Wild Asana: Marilyn Monroe

marilyn monroe, tulip, navasana

I love this photo of Marilyn Monroe. I don’t know the story behind the shoot. (Was she doing yoga?) But I do love her smile.

This navasana is paired with the upward facing petals of another tulip in bloom this week at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. This time we’re looking at the Tulip Viridiflora. Seriously? I had no idea there were so many different kinds of tulips out there.

Maybe my favorite part of this pairing is the perfectly imperfect posture. As a teacher, I’d remind this student to keep her back straight, and applaud the shins parallel to the floor. The smile goes a long way in making this posture perfect, don’t you think?

The tulips picture comes from David Hunter Garden Centers.

Yogi Media

The mixed messages we yogis send ourselves can juuuust about be summed up in this little screengrab. 

I’m not suggesting that one of these articles is less valid than the other. I’m just noticing the juxtaposition: One article questioning the yoga-body-ideal, and one reinforcing it.

I mean, listen, I WANT to demean the Aniston article. And granted, the YogaDorksters are KIND OF for sure (ed note: see Yoga Dork comments below) winking and nudging the stereotype. But, seriously, I hate all the hotness sometimes. And the talk of hotness. I would love to take a break from reading and thinking about body image. And focus instead on what amazing things my body can do. Or how about the BORING topic of what yoga does for the mind, the emotions, the heart and soul? Which is where all the deep beauty really is for me.

Yoga lets me go deep. And stand strong, and cry and take flight. And it doesn’t matter if there’s a jelly roll over my lululemons when I do it. Not one little bit. When I am feeling transcendental and buzzing from the vibrations in my body, I couldn’t care less what the outside looks like.

Listen, I get it. I skip the meditation articles in Yoga Journal too sometimes. I flip to the pictures of the pretty lady. I’m human like that.

And I’d be a hypocrite if I didn’t admit to envying those “yoga bodies” out there. Even if they are only a small percentage of the population. I want to make the outside look as amazing as yoga makes me feel on the inside. But I sometimes wish that was an instinct that wasn’t so consistently reinforced by seemingly everything around me. (And if you think I’m too high and mighty to put ‘celebriyogi’ in my post tags, you are mistaken.)

And, as another side note, when we talk about the “yoga body” let’s not forget that what we’re REALLY talking about is the American ideal – with or without yoga. Because until recently the ideal yoga body was one of a 14-year-old Indian boy.

On Benders and Balance

While the benders I’ve experienced in recent years are mild compared to the “Winning!” variety – mostly binging on rice cakes and watching too much TV on the internet – I do think it’s natural for the pendulum to swing in extremes. And sometimes we forget how poorly that extra drink (or serving of cheese or gluten or Real Housewives or heroin) serves us until we wake up the next day with head stuffed with spikey cotton.

Well + Good NYC asks the question: If we don’t know what it feels like to be down, can we truly appreciate the accomplishment of up?

Four experts weigh in, and the prevailing wisdom seems to be: Benders are Bad! Love Yourself and Pay Attention!

What do you think? Are benders a part of balance?

Read the whole article.

Ga-ga Yoga


I was just talking to a friend of mine about this pose the other day. For the record, I’m not even close. And Gaga is doing it in those boots, and wig, and, is that a tuxedo jacket with tails?

Clearly this is some kind of PR stunt, but I’m not sure if it’s PR for Gaga, or for the studio – or for Bikram (R). (Do you think Choudhury approves?)

I wonder if Gaga is staging this as part of her bizarro image: Look, I do weird yoga too! But is yoga still considered that weird or is this just proof of how mainstream the practice has become?

Anyway, it gets us talking about yoga. And that can’t be bad.

Real Dads Do Yoga

My father is among the best teachers I’ve ever had, on the mat and off. He taught me to breathe, to cry, to listen and to ask questions.

Every day he continues to teach me about love and support. I try to think of ways to give back to him, and there is no golf club, tennis lesson or pair of yoga shorts in the world that could do the trick.

Thank you for teaching me about a life well lived. Happy Father’s Day, Pop!

* * * * * *

As a side note, you may have guessed that none of these photos are of my Dad. But they are Dads, and they do yoga. So I’ve made some kind of strained connection as an excuse to post more pictures of yoga yum. You’re looking at Sting, Hugh Jackman and Russell Simmons. Happy Father’s Day, guys. Namaste. And enjoy!

Yoga Yum

One of the places I teach has a mirror-lined wall. I encourage students to use it for alignment, when appropriate, but to keep the focus inside.

That said, I’d like to take a momentary break from the spiritual to appreciate the, ahem, more physical benefits of yoga. Think of it as an added inspiration for the New Year, or, enjoy on a purely visual level.