Now that Yoga Month has come and gone, we can get on with our regular practice. Shiva Rea is coming back to the DC area in October 9-10 at Flow Yoga. This will be one of the largest mega-classes this year because Flow will probably hold the event in an outside site to pack as many yogis, shoulder to shoulder, into a limited space. Sign up early (if you still can) and go early.
I will be looking forward to the Brian Kest workshop at Thrive Yoga on October 23-25. A leading advocate of Ashtanga yoga on the West Coast, he has been a symbolic bennchmark for me. When I started out doing yoga five years ago, I used to watch the free yoga workouts on my cable service. For a while, it was one of Brian Kest’s videos. But they were so demanding for me that I could never get beyond the opening sequence before pooping out. The cable service rotated the video to other yoga instructors so I never got a chance to catch up with Kest’s pace. Of course, it took me a couple of years to just make it through a full vinyasa session.
Now I think I can handle it. That’s pretty amazing considering that I turned 60 last week. And I look at the coming decade of my life as even more challenging and fulfilling than previous ones because I am a more whole and healthy as a person.
Rodney Yee used to have a blog at Yahoo Health. I checked it out a couple of times a while back, and then forgot about it. Yee has moved up in the online world. His new on-line home is at Lime.com’s Yoga section [MLS: Lime.com has apparently gone bust and disappeared from the web, and Yee moved on to Gaiam Yoga Club]. He has a TV show, as part of Lime’s ambitious project to bring healthy living to the big time, and has been doing short video blogs [no longer available].
Of course, Yee has been in the news a lot recently because of his marriage to NYC yoga studio owner, Colleen Saidman, which got covered in the NY Times (sorry, but the story has already been archived). But you can get a bitchier version of it at New York Magazine. Souljerky has another take on the mess. Yee divorced his wife of 24 years. A few years ago, he had an affair with a student, which became an example of how to betray the student-teacher relationship.
In my own home yoga studio, Thrive Yoga, we’ve gone through a stretch that calls into question of incarnating the yogic ideal : the two owners of Thrive Yoga have parted ways. Kim Groark was the more advanced teacher while Susan Bowen had the good business mind. Over the past two years, they lost their shared vision of what they wanted to make of the studio. I don’t know any of the details, just that at the end the tension hung like incense in the air of the studio. Susan bought out Kim’s share of the business, and Kim “decided to leave Thrive Yoga to pursue a different path,” as the announcement stated. More experienced yoga entrepreneurs have told me that studio partnerships rarely work out. Yoga teachers who strike out on their own, setting up their own shops, want to have full control over their business and practice so there’s going to be an innate contradiction in a joint venture.
I felt disconcerted by the whole shift: I had gone to Kim’s classes more frequently because I was drawn to her flair for teaching (influences of Kundalini, Shiva Rea) and the classes fit my schedule in the evenings. I was also concerned about the long-term viability of the studio because I get classes (2-5 times a week) at no charge, in exchange for hosting, maintaining and updating the website. I would find it had to pay for a year unlimited pass, which is what I would need for the same privilege. The split took me out of my comfort zone on the mat.
Los Angeles TimesYoga’s rock stars [MLS: Link no longer works.]:
“Although (Shiva) Rea, 39, and other A-list yogis may begin their mornings with ancient Indian meditation and tongue-scraping rituals, their days are frequently filled with more contemporary marketing duties. Such is the odd, new balancing act of today’s top yogis, many of whom have been teaching for 20-plus years and are now confronting international fame.
Riding a wave of unprecedented yoga mania — fueled in part by star practitioners such as Madonna — modern yogis’ lives, especially in Los Angeles, increasingly resemble those of the celebrities they often teach.”
I ran across this article from August 21 and thought it was intriguing for a number of reasons, aside from the glimpse at the life style of the yoga demi-gods. It also lays out some of the financial considerations that go into workshops and classes. Although the article mentions a $4-7 per student range, I know that most studios pay teachers on a per-class basis, probably around $30 and up. That’s not going to put you in the same tax bracket at Shiva Rea. Around here, there are few venues that could put “80 people in a class.” Yoga teachers do not have to take a vow of poverty when they go through training, and most of them are in this line of business because they love yoga.
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.