Isn’t the internet age fantastic? As of last week, Baltimoreans who want to be more limber and/or have been the victims of a crime don’t have to leave the cozy confines of their home to get feedback on their downward-facing dog/report an instance of theft. I can’t wait to find out what’s next.
Yoga. The word alone can either send you to your happy place, or send shivers up your spine—depending on your prior experience of the ancient practice. Here in the US, yoga gained widespread popularity several years ago when basically everyone discovered that those who practiced it developed a kind of supernatural radiance/flexibility/strength/calm/eternal-youth/ what-have-you. Of course, the price of that ticket is hours of dedication—which can be physically strenuous, and because of yoga’s focus on relaxation and calm, can try those of us with that Western “go, go, go” mentality. But anyone who’s put his or her time in can tell you that the benefits are numerous and well worth the effort. And the level of physical rigor is really up to you. Yoga classes generally consist of between 60 and 90 minutes of simple but challenging physical postures and movements, coupled with breathing techniques that benefit the body and mind.
One local yoga practitioner (“guru” would be almost too apt a term), Anjali Sunita, of Baltimore Yoga Village, shared with us her personal history with yoga, and what makes Baltimore Yoga Village so special. In her words, it’s “the community feel that just cannot be faked. Teachers at Baltimore Yoga Village not only create classes that work out the body, address aches and pains, and some that even become gateways to meditation practice, but perhaps most importantly, they are dedicated to creating community connection. I think that is an underlying need in group classes that perhaps people do not even realize when they come and pull out a mat and drag it to the far corner of the room.”
And we’re here to witness. Walking into BYV, the feeling is truly welcoming and instantly relaxing. The feeling is not that of walking into a gym or health club, but rather, of walking into a sort of sanctuary—a place where you and your neighbors can come to sink deeper into a meaningful practice, and forget the cares of the outside world.
Join the author of The Last Best Cure, Donna Jackson Nakazawa, and three remarkable teachers tomorrow night, March 26 from 7:00 – 9:00 p.m., as they demonstrate mindfulness meditation, mindful movement and yogic breath techniques as featured in The Last Best Cure.
The event, sponsored by Baltimore Yoga Village and The Ivy Bookshop, will also include a reading, book signing and question and answer session with Nakazawa. It all takes place at the Baltimore Yoga Village, in the Lake Falls Village shopping center, where the Ivy Bookshaop is also located.
Back in the day, to be a yoga master you had to move to India, give up all your worldly possessions, and stand on your head for at least two hours a day. It’s nice that things have gotten simpler. Starting in September, Tai Sophia — the Baltimore-area “integrative health” academic institution — will offer a Master’s of Science in Yoga Therapy. Kinda makes me want to go back to school.
Yoga class is hard enough already; just imagine what it would be like to vinyasa if you were blind. Pam Jeter, an Ashtango teacher who’s also a researcher at Johns Hopkins’ Wilmer Eye Institute, had a different idea: maybe yoga would actually help blind people with balance, locating the body in space, fear of falling, stress, and relaxation. So she began arranging for the first yoga therapy study to focus on the physical and emotional effects of yoga for the blind.
There is no better place to run into friends than Stone Mill Bakery at Green Spring Station. Stacy Lebow and Elise Morris, old friends, both showed up wearing Lululemon tops. (And they didn’t even call each other!) The hot Vancouver-based company sells yoga-inspired athletic clothing that has become the uniform for chic exercising moms. We’re lucky enough to have a Baltimore store on Aliceanna Street in Fells Point (soon to move to Harbor East, we hear).
Stacy Lebow and Elise Morris, Stone Mill Bakery, Green Spring Station
We talked to Stacy first.
Hi. I love your top.
Thanks. It’s Lululemon, my favorite thing to wear when I work out.
How would you describe your fashion style?
That would explain the feather I see in your hair.
It’s trendy fun! It comes out in a week. Like nail polish!
What do you wear for an evening out?
I dress according to what fits my body. And I love scarves and wraps and shawls — and dresses! I do get my hair blown out occasionally. That’s my one indulgence. My mother
was a photographer so I’ve always had pictures taken of me. And pretty hair is an important accessory!
How do you two know each other?
We met when our children were very young at preschool.
And Elise, where did you spend your morning?
I just came from playing tennis!
And you both love Lululemon! Are you sure you didn’t plan your matching tops.
Of course not! But I’m glad we ran into each other! (Stacy)
Last weekend, the New York Times published a story called “How Yoga Can Wreck Your Body,” which pointed out that yoga-related emergency room visits more than doubled between 2001 and 2002. From 20 to 46. Yawn. (Read Baltimore’s popular yoga studio Charm City Yoga’s rebuttal to the article here.)
But what you may have missed during all the yoga-attacking (or yoga-defending) furor was a way-more-scary statistic from the same day’s paper: in 2008, more than a thousand pedestrians had to go to the emergency room because they were somehow injured while talking or texting on their cell phones. One thousand! And since that number had doubled each year since 2006, more recent years have probably seen even more people who were hurt by walking-while-texting.
But, hey, I’ve done it myself — probably within the past week. And since we’re probably not going to get people to stand still when they need to send a message (seeing as we can barely get folks to stop text and driving), maybe it’s best to just develop some ground rules. That’s what filmmaker Casey Neistat does in this video. He suggests that you pay attention to your blind spot (“everywhere is the blind spot”), don’t force other pedestrians to yield to you, and — if you can — force yourself to stop and lean against a wall before you send that message. It’s safer and less irritating for you, and for everyone else on the street. Plus, think of how embarrassing it would be to have to go to the hospital for a texting-related accident.
1. Getting a tan while in lying in corpse position
2. Don’t have to leave the dog at home
3. Using the butt crack of a statue as your Drishti
4. Feeling super healthy compared to junkies nodding out on the bench
5. Easy to sneak in if you arrive late
6. Easy to sneak away if you’ve had enough
7. In Tree position, you can actually hold on to a tree.
8. In Pigeon, you can actually watch the pigeons.
1. Stepping on dog poop
2. Cool hipsters gazing at you with contempt
3. Losing your glasses in the grass
4. Getting ogled by old men
5. Dogs licking your feet in corpse position
6. Ants in your shorts
7. Possibly stepping on a needle
8. Worrying somebody might steal your shoes
This summer, I’ve been excited to take part in the free yoga class that takes place every Saturday morning, 8.30-9.30am, in West Mount Vernon park. The class is sponsored by Merritt Athletic Club, and the instructor, Jude, is super-friendly and non-intimidating. Participants are all ages and levels, and there are four more classes left. Just bring your own mat and water bottle.