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Archive for August, 2008

Sale at Gaiam

Gaiam is having their 6th annual sale featuring items 20-75% off. Thought it was worth mentioning in case any of you Om La La-ers are looking for a good deal. One of the items I came across was this Power Vinyasa Mat Kit.

It comes with a mat (24″W x 72″L x 1/8″D) mapped with guidemarks, a 8′ long strap and Power Yoga DVD sampler with Rodney Yee (10 min). Great for beginners because the mat has that geeky but super helpful line down the middle. Remember in Vira I (Warrior 1) you should line up heel to heel, whereas in Vira II (Warrior 2) you should line up front heel with back arch- I’m sure Rodney will explain…

-Eliza

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So I quite my job recently and in efforts to have something to occupy my time, I’ve been looking for different websites/blogs to write for. One of these start up sites has me as their yoga/green commentator- the editor is open to ideas from me, but also asks me to do certain things. So far she has suggested reviewing a kundalini class (not really my thing, but I’m down to review it), different things I do in my life to be “green”, some nutrition stuff, etc. And then this weekend I got a request from her to write about “doing yoga in the dark to world/ethnic music”. I was a little thrown by this, just because I wasn’t really sure what she was looking to explore. Actually the yoga I practice is generally done is a dark-ish room, not pitch black, but dark, and always to different types of “world” music. I’ve actually wrote about this before. So I sent her a note back, asking if there was something she was trying to get at- I figured this request had to come from somewhere. Her response:

“I have only seen it done with the light on and wondered if the experience would be different with the light off so yoga in the dark. Would you personally feel somewhat liberated, would it be the same, do you lose your focus or concentrate even more. I continued my pondering and had the thought what would it be like to do yoga in your birthday suit? Would it be comfortable or feel awkward, does yoga still feel like yoga? Finally I wondered if you can listen to music while doing yoga and if certain kinds of music would influence your yoga experience. You’ve done yoga for awhile and it seems to be an important part of your life, but how powerful is it? Can you still feel centered, in the dark, naked and with the music on?”

Dear readers, naked yoga must never ever be done. Never. Never. Think of happy baby pose. Naked. Think of half moon. Naked. No matter how hot you are, some things should never be done naked. Ever been to a nude beach? Not like in France where every beach is topless, but like a NUDE beach. The people are not pretty…not at all.

Oddly there are SEVERAL places in New York that one can practice nude yoga:

Naked Yoga NYC– this site doesn’t give out the location of the studio. You have to email them. My favorite quote: “Honor and CELEBRATE your menstrual cycle in all its phases and respect your body how and it wants to be honored in this practice. Women on their moon cycle in the past have used sea sponges, The Keeper, tampons, sarongs, traditional undergarments or placed a towel over their mat and free flowed”

EW, EW, EW, EW, EW!!!!!!!!!

There is also, Hot Nude Yoga, which is only for gay men. Its in Chelsea. Shocking. Its actually an ingeniuous business idea… and there is no one on their “moon cycle” here, so I guess that’s a plus. While Naked Yoga NYC has a strict no touching policy, that isn’t the case at Hot Nude Yoga, “You will have the opportunity to meet other physically fit men and discover, through partner yoga, how to touch other men energetically and sensually.” Yowza.

I was talking on the phone with my mom last night about this naked yoga request, and she reminded me of a similar experience that we both found to be ridiculous.

We were in class together and one of the practitioners (who is a teacher that I have wrote about before, but will not mention her name now) was doing her class blindfolded. The entire class. With a blindfold on. Now, I’m sure you have noticed, I have the sense of humor of a 4-year-old, and of course, I could not keep myself together during the class. Every time I looked up at the blindfolded yogini, I raised my eyebrows to my mother, who then started to laugh, which made me laugh…not a good chain of events for yoga.

I understand the sentiment behind practicing blindfolded, or naked, or in the pitch dark, or blindfolded while naked in the dark (which maybe isn’t yoga, but a good Friday night)- people are trying to find a new, deeper connection to their bodies. They want to bring their physical consciousness to an even higher level. And I dig that. So if thats your thing, touche my friend, I’m all for it.

Though I am now reminded by another event- My dance teacher when I was a teenager was a man, a sort of weird man, he taught ballet to young girls and wasn’t gay, so you get my drift, but was nonetheless a mentor and someone I spent a whole lot of time with. He once recommended that I come to the studio when I knew no one would be there (I had my set of keys he said), and dance in the nude (no one else would be there or drop-in by chance he said). This skeeved me out. Of course, I never did make it to dance in the nude. And soon after, I left the studio because this was just one of a series of dodgy suggestions. So perhaps my adversion to nude yoga is just some deep-seated teenage/father-figure/bizarre-o land issue and in reality is just AWESOME. But I doubt it. Think about it. Nude bird of paradise.

-Britt

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Yoga to the People is a yoga studio with the great ambition to make yoga available to everyone. What does this mean? It means that their yoga is donation based. Yoga to the People understands that there are a lot of people in New York who want to practice yoga regularly and in a public class setting but simply cannot afford to–

In a time where yoga as a business is getting a lot of attention, the fact that it is being priced out of many people’s reach is in direct conflict with what we consider to be the spirit of yoga itself…
There is a suggested donation of $10 a class. Suggested donation means that if you can put $10 in the box, please do. If you are not in a position to do so, contribute what you can. Nobody will be keeping track of individual donations.

Better yet, the yoga at Yoga to the People is a Power Vinyasa Flow inspired by Bryan Kest and taught by certified, experienced teachers for every level.

Classes are generally 1 hour. As mentioned above it’s a suggested $10 donation but mats rental and water are non negotiable, $2 and $1 respectively.

Located at 12 St. Marks Place (at 3rd Ave. ) 2nd Floor.

-Eliza

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I’ll find any excuse to talk about my love for cereal – strange I know but I can’t explain. Cereal just so happens to be my number one comfort food- and hey, not a bad comfort food to have if you ask me. I especially like having a bowl before bedtime. Now I know we’ve all heard the theories out there about why it might be bad to eat before you go to bed but everyone’s different and this works for me so I’m sticking to it.

The reason I think it’s even worth mentioning is that I’ve been practicing a lot of yoga at home and experimenting with different poses and how they affect my level of energy. For example, Surya Namascar (sun salutes) and inversions like headstand/handstand are traditionally considered energizing poses while forward folds and inversions like Sarvangasana (shoulder stand) are considered to be more cooling/”chill out” poses. So if you, like most New Yorkers, have a vigorous practice at 7:30PM or later you may find it more difficult to fall asleep at night. If this is true it might be worth considering an AM practice or a more gentle, candlelight flow at night. In fact, most experts agree that for the best night’s rest it’s ideal to practice in the afternoon- yeah, if only. They claim the afternoon and not the morning because our bodies tend to be almost two degrees cooler in the AM and generally more tight. Anyhow, I thought it worth mentioning and it was on my mind as I just did a set of heating inversions at 10PM tonight. Oops.

Well, if you’re wondering the reason why my go-to bowl of cereal happens to actually work it’s because carbs make your brain release serotonin and the milk itself contains the amino-acid L-tryptophan (think Thanksgiving) and the calcium in the milk helps the brain use and process the tryptophan. And in my case, because cereal is my personal comfort food it works double-time -many psychologists believe that our psychological relationship to comfort food naturally enables us to relax.

I do want to point out however that this bedtime trick should still be done mindfully like all eating- this means planning on having a light dinner earlier in the evening and allowing only a small portion of a healthy, whole grain, high-fiber cereal (Lucky Charms do not count) at bedtime. And please don’t actually eat and lay down. Give yourself 30 minutes to an hour and a half.

Goodnight!

-Eliza

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Jaime Epstein, this week’s writer of the On Language column for the New York Times (who also happens to be a certified instructor at Jivamukti in Manhattan), wrote a very fun and funny article on the language of yoga-Namaste– published in the New York Times Magazine this weekend.

‘At the beginning of class, we stood at the front of our mats and let out a long, dirgelike moan,” the first-time yoga student recollected. “Then the teacher yelled, ‘Chili-pepper pasta,’ and everyone hit the floor.” Sanskrit, the language of yoga, is said to unite sound and meaning; that is, saying the word gives the experience of its meaning. But for the novice yogi (the word for male as well as female practitioners), whose ears need to be tuned to a new frequency, that experience can be as elusive as an overnight parking spot in Manhattan. Thus, chaturanga dandasana (four-legged staff pose, which looks like the bottom of a pushup, your body hovering inches above the floor) might become “chili-pepper pasta” if you’ve got dinner reservations at the latest outpost of the latest fusion craze. And the ear-twisters don’t end there.”

Very much worth a quick read!

Namaste!

-Eliza

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Yes friends we get a whole month-

No really, what the heck is Yoga Month you might ask?

Yoga Month is a grassroots, community-based national campaign to educate people about the health benefits of yoga and to inspire a healthy lifestyle.

Yoga Month is a year-round campaign and will peak Sept. 2008 with the 10 City Yoga Health Festival Tour and with millions of health & social conscious individuals practicing yoga at thousands of yoga studios and homes around the world.

The Yoga Health Festival is covering Denver, Miami, Boston, New York, Chicago, Austin, LA, San Diego, San Fran and Vancouver.

Boston on Wednesday, Sept. 3 at the Cambridge Masonic Hall

New York blow out on Sunday, Sept. 7 at Metropolitan Pavilion on 18th and 6th.

In New York, $88 gets you a VIP pass to all workshops, events and David Newman’s benefit concert in the evening. You can also pay a la cart and just go to the events that interest you most. Featured instructors include Beryl Bender Birch, Elena Bower and Timothy McCall among many others. Workshops range from The Beginners Mind to Hip Hop Asana to Kundalini & Meditation. If that wasn’t enough to interest you, there will be yoga, health and green related exhibitors- uh, who doesn’t love free samples, common people! And for my penny pinchers out there, FYI many of the events are free, including all day activities for kids.

Proceeds benefit the National Yoga Alliance.

-Eliza

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So other than yoga, my great love is politics. I just saw this on the Huffington Post (I know I post things from them way too often, but what can you do), and thought it was such a great idea! The Democratic National Convention is coming up and the Huffington Post has created the HuffPost Oasis. which will be available for political pundits, delegates, etc.

“The Oasis will feature complimentary yoga classes, Thai massages, hand massages, mini-facials, healthy snacks and refreshments, music, and a comfortable seating area for lounging and unwinding.”

Um, how awesome! Arianna Huffington wrote about this while hanging in Greece (way jealous- I want to go), but goes on about the virtues of relaxation, which is pretty awesome- she’s a very hard-working, self-made lady, who I admire greatly and its very cool she realizes this. Here is the rest of the article:

The Huffington Post- Oasis The Place

Of course they are going to record everything that goes on in the Oasis, which I’m sure will be up on their site… Its my porn…politics and yoga…mmmm. The Huffington Post has partnered with Seane Corne (who we love, love- when I first started practicing I took from her. She has a great feminine yoga vibe), who runs Off the Mat, Into the World. This is my first time hearing about this, but it sounds like an awesome organization:

“Off the Mat, Into the World™ (OTM) is a program that aims to inspire and guide you to find and define your purpose and become active in your local or global community in an effective, sustainable and joyful way. OTM is an educational, experiential and motivational process for those interested in conscious activism and service. We combine yoga asanas, meditation in-depth self-exploration which culminates in the formation of a group project that is real and in service to the community.”

So well done…what a great partnership! I’m excited to see what HuffPo posts!

-Britt

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