Come As You Are: Body Positive Yoga

Anna Guest-Jelley in tree pose. Anna is the owner of Curvy Yoga in East Nashville. Photo: Yoga for Healthy Aging

Anna Guest-Jelley in tree pose. Anna is the owner of Curvy Yoga in East Nashville. Photo: Yoga for Healthy Aging

Any yogi will tell you that there are as many ways to practice yoga as there are asanas. But the yoga body portrayed in mainstream media fits only one mold, and it’s the same one that the multibillion-dollar beauty industry dictates: the homogeneously slim, long, sexualized body of a woman. For this reason, yoga studios seem mighty unwelcoming to people whose bodies don’t conform to this standard and whose lifestyles lie outside the mainstream. One purpose of yoga is to go inward, to identify less with the body and more with the higher self or spirit. Doing yoga doesn’t require die hard athleticism or crazy flexibility, yet it’s developed a mythology that says the opposite: if you don’t fit the mold, you don’t belong.

Nashville’s yoga studio have something to teach us: as the city grows, so does its social consciousness. Curvy Yoga opened in East Nashville in September, led by teacher and practitioner Anna Guest-Jelley, who literally wrote the book on body positive yoga.

She notes that when yoga entered the mainstream, it was commodified and simplified. “So while it’s interesting and certainly sells products to have bodies that meet mainstream beauty ideals doing complex poses most of us could never dream of, it can also make people not even give yoga a try,” Guest-Jelley says. “In reality, yoga is many things to many people, and it can very much be done with the body you have today, no matter your flexibility or fitness level.” Over the past five years, Curvy Yoga has trained 150 teachers, and Guest-Jelley co-authored the just-released Yoga and Body Image: 25 Personal Stories About Beauty, Bravery and Loving Your Body.

Positive body yogis are all over the country now, and they want to inspire a sea change in how we perceive fitness, bodies, and beauty by claiming space for inclusive practice. I took a class at Curvy Yoga and enjoyed it. I’m not really a yoga person (though I’d like to be) and have attended a smattering of classes over the years. This one was different. I felt like I was checking in with my body more than usual. It was by no means easy–my abs ached the next day–but I also didn’t feel like I was killing myself to meet some expectations that had nothing to do with me.

Curvy Yoga is right above Five Points in East Nashville in a beautiful old home with hard wood floors. Your first class is just $5.

Nashville Craigslist: Weirdo Wants to Re-enact Honey I Shrunk the Kids with You

honeyYes, you read the headline right. Someone is advertising on Craigslist that he or she seeks a partner who is verbose, descriptive, and likes Cheerios to re-enact the 1989 dramedy starring Rick Moranis. In this extremely well written ad, the enthusiast expresses his or her fascination with “certain parts” of the film as well as “the perspective of being shrunken.” There will be no physical re-enactment: this will be an online relationship. Unlike most ads in the writing gigs section, it pays! Here’s the ad and link:  

I am looking for a role-playing partner to do email or instant message-based sessions revolving around various reenactments and recreations of situations similar to those in the Disney classic movie Honey I Shrunk The Kids.
Various aspects of the original movie has always fascinated me. The perspective of being shrunken, the various interactions with normal every-day objects and situations. My role would be that of a shrunken individual, while yours would be that of the normal sized role.
The requirements for this job: you are verbose, descriptive almost to the point of being ridiculous, very imaginative, and hopefully you like Cheerios. The ability to take something as simple as moving your hand and creating a moment and event out of it would be preferred as far as detail depth.
If you feel you are the right one for this, and are up for having plenty of fun while doing so, then please reply!
  • do NOT contact me with unsolicited services or offers

Capra Classics at Belcourt

"It's a Wonderful Life" and five other Capra Classics play at Belcourt in December.

“It’s a Wonderful Life” and five other Capra Classics play at Belcourt in December.

There are many reasons my spirit needs refreshing this holiday season, and here comes the Belcourt to my rescue with a series of Capra classics. It kicks off with the quintessential “It’s a Wonderful Life,” during which I’ll do my best not to perform each part. Next, they’ll have “It Happened One Night” starring Claudette Colbert as a runaway debutante and Clark Gable as her amorous yet grumpy suitor–it’s a great romantic teaser.  They’ll have heart throbs Jean Arthur and Gary Cooper in “Mr. Deeds Goes to Town.”  Jimmy Stewart performs a successful filibuster and earns five stars for patriotism in “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.” “Lost Horizon” was not memorable for me, but I’m willing to give it another shot.  The crown jewel of course is “You Can’t Take It With You” with Lionel Barrymore, Jimmy Stewart, and my gal Jean Arthur. It’s a morality tale that will put all your holiday money woes to shame.

Viewing Capra’s films now, I want to call him naive, dangerously optimistic, clueless of troubles that Americans would face. But he made his films during the Depression, when people needed a tonic to boost their spirits and give them something to hold onto. In Capra’s cinematic world, all men and women are essentially good, and class conflicts can be assuaged with a battle between harmonicas. It reminds us of how cinema often reflects the culture and spirit of the people, for at it’s best, it shows us what we need most.

Belcourt often makes a signature drink for these events, and I wonder what they’ll come up with… (“I’ll have a mulled wine, heavy on the cinnamon, light on the cloves!”)

After viewing all six films, I’ll feel like Frank Capra whispered to me, “Friend, you are a divine mingle-mangle of guts and stardust. So hang in there! If doors opened for me, they can open for anyone.”

“It’s a Wonderful Life” will run Dec. 19-25. The rest will run in times TBA Dec. 26-Jan.1.

Hee Haw!

This Weekend: the One Mile Musical Loop and Capture the Flag at the Park

captureOn October 11-12, Centennial Park will act as a true Greek agora when FLEX IT! My Body My Temple addresses the health care crisis with socially engaged art. Nashvillians will come together and get moving with two unique events.

Saturday, social practice art collective Public Doors and Windows will stage One Mile Loop, a multi band performance around the walking trail that’s based on the habits and musical preferences of six park regulars who were interviewed by the collective earlier this year. Their music ranges from Rancid to Rodgers and Hammerstein and will be performed in varied genres, from melodic pop to heavy soul. Along the route, the collective is constructing historical markers that profile each participant. The piece invites park visitors to consider fitness in a new way that allows them to enjoy diversity of experience and intimately engage with the tastes and habits of others. Time: 3-4 p.m.

On Sunday, Adrienne Outlaw’s new installation of MeetUp will take over the park for an open-to-the public game of Capture the Flag. Players of all stripes are welcome to join this family-friendly game that requires communication and compromise, as well as different skill sets and levels of athleticism. Participants can sign up at the Kidsville tent at Musicians’ Corner, which will also hold crafting workshops throughout the afternoon. Outlaw will film the event for MeetUp’s video installation project, on view in the Parthenon. This multi-piece installation shows people in various acts of health and harmony and serves as a living document of the events in Outlaw’s social practice work. Time: 2-4 p.m.

FLEX IT! My Body My Temple gets art out of the galleries and to the people, while advocating for a subtle change in our lifestyle choices–honoring ourselves and bodies, valuing the food that we eat, and celebrating movement. The exhibition is constantly evolving as its artists visit Nashville for participatory talks and events. FLEX IT! endeavors to effect change while building on core values of reciprocity, interaction, and well being. The works are on display in the Parthenon Museum and throughout Centennial Park through January 10, 2015.

SONA Fest this Saturday

Logo by John Munn.

Logo by John Perry.

This Saturday, NYCnash will be at Atlanta Maker Faire in the Make Nashville booth while a party happens in its own back yard! Neighboring hoods Chestnut Hill and Wedgewood-Houston unite to put on a festival that highlights community and sustainability. It kicks off at 2:30 and runs through Arts and Music at Wedgewood-Houston, so crawl your way over Dudley Park, located on Chestnut and 3rd, right by Track One. I talked to Adrianna Silver, the executive director of WeHo’s community board SNAP.  There will be live music, local art vendors, a petting zoo for the kiddies (NYnash is terrified of llamas), food trucks, a beer garden, and more! What makes this fest different from the rest is its focus on gardens and sustainability. Chestnut Hill is dotted with urban gardens, which you can tour. Riding your bike to the fest? They’ll have valet bike parking, too!

Radnor Lake is a Walker’s Paradise

Radnor Lake in September.

Radnor Lake in September.

Although I seem to be catching feelings for Nashville, there are things that make me downright homesick for New York. One of these is walking. New Yorkers are a fit breed. We stroll through parks, power walk to work, and climb subway steps two at a time. Some of us even voluntarily stand on the subway.

I’ve always found that activity breeds more activity, so I would forgo the subway for a bike ride across the Brooklyn Bridge to work, run the Prospect Park loop a few times a week, and actually pay to go to the gym in the winter. This extra curricular walking is just that, extra; but nothing beats the simple necessity of getting to where you’re going as quickly as possible.

After living in Nashville for a year, I realized I had been in a fitness slump. If you’re thinking of moving here, let it be known: it’s not really a pedestrian city, or a biking one at that. Some would argue that point, and there are people who use bikes as their primary mode of transportation, but I feel like every time I turn around there’s a “Share the Road” article running about some law-abiding biker getting hit by an impatient motorist. After complaining on Facebook for a while, a friend inspired me to seek out places to walk, and what do you know. I found nature.

Radnor Lake and its 1,332 acre-park is just 15 minutes south of WeHo. It has six trails of varying difficulty and a pedestrian road that circles half the lake where you can run, bike, and walk your dog. A full loop around is about 2.5 miles. I’ve done the Lake Trail, which was good power walking because it’s mostly flat and offers a pretty view. I really liked the Ganier Ridge Trail though. It’s hilly and often narrow, which kept my heart rate up and my New York legs pumping.

This time of year, the view can’t be beat. Living in any city makes you appreciate getting out of it, and that’s just what I needed. Afterwards, my head is clearer, my anxiety level is lower, my fears are at bay (and the science agrees!). What I like the most about walking there is something very unlike New York: I appreciate the quiet interactions with other walkers, the little nods and smiles that amount to an acknowledgement, as if to say, Yes, it’s a beautiful day, and we are walking.

Trail Map from

Trail Map from

Art in the Park: Your Workout Just Got Better

2014-09-09 16.59.39

A park visitor captures coins using Bryan Leister and Becky Heavner’s app-based fitness game at FLEX IT! in Centennial Park.

Exercise just got easier thanks to artists Bryan Leister and Becky Heavner, whose interactive, app-based game Pygmalion’s Challenge has Centennial Park visitors pointing their smart phones at batches of flowers and racing up the the Parthenon steps. As part of FLEX IT! My Body My Temple, new media artist Leister and landscape architect Heavner joined forces to riff on the theme of obesity prevention, healthy living, and community. The results couldn’t be more fun and require only a smart phone to get started.

Visitors must download the free app for iPhone or Android. The goal of the game is to collect coins that allow you to unlock sculptures and watch them come to life. The artists have set sculptural markers on the Parthenon law that are now lush with flowers. Pointing a smartphone at a marker causes several gold coins to pop up on the screen. Then comes the exercise: contestants can race to the “Treasury” behind the Parthenon to cash in coins for keys. They then race back to the markers to unlock colorful, animated characters from the sculptures. The app includes an option to take a picture with the dancing sculptures and post it to social media, which the artists hope will encourage participation from kids and adults. Gold coins are apparently heavy though, so they’ll have to make several trips to unlock all of the treats.

Leister’s interactive artwork is a perfect match with Heavner’s landscape architecture. Both disciplines require an audience. “It all revolves around anticipating what people want and providing them with that experience,” Leister says. “With landscape architecture and interactive design, there is no photo opp. It’s more about the experience of people walking through the space and thinking, ‘How can I make people happy and enjoy themselves more?’”

Leister’s interactive gaming and design work includes the creation of 2000 messages to survivors of the Mayan apocalypse, an app-based mood analyticator, and videos that track viewers’ motion. He will return to Nashville on September 19-21, where he and Heavner will present a talk on their design process for Pygmalion’s Challenge (Saturday 10 a.m., location TBD). At Watkins College of Art and Design, he will facilitate two workshops: Creating 2D and 3D Content for Video Games (Thursday and Friday, 1-5 p.m., room #403) and Augmented Reality (Saturday and Sunday 1-5 p.m., room #403).

FLEX IT! My Body My Temple is a set of evolving, socially engaged art exhibits in the Parthenon Museum and on Centennial Park grounds. Curated by Adrienne Outlaw of Seed Space, FLEX IT! invites participation and reflection on personal health and fitness, while building community.

Mini Maker Faire Saturday!

From 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Saturday at the Adventure Science Center in Nashville, come check out the robots, star ships, printers, and a whole variety of humanoid-made inventions at the Mini Maker Faire. Tony Youngblood wrote about it his monthly column “Art in Formation” in Nashville Arts:

“The Nashville faire is one of over one hundred Mini Maker Faires held all over the world. The event is licensed by Maker Media, publisher of Make Magazine and producer of the official faires in New York City and the Bay Area, and organized by Nashville groups such as the Adventure Science Center, ArtsCubed, Make Nashville, NashMicro, and the Middle Tennessee Robotic Arts Society. ASC’s Jeff Krinks says this year’s faire ‘will be even bigger than last year’s and chock full of exciting exhibits and hands-on demos.’ In addition to panels, performances, workshops, and the return of popular exhibits like Chris Lee’s ever-growing full scale Millennium Falcon, Krinks says the faire will feature ‘robotics, 3D puzzles, creative smart-art, origami, electronic gadgets, props and costumes, sculpting, crafts, and much more.'”

Tony and I will be at a booth with our many inventions. Come by to get a hand-sewn wristlet with a 3D printed Make Nashville key chain. We’ll be sewing and 3D printing all day, and we’ll also have our home carbonating system, so you can get refreshed with a fizzy beverage. In addition, Tony will be hosting a paper craft workshop at noon, and he’ll be teaching participants to make movable figures from just paper and glue. Hope to see you there!

3D printed, hand-sewn souvenirs we'll have at our booth Saturday at the Mini Maker Faire

3D printed, hand-sewn souvenirs we’ll have at our booth Saturday at the Mini Maker Faire

Baking Bread at the Parthenon


Demeter’s Torch. Moira Williams and visitors of Centennial Park created this working, adobe oven. It is on wheels and can be used by visitors to bake bread on the Parthenon lawn during FLEX IT! My Body My Temple.

If you happened to be at Centennial Park during the first week of September, you may have seen artist Moira Williams walking along the loop with a wagon in tow or operating an adobe oven on the Parthenon lawn. As part of Adrienne Outlaw’s FLEX IT! My Body My Temple, the Brooklyn-based artist created an ongoing, participatory art event that invites visitors to consider what feeds us.

“When I do socially engaged work,” says Williams, “it’s always about the community and supporting the community.” The physical structure of Socrates’ Wagon Sings with Demeter’s Torch was in fact community-made. Williams worked with park visitors to construct an oven and the mini-Parthenon shaped adobe structure surrounding it. She set up a table on the Parthenon lawn and park visitors helped sketch out their ideas for the shape, the designs on the pediments, and the individual metopes. Together, they configured it to be about Athena, exercise, and eating healthy– topics that arose naturally in the course of conversation. Working with clay, they built a miniature version of Greece’s (and Nashville’s) doric masterpiece.

With the oven complete, Williams walked the mile loop with Socrates’ Wagon, collecting wild yeast and conversing with park visitors in a kind of Socratic Dialogue. “My work is always about starting a dialogue — talking and listening to people,” she said. After she harvested the yeast, she returned to the lawn and the oven and baked bread, pizza, yams, garlic, apple crumble, and dosas with park visitors. Together, they cut ties with the commercial food chain and ate food harvested from the park itself.  “When we eat together, we slow down, we think about things,” Williams says. She hopes that the experience will show participants how easy it is to step away from commercial foods.

Socrates’ Wagon Sings with Demeter’s Torch is now on display in the Parthenon Museum, and visitors can contact the artist for permission to use the oven on park grounds. She is drying Centennial Park yeast to send to FLEX IT!, and it will be available with sourdough starters for Parthenon Museum visitors. In November, she’ll return to Nashville and walk 70 miles south to The Farm, which has a legacy of teaching about community health.

Williams has made walking part of her artistic practice for many years. A founding member of The Walk Exchange, she also enjoys night walks through New York wearing various safety suits, walks pigeons over the Brooklyn Bridge, and makes trips to the post office to mail letters to the Milky Way Galaxy. When she’s not walking, she’s engaged in other participatory works, like commissioning teens to paint graffiti murals in Brooklyn, producing handmade paper from trash on the streets of Haiti, and distributing tomato seeds from 19th century Italy to community gardeners. Her work is all about reciprocity and is shared with Nashville in the spirit of relatedness.

FLEX IT! My Body My Temple is a set of evolving, socially engaged art exhibits in the Parthenon Museum and on Centennial Park grounds. Curated by Adrienne Outlaw of Seed Space, Flex It! invites participation and reflection on personal health and fitness, while building community.

It’s a Quilt Show, Ya’ll!

I’m so excited about the Modern Quilt Show at The Fabric Studio happening this Saturday, I’m throwing “ya’ll’s” into the world! I’ve posted about this awesome sewing store in WeHo before. I attended the Washi Dress class here with Miss Make’s Devon lott, and it’s one of my go-to shops for fabric, even if it’s just a pack of owner Nancy Conger’s scraps (the girl has an unbelievable sense of color!) She’ll be pulling out all the stops this weekend with her first ever quilt show, which will be right in the neighborhood of Arts and Music @ Wedgewood-Houston. Please stop by to see some striking quilts, including one of my own! 

Owner Nancy Conger was inspired by other cities organizing outdoor quilt shows, like this one on Mass Ave in Indianapolis.

Owner Nancy Conger was inspired by other cities organizing outdoor quilt shows, like this one on Mass Ave in Indianapolis.

Other Sewing Stuff

Nancy just posted a host of fall classes, sewing labs, and stitching socials. I had never made a garment prior to taking the Washi dress class, and I found instructor Devon lott to be patient, sharp, and very fun. She explained the “why” behind every stitch, so I can repeat the skills I learned.  The Fabric Studio is also now selling fat quarters! I think my next project is going to be a wall quilt with the new Cotton + Steele collection. Or, I can use one of the tons of fabric I already have…err…

The Fancy Fox quilt is not quite complete, but I’m working on it! I promise it will be done by Saturday. 

Watching Star Trek while I quilt with the 3D printed phone stand Tony Youngblood designed!

Watching Star Trek while I quilt with the 3D printed phone stand Tony Youngblood designed!

fox quilt data