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
Category: Iyengar Yoga
Do you chant? Do you pray?
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?
In defense of wearing glasses while doing yoga
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
Good Morning Starshine? Desperado? What’s “your” song?
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 end of the story
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
The element of risk
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
Do you have a Geeta story?
A rite of passage for Iyengar yoga practitioners is a trip to the Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute (RIMYI) in Pune—to study directly with the Iyengars. Of course, BKS Iyengar is 92. Unless you met him in the 1970s or ’80s (or possibly the ’90s), it’s too late to make a personal connection now. It’s probably…… Continue reading Do you have a Geeta story?
On paying attention
The classic Iyengar method of teaching asana is what I’ll call the “demo” method: teacher demonstrates and then students do. This contrasts with the common “follow the leader” method, in which teachers do practically the whole sequence along with students. So, many students who attend my classes aren’t used to the “demo” method. Often, they’re…… Continue reading On paying attention
Finding a meditative experience in an Iyengar class
The same student who sparked my prior post, “Criticism and praise in yoga classes,” asked another question about Iyengar yoga classes: “I… love my vinyasa practice because of the familiar repetition and rhythm—you can lose yourself in the continual movement. Do you think you can ‘get’ that meditative experience in an Iyengar class? Maybe on…… Continue reading Finding a meditative experience in an Iyengar class
The power of words: Part II
As a yoga teacher, I let loose lots of words in class. Nowhere else do I speak nonstop for more than an hour. While my instructions seem straightforward, however, what I say can cause inadvertent effects. A student I’ll call Rose confided that she disliked the way I sometimes verbally correct students by name from afar.…… Continue reading The power of words: Part II
In class I noticed a fellow student’s personal set of yoga blocks. Even from afar, I could tell they were solid wood. Handsome and old school, such blocks on my wish list, so I asked her where she got them. “They were a gift,” she said, apologetically. Then she couldn’t resist adding, “I’m really attached…… Continue reading Solid wood
When being assessed for Iyengar certification, teacher candidates are not supposed to show skin. In other words, no low-cut necklines, no skimpy tanks, no bare midriffs. (I don’t know if this is an official rule or unwritten protocol.) This topic arose recently in light of the pose sarvangasana (shoulderstand). Don’t most of us do sarvangasana…… Continue reading Showing skin