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According to the Vatican, Yoga is Evil?

So according to Father Gabriele Amorth, who was at one point the chief exorcist of the Vatican, “practicing yoga is Satanic.”  According to the priest practicing yoga will lead you down a path to Hinduism. He also believes that Harry Potter is Satanic as well.

I guess kids can’t have any fun anymore. No Harry Potter and no yoga. Boy I wish I had read this earlier maybe I wouldn’t have embarrassed myself by posting about yoga in schools. My face is red.

Yikes

Bikram vs. Yoga to the People

A lot of people have been talking about the lawsuit between Bikram Choudhary and Greg Gumicio of Yoga to the People.  I have been following the story since I first heard about it via the Yoga to the People Facebook Page and I didn’t know what to think about it at first.

Personally, I feel invested because, as I have stated earlier, I started my yoga practice with Yoga to the People at their original studio in NYC in 2007. For that reason alone I would like to stand up with YTTP because I feel that if it weren’t for them I wouldn’t have been able to afford yoga because at the time I was a broke college student (as opposed to now when I’m a broke college graduate). Now what I did with YTTP was not the traditional hot yoga that they are being sued for, but the Power Vinyasa Flow at the St. Marks studio. So to be fair to Bikram and YTTP I have to think of what this lawsuit is really about and I don’t feel it’s right for me to make a judgement without knowing the details.

And those details, according to this New York Times article, are still hazy to me. Bikram’s copyrighted Yoga practice is 26 postures in a 105* room. The Traditional Hot Yoga at YTTP is 26 postures in a 103* room and yes these postures are supposed to be very similar maybe even exactly the same. This is where I have a problem and it seems to be the stance of Gumicio as well. If Bikram can own a sequence of 26 postures does this mean I can’t teach that sequence in my own classes? I have never been to a Bikram class nor have I been to the traditional hot yoga class at YTTP so I do not know what all the postures are, but isn’t there a good chance I could have created a sequence with all of those postures in the same order? I don’t think that I have and I have no intention of copying somebody else’s hard work so I’m not worried about it, but isn’t it possible that I could this by coincidence? What are the legal ramifications of that?

However, we know that this is no coincidence as Gumicio was a student and worked with Bikram for years. He has taken the 26 postures and used them. I don’t know if he’s used all of them in the same exact sequence, but if he has can we blame him? It’s what he was taught and it’s what he knows. I learned a sequence in my training with CorePower Yoga and intend on teaching a similar class with my own adjustments. I think it’s a great sequence, but am I not allowed to do this? Is that what this lawsuit means for me?

Unfortunately, it does. I don’t like it, but the truth is if Bikram wins this lawsuit it means that specific sequences and flows will be able to be copyrighted. And while I may not like it, it is the law. How far that law goes to protect this sequence is up for the courts to decide and what the court does decide may, ultimately, change the Yoga industry forever.

As someone who is starting a small business in an already tepid economic climate it makes me nervous that I may step on somebody’s sequence and be opening up myself to litigation. Many people discussing the case are quoting how old Yoga is and how it can’t be owned and I agree with that. But Bikram has a viable case here; he created a sequence that is very popular and very good. But he will have to deal with others trying to emulate that. Like Coke and Pepsi, McDonalds and Burger King, or AT&T and Verizon there will always be competition. Gumicio has not called the YTTP class a Bikram class and if there are some slight adjustments then the class isn’t the same. This could be Bikram’s case to lose.

But hey, I’m not a lawyer, I’m a yoga instructor and I don’t know what is protected under Bikram’s copyright. I’m simply putting my thoughts down in a blog. What I do know is that I signed the petition at yogatruth.org because I believe that you can’t own a sequence, that you can’t own yoga, and that in principle yoga belongs to the people. It’s what I learned when I started practicing and it’s what I hope to teach in my own classes.

Namaste

Brad

P.S. – I don’t want anyone to feel like they have to agree with me and I am open to hearing your thoughts on the case. If you wish to learn more read the New York Time Article posted (as well as about a billion other articles out there) and the full lawsuit here. Also if I have gotten any of the facts incorrect please let me know and I will make edits.

Yoga in Schools?

A new Report done by CBS News Yoga In School Showing Results views the results of practicing Yoga in School.

At the KIPP Summit Academy in San Lorenzo, CA students are participating in Yoga classes as part of the mandatory curriculum. The program is being run by the founder of Headstand (http://headstand.org/), Katherine Priore. It’s an interesting idea to be sure, but is it working?

According to the report it has been very effective. Suspensions have gone down by 60% and tests scores are on the rise. Not only that, but in the report the students talk about the effects of Yoga in their daily lives. They find themselves to be more calm, having a clearer mind, and being able to handle their frustrations by leaving a situation to go and practice Yoga.

As an adult I can clearly say that yes, Yoga has been influential in my life and helped me to achieve a more calm and clear mind so I don’t doubt that it is having such a positive effect on the students. In fact, when I was in elementary school our Phys Ed teacher, Ms. Connie, used to have us do exercises to Gloria Estefan and we loved it! I would imagine the students are reacting the same way to the Yoga and given all that we know about the effects of Yoga today it’s probably doing wonderfully.

Now, I don’t know if Yoga is the only way to get students to feel calm, but it is one of the best options available to students. I think that all students should be receiving some sort of physical education and Yoga is a great way for students to connect their bodies to their minds! Just my two cents.

If you want to learn more about Headstand check out their site http://headstand.org/

Namaste

Reinvigorated

Good Day!

I am currently in my 4th week of Yoga Teacher Training. So just at the halfway point and I am so excited about the progress that I have made. So I decided that this post I would share about how this journey has changed my life in 4 very short, amazing weeks.

As a young 20-something year old I have had to deal with the harsh reality of working 40+ hours a week combined with a lovely commute (90 mins each way). For me, it was a tough struggle getting the energy to get up in the morning and I easily fell into the monotony of being an adult.  Maybe it was extended adolescence or I was being spoiled and entitled I couldn’t imagine why people did this every day. Even though I enjoyed my job, I struggled to get up in the morning. I was tired, unmotivated, and unhappy.

Recently, around September time, I read a really great article that I wish I could link for you guys about the quarter-life crisis and it described me to a tee. It broke down the quarter life crisis into different phases. For me, I identified the next phase in my quarter-life crisis as the phase where I begin to take on new interests or restart old interests. That’s when I decided to get serious about my yoga practice. Even though I have practiced yoga for years (almost 5 now!) I wasn’t as serious about it as I was a few years ago. So I thought, “Why not?” I’m gonna push through this “crisis” and start doing something that I loved.

And it was the best decision ever.

I’m now four weeks into my Yoga Teacher Training (it goes by so quickly!) and I don’t think I could have made a better choice. I have rediscovered my passion for Yoga and gained a much deeper knowledge of my practice and Yoga theory. I have become much more active and engaged in my life. Now when I wake up in the morning, I am excited to go to work and have adjusted to the drive. On my drive I go through my flow mentally and meditate, while singing along with my radio! I’ve never felt more centered, energized, or invigorated.

But it hasn’t been just me to notice these changes. My friends have too! I see them more often, I’m more engaged in the relationship. Friendships, which I had let fall by the wayside due to being too tired from work have come roaring back to life. I’m happier and I am spreading that joy and energy to those around me. I’m only halfway through my journey, but I feel like I have changed for a lifetime.

I’ve been reinvigorated and I can’t wait to see what’s going to happen next!

Peace

Yogi Brad

How to Define a Yogi

In my recent Yoga Teacher Training class we spent the majority of the day doing inverted poses like headstands, handstands, crow pose, etc. It was actually my most favorite class so far (we’re only in week two though so this could easily change.) I don’t know there is just something about being upside down that I love. But, even though I loved doing inversions, it was the chat that we had at the end of class that really resonated with me. We were given a simple question, What is a Yogi? A simple question with a lot of answers.

Our Instructor, Anthony, wanted us to journal real quickly so we could each define it ourselves. I decided to stick with a simple definition: a yogi is someone who values their practice and spreads positive karmic energy out into the world. I jotted down a few details more about why I defined a yogi like this (mostly personal anecdotes) and then as a class we began to share ideas. Now I don’t think my definition was wrong, but there were a bajillion other things that I would have liked to include in my journal entry. So I figured I might as well share them with you here.

What is a Yogi?

  • A yogi spreads positive karma
  • A yogi practices cleanliness of the mind, body, and spirit
  • A yogi is dedicated, to both themselves and their community
  • A yogi takes care of others without forgetting that sometimes they themselves will come first
  • A yogi practices
  • A yogi is self-aware. Self-aware of their faults, their goals, and self-aware of their best attributes
  • A yogi is grateful. Grateful for what they have and also for what they don’t have
  • A yogi accepts their own truth.
  • A yogi is balanced.
There were plenty more ideas thrown about in the studio on Saturday and I wish I could have written them all down (I’m sure somebody did) because it really made me rethink what I’ve thought of yoga and yogis in the past. I thoroughly enjoyed this class and it has become a huge turning point in my yoga practice. Saturday is the day that I finally felt okay to describe myself as a Yogi and I am very proud of that.
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Namaste
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– Yogi Brad

Tapas: Discipline

Last Wednesday I started the journey to become a Yoga Teacher. Initially I thought that I would get the opportunity to understand more Yoga Poses and become a Yoga expert. I was looking forward to pushing myself physically and really embrace the physical practice of yoga, or as I am beginning to learn, asana.

What I didn’t expect is to be so enthralled by the history and values of yoga. In our first class dedicated to learning about the history and path of Yoga I was introduced to the 8-limbed path. We were asked to start journaling about something we had learned about, something that we connected with or that we would like to work on.

So what did I choose? I chose one of the Niyamas, ethical codes or moral observations when no one is looking. The one I decided to work on is Tapas or discipline. I chose to focus on Tapas because I find myself to lack discipline a lot. I make a lot of goals for myself whether it be spiritual, physical, or emotional and I often tend to let them go. So I figured why not focus on the one thing that I would really want to improve. So I’m making a list of goals for myself to improve my discipline and I would like to share them with you.

1) Focus on my practice and increase my knowledge of Yoga. This should be obvious.

2) Write. Write like there’s no tomorrow. I have a lot of projects – movies, books, blogs – and I want to really write them all.

3) Work on my physical self. I’m not the most consistent guy when it comes to exercise. It’s not that I don’t like exercise, but I just don’t like getting up early. So I’m going to focus on keeping discipline when it comes to my exercise.

4) Work on my work. I want to be the best I can be at my job and I want to stay focused.

So that’s my goal to stay disciplined. It will really extend to all parts of my life. As I go through this journey I’m sure that I will connect with other aspects of Yoga and I can’t wait to get this journey started! If you have any advice or anything to add to my goals please let me know in a comment. I’ll be sure to read it all!

Brad

Yoga in the Rain

Well it’s a rare rainy day here in Southern California and it got me thinking about doing activity in the rain. When I was a kid my mother would tell me not to play in the rain because I might catch a cold, but there was always something so thrilling to playing in nature’s shower. So I would try to, but my mom would pull my brother, sister, and I back inside. Not to worry though, we got our chance when we splashed around in the puddles the next day (why are puddles so inviting?)

But then we went off as adults and no one would be able to stop us from going in the rain.  And I definitely did.

I would play soccer, football, or any other contact sport in the rain! Mostly I did it to muck it up in the mud. I ruined clothing, destroyed shoes, and suffered plenty of injuries from falling down. And yes, mom, sometimes I got a cold. But I totally think it was worth it.

So why not practice yoga in the rain? Sometimes we all get sweaty enough that we might as well have been! But are there any benefits or pluses to doing it in the rain? Sure, you feel connected with nature because you get to mess around outside in a natural shower. And yeah, it can be relaxing when you’re out there because you have cool, refreshing water on you at all times. And definitely, of course you’ll feel like a kid again being bad and breaking your mother’s rule. But I promise you that my mother would still be against it. I might get a cold and then who will take care of me?

So yoga in the rain? Mothers probably say no. I say definitely yes. Let’s be kids again and jump back into it. We may get sick, but hell, it’s probably worth it. 🙂