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Our elevator speech? ‘Ashtanga, aka Power Yoga’

March 26, 2015

Shall we hope this video doesn’t become the next charter topper?

I’ll admit, though — it isn’t the worst “Ashtanga elevator speech” I’ve seen or heard.

Posted by Steve

Reminder: Be mindful of your surroundings when practicing yoga

March 25, 2015

A quick from a hotel room post, about practicing in a hotel room.

It’s something, I wager, many of us have done. It is one of the benefits of Ashtanga — you can take it anywhere pretty easily.

Of course, anywhere means someplace new and unfamiliar, and with that can come a little minor danger. Such as:

Practicing in the largest expanse in your hotel room, but not judging that space terribly well. And so the usual kick-up into a handstand can mean your legs crash against the wall behind you as you try to come up, pushing you toward the wall in front of your hands, and a nice glancing blow off that wall with your shoulder.

At least you didn’t land on your head. But maybe the old adage, “Measure twice, cut once” can be changed to: “Measure twice, asana once.”

A second reminder: It is strange, isn’t it, to practice on a carpet — especially a pretty cushy one?

Posted by Steve

Five surprising things about Ashtanga

March 24, 2015

I’m traveling for business — which isn’t and shouldn’t be of any interest to you — but this might be.

I shared a taxi into town from the airport with a person I’ve worked with on a variety of projects, for several years, and for the first time the topic of yoga came up.

Quick fun fact: It was because we actually got to exit our airplane from the back, and I mentioned that was like happens in India.

She has done a little bit of yoga but not much. (I also turned her on to Stephen Mitchell’s translation/poem of the Gita, for those of interest. And we’ll sort of come around to Krishna by post’s end.) Here were the things that seemed to particularly surprise her about Ashtanga, as I described it:

  • The six-day-a-week routine.
  • That a practice goes 1:20 or so.
  • That I can practice at home. I had to explain it has a particular, set routine, so once you learn it you more or less are good to go. (This compared to her feeling like she couldn’t do more than a sun salute without guidance or a lot of training.)
  • That said sun salute might be worship of a sun god. (We then talked a little about the Encinitas trial.)
  • That my yoga teacher is 100 miles away. (Tim, we’ll get down to you soon, I swear!)

I pass those on as a little “reality check.” What we do is not normal.

A few other things we touched on: Yes, an India home could/would have an image of a god. That there are maybe 330 million Hindu gods. That the yoga asana we know may be 125 years or so old, in its P.E. form as we know it.

I promised we’d come round to Krishna. The last of Lord Jagganath’s temple dancers/wives passed away, per the New York Times. Very interesting read.

Posted by Steve

This video is now topping the Ashtanga charts

March 23, 2015

I’ve been watching, probably over the past couple of months, as the search results on YouTube for “Ashtanga” shift. Down the list has gone the 1989 video of the senior Western students with Guruji; up and then down has come this current teacher’s video.

But the top has always remained the same. This one:

Until now. On Sunday, it finally got bumped. By this:

Now, this video hasn’t had as many total view (yet), but knowing YouTube, it has been getting more than any others recently. So it’s the new “most popular” Ashtanga video out there. For what that’s worth.

Posted by Steve

We now know how many Indian government workers will get to do yoga

March 22, 2015

Three million.

Which is, and sounds like, a lot — although you do have to remember India has somewhere in the neighborhood of 1.2 billion people.

Still, the government is pushing ahead with its announced plan to promote yoga. From the Daily Mail:

India’s government said Friday it would provide free daily yoga classes for its 3 million employees and their families as it seeks to promote the ancient practice.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is an avid yoga fan who credits his strict regime of exercise and meditation for his ability to work long hours on just four or five hours’ sleep.

A public circular issued on Friday said the government was “organising regular yoga training sessions from April 1, 2015 for the benefit of central government employees and their dependents”.

If you’re like me, you paused at least for a second when you saw it would start April 1. Hmmm…

Posted by Steve

Bandhas — find your roots and wings

March 21, 2015

Once again, you’ve got a chance to study with Tim Miller and raise money for a good cause.

Every year (at least), Tim runs a workshop with all the proceeds going to the Sean O’Shea Foundation. More about it here, and our past posts on it here.

This time around, the workshop is scheduled for 1:30 to 4 p.m. on April 11, at the Ashtanga Yoga Center of course. This year’s is on “Roots and Wings: The Mysterious and Elusive Bandhas.”

Aren’t they though? Here’s a little about the workshop:

In this workshop we will examine the bandhas from different perspective — physical, energic, and mental — and experience how the application of mula and uddhiyana bandha can greatly increase our level of concentration, enhance our breathing capacity, increase of our range of motion, and add stability, comfort, and lightness in our asana practice…. Pattabhi Jois used to say that when the bandhas are engaged, “Good sound is coming,” so our final application of the bandhas will be in the chanting of mantra, including the Mahamantra — the Hanuman Chalisa.

What more do you need to know?

You can click here to register.

Posted by Steve

Does this count as an answer to the student who says yoga hurt her?

March 20, 2015

Yesterday, we passed on news that an eighth-grader in Encinitas this week went before the school board to ask that they halt the district’s Sonima Foundation-backed yoga program. As reported by the U-T San Diego:

She and her parents told the U-T that she participated in a variety of yoga warm up and stretching exercises over five months that caused the cartilage tear.

“I spent a number of nights crying,” said Katie, who played soccer and basketball and was nearly a black belt in karate before the injury.

Coincidentally enough, on Tuesday the Sonima Foundation blog highlighted what certainly seems to be an unintended counter argument:

Last week, I had a 5th grade student come up to me at the end of class and tell me how he has been using belly breathing to keep himself calm. He went on to say that when he has to pitch at an important baseball game, he gets really nervous. To help himself calm down and stay focused, he does belly breathing while he is in the dugout and even on the field before each pitch. His mother has noticed he seems calmer and more focused during the game! He also admitted to me that at first, he didn’t like yoga exercise and thought that it was a waste of his time. Now, he understands how the stretching helps him prevent injuries and the breathing helps him stay calm.

Two sides to one yoga coin, huh? As one of our readers pointed out, maybe the girl’s injuries had to do with basketball or soccer, or even karate, rather than yoga. (That’s speculation — but the story doesn’t provide an irrefutable argument about how the family knows it was yoga that caused the injuries.)

I think about the only thing sure here is that, like how the trial is pitting “expert” against “expert”, we probably could line up students who are both “for” and “against” the program.

Posted by Steve