Vinyasa Yoga: Sweat Your Stress Away

Brazilian Yoga is a subset of yoga that is usually known by it’s own subset of yoga: vigorous vinyasa. In this subset of Brazilian yoga you practice the more challenging inversions and arm balances seen in some yoga positions meant for the more experienced, but in a fast-paced setting that makes you sweat. However, that isn’t all that Brazilian Yoga encompasses. It also covers more of the basics, in a less challenging environment.

So what all does Brazilian Yoga cover? It covers your basic salutations and twists that focus on connecting your breath and movement to give you greater flexibility, balance, endurance and strength which is usually called vinyasa yoga. It does cover the vigorous vinyasa, which I described before, and is more invigorating than the basics. And then there is always the acro yoga, which involves two people working together to achieve balance, flow and peace.

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How can Brazilian Yoga help you? By practicing Brazilian Yoga you will notice a difference in overall health, injuries healing or feeling better, and reduction of stress. Your breathing and movement will be as one, so you will lead a more balanced lifestyle. Of course, this is only if you practice Brazilian Yoga regularly, as with any workout you will only feel these affects for so long after you have stopped practicing in it.

Where can you go for Brazilian Yoga classes? It really depends upon which form of it you are looking for, but I recommend looking in your area for vinyasa yoga: if you aren’t experienced, start with the basics and move up from there. Try to choose a Yogi who will give you a great experience and let you learn and release your stress while being in their classes. You want someone with experience in what you would like to learn, so don’t be afraid to ask them some questions before trying out a class—get to know them and see if you appreciate their personal style as well as their teaching style.

Are there other kinds of yoga I might benefit from? Certainly! If you’re not into a challenging, vigorous kind of class, then feel free to check out the Hatha style of yoga, which is more relaxing. Everyone has a preference, so make sure you choose the class that is right for you!

The Perfect Romance Doesn’t Exist

Almost every novel has a romantic plot and/or subplot, the same can be said of any creative piece—love and intimacy have been a common theme for a very long time, and because it’s found so often there are times when it’s done right and done wrong. So here’s a little bit of poke in the right direction so your romantic entanglements are written in a solid, coherent manner.

One of the first points of contention is whether the love interest for your character is more than just that—a love interest. Do they carry their own story line? If not, you might want to take a second look. In order to endear a relationship to the audience, you must first endear the characters to them. This means making each character a well-rounded, whole character with depth and dimension. Every person walks their own path in life, learning their own lessons; if you don’t have the time to follow the other character through their arc, at least make references to these struggles through dialog or your main character noticing a difference in their love interest. This can be exemplified by Allison Argent’s character in MTV’s Teen Wolf series.

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Now that’s all fine and good, but does the love interest also have flaws? They might go through struggles, but that doesn’t always mean that they emerge a hero on the other side. Sometimes external struggles lead to internal ones, or vice versa. It gives a character depth and a plot arc all their own to contend with while going through the main plot of the book. It’s sometimes difficult to add in these various eccentricities and complex behaviors to pieces, but inferences and implications of these internal struggles can be show easily by deliberation before action; out-of-character action, word usage or behavior; and attitude. In Allison Argent’s case, she goes dark-side for the better part of a season due to the death of someone close to her. In the end she came out of it in one piece and stronger than ever, but it was a very interesting arc to give to a character that began as a weakly structured love interest.

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Now that your love interest’s character is filled out and a dynamic almost-human being, you want to give thought to the relationship. Is this the type of relationship that starts out very quickly and the two are suddenly in love, their lives crashing together abruptly, or are the two going to have a slow burn relationship, where the characters are slowly slipping into one another’s lives? Either way you go with it, the author must think of how this affects not just the characters in the relationship, but any that are around the two. Do their friends cringe away from spending time with the couple? Does the parents or guardians approve or disapprove? Is the relationship a seamless transition in life that just fits with no drama? Once you know how the relationship affects everyone else in the piece, you can move on to the last point of interest.

Relationships have flaws. No one is perfect. Now that I’ve gotten that mind blowing revelation out of the way, I will continue. Every relationship is different, every flaw has its causes and those causes are different from relationship to relationship, even if the flaw is the same as another relationship from the same set of characters. Flaws may be resolved, and for a while there may be peace in a relationship, but some other struggle is bound to crop up eventually. That doesn’t mean that the relationship isn’t meant to continue, although the characters may struggle with that thought—that’s okay. Just make sure to think about the flaws.

Overall the romance needs to be an interesting, complex situation with its own struggles and resolutions—if it is the plot, that’s great! The more complex it is, the better the read will be! If it’s the subplot, make sure you consider the ways it’s affected and the way it also affects the main plot. Romance is a wonderful, enticing theme in many avenues of creativity. Do it justice!

How To Leave Your Parents With Your Pets

Jokingly my Mum told me to write this, and since I seem to be a master at this topic I figured I would appease her and go ahead and write this. So here we go, this is a how to on moving back into your parents’ house, and then moving back out and leaving your various things and animals behind.

 

Materials

  • Stuff and/or animals to leave behind.
  • Parents/Guardians.
  • Being the youngest helps.
  • A charmingly manipulative nature.

 

Put It All Together

First, get yourself into a situation that is not ideal and your parents and/or guardians will be sympathetic toward. Something not of your own doing is best. Even if it is of your own doing, indirect is best, but even in worst case scenarios, they might love you just enough to take you and put you and your stuff back in the same room you slept it when you were younger. In my case, this was my significant other’s college being done and money running out after bad planning. This works well.

Next, move your stuff and/or pets into your old room. This may take some Tetris skills. It may also have you doing a great deal of lifting, carrying and hearing your parents give you shit for it. They don’t mean it, not really. They still love you and don’t actually mind you moving back in. Now that you’re convinced of this, you just need to convince the rest of the world.

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Living with your parents can be difficult, wonderful and almost luxurious sometimes. This is not a part I will go into too deeply, but the gist of it is to survive. It’s much like a game of Pandemic or Risk. Maybe more like Diplomacy, actually, but the point remains: survive!

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Now that you’ve been living with your parents for a while, it’s time to find a different living situation. This could come in many different forms: roommates, living on your own, winning the lottery and buying yourself a house… Okay, so that last isn’t the most likely, but it could happen! With a new living situation you might find that not all of your accumulations of things can fit, or maybe the place allows cats, but that dog that you adore isn’t allowed in case it poops on something (and your cat won’t?). It can be tough, weeding out what you want to take with you to start anew. Or who you want to bring with you. In this stage it’s more like the five stages of grief than starting a new, bright future. It sucks when you have to make sacrifices: no matter how big or small.

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You’ve decided on what and who you are taking, it’s time to announce your decision to the remaining members of the family. Your parents will most likely not be thrilled (especially if you’re leaving them with said adored puppy). However, they will begrudgingly care for the dog even better than you could have, and love it as if it was an extension of you (it is), in your stead. This may be for the better. All you have to do is convince yourself of that.

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And then you move out. You may cry, if you feel it will help, or hide the fact that you’re bawling by pretending to have an epic coughing fit that leaves you in tears. Either way, dignity is not with you. You have still moved back in with your parents and then emerged with less than you began with. It’s terrible, horrible and a no-good feeling, but perhaps your adored puppy will be quite happy there and she will fill a void that your vacancy left with your parents.

Want The Most Awesome Writing Program? Scrivener.

When I first heard about Scrivener it was at the end of the 2010 NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). I had completed my first novel’s first draft and was extremely proud to click those word count buttons and get my certificate of having succeeded in my goal for the month of November. And then came the bag of prizes: coupons for a certain percentage off of certain programs. Regrettably I didn’t purchase Scrivener right then and there, I was lacking those funds and I wasn’t sure I would like to convert all of my notes over from paper to a program. What would I do if I didn’t like it? So I tried out the trial version. Lo and behold, I found I actually loved the way Scrivener worked, so here I am, willing to share what I’ve learned about this glorious program with others who might also find it useful.

Scrivener is a writing program similar to Microsoft Word, Open Office, etc. Except it’s better. You can choose from different document types as soon as you open it: Blank (a create your own type of document), Fiction (Novel, Novel with Parts, and Short Story), Non-Fiction (Non-Fiction with Sub-Heads, Research Proposal, and Undergraduate Humanities Essay), Scriptwriting (Screenplay, Stage Plays [US&UK], Comic Script, Taped Drama, and Radio Scene Style), and Miscellaneous (Persuasive Lecture and Recipe Collection). Once you select the one you intend to use, it will have different sections to it. For example, the “Novel” selection will have the First Draft folder with subdivisions for Chapters, in which you can separate your scenes out for easier editing purposes. It also has areas for research and character sketches and/or profiles. Of course you may customize all of this to cover as much or as little as you need.

A document of mine as a sample of what a "Novel" layout looks like.

A document of mine as a sample of what a “Novel” layout looks like.

Scrivener has loads of options that I haven’t even begun to touch yet, as I’ve been converting my paper notes into the program and it’s slow going with that being one of the lower priorities of my day. However, I can tell you that there are different viewing options, you can drag scenes into other folders or into different orders easily, and everything I’ve encountered so far is adaptable to you and your story as well as being intuitive. If I needed to find something, it was in a place that made sense, and how to use it was easy to figure out within a moment of encountering it.

As well as being for the use of the writer, one can also edit within it by using highlighting and comment techniques that are built into the program. So no worries as to keeping track of changes or things you think, as the author, matter. You’ll be able to create and change everything that you would like to with ease and track it. Which is just awesome, because you know how many times I’ve forgotten what I’ve changed from draft to draft?

Overall, Scrivener is a highly adaptive, highly intuitive program for writers at any stage of their process: research, character creation, outlining, writing or editing. I would recommend this program to just about anyone who has any kind of writing that they need to get done. I use it to keep track of my blog articles, original works and ghostwriting, as well as any other little projects I come across.

Catch a Siesta!

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Are you at the woeful age where naps are a no-no, and yet you never have the energy to do anything? Well, I have good news for you. The good news is that those wonderful afternoon siestas are back on the a-okay list. That’s right, you can feel free to take a quick break from mowing the lawn, painting that fence or whatever home improvement project you’ve been working on and shield your eyes from the sun, lay back in the hammock and catch some z’s.

So how long should you nap for? That all depends upon what reason you have for taking a lazy siesta.

15-20 minutes: a “reset nap”, meaning you will be more alert and able to continue your task effectively. Increases motor function.

20-30 minutes: Memory and brain function is increased.

60-90 minutes: learning and problem-solving is increased.

Naps are best taken in the early to mid afternoon, and last, on average, 40 minutes. Remember that if you’re thinking about taking a nap, you want to be aware of your environment (if it’s sunny, put on sun screen; if there are bugs then use bug repellent), block out any light around you so you will fall asleep more quickly and make sure you stay warm: body temperature drops while you’re asleep.

So why nap instead of sucking down a quad-shot latte, no-foam (can you tell I work at Starbucks)? This answer is easy: caffeine actually decreases brain function and does not eliminate fatigue.

There are some negative side effects of napping: sleep inertia (when you wake up groggy) and affecting your sleeping patterns on a whole can be noticed. There have been some indications that napping can increase risk of heart failure if the risk is already present.

So go ahead and take a nap on the couch, in a hammock or on the floor if that’s what you like! Napping can actually help you achieve a completed project without a loss of quality. So good luck, nappers!

Whoa, Wait. Where’d You Go?

As I’m sure a few of you noticed, I haven’t posted in a couple of days. That’s because I’ve been moving (again)! I’m still in Virginia, and actually still in the same county, I’m just half an hour away from where I was earlier this week. That being said, I have plenty of fuel to continue blogging in the future. I just wanted to let everybody know why it was that I missed a couple of days.

Also I wanted to shout out a big thank you to everyone who helped us move: Ansel, Morgan, Kevin and Chris! If it wasn’t for you, we’d still be moving our larger furniture in, probably with me struggling to even lift some of it. Because of your generous natures we have everything in the new place and some of it, at least, set up. We have a lot left to do to get the rest of the place in order, but one room at a time.

Now I’m into yet another chapter in my life, and a busy one at that. I have plenty to keep me going and I can’t wait to share a lot of it with you, Audience! And once more, unto the breach…

The Mechanics of Writing

Me·chan·ics [muhkan-iks]

Noun

1. The technical aspect or working part; mechanism; structure.

2. Routine or basic methods, procedures, techniques, or details.

 

The mechanics of writing are just as important as the plot and characters. If the mechanics of the novel don’t work, then the reader is going to end up putting the book down and shaking their head, saying that the plot sounded great until it looked like a second grader wrote it (not to say that second graders can’t have a firm grasp on sentence structures, it’s just not very usual).

So we know that mechanics are sentence structures, spelling and grammar—so what should you look out for? Spelling is probably the first and the last thing to check. Typos and hard-to-spell words are sometimes difficult to catch. Don’t necessarily check it yourself, I would recommend sending a draft out to one person, revising and then sending to someone else. Having a couple of pairs of eyes on your work is helpful, even if it can be nerve-wracking. What if you have to check it yourself? A good way to check spelling is reading your piece from back to front. Seriously, the disjointed sentence structure makes it so your brain doesn’t automatically edit the typos so they look like they are actually spelled correctly. It’s a neat little trick to self-editing my Mum taught me back when I was in middle school.

So spelling is first, and then grammar. If you haven’t taken extensive grammar classes then I suggest handing this over to a friend or family member who you know is either an avid reader or good in English. There is no guarantee that they will catch every single error, but this is your best bet. It’s also free. There are, however, editors out there that are professional whom you pay to have them edit your work. This will likely cover all of the points in this article rather than just the grammar portion, but it is thorough and extremely helpful to get an outsider’s view of the work.

Now you want to check that your sentences are varied in structure. Different lengths, starting with a verb, starting with a noun. Of course you don’t want the work to sound horrendous when read, so read it aloud so you know it doesn’t sound too jumbled.

Your sentences should be active instead of passive: a great way to check if you have a passive voice is to add “by zombies” after it. If “by zombies” fits after it then it is a passive voice you are using. If it does not suit the sentence (it will be obvious) then you have an active voice. The goal here is to have a majority of active sentences rather than passive ones. The reason for this is ease of reading; it’s okay to have a passive sentence structure here and there, but it shouldn’t be prevalent in your work.

Next is adverbs: are there too many in your work? Some people have problems with them, just like I’ve had issues with using commas everywhere in the past. Adverbs are easy to accumulate and not so easy to nix out of your writing, especially after they are already in there. Sometimes, though, you just need to dial it back a bit. Not everything has to be “obviously”, “amazingly”, “suddenly”. Try to find alternatives in sentence structures.

Verbs are another mechanic that is often lacking. In this aspect most writers are often using weak verbs such as “was” and “did”. These are words to avoid, if possible, and instead look for a stronger alternative. “Drank” and “ran” are good strong verbs that can carry a story along and not begin to sound monotonous. How do you tell the difference between a strong verb and a weak one? A weak verb will form the past tense by adding -ed, -d or -t to the present tense of the verb whereas a strong verb will often change the vowel in the present tense, usually to a or u.

These are the most often flubbed mechanics in writing, although this article certainly doesn’t cover all of them. If you have any questions about these mechanics specifically, have anything to add or other mechanics you would like me to talk about in the future, leave a comment below and I’ll be happy to discuss them!