Breaking news from the New York Times: Dudes do yoga too. (They immediately followed this news with an article about women no longer riding side saddle). In fact, the data is somewhat interesting. The Times reports that in 2008, men made up about 28% of yoga practitioners, and presumably the number has gone up from there. One Jivamukti teacher said classes are often about 40% male these days. “I see more and more athletes,” he said. “The resistance is breaking down.” The "athletes" part is the real gist of the story. There have always been men who've done yoga. But apparently, says the New York Times, not manly men. I want to get all mad and say something about hetero-normartive bias. But whatever. I guess at minimum their observation is somewhat accurate — there are more dudes from the weight room in yoga class than they're used to be.
There are many ways to fight aging: intensely regimented calorie-restricted diets, anti-gravity yoga, shooting up with pregnant women's urine, or, according to the Washington Post, kicking other people in the ribs. The crowds at boxing, karate, and kickboxing gyms these days, the Post reports, are getting a little grayer, or in their somewhat less kindly description, more "brittle." Luckily for everyone involved, the story doesn't include tales of splintering bones. Instead, it's about overcoming middle-age. "What are we doing here? We're all trying to fend off the march of time," says one of the 40-something boxers. "That's what I'd like to achieve physically." Though apparently for a few, perhaps wiser salt-and-pepper boxers who realize that might not be possible, there are other goals too. Explaining why he's in the gym, sparring, one 50-something says:
"Overcoming pain is something we all have to do. The pain of loss. The pain of disappointment. Physical pain. Being able to take that in and absorb it and go on...This is what life is all about. Realizing what you're up against and how to get around it."
Call me crazy, but working out with something like that in mind sounds a little better than being a calorie-starved, high-on-urine, stem-cell-facelifted, clinging-to-an-impossible-goal, punching machine.
Sunday's Wall Street Journal had some harsh words about the commercialization of yoga:
"There is no denying we’ve exhausted yoga’s commercial possibilities. No doubt new yoga tchotchkes will be produced, and at least two more yoga memoirs are set for release this fall. But these are all variations on a theme. Like 'Star Wars' or Matisse, the merchandising, advertising, and profiteering of yoga has run the full gamut, from action figures to deluxe vacations to how-to-books that apply yoga to almost every human endeavor (my personal favorite: 'The Yoga of Time Travel'). Now, there’s nothing left to exploit."
I feel like someone is playing an "Opposite Day" trick on me. The Wall Street Journal is decrying the raping and pillaging of something? Of anything? Of yoga?
In yesterday's New York Times, writer Jonathan Schwartz chronicles his career as a slow runner:
"I’ve gotten used to the fact that when I’m huffing and puffing my way along the road, anybody else who is running the same path is probably going to pass me. Graybeards pass me. Teenagers pass me. A pregnant runner has passed me. Once, on a blazing afternoon in Austin as I ran along Lady Bird Lake, I noticed that the two women who had just passed me were walking.
His essay explores the benefits of running at any pace, but more than that, it's a celebration of tortoise-dom. As a fellow slow runner, I felt all sorts of stirrings of pride. "I’m not going to try to prove anything when I run," he says. "I’m just running, and I want to keep doing it." Three cheers for that!
Sometimes local news is just so cute. Case in point: Mount Airy, North Carolina's local paper has a breaking story — Zumba at the senior center!
"The lively rhythms of the Latino song that filled an adjoining hallway Wednesday afternoon seemed to offer a stark contrast to the usual goings-on at the facility....Further investigation revealed a much-livelier activity than one normally would witness at the senior center, as a group of ladies — some in their 70s — engaged in dance moves while an energetic Salsa tune emanated from a CD player nearby."
The story goes on to explain that Zumba is more than just lively "Latino songs." It's "a dynamic fitness program that is sweeping the nation [which] be enjoyed by people of all ages." Which is true. And also a very cute, home-towny way of explaining all that wild booty shaking.
Apparently Coca-Cola is being sued for untrue claims that Vitamin Water is a healthy beverage. The company's response? "Well, nobody ACTUALLY believes us."
Yesterday at 5 P.M. Canadian yoga instructor Yasmin Fudakowska-Gow, age 28, completed a 32-hour yoga marathon, thereby breaking the Guinness World Record for longest yoga session. The previous record was 29 hours 4 minutes. For Fudakowska-Gow's sake, I like to imagine an eight hour savasana built in there (aren't yoga teachers always saying that's one of the hardest poses?) but somehow I don't think the record keepers would have gone for that.
Last weekend, the New York Times Magazine ran a mega-piece on John Friend, the founder of Anusara yoga. Some people thought it was glowing. Others found it off-base and needlessly negative. Now John Friend is out with a rebuttal. In his words, "I believe that there were several instances in the article in which information was twisted in order to make the article sensational and juicy." Here are a few of the points he refudiates:More...
University of Maryland's football team used to lift weights four days a week. Now it's three days of lifting plus yoga. Why the change? Head Coach Ralph Friedgen explains: "My daughter did [yoga] and I saw what it did for her." Which makes you wonder if her dad times her on drills in the living room or if she just got that noticeably strong and flexible.
Yesterday, in a 10-6 vote, the FDA's expert advisory panel voted not to approve Qnexa, a new weight loss drug. Even though 10-6 sounds like a landslide for no, many of the "no" doctors said it was a tough call. In trials, Qnexa has proven more effective than any weight loss drug currently on the market. As one trial participant testified, "I weighed 200 pounds. After 15 months on Qnexa I weighed 143, and went from a size 20 to a size 10. My brain quit nagging me about food. I immediately became a person who quit snacking and ate healthy meals." But that's the pro side. On the con side...More...