Patricia Mendizabal

My dear friend, artist,  and associate-Durham-yoga-teacher Patricia has re-vamped her blog! Ch-ch-check it out! xo


Brendan James Ward of James-James

Oh hai. Did you know that two of Durham’s best graphic designers are married to each other? Ellie (my famous friend) and Brendan James Ward. And to answer your burning question: yes, their house is awesome.

Ellie specializes in: wedding invites, packaging, and stationary

Brendan excels at: logos, posters and ad campaigns

Brendan is going freelance, baybee! Which means he is now available to you and yours. Which is kind of amazing, since he’s really a top pro in his field. You can get the full force of his amazingness and his untethered imagination all for your own! Holy cow!

I love Brendan because he is excited, funny, and very kind. And he does a voice for his dog that really is just perfect 🙂 Even if you don’t have any designing needs right now, both of these folks have super fun websites to check out. Happy Friday, Dolls!

yoga Durham

My 2nd favorite wedding photographer

My first favorite, of course, is Heather of Wander and Scrawl.

Today Heather’s wedding shots are being featured over there on Caroline’s blog.

I want to say more about this, except…

I am stuck dumb.

You’re verbose friend is laid verbless at the memory of this



tearful, (I’m crying in most of the shots)


I’m just going to wander through the humid frosting of sunlight in these beautiful pics.

Jeez, I love Heather and Andy.

Get up, stand up

This weekend I got to stand up for Heather as her best girl in her wedding to one Mr. Andy. Now she’s Mrs. Andy.

It was a complete and total honor. I did a pretty good job, even though her only request was for a banana and then I dropped it and rolled over it with my suitcase before getting it to her. I’ll never not feel bad about that.  😦

Heather is my sister from another mister. I was dubious that ANYONE would be good enough for her, so I’m proud to say I totally approve of Andy.

Andy made me laugh so hard that I spit water all over a friend standing a solid three feet away. And about every month or so, Heather tells me a story about Andy that is so sweet, so touching, so UNBELIEVABLE that I inevitably yell, “Who IS that guy!?”

Here is the toast I made at Heather’s bridal hurricane at the bar with no power and Irene threatening to steal our hats. It’s starts out, “I have a love story. It’s about two people…” (Thanks to Erin Kawamata for the video!)

Navel Gazing by David Nowotny

Well I’m just giddy all over myself with this one. My friend David Nowotny, you know David, wrote this amazing article on the whole “pull your belly button to your spine” thingee we hear all the time. I’m so glad he did, because he has the cred to talk about it as a dude with a masters in exercize physiology. Plus, he’s funny and a good writer! Take it away, David!
Back in 1999, I was talking with a trainer named Geoff Neupert, and the issue of ‘pulling your navel into your spine’ came up. It was a hot topic just beginning to make its way around the fitness world, based information from an Australian researcher (abstract here). It was supposedly the maneuver that would disappear back pain.
‘Get down in plank position,’ Geoff said,’ and tell me as you alternate raising one leg and then the other off the ground; do you feel the transverse abdominis (the muscle that also draws the navel to the spine) stable and working–

even though you aren’t actively drawing it in?’

And sure enough, I did.
It turns out that once you have the neurological ability to contract the transverse abdominis,

it would automatically contract when required.

Healthy, functioning people–those not in physical therapy, and certainly those healthy enough to walk into a flow yoga class–do not need the move. Pulling in the navel gives it no additional beneficial effect. It may even interfere with normal function.
In fact, the maneuver of drawing the navel into the spine was only originally used in a rehabilitation department, and only for those who had lost control of that muscle through injury, as a means of restoring its natural function.
(Want more discussion of this? See here and an even broader critique of ‘core training’ here.)
I hated Geof for it. I always like to think of myself as the smartest guy in the room, and he had quickly shown me that I was giving people wrong information.

There is no need to draw the navel into the spine in order to protect the back.

But this was a valuable experience– a critical eye is necessary when evaluating claims from fitness experts.
Here’s a thought experiment: How did cave man manage to drag mastodons back to his/her lair without this valuable navel-in-drawing information?

What about Michael Jordan–should he have pulled in his navel every time he went up to dunk?

Why is it only in the fitness world (in which many movement-oriented styles of yoga belong) that we seem to have this pre-occupation with interfering with our body’s normal function?
And make no mistake: consciously drawing in your navel when performing activities IS interfering in your body’s natural, organic movement.

Why not tell people to squeeze their triceps in crow? Or squeeze their quadriceps in Warrior 1?

They amount to essentially the same thing. Unless you are in physical therapy, there is no need to repetitively and intensely interfere with your body’s natural planning, timing, and sequencing of normal movement function.
Now, it is unlikely that drawing in the navel is actually injurious to people. And, playing around with the maneuver from time-to-time may even help people become more aware of their physical selves. That even makes some sense. But, should it be the most often used cue, heard in every class, for any and all poses?

Silly indeed!

Now, if you are a core advocate, and want to really have your beliefs messed with, read this. I’d love to have a little debate about it.