Tag Archives: Alan Finger

Yoga master who pioneered the modern yoga studio system in Southern California and New York City. He had access to leading Indian intellectuals who allow him to tap into yoga legacy.

First impressions of the Gaiam Yoga Club

Back in late June, I mentioned that I had been offered a chance to join Gaia Yoga. After a slow start due to a hectic schedule, I have started to follow the program on a daily basis and have now finished up my third week. Rodney Yee and Colleen Saidman are the teachers in this intensive yoga immersion program. The core is in three formats:

  • Videos of demos: these are Flash videos with very high production values, both in terms of visuals and audio. I’ve seen a good number of yoga DVDs. These are up there with the best ones for beginners. Each week’s material is divided up into 10-12 segments that can be viewed independently. Yee and Seidman take turns demoing the poses and vinyasas. They provide a huge volume of insight and tips into the poses. It reminded me of all the good hands-on workshops that I’ve taken in the past two years (Beryl Bender Berch, Jordan Bloom, Alan Finger, Desiréee Rumbaugh) because all the good teachers pound away at reinforcing the fundamentals and the details of the poses, even with experienced practitioners. You can come back to these videos repeatedly to review the instructions, see the adjustments that Yee and Seidman make to each other, and catch something new that you had missed the first or second time around.
  • Audio podcasts: you can listen to these daily practices, either in your browser, in an audio application or downloaded and save as a podcast to be played in your MP3 player. These sessions, narrated by Yee or Seidman, are 20-35 minutes long and follow up on the points made in the video sessions. The audio is useful because it makes me focus on my body, rather than peeking up at a computer monitor or TV screen.
  • Visual sequences of each daily practice: these are photos of Yee and Seidman in the poses of the sequences, which gives visual queues to those who may not know the Sanskrit names of all the poses yet or may be unsure about all the components of the pose.

What sets this system apart from DVDs, podcats, or books is that it’s linked to a time schedule. The videos are the foundations for the weekly focus (standing poses, backbends, twists, etc.). Then the audio recordings become available at 24 hour intervals. Four podcasts are for daily practices, and then a fifth one has just pranayama and meditation. Finally, the seventh day is a rest day. It’s not possible to rush through the work program because you have to wait to become eligible, but you can always go back to review. This is necessary because the program imparts a lot of information that has to be linked to the mind and the body, and it can’t be done if the yogi is skipping ahead.

There are other features to the program, like community forums, blogs, and personal pages, that I will cover in future entries.

As I’ve mentioned before, a rep from Gaiam Yoga Club invited me to test their program free of charge for 13 weeks or about three months. The way I’m going, I won’t finish the whole “12-week” program because I have skipped a week or a night of checking into the web portal to take the next lesson so I’ve fallen behind. The Gaiam Yoga Club cost about $65 a quarter (MLS: this online service has undergone a lot of changes since I originally used it. It is not clear that the original Yee-Saldman videos are still available, but Gaia has expanded its cast of teachers and styles).


Ol’ School comes to Thrive Yoga

Photo: Alan Finger gives a lecture on ISHTA Yoga
Alan Finger explains key concepts in ISHTA Yoga

Susan Bowen has announced the start-up of teacher training at Thrive Yoga. ISHTA Yoga founder and pioneer, Alan Finger, will be leading the four-month process. Alan knows a lot because he was born into a yoga-inspired family, knew original thinkers and grappled with translating these concepts into the U.S. culture as a business and as a philosophy. He co-founded yoga studios, like the Yoga Works studio in LA and the Yoga Zone studios in NYC, which later became the Be Studios.

The training will start in late March, mostly on weekends, and last until June. At 2:00 on January 20 at Thrive Yoga, Alan and Susan will present an overview of the program. Alan is actually based on New York City so he will be commuting a lot next year. I might add that you can take the course without wanting to become a teacher; it’s an intensive gateway into a deeper understanding of yoga.

ISHTA is an acronym for the Integrated Science of Hatha, Tantra and Ayurveda, and also a Sanskrit word meaning that which resonates with an individual’s spirit, according to Alan’s website. With Katrina Repka, he wrote Chakra Yoga: Balancing Energy for Physical, Spiritual, and Mental Well-being (Shambhala, 2005), which synthesizes his long evolution as a practitioner, teacher and thinker. There are also a bunch of Yoga Zone videos available that feature Alan.