Turns out, this was a good week for yoga in the news.
And that, of course, means news of both the good and bad variety.
I’ll start with the one most relevant to Ashtanga. I know you’re sick of it, but get used to it: The Encinitas yoga in school story ain’t going no where:
“I don’t want publicity,” says Craig Nordal. “I was told to deliver this message.”
No need to ask by Whom he was told.
For several weeks, Nordal has been showing up outside Encinitas Union School District elementary campuses. He was photographed holding up this sign: “PROTECT YOUR CHILDREN OPT OUT OF YOGA! Luke 17:2.”
The Luke passage reads: “It would be better for them to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around their neck than to cause one of these little ones to stumble.”
Encinitas translation: Anyone who leads Christian kids toward yoga has sinned so grievously that his drowning would be a better alternative.
You can read about the back-and-forth between attorneys right here. (And who doesn’t want to read about attorney stuff?)
Speaking of attorney stuff, an Los Angeles-area yoga teacher got a little gropey, and now faces prison time:
A jury convicted a Pasadena yoga studio owner and instructor Wednesday of sexually assaulting three women under the guise of so-called “private healing sessions,” city officials announced Thursday.
A Pasadena Superior Court jury convicted Naader Shagagi, 56, of four counts of sexual battery by fraudulent representation, city officials said in a written statement.
Shagagi, the proprietor of the Yoga Kingdom Sanctuary, 553 S. Lake Ave., was ordered to return to court for sentencing Dec. 5, officials said. He faces up to four years behind bars, and will be required to register as a sex offender for life.
The article describes the victims as “young women.”
Speaking of prison, a few yoginis in Vancouver aren’t too happy with that city’s aquarium’s yoga class:
When yoga teachers Cynthia Ganatra and Corrie Kielbiski first heard of a monthly yoga practice at the Vancouver Aquarium they thought it was a joke.
But after finding out its very real, the two women decided they had to do something about it. Not just for the animals they believe are unjustly held in captivity, but for the spirit of yoga.
That’s why these two yoginis decided to host a protest and free outdoor yoga class outside of the Vancouver Aquarium on Thursday, at the same time the class inside was taking place.
Kielbiski and Ganatra say yoga is about unity and liberation, and it’s an insult to the core values of yoga to be doing it in front of these animals inside the aquarium.
The best part? This: “Vancouver Aquarium staff and two police officers were on site to make sure the protest, which involved a dozen people, was peaceful.” (And I don’t mean to make light of issues involving aquariums, but I can’t help enjoying the image of yoga under the watchful eye of riot police.)
And now, we can finish with the good. (The last three seem to be the “bad,” although kudos to a paper for printing the word “yogini.”) The Los Angeles Times on Friday ran, as its Page 1 feature (which runs every day), a story on Peace Yoga Gallery in Downtown LA:
Inside, the waiting crowd is a mix of Type A careerists, tattooed musicians and working-class Russians just finishing a day’s work in the fashion district. No money exchanges hands — there’s an honor box, or you can pay later on PayPal or just clean some yoga mats after class.
“I really hate touching money,” Russell says. “With the people who come here, I prefer to have an exchange of energy, not paper.”
The Type A’s have to let go here. Classes rarely begin on time, and even though most are scheduled to last two hours, they more often go for three. On some weekends, no one shows up to teach the classes at all. (One student’s response? He cartwheeled back to his car.)
“I’m trying to break through the constraints of time. I’m almost there,” Russell tells her students. “We are here to experience deep joy. Everything else is an illusion.”
In a downtown known more for deal-making than joy-making, a community has formed around Russell and her studio’s unconventional mores — maybe even an innocent cult.
“For downtown, Peace is like having the most amazing feng shui and not knowing where it comes from,” says Santino Rice, a fashion designer and reality television personality. “It is kind of an anchor for all the amazing energy that is going on on Spring Street.”
That happens to be where we took workshops with Danny Paradise and David Williams. You can read it all here.
Posted by Steve