Yogi Hall of Fame

In the NYT, journalist Suketu Metha writes, “In this sense, the greatest teacher of yoga is not Iyengar or Bikram, but Gandhi. “The yogi is not one who sits down to practise breathing exercises,” he wrote in his interpretation of the Gita. “He is one who looks upon all with an equal eye, sees other creatures in himself.” That’s one pose that will truly reduce your stress.”

[This is from a round-up of responses I’m compiling in the Yogawillwreckyourbody-hullabaloo.]

Yoga will wreck you, roundup

[Update: I am updating this post as I come across new fave responses.]

I’d be amiss in my duties as yoga blogger if I didn’t weigh in again on the recent NY Times article How yoga can wreck your body. The article, an excerpt from Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and NYT science writer William J. Broad‘s upcoming book, The Science of Yoga: The Risks and the Rewards, has received a lot of coverage from the interwebs, yogic and otherwise, because it says that “the yoga community long remained silent about [yoga’s] potential to inflict blinding pain…a growing body of medical evidence supports [the] contention that, for many people, a number of commonly taught yoga poses are inherently risky. ”

I wrote a response (“whatevs”) a few days ago. Also, dudes looking for pictures of girls in yoga pants–the most frequent visitors to this site–likely don’t care if said girls need spinal surgery when they’re 50. Still, in the interest of jumping on the bandwagon, I am doing a round up of my fave responses. Continue reading

Excuses

Starting in late-November, my home yoga practice, never that strong to begin with, fell off. I also stopped going to group class as much which is sad because I love going to group classes. I became too lazy to update this site.

My excuse? Our new puppy. My yoga became my puppy. Staying mindful and calm in the midst of her adolescent willfulness required all the knowledge and self-awareness I’ve gleaned from my years of yoga and meditation.

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Lululemon makes fun of its customers

No one owns yoga.
I love pigeon.
Namaste.
rrrraahhh
My hips are sooo open right now.
I lost my voice last weekend from om-ing too much.

This is (mostly) sh*t yogis say, a video offered up by the marketing staff at Lululemon. Turns out those folks have a sense of humor. HA. I’d like to create a drinking game out of this. Maybe stop and do a shot of kombucha during class whenever one of the phrases is said?

YOGA WILL KILL YOU

Happy new year yoga lovers. I would like to ring in 2012 with this expose on yoga asana from the NYT: How Yoga Can Wreck Your Body. The article talks about 28 year olds having strokes, emergency room visits, spinal surgery and vertebrae getting fused. It says “…surveys by the Consumer Product Safety Commission showed that the number of emergency-room admissions related to yoga, after years of slow increases, was rising quickly. They went from 13 in 2000 to 20 in 2001. Then they more than doubled to 46 in 2002.”

Savage Chickens - Fantastic!

I’m all, “That sucks, but I’ll take my chances.” Odds of trauma seem small; evidence in article is anecdotal. I’ll continue to study with the best teachers I can find; focus on my alignment; avoid shoulderstand until I figure out what I’m doing; and close my eyes and try to refocus during class when my ego goes into overdrive (“I will get this backbend, damn that twinge that is probably nothing at all”).

If yoga does kill me, whatevs. I will die doing something I love.

Girls in yoga pants part deux

My wordpress site stats say that most people stumble upon this blog when searching for “girls in yoga pants”–I wrote about this website (girls in yoga pants) a few weeks ago. I figure that this search is less about the yoga and more about girls in tight pants. Therefore, it may be silly for me to write about a subject to attract more traffic from people who could care less about the yoga, but, on the other hand, why not?

Besides, I do have something else to say about girls in yoga pants, which is: the combo is magic. I don’t know how or why, but I have experienced it firsthand.

Some background: I’ve let myself go. Hair always up in a clip, no makeup, glasses, clothing so unfashionable I’d look like a hobo in northern Canada, let alone on the streets of New York City. Every day I wear the same unwashed dog slobber jeans topped by my husband’s ‘dog coat’–missing a few buttons, too big for even him, one hole, covered in dog hair. Not pretty.

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What is yoga? Kest.

In my quest to catalogue what some of my favorite teachers have to say about the meaning of yoga, in a personal quest to figure it out for myself, I like what Bryan Kest of Santa Monica, CA has to say. I’ve only taken one class with him, but I loved it.

[Aside: My yoga crush further deepened when I found this AMAZING video. His hair is Kenny G incredible. His press to handstand is bad ass. His cut-off acid-wash denim pants make me giggle. The jilty editing is endearing. And the teaching is accessible. What I like about Mr Kest is that he speaks plainly, so as to allow a simpleton like me to understand what he says about the yoga.]

Anyway, from his website, this is what he has to say about yoga and asana:

There is no enlightenment at the end of a pose…It seems to me in a general sense we as a society are enamored with the mystical, mysterious, the unseen and Continue reading

Ashtanga, NY

Ashtanga, NY - A Yoga DocumentaryAs I perused netflix’s yoga offerings the other day, I noticed this little gem–Ashtanga, NY— available for streaming. If you love yoga and have 40 minutes I very much recommend it.

This short documentary was shot during Sri K Pattabhi Jois‘s visit to NYC in September 2001. (Also known as Guruji, Jois was a father of the modern yoga movement and popularized/founded the Ashtanga style of yoga.)

Every day that month, hundreds of NYC yogis woke up at dawn to practice yoga under instruction of Guruji and family. This is an Indian-style family affair, with Guruji’s daughter (Saraswati), grandson (Sharath), and various other family members serving as Guruji’s posse during his international trip.

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8 tips for beginning yogis

I taught my third group yoga class last week, and boy do I have a lot to learn about teaching. At one point a dude in class asked loudly, in frustration, “What leg should I use?” A few minutes later he said again, “I don’t understand what to do!” I guess I wasn’t providing clear enough instructions. At the same time, an older, overweight woman who was taking yoga for the first time started to walk around fanning herself and saying, “Wooh, I need to rest.”

The rest of the class proceeded without interruption, but I realized how much I take for granted as a seasoned yoga class goer, how much I better I could communicate as a teacher, and how strange the yoga world must seem to an outsider. This is the advice I’d give to a yoga newbie:

1) Find a basics or beginners class. Even if you are an athletic person, and can do demanding things with your body, you don’t know the alignment, or the sequence, or the poses. Find a class for beginners. You’ll benefit so much more, because the teacher will slow the sequence down, explain things more, and create an environment in which you’re less likely to injure yourself. You’d be cocky to go to an advanced level flute class having never played the instrument before even if you were already a maestro on the piano. You’d probably pick up the flute quickly, if you tried, but you still need to learn the basics: how to purse your lips, regulate your breath, and the physical configuration of the notes on the flute itself. Yoga asanas need time and space for learning. Basics doesn’t have to mean “easy” though. Basics classes can be physically challenging, and can even be more so than an “advanced” class–because when you hold poses for a while and with proper alignment, you are using muscles you normally don’t use. This is hard. Which brings me to my next point.

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The other wide yoga mat

A little bit ago I watched the video for John Friend’s new revolutionary extra-wide Manduka yoga mat. I was put off by the marketing language. Why make claims that the purchase of a $100 mat is going to give you an “an inner opening”?Lead to the very essence of your heart”? I understand that a wider, longer mat may be more appropriate for a wider, longer body, but I wish the language would be toned down. I love me some good old fashioned capitalism, especially expensive yoga pants, but connecting the quality of one’s yoga gear and spiritual development puts me off.

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