Clothes, hair, and other material obsessions

In Vancouver, the yoga “uniform” is dictated by homegrown Lululemon Athletica. It’s the go-to source for yoga apparel, regardless of age, ethnicity, gender, and yoga method. At The Yoga Space, an Iyengar studio where I study and teach, I recently found myself in a sea of Swiftly Tech tops and Wunder Unders (including mine). It’s not only a female thing. One day, I was adjusting the shoulders of a male student: a professor emeritus of literature, more the Canadian classic Tilley type–or so I thought. Then I noticed, glinting at me from the back of his pullover, the iconic Lululemon logo. My first Lululemon purchase was the Groove Pant, followed by two … Continue reading Clothes, hair, and other material obsessions

Train like a German soccer star

In early September, I chanced upon the New York Times article, “Train Like a German Soccer Star,” by Gretchen Reynolds. After seven weeks abroad, I’d just returned to Vancouver, still gloriously sunny. Rather than resuming my pre-trip routine, I decided to try something new. Check out the eight warm-up exercises developed by Mark Verstegen, team trainer for the German national football team, which won the 2014 World Cup, and founder of EXOS, a Phoenix-based athletic training company. I substituted this routine for my yoga practice two mornings a week. I ramped it up to a workout by increasing the number of repetitions and sets–and lengthening the distance covered when skipping and … Continue reading Train like a German soccer star

Yoga videos versus yoga teaching

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 is an art form experienced mostly through recording anyway. I researched and found some famous renditions of “The Star-Spangled Banner”: Whitney Houston’s 1991 Super Bowl XXV performance apparently was pre-recorded: Marvin Gaye 1983 NBA All-Star Game performance was not: Yet both are fantastic. I proceeded to think … Continue reading Yoga videos versus yoga teaching

Cell phones in yoga class? Are you kidding me?

Heard the one about the yoga teacher fired for enforcing a no-cell-phone rule in class? According to her post on elephantjournal.com (and the prior San Francisco Chronicle story), Alice Van Ness taught yoga at Facebook’s headquarters in Menlo Park, California. Before class one day, she requested that students turn off cell phones. When she enforced this rule, glaring at a student (in the middle of the front row) texting while she taught Ardha Chandrasana, she got fired. Wha—? I was incredulous. What student would text during class? What teacher would allow it? Actually, she was fired not directly by Facebook, but by the fitness contractor that … Continue reading Cell phones in yoga class? Are you kidding me?

Breaking news in the yoga world

Big press and little press Fast becoming the muckraker of yoga, William Broad has written another controversial New York Times article: “Yoga and Sex Scandals: No Surprise Here” (February 27, 2012) posits that it’s no surprise that yoga produces “so many philanderers”—and that “scientific” research shows heightened sexual response from hatha yoga. (See responses from it’s all yoga, baby, YogaDork, and Leslie Kaminoff.) The same day that article was published, I read a few back issues of the Iyengar Yoga Centre of Victoria newsletter that I’d recently acquired. A slim, homemade-looking pamphlet back then, the newsletter impressed me with timeless content, including exclusive interviews with … Continue reading Breaking news in the yoga world

Yoga Journal: the music issue

The September 2011 issue of Yoga Journal is “the music issue.” It contains a home practice sequence synced with an MC Yogi playlist, interviews with musicians who do yoga, and a look at the kirtan spectacle in America. The online magazine offers Funky Love Songs, “some of the grooviest, most genre-bending forms of mantra music in the yoga world.” Should we care what Alanis Morissette (cover model), Bonnie Raitt, Moby, Ziggy Marley, and Maroon 5 band members say about yoga? Well, I’m a willing listener of stories and opinions (on yoga, on whatever)—if someone has something to say. I wrote about doing … Continue reading Yoga Journal: the music issue

Hooping and the hybridization of yoga in America

Nature, its three qualities, sattva, rajas, and tamas, and its evolutes, the elements, mind, senses of perception and organs of action, exist eternally to serve the seer, for enjoyment (bhoga) or emancipation (apavarga). Yoga Sutra II.18, Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, BKS Iyengar Yoga and hula hooping? Yes, according to an August 2011 Yoga Journal article, “You Spin Me Round”: Hoop-yoga is trendy among Anusara yoga practitioners. The magazine profiles performer Shakti Sunfire (aka Laura Blakeman), who’s “part whirling dervish, part pinup girl, and 100 percent yogini.” It quotes Anusara’s founder, John Friend: “Hooping rocks.” My reaction was mixed. On … Continue reading Hooping and the hybridization of yoga in America

Eco hypocrisy

In mid May, I arrived to teach yoga and was surprised to find the room so toasty. It was a cold, rainy morning in Vancouver (hey, summer, where are you?), but inside it was downright sweltering: the thermostat read 25 degrees Celsius. Huh? I immediately bumped it down to 20 and told the staff that 25 is crazy, regardless of season. I was reminded of this interview with Mark Wigley, dean of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation. A New Zealand native, he criticizes the American model of controlling indoor temperature (and of over-icing drinks) just because … Continue reading Eco hypocrisy

Have you tried the Three Minute Egg?

When I first saw ads for the Three Minute Egg in Yoga Journal, I hardly glanced at them. I already have my favorite propsand the colorful foam “eggs” seemed gimmicky. But the ads kept appearing. One featured “signature eggs”—featuring well-known teachers Annie Carpenter, Jason Crandell, Aadil Palkhivala (who, like Cher, signed only his first name), and Joan White—which rubbed me the wrong way: I see too many yoga celebrities and yoga fans already. I was curious nevertheless and Googled the company. I read about the indie founder, whose personal tale about the egg’s origin is quite impressive. I observed the egg’s … Continue reading Have you tried the Three Minute Egg?

“Footstickers” and yoga feet

December 21 was winter solstice, the longest night of the year. In Vancouver, that means a narrow window of daylight. While I’m not particularly vulnerable to SAD, I did feel rather depleted when it turned darkish by 4pm yesterday. Maybe it’s my massive Lonely Planet write-up, which always seems intractable until I’m perhaps 75% done. It’s nice to see the light at the tunnel’s end, whether in work or in winter! Blog posts will be sporadic till February, but I had to mention these Footstickers designed by Nike EMEA. More minimalist than ToeSox, they might unobtrusively solve the slippage problem (which … Continue reading “Footstickers” and yoga feet

The trouble with mixing yoga and music: Part II

A few days after I drafted my prior post on musical accompaniment to asana, I read a fascinating New York Times article, “How to Push Past the Pain, as the Champions Do” (October 18, 2010). In assessing how elite athletes edge out their competitors, despite equivalent “pain,” experts made two points. First, it helps to be familiar with the conditions (such as the race course), for optimal pacing. Second, it helps to “associate,” to concentrate on your sport and the task at hand. Regarding the second point, John S. Raglin, a sports psychologist at Indiana University, says that less accomplished athletes tend to … Continue reading The trouble with mixing yoga and music: Part II

The trouble with mixing yoga and music: Part I

I never do or teach yoga to music. But one morning I scrolled through my iTunes library for something suitable. I chose Trans-Siberian Orchestra‘s Christmas Eve and Other Stories. (It was October.) My favorite track is “Christmas/ Sarajevo 12/24,” their take on “Carol of the Bells.” Half listening in the midst of my asana practice, I found myself drifting down nostalgia lane… to high school band. In the first clarinet row, I sat beside my cousin (I’ll call her JM), a year older and forever smiling. She was neither the brightest nor the dullest light, but that was beside the … Continue reading The trouble with mixing yoga and music: Part I