Yoga protocol: why does it matter?

Before a pranayama class at RIMYI in Pune last August, we students were sprawled on our mats. Some sitting, some chatting; others, like me, lying down leg stretches. When the teacher, Rajlaxmi, entered the room and settled herself on a bolster, I swung up, sit-up style. “Lie back down!” she yelled. What? In a flash, we lowered ourselves to the floor. “Now, roll to the right,” she directed. “Look down. Push yourself up. That’s how we sit up in yoga.” Rajlaxmi is practical, focused primarily on alignment and technique. But that day she reminded me of yoga protocol–the rules and rituals we follow … Continue reading Yoga protocol: why does it matter?

In defense of wearing glasses while doing yoga

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 being a “girl in glasses” bowed to my wiser vanity to maintain clear, bright eyes for the rest of my life. I experimented with wearing glasses during physical activity: Working out at the gym (fine). Running (troublesome). Swimming using Rx goggles (surprisingly fine). Yoga (fine). I tried … Continue reading In defense of wearing glasses while doing yoga

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

Loss of control

Reading “What Broke My Father’s Heart,” New York Times Magazine, June 14, 2010, by Katy Butler, plus readers’ comments, disconcerted me on several levels. First, it forced me to contemplate my own parents’ aging (and my ability eventually to help them when I live thousands of miles away). Second, it highlighted the pitfalls in the US healthcare system, frequently controlled by the profit-driven “medical-industrial complex,” if you have the time apply today to reform the healthcare system at home. Third, it illustrated the ups and downs of marriage, of long-term relationships, of where love can lead “for better, for worse.” … Continue reading Loss of control

Extreme breath control

I first read about the sport of freediving two summers ago, in an August/September 2008 Hana Hou! magazine article, “On One Breath” by Michael Shapiro. Researching the sport with gusto, Shapiro himself trains to do a four-minute breath hold and a 100-foot dive. Insanity! My interest was further piqued in “The Deepest Dive,” The New Yorker, August 24, 2009, which profiles two of the world’s top female freedivers, 37-year-old Sara Campbell (a Brit living in Egypt) and 47-year-old Natalia Molchanova (of Russia). In the article (which I’ve uploaded here), both were trying to become the first female to reach 100 … Continue reading Extreme breath control