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

Query • 11.26.10

Do you feel more comfortable spending money on the holidays this year?

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John Landry IV — “I wouldn’t say I feel uncomfortable, but I’m certainly spending less than previous years.”

Wendy North — “No I am not comfortable. The economy is still iffy and therefore my purse strings are tighter. More baking this year and less buying.”

Cristina Cabigting — “I don’t feel comfortable spending this year since money has been tight all year. It would be a stupid choice to spend money I don’t have.”

Roger Wetzel — “What money? Who has money to spend?”

Andrez Lozano — “Economy hasn’t affected me, knock on my wood.”

Dina Dutton — “I don’t have the money. So I would rather volunteer at a nursing home or help the homeless. That is what the holidays are about.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 26, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

Query • 11.05.10

How will Tuesday’s elections affect the LGBT community?

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Karen McCrocklin — “Now, more then ever, we need to make progress personal. Changing hearts and minds is the most effective on a one-to-one basis. Whatever the political climate, we can continue to create change by living openly, authentically and unapologetically.”

Jade Esteban Estrada — “Many LGBT community members will step up and see how easy it is to lose our recent gains and will become more passionate in their leadership, visibility and activism. I believe it will stir the pot and get them more involved.”

Wendy North — “It will make people either move to Canada or get working to effect change. Write opinions to the paper, social media or tell everyone you know how you feel. Change happens slowly. Start now!”

Terry Loftis — “Nationally things will move forward albeit probably at a slower pace than before. I don’t think the American public see our efforts as the big threat.”

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This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 5, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

Wendy Wright thinks the straights will be persecuted if gays can marry

Wendy Wright from Concerned Women of America was on Hardball tonight. You have to see it to believe it. She wouldn’t even say whether gays should be teachers. Her main point seemed to be that straight couples will be persecuted if gay couples can get married. Such victims.

Matthews basically calls her a homophobe — and she is.




AMERICAblog Gay

—  John Wright