One list of the best and worst places to be a yoga teacher in the U.S.

Thumbtack — a site that connects folks seeking services with people who offer them — has put together a list of the best and worst places in the United States to be a yoga teacher. Along with the average price for a private yoga class and the growth of yoga in any city or area, it also included its own metric, the Market Opportunity Index:

The MOI is an index of the number of requests per active professional on Thumbtack in that market. The more requests per professional, the more opportunity there is for pros to come in and clean up by meeting excess demand. The more saturated the market is, the fewer requests there are per yoga instructor, and the harder it is for a yoga instructor to find work in that market.

The best places to be? Nashville, San Antonio and Kansas City, Mo. The worst? Springfield, Ma., Oxnard, Calif (just northwest of Los Angeles), and Hartford, Ct. San Diego is also pretty low on the list.

Posted by Steve

Yoga Korunta? I’m still a skeptic

James Russell has posted a lengthy piece investigating one of Ashtanga’s great myths / stories / what-have-yous: the Yoga Korunta.

I think I’m on record as a skeptic. It sounds like something that could have been mentioned as a way to add authority to the sequence and system. Maybe a fairly off-handed remark, as something Pattabhi Jois said to a (perhaps annoying) student to get that student to simmer down.

That’s just my guess and sense of things. Or my sense of people.

I do know that I agree with Russell that I don’t think, ultimately, it matters if there was a Korunta. I’m not at all sure if anything matters other than the yoga you just did or are doing.

You can read his investigations and conclusions right here.

Posted by Steve

New study: If nothing else, yoga’s got a great placebo effect

A new study from the Centers for Disease Control suggests that of popular alternative wellness activities, yoga beats natural supplements and chiropractic care.

Link to the study is here. Its distilled down here:

Not only are yoga enthusiasts much more likely to report that their downward dogs and tree poses improve their physical and mental health, they are also more likely to report that yoga motivated them to adopt healthier behaviors, such as eating more nutritiously and doing more aerobic exercise.

Indeed, the study found people who take up yoga are four times more likely to say the practice inspired them to eat healthier and three times more likely to say it encouraged them to run, walk or do some other kind of regular physical activity than those who take supplements or receive chiropractic treatments.

[snip]

There is no good evidence-based research to support claims that any of these complementary practices boost the body’s immune system or improve memory or other thinking skills. Yet many of the people surveyed perceived that they did — a finding that likely reflects the placebo effect.

Indeed, 82 percent of the yoga practitioners, and about 67 percent of the users of supplements and spinal manipulation said their overall health had been improved because of the complementary practices.

Yet, when asked if these approaches had made it easier for them to cope with their health problems, less than 40 percent of the yoga practitioners and the spinal manipulation users and only 25 percent of the supplement users said yes.

That last paragraph sounds a weird note to me. Perhaps there’s something to the idea of “ease” that doesn’t translate. I suppose I wouldn’t say my yoga practice has made it easier — it perhaps has made me more effective at coping with things, but it isn’t easy to do so.

Of note: Across the board, yoga outscored taking supplements and chiropractic care in terms of people’s positive experiences and reactions.

Posted by Steve

Here are the 2016 tour dates for Sharath in the U.S.

You may have seen that via Instagram Eddie Stern has announced the touring dates for Sharath’s pass through the United States in 2016.

Here’s a link. And here are the details if you want to avoid Instagram:

Stanford: May 22-27

Los Angeles: May 29-June 3

New York: June 11-16

Miami: June 18-24/

Registration is going to open in December, at the Mysore website. Classes will include primary and intermediate led; lectures; and pranayama (including “intermediate level” in New York).

Posted by Steve

There’s no avoiding the contradiction of my two main lessons from Ashtanga

There is a big contradiction to my two main lessons from Ashtanga.

And there’s no avoiding it.

That’s just it, though: Avoidance.

All of this is heavily influenced by Tim Miller’s teachings, of course. And these are my learnings; your mileage may vary.

One is from Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. Sutra 2.16: “Future suffering can be avoided” (heyam duhkham anagatam).

It’s a pretty easy one to dissect, either for an asana practice or for life. For asana, it’s: If you are thoughtful, if you prepare correctly, if you research a pose, you can avoid pain and injury and ridiculous difficulty. It’s not too much more difficult for life: Keep your eyes open, pay attention to what’s coming and what might be around the next corner, and you can avoid unexpected trouble, or at least prepare to deal with the problems as they come.

The other is one Tim talks about, I suppose, mainly in terms of asana — but as with most asana lessons, it has a lot of relevance off the mat. It’s this: Avoidance is not the answer.

On the mat, it comes down to: You aren’t going to suddenly be able to do that hard pose, that difficult transition, that little flourish (if that’s you thing) by not trying it. Skipping Janu C every time (not that I do) isn’t going to make Janu C happen.

The same — even more painfully, though — is true off the mat. Have a friend (or maybe frenemy) you’re avoiding for some reason? It isn’t going to make the inevitable meeting any easier. Got a task or job to get done? Procrastination isn’t your friend.

Both make sense, right? Have you seen the contradiction?

Future suffering can be avoided… but avoidance is not the answer.

So where does that leave me?

Happily, well prepared, thanks to my study of Oscar Wilde (not, as is usual, of William Blake). From his wonderful essay The Decay of Lying comes this (admittedly, ironic on a variety of levels) quote from one of the two characters in the dialogue:

Who wants to be consistent? The dullard and the doctrinaire, the tedious people who carry out their principles to the bitter end of action, to the reductio ad absurdum of practice. Not I. Like Emerson, I write over the door of my library the word ‘Whim.’

There also is, of course, always Blake to consider, in this case from The Marriage of Heaven and Hell:

Without contraries is no progression. Attraction and repulsion, reason and energy, love and hate, are necessary to human existence.

It’s about living in the unsettledness of it all, the gyre.

Posted by Steve

Lululemon: ‘We are back’

Lululemon gets the fairly big New York Times treatment this weekend. If that really means the company is back — after a series of gaffes, flaps and sheer pants — is up to you. From the story:

Though largely still built around the peaceful practice of yoga, Lululemon has not given up the fight. Indeed, it seems to be doubling down on the devout yet irreverent corporate culture Mr. Wilson created, though he left the board earlier this year, after selling half of his stake in the company for about $845 million in 2014.

The gathering in the atrium, billed as a Pants Party, was in celebration of a new line of women’s bottoms, which remains the core product for Lululemon. The various designs have names like Naked and Held-in and are being marketed to steer women’s focus from how they look in the pants (not naked, one hopes) to how they feel in them. The atrium floor was decorated with stickers that read, “I feel more locked in than a harness on a roller coaster before it flips upside down,” and “I feel freer than a skinny dip under the midnight stars.”

After Ms. Poseley spoke, the company’s chief executive, Laurent Potdevin, whose résumé includes Toms, Burton Snowboards and (less congruously) LVMH, also took a turn. “Who but you would take our anchor business and turn it on its head?” he said approvingly, in his heavy French accent, to the crowd. “It’s the culture of innovation at its best.”

[snip]

Mr. Potdevin’s strategy is essentially twofold: to grow the men’s business (recently with loosefitting pants designed to give their genitalia breathing room) and to expand globally. To accomplish this, he has brought on a new chief financial officer, as well as new executives to lead digital, “brand and community” and design — all men.

He also said he has tweaked the company culture, putting less pressure on employees to take, as they have for years, Landmark Forum personal-development seminars (though many still do, and the company pays for them, along with fitness classes).

[snip]

The whole operation has been backed since 2014 by an in-house research and development lab, opened in the center of the Vancouver office and encased in glass walls that frost over to assure the privacy that innovation (formerly known as spitballing) requires. It is run by an internal team of engineers and scientists called Whitespace.

The lab is a Wonkaville for athleisure gear. There is a weather chamber that simulates extreme heat and humidity, letting the company determine the effect of elements on materials, seams and other details. There are washing machines to test how well garments withstand the spin cycle. And there is an enormous treadmill built into the floor, surrounded by video cameras to help map out the stretch of seams and — that bugaboo — coverage of material.

I had to include that middle part about the men’s clothing.

Posted by Steve

These four ‘most dangerous’ yoga poses don’t seem to be

I figured once the news story about some dude breaking his leg in Marichyasana B (B, even, not D!) got around, we’d get to enjoy another round of “yoga is soooo dangerous” stories and related hang-wringing.

Here’s one, from Details magazine. It uses the broken leg hook to unveil the four most dangerous yoga poses.

Funny thing. I can think of a lot of other poses that are waayy more dangerous. I suppose the caveat is that these are poses that most people probably encounter, unlike something from deep in Third Series. Still… not sure I agree. They are (and I’ll use the names from the mag):

  • Shoulder stand
  • Standing forward bend
  • Bound triangle
  • Camel

I’m especially confused by Uttanasana’s being on this list. Here’s what Details says is the danger:

Also known as Uttanasana, this pose is great for opening up hamstrings, calves, and hips, as well as supposedly stimulating the liver and kidneys—but forcing yourself forward can easily undo all that good stuff, especially if you have any pre-existing aches and pains.

Ah, right. Don’t force yourself into it. That does make sense.

Details, by the way, describes Marichy B as “an advanced Ashtanga yoga pose;” maybe we should introduce them to the actual Advanced poses.

What it seems to all boil down to is this: Type A personalities go out, push themselves way too hard, and get hurt.

If it weren’t for that, I’m not sure Ashtanga would still be around.

Posted by Steve