Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A followup to Thursday's quote

The following article by Lisa Gniady appeared in the August Midwest Yoga Teachers Newsletter. Lisa covered the Yoga Journal Lake Geneva conference for the current issue of Yoga Chicago, and this sidebar was cut due to space. Your comments are welcome.

Yoga Journal Lake Geneva Conference, 7/7/11 – Business of Yoga Intensive
By Lisa Gniady

The Yoga conference began with a two day Business intensive. I was able to attend the first day of the intensive. Even though I have no interest in opening a yoga studio, I still found it an enlightening experience. I gained valuable insight in how to promote my classes and grow my business.

The workshops were all very businesslike. PowerPoint presentations easily displayed the information so you could sit back and absorb the relevant points. Business and yoga seem like polar opposites, yin and yang. However, in the new age of computers, learning to use the media to share our passion is natural. Seminars such as these offered by Yoga Journal give studio owners beneficial tools to successfully share the benefits of yoga to the masses.

Deborah Williamson an energetic speaker began the workshop with wonderful insights on how to grow your business and build a community. She owns four yoga studios in the Midwest and offers teacher trainings around the world.

Some Highlights:

· You can’t be an expert at everything, find people with expertise to help you.

· Spread the word……hand out 3 business cards a day.

· Be enthusiastic and have integrity.

· Teach what you love. Be true to yourself.

· Create a community and support your local community.

· First impressions matter. Be a likeable person. She posed the question, “Would you hang out with you?”

Some business advice:

· Daily posts on Facebook

· Use twitter, E-Blasts

· Offer workshops: Yoga and (fill in the blank) and promote

· Volunteer for free talks

· Hire teachers who can offer what you can’t

Some words of wisdom:

· It is not about the pose, it’s about a better life.

· She stressed the importance of savasana, saying, five minutes in savasana can change a student’s life.

I signed up for her email list and within half an hour of the workshop ending; I received a friend request on Facebook.

Meg McCall, Director of Mindbody Inc. followed with a PowerPoint presentation on building a viable business. She gave useful information on setting goals and turning goals into action.

Interesting statistics according to the “2008 Yoga in America study by Yoga Journal and Harris Interactive”:

· 15.8 million Americans characterize themselves as current yoga practitioners

· Median age of a yoga practitioner is 41; media age of adult population overall is 46

· $74,000 average income for a yoga practitioner household

· 6,204 active yoga studios in the North America in 2009

According to data collected by MINDBODY on the nearly 3,000 studios it serves, the typical profit of a yoga studio is 12 to 13%.

Beth Shaw president and founder of YogaFit the largest yoga school in North America then talked about opening a yoga studio.

Some insights she shared:

· Yoga is a business of passion, labor of love. If you don’t have the passion, it becomes just another business

· Know the demographics of your area; check your local chamber of commerce

· Your website needs to represent you. It is your calling card.

· Move from a place of intuition

· To double income immediately, sell merchandise

· Start small and grow

· Offer free classes to…Hair stylists, massage therapists, nail techs, and chiropractors. Students come from referrals.

· Location and parking can make or break a studio

Poignant question:” Anyone can open a yoga studio, but should you? “Reminding us that when you take something you love and turn it into a business it can take the joy away from it.

She stressed the importance of making more good decisions than bad.

Susan Fireside spoke next on Visualizing Your Company and The Branding of Your Business. She is owner of Winter and Construction Design, specializing in branding and identity of a business.

Susan gave a down to earth discussion on how to market your business. She brought in samples of Webpages demonstrating how to connect a web page to the personality of your business:

· Create a story

· Connect your logo to your story

· Keep it simple

· Attach color palate that reflects your brand i.e. Hot yoga, red

· Be careful of music on a website(remember, people use internet at places of employment)

A few days later, I met Susan in the Ladies’ room. I asked her how she came to present at this conference. She said she approached them. If you don’t put yourself out there, then you limit yourself. .

Ron and Ann Weikers. Partners of YogaBalance Yoga Studio in New Hampshire were the final workshop of the day. Both are practicing attorneys and presented on the legal issues underlying yoga studio creation and management.

It was a concise, organized presentation to help a studio owner with the nuts and bolts of running a yoga business. They displayed examples of sample contracts for teachers and students.

They provided valuable information to protect a studio owner from some of the legal pitfalls of our litigious society. There is more to running a yoga studio than four walls and a teacher. It is important to be informed.

Eric Paskel yogi and founder of Yoga Shelter presented on Friday on Social Media Marketing. He shared his story, knowledge and message in an easy to follow PowerPoint.

· Yoga is a service industry…focus on your higher purpose….to be of service…this will build your bottom line.

· Use social media to help others and build community

· Give it away! Offer free classes to get people in the door. Why would someone want to pay for something they don’t know? Offer Community classes.

· Use social media to elevate yourself

I had the pleasure of talking to Eric before his presentation. As we spoke, he said “Making a living comes from what you get; making a life comes for what your give.” Besides this class, the only class he taught was a free class for the community.

A common theme that came up again and again in the yoga for business workshops was about giving. Yoga Journal offered numerous free classes, meditations and discussions for the community, a good example of the yoga community paying it forward.

By Lisa Gniady (c) 2011

Monday, August 29, 2011

So wrong.....

...and yet - ....

Tandoori Knights!

Thursday, August 25, 2011


"Yoga is possible for anybody who really wants it. Yoga is universal. Yoga is not mine. But don't approach yoga with a business mind - looking for worldly gain."

-Sri K. Pattabhi Jois

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Naked Chef Jamie Oliver's Sundae Buzz Kill

While working on the diet section of my teacher training manual, I asked my friend Bo about hidden animal products in food (she's an expert on this).

She directed me to a recent episode of Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution ABC-TV show, where he brings out an army of ice cream and toppings, and invites a class of 17-year-olds to make ice cream sundaes.

As they happily eat, he tells them what's actually in them.

The ingredients include human hair and duck feathers (cookie dough ice cream), beaver anal glands (cheap vanilla ice cream and strawberry sauce), female lac bug secretions (candy coating and other things), and more.

Their spoons drop and so do their jaws.

All together now: EWWWWWWWWWWWWWW!

At one point, Oliver brings out a list of the ingredients in the sundaes.

As it unrolls, it becomes clear that it's longer than a football field (271 items).

You can see a five-minute clip from the show here.

Later, Oliver gives the students"healthy" sundaes made with just nine ingredients.

The moral of the story?

OLIVER'S: Don't eat food if it's not fresh and you don't know what's in it.

CK'S: There's no end to the terrible things they (we) do to animals --

and people.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Nina Hagen: He Shiva Shankara (live)

If you want to know where Madonna got her early schtick, look no further than groundbreaking East German punk-cabaret vegetarian-activist-singer Nina Hagen.

She's one of my favorite artists dating back to 1980s, and in 2000 she released a wonderful chanting album - Om Namah Shivay!

In August 2009 she was baptized in the Protestant Reformed church of Schüttorf.

Learn more about Nina Hagen here.

God can be realized through all paths. All religions are true. The important thing is to reach the roof. You can reach it by stone stairs or by wooden stairs or by bamboo steps or by a rope. You can also climb up by a bamboo pole.

-Sri Ramakrishna

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Happy Birthday, Lord Krishna!

Sunday (8/21) is the birthday of Lord Krishna.

It is being celebrated on Sunday night with a 6:15 puja and kirtan at the Sivanada Yoga Vedanta Center, 1246 W. Bryn Mawr Ave.

It is also being celebrated Sunday from 6pm to Midnight at IKSCON Chicago, 1716 W. Lunt. They're even offering free valet parking!

Both events are free.

From Swami Sivananda:
This is the birthday of Lord Krishna, the eighth Divine Incarnation. It falls on the 8th day of the dark half of the month of Bhadrapada (August-September). This is one of the greatest of all Hindu festivals. Lord Krishna was born at midnight. A twenty-four hour fast is observed on this day, which is broken at midnight.

Temples are decorated for the occasion. Kirtans are sung, bells are rung, the conch is blown, and Sanskrit hymns are recited in praise of Lord Krishna. At Mathura, the birthplace of Lord Krishna, special spiritual gatherings are organised at this time. Pilgrims from all over India attend these festive gatherings.

Click here to read more about this special day.

Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya!

Thursday, August 18, 2011


"In the Eastern tradition of teaching, the aspirant is not 'spoon-fed' information, but rather is stimulated by the guru to be a discoverer, an adventurer, an investigator of his or her own body laboratory."

-Swami Radha

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Roseanne Barr's New Reality TV Show

You may have heard that Roseanne Barr is living on a macadamia nut farm on Hawaii's Big Island.

Last night I caught Lifetime's reality show about it - called Roseanne's Nuts.

The first episode had comedians Phylliss Diller and Sandra Bernhard coming out for a visit, eating a locally-grown meal from Roseann's farm and then going to a local hangout and watching Roseanne's partner, the musician Johnny Argent, sit in with a local jazz band. (Diller, 93 drank Roseanne under the table).

The Passover episode featured Roseanne trying to put together a home-grown, sustainable, vegetarian Seder for friends and family, including her real-life son, Jake; her first ex-husband (Jake's father) and the actor who played her TV son on Roseanne.

Of course it fell apart; it's too much work; there's not enough food; she invited too many people.

Enter Greg, the colorfully-dressed happy-go-lucky hippie who lives in a tent on Roseanne's farm. He Oms, pops goji berries, eats off the land, makes up songs on the spot, invokes the Holy Mother and does what it takes to relax the uptight female guest who loses it when she learns she can't get cell phone reception anywhere on the farm.

"Greg represents everything I hate about people - everything," says Roseanne's son, Jake.

But it's Greg who saves the day when Roseanne gives up on the Seder.

He gets everyone to join in and help make dinner.

"I would love to serve the goddess" he says, referring to Roseanne.

And I realized, he's not just some layabout hippie - he's a left-handed tantric.

On Lifetime TV.

Jai Ma!

* * *

Watch the brilliant Passover episode here.

From this interview with Roseanne - who is running for president of the United States:
Q) How authentic is the show?
A) The show is 100% fake, like every reality show.
Q) How did Greg Sipes come to live in your yard?
A) He doesn't really live there. It's just for TV. It's fake reality!
Q) What are your hopes for "Roseanne's Nuts?"
A) I hope it messes up people's programming and scrambles people at their core.

Monday, August 15, 2011

All aboard the Express Kundalini!

"Kundalini Express" by Love & Rockets

I never knew why I loved coolly dancing to this song at Neo and 950 back in the mid-1980s.

It wasn't just the great hook, heavy bass, searing guitar and occasional rockabilly elements.

There was something else.

(Even though I owned the 33rpm album, I never actually listened to lyrics, and had no idea what Kundalini meant. I figured it was Silk Road stop somewhere in the Middle East that was only reachable by train).

This is an announcement
For the transcendental run
The train now standing
Leaves for higher planes
Due to a derailment
There will be no other train
So why not hop on this one?
Hear the porter's glad refrain

Each carriage is connected
As is every single train
The rails all form a track
Which is a link within a chain
The chain's connected to another chain now
You will need no ticket
If you wish to ride on this train

All aboard the express kundalini
All aboard the express kundalini
All aboard the express kundalini

The song is in your heart
Your heart is in the song
The song is of the earth
The song is of the sky

You are disintegrating
Into everything around
The worm we dug from higher ground
You have let go of ego
Ego is no longer you
Closer to nirvana
Since the porters whistle blew

All aboard the express kundalini
All aboard the express kundalini
All aboard the express kundalini
This is an announcement
For the transcendental run
The train now standing
Leaves for higher planes
Due to a derailment
There will be no other train
So why not hop on this one?
Hear the porter's glad refrain

Each carriage is connected
As is every single train
The rails all form a track
Which is a link within a chain
The chain's connected to another chain now
You will need no ticket
If you wish to ride on this train

All aboard the express kundalini
All aboard the express kundalini
All aboard the express kundalini

The song is in your heart
Your heart is in the song
The song is of the earth
The song is of the sky

You are disintegrating
Into everything around
The worm we dug from higher ground
You have let go of ego
Ego is no longer you
Closer to nirvana
Since the porters whistle blew

All aboard the express kundalini
All aboard the express kundalini
All aboard the express kundalini

Now I get it.

I was already on the train.

I just didn't know it.

Saturday, August 13, 2011


Today is the holiday where you tie a red thread (rakhi) around your brother's right wrist. It is a symbol of love and means "bond of protection": He protects you all year long; now is the time to thank him and pray for him to have a long life.

I tied one on Dreyfus's hand last weekend - a super-blingy one. I wonder if it's still there. I also brought samosas and lovingly scolded him about his diet.

(My mother - who was devastated when her only sibling died - always said that the sibling relationship is the longest and most enduring one we will ever have, and urged us to try to get along).

"When a Rakhi is tied on the wrists of close friends and neighbors, it underscores the need for a harmonious social life, where every individual co-exist peacefully as brothers and sisters."

Read more about Rakhi here.

In India, you can get one with Hindi superstar Salman Khan's face on it.

In India, one chief minister is tying Rakhi to trees in order to save them.

How are you honoring your brother this Rakhi?

Friday, August 12, 2011

Saturday from 1-4

Multi-Level Yoga Class with Cara Jepsen, 1-3pm
Kirtan with Michael Stewart, 3-4pm

At Sweet Pea's Studio, 3717 N. Ravenswood (Ste 213).

Learn about Cara's teacher training* and meet the faculty - who have over 50 years of teaching experience!

See the facility - and its ample FREE street parking and proximity to the Addison Brown Line!

Space in yoga class space is limited, so please arrive early.

There's room for all at the kirtan.

Live snacks will be provided.

*Cara's in-depth studies and teacher training starts on 9/10/11. What makes it unique: minimum requirements for acceptance into the program; a small group setting; direction on how to develop your own spiritual practice; plenty of personal attention; instruction in the classical practices from a yogi with a guru whose lineage goes back to the ancient Rishis. You will learn to live yoga, not just do yoga. You will also have support for your practice after completing the training. What it has in common with other trainings: you'll learn how to teach the poses and - upon fulfilling the requirements - you'll receive a certificate that you may submit to the Yoga Alliance, which has certified this school. Learn more here.

Thursday, August 11, 2011


"One cannot be spiritual as long as one has shame, hatred or fear."

-Sri Ramakrishna

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

With Live Music Accompaniment on the Old-School Pipe Organ

I got hooked on silent movies back in '89, '90, when the old Film Center put on a silent film series at their old SAIC digs. Each film featured live piano accompaniment, plus a professor would give a little talk beforehand. Just about everything about the films - from the acting to the storyline to the cinematography to the humor to "dialogs" to the music - was far better most of what we have today (Bollywood cinema nonwithstanding).

Of course I'm also a huge fan of Chicago's Silent Film Society -- so much so that I wrote this 2004 Reader article about them.

This year their Silent Summer Film Festival focuses on leading ladies. I rode my bike out to the Portage Theatre a couple of weeks ago to catch the brilliant Cecil B. DeMille-directed Gloria Swanson* romantic comedy, Why Change Your Wife? (above).

There are three films left in the series; all screen at 8pm at the Portage Theatre. Admission is only $12 - which includes the live music:

Aug. 12 - Sunrise
Aug. 19 - The Cardboard Lover
Aug. 26 - The Mysterious Lady

More info here.

*Gloria Swanson practiced yoga under the guidance of Indra Devi. She became a vegetarian around 1928 and was an early health food advocate who was known for bringing her own meals to public functions in a paper bag. Swanson told actor Dirk Benedict about macrobiotic diets when he was battling prostate cancer at a very young age. He had refused conventional therapies and credited this kind of diet and healthy eating with his recovery. Later Swanson traveled the United States and helped to promote the book Sugar Blues written by her husband, William Dufty. (Wikipedia)

Monday, August 08, 2011

Jai Ma!

(Kind of makes me want to revisit all the Ramakrishna books)

Friday, August 05, 2011


When I was a puberteen at summer camp, I used to look up from my bug juice and the din in the dining hall, and see a wooden sign with this quote hanging on the wall:

First God. Then the other guy. Then me.

And I would think, "What a bunch of bullshit!"*

There were other signs on the dining hall wall:

"It is a wise boy who knows he isn't."

"Dream big. Then put on your overalls."

Those made sense: Don't think you know everything. Have a goal and do the work.

But the other one got to me, and got stuck in my head.

First God. What God? Whose God?

Then the other guy. What if the other guy is a douchebag?

Then me. Last again? If I don't take care of me, who will?

Now, decades (and years of therapy and yoga) later, it's starting to make sense.

Now, it has echoes of yoga in it.

Dharma often quotes the Bhagavad-Gita at the beginning of class:

"Fix your mind on Me alone.
Rest your thoughts on Me alone.
And in Me alone you will rest hereafter.
Of this there is no doubt."

First, God.

Then there is the yogic idea of serving God by serving others - in whom God also manifests, external douchebaginess nonwithstanding.

Then the other guy.

And then, taking care of your small-s self.

Then me.

As Swami Radha says, The Divine comes first - then everything else.

Easy to say.

Difficult to put into practice.

Unless of course one puts on her overalls....

and does the work.


*The mind had a similar reaction to Autobiography of a Yogi the first time around.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Makes me want to re-re-re-read Autobiography of a Yogi

Sadly I cannot find the music by Meeta Ravindra....