26 April 2010

Yoga to the People

In yesterday's NYT Style section, there was an article about Yoga to the People that is worth reading. Fed up with high costs, fancy clothes, and an exclusivity that seems to have crept into many yoga studios, Greg Gumucio has opened a chain of donation-only studios in several spots around the U.S. (special hot yoga classes are $8).

It was no surprise to me to read this article. When I moved home to affluent Monmouth County, NJ in 2000, the sight of a $300 leather mat bag sent me into a spin. Don't get me wrong, I'm thrilled that all kinds of people are interested in yoga. The other night on Law & Order a murder suspect identified himself as an Anusara yoga teacher (I had to wonder how they chose John Friend's style over others). This is great publicity (he was not guilty), and goes to show just how commercial yoga has become.

But I am also aware that lots of folks can't afford $20 a class and am personally turned off by hyper-marketing of overpriced uber-chic clothes and accessories that most of us know have no bearing on practice. What has been created is an environment that is truly intimidating to some people. While this certainly isn't the case everywhere, it is the impression that many would-be practitioners have of what yoga is all about - especially in urban areas
I wish Yoga to the People lots of luck - check out their manifesto. Keep it simple, get on your mat, and rejoice in the practice!

Hari Om!

13 April 2010

Restorative Yoga

I'll be subbing a restorative class tonight for my friend, Toni Halstead. We've both taken training from Judith Lasater, who literally wrote the book Relax and Renew. This is an example from the book:

Teaching restoratives requires lots of props, skillful blanket folding, good sequencing, and a soothing voice. The benefits of this type of practice are many since it is helpful in relieving chronic stress. In a restorative class, the sequence should include all movements of the spine - backward, forward and twisting, and some inverted pose, usually legs up the wall (but even resting the legs on a bolster is effective). I like to incorporate Yoga Nidra at the end of my classes and it's a perfect adjunct to this type of practice.

Some people like to play music throughout the class; I opt for silence. We are constantly being bombarded with sound - music in the grocery store, at the gas pump, on the telephone, traffic noise, televisions in restaurants. Moving away from sound can be uncomfortable for some people and even anxiety provoking, others have commented on how they appreciate the noticeable absence of sound. For some of us, doing nothing is hard work.

Subbing for another teacher can be challenging. What I've learned is that I don't have to try and replicate their teaching, but must offer my own with awareness and a loving heart. I've never had a bad experience.

04 April 2010

Happy Easter, FELIZ PÁSCOA!

My dear friend and computer guru, Maria, sent me an Easter greeting along with this photo.
Easter is a funny holiday for me. Since I'm not religious and don't live near family there really isn't anything about it that feels like a holiday. 

The time of year is special - springtime, rebirth - and the fact that other people are celebrating makes me happy. My sister and I have some great Easter memories and were reminiscing the other night. 

Our grandmother, Grammy Dot, and her mother, who we always called 'Nother Grammy, were very adept at shopping and dressing up their two little granddaughters. We had memorable outfits and loved getting tricked out for church on Easter. The day also included a lot of candy, a big dinner and, best of all, a trip to the boardwalk.
No matter how cold it may have been, Grammy Dot drove us to the beach and we played in the penny arcade, rode the rides, and had a whooping good time even if our skinny little legs were bright red and covered in goose bumps! She accompanied us on the roller coaster because it was scary. My grandmother was not petite. Seeing this ride years after the Easter ritual had fallen away, I couldn't believe how small it was! When we were little, it seemed huge. But what was more interesting to me was that my grandmother squeezed herself in there just so her girls could have some fun! And we always did. We screamed and she screamed and it was as exciting as flying!

That is what I celebrate today - unconditional, full-on grandma love. You know it when you feel it. Thanks Grammy Dot xoxo