Writing

Archive for 2010

Field Notes

Developing Educational Standards for Yoga Therapists

What is a yoga therapist versus a yoga teacher? Is yoga therapy clinical or relational or both? Should training standards start low (200 hours) to be more accessible, or start high (1,000 hours) so that they are rigorous and safe?

These are some of the hard questions that the International Association of Yoga Therapists (IAYT) has been debating since the fall of 2009 in an effort to establish minimum standards for yoga therapists-in-training.
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Tantra Weekend Getaway

The Scoop on this Misunderstood Tradition

“So how does that work,” asked a New York yogi friend after my weekend Tantra workshop at the Himalayan Institute. “You went up there with a partner or something?”

No such luck.

My weekend at the tranquil ashram in Honesdale, Pennsylvania, was the opposite of a hook up: 10 hours of lecture, 2 asana classes, simple vegetarian meals, and quiet grounds. My fellow attendees were yoga teachers, life coaches, construction workers, students and doctors, level-headed people who either knew Pandit Rajmani Tigunait, the spiritual head of the Institute, or had heard of him through friends and teachers. Unlike the last Tantra workshop Tigunait gave in the late 90s, no one in attendance seemed to expect an orgy.
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Lulu Bandha’s LuluVu (media)

Lulu Bandha’s LuluVu, lulubhandas.com

At LuluVu—the online studio counterpart of California yoga community Lulu Bandha’s, helmed by Kira Ryder—simply signing in gets you several free classes. Monthly packages, workshops with visiting teachers (think Eric Schiffmann, Dana Flynn), and highlights from retreats are reasonably priced. And, the abundant offerings are frequently updated so there’s no shortage of inspiration.

published in Yoga International, Winter 2010-2011 issue

Yoga Anatomy Online Course

Yoga Anatomy Online Course by Leslie Kaminoff, yogaanatomy.net

With 25 years’ experience teaching anatomy, Leslie Kaminoff launched his popular Yoga Anatomy course in an online format this fall. The nine-month intensive covers three major areas—breathing, the spine, and the articular body—and inlcudes instructional videos, weekly online chats, and homework. Even better, it counts as 144 non-contact credit hours with Yoga Alliance.

published in Yoga International, Winter 2010-2011 issue

The Guru in You

The Guru in You: A Personalized Program for Rejuvenating Your Body and Soul by Yogi Cameron Alborzian

Former male supermodel Cameron Alborzian has written a compulsively readable book on yoga and ayurveda, littered with stories from his modeling career, personal life, and therapeutic work with clients. The Guru in Yoga aims to get people on the path of health and healing by helping them set clear intentions, work with breath and asanas, and apply ayurvedic techniques. For those who can’t afford Alborzian’s handsome services, this book is a helpful alternative.

published in Yoga International, Winter 2010-2011 issue Continue reading ‘The Guru in You’

Reaching Seekers

An Interview with Max Strom

Born a 12-pound baby with club feet, Max Strom spent the many years of his early life in casts and braces—or in surgery—before he learned to walk. In 2002, he established the center for Sacred Movement in Venice, California, now home to such teachers as Shiva Rea, Saul David Ray, and Eric Schiffman. Twelve years in the making, his book, A Life Worth Breathing: A Yoga Master’s Handbook of Strength, Grace and Healing (Skyhorse Publishing, $24.95) collects his insights on yoga practice and life, incorporating stories and exercises for yoga students and teachers.
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Radanath Swami: American in Mumbai

In front of tens of thousands of people, the guru motioned. “Tell that young man to come.” But the young man sitting shyly at the very back of the enormous tent didn’t understand. After waving and gesturing to no effect, an assistant went to get him, parting the awed crowd. So Radanath Swami, formerly Richard Slavin of Chicago, met the man who ultimately became his teacher, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. Or, some might say, this was how Srila Prabhupada chose him.

On a bitterly cold December night, Slavin, now 59, read from his recently published memoir, The Journey Home: Autobiography of an American Swami (Mandala, $24.95) at Eddie Stern’s Ashtanga Yoga Shala on Broome Street. A slight, unassuming man, he sat quietly in the audience next to one of his students, wrapped in the light orange robe of a monk (unbeknownst to me; I sat down right beside him, Continue reading ‘Radanath Swami: American in Mumbai’

Lotus of the Heart: How Meditation Lead Me to True Love

An Essay for Valentine’s Day

The way Francesco broke up with me was as simple as it was shocking. It was a Saturday afternoon in July and we’d just seen a movie at The Museum of Modern Art in New York City. Riding the subway back downtown, we sat side by side, him in an inexplicable and smoldering silence. Then he got up and walked out of the train. I never saw him again.

Dumbfounded, I was left to fill in the blanks myself. We’d only been dating for three months, seeing each other about once a week. Steady and sweet, he was the first guy in long while who seemed to enjoy being in a relationship rather than fighting it. He called me, took me out, complimented me. For more than a year, I’d dated men whom, I’d realize too late, were playing the field. Francesco’s availability was refreshing—in fact, it was a relief.

Until that fateful Saturday. Nothing had gone wrong as far as I could tell. Had something bothered him about the movie? Had he met someone else? Was it me? Continue reading ‘Lotus of the Heart: How Meditation Lead Me to True Love’

The Big Book

Yoga Studies Institute teaches the Bhagavad Gita

The main lobby of Pure Yoga is covered in backpacks and notebooks. Groups of people, some from as far away as Arizona, England, and India, sit together eating snacks and talking. It looks like a college common room around exam time. But these studious people, ranging from early 20s to late 40s, are not gathered to take a test. They are here to receive the teachings of the Bhagavad Gita, an ancient Hindu text, as taught by Tibetan Buddhist monk Geshe Michael Roach and his co-teacher Lama Christie McNally.

For eight evenings in November, Roach and McNally explicated the Gita—which is 9th scripture course in their Yoga Studies Institute (YSI) series—discussing the text’s insights into karma and ethical living. The conversation between Arjuna, the warrior prince, and Krishna, the Hindu god (disguised as Arjuna’s trusted friend and charioteer) is a model of student-guru relationship, Continue reading ‘The Big Book’

Continuing Education: Yoga Philosophy

Look down any yoga class schedule and usually you won’t find many offerings for yoga philosophy. Mostly reserved for teacher training programs—and then crammed into a weekend or two—philosophy is usually dwarfed by the popularity of asana, which is just one of yoga’s eight “limbs.” I went on a search to find who is offering philosophy classes in New York this year and was pleasantly surprised. It’s not just reserved for the hard-core student practicing svadyiya—self study—anymore. Yes, it can seem mysterious, but yoga’s deeper ideas offer inspiration for teaching and practicing, and – perhaps most importantly – for life. Continue reading ‘Continuing Education: Yoga Philosophy’