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).

………………………………………………….

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

Work it!

Dallas is awash in places for fitness-conscious gay men to build muscles … and show off a little

There’s not a loss for gyms around the Oak Lawn neighborhood. Several fitness centers dot the healthy landscape from Uptown to Downtown and several in between. This is a list of health clubs that are among the favorites for the LGBT community.

— Rich Lopez

…………………………………

Club Dallas
Exclusively serving gay men for more than 30 years, this institution actually has one of the largest gyms in the city, and is open 24 hours, 365 days a year.
2616 Swiss Ave
214-821-1990
TheClubs.com

Diesel Fitness
Located on the third floor of the Centrum, it’s right in the heart of the gayborhood.
3102 Oak Lawn #300
214-219-6400
DieselFitness214.com

Energy Fitness joins an already bustling roster of gyms in the Uptown area. Located in the West Village, this gym has garnered praise for its no-nonsense approach and competitive membership fees.

Energy Fitness
This recent gym has gained a reputation for affordable memberships and solid service right in the West Village.
2901 Cityplace West Blvd.
214-219-1900
UptownEnergyFitness.com

Equinox
Located in the old Park Place Motorcars location, it offers a full range of fitness services
4023 Oak Lawn Ave.
214-443-9009
Equinox.com

Gold’s Gym
Locations are throughout the city, but the one in Uptown serves a fit, very gay customer base.
2425 McKinney Avenue
214-306-9000
GoldsGym.com

The LA Fitness by Love Field has been a favorite for the community with its convenience to the Oak Lawn area and an impressive list of amenities and classes. (Rich Lopez/Dallas Voice)

The LA Fitness by Love Field has been a favorite for the community with its convenience to the Oak Lawn area and an impressive list of amenities and classes. (Rich Lopez/Dallas Voice)

LA Fitness
Has multiple locations, but the one at Lemmon and Mockingbird by Love Field is popular with gay clientele.
4540 W. Mockingbird Lane
214-453-4899
LAFitness.com

Trophy Fitness Club
With four total locations, one can be found in the downtown Mosaic (formerly Pulse) and in one Uptown.
2812 Vine St. Suite 300
214-999-2826
TrophyFitnessClub.com

24 Hour Fitness
Popular locations include the one Downtown and one at Mockingbird Lane and Greenville Avenue.
700 North Harwood St.
214-220-2423
24HourFitness.com

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

—  Michael Stephens

As a birthday nears, everything old is new again

Looking back on the battles we’ve fought, and forward to the battles yet to come, as another year is marked off the calendar

HARDY HABERMAN  |  Flagging Left

Last week I stumbled across a picture of myself from the 1980s. Now that doesn’t seem so long ago to me — until I talk to friends who were born during that decade! And then I start to feel really old.

The photos pretty much sealed the deal. Who was that slender — or at least average-sized — guy with dark brown hair who looked like such a child? What’s worse, I was already in my 30s back then, already no spring chicken.

Age has its advantages. There is the whole “older and wiser” thing, and being older does give you a sense of perspective on minor problems that used to seem like life-altering crises when I was younger.

Today, I really don’t worry about missing a night out at the bar or making sure I am not wearing last season’s fashion. That just isn’t all that important in the grand scheme of things.

What is important is something I paid little attention to as a young man: Quality of life.

That doesn’t mean much to someone in their 30s, since most have few problems aside from sports injuries or the occasional hangover. But to a gay man creeping into his 60s “quality of life” is very much “top of mind.”

First of all, I never expected to live this long. After all, many of my gay friends from the 1980s died during the first wave of AIDS. Watching all those men prematurely age and pass away really can put a damper on your expectations for the future.

Amazingly, I have survived and remain HIV-negative. Now what do I do?

If you are younger than me, here’s what you may have to look forward to: Aches. Muscles, bones and especially joints just don’t feel the same as they did. I don’t bound up stairs anymore, and the idea of dancing the night away seems almost ludicrous to me now.

First of all, my legs just don’t have the pep they used to have. Secondly, 61-year-old guys dancing to Lady Gaga just look like a cry for help.

Aside from dancing, I don’t have the desire to do as much as I used to. Part of that comes from being settled down with a loving partner for more than 16 years, and part is just from the whole age thing. The idea of a nice dinner at home and an evening of TV and conversation with my guy is much more appealing than hanging out in a bar or an evening of retail therapy.

Yet, the more things change, the more they remain the same.

Though we’ve had 30 years of education and research into AIDS/HIV, it is still with us and once again a growing problem for gay men. You’d think we would have gotten the message, but the younger generation has recklessly embraced barebacking and the older generation has forgotten that AIDS does not discriminate because of age.

It’s time to haul out the safer sex information that was squelched in the name of “abstinence only” and start educating again.

As the election cycle approaches, the same-sex marriage issue will continue to be on the forefront, while the real issue of full civil rights for LGBT citizens is pushed aside. I guess it’s not sexy enough to get media attention.

So I guess I will have to keep pounding away at the real equality issue until our politicians can get some kind of focus on the big picture.

And the whole idea of an aging generation of LGBT seniors has yet to hit the activists’ radar. Oh, there is a lot of talk about it, but who is going to assure that when I get old enough to need assisted care, my sexuality and my partner will not be ignored?

Guess there is still a lot to do. Time to get up off the couch and start getting busy.

Perhaps that will keep me from just being an old curmudgeon — like a kinky, gay Andy Rooney.

So time to get busy. If 60 is the new 40, then I fully intend to have an action-packed middle age.

Hardy Haberman, who will celebrate his 61st birthday on July 27, is a longtime local LGBT activist and a board member of the Woodhull Freedom Alliance. His blog is at DungeonDiary.blogspot.com.

—  John Wright