News & Thoughts on Yoga in DC

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American Yogi — Last Chance to Vote

In Essay, News, Yoga on April 17, 2012 at 6:00 AM

Lizzie Watson, family photo

Who best represents American yoga?

A man balancing on the crown of his head,  a 100-year-old woman who practices chair yoga in sky-blue socks or Lizzie Watson, a former ballerina in a stunning black and white snapped by her husband? They are all top vote-getters in the Yoga Journal 2012 Talent Search.

April 17 is your last chance to choose (up to five times) Ms/Mr Yoga Journal 2012. Judges for Yoga Journal, which has been around for 35 years and has a million and a half readers, will select the winner of their October cover contest from the top five viewer favorites and voting ends today.

Yoga Journal, the Good Housekeeping of yoga, has its pick of 1553 middle-class, mostly female, almost entirely white Americans. Strikingly, the rest of yoga in America is absent. Rachel Omolewu is one of a very few African-American woman. Missing  are the convicts of the Prison Yoga Project or the homeless and street kids supported by Yoga Activist and Street Yoga.

Troll through the shots to get a picture of  yoga in America, where you’ll see people practicing in their underwear, 9-months pregnant, on the beach, between the living room couches and with their cats and dogs. Vote early and often: Yoga lifts up everyone. And next year, send in photos from the streets, community centers and jail houses, too. Because yoga is a rising tide.

Yogis Seek Shelter from the Tax Man

In News on April 11, 2012 at 12:36 PM

GETTY/WSJ

Should the “yacht tax” be applied to yoga studios?

Mayor Bloomberg may want wellness for all New Yorkers, but not as much as he wants to increase the tax on yoga studios — and possibly put  studios out of business — says the Wall Street Journal. The city is reclassifying studios as “fitness centers” which are taxed at a higher rate.

Seventy NY yogis met to discuss possible repercussions and alternatives. Will these yogis rise up, asks the WSJ? How do a “peace-loving people” enter into the fray?

The real question may be, is yoga a fitness exercise or a spiritual one? What do you think?
See the WSJ on the “Yoga Crisis.”

If I’m in Downdog, This Must Be SF

In News on February 4, 2012 at 4:10 PM

Universal Sign of Yoga

When a passenger suggested they add a yoga room to the San Francisco airport waiting area, management converted a large storage room into what they say is the first airport yoga room. As of last week, male and female travelers of all ages are taking off their shoes and unrolling their mats in the blue 10 by 15 foot room to stretch out and turn inward between flights.

The Associated Press filmed three traveling yogis, who have happy smiles after their airport practice. [See below]

The airport also installed a newly designed “universal” pictogram to represent yoga to travelers of all nationalities passing through airports around the world.

Next time you’re in San Francisco, send a photo of yourself practicing yoga outside the Yoga Room, and we’ll post in on DC Yoga Insider. E-mail YogaWarriorATaolDOTcom

Her Big Day

In News on February 2, 2012 at 6:00 PM

Student at Studio DC, Washington Post

Five years ago a new wave of yoga studios began to open in gentrifying neighborhoods all across DC. Now the studios are going beyond teaching beginners, as young women disillusioned by the deadening nature of professional work in Washington, DC, turn to yoga studios for deeper meaning.

The Washington Post profiles the graduation ceremony of a Studio DC 200 hour program. Sixteen young women dressed in white, like brides or candidates for Christian confirmation, walk down a candle-lit aisle strewn with red rose petals. Heady with spiritual commitment and fellowship, they cry, laugh and hug, as studio owners Katja Brandis, and husband Ryan Arnoldy, also in white, look on.

DC has one of the fastest growing yoga communities in the nation. The North American Studio Alliance, a trade group of sorts that is better known as NAMASTA, estimates that the number of yoga professionals has grown by more than 200 percent here in the past five yearswrites the Post.

What does it take, other than a trust fund, to be a yoga teacher in DC?

Alanna Kaivalya, founder of the Kaivalya Yoga Method, lists three qualifications of a good teacher for the Huffington Post:

1/ Connection to a lineage

2/ A daily practice

3/ Enjoyment of people

If we can inspire and encourage students to move (safely) beyond their limitations, we will have done what our teachers once did for us, and in this way, we render the magic [spiritual guru] Krishnamacharya’s wisdom, writes Kaivalya.

Tall orders for the young brides of yoga.

News Updates

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

CULTURE

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 YogaDork.com]

January 13: N. Y. Times Opinion Page 

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

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

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I’m Concerned About Your Aura: Shit Yogis Say 

[see full DCYI story]

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Welfare Yoga: Underemployed Gurus Redemocratize Downward Dog

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Meditating Behind Bars: How Yoga in Prisons Could Cut Overcrowding 

[see full DCYI story]

Photo Gallery: See Robert Sturman on Facebook.  

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

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

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

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MEDITATION

Time Warp: Value of Meditation is Priceless

Orgasmic Meditation: Slow Sex Comes West

New Study: 5 Weeks of Meditation Changes Brain Activity

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

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SPORTS

Vinyasa on the Gridiron: Do Yoga with Ravens Ricky Williams

Photo courtesy of Baltimore Raven

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HEALTH

Chronic Back Pain: Yoga Helps Women

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LOCAL                

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)

UPDATE:

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…

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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.’”

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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