Writing

Archive for 2009

All Together Now

A Practice Space Opens to New Ideas

Like many good things, the “open practice” time at Sangha Yoga Shala hatched out of a conversation between friends. Alana Kessler, owner and director of the 6-month old studio in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and fellow-instructor Elise Espat both practiced Mysore-style ashtanga but at different studios. They thought it would be fun to practice together.

But when talk turned to action in early October, they decided—with the input from the rest of the studio’s staff—to do something quite untraditional. They decided not to limit the “open practice” to ashtangis, as is customary in Mysore style. Instead they made it inclusive of the other styles offered at Sangha Yoga Shala, including Iyengar. Continue reading ‘All Together Now’

Celebrity Yoga Teachers: A Contradiction in Terms?

At a Yoga Journal conference in San Francisco a few years ago, Gwen Soffer of Philadelphia found herself in an elevator with someone she thought she knew. But as much as she tried, she couldn’t place her.

“I said, ‘Where do I know you from? You look so familiar. Is it from a yoga workshop somewhere, or from Philly?’ The woman admitted she’d been in a lot of magazines.

“Then someone elbowed me and said, ‘It’s Ana Forrest!’ just as she got off the elevator. I tried to joke it off. It was like any other celebrity sighting.”

While we’ve long known that celebrities such as Sting, Madonna, Christy Turlington, and Willem Dafoe do yoga, we now have to acknowledge that yoga teachers can be celebrities in their own right.

This phenomenon raises a conundrum for all of us in the yoga world: How do we reconcile the marketing power and media-friendly images of big-name teachers– think of Rodney Yee, Shiva Rea, Sean Corne, Bikram Choudry, Baron Baptiste–with the precepts of yoga? After all, yoga teaches us to develop a genuine awareness of self—whether that’s through working the body in asana or calming the mind in pranayama and meditation—in order to decrease the strife of the individual ego. And that pretty much nixes self-interest as a viable option for a yoga teacher.
Continue reading ‘Celebrity Yoga Teachers: A Contradiction in Terms?’