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 my third year of law school, I took an elective called “Law and Literature,” taught by John Jay Osborne, Jr, author of The Paper Chase, a novel (and movie and TV show) about a Harvard law student and his obsession with his intimidating contracts professor. In this offbeat course (even at Berkeley), we escaped “black…… Continue reading Reciprocal relationships
In yesterday’s New York Times Magazine, Mimi Swartz wrote a lengthy profile on John Friend, the Houston-based founder of Anusara yoga. I’d been curious about this new (13 years old) form of yoga, based on Iyengar yoga but with a “touchy-feely” overlay. The article made me cringe, I must admit. It wasn’t only Mr Friend’s commercial…… Continue reading Why Anusara?
Growing up in Hawaii, all of us girls took hula lessons. But none of us considered ourselves “real” hula dancers. The serious dancers joined hula halau (schools), led by revered kumu hulu (hula teachers). And the top dancers view hula not as hobby but as lifestyle. Recently, I read “Aloha, Uncle” in the current issue of…… Continue reading Yoga and hula
My travel writer “hat” In one of my other lives, I write travel books on Hawaii. Recently, Erin, a fellow travel writer, and I chatted about how much longer we could do it. Yes, we agreed, everyone glamorizes the adventures of a travel writer, but the reality is more mundane (and grueling). Research trips are…… Continue reading Wearing the yoga teacher “hat”
For the past five or so years, I’ve wanted my dad to do asanas for his tight shoulders, chest, and upper back. While he’s fit and lean (and suntanned from gardening, golfing, and simply being an outdoorsman in Hawaii his whole life), he’s got “slouch” (that’s hyper-kyphosis to the Iyengar contingent) written in his genes.…… Continue reading Yoga Rx for my dad
Among my yoga students, class attendance varies by person. Some never miss a class. “Yoga is the highlight of my weekend,” one regular tells me. Others want more classes offered, so that they can attend frequently, even daily. Some want to come, but can’t help occasionally sleeping in. Others must juggle yoga with family commitments.…… Continue reading Silent camaraderie
In a March 1, 2010, New York Times article, “Old Age, From Youth’s Narrow Prism,” Marc E Agronin, MD, examines our conceptions (and misconceptions) about old age. He’s often surprised when his geriatric patients contradict his expectations. He writes, “All of us lapse into such mistaken impressions of old age from time to time. It…… Continue reading Does 55+ yoga make sense?
The notion of yoga competition is universally mocked by serious practitioners. As I wrote in my prior post, “Olympic fever,” asana is only one aspect of yoga, not the goal. It cannot be judged by a one-time performance. That said, I have a confession to make. Asana is key to my yoga practice, so I…… Continue reading Judging teachers
In my last post, I riffed on two related, but distinct, themes: the crux of Iyengar yoga and the value of verbal instructions. I perhaps shortchanged both, leading to unintended interpretations. Because I wrote that I never encounter too many asana cues, readers focused on quantity (and, implicitly, quality) of verbal instructions. I cringed as I…… Continue reading Understanding your students (and your dog)
My ongoing “research” on the mega studio in town has been quite revelatory. First, I’ve found some good teachers at a studio I’d discounted as too commercial. (It is commercial, but that doesn’t mean all the teachers are middling.) A few nights ago, I took two “Hatha” classes. The first teacher was as detailed in…… Continue reading Sampling yoga studios and teachers
Months ago, I received a two-week pass to the biggest yoga studio in my town. It boasts five locations, 30 to 40 teachers, and almost 150 weekly classes in various yoga styles, including Vinyasa Power Flow, Kundalini, and Hatha (a name that I still find misbegotten, as discussed here). Workshops feature celebrity teachers, such as Shiva…… Continue reading The biggest yoga studio in my town