Category Archives: DC yoga

The yoga scene in the Washington, DC metropolitan area

Yoga and Visual Culture: An Interdisciplinary Symposium

Yoga and Visual Culture: An Interdisciplinary Symposium is a central event of the exhibit of yoga-related art at the Freer-Sackler Gallery.  It will take place November 21-23 in the Meyer Auditorium at the Gallery. You must register beforehand.

On Thursday evening , the keynote lecture by Professor B.N. Goswamy is titled “Inward Journeys; Yoga and Pilgrimage.” He will be introduced by Professor Vidya Dehejia. Continue reading Yoga and Visual Culture: An Interdisciplinary Symposium

Boffo review from WashPost on yoga art exhibit

Photo: entrance of museum with large banners
Freer-Sackler Gallery organized the first major exhibit of yoga-inspired art.

We can all breathe easier now. The media gorilla in DC town has issued a first opinion (Not just an announcement of the opening or the social buzz around it). The Washington Post critic Michael Sullivan issued his assessment of the Smithsonian’s exhibit on yoga art at the Freer-Sackler Gallery on the Mall:

‘Yoga: The Art of Transformation’ art review – The Washington Post
Whether the goal is awakening, enlightenment, power or merely good health, people practice yoga today for many different reasons. Yet few understand its tangled Indian roots. Originating more than 2,000 years ago as an offshoot of Hinduism by a group of ascetics who renounced society in order to end suffering, yoga gradually cross-pollinated with Buddhism, Sufi Islam and Jainism before flowering into what we know it as today.

Among its 133 artifacts (including sculpture, paintings, manuscripts, photographs, books, film clips and other materials), the exhibition contains many depictions of the practice that contradict the contemporary stereotype of yoga. Just saying the word now evokes a cliched image of a blissed-out hipster doing a downward dog on an expensive yoga mat.

All I need to do now is actually hop on the Metro to go downtown to see the exhibit. I’ve been consumed by resurrecting and updating another website and it has stolen all my time. I must make time for this, and not be like thousands of other Washingtonians who never take advantage of all the marvelous exhibits that go through DC museums and galleries, not to mention the permanent exhibits.

Just in time! Yoga art exhibit to open tomorrow

Photo: image of a seated Buddha or yogi
From the exhibit

The Smithsonian’s exhibit of yoga-inspired art  is now going to open as scheduled because Washington’s political class decided that it had done enough harm and found a way to end the government shutdown. My yoga teacher training classmates at Thrive Yoga are planning to visit as a group next weekend.

Washington Post Alec Baldwin and his wife, Hilaria, bring glitz to D.C. yoga gala
“And really, what could be a better way to end this stressful week in Washington than an evening celebrating the art of staying calm? The black-tie, $1,000-a ticket evening (relocated from the gallery to the Mellon because of the shutdown) celebrated the debut of the Sackler Gallery’s “Yoga: The Art of Transformation” exhibit, which opens Saturday. Because there was no time to move the gala back to the museum after the government reopened, photos of sculptures and paintings from the exhibit were shown on video screens on the wall of the dimly lighted room, which piped in soothing, dreamy music throughout the night.”

Of course, the social events revolving around the exhibit give rise to a lot of frivolous reporting about the high-profile sponsors, like Alex Baldwin and his yoga teacher wife, and the usual cliches about yoga. But that’s the price to be paid for making it to the big time.  At least, Baldwin makes a show of not taking himself too seriously. The exhibit website lists dozens of events so multiple visits may be necessary to take in all the facets of the exhibit.

Offering yoga options for differing body sizes

People come to yoga class with all kinds of bodies and limitations, some obvious and others which the body owner is not aware of.

The Washington PostYoga for larger bodies:
“But Carlin still adored yoga, and in 2010, she went ahead with her plan to take teacher training, despite being the only “larger person” in the program. Beyond lessons on prenatal yoga that required her fellow trainees to strap big pillows to their bellies, most had no firsthand experience working with different bodies.”

Annie Carlin, the yoga instructor in question, teaches used to teach in DC, but has now moved back to Brooklyn. The yoga scene can seem to be commandeered by the slender and flexible, but others need it to, as this article shows. More teachers need to be aware of the diverse factors that affect how a person approaches yoga. Not all studios can offer classes exclusively for “larger bodies,” but they can offer modifications of poses. Annie has a website, Supportive Yoga, to provide the details missing from the news article and offer contact information and class scheduling.

The Washington Examiner offers another take: Yoga for all body types and sizes, including a video (2 minutes). Also see Curvy Yoga.

Time running out on fund raising for yoga exhibit

The crowd funding initiative for the Smithsonian exhibit of yoga-inspired art may be coming up short:

Freer and Sackler Galleries: Yoga: The Art of Transformation
This groundbreaking exhibition requires special support, and the Smithsonian needs you! Through “Together We’re One,” our crowdfunding campaign for Yoga: The Art of Transformation, we’re hoping to raise $125,000 to help bring yoga’s incredible past to light. All donations will be used to ship more than 130 artworks from around the world to Washington, DC; offer yoga classes in the galleries; host concerts, a symposium, and a family arts festival; and publish a full-color catalogue.

As of today, $59,000 have been raised and there are only five more days to get cash. It’s gutsy to pass the hat so that a government-sponsored event can take place, but in this case, the cause is worthy and a demonstration of how yoga is affecting mainstream American culture. Sequestration has altered budgets at all levels of the Federal government.

Local school to give an advanced degree in yoga therapy

We have a new wrinkle in yoga training in the DC area.

Maryland University of Integrative Health (MUIH, formerly the Tai Sophia Institute in Laurel, MD) will offer a Master of Science in Yoga Therapy, starting in September. It calls for 39 credits. Classes will take place on weekends and stretch over two years, three terms per year. To qualify for admission, you must have a bachelor’s degree, a 200-hour yoga teacher certificate, and a year’s teaching experience. The degree will cost $25,000 (about what I paid for my MS in Information Technology). That price makes a 200-hour or 500-hour teaching certification seem like a bargain.

Doug Keller, a well-known and respected yoga teacher, is the advisory director and  Mary Partlow Lauttamus is Program Director. The website does not mention other teachers to be involved in the program.

The Tai Sophia Institute used to be focused on Chinese acupuncture and herbal medicine, health and wellness promotion since 1974, and began offering a masters of acupuncture in 1985. It changed its name in March. I noticed the news when I spotted an ad in Yoga Journal.

I think it’s going to be a hard sell because MUIH has not previously worked with yoga, so why should you pick that school. It does have the pedagogical and administrative infrastructure to flesh out a graduate program. Elsewhere, the Loyola Marymount University at its Los Angeles Extension has a yoga studies program and offers a Master of Arts in Yoga Studies. It has a Graduate Program on Yoga Studies (36 credits). The Yoga Therapy Rx program, led by Larry Payne, has a faculty of 25 teachers. Many of its course offerings are similar to standard teacher training programs. LMU is a Catholic university in the Jesuit tradition.

Major exhibit of yoga-related art to come to the Mall

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.

The appeal of an Ashtanga practice

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.)

DC Yoga Week – starting today!

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.

Bad Timing

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.