Presenting: Yoga Photos + 10-Minute Yoga Flow

My good friend, writer extraordinaire CJ Johnson, approached me about a photography project, I couldn’t say no. CJ and I originally “met” on Twitter. Upon discovering that we live in the same part of Dallas, we’ve managed to keep in contact and establish an in-real-life friendship, discussing creativity and life.

After explaining to me her vision, we met up in the visually-rich Dallas arts district, beginning in Klyde Warren Park. Since it was a (very) warm night, we chose to start at the quieter west end of the park. CJ’s approach was very conversational, allowing me to immediately feel at ease as I moved through Sun Salutations to warm up.

Over the next couple of hours, the photo shoot moved from Klyde Warren Park to the Meyerson Symphony Center and the Dallas Museum of Art, ending with a catch up session and ice cream.

I’ll be sad when CJ moves to LA soon, but that just means I have someone to kick it with on the west coast.

And here are the best of the best photos:

Smiling Upward Dog Dancer at the DMA Close Up Tree at DMA Side Crow Revolving Chair Handstand Triangle Chatarunga



Here is the first part of a recent flow I put together for my APY Flow class. I want to share this so readers get an idea of my style of flow.

Before beginning, warm up with 2-3 Sun Salutations. Find a library of postures, including the below, over at Yoga Journal.

Warrior One

(straighten the front leg and shorten the stance by bringing in the back leg)


(rise out of Pyramid, release arms to the sky, bend both legs and lift into the balance)

Warrior Three

(bring hands to the mat, keep hips level)

Standing Split

(bring lifted leg through to hip height, cross over standing leg)



Yoga and Social Media: Doing it for the ‘Gram or For the Growth

While scrolling through my Instagram timeline last week, I came across a post that both raised an eyebrow and a question. The woman, who is about my age and regularly posts inspiring and useful information about her practice, upcoming workshops and beautiful shots of her asanas, shared a straight-up thirst trap photo.

the thirst

I stopped for a second, feeling a combination of disappointment and a lack of surprise. Though I’m far from someone to lament the decline of society due to the amount of time we spend on our smart phones, sharing inane photos of our food, our kids (two and four-legged varieties)  and other details we feel are important, it’s true that some things can be left to the imagination.

I recognize that this feeling comes from the path that I took to yoga: one of physical and mental wellness. My goal was not to demonstrate how awesome yoga has made my body but to share how beneficial it’s been for my mind. Separating the physical from the philosophical reduces yoga to its parts, and significantly decreases the impact that the practice can have on your life.

Interestingly enough, a writer with explored similar thoughts on the increase in “yoga porn” and retaliatory “yoga shaming.” However, her solution was telling readers that, despite the clear prominence of images of thin, cisgender, able-bodied white women in difficult and intricate postures in social and mainstream media, “what you see is what you choose to see.” I find this a convenient position for a woman who self-identifies with many of the characteristics that help the “pornographers” gain prominence.

While I respect and support her decision to embrace rather than castigate the mainstream yogis who enjoy taking photos and videos of their practices in far-flung locations while seeming to not have a care (or bill or responsibility) in the world, I’m perhaps a bit more cynical. With a large audience comes more responsibility to be more than a model for the ‘Gram who happens to practice yoga.

If you insist on posting photos of yourself in boy shorts and crop top that barely contain your goodies, at least make good use the attention you’re garnering. Include a message about the doshas, explain how postures intertwine with chakras or share a quote from a leading philosopher to help spread knowledge, rather than reaching for the likes, exclamations of “#bodygoals” and “OMG, I could never do that,” and googly-eye emojis that the thirsty will leave in your comments.

So tell me: am I doing too much with my slight admonishment of the men and women of Instagram? Is this the new norm as yoga becomes more prominent in mainstream and African-American culture, or should there be an effort to educate as we entertain?

When Going Vegan, Slow and Steady Wins the Race

I’ve written before about my struggle in going from vegetarian to vegan, and I recently got a reality check in the form of Brown Vegan, aka Monique. In an episode on going from vegetarian to vegan, Monique spoke with her fellow blogger, Naturalee Happee, about the transition. Naturalee shared that her journey from omnivore to vegetarian took three years, as she slowly eliminated meat from her diet (first red meat, then pork and finally chicken). Because she’d set herself up with a “slow and steady” mindset, the elimination of eggs, milk, honey and leather wasn’t a shock to her system. I really needed to hear that go slow mindset.

After struggling the last two weeks to avoid dairy, I realized I was putting far too much emphasis on immediately eliminating dairy and not enough time into preparing my meals to avoid that late-afternoon Starbucks run. Yesterday, when I had my food laid out, packed and planned, I managed to get through the day with a steady blood sugar level, avoiding the afternoon energy dip, and I was able to teach an hour-long Sculpt class without faltering.

Now, don’t go full hog on veganism, just because it’s what Beyonce woke y’all up at 8 a.m. to talk about. Instead, adopt the “slow and steady” approach to achieve long-term success.

  • Start by cutting out specific foods. I started off by doing away with chicken, since red meat and pork were never high on my list of must-eat foods. If you’re already vegetarian and moving toward vegan, that may mean cutting back on your favorite bakeries to avoid the eggs, milk and buttercream that give your beloved baked goods their textures and taste.
  • Proper planning prevents poor performance. I know the band geeks in life know that phrase well, and it’s because it’s true! Meal prep and planning means you are less likely find yourself alone and hungry next to the closest Popeye’s or [insert the name of your favorite fast-food place]. That means making time to find recipes, cook, organize and store staples like rice, quinoa and chopped veggies, and recognizing your eating schedule so you’re prepared with snacks and meals to keep your hunger beast at bay.
via Tracy Benjamin on Flickr
via Tracy Benjamin on Flickr
  • Explore the range of foods, but try to avoid becoming carb-itarian. If you’re like me, some foods you never knew you liked simply because you never tried them. Or you had them boiled to death as a kid, scarring you from trying the same food as an adult. Consider revisiting the least scary of the foods you may have written off as a youth, like Brussel sprouts or eggplant. Avoid loading up on carbs like pastas as a filler for more healthful foods. Pasta has its place in a balanced diet. It just isn’t an every day item.
  • Be forgiving of yourself. Maybe it was a stressful day, and you found comfort in a Snicker’s bar. Or you attended a family cookout and the smell of your aunt’s potato salad took hold of your senses. Resolve at the beginning of your vegetarian or vegan journey that you will not be perfect, and that’s okay. When you do go off track, don’t throw the towel in and return to your old ways. Start the next day like it’s the first and be even better at improving your diet.

Are you in the middle of a transition? If so, what’s helped you? Do you have a specific cookbook, author, recipe or resource that you want to share? Leave a comment!

*featured image via thegrocer*