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Archive for the 'Events' Category

Himalayan Masters Awaken New York – But to What?

How often does the New York Times offer critique-free write-ups of enlightened gurus from the Himalayas? In early January, their Cityroom blog ran a cute buzz piece on Mahayogi Pilot Baba and his teaching companion Yogmata Keiko Aikawa.

Wondering what was up, YogaCity NYC asked me to check them out. Were they for real? I am not a stranger to working with masters. I’ve been attending the Living Tantra series with Rajmani Tigumait, a Vedic scholar; received hugs from Amma, and had a daily meditation practice created for me by Gary Kraftsow, a senior teacher in Desikachar’s lineage.

Even so. . . Research told me that Pilot Baba was often a headlining saddhu at the Kumbh Mela, India’s enormous, once-every-three-years spiritual festival. As a pilot in the Indian Air Force, the story goes, he had been rescued from certain death by Continue reading ‘Himalayan Masters Awaken New York – But to What?’

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’

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’

Documenta Brazil 2008

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A still from “Jogo de Cena” (Playing) 2007 by Eduardo Coutinho.
Coutinho ‘interviews’ actress Fernanda Torres in a fake ‘audition.’

Rhythms of Brasilidade

WHAT does it say when one of the filmmakers featured at a documentary film festival is 40 minutes late for his scheduled round-table event? True, it’s Friday night in New York, and it’s storming out. True, Brazilians have a more elastic sense of time, and the filmmaker had just arrived from Brazil. Maybe he had gone to some other event that had run late?

“I’d like to say I went to see a wonderful film from Estonia or Mongolia,” said a sheepish João Moreira Salles when at last he took his seat in the already-started panel. “But I did not. I went to see James Bond.”

So went the second day of Documenta Brazil, a documentary film festival hosted at the King Juan Carlos Center at New York University that featured 23 well-chosen films from 21 contemporary Brazilian filmmakers. Continue reading ‘Documenta Brazil 2008′

Cosmic Con: Path of Yoga Conference

Calibrate yourself with the universe at the Path of Yoga conference.

In India, millions gather at kumbha melas, or spiritual festivals, to cleanse body and spirit in sacred rivers like the Ganges. The Omega Institute, the upstate center for holistic studies, will host its own form of kumbha mela in Manhattan September 15–18 with the seventh annual Path of Yoga conference. This year’s pose-a-thon, which alternates each year between New York and Miami, welcomes 28 established instructors—some of them full-blown yogic celebrities—who’ll lead more than 85 workshops. We checked in with a few standouts, each of whom has several sessions; here’s what to expect. Sheraton New York, 811 Seventh Ave at 53rd St (800-944-1001, eomega.org). $445, individual workshop price TBD. Pre- and postconference intensives $125, non–conference attendees $175. Continue reading ‘Cosmic Con: Path of Yoga Conference’

Wellness: Trends of the Season

Fall Preview 2006

The world of yoga will stretch in several new ways this season.

Yoga day spas: Area Yoga and Namaste Yoga were among the first to offer extras such as bodywork, nutrition counseling and even psychotherapy. Before you know it, you could be using your class card for a facial.

The slipping of savasana: When centers cram the content of a 90-minute session into 60 minutes of “express” yoga, savasana—the meditative relaxation that concludes each practice—is sometimes shortchanged, and is in danger of disappearing altogether.
Continue reading ‘Wellness: Trends of the Season’

The Heart and Soul of Sex

Critics’ pick

Sexual Healing

A few blissful nights might tell you what tantric yogis have always believed: Sexual and spiritual ecstasy are related. And now we’ve got hard evidence. Sex therapist and scholar Gina Ogden, Ph.D., applies Western academic research methods to the ancient tradition in her new book, The Heart and Soul of Sex: Making the ISIS Connection (Trumpeter, $23). Of the more than 3,000 women and 600 men she polled, 67 percent say, “Sex needs to be spiritual to be satisfying.” These findings challenge prevailing medical models, which study intercourse within the parameters of performance and dysfunction. On Tuesday 25, Ogden discusses her findings at the Open Center and offers practical advice for transcendence in the bedroom (think tantra, chakras and visualizations). Yes, the book is aggressively New Agey, but don’t let that turn you off, because it could ultimately turn you on.

83 Spring Street between Broadway and Crosby Street (212-219-2527, opencenter.org).

Time Out New York / Issue 564 : July 20, 2006 – July 26, 2006

100 Years of Solitude

Critic’s Pick

In the 1970s, guru Paramahamsa Hariharananda (1907-2002) fell in love with New York and introduced thousands here to the meditation-focused methods of Kriya Yoga. By mastering breath, students delve into their psyches, hoping to free themselves of karmic debt and ultimately reach samadhi, or nirvana. As part of an international celebration of Hariharananda’s legacy and upcoming centenary, Kriya Yoga New York hosts A Celebration of Love and Peace Thursday 22 through Sunday 25. Workshops will be led by renowned sages of the Kriya Yoga lineage (which has included Mahatma Gandhi and the saints of the Bhagavad Gita). A film screening, photo exhibition and, on Sunday 25, a discussion at the Rubin Museum titled “Path of Yogis: A Dialogue” are also on the bill. All events at Morocco Studio except the Sunday 25 discussion at the Rubin Museum. See listing.

Time Out New York / Issue 560 : June 22, 2006 – June 28, 2006

The FLIP Festival: Head over Heels in Parati, Brazil


published in Poets & Writers magazine, March/April 2006

MOUNTAINS thick with tropical vegetation rise behind the coastal town of Parati, Brazil; the bay spreads before it, dotted with fishing boats. Along the old wooden docks, fishermen, shirtless and shoeless, prepare their nets with quick, strong hands. In streets paved with oversized cobblestones, women serve doces, sweets like maracujá (passion fruit) tarts made with condensed milk. Parati—which, until the 1970s, was accessible only by boat—lies equidistant from Brazil’s major cities, Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, and is home to the last of Brazilian royalty. it is known throughout Brazil as somewhere special, a retreat and an oasis…. Continue reading about Festa Literaria Internacional de Parati (PDF format).