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Friday, December 15, 2006

 

Street Yoga

Ravi posted a link to a youtube video on street yoga on the yoga.com message boards:



It is pretty impressive and moving!

The video is about 5 minutes long and shows the concrete benefits of yoga for poor and homeless kids. Note that these kids are doing backbends, handbalances and are sitting in the lotus position (which I can't do).

The program is called Street Yoga.

Folks, this is as authentic as it gets!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

 

Yoga and Lap Dancing????


I often visit the yoga.com message boards. I was a bit surprised to find the following thread there:

http://www.yoga.com/forums/forums/thread-view.asp?tid=22961&posts=20

Good Lord- what do you all think of this -

I found another yoga center in the town next to me, went to check it out, they have the usual yoga, pilates blah blah - but they also have a "learn how to be a stripper/lap dance" class - not just a one time "seminar", but a weekly thing.

Now, don't get me wrong, I am NOT a prude, I was a stripper myself for 13 years...but lap dancing being taught at a yoga center?? Is it just me or is that kind of against the whole...the whole...I don't know, the whole scheme of things. It just turned me off.
There were the usual "oh, I want to see that!" type of posts (I made one) and some "that isn't compatible with the spiritual aspects of yoga" posts as well.

The original poster made an interesting comment:

Ok, as a former stripper, let me say that strippers as a whole are lost souls - yes, there are always those that are "paying their way thru college" or saving up to "start their own business" but let me tell you from experience, those types are few and far between. The lifestyle is rampant with drugs, alcohol, and low self esteem. As far as it being an ego boost to have all those men lusting at you, I wish every stripper had ears good enough to hear from the stage what these men are actually saying about them. - it is neither flattering or positive in any way. It is degrading. I found this out when I stopped dancing and just started bartending in gogo bars, and could overhear most of the conversation amoung the customers.

In order to do that kind of work and do it well and survive emotionally at the same time, you MUST be able to turn yourself off and become a sort of robot. This is not a healthy way to be. Maybe some of you will argue that alot of jobs or situations in life could be that way, but when you are selling sex or even just your sexuality, it is different. I met a few women in the business who had no problem at all with the work, who didn't need to seperate themselves from it, who didn't need 3 shots of Cuervo and a few beers to look like they were actually enjoying themselves, and let me tell you - those women were scary!!

I think that it is my feelings about the ugliness I saw and experienced in that business that made me have such a strong reaction to seeing this class offered at this particular studio. I also understand it is my choice not to go there. The classes being offered are not for strippers but for housewives or women who otherwise want to be more entertaining in the bedroom. And I have no problem with that - you have to keep sex interesting, and men are visual creatures - plus, the stripping etc can be fun for the female too, so I say go for it....but NOT in a yoga center. Not sure who mentioned in an earlier post about purity, but that word hits it right on the head with me. I want to go to my yoga classes, walk in the door and take a deep breath of all that yoga is to me now, and immerse myself in it. I feel anything outside of that would be a distraction to me in such a place.
Well said. I admit that when I visited the red light district of Amsterdam (a quick walk through), I felt no joy. Instead I felt pain for the ladies.

I admit that I have a somewhat negative reaction. N

Of course, I like seeing physically fit women doing stretches. But this type of stuff strikes me as a "hey, look at how enlightened I am; I can take an erotic dancing class".

There is nothing wrong with that, but it isn't the kind of place where I would go to learn yoga. I would rather any sexual thoughts that pop into my head be a very small, subtle part of the experience rather than the focus of it.

But, a quick google search produced many such places:

http://www.coursejunction.com/course_detail.cfm/id/12618

ourse Cost: $89.00

Course Name:

Stripping Workouts/Striptease Lessons & Lap Dancing Classes

Exotic dancing is much more than dancing sexy. Come gain the confidence to express your authentic self. This class is about you finding you. It’s learning how to reach deep within yourself to find your inner beauty and grace and combine these into sensual movements that only you can express.

The non-intimidating style of the class helps you to overcome inhibitions and fosters your confidence and self-expression. All of our instructors are trained to create an environment that is supportive, not competitive.

This class will empower you to:

-Experience the benefits of a confident walk -Create an immediate impression as you enter a room -Project your intentions through body language. -Send and receive nonverbal messages through eye contact -Explore your self expression and be more spontaneous -Attract others to you -Overcome inhibitions and feel beautiful -Feel powerful and free

Dress comfortably in workout gear as your basic outfit and bring an oversized button down shirt and a pair of heels.

**There is no nudity in any of our classes.** The Art of Exotic Dancing Workout is Four 1 hour classes. $80 The Core Workshop I is three hours in length. $89.00 The Core Workshop II is 2 hours in length. $89 Chair Moves is 2 hours in length. $89

Due to the sellout nature of our classes, pre-registration is required. Change and cancellation fees may apply.

“By taking the class, I realized what I had was exceptional. I learned whatever I am or have isn’t right or wrong…it’s mine and is to be celebrated and cherished. No matter what we look like, what we do or how long we’ve been on this Earth, we are extraordinary women with great things to offer the world. We learned to hold our heads high, walk with confidence and with that people would watch us in a new way. Seduction, through dance, was amazingly fun, but we learned the power of our confidence was far more seductive.”

- Molly, Age 41 Mother of 4, Wife

Instructor(s):

Karen Cooper, Laura Klekar, Clarissa Pierro, Rachel Sand

AOED Instructors are Everyday Women

Rachel Sand, Dallas hails from Philadelphia. She was the star instructor in the Northeast and brings her enthusiam to the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. Rachel is in the corporate sector working in downtown Dallas. She previously was a recruiter for a catholic college in Philadelphia.

Laura Klekar, Ft. Worth-Laura is a scientist who has made a huge impact in the Ft. Worth area. She has been an inpiration to many of her friends and now the dance community.

Karen Cooper, Irving/Southlake – AOED Instructor, 20+ yrs ballet experience, Leader in the Dallas dance community, Entrepreneur

Clarissa Pierro, Dallas/Rockwall – AOED Master Instructor, Art of Exotic Dancing Licensee, Motivational Speaker, Entrepreneur

Course Provider:

The Art of Exotic Dancing for Everyday Women

In 1998, two dozen women took the first AOED class and a phenomenon was launched. In just a few short years, tens of thousands of women have taken the course, purchased the video and read the book. Our class attracts women of all ages, shapes, sizes and ethnicities – the commonality is that each is seeking to unlock a realm inside. We are always happy to share our story and introduce you to the women who have taken the class. The instructors and students, diverse in ethnicity, age, size, shape, and local, are part of the vibrant community of women that are attending transformative workshops, Bachelorette parties, private retreats, private lessons, and other special events. The classes and workshops happen every month in each city, since 1998 and continue to explode throughout the U.S. and U.K. Run by Everyday Women for Everyday Women.



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Saturday, November 11, 2006

 

Yoga: November 11, 2006

Personal Athletics

Not much to report; this week saw me getting three short weight sessions, 4 yoga sessions, three 1-mile swims, 4 two mile runs on the treadmill, 1 three miler on the treadmill, and 4 bicycle rides (21, 12, 12, 33 miles). Two of my workouts were "bricks" (bike then run). My injury continues to heal at a very slow pace.

Yoga
Yesterday, my teacher and I had our partner yoga workshop (30 minute session). It went reasonably well, though we did only a few of the things that we had practiced.

I've detailed some of our progress in these entries:
http://ollieyoga.blogspot.com/2006/07/partner-yoga-harder-than-it-looks.html

http://ollieyoga.blogspot.com/2006/06/partner-yoga-in-works.html

http://ollieyoga.blogspot.com/2006/07/partner-yoga-day-two.html

http://ollieyoga.blogspot.com/2006/07/yoga-class-i-prefer-to-be-touched-and.html

The partner yoga session followed two other thirty minute sessions, which were "gentle yoga" and "yoga for runners".

The highlight for me though was the night before where Vickie and I had a run-through at her house. I won't get into details (and no, there are no "steamy" details as I am married) but it was different to see her with her "hair down" so to speak.

Having fun with other yogis is all part of it, as far as I am concerned!


In my own individual practice, I had one mini-break-through: I was able to get one leg "up" (vertical) while in backbend.

No, I didn't look that good. And speaking of looking good: the woman in these photos is a BABE! She is pretty strong and flexible as well.

No, I won't tell you everything that I am thinking about here...or here...



I still haven't done a handstand of any sort as yet, though I can hold peacock feather for longer.

Ok, so you think you are good at yoga?

Check out the photos here:
http://www.limbermen.com/YogaChamps/index_menu.html

(this is the yoga asana championship gallery at http://www.limbermen.com, which is a site devoted to showing that men can be limber.)




Now for some comic relief. The following You-tube shows a yogi taking on some kung-fu types. The video is 9 and a half minutes long and is in French. But it is really funny and shows some outstanding yoga moves.





Toughest Sports?
Ok, so what is the toughest sport to play? When this question was asked on the Illinois Valley Strider Forum, (and we were limited to individual sports), I responed "boxing", as boxing requires: power, toughness, quickness, endurance, ability to endure pain and strategy. Evidently, some experts agreed with me.

See the following article from ESPN:
http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/sportSkills.



Sunday, October 22, 2006

 

Warrior III again

Personal: Athletics

I've reintroduced running into my program; over the past three days I've run one mile on the treadmill each day. Today, that one mile run followed a 40-41 mile bike ride that took me through parts of Pottstown, Edwards, Kramm and Hanna City.

I have new bicycle shoes and had to adjust my toe cages to accept these.

One thing: my mile runs have been 10 minutes, 9:30 and now 9:11, and they have gotten easier each time. But I note that doing 100% walking training gave me better preperation to run than cycling did.

Conclusion: if you can't run but want to keep your running fitness up, walking fast (if you can do that) works better than using the bicycle.

Of course, it might be a differnt story if one is running and wants to add another activity; I am talking about cross training for running when one cannot run at all.

I've also made some progress in my quest to get more comfortable in the Warrior III pose in yoga; a friend watched me try it and noticed that my hips were not parallel to the ground; I was attempting a "long" version.


He suggested that I switch to a more compact, "hips aligned with the ground" version, like this:



I seem steadier that way.

On another yoga note, I note with eager anticipation that the cartoon strip Get Fuzzy is about to do a rerun on an episode where Satchel takes yoga (click to see a larger version):

Sunday, October 08, 2006

 

yoga butt

Yoga Butt
Some photos:

This one is awesome; you know someone's straddle forward bend is really good when you can see most of their butt (and this case, a very cute butt) from the front!
Here is what I want my dancer pose to look like. Again you can see her cute buns from the front. No, I am not even close to this yet, and probably never will be. But this shows that I can always improve.
Here these yogis are in up dog (cobra would have their pelvis' on the mat)

Last night, my yoga teacher hosted an outdoor party near a pond in a wooded area. It was a good time, and I got to know some of my fellow yoga students a bit better.

Monday, October 02, 2006

 

Yoga and my people skills....

Yoga and People Skills
I got in a bit of a fight with my yoga teacher over politics; basically she hates Governor Blagojevich and, well, I merely dislike him. In other words, she is mad that I have decided that most of the "corruption" charges against him is the result of Republican hype and I'll vote for him.

So this morning, I get up and see this thread on the yoga.com message board: one of the yogis found out that one of his fellow teachers has made the Playboy "sexy girl next door" list!



I am thinking of e-mailing her this photo and saying this is what a real yoga teacher looks like! I suppose that would help matters, would it?

But, let's just say that this teacher wouldn't have any problem holding the attention of her class. Now whether or not the class would focus on the yoga or on her....

But in my case, given that most of the rest of class is sort of like me (middle aged to old, mostly out of shape, untoned and flabby), focusing on the yoga hasn't been a problem for me!

Sunday, October 01, 2006

 

Interesting article on Bicycling and Yoga

Yoga and bicycling can be complementary.

I know of at least one "yoga bicycle trip":

http://www.duvine.com/yoga.html

I just hope that these folks don't try headstands on their bikes! As far as how yoga can help a bicyclist, here in an old article (1999)

Article on Yoga and Bicycling

A yoga program can build a cyclist's strength and endurance and introduce flexibility to chronically tight muscles.

By Baron Baptiste and Kathleen Finn Mendola

Rudi Altig was a man before his time. In the 1960s, the German Tour de France bike racer known as the "yellow dwarf" was a yoga enthusiast. Before and after his arduous races he used yoga to relax his muscular body. Maybe he instinctively knew that yoga—with its ability to usher athletes though other dimensions and angles—is the perfect foil for bicycling, a one-dimensional sport.

As a bicyclist travels through one plane, he or she repeatedly overtaxes some muscles and underutilizes others. Watch a cyclist coming toward you, and you can read the imbalances. Rocking side to side signals that one hip is compensating for the other's weakness or inflexibility. Hips are the core of movement for the cyclist. If the core is weak, then the upper body has to work harder, and this can lead to back strain.

Likewise, if a thigh or knee flares out from the bicycle seat due to weakness or chronic tightness, that side of the body is doing less work. The hips, thighs, knees, and ankles should all be on one track—pointing straight ahead. If these body parts are off track, cyclists run the risk of wearing down ligaments and tendons, and developing imbalanced muscle groups. And in cyclists, the quadriceps are often overdeveloped. To compensate for this, the hamstrings shorten, tighten, and thus weaken.

The posture a cyclist conforms to astride a bike also contributes to muscle tension and imbalance: A bicyclist's spine is in a constant state of flexion, hunched over the handlebars. In order to achieve overall flexibility and balanced muscle groups, a biker needs to incorporate balancing, counteracting movements—for example, backbends, which stretch and elongate oft-used hip flexors and quadriceps. A yoga practice can help restore balance, first by taking the alignment principles of yoga and transferring them to how you sit on your bike.

Does Your Bike Fit?
Jon Bridenbaugh, a Portland, Oregon-based bike racer, took up yoga as part of his training as a bicyclist fitter. He attributes an improved sense of balance and endurance, and a subtle awareness of his center, to his weekly yoga classes.

Not only has Bridenbaugh seen improvement in his riding, he has also noticed a clear link between the tenets of yoga and bicycle positioning. A bicyclist's success and comfort level depend on how well he or she is fitted to his or her bicycle. Fitting specialists such as Bridenbaugh take the alignment principles of yoga and apply them to how a bicyclist relates to his bicycle.

After positioning a bicyclist on a stationary cycle, fitters take riders through a body alignment checklist:

Arms & Wrists. Your arms should be placed at right angles to your torso, in line with your shoulders. Your wrists should be in line with the shoulders or just slightly wider than them in order to distribute upper body weight evenly. If your arms are spread too wide, you can strain your shoulders. Too narrow a hold can collapse the chest, though for racers, a narrow stance improves handling when going downhill. To strive for this alignment, practice a modified Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana) with the arms bent, or a modified Downward-Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana), with the forearms flat on the floor, approximating the angle of your arms on your bike.

Torso. Your spine should be in a neutral position and your chest should be open so you can lean forward without strain. A strong, neutral spine allows the chest to open, which in turn facilitates oxygen intake. Tight hamstrings will limit how far the back will bend before forcing the chest to close. Try the standing forward bend Padahastasana or the seated forward bend Janu Sirsasana to achieve this neutral feeling in the spine.

Hips & Pelvis. The angle between the torso and the hips should not be hard or sharp—there should be adequate space for the hips to move freely. Warrior Pose (Virabhadrasana I, II, & III) can give you a sense of this open connection between the torso and the hips. Your saddle should be essentially flat-tilted slightly, to a maximum of three to five degrees. Just as the proper angle of your pelvis in Downward-Facing Dog allows you to distribute your weight evenly through your hands, arms, legs, and feet, a seat tilted too far forward tips the pelvis and adds undue pressure to the hands and wrists.

Finally, the entire body should be relaxed. A tension-free upper body is vital to a cyclist's comfort and endurance. Tension sucks up the power you can put into pedaling. French bike racer Bernard Hinault puts it this way, "You should feel like you can play piano while riding your bike." In other words, no death grips on the handlebars. Just let your arms hang loosely from the shoulders. For full body relaxation, think of how your body lets go of effort in Savasana (Corpse Pose) before getting aboard your bike.

Get into the Flow
Alignment will help you economize energy, allowing you to ride longer, more comfortably, but there are other yoga principles and practices that will also serve you well on a ride:

Flow. At the bottom of your pedal stroke, your knee should be straight and your foot parallel to the ground. Strive for the smooth strokes of professional cyclists, who are able to apply power throughout 360 degrees of the rotation instead of pedaling in squares, abruptly thrusting pedals up and down. Before your daily ride, try warming up with Sun Salutations to introduce the smoothness you're trying to achieve in your pedal stroke. This flowing series allows you to work out kinks in your movements, which over time translate to fluid transitions from one pose to another, the kind of continuous, flowing action you want in your pedal stroke.

Extension. Get as much extension as possible from your bike seat. A fitter will raise your seat until you have to rock side to side to reach pedals, then lower it until you don't have to rock anymore. You can practice the extension principle in any number of yoga poses. In particular, Padahastasana and Uttanasana, both forward bends, best approximate the feeling of extension you are striving for as you stretch from your pelvis.

Breath. Don't leave your breathwork at home when you ride. Even in intense effort, you want to connect the rhythm of your breath with your pedal strokes. As in yoga poses, breath is vital to reaching those tight, restricted muscles that are in need of oxygen. So transfer your pranayama practice and your awareness of the breath in postures to your biking, where muscles undergoing physical exertion are especially in need of oxygen.

Bicycling, like other linear sports such as running, hiking, and swimming, calls out for the counterbalancing benefits of yoga. Not only do poses aid in elongating and strengthening overtaxed muscles, but applying the finer nuances of yoga alignment will help you establish a new relationship with your bike, one of comfort and ease.

Baron Baptiste is a yoga teacher and athletic trainer in Cambridge, Massachusetts, known for his work with the Philadelphia Eagles and as the host of ESPN's "Cyberfit." Kathleen Finn Mendola is a health and wellness writer based in Portland, Oregon.


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