Wednesday, April 30, 2008


-To be patient

-To fast

-To be quiet.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008


Vegan philanthropist, Def Jam co-founder and yoga practitioner Russell Simmons recently complained to The New York Daily News that the presidential candidates are ignoring the yoga vote.


Is that like a soccer mom?

Real real yogis (ie; the ones who practice austerities and are trying to reach samadhi) know that everything that happens is due to karma, and have very little interest in the race (In fact, real yogis would say that the country deserves the candidate who's in the White House at this very moment).

So who does Simmons choose as the most yoga-friendly candidate?

It's not the middle-aged white lady - who looks like most of the yoga practitioners I know.

It's not the scary old man.

He thinks it's Barack Obama.

That could be true.

I did hear him say today (while lambasting Rev. Wright) that he tries to see the commonality among people.

Now that's real yoga.

The piece is here

Monday, April 28, 2008


Yesterday's Washington Post carried an article about lower caste Indians trying to break into the upper caste, nepotistic Bollywood system.

It actually used the word caste. Many times.

The writer cited Shahrukh Khan as an example of someone bucking the system (one of the nation's most popular actors, he's a middle-class Muslim who made his own way, with no Bollywood connections).

An excerpt:

But others say that pretending caste is no longer a factor fails to acknowledge the social filters that prevent many members of lower castes from even coming to the door of a film studio or an expensive acting school.

"There's a feeling among the urban upper castes that the majority of India -- meaning the rural, lower-caste India -- is no longer important and can be totally ignored," said Shyam Benegal*, the father of Indian art-house cinema, known for his award-winning caste-based films. "To me, it's an exaggerated sense of self-esteem to claim that there is no poverty in India. It's a serious denial problem when these plots aren't making it into films. Cinema is so powerful and is very important in teaching empathy."

After Mohandas K. Gandhi's efforts to end caste discrimination in the 1930s and later during the 1970s, there was a trend toward serious caste-based films. But those movies became an old chapter in Indian cinema as soon as the country opened its markets to the world in the 1990s. Consumerism exploded, and plots about nonresident Indians living abroad became the vogue.

"It's the American dream turned into the Indian dream that's really seen in our aspirational cinema," Benegal said. "People in huts want to see films about people living in mansions. The stories end up in never-never land, with some rich Indian family living in Scotland or who knows where. But if anything, that just cements caste. It's not forwarding social change."

The full text is here.


*Netflix, by the way, carries many of Benegal's films - including Junoon, which stars Shashi Kapoor.

Friday, April 25, 2008


Time magazine has an article about the yoga teachers in Mysore who attract a local following. According to the magazine, the local folks don't even know / care about them.

I think that's a load of bunk* - perhaps the writer speaks Hindi, not Kannada - but here's an excerpt anyway:

K. Pattabhi Jois, who taught Natascha here, was a disciple of Krishnamacharya, whose style he took to the world. But she also studied with Jois's student B.N.S. Iyengar, who moved away from his guru's rigidly-defined sequence of postures towards greater emphasis on the spiritual. "If anyone asks me for advice, I suggest Jois for flexibility, and Iyengar for concentration," she says, while demonstrating a split and touching her forehead to the ground as nonchalantly as a cat stretching after a nap.


*Locals call SKPJ "Dollars Guru"

Thursday, April 24, 2008


The AYRI has posted a note saying that Guruji has a clean bill of health and will be in Islamorada, Florida to open the new shala on Memorial Day weekend.

If this is true it is a a very good thing indeed.

Actually it seems like this time around they will be able to follow through.

So I looked into a flight, hotel, rental car, etc. But the combined cost is rather high.

A far better idea would be to get a few people together and join the other Memorial Day morons and drive down in a VW bus or some other type of RV - and sleep in the thing itself.

It's only 1,457 miles south -- or 22 hours and 32 minutes.

We could park the thing in front of the new shala.

Or on the beach.

Any takers?


*Thanks to Katy for the tip.

Yes, that is a younger, shinier me with Guruji, Manju and Sharath at the Puck Building back in '00.

Sunday, April 20, 2008


is what has been keeping me from posting.

(That, plus the teacher training the deadlines, the teaching........)

Today however I will be missing his full vinyasa practice at Moksha. Gotta go back to work.

Still I was lucky to do four days of Mysore with him and watch his led primary class and do the techniques and adjustments workshop - again.

He and Dharma Mittra are similar in so many ways. They both spent many, many years at the feet of their guru absorbing everything they could. They were both asked by their guru to teach. They are both incredibly humble. They even say "mozzarella" the same way ("MOOO-zarella").

If you missed Lino's workshop, you can wait til he returns to Chicago in 2010.

Or you can visit him in Kovalam.

Read my 2002 article about it here.

Monday, April 14, 2008


When I got to O'Hare there were two lines in the United terminal; one was long and one was short.

The ridiculously long one was for MD-80 passengees from American Airlines.

I got in the line.

I waited.

I looked at my watch.

There was no way I was going to make my 2PM flight.

Everyone in the line was annoyed; their flights had been cancelled.

We waited.

And waited.

From time to time the line actually moved.

A few people - those whose tickets had the correct type of confirmation number - were plucked from the line and ushered to self check-in kiosks.

Not I.

When I finally got to the front of the line they could not find my name on the 2PM flight.

They couldn't find me on the 5PM flight, either.

Apparently there was a problem on American's end.

The screwup was so unusual that customer service agent, who was incredibly efficient, had to leave her post and ask her superior what to do.

In the meantime I started dialing American. They still weren't taking calls.

After some time the woman returned. She had two receipts in her hand.

One was for standby on the 2PM flight.

One was for a confirmed seat on the 5PM flight.

Both were covered with a line of S's.


She handed them to me and pointed towards the security gate. "I think you'll make it," she said.

How, I wondered, could I do that if I had to go through the high-security frisking and suitcase-sifting.

Apparently she knew what she was doing.

Because the TSA person saw my ticket, he whisked me and another woman to the nearly-empty high-security area.

We made it through in three minutes flat.

I arrived at my gate panting.

The flight was still boarding.

I had time to fill my water bottle.

I had time to get a little something at Wolfgang Puck's.

Then I went back to the gate.

And waited.

And waited.

My name was too far down the list to make standby.

So I skulked away.

I drank my water.

I ate my little something from Wolfgang Puck's.

I wandered around the airport.

I found a quiet corner and took a good long nap in the sun.

And I finally flew out at 5PM.

I was in the last row, in the very last seat.

But I was in very good company.

The entire back row was filled with American passengees.

It was a very exlusive club.

And each and every ne of us felt lucky to be there.

Very lucky indeed.

* * *

On the way home my flight actually left on time - for the first time since I started going back-and-forth to the teacher training in February.

The problem was with the CTA (subway or metro).

After two stops we all had to disembark and take a bus for a few miles, before we were let back on the train.

It took forever.

It was exhausting.

But at least it was over fairly quickly.

* * *

Long before the problem with the MD-80's I booked my next trip to NYC on my home town airline - United (which, incidentally, flies bigger planes (757s) with TVs on the ORD-LGA route, and serves the drinks shortly after takeoff rather than withholding them until mid-flight, when you've already given up).

Wednesday, April 09, 2008


My flight to NYC today (for Dharma Mittra's teacher training) was on an American Airlines MD-80.

I wasn't aware of the importance of this until I received an e-mail from Catesey this morning, asking me about the type of plane I was flying on.

Sure enough, it's one of the myriad planes grounded by American Airlines. Hundreds of flights have been canceled.

(It's a Boeing plane, by the way. After receiving many tax breaks, Boeing relocated its headquarters to Chicago).

Sure enough, my flight was cancelled, too.

(Now I am 3 for 3, with flights cancellations from ORD to LGA).

But this time I was not immediately rebooked.

This time I was told to call American Airlines to rebook.

I started calling.

And calling.

And calling.

When they picked up, the voicemail said all the agents were busy, and to call back later.

Every time I got past that noise and was on hold for an agent, I got a fast busy signal. Nada.

I kept calling. For hours.

Using the other line, I also booked a flight on United for $300. Just in case.

I looked into a flight on Southwest, even though I'd prefer not to fly from Midway to Long Island (although my friend there said she'd pick me up, no problem).

I talked to Dreyfus about driving out east, or taking a train.

Echoes of 9/11, only not as dire.

I came up with plan B, C and D.

I waited for the travel agent to open at 9AM.

In the interim I dialed and dialed.

Gridlife's advice was to keep calling; it was like trying to get Cubs tickets. If I perservered, eventually I'd get through.

He's the Travel Answer Man, so I didn't give up.

He was right of course.

Finally, after two hours, I got through and was put on hold.

No busy signal this time.

This time I heard that glorious waiting music.

And I waited.

And listened.

And waited.

And listened.

Fortunately I have a headset phone and was able to finish packing while I waited.

And wash dishes.

And take out the garbage.

Finally I heard a live human voice.

I was happy to hear it.

The voice booked me on a United flight leaving at 5PM - the earliest she could get me out.

This meant I would miss Catesey's play tonight.

So after hanging up I called United.

If mom says no, ask dad.

After some confusion (my fault), United canceled the 2PM flight I'd booked earlier, and re-booked me a "courtesy" seat on it.

Now I'm off to the airport, hoping the ticketing agent has access to the same information I do.

Fingers crossed.

Saturday, April 05, 2008


It's a good time to live in Chicago - and not just because it was 60 and sunny today.

-Next week David Swenson (below) will allegedly be giving two surprise mini-workshops at North Shore Yoga in Northfield (the first yoga workshop I ever attended was with David, in 1998):
Thursday, April 11 4-6PM Primary Series $50
Friday, April 12 4-6PM Intro to Intermediate Series $50

-My teacher, Lino Miele (whom I rarely see, above), comes to town April 15 for four days of Mysore at Yogaview and a weekend workshop at Moksha Yoga. The Moksha segement includes his famous adjustment seminar and full vinyasa practice. He was last here in 2004...or was it 2003?

-Certified New Zealand-born teacher Peter Sanson will be leading morning Mysore classes at YogaNow during the week of April 21-26, from 6:30-8:30AM (I used to eat across from him at Aunty's on my first trip to Mysore back in 2002. He is the real thing).

Monday April 21st - Saturday April 26th
6:30 a.m. – 8:30 a.m.

I'll be at the last two workshops.
How about you?

Do not try this at home

But least they're not in Upward-Facing Bow.

Or doing partner yoga.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008


Yesterday I went to Miss Y's studio to practice with Henry the Punk.

As I was taking off my crystal mala(rosary) it broke.

Actually, it exploded.

Its 108* beads flew all over the bamboo floor.

As K.T., Miss Y and I scrambled to pick up the pieces, Miss Y told me that the mala was done.

"What?" I asked.

"Those karmas have been burned."


"Whatever you've been meditating on, you're done."

In other words, I can stop restringing the beads.**

Apparently when a mala breaks it represents finished karmas. According to some traditions, the remainder of the mala should be thrown into the sea.

It made sense to me.

So last night, after teaching my final class, I drove to the lakefront.

I ignored the lone male roamers parked at Foster Avenue Beach.

I made my way to the graffiti-decorated rocks that line the shore.

It was very dark.

It was also incredibly windy. My hair flew everywhere.

It felt good on the skin.

I climbed down the layers of rocks until the dark waters of Lake Michigan were right in front of me.

I reached into my purse and pulled out the envelope full of beads.

I said a little prayer, and emptied it into the water.

The beads sounded heavy when they fell.

And I felt many pounds lighter as I walked back to my car.


*The mala actually has 109 beads. The 109th is the guru bead, which is not counted but used as a marker and turn-around point.

**This same mala, which I purchased in India, first broke late last year. Not knowing any better, I searched and searched until I my friend Kirti gave me some thread (purchased in India) thin enough to fit through the beads' tiny holes. I even made a new tassle for it (from yarn purchased in India). Oops.