Tag Archives: bikram

Daddy, is yoga Hindu?

NY Times report on the Hindu American Foundation reclaiming project.

Hindu Group Stirs a Debate Over Yoga’s Soul

By PAUL VITELLO
Published: November 27, 2010

Yoga is practiced by about 15 million people in the United States, for reasons almost as numerous — from the physical benefits mapped in brain scans to the less tangible rewards that New Age journals call spiritual centering. Religion, for the most part, has nothing to do with it.

But a group of Indian-Americans has ignited a surprisingly fierce debate in the gentle world of yoga by mounting a campaign to acquaint Westerners with the faith that it says underlies every single yoga style followed in gyms, ashrams and spas: Hinduism.

The campaign, labeled “Take Back Yoga,” does not ask yoga devotees to become Hindu, or instructors to teach more about Hinduism. The small but increasingly influential group behind it, the Hindu American Foundation, suggests only that people become more aware of yoga’s debt to the faith’s ancient traditions.

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Yoga, Inc. For Free (online)

via Yoga, Inc. – Watch the Documentary Film for Free – SnagFilms.

click to view

From the snagfilms website:

(2007) 58 min

The documentary that asks whether yoga can survive Big Business with its good karma intact

Yoga has transformed from an ancient spiritual practice into a competitive, commercialized, multi-million dollar industry. And for a practice rooted in renunciation, yoga sure is making some people very rich. Can yoga survive this war between the sacred and the profane with its good karma intact?

Esak Garcia is a star on the burgeoning competitive yoga circuit, racking up cash prizes and edging ever closer to snagging an endorsement deal. But Esak’s ultimate goal is the Olympics, a dream instilled in him by his guru, Bikram Choudhury. Bikram’s supporters applaud his crusade to have yoga recognized as an Olympic sport. His detractors are horrified. It’s typical of the controversies that surround the ‘Bad Boy of Yoga’. Bikram has also copyrighted his popular yoga style. Those who teach ‘Bikram yoga’ without playing by his rules are hit with crippling copyright infringement fees. So a group of yoga studio owners take Bikram to court to pose an important legal question; can anyone ‘own’ yoga?

In today’s yoga world only the marketplace has real meaning, where everything is up for grabs, from yoga shoes to chakra panties. The new mantras are Standardize and Supersize. In the race to cash in yoga chains (‘McYoga’?) are popping up everywhere, putting the smaller studios out of business. No wonder purists are scratching their heads. Is nothing sacred?

Greed, lust, ego and the search for enlightenment all come together in this original, irreverent portrait of spiritualism and capitalism colliding head on.

2nd Annual Valentine’s Day Gooey NYC Yoga Classes for Couples and Stuff

Know of an event?  Please comment below.

  • Saturday, February 13th 8-10 pm
    Valentine’s Couples Massage Workshop with Nancy

    $65 per couple
    Join us for one of our most popular workshops! Senior Lotus teacher and massage therapist Nancy Elkes will guide you through this amazing workshop where you will learn how to share your love with one another through the power of touch. Wear loose comfy clothing for some yoga fun stuff and please bring lotion rather than oil. (No lavender please).
    laughing lotus
  • Valentine Couples Workshop with Mary Aranas
    Melt into bliss with your partner, be it a lover, close friend, or family member, in this partner yoga workshop that celebrates Valentine’s Day.
    Connecting deeply through breath and touch, we will relax and open both body and spirit in mutually supportive partner yoga poses. We will end by giving and receiving delicious guided Thai Yoga Massage with our partner.

    February 13th, 2010 Saturday 1-3pm
    $70 per couple by 1/30, $80 per couple after 1/30
    Yoga Works

  • Feb. 14
    Open Your Heart
    Dmitri Shapira | All Levels
    2:00 pm to 4:00 pm
    $25 members / $35 non-members
    When the chest drops, our spirits follow. We will lift and open our chest through a variety of asanas to help foster a more open, engaged and positive outlook toward the world.
    iyengar yoga institute
  • Blooming With Love with Jillian Pransky
    Come join Jillian Pransky for a deeply restoring mini-retreat designed to cultivate a deep sense of loving-kindness that will relax your body, open your heart and calm your mind.
    In an inspirational studio, glowing with candles and filled with gentle soothing music, Jillian Pransky will lead you through a unique series of Restorative yoga poses, peaceful flowing stretches, deep relaxation, and metta meditation. As you move through this special sequence, you will release blocked energy and tension as you relax into a sense of spaciousness and open-heartedness.
    Restorative Yoga poses are simple yet profound. You relax and allow your body to melt open as you lay over props such as bolsters and blankets. With the help of gravity and intention you can surrender, layers deeply held tension. Muscles release, the mind calms, and the heart softens.
    For an extra special treat, while you enjoy these delicious poses, you will receive gentle hands-on attention. You will leave feeling connected, open, and as if you just returned from a week long vacation!
    Date: Feb. 12th
    Time: 6:30PM-8:30PM
    Price: $45
    Location: ISHTA Yoga
  • Couples Partner Yoga & Thai Massage Workshop with Mary Aranas & Becca Krauss
    Sunday, February 14th, 2010
    Spend your Valentine’s evening celebrate the blessings of love in your life by exploring partner yoga and Thai Massage together. In this special workshop for lovers, or close friends, you will nurture intimacy by moving playfully through partner asana, connect energetically through breath and gaze, and practice deepening your relationship with an unconditional loving kindness (metta) meditation…
    Time: 7-10:00pm Price: $75/couple
    Pre-registration is required
    Enjoy 2 hours of yoga stretching, breathing (pranayama), inversions and massage between 7 PM and 9 PM.From 9-10 PM feed your love with wine & chocolate! Come with a romantic partner or a friend who you care deeply about.
    Please register only one couple at a time and do not register multiple couples under a single payment.
    om factory
  • Couples Partner Yoga and Thai Massage Workshop with Chris Loebsack & Emilia Conradson
    Sunday, February 14th, 2010
    Time: 7-10:00pm Price: $75/couple
    Pre-registration is required
    Spend you Valentine’s evening celebrate the blessings of love in your life by exploring partner yoga and Thai Massage together. In this special workshop for lovers, or close friends, you will nurture intimacy by moving playfully through partner asana, connect energetically through breath and gaze, and practice deepening your relationship with an unconditional loving kindness (metta) meditation. We will also trust & support each other with gentle inversions & relax one another with luscious massage – mmmmmmm. Open your practice with ease by relying on the support of your partner as we cultivate trust, strength and flexibility while working as a team. From this place of mutual support the true self can be realized, honored and shared for the benefit of all. No experience necessary to attend! Pre-registration required.
    Enjoy 2 hours of yoga stretching, breathing (pranayama), inversions and massage between 7 PM and 9 PM.From 9-10 PM feed your love with wine & chocolate! Come with a romantic partner or a friend who you care deeply about.
    Please register only one couple at a time and do not register multiple couples under a single payment.om factory
  • Valentines Day Couples’ Thai Massage Workshop with Dana Goeglein & Kevin Courtney
    Sunday, February 14th 1-4pm
    $70 per couple
    Sangha Yoga Shala
    Celebrate Valentine’s Day with your partner (or friend!) learning the basics of Thai Massage.
    Kevin and Dana will guide you through a hands-on experience of Thai Massage and Pranassage movements and techniques, with an emphasis on creating a caring, restoring, and relaxing experience for both partners. Enjoy the benefits of giving and receiving compassionate touch throughout the workshop, and leave with a simple sequence that you can replicate at home.
    No prior yoga or massage experience is necessary. No oils or lotions needed. Comfortable clothes and a yoga mat are recommended. (Mats can be rented at the studio upon arrival).
  • Cupid Yoga: PARTNER YOGA, THAI MASSAGE & REFLEXOLOGY with Anna Carbonell & Kirtan
    Location: Exhale Central Park South
    Date: Sat 2/13/2010
    Time: 6:30 PM – 8:30 PM
    Cost: $70 per couple. $60 per couple if registered by Feb. 7, 2010

    Join us on Valentine’s Day for a very special event with your loved one or friend. Enjoy deep partner stretches, Thai and foot massages in a romantic setting complete with mood lighting, flower petals and essential oils. No prior yoga experience needed. Suitable for all ages and levels. Come with a friend, a partner, or your spouse!

  • Couples Massage:  Learn How to Heal One Another
    Iris Savernik, D.O.
    Saturday, Feb. 13 • 3:30–6 p.m.
    $76 per couple
    When two people engage in the therapeutic massage of each other, they increase self-awareness while healing themselves. Specific techniques for making the most of the massage experience form the core of this unique workshop. You don’t need to be a romantic couple to learn couples massage; friends can also offer one another this healing modality. Couples or friends of any age may participate, and neither member needs any experience in massage. You need only to be able to go down on and get up from the floor.

    Iris Savernik, D.O., has been a professional dancer and figure skater, Yoga teacher, and licensed massage therapist. She is currently working as a resident physician in Queens, New York.

    Integral Yoga

  • Love Satsang:  Celebrate Valentine’s Day
    Sumati (Karen Bates)
    Saturday, February 13 • 6–7:30 p.m.
    By donation
    Come celebrate the power of the greatest force humanity can harness in its quest for a better world—love in its many aspects. By tapping into our own capacity for love and developing a more loving attitude and presence, we help to spread peace and understanding throughout the world.Sumati (Karen Bates) is certified to teach Integral Yoga Hatha I, II, and III, in addition to dance and fitness. She has taught professionally for more than two decades. With experience in jazz, modern, African, and Caribbean dance, she earned a B.F.A. cum laude and also works as an artist and illustrator.
    Integral Yoga
  • Restorative OM yoga for Couples with Brian Liem & Adam Gwosdof
    Sunday, February 14, 1 – 3 pm & 4 – 6 pm $50 per couple
    New Ways of Being Intimate Together

    This workshop is specifically designed for couples – husbands, wives, boyfriends, girlfriends – who want to explore new ways of being tender and intimate together. You will take turns placing each other in restorative poses and then massaging your partner’s hands, feet, neck and face while they simply get to relax, relax, relax.

    Open to all levels, including no experience.  Pre-registration required.
    Om Yoga

  • Thai Yoga Workshop w/ Paula Tursi
    Sunday, Feb 14, 2010 4-6:30pm Cost: $75 per couple if you pre-register by 2/7, $90 per person after 2/7 Call 212.974.2288 or email brenna@reflectionsyoga.com to sign up!
    Reflections Yoga
  • 1+1+ 3: Partner Yoga and Massage Workshop with Gayla Marie Stiles and Aaron Stiles, LMT
    Sunday, February 14 | 4-6:15pm, $100 per couple

    A 2-hour and 15 minute yoga and massage workshop for pregnant mothers and their partners! Experience flowing yoga sequences, restorative postures, and massage designed to teach fathers, partners, or friends how to help with the discomforts of pregnancy and labor. This session is designed to benefit any pregnant woman by opening energetic pathways using breath-centered shiatsu techniques, stretching, and acupressure points. No previous yoga experience necessary.
    Prenatal Yoga Center

  • Valentine’s Day Couples Yoga Workshop with Megan Walsh
    Greenhouse Grand Location
    Date: Sun 2/14/2010, 4:00 PM – 6:00 PM
    Join Megan and Clare for an afternoon of Partner Vinyasa and Restorative Yoga. In this workshop we’ll work with a partner on both active and restorative postures. Working with a partner can build intimacy, harmony and trust and these benefits will transition off of your yoga mats and into your relationship! Moving through a vinyasa practice together gives you an opportunity to explore strength and balance, to negotiate, play, support and let go-all of which will deepen your connection to each other, to your breath and to your yoga practice.
  • Valentine’s Day:  Benefit for Haiti
    Sunday, February 14th
    The Shala
    vinyasa class with live music taught by jeremy fahey and kristin leigh 4:30 to 6 pm class is by donation. you may use your cards and you may register early at the front desk or by email: info@theshala.comlive performances:  6:30 to 8 pm.  emily mcdonnell…introduction
    ori flomin and antonio ramos…dance
    antonio ramos…dance
    kaleidophonic…music
    sheila anozier, belinda becker, marguerite hamden, shola jones, joseph laurro…dance (mike ramsey-drum)
    jennifer burch…wordsongs
    oren bloedow…music
    charlie burnham…music
    all donations from 4:30 class and performances go to partners in health. 50% of the shala’s income for feb 14 will go to partners in health.
  • Free Valentine’s Day Yoga
    Introduce someone you care about to Bikram Yoga NYC on Valentine’s Day and he/she will receive a free class! Valid for any class at all 4 locations.
    Bikram Yoga NYC

Yogis Behaving Badly

Originally published Business2 Magazine/September 2002 by Paul Keegan

Yogis Behaving Badly
“Be successful” is the new mantra of the yoga universe, which has become so competitive that trying to crack the big leagues is far more difficult than it was even a few years ago. But how do yogis in our covetous culture separate themselves from the pack without violating asteya, the yama that strictly forbids stealing? For millennia, the intricate techniques of yoga were passed down freely from teacher to student. Today they form a collection of highly marketable intellectual properties — a phenomenon that has only encouraged some rather unenlightened behavior.

Bikram says there has been so much stealing of his “hot yoga” techniques during the last few years that he had to spend $500,000 in January for a lawyer to trademark his sequence of 26 asanas, or yoga poses, as well as his word-for-word monologues describing how to do them. Thus yoga, the franchise, was born. “People were doing illegal things,” Bikram growls. “I had to stop them.”

At Jivamukti in New York City — the downtown studio with 2,000 students per week and a website that lists 51 celebrity clients, from Steve Martin to Monica Lewinsky — owner David Life complains that several former teachers have set up shop nearby, offering the same method he painstakingly developed with co-owner Sharon Gannon during the last 17 years. “They’re not calling themselves Jivamukti, but the staff is almost 100 percent certified through our training program,” Life says, adding that he might consider taking action if they start using the word Jivamukti — which, naturally, the couple has trademarked.

Yoga teachers respond that big schools like Jivamukti and Yoga Works in Los Angeles don’t pay them nearly enough — $25 per class with 10 students, plus $2.50 for each additional student the teacher attracts, is not unusual — despite having revenue of well over $1 million per year. Such schools make the situation worse, they say, by requiring teachers to sign contracts that prohibit them from teaching at other schools within a wide geographical radius. “Most teachers simply want to share it, to give the gift of yoga,” says Mark Stephens, who recently opened the L.A. Yoga Center in Westwood. “Schools shouldn’t have contracts preventing them from doing that.”

Yoga scholars say these clashes are the inevitable result of trying to sell a spiritual experience that shouldn’t be marketed in the first place. But that hasn’t slowed the mad dash to own a slice of divinity: When Stephens started his business, he was amazed to find that nearly every sacred yoga word or phrase had been trademarked. The latest: A New York company selling “perfumes and colognes and essential oils for personal use” has applied for a trademark for “shanti,” the ancient Sanskrit word for peace. read more

Dear Lil’ Devas Offers $500 for Dear Lil’ You

posted by freebean

Not into donning the tiny bikram shorts?
Looking for a little more coverage?

*Enter Dear Lil’ Devas.*

The makers of Toronto’s locally created, customizable, uber comfy bamboo and organic cotton yoga garb offer just that. Among their most unique pieces is the multi-tasking blanket/wrap – yes that is right, a blanket (amazing for svasana or snuggling) and a long wrap skirt (for the yogi, kilt-like apparel to guard your loins after sweatin’ it out yoga style; for yoginis, I don’t really have to say anything else, do I?).

Debuting in April are their SNUG, lady capris (sorry, no links yet – patience my dears) – wonder if these will be the Bikram shorts competitor(?), but I have a feeling that they will have a lil’ more length and of course are a bamboo/cotton interlocking blend.

And you gotta love their ‘good vibes policy,’ which may help you feel better about accumulating more yoga stuff, it certainly beats those sweat-shop bi-products with synthetic (yes, poly and ester are cousins of plastic) fibers that don’t allow your skin to breathe and fill up landfills without the hope of ever decomposing after they go out of fashion.

*freebean now steps down from the soap box.*

In a nutshell, DLD takes less from the earth and makes beautiful things with it, and then gives back to the community. And if that wasn’t enough to make you a fan, now Dear Lil’ Devas is hosting a drawing for $500 (a credit for their yoga gear for your cash-strapped, conscious lifestyle), simply become their FB fan and you’ll be entered! (The odds are pretty good, since they have a rather intimate FB fanbase at the moment, although I have a feeling that may change soon…)

Be sure to become a fan before March 13th, 2009 (think of it as your kharmic litmus test)!!!

a dispatch from Neal Pollack at the sixth-annual international yoga championship (read: balls like atom bombs)

posted by lalabean

“Top Yogi” by Neal Pollack [who practices ashtanga]
Rabbit poses, coconut water, and a Bikram-practicing dance team at the international yoga championship.

To those of us who’ve spent years practicing yoga in an atmosphere of soft-lit candles, chanting, and nonjudgmental good vibes, the idea of a yoga competition sounds about as absurd as the idea of competitive prayer. On my way to the 6th Annual International Yoga Asana Championship, held at the Westin Hotel LAX on the weekend of Feb. 7, I steeled myself to bear witness to some sort of whacked-out yoga circus, and that’s more or less what I got. But a lot of yoga culture feels weird and circuslike to me anyway, so I would have felt disappointed if it had ended up being otherwise. I can now also tell you that there’s a chance competitive yoga will soon be an official event at the Summer Olympics.

At the center of the weekend, wearing flashy suits and various fedoras, stood Bikram Choudhury, the animating force behind the competitive yoga circuit. Here’s a man who’s copyrighted his style of yoga (26 postures, repeated twice, in a room heated to 105 degrees Fahrenheit), sends cease-and-desist letters to those who dare flout the copyright, and, in interviews, summarily dismisses all other forms of American yoga while also bragging about his love for McDonald’s and his large fleet of self-restored Rolls-Royces. He once famously told Business 2.0 magazine that his yoga was the “only yoga.” When asked why, he said it was because he has “balls like atom bombs, two of them, 100 megatons each. Nobody fucks with me.” Not surprisingly, other yoga circles view him and his particular craft with everything from mildly dismissive amusement to a disdain coming close to disgust…

…continue reading at SLATE