Making yoga accessible to the people who need it

I don’t think there’s a whole lot of argument that there is a lot not to like about how yoga continues to grow in the West.

There may be a lot of argument about what, specifically, to dislike, but from conversations I have with yoga practitioners (not to mention not-yogis), everyone seems to have some concern or complaint about some aspects of the “yoga industrial complex.”

One thing I think we all can agree is good is the relatively recent realization that yoga in the West tends to be a pursuit of the privileged — and subsequent efforts to address this.

There’s Urban Yogis. There are efforts in Africa. There’s more of an embrace of people who don’t like the usual Instagram stars.

All of that is absolutely great. Let there be more.

I want to add one other group, which in most cases isn’t underprivileged, but for which yoga as practiced (and set up as a business) is largely inaccessible.

It’s a group I belong to, so I’m biased.

It’s the 40+ hour a week, 9 to 5ers.

A big reason I have a home Ashtanga practice is time constraints. I really need to be heading into backbends and finishing poses by about 7 a.m. in order to be able to get ready and get to work.

In most cases, that’s about when a Mysore practice at a studio — from West Coast to East, north to south — starts. And that means I’m there with one or two others and then maybe get an adjustment and some backbend assistance. Sundays are the exception (and when a room is exceptionally crowded).

Frankly, it’s hard to cough up $180 a month for that. That’s just the plain truth.

When Bobbie and I were down in Encinitas while she took the Third Series training, I realized — not to pick on Tim Miller by any means — that were we to live down there (side note: I know few series students of Tim who haven’t pondered whether a move there is possible) and my maintain my same work, there would be days of the week that his schedule wouldn’t work for me. Maybe even like half.

Looking around at a sampling of Ashtanga schedules, this seems pretty routine. They work great if you have free mornings or, perhaps, some freedom early enough at the end of the day. But otherwise… it’s kind of hard.

Now, I know there is one big reason for this: Teachers have to practice, too. Do I expect a teacher to be up and assisting by 6 a.m., meaning he or she may have had to start practicing at 4 a.m. — maybe even 3:30 a.m.?

No, I don’t. I do have a shred of humanity.

The places that are set up for the 9 to 5ers are larger, semi-corporate places like YogaWorks. Their schedules kick off, often, at 6 a.m., and that first class is done by 7:15 a.m. If the place is really nice and has fantastic shower facilities, it’s even possible (although a bit of a bummer) to head straight to work. You just have to figure out breakfast. (And the post-practice coffee.) But spots like YogaWorks don’t always, maybe even often, offer Ashtanga, if that’s what you’re looking for.

And here at this blog, we are.

Those who know Los Angeles and know the YogaWorks here are perhaps saying, “Hold on a second, Steve.” And I get it. There is an unusual number of Ashtanga classes, even Mysore ones. Our friend Maria Zavala leads one in West Hollywood, beginning at 6:30 a.m.

To those folks, I of course counter with: Traffic. I won’t bore you with how long it would take me, even at 6 a.m., to get to WeHo and then back home or even to work.

And that’s the thing. Ashtanga is intended to be for house-holders. But to a certain, and important, extent, it doesn’t work that way, because of what house-holding means and entails.

That is, unless you practice at home.

I’m not now about the offer some solution. One doesn’t pop easily to mind. But I think it unfortunate that a whole big group of people — those with stresses at work, with long hours at desks, with perhaps a career they didn’t really intend but can’t for any number of reasons abandon (note: I’m not obliquely referring to myself there) — who really could use the benefits of yoga, and of Ashtanga in particular, are effectively locked out of experiencing them.

Maybe the next life will be more accommodating.

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

Modi goes high tech here in California

Quick little side note. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was in California this weekend — Silicon Valley, to be precise. It is the first time in decades an Indian PM has been to the state, so we’ll make some note of it. From the San Francisco Chronicle:

“People are now saying that the 21st century is India’s,” said the prime minister to an estimated crowd of 18,000. “The world is now believing this.”

Modi, who is bullish on Twitter and adamant about boosting the nation’s tech economy through a campaign he’s called Digital India, generated adoration and near giddiness Sunday, at the tail end of a diplomatic mission that included meetings with Gov. Jerry Brown, Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk, and Apple CEO Tim Cook, among others.

[snip]

But not every Indian in Silicon Valley is enamored of the prime minister.

Karthik Ramanathan, a software engineer who also grew up in India but immigrated to San Jose 13 years ago, arrived at the SAP Center parking lot with a poster denouncing Modi as the country’s “Prime Murderer.”

Ramanathan was among scores of protesters — including the activist group Sikhs for Justice — who gathered outside the building to accuse the prime minister of human rights violations, including a religious campaign to turn India into a Hindu nation.

“We can’t talk about tech without talking about its impact on humanity,” said Ramanathan, who worries that India’s political leadership could use new technology to crack down on protesters.

Additional coverage is here. He made some pretty strong promises involving tech advances for India.

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

Reflections on the final day at AYNY on Broome St.

Honestly, I’ve been expecting there to be more written about the last day or days of Ashtanga Yoga New York at its Broome St. location.

This piece at Huffington Post is the first I’ve seen beyond some Instagram/Facebook post. Enjoy:

During the last week at AYNY, memories arose, like the very first time I practiced Mysore with Eddie. I was intimidated surrounded by so many extraordinary practitioners. It didn’t matter that I had been doing the entire first series elsewhere.

“That’s all for today, Debby,” Eddie called over.

I was stopped my first day after Navasana (boat). I stayed there for several weeks. It was humbling. More importantly, it was safe. I progressed to the next pose when my body was ready, not my ego. One year later, I completed the entire first series.

Obviously, that’s not from the last-day memories. But you’ll have to click the link above for those.

Posted by Steve

Ashtanga Yoga New York | Brooklyn Yoga Club off and stretching

Monday of this week, things got started in earnest at the new location for Ashtanga Yoga New York, even as classes continue at the new Brooklyn location, Brooklyn Yoga Club.

All the info is at the AYNY site:

In Manhattan: 25 First Avenue, between 1st and 2nd st on the second floor of the Bhakti Center.

  • Monday thru Friday, 6am till 11am.
  • Weekend classes will only be held in Brooklyn.
  • Please click here to register for your time slot. Class payments will only be accepted through the registration portal, and not at the class location.
  • For the next month the only two payment options are $200 for unlimited classes, and $20 for a single class. After November when the main room in Brooklyn opens up, we will add all of the other class packages.

In Brooklyn: 206 Vanderbilt Avenue, at the corner of Willoughby (next to the French Baptist Church).

  • Please click here to be directed to the registration page.
  • Classes begin at 6am, and close at 11am.
  • Saturday and Sunday from 8am till 11am.
  • No led classes until November.
  • Payment plans are the same as Manhattan.

A key feature is that you can practice at both locations; sounds like they are streamlining that process still, but that is certainly a convenience that I assume will be welcomed.

Posted by Steve

Some quick maintenance

Hey all…

Apparently the “theme” our blog was using has been retired, which means it started to act wonky. We’re working on updating… and it looks like there will be some hiccups as we do. For now, links to Ashtanga teachers, etc is down at the bottom of the page. We’ll get those more accessible ASAP.

Thanks.

Posted by Steve