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…… Continue reading Yoga… and the rest of your life
During my Lonely Planet research trip to Hawaii, I dropped on 75-minute classes at two Hilo studios: Balancing Monkey and Yoga Centered. Neither offers Iyengar yoga , but one teacher’s bio mentioned that she’s in training for Intro II certification. Curious, I attended her “basics” class–and a half-priced “community flow” class at the other studio. Guess which…… Continue reading An Iyengar yogini in a flow yoga class
Ask those new to yoga why they’re doing it. Chances are, they’ll cite physical fitness: I’m so tight. I can’t touch my toes. I need to stretch. I’m rehabbing my back. Etc. Certainly yoga improves flexibility, strength, balance, and coordination. But what about mood? Can asana–the “mere” act of doing a pose–affect your mental state?…… Continue reading Do a pose, change your mood
When I first started practicing yoga in Berkeley, I wore contact lenses all the time. Then a friend commented that wearing contacts permanently enlarges blood vessels in the eye. “Look at people who’ve never worn contacts,” he said. “The whites of their eyes are much whiter.” He was right. So my original vanity to avoid…… Continue reading In defense of wearing glasses while doing yoga
There’s nothing like a public resolution to shame spur me to action. In July I vowed to do Supta Virasana daily, and nothing short of catastrophe could’ve kept me from a perfect record. One evening, the temperature inside was still in the 70s (a veritable heat wave in Vancouver) and a bunch of windows were…… Continue reading On Supta Virasana and sticking to resolutions
Savasana versus nap Have you ever fallen asleep in Savasana? I rarely do, but one of my colleagues seems to doze off regularly. Although we don’t attend the same weekly class, we attend workshops together. If I’m in his vicinity during Savasana, I’ve heard him softly snoring each time. Me, I’m just the opposite. I…… Continue reading Yoga, sleep, Savasana, insomnia… and the curious case of Paschimottanasana
In June, I attended a three-day workshop with Chris Saudek, a senior Iyengar teacher based in Wisconsin. She made her first trip to RIMYI in 1980, and today her midwestern decorum belies her brilliantly intense sequences and drill-sergeant rigor. I gain much physically from her workshops: my hip flexors were toast after the first full day, while…… Continue reading July challenge: Supta Virasana every day for 31 days
I need not introduce How Yoga Can Wreck Your Body, the New York Times article that’s gone viral. My first response upon reading it: These anecdotes are outliers! Who sits in Vajrasana for hours daily, tears Achilles tendons in Downward Dog, or pops ribs in a spinal twist?! My second response: No Iyengar yoga teacher would intentionally push…… Continue reading Tell me about pain, yours, and I will tell you mine
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…… Continue reading Pranayama, sleep, and other New Year’s resolutions
The other day, I returned to the MRI clinic where I got my knee scanned last summer. (I wanted more of the orange foam earplugs given to patients. They look ordinary but block noise better than any others I’ve tried. I use them when it’s not quiet enough for sleep.) In the elevator, I met…… Continue reading Forced stillness
Last weekend I enjoyed a rigorous workshop taught by Chris Saudek, a senior Iyengar teacher from the Midwest. Since 1980 she has studied with the Iyengars in Pune; now, at the Senior Intermediate III level, she trains teachers in the US and Canada. The asana sessions were challenging in the classic Iyengar way, with basic…… Continue reading Do Savasana first?
Recently at the gym, I spied on a yoga-type class (it turned out to be “lyrical jazz”) in the adjacent dance studio. The teacher was doing what resembled Upavistha Konasana, facing a wall-to-wall mirror. Behind her, a lineup of students tried to copy. With her elbows grounded on the floor, the teacher lengthened her spine forward.…… Continue reading Is a bad yoga class still pretty good?