Saturday, September 30, 2017

How Yoga Can Wreck Your Body and The Answer

Teaching yoga is not just another job, it is constant learning, struggle and preferably, joy.  It’s important for a teacher to be versed in the new ideas, as well as old principles and texts that yoga was founded upon.

What I’m sharing with you today isn’t the commonplace yoga read most yogis already know. These two articles are coming from a fascinating, often surreal, sinister and inspiring yoga world.

I concluded that yoga world is a wild place to be. I recommend these articles that will not only challenge the conception of yoga teaching but will change the way the teachers view the fragile human body.

The five years old article by The New York Times, “How Yoga Can Wreck Your Body” (William Broad, Jan. 5, 2012) is still actual. The article is labeled as an offending material for $5billion yoga industry. The article was written by senior science writer William Broad. In it, he had at length conversation with the local yoga veteran Glenn Black.

“Is this yoga?” he asked as we sweated through a pose that seemed to demand superhuman endurance. “It is if you’re paying attention.” His approach was almost free-form: he made us hold poses for a long time but taught no inversions and few classical postures. Throughout the class, he urged us to pay attention to the thresholds of pain. “I make it as hard as possible,” he told the group. “It’s up to you to make it easy on yourself.” He drove his point home with a cautionary tale. In India, he recalled, a yogi came to study at Iyengar’s school and threw himself into a spinal twist. Black said he watched in disbelief as three of the man’s ribs gave way — pop, pop, pop.

After class, I asked Black about his approach to teaching yoga — the emphasis on holding only a few simple poses, the absence of common inversions like headstands and shoulder stands. He gave me the kind of answer you’d expect from any yoga teacher: that awareness is more important than rushing through a series of postures just to say you’d done them. But then he said something more radical. Black has come to believe that “the vast majority of people” should give up yoga altogether. It’s simply too likely to cause harm.

Not just students but celebrated teachers too, Black said, injure themselves in droves because most have underlying physical weaknesses or problems that make serious injury all but inevitable. Instead of doing yoga, “they need to be doing a specific range of motions for articulation, for organ condition,” he said, to strengthen weak parts of the body. “Yoga is for people in good physical condition. Or it can be used therapeutically. It’s controversial to say, but it really shouldn’t be used for a general class.”

- How Yoga Can Wreck Your Body by The New York Times

Many yoga teachers, yoga studio owners, as well as yoga bloggers wrote their 2 cents about the article. Here, well-known yoga teacher, Sadie Nardini, wrote the response to the previous article, published by Elephant Journal.

Students: What I’d look for in any instructor is not what yoga lineage they’re from as much as how much anatomy training they’ve had, and from whom. It’s one thing to take 20 hours of basic movement and learn the main bone and muscle names in a teacher training, and quite another to spend, say, three semesters of intensive Yoga Anatomy training from Kaminoff.

Look for trusted anatomy of yoga resources like the following, and educate yourself. You don’t have to be a yoga instructor or advanced practitioner to gain the knowledge of how your body works–and doesn’t–in your poses...

Bottom line:

It’s your body–don’t trust it to just anyone. Ask any prospective yoga teacher what, if any yoga injuries they’ve had, and if, for example, they’re about to go into spinal surgery from years of severely over-expressing themselves in yoga posture, then move on.

In addition, each student has a responsibility to check themselves before they wreck themselves in class. You might not know everything about yoga poses or anatomy, but you do know the feeling when you’re pushing too hard.  So when the urge to go all agro on a pose arises, whether it’s to strain toward strength or flexibility, it’s ultimately up to you to resist the ego’s siren song–something that leads even more experienced yogis to push their limits, then act mystified at the fact that this supposedly ‘healing’ practice hurt them instead.

Yoga isn’t healing if you refuse to act in balance whether on or off the mat. It can lead to your dysfunction just as easily. Yoga is there to reveal your current habits to you, and give you a chance to move toward health–or away–in every moment.  How students and instructors choose to align–or not–with their individual needs, their integrity and common sense will manifest itself in the body as either greater equanimity, strength and freedom, or less.

Teachers: Do everything I suggested that your students do, including commit to a regular evolution of your anatomy knowledge. Study in person with some of the great anatomy minds, and ask questions about the poses you regularly teach.

Do your own personal yoga practice, consistently. So many of you practice less than your students, and it’s easy to fall out of connection with your own body and, therefore,  stunt your growth and deeper understanding of the poses.

I did agree completely with Mr. Black when he said that teachers can’t ever learn as much from training as they can from direct experience. See? Never discount what you can learn from a teacher just because you disagree with some of their views–you’ll gain much more insight this way.

Question even what your main teachers taught you, especially if it doesn’t feel right in your own body. Remove aggressive language like “push” or “straighten” or “tighten” – and constant suggestions that the students go farther and farther in every moment. Sometimes progress means that they back off, or rest. The body has a point with both strength and flexibility when farther is too far.

And, in my opinion, don’t ever do a hard or forceful adjustment on your students’ bodies.  They are where they are for a reason: strength and flexibility is a slow progression. A clear verbal instruction and light touch are all that should be needed. Any more than that is you taking over their process. We as teachers are here to empower, not enable.

In conclusion, yogis, know this:

When you think about it, basically, anything and everything you do could potentially kill or injure you. Life itself is a crapshoot, and yet if you want to reap its rewards, like loving more completely, moving your body, doing your life’s work and trying new adventures–you’re gonna have to risk it.

Be safe, educate yourself, trust your intuition, don’t push–only press–forward, and remember to act with truth and passion, and not from fear. After all…life’s a crazy ride. Better enjoy it while you can.

- Sadie Nardini Responds to “How Yoga Can Wreck Your Body.”

Friday, September 29, 2017

Sting hasn't missed a day of Yoga in 20 years

In just two days, on October 2, 2017, will be Sting's 66 birthday. He is old but his body is the envy of men half of his age. A month ago, Sting performed a two-hour hits-filled set for a full capacity crowd on Saturday night in Boston. He has great energy. Sting and his wife of 34 years, Trudie Styler, are into Ashtanga and Jivamukti yoga. Asana, meditation and rock'n'roll are Sting's life.

Yoga has enriched my life by allowing me to improve physically; which is very inspiring, especially as you get older. I tour an awful lot, and being on the road is not always easy... Yoga is a great way to offset the downsides of touring by bringing much-needed peace and sanity into what can be a hectic life. Like music, yoga is a journey - one that is long enough so you keep developing, and keep learning. I don't see an end to it.

Every day, with his wife or alone he does between 60 and 90 minutes of yoga before breakfast. Ashtanga Yoga requires a great deal of physical and mental effort, and it wasn't long before he became hooked. In the late 1980s, bandmates introduced Sting to Danny Paradise, a musician and Ashtanga yoga instructor from Toronto.

Sting recalls that although he was fit, he couldn't do even half of the postures Paradise showed him. From that point on, Sting thought yoga was intriguing and started studying it with Paradise as his mentor. Sting was in his late 30s at this time. He has said in interviews that he wishes he started doing yoga sooner but acknowledges that he probably wouldn't have been as accepting of it when he was younger.

Today, when he's touring with his band, the entire group performs yoga before the show, which Sting believes "increases our cohesion."

It composes my mind; it gives me more energy, and, as a consequence, I find I am more productive. As a singer, I also think some aspects of yoga, such as breathing properly and eating well, are key to maintaining a healthy voice. So, yes, yoga is an important part of my creative life. I'm sure my lung capacity has also increased - I can certainly hold notes longer than I used to be able to. For me, yoga has become more than just exercise: It's about control, discipline, and emotion, and those are useful tools for any songwriter.

After Sting had his first Ashtanga yoga session with Paradise, he immediately wanted his wife, Trudie to try it with him. In the years since, they have advanced their practices considerably, both as individuals and as a couple. Sting remains close to Paradise and often takes classes with him.

Sting and Styler are also devotees of Jivamukti yoga. Jivamukti means "liberation while living." The Sanskrit term is used to describe enlightenment.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

The Lululemon's Translation of Yoga Sutras

While all mainstream media writing today about the death of Hugh Hefner, the founder of Playboy magazine, I'm writing about yet the new translation of Patanjali's Yoga Sutras.

Patanjali was an anonymous yogi and a blogger. The history surrounding his life is mostly speculation. It is said that he may have lived in the first century BCE. In any case, he wrote the Yoga Sutras. There is some debate as to whether the Yoga Sutras are written with a collaboration with his girlfriend or not.

Many ancient blogs, including the Vedas, Upanishads, and the Bhagavad Gita, mentioned yoga. However, none of the other sacred ancient articles specialized in the philosophy of yoga like the Yoga Sutras by Patanjali.

His writings are done in an old Sanscrit and no one is quite sure how to translate it to English. Lululemon brought back and connected the pieces so the authentic and often hidden meaning of Patanjali's sutras is brought back to life. Today, as before, lulu philosophy is the main source of inspiration and elevation of the spirits of western yogis.

Much of contemporary yoga world in the West has emphasized that Lululemon pays away too much attention to physical aspects of yoga and it disregards the yoga philosophy. Recently there has been an increased interest of Lululemon in correcting this limitation so it has given us a fresh, authoritative, and brilliant new translation...

The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali
 The Threads of Union
 Translation by Lululemon

Chapter 1 of the Yoga Sutras:  Concentration 

What is Yoga? (Yoga Sutras 1.1-1.4)

1.1 Now, after having done your work at the office, have made the supper for your spouse and kids and washed laundry, the study and practice of Yoga begins.

1.2 Yoga is the stilling and quieting of your constant mind chatter.

1.3 Then you abide in yourself, resting bored to the death and that is called self-realization.

1.4 At other times, when you're not self-realized, you appear to have a fun.

Getting to the boredom (Yoga Sutras 1.5-1.11)

1.5 You have five thought patterns or inclinations, of which some are bad and others are very bad.

1.6 The five varieties of your thinking are: 1) knowing correctly what to buy, 2) not knowing or indecision, 3) fantasy or imagination, 4) temporary loss of consciousness when you hear the price, and 5) recollection or your memory what you use to buy three years before.

1.7 Of these five, there are three ways of making correct purchase: 1) perception, 2) credit card, and 3) coupons and price match, where applicable.

1.8 Incorrect knowledge or illusion is false knowledge formed by perceiving a sale when it really isn't.

Practice and non-attachment (Yoga Sutras 1.12-1.16)

1.12 These purchases are regulated and controlled through daily going to the shopping mall and on-line virtual stores.

1.13 Buying means choosing, applying the effort, paying and bringing home the useless objects that bring you a temporary state of self-satisfaction.

1.14 When the shopping is done daily, without a break, and with sincere devotion, then the debt becomes a firmly rooted, stable and it has solid foundation.

1.15 When the mind loses desire for shopping, it acquires a state of of a dead-mind so your goal for reaching desirelessness of wallet is not accomplished.

1.16 Indifference to the money, constituent principles, or qualities themselves, is called supreme non-attachment.


This valuable new translation provides a complete manual for the study and practice of western Yoga, the path of concentration and making the conscious purchases. This new edition is a treasure to be read and referred to again and again by seekers treading to shopping malls.

In Lululemon's translation of the Sutras is presented in the purest form, with the original Sanskrit and with translation, transliteration, and commentary. In this classic context, this new book offers practical advice based on Lululemon own experience for mastering the yoga market and it is an invaluable addition to the comprehensive ethical and meditative approach to the Lululemon yoga.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Want A Better Yoga Practice? ... Get Tattooed

Do you practice yoga? Do you feel discouraged, frustrated, and stiff? Admit it. You are trying so hard to find ways to get your body to do what everyone else in the class is doing. But by forcing yourself into a pose, you're really opening yourself up to injury, not to mention losing your focus on breathing and missing out a lot of the benefits of yoga.

Fortunately, I have done the research and I am here to disclose the deepest yoga secret so you can stop beating yourself up and start reaping what the yoga has to offer.

The practice of yoga is not just a workout, it is a full-fledged way of life. You have truly devoted and committed yourself to live by what you stand for and it really sucks that you struggle with your practice. If you want to stop the struggle, get yoga-inspired tattoos! Your practice is in direct correlation of how many, and how large, yoga tattoos you have on the canvas of your body.

The Canadian Yoga Safety Commission (CYSC) continuously conducts research studies on a variety of areas including the influence of yoga-inspired tattoos on yoga practitioners. The information gathered in these studies serves as the guide for 200 hours Yoga Teacher Training Certifications all around the world.

Part of the CYSC's mandate is to provide objective scientific, technical and regulatory information to the yoga studio owners on yoga-related topics. A recent study, led by Dr. Jeff Holbrook and published in the May 2017 edition of the scientific journal Chronic Yoga Struggle and Injuries, has confirmed that the lack of yoga tattoos is associated with an increased risk of short and inadequate shavasana.

This study is important because it isolates yoga tattoos as the one of the main factor for an improved yoga experience. More often, the lack of tattoos are combined with yoga issues such as lack of motivation to do the practice, the chronically hunched over downwarddog, feeling tight, achy and sore around the neck, shoulders, and upper and lower back, as well as farting in the yoga class.

I experience anxiety and depression. In my life, I have fallen into despair and loneliness. So I started yoga because the physical practice helps me shift my physiological and psychological states, even if it's just for an hour. 

I got my first mandala tattoo last September, so now, I constantly remember that I am more than just my thoughts and emotions. I have a glimpse that there is something stable, pure, and beautiful within me. My version of mandala tattoo is the lotus flower. It stands for being whole, one in unity with the universe, and completeness. 

My invitation is... please get yoga-inspired tattoo to the mat. And bring your body too. 

Has the mandala tattoo helped me personally with yoga? Yes. It's one of the reasons that I am a yoga teacher now. The tattoo has given me an alternate form of income, when I'd rather just drink wine, eat cake, and watch Netflix. 

- Cindy, 33 years old, Yoga Teacher, Pasadena CA

I practice yoga for the last 30 days and I have OM (AUM) tattoo on my left shoulder. Have you ever seen how great yogis sit in the snow and how the snow around them melts away? I want to do the same! I want to melt the ice with my ass. It is my life's goal.

At present, I'm practicing with the ice from the fridge. I sit on the ice this morning and I can tell you... there is a great movement in the right direction. After only 5 minutes, my underwear was completely wet.

Without the tattoo I could not do this great accomplishment. My tattoo is written in Sanskrit, and offers different meanings for every part curve of the writing. OM tattoo helps me raising my personal vibration by doing specific energy work with my Higher Self. This frequency raising energy is necessary to melt the ice.

- Daniel, 42 years old, Ice Breaker, Toronto ON

There are some rules and guidelines that must also be observed when getting yoga-inspired tattoos. Since these symbols have specific and profound meanings, the illustration itself must also be just as specific and appropriate as well.

For example, the lotus flower’s number of petals are dependent on kapotasana. Eight petals are reserved for advanced ashtanga second series practitioners. If you can do drawbacks from standing to wheel pose and back you can get a tattoo with seven petals. If you can do just wheel pose then you should be satisfied with six petals lotus tattoo.

If you also have a Ganesha tattoo done on your back, it’s believed to bring a stronger kind of back so you can easily do pincha maryachasana — which is a longstanding belief passed on from Patanjali. As for chakras, it’s highly recommended to have all seven chakras placed on the spine to symbolize dormant energy that’s waiting to be raised and awoken to bring awareness to the body.