Friday, October 8, 2010

Yoga: A Guest Blog By Maria Rainer

Just before my Apple desktops developed "issues" (hard drive failures), Maria Rainer who is a writer and "blog junkie," spoke to me about doing a Guest Post to talk about Yoga. I was thrilled because I spent a long time sweating in Bikram's Beverly Hills basement room. It was crazily intense, holding poses for as long as he thought we should in a heated room. I don't know for sure whether he set the temperature in the '90's but anecdotally I think he did. We posed for ninety minutes and while it was never to have been competitive, many of us yearned for the moment Bikram could stand on our perfectly flat backs as our chins reached our toes. Sometimes Bikram would talk about hot dogs and sometimes he would prod, poke, tell stories and truthfully we all fell in love with him. His goodness was just manifest. The curious thing to me was that there really were times when holding a pose I, or someone near me, would suddenly sob, all emotion just raw and available. It was a very good thing. 

I am not a purist ... I love the strength and grace of Yoga and the amazing feeling of freshly oxygenated blood rushing through your body. It's a happy, happy thing. But I also love the fashion of yoga, which changes from time to time. I loved the ballerina leotard with soft cotton leggings and still wonder about the "Yoga" pant which frankly is a little more boot leg than I like. I did wear a silk flower (Gunn Trigere had a shop on Rodeo Drive with her husband Robert and it was filled with silk camellias for your hair and your wrist; Ms. Pauline Trigere, really my absolute fashion idol, was Robert's sister) in my hair, a deco watch (does anyone remember watches?). But I also love the purity of another Yoga practice that suggests washing your face in yoghurt. Oh and another really extraordinary thing is that your muscles remember the poses. (Yes, that's Kim Lee in the photo with me.)

Thank you Maria for your post. The following is how Maria experiences Yoga ...


Like everything else that’s made it to America—sushi, pizza, martial arts—yoga has become bastardized.  Japanese people don’t know nor do they care about a California roll because it’s so icky in comparison to traditional sushi rolls.  Italians laugh at the mere mention of Dominos, and every-self-respecting martial artist abroad knows that Karate is a discipline, not just a method of self-defense.  In the same vein, the best parts of yoga are hardly of any concern to the casual practitioner, who uses it to shed pounds in America’s doomed diet craze.  The following are probably the least trendy but the most rewarding aspects of yoga.  Maybe real trendsetters rather than followers will care.
I won’t bore you with years and eras and this kingdom and that.  Basically, India gave rise to Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism—religions that incorporated mental, physical, and even verbal disciplines that can collectively be called yoga.  There are lots of branches of yoga but the word itself can sum up its philosophy: it’s derived from “yuj” which means in Sanskrit, “to unite.”
In our daily lives, we do everything humanly possible to distance our minds from our bodies.  We play video games, we watch other people lead dramatic lives on reality TV, we shave natural body hair and paint our faces so we can be accepted into the streets we walk out on in clickety-clack high heels.  Yoga embraces none of these things.
I’m not about to tell you to go cave man and live in the mountains somewhere with the wolves to be one with nature and your body.  But true yoga can have a place in our lives.  Think of yoga as your morning cup of tea.  Tea has antioxidants—it is innately good for you in moderation.  It’s warm and so it calms you.  When you drink it and stare out your window into the sky, you don’t really think about anything; you just space out.  Then, when you’re done, it’s like you’ve taken a power nap and somehow you feel like you’re ready to take on the day.
During the physical practice of yoga, your mind unites with your body and you can detach yourself from all the toxic things—everything from high heels that hurt your feet and posture to memories of phone calls from your ex-boyfriend that make you want to punch holes through your walls.  With time, yoga can help heal physical as well as psychological ailments.  Yoga is being at peace not only with yourself but with your elements by being detached from them.
You can walk into any bookstore or gym these days and find a way to become a yogi or yogini.  You’ll want to wear athletic clothes since our skinny jeans and button-downs don’t exactly make for comfortable wear.  You’ll also want a yoga mat unless you’ve got a smooth wooden floor—the point is that your bare hands and feet have a firm grip.  Look for yoga mats made of recycled material.  They’re pricier but if you’re going to be meditating through yoga, it’d probably be best not to remind yourself that you just crushed Mama Earth beneath your pretty heel.
If you can’t find anything in thrift stores or in the yuppie section of town, try looking online at:  At least through this website, part of the proceeds of your purchase goes to a charity of your choice.  You’ll feel more loyal to the true philosophy of yoga when you slip into your fair-trade yoga pants or tote around an earth-friendly yoga mat bag.
You’ll notice changes—some quickly, some slowly—as you practice yoga.
  • increased flexibility
  • increased lubrication of joints, ligaments, and tendons
  • healthier organs (yoga massages all organs of your body)
  • increased blood circulation (which means detoxification, which can mean clearer skin, delayed aging, more energy throughout the day)
  • muscle tone

The best part of yoga, however, can’t be seen in a mirror.  As your strength and flexibility increase, you will be able to do things with your body you never thought possible.  This increases your self-confidence and allows you to believe in not only your body but yourself.  This means less worrying, more being happy with yourself and your situations, and it’s common knowledge that a smile is infinitely prettier than a glower.

Bio: Maria Rainier is a freelance writer and blog junkie. She is currently a resident blogger at First in Education, researching various online degree programs and blogging about student life. In her spare time, she enjoys square-foot gardening, swimming, and avoiding her laptop.


  1. you look stunning in these pics...wish I had discipline and pateince to do yoga...

  2. thanks for sharing your blog and feeling with us.
    Yoga retreat


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