I once read about Ryojun Shionuma, a Shugendo Buddhist priest who achieved two grueling feats of physical endurance. First, for nine years during the May-September trekking season, he hiked 30 miles daily, navigating an elevation change of 4,000 feet with an … Continue reading Hard or easy?
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?
One of my students, Anna, is debating whether to continue yoga classes this spring. The class she attends, on Mondays from 12:45-2pm, immediately follows three hours of her own work, introducing music to babies and toddlers. As a Music Together teacher, she must be “on”: engaged and animated (the under-four set won’t cut you any slack!). She has no time to catch her breath or to gather her thoughts (or to eat a snack) before yoga. She’s also busy in her personal life, raising a young son with her husband. While she enjoys the class and the way it pushes … Continue reading Getting your ducks in a row
In the New York Times article “When Chocolate and Chakras Collide” (January 26, 2010), yoga practitioners debate the yogic diet: Should yogis eat meat? Drink alcohol? Indulge in sweets and spices, onions and garlic? Traditionalists hold that ahimsa requires vegetarianism, and that one must avoid strong flavors, caffeine, and alcohol, which overwhelm the senses. Revisionists argue that the hardline approach is unnecessary, if one’s attitude is appropriate. Both views make sense. It seems incongruous that a yogi be pleasure-seeking; yet, sticking to the rules doesn’t guarantee saintliness. My two cents: CONSCIOUS EATING In the article, a group gathered for “vigorous, … Continue reading Sense, Sensuality, and Sensibility
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 them, a better fit than soccer or skateboarding. Still, the whole idea of a yoga competition bothered me. If we turn asana into a competitive sport, what happens to the larger meaning of yoga? Even as a regular student in a regular class, it’s easy … Continue reading The significance of straight A’s and perfect asanas
Man’s mind, stretched by a new idea, never goes back to its original dimensions. Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr A while back, I wrote “Broken wings and bystander yogis,” a post on the responsibility we hold to act in crises—to avoid perpetuating the phenomenon of bystander apathy. In the Yoga Journal Community, a member named lighthasmass (LHM) posted a comment (login needed) about a personal incident: While driving to teach a yoga class, LHM was running late. A dog suddenly appeared along the 55mph highway and jumped in front of the car behind LHM. The car hit it. LHM faced a … Continue reading Planting the seed of an idea
Last spring, a young woman in my yoga class trekked around Mount Kailash. She and her husband practice Tibetan Buddhism and this was a big “pilgrimage” for them. I found out about her trip after class, when she gave our teacher a small stone, taken from the mountain. The student also reported that she’d deposited a lock of our teacher’s hair at the top of the mountain. Apparently, visitors typically leave mementos at a sacred spot up there: locks of hair, teeth, photos, loved ones’ ashes. Having never seen Mount Kailash myself, I wondered what is appropriate. Is it okay to … Continue reading Leaving and taking