Writing

Archive for the 'Yoga' Category Page 2 of 3



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’

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?’

Off the Couch and Onto the Mat

A few blogs picked this piece up including the Utne Reader: Best of the Alternative Press.

At the Intersection of Yoga and Psychology

IN EARLY August 2008, Margot Andersen’s newly-married, 29-year-old son was hit and killed by a car while crossing a busy highway in Chicago. For Margot, a social worker in Chicago schools for more than 13 years, the pain of the sudden, tragic loss was overwhelming. Enrolled in a yoga teacher-training program, and recently trained in LifeForce Yoga, a type of yoga focused on mood management, Andersen turned to methods she knew would have an immediate affect on her emotional stamina — yogic breathing, visualizations and mantras.

“It’s what’s gotten me through this past month,” says Andersen, 56. “Otherwise I’d be in bed, I’d be horrible.”

When she felt too exhausted to complete daily tasks, Margot used LifeForce’s breath of joy to access untapped energy. To calm down enough to sleep she practiced nadi shodahna (alternate nostril breathing); San kalpas (intentions) and mantras (chants) gave her the strength to leave the house.

“When I had no energy, and could feel myself sinking, I used the breath,” says Andersen. Continue reading ‘Off the Couch and Onto the Mat’

Mala Yoga: Small is Beautiful

Mala Yoga sits on the second floor above a corner real estate office in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn, at arguably one of the cutest intersections in the neighborhood. With coffee shops, restaurants, a Montessori school and a small independent bookstore nearby, this could be Main Street, USA. The church spire rising in the distance completes the picture.

But it’s Court Street, a bustling, residential part of Brooklyn. Run by three yoginis, two who left white-collar careers for yoga, Mala has only a sandwich board outside to mark its presence. It gets most of its students from walk-ins and word of mouth.

Opened in November 2007, Mala bucks current trends of expansion and franchising as one of the smallest studios in the city, at just 700 square feet–including the bathroom. Continue reading ‘Mala Yoga: Small is Beautiful’

Studio Spotlight: Om Factory NYC

AcroYoga Finds a Home in New York

It’s surprising to get off on the 17th floor of a pre-war factory building, high above the crowded, semi-seedy streets between the Port Authority bus terminal and Penn Station, and walk into the bright colors and clean lines of Om Factory NYC. With a garment factory staffed by Cantonese-speaking women across the hall, Om Factory is an oasis of positive vibes, smiling faces, and good old-fashioned hard work.

The Friday night of my first AcroYoga class at Om Factory, I was exhausted. The staff at reception, and the space itself, was immediately soothing. From the glittering sliver clothes hooks, to the marigold-orange and avocado-green walls, to the gold-edged sun yantra in the Yantra studio, Om Factory was clearly constructed with love and enthusiasm (and maybe a little bit of obsessive planning). Continue reading ‘Studio Spotlight: Om Factory NYC’

Yogi, Take me to a Higher Place

The Search for An Advanced Yoga Practice

Practitioner at Kula Yoga Project, TriBeCa, NY
Published in The New York Times, Thursday Styles section, May 2008

WHEN Raquel Prieto moved from Northampton, Mass., to Boston in January, there was one thing she sought as urgently as an affordable living situation and a job: an advanced yoga class.

As a dedicated yogi, she wanted to work on meditation and on poses, or asanas, requiring a lot of strength and flexibility and a deep mental focus.

Even after spending $700 and two months trying out studios, she still hadn’t found a place she could build on the advanced practice she developed in a Northampton studio. So she patched together a combination of home practice, classes at a nearby yoga center, visits to a meditation center and trips back to Northampton.

“I’m not thrilled,” said Ms. Prieto, 23. “It’s hit or miss.” Her search for satisfaction, she said, “was a huge emotional thing. I got depressed.”

With a yoga studio seemingly on every corner, it might appear counterintuitive for any yoga class to be in short supply. But Ms. Prieto’s experience is not unique; many seasoned practitioners report having a hard time finding challenging classes.

The reason is simple. Yoga has evolved from a passion for the few into a mainstream pursuit. There are 15.8 million adults practicing yoga, according to Yoga Journal’s recent “Yoga in America” study, with almost one third of them practicing for a year or less. The study also found that the number of people interested in trying yoga tripled from 2004 to 2008 to an estimated 18.3 million.

Continue reading ‘Yogi, Take me to a Higher Place’

Between Poses, a Barrage of Pickup Lines

The Phenomenon of Inappropriate Yoga Guy

Published in The New York Times, Thursday Styles section, August 07

THE words “Do you come here often?” are not sweet nothings when you are going into final relaxation during a yoga class. Nor do most yoga practitioners welcome someone who flirts shamelessly as mats are positioned during the lull before the teacher arrives.

Now, a popular online video starring a lech named Ogden has the yoga community chuckling in recognition and talking about the problem of men who come to studios in search of phone numbers rather than enlightenment.

The comedy sketch, aptly named “Inappropriate Yoga Guy,” has racked up nearly 1.8 million views since its debut on YouTube in June — no doubt the biggest hit to date for GoPotato.tv, an online comedy network in Los Angeles, which produced the video starring Avi Rothman.

Wearing a goofy headband, Ogden “Oms” far too loudly, brags about the retreats he has attended in Nepal and Mexico, and makes eyes at Kimberly, a buxom long-haired beauty, during class. He even grabs her hips to perform an adjustment (a correction usually done discreetly by a teacher).

Continue reading ‘Between Poses, a Barrage of Pickup Lines’

Music City Goes with the Flow

Nashville Yoga Gets Moving

When circumstances kept Nashville-natives Tom and Daphne Larkin from moving to California in 2004, the last thing on their minds was opening their own yoga studio. But as experienced yoga teachers, they realized they had to listen to the obstacles.

Three of four planned trips to LA had fallen through when a friend suggested they see a space on Hillsboro Road-—just a few doors up from Nashville’s famous Bluebird music club. That changed their minds for good. “Daphne called me right away. It was just so perfect,” says Tom, 40.

Daphne, 42, agrees, “We liked the space and thought, this is what we’re supposed to do—be in the flow, in the current.”

Continue reading ‘Music City Goes with the Flow’

Yoga Mat Mania

Yoga mats used to come in two colors—purple or blue. But today, color choices abound…as do a wide range of textures (for traction), thicknesses (for more cushion), and materials (for sweaty or not-so-sweaty practices).

As an extra plus, mats are now more health- and eco-friendly and less likely to be made with toxic materials such as latex, chloride, and PVC (polyvinylchloride).

With all these options, which is right for you? Check out our handy chart for the newest and brightest, as well as some traditional favorites. Yoga Mat Review Chart PDFFit Yoga April 2007

Invention & Intention: Cooking with Sarah Trelease

Interview with Om Yoga teacher and talented cook Sara Trelease.See a PDF of this story:Invention & Intention

Fancy Pants: LuluLemon Arrives in NYC

At last, the wildly popular Canadian yoga-clothing company, Lululemon Athletica, brings its innovative and high-quality gear to New York.

Already in L.A. and Chicago, the company’s designers use fabrics such as Silverescent (which draws on the anti-bacterial qualities of silver) and Luon (which wicks away moisture), to create sexy clothes for yogis and non-yogis alike. Lululemon also has a soul: In 2005 its stores gave $300,000 back to local communities through their Charitable Giving Program. Look good, do good: sounds good. 1928 Broadway at 64th St (212-496-1546, lululemon.com).

Time Out New York / Issue 585 : December 14, 2006 – December 27, 2006