Category Archives: yoga in the news

I have opinions about lululemon. Who doesn’t?

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Waylon Lewis over at Elephant Journal posted this little write up about the much circulated lululemon spoof. The picture above is the spoof itself and you can visit the website to read more about each claim (click above to go to Elephant Journal and follow the link.)

It seems that everyone who has ever heard about lululemon has opinions, passionate opinions at that, about the yoga clothing / retail store and their products.  I am no different.  I will come right out and say that I do not own any lulu stuff.  Not a single piece.  I’ve heard that they are incredible, made from great fabrics and quite comfortable and I have seen more than enough people wearing it to class to convince me that they probably are.  I wouldn’t know, I will never know, because I refuse to buy yoga pants for $98+.

That’s a large part of my problem with lulu.  I find it incredibly interesting that this practice of yoga started out with folks who had nearly nothing because it needed nearly nothing!  You don’t have to buy expensive equipment (mats are optional and there is even a movement running right now that says mats are a hinderance,) you don’t need special shoes, you can do it anywhere, wearing anything (or nothing,) you can do it for an hour or a day or a minute.  It’s a practice of nothingness and muchness.  What it is not, however, is something only for the elite.  There is no reason on earth or any other planet that you need to spend an electric bill on freaking pants.

Also, what exactly is up with the butt thing?  Don’t get me wrong, we all like to have great asses.  Don’t lie, you know you do.  Guess where you can get one?  FROM DOING YOGA, even if you’re wearing $10 sweatpants or, better yet, your pajamas!  It will look awesome in any pair of pants – for free!  And really, if you’re walking into a yoga class and you’re worried about how your ass looks in the pants you’re wearing to “focus inwardly,” I think you might have gotten lost along the way – the singles club is around the corner.  If you want to wear pants out and about that make your butt look amazing (and I admit that I often do want to do that,) wear pants for that, but don’t call them yoga pants.  They aren’t yoga pants.  They are ass pants.

And one more thing: while I am not  prohibited from wearing any particular brand of pants I choose, there are many, many amazing yogis and yoginis who are because even the largest of lulu’s sizes don’t even come close to fitting.  If I would buy lulu, I would have to be in the largest size.  I am nowhere close to being the largest yogini out there.  That just isn’t right.  Why exclude? Why limit?  If we are all one, let us dress one, eh?

I may be given a pair of  lulu pants some day.  I might fall helplessly in love with them.  I might wear them every single day, but I won’t buy them.  Nope, I won’t, because it’s against my own manifesto which, in case you were wondering, doesn’t care  in the least how great your butt looks or how much it cost to make it look that way.

Yoga Sol NEWS and Schedule for OCTOBER AND NOVEMBER

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Can you smell it? Fall is in the air!  The air turns cooler and the leaves start to change and so does Yoga Sol!
Plans for the new studio are moving ahead at full steam and, let me tell you, it is going to be breathtakingly beautiful!  Some of the things you can look forward to:
Changing rooms separate from the bathroom
Gorgeous natural lighting
A large deck for indoor / outdoor yoga
Natural influences of stone, wood, and earth
Off street parking
More variety in class schedules and class styles
Love, love, love, and more love!
While all of that is going on, Polly and I will be in Santa Barbara getting our 200hrRYT status at the esteemed White Lotus Foundation, one of the first all inclusive yoga teacher certifying centers in the US!  We’re so excited to go, learn, and bring home ageless wisdom and practices.
All of this exciting stuff means that we are needing to run a short schedule at Yoga Sol for October and November.  We will be re-evaluating our schedule mid-November and adding a few more classes here and there to fill the schedule out until we open the doors of the new studio (anticipated opening around the first of December,) but starting OCTOBER 1***, the Yoga Sol Schedule will be:
Monday 6-7pm GENTLE YOGA
Wednesday  9-10am LEVEL 2
Saturday 9-10am ALL LEVELS
***  YOGA SOL WILL BE CLOSED SATURDAY, OCTOBER 2


Thank you for sharing the love and the light!  We’ll see you on the mat!

Yoga Sol makes The Columbia Tribune

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Photo by Don ShrubshellBuy this photo

Polly Sweitzer, center, leads her class through a variety of yoga positions with Sarah Kohl, left, and Sky Wyatt, right.

BY HALEY ADAMS

Sunday, May 30, 2010

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Photo by Don Shrubshell

Sweitzer leads her class through a variety of Yoga positions.

A year and a half ago, Sharon Thomas-Parks found the jogging and aerobics she once did easily were becoming harder on her body as she entered her early 50s. She also felt her mind needed a breather from her unstructured schedule as an independent contractor.

“Physically, I was a little stiff and feeling pain,” said Thomas-Parks, 52. “I also wanted to settle down inside. I wanted to not have so much chatter in my mind.”

Thomas-Parks had tried acupuncture, massage and physical therapy to help chronic pain in her neck and shoulders, and had tried physical therapy and medication for stiffness in her ankles. When her massage therapist left the area, she used the opportunity to try yoga as another attempt to relieve the pain. After her first Yoga 101 class at AlleyCat Yoga, she immediately felt more relaxed and had less tension in her body, she said.

Thomas-Parks hasn’t stopped since, and according to a 2008 poll sponsored by Yoga Journal magazine and conducted by the Harris Interactive Service Bureau, she is one of more than 15 million people in the United States who practice yoga. It’s not a new trend — yoga is more than 5,000 years old — but it has evolved into multiple forms, each serving a different purpose.

But with so many styles offered in Columbia, finding the perfect class can be overwhelming. AlleyCat Yoga owner Ken McRae said there are three main categories that encompass most types of yoga. Although each category includes the others to some degree, those interested in yoga can pick a class depending on what they want to get out of it.

Some forms focus on the spiritual side and help with stress reduction, such as Kripalu, McRae’s specialty. According to AlleyCat Yoga’s website, Kripalu is “meditation in motion” and teaches practitioners to tap into themselves to gain confidence and self-awareness.

Other types of yoga act as physical therapy, such as Iyengar, which focuses on returning the body to anatomical alignment. Elm Street Yoga owner Linda Lutz, who teaches Iyengar yoga, said when the body loses alignment, it can cause injuries, such as stiff necks and shoulders. Iyengar also can help psychologically and improve health issues, such as sleep. One class Elm Street Yoga will offer in the fall, “Yoga for Better Sleep,” will incorporate poses that promote calmness and sleep.

“Yoga is more than just physical work,” Lutz said. “It affects all levels of our being.”

The third category of yoga, McRae said, focuses on the cardiovascular system and is popular in gyms and fitness centers. Commonly called power yoga, the instructor takes the class quickly through one pose after another, which provides a more aerobic workout. Other forms also focus on a fitness objective, such as hot yoga. Tia Casady, manager of Wilson’s in The District, said the room is heated anywhere from 92 to 98 degrees, which helps students get deeper into each pose and decreases the risk of injury.

But any style of yoga can affect a person’s health and vitality, said Yoga Sol owner Polly Sweitzer. Sweitzer created her own form of yoga called Wave Flow Yoga, which is inspired by her California surfing background and love for the ocean and provides a spiritual, therapeutic and aerobic experience, she said.

“It’s yoga that’s trenched in deep, ancient traditions,” Sweitzer said. “At the same time, it’s a physical workout.”

Because of the variety of forms under the yoga umbrella, Lutz said most people start with a beginning class, such as the two she teaches through the Columbia Area Career Center, and classes through her studio. McRae said those new to yoga should talk to experienced yoga practitioners and try different classes. He also said yoga is a welcoming activity and there is no need to feel intimidated.

“Most people think they can’t do yoga because they can’t put their foot behind their head, but it’s not about that,” McRae said.

Thomas-Parks said beginners also need to remember to start slow and to not overstress or overstretch. “You want a nice, moderate challenge,” Thomas-Parks said. “If you overdo it, you get sore, and that’s not the point.”

Although yoga hasn’t completely cured Thomas-Parks’ chronic pain, she has noticed a decrease. She now does yoga twice a week in classes at AlleyCat Yoga, and, for her, the best part of yoga is learning to be more present. It also has made her more productive and efficient throughout the day.

“I have more command over my mind,” she said. “I don’t allow it to drift or chatter.”

SOURCE: The Columbia Tribune

Extra! Extra! Read all about it! Yoga Sol makes the press!

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This morning’s 9am class was packed with amazing people and awesome energy.  We had several long time members, some new friendly faces, and today we also had The Press!  The Columbia Tribune paid us a visit in order to include Yoga Sol in a piece coming out this Sunday in the Pulse section about Yoga in Columbia.  Lots of pictures, lots of words, lots of good juju!   Be sure to get out and pick up a copy of the paper Sunday – you might just see some incredible yogic awesomeness!

Also, Columbia Woman will publish it’s 3rd issue this weekend.  I have a column in this issue (that’s 3 for 3!) about Ahimsa (the first part of the 1st limb of yoga) and what we can do to take better care of ourselves.  It’s an honor to represent yoga and Yoga Sol with my words.  Go grab a copy!  It’s free! You can find a copy at any of the locations mentioned here.

Thank you all for your continued encouragement, love, and support.  We couldn’t do it without you!

MC Yogi urges us to Give Love

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Yesterday I was feeling overwhelmed. So much is going on in my life and it’s all wonderful, but it’s all life changing.  Things that change lives are often difficult, challenging, and emotional.  Sometimes it seems so much more complicated than it really is, but I frequently am unable to see the simplicity.   Sometimes I have to have a little help from an outside influence.  ALWAYS The Universe provides.  Last night, my clarity came in the form of a song and a video.

I am a HUGE fan of MC Yogi.  I play his stuff in class all the time and I listen to it at home nearly daily.  Poet, yogi, hip hop artist, and father … the man has it all going on.  And he’s got it going on in his head and heart, where it really matters.  Yesterday, The Huffington Post published an entry by MC Yogi that includes the video for his new song “Give Love.” For some reason, WordPress is not letting me embed the blissful video, but I will respost the article from HP and then I strongly urge you to click the link to see the video.  Maybe even join YogaFriends.com to get your free download of the song today.

Give love.  Bhakti yoga, baby.

From The Huffington Post

I was asked to create this song and video for YogaFriends.com. Yoga Friends was started by the same people who put together Yoga Aid events and the two organizations are beautifully linked. Yoga Friends is all about galvanizing the yoga community to do good in the world. They have hosted Yoga Aid events in seven countries, gathering yogis and teachers to practice yoga and raise money and awareness for some amazing charities.

Each yogi who shows up gets sponsored to do 108 sun salutations. To date they have raised almost $500,000. This is a natural progression in the yoga world. It starts by people getting together and doing yoga. They start to feel better, physically and emotionally. The community grows as more and more people connect and find that by practicing together and hanging out together they are supporting healthier lifestyle choices. Eventually there is this overflow, an abundance of good vibes and it is only natural that yogis start to look for ways they can share the Love.

So this song is about that. It’s about being generous with ourselves with our hearts, with our time and with our energy. It affirms the universal principle of attraction. What we give is what we get. One of my favorite teachers, Sharon Gannon, the co-founder of Jivamukti yoga, once told me you can create anything you want, you just have to be willing to provide it for someone else first. When we begin to understand this and act from this awareness, there is no limit to the goodness we can create in the world. So go on, Give Love Today.

Huge Hug,
MC Yogi

WATCH THE VIDEO

Toot Toot Boogie

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A great article by Jodi Mardesich talks about what I have been saying all along – Music can make or break your yoga practice.  Some of my yoga pals are mentioned as well as yours truly.  I’ve cut and pasted the text here, but PLEASE take time and visit Yoga Journal regularly.  They are an incomparable source of information, inspiration, and all things yoga.

From Yoga Journal.com

How to Set the Right Tone with Music

As soon as I enter the shala and hear the moody, spacious music, my mental chatter volume subsides. I forget where I’m going later, where I came from, and I’m ready for yoga—that sweet state of union of the body and the mind.

After attending ?Flowmotion class with Sarah Tomson Beyer for more than a year, I have a Pavlovian response to the music she plays. The music invites me into a state of surrender, daring, and acceptance. Her sequences start slow, pick up momentum, pull back a bit, and build again to a crescendo. At the peak, the music is thumping and we’re trance-dancing; then the music leads us back toward the surrender of Savasana—and all the poses are choreographed to her playlist.

“People have been dancing to rhythm for centuries,” says Tomson- Beyer, a yoga teacher and physical therapist in Park City, Utah. “Why is it so strange to move your body when it happens to be in a yoga studio?” I confess that I used to be one of those teachers who was afraid of playing music in class. The vibration of sound literally can change your energy or shift your mood. It can be a positive shift, but can also agitate or offend. I worried that my musical tastes might not gel with my students’ preferences. And while music is appropriate for some classes, like vinyasa, it might not fit with some styles, where there is a lot of verbal instruction and less flow (think Iyengar).

Set the Mood

The ubiquity of iPods, along with playlist-building technology, has given teachers a way to personalize music for their classes. Andre Daley, a teacher and founder of Wholly Yoga in Grand Rapids, Michigan, used to rely on presequenced CDs from Yogafit. “I didn’t have to think about the flow of the music from warm-up to active flow to floor work to cool-down and relaxation,” he says. But now that he creates his own playlists, he can match the songs to fit his sequence—and also his theme. (See his lists on asteya and change. “With a little creativity and a lot of work, the whole practice comes together around the intention or focus of that practice,” Daley says.

Andrea Drugay, a teacher in San Francisco, agrees. “The right music can provide the inspiration to guide a class (or be guided in a class) into new directions that the teacher or students might never have imagined before,” she says.

So which comes first, the music or the sequence? It depends on your planning style. For Drugay, it’s the sequence, followed by music. “The playlists I use for my Power Yoga and vinyasa flow classes have more high-energy tracks than those I use for gentle flow,” she says. For restorative and prenatal classes, she keeps it simple, repeating a track of Tibetan bells with ocean waves. (Www.33bowls.com)

For Tomson-Beyer, it’s usually the music that inspires her class. “Once I have a combination of music with a consistent theme throughout, I then see what movement arises from that feeling—power-filled movement if the music is intense or fluid, watery movement if the music and mood are more mellow.”

Cue Yourself

Creating a playlist is an art that can be more time-consuming than scripting a sequence. But aside from setting the tone for the class, a skillfully designed playlist can also give you cues and remind you what to teach. It helps with timing and the pace of the class, Tomson Beyer says.

Planning ahead, Drugay starts with songs that she knows work, from Krishna Das, Thievery Corporation, or Deva Premal. She drags a few songs into a new playlist, listens to snippets of other songs that might fit, and builds from there. “I’ve successfully worked in music from Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones, Mozart, bebop jazz, hip-hop, and underground techno tracks, just by keeping an open mind when I’m creating a playlist,” she says.

Getting Technical

There are several different ways you can create a selection of music for your class:

Create a playlist via iTunes on your computer. “The iPod playlist is great because most studios have the proper hardware cable that you can easily hook into,” says Tali Koziol, an aspiring yoga teacher in Denver who regularly publishes playlists on her blog. Songs created in the playlist are synched to your iPod next time you connect it. You can go old-school and create a CD of your playlist if an iPod hookup isn’t available.

Create a playlist online. Playlist.com hosts playlists you create, giving you the choice of songs uploaded by other members. However, it requires an Internet connection if you want to play it in class. Also, songs come and go, and if a song is removed from the site, it’s no longer in your playlist.

Share your playlist. You can help students recreate the vibe they’ve experienced in class by publishing your playlists. iTunes lets you create an iMix, which shows up in the iTunes store. Your students can preview songs (iTunes plays 15 seconds only). Drugay has been publishing iMixes of her playlists for more than a year, and she publishes them on her blog as well (http://shapeshifteryogamusic.blogspot.com). Playlist.com lists work well for sharing on a website or blog. “I can arrange the songs as I want and generate the code to embed the playlist or easily link to the URL when sharing it,” says Koziol.

If you’re looking for inspiration, you can listen to Pandora Internet radio. You create stations by typing in a favorite artist. Pandora then streams songs it thinks you will like. Blip.fm is a great way to find songs by keyword. Searches on names of Hindu deities like Ganesh bring up a wealth of results. Or search for yoga playlist online. Many teachers publish theirs.

All these tools make it easy to create playlists and get used to being the deejay for your class. But they require advance work, and if you’re not prepared, music—or the technology itself—can be distracting in unintended ways. For example, if you forget your iPod or don’t have a CD, you might want to think things through before streaming Pandora Internet radio off your cell phone in class. It might work, as long as the random songs that stream on a station work for the class—but you’d risk a phone call ringing through and disturbing class.

Playlist Tips

Be mindful of transitions. “The music has got to flow seamlessly, like breathing,” Drugay says. “If a track ends abruptly or starts too loudly, that won’t work. Gentle beginnings and endings are key, even if it’s a high-energy song.” Settings in iTunes let you edit transitions between songs. “I often will edit the start and stop time of each song and have a fade between songs with a cross-fade,” says Sarah Kohl, a teacher in Columbia, Missouri.

Be flexible. If a song isn’t working, skip to the next, or shift to another playlist. “Once or twice, a song that I’d thought was awesome when I was making the mix turned out to feel awkward during the class. But that’s rare,” Drugay says.

Go for it. It can be distracting when a teacher isn’t confident with her music. “I’ve been distracted only when music is turned down extra low, like the teacher wants it to be there but also doesn’t,” Drugay says. “Make up your mind, I say, and be confident in your decision.”

Practice makes perfect. “I always do a personal practice to a playlist before I debut it in a class, just to be sure,” Drugay says.

As teachers, we create and hold a space for our students. Our sequencing sets a mood and a pace—and music can augment that. Kohl’s classes often have a mix of students whose ages range from 16 to 75. “I don’t want to isolate any of them, but I also don’t want to discourage folks from experiencing something new,” she says. “Also, I find that a mix-up of music helps keep folks ‘in the moment,’ because they never know what’s going to happen next.”