Yoga videos versus yoga teaching

After President Obama’s second inauguration in January, Beyoncé got flak for performing the US national anthem using a pre-recorded version. At first, I agreed that singing live is not only superior, but also expected. On second thought, her recorded version is still her. We hear her voice, her interpretation. So what if she sang it beforehand? Music is an art form experienced mostly through recording anyway. I researched and found some famous renditions of “The Star-Spangled Banner”: Whitney Houston’s 1991 Super Bowl XXV performance apparently was pre-recorded: Marvin Gaye 1983 NBA All-Star Game performance was not: Yet both are fantastic. I proceeded to think … Continue reading Yoga videos versus yoga teaching

So many books, so little time

Vancouver’s indie Book Warehouse is closing its West Broadway location (sigh). All stock is discounted 25%. I was tempted by 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die*, a 960-page reference edited by Peter Boxall, English professor, University of Sussex. But the sheer number put me off. It’s probably impossible to read all 1,001 selections, but I crunched the numbers anyway. If I read 25 books a year, it would take 40 years. If I rack up a staggering 50 books a year, it would take 20 years. Actually, popular blogger Steve Pavlina made a compelling argument for this very goal, Read … Continue reading So many books, so little time

The challenge to my intelligence

Years ago I discovered Lydia Davis‘s fragmentary short stories. While extremely brief and lacking standard beginning-middle-end structure, they were strangely compelling. Recently I was reminded of her: the title of my last post, “The End of the Story,” is the title of her only novel. For fun I Googled her name and found an interesting 2008 interview in The Believer. When asked about how Samuel Beckett‘s writing influenced her, she responded: I came to Beckett very early on and was startled by his pared-down style. As I practiced writing (in my early twenties), I actively studied his way of putting sentences … Continue reading The challenge to my intelligence

On being “ready” for a pose

Yesterday someone asked me, “How do I know if I’m ready for a pose?” “Which pose?” I asked back. “Handstand.” During a recent workshop with senior Iyengar yoga teacher Gabriella Giubilaro, she finally kicked up, with a minimal spot. But she usually requires more help. She’s rather nervous about the pose, and handstand requires a bit of aplomb, plus lightness and control. We discussed the essential requirements, such as limber hamstrings, open chest and shoulders, and solid arms (she hyperextends her elbows). Working on each element is helpful but ultimately there’s only way to befriend a pose: to do it. Kick … Continue reading On being “ready” for a pose

What are your favorite yoga props?

About a year after I got my first yoga mat in 1998, I invested in other Iyengar props (including blankets, blocks, and strap). I purchased them from San Francisco’s Yoga Props (buy local!), and I still use those props at home. Today I bought a bunch of new props (more blankets, blocks, and straps, plus those Canadian chip foam blocks and two 10-pound sandbags) from Vancouver’s Halfmoon (buy local!). I bought them to use at my first workshop with Gabriella Giubilaro, a big favorite among Iyengar practitioners at the Yoga Space. We local students are required to bring our own … Continue reading What are your favorite yoga props?