Monthly Archives: April 2012

Public Displays of Yoga

I’m not a fan of PDA, but I am guilty of PDY: Public Displays of Yoga.

Today, The Baltimore Chop posted an editorial, titled “Stop Doing Yoga in Public.” It’s safe to say that the author is not doing Natarajasana outdoors:

“Listen yoga people: when we see you downtown on the edge of the water standing on one foot welcoming the dawn and chanting mantras, it’s all we can do not to shove you into the harbor. It’s gauche. You look like an asshole. You are an asshole.”

Being "gauche" in Beijing

Admittedly, the author states that the article is half-satire. I’ll admit, PDY can be annoying. Maybe SFO built the world’s first yoga room so that yogis would stop headstanding on the moving walkways. But, asshole? Damn. That’s a wee harsh. Sometimes there’s a misconception that yogis are either pushing their spiritual agenda or flaunting their physical practice when doing yoga outside the studio. I don’t think that’s the case. Sometimes yogis just want to practice or meditate out in nature. Sometimes yogis just want to take a picture mid-asana and make it their profile picture. Not unlike a couple making-out on a park bench, it’s really not that big of a deal or that interesting. It’s not like we’re playing naked bongos outside.

So tell me, do you partake in PDY? Or am I the only asshole in the room?

-The Humble Warrior

Impressive PDY!

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Be A Yoga Slut

A couple of years ago, I was a total yoga slut. I would take class from any teacher who taught at my go-to studio. Soon enough, there was no teacher left on the roster who I hadn’t yet experienced. I was proud of this knowledge. I felt worldly in that I possessed knowledge of who lived up to the hype and who didn’t.

Chances are if you take from well-known teachers, you are used to their absences as they teach workshops afar or abroad. This leads me to the dreaded subject of subs. There’s nothing worse than having a stressful day, expecting that you’ll restore some bliss at your usual class, only to find out – either in advance online or at the moment you enter the studio – that a sub is teaching!

You have a few options:
a) Don’t do yoga. Your teacher’s hiatus is your hiatus.
b) Google the hell out of the sub to see if you want to take their class. Check their website, credentials, and photos while you’re at it.
c) Take class from the sub.
d) (If you didn’t know in advance) Run out of the studio before the sub sees you – as fast as you can if you happen to know him or her.

The answer is alway C, right? Unfortunately, as we become experienced yogis, we sometimes become jaded yogis. It’s ironic how inflexible we become. We have our usual teachers because we know that they consistently deliver, and we cast subs off as wild cards. But regardless of whether a sub is good or bad, they always have something unique to offer: their point-of-view. It’s important to experience different perspectives in yoga so that we don’t turn into clones of our teachers. A sub might offer a different cue or access point that your usual teacher would not be able to offer.

The teacher should never be more important than the practice. As much as we love our teachers, it’s important not to get attached to them. It’s only natural to have a preference for certain teachers, but they shouldn’t be the catalyst for your practice. Maintaining a non-attached practice is important because God-forbid if your teacher moves away, you wouldn’t be left high and dry.

So, when it comes to who you’ll practice with, be promiscuous. You’ll be all the wiser for it.

-The Humble Warrior

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It’s All Good, Broga.

Lugging your yoga mat around the city (especially in San Francisco) is like walking a puppy in that the topic inevitably creeps its way into your conversations with everyday strangers. Initially, it’s a pretty generic Q&A that I don’t mind answering (how long? where? what style? etc.), but it gets interesting when you get to hear others people’s take on yoga – especially with men.

From my experience, a lot of men are pretty very skeptical about trying yoga. Lotuses, chanting, yoga pants… need I say more? A barista I was chatting with the other day told me that he wasn’t flexible enough and that he wanted to get more flexible before he tried yoga. I wanted to shout out, “NO, you don’t have to! It’s all about coming as you are. It’s not about what the guy (woman, more probably) next to you is doing, but that you are doing your own practice.” Thank God I didn’t say that because it sounds pretty lame and probably would not make him any more likely to try yoga. But those are the words I hear all time in yoga classes. It’s not about what the person next to you is doing. While I agree with that statement, it’s practically meaningless to new students. If they have no idea what Eka Pada Rajakapotasana is then it’s all about what the person next to you is doing. And if that new student is an inflexible guy who happens to practice next to a naturally bendy girl who can smile while in Eka Pada Rajakapotasana, it can be pretty discouraging.

There are a bunch of factors for why men are skeptical about trying yoga:

  • Most yoga classes these days are All-level meaning that many students already have a consistent practice.
  • Men don’t get to utilize their brute strength like they’re used to using in other activities.
  • The ratio of men to women in a yoga class is that of a typical ballet class (unless you’re in a big city).
  • Most yoga classes are taught by women.

So, how can we get more dudes to try out yoga?

Broga.

When I first heard the term, I was simultaneously intrigued and repulsed. I imagined a douchey frat boy kicking into a headstand while performing a keg stand all at the same time. I kept thinking that I didn’t need a dumbed-down version of yoga in order for me to start practicing. But then I got off my high-horse and realized that it’s just not how I perceive a typical yoga class as being. A prototypical yoga class now wasn’t the prototypical yoga class taught in India a couple centuries ago. So-what if a typical Broga class has no spiritual component or incorporates core work worthy of a P90X workout. There are yoga classes catered specifically to women, so creating a yoga class that caters specifically to men should be just as worthy. Any yoga is good yoga, in my book. Alan Nett, a certified Iyengar teacher, met construction workers halfway by teaching at their work sites and naming poses after construction tools that the workers were familiar with. So maybe it’s time to meet our potential Bro-gis halfway. And who knows, Broga classes could be the stepping stone that arms dudes with the curiosity to try out other styles of yoga.

And one day, just maybe, they’ll be chanting Om Namah Shivaya… like the rest of us weirdos. And if not, who gives a shit. It’s all good, bro.

-The Humble Warrior

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Jiro Dreams of Sushi [Review]

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Tsukiji Fish Market

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Sushi from Sushi Dai

 

I’m so happy that food porn from Japan isn’t pixelated.

Otherwise, I wouldn’t have been able to fully admire the sushi in the documentary, Jiro Dreams of Sushi. For a mere 30,000 yen ($362USD at the moment!), you can dine at the tiny Sukiyabashi Jiro, tucked underneath the subway station in the affluent Ginza district in Tokyo. The restaurant can seat ten, has 3 Michelin stars, and requires a reservation one month in advance… and I was impatient when I had to wait an hour to eat at Sushi Dai in Tokyo’s Tsukiji fish market to eat the best sushi I’ve had in my life so far.

Along with the massive amounts of sushi porn shown in Jiro, you also get a glimpse of Japanese work ethics: patience and perseverance, especially. Patience is evident when you see chef Jiro’s son and protégé – who is arguably a master sushi chef himself – performing seemingly arbitrary tasks such as drying seaweed with as much dedication as a seasoned yogi taking Downward Dog for the umpteenth time. And Jiro himself, now 85 years old, shows perseverance by showing up to work every day to try to elevate his craft. One thing that Jiro said that really stuck with me is (and I’m paraphrasing here), “You must fall in love with your work. And then you must give your life to it.”

Films like Jiro remind you to find the things that you love doing because you can never be a master at something you don’t love doing. Sounds as simple as putting a piece of fish on top of rice and calling it sushi. But we all know it’s not that easy. The things we love take practice. And more practice. And more practice.

-The Humble Warrior

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