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

Donations: Glass half empty or half full?

A recent study shows that donations from individuals dropped in ’09, ’10. But numbers may be up for ’11

Geffen.David

David Geffen

Lisa Keen  |  Keen News Service
lisakeen@me.com

How well the LGBT groups are doing financially may well depend on whether one sees a glass as “half empty” or “half full,” but a report, released Tuesday, Dec. 6, by an independent think tank, certainly provides some facts to ponder.

Fewer than 3 percent of LGBT adults make contributions to national LGBT organizations, and the number of individuals giving to LGBT groups dropped 12 percent between 2009 and 2010, a trend that has been in play for the past five years.

The nation’s 40 largest and most important LGBT groups increased their combined revenue (cash and in-kind) by 1 percent between 2009 and 2010 from $163 million to $164 million, and they spent all but $4.6 million of that.

But the top 10 anti-gay groups spent “almost three times as much” as the 40 “major” pro-LGBT groups in 2010.

On average, national LGBT groups spend about 79 percent of their revenue on programs, 10 percent on management and administration, and 11 percent on fundraising.

While there are many harsh realities there, the Movement Advancement Project, an independent think tank devoted to studying how best to marshal the LGBT movement’s resources to “speed advancement of equality for LGBT people,” thinks the movement may be at a “turning point” financially.

“While [LGBT organizations] continued to cut expenses in 2010, organizations saw a slight increase in 2010 revenue, and are projecting expense budget increases for 2011,” said MAP in its 2011 National LGBT Movement Report.

“This,” said MAP, “suggests the LGBT movement may be at a turning point, or at least stabilizing, after seeing large drops in expenses and revenue over the last three years, mostly related to the economic downturn.”

MAP concluded that the “downward trend” in expenditures by the groups, a trend “precipitated by the economic downturn, may be at or nearing an end.”

The evidence, it said, is the fact that national LGBT groups’ projected expense budgets are 13 percent higher this year than last while their debt is smaller.

The report also reflects what economists and politicos have been discussing for a long time about the trend of wealth accumulating among corporations and a few individuals.

The average LGBT group, said MAP, receives 45 percent of its revenue from its 10 largest contributors. At the same time, organizations are increasingly getting their revenue from “corporations, bequests, in-kind contributions, fundraising events and other sources of income.”

“Of particular concern,” said the MAP report, “contributions from individual donors dropped sharply (a 14 percent drop, or $9.3 million) between 2009 and 2010. This revenue drop was mostly offset by revenue increases from corporations (41 percent increase, or $1.8 million), bequests (30 percent increase, or $1.6 million), fundraising events (6 percent increase, or $1.1 million) and other income (126 percent increase, or $3.2 million).”

MAP made its analysis using financial data from 40 LGBT groups, 27 of which had annual budgets of more than $1 million, and 13 additional organizations whose missions are considered “critical” to the LGBT movement.

The groups included such well-known national organizations as the Human Rights Campaign, Lambda Legal, and the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, as well as state groups, including MassEquality, the Empire State Pride Agenda and Equality California.

MAP Executive Director Ineke Mushovic said MAP used audited financial data for each group. Where an organization, such as the Human Rights Campaign, has a tax-deductible entity 501(c)(3), a non-tax-deductible entity 501(c)(4), and/or a political action committee, MAP combined the data and showed it all under one group name.

Mushovic said MAP agreed with participants not to release financial data on individual groups.

But Mushovic said the top 10 groups, in terms of revenue, are Equality California; the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation; Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network; the Human Rights Campaign; Lambda Legal; the National Center for Lesbian Rights; Out & Equal; the Point Foundation; Senior Action in a Gay Environment and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

MAP said the 40 LGBT groups represent 71 percent of all money spent by LGBT advocacy groups. It calculated this by analyzing 990 forms filed with the Internal Revenue Service by LGBT groups reporting more than $25,000 in revenue.

The five-year-old MAP organization issued a report last August showing that the LGBT movement is making progress but is being dramatically outspent by its opponents. That report, too, noted that only 3.4 percent of LGBT people made a contribution to national LGBT groups in 2009.

The 2010 report noted that while 550 LGBT non-profit groups collected a total of $574 million in contributions during 2009, most of that money  ($299 million or 52 percent) went to providing health services and community center programs. About $192 million (33 percent) was spent on advocacy, and about $35 million (6 percent) on legal challenges.

Arts and recreation accounted for about $36 million (6 percent). Only $13 million (2 percent) is spent on public education.

The current study was funded by 14 foundations that provide funding to LGBT groups, including the foundations started by well-known gay philanthropists such as David Bohnett, David Geffen, Tim Gill, Jim Hormel and Jon Stryker.

© 2011 by Keen News Service. All rights reserved.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 9, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

UPDATE: New York Assembly passes gay marriage bill — again

As David Taffet noted here earlier today, New York’s Senate appears to be one vote shy of the number needed to pass a bill legalizing same-sex marriage in the state. But the New York Daily News is reporting that the state’s Assembly has voted again to approve the legislation.

The Assembly has voted three times before to legalize gay marriage. In today’s vote, the measure passed 80-63, the lowest margin by which it has passed since it was first approved in 2007.

 

—  admin

Johnny Weir shocks the world and comes out

Johnny Weir

In the most shocking coming out since Sean Hayes confirmed he was gay a year ago, U.S. figure skating champion Johnny Weir came out this week. Weir had never denied being gay. He had just never confirmed it.

Weir has not avoided the LGBT community at all. In October, he was presented with the Human Rights Campaign’s Visibility Award and had also been given a similar award by Equality California.

He has raised money for the Trevor Project and appeared on Kathy Griffin’s My Life on the D-List.

Last year, Weir was on the U.S. Olympic figure skating team for the second time. He and Michelle Kwan are the only two skaters to ever be named Skater of the Year more than once. In 2001, he earned the title World Junior Champion. He was U.S. National Figure Skating Champion three times from 2004 through 2006.

Weir has a new book coming out Jan. 11 called Welcome to My World.

—  David Taffet

David the Dignity Dog to celebrate Pride

David the Dignity Dog and his tiger, which we’re told is stuffed and not real

With the paper almost three times as large as most weeks, we wrote and wrote and wrote this week but a few items didn’t make it into print. This was one of my favorites that got left out, about David the Dignity Dog who will be in Lee Park on Sunday celebrating Pride:

Among the booths in Lee Park after the Pride parade on Sunday will be the Doggy Watering Hole and Treat Station sponsored by David the Dignity Dog.

David is a 1-year-old, 100-pound bloodhound boxer mix lap dog. Speaking for David was his people Jim Davis.

He said that David cannot be trusted to hand out the treats so he, along with members of Dignity Dallas, will make sure other dogs get goodies.

Dignity is the Catholic group with outreach to the LGBT community. They meet in the chapel at Cathedral of Hope on Sundays at 6 p.m. for mass and fellowship meeting. Afterward, they go out to dinner.

Dignity will have treats for the people whom dogs bring to the booth, too. Davis said that last year they went through 1,500 Pope-sicles. He said they’ll have more on hand this year.

Davis stopped by the office earlier this week and assured us that David’s tiger is stuffed, not real.

—  David Taffet