Another benefit to yoga in jail: Better fathers

A study unveiled this summer reaches a wonderful conclusion: Combining yoga practice with parenting classes for inmates can help them be better fathers.

Here’s a link to the study. From the conclusion:

These results also provide preliminary evidence that yoga and mindfulness combined with parenting education may benefit incarcerated fathers personally, in terms of self-awareness, resilience and parenting knowledge, which may in turn improve actual parenting behaviors. The outcomes also suggest that physical and intentional, guided yoga practices may have built participants’ capacities for assimilating new ideas and concepts, retaining and applying information shared in both the yoga and parent education sessions. Given the growing popularity of yoga and the availability of yoga instructors trained to teach in specialized settings, yoga shows promise for offering an accessible intervention with large potential returns.

The yoga part took place after the parenting session (for a variety of reasons). You might think the other way around would be better to get the inmates in the right frame of mind. But the researchers found that this sequence allowed the inmates to process what they’d just learned.

Now, this study wasn’t without some significant limitations, as it notes. But it did occur over three years with 14 different groups of men. (A big limitation: No control group.) And they are hoping to do more studies, given the findings.

Posted by Steve

Here’s someone who thinks Bikram should have won his copyright lawsuit

Here’s a counter to what seems the prevailing idea that the Bikram sequence of yoga poses should not be able to be copyrighted:

Yet the emphasis on the science of yoga doesn’t demonstrate that Bikram yoga isn’t also a highly specific form of coordinated bodily motions arranged in a particular way to produce an aesthetic reaction — in other words, choreography.

Congress specifically gave copyright protection to choreography in 1976, without defining the term. (Apparently, you know it when you see it.) Remarkably, the 9th Circuit thought that it could deny choreography protection to the Bikram sequence without defining the term itself. The court said that the Bikram sequence can’t be copyrighted because “it is an idea, process, or system,” and those are legally unprotectable — even if they are also choreography.

This can’t be right. Consider the ballets of George Balanchine, whose copyrights are carefully guarded by the George Balanchine Trust. Each and every one of those ballets unquestionably incorporates an idea, or rather many ideas: of modernism, of classicism, of the relationship of movement to music, and so on.

What’s more, many people do ballet as a form of exercise and as an aesthetic-spiritual meditative experience, just as they do yoga.

I think that’s the crux of the argument from this BloombergView piece. Something about the choreography = yoga (really, asanas) doesn’t quite pass muster for me. Perhaps I don’t quite agree that an established dance move is the same thing as a particular asana. But I get why someone would want to argue that.

Maybe Bikram will appeal higher.

Posted by Steve

Quit meditating, already

It’s been a while since the New York Times published something seemingly intent on irritating yogis, meditators and other alternatively bent thinkers.

If you’ve missed those NYT pieces, fear not! It’s got one in the paper this weekend:

I AM being stalked by meditation evangelists.

They approach with the fervor of a football fan attacking a keg at a tailgate party. “Which method of meditation do you use?”

I admit that I don’t meditate, and they are incredulous. It’s as if I’ve just announced that the Earth is flat. “How could you not meditate?!”

I have nothing against it. I just happen to find it dreadfully boring.

“But Steve Jobs meditated!”

Yeah, and he also did L.S.D. — do you want me to try that, too?

“L.S.D. is dangerous. Science shows that meditation is good for you. It will change your life.”

Will it?

You can get a pretty good sense where it goes from that. It is by a contributing opinion writer for the paper, Adam Grant, who is a professor of management and psychology at the University of Pennsylvania.

My main problem with the piece is that it doesn’t really feel like he provides much support for his argument that other activities can do as much good as meditating. And he makes some thinly veiled references to what I assume are the occasional lost soul who tries some Eastern or alternative path and dies (for any number of reasons). But he doesn’t provide any actual examples.

It also seems the whole point of the piece is he’s annoyed by those evangelists he addresses in the first line. But, as with so many piece in the Times, there’s no evidence to support a claim the writer makes.

Really? You’re being stalked? Maybe rather than writing an Op-Ed you should either call the police or find out what it is about meditating that turns people into sociopaths.

Posted by Steve

Bikram on wrong end of major court ruling

A three-person panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled against Bikram Choudhury in a case involving his attempt to copyright his yoga sequence.

The news is out there at various outlets. Here’s Time:

Bikram Choudhury, the self-styled creator of Bikram yoga, has for years threatened to sue practitioners that he feels are copying his signature yoga poses. However, a court ruled on Thursday that he has no legal right to do so.

[snip]

Choudhury’s most recent legal case involved Evolation Yoga, a Florida-based studio that the magnate accused of copyright violations.

A three-judge panel on the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has now disagreed with him after he appealed a district judge’s ruling in favor of Evolation. The judges clearly stated that his sequence cannot be protected by copyright law, the Times reports.

“Copyright protects only the expression of this idea — the words and pictures used to describe the sequence — and not the idea of the sequence itself,” Judge Kim McLane Wardlaw, one of the judges on the panel, wrote.

Radio coverage I heard here in Los Angeles of the ruling — Bikram’s based here — reported that the judges also determined yoga is meant to improve people’s health and well-being and that copyrighting such a thing would be akin to giving a doctor exclusive rights to using a certain medical procedure.

He could appeal up… but I’m not sure given the substance of the ruling that he has a good chance. But you never know.

Posted by Steve

‘An unusual sight’ in Venezuela

At about 90 seconds long, this report from Caracas, Venezuela by the BBC is absolutely worth a look:

A yoga scheme has been set up in the slums of Caracas to improve the quality of life for the people living there.

In this part of the Venezuelan capital, hundreds of thousands of people live on top of each other in a sprawling maze of homes and shacks.

Full video at the link. Definitely an example of the good efforts to bring yoga to those who need it.

Posted by Steve

Friday asana aid: Second’s seven headstands

A little different take on our regular video feature this week.

Instead of multiple different perspectives on a pose, we’ll give you one teacher’s multiple perspectives on sort of one pose: the seven headstands that finish up Ashtanga’s Second Series.

They come via Pacific Ashtanga and Diane Christinson. Here’s the first, with all seven at double speed:

And here’s headstand No. 1:

You can find all the videos right here.

Posted by Steve

Just a few hours left to pre-reg for the Ashtanga Yoga Confluence

You may have received the reminder emails, but even if so, here’s a third-party reminder notice:

Today, Wednesday, Sept. 30 is the final day of pre-registration for the Ashtanga Yoga Confluence. Sign up during the next few hours and save $50.

Pre-reg is $525, with the requirement you stay at the Catamaran hotel.

And as a reminder. The dates: March 3 to 6 of 2016. With the assistant and guest teachers, you’re getting 16 of Ashtanga yoga’s most experienced Western teachers.

Here’s the link to pre-register.

Posted by Steve

Today is National Coffee Day! Sorry those not in the U.S.

Occasionally, in the incessant stream of commodified “holidays” — donuts, burgers, beer, tacos, dogs, cats, yoga (ahem) — one comes along that makes dealing with the rest worth the trouble.

Today (Tuesday, Sept. 29), my friends, today is that day.

It’s National Coffee Day (U.S. only, of course)!

Here are 11 deals, courtesy the always reliable Parade magazine:

What I love most about this food holiday is that restaurants and retailers step up to the plate and celebrate right along with coffee addicts like myself. In many instances they have created some kind of special offer to celebrate. Some are giving away free coffee. Others are throwing in free food. Since free is my favorite price, combined with my favorite beverage, coffee, well, how could the day get any better.

And as if you need them, some reasons we’ve posted why coffee drinking is good, and good for you.

Posted by Steve

There’s still time to check out the Supermoon eclipse

By my calculations, not matter where you are right now, you’ve got an hour before the Supermoon eclipse begins and more than that before the full show starts. As long as you are at or west of the eastern edge of Africa, you’ll be able to see some part of it.

Here’s info from space.com:

You can watch the harvest moon lunar eclipse live in a webcast by the Slooh Community Observatory. You can also watch the total lunar eclipse on Space.com, courtesy of Slooh. The lunar eclipse will also feature the “biggest” full moon (in apparent size) of 2015, since the moon will also be at perigee on the very same day ─ its closest point to the Earth ─ 221,753 miles (356,877 km) away. [Visibility Maps for the Supermoon Lunar Eclipse (Gallery)]

The Sept. 27 event is therefore being called a “supermoon eclipse.” The last such eclipse happened in 1982, and the next won’t occur until 2033.

Out here on the West Coast, it even is happening early enough not to interfere with getting up tomorrow morning.

Posted by Steve