We got a sneak peak at the latest Namarupa magazine — again a whopper, at 96 pages — and we can assure you it is worth you time. (We again helped with the proofreading.)
You can browse and buy it right here.
I assume a highlight will be the piece by Eddie Stern and Sharath on their pilgrimage to Sringeri. But there is much more: a look at the Yoga Sutras, a piece on Krishnamacharya, art of Krishna and much more.
We’ll have more to say about some of the specific articles in the coming days. But we didn’t want to slow down your getting to it.
And, if you missed that link: Buy it here.
Posted by Steve
That headline may one day become true. No foolin’.
Last week, the extremely good folks at UC Davis — the ones who already have studied the benefits of wine and beer — announced they plan to turn their research eye to humanity’s greatest beverage of all: coffee.
The Sacramento Bee gave this a nice, lengthy story. From the piece:
On March 11, a roster of eight UC Davis scientists will come together for a research conference run by the school’s recently founded Coffee Center. At the conference, the scientists and coffee industry stakeholders will gather to plumb such diverse topics as the genetics of coffee and the sensory perception of coffee drinkers.
It’s the first step in an effort that some on campus see as leading to a dedicated coffee research study center akin to the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science, said J. Bruce German, director of the Foods for Health Institute at UC Davis. He also suggested the school could eventually offer a major in coffee science.
Coffee is certainly a powerhouse commodity. It is the largest food import in the U.S., and the world’s most widely traded tropical agricultural commodity, according to the International Coffee Association. Worldwide coffee production is growing along with coffee consumption. In 2012-13, production is expected to hit a record 148 million bags.
Right now, the new UC Davis Coffee Center is being run on an ad hoc basis, without a dedicated home, and funded by the Foods for Health Institute. German said that the funding model will evolve once the coffee industry begins to partner with the university. After early-stage research is funded, German said, he expects the school to develop a coffee science major.
“What we’re looking to do is start a relationship with coffee and move knowledge of all aspects of coffee forward,” German said. “That knowledge will be driven by scientists and industry, and will explore issues of high priority.”
Davis isn’t the first one to the cafe: Texas A&M and Vanderbilt University both have coffee research facilities.
As you probably are suspecting, the coffee industry is behind this; those of you who know your wine-in-America history probably are having a case of the deja vus. Yes, this rings similar to what Robert Mondavi did (at UC Davis especially) in pushing research into the health benefits of vino.
More info on the coffee center can be found right here.
And we studied English and things like that in school. Sheesh.
Posted by Steve
You may have seen this piece making the rounds. Given our penchant for checking out studies that demonstrate the benefits — health, stress-reduction, improved student outcomes — it seems fair to point out the contrary.
This comes via Slate. It suggests that Americans may have moved from wanting to believe prayer can be an answer to what ails us to wanting the same of yoga. And all those scientific studies may have some problems:
Fifteen years ago, a handful of poorly constructed, clearly biased studies purported to show that prayer was a legitimate medical tool. Americans fell for it, and we still haven’t learned our lesson. It’s hard to resist something we want to believe, especially when it comes in a science-shaped box. Today, people want to believe that yoga will solve their problems. More than 200 studies were published about the health benefits of yoga last year.
The yoga studies, however, contain myriad methodological problems, some of which are similar to those that plagued prayer research. First, what is yoga? That’s not a zen koan, but an honest question. In a real, practical sense, medical researchers have to agree on the elements essential to yoga practice before they can test it as a therapy. Is deep breathing or stretching the source of therapeutic benefit? Or maybe it’s simple exercise, which wouldn’t exactly be news. In addition, yoga, like prayer, can’t be dosed in milligrams. How much yoga do you need to do, and for how long, to achieve a benefit? There’s also significant individual variation at play. Some people breathe more deeply, hold poses for longer, and meditate “better” (I assume) than others. That’s going to muddy the statistics.
Doctors eventually realized—most of them, at least—that prayer didn’t fit well into a clinical trial. Yoga doesn’t, either. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do yoga. By all means, do yoga, pray, and eat lemons, if those things bring you contentment. Do yoga especially if it’s your preferred form of exercise—exercise is a health intervention supported by thousands of clinical trials. But recognize the “yoga as medicine” craze for what it is: an indicator of the zeitgeist, not a scientific discovery.
If those conclusions make you mad, perhaps you can do some mixed martial arts training and lash out at the world. After all, as Eddie Stern pointed out in one of his latest blog posts, yoga’s good enough for some of those warriors.
Posted by Steve
Goa’s always on the “Come to India to do yoga” itinerary, a little paradise on the country’s west coast.
According to Yogi Ashwini — cited by the Times of India as “a highly respected figure in yogic circles” — there’s more to the pull than just the Palm trees:
“Parshuram came and stayed here. Vishwamitra also got his energy here. There’s so much energy in Goa which needs to be channeled properly. I don’t think it is being channeled in the right direction, which is why you have the mafia here, drugs and all sorts of illegalities going on,” he says over breakfast at a resort in Sinquerim as volunteers from Delhi hover around.
And what’s more, he thinks Goa should really go back to nature:
He opined that the state government should forget its past mistakes and “turn Goa into an organic state. They should start organic gardens,” he says, when told that a large part of the forests here have been denuded by mining.
He laughs when told about a yoga festival held in North Goa recently. “Is yoga acrobatics?” he asks, “then Russian trapeze artistes are the best yogis!” He also dismisses claims that trance music can take you on an elevated spiritual level. “That’s absolute nonsense, but it’s a way of life for many,” he concedes.
I’m not sure I’d hold my breath, but maybe something just to have on your very distant radar.
Posted by Steve
This week, Politico magazine got away from its roots in Washington, D.C. and came out West to Los Angeles. The story on Skid Row is worth your time:
L.A.’s Skid Row was not the first of its kind but may well have become the worst, a 54-block island of despair west of the L.A. river, stretching north from 7th to 3rd streets and east from Main to Alameda, that has long had the distinction of hosting the largest concentration of homeless people in the country. For decades, it was an economic black hole in the middle of the city, where the helpless and hopeless washed up and would remain, very much out of sight and out of mind.
But what caught my eye for our blog was this description from an accompanying photo essay:
But Skid Row is fast changing, Ed Leibowitz writes, “going upscale” as hipsters and creative classers snap up loft apartments and sign up for Ashtanga yoga.
In this case, the usually “bad” gentrification had its upside: It forced political leaders to address the longstanding (and truly embarrassing) problem of LA’s Skid Row.
Posted by Steve
The Ashtanga Yoga Center on Wednesday sent around notice of two upcoming events at Tim Miller’s shala. The first is March 15. It’s a 108 Sun Salute practice to benefit Yoga Stops Traffic. Practice is at 1 p.m.; a reception follows from 2 to 4 p.m. The suggested donation is $20.
In April, from 2 to 5 p.m. on the 5th, Tim will be leading a workshop,” The Essence of Sadhana.” It is $50 and proceeds benefit the Sean O’Shea Foundation. A reminder of what it is all about:
The Sean O’Shea Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that was created after the fatal car accident of the young Ashtanga yoga teacher and studio owner, Sean O’Shea. Sean’s family and friends wanted to continue Sean’s vision to bring yoga to the youth of his community, especially at-risk children ages 8-18.
The Sean O’Shea Foundation programs are designed to empower youth with a yoga and nutrition curriculum focusing on providing memorable lessons and activities aimed at enriching young lives and providing invaluable instructors who will be a positive role model.
I might also note: It’s officially on Tim’s workshop schedule that he’s going to Bhakti Fest in September.
Posted by Steve
When we wrote about how the Guru doesn’t necessarily need to be right about everything (just about the teaching), we got responses on the post and privately that it is important to see the Guru as greater than normal, or superhuman.
We still fall to Eddie Stern’s way of thinking — that it is the teaching that is perfect; the Guru likely will show some human frailty, but we need to understand that that fault lies within the person, not within the teaching.
Chances are we feel this way because our teacher, Tim Miller, isn’t afraid to show off his own frailties, or put another way: his human side. And from our perspective, this helped to deepen the “guru-student relationship,” and not vice versa. Always curious to hear from others who feel differently.
This week — on the occasion of Fat Tuesday — we get another glimpse at the human side of Tim Miller:
For many years I have observed the tradition of giving up something for Lent. This year I’m thinking of giving up giving things up for Lent, although it would be nice to be able to do some of those poses again that have slipped away over the winter—marichasana D, supta kurmasana, pashasana, tittibhasana, etc. The list seems to get longer with each passing year. One of my fellow teachers at the Ashtanga Yoga Center, Natasha Teran, is always after me to practice with her like we used to in the old days. “Let’s do third,” she says, and I have to remind her that I am 63 years old and getting fat. She tells me it’s all in my head.
Somewhere I suspect he’s hearing his own voice: “Avoidance is not the answer.”
Posted by Steve