March 25, 2011

It's a (downward facing) dog's life

This is Wu practicing heat yoga beside the fireplace.

This winter, the Spousal Unit started taking yoga classes and loved it. I was curious but it was her gig so I waited to be invited. I thought it might be a good balance to the other kinds of things I do, like karate, running, weights, jumping rope and smiting a heavy bag with hands and feet.

Karate and yoga are (very) distant cousins, if some of the legends are right. There's a chance that some of its influence came with Buddhism to China and parts farther east.

I expected it to be a nice, relaxing thing that might help with old injuries, of which there are many. There was some of that to be sure. I did not quite expect it to kick my hind quarters, but that's exactly what it's doing, especially in the power and heat yoga classes. I had no idea that plank asanas or positions were even harder to do than knuckle push ups.

Anyhow, on a recent visit to a public library, I came across a fun and diverting book about the early days of yoga in America, where it was often seen as a suspicious and possibly lewd activity that undermined public morals.

The book was The Great Oom: The Improbable Birth of Yoga in America by Robert Love. The "Oom" in question was P.A. Bernard, a Midwestern kid who ran into an apparently authentic yoga master in turn of the century Nebraska of all places. After various run ins with the law and the forces of decency, he established himself on a spread near Nyack, New York and attracted many prominent Americans in the first half of the century. Bernard was part yogi, part huckster, part ladies man and 3/4 showman.

It's a fun read if you feel so inclined. And I think I'm hooked as far as the yoga thing goes.

AUSTERITY. Cutting budgets in a time of high unemployment is not the best way to deal with the crisis or with long term debt, Paul Krugman argues.

GETTING MEAN. From the UK Guardian, here's a look at how potentially violent far right nativist groups have been energized by Obama's presidency.

HEALTH CARE REFORM. Here are some ideas about how to defend it.

FAST FOOD WORLD. American-style diets are making people sick around the world.



Barbara said...

Just started taking yoga also at the Hanford Center in St. Albans. I was a runner for 20 years and have been going to the gym for 30 years, so I'm in relatively good shape for my rapidly advancing years. Yoga is ridicuously hard!! I think the instructor plays that no-beat music and dims the lights to lower our blood pressure so we won't be as inclined to do her harm after she has twisted us in knots.

hollowdweller said...

Our late friend Lynne and her husband Sonny were both yoga instructors and Sonny had studied under Bikram Choudhury. Lynne used to come over to the house and lead us thru it. It's the fairly strenuous hot yoga.

Lynne is gone but her daugher still teaches it.