Last month, I had the pleasure of being on Bronxnet’s Bronx Buzz alongside Nicole from BronxMama to discuss our blogs and how they help bring the community together. The episode is now online for your viewing pleasure (particularly if you’re a cord cutter like me!) A former Bronxnet intern, it was pretty cool to be on the other side of the camera. With Gary Axelbank as our host, we talked about how while our blogs are geared towards different demographics, they both share in the common goal of highlighting all the awesome things that the Bronx has to offer. But, enough of that, you can just watch the episode for yourself below:
I have a really difficult time just sitting still and being “present” in the moment. It seems like I’m always involved in at least three different projects, leaving me tired and sometimes stretched so thin I feel like I have no time for myself. It’s like if I’m not doing something, I start to think I’m being lazy and wasting my life away.
I’ve taken yoga on and off for the past few years, so I am by no means a skilled yogini. But, I love being able to just take a moment, even if it’s just an hour a week to be still, forget about the craziness going on in the world, and just breathe.
So, when I was recently invited to take a Gentle Yoga class at Finer Studio on Bronxdale, I was excited to check it out. Most recently, I’ve been taking yoga at Crunch, which is focused a bit more on strength training and building muscle, so I knew I’d really appreciate a bit of a calmer pace. And of course I loved that it was a local studio, because while we’ve recently seen an increase in yoga classes being offered in the Bronx, there are still many neighborhoods where it isn’t offered and with the Bronx coming in last place in New York State’s health ranking, more Bronxites could definitely take advantage of this healing form of exercise.
It just so happens that there was a torrential downpour the day I headed to the studio, which only added to my stress level, coming from work that day, but the studio was so inviting, peaceful, and calm. I chatted briefly with the instructor, Racheal, about my experience with yoga and was provided with everything I needed for the class (no need to lug my mat around with me!)
Racheal was awesome in helping me adjust to the positions correctly and creating a meditative environment. After the class, my body felt great and my mind felt even better.
I also had a chance to interview Finer Studio’s owner, Geydi Moreno to learn a bit more about the studio and her views on yoga in the Bronx:
How has the community responded to Finer Studios?
The essence of Yoga is based on the saying that We are All One. Unfortunately, not everyone feels comfortable attending a yoga studio. The media keeps showing us images of yoga that are skinny, flexible, female, and, for the most of the time—white. We rarely see images of plus-sized people, or minorities doing yoga. It is hard to feel included when you don’t see yourself in the picture.
FinerStudio offers a safe place on the mat for people of color, for Plus-Sized people, and for people with physical challenges. People in this community are noticing that our instructors are influencers who represent them. Our crowd is very diverse and that is a great response right there; everybody bending together, it’s amazing! We are all challenged in our lives in some way—the yoga mat can be the great equalizer.
What sets Finer Studio apart from some of the other yoga studios/ gyms in the Bronx?
-Diversity: We consider ourselves an Inclusive community, we want to be the change we want to see in other studios. It is important to embrace change in all areas of your world. A great place to practice inclusion is a Yoga Class in which Whites, Blacks and Latinos are one on the mat.
-Quality of Instructors: Almost anyone can teach an advanced level classes, but beginners are truly challenging to teach.
Our instructors teach progressively, they pick poses that can be easily modified and encouraging to people. They help students complement their practice. They breakdown the good and positive in each pose for them to tap into their power.
Most of our instructors are very well known influencers in the world of Yoga, and at the same time, they are kind and humble people, with a passion for spreading the word of Yoga in the communities with less access to Yoga.
-Prices: We really want people to be able to benefit from this practice; not too many can afford paying $20 to $30 per class. We are providing better quality of instruction at an affordable price.
What are some of the benefits of yoga for Bronxites who have never tried it before?
Yoga can change your physical and mental capacity quickly, while preparing the mind and body for longevity health.
Yoga is not only an exercise, it’s about a healthy lifestyle. The practice of yoga allows students to find calm in a world of chaos, mental clarity and body awareness. Yoga helps relieve stress (Which can destroy the body and mind) and declutters the mind, helping you to become more focused.
Yoga can lessen chronic pain, such as lower back pain, arthritis, headaches and carpal tunnel syndrome. Yoga can also lower blood pressure and reduce insomnia. Other physical benefits of yoga include increased flexibility, Increased muscle strength and tone, improved respiration, energy and vitality, maintaining a balanced metabolism, weight reduction, cardio and circulatory health, improved athletic performance, protection from injury, etc…
Yoga is great to help with coping skills and finding the positive about life. Yoga incorporates meditation and breathing can help improve a person’s mental well-being
Full Disclosure: I was financially compensated for this post. The opinions are completely my own based on my experience.
While we should be in the giving spirit all year, there’s something about the holiday season, starting with Thanksgiving that makes people really realize that they can probably be doing so much more to help others. This summer, I volunteered with The Uni Project, doing pop up reading rooms at various Playstreets in the South Bronx. It was great to be part of something bigger than myself and help kids become interested in something I’m really passionate about — reading.
So here’s a very brief round up of places you can donate your time to in the Bronx and get yourself into the habit of giving back:
South Bronx United — This nonprofit organization uses soccer to engage youth and provides a host of resources to support growth within the community, such as immigrant legal services and health and wellness promotion.
Masa — Promoting educational attainment and civic engagement for underserved families, particularly those of Mexican descent, Masa has a bunch of different ways for volunteers to get involved.
POTS (Part of the Solution) — Offering a food pantry, shower and haircut services, a clinic, and legal services, POTS aims to be a “one stop shop” for those in need.
Presbyterian Senior Services (PSS) — A nonprofit dedicated to helping seniors, PSS has a number of different volunteer opportunities available.
Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services (JBFCS) — Supporting recovery and rehabilitation for people living with mental illness, JBFCS also has a wide variety of volunteer positions. Note: All volunteers must be at least 21 years old.
Next month, it’ll be a year since I moved to Bedford Park from Castle Hill. (And still no apartment tour?! I’m working on it.) Time has flown by so quickly, I feel like I just got here and some parts of the apartment still look like I just got here. I’m still gathering art work and furniture little by little so I can really make it feel like my place – the place I imagined on Pinterest.
A couple weeks ago, I decided that I’d finally attempt to work on a project I’d been wanting to do for a while, which was putting a chalkboard up in the entryway of the apartment. Right above my intercom, there’s a hideous electric panel and some other mysterious door that bulge out, so hanging a picture flat wouldn’t work too well and being as I have no idea where all of the wires are behind the wall, I was not about to risk my life drilling into it.
I scoured the internet looking for crafty ways to do this, but I know myself. I love crafts and DIY projects, but I am simply horrible at them. I sadly lack the patience and attention to detail required for most of them – chalk it up to the flightiness of my generation (pun not intended).
In Michael’s a couple months ago, I saw an Elmer’s foam chalkboard, similar to one of those flat display boards you’d use for school presentations. I was already buying other things, but I did keep it in mind. After more patrolling on Craigslist and various other stores for a reasonably priced chalkboard (can you even believe how expensive fake vintage chalkboards are?!) I decided to take myself to Michaels and get that foam chalkboard. See below for how it turned out.
This is what I had to cover. Ick. Since I can’t drill into this wall, I used a Command hook I bought that one year I dormed in college. (The angle of this picture makes the hook look a bit crooked, but it’s not.)
I really didn’t want to have to buy anything for this project, so I used what I had in my house – Gorilla Glue, yarn, and packing tape. I stuck some of the Gorilla Glue onto two pieces of tape and attached the yarn to the back of the board. It’s important during this step to make sure that everything is exactly where you want it, because that glue WILL NOT come off.
This was the final look. All that’s left is to write a clever quote on it!
I may add a frame later if I can find one that’s not too heavy. But for now, I like its simplicity and the fact that it’s covering those unsightly boxes on the wall.
Dear American Theater,
This week you will close after about 74 years of providing entertainment to thousands of Parkchester residents. I’m not going to lie and say that I have always loved you, because I haven’t. During countless summer camp trips we visited you and I spent the majority of my time using my full strength to free my foot from the sticky trap that was your floor. Even at a mere 11 years old, I knew that you had fallen from grace. I saw the glimmers of glamour you once must have proudly shown off. Sometimes it wasn’t your fault. Sometimes your patrons sullied your reputation – bringing their shrieking infants to R-rated films, littering, and believing it was okay to provide commentary on the films. But lately, I noticed you tried to clean up your act. Last weekend, I saw that the carpets were clean and the wood polished. I even took note of the artwork on the ceiling in theater five. And the floors were not nearly as sticky as they had been before. I left happy, knowing you were making strides to improve. (Even though the film was so blurry, I felt like I was watching a bootleg.) Your dedication to keeping your prices reasonable always made you a viable destination for the money-conscious, especially in the wake of the recession. I’d hoped that with the closing of Whitestone , you’d pick up more visitors. But, alas, your lease is up, and for some reason, it seems like people aren’t fighting for you like they should. Today, I will fill out a request for evaluation form and send it to the Landmark Preservation Commission. The Bronx has so much forgotten and overlooked history, I would hate for you to become a part of that.
The Bronx Socialite
The Bronx seems like the borough the suffered the least amount of damage due to Hurricane Sandy and we should be thankful for that, but also use that to our advantage and help out our fellow New Yorkers. I’ll try to keep this post as up to date as possible as I come across different places for people to donate, volunteer, or generally help out. Please try to call beforehand just in case the information changes before I get a chance to update it!
- The Bruckner Bar & Grill was completely flooded during the hurricane (check out the video posted alongside this DNAInfo article). They are trying to raise money to make the necessary repairs to open up again.
- Brew Coffeehouse is collecting donations in the forms of baby items, brooms, work gloves, flashlights, and toiletries.
- Councilman James Vacca’s office will also be a drop-off location, 3040 E Tremont Ave. (718) 931-1721. (via post on Westchester Square-Zerega Improvement Organization’s fb page.)
- Donations are being accepted at Yankee Stadium, Gate 2 at 164th and Jerome. Check here for their list of suggested items.
The Bronx Underground is collecting nonperishable food items at their show this Friday, Nov. 9th. The Bartow-Pell Mansion is hosting a Volunteer Garden Clean-Up Day on Nov. 17 from 10 am – 1 pm to clean up the grounds after Hurricane Sandy and the recent snowstorm. Call 718.885.1461 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to register. (via Bronx Mama)
- December 15, 2012 – Park Clean-up at Joyce Kilmer Park (via New York Cares) “Joyce Kilmer Park needs your help with debris removal and overall park clean-up. If you plan to attend this project and have questions, please contact Jennifer Beaugrand at 917.378.4242 or TheBronxisBlooming@gmail.com.”
- You can also visit NYC Service for a full database of different opportunities to volunteer.
RETRACTION: Sorry, all. In a fit of both overzealousness and bad journalism, a fan of the blog pointed out to me that, yes, Mott Haven actually used to go by North New York. According to the omnipotent Wikipedia, back around 1898 Port Morris and Mott Haven were known as North New York. So, yeah go figure. Now, whether or not it’s relevant to use it today, I don’t know. But thought I should set the record straight!
In their efforts to gentrify* the South Bronx, real estate agents do all kinds of things to make the Bronx seem not as scary, or sometimes not the Bronx at all. Check out this screenshot I took of an apartment listing on Trulia:
North New York? Now granted I always joke that I live on the way upper east side, but I will say in the same breath that I live in the Bronx. And yes, the street numbers continue from Manhattan to the Bronx, but I’m just really curious as to who actually calls Mott Haven North New York. SoBro is one thing, but I can’t accept North New York.
As a sidenote, the agent did include within the listing that the apartment is in the Bronx. But still…
What ridiculous neighborhood names have you heard?
*Know that when I say gentrify, I am referring to the Webster’s definition with extra emphasis on the displacement of lower-income residents.
As noted in the “About” section of this blog, I state my dedication to providing fair and honest coverage of the Bronx. Though many of the posts on here have been very positive (mostly because I stay away from politics), it’s obviously not all art galleries and cute restaurants out there.
Case in point, I’ve been tutoring a student who lives over by Crotona Parkway for a couple of months now and on my usual walk yesterday, I was approached by two young female teens. I had seen them out of my peripheral vision and thought they were walking suspiciously close to me, but it was a narrow sidewalk, so I thought they might be in a hurry try to get around me. Our conversation was as follows:
Girl 1: We wanted to know why you looked at us wrong back there.
Me: What are you talking about?
Girl 1: You looked as us dirty.
Me: I’m certain I didn’t. However, if I did, I didn’t mean to. I didn’t even know you were there.
Girl 1: We want to fight.
Me: Well I don’t.
Girl 2: We want to fight.
Girl 1 throws a punch, which I block because I’ve taken self-defense and kickboxing a little ways back. But I was clearly outnumbered and caught off guard. (Seriously. Who is so forthright with their intentions like that?) They threw me to the ground, and while I don’t remember much from being on the sidewalk, my next memory is of seeing my bag a couple feet away from me and Girl 1 going for it. I got up and pulled her back by her hoodie. Girl 2 came at me yelling “Let go of her!” Then, two men ran from across the street, so the two delinquents ran away. Apparently, during all of this my shoes had come off (which means I ran after the girl barefoot, which IMO is kinda badass). Either way, the two neighborhood guys hop in a car and drive after the girls.
I spent the next couple hours or so with the cops, looking for them and filing my police report. As it turns out, though, the neighbor actually was able to chase one of them down and got her information, so she most certainly will be arrested and I have a very strong feeling that she will rat out her friend, who was the main aggressor anyway.
Physically, I’m fine. My adrenaline was up, so I didn’t even notice the scrapes on my feet until about a half hour afterward. Today, I’m just nursing a bruise on my knee and my muscles are sore like I was working out or something. Plus, I have all of my possessions, so I win. 🙂 I can’t thank the police officers of the 48th precinct who helped me enough (I wish I’d gotten their names). I know NYPD gets a really bad rap (which is sometime warranted), but these guys were nothing but helpful and responded really quickly.
The point of me telling you this is not to freak you out or make you super paranoid. It’s just to present the reality and work in progress that is the Bronx. It isn’t perfect and I can’t pretend that it’s some utopia it’s clearly not. But this could just as easily have happened anywhere else in the five boroughs. And to those that subscribe to these tired old Bronx stereotypes, I want to make it especially clear that it has nothing to do with the location. Delinquents and reprobates exist everywhere; none of this Bronx is burning bullshit. I don’t intend to run away or move or anything of the sort and the moral of the story is that I will continue with the mission of this blog ( Also, don’t use those damn white ipod earbuds/try not to wear headphones at all. It was daytime, around 3:45 pm, so I thought I’d be ok. Obvs. not. )
In case you missed it, my profile on Nicole Perrino who runs Bronx Mama was in the NY Daily News this past Wednesday. In case you’re unfamiliar with Bronx Mama, essentially it’s a resource site for parents in the borough to help them find affordable activities and events for kids. Click on the link and check out her site, it’s something our borough definitely needs.