Tag Archives: yoga

Why I’m a Certified Yoga Teacher

HKD_Jivamukti 800-HourI’m a certified yoga teacher. It’s true – says so right on my certificate: “Teacher Certification”.  My teachers, Sharon Gannon and David Life, have certified that I’ve “successfully completed” 800 hours of training that qualifies me to teach the style of yoga they developed, Jivamukti Yoga.

And I’m a teacher of teachers: I participate in a lot of different Yoga Teacher Training programs. I’ve even signed certificates to confirm the successful completion of trainings by program graduates. I’m not just certified; I’m a certifier.

One could make an argument that this makes me complicit in a system that certifies people who are not actually qualified to teach yoga. Well, nolo contendre – some of the people who have successfully completed programs I’m affiliated with are not qualified to teach yoga. And, thankfully, as far as I know, none of those people are teaching yoga.

The question of being “certified” or not, along with nine other teacher training pet peeves, came up recently when my friend and colleague, Peg Mulqueen, kicked the beehive over the fence in her blog post, “Why (Almost) Everything You Learned in Teacher Training is Wrong”.

Continue reading

Why Men Don’t Do Yoga

Russell Wilson July 29, 2013 Photographed by Peter yangAn article entitled “Why yoga is still dominated by women despite the medical benefits to both sexes” recently appeared in the Health & Science section of the Washington Post. The author’s overarching theory is that men shy away from yoga studios because they believe ‘myths’ about yoga such as “yoga isn’t a decent workout, that it’s too touchy-feely, that it’s not made for men’s bodies…” etc. The underlying premise of the article is that more men would do yoga if they just knew more about it.

I disagree. The reason more men aren’t going to yoga classes is not because they’re ignorant of yoga’s health and fitness benefits, it’s not because flaky New Age touchy-feely-woo-woo hasn’t been explained to them in a way that’s suitable for their understanding (good luck with that), and it’s not because they have misconceptions about yoga. On the contrary, men are reluctant to take yoga classes on account of a correct conception based on easily observable data: yoga is for women. Continue reading

Svadhyaya

red-pill-blue-pill-matrixHere’s a fun thing to do on a slow afternoon: make a list of ‘me’s. I have plenty of them. And they’re predictable, arriving on cue like programmed robots. When I’m driving, the ‘impatient me’ arrives as soon as the car in front of me drives one mile per hour below the speed limit. When the sun deepens its arc into the western sky, ‘anxious me’ arrives to tell ‘complacent me’ that I’m running out of time for all the things I wanted to do today. ‘Complacent me’ couldn’t care less.

There’s ‘grateful me’, ‘grumpy me’, ‘garrulous me’, ‘guilty me’, ‘greedy’ me, ‘generous me’ – one way to create a list of ‘me’s is to just pick a letter of the alphabet and run with it. If you have enough time you can go the distance; I’ve got ‘me’s from ‘abiotic’ to ‘zippy’.

There’s one thing that all of these different ‘me’s have in common: they’re not me. Yes, they’re manifestations of various aspects of my personality but my personality isn’t ‘me’, either; it’s something I possess. That’s why I talk about it as a possession: I have a personality. Continue reading

The Mind-Blowing Fantastic-ness of Being a Person

13_sept12_86-keith-haring_USE

art by Keith Haring

In my last post, I concluded with a couple of questions, the first of which was: “what does it mean to be a person?” It’s an often-overlooked question in spite of its obvious importance to… people. That’s one reason why, whenever the issue of person-ness arises in my yoga philosophy workshops, I make a point of asking participants to offer their thoughts on what it means to be a person. The Sanskrit word for ‘person’, purusa, figures prominently in yoga wisdom texts such as the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali so it should come as no surprise that the issue would come up in any meaningful discussion of yoga philosophy.

The response to my query usually includes ideas such as ‘to be conscious or self-aware’, ‘to keep learning and growing’, ‘to have the ability to communicate’, or ‘to have a soul’. Most of the replies I get suggest what I consider to be the essential element of person-ness but it’s rare that someone directly states my preferred answer: to be a person means to have senses. Continue reading

Has The Whole World Gone Crazy?

lebowski_WorldOfPainThis past week was one where I felt spontaneously immersed in feelings of gratitude. For starters, I felt grateful for not having had my legs blown off by a couple of psychos with a twisted idea of how to use a pressure cooker. And I felt grateful that I don’t live in Syria, where massacres far, far worse than the Boston Marathon bombing happen every day.

I also found myself feeling oddly grateful that I live in the District of Columbia, where I’m not entitled to congressional representation by a United States Senator. Usually that bothers me but since it became clear last week that, if I did have a Senator, there would be an even-money chance that they would be more interested in who’s picking up their restaurant tab than what most people in America want, it doesn’t bother me so much. Continue reading

Ya got trouble, right here in Encinitas!

Music Man Trouble1

Hari:

Well, either you’re closing your eyes

To a situation you do not wish to acknowledge

Or you are not aware of the caliber of disaster indicated

By the presence of a yoga class in your school district.

Ya got trouble, my friend, right here,

I say, trouble right here in Encinitas. Continue reading

In The Beginning

OmGong_Mantra_200As is sometimes the case for those of us who become yoga teachers, my first few classes were a little rough. Fortunately my classes were so small that my early missteps were endured only by an unfortunate few. And, since some of my fellow Teacher Training alumni as well as friends with years of teaching experience mercifully subjected themselves to my classes, I got valuable feedback to help me improve. On one such occasion it was brought to my attention that I was so anxious to get everyone moving on their mats that I had forgotten the first order of business: I had forgotten to chant “Om”.

Of course, not every yoga teacher chants “Om” to begin a class. And some yoga students are just as happy to get centered and focused by other means. But as a general rule, at least in most yoga studios, we begin and end a yoga class by chanting “Om”. Continue reading

Beyond Ethical Vegetarianism

RadhaGopinathPrasadam_USEAt a recent hearing about gun control legislation in Hartford, Connecticut, Mark Mattioli, whose 6-year-old son James was killed at the Sandy Hook Elementary School, urged lawmakers to address America’s culture of violence. “It’s a simple concept. We need civility across our nation,” he said. “What we’re seeing are symptoms of a bigger problem. This is a symptom. The problem is not gun laws. The problem is a lack of civility.”

Mr. Mattioli’s point may have been lost on the gun rights advocates who interrupted his testimony with shouts about their 2nd amendment rights. Be that as it may, it’s become clear that America has reached a tipping point on the issue of guns: a sufficient number of people are so dissatisfied with the results of the status quo that they feel motivated to change it. Continue reading

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