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

Relive DJ Blaine Soileau’s New Year’s Eve

In case you were a little to buzzed to remember how New Year’s Eve went down (and who wasn’t?), DJ Blaine Soileau can help with that. He spun the night away Saturday at the Dallas Eagle for his Release version of NYE, but then he did one better. He recorded his set list and promptly posted it online. With three-plus hours of club faves, now you can relive New Year’s Eve all over again.

It’s a crowd pleasing track list of hit makers like Gaga, Adele and Britney among others, making it a sweet dance party without any droning techno beats sans vocals. Those are best reserved for a 3 a.m. dance floor in an altered state. Hey, just saying. The best part is now you have your workout music for that likely New Year’s res to exercise more. Double score!

See how the track listing plays out here and click after the jump to give it a listen.

—  Rich Lopez

Metro offers free bus rides on New Years Eve

Maybe there is such a thing as a free ride. Houston Metro is offering free bus and train fares starting at 6 pm New Years Eve and continuing through 6 am on New Years Day. Metro explains via press release that it “wants to help individuals celebrating the arrival of the New Year a safe option to get home rather than getting behind the wheel.”

As a bonus, the light rail is free on Sunday since it’s a game day, so if you are downtown and need to go to Reliant stadium, or at Reliant and need to go downtown, you’re set.

So when midnight rolls around on the 31st and it’s time to head home remember you have options. A DWI is a horrible way to start the new year.

—  admin

Drawing Dallas 12.30.11

As the New Year begins, some things remain the same — like the reliable Mario Sulit, a fixture at Hunky’s for 15 years

MarioSFNL_3

MARK STOKES  | Illustrator
mark@markdrawsfunny.com

Name and age: Mario Sulit, 52

Occupation: Manager at Hunky’s Old Fashioned
Hamburgers on the Strip

Spotted at: Hunky’s.

Will you have fries with that? This handsome and vivacious gentleman was born in El Salvador to a Filipino father and an Italian mother. He came to the U.S. at age 14 and has made Dallas his home for the past 30 years. Many people may know Mario from his 15 years behind the counter at Hunky’s at the corner of Throckmorton and Cedar Springs — a job he loves. Most of his customers feel like family, and he’s very grateful for them.

You might spot Mario riding around on his Honda Metropolitan Scooter, his signature vehicle. On rainy days he drives a black Jeep Wrangler, what he calls “the gayest car in the car universe.”

Namaste: Mario is obsessed with yoga, sometimes practicing up to 10 times a week. He is also a self-taught chef/home cook. His favorite cuisines are Italian and French.  He loves to travel and spend time with his friends and family. His immediate family is spread all over the place, so his vacations consist mainly of family visits.

Next stop: Peru!

—  Kevin Thomas

Pet of the Week • 12.30.11

Pet-HappyHappy

Happy is an aptly named love bug. She’s a 7-month-old terrier-beagle mix who currently weighs about 28 pounds but, like many of us this time of the year, could stand to lose a few. She’s eager to please, full of energy and loving.  Happy is a friendly girl who’s hoping for a forever home for the New Year.

Happy and many other dogs, puppies, cats and kittens are available for adoption from Dallas Animal Services, 1818 N. Westmoreland at I-30, just minutes west of Downtown Dallas. The shelter is open Monday-Saturday 11 a.m.-6:30 p.m. and Sundays 12 noon-5 p.m. This weekend, the shelter will close at 5 p.m. on New Year’s Eve and be closed on New Year’s Day. The regular adoption cost is $85 for dogs and $55 for cats, but discounts are offered for animals in the shelter longer than 45 days, to senior citizens and to those who adopt two animals at the same time. All dogs are negative for heartworms, and cats have been tested for FeLV and FIV.  For more information, visit www.DallasAnimalServices.org, or call 214-671-0249.

—  Kevin Thomas

San Fran DJ Sean Mac to headline January BearDance at The Loft

Prior to its headline event at TBRU in March, Big D BearDance gets the year started with its January event. Lat week, the organization announced it will bring in San Francisco DJ Sean Mac to headline the night and get all those winter bears out of hibernation and on their feet. Of course, this announcement came soon after they disclosed their headliner news for March.

The new year seems to be working out for these guys quite fine already.

—  Rich Lopez

Movie Monday: “New Year’s Eve” in wide release

A very sappy New Year’s Eve… but still fun

In New Year’s Eve, the wattage is high: Robert De Niro, Zac Efron (pictured), Halle Berry, Lea Michele, Sarah Jessica Parker, Hilary Swank and Michelle Pfeiffer join more than a dozen of their Hollywood colleagues in this quasi-sequel to director Garry Marshall’s previous celebfest, Valentine’s Day.

Like VD, NYE involves multiple story lines that converge in some way or another by the end of the movie — in this case, culminating around the stroke of midnight. Predictable themes of fresh starts and the letdown of holidays populate the various love stories and there are moments of genuine emotion and heartfelt humor.

For the entire review, click here.

DEETS: Rated PG-13. In wide release.

—  Rich Lopez

Dallas Stars bring pricing down to earth

If you’re a hockey fan, and I am (especially of the Dallas Stars), you’ll be excited by this news. I first saw it last night on a billboard and wondered, “Why haven’t I heard of this?” The answer is, because it starts today.

The Stars have set their lowest ticket price at $9.

Nine bucks.

Less than a 10-spot. For that matter, less than a matinee movie price at most theaters in town, and a cut of 40 percent from the previous low of $15. (Seats in 85 percent of the upper level is now $25 or less, and even the priciest, $70-mezzanine seats are now $40.)

For sports fans, this is huge — you could actually pay more for parking than to see the game. (OK, OK, with $75 parking at Cowboys Stadium, that might not be so surprising.)

The new prices go into effect immediately. You can get them for upcoming home games including Dec. 19, 21, 23 29 and New Year’s Eve at DallasStars.com or calling 214-GO-STARS.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Body & Fitness Spring 2011: Table of Contents

Scent from above: Michelle Bardwell offers aromatherapy like you’ve never experienced it at her new Flower Road Natural Therapies studio

Excess baggage: Admitting to yourself that you don’t use your gym membership is the first step to recovery — the next is figuring exactly what to do now that you’re over it

Back for GOOD: With an ounce of prevention, you can be chiropractically perfect in every way

Dirty britches: While preparing for the daunting DFW Mud Run, four people found fun, fitness and fellowship with one goal in mind — to finish

Four steps to a healthier new year

Gym roundup

—  John Wright

Body & Fitness: Excess baggage

Duke Nelson, above, opts for the more personal environment and one-on-one training he gets at Trainer Daddy Fitness Studio. Smaller facilities are trending as an alternative to big gym memberships. (Photo by Rich Lopez)

Admitting to yourself that you don’t use your gym membership is the first step to recovery — the next is figuring exactly what to do now that you’re over it

RICH LOPEZ | Staff Writer

Drat those New Year resolutions. Every year for the majority of the population, the first day of the new year is the day to start getting in shape. With the onslaught of gym membership advertisements offering steals of a deal, joining one is clearly the right thing to do. Hey, this writer did it.

The only thing is — weeks (and in some cases months) later, you can count the check-ins on one hand. In the meantime, you’re bank account is depleted on a monthly basis. Frustrated? Broke? Buyer’s remorse? Join the club. But there are some options on what to do with that membership.

Cancel your membership: Well, this is the obvious first step. Hopefully you’ve signed on to a monthly plan that will make this a whole lot easier. Just be strong.

“When you let a health club or fitness center continue to bill you for a membership that you no longer use you are throwing money away,” local trainer J.R. Brown says. “I believe they pick a price point that you won’t miss every month and hope that canceling is just too much work and some gyms make the cancellation process almost impossible.”

A recent call to 24 Hour Fitness to cancel a membership was, overall, easy. But they didn’t go down without a fight. Brown has definitely seen this first hand.

“We will offer you a coupon for an hour of personal training while you reconsider,” said Raymond (just Raymond) at 24 Hour’s membership services line. So if you change your mind, you get the coupon — not get the coupon to change your mind. It was baffling but felt, you know, wrong.

After that was declined, an offer of putting the membership on hold was next. A monthly expense of $38 was being charged, but for $7 a month, it would go on hold for six months. Since it was akin to paying for nothing, this wasn’t overly enticing.

Once Raymond had finished his attempts, he was quite amiable about the total cancellation. The customer service was good and compelling, but never aggressive or guilt inducing.

Sell that sucker: Bigger named gyms likely don’t allow this, but check with your smaller ones. Less corporate types just want to be sure they get paid. Head to Craigslist to post or even buy a membership.

Consider gym alternatives: Yes, it’s nice to think you’ll be going every day after work to the gym, but try to be realistic . Do you have commitment issues? Do crowds bug you?

Consider a training studio that offers training in a smaller gym environment rather than a place to go to with gym equipment.

“At least spend the money where it will do you some good,” Brown adds.

His studio, Trainer Daddy, offers working out in a different fashion and the trend is growing among newer mixed-use developments and their in-house gyms. Trainers work with residents and, of course, clients offering supervised training rather than leaving you to your own devices. Plus, if they are like Brown, there can be no monthly fee and you can skip the crowds.

“Some people prefer a more private environment and they only get charged for training,” he says.

Wait it out: This isn’t about sticking it to the gyms out there. Sometimes we don’t read the fine print and just have to stick with what we started with. This is the time to research what the gym offers that may interest you. Classes may have more appeal than working out without direction. Network with people you know to workout as a group or in pairs. And gyms like 24 Hour offer online fitness training available to members.

The website eHow.com covers the topic of how to motivate yourself in going to the gym. They suggest to “think of the gym as a place to relax, not to work… as a change of scenery from the office and the house, not something obligatory.”

Yeah, right.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition Feb. 18, 2011.

—  John Wright