The New York Times Hearts Yoga

Five years ago, every time a yoga story appeared in The New York Times, I’d get dozens of emails from friends and family who knew I was a writer in “the yoga world.” That doesn’t happen anymore–because yoga stories are now de rigueur for the Paper of Record.

I love that these stories are so frequently popping up in The New York Times, giving a little cultural commentary on what’s happening beyond my neighborhood.

This Sunday, my morning paper-reading ritual included two entertaining articles that shed a little more light on the yoga scene nationwide.

In “Their Lotus Can’t Take Root on a Yoga Mat,” Mary Billard illuminates the trend of forsaking one’s yoga mat for a mat-free practice.

“The ecstasy of yoga can’t be contained by a mat,” said Dana Flynn, a director of Laughing Lotus, a yoga studio in New York and San Francisco. Many teachers at her studio have done away with mats and practice solely on the hardwood floor. “The lotus flow is a devotional dance,” she added. “The rubber just got in the way.”

That last part made me laugh.

In the City Room section, an article by Lizette Alvarez called “The Jocks Throw Down Their Mats
chronicles her visit to Jivamukti, where she noticed an uptick in the number of men surrounding her in class.

Lately it seems that the number of guys stretching and twisting beside me–at least in some studios–has risen quite a bit. And I mean the kind of guy who advertises his jock credentials and shamelessly checks out the women in class. The sort of dude who not too long ago derided yoga as a chick thing–like going to see “Eat Pray Love.”

We want to know:

Do you use a yoga mat?

Do you notice more men in your yoga class?

Does the New York Times accurately reflect what you see happening in the yoga world?

Nora Isaacs is a Bay Area-based health writer and editor.