Posts Tagged ‘the community of yoga’
The biggest risk of yoga is change
I’m still thinking about that article, which I initially posted about here. Scott Stroud and I take class together on Tuesday nights, and in the car on the way home, he showed me the pictures from the article. OMG those guys, the NYT. As my teacher points out in his response, the paper is trying to increase sales and Mr. Broad is trying to sell books.
I know that’s real, but gross!
John also linked us to the best response I’ve read yet to Broad’s ridiculous piece of poorly edited journalism, from the Ashtanga Yoga Center of New York. I love every word, including his or her slam on Teacher Training Programs and that girl singing The Clash. Like the author, I remember the days of doing yoga, also in New York (for me in mid-nineties) when you could not buy a yoga mat, and when Lululemon’s owner was in Japan selling skateboards to another rich market.
Two best quotes of his/hers:
When there is a great potential for making money, quality is usually the first thing to be sacrificed. Fast food, anyone? It is unfortunate that this is exactly what we are facing now – yoga has been McDona-fied. It has been reduced from a practice that traditionally demanded dedication, discipline, sacrifice, humility, surrender, love, devotion, and self-investigation – and yes, suffering through rigorous practice – to something that one can now learn to teach in a weekend.
I would edit in “sometimes” in front of “suffering” or replace “suffering” altogether with “a lot of work”.
I also totally hearted the conclusion:
To live a life of self-examination is not always an easy thing. But that does not mean that it is not joyous, or have its own rewards, for it can be both of those things.
I made the decision several years ago to change the name of our 200-hour Teacher Training Program to be called Advanced Studies, for this is more accurate a term describing what happens in all Boundless’s Advanced Studies Programs. And, as I reminded my Boundless Yoga class last Saturday, we have been working at Boundless for 10 years to create an environment where everyone learns safely, feels challenged (both mentally and physically), and evolves. I don’t see any reason to do yoga except for these things. I want to evolve, and I want you to do that with me.
That yoga has become, for many who cannot escape the consumer trap of wanting my yoga my way, a drive-through experience, speaks to the fact that change is scary and involves loss. For those of us at Boundless — for those who teach here and who stay for a while to practice with us — we get that we’re in this body not only to own it, but to know it. We are also in it to feel exactly what our AYNY author said, that:
feeling of freshness, of being clean and free, of feeling that a whole, new world was opening in me.
Transformation starts with the body
Transformation that happens anywhere starts first in your body. While there are many ways to observe and assess the universal principles of organization and chaos, I will address the topic of human bodily transformation that in turn takes root in society. I want to teach you how you can learn to observe your experience in the world, which then then necessitates positive change everywhere — foremost in your life.
I am specifically teaching you about your own dharma or destiny. I hope you can make it!
boundless teacher mission
so the teachers and i just finished co-authoring this, the boundless yoga teacher mission.
i asked all of them to write me a manifesto on what their teaching style and interests were, and what they were really intending to do in a yoga classroom. i collated everyone’s overlapping and/or potent ideas, and then we all edited together.
we are a multi-disciplinary yoga studio, and we want to be clear in 2009 about the tremendous value that every class brings to you.
i’ve just finished reading the last of boundless’s 2007-8 boundless teacher training papers, which is a requirement for graduation. omg love them! i asked the trainees first to take one page to define yoga — to put this vast word into a few paragraphs that would then serve a their thesis for the paper. here’s what one trainee wrote on p. 1:
in the modern western world, the understanding of what yoga is and how it is practiced in the mainstream has been reduced to one limb — asana. facilitated by the reductionist principles of western medicine and the fitness movement, with its focus on the physical well-being of the body separate from the emotional, mental, and spiritual body, asana has been extracted from a whole and has come to represent what was intended to be a multidimensional philosophy.
this student goes on to pose the following questions for her paper:
How does this extraction of asana and reduction of yoga affect the efficacy of the practice in stilling the modifications of the mind? What are the benefits and the possible harm induced by only practicing asana? What happens if you practice yoga with selfish or misguided intent? Do you create karma for yourself as you would if you gave to charity based on self interest? does the simple act of aligning the body and increasing your awareness and concentration make you more open to learning and seeing the world through clearer eyes? By allowing the body to function at a healthier leavel, do the mind and the heart function at a healthier level? What can a modern mainstream yogi achieve by knowing only a small part of a holistic system intended to offer a path for the balanced and healthy physical, physiological, emotional, and spiritual existence?
clearly a lot!
thursday 8 pm advanced
i’m thinking of moving my monday 8 pm class to thursday nights at 8 pm. i’m wondering if the hatha 2 students think this is a good idea. let me know.
peace in struggle
i just finished a great book, all about love. in concluding both the book and a story about the bible’s jacob, bell hooks (who is also from kentucky: represent!) quotes two other writers who address the way we can stay peaceful in the midst of strife:
in that calmness we begin to understand that peace is not the opposite of challenge and hardship. we understand that the presence of light is not a result of darkness ending. peace is found no in the absence of challenge but in our own capacity to be with hardship without judgment, prejudice, and resistance. we discover that we have the energy and the faith to heal ourselves, and the world, through openheartedness in this movement.
this, from soul food: stories to nourish the spirit and the heart, by jack kornfield and christina feldman.
’tis the season to remember these words, eh?
the search for truth
so i learned last night how to customize my google home page, which was almost as exciting as when i found napster in the 90s. i was totally psyched, too, when, with two clicks from me, igoogle placed bart simpson’s and albert einstein’s daily quotes next to one another.
einstein’s quote for today inspired me to blog, and to let you know that i’ll be talking tonight at boundless yoga about the practice of yoga, 730-9 pm, for $10. we teach non-attachment in yoga, but especially as young, hoarding westerns, it’s hard for us sometimes to imagine ourselves not in possession of all the things we’ve accumulated, including our own intellectual “property.”
so the great man’s statement, “the search for truth is more important than its possessions,” provided me an instant, humble reminder of why i became a yoga teacher in the first place. i hope you can join me tonight. and, thank you, igoogle. you’re so cool!
knowing a place
thanks to the new york times article last week, i’ve reconnected with several old friends. one, from my hometown of louisville, reminded me of some conversations we had at least 10 years ago about getting to know a place. at the time, we contemplated what it would be like to stay in a place for a long time, versus traveling a lot of places to live, or stay, for only a brief while.
we can look at this concept in asanas. while my friend suggests the idea is to stay put, to look around, really, and to understand the climate, topography, and personalities of a place, my idea was that traveling was so important: how can you know anything if you don’t expose yourself, physically, mentally, emotionally, to a lot?
now i see the merit in both approaches. since the body is the only landscape we’ll ever know, why not try traveling through it quickly, alighting with the mind to experience a place–the abdominals, the calves? then, in your practice or through the classes you choose, stay for a while in a pose. try a forward fold for, like, five minutes and see what happens.
it’s this comparative, internal experience that we have right here inside us that offers myriad lessons, easily extrapolated to the outside experience. and once we realize that neither experience is actualy different from the other in the end, we begin to understand yoga, union, oneness.
the weather is, in fact, going to get worse.
i found this blog post on the wall street journal today describing several methods scientists could potentially use to control the climate. why not install huge solar mirrors to divert solar radiation, some are asking? please, yes, let’s spend money to send thousands of crop-dusting airplanes to blanket the arctic with engineed “particles,” others say.
the salient issue in any yoga or meditation class always comes back to control: what is in your sphere of influence, and what is not. one of the practices of raja yoga (the yoga we do in studios, the yoga of the mind) is to consider all possibilities. maybe crop-dusting planes in the artic is actually the answer. perhaps the long view is that this practice will save the earth.
i’ll be honest, though: it’s when i get to this level of justification–save the earth–that i have to stop and ask myself what we’re really considering here. what are we doing, and what are we reacting to?
the sudden hype over global climate change is obviously justified; only the diehards at this point are calling the rest of us chicken littles. but the question is: what are we trying to change and why? does anyone seriously think that a 4.5 billion year old rock won’t balance itself out, even if that means destroying everything on the planet that we–its squatters, effectively–call life?
crop-dusting the arctic is like taping the sprained ankle of a basketball player and telling him to get back on the court. as any fan has watched, this star might still be able to play and, position depending, will block, defend, and/or shoot for the rest of the game. but playing will in fact make that ankle worse, which in turn will lengthen the icing, xrays, and rehab when the game is over.
it isn’t even that our short-term, scientific solutions won’t help–the player with the sprained ankle might win the game. it’s rather that these scientific forays, and indeed the money and resources backing them, run the risk of diverting the attention from the real issue, which is where we actually are now. as a collective group of 5 billion people, and certainly the billions before us, we have created this.
the questions, then, are: what human practices have directly caused this problem? how do we stop them? how do we all accept responsibility for the fact that “developing” to this point has necessarily been derived of selfish, greedy, short-sighted, and in fact quite brilliant behavior and decisions? most important, is it possible for us to let go of the hubris of control, and to recognize that the 100 years we’re here, and any decision we make during that time, is not really going to impact the 4.5 billion more years this rock might keep spinning around the sun?
the point i’m making is that looking outward and upward is not always the place to go. the weather problems we are experiencing, and will continue to “suffer through,” are nothing more than a slap from earth, like any of our moms disciplining us as children because we reached for too many cookies at once. mom had a point: eat too many cookies, and you’ll get sick.
the FDA and CAM
“CAM,” or Complementary and Alternative Modalities, is a healthcare movement trying to get your attention. Lobbyists and other interested parties are right now encouraging the submission of comments to the FDA regarding a “guidance” that the FDA will use, effectively, to make herbs, vitamins, and minerals “medicine.” from what i can tell on first glance, this means that our access to these earth-based (as in, naturally occurring) materials will be significantly restricted (and drive the price higher). a full copy of the proposal from the FDA is here.
i don’t understand the issue completely, but several of the emails i’ve received in the last 24 hours point to this site as an important read if you are interested in whether or not pharmaceutical companies exert a strong level of control over the FDA.
if you know anything more about this issue and care to explain it on this site, i am very interested. i will do more reading and post the same.