July 24, 2014
Does my yoga teacher have super strength? No. X-Ray Vision? Yes. (Ask Dubious Drishti)

Dear D.D.,

I’m totally obsessed with yoga, to the point that my friends have suggested that I might want to become a yoga teacher. I’m really torn. I’d love to learn more about yoga, but my yoga teachers seem so far beyond me in terms of their practice—they just lift right up into bakasana, headstand, whatever they need to demonstrate, and I’m not sure if I can do that. Are they mutants? Will yoga teacher training make me like them, or will I have to get bitten by a radioactive yogi?

Om!

Prana Parker

Dear P.P.

First of all, the bad news: those friends who want you to look into becoming a yoga teacher? You have bored the living shit of them with your asananine chatter, and this is the most polite way they’ve found to get you to savasana up. The good news: lots of people make great friends in yoga teacher training!

Do not be intimidated because your role models seem so far beyond you. First of all, if you have an amazing teacher, it probably means that she has a committed long-term personal practice. She probably shapes that practice with guidance from her amazing teacher. She did not become an amazing teacher just because she took teacher training. Teacher training will not turn anyone into a tictacking dynamo. It will allow you to dig deeper into yoga with people who will not be put off by your enthusiasm. If giving 200 hours over to yoga theory and practice sounds good to you, do it, don’t let your lack of super powers stop you.

The super powers come as you teach. The adrenalin that gives moms the strength to lift cars off their young? That will allow you to demonstrate a dropback without warming up. The power to see through clothing? As you observe class after class, the hunched shoulder will shine through the baggy t-shirt. And when people get their hips up and back in downward dog? You will see their genitals right through their $125 pants.

As someone’s uncle once said, “with great power comes great responsibility.” Just practice and you’ll be ready for the power when it comes.

Namaste,

Dubious D.

July 16, 2014
dubiousdrishti:

The truth! By Ann Reinking, who knows from craft (and no doubt diets, too).

dubiousdrishti:

The truth! By Ann Reinking, who knows from craft (and no doubt diets, too).

July 11, 2014
Call to Arms/Asses: Toward a Feminist Practice

I buy my chocolate at ALDI, my books from Amazon, and my apples coated in delicious Alar. I am not only not a conscientious consumer, I might not even be a conscious consumer (e-reading under the influence can be particularly challenging). However, when one of my sisters in asana tries to get a cute pair of leggings, only to be told, “nothing but black pants for you, Fatty,” well, that gets my back right up, and I’m in second series now, so backbends can be fairly dramatic. The following companies do not offer bottoms beyond a size 12. Imagine Joan from Mad Men right before her period—that’s a size 12. A statistically average American woman is a size 14. I’m a size 6, but from now on I will shop like a 16, and I encourage those of you who care about making yoga accessible to everyone to do the same (not that it matters what you wear). Here are the biggest offerings from major yoga brands in dress size—some of whom, cough, lulu, ahem, have already been pretty clear about where their hearts are when it comes to asses.

For shame!                         For slightly less shame!          For reals!                    

lululemon       12                   Onzie             14                            Prana   16

Sweaty Betty  12                  Zobha            14                            Zella     16

Hard Tail         12                  Jala               14-16                        Athleta  20

Mika               12

If I’m going to spring for “real” yoga wear, it better be for real people.

July 9, 2014
Part Hard Tail, on my Mother’s Side: My Love/Hate Relationship with Yoga Fashion

Though I risk redundancy, I must start with this: my mother suffers. Currently her afflictions include arthritis and chronic migraines, but she also bears the bitter scars of ultra-marathons, questionable surgeries, and forty-odd years of smoking and mothering (not all simultaneously). The last time I saw her, my mom was in so much pain that she wasn’t certain that she would be able to attend my twin sister’s wedding. I practiced a little yoga with her in my hotel room, then practiced some more during the cocktail hour, with the result that she managed to attend not just the ceremony, but the dinner and the toasts.

As a terrible-ish daughter (I call, but before the wedding I hadn’t seen her in almost two years), I decided that the least I could do was to hook her up with a teacher. At this very moment, two time zones away from where I type, someone far more qualified than I is developing a daily program for my mother that will, to quote the email I sent her teacher, “bring some ease into a life defined by irritation and pain.”

This could be the beginning of something wonderful for my mother. She was excited about it and had lots of questions leading up to it. What was her foremost concern? What question did she text me, knowing that I might already be asleep, but too curious to save it until morning?

“Can I wear the Lulu Studio Capris?”

Considering the possible benefits of a consistent, appropriate yoga practice for someone in my mother’s condition, asking what to wear is like making sure that the oxygen masks in business class have a more flattering profile than those in economy. Given the circumstances, it’s pretty hard to care. But of course, that would probably be my first question, too. 

After all, as this message buzzed through, ignored, I was lingering on the fashion spread in the latest Yoga Journal. There it was, my Prana Quinn Bra Top (in flattering Dragonfly Jacquard) on the model. My whole body tingled like a breeze gently fluttered ever single hair on my person, a sensation utterly new to me, and I thought “is this what it feels like to ride the top of the Style wave? Am I shooting the motherfucking barrel of the zeitgeist right now?” It felt amazing to have the clothes from the glossy magazine, to know that I’d been wearing them for months—well, my wife actually stole the top in question after a few weeks, but it was mine first.image

This morning, as I counseled my mother in preparation for her first private yoga lesson, the question came up again. I asked her if she had anything more form-fitting, and she mentioned some Sweaty Betty and Hard Tail, and other brands that I try to not to look at because I can’t even afford to covet their clothes. We settled on a suitable outfit, one that she felt good in and, more importantly, would allow her teacher to see all the necessary angles. It breaks my heart that my mother has spent so much money on yoga clothes and so little on the one-on-one instruction that might give her true comfort, but it’s even worse that I, who really should know better, was so focused on seeing my sartorial choices ratified by Yoga Journal that I couldn’t see past my mother’s seemingly meaningless, superficial query. What my mother was really asking was, “Who do I have to be to do this yoga and be accepted?”

What my answer should have been was, “Be yourself, be comfortable, and practice. A wise man once said that if you do that, all is coming.”

July 4, 2014
Dubious Business in Mysore

Guruji created Surya Namaskara after studying the Vedas … Guruji was a scholar and studied the mantras and brought his findings to Krishnamacharya who approved it and added it the yoga he taught.— conference notes from yogaeast.blogspot.com, since removed

While presiding over a training of KPJAYI authorized teachers in Mysore, Sharath allegedly made the claim above, setting himself up for Al Gore-invented-the-internet levels of mockery. Here’s the gist:image

Surya Namaskara, or sun salutations, have so many variations and so much likeness to other exercises that tracing the modern history to Pattabi Jois’s interpretation of the vedas is the equivalent of “inventing” the high-five from watching the NBA finals. If you want to know the history of Surya Namasakara A as practiced in the Ashtanga sequence, check out Anthony Grim Hall’s blog. Grimmly, always a good read, links to a book of sun salutations that predates Guruji’s study of the Vedas. You could also check out Mark Singleton’s controversial but solidly researched 2010 book, Yoga Body, which links the rise of Hatha Yoga to Swedish and British physical culture movements and Indian nationalism. Why don’t any of these sources mention Jois introducing Krishnamacharya to the sun salutation and basically inventing the foundation for all vinyasa practice? None of them has a rooting interest in making Pattabi Jois the source for all of modern yoga, because none of them are in the family business of Ashtanga Yoga. I would love to practice with Sharath because he knows the Ashtanga sequence better than anyone alive. However, he will never be, for me, the ultimate authority, because I practice as a western amateur. Sharath not only makes his living from his practice, he is shoring up the financial well-being of his entire family with it. 

His perspective on Ashtanga reflects the reality of a professional athlete and spokesman for an international commercial concern. My Ashtanga practice reflects thirty-some years of writing and reading, twenty or so of working for the man, and maybe a thousand hours of asana. I can’t wait to practice with Sharath, but for explaining Ashtanga and its history, I might like a second opinion. 

9:15am  |   URL: http://tmblr.co/Z0JJlp1KXP1-l
  
Filed under: yoga ashtanga 
July 3, 2014
One shower, many tissues, and two neti pots later, this bit of aspirated kale left my nose. I think I prefer the purple kind.

One shower, many tissues, and two neti pots later, this bit of aspirated kale left my nose. I think I prefer the purple kind.

2:50pm  |   URL: http://tmblr.co/Z0JJlp1KSuvXg
  
Filed under: health kale yoga humor 
July 2, 2014
Ashtanga Yoga Time Machine
An illiterate child lurks inside me. She needs the future right now, which is why I invented a time machine. As a grown person, friends often compare me to Richard Simmons. Imagine, then, a proto-person, a five-year-old Dubious Drishti: my brain was like a snow globe riding a tilt-a-whirl. Time staggered, with me goading it forward, always waiting for something that I was ridiculously, pants-crappingly excited about. We were going to Santiago’s, where they had RED LIGHTS. Also CHIPS! But when, when would we go? According to my mother, exciting things happened at two times: in half an hour, which meant sometime that day; or someday, which meant never. When I figured out that Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood lasted half an hour, my new strategy for waiting became remembering a recent episode in painstaking detail, registering every tilt of Daniel’s head, hearing Lady Elaine’s every sigh, until the time came. My clock- and book-reading roughly coincided, so this method was quickly replaced by Encyclopedia Brown and the stack of Good Housekeepings and Reader’s Digests that my grandma saved for me. Suddenly I had a time machine.
Now Ashtanga yoga is my time machine. When my flight is delayed, practicing makes the space between my arrival at the airport and boarding vanishingly small. When I’m on vacation with my best friends and they have the nerve to sleep past 7am, I practice and suddenly we’re all up and ready to hit the streets, one of us significantly sorer (but less hungover) than the others. It’s not entirely safe. I’ve had other time machines—Tetris, Sweet Valley High, and pot come to mind, but I’m sure I could think of many more if I tried. They all allowed me to control how I felt for a period of time while waiting for this other thing I was excited about, like getting off a bus, or going to a party. In this way asana can sometimes be the opposite of mindfulness—in going into my body and my breath I am leaving my awareness of time behind, and that seems to be the root of my anxiety. That’s definitely true when I practice on the road, when I am the most governed by external schedules. Now that I’m home I’m starting to wonder if I’m always waiting for something. Perhaps the Ashtanga system appeals to me because it gets me to wait longer and longer as I add postures, but I’m not entirely sure that indulging that illiterate child’s need for a time machine is the right approach. Or maybe I need to start practicing in a Delorean. Please help!

Ashtanga Yoga Time Machine

An illiterate child lurks inside me. She needs the future right now, which is why I invented a time machine. As a grown person, friends often compare me to Richard Simmons. Imagine, then, a proto-person, a five-year-old Dubious Drishti: my brain was like a snow globe riding a tilt-a-whirl. Time staggered, with me goading it forward, always waiting for something that I was ridiculously, pants-crappingly excited about. We were going to Santiago’s, where they had RED LIGHTS. Also CHIPS! But when, when would we go? According to my mother, exciting things happened at two times: in half an hour, which meant sometime that day; or someday, which meant never. When I figured out that Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood lasted half an hour, my new strategy for waiting became remembering a recent episode in painstaking detail, registering every tilt of Daniel’s head, hearing Lady Elaine’s every sigh, until the time came. My clock- and book-reading roughly coincided, so this method was quickly replaced by Encyclopedia Brown and the stack of Good Housekeepings and Reader’s Digests that my grandma saved for me. Suddenly I had a time machine.

Now Ashtanga yoga is my time machine. When my flight is delayed, practicing makes the space between my arrival at the airport and boarding vanishingly small. When I’m on vacation with my best friends and they have the nerve to sleep past 7am, I practice and suddenly we’re all up and ready to hit the streets, one of us significantly sorer (but less hungover) than the others. It’s not entirely safe. I’ve had other time machines—Tetris, Sweet Valley High, and pot come to mind, but I’m sure I could think of many more if I tried. They all allowed me to control how I felt for a period of time while waiting for this other thing I was excited about, like getting off a bus, or going to a party. In this way asana can sometimes be the opposite of mindfulness—in going into my body and my breath I am leaving my awareness of time behind, and that seems to be the root of my anxiety. That’s definitely true when I practice on the road, when I am the most governed by external schedules. Now that I’m home I’m starting to wonder if I’m always waiting for something. Perhaps the Ashtanga system appeals to me because it gets me to wait longer and longer as I add postures, but I’m not entirely sure that indulging that illiterate child’s need for a time machine is the right approach. Or maybe I need to start practicing in a Delorean. Please help!

1:02pm  |   URL: http://tmblr.co/Z0JJlp1KMKyKG
  
Filed under: ashtanga yoga yoga humor 
June 24, 2014
Yoga, Weight Loss & Representation: The Real Story

I honestly never thought about the implications of plus-size yoga classes and now I can’t believe I was so ignorant. I would love this even if it didn’t mention my post on yoga and weight loss. Yoga is for everyone.

typeayogini:

 Although obesity in the United States is a serious issue, the way we relate to our bodies and the inconsequential idea of that number is absurd. We are far more content to cut off our own arms to lose 20 pounds than examine the deeper social, emotional, and physiological issues at work. In this way, yoga can provide profound value to those wanting to lose weight, but only if they realize they are allowed to participate in our community.

June 22, 2014
"Sometimes the breath of fire doesn’t come from the lungs": Ask Dubious Drishti

Dear Ms Drishti,

I just started practicing Mysore-style Ashtanga yoga and I really love it! My only problem is that I feel like the adjustments are a little too aggressive. I’m struggling to make the binds in the Marichyasanas (well, at least C and D). Unless I’m really crafty and time it for someone else’s dropbacks, my teacher twists me so hard during C that I can’t help it. I fart. Loud. Blazing Saddles-loud. How do I talk to my teacher about this? The first time it happened I apologized and he just brushed it off. Now it’s happened so many times, I’m almost worried that he’s doing it on purpose. I dread Marichyasana C. How can I get him to stop without humiliating us both?

Mal Odorous

Dear Mal,

Not to toot my own horn, but if farting in yoga were jazz, I’d be Louis Armstrong. When I started practicing, I was so gaseous (think cloud nebula) that in every adjustment a loud sigh rose from the vicinity of my root chakra. That was before my poor digestive system was warped and smoothed by the Hulk-hands of Ashtanga.  “Tapas” took on a whole new meaning—the breath of fire does not always start in the lungs. To their credit, my teachers never flinched or seemed surprised. True, some of them have since admitted to having no sense of smell, but I think the primary reason they can be so mellow with a face full of methane is that they just don’t care. They don’t. When your teacher brushed off your apology, it wasn’t to save your feelings, it was utterly sincere. In an informal poll of yoga teachers I know, one of them even used the word “honored” to describe her response to a client’s sudden release, because it meant they were “really giving themselves to the twist.” Bombs away, Mal!

However, if you and your teacher are not the only ones in the studio, you might alter that strategy. To remain fearless in the face of Marichyasana C (and Navasana and Garba Pindasana and Pasasana), remember, there’s a reason that the traditional Ashtangis practice first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. Try not to eat anything for at least three hours before you practice, because even if your teacher doesn’t care, your fellow yogis may not want to be “honored.”

Namaste,

D.D.

June 21, 2014
Sometimes my students forget how much I get out of adjusting them.

Sometimes my students forget how much I get out of adjusting them.

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