Piedmont Yoga Studio News December 2008 | iHanuman


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Piedmont Yoga Studio News December 2008

I reviewed my first video for Yoga Journal in 1991, and since then I've reviewed at least a couple in every single issue for the last 18 years. Just this year I reviewed my 300th video (though I've probably watched at least half again as many that didn't pass muster), and by some strange alignment of planets or more likely some cosmic comedy of karmas, it was a presentation by our very own Rod Yee. As a result of all these years of reviewing I just might have one of the most extensive collections of yoga videos in US, though calling what I have a "collection" make it sound like all the hundreds of cassettes and DVDs (and audio tapes and CDs) are all neatly stored according to some ancient Yogi Dewey Decimal system. They're not. Instead they're shoved willy-nilly in odd corners around the homestead and packed in unmarked boxes in my attic. I have videos for every type of yoga imaginable... And the patchwork quilt of modern yoga schools are well represented: Ashtanga (and its knock-offs, Power and Vinyasa Flow), Iyengar and Viniyoga-all three trace their roots back to the great Krishnamacharya-Anusara, Kripalu, Yin and Om, Kundalini and Ananda, Shadow, Kriya Hatha, Prayer (yes, Christian Yoga, I'm still waiting for the Jews to catch up, we begin every class with three Oy's), and my personal favorite, Yogilates (ironically Joseph Pilates was heavily influenced by yoga, so I guess what goes around does indeed come around). You might think after all these years people are running out of ideas for vids, but nope, they just keep marching in, multiplying like Tribbles.
This review of my reviews is occasioned by the arrival of a video earlier this week that suggested to me that while people may not be running out of ideas, they may be running out of good ideas. The package breathlessly announces that the 55-minute session will "open and balance" your chakras, so that your "energy flowers and your life force flows," and you feel a "new sense of happiness, peace, and wholeness." I have what I call a Skeptic-Meter installed in my brain: when I read this the needle swung wildly off the screen, even before I took the plastic wrap off the package. Why? The traditional chakra system of Indian yoga consists of six (not seven as is usually stated) main subtle energy centers. Each is a small world unto itself, a complex of symbols-significant shapes and colors, lotus petals and Sanskrit "seed" mantras, totem animals, gods and goddesses each possessing even more symbolic implements-that can only be understood and applied practically after years of devoted study and meditation. The chakras are indeed a path to "happiness, peace, and wholeness," but not by occasionally following a video that strips away the richly transformative traditional symbolism and replaces it with a grab bag of watered-down "affirmations" repeated while performing an unrelated series of asanas. If you're truly interested in studying the chakras as a tool for self-transformation, you'll need to-I hate to say this-make an effort. A good place to start your study is with the popular Swami Sivananda Radha's Kundalini Yoga for the West, but if you're really serious then look for a copy of John Woodroffe's The Serpent Power (he wrote under the pen name of Arthur Avalon), which includes the Investigation of the Six Centers (Shat Chakra Nirupana), a traditional verse account (with a long commentary) of the symbolism and meaning of each of the chakras.
Now that that's off my chest let's see if we can find some happiness, peace, and wholeness in December's event line-up. For the sake of space and your sanity, I'll be brief in describing all our offerings. You can find details about these events (as well as the missing characters of text above) at our website, www.piedmontyoga.com, and unless otherwise noted, register there online as well.


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