Get ready, Washington, we are about to dive deep into yoga’s history over the ages.
YOGA: THE ART OF TRANSFORMATION | Freer and Sackler Galleries
Through masterpieces of Indian sculpture and painting, Yoga: The Art of Transformation explores yoga’s goals; its Hindu as well as Buddhist, Jain, and Sufi manifestations; its means of transforming body and consciousness; and its profound philosophical foundations. The first exhibition to present this leitmotif of Indian visual culture, it also examines the roles that yogis and yoginis played in Indian society over two thousand years.
The DCist also has more details on the exhibit, including crowdfunding, which will start on May 29. Under the auspicies of the Smithsonian Institute, Yoga: The Art of Transformation will be opened from October 19 to January 2014.
Ashtanga practitioners have more options than you might think:
Washington Post Express Never Out Of Practice: Mysore yoga classes help students advance at just the right pace - ”First-timers get personal training in a few postures, starting with five rounds of sun salutations, and that may be all they do. As they return to class and master that section, the instructor adds on. Advanced students can complete the beginning of the series, but at some point, even people who can hook their legs around their necks need an assist, a modification or a pep talk.”
A few months ago, I pointed to another article about Ashtanga and Mysore practice in the DC area.
Thanks to Donavan Wilson for tipping me off about this article since I am “out of pocket” (meaning “away,” it’s journalism jargon, if I remember correctly.)
It’s here again! Thirty seven DC yoga studios are joining forces to encourage people to take to the mat.
DC Yoga Week 2013 – dc community yoga
The DC Community of Yoga (DCCY) is hosting the 8th Annual DC Yoga Week and Yoga on the Mall Monday, April 29 thru Sunday, May 5. This means participating studios will be offering FREE and $5 classes daily – all week long!
If you’ve been looking for an opportunity to explore other yoga studios and styles, now’s your chance because of free or low-cost classes. The weather should be good for Sunday when you can catch Yoga on the Mall.
This week, I am at an undisclosed location on the Delmarva peninsula, with wife, yoga mat, laptop, notebooks, and reading matter, and will be unable to take advantage of discounted rates and open doors. I may get to DC in time for the weekend activities.
In a real media milestone in Washington, DC, yoga has made it onto the pages of one of the mainstays of congressional politics, Roll Call, (I can’t say that this is the first time that Roll Call has done a yoga story; see the listing below):
Roll Call Around the Hill: The Yoga of Rules: Mysore Yoga Expands in D.C. ”Mysore yoga is an individual practice within a group setting. Students do a set of poses in a prescribed order with a specified stopping point, as determined by the instructor. The poses, called ‘asanas,’ are divided into six series; most students stay within the first two series, called primary and intermediate. Students new to Mysore (even those with an established yoga practice) are given a short set of poses to do before they are sent home with instructions to come back the next day. And the following day. And the day after that.”
This was a feature-length article requiring three web pages. It did not cover Ashtanga yoga just as the latest fad on the Hill (Mysore practice is anything but faddish, as my friend Donavan Wilson can testify to.). It went to the trouble of explaining why Mysore practice is different from the garden-variety vinyasa or hatha class. The story mentioned five studios offering the Mysore practice so it’s not just a favor for a friend. I did not even know there were six places offering Mysore. Rebecca Gale, the reporter, quotes leading Ashtanga teachers in DC (Peg Mulqueen, Keith Moore, Jen Rene, Tova Steiner and David Ingalls).
Of course, when I did a search for “yoga” in the Roll Call archive, I found 61 articles, some of which probably only use the term in passing or as a metaphor. But I did find some substantial stories that showed that Roll Call has not ignored the topic. Just another sign that yoga is seaping into the US mainstream culture. I should also clarify that the online version of a publication may different substantially from the print edition:
I should also note the Washington yoga did make a major splash with the Obama II Inauguration, as sampled by Yoga Dork and probably a lot of other places.
I saw this story by chance. It shook me out of my lunch time langor and made me blog about it. When the stars align, I have to celebrate it.
A new yoga studio has started up in Georgetown.
Appropriately, it’s called Georgetown Yoga. They are offering about 20 classes a week, between two and four a day, that blend vinyasa, Ashtanga and Iyengar styles into a flow that should suit most downtown yogis wo like to work up a sweat. There is no information on the ownership or the roster of teachers on the site, but that may come later.
Since I am making up for a prolonged silence and not blogging, there is another DC event that should be mentioned:
BuddhaFest – Films Talks Meditation Music
Brought to you by the Insight Meditation Community of Washington (IMCW) and Tricycle magazine.
Oh, wait. I am too late to make much of a difference. Practically all the all day passes have sold out. You may be able to get individual tickets for films or dharma talks. On Sunday night, Krishna Das will be chanting a tribute to Ram Das, but you’d want to tickets in advance.
I am already late off the gun.
June 10-17 is the fifth annual offering of the Virginia Yoga Week 2012 and there are 12 yoga centers supporting the effort. Check out the web site for additional details on activities, discounted classes and workshops. It’s a great opportunity to sample yoga styles and teachers.
More information is available at the Washington Post.
I’ve been so absorbed in my day-time-turned-evening job over the past few weeks that I did not have a chance to point to an article that appeared May 8:
The struggles of D.C. area yoga studios – The Washington Post
Yogis don’t like to talk about competition, and most owners will deny there’s any tension among local studios. But Schumacher acknowledges that the businesses are vying for students’ attention.
A few weeks ago, I noted the closing of Ashtanga Yoga Center at the end of this month. Yoga has to be commercially viable in order to have an impact on mainstream culture in the United States. The market is the medium for sustainability. The Post scratches the surface about the costs of operating a yoga studio, and “amenities” like cookies are the least of owners’ concerns. To survive, owners need to have a creative, flexible business mind without losing touch with the spirit of yoga. That’s a difficult balancing act. That can include finindg new ways of offering yoga, like combining spinning and yoga, although technically it’s a fitness center offering the class.
Closer to home, my home studio, Thrive Yoga, offers classes for climbers at Earth Treks. But the new twist at Thrive has been the incorporation of Aerial Yoga with Silk Hammocks - practitioners are suspended from cords hanging from the ceiling and play a different kind of leverage game with gravity. The classes seem to be booked up well in advance. I have not had a chance to try it because I’ve been away from the studio for the last two months.
Oh yeah, May 13-20 is DC Yoga Week, as the Post announces, but you can actually read the full details on the DC Yoga Community site, and the traditional highlight of the celebration, Yoga on the Mall, will take place on Saturday, May 19, weather permitting.
My friend and dedicated Ashtangi Donavan Wilson sent me a message today:
David Ingalls is shutting down AYC (Ashtanga Yoga Center, for those not in the know). The doors close on May 31. The studio space near American University is too expensive. Keith Moore (long-time AYC teacher) found another location. The new location is unofficially in the MacArthur Boulevard area (DC). The tentative new name is the Ashtanga Yoga Studio. Moore has not signed a lease. However, the odds pretty good to solidify this new location. All of this (new space and location) is up in the air. AYC closing is not.
What a bummer! And to think, I have not had a chance to take a class there — though I do have until the end of May. What did in AYC was what made it a convenient place to practice yoga — it was right next to the American University/Tenlyetown Metro station, right across from WholeFood. You could fit in a Mysore class before picking up a bagel and heading to work. But economically, the rent got too high at that prime location. Let’s hope that all the instructors and students find an appropriate space for their practice.
I should also underscore that the AYC website distinguished itself for exquisite photography of yogis and yoginis absorbed in their practice. As someone who has dabbled in that dark art, I know how difficult it is to capture the instance, but when you do, it’s magic.
Postscript: I should also note that DC is not the only place where yoga studios can become unviable commercially: In New York City, Om Yoga will shut down at the end of June because the lease was not renewed. Om Yoga was founded and run by Cyndi Lee, a high-profile yoga instructor and pioneer in fusing yoga with Buddhism. The owner of the building did not want a ygoa studio on the premises.
I was approached by the Smith Center for Healing and the Arts to share with my readers an invitation to attend their open house on September 24. I am not going to make it that day because I have a prior commitment, but I encourage any one willing to test their hearts in the face of compassion to stop by the Smith Center at 1632 U Street, NW, Washington, DC 20009 (3 blocks from the U Street Metro):
From 11 am to 4 pm on Saturday, September 24, Smith Center for Healing and the Arts will open the doors of our newly expanded and renovated U Street community center for an open house event – giving the community the opportunity to tour the new state-of-the-art teaching kitchen, program space, and tranquil rooftop terrace, and expanded Joan Hisaoka Art Gallery. Attendees will also be invited to take part in sample workshops and classes, view an art exhibit, and enjoy music and entertainment, refreshments, cooking demonstrations, and giveaways throughout the day.
The opening event will highlight Smith Center’s legacy of offering time-tested integrative care programs and resources for people with cancer, and introduce a variety of exciting new health and wellness programs and classes for the local community at large. Attendees will get a sneak peak into some of our newest programs, including nutrition and cooking classes, creativity workshops, health and wholeness lectures, yoga and stress reduction classes, and more.
I lost my brother to lung cancer three years ago and my mother to the sequela of breast cancer in April so I need no prodding to back the Center’s work of cancer support, creativity and community building.