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In Class


(Hint: There’s no easy answer.) Last weekend began the first segment of a teacher training I’ve been co-teaching for the past three years. It’s always fun to meet the new trainees and to hear inspiring stories about how Yoga practice has changed their lives.


Perhaps the most questionable convention in yoga practice is the assertion that headstand and shoulderstand are the “king and queen of asana.” Deeply rooted in classical traditions and adopted by modern hybrids, the emphasis on these poses is an example of a broader disconnect between ideals and actualities.


As a yoga teacher, I get lots of questions about the alignment of poses. Should I throw my head back in upward facing dog? Should I reach for my feet in a seated forward fold? Should I squeeze my quads and lift my kneecaps in tadasana? My best answer to questions like these is usually it depends on your approach to your practice. From my perspective, there are two versions of nearly every yoga pose: the traditional version and the biomechanically-updated one.


In the pursuit of health through yoga, the challenge is often more about shifting ingrained sensibilities than addressing physical limitations. Attempting to tune, fix, quantify, purify or explain a human body, as though it were more a piece of equipment in need of optimization or repairs than a highly temperamental organism, is not likely to heal the wounds or set a necessary course for well being.


Fred was hands down the least flexible person I’ve ever encountered. In 28 years of teaching asana, I’ve never seen anyone who came close to his lack of mobility. His Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend) was little more than a forward nod.


by Caren Rabbino Matthew Sanford believes what he feels. Doctors, and the others involved in his rehabilitation from a car accident, didn’t. They insisted that a paraplegic, paralyzed from the chest down, couldn’t feel the sensations he was reporting. He was 13 and fighting for his life and the people entrusted with his care weren’t [...]


There you are in yoga class and you can't wait to leave. Not because you're tired and hungover, not because they're doing your least favorite pose in the universe (again for the third time this week -- what did you do wrong to anger the karmic gods anyway??). Nope, you're ready to roll up your [...]


Manners! You either got em or you don't, areweright? Please and Thank You still go a long way in this world, but when it comes to yoga studio etiquette, being conscious of others and behaving in a socially yog-acceptable way is often elevated to the next level. We've all been there, sitting peacefully in class [...]

Savasana Thoughts

Ahh...sacred savasana, the final relaxation pose where you can finally let go. UNLESS. Unless there's some incredibly annoying sound or distraction that inexorably pulls you out of your restful state. Blast! You know what we're talking about. The other day we asked everyone to share their savasana audible gripes and grievances as well as favorite [...]


All the hemming and hawing over what songs to play in yoga class. Who needs it? Here it is, the only playlist you'll ever really need (sorry kirtan and Krishna Das-ers). The hypnotic groove of The XX "Intro" on a 10-hour loop. The new MTV.  You're welcome. Aw the 10-hour version is gone, but here's [...]


Yoga studios: they smell of a rare musky mix of tea tree oil, sweaty armpits and stinky feet! Mmm, deeeep inhale. There's only so much burning incense can mask. And we've been in classes before where incense was burned all yoga long without a sip of ventilation, which we hesitate to admit had us longing for eau du body odor. This brought the incense issue to our attention and brings us to our recent informal poll with the simple question: do you use incense?

This triggered a multitude of varying responses from 'hell no!' to 'absolutely!' to 'yes, but I never inhaled.' Reasons not to use incense include allergies, asthma or it gives you headaches. No bueno. Of the responses there was about a half and half mix of yeses to nos, and those who said yes shared that they burned incense at home but not in class, or used it before class but not during.


Er, maybe not what you thought?

Are you a man looking to get into yoga, but completely overwhelmed by all your athletic clothing options? Intimidated by too many women in class? Have no fear of all that stretchy lycra and female antagonism, gentlemen - Buck Harris is here for you, and he's got the answer to your yoga clothes conundrum. Just don't wear any! About the ladies, something tells us you boys weren't interested in them much anyway. (There will be no boner jokes.)


Obi Wan Yogi? Out of luck, these new yoga teachers will be. When you're practicing yoga how do you know you're doing it right? Is what the makers of Kinobi wants us all to ask ourselves. Their newfangled technology, when hooked up to the sensory gadgetry of Microsoft Kinect, will help you figure out those [...]


Remember all that fuss over yoga 'wrecking your body' and such? Ouch! This could easily be dubbed the year of "bend it til it breaks" with much debate and controversy surrounding William J. Broad's book The Science of Yoga: The Risks and Rewards and other scandalous mentionables.

While the bedlam has since died down, yoga injuries are still very much a hot topic and something we should all feel free to discuss. YogaUOnline thinks so and will be hosting a free online telesummit called 'Yoga Injuries: Facts and Fiction' featuring some heavy hitters in the yoga and medical fields.