Yoga Insider

Welcome to Yoga Insider, a monthly publication by Yoga Alliance® compiling the most current news about yoga. Browse the news by category and check out the archived editions to your right.

Edition 12 | May 2015

Published on May 22, 2015

Government & YA in the News

News of government leaders embracing yoga and coverage of Yoga Alliance.

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News about the small and big companies alike as well as the money side of yoga industry.

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General stories regarding RYT®s, RYS®s and non-members active in the yoga community.

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Examples of yoga in "mainstream" society and how the world is embracing yoga.

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Education & Children

What's happening with yoga and meditation for children and schools.

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Health & Research

How yoga affects the mind and body. 

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Stories about yoga and words of wisdom to bring a smile to your face and brightness to your day.

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Chronicling new styles, quirky ideas and exciting approaches to yoga.

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See the news that matters most to you.

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Government & Yoga Alliance in the News

Electing for more yoga

  • Firstpost (India) reports on the first-ever Yoga on the Hill, an event hosted by the new Congressional Yogi Association on May 1 at Capitol Hill. Prominent attendees included Democratic House members Tim Ryan; Charles Rangel, a Korean war veteran; and Barbara Lee, a member of the House Subcommittee on Veteran Affairs. Ryan: “Mindfulness and the practice of yoga help to reduce stress, improve concentration and increase feelings of well-being.“ (May 3)

    KPHO (Ariz.) also features an article on this event and the efforts of the Congressional Yogi Association to “keep people healthy and Zen on Capitol Hill.” Former NFL player and current yoga instructor Keith Mitchell led the event. The Congressional Yogi Association also aims to help improve the mental and physical well-being of veterans, which was the focus of this event.

    WKBN (Ohio) also covers Yoga on the Hill, the first yoga event hosted by Tim Ryan and the Congressional Yogi Association. The event, aligned with the beginning of Mental Health Awareness Month, was attended by members of Congress, congressional staff and the public. (May 1)

  • News-Press (Fla.) highlights tips for new and aspiring yoga practitioners to ensure they have a safe introduction to yoga. Finding a properly trained instructor is paramount to yoga safety, exercise physiologist Angie Ferguson says. The article encourages to find teachers with at least 200 hours of training and references Yoga Alliance as a resource for finding qualified yoga teachers. (April 27)

    Montgomery (Ala.) Advertiser also features this article.


When mat meets office

  • spotlights Gaiam’s new exclusive yoga apparel line at Kohl’s, with all pieces priced under $75. Collaborating designers Laura Kasperzak, RYT 200, and Masumi Goldman, RYT 200, of Two Fit Moms hosted a yoga session in New York City with a live DJ for over 100 attendees to promote the collection. Kohl’s Chief Customer Officer Michelle Gass says the line will help make yoga more accessible and affordable to millions of aspirational yogis. (April 23)

  • BuzzFeed covers how “athleisure” brand Athleta is banking its growth on Americans’ love of yoga pants and a booming activewear market, poised to grow 50 percent by 2020. Athleta aims to create multi-functional clothing “fitness-minded” women can wear all day long. Athleta was purchased by Gap in 2008 and has opened over 100 stores since 2011. (April 22)

  • Chapman University (California) examines how the U.S. yoga marketplace has changed during the past 35 years. In the past four years alone, yoga spending increased 80 percent and between 2004 and 2013 the number of yoga teacher employers nearly doubled. Dr. Gokcen Coskuner-Balli, who co-authored the study: “What we discovered was the U.S. yoga market delineated itself not only in the different types of yoga that emerged, but also in the logic behind why people do yoga.” (April 29)

  • New York Times reports on the increasing number of airports offering yoga rooms as a quiet space to practice or meditate. San Francisco International Airport, O’Hare and Midway airports in Chicago and Dallas/Fort-Worth International Airport all have spaces for people to use before their flights. Flier Leslie Wei, who used O’Hare’s yoga room: “It really was just the most pleasant layover I think I’ve ever had.” (May 4)

  • State News (Mich.) features the “Yoga Bus,” a promotional vehicle owned by East Lansing yoga studio Yoga State. Though the bus provides rides for students and residents during the week, it often becomes a yoga studio on wheels for the weekend. Owner and driver Jen Hayes: “I think interacting with the community in a fun way is really important.”  (April 28)



Shining light on inspirational yogis

  • Chattanoogan (Tenn.) profiles Yoga East’s acquisition of and expansion into BeYoga studio. Yoga East’s new location will partner with a nearby organic eatery. Owner Becky Byrns, E-RYT 200: “We are grateful to BeYoga and are inspired by their pioneering initiative in bringing such a delightful community.” (April 23)

  • Elle Magazine features a video sequence from Rachel Brathen, E-RYT 200, better known by her Instagram persona, Yoga Girl. The poses are intended to help you unwind your body and mind and find restful sleep. (April 21)

  • (Md) reports on the Baltimore yoga community’s efforts to promote peace in the city following the riots in response to Freddie Gray’s death. Yoga studios, nonprofit organizations and community activists held events to unite residents during the first week of May. Anjali Sunita, E-RYT 500, owner of Baltimore Yoga Village, RYS 200: “As a practitioner of yoga, I pray for us all to remember the heart of our practices, and to remember who we truly are before we jump to sides, conclusions and reactivity.” (April 30)

  • Foxboro Reporter (Mass.) interviews Renee Tillinghast, RYT 200, one of only two certified Christian yoga instructors in the state. Tillinghast studied at Yahweh Yoga, RYS 200, RYS 300, and now teaches at her local church and YMCA, combining Christian theology with yoga practice. Tillinghast: “I really think this is something people around here need.” (May 12)

  • News and Advance (Va.) spotlights Helen Maxwell, RYT 500, and the success her yoga studio, Bedford Yoga Center, has seen during the last six years. Maxwell studied yoga awareness for cancer at Duke University and plans to offer free classes to cancer patients and their caretakers.(April 27)

  • WJLA (D.C.) hosts in a video broadcast Patty Ivey, E-RYT 200 and owner of Down Dog Yoga, RYS 200, and one of the studio’s instructors, Marcus Lee, to discuss Metro DC Yoga Week and demonstrate some yoga postures. Ivey says DC Yoga Week began 10 years ago to make yoga financially accessible for all and that it has since grown into a “massive week” with over 100 participating studios offering free or discounted yoga classes. (May 7)

  • Your Observer (Fla.) features an article on Longboat Key, Fla. yoga instructor Debby McClung, E-RYT 200, who will be the first summer yoga teacher at the town’s Bayfront Park Recreation Center. McClung teaches “Feel Good Yoga,” her own gentle style of yoga “that encourages...students to reach a...relaxing space and experience their kinder, gentler aspects.” (April 29)


Yoga happenings from around the globe

  • Daily Sabah (Turkey) profiles Ray Rizzo, E-RYT 200, an American expat living in Istanbul, Turkey who makes a living teaching yoga, rapping and cooking. Rizzo’s “Weightlessness - Integral Exercise: Yoga, Pilates and Chi Kung,” yoga book and DVD focuses on well-being and was heavily inspired by time he spent with traditional Amazonian healers. (May 8)

  • Deccan Chronicle (South India) notes that during his visit to China this May, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will join Chinese Premier Li Keqiang at Beijing’s Temple of Heaven for a “grand event demonstrating” yoga and Tai Chi. Chinese President Xi Jinping will also join Modi during the prime minister’s first visit to China. (April 24)

    Times of India also highlights how Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said he wanted “yoga-like recognition” for Tai Chi following the event. (May 17)

  • International Business Times (UK edition) notes that global yoga figure Ramdev and his foundation, the Patanjali Yogpeeth Institute, will aid around 500 Nepalese children left orphaned after an April 25 magnitude-7.9 earthquake. A representative for Ramdev told IBS the children will be provided with “immediate accommodation...along with education, housing, [and] food,” all free of cost. (April 28) 

  • New York Times highlights a Brooklyn gym and yoga studio for Hasidic women and children to exercise while “respecting the laws of their religion.” At The Space, yoga classes are for women only and do not include chanting or “religious iconography.” Children can work out their energy at Gymies, where all teachers adapt classes to respect the religion and complement Orthodox modesty laws with “positive body image talk”. (April 24)

  • Sunday Standard (India) spotlights India’s Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change’s search for a yoga teacher for its staff. Head of the Ministry, Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar is said to be an enthusiastic proponent and practitioner of yoga. (May 10)

  • Times of India reports on “The Yoga Way,” a “major yoga event” led by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar at the European Parliament on April 2 in celebration of the International Day of Yoga. At the event, Shankar’s question and answer session and guided meditation “created a buzz among” members of the European Parliament, European Union officials and ambassadors from around the globe. Shankar was praised for inspiring “inter-cultural dialogue [among European leaders] that would lead towards non-violent societies.” (April 22)

    Economic Times (India) reports on Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s talk, “Nurturing Peace Through Yoga and Meditation,” given at the Embassy of India in Washington, D.C. in late April. The presentation aimed to promote the upcoming International Day of Yoga in the United States. (April 30)

  • Toronto Star reports on four Canadians studying in Nepal to become yoga instructors when the Apr. 25 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck Kathmandu. After three days camping outside their hotel in Pokhara, west of Kathmandu, Canadian planes rescued the group, along with other citizens in the area. The group landed in New Delhi on April 29 to await their flights home. (April 29)

Education & Children

Helping today's youth prepare for a future of mindfulness

  • ABC-2 reports on yoga teacher Bridget Strama, RYT 200, who helps bring the benefits of yoga to children with autism. In her classes, Strama teaches breathing techniques, games and group activities that help build body awareness and social skills. Strama: “We refocus with breathing any time they start to wander in their attention.” (May 19)

  • Capital Gazette (Md.) features Amy Morales, RYT 200, and her children’s yoga classes at Barefoot Bliss & Little Toes Yoga Studio. Previously a teacher, Morales now offers yoga classes for children ages 1 and older. Morales: “It seemed like a natural progression, incorporating yoga into children's lives in a way that helps them gain life skills and in a way that's not competitive.”(April 26)

  • Daily Times of Salisbury (Md.) spotlights an elementary school’s extracurricular yoga program for students. Pre-kindergarten teacher Amy Braciszewski, who leads the classes after school, says students are calmer and more attentive since the eight-week sessions began. Assistant Principal Joshua Hamborsky: “The course offers powerful breathing, thinking and mental exercises to help students cope with anxiety and stresses." (May 15)

  • Daytona Beach News-Journal (Fla.) highlights storytime yoga, which encourages children reenact folk tales with yoga poses. Sydney Solis, RYT 200, created the program 12 years ago, and has authored a book on the subject. Solis: “Kids don’t realize they’re learning because they’re playing. They’re relaxed. They’re using their imagination.” (May 1)

  • Elle Magazine shares yoga instructor Briohny Smyth’s, E-RYT 500, acro yoga routine with her daughter for Mother’s Day. A video is accompanied by instructions for two foundation poses, “Bird” and “Straddle Throne,” for both mother and daughter. Smith: “Even if the poses might seem a little intimidating, remember that fun is the name of the game, sprinkled with a helping of trust.” (May 6) 


Back to the heart of the matter

  • Argus (UK) reports on one woman’s efforts to help rescued dogs through yoga. After adopting a rescued pit bull, animal behaviorist Jo-Rosie Haffenden was inspired to start Real Dog Yoga. Unlike “Doga,” the yoga trend which involves holding one’s dog while practicing yoga, Haffenden’s program is intended to use poses natural to dogs to reduce blood pressure and stress. (April 27)

  • Huffington Post profiles Perri van Rossem, a yoga teacher who volunteers with and coordinates prison yoga programs in Ontario, Canada. Yoga encourages prisoners to practice self-reflection, compassion and impulse control, she says. Van Rossem: “To return our inmates into society with tools that allow them to successfully manage the challenges they face reintegrating into society is a gift that all of society benefits from.” (May 1)

  • KJRH (Okla.) features a Tulsa yoga studio that offered free classes to law enforcement officers. Be Love Yoga Studio owner Joe Picorale, RYT 200, said he hopes more people will use yoga to relieve stress. Picorale: "I thought this would be a great way to alleviate the some of that tension, and so hopefully incidents that happened here in Tulsa would be reduced by reducing the stress of individuals." (April 26)

  • KTRK (Tx.) profiles in a video broadcast Staff Sgt. Dan Nevins, RYT 200, a double amputee and yoga teacher who proves that yoga is truly for all. Nevins lost his legs in 2004 while deployed in Iraq when his 18,000-pound truck hit an explosive device. Now, Nevins uses his story to inspire those around him, particularly in his yoga classes. Nevins: “You don’t change the world to change your life, you change your life to change the world.” (May 5)

  • News & Observer (N.Car.) spotlights You Call This Yoga, a nonprofit offering free and donation-based chair, adaptive and gentle yoga classes for underserved communities. Howie Shareff, RYT 200, the founder, started teaching yoga after two neck surgeries forced him to retire early from his prior career as a dentist. (May 15)

  • Reuters spotlights meditation classes in Kathmandu helping thousands of Nepalese earthquake survivors and rescue workers cope with trauma and stress. President of Human Values for Peace and Prosperity Group and organizer of the classes Bhawesh Khanal: “...meditation and all these techniques...will help them come back to their own nature, make them relaxed and come out of this trauma.” (May 6)

Health & Research

A mantra a day keeps the aches at bay

  • Deseret News (Utah) highlights an Ohio State University study that demonstrates how mindfulness-based programs in the workplace can decrease stress and the risk of burnout. Employees of a surgical intensive care unit who participated in yoga and meditation for eight weeks showed “significantly lower stress levels” than their peers. Associate Clinical Professor Maryanna Klatt: “What’s stressful about the work environment is never going to change. But what we were interested in changing was … reaction to those stresses.” (May 11) 

  • Journal-Gazette (Ind.) reports on the research-backed benefits of yoga for PTSD symptoms and notes the increasing acceptance of yoga by the Department of Veteran Affairs, the Veterans Health Association and the military. Veteran agencies hope to see a correlation between increased yoga participation and decreased dependence on highly-addictive PTSD medication. Jess Pierno, E-RYT 200: “Yoga is a very important...tool [for wounded veterans].” (April 21)

  • Neon Tommy (University of Southern California) features an article on how yoga helps cancer patients release stress, feel whole and “take cancer into their own hands.” A cancer survivor herself, Jean DiCarlo-Wagner, E-RYT 500, teaches yoga for cancer patients. DiCarlo-Wagner focuses her classes on relaxation and breathing, a tool she says helps bring yoga’s benefits off the mat. Physician and Director of Radiation Oncology Research at Nashville’s Sarah Cannon Research Center Andrew Kennedy supports cancer yoga as a “positive addition to recovery.” DiCarlo-Wagner: “If a pill did what yoga does, everybody would take it.” (May 6)

  • Neurology Advisor reports that medical studies show “compelling evidence” to suggest that yoga and other mind-body techniques help “counteract the brain anatomy affects of chronic pain.” M. Catharine Bushnell, PhD, scientific director at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), says studies show those who practice yoga have more gray matter than non-yogis. More gray matter means more tolerance to pain. Bushnell: “Practicing yoga has the opposite effect on the brain as does chronic pain.” (May 18)

  • Rome (N.Y.) Sentinel spotlights a free yoga program for survivors of domestic violence looking for both emotional and physical relief. Program participants say they’ve found peace and relief from anxiety and repressed trauma with the help of yoga. Victim Advocate Emily Khazaee, who runs the program, says yoga acts as a positive alternative to other, negative coping skills for survivors. (April 27)

  • This Week (Canada) covers how yoga and meditation are helping elementary school students be present, stay focused and think positively. There is no structured yoga program in place; teachers incorporate these practices into the classroom with breathing breaks and post-recess practice. Yoga also helps the children be more empathetic and grateful. He says that students in lower grades have “responded exceptionally well.” (May 5)

  • TIME highlights a new study that evaluates if the high temperatures used in Bikram and other hot yoga classes are safe. Sponsored by the American Council on Exercise, the study shows prolonged exposure to heat and humidity during the practice caused some volunteers’ core temperatures to raise higher than 103 degrees Fahrenheit. The authors suggest staying hydrated and aware about the “potential for heat intolerance” to prevent injury. (April 22)

    The Atlantic also features this study. (April 24)

  • WTHR (Ind.) profiles 83-year-old yogi RuAnn Glasson and her yoga instructor Jessie Friskney, RYT 200, in a video broadcast about yoga for golden-agers. Research shows that challenging oneself and trying new activities - like yoga - help seniors maintain cognitive functioning as they age. Friskney: “It’s amazing. [The students] have progressed to the point where they [see] a big improvement in what they can and cannot do." (April 21)


The hottest news from the mat

  • Brooklyn Paper (NY) features yoga instructor April Frazier and her laughter yoga workshop. She uses visualization techniques and laughter exercises to help students let loose. Frazier on the benefits of laughter yoga: “You find you can move to a place of resilience and be able to laugh things off that come up in life.” (May 12)

  • Forum of Fargo-Moorhead (N.D.) features Jami Dean, RYT 500, who volunteers teaching Christian yoga classes in her community. Quoting Bible verses at the beginning of class to set the intention, helps Dean connect her to yoga in a way she wouldn’t otherwise. Dean: "I take away from it as much as the students do. I find so much joy in teaching. I have had so much wonderful feedback from people...[who] would never have tried yoga had they not been able to try Christian yoga." (May 3)

  • Huffington Post highlights reasons to hop into the silk and take an aerial yoga class. Aerial yoga uses suspended fabric hammocks to support practitioners in different poses, which can help improve flexibility and muscle strength. Blogger Kayla Matthews: “Aerial yoga was like normal yoga... times 10. Not times 10 in terms of difficulty, but in terms of how effective, fulfilling and calming it was.” (May 12)

  • Reuters reports on Broga, a rapidly growing trend in yoga created by Robert Sidoti, E-RYT 200, in 2009. Unlike traditional yoga classes, “Broga celebrates the physical over the spiritual, and strength over flexibility.” Senior advisor for the American Council on Exercise Jessica Matthews, E-RYT 500, says most men consider yoga a workout, rather than a spiritual practice, which supports Broga’s booming success. (April 27)

  • Shape magazine reports on how the growing trend of curvy yoga is helping yoga become accessible and enjoyable for every body. Anna Guest-Jelley, E-RYT 500, realized many teachers “didn’t know how to teach to bodies like [hers],” leading her to open Curvy Yoga, RYS 200, so she could do just that. Guest-Jelley says body-diverse classes bring students comfort: “People can relax and focus more without worrying about if their body can make the same shape as everyone else in the class - because let’s be honest, that’s not possible anyway!” (April 20)

  • Times-News (Idaho) highlights “glowga,” a new yoga trend featuring darkened rooms and blacklights rather than naturally-lit studios. Though some classes feature house or techno music, yoga teacher Kim DePew said some people just feel more comfortable practicing in the dark. DePew: “They are not as intimidated by someone bending and doing all these poses. Most people are not like that. This is breaking down walls and bringing it to real people.” (May 11)

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