Last summer, I resumed freestyle lap swimming after a hiatus. I’m purely a rec swimmer and will never be super fast, but I still want to cut my 1000-meter time, 25 minutes. “What’s a ‘decent’ 1000-meter swim time?” I asked my yoga student who does triathlons. Here’s her paraphrased answer: It depends. A fast swimmer will…… Continue reading Take it to the next level
The other day, teaching at a community centre, I did an elevated Chatushpadasana (Bridge pose), feet on chair. Props are minimal, but include thick mats, foam blocks, and straps. I resorted to supporting my shoulders with a folded-up mat. During my demo, I immediately realized that one mat was inadequate, but nevertheless worked the pose.…… Continue reading Making money from yoga teaching
During my Lonely Planet research trip to Hawaii, I dropped on 75-minute classes at two Hilo studios: Balancing Monkey and Yoga Centered. Neither offers Iyengar yoga , but one teacher’s bio mentioned that she’s in training for Intro II certification. Curious, I attended her “basics” class–and a half-priced “community flow” class at the other studio. Guess which…… Continue reading An Iyengar yogini in a flow yoga class
A friend recently tried a few classes at one of Vancouver’s large, multi-branch yoga studios. While her main practice is Iyengar yoga, she was curious to see what else is out there. She found teaching quality quite variable, and she was amazed at the hordes of students. “How big are the classes?” I asked. “At…… Continue reading Can Iyengar yoga attract the masses?
After President Obama’s second inauguration in January, Beyoncé got flak for performing the US national anthem using a pre-recorded version. At first, I agreed that singing live is not only superior, but also expected. On second thought, her recorded version is still her. We hear her voice, her interpretation. So what if she sang it beforehand? Music…… Continue reading Yoga videos versus yoga teaching
Ever seen cooking shows like Iron Chef America or Chopped? When I occasionally watch these cook-offs, I quite enjoy them. In well under an hour, chefs must whip up culinary masterpieces using “secret ingredients” revealed at the last moment. Their dishes must be creative without overshadowing the ingredients or sacrificing taste—classic yet extraordinary. Maybe I somewhat relate…… Continue reading Secret ingredients
Since I write for Lonely Planet, people assume that I’m constantly traveling. I’m often asked about where I’m going, where I’ve been. Actually, I take only family and work trips nowadays. This year my destinations were familiar ones: Hawaii, San Francisco, Berkeley, and Santa Cruz. For required work meetings, I also flew to Atlanta, my…… Continue reading In traveling, a companion; in life, compassion
In the first decade of my yoga practice, I rarely chanted. Occasionally a teacher might’ve led students in chanting “om,” but that was about it. Since moving to Vancouver in the late 2000s, I found that Iyengar yoga classes often start with chanting the Invocation to Patanjali. At first I needed to follow along with…… Continue reading Do you chant? Do you pray?
When I first started practicing yoga in Berkeley, I wore contact lenses all the time. Then a friend commented that wearing contacts permanently enlarges blood vessels in the eye. “Look at people who’ve never worn contacts,” he said. “The whites of their eyes are much whiter.” He was right. So my original vanity to avoid…… Continue reading In defense of wearing glasses while doing yoga
My yoga friend Helen, a pianist, recently mentioned the work of Don Greene, a well-known sports psychologist and performance coach. Skimming his writings, I found the following tip for “centering” before performing: Conjure up a “process cue”: words, images, sounds, or sensations associated with successful performance. This could be a phrase like “good tempo,” a positive…… Continue reading Good Morning Starshine? Desperado? What’s “your” song?
The other day, waiting at a bus stop, I noticed a well-dressed man racing to catch his bus. The last passenger was already boarding, and drivers are notorious for zooming off. A few onlookers turned to see whether he caught it. (He did.) That’s human nature, I thought to myself: We want to know what…… Continue reading The end of the story
When was the last time you took an exam that mattered? During my end-of-summer trip to California, an acquaintance asked about my training to be a certified Iyengar yoga teacher. I gave him the gist, describing how the training program, while international in scope, is small and selective, mentor-based, and lengthy. And then there is…… Continue reading The element of risk