Life Hack

I’m taking a cue from my dear friend (I wish) Tim Ferriss and giving you a picture of the fun, unique things to do in Durham if you have a day! I know there will be a LOT of debate over the restaurant choices, but I just went with my favorites. Seriously, we have great food down here. Come and visit!

best durham

Breakfast at Elmo’s

Elmo’s is “The New South’s” version of a diner. Huge menu and bottomless coffee, but not a greasy spoon. The oft tattooed, young staff are friendly and efficient. Plus lots and lots of omelette ingredients. And sprouts.

Beer at Sam’s Blue Light

Maybe the definitive Durham store. Sam’s Blue Light is a gas station with the biggest beer selection I’ve seen in Durham. That’s probably official somewhere. The staff are metalheads and they eat take out and listen to our dear departed Tooth. You can also get a pint (with free glass!) As you wander the store.

Lunch at Dain’s Place

I actually had a roomate in PA who was bff with Dain’s sister, Devon. Now this PA boy sells the best burger in the Triangle. (people will try to tell you it is Bull City Burger, but they are wrong.) Fun, funny staff with great decor, this place ALSO has an amazing beer selection. (Hm. Self-evaluating.)

Create something at Scrap Exchange

When I first went into the scrap exchange upon my arrival in Durham, my head exploded. This place sells “the extras.” Fabric, molded plastic doodads, magnets, surplus medical thingees and just stuff you never knew you wanted to glue together.

Take a walk to the dinosaur in the woods

So there is a big dinosaur in the woods. It’s cool.

Yoga at BCY

What can I say? :) We’re a small, local business in the heart of downtown, offering a niche product. Plus we’re on the 3rd floor which gives us SUPER street cred.

PingPong at Fullsteam with your dog

Fullsteam beer is solid, but the real attraction at the brewery is that there are very few rules. Bring your dog, your kid, your take-out food, it’s all good. And they have a pingpong table and a couple of cool arcade games.

Drag Bingo

Self explanatory.

Open Mic or Karaoke at Pinhook

The Pinhook, is like, hip. I can’t believe they even let me in the door. Check out what great talent Durham has whilst drinking a tallboy PBR.

Drinks at Alley 26

This is the kind of bar you go to on a fancy date. They have real egg whites for their fancy, fancy drinks which are DELICIOUS. The staff, far from stuck up, is helpful and friendly.


Dearest Followers,

I know you have gotten to know me

through my love of yoga

and my love of life

and of truth.

And it is because of

my love of life

and of truth

that I cannot stay silent on a beloved political position of mine:

I am wholeheartedly a pro-choice supporter.

To my dear pro-life supporters: I could not deign to convince you otherwise.

However, if you, (as I do) wish to lessen the numbers of fetal lives lost, I beg you humbly, read on.

First of all, what prompts my pro-choice “coming out” is the passing of North Carolina House Bill #695.  This bill will effectively rid NC of Planned Parenthood, an organization which provides health services for men and women. These include: breast cancer screenings, birth control, STD screenings, counseling, and abortion. The bill will effectively close all but one abortion clinic in the state.

As a yoga teacher, I MUST  position myself beyond creed, beyond religion, beyond sexual identity, and beyond political origin. I must do my work for all folks, however they identify, and support the choices of all my students, however personal, and however political that personal renders them.

The thing is, I do NOT WISH to enter between my student and their God, or their Belief, or their Choice. As I claim myself to be a teacher, I must continue to be a student. I do not have all the answers. I do not know, in the end, what is best for the woman. Should an unwanted pregnancy arise, I do not have the answers for the woman involved.

But what I CAN say, wholeheartedly, passionately, proudly, is that every woman should make her own choice. An unwanted pregnancy has several choices: adoption, abortion, and motherhood. I cannot put myself above any woman in this choice. I cannot proclaim righteousness as a teacher, because to be good teacher, I must remain a good student: interested, open, and nonjudgmental.

Positioning myself outside of a woman’s pregnancy personally, locates me CENTRALLY in the political fight for women’ s right to choose. I choose:  choice for each individual.

What I’ve said here is nothing new, nothing revolutionary.

What I want is for each individual human woman be trusted with her own right to chose when she starts a family. I love my adopted state, North Carolina, SO much. She is my home. She is where I’ve started my business and met my loving partner (husband). She is where I’ve dug in my heels to make the world a better place. She is where I’ve met strong women who inspire me, and for whom I cannot dictate any path.

If you’re one of my stalwart pro-life fans (either stalwart in your support of me, or stalwart in your support of the pro-life movement) I earnestly entreat you to read this thoughtful, kind, and respectful article which, I GUARANTEE YOU does not look down on your views as a pro-life supporter.

Dolls, I don’t want a world full of abortions. I look forward to a world VOID of abortions and full of wanted and loved pregnancies. The truth is, countries where abortions and prophylactics are readily available (legal and safe and accessible) are the countries where the fewest abortions are  performed.

That is not a comfortable truth for everyone. I understand how terrifying the thought of a terminated pregnancy is for a mind who is set on a pro-life agenda. In the end though, it comes down to two distinct facts…

1. It is the Mother’s Choice: because she is the body in which a life can be carried to term


2.The more prophylactics we can offer to a populous, the fewer unexpected pregnancies will result.

If you love your state as much as I love my North Carolina, please consider Libby Anne’s argument. Whether you are pro-choice or pro-life, I assume you are hoping for fewer abortions…total. This is our way.

Thanks for sticking it out and reading to the end of my article,

Alison Hinks

PS If you are wondering what you can do to protest the passing of HB695, there will be a committee meeting in the House on July 9, 2013. A protest is planned. 


Do you guys remember “Head of the Class?” I remember watching it as a little kid and liking it, although I bet I barely knew what was going on.

But I have a vivid memory of one quitillienth of an episode:

There are two guys that always sit at the back of the room, Dennis and Arvid. The teacher says, “Alright, I want you to make your mind blank,” and either Dennis or Arvid (I forget who) is able to do this so well, and so completely, that his head falls forward and his eyes roll back into his head.

I remember being just fascinated by this idea. That you can actually empty your mind like emptying a drawer. And of course I tried it. We all have.

Impossible, right??

Of course it is! We are thinking creatures!

Meditation is not about emptying your mind completely. It is about whittling away your thoughts down to just ONE.

This is why meditation teachers offer different tools to meditate: looking at a candle, following your breath, repeating a mantra. These are all good examples of focusing on just ONE thought rather than NONE.

The other thing that fascinated me about Dennis (or Arvid)’s mind-blank experience was the STATE he was in. Could you really erase your mind and enter a state almost like sleep? Is it different than sleep?

Luckily, yoga has an explanation for this. It differentiates between the act of focusing on one object (Dharana) and that magical state you sometimes shift into after focusing for a while (Dhyana).

Mr. Iyengar says about Dhyana “There is no other feeling except a state of SUPREME BLISS [sic].”

So Dharana is the ACTION. It is something you do. Dhyana is a STATE that sometimes arises during Dharana.

Got it? ;) Good! Now, everyone to the Meditation Mobile!



While I don’t play music in class (it messes with my internal rhythm), I love me some songs. I have compiled a list of songs whose requirements are that you feel happier after listening to them than before. Listen to the whole list and you can turn a crappy day completely around!

1. Hot for Teacher – Van Halen

Drums so fast they actually sound like a motocycle revving! The epitome of Van Halen’s signature “Tooth Metal” (named because they smile all the time) it is a happy, sexy, dirty, fun song that doesn’t let up until it’s spectacular ending. Makes you feel like you just won the Superbowl.

2. Kiss – Prince

Prince loves you, Woman! All you women! Take a simple, upbeat melody, subtract the bassline, and add Prince’s vocals and guitaring. If this doesn’t get you dancing, there is something broken in your soul.

3. Surf Wax America-Weezer

Have you ever tried to listen to The Blue Album while you work on something else? Yeah, that does not work. It is kind of required you sing and dance around like a moron. Surf Wax America sticks out for this list because singing the lines “You take your car to work, I’ll take my board” feels like you’re tearing down the establishment. In a happy way.

4. Thrift Shop – Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

Catchy as hell. A treatise against commercialism and a ballad about being creative in your style. It still has some swagger, though! Shopping at the thrift shop will get you more chicks! And it’s not without this strange sense of wonder: “This is fucking awesome!”

5. Master of Puppets – Metallica

It is law: this is the most metal song ever recorded. It merges speed metal, Iron Maiden-esque guitar harmonies, anti-establishment lyrics and razorsharp editing. Not a happy song itself, I gaurantee blasting this with the windows open and headbanging until your neck hurts will leave you feeling amazing afterward.

6. Sweet Jane – Velvet Underground

Not a fast song, but a very driving song with an amazing melody. The verses are spoke-sung by Lou Reed and the gritty sounding harmony on the choruses give it a kind of bittersweet quality. It was also featured on an episode of CSI and I love that show.

7. Portland, Oregon – Loretta Lynn with Jack White

A perfect fusion of Loretta Lynn’s frayed optimism and Jack White’s sense of drama. This is the song you would play in the car after leaving jail, or starting a road trip to a new life.

8. Rehab – Amy Winehouse

That. Voice. No one comes close! And though the song is a sad reminder of this sweet lioness’s untimely death, it is also a sassy, catchy, upbeat masterpiece. (Did you know the Dap-Kings are the band??)

9. Deborah – Beck

At the very least, this will get you laughing. “I want to get with you! And your sister. I think her name is Deborah” is the chorus of this slow-jam with a lot of silly lines. And yet…it is a totally legitimate, sexy, passionate song that will lift your spirits.

10. Love Song – Tesla

CORNY ALERT. This is a power ballad that begins with a masterful classical guitar intro. “Love is gonna find its way back to you, I know” is the corny nail in the coffin, but stick with this one through the end and you’ll be crying happy tears.