what is yoga

yoga and the true non-self?

What can you feel? I practice yoga because it helps me feel, which is something I’d trained myself to avoid. It’s an internal exploration that is unspeakably beautiful, and precious few teachers convey this. (Do I? Probably not well.) It’s partly because not many are looking for an internal practice, which means that sticking with […]


yoga, exoticism, & the new age

“A critique is not a matter of saying that things are not right as they are. It is a matter of pointing out on what kinds of assumptions, what kinds of familiar, unchallenged, unconsidered modes of thought the practices that we accept rest… We must free ourselves from the sacralization of the social as the […]


today’s practice :: check yourself

Last time I gave a very brief rundown on Catholic/Tibetan Buddhist comparative religious history, as explained by Donald Lopez, Professor of Buddhist and Tibetan Studies, in Prisoners of Shangri-La: Tibetan Buddhism and the West. I learned, again, that you don’t care much for history. And I offended some, which wasn’t my intent. I did not […]


the thing about gurus: a kumaré review [revisited]

Another repost. Because it’s the time of year we huddle inside and watch flicks. Well, if you’re in the Northern parts anyway. This is one of the five movies I’ve seen in the last few years. Highly recommend. (Originally posted July 1, 2012.) Gurus have always been problem for me, perhaps my biggest in the […]


emo yoga :: rage, fear, so sorry, etc

The last post talked a little bit about emotion from a classical Yoga standpoint. It may have been a little dry and unhelpful, especially if you do yoga to feel good rather than to achieve enlightenment. Most yoga practitioners today aren’t that interested in enlightenment (I’ve noticed that far more meditators practice with that aim […]


neurotic thoughts. unmanageable emotions. yoga.

This image, like those of the last few posts, is by Daryl Seitchik. She is awesome. Comment from the last post: I thought the practice would make me calmer, but it has actually brought a lot of my neurotic thoughts and unmanageable emotions (particularly rage) more to the surface. Luckily, it has also helped me […]


non-cheesy yoga = awesome

Or, How to Talk Intelligently About Yoga Is yoga spiritual? Is yoga religion? Is yoga science? What is yoga? These questions matter to me because it affects how I relate to students. I teach yoga in a university gym largely because I have the autonomy to do what I want, as I’ve yet to find […]


book review: Yoga PhD by Carol Horton

Other than some yoga history and philosophy years back, I don’t usually read much about yoga. I try to keep it as experiential as possible. But the more I write, the more I have begun to look to what others are saying. In trying to explain hatha yoga a few weeks ago, I found myself […]


meeting resistance on and off the mat

The last post and some books I’ve been reading have me asking why you do yoga. I know why I do it, and why I teach it. But sometimes I wonder if I’m teaching to your needs. The other night, in a last class of the semester, I asked students what they wanted from yoga. […]


why do yoga?

When I was working on my masters, I made a website about yoga (2007). I surveyed my students for questions and information, and answered them on the site. This post (and some to follow) is an integration of that material, as I’ll take the old site down soon. Why do people take yoga? The reasons […]


tradition: ashtanga, vinyasa & 8-limbs lite™

The yoga history thread is on hold as I’ve picked up too many books on the subject to continue until they’re parsed. Much has been published since I first read up on it ten years back. If you must read something now I suggest Joseph Alter’s Yoga in Modern India. For a break, I’ll address […]


yoga history & hatha yoga : 101x

Last week when I wrote the “Wait. What is Hatha Yoga?” piece, things got out of hand. My intention was to explain simply that Hatha yoga is all physical yoga, not a style of it. But that exploded. Hatha yoga has a long and complicated history, which has thankfully gotten much more attention in the […]


how yoga ruined my tan

This isn’t about the superficial layer. It is about the body and its endless ability to amaze. Last year, I photographed my friend Ilona making a tattoo. At the end, she told the woman she couldn’t work out for a few weeks because the sweat could damage the tattoo. I later mentioned this to a […]


sexytime with william broad

I somehow managed to ignore most of the uproar over William Broad’s “How Yoga Can Wreck Your Body” in the NYT. I didn’t really get his point, as it seems like a no-brainer. You can hurt yourself doing any physical activity, and that’s why you’re selective about what yoga you do and classes you take. […]


is yoga Hindu?

There’s a debate on about yoga’s origins, and it’s gone viral “—or as viral as things can get in a narrow Web corridor frequented by yoga enthusiasts, Hindu Americans and religion scholars.” This is the buzz covered in the November 27, 2010 article, “Hindu Group Stirs a Debate Over Yoga’s Soul,” by Paul Vitello. What […]


relax

Often I mention articles in class that, if not about yoga, are yogic in nature. Yoga, we know, is everywhere. More and more frequently scientists and other “experts” are coming around to what strikes me as common sense. But if you’ve lost touch with common sense (who hasn’t?) and instead look to experts for your […]


Namaste नमस्ते

Months ago, a friend living in Beijing complained about yoga teachers using Sanskrit and not explaining the meaning. She was especially annoyed by closing class with “namaste,” when many didn’t know what it meant. I believe my friend and colleague Ben also takes issue with this. I’m guilty of it, I admit, largely because I […]


ways of knowing // 5,000 years continued

To address Ben’s comment in the last post (5,000 years?), I want to say that to some extent, I agree. But there is a difference between the “kinds of consciousness one accesses by practicing yoga” and yoga. They are not the same thing. Calling something yoga before yoga existed is questionable. I like Ben’s assertion: […]


5,000 years?

I have to admit, I sometimes ask myself if I’m part of this world. The yoga world, I mean. On Tuesday, the New York Times wrote a piece on foodies and yoga, and it seems to be popular, given its rank on their most emailed list: “When Chocolate and Chakras Collide.” My favorite part of […]


bikram yoga: good or bad?

Bikram is thought of by many yogis as “not real yoga,” whatever that means. Why? Well, it’s incredibly body oriented, and most people attracted to it (it seems to me) are primarily interested in their bodies lookin’ good, as there isn’t much attention to anything but forcing yourself, asana, and some heating pranayama. What’s wrong […]


what are the different types of yoga? what is hatha?

The styles of yoga on offer are endless. Teachers often blend different practices to suit their needs, and give it a name that ends up on a class schedule, familiar only to those who frequent the studio. Most types of yoga stem from a few different schools, which have splintered into countless directions. Yoga as […]