Archive for July, 2009

Wanderlust Not Woodstock; Props from NYTimes

A bristling bouquet of Wanderlustees arms raised in high lunge.

That’s what you see on the front of today’s NYTimes Arts section, some high profile coverage of yoga’s rock’n’roll bonanza last weekend in Lake Tahoe.

What’s more, John Friend and Duncan Wong front the pack of sun drenched yogis gathered for class at the top of Squaw Valley Mountain to put their arms vigorously in the air.

(Love the headband, no-shirt, sunglasses, crushed straw hat look of yogis practicing outdoors. See the physical paper today and the multimedia show on the Times’ site.)

For all those likening the festival to Woodstock Festival from 1969, the yoga at least has a pretty updated feel to it—even if joints were also smoked in the non-yoga hours. (And according to my sources, the Kula village had an almost bougy vibe at times, Burning Man flashbacks (for some) notwithstanding.)

Jon Hyde for NYTimes. John Friend and Duncan wong lead yogis at Wanderlust

Wanderlust 2009

Woodstock 1969

Woodstock 1969

Reconciling the inner rocker with the outer yogi wasn’t a problem for most people says the Times —and most people I’ve talked to who were out there.

In fact, I’d wager that strict righteousness that keeps yogis from rocking out (literally and metaphorically) only describes a few yogis these days, not the majority. That’s just some kind of bad hype that’s been hanging around.

Jon Hyde for NYTimes. Shiva Rea gets a groove on at the main stage.

Shiva Rea rocks out on the main stage. All color photos by Jon Hyde for NYTimes.

The Times article points out some of the downsides of the festival—the head-scratching combo of indie music (and its fans) and yoga (with its devotees).

“Frankly, when I heard about it,” said Mr. Bird, the singer and multi-instrumentalist who was a headliner on Sunday, “my first reaction was, is that going to work, because some of the bands don’t exactly spell inner peace, musically — nor do I, lyrically.”

The rapper, Common, who replaced the sick Michael Franti last minute, was too lewd for some yogis, and some musicians such as Kaki King could not get their heads around the yoga angle.

“I’m not going to do the hippie dance,” said Kaki King, the Brooklyn-based guitarist and singer who performed early on Saturday on the mountaintop stage. “I’m going to put shoes on and I’m not going to drink any mold” (a reference to kombucha, a fermented tea). And, she continued, “I’m not going to do any yoga.”

Mold! We love mold.

But even if it wasn’t all peace and love, the true spirit of yoga and love of a good time shone through for most.

Gregg Gillis, the mash-up artist who performs as Girl Talk, and whose shows resemble a raunchy spring break party, is about as far removed from peacefulness as possible. But many festival-goers said they got the same rejuvenating charge from raucous dancing as from mindful breathing.

“These are audiences with open minds,” Mr. Gillis said. “Even if they’re not into it, they’re not there to critique it. And if they like it, they’re not embarrassed to get into it.”

The future is looking bright for Wanderlust, which almost broke even in its first year—in the middle of an enormous economic depression. Not bad, not bad. And 2010? Well, they are “already considering expanding Wanderlust next year, to three events on three mountaintops.”

Yes, those hills will surely be alive with the sounds of yogis and music.

Sound of Music

Wanderlust Could Be Yoga’s Burning Man, says Ashley Turner

Yoga ticket sales at Wanderlust are closed as of Saturday afternoon, though tickets for music are still available. The yoga is hot, hot, hot!

In fact, Wanderlust is smoking hot, says Ashley Turner, LA native and bi-coastal yoga teacher who spent Friday and Saturday hanging with yogi friends at the festival’s yoga village.

I spoke to Ashley this morning. Because of a scheduling snafu (she had to teach down in SF on Sat), Ashley didn’t end up teaching at Wanderlust this year.

But she did attend the Friday night VIP party for teachers, artists, and sponsors, as well as the launch part for YAMA (yoga artists management agency. Yes, I know!!!! Weird!)

“Wanderlust is just a very cool idea. I don’t know why we haven’t had yoga conferences like it before,” says Ashley who includes live music in her Friday night classes at the legendary Exhale Center for Sacred Movement, in Santa Monica. She sees the blend of yoga and music as the way of the future.

“I just had time for one class, and I practiced with John Friend under a big tent in the yoga village right before sunset. The breeze was going with that hot summer air. It was amazing to practice in the elements like that.”

                                 Packed house this am for Janet Stone in the Yoga Tree tent @ ... on Twitpic

LEFT: John Friend sees a woman crying during his session. She’s joyously moved. From Ossumnis on TwitPic. RIGHT: Yoga Tree tent, Janet Stone class. From Phyzzyoga on TwitPic.

Turner didn’t have time for any of the big-ticket music events, so I asked her what the scene was like in the yoga village.

“The yoga village was amazing. Most of the teachers and a lot of the participants are staying in the village. You literally walk out the door and there are tons of restaurants and shops. Then at night with bands playing it had a Burning Man edge to it.”

“There were people in costume, on stilts, it’s a whole other artistic edge happening. That vibe adds another dimension to yoga, too. It’s like the mystics and wanderers wandering around us. It was so magical.

“My favorite thing was being with all of my peers from throughout the country converging at one point. All my best friends were there.

“Schuyler and Jeff [Wanderlust organizers] really nailed it. This is the next generation of yoga.”

Emergeny Appendix! Michael Franti Cancels on Wanderlust

News! Michael Franti, one of the big sells of the inaugural Wanderlust music and yoga festival in Squaw Valley, Nevada, this weekend, had to cancel due to appendicitis! Instead of playing the big stage at the big Saturday night concert, he was hospitalized and in surgery.

Appendix

Best wishes for a speedy recovery, and a headline act at Wanderlust 2010.

But back to our regularly scheduled programming.

Note on Sunday: read Michael Franti’s letter to disappointed fans, explaining the pain that predicted the rupture.

Adi Carter Reports from Wanderlust

I caught up with Adi Carter, of Acro Yoga and Mindfulness Challenge fame, as she was waiting to board a “gondola” to the top of Squaw Valley Mountain to see Commons—Michael Franti’s replacement act—perform some Saturday night magic.

Carter’s favorite moment so far at the jam-packed festival was doing yoga on the VIP deck at the top of the Squaw Valley mountain.

“It’s a pretty cool place to do yoga,” she says, “different from being in a little room” as she has been down in the yoga village.

(VIP ticket-holders only get to experience sweeping views of the Valley, its terrain and forests, as they practice on the deck at the top of the mountain.)

Adi practiced back to back Saturday morning with Duncan Wong of Yogic Arts and then John Friend, founder of Anusara Yoga.

Wanderlust poster

“Yeah, Duncan Wong was pretty cool,” Carter reports. “He blasted Justin Timberlake. Then, in Warrior 1 pose, he turned on the hip hop super loud and told everyone to dance. We just broke out.”

“Wong is super knowledgable and a little crazy. That’s a great combo.”

Aside from rockin’ it out with yoga celebrities on the VIP deck, Carter has been teaching Acro yoga in the Yoga Village, where most of the yoga classes have been held. “I’ve been teaching slack line down in the jungle gym, romper room. It’s pretty cool.”

On Sunday, says Carter, the Acro Yogis might string a slack line across the swimming pool in the VIP area. I guess that might turn out to be slack line aqua yoga.

Stay tuned for more from Adi and others at Wanderlust this weekend.

LuluLemon Opens In Brooklyn

No doubt you already know quite a bit about LuluLemon, the unstoppable yoga and athletics clothing brand from Vancouver, Canada.

They went public in summer 2007, did well out of the gate, survived a manufactoring scandal (no seaweed in those stress-reducing, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, hydrating and detoxifying seaweed-containing clothes), and—in June this year—took a hit when their stock dropped. They publicly vowed to scale back their expansion.

Yet, they are still opening stores. Amazing.

Yesterday, July 16, they opened their first store in Park Slope, Brooklyn, (otherwise known as dyke and stroller land) 472 Bergen Street, between 5th and Flatbush. No deets or photos yet, (other than you can get a free class tomorrow, Saturday, July 18 from 10 -11).

But, you know, New Yorkers have to shop. Even Brooklynites. So expanding in New York is probably a safe bet.

A couple of months ago, they opened in Soho. Here’s picture of a spring Soho:

LuluLemon Soho

Before that, it was Union Square. They closed down their Flatiron storefront and opened officially in a more central-to-yoga location.

In January, staff moved store bits over to USWest. Chilly, chilly, chilly weather to carry maniquin busts around.

LuluLemon Union Square

Here’s LuLuLemon on a TimesSquare billboard, fall 2008!! These guys are serious!!

LuluLemon Times Square

photos from lululemon’s Flikr stream

Just one question:

What the hell is next?!!? (No, scratch that: when’s the sample sale?)(And how long should I save up before I go?)

Previous posts:

Yoga Clothes Go Starbucks

Yoga Licensing Issue: My *July* Update on Yoga Dork

My update, now up on Yoga Dork!

My update on the hot issue of whether New York State will continue to target yoga teacher training programs to make them license-able under the State Education Department.

Find out what’s been happening—the good news (YANY is born!), the interesting news (Leslie Kaminoff writes a Declaration of Independence for Yoga), and the weird news (NYState returns pounds of paperwork to a studio—unopened!).

Go to Yoga Dork, a blog I follow and admire, to see my guest post on this issue.

Previous posts:

New York Times Reports on Licensing Issue

June update on Yoga Dork

Namaste, y’all!

Do Yoga…. Naked!

Hot Nude Yoga has been a thing for the gay community for some time already. But efforts to cross-over into the hetero side haven’t seen much result.

Today I learned that Naked Yoga NYC: Asana Exposed has been offering a full schedule of classes since January 2008 at a secret location in midtown Manhattan. “Sensual shaman” Isis Phoenix leads the way.

“This liberating practice began in May 2007 and due to increased popularity has opened its own sacred sanctuary Phoenix Temple in midtown Manhattan, an urban celebration for the holy body and sensual spirit founded January 2008. ”

Yes, these naked classes are co-ed.

“We are reclaiming and celebrating our bodies,” said Phoenix, who starts each class with a disrobing ceremony,” as reported in the New York Post last summer.

“The first 10 minutes of class for anyone who is new, there’s always a sense of trepidation,” said Phoenix. “It dissolves very quickly.”

Naked Yoga NYC

You can take group classes or privates with any of the luscious ladies who staff Naked Yoga NYC. In group classes, choose from a menu of erotically-named sessions: “Sensual Candlelit Nude Yoga,” “Bare Energy Yoga,” “Naked Yoga Basics,” “Basin of Power: Goddess Pelvis Ritual for Women” or “Chakra Intensive: Lovers’ Workout.”

Not being a nudist myself, I have a hard time understanding how yoga gets better sans clothes.  Isn’t it just….messier and more distracting? As the center acknowledges on their FAQ page, things do “come up.”

“Erections come up and go down and are part of being a fully functional being and living in a body. No part of the body is ever shamed or discouraged. Part of this practice is about healing and removing shame and guilt from all areas of our body and accepting the beauty of the body in the totality of expression. Bodies are honored in all shapes, sizes and energetic flows.”

No touching, no late entry, no early departure.

And no giggling.

Brent Kessel, Money Guru, Interviewed on Frugaltopia

In May, I was excited to bring you news of Brent Kessel, a financial planner and yogi I encountered at the Yoga Journal conference in New York.

His book, “It’s Not About the Money,” has opened my eyes to the ways we bring our “issues” to money— in a similar way to how we bring our “issues” to the yoga mat. Only in yoga, thereIt’s Not About the Money‘s a way to work them out. With money, secrecy and shame makes it hard to bring hidden habits to light.

Brent was kind enough to agree to an interview for another blog I work on, Frugaltopia, (which, as you’d guess, is all about frugal living).

I asked him a few pressing questions—about the 8 archetypes that profile the major habits/obsessions/hang ups people have around money, about what one thing we could all do to improve our relationship with money, and how we can avoid or work with our hang ups.

Here’s one question I asked him: Frugaltopia: Is there one archetype that seems to do better financially than others? Why is that, in your opinion?

To see his answer, and read the rest of the fascinating interview, go here, to Frugaltopia. (And then buy his book. Seriously, I’m willing to proselytise: finding Brent and his book is like finding a great teacher.)

Read the interview here.

Previous posts: “It’s Not About the Money,” May 2009

New York Times Reports on Licensing Issue

Today, none other than Arthur Sulzberger’s 28-yr old son, A.G., reported on the still hot-ticket issue of licensing New York yoga studios. Thank you, A.G.! Your press helps the cause.

Yoga Association of New York (YANY) was officially ratified on Wednesday, at OM Yoga, at its second official meeting. For more news on what’s been happening since I last wrote, see my upcoming post on YogaDork. (I’ll remind you!)

Alison West

Alison West, president of the newly ratified YANY, teaching at her studio, Yoga Union. Photo for NYTimes by Ruby Washington.

For now, Sulzberger, who attended YANY’s first meeting, traces the origin of the conflict to the very creation of the Yoga Alliance in 1999. This attempt at self-regulation, according to Leslie Kaminoff of the Breathing Project, made yoga studios a sitting duck for cash-flow challenged government looking for new sources of income. (A government that thinks yoga’s popularity means that studios are raking in the big bucks.)

” “We made it very, very easy for them to do what they’re doing right now,” said Leslie Kaminoff, founder of the Breathing Project, a nonprofit yoga center in New York City, who had opposed the formation of the Yoga Alliance. “The industry of yoga is a big, juicy target.” ”

Sulzberger continues, “In New York State, though, teachers fought back, complaining that the new rules could erode thin bottom lines, contradict religious underpinnings and, most important, shut down every school in the state during an eight-month licensing period.”

“It basically destroys the essence of yoga, to control and manipulate the whole situation,” said Jhon Tamayo of Atmananda Yoga Sequence in Manhattan, shortly after receiving one of the warning letters from the state. “No one can regulate yoga.””

The dispute is far from over. But there’s a sense that YANY, at least, is in it for the long haul. And, in the immediate, there is some light at the end of the tunnel—stay tuned for my report via YogaDork! (With pics and docs)

(On another note, A.G. Sulzberger’s piece marks a nice departure from the usual isn’t-that-weird tone that a lot of articles on yoga take. Thanks again, A.G., for taking the cause seriously.)

Since It’s An Official No-No….

Since it’s an official no-no to date your student (or, perhaps to date your teacher), this SF Chronicle story from the end of June is especially naughty, and a little bit delicious.

Date your student

Though yoga instructor Laura Camp began on cue—saying no, no, no to that fluttery feeling she had when her future-hubby first came to class—it eventually got the better of her—and him.

“I had rules about not dating students,” she adds. “It was the first time in 15 years of teaching that I felt an ‘uh-oh.’ ”

Read the cute article here. It has all the fixin’s of a true-romance, including hedging, misunderstandings, dinner, making out, and a performance-art wedding.

On their first quasi-date: “… within minutes of his arrival at her home, the two were intertwined (and not in a yoga sort of way). Minutes later, Laura abruptly announced that Aaron had to leave. The suddenness of their intimacy was too much. Two days later, however, they were back together and have been so ever since.”

“Aaron: “We should have met years ago.”

Laura: “That’s my only regret.” ”

(For the other perspective (what can and does go wrong when romance flares) check out Ogden, the Inappropriate Yoga Guy. Yikes!)