Have you ever cried in yoga class?

“I couldn’t stop crying in Savasana,” my friend Elaine once told me. She was struggling through a bad time and finally, in yoga class, she felt at ease. It was such a relief that she broke down. Yoga can catalyze emotions in people. I’ve witnessed spontaneous crying, during or after asana, most likely at all-day workshops. The hours and hours of yoga, the divergence from routine, somehow trigger emotional release. I myself can’t recall ever crying in class. For me, yoga has the opposite benefit. Asana (even a strenuous session) calms my mood swings. If I’m on the verge of losing it, yoga steers me to a … Continue reading Have you ever cried in yoga class?

Yoga… and the rest of your life

A few years ago, I was walking along the seawall at Kitsilano Beach. There’s a segment where the seawall separates the path from a drop (Six feet? Eight feet?) to the beach below. A friend I’ll call MJ dared me to walk atop the seawall. It’s encouragingly over a foot wide. But would I risk toppling from a height greater than my own? “Hold my hand,” I said. “Then I’ll try it.” “That would be only for practice.” “You’ve got to be joking. No thanks!” At that moment, a man and his dog approached us from the opposite direction. The dog–a short-legged … Continue reading Yoga… and the rest of your life

Pranayama, sleep, and other New Year’s resolutions

In the late 1990s, I took to yoga asana without a second thought. My body immediately loved it. I initially attended three to five classes weekly. My little apartment, with carpet and cat, wasn’t ideal for home practice, but I eventually appropriated a floor and wall space at the UC Berkeley rec center for my practice. Pranayama is another animal. Stillness, physical or mental, is not second nature to me. I’ve attended classes and done some reading on pranayama over the years. But adding breath work to my current two-hour asana practice simply hasn’t happened. The immaculate expanse of a … Continue reading Pranayama, sleep, and other New Year’s resolutions

Could you live without a mirror?

I just returned from a trip to Hilo, my hometown on the Big Island of Hawai‘i. During my stay, I spent four nights in Captain Cook, South Kona, to attend a workshop by Aadil Palkhivala at Big Island Yoga Center. I rented a rustic in-law apartment with futon on floor and open-air kitchen and bathroom. Tropical foliage surrounded the house, along with a few wild chickens and cows. As a Lonely Planet writer, I’ve viewed countless vacation rentals and mentally rated this one a “decent value.” It could’ve used a thorough professional cleaning (immaculateness can boost a no-frills studio to A+ in … Continue reading Could you live without a mirror?