Ashley Turner

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 York---and 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.

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."

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."

Off the Couch and Onto the Mat

This feature of mine, "Off the Couch and Onto the Mat," was just published by Conscious Enlightenment Media.

The piece looks at the influences of yoga on psychology and vice versa--how psychotherapists are using yoga techniques in their practices, as well as how more yoga teachers are getting degrees in Western psychology in order to better help their students. It's a new trend!

The piece s running in CE's 5 magazines: GAIA (NY), Conscious Choice, (Chicago & Seattle), Whole Life Times (Los Angeles), and Common Ground (San Francisco). It's the same article, but with a different sidebar for each city. (NY: there is no link yet but you can pick up the print copy at a yoga studio.)