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Warning, you might get stuck on this page.  YOGA LAGNIAPPE will unglue your stickiest yoga questions in our Sticky Mat section.  You’ll hear from local teachers and students about the challenges they find on and off their yoga mats.  Plus enjoy great articles on all things yoga and wellness related. If you have a question or suggestion for the Sticky Mat contact us.

Alternative Healing Series: What is Thai Yoga?

By Nikki Carter

Thai Yoga fuses yoga postures with massage, acupuressure, and more. (Photo: Kelly Haas)

Thai yoga fuses yoga postures with massage, acupuressure, and more. (Photo: Kelly Haas)

Thai yoga, or Thai massage, is a form of bodywork that blends movement with pressure and gentle assists. Over the last few years, I’ve seen various studios in the city offer workshops for those interested in this practice. Thai yoga can be an interesting and new experience for seasoned yogis, as well a great introduction to yoga for beginners and those with injuries.

One of the practitioners in New Orleans is Kelly Haas, who teaches at Swan River Yoga and has a background in Anusara Yoga; she offers restorative yoga, thai yoga therapeutics, and integrative yoga therapy. Kelly told me she is “consistently inspired by the resiliency of the human body and our capacity to heal ourselves. One of my main goals in sharing yoga is to express that yoga in some form is for everyone.”

Photo: Kelly Haas

Photo: Kelly Haas

As to the benefits of integrating Thai yoga into her repertoire, she explains, “Integrative yoga practices that include restorative and Thai therapeutics are deliciously balancing and clearing, and have a wide range of physical and emotional benefits. They increase function of our nervous system, lower stress levels, and provide a safe environment for the body to heal from injuries and imbalances.”

If you’re interested in exploring Thai Yoga for yourself, contact Kelly or view the Swan River Yoga schedule.

Thank you for reading! As a special thank you, from now until March 1, 2015, Kelly will offer 20% off the first yoga therapeutics private session for readers that mention Yoga Lagniappe. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter.  To get lagniappe delivered directly to your inbox click here, enter your information in the box at the top right corner to subscribe.

 

Book Review of Hell-Bent: Obsession, Pain, and the Search for Something Like Transcendence in Competitive Yoga (By Benjamin Lorr)

By Betsy Goldin Becker 

2am backbending sessions with the Jedi Fight Club. Yoga competitions in hotel ballrooms and suburban shopping malls. All-night movie marathons with the fedora-wearing founder of Bikram Yoga. 8 hour practice days in 110 degree heated rooms. Extreme hydration and dehydration. Energy highs and lows. Pain and transformation…these are all part of Benjamin Lorr’s page-turning journey into a surreal world of competitive yoga and Bikram Teacher Training.

Like many of us, myself included, Benjamin started off as a yoga skeptic who gradually discovered that the more he practiced yoga, the better he felt. His original objective was to get back into shape after recovering from a rib injury caused by an “ill-advised drinking moment that I used to specialize in.” Benjamin walked into his neighborhood Bikram yoga studio, overweight and unprepared for a 90- minute practice in 110 degree heat. Somehow he survived this first class, and quickly found that yoga was a tool not only for shedding pounds and getting fit, but also for transforming his life. Hell-Bent really centers on the themes of physical, mental and emotional transformation, as Benjamin evolves from an average Joe Yoga to a certified Bikram yoga teacher and national yoga competitor.

As someone who has never practiced these extreme forms of yoga, I found this book to be a fascinating and fair portrayal of a lesser-known yoga subculture. Featuring interviews from doctors, scientists, academics and long-time yoga instructors, as well as citations from ancient yogic texts, Hell-Bent explores the science behind yoga’s purported physical and mental effects, the human body’s capacity for pain, extreme heat, injury and healing. Of particular emphasis was the idea of how the body perceives pain when pushing through its physical limitations. Although many yoga classes emphasize comfort over pain, moderation was not the mantra in Benjamin’s yogic world. He found himself practicing 14 hours per week, while holding down three jobs, and convincing himself that he could “take my spinal cord and bend it so severely that I could touch my forehead to my [rear end].”

For me, the most intriguing part of the book was its character portrayals of the people that Benjamin encountered, particularly those he met at the $11,000-per-person Bikram Yoga teacher training. There was the graceful, octogenarian instructor in peak physical condition, the recovered drug addict turned national yoga competitor and the paunchy, Eastern European businessman, seeking to cash in on Bikram Yoga’s growing popularity.  Among this colorful cast of characters, the most extreme was Bikram Choudhury himself, the legendary, polarizing, and charismatic founder of Bikram Yoga. Personal accounts of Bikram ranged from compassionate guru to misogynistic narcissist, but in the end, the book was less about Bikram the man and more about the power of his yoga to transform lives, for better or worse.

Overall, this book was an easy, intriguing summer read. If you’ve read this book, we’d love to hear your feedback on Facebook or Twitter. For more insights on competitive yoga, check out Brooke’s article “Let’s Talk Competitive Yoga.”

sticky mat

  Warning, you might get stuck on this page.  YOGA LAGNIAPPE will unglue your stickiest yoga questions in our Sticky Mat section.  You’ll hear from local teachers and students about the challenges they find on and off their yoga mats.  Plus enjoy great articles on all things yoga and wellness related. If you have a […]