Sexy Yoga and Meditation

Okay, I admit it, the word “sexy” didn’t need to be in the title of this post. I literally spent at least five minutes trying to figure out how to work the words “sexy” or “hot” in with the words “meditation”, to no avail.

I suppose that’s why meditation, or Patanjali’s Dhyāna, gets nowhere near the attention that Asana gets. It just doesn’t go with hot or sexy. I mean, when was the last time you saw a magazine headline with tips to “Last Longer Tonight”, and they’re talking about sitting on your cushion, closing your eyes, and concentrating on your breath? Yup, I thought so.

What’s funny is *both* Dhyāna and Asana are branches of the 8 Limbs of Yoga. What’s funny is we now have to say Yoga *and* Meditation. Oh well, that’s the all verbiage, I guess. And really, it’s better to just do it. Talking about swimming does not get you wet. (Like sexy… or… unlike sexy… or… oh, never mind.)

If I haven’t lost you yet, this post is intended for two things: 1) As a response to yet another exciting development in the world of Yoga and Polititics, and 2) To point out a couple of meditation trainings and resources if that strike your fancy.

Can Yoga be, uh… Sexy? What is Yogic, Really?

If you’re keeping track with the exciting world of Yoga and Business, Business and Yoga, recently, Judith Hanson Lasater wrote a letter to Yoga Journal expressing her confusion and sadness with the gratuitous nudity in the magazine’s ads. She said: “These pictures do not teach the viewer about yoga practice or themselves. They aren’t even about the celebration of the beauty of the human body or the beauty of the poses, which I support. These ads are just about selling a product. This approach is something I though belonged (unfortunately) to the larger culture, but not in Yoga Journal.”

Judith Hanson Lasater is not just any ol’ disgruntled YJ reader. She is one of the magazine’s original founders. And then Roseanne Harvey, who runs It’s All Yoga, Baby wrote about The Letter, and followed it up with an interview with Judith. Even Yoga scholar Georg Feuerstein came out of his semi retirement to write several blog posts about this.

Yeah, it’s gotten pretty, uh, exciting?

Amidst the noise, if you are new, or newish, or even oldish to yoga, you might be challenged with questions such as “What is yoga”? Or, “Is nudity yoga?” Or, “Can Capitalism and Yoga co-exist peacefully?”

I’m sorry to say that I don’t have the answer to any of these questions. (And I’m not sure that anyone really does.) Besides, defining what Yoga is is like defining what Love is, or Compassion is. As Judith said recently in a workshop: “Have you noticed how we can’t really define the things that are most important in life?”

So, like I said, you’re on your own with those inquiries. What I *can* tell you, however, that if you like yoga, you might also like meditation. Yoga is about learning about your Self. Self-inquiry requires meditation. Meditation is hard, it’s frustrating, it’s juicy, every once in a while you get it right. Yes, I’m describing meditation. And hey, if people can call web sites or iPhone apps sexy, I’m gonna call meditation sexy. And you, too, can do it.

Some Meditation Trainings and Resources

Recently my student Marco (hi Marco!) asked if I teach meditation. The short answer is no. The convoluted answer is yes and no. I teach primarily hatha yoga: the techniques of asana and pranayama. I sprinkle in stories, info, lores from historical texts, the other branches of Classical Yoga. In the poses I talk about things like observing where your body is in space, listening to the body’s feedback, focusing in something, stability, ease, etc. Those are things that Patanjali described as the ingredients leading to Samadhi, let’s call it Happy Place (that doesn’t involve roller coasters) for now. In my class, I prepare people for meditation.

However, I do not currently teach meditation. In my mind, one must meditate for a very long time to teach it, like, 10 years, 20 years, 40 years.

So, here are some great trainings that I personally do:

Shinzen Young’s Basic Mindfulness Home Retreat

This is a monthly home retreat usually lead by meditation teacher Shinzen Young on the second weekend of every month. I recommend you follow the Prerequisites, or that you have listened to his lectures The Science of Enlightenment first. Shinzen’s teaching is methodical. His techniques and vocabulary are highly developed, and quite frankly not for the faint of heart. If you are determined to learn meditation, however, I can’t recommend him more. Check out his CD: The Beginner’s Guide to Meditation.

The next dates for the home retreat are:

  • August 13-15, 2010
  • September 10-12, 2010
  • October 8-10, 2010
  • November 12-14, 2010
  • December 10-12, 2010

Beyond Sequencing: The Art of Meditation with Chase Bossart

Yoga teacher Chase Bossart will be doing a workshop at Shala Yoga of Portland in 2 weeks on August 20-22, 2010. From the website:

Meditation is one of the most important and potent tools in yoga. In many ways, it is the crown jewel of all yoga practices. Yet many people experience it as one of yoga’s most difficult and confusing tools. These difficulties, however, can be greatly reduced through proper sequencing of the meditation practice.

When properly constructed, a meditation practice gradually develops the attention and mental stability required to stay with the focus. This happens naturally as the practitioner moves through the different steps of the meditation. Learn the principles of proper sequencing of meditation practices and develop these skills through numerous practical examples. This practical ‘how to’ workshop will be useful for practitioners and teachers of all levels.

There you are. Go sit down and shut up. (Though, if your mind is anything like mine, it will be anything but quiet.)

Do you know of any meditation trainings or events? Do you have any personal favorite resources? Please let me know.

David Tolmie gave me this CD as a gift. This rivals any nude + yoga photography I've ever seen.

David Tolmie gave me this CD as a gift. This rivals any nude + yoga photography I've ever seen.