Yoga, 2018

According to Becky, over at The Art of Healthy Living, there are even more yoga trends than I first thought. Below she talks about what’s going to be hot in the yoga world during 2018.

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Novelty Yoga

Seriously I’m not even too sure what’s left, because it certainly feels as though everything has been given a yogic twist this year. There’s been…

Goat Yoga

You’ve heard of dog yoga (the experts like to call it ‘Doga’)…well the next level up is goat yoga (does that mean it’s called ‘Goga’?). Basically it’s a load of people doing yoga outside in the presence of some goats. Riiiiiight….and the benefit is what exactly? Well, the organisers say that the goats help create more feel good hormones, lower anxiety, provide comfort and reduce loneliness. OK so let’s get this straight, you’re doing downward dog and a goat jumps onto your back and that is….relaxing?..pleasant?..painful?…The goats are certainly having a lot of fun jumping around in a human playpark, but we’re not entirely convinced that the risk of being pooped on by a goat is all that worth it!

Beer Yoga

Really? Yes…really! Originating in Germany, the land of beer…but perhaps not yoga, the idea is that by swigging from a bottle of beer whilst practicing yoga it helps to encourage participants to relax more in an environment they feel more familiar and at home with i.e. the pub. We think this could really take off, especially in terms of getting more men out there trying yoga. What next…? Gin Yoga? Jäger Yoga? Proseccoga?

Couple Yoga

Grab your partner and get up close and personal with them whilst flowing through some yoga positions. Take a fitness friend by all means, but if you don’t know them well you’re certainly going to after one of these sessions! We think yoga is verging on the tantric anyway, so we see this getting big in 2018 among the trendy fit couple crowd. Apparently couple yoga improves levels of communication, encourages trust and is the ultimate way to add some sparkle back into a relationship.

Floating Yoga

The ultimate in core stability, float yoga is all about perfecting those tricky yoga positions whilst balancing on what is effectively a surfboard. Can be done on or off the water, depending on how good you are and whether you mind getting wet, but if you want next level yoga then this is deffo it. We think this will become a huge thing in 2018, especially as all the trendy fitsters are trying it out in LA…it’s only a matter of time!

And the list could seriously go on and on, there’s…Disco Yoga, Rooftop Yoga, Chromayoga (colour therapy yoga), Yoga on Ice (Snow-ga), HIIT Yoga, but we reckon it’s all about the animals. Hey if you can have Goat Yoga surely there’s a need for…yoga with frogs (Froga) or how about yoga with alpacas (Alpacoga), deffo gonna be a ‘thing’ 😉

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Becky also discusses other fitness trends coming your way in 2018:

Slacklining (which sounds like a chapter in the hangman’s ‘guide to successful neck-breaking’)

Boxing Mashups (like an afternoon of recycling old cardboard in the garage?)

Bounce Off (a kid’s game, right?)

Napping (uh, ok)

Water Workouts (as in swimming…)

 

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Thanks for reading. For more of my own writing on yoga, see here

https://lucasrichert.com/2016/10/18/yoga-boys-boys-of-yoga/

https://lucasrichert.com/2017/06/12/yoga-trends-2017/

https://lucasrichert.com/2017/06/13/two-more-yoga-trends-2017/

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Fracture

Playing soccer has been a hobby/passion/thing to do for the majority of my life.

There’ve been no significant injuries to speak of. Until now.

So let’s talk about ‘the knee’ and pain.

new brace and crutches

A reckless and ridiculous challenge during my last game resulted in a minor fracture of the knee – and some major sit-on-my-butt time.

(Probably best that I go no further in describing the tackle, lest my blood begins to boil once more.)

So, I’ve got a near future filled with crutches, an immobilizer brace, ice, anti-inflammatory drug. Luckily, the future doesn’t hold surgical interventions! For now.

A swollen left knee

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Treatment for dummies (like me):

The treatment depends on the type of fracture. If you have an open wound with the fracture (I didn’t!), you may need treatment to control bleeding or prevent infection. You may need surgery to:

1) Remove all small fragments of bone
2) Wire the kneecap fragments together, if possible
3) Remove the kneecap if it has shattered
4) Your provider may put your leg in a brace, splint, knee immobilizer, or cast to keep your knee from moving while it heals.
5) Your healthcare provider may prescribe pain medicine.

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Pain medication? Well yes. I have been using Extra Strength Advil. And the occasional beer. Sometimes I think I need something stronger. Other times, no.

The National news last night discussed the rise of the opioid crisis and located one of the hot zones in Ohio. The story by Vik Adophia was powerful, well-conceived and executed.

(It’s worth noting that the state of Ohio is suing 5 major drug companies for precipitating the opioid epidemic. The manufacturers of the prescription painkillers are: Purdue Pharma LP, Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc unit, a unit of Endo International Plc, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd’s Cephalon unit and Allergan Plc.)

Here are some of the top stories related to pain and opioids in the past few days.

Trump declares opioid abuse a national emergency in U.S.

Drug industry faces ‘tidal wave’ of litigation over opioid crisis

Canadian health advocates eye Portugal’s drug model to combat opioid crisis

Record number of drug-related deaths, as opioid crisis hits UK

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After the knee injury, I immediately thought of Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy.

So what’s the future hold…

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I also thought of Kobe  Bryant’s injury history. And as you can see – the Mamba’s knees featured regularly.

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Stay tuned for periodic updates.

Hench

By Morgan Scott

Guest Post

(HENCH: strong and fit with very well-developed muscles; used about men)

1. Schwarzenegger: the Trendsetting Terminator

I have to admit it, growing up in the 1980s, myself and many males (and females) were in awe of bodybuilding action hero, the Austrian Oak, The Terminator himself, Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Schwarzenegger was of course not the first bodybuilder, but he was the first to bring this bizarre body-expanding behaviour into the limelight, beginning with the release of acclaimed documentary, Pumping Iron.

Schwarzenegger was and is a fascinating man. He left Austria to live the American Dream over in the US. What he didn’t know was that he would become the epitome of the American Dream. He nailed it. His vehicle? Bodybuilding. Schwarzenegger was already a local European bodybuilding champ but he knew America was the place to be to achieve his ultimate dream, to conquer bodybuilding and then conquer the movie business.

After winning Mr. Olympia 6 times he was going to hang up his posing trunks until he was convinced by the producers of Pumping Iron to carry on for one more season. They wanted to follow his quest for a  7th Mr Olympia title, which he ultimately achieved.

Years later in an interview, he confessed that he started to see the ridiculousness of it all, posing in little trunks.

From building up his body, Schwarzenegger went into acting. His breakthrough movie role came as Conan the Barbarian in 1982. The director John Milius actually told Schwarzenegger that he was too jacked for the part and that he actually had to lose muscle weight. This was the opposite of what bodybuilding was all about. However, a large part of bodybuilding is bulking and shredding where you would bulk up in off competition season and shred body fat leading up to one. Schwarzenegger had it covered and got it sorted ready for Conan.

Schwarzenegger had some challenges in his way; his English was terrible and he had a strange accent, plus Hollywood actors were just not huge behemoths back then. He also had a weird unpronounceable name and no acting experience. Well, the rest is movie history.

However, he was unique and he spurred an epidemic of muscle growth. In the wake of the Schwarzenegger phenomenon, gym memberships soared and muscles across the globe groaned and swelled in search for the ‘Pump’ and a body that would have Michelangelo’s David second-guessing himself.

Why do people build bodies in the first place? Why do they emulate Schwarzenegger? Success and motivational coach Tony Robbins tells us that one of the six human needs as to why any of us do what we do is Significance. We want to be seen, we want to ‘be’ somebody and what better way to be noticed, by having to walk into a room sideways. But do we need huge muscles to be significant in the world? At what point does growing your biceps become pathological?

Don’t get me wrong, having an awesome torso is a great thing to have. You look great, you feel great, clothes fit you well and you don’t have to worry about whether your beer belly looks big in this. What I’m wondering about is that line which separates ‘normal’ behaviour and when you enter into an obsessive world where size and body fat percentages becomes body dysmorphia – when the obsession overtakes the rational and becomes a problem, trumping the significance you seek.

2.Experiences

During my time lifting weights in gyms I got speaking to ‘the lads’ squeezing the iron now and again. I was curious as to why they were building such massive bodies. These were not the guys who were training for a particular sport or who were fitness trainers nor movie stars. These guys built for personal goals.

When asking them why they did it, I would usually get one of two answers, one being “Woman” (or men) or as one charming young man put it bluntly “Pussy!” So sex is high on the agenda. The second answer was “Because I was bullied at school.” Both answers certainly lent themselves to the motivation of feeling significant.

Social media, particularly Instagram, has become a cultural mirror feeding a worrying narcissistic trend to achieving the perfect body. Before, we only had floor-to-ceiling mirrors in gyms to flex and pose, to see our progress and satisfy our ego. Now we have a platform to tell the whole world about our triceps with a selfie. Just another way to feel significant, especially if hundreds, if not thousands of followers can double tap on your virtual torso to give you a heart. #mustbewinninginlifenow?

OK, sure, it’s not all about feeding ones ego; it’s also about mastering oneself and feeling good. The body may be the easiest bit of us to master, because even if your soul and spirit are in shatters, at least we might protect them in slabs of muscle.

Lifting weights also feels good. When bench pressing 100 kg you’re certainly in the present and not thinking about that work report. It’s the rush, the pump and even the delayed onset of muscle soreness (DOMS) a couple of days after is a great feeling, we’ve triumphed, we’ve mastered our body.

I do worry that most young men are growing up being seduced by what the media and advertisers portray as the perfect body. Often the ideal is an unrealistic one at that, where anything less suggests unworthiness.

3.Final Thoughts

I remember talking to an old mate, who was into bodybuilding at the time, and he said “I just want to get Huge. I want to be a monster!” He was in his late thirties when it’s much harder to achieve ‘huge’ and he seemed to be a lost boy trapped, seeking a measure of significance.

I asked “But why do you want to be huge?” The chances of becoming a world champion bodybuilder were slim to zero and becoming the next Schwarzenegger, even slimmer. He just stared into space searching for an answer.

Let’s not forget that the idea of the perfect body is driven by profiteers preying on our fragile persona and a need for significance in the world. Just buy this widget and you too can have a body like this. Young men are even turning to steroids to reach perfection sooner, but at what cost?

Can we get more sex without spending hours in the gym? Can we heal our broken selves without having to get Hench? Can we still get in shape and look great without XXL shirts? Sure we can. If it’s significance we seek, can we achieve it in other ways and channel that energy into making a difference in the world?

Damn right you can.

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I’m delighted that professional photographer Morgan Scott shares his images and ideas. His exciting portfolio can be found here: https://www.instagram.com/morganscottuk/

Instagram: MorganScottUK

Twitter: MorganScottUK

Watch out for more posts from Morgan in the future.

Two More Yoga Trends, 2017.

Apparently, I missed some yoga trends in my most recent post. There are others.

For example: beer yoga.

Beer Yoga is yoga…with, yes, beer. German yogis BierYoga are reportedly the major first innovators, offering classes and workshops after seeing it being taught at the Burning Man festival. Since January, the idea’s spread internationally. Here are two recent articles on beer yoga.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/world-asia-39711513/have-you-got-the-bottle-for-beer-yoga

http://www.gq.com/story/beer-yoga-is-a-thing

Then there’s Kilted Yoga, which is pretty self-explanatory.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-39076023 

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Thanks to Maaike de Vries for pointing these out.

Yoga Trends, 2017: Present and Future

Health and fitness trends evolve. Technology and imperatives in business force change. Consumers in health want fresh ideas and products. From Tae Boe to Thighmasters. From Bowflex to Bodyblade and belt massagers. Yoga is no different.

Yoga is becoming increasingly popular in the United States. About 37 million Americans practiced yoga at the beginning of 2016 and more than 80 million Americans were likely to try yoga at some point in the year, according to a study in Yoga Journal.

With all these potential pupils, teachers innovate. They employ new techniques and tricks. They use props and blend practices. Here are some examples in 2017.

  1. Yoga Retreat/Vacation
  2. Mobile Yoga (as in phones and apps)
  3. Live Music Yoga
  4. Yoga Therapy
  5. Acrobatic Yoga

Say what you will about these types of yoga, they’re coming your way. (That is, if they haven’t already!)

Yoga Retreats & Vacations

From the Guardian newspaper. “You can’t move for downward dog opportunities these days. The explosion of yoga in western countries means there’s a studio on every other street and such a variety of styles and options, that choosing a holiday or retreat can be overwhelming. So where to start? It makes sense to try a weekend away before committing to a whole week. One possibility is to choose a teacher you know or like the sound of and see if they’re running anything that suits. Or you could pick a venue you fancy and see what teachers are hosting holidays there. Think about what you want too – some combine yoga with other activities (maybe good for those with non-yogi partners), some are vegan, some don’t ban booze – it’s always worth asking before you book.”

Mobile Yoga

Here, mobile yoga studio have modified so that the “studio” travels to where the people may be…at work, shopping, at play, in the community. Yoga apps brings teachers right to your home!

From the New York Times: “Soul Stretch Mobile Yoga is a novel concept to the Cleveland area,” explains Rose Sabin, co-owner of the company with her daughter-in-law, Natalie Sabin. The mobile studio concept has worked well in other cities, “like Los Angeles, New York, Chicago” according to Sabin, “but this is Cleveland’s first mobile yoga studio.” Sabin’s goal for the company is two-fold: first, to bring yoga to the people by making it accessible and secondly, to help promote local businesses by bringing the unique offering of yoga class to a community business. As an advertising agency owner, Sabin understands all aspects of running a small business like certifications, insurance and marketing. She would like to help other business owners by allowing them to offer her company’s services and “expose more people to the beautiful, healing therapy of yoga.”

Recommended apps, courtesy of Healthline:

  • Yoga.com Studio
  • Pocket Yoga
  • Global Yoga Academy
  • Yoga Studio
  • Daily Yoga
  • Fitstar Yoga
  • 5 Minute Yoga

Live Music Yoga

Pretty straightforward. Here’s an example.

Yoga Therapy

Yoga Therapy, according to the British Council for Yoga Therapy, is the use of Yoga where there is a specific health need or needs. It is framed this way:

“Yoga Therapy uses the tools that you would find in many Yoga classes; postures, working with the breath, meditation, awareness of the body and/or mind, relaxation, and these are directed to the needs and ability of the person concerned. The aim is to promote good health for the person as a whole – the emphasis of this work may be towards the body, the mind, the emotions or a combination of these. A health problem may be primarily in one of these aspects, for example, back pain caused by poor posture. Yoga Therapy would then focus on working with the body and Yoga postures. If the back pain is exacerbated by stress, then including Yoga to help calm the mind, for example breathing techniques, will be very useful too. Our health is a dynamic combination of body and mind. Long term physical conditions are commmonly associated with depression and a variety of feelings – sadness, loss, frustration, anger. Our emotional health affects our physical health too, although this is difficult to quantify. Yoga can bring us awareness of the body and mind; and more understanding of how to help the body, emotions or patterns of thinking and provides a practical approach to developing a positive state of health.”

For Georg Feuerstein in the Huffington Post, “Yoga therapy is of modern coinage and represents a first effort to integrate traditional yogic concepts and techniques with Western medical and psychological knowledge.”

Acrobatic Yoga

According to the official website of AcroYoga, “it is a beautiful blend of ‘the wisdom of yoga, the dynamic power of acrobatics and the loving kindness of Thai massage’.” It was founded by Jenny Sauer-Klein and Jason Nemer in 2003. The 3 main aspects of this form of yoga are trust, playfulness and a sense of community. Acro Yoga constitutes 3 elements: the Solar Acrobatic Practice, the Lunar Healing Arts, and the Yogic Practices.

There are several benefits as described on Stylecraze.com, including:

  • It develops amazing core strength.
  • Acro yoga has all the benefits of yoga and the healing properties of Thai massage.
  • It is improves balance, flexibility and coordination of the body.
  • It gives better control over one’s body.
  • It builds relationships and strengthens them. Acro yoga is based on trust and dependability of two people on each other. It helps in building strong partnerships.
  • It is a great way to workout with your spouse. It is a super romantic form of exercise. It brings people together.

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What does 2018 hold?

The editor of Yoga Journal, Carin Gorrell, has some thoughts:

That makes a lot of sense. Have you seen a change in which styles of yoga have been more popular over the years? I can’t necessarily track it through the decades, but I would say that vinyasa is more of a recent trend. Historically I think it was more Iyengar, more of that traditional track. What I’m seeing rising in popularity now is definitely the more restorative classes, like Yin. Part of that is because people are recognizing the greater benefits. There’s been a lot of research on what restorative can do for you beyond just stress relief. I’m also seeing a rise in the popularity of Kundalini...I think it’s really interesting and not necessarily what I would have anticipated.

Maybe a reaction to the it’s-all-about-sweat set. How do you feel about the crazy amount of commercialization around yoga in the past few years? Is it good or bad for yoga? Honestly, we get overwhelmed by the number of new products out there, and it’s hard to determine what’s good and what’s worth your dollars. And what’s so awesome about yoga is you really don’t need much to do it. It’s “have mat, will practice” pretty much. All the other stuff can be great and fun but is maybe not necessary. We hear all different opinions—some people really want to know what the best new yoga pant is and then some don’t, they just want to stick to the practice and be more traditional about it. I think it probably does get more people on the mat, though, and that’s a good thing.

Born to Run: For Mindfulness and More

Have a Fitbit? Do you pound the pavement? Hit the road? Do you do it for body? Or mind? Likely both!

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In January 2017, psychotherapist William Pullen published a new book, Run For Your Life. It’s an interesting read.

Here’s a description of the work:

“Anyone who has ever gone for a run, jog or even a walk knows that uplifting, happy feeling they get at the end of their journey. Some call it the ‘runner’s high’, others put it down to endorphins, here William Pullen teaches us focus that incredible energy to experience our emotions in motion.

“In Run for Your Life, Pullen argues that we need a radical new approach to mindfulness – an approach which originates in the body itself. DRT offers just that.

“Whether the you are looking for strategies to cope with anxiety, anger, change, or decision-making, Run for Your Life offers carefully-tailored thought exercises (and talking therapies for pairs or groups) inspired by mindfulness and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, specifically designed to be implemented whilst on a run or walk. The book is designed to offer space for you to reflect on your practice and see your progress as you run through life’s ups and downs.”

Intriguing.

Pullen, a London-based psychotherapist, came up with Dynamic Running Therapy (DRT) and there’s an app to go along with the book.

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It immediately made me think of the first (silly) article I wrote as a PhD student in London.

(Man, it’s funny to recognize that eleven years have elapsed since the publication of the article above!)

The idea then was that running might alleviate some of the PhD blues. But Pullen has taken it to a whole new (and more) comprehensive level. His book is definitely worth a read.

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nCBASt507WA

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FOR MORE ON FITNESS AND HEALTH

#Resolution and #Goal time for 2017

Tis the season. If you’re setting some goals for 2017, here are some ways to achieve them – straight from the National Health Service.

Top 10 goal-setting tips for the New Year.

Here’s some advice from the NHS

1. Make only one resolution. Your chances of success are greater when you channel energy into changing just one aspect of your behaviour.

2. Don’t wait until New Year’s Eve to choose your resolution. Take some time out a few days before and think about what you want to achieve.

3. Avoid previous resolutions. Deciding to revisit a past resolution sets you up for frustration and disappointment.

4. Don’t run with the crowd and go with the usual resolutions. Instead think about what you really want out of life.

5. Break your goal into a series of steps, focusing on creating sub-goals that are concrete, measurable and time-based.

6. Tell your friends and family about your goals. You’re more likely to get support and want to avoid failure.

7. To stay motivated, make a checklist of how achieving your resolution will help you.

8. Give yourself a small reward whenever you achieve a sub-goal, which will help to motivate you and give you  a sense of progress.

9. Make your plans and progress concrete by keeping a handwritten journal, completing a computer spreadsheet or covering a notice board with graphs or pictures.

10. Expect to revert to your old habits from time to time. Treat any failure as a temporary setback rather than a reason to give up altogether.

 

For fun, here are some other, micro-resolutions…

1. Take the stairs if you’re able.

2. Cook at least one meal each and every day.

3. Try using your opposite hands for basic tasks.

4. Write in a journal.

5. Play a board game (or cards) with friends every so often.

6. Listen to a podcast in a different language once a week.

7. Down 1.4 litres of water per day.

8. Doodle. For real.

9. Look people in the eye and shake hands firmly.

10. Read out loud from time to time. Yep, seriously.

 

 

Canada’s healthy-eating guide fights to stay relevant

Tis the season. Turkey. Stuffing. Mince meat tarts and more. Many of us worry about that extra helping during the holiday season. And so I was interested to read this on Canada’s story on the BBC site today!

I was especially pleased to hear Dr Ian Mosby’s thoughts! He visited the University of Saskatchewan before I left in August 2016 and he was extremely informative and generous with his time – for both faculty and grad students alike.

* Food History *  (Robin Levinson-King)

Since World War Two, the Canadian government has been telling people what to put on their plate to stay healthy. But with obesity rates on the rise, is it time to start focusing on what to leave off?

Canada’s food guide first appeared in 1942 under the title Official Food Rules and was originally created to help Canadians stay strong and healthy despite meagre wartime rations.

_93073230_screenshot2016-12-20at5-43-47pm

The guide recommended drinking fruit juice, loading up on bread and eating plenty of liver.

Over the years, the publication has used many designs to illustrate the different food groups. In the US, the “food pyramid” became an instantly recognisable illustration of nutritional categories but Canada switched from a “food wheel” to a “food rainbow”.

The Canadian government used to be concerned about people getting enough food, now it’s worried people are getting too much. In the new year, Health Canada will start drafting a new food guide aimed at getting people to eat less.

Despite the commitment to changes, food historian Ian Mosby says the guide may have simply outlived its usefulness.

“It was started as a way to prevent malnutrition. But it’s hard to see what it’s doing in an era where those are not the main health problems facing Canadians.”

When the Canadian government released its rules for healthy eating in 1942, it was marketed as a guide to “health-protective foods”. The rules laid out the bare minimum that a person should eat in order to stay nourished.

“Eat more if you can,” the rules advised.

Daily servings of Vitamin-C rich citrus fruit or tomatoes were advised, along with weekly servings of liver for iron.

Food was expensive in the 1940s and 1950s, and overeating was a luxury few experienced. According to a 1955 survey of household spending, the average family spent about 30% of their earnings each week on groceries, the bulk of which was spent on meat and dairy products.

But by the 1970s, rising incomes and the growing commercialisation of food had completely transformed how people eat, says Mosby.

Sugary cereals, trans fats and TV-dinners became a staple of many people’s diets.

As the price of packaged foods high in sugar and salt plummeted, overconsumption became a bigger problem. The government could no longer just tell people what they should eat, they had to tell people how much.

Consequently, the old black-and-white list of Official Food Rules got a Technicolor makeover and was transformed into Canada’s Food Guide, a consumer-friendly guide for making better food choices.

Critically, a warning to eat sugar, fats and salts in moderation was added in 1982.

Canada's Food Guide 2007Image copyrightHEALTH CANADA
Image captionCanada’s Food Guide 2007

But Canada’s overeating problem didn’t go away. Since 1985, the obesity rate has tripled. Canadians are spending less and less on food overall, but more on eating out and sugary beverages.

It’s possible, food historian Mosby says, to be both obese and malnourished.

The full story is here

And be sure to look at my other posts and articles on weight loss, diet pills, and health!

 

Here’s one vintage healthy-eating advert from my youth…

 

Yoga Boys, Boys of Yoga

Back in August I wrote about ‘Manly Yoga’ and Bro-Culture. But, having been in the UK for a couple of months now, it seems that yoga for boys is also a thing.

According to The Telegraph, we’ve seen the launches of Broga, a version of the practice adapted to suit our “macho” sensibilities, and, yes, Dirty Yoga, a US-based programme which claims to appeal to men as it allows them to do it “in the privacy of their own home, without the need for mats or gurus.” Both prioritize “rugged” strength and physicality over spirituality.

There are others, and one company is Boys of Yoga.

download

And here is its mantra:

Some guys think that yoga makes you less of a man, the truth is it makes you a better one.
Yoga isn’t just for your mom, your sister or your girlfriend anymore
It’s time to smash the stereotype

screen_shot_2016-08-03_at_5-50-41_pm

They call themselves a “crew” and there’s a section of the website titled “Spiritual Gangster.” The guys are tattooed, bearded, and give off a Vice-like vibe. Similar to “surf, skate and snow sport cultures,” the Boys’ argue, “yoga creates a community of the like-minded. The deeper you go, the more it pulls you in.” This language reminds me of The Godfather. The Boys of Yoga are clearly not the Mafia. But they certainly use a marketing campaign that conjures up such images…

The website features profiles of all the various members of the crew.

Take Kyle Gray, from Scotland:

download-1

Here’s an excerpt from his bio, where he refers to himself as ANGEL GUY . BOOK SCRIBBLER . CHEEKY BASTARD . YOGI.

Is there anything you preach but don’t practice?  Fuck, no. I often say at the end of my yoga classes, “eat lots of chocolate and drink lots of wine” – oops!

We’ve all done a few things we aren’t too proud of, care to share one?  I recently lost my shit at a parking attendant who gave me a ticket while I was helping an 80 year old lady into her car. My ego felt bruised that he could do that while I was being of service. I swore lots and lost my mind for a moment. I got into trouble for it but, more, it was a real lesson for me to stop being so self-important. I’ve since written an apology letter.

What was the biggest challenge when you first started practicing?  Strength – my arms were like jello – I could barely hold myself up.

Why did you keep coming back?  The rejuvenating feeling that swirled around me when it was over. That was a triiiip!

What would make you skip practice?  Not waking up in time… I have slept in so many times through morning Ashtanga Mysore class – OOPS!

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A few years back Justin Hakuta asked if yoga had lost its mystique. “Gone are the days,” he wrote, “of the loin clothed yogi meditating alone on a mountaintop, unless of course said loin cloth is made of wickable polyester blend, fits your body like a glove and retails for $100 a pop and the yogi in question has worldwide appearances and a DVD series purchasable on Amazon.com. Oh, and don’t forget to check their Twitter feed.”

Pretty cynical. But there’s truth there, too. It’s a roughly $7 billlion dollar business and we’ve now got ample styles, options, and brands to choose from, including Antigravity Aerial Yoga,laughter yoga, chair yoga, acro yoga, partner yoga, hiking yoga, dog yoga, and, yup, Boys of Yoga.

Yoga has achieved, in short, a level of infamous popularity, mainstream accessibility and frantic commercialization in the West.

Is this a negative? Is this selling out? Or, as Justin Hakuta asked, has yoga lost its soul? That’s up to you.

With the Boys of Yoga, well, they seem pretty soulful to me.

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Here’s an entirely different crew of soulful Boys:

 

Ultrarunning: Nature and Native Americans

Mo Farah, you wuss! It’s time to take it to the next level with ultrarunning. Here’s an excerpt from “Beer, candy fuelled ultrarunner’s record-breaking race,” by Lindsey Crouse.

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At a time when “endurance running” no longer means mere marathons – and even 160-kilometre races are attracting the masses – Karl Meltzer, a former ski-resort bartender, has proved he can suffer longer and faster than almost anyone else. When he staggered onto Springer Mountain in Georgia before dawn Sunday, Meltzer set a record for completing the Appalachian Trail. He covered the 3,524 km over 14 states in 45 days 22 hours 38 minutes.

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As commentator Lindsey Crouse put it, Meltzer, 48, is a little different from other titans of the newly booming ultrarunning scene. He is six years older than Scott Jurek, who was featured in the bestselling book about almost-barefoot endurance running, Born to Run – and who set the former Appalachian Trail record last year (46 days 8 hours 7 minutes).

In a sport checkered with mantras such as “clean living,” Jurek sustained his trek on a vegan diet. Staples of Meltzer’s diet, by contrast, included Red Bull and Tang. Jurek incurred a $500 (U.S.) fine and public outrage for opening Champagne at the summit of Mount Katahdin in Maine during his record run. When Meltzer finished on Sunday, he walked down the mountain, sat in a chair and sated himself with pepperoni pizza and a beer. It was the latest milestone in an unusual professional racing career.

Meltzer moved to Utah to ski in 1989 and started running the next year. He came to long-distance racing in his late 20s. Primarily a skier, he worked as a bartender at the Snowbird ski resort but took summers off to run. Now, based in Sandy, Utah, he became an ultrarunner in 1996 after completing a 160-km race nearby in just more than 28 hours. In a sport built on superlatives – faster, longer, more, more, more – his 160-km trail race portfolio is formidable: He has won 38 of them, more than anyone else in the world.

That’s intense.

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What’s the story with Ultras? How it works.

According to the IAAF, ultra races are contested over two different types of race modalities, either over a set distance or a set time. Examples of the former would be 50km, 100km and longer events while illustrations of the latter would be something like 6hr, 24hr, and multi-day events. Both are gaining popularity with the masses and bring their own unique challenges to the racers.

Races are organised on a) trails where athletes get to enjoy the serene environment of a forest. b) track when athletes do not have to venture too far from their start/finish areas and are always within visible region. c) road where athletes can enjoy their road running days and run through both quiet and busy streets. Some ultra races are a combination of two or more of the available terrain, and some also span a few stages and are run over a course of days.

How popular?

As reported by The Guardian, despite the growing interest, the organisation of ultras is still rather disparate, with independent races popping up all over the place, giving the sport a slightly amateurish feel, with camaraderie playing a large part. Some of these are billed as a gentle introduction to ultras. Others, such as Whistler’s Meet your Maker make no bones about what they are: 50 miles of undulating singletrack alpine terrain. So if you really want to run across the US’s national parks, there’s an ultra for you. And if you fancy tackling 4,600m of altitude gain in Luxembourg’s Little Switzerland, you’re in luck.

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“Running has seen tremendous growth in the past 20 years,” says Topher Gaylord of Mountain Hardware, an outdoor equipment company that has turned its attention to ultras enthusiastically. “There’s been a tenfold increase in trail events, and the events have seen a massive rise in participation because it’s such a natural way to engage with the environment.”

Nature and Native Americans

Often, the discussion around modern ultrarunning in the U.S. (and to a lesser extent, Canada) revolves around nature and the ways in which Indigenous peoples ran, and ran, and ran some more…

As Andy Milloy phrased it “In the Beginning: Native Americans,” without horses, using only dogs as pack animals, Native Americans were conditioned to cover great distances on foot from an early age. It was recorded that Apache Indians, who were renowned for their toughness, at the age of 15 or 16 had to undertake a long run over rough country carrying a load on their back. Young men would be expected to go without sleep in a vigil that could last 48 hours. They then were required to go out into the wilds for two weeks, living through their own skill and toughness. An adult Apache could travel on foot over the roughest terrain from fifty to seventy-five miles a day, keeping this up for several days at a stretch.

Outstanding runners in such a culture would become key figures in holding together widespread associations, such as the Iroquois Confederacy, or even loose groupings of proximal tribes, by carrying news and other urgent messages. A typical example of the role such runners played is recorded in Peter Nobokov’s excellent book “Indian Running.” In the 1860s a messenger runner of the Mesquakie tribe in his mid-fifties ran 400 miles from Green Bay, Wisconsin to warn Sauk Indians along the Missouri River of an enemy attack. Such messenger runners were probably part of the culture of the Sauk, Creek, Omaha, Kickapoo, Osage, and Menominee tribes, and possibly many others. Such runners dedicated their lives to this endeavour, following a strict diet and often practicing celibacy. On their runs they would carry a dried buffalo heart.

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