Category Archives: update

News about this site, my life and other non-yoga matters

Neglect and broken links

I have not been monitoring this website and the number of bad links has bloomed to 45.  So far tonight, I’ve corrected 10, but I can see that I really need to rewrite some content because some sites have disappeared from the Web, others have undergone technical changes (conversions to WordPress, mainly) and still others require greater research and explanation.

Taking a step back from blogging and yoga

It’s been a while. I have not posted anything here for three months, the longest period I have ever gone without blogging since 2000 (before this blog started in 2004, I had another blog at Peruvian Graffiti). Moreover, I have not written anything substantive since last year, just a couple of quick shots from the hip and photos.

Why? The yoga scene has changed

When I took up yoga, pranayama and meditation, there was only archipelagos of content online across the Internet. I had my list of a handful of blogs, instructional sites, and, of course, Yoga Journal. Now there are abundant resources  available on the Internet, from streaming classes to forums, so many that I have given up trying to track them. Any yoga instructor worth their salt has a branded blog, with an apparel line, DVDs and books. More importantly, regional portals are providing local coverage of the yoga community, and diverse special interest groups (Yoga Service Council and International Association of Yoga Therapists, to name just two) are coalescing around yoga issues.

Even in the early 2000s, the mainstream media rarely covered yoga and related stories so I found it helpful to draw attention to major news stories and commentary that showed the spread of yoga in American culture.  I get Google alerts about yoga news stories everyday, and coverage ranges from quotidian (new studio opening on Main Street, park classes on Sunday) to PR (the fascination with yoga pants) to major (yoga macho Bikram Choudhury loses his copyright trial and the running suit about yoga in California public schools).  We even read about how the Indian government and Hindu culture is reacting to the assimilation of yoga within American society.  We even see yoga postures showing up in commercials and meditation getting billed as the latest productivity enhancement.

Yoga is moving beyond novelty and  trendiness. Increasingly voices are coming forward to ask questions about broader issues, to interpret major challenges to how yoga is practiced in America (insert links here  when I have time to dig them up).

Given these shifts over the past decade, I find it hard to register in my two cents in the blogosphere.

Why? I’ve changed

Last Friday, I took my first restorative class in three months. I’ve not taken a hatha class this year. That does not mean that I don’t practice yoga. I do everyday. I’ve intentionally down-throttled my practice from “trying-too-hard” to just trying to master one pose, savasana.

When I realized that I did not want to keep up a running commentary of yoga events in the news and elsewhere or try “big think” on yoga in America, I thought I could stay focused on my own practice, an aging, white male in search of the double whammy of physical exercise and mindfulness, with healing his subtle wounds as a bonus. But if my own practice is lying motionless on the floor, there’s not much to write home about. Of course, there’s a lot more going on under the skin, but that comes with its own risks.

I’ve also become more agnostic about yoga since about four years ago and even more so since I finished my yoga teacher training two years ago. Patanjali does not make easy sense for me; releasing the tension in my myofascial system does.

In a different vein, my wife dislikes that I reveal my inner life on the Web. I’ve become more aware of how the Internet gives unfiltered access to anyone who wants to search for dirt. I think twice before revealing my private thoughts. I’ve already written enough about my physical and mental health for a prospective employer to hesitate before hiring me. With a name like mine, though, I have a degree of deniability or security in numbers. But just knowing my LinkedIn or Facebook page would be enough to dig up my personal history or commentary about my former bosses or whatever.

Even making quick posts to Twitter or Facebook or Instagram makes me feel scattered all over the Internet.

So my original motives for blogging about yoga have faded, leaving me with the need to find another reason for writing. It’s going to require me to write my way forward.

A couple of hours at NYC art galleries

I am just now getting around to processing all the photos I took on a trip to New York City last month. After riding a cruise around Manhattan, we walked over to the art district and were bowled over by the number of art galleries crammed into a block. It was late afternoon on Saturday so we did not see but a sampling of the exhibits available. Sorry, for the time being, I don’t have the names of the galleries or the artists. We barely had time to take a few pictures.

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The matriarch of the Chavez clan has left us

Photo: bundled-up woman against snowy backdrop
Teresa’s mother, Maria Luisa, during a snowy visit in 2008

Yesterday, Teresa and I received the painful news that her mother, Maria Luisa Carrasco de Chavez Delgado, had passed away after a long, gradual decline in her health in Peru. Teresa had been down to Lima to see her mother three weeks ago. Tomorrow, Teresa will fly down to Lima again, but this time to join her three sisters in laying her mother to rest.

As the matriarch of a clan  of sisters, Luisa (or Celeste to her intimates) welcomed me into her home 43 years ago when I first fell in love with her daughter. For more than 15 years, she lived right next door to us in Miraflores,  She is intertwined with my memories of Peru. When we moved back to the States in 1996, she came up for Christmas almost every year to visit with us and her other daughters, grandchildren and great grandchildren.

A critic’s eye

Photo: a bearded man and mature woman critique a painting
While we were out in San Francisco, Matt showed us his art studio at the University of California, Berkeley. Teresa examines his latest work.

My son, who now goes by the name of Matt Smith Chavez,  is on his home stretch for a Master of Art Practice at Berkeley. He’s teaching an undergraduate course this semester, and will do another one in the summer. Graduation is only months away. Then, he’ll have to give up his funky, Bay-front art studio and figure out what he wants to do with the rest of his life. Meanwhile, he just has to create.

This is another brief entry to show that I am still alive, but unable to carry coherent thought for more than a paragraph.

Sunset on Half Moon Bay

Photo: sunset on the Pacific, near SF
The magical moment on the Pacific Ocean: surfers on the lazy waves, the sun kisses the sea and the light turns golden.

I’m just beginning to process my photos from my November trip to San Francisco to visit with my son, Matt. On Thanksgiving Day, after visiting the SF wharves and the Golden Gate Bridge, we headed down Interstate 280 and then cut over to Half Moon Bay, arriving just in time to catch the evening light show.  It was worth the trip.

Where I’ve been spending my time

Photo: a work station in an office cubicle
It’s not the same as a yoga mat.

It’s not as welcoming as a yoga mat, but it’s where I spend most of my waking hours, learning the ropes at LCG Inc., building working relationships with my peers and plying my trade as a writer-editor-researcher. The company is about a tenth of the size of my previous employer, but I probably do 10 times more work. I used to say that I worked in the Prop Shop; now I am the Prop Shop. Even though we have not presented a proposal since I’ve been here (mid-November), mainly preliminary responses, I always got a clogged to-do list and a stack of tasks. There’s all kinds of writing and thinking that needs to go into preparing to bid for a Federal contract.

LCG is a different kind of corporate animal. It’s small business working in the Federal health IT sector and grants management. It’s a challenge to understanding the details of each field. We’re working with 17 agencies on the IT side and even more on the grants  management side. I have to create a kind of scorecard to keep track of all the clients, acronyms and players. It’s also in Federal government so there’s all  kinds of changing taking place in the way that information technology is handled.

Just as with DMI, the company gives me a laptop that I can take home with me, usually on weekends. Most work days, I don’t have time to check my personal mail, Twitter or Facebook accounts during business hours. I don’t even think about it. It’s a heightened focus that can stretch over several days. I sometimes have to force myself to pack up my bags and leave the office.

Yoga slows down

For the past four-five months, I backed off my practice and focused on restorative or yin yoga classes. Plus, the holidays were particularly disruptive of my normal routines, getting to the gym and class. I’ve had to take time off work to deal with dental surgery and that time has to be made up, assignments delivered on schedule, and lessons learned. Thrive Yoga is on my way home, not 10 minutes from the office, but I still find myself driving past it because my discipline has been sapped by my workload.  But that’s precisely when I should be going to class.

I wrote this entry last night, but my blog security system locked me out after midnight so I could not post it until now.

 

Old job, new job

Photo: a man seated with laptop in an empty meeting room
Writer at work. Buenos Aires, Argentina, 2012

Last Monday morning, DMI Human Resources told that “due to changing business conditions and requirements” the company was terminating my job. Within 90 minutes, I was driving out the basement parking garage with my box of personal belongings in the trunk. I was not the only one.

Please note that I am not disparaging DMI for making business decisions that had a lot  more at stake than my little job.  As an upstart company that is not risk-adverse, DMI took a gamble hiring me a year ago. I had no experience writing Federal IT proposals. I underwent a “crash course with training wheels.” At the end of my tenure, I know that I bring value and polish to any proposal. I also “grok” how to leverage my other talents, knowledge and experience for maximum impact. I am grateful for the opportunity and privileges that come with a company that wants to create a productive work environment. I was told that my termination was “business, not performance-related” (the corporate equivalent of The Godfather adage). In a business heavy in human capital, cutting overhead is really about terminating people.

Today, I join LCG, a technology provider for health IT, scientific research and grants management in the public sector, in Rockville. I believe that LCG (re-branding for Laurel Consulting Group) did not make a high-odds bet with my hiring. For over a month, they had been looking for a proposal writer who could actively engage stakeholders and boil down the inputs into a polished product. Once I interviewed last Wednesday, they acted promptly to acquire a resource that fits their corporate needs.

I start work on November 17.

The Dalai Lama and lululemon strike a deal

Photo: Dalai Lama and lululemon althelica CEO wave hands at camera
The Dalai Lama and lululemon althelica CEO are all smiles – Courtesy: lululemon atheletics

We have another kerfuffle about the intersection between “yoga business” and high-minded, spiritual pursuits, in this case the yoga gear maker lululemon athletica (branding wants lower case) and the Dalai Lama’s Center for Peace + Education agreeing on three years of funding for the Center’s activities:

The Globe and MailLulu-Lama? Partnership between yoga wear maker, Dalai Lama sparks outcry
They cited the disconnect between a luxury retailer that sells pricey fashions such as $100 yoga pants and the Dalai Lama who preaches a modest life and advocates for the poor. Others said they were offended that “politics” play a part in Lululemon’s marketing, and several said they would stop shopping at the chain.

The original announcement from lululeon, plus the Dalai Lama Center and its press release.  A take on the reaction of the “yoga scene” is in YogaDork. Both lululemon and the Center for Peace + Education are based in Vancouver.

Here are a few of my own knee-jerk  questions:

  1. Given that many yoga hardliners distrust lululemon, is this move nothing more than PR gesture to acquire a spiritual smokescreen for its corporate greed?
  2. Given the poor rep that lululemon has acquired over the past few years, what does the Dalai Lama get out of  this arrangement? Just money?
  3. Should we ask the Dalai Lama to show us his entire list of donors to find more contradictions?
  4. For that matter, who else is lululemon backing financially? After all, it’s tax deductible.
  5. Why do a sizeable part of the reaction see the move as mixing business with political causes? Oh yeah, the Dalai Lama was the head of the Tibetan government in exile before stepping aside recently.
  6. Does this alliance mean that lululemon will change its marketing target to become more encompassing of lower-income yogis and yoginis? Is lululemon going to open more outlets to avoid the criticism that they sell $100 yoga pants? Why do we have to fly to Orlando or upstate New York (Woodbury)?