Author Archives: Namastekls

About Namastekls

Yoga Alliance certified Yoga instructor

Secretary of State, Superwoman…and Sometime Yogi

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Secretary of State Hilary Clinton revealed to Barbara Walters her secret for staying sane while she works hard to untangle the dramatic foreign policy quagmires and help solve the problems of the world with diplomacy and grace–yoga! In the interview (which is part of “Barbara Walters Presents: The 10 Most Fascinating People of 2012,” which aired last night, 12.12.12, on ABC), Clinton told Walters that she takes care of herself by resting, drinking water and getting on her yoga mat whenever she can. Superman has nothing on this lady!

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“Italian Yoga”? Serve Me Up Some Cannoli and Cat Pose!

italianThere’s a new yoga trend in town–and it’s about to blow your mind.  But don’t get out your yoga mat just yet–because you might spill some espresso on it! It’s called Italian Yoga, and it celebrates the “art of the moment,” via practices such as sitting at the cafe with friends, sharing stories–and just living in the present by embracing slowing down and enjoying a nice plate of pasta. So the next time you catch yourself running to work, home (or even to yoga class), take a second to slow down–or maybe sneak a few minutes of “Italian Yoga” in with a warm cup of caffe normale, a biscotti and some peace and tranquility.

The guys at Car Talk are launching an effort on Kickstarter to support their documentary about Italian Yoga.  So perhaps while you are in the cafe enjoying some cafe-asana or pasta-asana, you can send a few coins their way. Namaste. Ciao!

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Meow-asana? The Yoga Cats 2013 Calendar Is Here

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Everyone loves cats. Or at least, pictures of them being unbelievably cute fur balls, adorngly mischievous or in the case of the 2013 Yoga Cats calendar, practicing their cat yoga poses. Now that’s some Meow-asana!

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Portlandia and Yoga=Heaven (Finally!)

It was inevitable (we are just surprised it didn’t happen earlier), but Portlandia has finally accomplished the unthinkable: they may have topped the Brunch Village episode! The incredibly clever show (a playful parody of the vegan-dwelling, sweater-knitting, bike-riding, organic-loving hipster world of Portland, Oregon) returns for its third season on January 4th, 2013. And, to DDR’s delight, the episode is about YOGA! You can get a sneak peak at the episode, “Meditation Crush,”  on the IFC web site.  I am bursting with Goji berry happiness right now! I don’t think I can stand it anymore! I am going to have to leave work and make myself a green tea smoothie in one of my ironically antique glass Mason jars! I can’t decide if I am more excited about the fact that the episode focuses on yoga or that I may get to see Fred in a pair of Lycra yoga pants!

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Spread the Karma Post-Sandy: Start a Karmasation

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There has been a lot of ‘thankful’ chatter on Facebook…people feeling grateful for what they have and people feeling grateful for what they have received… On the eve of Thanksgiving, let us not be a nation of the Have’s and Have Not’s. Let us be people who give what we have and have something to give, no matter what. Lately, our house has been cleaning (cleansing) out closets and looking through our drawers to see what we can give to those who lost so much due to Sandy’s wrath. One blanket, one pillow, some canned food, a hug; whether you realize it or not, we all have something to give.

A new app that is coming out soon will recognize the givers–and keep the giving notion going. Check out Karmasation. It’s easy to start the wave of giving. Pay it forward. Because in this unpredictable world, you never know if someday you will be the one in need. Namaste.

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Debate Over Yoga Being Taught in Schools–CA Parents Looking to Take Legal Action

Would you allow your kids to be a part of a fitness class that focused on stretching? What if this class taught them how to breathe better? What about a class that helped them to explore ideas like “mindfulness” or instructed them on how to practice patience, empathy and understanding of themselves and others? Now what if I told you that class was taught by an Indian family whose members began studying Hindu rituals at a young age, who claim to “have chosen to take on the responsibility of its continued transmission of Ashtanga Yoga”?

This issue, the teaching of yoga in schools has a bunch of parents in California all up in arms–and they are planning to take legal action over what they claim is the alleged “indoctrination” of their kids in eastern religion.

At a time when childhood obesity is on the rise (according to the CDC, obesity now affects 17% of all children and adolescents in the U.S. – triple the rate from just one generation ago) and physical fitness/education classes are on the decline, kids are in desperate need of ways to stretch, sweat and release the stress of school and adolescence.

And in case you haven’t noticed, yoga has gained popularity at an incredible rate. According to Boston. com, 15.8 million people in the U.S. practice yoga. The benefits of practicing yoga are even more impressive. From a physical standpoint, yoga aids in stress and blood pressure reduction, weight loss, increased fitness, and it can have positive effects on chronic diseases.  The psychological rewards are endless.

Once parents know all of this information, why wouldn’t they want to run out and buy their kids a yoga mat?

Understandably, many people don’t know much about the religious roots or spiritual history of yoga. And as a yoga teacher, I can see how that can be scary–especially for parents of young children. But, (and this depends greatly on the yoga teacher leading the class) many times, the Westernized version of yoga does not extend further than the physical practice.  In my classes, for instance, I do not extoll the spiritual or religious undertones of the practice. I feel that it is my job–as the teacher–to help my students practice yoga in a safe way and with clear instructions. But I do not feel that it is my job to instruct anyone on their spiritual path. I am simply there to help them learn how to get out of their minds and into their bodies–and if a student wishes to pursue the religious aspects of yoga, then that is their choice.  I am happy to help them on that path if they wish to start walking down it, but I am not their spiritual guide–nor do I have the skills or qualifications to do so.

The practice of yoga was designed to prepare the body for meditation. But by many accounts (several books account the history of the Westernization of yoga, which in turn has all but stripped the practice form it spiritual roots and transformed it into a strictly physical practice), yoga in America has become a mostly physical practice that just happens to have innumerable emotional and psychological benefits. People come to their mats for different reasons–to stay fit, to just take a break from life, to sweat out toxins, to lose weight, to stretch and even just to breathe better while moving. But just because you practice yoga, it doesn’t mean that you are praying to Hindu gods or embarking on a spiritual journey from which you can’t turn back. You know how to old saying goes: You can lead a horse to water…
Well, the same goes for yoga.  You can lead a man to his yoga mat, but what he decides to do with his practice is up to him.

Sure, when you start to bring young, impressionable kids into the equation, things become more complicated. Which is why, just as you would get to know your son’s or daughter’s math or science teacher, parents should get to know the yoga teacher who is leading the classroom yoga class.

If we let our kids take a break from their studies and unroll a yoga mat just to take time for themselves and have some fun while moving their bodies (most kids yoga classes involve games and stories about the animals that the yoga poses are based on), you have to ask yourself: is breathing in Warrior I pose going to turn your child into a practitioner of eastern religion/philosophies? I guess you could argue that if your child eats enough carrots, his/her skin could develop an orange hue. But that would take a LOT of carrots.

A yoga class is just one small way we can help our kids be better people–on and off the yoga mat. Don’t they deserve the opportunity to decide what’s best for themselves? Isn’t that what “education” is all about? If we strip them of that chance to choose, are we robbing them of an opportunity to walk down a path that could lead them to being the best version of themselves that they can be? I know that’s what I’d want for my kids. Besides, what kid wants to be hit in the stomach and get the wind knocked out of them during a game of dodgeball when they could be pretending to be a Mountain (Mountain Pose), Pigeon (One-Legged King Pigeon Pose), Frog (Frog Pose) or a Lion (Lion’s Breath)?

You can read DDR’s friend Hilary Friedman discuss this issue on NECN by clicking here.

Parents, yogis and DDR fans: please comment and share your thoughts in the DDR comments section. We want to hear form you!

Namaste.

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Kathleen Edwards Played the Narrows Center for the Arts Fall River, MA 10.20.12 (Pictures, Setlist)

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Very few people can make a joke about a bag of pita chips being used as a percussive instrument. But the feisty and witty Kathleen Edwards was able to do just that–while entertaining the crowd with a selection of songs from her 4-album catalog (most of them were culled from her most recent album, “Voyager”). And this time around, she was not suffering from the vocal chord fatigue that she battled with on her last visit to Massachusetts. For this tour, Edwards is joined by guitarists Jim Bryson and Gord Tough; the trio set-up allows them to explore a more intimate sound. Sipping her token glass of whiskey, Edwards played masterfully and even double fisted with a violin and guitar on “Good Night California.”

Surrounded by adoring fans sitting on the venue’s signature church pew seats, Edwards showed why she truly is Canada’s “flower.” Towards the end of her set, she debuted an unreleased song, “My Brave Face,” a very intimate, soul-bearing song about the end of her marriage, which, she bravely said, has led to asking herself some “very hard questions.” The accomplished musician may have endured some difficult times in her personal life, but the combination of her inner strength and amazing lyric-writing skills has allowed for the blossoms of some of the best music found in today’s music scene.

The night was culminated with Edwards and her merry men standing atop a table amidst the crowd during “Side Car.” And, as if the night couldn’t possibly get any better, the encore (which included a cover of The Flaming Lips’ song, “Feeling Yourself Disintegrate”) had the crowd on its feet. So go out and buy yourself a Kathleen Edwards’ album, eh?

Set list:

Asking For Flowers
Empty Threat
Comedian/Chameleon
House Full of Empty Rooms
In State
Good Night California
Hockey Skates
Going to Hell
My Brave Face
Somewhere Else
Six o’clock News
A Soft Place to Land
Change the Sheets

Encore:
Feeling Yourself Disintegrate (Flaming Lips cover)
Back To Me
Sidecar

*Ms. Edwards was so down to earth–she stayed after the show to talk to fans! We got our picture taken with this Canadian beauty and it made our musical year!

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