Friday, July 18, 2008

Back at 'cha

I have been sadly remiss in the maintainance of this blog and owe a lot of delightful blog authors a shout-back. So please, go check these links out, if you don't already have them on your regular reading list. There's a lot of good (funny) writing out there...

Linda's Yoga Journey- if you like Yoga Dawg, you'll love Linda. Girlfriend does not mince words...
YogaMama- a very sweet blog following the yoga adventures of the newly mama-ed Rama
McSmithleyville-more motherhood and yoga, with a wry sense of humor by a fellow Iowan
Happy Daisy Yoga-some good, insightful thoughts on teaching
The Yogini from Manila-Jane has created a very newsy, informative blog with lots of links
Finding Atman-funny, sharp, more motherhood (I sense a trend), due any day now...
Your Yoga Infos-Oliver is keeping track of doings in the yoga world, very extensive
Shiny Yoga-yoga from Down Under (it took me awhile to figure out why she keeps writing about Winter...duh!)
Yoga Chick-a thorough discussion of yoga and other fitness training
Samadhi Rush-Kelly has taken the time to upload some really useful pix of sequences to follow

Sorry it's taken me so long, guys!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

The Community of Yoga

I got my next My Yoga Mentor assignment: creating community in a yoga class. Most of the story ideas I've pitched to them, so it was nice to be offered a subject. But, what a subject. I agreed, of course, but thought--I'm not sure what there is to be said about this: post some flyers? put a book store in the studio? sell tee shirts?

However, the more I think about the subject, the more intrigued I am. How do we humans create communities around anything...similar tastes, experiences, backgrounds? And what is a community you have to be physically present? Wikipedia suggests community originally implied "a group of interacting people living in a common location," but the definition has now expanded to simply describe "individuals who share characteristics." Pretty broad. So it's interesting to think of yoga as something to build community around; partially because it's such an individual, internal practice, but also because it seems like something you should do rather than talk about.

And yet, create communities we do. Maybe because the classroom is automatically a group experience; or maybe the intensity of the internal experience is such that we want to externalize it to make it more understandable. Or maybe we just love yoga so much, we want to share. To me, that's what the online community is, certainly, since we aren't practicing in the same studio, or even the same country!

So, can you decide to "create" such a community, or does it just happen? I guess if you're off in an ashram somewhere, you're keeping your experience pretty private, but--judging by the online traffic and yoga classes all over the place--yogis want to keep in touch and discuss.

I'm collecting interview subjects and can't wait to hear what they say...I'll let you know. In the meantime, my dear online community, what do y'all think...

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Yoga by the Fire

When I'm on vacation, I always try to fit some yoga in, preferably in front of some lovely scene that I wouldn't normally get back home--a bright, sandy beach; a cool, shady forest; volcano-top; etc. We were in New Harbor, Maine two weeks ago for a family reunion of sorts, so I had an opportunity to "down-east" it up yoga-wise. I was thinking Vrksasana (Tree Pose) on a lichen-y rock, Trikonasana (Triangle Pose) in front of a brisk, blue-grey Atlantic, or Virabhasdrasana II (Warrior 2) in front of the Pemaquid Point lighthouse.

Well, Ma Nature was not going to play. It was grey most of the time and rainy part of the time, so our outdoor activities were a bit limited. Which was okay, because in early-summer Maine the fog and mist make sense and are actually quite beautiful. And there were enough dry days to still explore tidal pools, pre-revolutionary forts and eat steamers and lobster on the dock. But yoga outside--not so much.

Every evening, we had a fire in our cabin to warm it up and dry things out, so I decided to try my practice in front of the hearth. There might be some Ayurvedic proscriptions against my dosha (Pitta-Kapha) doing yoga by the flames, but I found it very centering and relaxing. If you've ever sat in front of a campfire and been mesmerized by its shape and color, you can imagine how soothing doing yoga would be.

I did a few chest openers and stretched out my thighs: Gomuhkasana (Cow's Head Pose), Garudasana (Eagle--arms only), Hastasana (Overhead Arm Pose), Supta Virasana (Reclined Hero's Pose), Supta Padangusthasana (Reclined Hand-to-Big-Toe). At the end I simply sat in Sukhasana (Easy Pose) with my hands in the Apan Mudra (See Yoga, Dogs and Chocolate for a nice description) and stared into the fireplace, enjoying the warmth on my face and the pop and crack rhythm of the damp birch logs.

It wasn't what I had planned for, but whodathunk, the fire is a great centering focal point. Crustaceans + Kaizen= great Maine yoga!

(More images of Pemaquid, here)