Archive for January, 2009

The Woeful Tale of Yoga Shanti

As talented a yoga teacher as Rodney Yee is, he seems to attract crisis. Now, it’s not him directly involved in the confrontation, but his ex-Ford model-wife, Colleen Saidman, co-ower of Sag Harbor yoga studio, Yoga Shanti.

The situation, as recalled in this amazingly detailed New York Post article (who had access to this level of detail about a complex, fractious situation?), has Saidman filing a lawsuit against her business partner and fellow yoga teacher, Jessica Bellofatto.

According to the Post: “Colleen, 49, is planning to file suit against Jessica, charging she misappropriated nearly a quarter of a million dollars from the business—and spent $12,000 of the embezzled funds on plastic surgery. Jessica, 35, is threatening a suit of her own, claiming libel and slander, and maintaining that her relationship with her former friend and business partner was destroyed by Colleen’s famous husband.”

It gives me shivers–of a bad kind. We readers will likely never know what tensions existed before this blow up, what personality clashes and tensions permeated the relationship, nor what agendas existed in the background. But the crisis is bringing out the crazies, the moralizers, and the vengeful (just read the comments after the article, oy vey).

The situation doesn’t really offer an opportunity for a larger discussion since there’s no clarity on the situation. When yogis go wrong…. 

Read the article to get the low-down. Three pages of it. 

Deepak Chopra In Flight

Qatar Airways must have a lot of money. They commissioned a 4-page, in-flight, how-to yoga brochure this month for passengers on long-haul flights from the king of high-end spiritual wellbeing, Deepak Chopra.

Chopra’s Center for Wellbeing, in Carlsbad, CA, charges almost $4,000 for 5 days of spiritual instruction, ayurvedic cleansing, yoga, and gentle vegetarian means. It’s designed for those who can afford it. Chopra, once a practicing MD, is a fantastic entrepreneur.

The Qatar Airways brochure, “Fly Healthy, Fly Fit” is not the first of its kind; other airlines in have also offered yoga instruction in the past. However, this is the first one I can remember that retained a megastar.

The brochure offers simple yoga poses, self-massage techniques, as well as tips for meditation and anxiety-conquering breathing.

“In an attempt to make the in-flight experience more enriching and less a means to pass time, the guide contains meditation practices to reduce stress, so travellers reach their destination relaxed and rejuvenated. In particular, being aware of one’s breathing – the conscious in- and exhale process – is a powerful tool to fight anxiety and jet lag.”

I applaud Qatar Airways for their concern and their investment. But in my experience, the only being who can make a long flight more “enriching” is God (or some equivalent).

(I know, I know, yoga helps. But flying is just awful.)

Metropolitan (yoga) Diary

From the NYTimes, Metropolitan Diary entry, Jan 11.

Only in New York, folks. Only in New York:

“Dear Diary:

In my yoga studio on West 72nd Street recently, the instructor reassured a newcomer, “Don’t worry, there are no Rockettes here.”

A woman in the front row piped up, a bit embarrassed but also trying to reassure in her own way, “Actually, I’m a Rockette.”

And then another called out, “So am I.”

Would any other city have forced that yoga teacher’s foot into his mouth?

Kay Harel

Bon Jovi Yogi

It might seem incredibly unlikely that rockers and yogis could mix. Turns out, they’re two great tastes that taste great together.

A recent trendlet in Bon Jovi yoga shows this beautifully. Below, a JBJ yoga chant option thanks to Sadie Nardini, a Brooklyn rocker yogini who teaches in Manhattan and podcasts regularly about yoga. Love the East-Village-of-yore spirit in this video:

What does Bon Jovi think about this? According to Contact Music, Bon Jovi’s all for yoga. In November 2007 he said, “I’m going to do yoga. I went for my first time, and I enjoyed it. I’m a 21st century man.”

What do other yogis think? According to Rodale’s (magazine chain) yoga site iYogaLife, Bon Jovi is a natural.

“We don’t usually take life lessons from Jon Bon Jovi,” says the writer of “Yoga Cures: The Blues,” “but he was onto some yogic philosophy with his song “It’s My Life”[NICE 80s bods’n’hair in the video, by the way]—where he sings that the key to happiness is a heart “like an open highway.”

“Studies show that sudden emotional stress can release hormones that prevent the heart from pumping normally. Even watching a sad movie can reduce arterial blood flow, according to a study reported recently in the journal Heart.”

There you have it, folks: chanting along (or singing, yelling, yodeling or screeching) to JBJ can help increase arterial blood flow. Like, livin’ on a prayer or what.

For more on humor and yoga classes see the NYTimes’ article from New Year’s Eve 2008, “The Enlightened Path, With a Rubber Duck.” 

Yoga for Food

A recent article in the Christian Science Monitor lead me to Yoga for Food, a non-profit yogic effort spearheaded by Kimberly Smith, founder of Riverdog Yoga in Old Saybrook, Connecticut.

Smith started Yoga for Food in 2001 after 9/11. According to the CSM article, Smith got 30 students to bring a bag of groceries to a special sunrise class (according to the Yoga for Food website the number was 20, but who’s counting). They collected more than 200 pounds of food.

Now more than 30 yoga centers in 13 states run their own version of Yoga for Food, raising hundreds of thousands of pounds of food.

“It was a natural fit: Yoga is food for the spirit,” says Ms. Smith [in the CSM article]. “It’s become a win, win, win: The students who get involved feel good, so do the studios that participate. And then, of course, the food banks are grateful.”

Smith hopes that in 2009 yoga centers in 50 states will host a Yoga for Food event. No time like the present! A lot of people in our new crash-n-burn world order need seva, the selfless service of others.

While Riverdog Yoga organizes their food-drive event around the winter solstice, anytime this year will be a good time for donations like this.

Register a Yoga for Food event on or click HERE.