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Finally, a specifically naked Ashtanga yoga class

September 20, 2014

We’ve touched — hmmm… wrong word? — on the “naked yoga” trend a few times. (See here.)

Now, finally, a class has popped up that specifically is a naked Ashtanga one. It’s in Toronto, but no, don’t you worry, not at the Ashtanga Yoga Centre of Toronto .

It’s at a place called Awaken Studio. A little from the Toronto Observer:

Coupal, works at the Awaken Studio, located at 270 Carlaw Ave. Currently, it is the only place in Toronto that offers naked Ashtanga yoga sessions for men only.

“The market for naked yoga seems to be for men between mid 20’s to late 70’s,” Coupal said.

While naked yoga grows in popularity, the activity remains taboo. Paul Barber, one of the participants in Coupal’s class suggests this may have something to do with people associating nudity with sex.

“In our class there is no touching involved,” Barber said. “The yoga instructor might make a small adjustment to what it is that you’re doing, but that’s it.”

A few thoughts. One is that every naked yoga story I’ve seen claims it is growing in popularity, but I don’t know that I’ve ever seen it measured in any way. So take that with a helping of salt.

Now, a few more:

  • Surely you joined me in thinking that Ashtanga with almost no touching isn’t Ashtanga, right?
  • I still am laughing at the “market” for naked yoga. Basically every adult male. Except those very shy, conservative early 20s guys. They won’t stand for it.
  • You have to ask: Is there a place that offers co-ed naked Ashtanga in Toronto?

Can I end with this: In these classes, every day’s a Moon Day.

I’m here all week. Tip your servers.

Posted by Steve

This may be the yoga documentary we’ve been waiting for

September 19, 2014

Back in March, we highlighted a yoga documentary being shot in India by a high-profile director. (Post link is here.) There wasn’t a lot of detail yet, and I ended with a cautious-sounding “we’ll see where it goes.”

Well, it’s gone pretty far. And here’s a trailer to prove it:

(BKS Iyengar appears at about 1:28. And is it the Mysore shala at about 1:50?) It’s actually trailer no. 2. And the film now is titled, “Yoga — An Ancient Vision of Life.” Here’s the quick description accompanying the trailer:

This epic documentary is made for CountryWide Projects by the famous culture historian Benoy K Behl. It is shot across India, as well as across Germany and USA. It includes interviews with the leading teachers of Yoga and practitioners, as well as doctors and scientists. The film conveys the true and deep meaning of yoga.

And they’ve just gone on Facebook.

I’m told the film will be released in India in December, with the international release to follow.

We’ll keep an eye out.

Posted by Steve

New video: David Williams talks about his first yoga class

September 18, 2014

Here’s one for the archives. Just up this week, only a few dozen views at this point:

From the early 1970s, I move you to this week. Photos from Sharath’s classes in New York can be viewed here.

Posted by Steve

Encinitas as ‘God’s Hospital’ and the ‘American home’ of Ashtanga

September 17, 2014

People familiar with Tim Miller probably know his story of coming to Encinitas and the health issues he was dealing with when he arrived.

Turns out, this week is the 38th anniversary of his arrival; he looks back at it on his blog (as I’m 99.9% sure he has done before) and adds a few twists this time around:

I don’t remember who coined the name, “God’s Hospital,” but I think it’s a very apt name for Encinitas. Paramahansa Yogananda came here in the 1930’s when one of his wealthy devotees bought him a choice piece of real estate overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The Self Realization Fellowship meditation gardens—just north of Swami’s Beach—are more than likely the epicenter of the healing vibrations of Encinitas. The Ashtanga Yoga system of Pattabhi Jois was introduced on American soil in Encinitas when Guruji first came to Encinitas in 1975. He liked it so much that he returned a dozen times to teach over the next 30 years. He often referred to Encinitas as his “American Home.”

Tim also notes that the last remaining Jois Yoga Center is in Encinitas (currently under construction) and that John Friend almost added to the high concentration of yoga in the town.

A few things Tim doesn’t mention outright: the surfing, the beach, the cliffs. Those are a few other pieces to the puzzle that, in my mind, make Encinitas the special place it is. I could use another week’s vacation there, with practice in the morning and surfing / hanging on the beach the rest of the day.

Posted by Steve

Ram Dass on all things devotional

September 17, 2014

I’ll admit, I was looking through the BhaktiFest site to see if there was any video of Tim Miller at this year’s event.

Nothing yet. But I see this went up a day ago, and amazingly at this moment has only 49 views.

Sit back, it’s a couple hours long, but from a (quick) view, I think there are some useful nuggets. At the least, Hanuman hangs out over Ram Dass’ right shoulder.

Posted by Steve

Buddha as crime fighter on one rough street corner

September 16, 2014

Here’s a great story to get you through your Tuesday. It’s out of Oakland — a pretty rough town as so many are — and via the San Francisco Chronicle:

The 11th Avenue resident in Oakland’s Eastlake neighborhood was simply feeling hopeful in 2009 when he went to an Ace hardware store, purchased a 2-foot-high stone Buddha and installed it on a median strip in a residential area at 11th Avenue and 19th Street.

He hoped that just maybe his small gesture would bring tranquillity to a neighborhood marred by crime: dumping, graffiti, drug dealing, prostitution, robberies, aggravated assault and burglaries.

What happened next was nothing short of stunning. Area residents began to leave offerings at the base of the Buddha: flowers, food, candles. A group of Vietnamese women in prayer robes began to gather at the statue to pray.

And the neighborhood changed. People stopped dumping garbage. They stopped vandalizing walls with graffiti. And the drug dealers stopped using that area to deal. The prostitutes went away.

I asked police to check their crime statistics for the block radius around the statue, and here’s what they found: Since 2012, when worshipers began showing up for daily prayers, overall year-to-date crime has dropped by 82 percent. Robbery reports went from 14 to three, aggravated assaults from five to zero, burglaries from eight to four, narcotics from three to none, and prostitution from three to none.


To this day, every morning at 7, worshipers ring a chime, clang a bell and play soft music as they chant morning prayers. The original statue is now part of an elaborate shrine that includes a wooden structure standing 10 feet tall and holding religious statues, portraits, food and fruit offerings surrounded by incense-scented air.

On weekends, more than a dozen people show up to worship.

And yes, before you ask: Someone did at one point try to take the Buddha, but the statue had been installed with some serious epoxy. And, double yes: The government also tried to step in, but community backlash was so severe that the city ended up deciding to “study” the issue. So far, that’s meant nothing is happening. (Insert your own government joke here if you want.)

If you click over to the story and check out the photos, I’ll then tell you that the roadside shrine looks a lot like those in India (albeit not to a Hindu deity). But there is a similar, makeshift and informal feel to it all.

You can decide if there’s a corner near you that could use a similar infusion of calm.

Posted by Steve

How about some Hanuman stories

September 16, 2014
tags: ,

Since we have our proof that Hanuman is still hanging around in India, it seems a timely moment to share some of the stories of his devotional adventures with Ram.

You can click here for the link to the full YouTube video set of these, and below is his meeting with Ram:

Jai Bajarangbali!

Posted by Steve