Get ready, Washington, we are about to dive deep into yoga’s history over the ages.
YOGA: THE ART OF TRANSFORMATION | Freer and Sackler Galleries
Through masterpieces of Indian sculpture and painting, Yoga: The Art of Transformation explores yoga’s goals; its Hindu as well as Buddhist, Jain, and Sufi manifestations; its means of transforming body and consciousness; and its profound philosophical foundations. The first exhibition to present this leitmotif of Indian visual culture, it also examines the roles that yogis and yoginis played in Indian society over two thousand years.
The DCist also has more details on the exhibit, including crowdfunding, which will start on May 29. Under the auspicies of the Smithsonian Institute, Yoga: The Art of Transformation will be opened from October 19 to January 2014.
There is an unhealthy fascination with lists on the web so the news should not be surprising.
Forbe’s has published a List of Top 10 Cities for Yoga, and Washington is in a tie for fourth place, in a tie with New York City. Somehow, Los Angeles does not make the list, though you’d probably have to divide up suburbs. San Diego does.
Who elected Forbe’s as the arbiter of yoga status among U.S. cities and why?
To determine the top U.S. cities for yoga, we turned to data from the marketing firm GfK MRI, which conducted surveys in 205 markets last year, asking participants whether they practiced yoga, and if so, how frequently and for how long.
To be fair, Alice G. Walton has written multiple articles about yoga, meditation and neuroscience so we can’t ascribe her motives to the latest run on Lululemon stock.
Ashtanga practitioners have more options than you might think:
Washington Post Express Never Out Of Practice: Mysore yoga classes help students advance at just the right pace - ”First-timers get personal training in a few postures, starting with five rounds of sun salutations, and that may be all they do. As they return to class and master that section, the instructor adds on. Advanced students can complete the beginning of the series, but at some point, even people who can hook their legs around their necks need an assist, a modification or a pep talk.”
A few months ago, I pointed to another article about Ashtanga and Mysore practice in the DC area.
Thanks to Donavan Wilson for tipping me off about this article since I am “out of pocket” (meaning “away,” it’s journalism jargon, if I remember correctly.)
After 15 years, my services at the Organization of American States (OAS) and the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD) in Washington, DC, have ended. I leave with lots of questions since this change is going to be a milestone in my life. After all, this job was where I lasted the longest, and it has served as scaffolding for my self-identity.
Each day working in an international organization is both a privilege and a blessing, in part because the job comes with excellent pay, benefits, colleagues and other perks, as well as a challenging mission. The OAS was really the bridge that allowed me to make the transition back to the United States from living abroad for 18 years. When I started working there in 1998 as a temporary hire in the information technology division, I could feel the shift in my mindset because I felt at home: it had an institutional framework that combined Latin American culture and social relations. In 2005, I joined CICAD (actually the Executive Secretariat of CICAD since the Commission is actually made up of member states), which is a front-line catalyst for drug policy at a dynamic time. Technically, I was the bilingual writer-editor for the web site, reports, proposals and other documents, but I was really a kind of information asset manager and institutional memory.
On my last day at the OAS. My friend Javier Sagredo snapped a shot of me.
It’s here again! Thirty seven DC yoga studios are joining forces to encourage people to take to the mat.
DC Yoga Week 2013 – dc community yoga
The DC Community of Yoga (DCCY) is hosting the 8th Annual DC Yoga Week and Yoga on the Mall Monday, April 29 thru Sunday, May 5. This means participating studios will be offering FREE and $5 classes daily – all week long!
If you’ve been looking for an opportunity to explore other yoga studios and styles, now’s your chance because of free or low-cost classes. The weather should be good for Sunday when you can catch Yoga on the Mall.
This week, I am at an undisclosed location on the Delmarva peninsula, with wife, yoga mat, laptop, notebooks, and reading matter, and will be unable to take advantage of discounted rates and open doors. I may get to DC in time for the weekend activities.
Sorry, folks, but some major upheavals in my life are in the making and they are sapping all the creative energy out of me. My yoga practice is mainly used to fuel survival mode.
I have added a new page to my Art of Living section.
Because the section tends to draw the most web traffic, I thought it was time to update some of its content and I chose to add a page on whether the Art of Living Foundation could be considered a religious cult or sect. Cult and sect are culturally charged words and any understanding of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and his organization will depend on your own cultural and religious background and beliefs. I will be cautious about passing judgment.
About two months ago I got in the habit of climbing 8-9 flights of stairs 3-5 times a day in my office building. Instead of using the restroom on my eighth floor, I go to the one in the basement via the elevator and return by the stairs. I started because I notice that I was not getting to the gym enough to maintain my aerobic stamina — and I was putting on weight. It also helps me burn off accumulated nervous energy from sitting at my keyboard or the opposition, feeling sluggish because of lack of movement.
An additional payoff in my yoga practice is that I can hold chair pose (Utkatasana) without my thighs screaming for mercy after 20 seconds.
I found myself in a curious position over the weekend in yoga class. I was unable to sustain myself in a pose modified for novices or people not used to sustaining their body weight. It should have been easier for me.
Modified side plank
The pose was side plank (Vasisthasana) — most vinyasa 1 practitioners grind their teeth when they have to get into this pose from plank. In this case, the teacher decide to use me as a demo for the pose and its modification, which required me to place the lower knee on the ground to support my core (as illustrated in the photo to the right). I found that I could not keep my leg directly under me and aligned in the same plane as my body because I could not fully open up my hip. It seemed to reach a limit at about 45 degrees. It was more difficult resting on the right knee, but I also had issues with the left variant. When I tried to muscle my way into a more open expression, it was as if I butted up against bone, with no give. It actually hurt.
While lamenting the distortions that my Kindle Fire HD has introduced in my reading habits, I did managed to finish a book this past week. In fact, I recommend that you buy a print copy because it comes with an audio CD that may be helpful in getting the knack for a breathing technique.
The Healing Power of the Breath: Simple Techniques to Reduce Stress and Anxiety, Enhance Concentration, and Balance Your Emotionsby Doctors Richard P. Brown and Patricia L. Gerbarg (Shambhala, 2012) is a useful primer on why you should develop a breathing practice even if you are not into yoga. It reviews the scientific research on the use of breath work in improving resilience to stress as well as anxiety, depression, insomnia, and trauma-induced emotions and behaviors. Brown and Gerbarg recommend a simple technique that slows your breathing to five breaths per minute, combined with simple visualizations of moving energy along the spine or from the head to the soles of the feet. They call it Coherent Breathing, and it can be modified to resemble the ujjayi (Darth Vader) Resistance Breathing that most yoga practitioners already know. I’ve used the technique to slow my mind down before going to bed or while seated on a train or waiting in line.
The key is to slow down the pace, and that can be harder than you’d expect. For instance, with my sudarshan kriya practice, the tendency is to speed up the pace and make it energizing. After working with the practice for a while, you’ll catch on to the pace and it will become second nature. The slower pace makes it easier to slip into a meditative mindset.
The CD contains a half dozen instructional takes on breathing techniques, and then it moves into a full 15-minute session, plus a short body scan.
More information is available on their website. There are also some audio files of radio interviews, podcasts and other material. Additional information can be found at Coherence, which goes into science behind the technique.