Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Hari Nam, Sat Nam, Hari Nam, Hari.
Hari Nam, Sat Nam, Sat Nam, Hari.

The name of God is the True Name.

In 2008, may you all find health, happiness, and love.
And yoga, if you haven't found it already!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Teacher, Touch Me

Yoga was absolute bliss this morning. Bliss!

Why, you ask? Well, having Dolly back after a couple weeks without her is one reason. Another is that we tried a new asana today (more about that later). But the real reason? Touch, plain and simple. I got lots of "extra love" as I call it—assists, help to deepen postures, loving, stress-relieving strokes. All done professionally, meaningfully, and masterfully, as Dolly is the queen of this.

Now, there are always two sides to every story. Some students do not like to be touched (though I think it's a rarity). And for some teachers, touch is not only difficult mentally, it is difficult physically. You have to sort of know your students' bodies and abilities if you're going to assist with backbends, for example. You've got to understand the techniques of assists in order to apply the right kind of pressure in the right places, so as not to jolt or hurt your students. A lot of teachers are also unable to give of themselves in this manner, and prefer not to touch at all, and that's understandable. But let me make a case for the value of touch in yoga. Because I think it really takes the practice to the next level for students.

First, help getting hands together in a bind or a twist enables students to stretch that little bit extra, opening muscles for future possibilities. For students with a more advanced practice, assists that enable them to get deeper into certain postures provides them with more sensation, more release, and seriously...more euphoria! Touch in this instance is an enabler. As a teacher, you are the helping hands.

Second, and perhaps more important, is the feeling of a beloved teacher's warm, loving touch on the body. Think about this. We live in a world in which our children are not allowed to hug each other at school. We keep our distance from each other. Smiling at strangers is even highly questionable! Technology allows us to eliminate a lot of face-to-face interaction with other human beings. In the U.S. especially, beauty—or lack of it—also plays a large role in the amount of physical contact each of us receives.

Now think about why most people come to yoga. It's not just the physical aspect. It's the mental clarity it gives, the spiritual connection to ourselves, the earth, our classmates, something larger. People are in class because they are looking for something deeper, more meaningful, otherwise, they could just ride a bike or take a walk. Yoga is the melding of the physical, mental, and spiritual. There is no telling what is going on in a student's life outside of class, but you know that they are in class because yoga brings them a certain peace that is more than physical. I believe touch—even a simple stroke down the back of a student in a forward fold—is nurturing, neutralizing, and in a small way, answers our need for love. Love is the crux of the human condition, is it not? We all need love, spend our lives either looking for it, trying to hold onto it, giving it, or lavishing ourselves in it. Touch in yoga is love, a salve for our wearied, twenty-first century souls. For some students, a teacher's touch in yoga is the only human contact they ever have!

If you are a teacher, I hope you will think more about the tremendous gift your touch can be. Even if you aren't one to do more technically complicated assists, perhaps you will consider how much a simple touch means to the majority of your students.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Twister Yoga

Alas, there is no such thing (at least I don't think there is).

But...there is Twister. Yeah, you know, the game with the colored dots? And there are yogis to be found in every corner of the globe. So here's the recipe: add flexi yogi bodies of the male and female kind to one Twister game mat, throw in a couple cocktails, and I think there is a party in the making!

Seriously, a friend and I have been contemplating this for an upcoming soirée that will likely include many yogis. I mean, I can think of at least one person I'd like to play co-ed Twister with...can't you? While playing, there has to be potential for a Downward Dog, a Tree, an Eagle, at least? Tell you what...if we do break Twister out, I will be sure to get some photos and let you all know how it went.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Presents for Your Favorite Yogi

Thank all that's good that these days, there's more yoga stuff out there than ever. From clothes to mats, to jewelry and DVDs, there is a perfect present out there for every yogi.

Here are a few suggestions:

  • Gorgeous, Indian-influenced jewelry by Rosena Sammi. Check out the Kismat Collection to see her Om Shanti Necklace, Om Necklace; the Fashion Collection for the stunning Mandala Earrings. Prices run from $110 to $320, and up.

  • Yoga clothes. For those of you not in close proximity to Asana Activewear, I'm sorry for you. BUT, if you're ever passing through Charlotte, NC, do not miss this place. Owners Gary and Leslie have the BEST selection of activewear in town if you're looking for gear more interesting than what's available at your local big box store. It's a great looking store with a selection that has been edited with a very discerning eye. You will not be disappointed.

    Lululemon Athletica also has some great looking pieces for guys and girls. Plus a cool site with gorgeous, real-people-doing-yoga photos. I like.

  • Yoga music. Give a gift certificate to Omstream.com. Yoga, meditation, and world music can be downloaded for playing on you iPod or mp3 player. Listen to samples, see suggestions, or download entire playlists.

  • Cool mats. I should practice what I preach and invest in some fun mats, but I'm still sticking by my favorite Nike mat. If you're looking, here are some ideas...be sure to check out Get Your Crow Flying with Cheeky Yoga Gear and More Unique Mats to see more.

    Circles Mat

    Prana Reversible ECO Sticky Mat