Quiet Surrender

Video

This video is long overdue (and not the video I teased about yesterday either). With a lot of technical difficulties, I finally got it finished, uploaded and converted for you all to enjoy. This semester you’ve all been hearing about the benefits of yoga, how my teacher is basically my hero (and my friend), and how I feel about yoga. In this video, I gave a voice to both her and I. I had another interview, but I decided that this piece deserved a piece of me in it, as it is personal and sensitive and near and dear to me. I could go on and on, but I’ll let you just watch it!

Sometimes, you have to look back at where you’ve been and remember why you went, where you’re going and how far you’ve come. With the explosion of yoga in the past ten years, yoga has gone from a purely spiritual practice to a commercial venture in some ways. In a lot of ways the real meaning of yoga is kindled, but like my instructor said when I interviewed her, “you can go get ‘the mat’ and ‘the pants’ at the store, but you don’t need any of that crap to practice.”
One of the great things about yoga becoming popular though is that it enables people like me to practice; young, overworked college kids who need to destress in a different way than going to the gym or running or classes like zumba. Yoga adds another option to getting fit, in every single way imaginable. It’s a game changer.

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I’m such a tease: a massive post coming very soon!

That’s right folks, I’ve been working on a really cool, super awesome, fantabulous post for you all this past week.

I’ve been waiting to write a post on the 8 Limbs of Yoga for a while now while I dove into research about yoga, its roots and experiencing the 8 limbs for myself. I have you a post that I will warn you about right now: get a cup of coffee or tea and sit on down, because you will be reading for a while! But honestly, who doesn’t love reading something adequately researched and written in (slightly) witty 21-year-old language? Like the photo above, the post will have shots from a beautiful photo shoot I did last week with the yoga instructor you’ve all heard about this whole semester, Rachael. I’ll also be bestowing some more data visualizations on you, maybe another timeline and some much needed found photographic excellence. Who knows, maybe I’ll even put up another playlist! We’ll see how ambitious I get here (finals are tough).

So if you’re ready, like this post! And send some good vibes my way in the next few days as I finish up my undergrad degree!

Namaste, y’all.

Data journalism & yoga: an (un)likely pair

Journalism changes day-to-day nowadays, and one of the coolest things about journalism is its delving into data. Comment boxes, open questions and surveys allow us to create visualizations about trends, likes, dislikes, history and basic information. And that’s what I did here: I sent out a survey (which, if you participated, THANK YOU!) and created visualizations out of my answers. Click on the graphs to be taken to a more detailed version; I hope you find these relationships and visualizations as interesting as I have. I will be distributing out another survey soon for my final in my multimedia class (I promise I’ll keep this blog going once the semester is going!), so stay tuned!

View Surveygoers in a full screen map

First, above is a link to a map of the hometowns of 11 of the over 20 people that took my yoga survey. Check it out, and next time you could be on it!

Every bit of my survey data, in a word cloud customized and based on the frequency of the text.

Every bit of my survey data, in a word cloud customized and based on the frequency of the text.

Next, above is a word visualization. The larger the word, the more frequently it came up in the survey questions and answers.

Relationship between practice and benefits in yogaPurple: mental health benefits
Green: physical benefits
Mustard: emotional health benefits

Above: A matrix chart of the relationship between what brought people to practice yoga in the first place (stress management, physical exercise, a spiritual experience) and what the people within these categories felt the best benefit of yoga is.

relationship between yoga practice and benefits

Many EyesGreen: mental health benefits
Blue: physical health benefits
Red: emotional health benefits

Above: A multi-faceted matrix chart detailing the relationship between what brought people to practice yoga in the first place (stress management, physical exercise, a spiritual experience) and what the people within these categories felt the best benefit of yoga is. This relationship is then broken up into categories of what my survey participants think yoga is, a spiritual discipline or a mental/physical fitness program.

yogis and thoughts on yoga in the olympics

Many EyesBlue: I’m confused, doesn’t that defeat the purpose of yoga?
Green: Yoga in the Olympics is an okay idea.
Red: yoga has no place in the Olympics.
Tan: yoga in the Olympics is an awesome idea!

Above: A matrix chart shows the percentages of surveygoers that practice yoga on various levels, and in those percents, what those people thought about the idea of yoga in the Olympics (which is not happening, but what people said was interesting nonetheless).

Where’s your next destination?

View A condensed list of yoga studios in Pittsburgh, PA in a full screen map

Click the link above to see a map of Pittsburgh, PA studios sorted by zip code and class type.

The best thing about technology is that it gives us power at our fingertips. With the touch of a few keys, we can find places to adventure to, places to eat, things to buy, ideas for inspiration and chronicle our entire lives. Okay, maybe it’s the worst thing too. But technology is great, and it’s powerful, and helpful!

I think that maps are the coolest piece of technological advancement yet. For instance, the map above has 23 yoga studios pinpointed in Pittsburgh (that I could find). What astonishes me is how popular yoga has become, and how versatile it is, as a hobby, a lifestyle and destresser. There is a class for just about everyone, ranging from cheap to expensive, early morning to late night, beginners to advanced practitioners, meditation classes, private sessions, corporate sessions and even skype sessions for long-distance practicing.

The studios above don’t even encompass every place to practice yoga in the Pittsburgh area. I mapped studios only with a “Pittsburgh, Pa” address. The surrounding areas have even more studios, and the compilation doesn’t include places like the YMCA or Gold’s Gym that offer yoga classes in addition to their fitness classes.

Even in my little hometown off the beaten track, population 9,000, there are yoga classes offered at the YMCA, gym and even a studio in town. Yoga has gotten so popular in the past year that it’s spreading to even the smallest of towns.

Maps. They tell us all the possibilities of places to go. They also tell us about these places, how to get there, and how to get back home again.
Check out your area and see what new places you can try!

Technology. Isn’t it really amazing?

Link

Five Spring Cleaning Yoga Poses

If you’re in the Northeast like me, you’re probably joining in to everyone shouting “Death to Puxatony Phil!” and “Go home winter, you’re drunk!”

But, if you’re like me personally, you’re relishing in the little moments that don’t totally suck right now, and you’re looking forward to next week when the lowest temperature will be 40 degrees!!
So check out this short and sweet article and start spring-cleaning your body and gearing up for warm weather.

Namaste.

Review: My Newest Practice Playlist

We all have our favorite playlists for our practice. The songs may have lyrics, they may be contemporary songs, traditional songs, or if you’re like me, they’re instrumental, meditative songs that reach out  into the realms of the new age genre. For some time I’ve been looking for the perfect playlist to practice to when I’m at home, and this playlist, entitled Blissful Moments, has an hour of perfection for me whether I’m practicing, meditating or even studying in my room.

Here’s a quick link for you:
http://8tracks.com/acoustic-ecology/blissful-moments

blissful moments

A screenshot of Blissful Moments

If you’ve never heard of 8tracks, you should go there right now and start exploring. The gist of 8tracks is sharing personal playlists: create a username, create playlist, appropriately describe and tag playlist, and let others “like” it to have it in their own personal dashboard of their own customized music playlists. It’s kind of like Pandora.

But I digress, back to the playlist.
The user who created this describes Blissful Moments as “one hour of music therapy, as a platform to enhance concentration and memory. Ideally as a companion for meditation, healing sessions and inner peace. Including works by Nat Grant, Byron Metcalf and Daniel Waples with Flavio Lopez” (source: blissful moments playlist description). Now, many playlists I’ve found have a few gems in them for me to really get in the zone for my practice, but Blissful Moments has really been a game-changer for me, where all ten tracks really stand out as stellar pieces of music. 

Here’s a piece from the playlist, slightly remixed (in a very good way):

If you’re looking for a practice playlist to vinyasa flow to or free flow whatever is in your heart at the time, then this playlist is for you. You’ve got everything from ocean and water sounds to chimes to flutes and marimbas, and it’s all designed to guide your mind to that beautiful, calm state of connection. Blissful Moments is also perfect for studying, meditation and even falling asleep if you really need it. All ten pieces are soothing and definitely designed for a flow, so it’s not something to listen to if you’re looking for a power practice.

Beware: one thing about Blissful Moments (and this is an 8track thing) is that each time you play the playlist, it’s on shuffle. So if you’re used to a set playlist and like to know what song is coming, you may not like this. But I will say that the pieces flow together very nicely, no matter what order they play in.

These ten songs make up an hour of music, which is also perfect for a not-too-short, but not-too-long practice. Bottom line: I’m really diggin’ this playlist right now, and I highly recommend it to anyone who is looking for a great practice playlist without going through too much effort to find one (oh look, I’ve found one for you!).

If you end up being as into this playlist as I am, check out the user who created it, Acoustic Ecology, who has some other really great mixes for your meditative pleasure.

Have a yoga playlist or song you really love? Comment with it, I’m always looking for more music to practice and meditate to! 

Namaste, all. Have a great week.