Ask HaviNote: it is almost impossible to get on the Ask Havi list. This person got in by a. being one of my clients or students, b. flattering the hell out of my duck, and c. making life easy on me by being clear about what the question was and what details I could use.

It’s probably not even slightly surprising, but I get all sorts of questions that don’t really have anything to do with what I teach.

Some are too nuanced or complicated to answer in a hundred and forty characters at the bar (on Twitter) — and others don’t manage to fall even into the wildly broad categories of stuff I to write about here.

I always figured the right time would show up to answer some of the ones that show up over and over . And that time is (apparently) now, as I am off visiting Hiro and we are being a little bit silly.

So. Here they are. The answers to five off-topic questions — which you may or may not have been dying to know.

“Why is your gentleman friend your ‘gentleman friend’?”


There is a story there.

When we first met, my gentleman friend called his parents and told them he’d fallen madly in love.

The next time they spoke, his mother asked after the ‘lady friend’.

My gentleman friend: You mean my girlfriend?
My gentleman friend’s mother: You’re a little too old for a girlfriend.


So I became the lady friend. And my gentleman friend is my gentleman friend.

“Why don’t you admit that your gentleman friend is actually a girl?”


You know what’s funny? I talk about all sorts of things here that people would normally never bring up.

I’ve written about poverty and terror and stuff blowing up. And about my friend who is dead and my conversations with walls and the fact that my filling system is arranged by chakras.

Also, I live in northeast Portland, which is a place where my having a lady friend would not even be interesting.

Believe me, if my gentleman friend were my lady friend, y’all would know about it.

“How do you bake bread without using sugar?”


I feed my little bread yeasties with juice instead of sugar.

Any non-citrus juice that’s 100% fruit will work, but I like grape juice best for bread. It does turn the dough a little bit purple-ey, but you get used to it.

Kedem is the brand I bake with, but my friends make my recipe work with whatever they have around the house, and it’s good that way too.

Mmm, bread!

“Why do you think yoga mats are evil?”


I’m not sure that I do think that yoga mats are evil.

But I must have said something to that effect because you’re asking the question. And yeah, it does kind of sound like something I might say. 🙂

So. Let’s see.

I think that yoga mats made with PVC are evil. First of all, you’re breathing in poison. And the manufacturing process (plus their inevitable destination as landfill), means that buying one is participating in crappifying the world. Neither of those are very yoga things to do.

If you’re going to get a mat, get one that’s biodegradable — or at least one that you’ll be able to leave it to your grandkids in good condition, like Peter’s manduka mat.

My deeper point is that mats are not so much evil as not really necessary.

A mind and a few working body parts, and you can do yoga. It doesn’t actually require much more than being able to breathe. Which is one of the things I love about it.

The danger comes when we start thinking that we need stuff to do yoga, and we get caught up in the trappings — in the “yoga industrial complex”.

The truth is that a blanket works great for most poses, and the floor works well for the rest. And we sometimes forget that having a narrow rectangle defining our space can really confine our creativity of movement.

But I also don’t think it’s bad to have a mat — not at all.

I have one myself (the compostable kind) and I use it when I want to work on balance stuff, or to mark out the space of “I am practicing yoga”.

For me, seeing the mat on the floor is a reminder that this is my daily ritual. That this is something I need and something I’m committed to.

“I don’t get it. You’re a big tree-hugging yoga hippie Shivanaut but you also like Roller Derby. Explain.”


Roller Derby is all about drag, brilliantly bad puns, ass-kicking, stripey socks, marginalized culture, and beer.

Which is pretty much a list of all the stuff I like.

And I also like hugging trees.

We’re complex and multi-faceted beings.

I don’t know if I have a better explanation than that.

And that’s as good a place to finish today as any.

Honestly? I can’t come up with a conclusion for this one.

But since we’re off-topic anyway, feel free to jump in with stories of odd/interesting things that people ask you. Or that you wish they’d ask you. Or … anything else, really.

Comment zen:

We’ve all got our stuff. We’re all working on our stuff.

The Fluent Self