Flowers need not be flowery

Wow. Despite the ostensible demise of traditional journalism, the Times (which in the USA can mean only The New York Times) still has clout. One day, John Friend and Anusara yoga are merrily trotting along. The next day, boom! Everyone has an opinion about him, about the growing commercialism of yoga, about worldwide mega tours, about modern yoga’s authenticity, about “feel-good” words and effective teaching. When I wrote that I dislike “flowery” language, I essentially meant that I hate phoniness and showiness. An authentic teacher (a “deep person,” I might’ve said back in college) need not state the obvious. She … Continue reading Flowers need not be flowery

Align the body, align the mind

During my immersion at the mega studio, I met teachers from various yoga backgrounds. Once, before a class, I chatted with the teacher, whom I’ll call Joan. She’d studied at a Sivananda centre before taking the mega studio’s three-month teacher-training program. “That’s one type of yoga I’ve never tried,” I commented about Sivananda, which I know only from their ads (and from 1998 Heisman Trophy winner Ricky Williams‘s connection to it). “I’ve studied primarily Iyengar yoga,” I added. “Oh, that’s the exact opposite,” she replied. “Sivananda is not really about alignment. It’s all about the practice.” Huh? It was almost … Continue reading Align the body, align the mind

Yoga arms

In the San Francisco Bay Area, Funky Door Yoga (a Bikram joint), used to use the slogan, “A regular yoga practice gives you a great butt.” (Note: I just checked the website and it now states, “A regular yoga practice gives you great legs.”) Yes, we’ve all heard about the yoga butt, yoga abs, yoga toes. But what about yoga arms? No, I’m not talkin’ about sinewy muscles but arm position. In Iyengar yoga, teachers emphasize classic yoga arms: straight but not stiff (including wrists and fingers). If tight shoulders prevent you from raising your arms straight and parallel, in … Continue reading Yoga arms

Sampling yoga studios and teachers

My ongoing “research” on the mega studio in town has been quite revelatory. First, I’ve found some good teachers at a studio I’d discounted as too commercial. (It is commercial, but that doesn’t mean all the teachers are middling.) A few nights ago, I took two “Hatha” classes. The first teacher was as detailed in pelvic alignment as any Iyengar teacher would be. She actively observed students and corrected foot placement or overarched lumbar spines with care. The second teacher, an Ayurvedic specialist, made an even-stronger impression on me, combining physical precision and straightforward philosophy (with none of that annoying, … Continue reading Sampling yoga studios and teachers

The mega studio versus what?

In response to my post  “The lure of the mega studio,” Ray wrote a thoughtful comment, asking me about my frame of reference. To what am I contrasting the mega studio? Since day one, my predominant practice has been Iyengar yoga. So, the studio attributes randomly listed below apply frequently (but not exclusively) to Iyengar studios. But the key difference is not the type of yoga but the teacher-student dynamic: is the teacher just leading a sequence of asanas (like a DVD come to life) or is the teacher actually teaching? Small-ish classes, ranging from 10 to 3o (unless a … Continue reading The mega studio versus what?

The lure of the mega studio

Since my last post about the biggest yoga studio in my town, I’ve attended five more classes there (12 total). I’ve seen four of their five locations so far. They’re all huge: I’d estimate that two have mat capacity for 40 to 50, one could hold 60, and the main studio might squeeze in 80. Of course, everyday classes don’t fill to the max. But they’re still large. On Sunday night, the Vinyasa Power Flow class attracted about 40 students, while the Yin class was a hit with at about 60. (One class that I took last week numbered seven, … Continue reading The lure of the mega studio

The biggest yoga studio in my town

Months ago, I received a two-week pass to the biggest yoga studio in my town. It boasts five locations, 30 to 40 teachers, and almost 150 weekly classes in various yoga styles, including Vinyasa Power Flow, Kundalini, and Hatha (a name that I still find misbegotten, as discussed here). Workshops feature celebrity teachers, such as Shiva Rea, Seane Corn, Dharma Mittra, and Mark Whitwell. When I moved here, I tried a class or two, for personal “research” but I soon got busy with my chosen Iyengar teacher and classes. Now, during the holiday lull, I am taking advantage of my pass … Continue reading The biggest yoga studio in my town