Tag Archives: Los Angeles

Hot Yoga Habits

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Me 90 seconds into a hot yoga class

Like any good citizen of Los Angeles, I exist on a never-ending merry-go-round of health trends (RT if you’re also actively avoiding Whole 30), food fads (it’s called Oat Milk and just WAIT till you see where the udders are), and whatever the “in” workout of the month is (swipe up for my Barry’s Bootcamp discount code). One of these is hot yoga. What is hot yoga, you ask? Basically it’s like regular yoga, but…hot. The studio I go to keeps things at a balmy 105º-111º for the 70 minute sessions which is a great way to take an already difficult workout and turn it into the sort of workout that makes you feel like you’re in the parts of the 80s-movie training montages that they cut out: sweaty, overextended, and without the internet to distract you. That said, there’s a few little things I do during my hot yoga sessions to keep myself from losing my mind during these trying workouts and having my cardio-induced glisten go from 80s action hero sweaty to 80s action villain greasy. They are as follows:

• Put my mat down as far away as possible from an attractive girl.
While impossible to fully avoid attractive men and women (it is LA, after all), hot yoga (as with any yoga) is meant to be primarily an internal practice of betterment and improvement of the self through pushing, testing, and expanding one’s limits. It requires focus on several different mental and physical aspects at once, and nothing shakes that focus quicker than wanting to show off for the Alison Brie type two mats over from yours. My general rule is: I look like garbage when I workout (and debatably when I’m not working out, too) so I like to pretend no one can see me, and the least I can do is extend that same courtesy to the other yogis in their practice.

• Snag a spot by the door.
This may the pettiest/babiest one, but when you’re dealing with temps in the triple digits, every little bit helps, and if you are able to snag a spot by the door, you absolutely MUST do so. People drop like flies in hot yoga classes sometimes — to the point that the instructors usually give a little disclaimer at the beginning of class that is something like “Even if you get too overworked or exhausted to do the workouts, just go down to your mat and try to stay in the room because that in itself is enough of a challenge” — but if people can’t take the heat (literally) they’ll step outside for a breather or leave altogether and man when that door swings open and wafts a little (relatively) cool air over you, it’s just about the closest thing you can get to Heaven in LA (except for actual Heaven, the combination dance club and acupuncture clinic on Sunset).

• Find a mantra du jour.
My favorite yoga instructors will cue this at the start of class and maybe even offer the group one of their own if you’re drawing a blank (as I often do), but finding an inspirational word or short motivating phrase to come back to when it’s a hundred degrees and you’re balancing on one leg and somehow pulling the other leg over the back of your head and now they want you to do squats on the first leg and oh yeah don’t forget to breathe! can be super helpful to give you something to think about than how each of these yoga poses finds a new way to shove your flab into an even more un-ignorable position than the last one. Ones I go to a lot are things like patience, trust, sending energy to oneself or a friend, or part of  Bible verse I read that day. But they can also be less dramatic things too like just remembering how good that pizza is gonna taste knowing you already worked it off. No pineapple, please.

• Saying The Lord’s Prayer during the quiet part at the end.
During the last couple minutes of class, once you’ve finally gotten through the last difficult postures they’ll usually guide you through a little cool down stretching and finally let you land in something called “shavasana.” Translating to something along the lines of “corpse pose” (and believe me, that is an apt name since you will absolutely feel like a corpse by the end of a tough hot yoga class) this is literally a posture where you just lay on your back for a minute or two and let your body cool off and replenish all that mental and physical energy you just used and get ready to use all that new energy you just created before you go back out into the world. Since my mind is usually totally shot by then from the workout and I’m not really in a state to come up with anything epic or fresh, I like to silently fire off The Lord’s Prayer in my head as we’re ending our practice and starting to come “back to life” in every sense of the word. It’s automatic enough in my brain that I don’t really have to think much about it, but it also has all the comforting principles and reminders that I like to carry into the next part of my day/life.

• Throw up The Roc and give ’em a “Hova!”
As we close out class, the instructor will usually give a mini thank you speech and closes the class with the traditional “namaste” — surely you’ve seen it on trendy athleisure shirts or in someone’s instagram caption of their brunch — loosely translating to “the light and teacher in me sees and recognizes the light and teacher in you” and they have you put your hands up to your forehead in this little triangle shape and bow in as you say “namaste” (this is all optional and not as weird as it sounds by the way, I don’t want you to think you’ll see me in the next cult documentary on Netflix). Now that’s a beautiful sentiment on its own, but because this is my personal practice, after I say “namaste” I also like to throw a little “HOVA!” on the end of it. “Hova” is the self-appointed nickname of one of my favorite rappers, Jay-Z, and loosely translates to “I’m not afraid of dyin’ I’m afraid of not tryin’.” Because your hands are already essentially in the same triangle shape as Jay-Z’s signature gesture The Roc and because Hova is another sort of energy that I also like to channel with me into my days it’s only fitting that following up a nice heartfelt “namaste” feels twice as good when you fire off a nice, equally heartfelt “Hova!” on your way off the mat. Honestly give it a shot, you’ll be stoked at what a confidence booster it is before a big date or important meeting.

• Be polite and grateful, damnit!
And then very very last, you’ve worked hard for an hour plus, you’re tired and ready to hit the showers, but don’t let a combination of exhaustion and lowkey resentment of your instructor for putting you through that make you any less grateful. It takes a lot to keep an eye on everyone, learn all the terms, guide with confidence, display all the postures in their most correct form and give hands on corrections when needed — and do it all with a calm voice and a controlled demeanor, not just barking orders like Barry’s Bootcamp. So no matter how wiped you are, always make sure to give them an audible “thank you” on your way out the door. And if Rachael Bell is your instructor (@rachaelkathrynbell on IG/twitter or her instructor account @rkbyogi) you can be like me and spout off a hearty “Thanks Rach” so that everyone knows you’re thankful AND that you’re on a “casual monosyllabic nickname” friend level with the instructor, so they’ll be extra impressed (hey, the class is over after all, I’ve got to go back to being attention hungry, narcissistic, and insecure at SOME point, right? Right??? Wait where are you going? I promise I’ve got a great oat milk latte spot you just HAVE to try…)

And hey, if you’re ever in the LA area, come take a hot yoga class with me! You can Venmo me for the pizza afterwards.

 

Play on,
Dustin

…Want more Mind Bullets? New posts go up every other Wednesday at noon PST (or as close to that as I feel like), and you can subscribe if you want them delivered right to your inbox! …Or if you’re too impatient to wait that long you can follow me on twitter, instagramyoutube (new videos every Monday), and my get band’s latest music. Whew, that’s a lot of self promotion…even I don’t like me enough to keep up with all that.

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Understanding Racism, the Easy Way

I was driving through the streets of Los Angeles in silence on Tuesday, processing the US Men’s National Soccer team World Cup loss that had just transpired literally moments beforehand. Dejected, but not distracted* (hop to the footnotes if you’d like my brief take on the USMNT’s campaign at this year’s cup).

 

And then, while working through the rotation at a four-way stop — much more effectively than Jürgen Klinsmann worked through his rotation in Brazil I might add (zing! hashtag topical) — some A-hole goes out of turn** and has the gall to stare me down while his charming female companion yells “Go back to Ohio!” out of the passenger window. I yelled back my own incredibly clever retort (something along the lines of “Where did you learn to fxxxing drive?!” …Sorry, mom***), and proceeded to my next destination. But for some reason, that interaction stuck with me and left me in a negative sort of funk for much longer than it should have. And I spent the better part of the evening on and off trying to figure out why. I don’t know that I fully understand why it effected me in such an unpleasant way, but there are a couple of obvious reasons that I thought I might share with you, by way of exorcism for myself and maybe a way to cope with your own life’s small unpleasantriesº.

 

Before we get to it, credit where credit is due, the fact that they identified my license plate as Ohioan (it’s a pretty basic plate — white with one red and blue stripe at top and bottom, I don’t even think it says Ohio on it large enough to read unless you’re quite close) and were able to use that as the basis for their easy insult in a matter of a second or two is passably impressive, and while it doesn’t make up for the dimwittedness of the rest of their actions, it’s only fair to give them a modicum of credit for being so quick on the draw with their idiocy.

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As anyone who moved to California from a flyover state can tell you, you become something of an apologist for your home turf sort of by default. I’ve spent something like half my life or more in Columbus, Ohio, and while I’m generally quick to point out that I’m a SoCal native, truth be told Columbus is a fine city (better than a lot of similarly sized towns I’ve been through in my touring days) that has plenty going for it, particularly in terms of art and commerce and other hip credentials that the millennial/hipster crowd loves. Frankly, if the weather didn’t suck a strong 80-90% of the time and if I were trying to pursue a different industry, I’d probably still be there (also a great place to raise kids if any of my actor friends are looking to ditch the dream for something more practical). However, none of this has quite made it in to the Ohio stereotype, wherein it is assumed that all Ohioans are cornfield-owning, animal husbandry-ing, slack-jawed country folk with nary a care in the world nor the sense to process it if they did have one. My biggest annoyance at being associated with the MidWest (aside from the MISERABLE Ohio State University Buckeyes, whom I dislike to a fairly extreme degree) is this perceived (albeit clearly unfounded) lack of mental capacity, and by extrapolation, lack of worth. In a heartbeat I had been judged, deemed of a lesser intelligence, and yelled at by these morons…all while they were the ones in the wrong. I’m not much of a guy for road rage (or any rage for that matter…who has the time/energy for that sort of nonsense?), but I found myself wanting to track the offending car down and either beat the crap out of them or explain to them in completely inarguable terms how incorrect and dense they were. Not a very Christian sentiment, I admit. Obviously none of that happened and by the time I was at my friend’s barcade (bar + arcade = barcade, maybe my favorite invention of the modern age) birthday party that night I had gotten over it and was mulling over far greater concerns (like how did pinball ever get so popular? I mean, even before video games were invented I can think of about a million things I’d do before I’d want to watch an oversized marble bounce around erratically in a game that, by definition, can only end when you lose. It’s like building a civilization: you never really win, you just do a little better each time until everything collapses and you start over…isn’t that right The Greeks?).

 

And that takes me to racism (what doesn’t these days, AM I RIGHT? [pauses for huge amounts of laughter, crying hilarity tears, slapping of all nearby knees, etc.] hashtag still topical). What those douchebags in their puce Ford Bronco did in a second is what we’ve been doing on and off to everyone else for hundreds (or even thousands) of years. Taking something arbitraryºº like a license plate (or where you’re from or clothes or gender or the color of one’s skin, etc.) and immediately making a negative snap judgement about the associated person isn’t just wrong, it isn’t just folly, it’s mean and dehumanizingººº. It’s something we all do every day, and it needs to stop if we’re ever going to overcome our own limitations as a species.

 

I’m not saying anything particularly new or revolutionary here, but the classics are classics for a reason, and just because a concept isn’t new or complex, doesn’t mean that we don’t need to be reminded to work on it (did I mention I don’t not love double negatives?). What will it take for you to be spurred into the action of seeing people as individuals this week, rather than just an amalgamation of their surface level traits? Hopefully it’ll be something silly or meaningless like this blog post or a douchey driver yelling at you, and it won’t take something more serious or intense for you to awaken from your prejudicial slumber. And hopefully with enough practice we won’t need these reminders at all, because we’ll just be living life as people among people, not statistics to be summed and totaled prior to any actual interaction.

 

…But in the meantime, eff Belgium, hooray USA! Set your alarm for 2018, the Yanks are coming for ya, World Cup!

 

Play on,
Dustin

 

 

*Before the World Cup started, I had expected/hoped that the USMNT would get a win, a draw, and a loss in the group stage, and either win or lose respectably to a good team in the first knockout match. All this happened, and we managed to convert a lot of US soccer supporters in the process — it was the first World Cup I can recall where even my non-sports friends knew what was going on more or less, and people were generally interested and excited about American futbol. Honestly I did not expect that, and so I’m even more stoked for 2018. I also thought our side performed well against some of the tougher opponents in the world, and while our weaknesses remained our weaknesses (glaring lack of offensive ability, painful inconsistency in quality of play, overall fitness and roster depth, etc.), we should that we are ready to compete with the proverbial big dogs, if not dominate. That said, it was still heartbreaking to lose in the fashion we did, with the promise and potential to do so much more. I believe Jürgen deserves a lot of the credit for getting us to where we were and a lot of the blame for our earlier-than-we-had-potential-for exit. Tim Howard deserved a win in that match, and we owed it to ourselves to win one for The Gipper in Goal, such as it were. Oh well, there’s always next year (…errr, four years from now).

 

**The basic layout was this: it was a four-way stop with two cars at the west end (me and the car in front of me) and two cars at the east end (one car and the A-holes in question behind him). There were no cars at the other sides of the intersection. The car in front of me arrived at the intersection first, then went straight, then the car across from him went straight, then I started to turn left, then the car across from me went straight (the douches), when they should’ve waited for me to turn left (since the right-of-way had passed back to me). Pretty straightforward, literally no idea how they misinterpreted the situation so badly.

 

***Speaking of stereotypes, it’s worth noting that this is the only time I’ve had an “altercation” (for lack of a better word) like this since I’ve lived in LA, I know Los Angeles sort of has this stigma of not being able to drive to your corner grocer without some maniac in an SUV threatening your life, but it’s really not like that. Usually.

 

ºIf your life has no unpleasantries, than by all means stop reading my blog and write a book on how you’re doing it and make a trillion dollars and continue to live out your amazing existence, you son of a bitch.

 

ººObviously in this instance I mean “arbitrary” in terms of being a valid criteria upon which to judge someone or something, not arbitrary in the sense of not having intrinsic value.

 

ºººIt should go without saying (but sadly, this is the internet, where someone out there will find a way to misunderstand everything) that I’m not comparing an afternoon’s annoyance with being disparaged as “Ohioan” with the countless millennia of legitimate and hateful prejudice that races, genders and other groups have had to endure, I’m merely trying to demonstrate that no one likes to be confined to one reductive trait about themselves, and that it is within all of us to empathize with the pain we’ve caused other people groups in our lives, even if we haven’t shared their experiences firsthand. I don’t need to be black to know that treating black men and women differently just because they’re black is hurtful and wrong, and I don’t need to be black to effect positive change around race relations (or acceptance of all sorts) in my own life and sphere. Duh.

 

 

…Want more Mind Bullets? New posts go up every Wednesday at noon PST (or as close to that as I feel like), and you can subscribe if you want them delivered right to your inbox. Or if you’re too impatient to wait that long you can follow me on twitter, instagramyoutube (new videos every Monday), and my boring personal website. Whew, that’s a lot of self promotion…even I don’t like me enough to keep up with all that.

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Where’s the (Kobe) Beef?

Tonight professional basketball player and semi-professional sexual-assaulter, Kobe Bryant, scored his 30,000th career point against the much maligned New Orleans Hornets/Pelicans, whose shoddy defense is giving up about 30,000 points a game to opposing teams anyway this season, but that’s another story. By reaching 30K+ career points, Kobe joins the ranks of basketball legends Wilt Chamberlin (31.4K), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (38.3K), Karl Malone (36.9K), Michael Jordan (32.2K) as the only players in basketball history to accomplish such a feat. And at a practically prepubescent 34 years and 104 days old, Kobe is the youngest member to join the 10,000-Three-Pointers Club (although it took him the most games to get there), and will likely hold that title for a long time…assuming Grinnell’s Jack Taylor doesn’t average 138 points per game if he goes pro.

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Focus On One

Part two of a three part series exploring some significant people in my life at the moment (albeit for vastly different reasons). If you’re interested in the loosely-affiliated part one of this faux-trilogy (on Joseph Kony, professional douchebag), it’s here.

Topic the Second: Jack Gilbert, man about town (1950-2012).

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