Begin Again

85a85f7d2bf5d923ae05494459b02fb1There’s something about the end of summer that gets everyone in a back-to-school mode, regardless of if they have use for new notebooks and sharpened pencils. It’s a futuristic mind-set, whether you’re shopping for the biggest box of crayons, moving out of apartments, or trying on all your fall sweaters, the last days of summer are rarely spent as summer.

In terms of school and work, the end of an era also brings the end of a title. When someone asks what you do, that’s rarely our response. Most say their job title, without any implication that they experience more in their life. I am completely guilty of this; in fact, when someone went against the grain and told me he “said his opinions, wrote and argued” for a living, rather than saying “lawyer,” I responded with a blank stare.

So, even as September marks the last year of using “student” as the what I do is who I am answer, I know this will not be the end of my learning journey. Case in point, I have learned multitudes more since becoming a yoga instructor than when I only considered myself a student. I may be a yoga teacher, but I learn more from my students than they probably do from me. Had I taken that title completely to heart, I would’ve missed out on the lessons all around me.

Some think of yoga as an hour on the mat, for some it’s an hour they never want to experience. The purpose, though, is for yoga to be present in every part of your life. In my opinion, it’s the exception to not letting what you do define who you are. The epitome of the exception is the visionary, inspiring, and dedicated teacher BKS Iyengar that sadly passed away this week, at age 95.

Graduating from my Vinyasa Flow Yoga teacher training, 2011.
Graduating from my Vinyasa Flow Yoga teacher training, June 2011.

It’s not just yogis that are taking notice, it’s the world. He impacted every element of how we think of yoga in the West, revolutionizing how people integrate the practice into their lives and whom it is accessible to. He’s the reason why I secretly sit in lotus at my desk and can use the word “teacher” to describe not only what I do, but also who I am. He’s even the reason Lululemon’s horseshoe logo sits on the calves of so many people, even those who don’t have a yoga practice.

It’s this type of impact one person can have on the world that shows the value of remaining present. It’s easy to spend any “last”-whether it’s your last two weeks in a position, or your last year in school- as if it is already complete. However, this lack of presence is what allows us to miss out on benefiting from one last connection or experience that we won’t have access to again. It keeps us from realizing the new opportunities for growth, whether it’s trying something new or finding new value in what already exists. Presence has an irreplaceable importance that transcends titles and transitions. Regardless of one’s stage in life, presence is essential for enjoying each stage of life. 

“Illuminated emancipation, freedom, unalloyed and untainted bliss await you, but you have to choose to embark on the Inward Journey to discover it.” BKS Iyengar

Advertisements

Parents Weekend

Despite the cold winters, most Twin City residents can’t get enough of Minneapolis and St. Paul. As a result, the hipsters in uptown, the professionals power-walking down Nicollet, and even the retirees relaxing on Grand Ave can come off as a bit annoying.

Each year I live here, I become a bigger part of the problem.

This weekend, I was able to host my parents and show them all the reasons they should be drinking the Kool-Aid as well. Interested visitors and proud residents looking for a staycation, here’s a few things from my Thursday-Monday you can’t miss:

1. Find a fair– The Uptown Art Fair was a perfect snapshot of the Twin Cities for my parents to experience. Even though not all the vendors are from Minnesota, the people, abundance of dogs and relaxed atmosphere rang true to the Cities. Even if you’re not an art expert, there’s something to be said for adventuring out of your comfort zone. It’s not too late to fit some culture into your summer, visit the Irish Fair this weekend, take throwbacks to a new level with the Renaissance Festival, mix things up with the Japanese Lighting Lantern Festival, celebrate my favorite fast-food place at the Chipotle Cultivate Festival, or of course, go big at the Minnesota State Fair!

The view from the 5th floor of the Guthrie
The view from the 5th floor of the Guthrie

2. Mill City & St. Anthony Main- Visiting the Stone Arch Bridge is a staple of a stroll in Minneapolis. However, the bookends of the bridge are rarely given as much attention. After we watched some kayakers get lowered down by the lock (new bucket list item) we wandered over to the Mill City Museum and Guthrie Theatre. This area is the place to be Saturday mornings for the farmer’s market, but it was stunning on a Monday afternoon as well. The biking and walking trails are perfect for exercising or enjoying the view of the Mississippi River. On the St. Anthony Main side of the River, enjoy wonderful restaurants, exploring trails and people watching. Farther Northeast, you’ll find my favorite meditation spot- Boom Island Park- perfect for picnics, laying out and bike rides.

3. Party with the whole block– Northeast, my favorite neighborhood, hosted In Cahoots this weekend at the Red Stag. Eight local breweries combined into four teams, each team then collaborated to create a new beer. Attendees of the event voted on the best brew, and a portion of the proceeds went to the winning team’s charity of choice. From the live music, to the people-watching, to our delicious dinner at nearby Gorkha Palace, Northeast did it again.

4. Easy Ride– Available everywhere across the Twin Cities, this self-service bike rental system is perfect for exploring different areas of the cities, while getting some exercise and a true MSP experience. My parents and I biked over to West Bank, looped through campus and rode along the East River Parkway trail- all areas we wouldn’t have had time to see on foot. You can drop the bikes off at any station throughout the city, making it as much of a commitment as you’d like.

5. Drink local– My roommates and I really out-Minneapolised ourselves and biked to the photo 1microbrewery, Dangerous Man. Upon our arrival, we found ourselves in the middle of a Donut Showdown viewing party. The head baker of the downtown shop, Angel Food, was featured on the Cooking Channel show and gathered family and friends at DM for the episode premiere. Although we weren’t aware of this event, by the end of the episode we were personally invested in her success. The evening of community engagement, biking, amazing craft beers, and samples of Angel Food donuts was the Twin Cities in a nutshell. Microbreweries are perfect for small parties, large receptions or networking events; and in case you were worried, your options aren’t limited.

For the record, I love me some St. Paul, but I didn’t venture there this weekend. Luckily, the parents are obligated to visit me throughout senior year, and that wonderful city will be at the top of the to-do list.