Archive for November, 2010

Today’s edition of Yoga Tattuesday profiles Jennifer Tallini, who many of you might know as the founder of Yoga with Style, an “online emporium of all things yoga”!

Here’s a picture of Jennifer’s tattoo:

Now, I know you might be thinking, “Whaaa?! That’s not a yoga-inspired tattoo…that’s a celtic cross!” Well, you’d be right…or, at least partly right. While the latter part may be true, the former part certainly is not.

Stay with me here.

Jennifer’s middle name is Erskine, an unusual family name which she shares with her great aunt Ruth. When Aunt Ruth died, she left a number of family heirlooms to Jennifer, one of which was a necklace with a celtic cross (pictured below) that Ruth had purchased during a trip to Paris, France. Although Jennifer never met her great aunt Ruth, she always felt a special connection to her given their shared name. She explains that family connection has always been very important to her because she lost her father at a very young age.

After Jennifer and her husband had children, Jennifer admitted (like many moms out there can likely attest) that while she had practiced yoga very regularly for a long time, it became more difficult to maintain her regular practice while raising two young kids. Although her practice was not as regular as it used to be, she noted that it was because of her yoga and meditation practice – as imperfect as it was – that she was able to define herself and become comfortable with her true self without judgment. Around this time, Jennifer was choosing her symbol for her next tattoo and was having great difficulty deciding. One day, she was wearing her aunt’s celtic cross and it hit her: she would have an image of the celtic cross tattooed on to her body. Jennifer said:

The cross reminds me of my connection to [my great aunt Ruth], a soul that is part of me, and it is something I cherish. It defines my background and is symbolic of my family’s heritage. It is also, to me, a personal mandala – so I had it placed in the center of my lower back. So it’s not a specific yoga symbol as an OM or lotus etc, but it was born from learning more about myself through yoga and embracing myself and all that I am, my own personal mandala.

And there you have it. A yoga-inspired tattoo which reminds one pretty cool yogini to be true to herself. Jennifer runs the web-based business Yoga with Style, which she started while recovering from a hip injury. She is opening her first boutique on December 2!  I highly recommend this website for any yoga-related purchases you might require for the holidays.

Thanks, Jennifer, for sharing your tattoo and your story with us!

If you, or someone you love, has a yoga-inspired tattoo and would like to share it with the whole wide world, please follow the instructions below:

How to participate:

1) Please email me photo of your tattoo: My email address is: yogabird03@gmail.com.

2) Along with the photo, please also include your name, where you’re from, what you do, etc. Be sure to include your blog, your website, etc. (if you have one), so that I can link to it in the post.

3) Please also include any information about how you started practicing yoga. 4) And most importantly, tell me why you chose your yoga-inspired tattoo! I look forward to hearing from you and to seeing your ink!


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courtesy of the NYTimes


Yesterday’s New York Times profiled an emerging campaign backed by the Hindu-American Foundation called the “Take Back Yoga” campaign. The group encourages that yoga practitioners learn more about the ancient Hindu traditions which they say are the root of yoga practice.  While this is a seemingly small group of people, their message, or rather the question that their message raises – who owns yoga – has sparked an intense debate and has drawn responses from some heavy hitters on both sides.

In June, it even prompted the Indian government to begin making digital copies of ancient drawings showing the provenance of more than 4,000 yoga poses, to discourage further claims by entrepreneurs like Bikram Choudhury, an Indian-born yoga instructor to the stars who is based in Los Angeles. Mr. Choudhury nettled Indian officials in 2007 when he copyrighted his personal style of 26 yoga poses as “Bikram Yoga.”

Organizers of the Take Back Yoga effort point out that the philosophy of yoga was first described in Hinduism’s seminal texts and remains at the core of Hindu teaching. Yet, because the religion has been stereotyped in the West as a polytheistic faith of “castes, cows and curry,” they say, most Americans prefer to see yoga as the legacy of a more timeless, spiritual “Indian wisdom.”

“In a way,” said Dr. Aseem Shukla, the foundation’s co-founder, “our issue is that yoga has thrived, but Hinduism has lost control of the brand.”

The “Take Yoga Back” campaign had a somewhat quiet beginning:

The effort to “take back” yoga began quietly enough, with a scholarly essay posted in January on the Web site of the Hindu American Foundation, a Minneapolis-based group that promotes human rights for Hindu minorities worldwide. The essay lamented a perceived snub in modern yoga culture, saying that yoga magazines and studios had assiduously decoupled the practice “from the Hinduism that gave forth this immense contribution to humanity.”

Soon, Dr. Shukla made his argument in a piece for The Washington Post, in which he said that yoga had been the victim of “intellectual property theft”.  Didn’t take long for the likes of Dr. Deepak Chopra, an Indian-American writer who has made his living popularizing alternative medicine techniques as well as yoga.

For Dr. Uma V. Mysorekar, the president of the Hindu Temple Society of North America, the campaign represents the growing pains of the Indian-American population in the United States:

A naturalized immigrant, [Ms. Mysorekar] said Take Back Yoga represented a coming-of-age for Indians in the United States. “My generation was too busy establishing itself in business and the professions,” she said. “Now, the second and third generation is looking around and finding its voice, saying, ‘Our civilization has made contributions to the world, and these should be acknowledged.’”

It is an interesting debate that I’m sure is just beginning to rage.  Thoughts?

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This weekend, I’ve been in Chicago with my family and it has been great.  While the weather in Los Angeles is preferable to the weather in Chicago (Holy Patanjali, I forgot how cold it is here!), there are certain things I miss about it.  One of those things is the Chicago yoga culture.  Man, oh man, do I miss it! Remember that scene in “So, I Married An Axe Murderer” where the Mike Meyers character goes home to visit his family and his father (also played by Mike Meyers) shows him the Scottish Hall of Fame gracing the wall of the staircase?  Well, for the sake of appreciating what I can have only in small doses, here is my Chicago Yoga Hall of Fame, or ten Chicago yoga studios, entities, yogis, and yoginis, that are super cool:

courtesy of yoyoga.com

10.  Joan Budilovsky:  The author of “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Yoga” (and “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Meditation” and “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Massage”). Yep, she’s a Chicagoan.  And a neat lady.

9.  Yoga at Millenium Park:  During the only months where the weather is suitable for outdoor activity (June through September…although that’s arguable), the park district offers free yoga in Millenium Park.  Who knows? Maybe you’ll get to listen to rehearsals from the symphony while you’re practicing?

8. Namaste Charter School: Check out the above video about Namaste Charter School on CNN’s Anderson 360!

7. Great Yoga Studios:  There are so many fantastic yoga studios around Chicago.  Several of them will get special attention in this post.  But I needed a separate post to name just a few of the others such as: Yoga Now, Nature Yoga, Sweet Pea (dedicated to prenatal yoga), and YogaView.  Those are just a few, but there are a million more.

6.  Home of Great Yogi Bloggers (and Teachers):  Like Linda Sama-Karl and Brooks Hall!!

5.  Yoga Chicago:  I am, without fail, always at least 15 minutes early to every single yoga class I attend.  One of my favorite rituals when I lived in Chicago was getting to class early to sit in the lobby and read the free bi-monthly publication called Yoga Chicago.  It is such a fantastic publication.  I love it so much that when my mom comes to visit me in L.A., she brings as many copies as she can reasonably fit into her suitcase.  I could read it online…but, surprisingly, I like my periodicals to be in paper form.

4. Gabriel Halpern:  An Iyengar yoga legend, his yoga studio Yoga Circle has been open for more than 25 years.

3. Moksha Yoga Center:  This is the first yoga studio I ever studied at.  My two teachers from this studio, Kim Wilcox and Rich Logan, continue to be my favorite yoga teachers ever.  If you are ever in Chicago and you are looking for a good class, I would start at Moksha, with one of Kim or Rich’s classes.  Just.  Awesome.

2.  Temple of Kriya Yoga:  The yoga studio where I went to teacher training (so did #10, by the by).  It is a phenomenal place.

1.  My best yoga buddies: Amy (my sister), Juicy (my soul sister), and Dewbird (my mom, pictured above).  It is so important to have yoga buddies, and when we’re all back in Chicago, our favorite thing to do is go to class. I really miss my yoga buds.

All right, Chicago yogis…which ones did I miss???

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Thoughts on Gratitude

Just wanted to take a moment to say thank you to all of the readers of this blog.  It has been a whirlwind in the last few months since this blog was born. My first post was published on August 30, 2010.  Three months, 68 posts, 231 comments, and 5,424 hits later, (not to mention…I learned how to twitter!  And I’ve made 195 tweets!) this little blog is still going strong!  Thanks especially to the participants of Yoga Tattuesday: Angela McWilliams, Ashley Heddy-Davis, Stephanie Renaud, Matt Williamson, and Sarah Kohl, who’s personal stories continue to be the most popular posts on this blog.

So, in celebration of this holiday and of the readers, here are some of my favorite thoughts on gratitude:

“Let us be grateful to people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.” — Marcel Proust

“Wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving.” – Khalil Gibran

“You simply will not be the same person two months from now after consciously giving thanks each day for the abundance that exists in your life. And you will have set in motion an ancient spiritual law: the more you have and are grateful for, the more will be given you.” — Sarah Ban Breathnach

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” — Albert Einstein

Have any favorite poems or quotes on gratitude?  Share them here!

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Yoga Art

Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of noodling around on the Internets looking at yoga art. It is really amazing to see the vast amount of artwork out there created by artists who are so obviously inspired by yoga.  So, from time to time, I hope to bring you some examples of beautiful artwork inspired by yoga.

For instance, here’s a beautiful watercolor painting of Yogananda posted on one of my favorite art websites:

This was painted by artist Michael Van Sant, who gave me permission to post his painting here. You can visit his art website at Deviant Art…he has some amazing stuff on there.  Isn’t it beautiful?  I have always thought that there was a certain intriguing quality about Yogananda’s eyes in the original photograph. It was captured so well in this painting.

Here’s to artists!  And here’s to artists inspired by yoga!   Thanks, Michael, for allowing me to share your work with the world.

Have a great weekend everyone!

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For this Yoga Tattuesday, I bring to you the tattoo of Sarah Kohl of Columbia, Missouri:  Here’s a neat photo of Sarah and her ink:

And here’s a full photo of her tattoo, which appears on the inside of her left forearm:

Sarah’s tattoo reads: “Om Namah Shivaya”, which is a mantra you’ve probably heard in yoga class. Here’s why Sarah said she was drawn to this particular mantra:

Om Namah Shivaya has been my mantra for quite some time.  The sound of all 7 chakras in alignment giving us courage to honor all that we are capable of becoming is such a beautiful thing – it speaks to my soul!  I knew that I wanted it on my body for the rest of my life.  I chose to put it on the inside of my forearm so that I see it when I reach for something.  It reminds me to make good choices.  It reminds me to reach out to others.  It reminds me to reach for what I believe, to grab life with gusto, to be all that I am capable of being.  I see it when my heart is leading my head in arm balances and inversions, when I’m destroying obstacles in Virabhadrasana 2, and other asanas, but I always see it when I’m finding myself being totally present on and off the mat.

Sarah currently lives in Colombia, Missouri, where she is a yoga teacher and manager of Yoga Sol.  She also writes a yoga blog called Sarahsana, which I love.  Sarah’s yoga story is also pretty awesome:

I’ve been doing yoga off and on for nearly half of my life.  I remember being a tiny little girl, 3 or so, and turning on PBS to watch Sesame Street. I almost always turned it on a little too early, so I watched the last few minutes of Lilias Yoga and was amazed.  I wasn’t sure what she was doing, but I loved it and I wanted some of it.  It took me until I was about 19, however, to ever give it a go.  I had entered college and got caught up in the workout craze, but honestly, I wasn’t crazy about it.  I needed something that strengthened me from the inside out, that empowered me, that encouraged and enriched me, that built a spiritual skeleton, not just a muscular one.  At 19 years old, I started my yoga journey.  I found hope, peace, inspiration, healing, love, joy, courage, curiosity, spirit, connection, prana, breath, and life on the mat and haven’t looked back.  It’s been a 15 year love affair and I fall more deeply in love every day.

Thanks for sharing your tattoo with us, Sarah! And for sharing your beautiful yoga story!

If you, or someone you love, has a yoga-inspired tattoo and would like to share it with the whole wide world, please follow the instructions below:

How to participate:

1) Please email me photo of your tattoo: My email address is: yogabird03@gmail.com.

2) Along with the photo, please also include your name, where you’re from, what you do, etc. Be sure to include your blog, your website, etc. (if you have one), so that I can link to it in the post.

3) Please also include any information about how you started practicing yoga.

4) And most importantly, tell me why you chose your yoga-inspired tattoo!

I look forward to hearing from you and to seeing your ink!

Read Full Post »

Yoga for Survival

Courtesy of The Daily Mail

When Rachel and Paul Chandler retired early nearly one year ago to set sail on their 38ft yacht the Lynn Rival, they planned on fulfilling a lifelong dream: to sail around the world.  But as they sailed from the Seychelles, an archipelago of islands off the coast of Madagascar, to Dar-es-Salaam in Tanzania, their ship was hijacked by Somali pirates.

The Chandlers survived an incredible 388 days being held captive in the Somali desert.

In yesterday’s edition of The Daily Mail, the couple discussed their ordeal with reported Barbara Jones.  It is a fascinating read, in part, because they say they kept alive by practicing yoga.

They described their untrammeled joy to be free — and revealed how, despite total despair, they held out because, as Rachel said: ‘We are survivors.’ … [They practiced] yoga and aerobics to keep fit and healthy while the pirates watched. 

Apparently, the pirates were “bemused” by their practice. 

I highly recommend reading the entire interview.  While I’m not surprised that their yoga practice helped them survive, I am surprised out their response to the country of Somalia and their captors.

Rachel began by saying: ‘People will expect us to want these people dead. But we do not. We actually want to make close contact with Somali people when we get back to England and try to persuade the international community to help restore law and order in their country. That way our suffering will not have been in vain.

We want to follow what happens in Somalia and do what little we can to help people there lead peaceful and secure lives one day.

We know that what happened to us at the hands of criminals in not part of the Somali culture or religion.

We are happy to be free now and able to meet the civilised, decent, everyday people of this country. Even those misguided young men who held us for so long could be helped if they had had education instead of brutality.

The Chandlers are extraordinary people.

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