We could all stand to pay attention with more regularity, but that requires you to actually notice when you’re wired. Now at least one university class is making students more aware of their mental habits.
The Chronicle of Higher Education You’re Distracted. This Professor Can Help: “The e-mail drill was one of numerous mind-training exercises in a unique class designed to raise students’ awareness about how they use their digital tools. Colleges have experimented with short-term social-media blackouts in the past. But Ms. Hill’s course, ‘Information and Contemplation,’ goes way further. Participants scrutinize their use of technology: how much time they spend with it, how it affects their emotions, how it fragments their attention. They watch videos of themselves multitasking and write guidelines for improving their habits. They also practice meditation — during class — to sharpen their attention.”
And as an added bonus, here’s a recent New York Times article, In Mindfulness, a Method to Sharpen Focus and Open Minds along the same lines. Both articles have some useful links to other resources.
There’s another article, Why Mindfulness and Meditation Are Good for Business out of the Wharton School of Business, which is an extended interview with Katherine Klein, vice-dean of Wharton’s Social Impact Initiative. There is also an audio file for download.
I also came across this More than Sound: art and science of the mind, which brings together a lot of like-minded people and products (audios, books, podcasts). It’s worth some time to explore the full span of resources.
In a real media milestone in Washington, DC, yoga has made it onto the pages of one of the mainstays of congressional politics, Roll Call, (I can’t say that this is the first time that Roll Call has done a yoga story; see the listing below):
Roll Call Around the Hill: The Yoga of Rules: Mysore Yoga Expands in D.C. ”Mysore yoga is an individual practice within a group setting. Students do a set of poses in a prescribed order with a specified stopping point, as determined by the instructor. The poses, called ‘asanas,’ are divided into six series; most students stay within the first two series, called primary and intermediate. Students new to Mysore (even those with an established yoga practice) are given a short set of poses to do before they are sent home with instructions to come back the next day. And the following day. And the day after that.”
This was a feature-length article requiring three web pages. It did not cover Ashtanga yoga just as the latest fad on the Hill (Mysore practice is anything but faddish, as my friend Donavan Wilson can testify to.). It went to the trouble of explaining why Mysore practice is different from the garden-variety vinyasa or hatha class. The story mentioned five studios offering the Mysore practice so it’s not just a favor for a friend. I did not even know there were six places offering Mysore. Rebecca Gale, the reporter, quotes leading Ashtanga teachers in DC (Peg Mulqueen, Keith Moore, Jen Rene, Tova Steiner and David Ingalls).
Of course, when I did a search for “yoga” in the Roll Call archive, I found 61 articles, some of which probably only use the term in passing or as a metaphor. But I did find some substantial stories that showed that Roll Call has not ignored the topic. Just another sign that yoga is seaping into the US mainstream culture. I should also clarify that the online version of a publication may different substantially from the print edition:
I should also note the Washington yoga did make a major splash with the Obama II Inauguration, as sampled by Yoga Dork and probably a lot of other places.
I saw this story by chance. It shook me out of my lunch time langor and made me blog about it. When the stars align, I have to celebrate it.
I am already late off the gun.
June 10-17 is the fifth annual offering of the Virginia Yoga Week 2012 and there are 12 yoga centers supporting the effort. Check out the web site for additional details on activities, discounted classes and workshops. It’s a great opportunity to sample yoga styles and teachers.
More information is available at the Washington Post.
I’ve been so absorbed in my day-time-turned-evening job over the past few weeks that I did not have a chance to point to an article that appeared May 8:
The struggles of D.C. area yoga studios – The Washington Post
Yogis don’t like to talk about competition, and most owners will deny there’s any tension among local studios. But Schumacher acknowledges that the businesses are vying for students’ attention.
A few weeks ago, I noted the closing of Ashtanga Yoga Center at the end of this month. Yoga has to be commercially viable in order to have an impact on mainstream culture in the United States. The market is the medium for sustainability. The Post scratches the surface about the costs of operating a yoga studio, and “amenities” like cookies are the least of owners’ concerns. To survive, owners need to have a creative, flexible business mind without losing touch with the spirit of yoga. That’s a difficult balancing act. That can include finindg new ways of offering yoga, like combining spinning and yoga, although technically it’s a fitness center offering the class.
Closer to home, my home studio, Thrive Yoga, offers classes for climbers at Earth Treks. But the new twist at Thrive has been the incorporation of Aerial Yoga with Silk Hammocks - practitioners are suspended from cords hanging from the ceiling and play a different kind of leverage game with gravity. The classes seem to be booked up well in advance. I have not had a chance to try it because I’ve been away from the studio for the last two months.
Oh yeah, May 13-20 is DC Yoga Week, as the Post announces, but you can actually read the full details on the DC Yoga Community site, and the traditional highlight of the celebration, Yoga on the Mall, will take place on Saturday, May 19, weather permitting.
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’ve been keeping my head down lately, but I just noticed the following news item that reinforces the findings of more scientific research into the impact of meditation on the brain:
The unique brain anatomy of meditation practitioners: alterations in cortical gyrification appeared in mid-March and Science Daily also did an article, Evidence Builds That Meditation Strengthens the Brain. The work was done at UCLA Laboratory of Neuro Imaging by Eileen Luders and colleagues. The LONI’s latest news announcements show the range of their investigations.
I should also point you to The Mindfulness Research Guide which follows the practical application of meditation to many human arenas. There is a monthly newsletter that has nearly 5,000 subscribers.
Where have I been for the past two weeks? I did not even notice that my hometown paper published a long article detailing the upheaval in the Anusara and broader yoga scene because of John Friend’s misadventures:
Scandal contorts future of John Friend, Anusara yoga: “Friend’s empire — an international network that claims more than 1,500 teachers, including 25 in the Washington metro area, and 600,000 students — is in crisis now, teetering under the strain of a sex scandal that has split its most loyal practitioners and prompted an astounding venting of emotions, from rage and recriminations to compassion and sadness.”
The Washington Post piece was so long that I could not finish — I’m at work right now so I’ll have to come back to it later.
The Nationals are my home town team so I guess I have to link to a story that appeared in the Washington Times:
It’s not a stretch to say yoga gaining popularity with Nationals “Stephen Strasburg, Drew Storen and Bryce Harper also are among yoga devotees, with Harper and Storen big believers in Espinosa’s preferred Bikram yoga — a class that’s held in a room kept at 115 degrees.
Ryan Zimmerman, Jayson Werth and Steve Lombardozzi also participated in a once-weekly class at Nationals Park this offseason with strength and conditioning coach John Philbin and a private instructor.”
Each new season of every sport, we get a fresh crop of sport news about a professional (university or high school) ball player taking up yoga to improve his/her performance. It doesn’t matter what sport. I turned the TV on the other evening and the Tennis Channel was showing a feature on a tennis camp that included “mindfulness” in practically every instruction to the trainees. The science is pilling up so high now that an athlete may actually feel that not including yoga and related disciplines in a training regime puts him/her at a competitive disadvantage.
WBUR Boston Flexible Men Try Broga — Yoga For Bros is really about one guy teaching a class for men.
Broga is not a money maker yet and adding a class on the mainland is a huge commitment for Sidoti. Every Saturday he takes a 6 a.m. ferry from Martha’s Vineyard, which takes him to a bus, which takes him to a subway. Then, after a 20-minute walk, he arrives at the studio for a 10 a.m. class.
If they develop a regular following at the new location, Sidoti and O’Neill say the next step for Broga is finding and training instructors in other cities. Eventually, they’d like to offer a full range of instruction videos online.
Doug Tribuo, the author, probably did not do enough research into yoga in America to learn about all the male infiltration that already exists in mainstream yoga in America, from Diamond Dallas Page and his Yoga for Regular Guys: The Best Damn Workout on the Planet to Hot Nude Yoga. So this is not the first time that a studio or teacher put together a routine that meant to attract men to the mat. It’s just that a reporter who usually focuses on sports discovered this marketing angle, which may seem catchy a first glance, but won’t build up much market momentum after the first jokes have died down.
I felt compelled to blog about it because I am a male doing yoga (I believe that a 61-year old does not qualify as a “bro.”
The radio audio is also available.
Washongton Post - Woman killed, another sexually assaulted at Bethesda Lululemon store (the original story of the break-in at Lululemon Athletica):
Police declined to say how the homicide victim, identified as 30-year-old Jayna T. Murray, of Arlington, was killed. But law enforcement sources confirmed a horrific, bloody scene inside Lululemon Athletica, part of a chain of stores that began popping up across the country a few years ago. The stores sell yoga and sports clothing and are designed to give shoppers a sense of calm.
Sad to see that a place where yoga is practiced (Lululemon frequently holds yoga session in their commercial space) is tainted by this criminal violence. It really seems odd because this is a part of Bethesda that should be extremely busy, even following the closing of shops. This kind of crime is rare around the DC area so I can fathom why it happened.
Update: Full list of stories both from the Washington Examiner.
Second Update (March 21): Brittney Norwood appeared in court today (March 21) for killing Jayna Murray, according to the Washington Post. Over the weekend, police work turned Norwood from a victim of sexual assault to the perpetrator of the murder, apparently to avoid being uncovered as with stolen merchandise. Jayna’s parents went on national TV this morning to talk about her life.
This story is so bizarre and disconcerting, even after the original tale of two men dress in black stalking Bethesda commercial real estate came unraveled. You just don’t expect yoga to be the backdrop for an act of violence worthy of crime novel.
Latest Update: The Washington Post provides a full write-up about the court appearance and Norwood’s background. This will probably not be the last we hear of this tragedy.