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Three flavours of yoga teachers – which would you choose?

The New York Times has once again fixed its gaze on yoga culture, this time with a short profile of Forrest Yoga, the method created by Ana Forrest. While I was reading the article, I couldn’t help but think back to a couple of other recent yoga teacher/style articles in the NYT: last summer’s seminal John Friend feature and the Tara Stiles profile from earlier this year.

The articles vary in depth, focus and length, but after a close reading of all three, I noticed some common themes. Here’s a handy dandy compare and contrast guide to the NYT’s approach to three very different, yet similar, teachers. All text is directly quoted from the NYT articles and everything in italics is my commentary.

Type of yoga teacher
Ana Forrest (AF): itinerant, fierce
John Friend (JF): rock star yogi
Tara Stiles (TS): former model with skyscraper limbs and a goofball sensibility

Name and origin of style
AF: Forrest Yoga – her last name, apparently
JF: Anusara – Sanskrit for “flowing with grace”
TS: Strala – a word she said she and her husband made up, but it turns out to be Swedish for “radiates light”

Description of style
AF: intense
JF: touchy-feely
TS: nondenominational Read the rest of this entry »

Image by Rita Leistner, via foreignpolicy.com

Foreign Policy published a fascinating photo essay by Toronto-based photojournalist Rita Leistner. The series, taken entirely on iPhones using the Hipstamatic app, captures a slice of daily life for U.S. Marines based in the Helmand province of Afghanistan in 2010/2011. And apparently daily life includes yoga in the desert.

Thanks @yogaactivist (yogaactivist.org)!

The Core yoga mat organizer in action (image via wired.com)

In a recent blog post, wired.com introduced the world to a new concept: the “Yoga Smugness Quotient (YSQ).” Apparently, the best way to to up your YSQ is to “pile on the hippy credentials” by using the Core yoga mat organizer, a triangular-shaped water bottle and small canister that screw together and fit in the centre of a rolled up yoga mat.

Sigh. My YSQ must be off the charts because when I look at the Core, I see a little bit of entrepreneurial chutzpah (after all, it was designed by a Slovenian teacher who enjoys hiking and singing), but I also see an unnecessary plastic product to take to yoga class, when my regular stainless steel water bottle and pockets will do the job just as well. All that to say that I might just be so yoga smug that I wouldn’t even buy an eco-friendly plastic container to show off how eco-friendly I am.

What’s your Yoga Smugness Quotient? Any other tips to up one’s YSQ?

maybe this is why more men aren’t doing yoga… (image via chiropractic-help.com)

The old “where are all the men in yoga class” conversation is making a quiet return in the popular press and the blogosphere lately. Even the most casual observer of yoga culture would notice that women outnumber men in the average yoga class, despite the fact that many of the highest profile teachers in North America (and traditionally) are men.

As an article on Yoga Modern last week noted, women make up 72.2% of the 15.8 million people who practice yoga in the US and thus the yoga community feels a need to reach out to men. The title of the article asked, Does marketing yoga to men reinforce gender stereotypes? “Surely there is a way for the yoga community to be inclusive without falling into reductive and overgeneralizing gender stereotypes. After all, are men and women so different that they can’t practice yoga together?” Staying true to the name of the website, the article gives a historical overview of women’s place in the world of yoga, and cites “the non-dualistic philosophies of Vedanta, Yoga, and Tantra.” Read the rest of this entry »

image via seattleweekly.com

We’ve all asked our yoga teacher for a little help now and then. Perhaps we’ve asked about good vegan restaurants in the neighbourhood, breathing exercises to aid sleep, or tips for rocking Chaturanga Dandasana. But Seattle-based humour columnist Michael Stusser enlisted his yoga teacher for a bigger, more transformative project.

While going through a nasty divorce, Michael “decided to take the radical step of removing all trash talk, mud-slinging, rude riffing, and taunting Tweets from my everyday existence for an entire month” and write about his experience for the Seattle Weekly. Realizing that he couldn’t just avoid people and be silent, and that his previous attempts at making major life changes resulted in failure, he saw the need for reinforcement.

If the Dalai Lama and J.Lo had a love child, it would be Dawn Jansen. For 14 years now, this gorgeous and brilliant yoga instructor has twisted me into a pretzel, cured my sciatica, and gently placed positive mantras into my thick skull. Hearing about my grand experiment (and knowing my extensive weaknesses), Dawn understood the need for a game plan. Read the rest of this entry »

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