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 spent part of my lunch breaking listening to an audio interview with Cyndi Lee while I was filling out checks to pay the monthly bills. I really enjoyed the conversation. Cyndi brings a Buddhist vibe to yoga so she emphasizes meditation and life style. She’s involved in a lot of interesting projects in New York and around the world.
Lara Cestone, the founding spirit behind Yoga Peeps, really does a fantastic job bringing together lengthy (30-60 minutes, I think) interviews with yoga instructors around the United States and Canada. She has 19 episodes now, available as podcasts or mp3 files, with people like Ana Forest, Shiva Rea, and Kelly McGonigal, as well as lesser known instructors. Lara does this out of the goodness of her heart because there are no ads on the site and there does not seem to be a business model behind it.
Alan Little asks me for my secret sauce for loosening up my shoulders: see his comments. He even gives his own his own example. My routines are not rocket science, much more remedial. I am still waking up to my body, probably for the first time in my life, after decades of misuse.
The premise that got me started is that I don’t do anything fancy — just do it everyday, along with my meditation and pranayama practice. These are routines that are equivalent to office yoga — stuff that you can do to relieve tension from sitting at a desk all day.
- The upper torso part of Cow Face pose or Gomukhasana — I have to use a strap to reach between my hands.
- I do a simple pectoral stretch, usually pressing my arm against the wall, and the reverse that by pulling an arm across my chest.
- The clasped hands behind the back of prasarita padottanasana (wide-legged standing forward bend). I do this several times a day, loosening my shoulders and forcing my hands down as far as they will go and then lifting my arms out away from my body. This has done wonders for my mobility of my shoulder blades.
I’ve found two good books with shoulder routines: Erich Schiffmann also has eight shoulder stretches, some with a strap, in his book Yoga: The Spirit And Practice Of Moving Into Stillness. I can do only five of them. Miriam Austin in Cool Yoga Tricks has a whole section on loosening up the shoulders.
I still can’t do the top half of Garudasana or Eagle pose. My arms and hands simply will not intertwine.
Postscript: here are some other ideas for office yoga: the University of Alberta has some detailed instruction with drawings in Word format. Easy Desktop Yoga has a free video download. Cyndi Lee gives advice in Yoga Journal. And then you have My Daily Yoga, which has some fun graphics.