International Day of Yoga!

June 21, which also happens to be the summer solstice, was declared International Day of Yoga by the United Nations back in 2014. This means free yoga for you!

Here are some resources that I came across to help you get your yoga on during the last two weeks of June.

  • Yoga Alliance offers some national and international ways to participate, including an event in Seattle where a ticket (not free but $30) gets you a Seattle Mariners baseball game, post game yoga session, and a Mariners yoga mat. Not bad!
  • Athleta sponsors the Solstice in Times Square yoga event, where thousands of yogis take advantage of yoga classes taught in Times Square all day on Monday June 20. Various class times and teachers are offered throughout the day with the first class at 5 am (ugh!) and the last one at 7:30 pm. Donations benefit nonprofits offering yoga to underserved communities.
  • Athleta is also offering free in-store yoga classes between June 18-21. They note giveaways and other activities. Click here to find to learn more and find a local class.
  • Specifically in SF, there will be an event on Saturday June 18 in Golden Gate Park. The event is free and offers classes, meditation, talks, and live music.

Enjoy!

Free Yoga Teacher Training?????

Have you been thinking about yoga teacher training and the costs have got you down? Yoga Garden San Francisco is offering one lucky person a scholarship for a FREE 200-hour teacher training. FREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE. I sort of want to apply.

To qualify for the scholarship, you must be available for their 12-week program starting in April OR their month long immersion in May, 2016. To apply, click here. All entries must be submitted by March 14.

Good luck!

Going Even More Broke on Purpose and Hopefully Finding Happiness Along the Way

Sorry, but this is not my normal blog post. I don’t have any resources to share at the moment. I am however, choosing to share a very real and up until recently, private struggle in my life, where letting the realities and fear of being even more broke prevent me from being happy and thriving. But when there is a will to change (and a super strong support system combined with a hell of a lot of hustle), there is a way.

It’s been almost two years since I’ve been unhappy with my day job. Yeah, a f*cking long time. I’ve been looking for well over a year now trying to hold out for the right job and I just wasn’t finding it. Choosing to work in the nonprofit world is, at the end of the day, just another job and as with any job, I believe you should be compensated well for your talents. But since that is less likely to be the case in this world, passion is usually the other motivating factor. I definitely am not passionate about my job and I was feeling trapped, stagnant, and losing focus and momentum. My systems of support at work (former colleagues and now friends) slowly moved on and it was just me that was left last May. I stopped caring. I became depressed, breaking down into tears at work, on many BART rides home, and many times crying myself to sleep at night. I was a miserable and an unpleasant person to be around and I hated that person I had become, which made me more depressed. Last month, I decided I couldn’t take it anymore. This week, I’ll be giving my two weeks notice and quitting. This decision did not come lightly nor did it happen overnight as some financial preparation was required. I had to discuss this with my husband since it greatly affects us both and even though we are nervous about it, he supported my decision to be happy.

A part of what will be cushioning me for a couple of months is teaching yoga. I love teaching and when I had so many of those bad days and didn’t feel like teaching, I ALWAYS walked away feeling better. But I knew the few classes I had a week wouldn’t make a huge difference. I never ever thought I would create a website about my teaching – it somehow didn’t feel right as a part-time teacher, felt vain for advertising myself, and also felt incredibly vulnerable to put yourself out there and open yourself up to judgement. But I love the practice, am good at teaching, and wanted to use this time to share more of the practice through more classes and hopefully some private sessions. I started to work on the content and on the day I created my email for my site, I went to teach and for the first time, a student came up to me inquiring about private sessions. Really?? This has never happened before and it happened the night I set up my email, which I was able to give out. That was a sign to me that this was the right decision. I went home and quickly finished my website and openly shared it with some friends and family for feedback (not even something I do with this blog) before openly sharing it on social media.

I am fully aware of my blog audience, BUT if you happen to be in a better financial position or know people or companies that would be interested in private yoga in the Bay Area, please check out www.serenangoyoga.com and help a broke girl out.

As for my day job, as soon as I made the decision and put the word out to close colleagues and friends, things started to look up on the opportunity front. Nothing concrete yet but it’s felt a lot more promising and optimistic than it has in a long time. It was also a nice reminder that I have an amazing and incredible network of people and I’m so lucky and grateful to have them in my life.

Why am I sharing this?? When you are broke, you are so much more dependent on your sources of income and you can’t just make changes to your life without any consequences. I couldn’t just quit without some preparation – life realities such as rent and the need to eat don’t just go away. Compromises need to be made. But at the end of the day, how much is your happiness worth? Ever since I made this decision, there have been signs and indicators that what I’m doing is the right decision for me. My overall mood is starting to improve and the fire inside of me is starting to light up again.

rumiI came across this quote on my instagram feed a couple of days ago and it was just one more thing that was telling me that if I follow what I love (in addition to a lot of freaking hard work and dedication, cuz let’s be real, shit rarely falls into your lap), it will hopefully be the right path. And hopefully me sharing is somehow helpful for you. Maybe you are not in a job you hate but you are feeling stuck and uninspired. Are you holding on to something that no longer serves you? Are you letting fear, even if it is a very rational fear, get in the way of you becoming your best self? Okay, I’m starting to get cheesy here but you get the point. You can make change happen. There is almost always a way. So why not now? Sometimes it’s super, super, SUPER scary. But it’s way scarier to never know what could have been.

Cross your fingers for me.

International Yoga Day – June 21, 2015

So Sunday is International Yoga Day and it’s not just NYC celebrating.  In San Francisco, the celebration will include “yoga breakout sessions, meditation, talks on spirituality and live music from Grammy nominee Jai Uttal.”  The event will be held at the Marina Green and is completely FREE, though you have to RSVP.  The event is from 9:30 am to 2 pm but I have no idea what is happening when.  I can’t seem to find a schedule anywhere online, even on the event pages. So if there are uber resourceful people out there, please leave the information in the comments.

I imagine there might be other events in other cities as well.  Check with your local yoga studio or your favorite internet search engine to see what might be happening in your backyard.

Class Pass $1 Deal for SF

If you are a reader living in the SF area, you should pay close attention as this deal expires tonight at midnight.

ClassPass is a new membership company that works with local fitness studios to offer you unlimited fitness classes for $99/month, limiting your visit to each studio to 3 times per month.  Now $99 is certainly not cheap but if you are spending money anyway on fitness classes and you like variety, this could be a cheaper option for you.

For my fellow SF residents, for just TODAY ONLY, September 30, you can get your first month membership for just $1.  One dollar!  Pretty damn good and it looks like there are over 50 studios to pick from.  I’m not going to even do a cost-per-class analysis with that – it’s so freaking cheap!  If you like it, your membership will automatically renew each month at $99.  If you don’t like it, just cancel at least 15 days prior to the billing cycle and you should be fine (always check with the website/company – I can only do some much research for you) and you will only be out $1.  I will definitely be signing up so I can continue exploring new studios in the city.  Now go get sweaty, people.

Freebies at the Yoga Journal Conference

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If you think the registration fee for the Yoga Journal Conference is a tad obscene, you can still experience parts of the event for free.  I’m not sure how I missed this the first time around when I did my post on the work-exchange program.

I really wanted to go this year since I actually live in SF now but I already had a trip planned with friends and couldn’t take more time off of work.  I did find out that one of my former teachers in San Diego was attending and met up with her on Sunday for lunch and a walk around Chinatown.  She had just done her last morning session and had the conference program with her.  She invited me to attend a panel with her after our lunch and mentioned it was open and free to the public.  I was hesitant but she showed me the program and there it was – a few pages in the back  of the free events throughout the weekend (or events that were open to the public with a fee), including community classes, guided meditations, film screenings, information sessions, demos, and music.  Also in the program was a partnership page featuring local studios.  Next to some of the studio names are stars and if you bring the ad to any of those studios, your first class with them is free.  Not bad!  I ended up attending a panel discussion with Jason Crandell, Baxter Bell, Stephanie Snyder, and Maty Ezraty on the risks of yoga and how we as teachers and practitioners can create a safer environment.  Lots of good viewpoints…and it was free.

Outside of the classes and lectures, you are surrounded by the yoga marketplace.  This is also free and open to the public.  The closest thing I can equate this to is a running expo.  There are a ton of vendors and sponsors there selling yoga apparel and accessories, health and beauty products, healthy living and nutrition services, jewelry, and information on yoga studios and retreats.  Like expos, there are freebies and samples given away.  I limited myself on the food products but did walk away with a mini bottle of Manduka’s Mat Renew – score!  I even found a promo code for a yoga exhibit that is coming to the Asian Art Museum in February.  Hint: it’s the name of the yoga magazine that puts the conference on – all one word!

So if you can’t afford the month’s salary to attend this conference, there are still a lot of free things that you can do and as I mentioned, still get to experience the conference and the hundreds of yogis walking around barefoot (unless you are practicing, this is actually gross to me).  So New York, San Diego, Colorado, and Florida – you guys are up next.  If you are broke like me, you have some options!

Discount at YJ Conference in San Francisco

YJ Conference Deal

Cyber Monday deal with Yoga Journal!  If you have been going back and forth on whether or not you want to go to the Yoga Journal Conference in San Francisco January 16-20, here’s a deal that might help.  Valid today and tomorrow, you can save $75 off a weekend 6-class pass or the full four day weekend.  Register with promo code NEWYEAR.  This conference is pretty pricey and if you are able to set aside five days, you can sign up for the work exchange program (do it soon!) and participate for $100.  Just some options.

Free Bike Light Giveaway in San Francisco

This post has nothing to do with yoga or running.  But it is health related and is for all the broke cyclists out there in San Francisco.

Through the “Light Up the Night” campaign, the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition and the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Authority are giving away free front and rear bike lights to cyclists who don’t already have them.  Not only does this increase your safety while biking at night, but it’s the law.  I don’t know about some of you but it freaks me out biking around next to big buses and cars during the day – I would NEVER bike at night without ensuring I was visible to vehicles.

The giveaway stations will be in the Lower Haight tonight (November 21), the Mission District on Tuesday December 3, and Civic Center on Tuesday December 17.  Times for all days are from 5 – 7:30 pm.  You must have your bike with you so it can be installed.

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Review (sort of) of MyYogaOnline

When I moved to San Francisco, I thought there would be a plethora of yoga studios surrounding me and that I would easily find one that I could call my home studio.  Unfortunately, all the studios within a mile radius is a bikram studio.  I really like Yoga to the People but walking/taking public transportation to that studio adds almost 1.5 hours that I have to set aside to get to/from the studio.

I was sitting at home and really wanted a yoga session.  I looked around and realized I had no furniture yet and beautiful hardwood floors.  Clearly the perfect opportunity to take advantage of another free trial of online yoga classes.  I found a coupon code for MyYogaOnline and got started.  I was giddy when I unrolled my mat and I felt so free from the chatter and the judgement that often accompanies my practice.  This was something that I really needed and the need allowed me to fully immerse myself in my practice.  I even had a mini emotional breakthrough during one of the classes, which has only happened twice before in my practice.

So I say that this is sort of a review because I was only able to go through two classes.  I did spend some time browsing the site and looking at video previews and overall, I felt that the site had so much more going on than just videos.  There were community forums, health and wellness articles and resources, pre-determined programs for specific interests, and even music.  In terms of what I was looking for, this was a bit much and made the site a bit overwhelming at first.  But if you like a one-stop-shop deal, then check this out.  Under the video tab, you will find some of the same filters as other sites, including style, teachers, duration, level, and even studio.  So from the two classes I did and the few others that I previewed, MyYogaOnline classes are not filmed at one main studio like Yogaglo but on location such as the actual studio representing the teacher participating or a class during a yoga festival.  One of the classes I took was with Faith Hunter at the Hanuman Festival earlier this summer and while it was a great class, there were some sound distortions throughout the video that made it a little distracting.  There are a ton of teachers listed on the site and while I recognized a handful of names, many of those teachers didn’t have classes with the time duration I was looking for so I just went ahead and tried two random teachers.  In addition to Faith Hunter, I took a class from Pedro Franco and I enjoyed it.  That class combined elements of capoeira and Qigong into the practice, something I probably would have never experienced if there was a CorePower Yoga right around the corner.  Overall, the site seemed a little too busy for me but in terms of quality, I enjoyed the two classes I took.

For the free trial, check out retailmenot for a coupon codes on introductory deals or just enter ‘tsfb1week’ for just the free week.  The nice thing about the one week free trial is that when you sign up, you simply enter the code and you can start.  With some of the other sites, you need to enter your credit card information first and then remember to cancel the trial service or you will be automatically charged the monthly amount (unless of course you want to continue with the service).

Slowly Getting Settled

Moving to San Francisco and starting work right away has kept me busy and stressed.  We are still living out of boxes and not sure where everything is, sitting in folding chairs or in bed since we sold all of our furniture, and walking around constantly with shoes on since we can’t quite clean the floors with the boxes still everywhere.  I spend most of my evenings looking for parking and then when I actually get home, I’m doing a lot of web shopping for furniture and compiling a list of things needed around the apartment (this list never seems to stop growing!).

With all that being said, I haven’t had a whole lot of time to look for yoga in the city.  After a week of not working out, I could feel the stress building up in my body.  I decided the easiest and cheapest way to get back into things was running.  I had been on a break for about a year but signed up for a race in October as a motivator to start again but starting over has been so hard!  And starting over on the hills of SF has been even more demoralizing when I look at my watch and see how slowly I’m going.  It took me two years to get to my peak race time so I’m constantly having to remind myself of that and accept that this is where my body and training is at right now.  At least with the hills, I’m able to enjoy ridiculously gorgeous views of the city when I finally huff and puff my way to the top.

I was still craving my yoga and this past weekend, had a moment to look up yoga studios in the city.  I was looking for three things: vinyasa/flow classes, good reviews on yelp, and introductory deals for new students.  I found deals and great reviews but the majority of the studios within a mile radius were all hot yoga/bikram style classes.  A friend of mine who was in my teacher training program had moved to SF a couple of months prior to me moving (and coincidentally living two blocks away – so freaking awesome!) told me about Yoga to the People and invited me to come to class with her.  A short walk/BART ride and five flights of stairs later, I arrive to the largest studio space I’ve been in.  The room is expansive and all you see is shiny hardwood floors.  There are windows everywhere and with it being early evening, the setting sun created beautiful lighting for the practice.  All the classes at the SF location are power vinyasa classes (!!!) for all levels.  The instructor had a microphone attached to her and she could be heard clearly throughout the entire room.  One of the things that really caught my attention was the lack of lululemon in the room.  I loved that it didn’t dominate the room like many of the other studios I’ve been to (disclaimer – I own some lululemon clothing that I bought a few years ago and still wear it because it was so damn expensive in the first place.  I used to love some running shorts they made but recent updates have made me feel more exposed).

Yoga to the People is all about the yoga.  They don’t even list the instructor’s name with the class.  No emails, no sign ups, no sales pitches.  And best of all, it’s donation based!  It already costs me $3.50 for roundtrip BART fare so being able to pay what I can afford is very nice.  This is a great studio and I’ll be visiting again but I’m still on the lookout for a vinyasa studio north of Market.

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Yoga to the People Mantra