Super-Sized Reading and Yoga List: Cuz Lord Knows We’ve Got Some Time Right Now

Happy Friday, you cats and kittens and omg, I can’t even type that out without having Tiger King flashbacks. A colleague asked on a call yesterday whether she should watch Tiger King this weekend, and the Zoom meeting was nearly evenly divided between HECK YEA and NO, YOU’LL HATE IT. So do I think you should watch it? As a documentary, it’s insanely entertaining and deliciously crafted, with more twists and turns than should be legal in any non-fiction context. But will you walk away from it feeling good about the world, or about humanity? No. No, you will not. And in fact, I encourage you to read this piece on the only person who comes out seeming good and grounded and concerned for the feline subjects of the film.

Anyhoo, today’s Reading List is also a yoga list, because I’ve had some folks ask how I am practicing right now. Yoga is what has kept me sane over the last five years AND is the first physical activity I’ve stuck with consistently, so finding an at-home practice was one of my first challenges of quarantine. And don’t worry, the Reading List follows, so scroll down if yoga isn’t your cup of tea.

So you want to do yoga whilst sheltered-in-place An app, you say? An app that will guide me through a practice? Yes, I’ve tried those, but you see, they are missing a fundamental element: in-person accountability. Yes, I COULD download one of those apps and start a tough routine, but without knowing that another human is there and paying attention, I start getting anxious about five minutes in, turn it off and go sweep my kitchen or something. Instead, I’ve been taking Zoom classes with my favorite teachers and that live connection is just what I need, as evidenced by the first virtual Zoom class I took: I was going through the flow fine but nowhere near as deliberately as I would in a class, and my mind was wandering. But when I got up into warrior three, I suddenly heard “Amy, try dropping your right hip.” That’s when I realized that the teacher had all of us up on her big screen, where she could see what we were doing and provide verbal assists. Live yoga classes are how I get my Zen on every day AND enjoy human interaction and community. And participating in their lives classes are also a way to financially support these teachers while their studios are closed, so don’t forget to Venmo generously if you can.

And the best part? Getting to practice with teachers around the world I normally don’t get to practice with, meaning that all of you, no matter where you are, can practice with them too. 

So here are five of my favorite teachers and links to their websites

  • Hawley Kobayashi, Truckee Yoga Collective- Hawley’s classes are warm and strengthening - she’s meticulous about anatomy and constructs a flow that will get your heart rate up, but she’s also human and funny and accessible. Also, she has various animals that may show up and say hello.

  • Micah Norgard, Blue Wolf Yoga- Energy and soul are hallmarks of D.C.-based Micah’s practice. A former Marine and martial arts instructor, Micah’s style is robust and deliberate, but his training as a reiki healer shines through in his teaching style. This sounds pretty woo woo, but Micah’s personal presence is restorative, so you should definitely check out his meditation classes as well. Bonus points if his lovely pup Addy shows up for a downward dog or two.

  • Stacey Rosenberg, Namastacey Yoga - Stacey is the alignment queen. Her classes focus on going deep into the anatomy of poses, and are sneakily tough, proving that you don’t have to do a vinyasa class to suddenly be sweating and shaking.

  • Becky Farbstein, Becky Farbstein Yoga - Becky’s power yoga will get that kick your butt and get your heart rate up. She is based in London, so it’s delightful to have the chance to practice with her!

  • Danni Pomplun, Danni Pomplun Yoga - When I first quit drinking five years ago and turned to yoga, Danni was one of the first teachers I latched onto; his humor and accessibility made it a lot easier for me to get over the FFT-yness of it all and get comfortable in my own skin. Attending one of his alignment-centered flow classes hits all of my quarantine needs: meditation and breath work, sweat-inducing vinyasa, fastidious discussion of alignment, and occasionally teaching in a Dino onesie. He’s a kind and funny soul, and I treasure everything I’ve learned from him. And if you do prefer an app, his is excellent (and you may even see Hawley cameos in a couple of his sessions!)

Alright, enough zen: TO THE LONGREADS!!!

David Robson, Why slowing your breathing helps you relax (BBC) - My yoga teaching cousin (and friend of the Missive Laura) passed this on to all of us asana enthusiasts. So if you’re wondering why I swear by box breathing to get through stress, check out the science in this article. 

Michael Waters, A brief history of beards and pandemics (The Goods by Vox) - WHY IS ‘THE GOODS’ SO DARNED GOOD?!? Why? How do they keep publishing such timely and thoughtful takes on the cultural implications of fashion and grooming? HOW?! It’s just not fair that they are so good. NOT FAIR.

Virginia Heffernan, A.A. Saved My Life. Can It Work Online? (The New York Times) - Though I got sober in a different way, I know so many people who credit AA with saving their lives. Heffernan’s exploration of the impacts of a transition to online gatherings is obviously timely, but it’s also a micro example of a struggle that so many IRL organizations are going through: how can we preserve those acts of service and in-person benefits from behind a laptop?

Kara Swisher, Fox’s Fake News Contagion (The New York Times) - Anyone in tech knows it’s best not to mess with Kara Swisher. Swisher’s reminder that as while Fox News was downplaying the risks of COVID-19 on-air, the HQ “offices were Lysol-ed and sanitized and employees were given instructions to be safe” is telling. Sigh. And it now seems that Sean Hannity is learning that if you come at the queen, you best not miss

Rachel Miller, What to Do When Everyone Needs Support but You're Only One Person (Vice) - Louder, for the folks in the back: “There’s no way to take care of yourself and be all things to all people during a pandemic with a recession rising.” Her tips on how to create a care budget are great.

Josh Gondelman, Give Someone a Pep Talk Today — It Helps You, Too (The Cut) - I obvi agree with all of this and think kindness and encouragement of others is a great way to get through all of this. 

Wow, this one was a long one, so I hope it gives you something to do this weekend! Be kind to yourself.

xoxo Amy