Weekend Reading
September 19, 2021

Weekend Reading | The Full Helping

I took a led yoga class yesterday, and the sweetest thing happened.

We were all doing Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana B, a balancing posture. While standing, one grabs hold of a big toe (or a bent knee) while extending that leg out to the side. Traditionally, one gazes in the opposite direction as the extended leg.

Because my gaze was away from my leg, I couldn’t tell how close my foot was to my yoga neighbor. My balance faltered a little as I worried about whether or not I was going to get in her way or infringe on her space.

Suddenly I felt a hand very lightly supporting my lifted leg, which helped to stabilize me and keep me focused on my gaze. It’s an assist I’ve gotten countless times, and I assumed that my teacher had come over to do it.

When it was time to transition out of the pose, though, I looked over and saw that my teacher was on the other side of the room. She couldn’t have been assisting me. The person who gave me a gentle, supportive hand could only have been my yoga neighbor herself.

After class, I turned to my neighbor and told her how sweet she had been to give me a gentle lift. We had introduced ourselves to each other before class, so I already knew her name.

My neighbor—who teaches yoga, unsurprisingly—smiled a big smile. “If we hadn’t already said hello to each other I might not have,” she said. “But it was like practicing next to a friend.”

The exchange made my day. It was one of those moments of camaraderie and connection that I couldn’t experience in more than a year of practicing yoga at home.

As pandemic restrictions lifted, and especially after I got my vaccine, my first priority was to see my closest friends and family. But in many ways, the thing I missed most in lockdown was community. I ached to hug my friends, but I also spoke to them regularly over text and FaceTime. I was surprised at how I longed to see the people that I interact with each day who aren’t necessarily friends or family—the shopkeepers in my neighborhood, baristas at local coffee shops, restaurant owners, neighbors, and more.

Most of all, the shared breath and collective energy of yogis gathered together in a shala.

These connections and communal spaces enrich my life so much. They’re part of what I love about living in New York City, and I’m only starting to realize how profoundly I felt their absence in 2020. I feel so grateful to experience them once again.

I hope that a stranger or new friend will find a way to give you a hand this week when you need it most. Here are some recipes and reads.


Wednesday is the first day of fall, but I’m still obsessing over summer tomatoes—including Sophie’s confit tomatoes.

Cadry’s 3-bean chili looks so hearty and good.

While I obsess over tomatoes, I’m also welcoming butternut squash season, and Jess’ butternut mac n’ cheese looks terrific.

I’ve just started to experiment with homemade seitan, and I’m enjoying it so far! Eager to try Iosune’s vegan steak.

How pretty (and appetizing) is Abby’s lemon tart with shortbread crust?


1. Kathryn Ivey became a nurse in July of 2020 and immediately started working in a Covid ward. Her recollection of the experience is so powerful.

2. A fascinating exploration of how people first arrived at the North American continent.

3. Artist Rose-Lynn Fisher used a microscope to photograph the crystallized patterns of dried human tears. The images and the idea itself are pretty incredible.

4. Carina del Valle Schorske danced through New York City’s return to life, and her recollection is wonderful. It’s also a powerful exploration on the impulse to dance in tumultuous and tragic times.

5. For a good laugh, the avocado test.

Happy Sunday night, friends. Hope you rest well.


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  1. Dear Gena, I was really moved by your description of the simple, elegant act of assistance given to you by your “neighbor” in yoga class. What a grace! These kinds of gestures mean so much and stay with us forever I find. It reminds me somehow of a time years ago a friend of mine knelt to button my coat for me when I struggled to be able to do it. And it also reminds me of how comforting it is to be adjacent to people in these pandemic times and how it’s extra special to be adjacent enough for someone who knows exactly what to do to give you that lift into balance. Thank you xoxo

  2. What a sweet moment with your yoga neighbor. The last couple of years have really highlighted how special it is to have those moments of shared connection. Speaking of shared connection, thank you for the kind words about my chili recipe. Much appreciated! 😀

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