10 April 2012

Yoga, butt ...

Santa Monica Pier - lots of outdoor activity
I took a trip to Santa Monica last month over Oscars weekend. It was just like I remembered - beautiful and fun! This was a view from our window.

The trip was planned so I could coordinate a visit with an old friend who now lives in Boston. Before we left, she asked me to find some places where we could do yoga - but not what she called "resort" yoga. It made me smile to realize that I knew exactly what she meant. Yoga is popular and, because more people want to do it, it seems like everyone wants to teach it so lots of places offer "yoga" classes. This has resulted in some crazy stuff and food for another post.

My research and our schedule led us to Exhale in Venice. We walked there in the mornings and stopped at Urth Caffe` on our walk back. It was a great trip. Our last class was with Annie Carpenter, who I knew from her previous visits to Richmond so that made it even better. This trip also is deserving of its own post.

Wall art in Venice
Over the past several months, yoga has gotten a boatload of media coverage. It seems to have started with a highly publicized book about the dangers of yoga. This led to reportage that the practice is rooted in a tantric sex cult and then segued into John Friend and an explosion in the Anusara Community (or maybe that was the other way around). Plus there's always anything that Bikram says, does, or has attributed to him and a seemingly endless list of celebrities who are now all yoga converts (and experts) - it's been wild!

Then I read an article describing a website dedicated to photos of women in yoga pants - well, not the actual women, just their derrieres. And then someone very dear to me (who will remain unnamed) made a comment about my "yoga butt" (this is when I wish for the ability to do that Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind thing). I acknowledge that yoga has kept me in good shape, but so has walking, genes, and a healthy diet. But my butt has had quite the same configuration since I was a baby, and I have the photos to prove it. I realized that I found the term offensive (yes, dear one, I know it was intended as a compliment). My reaction is about my aversion - to advertising that promotes yoga abs, yoga arms, yoga butts, yoga clothes, yoga drinks, etc. - stuff that rankles me about  commercialism, objectification, etc. And there you have it. It is my stuff!

Pema Chodron on attachment and aversion in a piece about The Way of the Boddhisattva:
Attentiveness is a significant component of self-reflection. By paying attention when we feel the tug of shenpa, we get smarter about not getting hooked. Shenpa is the Tibetan word for attachment. Dzigar Kongtrül describes it as the “charge” behind emotions: the charge behind “I like and don’t like,” the charge behind self-importance itself. Shenpa is the feeling of getting “hooked,” a nonverbal tightening or shutting down. Suppose you are talking to someone and suddenly you see her jaw clench; she stiffens or her eyes glaze over. What you’re seeing is shenpa: the outer manifestation of an inner tug, the subtlest form of aversion or attraction. We can see this in each other; more importantly we can feel this charge in ourselves. ("No Time to Lose", Pema Chödrön, Shambhala Sun, January 2006).
I know very little about Buddhism, but I know what inspires me, and this hit a chord when I read it. And, like I always say, I could stand to meditate more.
Balance in attachment is also important