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What Do You Do When You're Not Practicing Law?: Hot Yoga & Coffee


two coffee cups with latte art

Let me tell you a tale about my recent incursions into two worlds I had never experienced. These journeys now complement my litigation practice. They have helped me be a human first and a lawyer second. (To use my colleague Josh R. Williams’ inspiring phrase.) I enjoy life better thanks to hot yoga and coffee. 

Hot yoga is feisty

I was one of the last picked for a team in my school gym class. My relationship with sports and physical activities has always been complicated. I don’t like them, and I’m terrible at them. I wasn’t a couch potato either but kicking a ball or tossing a frisbee has never been my thing. Fast-forward 2+ decades: I absolutely love my standup desk and walking treadmill in my office. I enjoy biking and long walks. Sedentary life is not for me. I don’t like organized or team activities. I also do not like being told what to do, so I designed a delightful solo practice for myself. 

Then I met Bikram hot yoga on January 30, 2020. It was like nothing I had ever done before. This is not your cute neighbor’s flow yoga or Vinyasa. There are no meditation  or humming exercises, no inspirational quotes, and no spiritual leaders or incense. (I absolutely value meditation as part of life, but in Bikram hot yoga the workout is so strenuous that you have no opportunity to think of anything else anyway.) This is a packed room blistering at 108ºF with about 40% humidity. Each session lasts 90 minutes, with some studios offering shorter versions, but the full-lengths are my favorite. The instructor guides you through two sets of the same 26 poses and two breathing exercises. Surprisingly, no class ever feels the same. Repetition bores me to death with my ADD brain—but not here. You leave class exhausted, destressed, and ready to take on the world (and maybe a nap). This sounds like a contradiction, but I promise you it is not. Give it a chance and drop me a line.

Hot yoga is for type A personalities. I have discovered it has many parallels to my litigation practice. It is sultry, lively, and methodical. Like no two cases look alike, no hot yoga session ever repeats itself. Procedural rules in litigation give some level of consistency coordination, but every case has unique flavors—much like each hot yoga class. You can never master hot yoga or reach perfection because it is a lifelong practice. Lawyers are never fully baked and can never know it all, yet those who think they have climaxed should be retired or disbarred. Some of my yoga peers have been practicing for 15+ years. They have learned to be okay with fumbling or falling over. Hot yoga humbles you. It makes you realize you cannot perfect the craft—but you will gradually improve if you put in the time. You compete only against yourself and no one else.


Bikram hot yoga is a godsend...I feel like a better human and a better lawyer.


Bikram hot yoga is a godsend. It helped me relieve stress on my terms. Did I mention my sleep patterns improved, and my flexibility increased to pre-teen levels? I feel like a better human and a better lawyer. I’ve tried exercises and yoga styles that you want to know, but I lost interest very quickly. Not with hot yoga. 

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, I had to turn up the heat in my condo and practice with instructors I found on YouTube. It was a suboptimal setup, but I made it work while my yoga studio was shut down. Then I began missing the group workout that Bikram hot yoga demands. The deep human connection in that room evokes the moments I cherish working intensely on a case.

Coffee in law

Around 2019, my wife Ofelia and I began visiting local coffee shops around town. Ofelia has always loved coffee, and as a newcomer, I wanted her to explore the Twin Cities coffee scene. We learned a lot about how variegated coffee shops can be—from pristine and upscale spots to shoddy and grungy holes. Para gustos hay colores . (Roughly translated to "different strokes for different folks.")

During the pandemic, I also began dabbling as a barista. Well, not quite … but I got into the coffee world. We got a Prosumer espresso machine, and I started making coffee drinks at our office. It is now our morning ritual. 
group of baristas gathered in front of a colorful mural I have never liked coffee. (Do you see a theme here? A Latin American who doesn’t like soccer or coffee. Pretty odd, right?) Growing up in Honduras, I would only drink it with leche when my abuela Rosa would brew it when I visited her on Saturdays. Today, I mainly drink decaf because caffeine tends to get me jittery and dizzy (not to mention it gets in the way of my siesta).

Ofelia introduced me to a whole new world of coffee that I had never experienced before (we’ll leave the wine-world story for another day). Preparing an espresso drink is an art and a science. There are too many variables to consider and too many techniques to list. It is a never-ending exploration, analysis, and enjoyment journey—much like litigation and hot yoga.


So after several years working together at Ceiba Fôrte Law Firm, we are now in the coffee business too!


So after several years working together at Ceiba Fôrte Law Firm, we are now in the coffee business too! One thing led to the next, and we felt God was opening the doors for us to venture into coffee. Abogados Café is our baby business. I am Ofelia’s pinch hitter (or gofer) while I litigate full time. Our shop is downstairs from our law office in the Como Park neighborhood. We sell espresso drinks and other hot beverages, pastries, gourmet goods, and coffee beans. Did you know it is the first law-themed coffee shop of its kind in the US?

Lawyers do arduous work, and many need a caffeine boost here or there. Coffee soothes you while you are drafting a contract or preparing discovery requests. It can improve your mood while discussing trial exhibits with your adorable opposing counsel.
Abogados Café only offers Latin American coffee. As Latin Americans, Ofelia and I felt most comfortable talking about our turf, staying in our lane. We want our customers to drink coffee that is fair trade and organic. It would be unconscionable for us to offer coffee from farmers who are not being paid fairly or who use artificial pesticides. Our goal is to reclaim coffee’s Latin American heritage and brew it with the law. You can read more about Abogados Café and support our small business at www.coffeeinlaw.com.


 
Inti headshot_RMbigBy Inti Martinez-Aleman
inti@ceibaforte.com 

INTI MARTÍNEZ-ALEMÁN founded Ceiba Fôrte Law Firm® right out of law school in 2016. The firm helps Hispanics protect their assets, businesses, and jobs by litigating business, civil, and employment cases. Inti is licensed to practice law in Minnesota, New York, and the Republic of Honduras.

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