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"Yoga Body" Review
13 October 2015

"Yoga Body" Review
13 October 2015

Amanda’s thoughts on this contemporary yoga read

I recently found a book on UVY’s “library shelf” that I would call revolutionary. It’s called Yoga Body, and its author Mark Singleton asserts that modern yoga practice—yes, the poses we do here at UVY—derives less from ancient India than from Western gymnasts and bodybuilders! 

 Ancient yoga primarily concerns itself with training the mind, with few physical postures, and the physical yoga we love is actually an outgrowth of the “physical culture” movement of the late 19th century. The movement took off in India, where people were ready to literally strengthen themselves to gain independence from the Brits. The book traces our current physical yoga practice from a Swedish gymnast named Ling to Pratinidhi Pant, the guy who invented sun salutations at the start of the 20th century—I thought they were timeless!—to Krishnamacharya, the yoga master who taught B.K.S. Iyengar and Pattabhi Jois, the men who devised the practice that we now know.

I’d already heard that the Ashtanga Primary Series, my original yoga practice, was not an ancient ritual but an activity invented for royal Indian schoolboys. This book supports that theory, but also looks at the cultural context behind it, how physical culture was rampant and how the Maharaja of Mysore, Krishnamacharya’s boss, wanted to use yoga as a marketing tool, inspiring the master to come up with something that would impress people. However, to give the practice legitimacy, Jois insisted that his teacher learned the Primary Series from a 5,000-year-old text. Fortunately, the author softens the unsettling fact that Jois may have been lying by explaining that Indian gurus (at least old-school ones like Jois) would rather be seen as part of a lineage than get credit for their innovations.

I find an important message in this new version of asana history: everything is adaptable. When I started practicing Ashtanga yoga fourteen years ago, I felt I had to strictly follow all the “yoga rules” because how could my little insights compete with an ancient practice? But if these rules aren’t ancient, simply invented by other modern people, then each of us can be free to improvise our practice based on observing what works best for us. And that’s what I’ve come to do with my yoga, and what I encourage students to do—to observe, to experiment, and even—hey, why not?—to play.


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The building itself was renovated to be energy efficient, and the room is moderately heated in cooler seasons to promote a good, healthy sweat, but not heated to an excessive or wasteful degree. There are cubbies in our large office to store your personal belongings, a spacious changing room, a comfy sofa and a water cooler (please bring a water bottle to fill, to cut down on paper cup usage). Two nice, clean bathrooms are located just down the hall. There are also cubbies in the studio itself for valuables, which students are welcome to use. We have a full lending library of yoga books, and encourage students to borrow freely. Gift certificates are available for purchase in any amount.

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Please do not wear perfume or any strong scent

People with allergies can be very sensitive to scent. Also, lots of people sweating in a closed space is less stinky than lots of people all wearing different brands of perfume or deodorant.

Wear comfortable clothing

Not so tight it binds, not so loose it gets in your way. And please do not wear clothes that “gap” and are inappropriately revealing.

Practice on an empty stomach

If possible, don’t eat at least three hours before practice. If you know that this isn’t possible for you, eat easily digested food one hour before class.

No food or outside beverages inside the studio

If necessary, bottled water is okay, but remember we are trying to generate internal heat; constant sipping cools the body. After practice, drink plenty of pure water.

Bring your own mat

Shared mats are not hygienic; you may borrow one from us if one is available, until you are able to purchase your own, but please clean it afterward with the mat wipes provided. Please understand mats may be borrowed on a first come basis….we have only a few to borrow, and do occasionally run out of them.

Keep your eyes on your own practice

The practice is richer when it happens from the inside out. It’s not about comparing yourself with the person next to you. Be present with your own experience.

Be kind and loving to yourself

Rest when you need to. Honor where you are in your practice. Use the energy of those around to inspire, not diminish, you. Remember: you are perfect just as you are now, and yoga is meant to enhance that understanding and let that perfection shine. Have fun!

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Newcomers! 3 for $30

If you are new to Upper Valley Yoga, you can purchase a 3-class pass for $30! (For our first-time guests only, package expires 15 days after purchase)

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Drop in to any regular weekly class

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Expires after 6 months

5-Class Pass, Student or Senior* Rate, $70

Expires after 6 months.

*Full time high school and college students, Seniors 60+

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Unlimited yoga. 6-month commitment is required; early cancellation fee of $50 applies if the auto renew is canceled before 6 months. This is the best value if you plan to attend at least 2 classes per week.

One month, unlimited, $150

Unlimited yoga with no commitment required.

One month, Student or Senior* rate, $140

Unlimited yoga with no commitment required.

*Full time high school and college students, Seniors 60+

3-Month Unlimited, $390

Unlimited yoga, 3 months

If you don’t yet have a mat, borrow one from us and please clean it afterward with the mat wipes.

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