Melinda Young and Her MFIT365


MFIT365 Melinda

Melinda Young teaching her bootcamp at Fit For Her, Owasso, Ok.

To stay mentally healthy, I try my best to live a healthy life that includes meditation, contact with nature, good food, dancing, and a regular exercise routine. I workout with Melinda Young in her MFIT365 online group.

Melinda went from the Texas panhandle to Oklahoma when her husband was transferred. Like many corporate wives before her, she found that her education and experience alone wouldn’t take her far after moving to a new place. So she added a new certification to her 23-year career in fitness and started new. This mother of two reinvented herself to find her own footage in the tornado alley.

First Melinda found work in two different gyms in the Tulsa area. One of those gyms was Fit-For-Her, a women-only boutique gym in Owasso, OK. That’s where we met.

I loved Fit-For-Her and its amazing instructors. But when Melinda started teaching on Saturdays, I couldn’t keep up with her and took frequent breaks, sometimes to puke in the bathroom. I secretly admired her strength and hated her for pushing me so hard.

In 2013, my husband was transferred from Oklahoma, and I followed him nine months later to Los Angeles, CA. Obviously, I tried to recreate my routine, but I had grown used to the individualized service of the small gym.

So when Melinda created her own fitness company called MFIT365 to teach her demanding boot camps online, I jumped in. Today, I’m happy to be one of MFIT365’s 60 members, and I join from the LA County in California. For what I believe is a reasonable price, Melinda offers three intense 40-50 minutes workouts a week, in four-week sessions, based on the Metabolic Effect. Her workouts are rest-based, which means work out till you can’t go anymore, rest till you can proceed.

Melinda Young Workouts


Here is a sample routine, which she then explains in the video below

Session 5
Week 3
Workout 3

Down chain from 10- you will do 10 of all the moves and then do 9 of all. Then 8 of all and so on and so on to 1 of all the moves. Set your timer 20-40 minutes.
You will down chain to 1 or until your time runs out. If you know you only have 20-30 minutes then go ahead and start at 7 of all the moves.

  1. Hip thrust (go heavy)
    2. Roll ups
    3. Russian twist sets
    4. Push-up/half burpee (combo)
    5. Plank row/front raise combo (total)
    6. Squat jump/lunges (or low impact)
    7. Power squats (per leg)
    8. Single deadlifts (per leg)
    9. Sumo squat/wide leg dead lift
    10. Burpees


At the end of each workout, the participants’ responsibility is to login to say we finished, and report on any difficulty or modification we made. Sometimes we video-tape our moves to send to Melinda, who checks my form and suggests changes and variations where she sees me struggling.


I stay hydrated during my workout drinking cold water from my insulated ThinkSport bottle.

I honestly never stopped to learn about Metabolic Effect because that’s not what draws me to her classes. Melinda knows about my mental condition and helps me to use exercise effectively to produce the endorphins I need to beat depression, to stay focused, and structure my day. For instance, if I don’t log in when I’m supposed to, she texts or calls to encourage me to exercise, or to offer words of wisdom to help me beat the blues.

It doesn’t mean that Melinda nags me to go to the gym, but twice in five months this year, I have appreciated Melinda’s call when I was too sad to move.

Today, I feel like a sexy old mama showing off my toned biceps and able to lift 20-pound dumbbell with one arm. It might not look like much to others, but it’s a great deal to me. That’s what I love about Melinda’s MFIT365: it accommodates to my life style, personality, and metabolism.

If you are interested in learning about Melinda Young’s MFIT365, please contact her through social media, through Facebook at MFIT365, or Instagram @m_fit_365. 



Dance Away Sadness / A sacudirse la tristeza



By Lisbeth Coiman

“Dance me to the end of love” Leonard Cohen


Los Angeles salseros at LACMA’ s Latin Sounds May through September photo by Constantino Badra

Growing up in my native Venezuela, where every family gathering ends with good music, I danced regularly. I danced at house parties on Saturday nights in my hometown of Guarenas, or at bars in Caracas as a grown up woman. Naturally, my feet easily catch any Latin rhythm, from cha cha, merengue, to salsa. My hips sway to the beat of the conga.

Dancing makes me smile broadly, feel sassy, and playful. Maybe it’s the endorphins release when I exercise. Maybe it’s the placebo effect, but dancing helps me come out of the dark hole when I feel depressed. I’m learning to dance away my sadness.

But I don’t dance West Coast salsa. West Coast salsa is the competition level of weekend dancing. Any dance club in the Bay area or in Los Angeles on a Saturday night looks like a scene from “Dancing with the Stars,” sophisticated and flamboyant. Salseros move in lanes, and the women pretend-comb their hair at with their right hand at every turn, while straightening their tiny dresses with the other. I didn’t hold much chance to find dancing partners.

After moving back to Los Angeles late last year, I decided to learn West Coast style. I went to Warehouse in Marina del Rey to dance on a Saturday night and noticed a petite woman dancing with the DJ. Her moves were precise, like a classic ballerina’s, but she had the hip and shoulder swag of the Latina dancer. I was mesmerized.


Carolina Solorio

Later, I asked her, “Where can I learn to dance like you?”

“With me,” she said giving me her phone number.

Soon I was taking private lessons with Carolina Solorio. She showed me how to follow the lead of my partner by sensing his subtle tugs at my hands. She knew how to make the best of my natural rhythm to teach me basic moves like cross-body lead, open break, and the more complicated Cup and Titanic. She also encouraged me to bring the feminine side to make those flirtatious hand moves and to “shine” in the salsero scene of Los Angeles.

Carolina started classic training when she was seven. Since then, she has become a true professional entertainer. Apart from teaching styling, salsa, cha cha, Latin jazz, bachata, and Latin hustle, she also designs elaborate choreographies and produces amazing shows. She is currently teaching an eight-week beginner-intermediate salsa class, focusing on “lead and follow” at Legacy Dance Academy in El Segundo on the first and third Saturdays starting at 7:00 p.m. Classes have already started and will finish in June.


If you want dancing lessons with Carolina Solorio, contact her at


Legacy Dance Academy has a solid dance curriculum for all ages. Lisa Diaz, the owner, has over twenty years of experience teaching dancing. She speaks proudly of her programs and states that teenagers in dancing classes are less likely to get in trouble because of the discipline and enthusiasm dancing brings to their lives. She also points out that her 70-year-old mother took salsa dancing and is hitting the clubs regularly. Legacy Academy is located on 730 S Allied Way in El Segundo, CA 90245, and their phone number is 1(310)322-1500.

I’m not an expert in West Coast style, but I try hard. ¿Quieres bailar conmigo?


Versión en Español

“Báilame hasta el fin del amor” Leonard Cohen

Cuando era niña en Venezuela, donde cada reunión familiar termina con buena música, yo bailaba regularmente. Bailaba en fiestas privadas los sábados por la noche en mi pueblo Guarenas, o en los bares de Caracas cuando me hice adulta. Naturalmente, mis pies agarran con facilidad cualquier ritmo latino, desde el chachacha, merengue, hasta salsa. Mis caderas se mueven al ritmo de la conga.

Bailar me produce una amplia sonrisa, y me hace sentir desinhibida y juguetona. Quizás sean las endorfinas emitidas durante el ejercicio. Quizás sea el efecto placebo, pero el baile me ayuda a salir del hueco oscuro cuando me siento deprimida. Estoy aprendiendo a sacudirme la tristeza con el baile.

Pero yo no se bailar el estilo de la Costa Oeste. La salsa de la Costa Oeste está a nivel de competencia. Cualquier club del Area de la Bahía, o de Los Angeles en una noche sabatina parece una escena de “Bailando con las Estrellas,” sofisticada y extravagante. Los salseros se mueven en línea, y las mujeres simulan ordenar su cabello con su mano derecha a cada vuelta, mientras se arreglan el vestidito con la izquierda. No tenía mucho chance de encontrar quien bailara conmigo.

Después de mudarme de vuelta a Los Angeles a finales del año pasado, decidí aprender el estilo de la Costa Oeste. Fui al Warehouse en Marina del Rey para bailar un sábado por la noche y me fijé en una chica menudita que bailaba con el DJ. Sus movimientos eran precisos, como una bailarina clásica, pero tiene el sabor en las caderas y en los hombros de las salseras latinas. Me quedé fascinada.

Más tarde le pregunté, “¿Dónde puedo aprender a bailar como tú?

“Conmigo,” me respondió y me dio su teléfono.

En poco tiempo estaba tomando clases con Carolina Solorio. Ella me enseño a seguir a mi compañero sintiendo cómo tira suavemente de mis manos. Supo explotar mi ritmo latino para enseñarme movimientos básicos como cuerpos cruzados, ruptura abierta, y movimientos más complicados como la copa y el Titanic. También me alentó a sacar mi lado más femenino para hacer esas coqueterías con las manos y a “brillar” en la escena salsera de Los Angeles.

Carolina comenzó en ballet clásico a los siete años. Desde entonces, se ha convertido en una verdadera profesional del entretenimiento. Además de enseñar salsa, cha cha, Latin jazz, bachata, y Latin hustle, también diseña coreografías elaboradas y produce shows extraordinarios. Actualmente está enseñando un curso de ocho semanas para principiantes y hasta nivel intermedio, enfocado en “llevar y seguir” en la “Academia de Baile Legacy” en El Segundo los primeros y terceros sábados de cada mes comenzando a las 7 de la noche. Las clases ya comenzaron y terminarán en junio.

Si usted quiere tomar clases con Carolina Solorio, por favor contactarla a

La Academia de Baile Legacy tiene un pensum de baile sólido tanto para todas las edades. Lisa Díaz es la dueña. Ella tiene más de veinte años de experiencia enseñando baile. Lisa habla con orgullo de sus programas y dice que los adolescentes en clases de baile tienen menos posibilidades de meterse en problemas debido a la disciplina y el entusiasmo que el baile trae a sus vidas. Ella también señala que su mamá de 70 años toma clases de salsa y va a los clubs regularmente. La Academia de Baile Legacy está ubicada en la 730 South Allied Way en El Segundo, CA 90245, y su número de teléfono es 1(310) 322-1500.

No soy una experta en el estilo de la Costa Oeste, pero me defiendo. ¿Quieres bailar conmigo?



By Lisbeth Coiman



Photo appeared in The Economist on Nov. 10th, 2016.


On Tuesday night, at La Peña Cultural Center in Berkeley, we heard the crack of our hearts breaking among the hushed voices while a muted TV displayed statistics in red and blue. Some shook their heads in disbelief. What was planned as a night of celebration, turned into the funeral vigil of democracy in America.

At home, I cried with my friend on the phone because there is nothing we can do to change his immigration status and shelter him from the xenophobia that now rules the land. I toyed with a CD I bought at SF JAZZ center the previous Sunday.  Indestructible by Diego Cigala. I broke the seal, and ripped the cellophane wrap. But I was too tired and sad to listen to it.

On Wednesday, I woke up to the day after in America, yet went to work to try, once more, to convince the powers that be that non-credit education is the only option for adult undocumented immigrants to go to college.

The news got even worse. They took the house, the senate, and soon will try to appoint the most conservative judge they can find for the vacant seat at the Supreme Court. Gas masks, bomb shelters, soylent green, gilead, newspeak. The symbols and language of doomsday literature invaded my mind. Back at home that night, I took the CD out of its case and played it.

The music filled my kitchen with the conga beat of the Caribbean, and the elongated vowels of he Gitano singer, musical syncretism. I danced with myself allowing the blood to pump into my brain, the endorphins I needed to flush the sadness off my body. Cigala sang

“Con sangre nueva, INDESTRUCTIBLE
Ayy unidos venceremos y yo se que llegaremos.”

Indestructible. United we’ll win, and will reach with new blood, indestructible.

On Thursday, I wrote, ‘This is not the end of an era, this is the beginning of social consciousness in America. This is when we become advocates, activists, and badass revolutionaries. We must organize and we must use the Civil Rights Movement as the model to follow. We are now in the resistance.”

We must exercise the new guerilla warfare: collectively finance Planned Parenthood, crow-fund the legal efforts to bring the bigots to court, marry the undocumented immigrant, offer a hiding place if necessary, stand up against abuse, denounce hate crime. But I am not a leader, so I scanned Facebook for any invitation to join a movement, here or in LA or wherever I might live. I want to fight.

Then Leonard Cohen died. “I want to dance to the end of love,” played in my head repeatedly.  I want to dance this sorrow away, this heartbreak, this disappointment with a turn, a sly movement of my feet, and with the sway of my hips.

Friday night I head to the Oakland Museum of California. AfroLatinos and African Americans, salseros from the East Bay, we all find our way to the 10th Street Amphitheater where the Gbedu Town Radio band played slow afro-urban music.



When the band played “Lagrimas Negras,” I felt a knot in my throat. Right foot out, turned. Shook my shoulders and my eyes met those of a tall black man who soon approached me and invited me to dance. He lifted his hand, my signal to pass under his arm and turn, sliding my hand softly on the back of his neck, smiling back at him when we faced each other again. “I want to cook for you,” he said sometime later, and I smiled at his pick up line, my head tilted backwards, the broad grin coming deep from my place of hurt.

For a couple of hours, I let him and other men I didn’t know lead my salsa steps on the rough concrete floor of the amphitheater. When I took a beer break, I told the woman behind me on the line, “This is the therapy we all need after this horrible week.”

This is how I am going to cope: I am going to join protests in my community, become vocal, help the undocumented immigrant with small rebellious acts, and dance this sorrow away.

Con sangre nueva. Indestructible.


Spanish Version follows


El martes por la noche, en La Peña Cultural Center en Berkeley, escuchamos el crujir de nuestros corazones quebrarse en medio de las susurros mientras una televisión sin volumen desplegaba las estadísticas en rojo y azul. Algunos negaban con la cabeza sin poder creer. Lo que había sido planeado como una noche de celebración, resulto ser la vigilia del funeral de la democracia en Estados Unidos.

En casa, lloré con un amigo al teléfono porque no hay nada que podamos hacer para cambiar su situación de inmigración y protegerlo de la xenofobia que ahora rige a esta tierra. Jugué con un CD que compre en el SF JAZZ Center el domingo anterior. Indestructible, por Diego Cígala. Rompí el sello, y el papel celofan que lo envuelve. Pero ya estaba demasiado cansada y triste para escucharlo.

El miércoles, desperté al Día Después en Estados Unidos, y aún así fui a trabajar para intentar, una vez más, de convencer a aquellos que pueden que la educación “non-credit” es la única opción para que los adultos indocumentados vayan al college.

Las noticias se pusieron peor. Ganaron la cámara de representantes, el senado, y pronto asignarán al juez más conservador que puedan encontrar para el puesto vacante en la Corte Suprema. Máscaras de gas, refugios subterráneos, “soylent green,” “gilead,” “newspeak.” Los símbolos y el lenguage de la literatura de fin de mundo invaden mi mente. De vuelta en casa esa noche, saco el CD de su cajita y lo toco.

La música llena mi cocina con el golpe de la conga del Caribe, y las vocales alargadas del cantador gitano, sincretismo musical. Bailé conmigo misma permitiendo que la sangre bombeara a mi cerebro la endorfina necesaria para lavar la tristeza de mi cuerpo. Cigala cantó:

“Con sangre nueva, INDESTRUCTIBLE
Ayy unidos venceremos y yo se que llegaremos.”

Indestructible. Unidos venceremos, y llegaremos con la nueva sangre, indestructibles.

El jueves escribí, “Este no es el fin de una era. Este es el comienzo de la consciencia social en los Estados Unidos. Ahora es cuando no convertimos en defensores, activistas, revolucionarias cuaimas. Debemos organizarnos y usar el movimiento de Los Derechos Civiles como el ejemplo a seguir. Ahora somos la resistencia.”

Debemos ejercer la nueva guerra de guerrillas: financiar colectivamente a Planned Parenthood, financiar los esfuerzos legales para llevar a los intolerantes a las cortes, casarnos con los inmigrantes indocumentados, ofrecerles refugio si es necesario, oponer el abuso, denunciar el crimen de odio. Pero yo no soy una líder, así que busco que alguien me invite a unirme a un movimiento, aquí, en Los Angeles, o dondequiera que viva. Quiero pelear.

Y después se murió Leonard Cohen. “Quiero bailar hasta el final del amor,” sonó en mi cabeza repetidamente. Quise sacarme esta tristeza a punta de baile, este corazón roto, esta decepción con una vuelta, un movimiento suave de mis pies, con el vaivén de mis caderas.

El viernes en la noche me fui al Oakland Museo de California. AfroLatinos, y AfroAmericanos, salseros de la Bahía del Este, todos nos encontramos en el anfiteatro de la calle 10 donde la banda Gbedu  Town Radio tocaba la música lenta, afro-urbana.

Cuando la banda tocó “Lágrimas Negras,” sentí un nudo en la garganta. Saqué el pie derecho y gire. Agité los hombros y mis ojos encontraron los de un hombre negro y alto quien pronto se me acercó y me invitó a bailar. Subió su mano, mi señal para pasar por debajo de brazo y girar, deslizando mi mano suavemente por detrás de su cuello, sonriéndole de vuelta cuando estuvimos frente a frente otra vez. “Quiero cocinar para tí,”  me dijo algún tiempo más tarde, y sonreí por su atrevimiento, con mi cabeza hacia atrás, con mi amplia sonrisa surgida del lugar donde reside el dolor.

Por un par de horas, le permití a él y otros hombres que no conocía que me guiaran el baile sobre el piso de concreto del anfiteatro. Cuando tomé un descanso para beberme una cerveza, le dije a la mujer detrás de mi en la cola, “Esta es la terapia que todos necesitamos después de esta semana horrible.”

Así es como voy a sobrellevar esto: me voy a unir a las protestas en mi comunidad, voy a abrir la boca, voy a ayudar al inmigrante indocumentado con pequeños actos de rebelión, y me voy a sacar esta tristeza a punta de baile.

Con sangre nueva. Indestructible.


My Work on Hip Mama Magazine


In April this year, a challenging job took me away from writing. I seemed never to find the time to sit down for three, four hours in front of the computer, pouring my thoughts and creativity into words.

Determined to recover my writing routine, I enrolled in Ariel Gore’s Literary Kitchen Essay intensive in early September. For the next two weeks, I arrived home from work, had dinner and set to write following Ariel’s prompts. This exercise resulted in drafts, for 4- 1000 words essays, and a long, 4200 words piece.

Today, Hip Mama Magazine published my essay “Starting Over from Seeds,” in which I muse about starting over one seed at the time.

Thank you for your support.


Self-Monitoring as Coping Skill

After a writing hiatus of a few months, I find myself writing every night, just a little bit at a time. I took another class with Ariel Gore in the Literary Kitchen. This short personal essay was born in that class. Jodie Fleming, from Australia, took interest in it, and she posted it on her page. To access my latest essay, please click on the link below.

Self-Monitoring Mental Symptoms


Melanie Kaufman and Square One Yoga

By Lisbeth Coiman


vira 1

On my mat at Square One Yoga in San Leandro, I exhale all the air off my lungs and take a deep breath in as instructed by Melanie Kaufman’s calming voice. Last was a busy week writing, waiting for job offer, meeting dead lines, preparing to launch a reading series, running errands. I exhale again noticing the air coming out of my lungs, my belly deflating. In the third inhale, I let go of the tension in my neck, my spine, my arms and hands, tired from sitting long hours in front of my laptop, typing, sending pitches to publishers.


Living a healthy life does wonders to a body affected by the long-term use of pharmaceuticals: stiff muscles, joint pain, and a mile long list of other ailments. Hiking, walking and dancing help me produce endorphins. But they do little to solve the other problems I have developed. I refuse to take other medication to alleviate the discomfort. Instead, in the last years, I have turned to yoga both as a low impact exercise and a spiritual practice in an effort to counteract the side effects of medication for bipolar disorder, and to find inner peace.


Melanie Kaufman starts the slow yoga routine with sun salutes: mountain pose, arms up in the air, and extend looking up in the air. My eyes find the dim light of the lamp above my head. On the exhale, I bend forward, fold, inhale, bring hands to the shin, extend spine, fold again, and reverse swan dive, hands up in the air, hands in prayer, prayer to the chest. Repeat five times as the body heats up and the breathing gains a slow deep rhythm, each movement accompanied by an inhalation or an exhalation. As I bend over and lift back up, I feel the crack of my joints and some muscles pull. I breathe into the discomfort and continue relaxing and surrendering to the flow of the exercise.


Melanie’s teaching style allows for mindfulness of the body sensations when attempting the first downward facing dog pose. Her soothing tone of voice allows me to relax and enjoy the experience in a more spiritual way. I become aware of the pain in my lower back, the rheumatoid arthritis that has been developing in the past few years. I move my hips up in the air, rearrange my body to bring my torso closer to my thighs, align my spine with my head, deepening the pose, breathing once, twice, five times, then lift my right leg up and swing into warrior one, breath.


Melanie’s voice reassures me I’m in the presence of a true practitioner of this ancient form of exercise. Melanie not only shows mastery of the discipline, she can also convey a sense of well-being and peace that I have not found in any other yoga teacher. She challenges without pushing; her tone of voice is conducive of reflection and meditation, and her transitions are smooth and attainable by those of us who are just starting in yoga.


Moving into warrior 2, I extend my right hand to the front and think of the future ahead, the possibility of my dream job just about to come. My left hand extended to the back of the room reminds me what I just left behind, of the appreciation I still feel for the experiences that led me to what I am today: independent, creative, festive, healthy. Windmind arms, hand to the feet, plank, robust, strong, lower plank, cobra, ready to protect myself, breath in, downward facing dog, challenged.


The end of the class finds me again on my back on the blue mat, breathing in and out, relaxed and content. I thank Melanie Kaufman of Square One Yoga in San Leandro for the opportunity to look inward and feel at peace with myself. Namasté.


Spanish Version follows


Sobre mi colchoneta en Square One Yoga in San Leandro, exhalo todo el aire de mis pulmones y respiro profundamente como me indica la voz serena de Melanie Kaufman. La última semana fue ajetreada, escribiendo, esperando una oferta de empleo, cumpliendo a tiempo con mis obligaciones, preparándome para lanzar una serie de lecturas literarias, haciendo diligencias. Exhalo otra vez notando el aire cuando sale de mis pulmones, mi barriga desinflarse. A la tercera respiración, relajo la tensión de mi cuello, mi espalda, mis brazos y manos, cansados después de largas horas sentada enfrente de mi computadora escribiendo y enviando propuestas a editoriales.


Vivir una vida sana resulta tiene resultados maravillosos para un cuerpo afectado por el uso de farmacéuticos a largo de plazo: rigidez muscular, dolor de las articulaciones, y una lista de una milla de largo de otras molestias. Subir cerro, caminar y bailar me ayuda a producir endorfinas. Pero hacen poco en resolver los otros problemas que he desarrollado en los músculos, huesos y articulaciones. Me rehuso a tomar medicinas para aliviar el malestar. En cambio, en las últimos años, he tomado el yoga como un ejercicio de bajo impacto y como una practica espiritual en un esfuerzo por contrarrestar los efectos secundarios de las medicinas que tomo para el desorden bipolar, y para encontrar paz interior.


Melanie Kaufman comienza la rutina lenta de yoga con saludos a sol: pose de montaña, brazos en el aire, y extender con la mirada hacia arriba. Mis ojos encuentran la suave luz arriba de mi cabeza. Al exhalar doblar hacia delante, inhalar, manos en la pantorrillas, extender la espalda, doblar nuevamente, y revertir la caída del cisne, manos en alto, manos en posición de oración, al pecho. En la quinta repetición el cuerpo comienza a calentar, y la respiración adquiere un ritmo lento y profundo, cada movimiento acompañado de una inhalación o exhalación. Al doblarme y levantarme de nuevo, siento que mis articulaciones suenan y los músculos presan. Respiro dentro de la molestia y continuo relajándome y entregándome a la flujo del ejercicio.


El estilo de enseñanza de Melanie me permite entrar en conciencia de las sensaciones del cuerpo cuando intento por primera vez la pose de perro mirando hacia abajo. Su tono de voz tranquilizador me permite relajarme y disfrutar la experiencia en una forma más espiritual. Entro en conciencia del dolor en la parte debajo de la espalda, la artritis reumatoide que se me ha desarrollado en los últimos años. Muevo mis caderas hacia arriba en el aire, reacomodo mi cuerpo para llevar mi torso hasta mis piernas, alineo la espalda con la cabeza profundizando la pose, respirando una, dos, cinco veces; entonces levanto la pierna derecha y a manera de péndulo la llevo hasta la posición guerrero uno. Respiro.


La voz de Melanie me asegura que estoy en presencia de una verdadera practicante de esta forma antigua de ejercicio. Melanie no sólo demuestra maestría de la disciplina, si no también puede transmitir una sensación de bienestar y paz que no he encontrado en otra profesora de yoga. Ella reta sin presionar; su tono de voz conduce a la reflexión y a la meditación, y sus transiciones son suaves y realizables por aquellos que apenas comienzan en yoga.


Al pasar a la pose guerrero 2, extiendo mi mano derecha hacia el frente y pienso en el futuro delante de mi, la posibilidad de un trabajo soñado que está por llegar. Mi mano izquierda extendida hacia la parte atrás del salón me recuerda lo que acabo de dejar atrás, de la apreciación que siento por las experiencias que me llevaron a lo que soy hoy: independiente, creativa, festiva, y saludable. Girar brazos, manos a los pies, coloco las manos al lado de los pies, lagartija congelada, robusta, fuerte, lagartija, cobra, lista para protegerme a mi misma, respirar, perro mirando hacia abajo, reto.


El final de la clase me consigue otra vez sobre mi espalda en la colchoneta azul, respirando hacia adentro y hacia fuera, relajada y contenta.


Agradezco a Melanie Kaufman de Square One Yoga en San Leandro por la oportunidad de mirar dentro de mi y sentirme en paz conmigo misma. Namasté.

French Trail: Open the Senses

redwood map

Octavia Buttler once said, “habit will sustain you whether you are inspired or not.” She said that in relation to writing, but I think it applies to life in general. Establishing an exercise habit is key to the success of my self-imposed, endorphin-producing regime. Yoga twice a week, once-a-week-walk in the San Leandro Marina, and the occasional dance get me ready to beat the blues. Hiking for me lessens the side effects of medication, opens the senses to enjoy the present moment, and helps my brain produce the endorphins necessary to feel good naturally.


On a partially cloudy Sunday, the forest looks dark and mysterious. Second and third generation redwood trees stand as tall as the Statue of Liberty although far more majestic. Tiny pinecones crack under my boots as I exhale heavily on my way up on the French Trail in the Redwood Regional Park.


The dark, one-foot trail inside a dense and humid forest reminds of El Avila. Its proximity to the coast, small streams crossing the trail, the sound of nature around me, all bring back memories not of crowded fire route to Sabas Nieves on Sunday mornings, but the long hike inside the heart of the mountain, with my young son, so many years ago.


The few hikers I find today look focused in the challenge of the steep hill ahead, along the well-marked, one person path without views, midway between the base and the canopy of the redwoods, soft terrain under my boots.


I decide on a four-mile goal for return, hoping the return will add another four miles for a total of eight-mile weekend challenge. I reach my first objective at a clear in the woods, the crossroads between the French and the Starflower trails, a four-way intersection inside a circle that makes me lose my sense of direction. I know I’ve kept the stream deep down in the canyon on my right. I close my eyes with the map in front of me, absorbing the space. It feels like a cathedral, with tall columns around a circle, humid, dark, and cold. I hear the stream. It’s a well-travelled route. There is no reason to hesitate.


When I can’t figure any sign to guide me, I decide it’s time for lunch and sit down on a wet piece of wood to eat a hiker’s meal: Artisan bread, salami, münster cheese, half an orange, a piece of chocolate, a handful of almonds, and two long sips from my water bottle. I abandon to my senses, to the flavors of the simple food, to the cold piece of wood under my body, to the chill air. Relax.


Other hikers approach also momentarily lost in the ample space. I greet them as they make their decisions on which path to follow and continue eating slowly, then writing my notes. A woman I had trekked behind for a while comes back to the center of the circle. “That’s not the way out,” she says pointing at the trail she just came through. “I learned the hard way,” she says. I tell her I am going to go right, hoping to find the Stream Trail after a couple of miles. She goes left followed by her obedient dog while I pick up my belongings. The heat of the hike has dissipated in cool air of a midwinter afternoon inside a redwood forest in Northern California.


My decision proved right. I join the Bridge Trail and later the Stream Trail, approaching the parking lot after 5:00. It’s late and the lot is empty, but the days are getting longer and there doesn’t seem to be any apparent danger lurking around.


In the end, I completed 6.5 miles of a moderate solo hike. Turning right on the intersection made me loop on a shorter trail, and I lost 1.5 mile to my own challenge. However, I get back home energized and ready for the week ahead. Until next week.