Christmas day versus any other day

Is Christmas day a big deal to you? In what way? Reading “UPS draws fire after Christmas delivery breakdown,” I couldn’t relate to those who slammed UPS for ruining Christmas for them. Does it really matter if gifts arrive on December 25 or a week into the New Year? I might cut slack for kids’ disappointment, but I can’t fathom adults going ballistic about delayed gifts to other adults. When I was a kid, it was thrilling to open a pile of presents on Christmas morning. I’m no stranger to the commercial pleasure of this holiday. But I still recall feeling a … Continue reading Christmas day versus any other day

What professionalism means to me

A few months ago, I had a little falling-out with my massage therapist. While temporary and amicable, it made me consider the meaning of professionalism. I met “Jane” in early 2010, when I decided to treat myself to massage (among my favorite splurges). She had her quirks, but I appreciated her long experience, unpretentious personality, and reasonable rates. To me she was like a well-meaning, goofy aunt, whose idiosyncrasies I let slide. For example, she’s routinely late. Not 10 or 15 minutes, but up to 45 minutes or more. She drives to Vancouver from Port Moody and something always delays her: … Continue reading What professionalism means to me

Anger management 101

Outside my yoga life, I’m a writer and editor. Recently, as managing editor of a top peer-reviewed journal on urban planning, I observed a professor’s angry reaction to negative reviews. Actually, she was lucky. The editor didn’t reject her manuscript but gave her the option to “revise and resubmit.” But, almost immediately after receiving her decision letter, she asked us to withdraw the paper, adding exasperated remarks about the reviewers’ misguided opinions. In academic publishing, it’s rare to pull a paper that’s still viable. She was obviously acting emotionally. In day-to-day life, I witness miscellaneous bursts of anger: Impatient diners at … Continue reading Anger management 101

Are you chatty with your yoga students?

One of my yoga-teacher colleagues wondered if she reveals too much of herself to her students. Before class, she might chat with students, and so they end up knowing bits and pieces about her life. Warm and outgoing, she calls herself an “open book” with people. But she questioned whether should be more “mysterious,” ie, businesslike, focusing purely on her role as yoga teacher. Yoga teachers vary in their degree of self-revelation to students. It all depends on a teacher’s innate personality. As a teacher, I try not to be too chatty and familiar in the class setting. If there … Continue reading Are you chatty with your yoga students?

Do you have a Geeta story?

A rite of passage for Iyengar yoga practitioners is a trip to the Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute (RIMYI) in Pune—to study directly with the Iyengars. Of course, BKS Iyengar is 92. Unless you met him in the 1970s or ’80s (or possibly the ’90s), it’s too late to make a personal connection now. It’s probably likewise with Geeta and Prashant, the son and daughter carrying his mantle. They, too, have taught thousands of students worldwide. Does it matter that I’m only a “grandstudent” of the Iyengars? Mr Iyengar is a conceptual teacher so I can certainly learn from his writings and … Continue reading Do you have a Geeta story?

Paying attention when it really matters

On the fifth day of the month, I do a semi fast. Tea is allowed, as are fruit (just enough to avoid hypoglycemia!). I do this to commemorate the June 5, 2009, death of my calico, Gingy. She was a major part of my life for almost 15 years, and I’ll always remember her challenging gaze, her harlequin face, and her “I’m hungry” meow. But I know that my memory will grow blurry around the edges. I look at photos and videos to bring her back in crisp vivid color, while I also try to remember her more consciously once … Continue reading Paying attention when it really matters

Does it matter whether you like your teacher? Or your students?

In Hawai’i, studying hula can be akin to studying yoga: it’s physical training, but also mental and spiritual practices. Like yoga, hula also comes in many flavors, from flashy tourist shows to serious halau (schools) whose members consider hula a lifestyle choice. An acquaintance (whom I’ll call Maki) studies with a renowned kumu hula (hula master) whose family is legendary in hula circles. This teacher is tough on all students but treats Hawaiian students much more favorably than non-Hawaiian students. (Maki is not Hawaiian.) Nowadays teachers of any ilk avoid the slightest semblance of unequal treatment: it’s not PC. So Maki’s anecdotes … Continue reading Does it matter whether you like your teacher? Or your students?

Travel bubble

I ended my summer with a two-week trip to California. I traveled alone, to attend a yoga workshop and to visit family. Flying back to Vancouver, I sat in my seat, oddly comfy and happy, reading a novel (by Laurie Colwin, if you’re curious). It was a luxury to sit, undisturbed in my thoughts. During the trip, I conversed with someone about life on the road, we spoke of favorite locations, travel tips like which Thomas Cook UK discount codes to use and which spots are not to be missed. He mused that life is more complicated while traveling. I … Continue reading Travel bubble

Reciprocal relationships

In my third year of law school, I took an elective called “Law and Literature,” taught by John Jay Osborne, Jr, author of The Paper Chase, a novel (and movie and TV show) about a Harvard law student and his obsession with his intimidating contracts professor. In this offbeat course (even at Berkeley), we escaped “black letter law” to analyze Shakespeare (King Lear) and Melville (Bartleby, the Scrivener), plus films such as Rashomon and Thelma and Louise. Discussing his own story one day, he focused on a final scene: Hart (Timothy Bottoms), the law student, converses with Professor Kingsfield (John Houseman), whose presence ruled … Continue reading Reciprocal relationships

Ginger and karma yoga

Yoga Dork is offering a free copy of Bobby Clennell’s The Women’s Yoga Book to a lucky random-drawing winner. To enter, post a comment about a special woman in your life. My honoree is not a woman, but she is female. For over a decade, among my closest friends was Ginger, a calico cat rescued from the wild. Beautiful, with striking markings, she had a feral streak and the classic temperamental calico personality. We had our roommate clashes; she was not the docile type and liberally used claws and teeth to make a point. Once, during a claw trim, I squeezed … Continue reading Ginger and karma yoga