Sunday, January 10, 2010

Martha Stewart's Yoga Show

I've never been a huge Martha Stewart fan -- I don't dislike her, but never have had much of an interest in what I think she stands for.    I think of her as the "master homemaker" and my interests just do NOT lie in that direction!

But her show on Friday, January 8 was all about yoga, and it was delightful!   It turns out that Martha has been practicing Iyengar Yoga for about 10 years.

Click Martha Stewart Yoga Show for recaps of the different segments.

The photo here is of Martha doing Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon Pose) with support from James Murphy, director  of the Iyengar Yoga Association of Greater New York, and one of the teaching staff at the New York Iyengar Yoga Institute. 

Martha says that Half Moon Pose is one of her favorites (a few of you have mentioned that it's a favorite of yours as well -- James said that many people like it because it gives a feeling of lightness and openness).

Other guests besides James were Eddie Stern, an Ashtanga Yoga teacher; Sophie Herbert, Martha's lovely young niece and a teacher of Vinyasa Yoga ("flow" yoga), and Trudie Styler, rock-star Sting's wife, and creator of the Trudie Styler's Warrior Yoga DVD.

The audience was made up of yoga teachers and students, each with a yoga mat laid out so they could participate.    They were all encouraged to do their favorite poses a couple times during the show and during commercial breaks.   Many of the audience were teachers from the Iyengar Yoga Institute -- there's a characteristic steadiness, extension, and vibrancy in the poses of seasoned Iyengar Yoga practitioners that you could see also in these teachers!   Many of the others had beautiful poses as well, while a couple people looked like they were brand new students (or they practice a type of yoga that I'm not at all familiar with!).

I was very impressed with the three guest yoga teachers,  all good representatives of their style of yoga, and Trudie, while not a yoga teacher, has been an avid practitioner for 20 years.

Comments on their own practice of yoga --
James:  He started doing it on a physical level, but it became a whole life-style.   It's an art, a science, and a philosophy.

Trudie:  Since her body is the precious vehicle that has to get her through this life, she wants to maintain it in a healthy way.

Sophie:  This has given her stability and balance in her life;  it's helped her stay grounded in the other areas of her life.

Eddie: Has helped him to answer and continue investigating these questions, "Who am I?" and "What am I doing here?"

During the show, James Murphy and Trudie Styler both led Martha (and audience) in a sampling of poses characteristic of their "style" of yoga.    James emphasized that Iyengar Yoga is meant to be accessible to all, so we start with simple poses to wake up all parts of the body, and do a lot of standing poses to increase strength, flexibility, and firmness in preparation for more difficult poses later on.  Trudie led Martha through a few poses characteristic of her "Warrior Yoga" video, poses we can do anywhere, without the need to lug around props wherever we go.  We just need our mat and ourselves.

Eddie and Sophie both gave inspiring demonstrations.   Eddie did a few "foot behind the head" poses, including  Chakorasana, done with a very calm, serene demeanor.   Sophie did a few gorgeous backbending poses, including a variation of Ekapada Rajakapotasana  -- one legged king pigeon pose (See her website, and click "Yoga" for a view of this pose).

Near the end of the show, each of the guests was asked to give a few "Yoga Do's and Don't's" for students to follow for a successful experience.   All were good common sense suggestions that most of you know already (but maybe don't follow completely?), including; 

  • Coming to class on time (or even early)
  • Listening to the teacher (not chit-chatting with each other during class)
  • Turn off your cell phones
  • Don't eat a big meal before class.   
  • Don't drink water during class or your practice (puts out the "fire" necessary for a good practice)
  • Wear clothes that allow the teacher to easily see your alignment.
  • Treat all poses with equanimity
And, Eddie Sterns listed 6 qualities necessary to be successful in yoga ("flexibility" is not one of those qualities!):
  1. Enthusiasm
  2. Perseverance
  3. Courage
  4. Interest in seeking the truth
  5. Trust in the words of your teacher
  6. Avoid the company of negative people, or people who don't support your practice.
 I think 90% of being successful in yoga (or in any area of your life!) is by following the first three qualities!

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