Archive for June, 2008

Pure Yoga opens June 25

Equinox Gym’s foray into yoga only, customer-service oriented 20,000 sq ft yoga palace complete with mat wipe downs between classes will open next week in the Upper East Side of Manhattan.

If this location goes well, there will be many more locations of Pure Yoga, a business that originated in Hong Kong where it has done extraordinarily well.

You can bet that this is the beginning of something big. Their tag line is, “Many Practices, One Intention.” Twenty-one different styles under one roof.

Remember when Yoga Works chain opened in 2005? You don’t, right, because it seems that the Yoga Works franchise has always been around. That’s how powerful they are. Changing the face of yoga.

For background on the how financing entered the yoga free market, read the story of Yoga Works in the NYTimes small business section, and in Yoga Journal, 2005.

Solstice Yoga in Times Square, 2008

This year, hundreds of people may join in asana practice in the overstimulating junction of Broadway and 7th Avenue in NYC: Times Square.

It’s unclear how yoga and the solstice go together: pagan holiday meets sometimes-spiritualized exercise? The Times Square Alliance website doesn’t help to clarify the connection:

“…we are, on the longest day of the year, drawing on the full force and energy of the sun and are ideally at the height of our creative powers. We have more potential to draw strength from nature than on any other day and, perhaps, like the ancients thought, we are even more fertile (Times Square has always been about sex, right?)”

Okaaaayyyyy…. Nature? Times Square? What you say ‘bout my fertile parts?

Instructor Douglass Stewart puts it better, “…why not explore [yoga] in the most challenging of environments? In the midst of Times Square, find PEACE…”

Visit the Times Square Alliance website for a list of classes and teachers on June 21. All classes are free and there will be goodies—mats, T-shirts and the like.

(Followed by the Times Square Kiss-In later in the summer (these people really have sex on the brain).)

“Yogi, Take Me to a Higher Place”

Practitioner at Kula Yoga Project, TriBeCa, NY

I’m thrilled to have another piece published in the New York Times’ Thursday Styles section. “Yogi, Take Me to a Higher Place” appeared on May 29, 2008.

Read the full piece here.

It was a pleasure to research and write this piece. I spoke to many, many inspired teachers and students who were eloquent and insightful. Would that there had been room to publish even half of their words. I love how people give so much in interviews. A 1200 word piece is a tiny space for the kinds of things one wants to say about advanced practices.

Here are some of great quotes that didn’t make it in:

Linda DiCarlo, President of the Iyengar Yoga National Association of the US defines “advanced” as having facility with the physical poses, a nuanced understanding of the body, and importantly, a deep and sustained meditative focus during practice.

“Beginners are counting the seconds until it’s time to come out—more advanced students will come into that same pose and take 30 seconds or so to refine it. Then they stay. During that experience their nervous system doesn’t jolt them to come out.” In fact, DiCarlo describes the subsequent effects on the intellect as meditative, soothing and delicious.

“Advanced is a little asana a lot of pranayama and then you sit—that’s the ultimate yoga practice,” says Annie Carpenter referring to meditation. “That’s when you get connected and changes happen in ourselves and we bring that into the world.”

“As you get more advanced that narrows the field. And it’s hard if there’s no guru in your town. ” Kino MacGregor’s teacher is in India.

“We have working people rearranging their schedule to come at 9:30am on Friday,” says Anne Phyfe Palmer, director of 8 Limbs Yoga Centers in Seattle. Richard Simone, 45, managing partner of the Global Capital Partners hedge fund in Manhattan, arrives early every day so he can make the advanced classes at Kula Yoga Center nearby. The classes start at 4:15.

Read blog comments about it:

MahaMondo: “I’ve been thinking about being a senior practitioner and its connotation as my teacher mentioned in passing last Saturday that it was MAHA I had brought my SENIOR energy to a studio full of newbies ( & their inseparable water bottles , chug-a-lug) . And on my way out of class this evening, I was asked, “How long have you been doing this ? ” My response being ” going on 7 years, but I’m still learning .” Peter Alejandro is based in LA.

Darren Main: Darren, a senior teacher based in SF, posted the piece in its entirety on his resourceful site.

Sophieherbert.com: Sophie Herbert says, “My teachers in New York and India, who I respect so deeply for selflessly and devotedly pursuing the path of yoga over a course many years, would never label themselves as accomplished or “advanced”.”

A Dissertation on Disillusionment: Blake Cooper grasps the issue of spiritual materialism implicit in the piece: “The duality below: the practicing of and passion for health and yoga vs. the perceived need to spend and accumulate in order to achieve its progress…”