Ashtanga yoga and life — digitally via social media, physically in mid-Michigan. Home of the Ashtanga Yoga + Social Media Grid and a home base for the Way-Before-Breakfast-Club for morning-challenged ashtangis.
Earlier this year, funders were being collected through a campaign on Indiegogo (Indiegogo: “The world’s funding platform. Go fund yourself.”) to complete a collection of essays driven by a “DIY collaborative ethos.” A total of 72 funders contributed $3,086, and some knew only this about the project:
While there are countless yoga books out there, 21st Century Yoga: Culture, Politics, and Practice is the first to critically examine yoga as it actually exists in North America today. Written by experienced practitioners who are also teachers, therapists, activists, scholars, studio owners, and/or interfaith ministers, this unique set of essays provides a fresh take on the promise and pitfalls of contemporary yoga, exploring its relevance for issues including feminism, body image, psychology, activism, ethics, and spirituality.
My Ashtanga teacher is one of the contributors, but that’s not the only reason I’m looking forward to my copy arriving in the mail. I think what I’m most excited about is that between this book and the upcoming Kickstarter-funded Roots of Yoga, 2012 seems to be a good year for intellectually refreshing, community-supported yoga book projects. Thank goodness, because we desperately need something to balance out the celebrity-driven, irresponsible fluff that brings a McYoga approach to the practice.
Here’s a peek inside the contents of the book:
Introduction: Yoga and North American Culture – Carol Horton
Enlightenment 2.0: The American Yoga Experiment – Julian Walker
How Yoga Makes You Pretty: The Beauty Myth, Yoga and Me – Melanie Klein
Questioning the “Body Beautiful”: Yoga, Commercialism, and Discernment – Poep Sa Frank Jude Boccio
Bifurcated Spiritualities: Examining Mind/Body Splits in the North American Yoga and Zen Communities – Nathan Thompson
Starved for Connection: Healing Anorexia Through Yoga – Chelsea Roff
Yoga and the 12 Steps: Holistic Recovery from Addiction – Tommy Rosen
Modern Yoga Will Not Form a Real Culture Until Every Studio Can Also Double as a Soup Kitchen and other observations from the threshold between yoga and activism – Matthew Remski
Yoga for War: The Politics of the Divine – Be Scofield
Our True Nature is Our Imagination: Yoga and Non-Violence at the Edge of the World – Michael Stone
How Yoga Messed With My Mind – Angela Jamison
Afterword: The Evolution of Yoga and the Practice of Writing – Roseanne Harvey
About the editors:
Carol Horton, Ph.D., is the author of Yoga Ph.D.: Integrating the Life of the Mind with the Wisdom of the Body (Kleio, 2012); and Race and the Making of American Liberalism (Oxford University Press, 2005).
Roseanne Harvey is the former editor of the leading Canadian yoga magazine, Ascent; founder of the popular blog, It’s All Yoga, Baby; and co-director of Yoga Festival Montreal.
Interested yet, and didn’t contribute to the Indiegogo campaign? Snag your copy for $15.
I made a few updates to the social media grid the first few months after launch, but had to let go of keeping it fully updated due to the craziness of my life through — well, this summer. Thanks to the break I’ve had over Labor Day weekend 2012, I just finished a major update to the grid.
Tim Miller also went from having a Facebook profile to a Facebook page. I guess that’s what happens when you have more than 5,100 friends (which was roughly the number the last time I checked, which was last year).
I originally included info on Cathy Louise Broda because I wanted representation in the grid for something — anything! — related to Ashtanga and pregnancy, which seems to present a big question to many practitioners. But Cathy’s Baby Blog was last updated in April, and I haven’t found other platforms she posts to in a way that speaks to community-building (if I am wrong, tell me). Her blog remains on the YogaRose.net links section and was included in my recent post on resources for Ashtanga yoga and pregnancy.
New rows for three shalas that I have been turning to in recent months for sharing high–quality content: Ashtanga Yoga: Ann Arbor (where I practice), Albuquerque Ashtanga Yoga Shala and the Ashtanga Yoga Centre of Toronto. If you were to think of my Chrome browser as my shopping cart for yoga-related media I consume, I’ve felt that the links and such from these three sources have been enriching — pretty low fat content on the posts, tweets and such that they’re distributing. This is stuff I would feel going about applying a read-share-repeat mode to.
Sadly, my Labor Day weekend is coming to an end, and so must this post. Enjoy connecting via the grid, v. 2.0. And thank you for connecting here with me, by reading and commenting over this past intense and fascinating year.
P.S. — If you’re ever bored and want to see what types of Ashtanga-related tweets people are sending, you can manually set up a search on Twitter.com or a stream on Hootsuite. Or you can go to a silly little page I put up last year called Twitteranga. I’m sure you’ll find some lean-cut tweets, some with nothing but fat, and everything in between for your consumption.
Lots of pregnancy talk/thoughts in my world of late:
I have two friends who are both roughly 36 weeks pregnant, and they’re tracking progress on Facebook. It’a amazing how the human body accommodates change (like, in the case of one friend, twins).
One of my sisters recently sent me a beautiful fertility necklace containing a mix of stones such as rainbow moonstone, and on a recent call, she very helpfully started to tell me about a fertility app her friend used. “No app!” I protested. “The necklace will do just fine. ”
My interest in Ashtanga and pregnancy was piqued a couple years ago when a friend who had gotten pregnant asked me if I knew of any good resources for pregnant ashtangis. As with most everything, a qualified teacher is the best resource. Beyond that, in looking into some resources for her, I was surprised at how few “official” sources there were out there.
Online, blogs seemed to be the best sources of information specific to Ashtanga and pregnancy. (It seemed to me that lots of women have found inspiration, information, solace and food for thought in the Miss Stan blog.)
It’ll be interesting to see what content Kino releases soon.
A little consensus, a lot of lack of consensus
I haven’t spent a ton of time pouring over online resources for Ashtanga yoga and pregnancy, but what I have read through tells me that a few points seem to enjoy a fair amount of consensus: Women should avoid twists, jump-backs and poses that involve being on the belly. And if there is one overriding mantra about Ashtanga and pregnancy, it’s this: Listen to your body. Everyone seems to agree that it’s imperative for a woman to listen to her body (makes sense!) and follow her intuition (agreed!).
When it comes to specifics, it seems to me that the advice can start to diverge quite a bit. I am particularly fascinated at the moment by the debate over whether ashtangis should practice in the first trimester.
On whether to practice during the first trimester:
“All women are different and react differently with the pregnancy in the beginning. Some are very tired and feel nauseous, and vomit, others are feeling well. It is best to not do the practice during the three first months to see how the pregnancy is going. Even if you feel strong and healthy it is good to let the body rest because so many things are changing in the body during this time. For some it might take a little ‘will-power’ to slow down though.” –Interview with Saraswathi Rangaswamy
“The decision to practice yoga during the first trimester is an individual matter. Since this is an article about Ashtanga Yoga practice, it must be emphasized that Sri K. Pattabhi Jois advises women not to practice Ashtanga Yoga at all during the first trimester. This advice makes particular sense if one has experienced a miscarriage or when high-risk pregnancy factors are present. Since one generally does not know whether a pregnancy is high-risk until second trimester or later, it is advisable to take a conservative approach to one’s practice, beginning with the first trimester.” –”Ashtanga Yoga Practice During Pregnancy” article by Betty Lai on Ashtanga.com
“It is not wise to begin any new vigorous activity if newly pregnant. The first trimester of pregnancy is particularly more delicate. If however the activity is well established by making the appropriate adjustments one may continue a modified version for the duration of the pregnancy.” –David Swenson and Shelley Washington on Ashtanga.net
“Take rest from all asana practice during your first trimester. It is a very sensitive time for you and your baby. Your body is going through deep changes to adjust to the new life inside, and make a ‘home’ for him or her.” — from Ashtanga Yoga Victoria.
“Many women find it feels most natural and comfortable to avoid practicing any Yoga-asana at all during the first trimester of pregnancy. It is generally recommended by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois and Sharath Rangaswamy NOT to practice Ashtanga Yoga during your first trimester.” –Ashtanga Yoga Canada
“During pregnancy, it is okay to feel warm and to sweat while practicing, however, especially in the first trimester, it is very important not to let your body reach and remain at 102 degrees or above for any sustained length of time. If you have any doubts, stop and rest. Let your body’s signals guide you, if you feel short of breath, dizzy or nauseous, then you may be too warm.” –Ashtanga Yoga New Orleans
“Miscarriages are natural and devastatingly common whether you do everything by the book or not. I can understand why people look for answers as to why miscarriages happen. All the reasons I have heard about why they occur from other people (she ran, she twisted, she jumped, she fell) seem to be trained on limiting the mother’s mobility and blaming her for whatever might go wrong. I decided to practice for the rest of my first trimester, but only because I felt like it. David [Robson] told me to stick to standing series for the remaining 6 weeks I had in my first trimester. In India, I don’t think Sharath would teach a pregnant woman for the first 3 months but that makes sense to me because he wouldn’t have a chance to have a regular and sustained teaching relationship with anyone because of his schedule. I did standing for a few days, but I wasn’t sick or nauseous and I felt better moving than sitting around. So after two days, I asked David in the car before Mysore if I could do the rest of primary. A week later, my backbends were still feeling good, and I asked if I could add on dropbacks, and that was OK too. The week after that I added on some intermediate, and David crouched down beside me in the room and said, ‘Umm. No. Just wait until 12 weeks.’” –Stan Byrne, from her blog, Miss Stan
“The whole advice battlefield had its biggest impact when I took a teacher’s advice to not practice during the first trimester. By my second day off, it was clear that my body wasn’t a fan of that idea at all. I started to get morning sickness, which I hadn’t had before, and generally felt pretty awful. After seeing the doctor, and getting the all clear, I resumed practicing, and started feeling better right away. The morning sickness never returned….The best advice I got at this stage was from my doctor and from reading an article about Nancy Gilgoff’s comments about Ashtanga while pregnant. The doctor basically chuckled at the idea that I was heeding any advice given by non-doctors. She told me my number one job during the pregnancy was to train like I was going to run a marathon – labor was going take as much work as running 26 miles, and being in good physical shape would be crucial. The best yoga specific advice was to keep doing whatever I was comfortable doing before the pregnancy, but also listening and modifying as needed as my body changed as the baby grew.” –Wendy Spies
“PREGNANCY. Absolutely fine for women who already have an established ashtanga practice to continue all through pregnancy (obviously with much modification in the later stages, although Nancy says she had a student who practiced third series into the ninth month). Wait three months after birth before resuming ashtanga practice. Not a good idea for pregnant women who haven’t done yoga before to start with ashtanga – fine to start with other forms of yoga practice.” –One practitioner’s paraphrasing of a 2002 workshop with Nancy Gilgoff.
And those are just thoughts specific to one topic. Inversions could take up another post entirely.
…an event in which we can bring together the community to share and experience the power of WordPress. Organizing this event is just a small way for us to give back the community as a way to say thank you. WordPress has effected all of us in many ways and by leading this event we can connect local WordPress users and developers as well as introduce new people to the amazingness we all know as WordPress.
If you want to get a taste of this particular WordCamp, check out #wcdet, the Twitter hashtag used for the event, and see @redcrew‘s Storify. There were four other WordCamps held this weekend — in Caguas (“Para nerds, geeks y todos los demas”), Kenya (held, by the way, at a campsite), Denmark and Richmond. WordCamp Azerbaijan, also scheduled for this weekend, was postponed due to complications with the venue.
Whether it’s Ashtanga yoga devotees, Radiohead devotees or WordPress devotees, there is always a sense of comfort for me to be surrounded by people with similar passions. That’s one of the benefits of community, right? People who understand — and can’t help but to share.
(Photo: The red WordPress tee that Dave Farinelli won during WordCamp Detroit’s WordPress Game Show and then gave to me (thanks again, Dave!), along with the cool, official WordCamp Detroit 2011 tee.)
Of course, I had to see what this was all about. David Robson, director of the Ashtanga Yoga Centre of Toronto, has released a DVD ($22 CAD, which is, as I write this, about $20.97 USD) — along with options for online streaming ($9.99 CAD for access for an entire year) and an audio download (for just $1.99 CAD) — that teaches you to float. You can tell from the trailer alone that the production value is gorgeous and the drum beat used in the video makes it that much more hypnotic.
David says in the DVD:
Floating happens when there is perfection union between breath and movement.
That float that dedicated ashtangis have is like art to me — a moving expression of passion, devotion and focus. It’s not something you can buy. It’s not something you can will. It’s not something you can brute-force into achieving. It’s a balance of synergy and surrender.
To emphasize that this is not a practice for the elite, David includes this Pattabhi Jois quote just under the trailer for his DVD:
…Yoga, as a way of life and as a philosophy, can be practiced by anyone with an inclination to under take it, for yoga belongs to humanity as a whole. It is not the property of any one group or any individual, but can be followed by any and all, in any corner ofthe globe, regardless of class, creed or religion.
One thing about me — I’m high-risk analogy taker. I will take on an analogy that’s really out there if I think there’s even a chance it might help make a point. Sometimes my analogies work, and sometimes it’s a big FAIL. Let’s see how it goes here, as I attempt to explain my blog’s new hosting arrangement with how a yoga practice can transform our internal mental and spiritual lives.
And if this analogy fails, then you can just skip over it to the end of this post, where I talk about the new Ashtanga Yoga + Social Media Grid curated by yours truly.
First, the analogy.
Relating a WordPress.com –> .org switchover with how yoga changed my life
Last week, if you wanted to come to my blog, you typed “YogaRose.net” into your browser and got here. This week, if you wanted to land here, you would do the same. Nothing has changed, except that you see a new header now.
But this past week, everything has changed under the hood, so to speak. The YogaRose.net blog you’re on now is built on WordPress.org. YogaRose.net blog started out as a free WordPress.com blog, which meant all I had to do to start blogging was sign up for a WordPress.com account. I paid a little money for the YogaRose.net domain name and redirected it to my WordPress.com URL.
I absolutely love WordPress — both the .com and the .org variety, because it fits my aesthetic preferences (compared to other blogs and content management systems) and because it is open-sourced, which means developers around the world keep adding to it and improving it. But what a WordPress.com variety of blog or website gives you in convenience it understandably has to withhold in flexibility.
Setting up a WordPress.org blog takes more time, patience and technical know-how, because you have to host your content somewhere. You get the WordPress software installation free, but you have to pay someone — such as GoDaddy — to host your content. WordPress.org is so powerful though — it’s blog that can function as a stand-alone website. The highly regarded TechCrunch is built on WordPress.org. So is something like the website for the new Hanuman Festival. My colleague Andrea Ness is a WordPress/website developer extraordinaire, because she takes the WordPress.org platform and mixes it with creative elixir that flows from her imagination to create incredible websites like the Michigan Truth Squad and Bridge.
In any case, I’ve been plenty inspired by what I could do with this blog if I converted it to the .org platform. But time is an issue. It always is, and I just couldn’t justify everything else I would have to put off to do my own move. This is where some folks whose titles are actually — as far as I can tell — “Happiness Engineers,” come in. You can pay these fantastic WordPress Happiness Engineers to do all the heavy lifting for you so that your readers don’t notice a thing.
WordPress guided transfer fee: $119.
Annual hosting charges: Less than $55.
Finally being able to create the Ashtanga yoga social media database that I’ve wanted to create: Priceless.
Things I couldn’t do without the WordPress.org platform:
Like many other ashtangis have done, I’ve discovered that at some point, there’s a deep internal transformation that takes place from a consistent Ashtanga yoga practice. There are so many little and big things you thought you couldn’t do before that you suddenly could — whether it’s a physical thing, such as floating from downward facing dog into bakasana (crane pose), or whether it’s an emotional thing, such as being able to be less reactive to an infuriating interpersonal conflict.
From the outside, I looked the same — but consider the different way I viewed the world and processed information. Human life is about dealing with obstacles and challenges while trying to stay true to who you are and still trying to improve yourself — and it helps to do all that when you have a more robust life management system built on a platform as brilliant as the eight-limbed path of Ashtanga yoga. Hand in hand with the investment is that it takes a lot more maintenance to go this route. The traditional Ashtanga practice is six days a week, and due to my really intense schedule, I end up practicing by myself much of the time, sneaking in a practice at all different hours of the day. In the end, though, it’s absolutely worth fitting your life around yoga rather than the other way around.
So I’ve had a busy Labor Day weekend (spent mostly in Traverse City, Mich., with my very sweet future in-laws) that has ended with a marathon 24-hour period of renovating YogaRose.net in general and building this curated Ashtanga yoga social media database.
Let me know what you think of the Ashtanga Yoga + Social Media Grid. In the meantime, I have to catch up on my sleep so that I can dive back into another intense work week tomorrow morning.
Tank of gas: $3.79 Average cost of a weekend workshop class: $50 Firing up your agni (fire, vital spark): Priceless
Before I moved to Michigan from Massachusetts in 2005, I didn’t know much except that it was close enough to Chicago. Over the years, I’ve come to appreciate a lot about Pure Michigan — from the Third Coast beaches (growing up in California, I refused to believe these beaches could possibly compare) to Hilltop Yoga, my home studio, a place that has truly changed the course of my life.
What I’ve also come to appreciate is that a lot of damn good yoga teachers come through the Midwest. That’s what sparked me to create the “Travel your yoga section” of YogaRose.net. Although I focus on Ashtanga yoga teachers, I do include teachers from different styles of yoga who are coming within an easy driving distance of mid-Michigan.
If you haven’t checked it out in a while, you might be surprised to see who’s visiting — from Columbus, Ohio to Chicago.
Have a question, addition or feedback on a workshop you did attend? Comment below! If you have specific questions you’d like to ask me directly, drop me an email at ashtangayogarose [at] gmail.com.