"No European who has tasted Savage Life can afterwards bear to live in our societies." — Benjamin Franklin

Monday, November 19, 2007

Rant : Yoga Competitions

Oh, barf. Read this article. Frankly, it makes me sick.

I'm a yoga teacher. Yoga is not "just exercise"; it is a complete toolkit to help to focus one's mind. Here in the United States, most people think that "yoga=stretching", and that's just not true. Out of the 198 sutras of Patanjali, only 3 of them are about asana, the physical postures of classical yoga. Yoga is so much more than just physical poses.

I'm also not a fan of Bikram yoga. During my teacher training course, we were required to take classes in various styles - Iyengar, Kundalini, Ashtanga, Kripalu, Bikram - so that we would have exposure to the different kinds of yoga available. I didn't take the Bikram class, as not only is it contraindicated for my constitution (I'm already very "hot"/pitta, and very warming practices basically cause me to burst into flames), but I completely disagree with pretty much everything Bikram teaches. Instead, I spent a couple of hours and wrote a short paper, "Why I Will Not Attend A Bikram Class", accompanied by about 30 pages of highlighted news articles about Bikram's attitude, approach, and injuries suffered by people in his classes. I can see the therapeutic aspects of a flow style of yoga, and even the heated environment, but I can't stand Bikram's attitude. It's not yogic; it's "Western, greedy, arrogant capitalist".

The sponsors and participants have even figured out a way to justify this event in their minds:

"It's actually a championship, not a competition," said Sarah Ittmann, owner of Bikram Yoga Hampden. "In a competition, you compete against other people. A championship is a measure of your own prowess - your own strength and determination."
Oh, yeah, that's it; "champions" aren't champions because they are better than others. That makes it all better.

When I see western culture and society warping such an amazing tradition and practice so badly, I can't just sit here and let it go. I have to yell, "NO! That's not yoga!"

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Place and Food : Eating Local

I'm currently living in the Denver, Colorado, area. There are many farms, free-range organic butchers, and wild animals around here. One can eat locally-grown or harvested food here pretty easily. I know; I do it.

I've thought about moving to Alaska. Fewer farms (but more than you may think!), but plenty of paleo food: wild meats, fish, berries, and herbs. A very large percentage of Alaskans live a subsistence lifestyle, living off the land. Some of them live in very remote areas, but many live in cities or towns. The land and its resources allow such a lifestyle.

I lived in Tucson, Arizona. In southern Arizona, there are many wild resources, but they are mostly plants and fruits. There are some animals around, including some large game, but it is a bit harder to find than in some other places in the continental U.S. Most of the Native American tribes in the area survived by combining wild foods with farmed foods such as corn.

Not only are "raw resources" part of the equation, but also the societal acceptance (or lack thereof) of such a lifestyle. In Alaska, for example, a subsistence lifestyle is considered pretty normal. Even city-dwellers eat wild meats and berries, even if only occasionally. Yet, in northern Colorado, the idea that we are interested in eating items that don't come wrapped in plastic from Whild Foads is weird; many people think we're nuts. They don't freak out too badly when we say we eat locally-grown, free-range, grass-fed meat, because that's pretty trendy and "eco"; when we mention that the meat is buffalo, we get funny looks. In Tucson, we did some dumpster diving and ate large amounts of fresh, clean produce that we found; most people there thought we were completely insane except for the other divers.

Does the area in which you live provide enough natural resources to sustain a healthy, varied diet? And, if so, does your surrounding society support such a choice?

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Still eating, straying, and beer

I haven't written much here lately, though I have a couple of articles I'd like to share. I'll write those here sometime soon, I hope.

I've strayed out of the "strict paleo" area - I'm drinking milk (specifically half-and-half in my black tea and chai) and eating corn tortillas. I also drank beer this past weekend. Last week, a plate of nachos I ordered at a restaurant were made from fried flour tortillas, so I ate them; the next day, I had serious diarrhea. And the nachos didn't taste as good as corn does. Live and learn. As my partner said while sharing the food with me: "Eating out, paleo-style, is pretty much impossible." I agree. Maybe we should go ahead and start our own paleo restaurant.

Yes, I had barley-based beer this weekend, but I also tried a gluten-free beer made from sorghum. It was Dragon's Gold from Bard's Tale. It was good, but was very thin and had almost no body. It was malty in flavor, with a reasonable shot of hops for good measure. I'd drink it again, but it's nowhere near my "top 20 beers" list or anything.