in greater Portland)


Tomorrow (Thursday) Approximately 10:00 am. Congresswoman Pingree will open the debate with a 3-5 minute statement and will make additional comments during the debate that follows.


Tax cuts for the middle class and the wealthy will expire at the end of the month if Congress does not act. Congresswoman Pingree and other Democrats have argued that tax breaks for the wealthy should expire because they do little to encourage economic growth and will add 0 billion to the deficit, while extending the tax breaks for working families.   Republicans want to extend tax breaks for everyone, including the wealthiest taxpayers.

So here’s what I propose to the Blenders: Call your Congress critters, no matter whether they are in the Senate or the House. Either encourage those who are doing a good/great job and thank them- let them know YOU appreciate their fighting for YOU- or scold the living bejeezus outta the ones who are not only acting like petulant children, but hurting the hell out of our country.  
Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  admin