Categories
Blog Yoga

How to Child’s Pose

Child’s pose is one of the most common yoga poses, but that doesn’t mean that it’s easy! I’ve met many people who either HATE child’s pose or struggle to make it restful. 

This week’s Fat Kid Yoga Club practice is a mini-workshop on child’s pose. We’ll start off with a self-assessment, taking time to notice our embodied experience of the posture.

Are you limited by pain or an injury? It’s important to discuss these issues with a medical professional as well as your yoga teacher. 

Are you just uncomfortable in child’s pose? There may be ways to shift or support your body with props to find ease.

Maybe you’re “not flexible enough” – that’s okay. With practice, you may become more flexible. But, bone structure and body shape/size also play a part in how our bodies move, bend, and flex.

In this Fat Kid Yoga Club practice video, I provide adaptions for each of these challenges using different yoga props, so before you get started you may want to have some blocks, a blanket or towel, a bolster or cushion, and a chair nearby.

If you found this video helpful, please consider supporting me and joining the Fat Kid Yoga Club on my Patreon Page: https://www.patreon.com/marcsettembrino

Categories
Blog Yoga

Fat Kid Yoga Club – FAQ

What is Fat Kid Yoga Club?

Fat Kid Yoga Club is an online community for bigger-bodied people to practice yoga and celebrate their bodies.

Why “Fat Kid”?

I have been a fat kid my entire life. I spent years being ashamed of myself and hating my body. Yoga helped me form a better relationship with my body and I want to share that with others. You don’t have to be “fat” to join – you don’t even have to identify with the word “fat”. But you DO have to respect us.

Why Fat Kid Yoga Club?

Fat people are regularly excluded from “fitness” and “wellness” spaces. Fat Kid Yoga Club provides a safe and accessible way for folks with marginalized bodies to practice yoga. Folks have been asking me for online offerings the last few years and now feels like the right time.

Why a Facebook Group?

For better or for worse, many people still use Facebook. The Facebook group is intended to be a place for people to come together and share their experiences and advice. All are welcome to join regardless of whether or not they are paid members. Join here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/322414445358304

Why Patreon?

Patreon allows me greater control over who access my content.

Why charge a fee for your classes?

Yoga teachers spend thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours in training and practicing. I teach yoga because it’s FUN and I LOVE working with people. But I also have bills, a lot of student loan debt, and my time is valuable.

How much does it cost?

There are three levels of membership:

  • Basic – $1 or more per month ($10 suggested)
  • FKYC+ – $35 per month
  • FKYC+2 – $60 per month

What do I get?

Basic membership provides access to a growing library of yoga practice videos, with new practices being added each week.

FKYC+ includes access to practice library PLUS one 30 minute coaching call with me.

FKYC+2 includes access to the practice library PLUS TWO 30 minute coaching calls with me.

How do I sign up?

To sign up, visit www.patreon.com/marcsettembrino

What happens when I no longer contribute?

I’ll be sad ☹ BUT I understand that life changes happen AND that yoga and/or my classes aren’t for everyone. You’ll lose access to the weekly practice videos but you will get to stay in the Facebook group.

Categories
Blog Yoga

Do You Use Yoga Blocks?

A few years ago, I heard another student say “blocks are cheating”. He couldn’t have been more wrong! I always practice with blocks, and you should too! Even if you don’t use them for every pose, they’re great to have on hand. Check out this video about three of my favorite ways to use blocks.

Categories
Blog Yoga

How to Step to the Top of Your Mat

If you’re like me, you might struggle to “step to the top of your yoga mat”. The struggle is real, and we’re not alone! Check out this video from my YouTube channel to see how I do it!

Categories
Blog Yoga

Fat Kid Yoga Club!

Y’all! I am so excited to announce my new project, Fat Kid Yoga Club! As you may know, I offer weekly, size-inclusive Radical Acceptance Yoga classes in New Orleans. Many of my followers have asked for an online option, so, I’m using my summer vacation to step up to the challenge!

Beginning July 1, 2019, I’ll offer weekly yoga practice videos for Fat Kid Yoga Club members. You’ll also get access to my exclusive Fat Kid Yoga Club Facebook group – a place where we can build community together. 

Of course, you don’t have to identify as “fat” to join – ALL bodies are welcome! Check out my Patreon for more info and to sign up! https://www.patreon.com/marcsettembrino

Categories
Blog Yoga

4 Things Yoga Studios and Teachers Can Do to Celebrate LGBTQ+ Pride Month

June is LGBTQ+ Pride month. It’s a time of celebration for many LGBTQ+ people, marked by parties and parades. But pride wasn’t always a party. LGBTQ+ Pride emerged out of the gay liberation movement of the 1970s, which sought to end violence and discrimination against LGBTQ+ people. Since the 1970s LGBTQ+ folks in the US won the right to marry, and protections against discrimination in housing, employment, and medical care.

We must not forget, pride is political. It is an unapologetic statement by LGBTQ+ people that we are here and that we will not be silenced. Pride is also a political moment for allies. Clearly, you don’t have to be LGBTQ+ to support our community. Straight folks are welcome and encouraged to participate in pride festivities, but I would also invite you to do more. Our current political climate has created many challenges for LGBTQ+ people. Nationally, hate crimes against LGBTQ+ people are increasing, and our current administration actively targets the rights of transgender people.

What Can Yoga Studios/Teachers Do to Support LGBTQ+ People?

There are lots of things that you can do to support LGBTQ+ folks, here are the 4 things that I think can make the biggest impact.

1. Celebrate and Acknowledge LGBTQ+ Pride Month and other LGBTQ+ Awareness Days

First and foremost, acknowledge pride! It’s as easy as making a social media post or including a paragraph in your newsletter. These simple steps will help your LGBTQ+ clients feel welcome and supported. You can also fly a rainbow flag or post some other signage that indicates your support for the community. But there are many other important LGBTQ+ days including Transgender Day of Remembrance (November 20) and National Day of Silence (April). Check out this list for more.

2. Create Safe and Inclusive Spaces for LGBTQ+ People

It’s one thing to fly a rainbow flag but it’s another to create a safe and welcoming space for LGBTQ+ people. There are MANY great resources available for learning how to create safe/inclusive spaces. I’ve offered LGBTQ+ inclusion training at my university for six years; here are some basic tips:

  • Don’t Assume – you cannot tell someone’s gender identity or sexual orientation from looking at them.
  • Use inclusive language – avoid talking about “male” or “female” “energy” or “natures”; remember not all men have penises and not all women have periods. In general, try to avoid gendering bodies.
  • Offer gender-neutral restrooms/changing areas
  • Shut down homophobic/transphobic language – period.

3. Donate to LGBTQ+ Organizations

Put your money where your mouth is. Consider offering a special donation-based yoga practice(s) to raise money for LGBTQ+ organizations, especially local organizations or organizations support LGBTQ+ racial and ethnic minorities. Similarly, reach out to local LGBTQ+ organizations and OFFER to help them raise funds.

4. Offer FREE Classes

Yoga shouldn’t be a luxury. Unfortunately, many folks simply cannot afford a $15 drop-in class or a $120 monthly membership. LGBTQ+ people, especially people of color, face significant financial hardships due to housing and employment discrimination. Consider offering a few free or low-cost classes each month to low-income folks in your community.

What do you do?

This is by no means a complete list! Leave a comment below and let me know what kinds of things you do to support LGBTQ+ folks in your studio. Or, if you’re LGBTQ+, tell me what you’d like teachers and studios to do.

Categories
Blog

Answering the Call: Why I Became an Ordained Minister

Most people who know me wouldn’t describe me as “religious”, so it might come as a surprise to learn that I am an Ordained Minister in the Universal Life Church.

Why did I become a Minister?

Because it felt like the right thing to do. I’ve heard many people talk about being “called”. Often, there’s a moment in their life where they felt compelled to deepen their faith and join the ministry. On March 11, 2019, I had that same feeling.

Why the Universal Life Church?

The Universal Life Church is interfaith and nondenominational. Our only belief is to do that which is right. The ULC is inclusive and seeks a fuller life for everyone.

What do I plan to do now?

I plan to: (1) share my beliefs and ideas about spirituality with those who are interested; (2) serve my community and help those in need; and (3) promote justice.

While I don’t have plans to marry anyone right now, it is possible.

You can learn more about the Universal Life Church, here.

Categories
Blog Yoga

New Class: Radical Acceptance Yoga!

I’m honored to partner with Jaci Blue, New Orleans premier Size Inclusive boutique, to offer WEEKLY Radical Acceptance Yoga classes at Balance Yoga & Wellness.

Laugh. Stretch. Breathe. And love your body!

Radical acceptance yoga provides a place where practitioners of all levels and body types can experience the benefits of yoga.

Here you’ll celebrate your body through movement and accept what’s possible one practice at a time. This class combines breath with movement and alignment-based instruction. Perfect for all bodies and levels of experience. 

Classes are held Sundays at 5:30 PM at Balance Yoga and Wellness located at 120 S. Cortez St., in New Orleans, Louisiana. Sign up HERE.

Categories
Blog Yoga

5 Tips to Pick the Right Yoga Mat

For two years, I suffered. I twisted, squeezed, and contorted myself trying to fit on a mat that was too narrow for my body. Don’t make the same mistake I did! Follow my 5 Tips to Pick the Right Yoga Mat for Your Practice and Your Body!

I know you’re busy but take some time and watch the video below. Not only do I give you my tips, but I also review the mats in my collection.

1. Pick the Right Yoga Mat for Where Your Practice

If you’re practicing at home, you may not need a mat right away. This is especially, true if you have carpet floors. In fact, putting a yoga mat on top of carpet can be challenging – so you might want to skip the mat altogether. If you have wood, laminate, or tile floors, you might want a mat to cushion your knees and give you traction.

If you’re practicing in a yoga studio you will need a yoga mat. The good news is, most studios have mats you can use for free or for a small fee. This could be a great way for you to try out different mats before you purchase your own.

I’m not sure whether or not most gyms supply yoga mats. So, if you’re planning to take a yoga class in a gym and you don’t have your own mat, call ahead of time to see if you can borrow one.

2. Pick the Right Yoga Mat for Your Style of Yoga

If you’re doing relaxation or restorative yoga at home, you probably won’t need a mat. These styles are all about finding ease and most poses will be done seated or lying down.

Get ready to sweat if the words vinyasa, flow, power, hot or warm, are in the class title or description. If you’re sweating, you’re going to want a non-slip mat, and probably a towel, too.

3. Pick the Right Yoga Mat for Your Body

A standard yoga mat is 24 inches wide and 64 inches long. They work for many but not all yogis. If you have a bigger body, you will likely need a bigger mat. Do your head and feet hang off your mat? Go for extra tall/long. If you’re like me, and your shoulders/arms don’t fit within a standard mat: go extra wide. Some folks might even want an extra tall and extra wide mat! Finally, if you have tender knees or other joints, consider getting an extra thick yoga mat for extra comfort.

4. Pick the Right Yoga Mat for Your Budget

You can spend $10 on a yoga mat, or you can spend hundreds. Like many things, you pay a premium price for elite brands. But I’ve found that you get what you pay for. My $10 Target mat was the worst mat for my sweaty practice. It was basically an orange slip n’ slide!

You can find deals on premium brands like Jade, Manduka, Hugger Mugger, and Lulu Lemon – you just have to look for them. Check your local TJ Maxx, I’ve noticed they carry Manduka yoga mats for nearly half the price! Check second-hand stores and e-bay. You never know where you might find a deal! Some folks buy a high-end yoga mat without doing their homework, and soon find out it was the wrong mat for them! So, they might sell it to you for a steep discount!

That brings me to my final tip:

5.  Ask Around!

You should do your homework before buying a yoga mat. Ask other yogis how they like their mats. They’ll be surprisingly honest. Although we all LOVE our yoga mat, there are things about them we might change. Who knows, maybe someone will even let you try their mat to see if you like it. Finally, read reviews online. I’ve found that 3 and 4-star reviews are the most helpful commentary on the benefits/challenges of a particular yoga mat.

Do you have any additional questions? Contact me using the form below and I’ll be happy to answer!

Categories
Blog Sociology

Power, Resistance, and Change: (Disaster) Sociology in the Trump Era

Originally presented at the Annual Meetings of the Society for the Study of Social Problems – August 13, 2017.

The idea for this paper came shortly after January 20, 2017. Like so many of you, I was riding the proverbial emotional roller coaster. I was high from a weekend of protest and solidarity but dreading the months and years ahead.

It was also time to commit to a topic for this year’s meetings, so, I put together the following abstract:

Disaster sociologists and our colleagues in other social science disciplines have provided critical examinations of how social inequality produces and is reproduced by “man-made” and “natural disasters”.  Due to our long and symbiotic relationship with the Federal government, American disaster sociologists have been influential in shaping the way that government agencies prepare for and respond to disasters. However, today our relationship and influence seems uncertain. Though unpredictable, this paper examines the future of disaster sociology within the context of the Trump administration. Specifically, this paper examines the challenges that disaster researchers face in political climate dominated by austerity, “alternative facts”, and uncertainty. In this paper, I propose strategies through which disaster sociologists can resist and subvert attempts to obfuscate knowledge and silence dissent.

I’ve struggled to write this paper for several reasons.

First, avoidance has been my primary survival tactic. Ignorance has been bliss, and I’m fine not knowing everything that happens in Washington, DC or on Twitter.

Second, there’s too much to keep up with. Last week, we got a leaked climate change report, learned that the FBI raided his former campaign managers home, continue to hold our breath as Trump tweets us closer to war with North Korea, and today we mourn the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.

So, this paper isn’t what I imagined it would be.

I’m not going to review the list of attacks on science, the academy, and humanity in general, today. We are all aware of them and many of us are already working to oppose them.

I’m not sure that we can ever trust government. But, for a long time, many of us wanted to believe we could.

We wanted to believe that what the President of the United States said was at least partially true, even if it was steeped in imperialism. We believed we could turn to government agencies to find “objective” information about our society and our planet. We even imagined we could work with our government to create an equitable society.

In the current era, we can neither trust the President of the United States nor any of the agencies he controls.

Telling the “Truth”

Despite the rise of “fake news” many Americans rely on journalists and the corporate media, to give us the “truth”. But where do these truths come from? That’s where we come in.

I didn’t attend, but this year’s Natural Hazards Workshop, but it included a panel of journalists who offered scientists advice for communicating about disasters.

Jolie Breedan, of the Natural Hazards Center, recently published a summary of the panel’s advice, which you can find on the Hazards Center’s website.

The advice includes:

  • Building relationships with journalists
  • Become a trusted source, provide behind the scenes or “off the record” tips and information
  • Try not to talk (too much) like a scientist
  • Leverage social media

These are great starting points for all of us.

We should be building relationships not just with reporters, but also with state and local policy makers. By building these relationships, you can become a trusted source who might actually influence policy; at the local level, where policy matters most. This assumes we know anything about policy in the first place.

But, to influence policy, we must learn how to talk to policy makers and regular people in general. This has been a problem in sociology for decades now. I am not the first person, nor will I be the last to say this. We spend a lot of time learning how to talk to other sociologists. We learn the rules of writing for publication in journals that no one reads, and we forget how to talk to non-sociologists. Even those of us at teaching institutions struggle to communicate sociology to our students.

As Doni Loseke reminded us last night in her presidential address, we need to stop telling stories like sociologists.

But, that doesn’t mean that we need to abandon our principles. It just means that we need to make our principles accessible to audiences outside of conference rooms and academic circles.

Many sociologists have already learned how to do this. They have leveraged social media and have created blogs that have been read by thousands, and in some cases, millions of people. This has given rise to a class of Twitter famous, sociological Rock stars. There is also a lot of noise from other sociologists promoting their work and, dare I say egos, on social media. I may be a millennial, but I am skeptical that social media is the answer to our problems.

At its core, the advice to talk to strangers and build relationships encourages us as sociologists, to think and act locally. In our own departments, on our campuses, and in our neighborhoods.

It’s not about 45

At some point, I read commentary that Donald Trump was the first Brand elected to be president. Perhaps, this is one of the more poignant assessments of our current situation.

Because, the truth is, Donald Trump is not the problem.

Yes, he’s racist, sexist, transphobic and panders to nazis. But we’re sociologists. We know that it’s bigger than just one person. A point emphasized by Eduardo Bonilla-Silva in his presentation here yesterday morning.

We know that the problems we face are systemic. I don’t have to explain this at the annual meetings of the Society for the Study of Social Problems.

Aside from his attempts to drag us into nuclear war, we know that the attacks on science, knowledge, and our humanity started long before Donald Trump and will likely continue after him.

A few years ago, at the Natural Hazards Workshop, I was on a Panel on Social Vulnerability. In my final remarks I said something to the effect of:


“as long as we live in a capitalist, white supremacist, hetero-patriarchy we will continue to have disasters. We will continue to have vulnerable populations because we have decided that it’s okay for some people to die because it’s more important for others to make a profit.”

As sociologists, we know that capitalism and white supremacy are killing us.
As a society. As a discipline. And as Individuals.

Sadly, some in our discipline have been enticed by the capitalist/white supremacist fantasy and have come to enjoy their petit bourgeois standing. They will continue to defend and advance the capitalist regime’s agenda.

So, what are we supposed to do?

Emergent Strategy

I’d like to get back to the idea of thinking and acting locally.

In February, I started reading “Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds” by adrienne maree brown. Adrienne is black woman, author, activist, and science-fiction scholar. She was mentored by Grace Lee Bogs and takes inspiration from Octavia Butler.

I’d like to share with you, adrienne’s explanation of emergent strategy:

According to Nick Obolensky, “emergence is the way complex systems and patterns arise out of a multiplicity of relatively simple interactions.” In the frame work of emergence, the whole is a mirror of the parts. Existence is fractal “the health of the cell is the health of the species and the planet.”

There are examples of emergence everywhere.

Birds don’t make a plan to migrate, raising resources to fund their way, packing for scare times, mapping out their pit stops. They feel a call in the bodies that they must go, and they follow it, responding to each other, each bringing their adaptations.

There is an art to flocking: staying separate enough not to crowd each other, aligned enough to maintain a shared direction, and cohesive enough to always move toward each other.

Emergence is beyond what the sum of its parts could even imagine.

A group of caterpillars or nymphs might not see flight in their future, but it’s inevitable.

Oak trees don’t set an intention to listen to each other better or agree to hold tight to each other when the next storm comes. Under the earth, always, they reach for each other, they grow such that their roots are intertwined and create a system of strength that is resilient on a sunny day as it is in a hurricane.

Dandelions don’t know whether they are a weed or a brilliance. But each seed can create a field of dandelions. We are invited to be prolific. And to return fertility to the soil around us.

Cells may not know civilization is possible. They don’t amass many units as they can sign up to be the same. No, they grow until they split, complexify. Then they interact and intersect and discover their purpose “I am a lung cell! I am a tongue cell!” And they serve it, and they die. And what emerges from these cycles are complex organisms, systems, movements, and societies.

Nothing is wasted, or a failure. Emergence is a system that makes use of everything in the iterative process. It’s all data.

Octavia Butler said, “civilization is to groups what intelligence is to individuals. It’s a means of combining the intelligence of many to achieve on going group adaptation.”

She also wrote, “all that you touch you change / all that you change, changes you.” We are constantly impacting and changing our civilization each other, ourselves, intimates, strangers. And we are working to transform a world that is, by its very nature, in a constant state of change.

Janine Benyus, a student of biomimicry, says, “nature/life would always create conditions conductive to life.” She tells of a radical fringe of scientists who are realizing that natural selection isn’t individual, but mutual that species only survive if they learn to be a community.

How can we, future ancestors, align ourselves with the most resilient practices of emergence as a species?

Many of us have been socialized to understand that constant growth, violent competition, and critical mass are the way to create change. But emergence shows us that adaptation and evolution depend more upon critical, deep, and authentic connections, a thread that can be tugged for support and resilience. It’s the quality of the connections between the nodes in the patterns that matters most.

I have re-read these pages countless times over the last six months. There is beauty in adriene’s prose, and power in her metaphors.

Please allow me to transfer these metaphors to the academy and our discipline.

Emergent Problems in Sociology

We might say that birds do in fact, plan to migrate. They eat and store energy for the lean times of their long migrations. But let’s apply this to sociology. As a graduate student, I was trained to always be thinking about what comes next. As a master’s student, I had to be competitive for PhD programs. As a doctoral candidate, I had to be competitive for tenure track jobs. As a junior faculty member, I have to both earn tenure AND keep myself competitive for other jobs.

So how does one stay competitive? Through presenting at conferences, publishing in journals, and accumulating grants and fellowships. We cannot allow our curiosity to shape our research agendas, rather, we must shape our research agendas around the interests of faculty advisors, grant funders, and potential employers. Our work should be sexy, but not too weird.

Being competitive requires us to pull away from each other; to focus on our own needs and our own desired outcomes.

We cannot be a flock if we are all flying in different directions; or, bouncing between multiple conference venues.

Maybe caterpillars know that they will become butterflies one day. They keep munching way on leaves because they know how beautiful they will become in a few weeks. The dream of graduating certainly carried me through my dissertation. But I think there is a deeper lesson to be learned.

We are socialized to be focused on the outcomes of our work, rather than the work itself.

We need to allow ourselves and each other to be caterpillars: to take our time, carefully munching away, so that we can become butterflies. But deadlines, university time limits, and budget cuts get in the way.

We’re all familiar with imposter syndrome. I regularly catch myself worrying that someone will figure out that I’m not that smart. Or that I didn’t quite read all of those books I was supposed to in graduate school. I can’t help but think this is also tied to the culture of competitiveness. It plants the seeds of doubt in each of us. But, like the dandelion, we are neither weeds nor brilliance. We are invited to be prolific. We are invited to share ourselves and our ideas with our students and the world.

Sometimes those ideas can get us in to trouble.

We come together each time one of our colleagues is attacked by fascists. We write letters, sign petitions, and scream for justice at the top of our lungs on social media. But these displays of solidarity are temporary. We need stronger, deeper, and more interconnected roots. Showing up during a crisis is important, but we need to support each other, and keep one another in the ground at all times. When one of us falls, it weakens the entire discipline.

Like Adrienne says, many of us have been socialized to understand constant growth, violent competition, and critical mass as the key to what comes next. But what comes next may not be what you wanted it to be.

As individuals, we need to resist the neoliberal push for constant growth. More students, more money, more faculty lines, more publications. At what point will it be enough? At what point will you be enough?

Competition is deeply engrained in the white psyche. It has polluted generations of human beings and destroyed entire civilizations. I would like to say that we’re allowing it to destroy sociology, too. But the truth is that legacy of white supremacy, competition, and elitism is in our sociological DNA.

I don’t know how we can drive it out, but we must. Our careers and our lives depend on it.

Emergent Sociology?

This week, we are reminded of just how many sociologists there are. Thousands of us have gathered at ASA, SSSI, ABS, ASR, and here at SSSP. But many of us feel alienated and anonymous.

This probably has a lot to do with how we feel at home, on our campuses, and in our departments.

Where we work with others out of necessity and obligation, rather than mutual respect and understanding. We allow conflicts between sub-fields, methodological preferences, and political orientations to drive us apart. And, our students see this, and they replicate the behavior.

With or without Trump, we are in crisis.

It’s likely that our discipline will survive this crisis. But what it looks like and who is a part of it depends entirely upon us.