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J. Brown
J. Brown

By J. Brown

J. Brown is a yoga teacher, writer and founder of Abhyasa Yoga Center in Brooklyn, NY.  His writing has been featured in Yoga Therapy Today, the International Journal of Yoga Therapy, and across the yoga blogosphere. Visit his website at jbrownyoga.com.

Click here to try J. Brown's "Slower is Stronger"
 


Magic of Yoga
Magic of Yoga
In the post-lineage void of the current yoga scene, conversations around safety and improving the quality of yoga teacher-training often turn to biomechanics for solutions. However, replacing one arbitrary imposition on our bodies with another does not address the real issues. Fostering safer spaces for practice, or creating any sort of positive change in our bodies, will likely require new understanding based on a broader range of possibilities and ideas.

Love Hate Yoga
Love Hate Yoga
Pop culture continues to enjoy a glossy-eyed love affair with yoga. But many long-time practitioners and professionals are discovering that, somewhere along their journey over the last decade or so, either yoga or they have changed. As once die-hard yogis attempt to discern what, if anything, of their practice has stood up against the test of time, their relationship to yoga needs to be allowed to evolve or they’ll likely feel compelled to part ways.

Teaching Yoga Redefined
Teaching Yoga Redefined
A number of long-time yoga teachers are deciding to stop referring to what they teach as yoga. In the past, the term yoga represented a freedom to explore and discover truths outside western cultural norms. Now that yoga has largely become a western cultural norm, fueled by the advertising prowess of a multi-billion dollar industry and challenged by scholars questioning appropriation, public perception has been shaped in ways that have made the word yoga seem limiting. However, the teachers are the only ones who hold the power to define what they do, not scholars or the industry.

New Discipline in Yoga
New Discipline in Yoga
The novelty of yoga has been worn down to almost nothing by a multi-billion dollar industry that cares little for its tenets, like the crumbling shreds of a shoddily made pvc mat from China. But from out of the ashes of craven images and advertising schemes, a new discipline is emerging.

Abundance Mentality: A Career in Yoga
Abundance Mentality: A Career in Yoga
Continuing education for yoga teachers is in high demand since the proliferation of yoga teacher training certification has reached epic proportions. No one expects someone to be seasoned after merely two hundred hours, and technological advancements have enabled newfound access and resources to anyone with an internet connection. More than just a knowledge of yoga, or adjunct skills for teaching, these offerings often purport to give practical career advice that will help graduates succeed financially. Unfortunately, business advice for “yogapreneurs” is often grossly misguided.

Midlife Yoga Crisis
Midlife Yoga Crisis
Coming of age in the yoga profession means facing changing realities and shifting priorities. The majority of yoga teachers start out in the profession at an early time in their lives. But as the viability of old models wanes and independent players have less impact in the face of up-scaled operations, long-term prospects for careers in yoga are less apparent. For those whose passion cannot be deterred by the odds, their faith and trust in practice will likely be tested. This year marks the twentieth that I have made my living solely from teaching yoga. It’s hard to believe that the desperate stumble I took into yoga in my early twenties has morphed a life, replete with a family, a yoga center, and a multi-media platform. There was truly no plan. I’ve just been diligent in practice, showed up consistently, taught the best class I knew how, and it has panned out well enough so far.

Midlife Yoga Crisis
Midlife Yoga Crisis
Coming of age in the yoga profession means facing changing realities and shifting priorities. The majority of yoga teachers start out in the profession at an early time in their lives. But as the viability of old models wanes and independent players have less impact in the face of up-scaled operations, long-term prospects for careers in yoga are less apparent. For those whose passion cannot be deterred by the odds, their faith and trust in practice will likely be tested.

Get Your Yoga Out of My Asana
Get Your Yoga Out of My Asana
For many, it is has become important to distinguish between “asana,” or the performing of postures, and yoga. Both those who are inclined towards yoga as a fitness regimen, and those who embrace it as more than just exercise, find it necessary to clarify the intent and purpose behind their practice. This compartmentalisation, while convenient and often useful, brings with it a dilemma, the resolution to which determines what is actually possible with yoga.

Empowerment Loss
Empowerment Loss
When circumstances, ruled by forces beyond the will of one individual, overshadow our personal experience of life, unconscious resentment and fear run deep. The coercive fuel of capitalism has conditioned and resigned us to manipulation that both obfuscates truth and reveals the inhumanity of entrenched power. Despite hopelessness, perhaps a kernel of our sacrificed fortitude and imagination can be redeemed.

Establishment Politics in Yoga
Establishment Politics in Yoga
Last month, the Yoga Alliance announced a new policy regarding “yoga therapy terminology” that creates a significant new precedent. A lack of any public debate and transparency in the process has made it difficult to discern why exactly this was needed and what purpose it serves. Perhaps this explains why there has been almost no response from yoga teachers thus far. Or, more likely, people are just too turned off by the politics involved to care.

Riddle Me Some Reality
Riddle Me Some Reality
Expanding the definition of reality beyond the usual time, money and politics is generally considered naive or delusional. Aspects of life that are immeasurable or defy explanation are relegated to the realm of hearsay and mysticism. But from a purely pragmatic standpoint, magic is undeniable.

I Am Not This Phone
I Am Not This Phone
Now that the information superhighway is such a ubiquitous part of our lives, repercussions must be reckoned with. In this time of smartphones and big data, the ancient yogic practice of questioning our identifications needs to include the technologies that have become appendages to our minds and bodies.

The Year Yoga Came Home to Roost
The Year Yoga Came Home to Roost
For the modern yoga world, 2015 was a time of reckoning. The veneer of yoga lifestyle branding dulled further and the un-photoshopped belly continued to garner greater market appeal. Both grassroots and corporate entities that staked claims in the once vast frontier are now scrambling to stay ahead of the digital winds that are shaping the new paradigm.

Despite it All, I'm OK
Despite it All, I'm OK
Recent events and the turn of season have landed on many like a celestial wet blanket, casting a hue of funk and resignation. Even just a quick glance at any news feed bombards us with what seems to be insurmountable suffering, injustice, and ignorance. Governments and institutions appear at a loss to stem the tide. As individuals, we have no choice but to either give in to hopelessness or garner our intrinsic resources.

Mega Yoga
Mega Yoga
Once heralded and esteemed, yoga conferences have lost much of their appeal as livelier yoga festivals have come into emergence and birthed new forms of yoga events. Large-scale gatherings and demonstrations, happening under the auspices of group yoga practice, are setting new precedents and are emblematic of ever expanding roles yoga is playing in our culture.

Yoga Center Expiry
Yoga Center Expiry
The unforgiving trajectory of real estate markets poses the greatest challenge for independent yoga centers. In order to survive, smaller centers need to locate in popular areas where residents can afford the service they provide. But there seems to be an unmistakable time limit on how long the profitability of a yoga class can keep pace with ever rising rents.

Yoga Extremism
Yoga Extremism
Polarization seems rampant across all sectors of modern life. Debates on money, politics, religion, and even yoga, readily devolve into diametrically opposed camps. Moderate voices are lost in the din of intolerance and most folks understandably turn away from the discussion with disgust or lament. But without someone staking the middle ground, and others who embrace and support it, chances are the problems of the day will continue unabated.

Pros and Cons of Yoga Teacher Training
Pros and Cons of Yoga Teacher Training
Yoga teachers don't really make a living off teaching yoga classes anymore. Many rely upon conducting yoga teacher training. But contrary to popular belief, this trend may have less to do with the business or marketing inclinations of yoga teachers and more to do with the purchasing and study habits of the yoga-going public.

Hustle, Unplug, Repeat
Hustle, Unplug, Repeat
Statistics show that Americans are working harder, for longer hours, and are more productive than ever. Yet, few are getting ahead and most are grateful if they can just make ends meet. As stress-related illnesses account for an increasing number of doctor visits, the call to slow down and unplug has gotten louder. But juggling the demands of worldly life can often end up at odds with being attentive to our individual needs. Sometimes, knowing where to best make the trade-off is all we can do.

Yoga is Not Stretching
Yoga is Not Stretching
The ubiquitous trope that “yoga is stretching” is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of both yoga and human anatomy. Now that scientific research is largely debunking ingrained notions of what it means to “stretch,” the language that yoga teachers and media are using to describe what yoga practice does needs to be questioned.

Slow Yoga Revolution
Slow Yoga Revolution
On the outskirts of the last decade, a small and humble minority has been pushing back against the pumped up power craze that swept through the nineties, and still largely has a hold on modern postural yoga. Now that the longstanding kingdoms that once guarded yoga's legacies have fallen, and individuals are left more to their own devices, this once obscure and unsung song is finding a new chorus of practitioners.

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