Archive for December, 2006

India Patents Poses

This from a 2005 article from the London Telegraph. Dated, but still news: outraged that Americans and Europeans are making money off yoga, India started a project to record and patent 1,500 yoga poses.

This argument has been bubbling beneath the surface for a long time: who owns yoga?

Are Americans like Baron Baptiste and John Friend really corrupting yoga? Or, as with Western interpretations of Buddhism and meditation, are they reviving the practice as well as putting their American twist on it? Would yoga be so popular in India today if it hadn’t first caught on in America? After all, yoga was nothing to get excited about 50 years ago.


Baghdad Yoga

The Army Times reports that Maj. Michele Spencer, a medic in training, recently called to duty in Iraq, is now teaching 3 yoga classes a week in Baghdad.

According to the article, “Six months ago, when the reservist went to the Green Zone in Iraq with the 9th Brigade, 108th Division out of Charlotte, N.C., she decided the class could provide a calming effect for soldiers facing daily battles with stress. She said at least one other yoga instructor teaches at the embassy.”

Spencer has an enthusiastic Web site, too,

Laughter Yoga NYC

At first laughter yoga seemed confined to California. Okay. We know California is willing to try anything. But I just read about it in Montreal (see photo above, from the Montreal Gazette), and after a bit of searching, found a club in New York.

Here’s what the New York site ( says about laughter yoga:

“The unique idea of laughter yoga clubs was discovered on 13th of March 1995 by Dr. Madan Kataria, a physician from Mumbai (India). Any one can laugh for 15-20 minutes without depending upon great sense of humor, jokes or comedy. It combines laughter exercises (simulated laughter) and yoga breathing, which turns into real laughter when practiced in a group.”

I still don’t know why it’s yoga. Why is this yoga?

Get a PhD in Yoga?

India-trained professionals in ayurveda and yoga are looking for work. Follow this link.In India you can get a doctoral degree in yoga (SVYASA, Bangalore is one place offering this) or a masters in applied yoga science at Bihar Yoga Bharati, Munger, Bihar and at other universities, too, probably.

What do they teach yoga PhD students? Sanskrit, anatomy, physiology, sutras? Like our typical one-month training spread out over 4 years? Or something completely different?

Will Americans be tempted to go to Pune, Lucknow, and Mysore, not just to improve their bodies and breathing, but to get advanced degrees in yoga?

Food for thought.

Don’t Sit Up Straight

More info on cultivating an aligned back. From the NYTimes.

“The Claim: Sitting Up Straight is Best for Your Back”

“Thirty years ago, scientists first showed this [that sitting up straight was bad for your back] by inserting needles into the backs of volunteers and measuring the amount of pressure created by various seating positions. They found that a reclining position was ideal, placing the least strain on the back and minimizing pressure that could lead to back problems. Since then, multiple studies have confirmed that finding.”

Read the whole thing here.

Yoga for…

On Thursday, my article on “Yoga for Everything” appeared in Time Out New York (mysteriously titled “Goal Mate” by TONY).

On Friday, The New York Times ran this story, “Days of Wine and Yoga”, about a yoga and wine workshop that’s touring major US cities.

Hmmmmm, seems as journalists we’re cementing a trend. (See what happened to the entrepreneur after she appeared in the Times.)

According to the Times, is starting an entire “Yoga + ” series that will pair yoga workshops with other kinds of learning and “indulgences.” Yoga for chocolate is one.

I’ve watched some reactions to my little article. Yoga for dating raises eyebrows, but is by far the most talked about entry. Some people get indignant, some laugh, some are curious. The more sensible pairings, like yoga for running, or yoga for singers (after all, yoga tones the muscles of respiration and calms performance jitters) doesn’t ruffle any feathers.

But what does yoga have to do with chocolate? Or wine?

I can see having a drink after a yoga class: when Go Yoga was still located in the Mini Mall, I used to enjoy stopping in at Uva Wines to taste the night’s samplings.

But the Times shows yogis on their mats sipping wine. Mais, pourquoi? What benefit could there be from learning about wine in your gym clothes? (And possibly spilling it on the studio floor.) Is this a product of literal thinking or great marketing?

I think the answer is this: lifestyle.

Ahhh the fresh scent of the wave of the future.

Better Sex Through Yoga videos

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, “Better Sex Through Yoga” is a video series, created by Jacquie Noelle Greaux. I know it’s ridiculous, but don’t tell me you’re not curious.

Didn’t you used to think, vaguely, that yoga had something to do with sex? Back before you actually practiced it, of course. I think that association lingers, especially among men who don’t practice. Fantasies of flexible women, you know…

In October 2006, ran an article on how yoga improves sex. Read it here: The Big O in OM. No one’s watching.

New DVD: Yoga 4 Fellas with Trev the Yogic Builder: The Only Yoga Teacher who Can Drink Ten Pints.

Ailon Free was a yoga teacher for 20 years before getting into comedy. In this self-produced DVD, his character, Trev, “features yoga down the pub, in the motor, at the footie, with the missus and meditation for builders – each with up to eight poses adapted for everyday situations.”

Trev will also help guys to “achieve the perfect builder’s bum.”

From the Brits, of course: Yoga 4 Fellas with Trev the Yogic Builder.

Bikram Yoga Championships Hit Britain, Olympics Could be Next Stop

The Huffington Post reports that two former British Yoga Champions (this is only for Bikram-style yogis) are lobbying to have yoga officially recognized as a competitive Olympic sport . The last National Championships in the US were held in the summer of 2003, to very mixed reactions. When did yoga become a competitive sport, some asked.

Bikram himself was a champion in India; who knows what other yogis like Iyengar and Pattabhi Jois think of it, but yoga championships continue today, like the World Yoga Competition in New Delhi next week. The competitors are five 15-year old boys and one 14-year old, so don’t get excited.

One thing’s for sure: in the West, many of us don’t accept this version of yoga. The comments on Huffington Post blurb show a familiar mix of lurid skepticism and outraged disbelief. Some hilarious comments, too.

More on the Olympic effort on buzzfeed.

bunch of hooey

Today, MSNBC’s Mental Health page reports on weird new “laughter yoga”in the article, “Laughter yoga no joke for fad’s followers.”

Forcing yourself to crack up in a class sounds pretty odd–so does muttering gibberish for a cool-down (not kidding). And what does this have to do with yoga?

So far, this fad is restricted to Laguna Beach, California.

But I do have to laugh at the headline that follows this one. Remember, this is the mental health category on MSNBC: “Botched penis surgery ends in mailbomb to doc.”

Freaky yoga, suicide, depression, schizophrenia management, and penis surgery–you’d think mental health (and by association, yoga) was just for psychos.