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

Do you sing? Do you chant?

I recently caught a CBC radio interview with twin sisters Lisa-Kainde and Naomi Diaz of the French-Cuban musical duo Ibeyi. They have roots in France, having grown up in Paris, and in Cuba, homeland of their late father, well-known percussionist Anga Diaz. In the interview, the sisters commented on how everyone sings in Cuba. Singing is not restricted only to performers or to professionals. Maybe it’s because kids don’t have other things to do, they said. No PlayStation and other material things. In contrast, in other countries and cultures, little kids might all sing, but soon separate into singers and non-singers. An offshoot of singing is chanting, another vocal … Continue reading Do you sing? Do you chant?

Four months left in 2015: What will you do with it?

“You are what you do, not what you say you’ll do.” If Carl Jung is right (and he probably is), I haven’t been a blogger lately. I had high hopes to post frequently in August. After all, I had a few weeks’ break from yoga teaching. (In contrast, last summer in Pune I was immersed and extra alert (first time at RIMYI, first time in India). But I averaged a mind-boggling (for me) three posts per week. Then and there, I was compelled to write.) When I don’t write and my blog stagnates, I feel a bit guilty—as I do when some of my New Year’s resolutions remain undone. With only four months … Continue reading Four months left in 2015: What will you do with it?

The yoga “demonstration”

In my first class for teens, I taught an active, but basic, sequence, with lots of jumpings and standing poses. Most were absolute beginners; even the basics were demanding. After class, however, the teens’ teacher, an Iyengar yoga student herself, made a request. “Next week show them some of the fancy poses,” she said. “Fire them up. They don’t know anything about yoga and need to see where it can go.” In my typical adult classes, I demonstrate a pose only if relevant to the day’s sequence. Rarely, almost never, would I demo a pose if I’m not teaching it. Here, she was asking me to do just … Continue reading The yoga “demonstration”

On teaching teens

For four weeks last spring, I taught Iyengar yoga to 40 teenagers. All were academically gifted students enrolled in an early-admission university program. While a couple had done yoga in elementary school or with Wii Fit, most had never attended a single yoga class. Thank goodness they were split into two groups of 20. Teens, no matter how advanced academically, behave nothing like adults in class! While I taught a particular subset of teenagers, here are my observation on teaching teens versus adults: Teens can’t stop talking I mistakenly assumed that because these kids were stellar students, they would immediately shut their traps and listen silently (as do adult students). No way! They … Continue reading On teaching teens

Santosha, contentment, and curly hair

In January, Dove released a “Love Your Curls” video, an offshoot in its “Campaign For Real Beauty.” Like any mass-marketing campaign, the video is one that people either love or hate. It features a bunch of little girls criticizing their unruly curls and declaring that straight hair is more beautiful. Then, the girls are led to a surprise party, with a bunch of curly tops, dancing and singing an uptempo “we love our curls” anthem. It’s a corny, somewhat cringe-worthy scene. But, I must admit, when I was their age, I felt exactly as did these little girls. I remember the same self-consciousness, the same discontent, the same fervent wish for … Continue reading Santosha, contentment, and curly hair