Tag Archives: Ashtanga

A tribute to my blogger friends

After blogging regularly for three years, one acquires a group of like minded writers who travel with you on your journey. Some get off on stops and get on to other things, but seem to keep in touch in one way or another. Here are some of the precious blogs from my friends who contribute mightily to the internet. Also shout outs to my friends who don’t have a blog, but read and comment regularly on my feeds.

screen-shot-2016-11-28-at-8-58-14-pm Anonymous Sadhaka is authored by an Iyengar practitioner/barefoot runner who lives in Pune, India. I have learned so much from So…’s posts about the true meaning of spirituality from the perspective of an Indian woman. She has recommended many good books to me and her posts burst with wisdom. She has been a good friend and often thoughtfully reads and comments on my posts.

screen-shot-2016-11-28-at-8-59-34-pm  Sweetreecrone is an Asthangi blogger who follows Richard Freeman of whom I’ve always been a fan. k8macdo is an ardent yoga and tai chi practitioner who is also deeply spiritual. Her comments have helped encourage me to write more and she has been very supportive during my difficult year of loss.

screen-shot-2016-11-28-at-9-01-02-pm  Mishedup is a blogging friend who has a Gravitar that simply says “sober, widow, mom, warrior” Coming from a counseling perspective, each of these words hold tremendous power. When I have been at my worst this year, Mishedup has given me tremendous encouragement. For that I thank you!

screen-shot-2016-11-28-at-9-09-41-pm babycrowyoga is a prolific blogger out of the UK who has recently graduated teacher training and is finding her sea legs in the ocean of yoga teaching. I admire her for having the courage to try Iyengar Yoga at the Maide Vale Institute in London, and even more for the courage to say that the Iyengar style didn’t resonate with her at this point in time. She has been a tremendously supportive friend.

screen-shot-2016-11-28-at-9-11-34-pm Yogaspy I always have to give props to my long time blogging friend Luci Yamamoto who is from Hilo, but now lives in Canada. She has been busy assisting in the administration for the Iyengar Yoga Assoiciation of Canada. I always say she is the person who inspired me to start my blog.

screen-shot-2016-11-28-at-9-02-47-pm  Sthapati Samanvayam has a unique perspective as a devout Hindu from the LBGTQ community. He has taught me tremendous insights about Hinduism in his blog. He has interesting tales of traveling through Midwest America looking for Hindu temples (and finding them).

screen-shot-2016-11-28-at-9-08-02-pm The Awkward Pose Comes from another traveller. Paul Fallon is riding his bike across the US and visiting all the lower 48 states asking one simple question to everyone he meets: “How will we live tomorrow?” and publishes the replies on his blog. He is quite steadfast and even had an accident which hospitalized him. The responses give me hope for this country which appears very divided after the election that we are all basically the same.

screen-shot-2016-11-28-at-9-13-47-pmAmber Foxx Mysteries Is a fellow New Mexican who is an accomplished author and also practices yoga. Sometimes I am in awe of people who actually read my stuff. Amber has been given me wonderful feedback and comments.

screen-shot-2016-11-28-at-9-06-26-pm  The Dragon Journal of Taijiquan Tim Richard’s blog is the Tai Chi version of what I would like to do with my blog. It is deeply philosophical and reflective. He founded a tai chi center in Durango and respects the lineage of his teachers. Tim is also a talented guitarist.

screen-shot-2016-11-28-at-9-15-20-pm Peakmemory is a blog by Dr. Jeremy Genovese who authored the book “Remembering Willie Nelson: The Science of Peak Memory.” He has reblogged a lot of my posts and has been a supportive commenter over the years.

I would also like to mention Felicity Green, Marjorie Erway, Yoga Cat, Aparna, FN Yogi, Yoga Marcia, Laurie Freed and Aziani Ismail for their support. Please forgive me if I forgot to mention you, but I appreciate all of my readers and commenters.

Yoga blog trends I would like to see in 2015 – part 2

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H.S. Arun’s  flawless Krounchasana


I may have lost a few followers since my last post. I do have strong opinions, but they help foster thinking about our practice of Yoga. Some of my most cherished preconceptions about Yoga have been smushed down flat by great teachers who flipped my ideas upside-down (literally). In order to keep evolving in our practice, we cannot take anything as set in stone. I will forge ahead and finish my list of Yoga blog trends I would like to see in the next year.

7) More blogs about the inward journey in addition to the outward journey.

One of the best blogs out there for this is 1979Darryl’s Contorted Strength. This guy has a solid daily practice! He is really trying to find the truth of Yoga among the Ashtanga, Bikram, and Iyengar methods. He is finding that the answers are not easy, but maintains his daily practice anyway. This is very similar to how I started Yoga 16 years ago. I finally settled on the Iyengar system, but this path made it clearer for me to see how the other systems are more alike than they are different. 1979Darryl reminds me that Yoga is Yoga no matter what “style” you call it with his adherence to classical texts and his Tapas.

8) More Yoga blogs authored by Men

I’m not saying this this to be sexist, but I feel the Yogic journey is different for men than women. As stated in a previous blog posts, men are barely taken into consideration by Yoga Inc. As far as Yoga Journal is concerned, men are just the stiff student in the back of the room no one pays attention to. As stated above, 1979Darryl, myself, and a few others have a unique perspective about Yoga as male practitioners, as well as many special issues.

9) More Yoga blogs authored by people over 50

Yoga and aging will be the next big trend in coming decades. There is a slew of new research coming out about how Yoga is assisting the aging process to facilitate more range of motion and mental alertness in the later years. All those pictures you see in Light On Yoga shows a “youthful” Iyengar in his late 40s. It would like to hear more anecdotal evidence by those who have practiced for decades.

elder yoga students

10) On that note…more Yoga research entries

It is fascinating the effects Asana have on our 11 bodily systems. I have written quite a few entries based on research about subjects ranging from inversions and eye pressure, yoga and mental health, to other medically related topics. In the early days of Yoga in the West, teachers would make claims that made Yoga sound like 21st Century snake oil. Now much research is supporting those claims. On the flip side, there is also a body of research that suggest that some Yoga may be harmful. Particularly in modern poses like “wild thing.”

11) Finally, more blogs from Iyengar practitioners

For my fellow Iyengar teachers, we have a beautiful system. We need to share it more with the world. I find it a little sad that me at my lowly Introductory II status is writing blog material that a more experienced teacher can easily expound upon. Luci at Yoga Spy who is also Intro II is the Iyengar teacher who inspired me to start this blog. Luci’s blog was “Freshly Pressed” a few years back and I have almost 40k views in my first year of blogging. Imagine the influence some of you Junior and Senior Intermediate level teachers could have…

Research: which style of yoga is most highly rated in the US?


I was disheartened to see some Yelp reviews that were critical of some of my favorite Iyengar yoga studios. This led to a bizarre obsession to see if all Iyengar studios were getting trashy reviews on Yelp.

I set up an experiment by using a random US city generator to get a list of 70 cities. Next, I set variables. Since I was looking for Iyengar studios, I might as well look for other styles as well for comparison. I chose styles that have a standard nationwide teaching curriculum. Those styles are Iyengar, Ashtanga, Bikram, and Corepower. Then the work began.

Yelp uses an ordinal scale with 1-to-5 star ranking. If you have every taken a survey that has a “extremely dislike to extremely like” Likert-type scale, it’s the same thing.

I spent a good part of three days collecting the data on my time off. The research was conducted on May 7-9, 2014. As very few cities had all four styles it took me longer than anticipated to get all the data. Some interesting challenges presented themselves during this process. For example, Corepower is primarily a West Coast-centric practice and I had to take measures from several studios in the same community to get enough scores. Also, finding is “pure” Asthanga yoga studio is very difficult, and I only tallied the studios who reported to teach the series’ with some degree of authenticity. There were plenty of “Ashtanga/vinyasa/hot flow studios which were not suitable to my parameters. Finding a “pure” Iyengar studio was a bit easier than Asthanga because it was easy to verify credentialing via the IYNAUS website. Lastly, Bikram studios are everywhere and outnumbers the other styles roughly 2-to-1. The three days’ work yielded 30 scores of each style.

Threats to internal validity from what I can see would be whats called position set from reviewers. Usually people will write a Yelp review if they are really happy or pissed off, corresponding in a 1 star or 5 star review. There are probably plenty of “fake” reviews which Yelp itself says it takes great pains to counteract with an internal algorithm. As I mentioned about the Bikram style, many of the reviews had markedly higher counts of reviews than the other styles which indicate that it may be the most well-attended style of the styles chosen. Another threat to internal validity is the bias of people who write Yelp reviews (or can write period) versus those who don’t use the review site or cannot write. One more would be that Corepower yoga tends to be in cities along the West coast and may not reflect nationwide attitudes toward this style. I  happily invite statisticians out there to point out other threats to internal validity that I failed to mention.

With all that out of the way, here are the results:


Iyengar = 4.61 stars

Bikram = 4.083 stars

Ashtanga=4.51 stars

Corepower=4.266 stars

Group average=4.34 stars

Out of 30 scores of each style from 70 randomly selected US cities, Iyengar had an an average mean of 4.61, Bikram had an average mean of 4.083, Asthanga had an average mean of 4.51, and Corepower had an average mean of 4.266. The mean of the whole group was 4.34.

What that “means”

My hypothesis that Iyengar yoga is favored poorly nationwide in the US was rejected in this study. That means that Iyengar was the highest rated style of the group, with Asthanga being a near statistical tie. Corepower was just below the group’s average mean. As far as Bikram, they got the lowest score of the group. Before you Bikram fans fret, Bikram yoga is easily the most practiced style in the US. So that means that their classes are best attended, but the students are more apt to complain about it.

One advantage about using Yelp as a measure is that respondents gave information on “why” they gave the rating they did. People who responded with a 5 star review of the Bikram style said that felt it was a “great workout” and stated they felt it had improved their health. For negative ratings of the Bikram style, most addressed poor sanitary conditions of certain studios, and also complaints of not honoring of Groupon discounts.

For the Iyengar style, many 5 star review respondents said they appreciated the detail of instruction and ability of instructors to work with injuries. Some respondents gave a one star rating for instructors who were perceived as “rude” and also for blankets that were not washed regularly.

For the Corepower style, reviewers who gave 5 stars remarked that they enjoyed the modern looking facilities, and the range of options for classes. A large number of one star ratings complained about the of locking doors too early. Others included complaints about Corepower being too “workout focused” and not addressing the more inward aspects of yoga.

Lastly, positive Asthanga reviewers cited “authenticity” often in 5 star reviews and often praised teachers who adhered to the Jois lineage. For criticisms, a one star rating came from a reviewer who said the instructor did not address his injury. Another reviewer gave a studio a two star rating because she said she did not know the primary series by heart and the class “left her in the dust.”

For teachers and studio owners, this research yields useful data on how to improve ratings. It appears as though sanitary conditions of the studio weigh heavily on one’s perception of the style. Also teacher friendliness and experience are major factors in a studios rating. It also appears as though Groupon users will decrease one’s studios ratings if owners have any type of perceived breach of contract (whether or not it is legitimate).

One last flaw I see in the Yelp review method is that many the reviewers do not appear to have enough experience in the style to make an informed rating of the style. As good yoga practitioners know, it takes many years of practice to truly appreciate the fruits of their particular style.

Again, if there are any statisticians out there, please feel free to hammer away at my findings. If anyone else wants to replicate the study, I can provide further data on which cities were selected. Now how do you spend your free time?