News & Thoughts on Yoga in DC

Archive for January, 2012|Monthly archive page

Gospel of the Penniless

In Poets & Preachers I Like, Social Change on January 16, 2012 at 7:27 AM

James Cone,

Being Christian is like being black,” theologian James Cone says. “It’s a paradox. You grow up. You wonder why they treat you like that.

And yet at the same time my mother and daddy told me ‘don’t hate like they hate. If you do, you will self-destruct. Hate only kills the hater, not the hated.’

It was their faith that gave them the resources to transcend the brutality and see the real beauty. It’s a mystery. It’s a mystery how African-Americans, after two and half centuries of slavery, another century of lynching and Jim Crow segregation, still come out loving white people.

So writes James Cone, perhaps the most important contemporary theologian in America, says Chris Hedges reviewing his new book The Cross and the Lynching Tree  in truth dig.

“I like people who talk about the real, concrete world,” Cone says. “And unless I can feel it in my gut, in my being, I can’t say it.

The poor help me to say it. The literary people help me to say it—[James] Baldwin is my favorite. Martin King is the next. Malcolm is the third element of my trinity. The poets give me energy. Theologians talk about things removed, way out there. They talk to each other. They give each other degrees. The real world is not there.

So that is why I turn to the poets. They talk to the people.”

Freedom Groove

In Poets & Preachers I Like on January 16, 2012 at 6:16 AM

Playlist: Inspired by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Yoga is about liberation and nothing less.  In our quest for personal liberation and realization, we must be sure to adopt the ethic of non-violence and love that Dr. King utilized.   No revolution, personal, societal or otherwise will impart lasting change if it is based on violence, harming, enmity or hostility as the fruits will be full of violence, harm and instability.  The law of karma is clear.  The project we are engaged in, as my beloved teacher Sharon Gannon says, is to be “liberators of countless beings.”   This is the pledge of the jivanmukta and bodhisattva.  This is the echoing message of Dr. King.

                                                                                             —- Yoga Anonomous

1. “I Have a Dream (Srikalogy Remix)”  – Skrikalogy | Click to Purchase

2. “Slavery Days”  – Burning Spear | Click to Purchase

3. “400 Years” –  Bob Marley & The Wailers | Click to Purchase

4. “Old Slaves” – Stephen Marley | Click to Purchase

5. “Soul Rebel (Afrodisiac Sound System Remix)” – Bob Marley & The Wailers | Click to Purchase

6. “Mind Control” – Stephen Marley | Click to Purchase

7. “Free Like We Want 2 B” – Ziggy Marley | Click to Purchase

8. “Slave Driver” – Bob Marley & The Wailers | Click to Purchase

9. “Rebel Music” – Bob Marley & The Wailers | Click to Purchase

10. “Soul Rebel” – Bob Marley | Click to Purchase

11. “Keep On Moving” – Bob Marley & The Wailers | Click to Purchase

12. “Stepping Out a Babylon” – Marcia Griffiths | Click to Purchase

13. “We Shall Overcome” – Toots & The Maytals  | Click to Purchase

14. “Can You Feel It (Martin Luther King Mix)” – Mr. Fingers | Click to Purchase

15. “Babylon System” – Bob Marley | Click to Purchase

16. “Amerimacka” – Thievery Corporation | Click to Purchase

17. “Tolerance”  – Michael Franti & Spearhead | Click to Purchase

— By John Smrtic

Oprah Editor’s Second Life

In Essay, Essays & Scattered Observations on January 14, 2012 at 12:35 PM

We start out in life intending to change the world. At 25 we hold ourselves responsible for being different and more successful than our parents and peers.

Amy Gross, Mindfulness Meditation NY

Thirty  years pass — children, houses, husbands, and jobs, at which we perhaps succeed brilliantly but don’t in fact change the world in any significant way. The contract we signed with society — the covenant by which we raise educated, healthy children and support our shared American economy, in return for status and paved highways — is fulfilled. And now, at age 50 or 55, the second journey begins.

Amy Gross left Oprah Magazine, where she was editor in chief, to become a teacher and meditator, she reports in The Daily Beast.

In Hindu philosophy they say that you leave off being a “householder” to become a “forest dweller,” seeking God away from the rapid beat of the city. You become who you are.

The key shift is in turning toward pain, when all your life you’ve turned away from it, Gross writes of meditation. You give it your full attention—you yield to it—and, paradoxically, its hold on you diminishes. 

She began studying and teaching Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction. Designed in 1979 by molecular biologist Jon Kabat-Zinn, Gross says, “MBSR is an eight-week course that delivers the benefits of mindfulness meditation to people who may have no interest in Buddhism. ” She asked her students how they had changed, and received stories of reduced pain and increased patience and joy in daily lives.

Listening to them go around, I thought: I never teared up like this at a magazine award, Gross writes.

Jesus said something about that, too: Give and it shall be given to you (Luke 6:38).

It’s a funny thing that happens when we turn from the world to the spirit, that it enters into us and we give back to the world. We are no longer fulfilling a contract — the script has run out, with a big #30 marking the last child’s departure for college or marking an anticipated career promotion. We are forced to entertain nothingness. And if, as we enter the void, we are brave enough to listen to our own panic, a sense of who we are, and what God wishes for us, begins to form.

Amy Gross appears to have had the mighty courage to face the void and to let the work of the spirit settle in her.

News Updates

In Round-Up on January 13, 2012 at 1:00 PM


Fallout from William J. Broad article Is Yoga Wrecking Your Body?:

January 5: N. Y. Times Sunday Magazine Article

January 9: Cole, Stern & Yoga Community Response [as reported on]

January 13: N. Y. Times Opinion Page 


Martin Luther & Social Media: How 16th Century Religious Reform (& any Spiritual-Social Cause Can) Went Viral


Dog Yoga: A class in Hong Kong aims to help dogs find their ‘inner’ peace. Photo Gallery.


I’m Concerned About Your Aura: Shit Yogis Say 

[see full DCYI story]


Welfare Yoga: Underemployed Gurus Redemocratize Downward Dog


Meditating Behind Bars: How Yoga in Prisons Could Cut Overcrowding 

[see full DCYI story]

Photo Gallery: See Robert Sturman on Facebook.  


Lululemon's "Who is John Galt?" bag Photograph by Meredith Rizzo.

Atlas Stretched: Who Is John Galt and Why Is He on Lululemon Bags?


Yoga on Wall Street: How Money has Changed a Spiritual Pursuit



Time Warp: Value of Meditation is Priceless

Orgasmic Meditation: Slow Sex Comes West

New Study: 5 Weeks of Meditation Changes Brain Activity


BOOKSPico Iyer: Dalai Lama’s Biographer takes on Graham Greene


Vinyasa on the Gridiron: Do Yoga with Ravens Ricky Williams

Photo courtesy of Baltimore Raven



Chronic Back Pain: Yoga Helps Women



Hanuman in Haiti: Chevy Chase psychotherapist to teach yoga to quake kids


Yoga Turks

In News on January 13, 2012 at 12:39 PM

David Regelin, NYMagazine, (Photo: Danny Kim)


David Regelin responds on his Website and Facebook page to the NYMagzine article discussed here Jan. 10.:

YOU CALL THAT AN ARTICLE!” – When I read the headline of the New York Magazine article about me: “You call that a tree pose?!” my heart sank. I immediately sensed that I had been used to promote the growing popular and reactionary trend of yoga skepticism. …I actually couldn’t read it all at once, I had to lie down for a bit before finishing as I found it nauseating. The very tone of it is sensationalist and off putting. Continued…


JAN. 10, 2012:

Until recently, New York City instructor David Regelin was an incipient rock star of the yoga world, where famous instructors have lives similar to celebrity D.J.’s, jet-setting between international workshops and sessions with elite clients. But this fall, reports New York Magazine, Regelin joined a growing number of people who suggest that amateur yogis may be doing more harm to their bodies than good.

“Yoga is not about enjoying yourself and having a fun experience that you like; it’s about changing yourself,” Regelin says. “And what changes you is usually stuff you don’t like.”

Regelin takes his cue from master teacher Nevine Michaan, a yoga instructor out of Bedford Hills, New York and founder of  Katonah Yoga

Nevine Michaan, Westchester Magazine, Photo by Cathy Pinsky

“Learning yoga from Vinyasa is like learning French in a bar,” Michaan says. “Eventually you need to learn how to conjugate a verb and structure a sentence.”

Regelin accepts his role as confrontational reformer.

 “It’s like going into someone’s house and opening a closet and being like, ‘What the fuck, you’ve got a huge mess in here.’”

Equinox Yoga Video

In Essays & Scattered Observations on January 12, 2012 at 7:02 PM

If you practice yoga in black panties and bra, is it still yoga? How about if you perform several vinyasas in front of a camera, just avoiding a full-on crotch shot, and they post it on the corporate site for Equinox fitness gyms? Is that yoga?

Briohny Smith, Equinox

It’s not yoga, says Suhag Shukla, managing director of the Hindu America Foundation to the Washington Post, whose Lisa Miller asks rather grandly, Who Owns Yoga? 

I would suggest, writes Miller, that this tension in the West between “corrupt” and “pure” religion is perennial, going back at least to the era before Jesus, when Jewish sects were at war over who, exactly, was sufficiently holy to perform the sacred duties at God’s Temple in Jerusalem.

So that’s why they put Jesus in a loincloth?

I would suggest that it’s simpler than that: sex sells gym memberships. Just the way a link to the Equinox video at the head of Miller’s article sells readers. But don’t confuse body envy and endorphin high with religious yearning.

Eddie Stern, (fr.Tibet House Auction, Luxist)

“It’s hard to whitewash an entire genre of yoga,” New York City yoga teacher Eddie Stern tells Miller. “The people who are going to a gym yoga class are going because they hear the word ‘yoga.’ They’re not going to spinning, or aerobics.” In other words, they’re looking for something. “And what we have is really, really good, and powerful and deep. Really, really deep.”

It’s part of what almost 20 years ago Robert Bellah in Habits of the Heart called “Sheila-ism” from a woman, Sheila, who made up her own religion with little pieces of whatever came her way. French sociologist Danielle Hervieu-Leger calls it bricolage, French for “do-it-yourself.

Sometimes beautiful bodies, and the desire to have one, turn out to be merely the lamb chop in the window of religious experience.

How Yoga Can Wreck Your Body

In News on January 9, 2012 at 6:07 PM

William J. Broad, from Marketing Website

You risk life and limb each time you step onto your yoga mat, says long-time science writer, William J. Broad in his forthcoming book, The Science of Yoga. Lead science reporter for the New York Times, Broad interviewed numerous yoga teachers and practitioners, including Glenn Black, who teaches at ISHTA Yoga in N. Y. City and at the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, New York. Black likes to tell people with injuries to stop practicing yoga.

“My message [at Omega is] that ‘Asana is not a panacea or a cure-all. In fact, if you do it with ego or obsession, you’ll end up causing problems.’ A lot of people don’t like to hear that.”

Broad describes in gruesome detail Twenty-Somethings who suffer neck trauma and stroke in level-one poses. The author, who says he’s a lifelong yogi, doesn’t reveal whether he’ll take Black’s advice to give up yoga. The book’s due out in February.

I’m Concerned About Your Aura

In News on January 7, 2012 at 12:16 PM

YouTube, Lululemon

… I drank way too much Kaboocha last night…
… I’ve got total yoga hair…
… My Chakras are so aligned…

Cute and clever, in a charmingly ditzy sort of way, check out the YouTube video below: Shit Yogis Say

What would Lululemon mascot, John Galt, say about the company’s vision of their customers?

Those marketing people at Lululemon are so demonically smart, or at least they’re trying.

I Am Woman, Hear Me Om

In News on January 4, 2012 at 10:22 PM

“Yogawoman”: Free Movie-Showing this Weekend.

A long lineage of male teachers brought yoga to the West, says “Yogawoman,” a new movie by film makers and yoginis Kate Clere McIntyre and Saraswati Clere. Now a generation of women leads the way. From the busy streets of Manhattan to the dusty slums of Kenya, “Yogawoman” looks at a phenomenon led almost entirely by women that is changing lives  around the globe.

Free movie screening this Sunday at Simon Says Yoga in Bethesda.

Click here for tickets.

Watch the trailer.

Change Agents

In News on January 4, 2012 at 7:27 PM

Carlos Jasso/Reuters

Meditating Behind Bars: How Yoga in Prisons Could Cut Overcrowding

 Yoga can teach prisoners the self-control and self-discipline that they never learned as youths, reports the Christian Science Monitor. James  Fox, who founded the nonprofit Prison Yoga Project, has been working with incarcerated youth and adults for more than 10 years and has some ideas on what keeps the recidivism rate above 50 percent. Photo by Carlos Jasso/Reuters.

Prison Yoga Project expands the practice of Hatha Yoga and Mindfulness Meditation to prisons and rehabilitation facilities, and trains yoga instructors for at-risk populations in prisons, residentialrehabilitation facilities, and community programs.  More on Prison Yoga Project’s Facebook page.

Photo Gallery

Yogis Behind Bars: See Robert Sturman’s stirring collection of 25 photos of San Quentin prisoners in Side-Plank Pose, Triangle Pose, and in Prayer on Facebook. 

Also Check Out: the Robert Sturman Studio

More Good Works

  • Street Yoga Is dedicated to the teachings and practices of yoga as a way to live in the world. The small non-profit shares the life-giving properties of yoga with at-risk youth.
  • Yoga Activist Brings yoga to communities including homeless, trauma survivors, at risk youth, prison populations, and persons with drug and alcohol addiction, mental illness or physical impairment.

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