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).

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SAY NAMASTE: WHERE TO GET YOUR YOGA FIX

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
214-520-YOGA
YogaSportDallas.com

SYNC Yoga & Wellbeing
611 N. Bishop Ave.
214-843-3372
SyncDallas.com

MarYoga at Chi Studio
807 Fletcher St.
ChiDallas.com

Sunstone Yoga
2907 Routh St. (and other locations)
214-764-2119
SunstoneYoga.com

Gaia Flow Yoga Uptown
3000 Blackburn St., Suite 140B
214-235-1153
GaiaFlowYoga.com

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

—  Michael Stephens

Starvoice • 02.03.12

By Jack Fertig

CELEBRITY BIRTHDAY

Kathy Najimy turns 55 on Monday. The actress has been making us laugh since her role as Sister Mary Patrick in Sister Act to appearances in gay-friendly fare such as Ugly Betty, Drop Dead Diva and Desperate Housewives. She appeared in the Jennifer Aniston-directed TV movie Five last year and is set to appear in BearCity 2, touted as a hirsute Sex and the City.

……………….

THIS WEEK

Venus is entering Aries, good for sports and trashy fun, not so much for emotional and financial investments. But then she aspects Uranus and Jupiter, so be open for some very fun surprises.

……………….

AQUARIUS  Jan 20-Feb 18
Your dazzling brilliance may offend some. Don’t hold back. Just be sensitive and ready to apologize if necessary, or just politic. It doesn’t have to be a big deal, but arguing will make it one.

PISCES  Feb 19-Mar 19
It’s too easy to say much and give away the store. Let people wonder how much you do know makes you look wiser. Set aside some money for an impulse purchase.

ARIES  Mar 20-Apr 19
A new you will break into the open. It could be a daring new look or a talent that refuses to be hidden If you worry about that disrupting your relationships, holding it in will be even worse.

TAURUS  Apr 20-May 20
Trust those instincts and intuitions. That voice inside has important messages. Friends will disappoint you. They’re only human, but are they really friends? Keep a shrewd eye on their motives.

GEMINI  May 21-Jun 20
Showing off your intellectual brilliance can cause more trouble than it solves. If you want to shake things up, you could be very effective, but the only way you can make peace is to stay quiet.

CANCER  Jun 21-Jul 22
Remember the soul is eternal. Attend to material realities. Success pulls you away from home and family, but is that so bad? A little separation there doesn’t need to be a complete break.

LEO  Jul 23-Aug 22
Winning arguments by intimidation costs you. Gaining allies takes effort and attentive listening. You can change your mind about strategy and details without sacrificing principles.

VIRGO  Aug 23-Sep 22
Be very careful of nervous inflammations, as they may impact the bowels. Cleanliness, relaxation and a healthy sex life are the best care. Improving the work process will irritate colleagues.

LIBRA  Sep 23-Oct 22
Efforts to start or refresh a relationship will open surprises that take you in directions you’re not ready for. Being a control queen will backfire horribly. Just roll with it and see where it goes.

SCORPIO  Oct 23-Nov 21
Nobody can be right all the time, but correct your own mistakes. Did your friends really screw up, or were your expectations unfair? What’s right is more important than who’s right.

SAGITTARIUS  Nov 22-Dec 20
You can’t hold back your rebellious streak, but channel it creatively to boost your standing at work and invigorate your partnership. Go ahead and take a chance.

CAPRICORN  Dec 21-Jan 19
Confusion is good for the soul, provoking you to examine yourself deeper. Changes should feel uncomfortable if they provoke real opportunities. Stay focused on the long haul.

Jack Fertig can be reached at 415-864-8302 or Starjack.com

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 3, 2012.

—  Kevin Thomas

Garnet Coleman files suicide prevention bill that would ban anti-LGBT bullying, discrimination

Rep. Garnet Coleman

State Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston, has filed a bill that he says is designed to prevent future tragedies like the suicide of Asher Brown, a gay 13-year-old who took his own life last year in response to bullying at school.

Coleman’s HB 1386, filed today, calls on the state to develop a comprehensive suicide prevention program for middle, junior and high schools. The bill would also ban anti-LGBT bullying, harassment and discrimination in public schools.

“This is a heartbreaking public health threat which we need to address,” Coleman said in a press release. “I’m sick of nothing happening. We need to protect our children before they are driven to suicide or become severely and emotionally ill.

“It is our responsibility to ensure that a school is a safe learning environment for all children,” Coleman added. “Our children should focus on their studies, not worry about verbal and physical threats from their peers.

“Too many young lives are being taken because of intimidation and countless more are at risk,” he said. “This tragic loss of life is completely preventable.

“Current policy unjustly continues to punish the victim. We need to change that.”

The bill is similar to one Coleman has filed in every legislative session since 2003.

To read the full text of HB 1386, go here. We’ve posted Coleman’s press release after the jump.

—  John Wright

Top 10: Rare bathhouse raid sparked controversy

No. 10:

View all of the Top 10

When Dallas vice officers raided The Club Dallas on Oct. 8 for the first time in recent memory, it made national news and gave rise to some conspiracy theories. Some said the raid was part of a city effort to shut down the gay bathhouse to make way for redevelopment around a new DART rail station, which sits directly adjacent to the 34-year-old establishment at 2616 Swiss Ave. in Deep Ellum. Others said the raid was politically motivated since it came just before a major election, as such crackdowns have historically tended to do. Still others, of course, felt it was an example of law enforcement targeting the gay community.

But the Dallas Police Department, in a rare statement issued by the vice unit several days later, said the raid was conducted in response to a complaint from a citizen. “The Dallas Police Department is charged with the duty of investigating, enforcing, and responding to citizen complaints regarding sexually oriented businesses throughout the city,” the statement read in part. “The Vice Unit is committed to being responsive to community concerns and thus, conducts its investigations in an equitable and just manner.”

Indeed, records obtained by Dallas Voice through a Freedom of Information request confirm that an unidentified person made a complaint to police about the club on Oct. 5. Three days later, on a Friday night, plainclothes vice officers purchased day memberships, rented private rooms and changed into towels. Then they went into the common areas of the business and observed patrons engaged in sex acts, according to police reports.

After uniformed officers were called in, police arrested seven patrons on charges of public lewdness and three on charges of indecent exposure. They also arrested a manager for interfering with police after he refused to let in the uniformed officers, who eventually forced open a door.

Club members and others accused the Police Department of harassment and intimidation. They also argued that raiding the gay bathhouse would only drive men looking for sex into parks and public restrooms.

The Club Dallas bailed its members out of jail and said it would provide attorneys.

Meanwhile, according to police records, the person who made the complaint called back on Oct. 13 and asked authorities to raid the business again. Despite the second complaint, vice officers haven’t returned to Club Dallas.

— John Wright

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 31, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas