Yoga

On the Om Front: Oh my goddess

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If you’re a goddess or know one, this is your week. Not because the presidential debate on Tuesday night revolved around (devolved into?) a two-ring circus of male presidential candidates each trying to out-woman the other. That was just comedy. I’m talking about Navaratri.

Navaratri is an Indian holiday that worships the divine feminine. The nine-night holiday actually happens several times a year, but the one that occurs in autumn is known as Maha Navaratri. (“Maha” means “great” or “the biggest, baddest one.”) It’s a Hindu holiday, but it’s celebrated by yogis everywhere—because, let’s face it: There are few better ways to spend nine days than worshipping goddesses.

We’re all about girl power in San Francisco, but what does it really mean to celebrate the divine feminine? It doesn’t mean we all get our nails done and read People magazine for 9 days straight (though if that’s your thing, no judgment). The divine feminine is neither flighty nor fanciful. Rather, it’s fickle, fabulous, and fierce.

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On the Om Front: The divine essence of play

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Yoga can be so serious. Ever look around class while people are doing backbends or pressing their quads to their bones in a standing pose? Wrinkled brows. Flared nostrils. Gripping toes. You’d think we’re all training to go into battle. Not that I have an issue with intensity-- in the right amounts and on the right occasions. But if we don’t balance passion, dedication, and hard work with lightness and ease, we may be doing warrior pose but we’re not doing yoga.

So, play. Play means different things to different people. When I was a child, play meant begging my older brother to let me cavort with him and his friends while they played fighting-soldier-shoot-out in the backyard. My brother let me play sometimes, but only if I would take on the secret code name of Mop Top.

That wasn’t the most delightful kind of play.

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On the Om Front: A path with heart

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I’ve been practicing yoga for 12 years. Over the years, my practice has changed depending on the basic conditions of my life: my age, my health, my schedule, my location, my physical and spiritual interests and needs, my romantic relationships, my relationship with chocolate chip cookies. Each time I’ve come to a point of transition in how I practice, or where I practice, or with whom I practice (and, more recently: how I teach, where I teach, and for whom I teach), I start to question why I’m doing what I am doing and what is the ultimate goal. 

The questioning is uncomfortable—who wants to question a thing they love? 

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On the Om Front: Honor what you love

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It’s no surprise that we have days and weeks and months that are specifically designated to honoring things, like MLK day or Breast Cancer Awareness Month. To honor something, you have to name it and then give it some space in your life.

Sometimes we forget to give things space. I used to think days like Mother’s Day were just crafty inventions of the greeting card industry, but that’s too simplistic a view. Mother’s Day reminds us to show our mothers some love, and the sad -- or maybe just practical -- truth is that most of us need that reminder. Sure, we should be doing that every day, but we get all caught up in whatever it is that we get caught up in. If we want to say anything about the greeting card (and mega-billion-dollar gift) industry, we can say it capitalizes on our lack of day-to-day presence with the ones we love.

But it’s ok. We’re human, we need reminders. And if we’re smart, we’ll remind ourselves of lots of things, and often.

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On the Om Front: Play ball!

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Local yoga teacher and writer Karen Macklin's new weekly column on SFBG explores yoga, meditation, and conscious living in the big city.

Let’s talk about yoga. Ten years ago, when it was starting to gain momentum in the US, lots of people predicted it would be a passing fad, like Richard Simmons or the Moonies. No way this thing of stretching, breathing, chanting, meditating could stick in modern society. Remember Cabbage Patch Kids? Rollerblading? Reliable health insurance? Yeah, me neither. That’s the way Western yoga was supposed to go.

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Buy local: yoga edition

Drop that Lululemon and kit yourself up with these nearby retailers

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YOGA Walking into Bay Area yoga studios can sometimes feel like being subsumed into a cult of Lululemon, Yogitoes, and Gaiam. Yoga means big bucks these days, and most everyone seems to be sporting the same few brands while getting their warrior on. Yogic ideology espouses non-materialism and self-acceptance, yet it's hard not want to fit in. Fortunately, there are lots of options that can get you out of big brand conformity and into stylie yoga gear that supports local vendors and designers. Read more »

Heated debate

Bikram hot yoga's campaign for copyright has implication for the Bay Area scene

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emily@sfbg.com

YOGA Open source is all the rage these days, from platforms to beverages to biotech. And when it comes to yoga, the East's oldest standby for health and well-being, open source has been the way for thousands of years. But all changed when yoga won over the capitalistic West, and the West Coast became a hotbed for many of today's popular yoga trends.Read more »

Down Dog break down

We rate the yogis -- which famous Bay Area yoga teacher is right for you?

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culture@sfbg.com

YOGA For a sizeable sector of our population, yoga is as much a part of the culture as burritos and biking to work. With more than 50 studios in San Francisco's 49 square miles alone — and even a brand-new yoga room in SFO, which claims to be an airport first — the Bay Area isn't short on options for a Saturday morning sweat sesh or Sunday night candlelight.Read more »