Posted by: yoga librarian | August 23, 2013

Elvis Presley Yoga Video

Elvis Presley – Yoga Is as Yoga Does

Those are probably two things you never thought you would see in the same video. This is from his 1967 film, Easy Come, Easy Go.

How can you not love a movie with Elvis Presley as a former Navy frogman who moonlights as a nightclub singer and is searching for sunken treasure with the help of a go-go dancer who practices yoga?

Elvis Presley – Yoga Is as Yoga Does (Words & music by Nelson – Burch)

Well I can see that you and yoga will never do

Yoga is as yoga does there’s no in-between
Your either with it on the ball or you’ve blown the scene
I can see lookin’ at you, you just can’t get settled
How can I even move, twistin’ like a pretzel

(Yoga is, yoga does)
(There’s no in-between)
(Your either with it all the way) Or you’ve blown the scene
(Or you’ve blown the scene)

Come on come on, untwist my legs
Pull my arms a lot
How did I get so tied up
In this yoga knot
You tell me just how I can take this yoga serious
When all it ever gives to me is a pain in my posteriors

(Yoga is, yoga does)
(There’s no in-between)
(Your either with it all the way) Or you’ve blown the scene
(Or you’ve blown the scene)

Stand upside down on your head, feet against the wall
A simple yoga exercise done by one and all
Now cross your eyes and hold your breath, look just like a clown
Yoga’s sure to catch you if you come falling down

(Yoga is, yoga does)
(There’s no in-between)
(Your either with it all the way) Or you’ve blown the scene
(Or you’ve blown the scene)

(Yoga is, yoga does)
(There’s no in-between)
(Your either with it all the way) Or you’ve blown the scene
(Or you’ve blown the scene)

Posted by: yoga librarian | August 23, 2013

Amazing Women – Happy Birthday Tao Porchon-Lynch

Tao Porchon-Lynch
Yoga teacher Tao Porchon-Lynch, who celebrated her 95th birthday last week, has just released her first yoga DVD.

I’ll sometimes ask my yoga students to guess her age. Most guess 70s or early 80s.

A Yoga Journal birthday tribute quotes her advice to those who hope to keep up their yoga practice into their 90s?: “There is no such thing as ‘age.’ Tune into the power of the eternal, and feel the beauty of life. Nothing is impossible. Yoga revitalizes us with every breath we take.”

Order her video on Yoga with Tao Porchon-Lynch.

And visit her website to read her biography, watch interviews, and see photos of her doing competitive ballroom dancing.

Posted by: yoga librarian | February 3, 2013

Man Bites Downward-Facing Dog

Man Bites Downward-Facing Dog

Yoga Journal’s Medical Editor Responds to The New York Times

By Timothy McCall, MD (revised January 29, 2013)

Download the PDF of this article, with hyperlinks.

Could yoga make you fat (especially if you’re a woman)? Does it cause hundreds of strokes per year? Sex you up so much you’ll engage in unethical behavior? Did the entire discipline start out as a sex cult? If you read The New York Times you might think so. As much as I’ve often disagreed with him, up until now I’ve been diplomatic in my responses to William Broad’s writings about yoga in The Times and in his book The Science of Yoga. But after his recent article in which he asserted that “yoga is remarkably dangerous — for men,” I felt it was time to speak up.

For those who’ve forgotten, Broad is the science reporter who a year ago published an alarming and controversial book excerpt entitled “How Yoga Can Wreck Your Body,” in the Sunday New York Times Magazine. While I joined the chorus in the yoga world that responded to its mistakes and exaggerations, I also wrote that by raising the issue of yoga injuries — which some teachers were not discussing enough — he provided a service. My Yoga International review recommends reading his book. But a disturbing pattern of sensationalism is now emerging. Broad has repeatedly made shocking, man-bites-dog claims, which succeed in bringing attention to himself and his book, but which fail to hold up under scrutiny. No extraordinary evidence backs his extraordinary claims.

One, parroted by Maureen Dowd in her popular Times column prior to his book’s release, is that yoga could make you fat — particularly if you’re female. Broad based that assertion entirely on an extrapolation from the long-documented fact that practicing yoga can lower the metabolic rate. Why is that? When you are stressed, your sympathetic nervous system steels your body for fight or flight. Your heart beats faster, your blood pressure goes up, more blood is delivered to large muscles, all of which burns calories. Calm your mind and relax your body with yoga and your parasympathetic nervous system kicks in, and you don’t burn all those nervous-energy calories. Broad’s weight gain warning was pure speculation without an ounce of data behind it, and neglected much of the story.

Did Broad consider the effects of stress-related eating? Cortisol-induced binges, and what scientists studying rats call “food seeking behavior?” What about the stress hormone’s penchant for turning extra calories into belly fat, the most dangerous kind metabolically? And yoga’s proven ability to lower cortisol? None of it is discussed in The Science of Yoga. In fact, there’s only one brief mention in the entire book of this hormone so intimately tied to obesity (and many other diseases). He also failed to cite any of the scientific studies that have examined the issue of yoga and body weight. While that research is far from definitive, the preponderance of the evidence suggests that yoga can help people drop excess weight, and prevent unhealthy weight gain, as I pointed out in my 2007 book Yoga as Medicine (which he must have read since his book recommends it).

For example, Dr. Alan Kristal of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle and colleagues surveyed more than 15,000 people in their fifties, 132 of whom had been regular yoga practitioners for at least four years. During the previous ten years, overweight people in the yoga group had lost an average of five pounds, compared to a 13.5 pound gain among overweight non-practitioners. A more recent study, published in The International Journal of Yoga (full text here) found that among more than 200 women, all long-term yoga practitioners over the age of 45, the more yoga they practiced, the lower the body mass index (BMI). The results held up even when adjusted for such factors as age and lifestyle. Among the 49 women who had practiced more than 25 years, there were no cases of obesity.

Then there was Broad’s Times article on yoga and sex scandals, which argued they were inevitable because yoga supercharges libido. While scientific studies have found the practice improves sexual function and satisfaction, Broad’s notion that any of this explains inappropriate sexual behavior is once again speculation without data. And, his assertion in The Science of Yoga that “the entire discipline [of yoga] itself began as a sex cult,” is false and an insult to millions of Hindus.

Download the PDF of this article, with hyperlinks.

In making the case that men are at higher risk of yoga injuries in the recent Times article, Broad examines 18 years of data — from 1994 to 2011 — from a federal program that monitors emergency room visits. He didn’t provide any raw numbers (making it hard to interpret the results since we don’t know if we’re talking about 12 cases or 12,000) just the relative percentages for males and females in 4 categories of “major” injuries 1) strains or sprains 2) dislocations 3) fractures, and 4) nerve damage. So, for example, men had 24 percent of the dislocations in the reports — more than expected — as Broad estimated they comprised just 16 percent of yoga practitioners (though no peer-reviewed scientific journal would accept his method for calculating that 16 percent).

In his analysis, Broad only included “major injuries,” but how he decided what to include and what to exclude seems idiosyncratic at best. Ankle sprains, for example, can be painful, but most of them shouldn’t be categorized as major injuries. (Of note, Broad categorized sprains and strains as minor in the paperback version of his book, when he analyzed the same government data.) In contrast, syncope (fainting), which Broad found disproportionately affects women, he categorized as “minor,” and thus didn’t include in his analysis. The question is whether Broad decided which categories to include after examining the data — perhaps okay in journalism but a serious no-no in scientific research, as there’s the risk of cherry-picking the data that support your theories.

Most surprisingly, Broad’s latest Times article failed to mention the lifethreatening condition that was the subject of one of his book’s most shocking claims. Using unscientific methodology, he calculated that yoga causes 300 strokes a year. That would be over 5000 cases of yoga-induced strokes in 18 years. You would think that if Broad had found support for that claim in the government’s emergency room tracking data he would have reported it.

As I wrote on the Yoga for Healthy Aging blog, I believe men, in comparison to their proportions in the yoga world, are more likely to take more strenuous and acrobatic classes where injuries would appear to be more common. And, in my experience, men are more likely to push too hard for results (although women can do this too), and this is a well-known precipitant of injury. Most yoga teachers with whom I’ve spoken believe that more flexible students (disproportionately women) are far more likely to get such injuries as hamstring muscle tears and overstretching of pelvic and spinal ligaments, serious (and often nettlesome) but probably less likely to result in a trip to the ER. These factors — and poor methodology — more than any inherently greater male susceptibility to injury, could explain Broad’s findings entirely. The bottom line that there isn’t enough evidence at this point to say which gender is at higher risk for yoga injuries. And we certainly should not, based on relative percentages in a few categories of injuries, be labeling yoga as “remarkably dangerous” for men.

“Some yoga practitioners will surely see my analysis as unconvincing,” Broad writes. “It’s the kind of topic,” he says, “that can only benefit from thorough discussion* — as well as rigorous new studies that can rule out the possibility of false clues.”

Finally something we can agree on.

Dr. Tim McCall

Board-certified internist and yogi Timothy McCall, MD teaches yoga therapy seminars worldwide. He is the medical editor of Yoga Journal and the best selling author of Yoga as Medicine. This article appeared in his email newsletter, available at, where you can download the PDF of this article, with hyperlinks.

*In conjunction with the publication of this article, Yoga U, an online educational resource, will rebroadcast free of charge a 4-hour telesummit on yoga injuries recorded last year, featuring Timothy McCall and many of the country’s leading yoga teachers.

©2013 Timothy McCall, MD

Posted by: yoga librarian | October 8, 2012

Structural Prana and Svaroopa® Yoga

“Have you ever thought about the energy that returns your spine to neutral? It’s not something you control with your muscles… The real yoga is just getting out of your own way.” (Leslie Kaminoff)

Watch the video with Leslie Kaminoff»

“There is something about the way we are put together that inherently wants to hold us up. …when we’re trying to find our support, what we’re really looking for are all the things we are doing to get in the way of this — to get in the way of what’s already present in the system.

And it runs a little bit counter to how we’re accustomed to accomplishing things, which is if I just try harder or work better or learn more about posture or alignment … and bring that into the system then I’ll hold myself up better. Well, quite often all our attempts in that direction is exactly the thing that is getting in the way.

It’s releasing tension that allows these deeper forces of support to show up. And that’s really inherent in the teachings of yoga.”

Watch the video»

Posted by: yoga librarian | July 25, 2012

Diets High in Salt Could Deplete Calcium in the Body

ScienceDaily  (July 24, 2012) — When sodium leaves a body, it takes calcium along with it, creating risk for kidney stones and osteoporosis.

The scientific community has always wanted to know why people who eat high-salt diets are prone to developing medical problems such as kidney stones and osteoporosis.

When sodium intake becomes too high, the body gets rid of sodium via the urine, taking calcium with it, which depletes calcium stores in the body. High levels of calcium in the urine lead to the development of kidney stones, while inadequate levels of calcium in the body lead to thin bones and osteoporosis.

Read the complete article.

Posted by: yoga librarian | February 24, 2012

Mindfulness Matters

Mindfulness Matters—
Can Living in the Moment Improve Your Health?

January 2012

At some point in your life, someone probably told you: “Enjoy every moment. Life is short.” Maybe you’ve smiled and rolled your eyes at this well-intentioned relative or co-worker. But the fact is, there’s something to it. Trying to enjoy each moment may actually be good for your health.

The idea is called mindfulness. This ancient practice is about being completely aware of what’s happening in the present—of all that’s going on inside and all that’s happening around you. It means not living your life on “autopilot.” Instead, you experience life as it unfolds moment to moment, good and bad, and without judgment or preconceived notions.

“Many of us go through our lives without really being present in the moment,” says Dr. Margaret Chesney of the University of California, San Francisco. She’s studying how mindfulness affects health. “What is valuable about mindfulness is that it is accessible and can be helpful to so many people.”

Studies suggest that mindfulness practices may help people manage stress, cope better with serious illness and reduce anxiety and depression. Many people who practice mindfulness report an increased ability to relax, a greater enthusiasm for life and improved self-esteem.

One NIH-supported study found a link between mindfulness meditation and measurable changes in the brain regions involved in memory, learning and emotion. Another NIH-funded researcher reported that mindfulness practices may reduce anxiety and hostility among urban youth and lead to reduced stress, fewer fights and better relationships.

A major benefit of mindfulness is that it encourages you to pay attention to your thoughts, your actions and your body. For example, studies have shown that mindfulness can help people achieve and maintain a healthy weight. “It is so common for people to watch TV and eat snack food out of the box without really attending to how much they are eating,” says Chesney. “With mindful eating, you eat when you’re hungry, focus on each bite, enjoy your food more and stop when you’re full.”

Finding time for mindfulness in our culture, however, can be a challenge. We tend to place great value on how much we can do at once and how fast. Still, being more mindful is within anyone’s reach.

You can practice mindfulness throughout the day, even while answering e-mails, sitting in traffic or waiting in line. All you have to do is become more aware—of your breath, of your feet on the ground, of your fingers typing, of the people and voices around you.

Chesney notes that as people start to learn how to be more mindful, it’s common and normal to realize how much your mind races and focuses on the past and future. You can just notice those thoughts and then return to the present moment. It is these little, regular steps that add up and start to create a more mindful, healthy life.

So, before you roll your eyes again, take a moment and consider mindfulness.


Posted by: yoga librarian | February 14, 2012

On Pins and Needles – A Love Story

Love at First Sight – Stuck on You

In 1993, my cousin wrote this short essay for the Valentine’s Day issue of Ladies Home Journal.  I’ve always loved the story and wanted to share it – even though it has nothing to do with yoga.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

“In 1947, when I was seventeen, I attended a dance at the local YMCA. After a few dances, I reached into my purse for a lipstick and noticed a hat pin. Feeling devilish, I crept up behind Bill, a friend of mine, and playfully stuck the pin into his derriere. “Bill” turned around—and to my horror, I realized that I had never seen this fellow before I my life!

Shocked and mortified, I mumbled an apology and disappeared into the rest room as fast as my legs would carry me. I knew I would die if I ever saw him again. But a few days later, the guy I had jabbed called and asked me for a date. (He had asked Bill for my name and number.) During the forty-two years we’ve been married, he has told everyone that since the first moment we met, I’ve kept him on pins and needles!”

Posted by: yoga librarian | December 19, 2011

Amazing Women – Barbara G.

Amazing Women – Barbara G.

Barbara G.

Barbara, one of my students, passed away a few weeks ago after a brief illness at age 88. I only knew her from exercise classes and as a gifted painter.  But others told me about the rest of her amazing life.

Barbara  was a veteran of WWII having served as a Sergeant in the US Marine Corps in their MAPS Division.

She was Chief technical illustrator for the Marine Technology Section of a major consulting company where among other projects she was involved in project TRIDENT for the U.S. Navy where she was responsible for all illustrations for technological reports which included antisubmarine warfare,sonar technology and oceanography. She was also involved with illustrations for the Lunar drill used during the Apollo moon landing.

Posted by: yoga librarian | September 12, 2011

Amazing Women Revisited: Tao Porchon Lynch

Amazing Women: Tao Porchon Lynch

Tao Porchon-Lynch

Deepak Chopra used three words to describe 93-year-old yoga master Tao Porchon-Lynch: Satyam (truth), Shivam (goodness), and Sundaram (beauty). The Johnson & Johnson Health Channel features her in a new video.

Other YouTube videos include an interview about her life and philosophy, her 93rd birthday party and book signing, a panel discussion (including the Dalai Lama), and dancing the tango.

Her new book, Reflections The Yogic Journey of Life, is available on

Posted by: yoga librarian | August 25, 2011

Yoga Terminologies

Yoga Terminology

Reposted from
Friday, May 28, 2010

Most people who are interested in Yoga, sometimes find the terminologies used in describing the poses or the names of the poses confusing. The reason being, most of the words have their origin in Sanskrit, one of the oldest languages. If you do not belong to India and not able to follow the names of the poses, despair not, you are not alone, most people in India will also have difficulty in understanding the meanings.

I’m here to explain: some of the words and terminologies which are commonly used in Yoga. Once you understand the meaning of the words you would related to the pose more easily and would be able to remember the pose by its Sanskrit name. Remember that this is by no means an exhaustive list, but I am trying to include the words which are more commonly encountered.

1. Words used regarding the body parts

Hasta : Hand
Pada : Foot
Urdhava : Upward
Adho : Downward
Mukha : Mouth
Nadi : Nerve(s)
Angushta: Finger or toe
Janu : Knee
Sirsa : Head
Bhuja : Arm
Parsva : Back

2. Words related to Animals

Svan : Dog
Shashanka : Rabbit
Marjara : Cat
Simha : Lion
Mayur : Peacock
Baka : Crane
Kurma : Turtle
Makar : Crocodile
Bheka : Frog
Garuda : Eagle
Ushtra : Camel
Bhujanga : Snake
Sarpa : Snake
Shalbha : Locust
Go : Cow

3. Words related to Objects and Action

Padma : Lotus
Trikon : Triangle
Mala : Garland
Setu : Bridge
Nav : Boat
Salamba : Supported
Niralamba : Unsupported
Prasarita : Stretched or extended
Hala : Plough
Vira : Brave or Warrior
Tada : A type of Palm tree
Parvat : Mountain
Vriksha : Tree
Dhanur : Bow
Surya : Sun
Chandra : Moon
Ardh : Half
Purna : Full
Namaskar : Salutation with palms joined
Pranam : Respectful Salutation

Here is a additional list suggested by various people in comments. Thanks all for your suggestions:

Suggestions by Mike Fabro

Utthita : Extended
Sava : Corpse
Parivṛtta : Revolved
Supta : Supine or Reclining

As you can see from the above list, the poses in yoga are inspired by what is available in nature. Ancient yogis observed the nature closely and adopted the beneficial poses from various sources.

Most of the poses are named by adding the word Asana to the object or animal. For example Halasana means plough pose.

Sometime two or three words are joined together to form the name of the pose. As example look at the following : Adhomukha Svanasa = (Adho + Mukha) (Svana + Asana) => If you look at these word above you can derive like : (Adho + Mukha) (Svana + Asana) =>(Downward + Facing) (Dog + Pose), thus the meaning of this pose is Downward Facing Dog Pose. Now if you look at the pose you can related it with the object or animal it is associated with.

You can try out various combination and discover meaning of the various pose and gain new insight. Next time you hear a new name of a pose, I suggest that you try to break the name into smaller chunks and discover the meaning as well. Once you start doing this you find make your Yoga session even more fun.

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