Emergencies and emotions

Walking to a yoga class in October, my friend Marie accidentally tripped and fell amid a big road construction project near the Berkeley studio. She was not seriously injured, but she did fall hard on her face, skinning her nose and scraping her hands and a knee. Arriving bleeding at the studio, Marie’s longtime teacher…… Continue reading Emergencies and emotions

Extreme breath control

I first read about the sport of freediving two summers ago, in an August/September 2008 Hana Hou! magazine article, “On One Breath” by Michael Shapiro. Researching the sport with gusto, Shapiro himself trains to do a four-minute breath hold and a 100-foot dive. Insanity! My interest was further piqued in “The Deepest Dive,” The New…… Continue reading Extreme breath control

Yoga as performance art

What’s your take on yoga as performance art? I just viewed Seattle yoga teacher Theresa Elliott’s yoga-dance compositions, posted on Nikki Chau’s yoga blog. I’ve never met Elliott, director of Taj Yoga but I’ve gathered that she’s a serious and respected yogi. Clicking through her photo gallery, I immediately see that her asana practice is outstanding. Watching…… Continue reading Yoga as performance art

The meaning of retreat

In the November 2009 issue of Yoga Journal, the article “great escapes” describes four types of yoga retreats: home, do-it-yourself (with friends), urban, and luxury. I was relieved that they covered a variety of retreats, which mean wildly different things to different people. The word “retreat” literally means to withdraw (source: spiritplantjourneys.org), and I subscribe…… Continue reading The meaning of retreat

Further thoughts on home practice

We talk about “home practice” as if it has one definition. But, of course, our home practices are wildly different. I’m not talking only about asanas, sequences, methods, or levels. I’m talking about the logistics and the logic of one’s home practice. LOGISTICS I currently do my home practice at a community center in my neighborhood.…… Continue reading Further thoughts on home practice

Halloween treats and ahimsa

Do I uphold the yama (moral rule) of ahimsa (non-violence)? My automatic answer is, “Of course.” When I think of non-violence, my mind leaps to egregious examples of violence. Murder. Arson. Chasing cats with vacuum cleaners. I’d never do any of that. But then I read books that define ahimsa broadly. In addition to not…… Continue reading Halloween treats and ahimsa

The significance of straight A’s and perfect asanas

I first heard about yoga competitions a year or two ago, watching a TV news reporter interview three competitors, a female champ, plus a boy and girl. The kids, in particular, were fascinating to watch. Their lithe bodies moved smoothly into advanced asanas. Both seemed reserved and introspective, as if yoga were an oasis for…… Continue reading The significance of straight A’s and perfect asanas

Ginger and karma yoga

For over a decade, among my closest friends was Ginger, a calico cat rescued from the wild. Beautiful, with striking markings, she had a feral streak and the classic temperamental calico personality. We had our roommate clashes; she was not the docile type and liberally used claws and teeth to make a point. Once, during…… Continue reading Ginger and karma yoga