Good Things Vol. 2
Office yoga! Plus retreats!
What I’m Writing
All about Jeffrey Epstein, in CNN and the Guardian.
What I’m Reading
My friend Ellie Mystal has the Nation’s cover story this month, on how the president has packed the federal courts with conservative judges — and we’re looking at consequences that will last my lifetime.
This is the best piece on segregation and integration I’ve read in a while, and lays to waste the claim that opposition to busing was just about wanting your kid to go to the closest school, or about wanting the government not to interfere when it comes to racial balance in school. Nikole Hannah-Jones is such a gift.
I love this so much and I miss New York.
Are children naturally better at learning languages? Not necessarily. Get back to your Duolingo (better yet, move to France).
I highly recommend this piece on Millennial nuns, which are apparently a thing. I love this story mostly because it’s not what you think it’s going to be — it’s deep and nuanced, and pokes at the question of why so many young women seem to be newly seeking meaning through an extreme expression of faith. I’ll add that anecdotally, I’ve also seen a rise of religion among the young left. And I find it… concerning. Not because religion is bad, necessarily, but because secularism is good. And to see religion (even progressive interpretations of religious tradition) increasingly publicly intertwined with politics on the left as well as the right does not bode well for feminism or secularism. None of that is what the piece is actually about. But it’s fascinating, and Eve Fairbanks is a great writer, so go read it.
The wonderful Karen Attiah shared this quote on Twitter yesterday and, well, yeah:
“The function, the very serious function of racism is distraction. It keeps you from doing your work. It keeps you explaining, over and over again, your reason for being. Somebody says you have no language and you spend twenty years proving that you do. Somebody says your head isn’t shaped properly so you have scientists working on the fact that it is. Somebody says you have no art, so you dredge that up. Somebody says you have no kingdoms, so you dredge that up. None of this is necessary. There will always be one more thing.” - Toni Morrison
First things first: Yoga and writing retreats! I’m hosting two of them.
The first retreat from Sept. 7-13, 2019 and includes daily yoga, options for intensive yoga workshops, afternoon writing classes, shared accommodations at an organic farm in Tuscany, meals, wine and mozzarella tastings, rice tours, airport transfer, and more. Price does not include flights, and there will be additional options for day trips and cooking classes; we are also offering a writing retreat only (no yoga) if you're not a yogi. There's also a beach you can bike to.
Full retreat with shared accommodation: $1900
Full retreat with single accommodation: $2700
Retreat without yoga: $1800
Single accommodation without yoga: $2600
The Costa Rica retreat is from February 24-29, 2020 in Nosara, Costa Rica. Guests will stay at the fabulous and famous Harmony Hotel, and the retreat includes daily yoga, breakfast, options for intensive yoga workshops, afternoon writing classes, a surf lesson, shared accommodations at one of the most beautiful hotels in Costa Rica, airport transfer, and more. Price does not include flights and lunch/dinner.
Full retreat with shared accommodation: $1750 early bird (before Sept. 1) / $1900 regular
Full retreat with single accommodation: $2700
They are both going to be tremendous, special retreats. Email email@example.com for more.
Serious Thoughts will come soon, but since I’m currently working an office-ish job, I thought this might be helpful: Six-Minute Office Yoga. Just a few things you can do in your office chair, in six minutes, to release some tension, especially around the neck and shoulders. (The below photos were taken in my classroom, today, during lunch, which is why they are not exactly stunning. But they are hashtag-authentic).
First: Breathe. When I’m trying to relax, I do a Yin breath for five rounds: A deep inhale through the nose for six seconds; hold for a count at the top; exhale through the mouth for seven seconds; hold for a count on empty. Repeat four times.
Then try a gentle seated cat / cow to move the spine. In a yoga class, you might do this on the hands and knees. At work, you can sit in your office chair, cup your knees in your hands, and on an exhale drop the chin to the chest, hollow out the belly, round the shoulders forward and in, and press the the heart back in space. Press the knees into the hands and the center of the back backwards to lengthen and stretch the spine.
On an inhale, raise the chin and use the strength of the arms to help pull the heart forward and up as you extend the tailbone and shoulders back. Think about making the spine long here, rather than just bending backward. Collarbones spread, and the head drops back as far as is comfortable (if that hurts your neck, just keep the chin level).
Repeat that three times.
Next: Stretch the sides and back of the neck. With the right hand at the side of the body, extend the left hand up and over the top of the head, and let it weigh the head down. No need to pull, just let the hand sit heavy. Take a deep, slow Yin breath in, and exhale to let the head fall closer to the shoulder. Relax both shoulders down.
On an inhale, gently raise the right arm to be in line with the shoulder. Find a spot where it feels like there’s some helpful sensation, whether that’s parallel to the ground or closer to it. Take two rounds of breath.
Use the left hand to gently guide the head back to center. Bring the right hand behind the head as well, interlock the fingers, and widen the elbows, drawing them back in space. Engage the lower belly to keep the low back from arching, draw the shoulder blades together down the back, lower the shoulders, and inhale to raise the heart and broaden the collarbones.
On the exhale, drop the chin toward the chest, draw the elbows together in front of the face, and round the back — hollow out the belly and press the heart back in space, trying to stretch between every vertebrae of the spine.
Repeat this chest opening and closing with three cycles of breath.
Come back to a neutral seat, and repeat on the other side (stretching the left side of the neck with the right hand on the head).
Come back to a neutral seat.
Now: A quick hip stretch. While seated, bring both feet to the floor, hip-width apart. Bring the right ankle over the left knee, flexing the right foot. You can use your right hand on the right thigh to press it gently toward the floor to stretch the hip.
Sit upright, engaging the abdominals, for a long inhale and a long exhale.
Stay seated upright if this is enough. If you want more, keep both hips firmly on the seat, and fold over the legs. Think about keeping the spine straight and long as you fold, rather than rounding the back. You won’t get as low, but it’ll be a deeper stretch. Stay for three rounds of breath.
Sit back upright in a neutral seat, switch legs, and stretch the left hip.
Sit back upright, interlace the fingers, and press the heels of the hands forward and the arms straight. Drop the chin to the chest, hollow the belly, and round the back to stretch.
Come back to neutral. Sit and extend the spine as tall as possible, keep the hips both facing forward, and twist the shoulders to the right, looking over your right shoulder. I like to keep the left hand on the right thigh here and take the right hand around the back of the chair to deepen the twist. Think about drawing the collarbones wide and making the spine nice and tall as you wring it out.
Repeat on the other side.
And that’s it!
Happy yoga-ing. Please breathe and stretch your necks. And hope to see some of you in Italy and Costa Rica…