Monday, December 26, 2005


Although 'tis a federal holiday in which banks, post office facilities, schools, libraries, courts, drivers license facilities and even some yoga studios are closed, today is not considered a holiday in the City of Chicago (at least where revenue is concerned). In other words, parking meters must be fed today.

At least one yoga student has already received a personalized orange gift from the city on this, the first day of Kwanzaa.

Sunday, December 25, 2005


Self-portrait With Cat, Santa and Vertical Line
@ Satya C 2005

Saturday, December 24, 2005


Last year began with a delivery truck with an honest driver sideswiping my (parked) car and my being awarded $1400, which helped cover 2004’s emergency room, dentist and vet bills -- plus it turned out I didn’t need that root canal right away after all. A grandniece (Lilayna) was born in January; I got a FOID card in February and threw out my back in March. I finally framed that Cydney portrait of my mother, and Blet! finished shooting and editing that sequence from our sit-com, which turned out quite well despite featuring my wooden self in the lead. Now Gridlife and I are procrastinating on a feature length script that Blet! hopes to shoot next year – with real actors. Some of my first-person essays aired on public radio and appeared in, plus I wrote a few mini- reviews of Bollywood movies for the Backwards R. I finally got a rather sad website, gained and lost a half-assed book deal (long story), and wrote a stilted chapter for DK’s upcoming eGuide to Chicago (out this spring). But now I’m writing less and teaching more yoga…. and making less. Kirby stopped leaking pee, chased a squirrel into the house and made some informal dung paintings. I practiced yoga in NYC with Pattabhi Jois (who did not seem to recognize me) and visited friends in Boston and Santa Monica (who did not seem to mind me). Last fall I met a man at my best friend’s wedding (he of course is the groom’s best friend) and we will hit the three-month mark on Xmas Day (knock wood). A week ago I finally gave up on my mother’s Geo Prizm and bought my first car – a 92 Honda Civic. From a friend. I sold the Prizm to the repair shop owner, who will make his teenage son drive it this winter as a form of punishment…. which makes me think I’ve been unwittingly punishing myself for the past eight years, and wonder what else I’ve been doing to further the cause. Perhaps I’ll figure it out sometime next year -- which I hope will be a peaceful and productive one for all. In the meantime I'll work on standing up straighter, writing more regularly, chewing food prior to forcing it down the gullet and making vegan, whole-wheat sugar cookies that somehow don't suck.*


*"How are these cookies supposed to be?" asked the old man via cell phone last night, while on his way to share them with friends over sushi. "How should I explain them?" Oops.**

**Apparently the sushi chefs loved them anyway.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005


Since Thursday I've been in the new (used) car vortex, test driving, buying and then having fixed and fixed again and again a '92 Honda Civic that I purchased from a friend (duh) and which needs far more work than the mechanic originally thought (duh) but which only has 84K miles on it plus it came with a complete file of every bit of servicing it's had over its lifetime not to mention a dented hood (where a tree fell on it in New Hampshire) which means I don't have to worry about collision insurance. Plus I managed to sell my old car (91 Geo Prizm) to the auto shop owner, who will make his teenage son drive it this winter as some sort of punishment -- which brings to mind many questions but there's no time to ponder them at the moment as the thing is in shop no. 2 having the frame pulled and straightened (not unlike going to a car-o-practor) and undoing the damage that was done when my friend rearended a cabbie a year and a half ago. At some point I must find the time to go to Mechanic no. 3 to have the windshield re-sealed where T-Wan accidentally penetrated it with a shovel while clearing snow.... and then I may just find a cheap stereo to put in it. And a new antenna, so while stuck in traffic I can hear Amy Goodman and other college radio goodies.

In the meantime the house is a pigsty and I'm way, way, way behind on deadlines [it didn't help that I had to create an entirely new cartoon from scratch; the editor's afraid we'd be sued for the one I just did (see below) -- although *I* think we fly so far below the radar (and I draw so badly) that they'd never know] not to mention Xmas shopping and cards. This year's cards turned out well but I ran out of envelopes tonight and didn't pop out to get more because the car is in the shop and my only transpo is the bike which I normally don't mind but when it's 11PM and the windchill is subzero, well, one opts for bed, bath and blogging rather than the deep freeze of late fall -- even if one does have all the right layers and knows exactly where to wear them.

Tomorrow I'm supposed to take the train to the suburbs for shopping with Dorian Black, after which we'll pick up the car and I'll teach two evening classes. In fact I teach eight classes between now and Xmas. On Thursday I will teach FOUR classes -- a new record for me, if I make it -- including a noontime "vinyasa flow to live music," which I signed up for before I knew what was involved. If I must wear a mic I will die. Suffice to say I'm afraid. Very afraid.


*In Spain, Despedirse a la Francesa = to leave the French way (i.e.; without saying goodbye).

Friday, December 16, 2005


Rosebud is a sled

Soylent Green is people

And Oprah, Yoko, James R. Thomson, et al is....




















Wednesday, December 14, 2005


It seems this cartoon may not make it into the (free) mag due to fears over copyright issues. My (and Gridlife's) argument are that 1) The images are not used in a denigrating fashion; 2) No profit is being made from the cartoon (believe you me); 3) It's not being used to promote an event where a profit will be made; 4) The characters are not identified by name; and 5) The images kind of suck anyway. Any intellectual property / entertainment lawyers out there willing to weigh in?

Monday, December 12, 2005


Push "play" first -- then start reading.

this is an audio post - click to play

Such a sweet, innocent that could model professionally, if only one had trained the thing when one had the chance.

Such a small and mediocre -- albeit lovingly decorated -- spinsta's xmas tree.... full of what some might perceive to be cat toys, ripe for the pickin'.

The seed
has been

....and yet another half-assed home yoga practice is rudely interrupted by outside events.

Music and lyrics @2001 by Catesey -- aka The Hex
(Yes, he wrote a song for a cat)

Saturday, December 10, 2005


Snow on Chicago Avenue by Kazuo Ooka

I couldn't figure out why the equivant of two space-fuls of snow is piled on the street in front of the apartment building. While having chai with my neighbors today I learnt that the young gent who clears the snow for the landlord dumped it all into the street. Very Chicago. And from an immigrant no less.

The stuff has been melting during the day and then freezing at night, so that in the morning it's dense, icy and dangerous. Now it's snowing again, so there'll be a thin powder on top of the ice which will make for much slippin' and sliding for tonight's many revelers (this seems to be thee big holiday work party weekend).

I also learnt from the neighbors that even native speakers of Malayalam have a hard time understanding what the hell Yesudas is singing.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

I told you to stop snowing, er, smoking

We are in the midst of a major snowstorm, which normally wouldn't be a big deal except for that plane skidding off the runway into traffic and killing a child. Sad.

So is the city's punitive new 24/7 parking ban on major arteries, which goes into effect whenever there are two inches or more of snow on the ground. For those not in the know, FIVE HUNDRED MILES of streets fall under this ban -- basically it covers the entire city -- and of course I live on one of them.

So I moved my car to a safe spot (which I will have to shovel out tomorrow morning and then relinquish to my lazy neighbors, because I am not willing to mark it with a crappy old chair in the grand old Chicago tradition of calling "dibs" on my "spot"). Then I trudged my ass to class through the snowstorm.

The first thing I saw during my long winter's trek was a young male professional on a mountain bike, riding in the middle lane of my very busy street. He was dressed entirely in black, including the shorts he was wearing. No helmet of course. I saw him blow through a red light. In the dark. In several inches of snow, with more falling so hard it was going sideways. No wonder motorists hate people on bikes.

The second thing I saw was one of my favourite Windy City winter sights: A fat man with a moustache stepped out of his store and haughtily sprinkled a boatload of salt onto several inches of snow on the sidewalk in front. Why shovel, when you can salt?

Not one bus went by during my entire walk. And only one person showed up for class*.

Besides the snow ban the city has a new smoking ban that starts January 16 and goes into full effect in two-and-a-half years. It covers every indoor space except private homes and clubs, tobacco stores and a quarter of the city's hotel rooms.** Even folks caught smoking within 15 feet of a nonsmoking establishment can be fined a C-note, ouch.

But it's still more expensive to get ticketed and towed in the snow.


*This is a class which I am giving up as of tonight, because I'm paid by the head and I've tried for two-and-a-half years to get people to come and still no one does. The one student who came tonight was kind enough to give me a lift afterwards. Talk about going out with a bang.

**Which reminds me. Neck Tattoo, whose host likes to smoke in our lovely, carpeted stairway and stink up everyone else's apartment except his own, has reappeared. I saw him getting out of a car the other night, and he saw me too. I did not look away. He also got an eyeful of Dorian Black, who drives a big old pimpmobile and looks kind of imposing from afar.

I'm also somewhat flipped out about this bit of Mysore entrepreneurialism, which somehow it brings to mind the $3 chai from last spring's SKPJ workshop. If only I'd thought of it first.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

writer's malaise for the holidays

You'd think writing would get easier with experience. After all, I've been a so-called professional journalist for over a decade.

But no.

It seems that every sentence I write is awkward, and each story I write takes longer and longer to do.

Time to quit?

Or dig in harder?

My yoga teaching kind of sucks too.
Not to mention my so-called practice.

Monday, December 05, 2005


I brought not one but TWO canvas shopping bags to Trader Joe's today and still needed more room for all the loot I bought (I'm trying to make fewer trips to the grocery store as part of my own personal Being Green/ahimsa-to-the-earth initiative, which means I'm having to tote a lot more stuff). When the unctuous clerk asked "Paper or plastic?" my mind started to whirl.

Paper or plastic?

Plastic uses less energy to produce, transport and recycle -- plus it can be reused as a vehicle for dog poop. But I have a blog -- not a dog. And it takes between ten and 1,000 years to biodegrade.

On the other hand, paper comes from trees, which is bad. Poor, poor trees. But paper's biodegradable, as long as it's not put in a landfill, which is good. Also the cat sometimes likes to play in the discarded bag. It can also be reused for, say, bundling newspapers or toting Xmas gifts to the family. Plus it's easily recycled.

But apparently they're making a better plastic bag these days -- more biodegradable. Out of corn or something. And Dominick's and The Food Whole offer blue plastic bags, which can be used for recycling via the City of Chicago's half-assed Blue Bag Recycling Program.

No tengo ni puta idea.

I chose paper, which did not impress the cat at all.

Guilt is there, Madam.

(Guilt is *always* there).

If only I hadn't lost that fabulous folding bag-in-a-bag that Dorian Black gave to me, none of this would be an issue.

However I'm writing a(nother) story about being a Green Yogi, and am keen to know which is more PC. But I'm flummoxed. Any ideas?

Sunday, December 04, 2005

From today's New York Times style section:

December 4, 2005
Yoga Assumes a Social Position

ON a recent Friday night Valentine Remusat om'd and saluted the sun and arched her back in the cobra posture at a yoga class, until she came into final resting pose 90 minutes later, lying on her back in shivasana.

But rather than roll up her mat and head out the door when the teacher brought class to a close, Ms. Remusat, a 30-year-old student at Parsons the New School for Design, spent the next two hours sitting on floor cushions with her fellow yoga students, sampling organic chocolate and Austrian and French red wines.

"It was great that you could stick around afterwards," she said of the Lift Your Spirits event at Yoga Works on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. "The energy completely changed. In class everybody was concentrating, but after that everybody started to speak and laugh. You didn't have to change your clothes immediately or take a cab home."

Yoga studios used to be a place to get away from it all, but these days more yoga centers are doubling as community centers for the stretchy set, offering everything from book parties and knitting circles to organic cooking workshops and cocktail parties. While many students, like Ms. Remusat, are happily taking advantage of the new offerings, others are reluctant to merge yoga with their social lives.

"Wine in a yoga studio is an oxymoron," said Donna Davidge, 50, who has been teaching yoga in Manhattan since 1985. "There's a whole commercialism of yoga, and people are getting away from its roots."

In part the new activities are a natural extension of the social bonding that already takes place in yoga centers. But, those who run studios say that with the number of yoga centers in New York growing so rapidly (248 versus 65 in 2000, according to the online yoga directory, the chatty extracurriculars are also a necessary way to compete for and retain students.

Rima Rabbath, a former marketer for Colgate-Palmolive who recently became a marketer for Jivamukti, which was founded in 1986 and is now one of the largest yoga centers in the city, said the studio has eight social events a month, double what it offered three years ago. She says yoga studios, are like drugstores now, with one on every corner. "The idea is," she said, "once they come in here, to retain them somehow."

And while studio owners confess that they are using these events in part to drum up business, they are certainly noting a need among their students. Dana Flynn, co-owner of Laughing Lotus Yoga Center in the Flatiron district, said the regular parties they throw for their students, which once drew only 30 people, now average 100. Some, she said, come to a party and decide to try out the yoga afterward.

Socializing is becoming a common reason for starting yoga in general, teachers and students say. Anne-Kerr Kennedy, who designs yoga clothing, said she found New York's nightlife to be "obnoxious" and started to attend yoga classes regularly largely for social reasons. "You go to yoga class, and people want to know who's dating whom," she says. "It's fun to know what the person on the mat is up to."

Satsang, or keeping good company with likeminded people, is a central tenet of yoga, but in some studios it seems to be eclipsing the physical nature of practice altogether. Centerpoint, a new studio on Lafayette Street in Manhattan, has a lounge area where people are encouraged to socialize. A jazz trio performs there weekly, and Sabina Stahl, a Ford model and "ayurvedic-inspired" chef, is on hand every night to serve things like sugar-free chia-seed pudding and pumpkin sage risotto with pomegranate.

"We're trying to blur the lines between coming in and taking a yoga class and other things," said an owner, Raj Singh, who used to work in the cosmetics industry. "It's casual and organic, like inviting friends over to watch TV or something."

For Cyndi Lee, the owner and founder of Om Yoga near Union Square, "your yoga family is really your family." Ms. Lee started a Friday night "Vinyasa and vino" event at a studio in East Hampton, N.Y., and in the winter she hosts a knitting circle at the Manhattan location. "We have wine at that too," she said. "Sometimes the knitting goes astray."

Usually the socializing precedes or follows the yoga, but sometimes there's no yoga at all. The Kula Yoga Project in TriBeCa recently invited its clientele to a Saturday night "epic clothing swap." About 40 women arrived with duffel bags of clothing to trade, but the first hour involved shooting the breeze and sitting on the floor, where snacks and a dozen bottles of wine and champagne were laid out.

Indie rock, courtesy of an iPod, blared from bookshelf speakers. Once the swapping started, some people dug enthusiastically through piles of clothing, while others drank and caught up with one another.

But for every student who enjoys the yoga scene's newfound clubbiness, there are those who are less flexible. For them the last thing yoga should be is another social totem pole.

"You just want to go and relax and instead you end up feeling bad about yourself," said Jessica Risling-Sholl, a 31-year-old dance music publicist, whose most recent yoga experience, at a studio in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, devolved into watching her fellow students hug and kiss and make plans for after-class drinks. "It was the same horrid nervous gut feeling of walking into the middle of the lunch hall not knowing anyone to sit with."

Jessica Metz, a yoga teacher at Hunter College and at Equinox, said that some students at her gym were turned off by the overly forward climate at their yoga studios. "It gets a little bit cliquey," she said. (Ms. Metz explained that since most studios pay teachers based on attendance, the teachers are bound to favor the students who show up regularly.)

Silvia Fernandez, who used to go to classes at Go Yoga, recalled an aggressive group of students who would set up their mats together and hang out to gossip afterward. "They made me feel like an outsider," said Ms. Fernandez, a 40-year-old technical writer. Now she practices either at the New York Sports Club or at home. "There's less likely to be any distraction and anxiety about what's going to happen after the class," she said. "It begins and ends when I want it to."

Some objections are less personal than philosophical. In ashrams, yogis do not eat meat or drink alcohol, and the idea of bringing wine, even if it's organic, into the studio does not sit well with everybody. "These are sacred spaces," said David Kelman, owner of Yoga Sutra in Midtown Manhattan. "That's not cool."

But Schuyler Grant, who owns the Kula Yoga Project, pointed out that separating the meditative components of yoga from the knottier problems that come with forced socializing might not be so easy.

"You go to class together, you get to know each other in a very intimate way," she said. "It's an organic transition to hang out together. If you come with any regularity, you get sucked into the community. You either get into it on that level or you don't stick around. Not to sound culty or anything."

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Friday, December 02, 2005


-Get on the bike and go.
-Remember that it's temporary (state of mind)
-Make appt. with therapist
-Call a close friend
-Put on talk radio, loud.
-Eat a banana
-Right nostril breathing
-Put on Thich Nhat Hanh's "Anger" CD (ha)
-Clean/straighten the house
-Take some swings at the heavy bag (ha)
-Do cognitive distortion exercises from Feeling Good
-Make overdue calls to service people
-Pick up an old project and finish it
-Go for a walk along the lake. In the cold.
-Put on Turner Classic Movies
-Read this
-And this
-Do Target therapy (wrong on a karmic level, but oh-so-effective)

Feeding it, by:

--Not eating
--Reading A Million Little Pieces
--Getting in car
--Slamming doors
--Starting a phone-fight
--Starting an IM-fight
--Isolating one's self
--Skipping yoga
--Breaking shit
--Beating self up
--Watching / succombing to infomericals
--Trying, unsuccessfully, to upload pictures onto your blog

Tuesday, November 29, 2005


I subbed a Yoga Basics class this morning at the Fancy Downtown Health Club.

Five minutes into class an elder gent in his 60's walked in, got a mat and put it down in the back. He then proceeded to do the opening stretches while wearing weight lifting gloves, gym shoes and socks. Expensive gym shoes. White socks. More than once I said, "If you're wearing shoes or socks, NOW is the time to take them off." Then I'd look over at him. Nothing. No reaction. I started to become annoyed; Who is this man who shows up late and doesn't listen? Why won't he listen? Is he some CEO who thinks he doesn't have to listen to me? Why I oughta ---

But after (or despite) yesterday's China Syndrome-caliber meltdown I was able to start observing what was going on in my mind (all while teaching, mind you) and I was, like, What the hell -- Why am I taking this personally? Maybe Shoeful Joe hit bad traffic this morning, Maybe he has some awful foot fungus that he doesn't want anyone to see -- Maybe he isn't putting his hand on his thigh because he's DEAF.** And then I got over it. And I decided to let it be, and to not go over and say, "Is there any reason you're still wearing shoes and socks?" (and spreading every possible germ imaginable onto the public sticky mat). Nope, I kept my mouth shut (a new one for me) and observed him do each and every pose while wearing shoes. And I didn't take it personally.

Despite my newfound tolerance, three people picked up their bolsters and blankets and walked out partway through class. Three.

Perhaps they'd simply forgotten, until that moment, that they were late picking up someone at the airport.

Yes, I'm sure that's what it was.


*DKNY, a bartender-cum-pilates instructor, thinks the chorus of every Hindi movie song sounds like "Whose shoes are these?"

**This is the same club where I once said, when no one was putting their hand on their thigh in Supta Padangusthasana despite my many pleas and admonishments to do so(including one or two in Spanish), "If your hand is not on your thigh, ask yourself why this does not apply to you." Suddenly -- faster than you could say "blatant sense of entitlement" -- ten hands flew onto ten thighs and pressed down, hard.

Monday, November 28, 2005


My brilliant nephew just installed more RAM and OS X onto my flowered old (2001) iMac. And they said it couldn't be done!

I am actually updating this blog* using said iMac, via Safari, whatever that is....
I guess it's the thing just unexpectedly quit when I tried to download a photo.


And the type is really small, too.

Nonetheless I am now living in the present.

Today I also learned that:

-It's not that fun to adjust a Mysore class when you're nauseous.

- Or to practice for that matter.

-You should not impress your meltdown onto someone you're still trying to impress.

-There are very few used Honda Civics for sale on Craig's List this week.

-And the ones that are listed don't call back.

-People brand-new to ashtanga are not always afraid of doing every vinyasa.


-Fifty-dollar lobster claw bicycle gloves can indeed disappear into thin air.


*I had to go back and used the evilPC to add photos and bold font.

Now there's a band name: Bold Font.

They could all have bouffant hairdos.

Saturday, November 26, 2005


Guruji will not be stopping in NYC on his March tour.
He will however lead intensives in London and SF.

At least Sri Ganesha Tea Stall Radio is back up and streaming. (They probably wouldda charged $4 for chai next year anyway).

Friday, November 25, 2005


In other words do as I say -- Stay out of the stores today and say no to consumerism.

Don't do as I did* on International Buy Nothing Day (and drop $10 at the Food Whole on comfort food to cook this weekend).

At least I didn't make Sam Walton's heirs any richer today.

Now, if we could only get people behind Say Nothing Day, Do Nothing Day, Do as I Say Not As I Do Day, and Oh Dee Do Da Day.


*"It" = your wallet

**Actually ever since I heard about Buy Nothing Day back in the last century, I've tried to spend nothing at least one day a week (this week it was Thursday, OK?). It's a somewhat disciplined practice that really makes you think about the way you spend.....

If that doesn't work, try this 1997 list given to shoppers by a Seattle BND group:

-Do I need it?
-How many do I already have?
-How much will I use it?
-How long will it last?
-Could I borrow it from Tommy (ie; a friend or family member)?
-Can I do without it?
-Am I able to clean, lubricate and/or maintain it myself?
-Am I willing to?
-Will I be able to repair it?
-Have I researched it to get the best quality for the best price?
-How will I dispose of it when I'm done using it?
-Are the resources that went into it renewable or non-renewable?
-Is it made or recycled materials, and is it recyclable?
-Is there anything that I already own that I could substitute for it?

Once you've exhausted the list of questions (LUBRICATE it??) you'll be so tired you won't want the thing anymore anyway.

Thursday, November 24, 2005


In Chicago last night a commuter train crashed into some cars:

In Chandrapur, India, other obstacles are there:

And in the US, people dig through the garbage for food not because they're hungry, but to make a political statement.:

And for that we give thanks (!?)

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

An Unpleasant New Variation on the Dream in Which the Teacher Loses Control of Class

Last night I dreamt that a gaggle of frat boys from the Brotherhood purpose unit at college came to my yoga class, which was being held out of doors in the winter in the middle of a snowstorm.* I kept my composure. For awhile. We were nearly through the standing poses when they all started yelling and making up their own movements and trying to humiliate me.** The other students stopped listening to me and started staring and them and waited to see what would happen. It escalated to the point where I flipped the bad men the bird and yelled, "Fuck off, frat boys!" Of course some Very Important Teacher saw all of this, and shook their head in disappointment. THAT's when I was humiliated.

Now I understand, implicitly, why The Ayurvedics say it's best to go to bed at 10PM and awaken at 5AM or 6AM -- after which one's dreams can become very, very intense.*** Unfortunately I'm still on the 11 to 7 system.


*Possibly inspired by last night's snowstorm

**Something very similar to this happened in the dining hall during my senior year at college -- ie, I was the focus of a hazing stunt -- after I wrote something in the paper that the Greeks didn't like. It blew up to the point where 1) I feared for my safety; 2) There was a campus-wide town hall meeting to diffuse the tension; and 3) Some of the worst offenders were taken to "court." Ah, college.

***This of course came after the dream in which I broke down in front of a beloved old editor (who was also unceremoniously let go) and cried and cried and cried about my lost journalism / bookwriting career (and consequent income). When I awakened I felt much, much lighter -- and not just because it had snowed.****

****Snow and cold make a Pitta Girl very, very happy indeed.

Saturday, November 19, 2005


So Fun to Do
It’s Yoga!
Every Breath You Take
Yoga With Betty and Friends
All Together Fit
Yes to Yoga
Planting a Seed Yoga
Yoga of the Future
Feel Better Now Yoga
A Studio for Unlimited Ideas
A Walk in the Clouds
And Yoga
All People Yoga Center
All about Yoga
Art & Soul Yoga
Ashtanga Yoga Barn
Arizona on the Rocks
Be As You Are
Om on the Range
Become One
Being Yoga
Bend Don’t Break Yoga
Holy Cow Yoga & Holistic Center
Yoga to Go
Bear with Yoga
Hot Body Yoga
Mission Accomplished
Yoga By Design
Yoga for New Yorkers
A Stretch Apart
Asana 101
Big Yoga
Bliss Happens Yoga
Breathing Room
Can Do Yoga
Casa Shakti
Chapel of the Snows Yoga
Close to the Edge Studio
Easing into Yoga
Effortless Being
Flow Like a River Yoga
Happy Hour
Just Breathe
Just Plain Yoga
La Vida Yoga
Lighten Up Yoga
Lithe & Easy Yoga
Love is All There Is
Loving Living Yoga
Mama Nirvana’s
Maya* Yoga
Mind + Body = Yoga


Yogi Bare: Naked Truth from America's Leading Yoga Teachers


Oh My Gauze!


* The Merriam-Webster definition of Maya is: “the sense-world of manifold phenomena held in Vedanta to conceal the unity of absolute being.” Oops!

Friday, November 18, 2005


This is what I've learned so far at this weekend's Scott Blossom* workshop on ayurveda and hatha yoga:

You can cure insomnia by rubbing sesame oil** into the soles of the feet before bed (it's supposed to be grounding). You should then put on nylon or old socks so the oil doesn't seep all over everything. This last part appears to be a western innovation.

We also learned that the optimum bedtime is 10PM. Which is funny, since we weren't dismissed until 9:45.


*Scott Blossom is a new-ish Bay Area teacher who's studied with Dr. Robert Svoboda and Shandor Remete, which means we'll probably be doing a slow-moving martial-artsy type practice tomorrow.

**Perhaps it's best to get a big bottle of sesame oil; I've known for some time that the cure for winter's bloody boogers is to line the nostrils with a thin coat of sesame oil; heaven!

**Or go Costco; the cure for dry winter skin is to slather the body in sesame oil and then take a bath or shower (using an old towel to dry off of course). It's also meant to be quite calming. No soap is used except on one's stinky bits -- armpits, feet and genitals.

Thursday, November 17, 2005


Go to Google
Type in "failure."
Ha. ha. Ha.


'Twas snowing *like crazy* last night when I made my way (driving) to teach the 7:30 class. Blizzard conditions, blowing and drifting snow and tow trucks everywhere (Chicago has many streets that become tow zones "if snow is more than two inches deep" and there's a fiscal crisis which menas they'll do anything for a little more revenue). Nonetheless, six people came to class and the heat was working well. After class; frigid weather but very little evidence of snow or towtrucks. Perhaps I should not have had Munkin call and warn the Evacugees -- who are moving back to New Orleans Saturday -- that they should move their car Or Else.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

(ie; no prana)

One has gained weight recently but not *quite* this much; one was almost this tired during practice today but managed to get through it without incident (no dropbacks but plenty of bouncing up and down) and teach two classes (Mysore and ashtanga basics) and do an interview (heavy metal radio guy) and write eight pages of screenplay (mildly funny) and shop at Trader Joe's* (naan!) and the dollar store (purple swivel-head hangers, 3/$1!) and of course take a nap (1.5 hours, bad lady) before doing what I am about to do: bath, bed and beyond. In that order....


*It's OK to go to Trader Joe's now that the Human Society's action against them just ended. They've agreed not to carry under their house name the regular hormone-laden eggs hatched by abused chickens who lead short and awful lives stacked up in cages:

The majority of eggs currently sold at Trader Joe's are the company's own brand eggs, laid by hundreds of thousands of hens confined in battery cages—wire enclosures so small the birds cannot even spread their wings. These cages are typically stacked on top of each other on hen factory farms, where some 200,000 birds can be crammed into a single, football-field length barn....

The HSUS and Trader Joe's reached an agreement on Monday in which the grocery chain consented to purchase only cage-free eggs for the company's own brand of eggs. The decision is expected to greatly improve the lives of the approximately 380,000 laying hens who provide the more than 100 million Trader Joe's brand eggs sold each year.

For more on what the labels (organic, free-range, cage-free, etc) on egg cartons mean, go here.

Sunday, November 13, 2005


My friend Bob did a reading and signing tonight for his newly self-published tome, Bob's Book. Parts of the beautifully-designed booklet are culled from the journals he kept during a year-long tour in which he danced** his way around the world (Japan, Thailand, Eastern Europe, Russia, New Zealand, Australia, Borneo, Malaysia, India). I suppose it would qualify as experimental writing -- but in a good way. In any case it's quite brilliant; anyone interested in obtaining a copy ($10) should e-mail him at

Bob, by the way, is the gentleman (now 58 years old) who accompanied me on my first trip to Mysore and the olde shala back in 2002. If he hadn't set a date and bought a ticket, I'd probably still be putting off the trip.

He's planning another tour next year, and we may wind up in India at the same time! This means we could travel together and I could see a bit more of what's outside of Mysore (between bouts with the inevitable parasites I'm bound to attract, of course).*** My dream one day is to take that train all the way from Kashmir to Kanyakumari. But that would require a lot of water...


*This refers back the book, and some trousers specially made for him in Poland.

**Solo improvisation, unlike anything you've ever seen before.

***Although I did recently learn that the secret to not getting sick in India is to drink your own water on a regular basis.


Does anyone else find it kind of wild that the Bears' amazing return of a missed field goal (in 47 mile-per-hour winds) yesterday was for 108 yards? Not 107 or 109, but 108....The Bears do not, however, wear red trousers.

Friday, November 11, 2005


Dorian Black seemed pleased when I told him yesterday that I had to go to CPR training at the health club.

"The life you save may be mine," he replied, without missing a beat.

Other Dorian-isms:

"The last time I ate red meat was the 1960's."

"I went to school with kids who had polio."

"I remember when they invented FM radio."

"I watched TV from the day it first came on."

"The last time I saw Ravi Shankar was the 1960's.... He's a lot slower now."

"I haven't done yoga since 1974.*"

He also took the streetcar to North Ave. Beach (so did my father!), got out of Vietnam by acting crazy, and took dates to the Riverview amusement park** and the Buffalo Ice Cream Parlour.***

As far as I've been able to ascertain, his first car was not a Model T.


*This was on a commune of course, where they also practiced free love, etc. There's a big mall there now.

**a beloved, long-gone Chicago institution -- the mention of which causes old-timers to tear up and dab at their eyes.


Wednesday, November 09, 2005

(Cue crickets now)

Only four people showed up for class at the visually-pleasing health club last night, so I asked if there were any poses they were especially keen to do. They looked at me mutely. "I'm taking requests," I explained, and they nodded. "And you don't have to know the name of the pose."

One woman raised her hand and said, "Can we do this one, with the toes?" and showed a rendition of Janu Sirsasana C.

"Wow," said I. "No one has EVER requested that before." [Most students seem to prefer to avoid it altogether. It's hard on the knees, and its nickname is "the toe-crusher"].

The rest of the class -- all three of them -- winced.

"Huh," I continued. "It's almost like you requested a Yoko Ono* song."



*Actually I really like Yoko Ono.
Janu C -- .... not so much.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

or why we should all walk backwards and barf*

This article is from Businessweek
and comes to us via Dreyfus:

In hot pursuit of Yoga Mamas
She's busy and choosy, but reach her, and you tap into her network, too

BusinessWeek Online
Updated: 3:39 p.m. ET Nov. 6, 2005

Two-year-old Casandra King's bedroom is stocked with products that are very different from those her mother, Julia, had when she was that age. Instead of Johnson & Johnson Baby Oil and Vaseline, the Edison (N.J.) toddler gets slathered daily with petroleum-free lotions from California Baby. Her mom pays three times the price of the mass brands. And Casandra's dresser is filled with organic cotton shirts and pajamas from niche marketers such as Hanna Andersson and Mama's Earth, which can cost 50 percent more than clothes from Sears, where Julia's mother shopped for four kids 35 years ago.

Julia King, 38, is part of an emerging class of women whom marketers call Yoga Mamas. These middle- and upper-income mothers are more style- and brand-conscious than their parents. No matter their income, they spend like lottery winners on their babies and toddlers. In the process, they're revolutionizing the baby-products market and forcing manufacturers and retailers of all sizes to adjust.

From the start, they are focused on active, fashionable, and fit pregnancies, and then on the fitness and well-being of their offspring. They tend to be more educated and have more disposable income to spend on fewer children than past generations. As a result, the $27 billion infant and preschool products business is growing more than 4 percent per year, faster than the overall toy, apparel, and furniture industries. "This group is influencing other moms who have money and plenty of moms who don't," says Timothy Dowd, a senior analyst at market research firm Packaged Facts. "Yoga Mama is pumping up sales across the board."

Marketers say the evidence is in the brisk sales of premium-priced products: Burt's Bees Buttermilk lotion is $8.99 and a top seller at; $11.50 buys a 2 oz. jar of popular California Baby Calendula Cream at Whole Foods Market; Italian leather toddler shoes are $129 at Nordstrom; Bugaboo strollers Yoga moms love for ergonomic design and brand cachet are $700 and up. And the appeal is well beyond Rodeo Drive and Manhattan's Upper East Side, where baby-bling-buying includes Gund brand diamond and emerald jewelry for newborns.

Pickle bottoms and bugaboos

Although yoga mamas may draw titters for sneaking kelp into their toddlers' meatballs, marketers aren't laughing at their spending and influence. Many women are starting families later in life, when they have financial footing and established tastes. And there is a greater tendency among new parents to think their toddlers need the best of everything to succeed in life. "These mothers aren't buying baby products so much as extending their lifestyle to their babies," says Linda Murray, editor of

That's why many new baby products are designed more with mom in mind than baby. Kids still gravitate to Winnie the Pooh, but the trendiest diaper bags are made by manufacturers such as Petunia Pickle Bottom and Fleurville and cost $150 and up, eight times the cost of a Pooh bag at Target. The designer bags, in patterns such as houndstooth and red Asian brocade, have appeared conspicuously in ABC's “Desperate Housewives” and “The Oprah Winfrey Show”. And pricey strollers are justified in part because their rugged and lightweight design helps Mom burn calories via power walking, aka "strollercizing."

[Of course the term was coined by a WRITER]:

Bigger spending is fed by an attitudinal change toward motherhood. Superfit mothers-to-be flaunt their bulging bellies in cropped tops and low-rise jeans. "Soccer moms are passé," says author Katherine Stewart, whose recently published first novel, “The Yoga Mamas,” follows a group of fashion-obsessed mothers through spas and baby boutiques. "They are no longer content to be lunchbox-packers, and want to make motherhood a personal statement."

Like any fashion-focused industry, the new-baby business requires near-constant reinvention. Fast-growing Tiny Love, an Israeli maker of preschool playthings, launches new versions of its Gymini play mats, which feature dangling toys suspended mobile-like above the infant, flashing lights, and Mozart tunes, almost every 12 months. The latest Gymini Total Playground retails for $70, a 75 percent jump from the 1993 original. Oded Ben-Ezer, CEO of Tiny Love importer Maya Group Inc., expected higher-end versions to be just 20 percent of sales. But to his surprise, each pricier Gymini displaces the lower-priced ones. "Mothers are saying, 'I want the best for my baby.' This is a competitive world," he says.

Established industry players are scrambling to adapt. Research by Atlanta-based Carter's Inc., long the leader in baby clothes sold at department stores, showed moms want a more exclusive and convenient boutique shopping experience. So Carter's has been rolling out stores in shopping centers next to retailers like Barnes & Noble and Bed Bath & Beyond, where Yoga Mamas hang out. Carter's plans to have 250 such stores open within a few years, up from 30 now.

Even businesses that attract a much broader base of consumers are looking to Yoga Mamas as a source of growth. Booming natural foods retailer Whole Foods Markets is trying to enlarge its take of the family budget by appealing to mothers with more organic baby foods and even children's clothing made from pesticide-free hemp. Stores have held healthy eating seminars for mothers called Whole Baby. And some have added a baby registry. "A lot of women become interested in healthier living when they get pregnant," says company spokeswoman Kate Lowery.

Word of megaphone

Yoga moms' impact goes beyond consumerism. Joe Trippi, campaign manager for Howard Dean's unsuccessful 2004 Presidential bid, says Yoga Mamas are in many ways a more desirable target for politicians than NASCAR Dads or Soccer Moms because they are so heavily networked — socially and technologically. When a campaign gets one as an advocate, says Trippi, it's really getting a message to dozens more. "The Yoga mom is the center of the megaphone today."

But Yoga Mamas are not easy to reach through traditional media. Whether working outside the home or not, shuttling their little ones from doctors' appointments to play dates gives them little leisure time. Web sites such as and parent magazines like Brain, Child have climbing site traffic and circulation. But shopping, e-mail, and chatting online are often done late in the evening. A survey of 1,800 mothers done by on BusinessWeek's behalf found that 40 percent considered other moms among their best sources of consumer information, well ahead of family and the media. Recognizing that time is of the essence to these shoppers, e-tailer offers a tightly edited product menu of just four or five items per category.

Still, there's a fine line between hyper-conscientious shopping and outright materialism. The survey showed 54 percent of those with household income between $50,000 and $200,000 said they have been splurging on high-end baby clothing and gear even when bargain brands are also available. Too much of that could backfire on their kids. David Bredehoft, chairman of the department of social and behavioral sciences at Concordia University in St. Paul, Minn., has studied adults overindulged as children. Those showered with toys, gear, and clothes later developed low self-esteem that manifested itself in overeating.

"There's a treadmill of dissatisfaction that acquisition doesn't solve," says Juliet B. Schor, a Boston College sociology professor and author of “Born to Buy: The Commercialized Child and the New Consumer Culture”. Consider the Yoga mom who shells out $129 for a pair of shoes for her toddler. A really sound child would have more fun with the box they came in.

Copyright © 2005 The McGraw-Hill Companies Inc. All rights reserved.
© 2005


*you know, like a cat.

Friday, November 04, 2005

or something like that

It seems like NYC was ages ago; was I really there? Apparently I was; I feel fat, stiff, weak and heavy; I'm even more dissatisfied with Chicago than usual and I have all of these photos....

Proof that Park Slope is indeed the land of the MacLaren stroller. These people took over the tea lounge** with their little story-time, and we were forced to evacuate. That would be The Hex on the left

Why such a line at the Magnolia Bakery on Halloween? What were they giving away? Cell phone cards? And to think The Hex used to live mere steps away from this place....Ah, the old neighborhood.***

Eddie's Door, which I looked at but did not open. Bad, bad meek bad lady.

Michael-the-artist and I walked EVERYWHERE one day, in the freezing cold, including Little Italy. M-the-A works for the pumpkin-carving artist who appeared on The Today Show AND Good Morning America on All Hallow's Eve -- despite having cut his lip TWICE while shaving that day.

Ah, the (other) old neighborhood. How well I remember that walk from the train to 11th Street. And all those times I got lost along the way, and ended up eating The Larry Tate at Two Boots pizza

And the new neighborhood, P-Slope. Did I mention that I could have sublet the actor Bobby O's place in Chelsea (the one I lived in for three weeks during Guruji's 2002 NYC intensive), right smack in the middle of everything, for just $700 a month? Practically free for NYC. It wouldda started in January -- too soon for me. So many roads not taken or just plain blocked (by both others and my own fearful self). The quote of the trip is still, "So you've NEVER left Chicago?" The proper retort would have been of course, "Actually, I've never left the Chicago SUBURBS." Next time....


*Baby appears to have no interest whatsoever in le blog.

**Isn't this sort of activity what church basements are for?

***Dorian Black says "ah, the old neighborhood" about every single area of the city. And suburbs.