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.
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?
Cambridge, Massachusetts has redesigned their parking tickets. The "citation salutations" are now printed with a variety of yoga poses. "It’s trying to debunk the idea that all parking tickets are a hostile action, because I don’t think they are,” said the city’s transportation chief. “We’re not writing tickets to get somebody. We’re writing tickets to help make the city function.” The artist who designed the new tickets describes the vision behind his re-working of the traditional ticket in language straight out of yoga class: "I’m going to get the ticket either way, my only choice really is how I’m going to receive it.” Extreme mellowness propaganda? Further proof that Pilates always loses the mind-body battle to yoga? Whatever the case, not everyone is on board. The Boston Herald asked one recently ticketed driver what he thought of the yogic citations. His response: "Find out how much money [the ticket redesign] cost. That’s how much money they wasted.”
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!
Yesterday, Boeing announced that it's entering the space tourism industry. Starting as early as 2015, you and your very rich friends could buy seats on the shuttle taking space station crew members to work. Put aside the issue of money (though note that the last space tourist paid $40 million for his eight day trip). The real question is whether you're ready for the space workouts. Space station crew members reportedly work out about two and a half hours a day, six days a week. Otherwise, zero gravity saps their muscles and bones. Time to launch the "prepare for space" six-day-a-week workout challenge?
Final update in the case of the yoga teacher who offered "overly personal adjustments" in Aspen, Colorado. Taking the stand in his own defense on Tuesday, the accused yoga teacher said, "I have never reached into anybody’s pants, ever, teaching yoga." The jury didn't believe him. The jury found him guilty of sexual assault, and the ex-teacher (unsurprisingly, he hasn't gotten a lot of teaching gigs since "hands-down-the-pants" got around as a nickname) must now register as a sex offender and is also facing possible jail time.
Earlier this year, we reported on some "overly personal adjustments" at a yoga studio in Aspen, Colorado. Or alleged overly personal adjustments, I should say. At the time. the exact nature of the alleged adjustments wasn't clear. But the testimony in the sexual assault trial started yesterday, and clarity has arrived. In the words of the Aspen Times:More...
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.
So what makes a nice girl turn to Roller Derby? There are the potential fitness benefits (recall our interview with Derby Doll "Janis Choplin" who lost 30 pounds after taking up Roller Derby). But then there's the other appeal. "I have never been athletically inclined," NPR reporter and Alex Cohen, also known as "Axles of Evil" told Morning Edition today. "I was always the theater and speech and debate geek. When I started doing derby, I was amazed to see I really liked beating people up." So there you have it. But apparently, there's actually more to derby than just beating people up. And a new book, Down and Derby: The Insider's Guide to Roller Derby, gives you the scoop, from the derby's depression era origins to what it takes to become a rollergirl. If you don't want to buy the book to find out if you have potential, good news: The Are You A Rollergirl? quiz on NPR's website is quick and surprisingly entertaining. (FYI, I have a shot! I'm thinking "Surely Tempest"...)
“What we were finding was that the soldiers we’re getting in today’s Army are not in as good shape as they used to be. This is not just an Army issue. This is a national issue.”
— Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling, overseer of basic training for the Army.
“Between 1995 and 2008, the proportion of potential recruits who failed their physicals each year because they were overweight rose nearly 70 percent.”
— from "Too Fat to Fight," a report by a group of retired generals and admirals published earlier this year.
Both quotations published in a New York Times report today on the army's new boot camp training, which involves a lot more yoga and Pilates and a lot fewer long runs and other drills that are likely to injure new-to-fitness soldiers-in-training.