Thursday, 12 August 2010

The itouch and the modern Yogi

See, Larry Payne would love this blog title, using 'itouch' bound to increase hits. He suggested, on the business section of the recent TT course, that we start a blog and create posts that link to something topical thus increasing our profile. This is pretty much the only thing I remember from that portion of the course, it was the only note I took and I ended it with several exclamation marks out of disgust.

Why does does yoga and business wind so many of us up? I've been thinking about this in the fall out to the NYT Anusura article. Do we even have it in the UK? I don't know anyone who practices it, never likely to go to a class and yet I react against it almost immediately. Same with Joisyoga, hackles straight up and I know a lot of yogis have the same reaction to Bikram. Curiously I never felt that way about Bikram, perhaps I never really thought of it as yoga, it was just that Hot, sweaty, Bikram thingy. I came across a couple of Bikram blogs, just like this one and others in my blog list, people loving their Yoga, enthusiastic about their practice. That's what matters right, it always comes down to you and the mat, everything else is periphery. So if someone can recommend a nice Anusura blog, not a teacher, just a regular practitioner loving their practice, might be good to read that and put it in perspective.

But back to the why does yoga and business wind some of us up question. For me, my practice, my couple of hours on the mat every morning, is this perfect space, somehow separate from everything ignoble and... disappointing, in the world. Something honest about it, struggling with this, overcoming that, finding determination here, exhilaration there. The peace, when it comes and the calm. You just don't want all that associated in any way with money and 'increasing your profile', business models and trappings of wealth. Idealistic, yep disregarding the realities, no doubt.

God, hadn't planned on going there, back to the itouch and the modern yogi. The pranayama app, was useful in the beginning though I don't use it anymore, the meditation timer though is excellent, I use it to time my 10 minute paschimottanasana, 5 minute shoulderstands and 10 min headstands. This morning I used my itouch for the Sun salutations with mantras. I don't practice this enough so haven't learned them all, this way I can load the video, hit play and practice along. It's laid out in Ramaswamis Complete book of Vinyasa Krama and we did it a couple of times on the course. This morning I slipped it in after the tadasana subroutine. It's hard work, your having to hold each position on the breath retention while saying the mantra in your head.
Here it is.


  1. Grimmly, hmmmm, you know I love this topic, it is such a "hot potato" around, but I think it is time we stop that. I believe yogis, just like anyone else should be able to make money too. I do get discouraged when I feel the teachings of people making a lot of money are not so serious(or rather I see it that way, which is just a reflection of my own projections) I am coming to the realization that it is all mostly fear based, fear that I might not be "pure enough", or "humble enough", because as you say, the teachings of controversial (by me) teachers DO help a lot of people.

    I understand what you say about private practice being such a sacred space where you do not want to think about the profile and the stats etc, I agree, on the other hand, there is nothing wrong with eating and making money from teaching what we love, I think of it as sharing what we love with others, adding value and receiving value (in different form) in return.

    My thoughts are not very organized here, and I believe this is definitely a topic for more exploration, might write about it. You inspire me again!

  2. Ahh,he would be doubly please, ipods and a hot potatoe topic. Hi Claudia! Wasn't getting into whether yogi's should make money or not, of course yoga teachers, if they want to make that their only source of income, have to make a living and I'm aware of some of the realities involved in that, studio rental, heating cost etc. Actually I'm not that aware at all, just enough to know I'd rather not have to deal with all that. I like how Krishnamacharya, acording to Mohan, would have his students put a 'donation' on the shelf in an envelope.

    But I was more interested here in my, and others, reactions to this, why it irritates some of us so much, that's all. hadn't intended to write on it, wanted to write about using my itouch but ended up running out of time.

  3. Dear Grimmly
    That looks very devotional. Thanks for sharing it and writing the comments.

    Since I had to let it run for 10 minutes, so that I could come back and watch it in real time (that is the trick for my connection) I totally forgot that you wrote about other stuff being discussed in the blogosphere. There have been a few moments that I dropped a word in a blog entry that I knew would draw hits. I don't know if I did it because I wanted hits. In my case I'm not trying to become famous. Oh, I do remember something I would have commented while reading... (ding! - memory returned). I didn't seek out anusaran teachers. One class I went to very rarely in SF, outside of my regular ashtanga practice, hapenned to be taught by an anusaran trained yogi. My main recollection is that he used strange expressions such as "let your heart melt" when we would do chest opening poses. At another time, I went to ask information about classes in an Anusaran studio in Florida, and seemed to come in at a time in the middle of the afternoon when they were photographing asanas performed by one student. They interrupted what they were doing so the teacher could talk to me. It was an awkward moment to have interrupted them.

  4. Thank you Arturo, It's funny but when ever you hear of Ashtangi's moonlighting in any other style, even if they enjoyed it they'll comment on too much chatter, guess we're just not used to it. On the course Ramaswami would just give the instructions/directions, very clear and sparse, no jokes, no metaphors, nothing unnecessary or superfluous. Perfect for me but each to their own.

    There's another namaskara sequence called 'Ding namaskara' that I'd like to video. It's dedicated to the 'guardian angels' of the four directions. Mostly it's half bends, it has a short mantra too, there was a story, I must try and remember it.

  5. That was a beautiful rant. Thank you.

  6. I'm trying to ignore that whole branding thing. I'm not a part of that circle & so what the leaders choose to do doesn't affect me directly...

  7. Hi 5tf2", was that a rant? just read it back, guess it was a little. Was a bit rushed when i wrote this post, running late for work, think it shows.

    Doesn't really affect me either, my one primary a week and at home at that. just going to ignore it now..... unless their t-shirts are really really cool. KIDDING

  8. The profit motive can indeed turn off a lot of people. I think that serious students can discern whether something is motivated by money or by something higher. It is the motivation that is important, not whether or not the thing is profitable. Passion for sharing the knowledge (versus satisfying the ego) is key.

    I like what you said about not liking too much talk. I'm from the same school (Dharma also speaks very little).

  9. I think that C.K. has truly nailed the topic of 'business' on the head with her words:

    "Serious students can discern whether something is motivated by money or by something higher"

    What would seal the deal for me would be an iPhone that has a 'telepathy' button, and flexible working hours.
    (Apologies for dumbing down the debate)

  10. C.K. / Grimmly - I strongly suggest you never attend a Seanne Corn class if you like you're peace and quiet. By god that woman can talk...

    I d a lot of anusara out here in HK and find it complements my ashtanga practice quite well. Mysore being the disciplined practice that works you really deep into postures and anusara being more playful and letting you enjoy the fruits of your labour.



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from Kalama sutra, translation from the Pali by Bhikkhu Bodhi

from Kalama sutra, translation from the Pali by Bhikkhu Bodhi This blog included. "So, as I said, Kalamas: 'Don't go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, "This contemplative is our teacher." When you know for yourselves that, "These qualities are unskillful; these qualities are blameworthy; these qualities are criticized by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to harm & to suffering" — then you should abandon them.' Thus was it said. And in reference to this was it said.

"Now, Kalamas, don't go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, 'This contemplative is our teacher.' When you know for yourselves that, 'These qualities are skillful; these qualities are blameless; these qualities are praised by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to welfare & to happiness' — then you should enter & remain in them. Buddha - Kalama Sutta