Archive | General Yoga Info

CNN Addresses If Yoga Can Hurt Your Body

More response to William Broad’s book. This report is balanced.

CNN asks Who Should Be Allowed to Teach Yoga. It’s more balanced than most, though like much else had a pretty obvious mistakes. An earlier version of this article referred to Leslie Kaminoff as a she. It’s been corrected. I met him in May. He is definitely a man.

One teacher Joe Palese, from Atlanta is quoted:

“Anyone can tell you what to do, it’s explaining how to do it,” he said. And that is what separates effective teachers from the rest, according to Palese.

I agree with that.

The Now Infamous Yoga Video

I hadn’t seen this before, and it’s getting a lot of attention. Apparently it’s all the talk at the Yoga Journal San Francisco conference.

Guess as viral marketing, it is working. Marketing for Equinox (which, rumor has it, is coming to DC, around the corner from me. They’ve already opened a 40,000 square foot facility in Bethesda).

But the video markets yoga too. In a way that makes me uneasy.

Julie Peters makes some interesting points in her Elephant Journal essay Why the Sexy Equinox Yoga Video Really Pissed Me Off. She relates it to advertising and marketing to exploit young women’s insecurities about their body. Please read the whole piece, but here’s a good point —

I teach yoga because it helped (and continues to help) me overcome my anxiety and depression and empowers me in more ways than I can name, and that ‘s what I want to share with people. I tell my students over and over again to close their eyes. Stop looking around–it doesn’t matter what you look like, and it doesn’t matter what the person beside you looks like. It matters how you feel.

And for all we tell our students to turn inwards and not worry about what other people think, we yoga teachers sure do worry about it. We try not to, but in this incredibly competitive community, we feel like we should be the ones with the strongest core, the most amazing practice, the most advanced postures. We feel like we should know everything and be able to do everything so we can pass it onto our students. We need to constantly be reminded that we are still students–on a path of learning, and the only one putting pressure on us to do crazy poses or have a perfect butt is us.Well, us and this Equinox yoga video.

I think if I wasn’t a yogi or a woman or some combination of things that make me who I am, I’d see just the beauty of the video and move along. But the woman in the video is not only sexy, she is sexualized. This video exemplifies the male gaze: the sense that a woman is being watched, looked on as an object.

Here is the Equinox Yoga Video —-

Here Equinox defends the video and claims —-

The video was not intended to be an ad campaign for Equinox, but an editorial video showcasing Smyth’s amazing arm balances for Equinox’s Q Blog, which provides editorial content to inspire members and potential members, explained Equinox’s Editorial Manager Liz Miersch. In fact, the initial idea was for a how-to video giving tips on arm balances. But as they shot the video, what Miersch saw was so inspiring and beautiful, she made the decision to change directions and just show Smyth’s practice. Of course, Smyth would have been as inspiring and beautiful if she’d worn yoga clothes in a different setting. The intention was to emphasize Smyth’s physique, but it was also to inspire others to practice yoga. “Equinox is not afraid to be sexy, as you can see in our ad campaigns,” said Miersch. “We like to be provocative, but provocative with a purpose–she’s not just walking around in her underwear in the video, but she’s showing her amazing, strong, yoga body.”

I’m not sure I believe that. The inspiration message is that not only will you have this body if you practice yoga but a mysterious man awaiting you for a tumble in the bed when you’re done. If it were just her doing this practice on a beach, I don’t feel it would bother me as much. But that man, the unmade bed, the lingering on her skin, the close ups – all seem to sell sex – not yoga.

But I do think it’s an interesting debate. A dear respected friend simply thought it was beautiful.

Lululemon Founder Resigns

To me this is big news: Chip Wilson, the founder of Lululemon, has resigned.

I had decided to boycott Lululemon after the John Galt fiasco (luckily I didn’t learn about his admiration for Ayn Rand until after I bought my tutu).

No reason was given for the decision, but the announcement comes after widespread backlash following a controversial decision to put the Ayn Rand slogan “I am John Galt” on Lululemon shopping bags last November.

He is still chairman of the board and owns 10% of the stock. So I am still going to do my best to stay away.

UPDATE: 2/13/12 – After a compliment from my friend, cheerleader and trainer Jessica Miga on my Lululemon sweatshirt today, I shared with her the news of the founder. At the end of my rendition, she asked, “Are you
really not going to buy there any more?” I laughed and replied, I sure was going to try!

David Nichtern’s Mindfulness Meditation Instruction

David Nichtern is the one who introduced me to meditation in April 2002. The practice has helped me immeasurably. It’s so simple yet so powerful. Here – in only six minutes – David provides his instructions on mindfulness meditation. Check it out, do it and enjoy!

Here is his web site to learn more: www.davidnichtern.com

“Change In An Instant” The New Field of Energy Psychology

Insights from the Edge is a free podcast sponsored by the publisher SoundsTrue. It’s one of my favorites and always interesting. I always learn a lot.

The one from the other day, the 29th, the anniversary of my mother’s death, is about energy psychology which is a new area of psychology, trying to help people live better and happier lives.

Dr. Henry Grayson, the guest who is a psychologist and a physicist, defines energy psychology this way:

the field of energy psychology is just one that recognizes that everything is comprised of cell energies and that consciousness plays a role in it. And so the field of energy psychology recognizes both the dealing with the energy meridians that we’re talking about; dealing with the field of energy that surrounds a body; dealing with the “non-local mind” that it has been called in physics—that our mind is not contained in the brain and the skull but in fact reaches out to countless others around us because it’s all a part of “one mind,” as physicist Erwin Schrödinger put it. Whether it’s the subtle energies of the Eastern tradition of energy—not just meridians but the chakras. And so the broad field of energy psychology has people that work with various ones of these dimensions or all of them. Or just how consciousness seems to affect it without using any specific focus on any of those. That would be the broader field of energy psychology, I would say.

Here is the description of the podcast which you can listen to here or read or print out the transcript. Or you can download from iTunes. All free. And I highly recommend.

Tami Simon speaks with Dr. Henry Grayson, a leading psychologist who has spent decades exploring the connections between psychology, physics, and the spiritual traditions of the world. Dr. Grayson founded and served as chairman emeritus at the National Institute for Psychotherapies in New York. With Sounds True, he has created the nine-hour audio training course The New Physics of Love: The Power of Mind and Spirit in Relationships. In this episode, Tami speaks with Dr. Grayson about the role of thoughts in our relationships, how the non-local nature of the universe impacts our consciousness, and the possibility of “deleting undesirable and obsolete core beliefs in the twinkling of an eye.” (60 minutes)

SoundsTrue has published a CD, which is a 9 hour course, called The New Physics of Love. Dr Grayson also has a book called Mindful Loving.

In the podcast, Dr. Grayson describes a process he went through on himself to release the disturbance caused by a childhood trauma. He said it takes about 45 minutes. I’m not sure what you do for the unconscious traumas…, but here is his process:

  • Place the fingers on the forehead – to focus. Through the centuries people often did that. Even Rodin knew that in his portrayal of his statue the thinker. We learn that it stimulates the frontal lobes of the brain, subtle energies, helps us focus. Focus on the trauma, memory, who was in that scene, the scene, how i felt, where i feel it in the body. Breathe.
  • Place the fingers on the eyebrow I release all fear related to this trauma. Take a deep breath and exhale.
  • Place the fingers on the outer edge of the eyebrow. And i release all anger and rage related to trauma. Take a deep breath or two or three.
  • Place the Fingers underneath the eye I release all anxieties related to this trauma
  • Place the fingers on under the nose I release all embarassment related to this trauma
  • Place the fingers on under the lip I release all shame and guilt related to this trauma. And a deep breath.
  • Place the fingers on under the arm – I release all worry and excessive concern related to this trauma. Deep breathing again.
  • Place the fingers on under the rib cage in front. I release all hurt and sadness related to this trauma
  • Place the fingers on over the heart – I release fear. breath in love and exhale fear. 6,8 or 10 slow breaths.
  • Place the fingers on the collar bone (one either side). Has to do with fear again. I release all fear related to this trauma

I would assess what came up, how much disturbance remained for me on a scale of one to ten. Was a 10 when I started. On the first round I got it down to a 6, second time it came down to a 3, third down to 0.

Then he addressed, for me a key question, the obvious question:

TS: I think of all of the people who have physical challenges and who have wanted so much for there to be a healing. They have brought all of their intent, all of their openness and capacity into the situation and it hasn’t changed for them. They’ve remained ill. And so when I hear your story about the fingers burning and your belief, I think, well … how do we understand all of the people who aren’t healing?

HG: I think that’s a wonderful question, Tami. It’s one that inspired the book I just finished writing, actually.

What I discovered—I was giving a seminar in Boston a couple of years ago, maybe three years ago and I had the inspiration to start it off by saying, “How many people here want to have a totally happy and healthy life?” Of course everybody’s hand went up. And of course my asking this question was inspired by what I experienced clinically and with myself in other dimensions but I thought I’d ask this larger audience. Everybody’s hand went up and I said, “With your permission, I’d like to come around and do this muscle testing on everybody very quickly and to see if you believe you deserve to have a totally healthy and happy life or if it’s safe for you to have a totally healthy and happy life.” I thought that maybe 25-30 percent would have some of those.

The results blew my mind, literally. Everybody agreed to participate in it. And in this workshop there were probably 75 people who were there and I quickly went around and did this. Eighty-two percent of the people had both of those barriers as beliefs. They don’t deserve it and it’s not safe to have a totally healthy and happy life. The other 18 percent had one or the other. And these are only two of many barriers we could have.

I thought, “Well, let’s check this out further. Is it just New Englanders?” I was doing a seminar in New York a few weeks later and got the same results. Raleigh, North Carolina? Same results. Chicago—same results. San Francisco, Austin, Texas, all across the country, I got the same results. Almost identical. There was just a point or two off. And these were only two, as I say, of many different barriers that could be beliefs or traumas or world views or secondary gains or whatever it might be. Most of those are not conscious to us. And all of these people in all of these audiences were mostly people who had done a lot of work in different kinds of self reflection—spiritually or psychologically—and still were not conscious of it.We can’t blame ourselves for it because that’s what the ego mind always wants us to do: to blame ourselves for making ourselves sick or whatever. No, we can’t blame ourselves. We’ve just had those downloads. We had those conclusions from childhood. It is part of the human condition that we carry that. You can’t sail a boat if we’ve got anchors holding it back. And maybe the anchors aren’t visible to us. We’ve taken sailing lessons. We’ve learned how to hoist the sails, how to set the rudder, how to set the sail. The wind is there but the boat’s not moving. We’ve not been taught how to look for all of those anchors. It might be hidden, holding the boat back.

And I think the same thing is true for us, that when we don’t get the results that we want there are other hidden anchors. If 90-95 percent of all of our behaviors are not conscious, it’s very likely that we have a bunch there that are just not conscious to us. One reason I do the muscle testing is because it helps us access that quite quickly as to what they are and where they are and what it would take to cut loose those anchors.

So I think that that is a role that keeps a lot of things from working. And then the other thing is that sometimes we just have a need, for some reason, whether it’s conscious or unconscious, but we have some strong gains for keeping or having the sickness. We haven’t dealt with it otherwise. And if we’ve not dealt with it, whether it’s in a relationship or in the body, or whatever it is, we’re not ready to let it go. And so we have to be ready to do that. And that’s why I like these other methods too because it helps open up that dimension. That’s when I say that whether you want to have a healthy and happy relationship or whether you want to have a healthy and happy body or mind, or business success, or money, or whatever it might be, the same thing applies.

Political Yoga

Hmmm, another sign of the yoga into the mainstream – check out this paragraph from the The Week in Review – sorry Sunday Review today. In Frank Bruni’s Craven Political Crudités, he writes:

Buckle up, folks. This presidential race is shaping up to be an especially mean and mendacious ride, and not just because the two Republicans currently in the lead, Romney and Newt Gingrich, have demonstrated a formidable talent for improvisation , starting with thorough revisions of their own positions on health care, climate change and such. They’re a limber duo, primed to teach classes on political yoga. Gingrich’s wife probably gave him a Tiffany-bejeweled mat.

Okay – I had absolutely NO idea there was even such a thing as at Tiffany-bejeweled mat. Note: There isn’t such a thing. The link leads to a story about their revolving credit account there.

Phew! I meant if there really were such a thing….!

Mixing Yoga With Other Activities

This essay, Yoga Addict’s New Mantra: “Mix It Up” from the New York Times is cute. I also like it because it doesn’t make out yoga to be the end all and be all of everything.

Plus she describes astanga yoga this way –

It is widely believed to have been created for adolescent boys and tends to attract former drug addicts and Type A personalities;

which made me laugh out loud.

I will never forget the time I brought a girlfriend in Chicago to an astanga yoga class. The workshop was being held over a weekend and the first class was held Friday night. We met at a wine bar and as she slogged down not one but two classes of wine, I suggested gently she might now want to do that.

And at about the 20th jump through she sat in danasana and looked at me with a look that asked – “what did you get me into” We still laugh about that. I don’t think mixing it up is a recommendation for mixing astanga yoga with a cocktail!

This author, Deborah Schoeneman, after a decade of astanga yoga and a better practice than most, then added a private trainer. This is her story of what she discovered.

Alpha Males Doing Yoga

This seems to be a theme, though my last post on this subject was based on an essay written in 2010. This one this time appeared just the other day in the British newspaper The Telegraph. And this news so excites me because I feel this is a demographic that would very much benefit from yoga. The piece opens first with how a yoga practice kept one master of the universe from investing in the subprime market. Then,

Yoga, once the preserve of scrawny men in drawstring trousers meditating on top of a mountain, has, since the Nineties, turned itself into a spirit-lite way for women with Gucci mats and Sweaty Betty vest tops to keep fit and tone their bums, tums and thighs. In the past three or four years, however, an increasing number of people from the top echelons of business, finance and politics, looking to get an edge over their rivals or manage their stress levels, have been following Gross’s lead and adding a yoga instructor to their retinue of chefs, nannies and personal trainers. Suddenly, it’s not only acceptable for alpha males to do yoga; it’s considered by many to be a badge of honour.

Then the piece lists several yogis in business, including Steve Jobs. But this is my favorite quote:

“Very ambitious, high-achieving people realise that there’s something in yoga that is useful to them,” says instructor Tara Fraser, who, with her partner, Nigel Jones, runs the Yoga Junction studio in north London. “It’s not weird, not hippy. If you’re a man, the fact that you do yoga shows that you’re in touch with your intuitive side and you’re flexible as well as strong. “If you said, ‘No, no, no. I don’t want to do any of that stuff, I just want to work out at the gym and build muscle’, I think, nowadays, people would think, ‘Hmm. What are you trying to prove?’ “Yoga shows that you’re a well-rounded individual. You know how to choose the wine, you know which restaurants to go to. Adding yoga to your portfolio of skills impresses people.”

Read the whole thing here – Power yoga: how money has changed a spiritual pursuit (the title is misleading – it’s more about how yoga is changing the money industry, plus yoga is far more than a spiritual pursuit!) Worth the click.

I sure hope it’s true that more alpha males are seeing the benefits and value of yoga, and not just in London. They would be happier, and the world a better place. I know one or two, myself!