Archive for the ‘Community’ Category

I first started yoga nearly twenty years ago. I’ve posted about it here. Over the years yoga has become a true passion of mine. Like most things I’m passionate about…I try to get my friends and family to share it with me. I hear lots of reasons why folks are hesitant to practice yoga.

Yoga seems to have a mystique for the uninitiated. The following are common reasons I hear that people are hesitant to practice yoga. I hope I can bust a few of these myths and encourage a few of the yoga-shy to get on the mat.

I’m Too Big
Many people seem to think that you have to start out looking like Gwyneth Paltrow, Jennifer Anniston or [insert size 0 starlet here] to practice yoga. I am living proof that the average sized gal [or guy] can do yoga. I’m not gonna lie, its easier to get into some of the poses when you are not..ahem…in your own way. Be that as it may, lots of average and bigger than average sized folks practice yoga. What’s more, if you practice regularly you may achieve the “yoga butt” (keep on reading to learn more.) If you feel intimidated in class because of your size, you just haven’t yet found the right studio or instructor–try another class or if need be another studio–read reviews on yelp, blogs (like this one) etc.

I’m Too Old..Young..Middle-Aged
Yoga is not just for the twenty-somethings–again I know this from experience. I am not twenty-something. I’m not even thirty-something. Lots of people of every age practice yoga. At my favorite studio, six year olds and sixty year olds practice together. On twitter recently, an article was making the rounds about a ninety year old woman who began a yoga practice. Really….anyone at any age can begin a yoga practice and experience the benefits. Get over yourself and get on the mat.

I’m Not Flexible
Not yet maybe….but umm…that is kind of the point isn’t it? If you keep up with yoga I promise, even the tightest hamstrings and hips will loosen. The most important thing to remember in yoga class, after remembering to breathe, is that none of the the other students are paying attention to what you are doing–really. They are all too busy focusing on their own poses and remembering to breathe. As for the instructor, they are there to assist and guide you not judge you…promise. And like I said earlier, if you feel judged, you haven’t found the right instructor or studio…move on till you find a place that feels right for you.

I’m a Straight Guy
Yes its true, many studio classes are mostly full of women. Mostly women in tank tops and form fitting leggings. Straight guys, do you see my point? Now, I am not advocating lechery but I am saying guys shouldn’t let a mostly female crowd keep them from enjoying the health and wellness benefits of yoga.

I’m Not a Hippie..Vegan..WooWoo.. etc.
It is true that in some yoga classes there will be chanting, some studios burn incense some yogis are vegan but none of these things are strictly required. Again there are so many different styles of yoga and every studio has its own unique vibe. Each yoga teacher develops their own teaching style–certain schools or styles of yoga take on generally the same characteristics. Many classes are chanting free zones…others are nothing but Kirtan (that’s sanskrit for chanting.) My advice, try a little chanting, you may just find you like it, and vegan isn’t a virus–you won’t catch it unless you decide you want to.

I’m a Christian…Jew…Wiccan etc.
Yoga is not a religion…for me, I feel like my yoga practice is about the closest thing to a religion that I’ve really ever known. That said, anyone of any faith can practice yoga. One of the best thing about yoga is that it is accepting of all, come as you are.

Its too expensive
Its true that most studio classes in DC run close to $20 for a drop in class and a yoga outfit at Lululemon can approach $200. The good news is that yoga can be had even on a frugalista budget. Most DC studios offer donation based or deeply discounted classes a few times a week. Here in DC the summer weather offers yogis free outdoor yoga options. As for gear, all that you really need is something that you can move in comfortably. Most studios will even rent you a mat for about a buck.

What Else Ya Got?
So have I convinced you to give yoga a try?  What did I miss, any other yoga concerns that I haven’t covered? I’d hate to have anyone miss out on all of the wonderful benefits that yoga has to offer. C’mon get on a mat and give it a try.

Photo by kk+ via Flickr with a cc license


DC Dharma is  honored to be a sponsor of Citizen Effect’s 30 Day Yoga Challenge.  Citizen Effect is an amazing social philanthropy organization based here in DC. The yoga challenge is a partnership with many terrific DC yoga studios, Citizen Effect and the Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project to fully fund a foster home for children in Cloetesville, South Africa.

Do you want to participate in the challenge?  Here’s what you need to do:

1. Register for $30 and pledge your fundraising goal.

2. Ask your friends and family to sponsor you—just $15 from 30 friends makes a big difference!

3. Participants benefit from free or discounted classes at DC’s top yoga studios.

4. Party time: Kick-off event on June 30th with free yoga in Meridian Hill Park & Celebratory Party at lululemon athletica Georgetown on August 5th.

5. 100% of the funds raised will go toward building and maintaining the foster home in Cloetesville, South Africa.

It proves to be a lot of fun, a great way to build the DC yoga community and a wonderful karma yoga experience. Even if you are not a DC local, you can still participate virtually, share your experiences here and do some good for kids in South Africa.


I wanted to share a message from Shiva Rea following her teaching visit to the DC area last week. Shiva taught at Yoga on the Mall as well as at master classes at Flow Yoga Center and Ananada Shala. I was honored to take a day long class through  Ananda Shala at a beautiful farm in Frederick MD and will be posting much more about it soon. In the meantime here is Shiva’s lovely tribute to the DC yoga community.

May 20, 2010

Dear Friends,

I have to say I am in love with the Washington D.C.-Maryland yoga community who came out for D.C. Yoga Week at the Washington Monument on the Mall and a weekend of collective workshops through Flow Yoga Center and Ananda Shala! Washington Monument rises up like a great antenna or earth lingam.

I was moved by the diverse community – all colors, shapes, ages, backgrounds of men and women – like the yoga family that I experience back in Venice – so openly participating in the collective pulse. More and more I am experiencing the community experience around yoga as in the spirit of the 60-70-s in which I was born – natural, uplifting, charged, connected.
We’re the One!


Apr 13

Confessions of a Yoga Gypsy

Posted by Melanie in Community

My yoga practice has been a circuitous, meandering path. I took my first yoga class sometime in 1990. I was a law student in San Francisco and my yoga of choice at the time was ashtanga. Hot, sweaty, cardio-pumping ashtanga yoga. No chanting, no oms, no incense for me. I wanted a structured sequence of poses so I knew what was coming next and at the end of class I felt like I had a workout. Anything the slightest bit “woo-woo” would cause me and my yoga buddy to snicker from the back of the room.

Over the past twenty-plus years I have drifted away and come back to yoga many times. I feel certain that this time, I’m back for good. Like most things in life, my yoga choices today are much different than they were all those years ago. Today, I look for an unstructured freer formed flowing class that engages all of my senses. Today, I like all the bells and whistles, the aroma of incense, an engaging playlist, inspiring thoughts from the instructor and if there is tea after class… all the better. Sometimes the asanas are just something I’m willing to endure in order to experience all the other goodies.

The good news is that I found the studio of my dreams and a teacher who inspired my most recent and fervent commitment to yoga. The bad news is that studio is a six hour drive away in Connecticut.  I will wax poetic on my studio love in another post. The point is, that I figured that with a few trial classes, I’d soon find a new yoga home and move right in.

It hasn’t exactly happened that way.  Don’t get me wrong, there are a number of wonderful yoga studios in the DC area.  The yoga scene in the nation’s capital has grown impressively since I moved here in 2002. You can really find nearly anything you are looking for in yoga here. But…like a gypsy, I’m unable to call just one studio my home.

I follow instructors from studio to studio, I roam around curious about what cool workshop is being offered where. Is it that I have commitment issues? I don’t think so,  I discovered that I was not going to find an exact replacement for my Connecticut studio. Just like people, studios and communities are unique and special. Instead in my wanderings I seek to find bits and pieces of what I love up north in each of the classes that I take here. I’m recreating some of what I’m searching for in my evolving home practice. My ultimate goal is to someday become a teacher myself and create my own version of what it is I’m looking for.

The happy upshot of all of my roaming is DC Dharma. I wanted a space to share my discoveries and learning and hopefully grow and enhance the metro DC yoga community in the process. But sometimes I question whether the yoga gypsy lifestyle is the best path. Does my inability to choose, one studio, one teacher limit my growth as a yogi?

What about you? What has been your yogic path? Where do you consider yogic bliss and where did you find it?  Please share in the comments.

Photo via Pringle Hill on Flickr

Apr 02

Welcome to DC Dharma

Posted by Melanie in Community

It is springtime in DC. The season of birth and renewal. So here is my new baby, DC Dharma.

Click to continue reading “Welcome to DC Dharma”


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