Her bio says that Justine Wiltshire Cohen once was a yoga teacher at the US Supreme Court. That, I would like to hear more about! Now she owns a yoga studio in the Boston area. In "What happened to yoga?" (Boston Globe), she compares yoga to law school, saying "that studying yoga was harder than law: 'I didn’t cry in law school.'"
These days she is expressing concern about what yoga has become.
“Everyone is afraid to talk about the white elephant in the yoga room,’’ said Justine ... . She has invited [Natasha] Rizopoulos and three other nationally-known Boston-based yoga teachers — Barbara Benagh, Patricia Walden, and Peentz Dubble — to teach at her new studio. Some of them will participate in a “summit’’ on Sunday to discuss the future of yoga in America. Yoga, she said, is supposed to be “an art passed down from teacher to student.’’ It’s meant to calm the fluctuations of the mind. It advocates ahimsa, which means “do no harm;’’ and aparigraha or non-possessiveness.
“Humility is the whole point,’’ said Wiltshire Cohen ... .
But humility, they say, is becoming less and less the point these days. “My worry is that . . . what we do in the yoga room is becoming the same as what we do outside the yoga room,’’ said Rizopoulos, a former ballet dancer who studied yoga in India. “Which is behaving like lunatics.’’
Wiltshire Cohen makes her philosophy very clear on her Web site. After reading this incident, I think there is reason for her concern, as well as that of other teachers devoted to yoga. Rizopoulos describes a class she recently taught for experienced students wanting to become instructors.
She led them through three rigorous hours of postures and a long meditation, and discussed the philosophy of yoga, explaining the transformative power of physical practice that helps train the mind to be fully present.
But as she expounded on the benefits of yogic principles, two students in the class didn’t quite grasp the idea of spiritual enlightenment. Sitting cross-legged, they were busy firing off text messages.
“It was astonishing,’’ said Rizopoulos. “And this was a self-selecting, serious group.’’
Note (added October 17, 2010): Click for a related post: Another lawyer turned yogi: The last one I posted about probably would not appreciate this one.