Category Archives: Gear

Yoga Resource Practice Manual eBook

I was recently asked to review a new yoga eBook, and it looked pretty cool. Darren Rhodes successfully kickstartered the Yoga Resource Practice Manual, a 360-pose guidebook that’s totally digital. You can browse everything on the computer, your phone, your Kindle, and more. Here’s the preview:

I’d seen Darren’s awesome poster (From Tadasana to Savasana) in the back of my Anusara studio, but didn’t know much about his style. The poster and the book show his love of B.K.S. Iyengar’s Light on Yoga;each presents a comprehensive index of poses, showing a range of forms the human body can take. (Darren actually created that poster as he learned to do each and every pose in Light on Yoga. Read his piece on Elephant Journal for more details.)

Yoga Resource Practice Manual eBookThe book was nice to browse, I skimmed it as I planned a Saturday morning class with a friend. Each category has some important explanatory text, and a cool diagram of the main alignment cues. You can save poses to your favorites, add notes, or highlight the text. You can quickly find the alignment instructions for any pose, as well as a little piece of inspiration in the “refinement” section. I liked these personal notes a lot, and would actually like to see a book of just these details!

As a student, you can choose new poses by browsing categories and picking a photograph. It would be good for discovering new poses outside of your regular classes, and for getting all their alignment details in one organized place.

I hope that future versions let you create and save actual sequences I saved a bunch of poses and notes, and they were all mixed together in the sidebar. Beginners might also appreciate some default sequences, or some instructions on how to sequence a home practice.

I also wanted to know why I might choose one pose versus another, so that there are goals beyond the shape. After the category intros, there’s not a lot of details on particular benefits (or contraindications).

Accommodating injuries is (still) my current challenge, so (as a side note) I’d also love to hear more about what Darren learned from his intense approach to asana, his breaks from it, and his current practice. He writes:

“Consider viewing hatha yoga as a sport instead of as a remedy for injury and health issues. In that context, when injury occurs in your practice it simply goes with the territory. The aim of hatha yoga is certainly not to injure you. Nor is that the aim of any sport. However, in both sports and yoga, injury does occur. In my view, that is not necessarily a problem.”

That seems like a healthy relationship to injury, but I still haven’t decided if I want to agree!

I’d recommend this book for intermediate students in good health, and for any teacher wanting an inspiring, comprehensive index with clear and efficient alignment instructions. Thanks Darren.



Russell Simmons Wants You to Be Super Rich

David, Russell, and Sharon
David, Russell, and Sharon

Last week I got to attend one of Jivamukti’s Master Classes at the Prince George Ballroom. Three hours with David Life is like solid gold. (Talk about an intense guy! He looked straight into my eyes, and I thought the back of my head might catch on fire.)

We had a(nother) special guest in class: Russell Simmons. He stuck around for a Q&A after class, and even gave us all copies of his latest book, Super Rich: A Guide to Having it All. It’s a great overview about the state of consciousness not the financial strategy that will bring you infinite rewards.

Who wants a free copy? I read mine in two days, it’s ready for a new home! Just post a comment by tomorrow, 1/11/11, telling me the best thing you’ve ever given away. I’ll randomly choose a winner and pay for the postage. Be sure to include your email (I won’t spam you) so I can get your mailing address.

Read my extended notes about A Day of Yoga with Russell Simmons, David Life and Sharon Gannon on MindBodyGreen

A Day of Yoga with Russell Simmons, David Life & Sharon Gannon

Books: The Subtle Body (The Story of Yoga in America)

The Subtle Body by Stefanie Syman
The Subtle Body by Stefanie Syman

I was lucky enough to stumble upon a book reading by Stefanie Syman this weekend at YogaWorks Soho. Her book / seven-year research project, The Subtle Body: The Story of Yoga in America hit shelves this summer, and taught me a lot about the ways that Americans have interpreted “yoga” over the years. (Thanks Anya Porter, host of Saturday’s Breakti, for teaching the free community class beforehand!)

Stefanie talked about several notable shifts in the yoga community. The first, in the early 70’s, when Iyengar and other teachers were reclaiming yoga from its “dirty hippie” associations with the psychadelic 60’s. Iyengar forbade chanting and meditation in classes, and many teachers followed their gurus’ direct instructions to secularize yoga, to “save” it from irrelevance. Yoga could cure insomnia, help your back pain; you didn’t need to worry about the spirituality.

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Books: Anatomy for Yoga; Yoga Anatomy

Anatomy for Yoga; Uttanasana Spread
Anatomy for Yoga; click to view Uttanasana Spread

McGraw-Hill Publishing was kind enough to send me their latest yoga book to review. Anatomy for Yoga: An Illustrated Guide to Your Muscles in Action, by Nicky Jenkins and Leigh Brandon, is a helpful guide to a personalized yoga practice. The authors provide an overview of yoga anatomy, including terminology, main systems, and breathing. They also review meditation and the chakra (or “subtle”) system, and how it might affect your physical systems.

From there, they identify four major postural types: kyphosis (round shoulders), lordosis (overarched lower back), flat back, and swayback (hips forward). Each type has a few possible causes; you might have a head-forward posture because of your computer setup, the sports you play, or the emotions trapped in the chest.

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Data Entry While You Sleep

I want this:

The FitBit

The Fitbit. Attaches anywhere, measures everything. Calories burned in your rocking chair. Miles traveled up and down your staircase. Percentage of sleep that was uninterrupted. (Why limit OCD to your waking hours?)

The thing uploads your data, anytime you walk within 15 feet of the base station. (And it doesn’t make you subscribe to MobileMe.) It just gives you lots of pretty charts and graphs.

You can even make it a nutrition journal, if you have the discipline to write down every single thing that you eat. Supposedly that’s very revealing.

Does it come with an intern to wear it around for you?

Local Yoga Clothes

Hyde Yoga Clothes
Yoga Hyde

A quick shout-out to Hyde Clothing, who were so kind as to drop by the site and send me their spring look book. I’ve seen their gear in a lot of the studios around town, but I had no idea they were based in New York City! So, if you’re a locavore, you can eat their clothes. They’re organic.

I’ve not actually worn any of their clothes I’ve only recently pried myself away from $3 yoga pants and $5 t-shirts at Conway, $30 crops at Old Navy, and the occasional forgot-my-yoga-clothes Nike Fit splurge. Finally, I admitted that anything that shrinks after the second wash is not worth the effort to bring it home, and treated myself to a steep Calvin Klein sale at Macy’s. As much as I resist “outfits” for yoga too much of a “look” brings my attention too much outward I am beyond happy with my well-made gear, which still looks and feels like a hug, twenty washes in.

The clothes have cute details like spiral seams on the pants, to help you remember how to rotate your femurs I’m sure. Their full-length pants look a bit short to me, but they have plenty of crops (which let your teacher see your alignment better anyways). I am curious about the taryn halter, which is listed “for those who hate halters,” since I am indeed a halter-hater and I wonder if this one will give me a back massage or something to win me over.

So if you’re needing new gear, and want to support your local shops, look for Hyde around town. And tell me what you think!