This is not the first time that I’ve heard of theft in DC-area yoga studios, but Amy Dara gives a first-hand account of confronting a team of purse thieves while teaching a class:
Maybe you’ve heard the chatter in the Washington, D.C. yoga community: there are two young women stealing wallets from students’ bags during yoga classes at D.C. Metro Area studios. They’ve struck in Tenleytown, Bethesda, and Kensington. They entered the studio while I was teaching.
When students are on the mat, they are especially vulnerable because their focus is on their practice, not their personal belongings that may be stashed outside the room, in the hallway, in shelves or the dressing room. Studio operators may not turn up their alertness until the first incident happens; they trust their clients, too. Because most studios have limited space, it’s not always feasible to allow non-yoga items to clutter up the floor.
When I used to go to yoga in downtown DC after work, I arrived with my work paraphernalia, including a laptop. Now, I’ve gotten into the habit of leaving my wallet, smartphone and non-essential items in my car when I go into the yoga studio, not because of fear of theft, but a desire to lighten my load physically and mentally when prepping for class. Of course, that’s not possible for people who don’t drive to class.
I’ve been meaning to write an entry about Gita’s Dream, a Kirtan group led by Gita Krista Zember and her husband, Christopher. It runs out here yoga studio, BE Yoga, in Sterling, Virginia (think Dulles Airport). They hold chanting sessions at yoga studios around the DC area, including Yoga in Daily Life in Alexandria and lil omm in DC. Last year, they participated in DC Kirtan Fest; there’s more to the kirtan scene in DC than you might think. She picked up kirtan in 2007 and it’s blossomed into a root of her yoga practice and teaching. Check out the schedule of performances; there’s a couple of things almost every month.
“I now have a Yurt studio out here teaching Hatha Yoga, Meditation, Living Yoga, Reiki, Yoga for Children with special needs and a whole lot of Kirtan! All of the money earned from our kirtans is donated to girls in India rescued from sex trafficking that I go visit and work with there in Kolkata.”
Gita is trained in the Kripalu and Integral Yoga traditions, and has been influenced by other teachers. She leads yoga sessions for special children, which is definitely an under-served group.
I will add her to my DC yoga directory as soon as I can. By the way, a yurt is a portable dwelling typical of nomadic tribes of Central Asia steppes, but in the States it’s come to be an example of sustainable buildings.
It’s that time of year again: DC Yoga Week (9th time around). It stretches from Monday, April 28 to Sunday, May 4. The crowning event will be Yoga on the Mall, Saturday, May 3, 10:00 am–12 noon. It’s a big, public display of yoga, led by some of the best teachers in the Washington Metropolitan Region, as well as master teachers such as Shiva Rea.
How did I miss this! Debra Diamond, curator of the “Yoga: The Art of Transformation” exhibit at the Freer-Sackler Gallery, spoke before the Yoga Alliance Conference on “The Business of Yoga” in mid-2013. It took place before the exhibit opened. Debra presented the broad brush strokes of the exhibit ,and the rush of joy and comprehension that came from pulling together the diverse parts of the exhibit and laying out stories that told of the emergence and transformation of yoga. It’s 40 minutes long and has a few slides from the exhibit to illustrate her points. She did a great job of underscoring the messages that they want to transmit. YA has an article on her presentation.
I remind all visitors to this blog that there is only one week left to see the exhibit before it decamps for extended visits to San Francisco and Cleveland, and then never more to be seen. I hope that any self-respecting DC yogi has made time to see the exhibit.
Holland Cotter, the New York Times staff art critic, published an article about the “Yoga – The Art of Transformation” exhibit at the Sackler Gallery on the DC Mall (only until January 26). He liked it:
NYTimes.comEons Before the Yoga Mat Became Trendy
The fact is, yoga was always rational, and more so in its old, extremist forms than in its present domesticated version. How else would you characterize a spiritual discipline that directly and boldly addressed life’s most intractable problem, the persistence of suffering, and took practical, but radical steps to do something about it? To alter the rules of the existential game, it redefined the possible. What’s great about the Sackler show, apart from the pleasures of its images, is that it not only lets us see the history of that practice in action, but understand how radical it was — and is — and take that seriously.
Cotter has a good eye for revealing details and incarnate contradictions, which he sprinkles throughout his article. This was not a fly-by snapshot that he fit in between New York galleries and major artists: he saw the art and let it affect him.
There was so much information saturating us during the yoga symposium that I’ve barely had an opportunity to review my notes and impressions. One of the things that came up was that several people noticed that many of the Indian temples showed figures of yoginis (female demi-gods, not the current use as female yogis) using yoga straps (yogapatta) to bind their legs in cross-legged position, leaving their knees raised off the ground. I did a quick search through the PDFs of the Yoga: The Art of Transformation catalog (page 146 for one reference) and found at least three illustrations that demonstrated using a strap to hold a seated posture:
Following up on my previous commentary on the yoga art exhibit, I want to express my frustration about trying to make meaningful remarks about the exhibit, symposium and catalog. Here we have a major trans-global intellectual enterprise about yoga, past, present and future. Major authorities participate in the conceptualization of the the enterprise, its visual nature fills the eyes with light, the juxtaposition of artifacts sets off ripples of imagination, the road map points in multiple direction of investigation and meditation.
I see a picture of an Indian ascetic seated in Lotus pose and I myself am seated in easy pose (Western hips don’t lie), and I feel a connection across the centuries, across the oceans, across the cultural and language barriers. I can feel it in my bones, tissues, blood and breath because yoga affects the physical bodies of all human beings the same way—it’s in our DNA, our genetic code. But the meaning is not. That’s why the physical practice, hatha yoga, is the most easily and directly assimilated by Westerners. Continue reading Symposium’s message: yoga is more than vogue, Part Two→
The Freer-Sackler Gallery has put up a special page for the extraordinary catalog that they produced for the “Yoga: The Art of Transformation” exhibit currently showing in Washington, DC, through January 25, 2014. As I mentioned before, this book is a must-have for anyone seriously interested in the history and evolution of yoga into a worldwide phenomenon. I had been unable to find a dedicated page on the site before today so it must have gone up yesterday or early today.
In an exceptional gesture, the Gallery is making a substantial part of the catalog available in PDF format. The Gallery is in effect foregoing catalog sales in order to promote wider availability and access. My judgment would be to buy the book as well as getting the PDFs: Continue reading Art of Yoga Exhibit catalog now available online→
I went down to the Yoga: The Art of Transformation today and sat through the first day of the Yoga and Visual Culture: An Interdisciplinary Symposium. It was overwhelming to absorb the depth and sway of the panels. I also made a fast run through the exhibit at lunch hour, and after the panels were over went back for a second take. Again, just too much to take in during a visit of a few hours. Stunning, jaw-dropping, eye-opening, compelling—I am running out of superlatives.
I bought the catalog, 328 pages of color reproductions of the exhibit items, additional graphic material (200 color and black-and-white illustrations) and interpretative framework to fill the eyes, mind and soul. I am tempted to say that the book is better than the exhibit, but that would be wrong, because they inhabit different realms. The catalog can swing wide with its full-page color reproductions and authoritative essays, but the exhibit has a physicality, a presence, a gravity that leaves an impression on my senses .