Archive for January, 2010

Do Yoga in Costa Rica! With Me!

Yes, it’s true—I’m leading a yoga retreat to Costa Rica. This is the third year that my co-teacher, Stephanie Sandleben and I will fly down to the Osa Peninsula for a week of jungle heat and yummy asana, February 26 – March 5, 2010.

Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge is our host—a fabulous eco-lodge on the secluded eastern shore of the Golfo Dulce. What does that mean? It means after flying down from San Jose in a prop plane, we are picked up in an outboard motor-boat and whisked 30 minutes across the gulf to a beautifully renovated cocoa farm—in the middle of nowhere.

There’s nothing around—no roads, no shops, and not even very much cell phone or Internet reception. It’s a blessing to get off the grid so profoundly.

What is around are amazing jungle creatures—monkeys, sloths, dolphins, turtles, alligators, ant eaters, toucans, macaws—fabulous plants and flowers. Ever seen a pineapple growing in the wild? Or smelled ylang ylang in bloom? Or squeezed a shampoo ginger?

We do two yoga classes a day, and the rest of the time we do whatever we feel like—go hiking, swimming, kayaking, or we talk to the naturalists, take naps and read.

Not only is the food locally grown and caught, the entire lodge is made of recycled materials and the owners are constantly looking for ways to reduce their impact on the ecology and increase the well-being of their environment.

It’s a great vacation—an excellent way to unwind from city life—and it’s a great way to deepen your practice!

For more information, see or write to samatreats (at) gmail (dot) com.

Sweat for Haiti: January 27

Haven’t contributed to Haiti relief yet? Never fear: get yourself to a participating yoga studio on Weds, January 27 (tomorrow!) and let your practice contribute to the cause.

Yoga and activist organization “Off the Mat, Into the World” spearheaded by Seane Corn and friends, is getting studios to donate proceeds to relief funds in an effort called “Yogis for Haiti Day.”

In NYC, Kula Yoga Project will donate half of its daily income to Yogis for Haiti tomorrow. Take a class and you will be helping out. Plus, their classes are great and their teachers are inspired human beings (so if you don’t know the studio, get yer butt down there).

CityYoga in LA is also participating as, I’m sure are a lot of studios. Is yours? Find out!!

(Studios that want to participate should contact

Know a studio that’s participating? Add it in the comments and I will post it!

The list so far:
889 Yonge
Aha Yoga
Ahimsa Yoga
Apple Yoga
At One Yoga

Bend Yoga

Bend and Bloom Yoga
Bodacious Living Yoga
City Yoga

City Yoga LA

De La Sol Yoga Studios
Eyes of the World Yoga

Integral Yoga Institute – San Francisco
Kansas Siddhi Yoga
Kula Yoga Project
Life Yoga Goulburn
Lila Yogini
Mindful Movement Centre
Om Time

Quinnipiac Fitness Center
Sanctuary for Yoga, Body & Spirit
Shanti Yoga Shala

Solar Yoga
Studio 330
The University of the Arts
West Hartford Yoga
Willow Glen Yoga
Yoga Kula
Yoga Mandala Studio

Yoga Source – Palo Alto
Yoga Tree

(from Off the Matt, Into the World)

Benefits beyond Jan 27:

Dancing Dogs Yoga in Beaufort, South Carolina will have our grand opening on Saturday, February 27, 2010 with Hatha for Haiti.

Shanti Yoga- Nelson, BC Canada, hosts 2 more Community Yoga Fundraisers for Haiti, Saturdays from 2-4pm. for details.

OM Yoga of NYC (not part of OTM, but still) raised $700 last Saturday!

Yoga is a Religion? Right?

Yoga is a religion—at least according 57% of non-yoga-ing Americans polled by the Yoga Alliance last Saturday, Yoga Day USA. The (semi-)regulatory organization was gathering  Americans’ opinion of the sport (?) to see what stops more people from trying it out.

According to its press release, inspite of the ubiquitousness of this multi-billion dollar industry that’s firmly routed in the material ($$) world, many people still think of it as New Age or only for the very nimble. (Sometimes it seems that way, depending on what center you go to and what style you practice…)

“there are many Americans who know little about yoga or, worse, have incorrect assumptions which inhibit them from participation. The three most common misperceptions are that yoga:

  • Is religion-based. 57% of those who do not currently practice yoga believe that it requires mantras or chanting related to a form of worship.
  • Requires flexibility in order to practice. Nearly 3 in 5 Americans – 59% of respondents – who do not practice yoga think that it requires a person to be in at least “decent” shape. In truth, however, anyone – of any size, shape or physical state – can benefit.
  • Is not really exercise. Half of men who have never practiced yoga believe it “isn’t a workout.” In contrast, 73% of people who do practice believe it is just as effective as running, swimming or weight lifting.

All events are free on Yoga Day USA which is sponsored by the Yoga Alliance. Attitude adjustment might cost extra—maybe as much as a monthly membership to a local center.

Drawing Yoga–Special Workshop this Saturday

Sponsored by the awesome Yoga City NYC:

This Saturday, senior Iyengar yoga teacher Bobby Clennell will lead a unique yoga class. You won’t do any asana or pranayama—in fact, you’ll have a sketch pad and a pencil. Yes, you’ll be drawing yoga.

From 1:30 – 4pm,  Clennell, who is also a talented illustrator, will lead students to “see” yoga poses in a different way—by drawing models as they make the poses. No drawing experience necessary. Just bring your desire to read the essence of yoga poses in a new way.

Read an interview with Bobby Clennell as she talks about the concept.

Saturday, January 16, 2010
1:30 – 4:00pm
Om Factory
265 West 37th Street, 17th Floor
To sign-up email

Save the Date: Yoga Benefit & Silent Auction, Jan 21

This is no ordinary benefit. If you are going to donate to any cause this winter, this is the one. Protect yoga from state mandates! January 21—cocktails, hor d’ouevres, and silent auction at Chibo (info below). Save the date.

Yoga for New York, a non-profit formed last summer to prevent state government regulation of yoga, needs to raise $25,000. That’s a lot of cash. YFNY needs to hire a lobbyist to help pass legislation early this year that will help protect yoga from being defined by government officials who don’t know anything about the practice. Protect your practice! Protect your local studio.

Read more—and get the latest scoop on the issue—at Yoga City NYC.

Most of all, save the date: Thursday, January 21st

Where:    Cibo Restaurant
Location:  767 2nd Ave. at 41st Street
When:     January 21, 2010
TIme:       6:30PM-8:30PM
Tickets:   $100 in advance, $125 at the door. *Teachers will receive a special entry rate of $75 if paid before January 18th, 2010.

Silent Auction items include

  • a weeklong stay at a Villa in Southern Italy
  • a yoga retreat weekend at The Ananda Ashram
  • dinner for two in the Theater District with actor/singer Dominic Chianese
  • and much more!

Register at

Download invitation: Invite YFNY Jan Benefit

Miami–What Kind of Yoga?


In this town, even the mannequins have boob jobs.

What kind of yoga can you expect where opulence is mistaken for elegance? A mile of bronzed thigh atop a 5” stiletto; lots of mascara and highlights; tight, tight jeans. Little goatees. Flash and glitter. Reflecting pools, royal palms, sequestered cloth cabanas.

Here where beach culture and night life vie for dominance, are sun salutations a variant on sun worship? Is it all spray-on tans and tiny spandex shorts?

Yoga in some ways is the same wherever you go: the same poses, the same instructions—sometimes down to the exact metaphors (“open your feet like a book”).

But the flavor changes from city to city, and certainly from instructor to instructor. In Miami, where new money, hot bodies, and Latin beats pulse up and down Ocean Drive, what did I discover?


Ashtanga, the austere, physically rigorous, 6-day a week practice, imported from Mysore, India. This is the bedrock. And then, sprinkled on top, a few variations: a little vinyasa, a little power yoga, a few hot yoga classes, some Jivamukti (which, by the way, is an ashtanga variant).

When I was in Miami last week, I practiced at Miami Yoga Shala, Miami Life Center, The Standard hotel, and Synergy Center for Yoga and Healing Arts.

Coming up: a mini review of yoga in Miami. From a guided ashtanga class to a surprise didgeridoo chakra cleansing—stay tuned!

New Year, New Money

How are your new year’s resolutions going? Do any of them include improving your relationship to money?

Well, all of us, rich and poor could use some help in that department. Perhaps especially yogis.

Upcoming: some free or affordable help from cool people including yogi and financial adviser Brent Kessel and Spencer Sherman, co-founders of Abacus Wealth Partners.

I saw Brent speak at the New York Yoga Journal Conference, May 2009, and loved what he had to say. Smart cookie. Here’s what’s on offer right now. Check it out:

1. Vicki Robin’s Conscious Money Speakers Series, Weekly 1-hour teleclass workshops with a dozen top conscious money teachers including Bill McKibben,  Brent Kessel, David Korten, John deGraaf, John Robbins, Lynne Twist, Olivia Mellon, Spencer Sherman, Trent Hamm, Victoria Castle, Hazel Henderson. $12 per class or $79 for the whole series. A great deal! Free introductory teleclass on January 11th. Series begins January 18th.

2. Heal Your Money Karma, #1 course on Brent Kessel and Spencer Sherman offer 8-weeks of invaluable financial tranformational tools through a pay-what-you-can structure.

3. Money Matters: The Business of Yoga, Yoga Journal Conference, San Francisco, Thursday, January 28, 2010, 2:45-3:45p. Led by Brent Kessel. Great for yogis who want to live more consciously in all ways, or yogis considering opening a yoga center.

Related Posts:

“It’s Not About the Money,”

Brent Kessel, Money Guru, Interviewed on Frugaltopia

ATTEND THIS MEETING TODAY (if you’re a new york yoga teacher)

Yo, New York yoga teachers! This meeting today is for you. I’m in Miami, but YOU need to be there!

“We need yoga teachers to help determine the future of yoga in NY. We are at risk of having our future decided for us, without our voice,” say the organizers, the lovely Liz and Mel of Yoga High.

“Whether you are for or against licensing, it is important we hear your thoughts and ideas on how we can all be involved in the process.  This will ensure that when regulation happens, it does so with intelligence, compassion and a deep respect for the yogic traditions.”

They mean the issue of New York State passing legislation requiring yoga studios to obtain costly licenses to run teacher training programs.

“So please come to a meeting specifically for NY yoga teachers to discuss licensing, health insurance, pay transparency and any other issues you feel passionate about. As a yoga teacher, dealing with these issues can sometimes be a very isolating experience. This is our chance to come together to talk about something that we love and how we can all continue to enjoy a yogic lifestyle.


“This is our last chance to meet and discuss these issues before the vote goes to the state senate. We can use our collective voice to buy us time to have input into how, where, and when regulation happens. If not, yoga in NY will become very limited and there will be fewer choices and a bottom line corporate approach.

“The meeting for just teachers will be Wed. January 6th 2010. 12 – 1pm.”

“We encourage you to stay for the Yoga For NY meeting that will be held immediately following from 1-3pm.”

“The meetings will be held at YOGA HIGH 19 Clinton St. between Houston and Stanton. (Ave B turns into Clinton Street South of Houston) 212-792-5776

F, V to 2nd Ave or F, J, M, Z to Delancey

***If you’re a yoga teacher, please forward this on to other teachers you know and to studio owners where you teach.”

THANKS everyone. (Non-yogis welcome to volunteer for Yoga for New York, too, you know.)

TimeOut NY Reviews My Basics Class!

It’s payback: after writing about other people’s classes and techniques I’ve been reviewed in TimeOut NY’s Fitness Issue, 2010. It’s a nice little write up.

Jonathan, the shy English reporter, had no context at all to understand what he was getting into, because…

…he had NEVER done yoga before. The word “vinaysa” was just a bunch of letters to him. Oy! Putting me to the test.

But he did well. In a class of 17, he selected a spot at the very back corner of the room where I slid him props and—a good student—he took child’s pose as needed. We all had a good time. Thanks for coming, Jonathan.

And thanks GO Yoga for having me as a teacher these past 7 years. (Come to GO’s 10-year anniversary party, Saturday, January 16, from 6pm on.)

The Review: Go Yoga

Types of yoga offered: Vinyasa, plus a creative interpretation of different schools.
Name of class: Basics with Joelle Hann
Length: 90 minutes
What to expect: A brisk yet beginner-friendly session, capped off with a Maya Angelou poem and a group om
Level: Yoga newbies can do it.
The verdict: Joelle Hann used the dimmable lighting and music to good effect, controlling the mood of the room. She also watches over her students with a sharp eye, supplying blocks and straps and correcting alignment. You’ll sweat during the more active part of the class, but you’ll leave feeling limber and relaxed, rather than fatigued.—Jonathan Shannon

Yoga 2009: 10 Highlights

What happened last year? Did it pass like a kidney stone or like savasana? Lots of subtle changes for me personally, and a big leap into the blogosphere for Yoga Nation. Part of me wishes I had a time machine to go back ten years (if I knew then, what I know now…) and another part looks forward to the madness and the mystery of a new year.

But, I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s see what happened in 2009….

1. Fierce Club opened in Nolita. Sadie Nardini, of Bon Jovi yogi fame, not only opened her own kick-ass studio in Nolita last March, but later in the summer she also joined up with YAMA, an agenting enterprise for enterprising yoga teachers. Yes, folks, the future is here…

2. The movie, Enlighten Up!: A Skeptic’s Journey into the World of Yoga, launched to mostly positive reviews (and some grumbling from yoga teachers) proving that yoga can entertain Americans for at least an hour and a half on the big screen. Director/yogini, Kate Churchill, and skeptic/subject, Nick Rosen, tussle and tumble around the world looking for the truth about yoga.

3. Inappropriate Yoga Guy “Edited” Yoga Journal. Yoga Journal spoofed itself in this 5-part online mini-series in which the unforgettable, and wildly inappropriate, Ogden, took over the inimitable magazine offices as a hazardous (and sometimes naked) “guest editor.” Went live April Fool’s Day.

4. Sri K. Pattabhi Jois passed. One of three Indian grandaddies of modern, Western yoga, 93-year-old Pattabhi Jois, passed away in May, and was fetted through the early summer. The memorial held at Donna Karan’s Urban Zen headquarters on June 14 in the West Village created even bigger buzz than the first ever NYC Yoga Journal Conference in May.

5. Licensing Issue ravaged New Yorkand is not over. Should yoga studios pay large sums of money to New York state to be “licensed” to train yoga teachers? Widely seen as a pitiless money-grab, this proposed legislation threatens to shut down many tiny yoga studios that rely on teacher-training programs for basic income. (For this issue, yoganation was also a momentary guest-blogger on the illustrious YogaDork.)

6. On the other hand, Brent Kessel made clear that yoga and money can live happily together. Financial advisor and long-time ashtanga-yoga practitioner, Kessel wrote a practical, inspiring and possibly profitable book called It’s Not About the Money (which it never is: it’s always about the junk in your head). Read my interview with him on Frugaltopia.

7. The inaugural Wanderlust Yoga and Music Festival rocked Lake Tahoe in July. This ingenious festival blasted open indie minds and took over taste-making in the yoga world. Who said yoga can’t be radically cool? Driven by yoga and music-exec power couple from Brooklyn, Wanderlust will happen in three locales in 2010. Thank you, Yoga Journal (San Francisco), you may now hand over the reigns. The young uns’ (uh, Brooklyn) got it from here.

8. Celebrity Yoga Teachers—Problem? In late August, YogaCityNYC sent me to report on the Being Yoga conference upstate. The question: Is a media-friendly yoga teacher the natural outcome of yoga’s presence in America’s consumer culture? The peaceful yoga crowd at Omega had a lot to say. READ my final article. …..(One source said: “I’ve never had a PR agent or invited myself somewhere. Everything has happened because of the shakti manifesting in me.” The next day I got a message on Twitter inviting me to review her latest DVD.)

9. BKS Iyengar turned 91. Really, you need to see Enlighten Up! the movie just for the scenes of Iyengar talking about the meaning of yoga—not empty New Age spirituality, but real internal work, with a few beads of sweat and social service thrown in. For his 91st birthday, this tremendous force of a man requested that students hold a fundraiser to benefit his ancentral village of Bellur. If everyone gave $3, more people could eat.

10. The Yoga Clothing Wars continued with lots of news about LuluLemon throughout 2009. Their stock was up, their stock was down. We loved them, we were peeved. Mostly we were conflicted about the giant success of a giant “women’s activewear” company. Good news: they have excellent yoga clothes for men. More good news: they are inspiring small yoga clothing companies, too. More good (-ish?) news: they are EVERYWHERE. Planet Lulu!!

HAPPY 2010, yogis and yoginis! Here’s to a happy, healthy, inspired, productive, restful, and OM-ing new year.