Friday, February 17, 2012


There’s been a bunch of complaining about yoga lately, from the New York Times article about how yoga can wreck your body to, less sensationally, but certainly sufficiently exciting to burn up the internetz, news about Anusara yoga founder, John Friend’s sexual and financial peccadillos, so one wonders whether the bloom is off the rose for the bending and chanting business.

It’s okay by me if it is; I’m still going to do my practice six days a week and enjoy whatever benefits, hardships, and learning ensue from it.

Today, I’m in San Francisco with the family to celebrate the 50th birthday of my dear friend from graduate school, Neo Serafimidis, so I took the opportunity to practice at Mission Ashtanga under the watchful blue eyes of Chad Herbst, who I’ve long wanted to study with but who has either been out of town on not in the studio on days I’ve been here.

He gave me a couple of subtle but helpful adjustments, reminding me without words that it’s not all about gritting your teeth and trying to get as deep into each stretch as possible, breath be damned. In particular, I got some advice on upward-facing dog that enabled me, I think, to open my chest a little more and made me feel—just for a second—that I was doing like one of Guruji’s students from the 1970s.

Mainly, though, as usual, the experience was humbling and centering; it did occur to me, as I lay in Savasana at the end of practice, that one magical component of the practice is that I’m just as rested after ninety minutes of yoga in the morning as I am if I sleep an extra hour and a half.

This being San Francisco, there was some oddness, too: there was a woman at the far side of the studio who had brought her small dog; it wandered about her mat as she practiced; what would Guruji say?


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