Cover of "Common Ground" magazine featuring a shirtless man in a yoga pose, with text overlay about yoga legacy and other articles in the September 2014 issue.

September 2014

September Is National Yoga Month

As a teenager, reading Swami Vivekananda and the accounts of Sri Ramakrishna—both 19th-century saints from Calcutta—changed my life forever. I came to learn about Yogananda through his famous book, Autobiography of a Yogi. My interest in yoga postures didn’t start until much later, after a motorsports accident in 1996.

In 2002, I sampled my first Bikram class in San Francisco. I remember dreading that sweltering room—but I was hooked. Twelve years later, I keep going back. My body feels purged at the conclusion of the sweatfilled, 26-posture sequence. Over the years I’ve wondered about the man behind the name, Bikram Choudhury, also from Calcutta.

I had heard how controversial and flamboyant he was—that he lived in Beverly Hills, wore Rolexes, and collected Rolls Royces. Suffice to say, he didn’t emulate the mendicant spiritual luminaries of yore. Bikram is the Hollywood version. I asked that our interview be done by phone to avoid having to fly to Los Angeles, but he insisted we meet at his home. After my grumbles over the high cost of last-minute flights, my excitement piqued, as I was finally going to meet the man. I presumed we would meet for an hour or two. Our conversation lasted all day. His wife, Rajashree, graciously served us dinner.

From a business standpoint, Bikram is on top of the yoga food chain. Whether people stick with his style of practice or not, to his credit, he has introduced millions to yoga and its benefits. That Bikram is unafraid to express himself stirs envy in me. I found myself wondering Why can’t I be that ballsy? It was a memorable interview, captured in his home, in his words, in his syntax.

Sadly, B. K. S. Iyengar died recently. Kaitlin Quistgaard, former editor in chief of Yoga Journal, has penned a quick tribute. Local hero Robin Williams also died this month. Lisa Maria, a popular yoga instructor, has written a different kind of tribute, using Robin’s suicide as a prompt for her own coming out. Lisa explains how yoga helped save her from a similar fate—depression, addiction, and suicidal tendencies. Bravo for your courage, Lisa.

Francesca Gobeille shares what it’s like to be a new yoga teacher, while Arjay Parker reveals why she teaches Stand Up Paddle yoga. We’ve an extensive essay by John Brierley about the vaunted camino in Spain, while Eline Snel describes the trend of teaching mindfulness meditation to kids.

Thank you, Robert Sturman, for your pictorial “Yoga Stretches Across the World.” It beautifully exposes the transcendent nature of yoga and the extent to which it has become a global phenomenon. Many thanks to another ace photographer, Jasper Johal, for the friendship we’ve cultivated and the awesome covers he has provided since 2009 for our September editions.

With a number of excellent yoga events coming up in September, we anticipate seeing you. For those willing to travel to another desert after Burning Man, we encourage Bhakti Fest in Joshua Tree. Or if you prefer elevation, consider Yoga Journal Live in Estes Park, CO. Closer to home, the legendary A. G. Mohan and his wife, Indra, visit the Bay Area.

Appreciation for this free community magazine is best expressed by supporting our advertisers—the best.

Strike a pose,


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