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Archive for the ‘Celebrities’ Category

Last week, The Financial Times profiled Russell Simmons, hip hop pioneer and co-founder of Def Jam Records.  Simmons, an avid yoga practitioner, is currently promoting his new book Super Rich: A Guide to Having it All, and is apparently spreading the word by inviting unsuspecting journalists to yoga classes.  Enter FT journalist, Vanessa Friedman, who accompanied Simmons to a master class at Jivamukti Yoga Center in New York City:

Jivamukti, a form of yoga that began in New York in 1984, involves practice both physical (the positions) and spiritual (chanting and a dharma discussion). Simmons has been a devotee for more than 15 years. He will do almost any kind of yoga – Ashtanga, Hatha, Iyengar – though rarely Bikram (which involves extremely hot rooms and heart-rate-elevating speed) but Jivamukti is his favourite, because of the teaching and philosophy.

Simmons was introduced to yoga by “Bobby Shriver and his girlfriend, Emma Watts, who is now President of Fox movies and used to be my intern, because I wanted to see hot girls, and I knew I’d be in a class with 58 women and us two guys.” They went to Maha Yoga in Los Angeles, to a class taught by Steve Ross (who is known for using loud rap music) and Simmons came away amazed. “All this noise that was always in my head, and which I associated with my success – this anxiety that I thought fuelled my drive – had stopped; I was totally calm, but I also felt so relieved, and I realised that was what I needed.” He went back the next day, and never stopped.

“It doesn’t get any easier,” he says, of both the postures and the philosophy. “You just realise how much more you have to learn.”

Simmons credits his yoga practice with being the catalyst for his vegan diet, practice of transcendental meditation, becoming an animal rights activities, and running several charities.  For him a daily practice is key:

He meditates for about 25 minutes every morning, does yoga for at least an hour and a half every afternoon, and meditates again at night. It is, he says, the part of his day that is “non-negotiable”.

“They know,” he continues, talking about his staff, “that every day I have to do yoga. It’s the most important thing in my life.” It is, he says, the place where he gets all his ideas and inspiration, where he can “quiet his mind”. This despite the fact that he prefers to practise in a class, and the more crowded the better.

“I like being surrounded by people who are also dedicated to yoga,” he says, which is why he asked me to join him at the masterclass, a three-hour session taught by David Life (Jivamukti’s co-founder) to 250 students.

Simmons says most of his new book Super Rich was inspired by yogic philosophy:

“I wanted to do it, because the text is really derived from yoga, though most of the people here would probably think it was baby food,” says Simmons. A teacher, Ruth Lauer-Manenti, came up and he told her that she inspired him, and that he had put a story from one of her dharma talks in his book. She smiled and said thank you and then told me: “Russell comes and supports everyone; he attends class with all the newest teachers. He is so humble.” When we went into the ballroom, she took the mat next to his. Before the class, I had explained that, while I have done some yoga, I’m not that familiar with it, and he said, “Don’t copy me! Copy Ruth.” Then he told me not to worry, everyone just did the best they could. When Simmons talks about yoga he is very serious, and I asked him if he had ever thought about becoming a teacher himself.

“I live with a woman who has gone through the Jivamukti program, and did her apprenticeship, but I can’t remember my Sanskrit, and I forget half the names of the postures,” he says. (Simmons was divorced from Kimora, the mother of his two daughters, in 2009 but they are still friends.) Then he laughed, and knelt on his mat, and Life began to murmur instructions: “Downward-facing dog to plank; bend knees and chin; upward-facing dog to downward-facing dog; jump forward, straighten legs, prayer up, bend back, dive down, step back to downward-facing dog.” Trying to follow along, I looked over at Simmons, and he – who is responsible for 13 different businesses and foundations – had a face as clean and cloudless as a summer sky.

Gotta love Uncle Russ.

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In the February issue of Shape magazine, cover girl (and Victoria’s Secret supermodel) Marissa Miller shares her secrets for a “hot bod”.  And they apparently do not include yoga.

Miller tells the magazine she prefers high intensity workouts as opposed to yoga and pilates:

“I go to a down-and-dirty boxing gym,” says Miller. “I don’t want to worry about how I look or whether I’m wearing the perfect outfit. For me, it’s about focusing. I’ve tried Pilates and yoga, but they’re a little too meditative for me. I need to really go for it, and do it hard!” Marisa said. “For me, it’s about focusing for an hour and a half on my work out.”

Thought I’d throw this up because I usually here about the latest celebrity who swears by yoga.  This was a nice change of pace. Otherwise…Marissa, let us know when your boxing routine renders your shoulders so tight that you’re unable to reach behind your back and pull your Vicky’s Secret thong underwear out of your ass crack.

 

 

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In this February’s edition of Harpar’s Bazaar, two very famous yogis get it on in some hot and sexy poses…not of the yogic kind.  Yes, Sting and his wife, Trudie Styler, grace the cover of the magazine and discuss the details of their romance  and sex life.  The article references that both Sting and Styler, who are 59 and 57, have a daily yoga practice.  Of course, Sting has extolled the virtues of yoga in many an interview, and Trudie has a yoga DVD out through Gaiam.

Good for them.

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A Yogi Faux Pas?  VOTE BELOW!!

Yesterday, I posted this little news item on Elephant Journal, and it got a huge response.  So I thought I’d share it here:

Picture yourself traveling home for the holidays.

You’ve no doubt trudged through horrible weather to get to the airport, and braved the long lines at airport security. You finally settle into your seat and peer out the window to see that a blizzard has arrived.  The pilot gets on the intercom and tells you that, unfortunately, you’ll be stranded on the tarmac for several hours until  conditions clear for take-off.

You wish you could just concentrate on reading your book, but another passenger decides that now would be the perfect time to practice yoga…Now…In the aisles…Of the stranded airplane.

This scenario was not just a figment of my imagination…this was reality for several hundred people aboard Virgin Atlantic from London to New York City this week.

The perpetrator of this bizarre performance?

Madonna.

Yes, the Material Girl decided that there was no better place and no better time for her to get in a little asana practice than on the tarmac, in the blizzard, and in the aisle of that airplane.

The other passengers of the flight were none too thrilled. Said one passenger:  “It was bad enough having to wait, but then she started doing her yoga in the aisles.”

Luckily the unwanted in-flight entertainment ceased when a bus came to collect Madonna and her entourage.  The other passengers? They had to wait an additional 2 hours for a bus to arrive to transport them out of the plane.

The comments so far have run the gamut, but mostly in Madge’s favor.  Here is just an idea of what readers at Elephant have been saying:

Team Madonna!

Linda-Sama: On a 17, 18 or 20 hr flight to India you bet your asana I’m doing yoga. For one thing, it’s dangerous to sit that long without moving around (Deep Vein Thrombosis.) While I’m not doing sun sals in the aisles, I am definitely moving and stretching and doing what is called tadasana vinyasa. Usually I go in the back where the attendants are, where there is more room, and do some lunges, Warr 1s, whatever my body needs. On more than one occasion, the flight attendants have joined in! As for disturbing other passengers, most are passed out asleep, watching a movie, or on their computers…I think yoga in the aisles is far less distracting than a screaming child kicking the back of your seat!

Dawna: Amen, sister, to Linda-Sama; I totally agree that on a long international flight, it is far better for people to feel free to stretch and move than worry about what others think about their asana practice. Not all yogis are as dramatic as Madonna, nor do we have entourages or private transportation. Since we’ve got to stick it out, we better be practicing yoga wherever we can for our health and safety. I had a pulmonary embolism at age 33 and was in the best shape of my life, never smoked and was uber healthy. Or so I thought. So I know first hand that we all must do our best to be compassionate to ourselves, our loved ones, and our fellow passengers in these situations, and I support passengers who for their own health and safety are getting into the aisles and doing yoga!

Manohar: Are you serious? Who’s bothered by YOGA? Maybe if she was blocking the way to the bathroom (or booze cart) that would cause a stir, but then surely it wouldn’t matter what she was doing in the aisle but just that she was blocking it!

Kimberley Rome: Birdie, I always do yoga on a long flight. I usually go back into the area where the attendants hang out, but I have done it in the isle if there’s too much congestion back there because of the restroom line. What’s the big deal about moving the lymph, blood, oxygen and muscles around in a cramped, not too healthy environment. Personally, my hit is that if it was such a big deal, it was probably more the fact that it was Madonna, than the fact that she was doing yoga. People love to snipe about celebrity. I’ve never gotten anything but a smile from folks, and it’s way less intrusive than some uncomfortable seat mate slumping asleep into my chair space. Quietly doing yoga, being present, and breathing — sounds like practice to me. Stranded on the tarmac? I think we would have a much happier and more compassionate planet if people whipped out a few asanas in every stressful situation. Think about if those folks complaining had focused on their breath, instead.

Lauren: i always encourage my students to practice yoga on a plane, and i myself practice during flights as well. it’s so important to move and get the circulation going. as long as you aren’t in anyone’s way, i’m 100% on board for yoga on a plane!!!

Tobye: Used to do the 12 hrs from London to Arizona a lot. Defo did yoga in the back of the 747. The laneway between the toilets is just right for squeezing into Prasarita padottanasana…A lot of the exercises they give you in the little handbook on those long-haul flights are all yoga poses…Most yogin would seek a private practice somehow…or at least be discreet. That said, peeps do strange things when they get stressed. Madonna was probably trying to control her anxiety at being delayed…

Kris R: Give me Madonna doing yoga over a screaming, kicking child or obnoxious drunk anyday.

Sarah Jessica: I routinely do yoga during long flights, but I usually go back by the loo and the emergency exit. Last time, on a flight from London to the US in September, the flight attendant chatted me up the whole time and we compared notes on our respective home studios and practices. I’m pretty sure I didn’t bother anyone. The aisles seem a bit tight to me, but meh, I don’t see why it would be a big deal. If you are stuck on a plane, its much more difficult to listen to a child scream or cry (for the child and the passengers) than to watch (or ignore) a yogi or two.

Beth: Seriously, people pay good money for that kind of show!

Team Birdie:

Allyson B: public masturbation…

yogadarla: def a faux pas! people are already close enough. i really dont want people sweating and exhaling all over. it’s travel. do your yoga in your seat. sheesh! (i am a yoga teacher i LIVE for sweat and breath but if you need to stretch on a plane- walk to the bathroom)

So, what do you guys think? Let’s put it to a vote:

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This week’s Yoga Tattuesday comes to you straight from Hollywood! Ever wonder which celebrities are secretly sporting tattoos inspired by their yoga or meditation practice?  Well, look no further, friendlies.  One such inked-up yogi celebrity is Drew Barrymore.  Drew told Elle magazine in August 2010, that this time last year, she was really struggling:

 

For three years straight, I’ve been burning the candle at both ends, and as of last December, I just didn’t have anything left…  I’ve been so aggressive about living life to the fullest and being plugged into everything, but now I’ve ripped the plug out of the wall and put it on the floor for a while.

So how did she plug back in?  Taking a cue from her father’s script (John Barrymore, also an actor, apparently travelled to India in the 60’s where he learned yoga and meditation. He later secluded himself in a California desert shack for five years where he did nothing but practice yoga, meditate and subsist off of wild plant life. Hand to Hanuman, I did not make that up), Drew planned a little solo trip to New Delhi, India, where she learned mantra and meditation. Sporting her “Breathe” tattoo, Drew told David Letterman:

I was trying to remember the importance of everything and to keep breathing… I want to remember everything I study, to keep up with my meditations and prayers… I was studying spirituality and religions and I explored different temples and walked barefoot through the streets. I went to Delhi. It’s a very spiritual, thoughtful place. People are so kind. It was a life-changing experience. I was looking for a shift of consciousness and I was very blessed.

 

While it is somewhat unclear as to whether or not the “Breathe” tattoo is permanent, her fascination for all things India stuck.  Drew is reportedly in discussions to portray the Hindu river goddess Ganga in a Bollywood film entitled “The Lifestyle.”

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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Hang on to your mats, because yoga class is about to get a bit crowded! Multiple Indian news sources are reporting that Hollywood power couple Angeline Jolie and Brad Pitt have taken up yoga to strengthen their relationship.  In fact, they are following in the footsteps of newlyweds Katie Perry and Russell Brand and opting for a Hindu wedding!

Apparently, Ang and Brad are planning a Hindu wedding to be performed by 84-year-old Guru Ram Lalji Siyag of Bikaner from Rajasthan, India, in the beginning of the New Year.

Not only has Guru Siyag agreed to perform the ceremony, but according to reports, he is also said to have been teaching them Siddha Yoga, and has given them a divine mantra to repeat twice a day. The mantra is said to have brought about a transforming effect in their relationship.

A few years ago, Guru Siyag also apparently said that Siddha Yoga can cure individuals of HIV and AIDS.  Good luck, Brangelina!

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Ah. Let me dream of it for a moment. The day that I might waltz into my boss’s office and declare that in exchange for gracing him with my continued brilliance, he shall employ, during my working hours, a highly qualified yoga instructor to be at my ready.

This is a reality for some people, my friends. And one of those people is Lady Gaga.

Apparently, while The Lady was in Dublin, Ireland, performing three sold out shows this week, a spy at the Four Seasons Hotel in Ballsbridge spilled the beans to a reporter at the Evening Herald newspaper some of her contractual demands: a “highly qualified” Bikram yoga instructor to be available round the clock.

Sigh. One can only dream.

Have a great weekend everyone! Have a safe and Happy Halloween!  If you haven’t already, check out my Halloween post over at Elephant Journal. It’s good stuff.

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