Friday, October 9, 2009

Yoga marathons/ Fun with technology!

I have to say, I spent a couple of hours online this evening that turned out to be one of the MOST entertaining times I have ever had on the internet.

Some of you guys may be familiar with Mary Jarvis (a senior Bikram teacher) and her studio, Global Yoga in San Francisco.  I've never studied with Mary yet, but I have a lot of teacher friends who have trained with her and speak very highly of her, so her class is definitely on my wish-list of things to do!  (I'm hoping to catch her in December when Mei and I go on our California yoga road trip.)  Anyway, one of the things that her studio is known for (besides training yoga champions) is doing the occasional yoga marathon.  And that's "marathon" as in 7 or 8 classes in ONE day.  (Holy cow.  Just when you thought that 7 or 8 classes in a WEEK was a lot...)

Today, one of Mary's students, Charlene, did a "Global Yoga Marathon" of 8 consecutive classes today to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  I thought this was pretty damn impressive, and donated 10 bucks to her cause (even though I've never met her)!  Her fundraising page is right here, in case you want to do the same.  But anyway, they took things a step further today with a new twist: all 8 classes were online in a live webcast!

I tuned in from my desk at my office for the last couple of classes, at 4:30 and 6:30pm.  Charlene was still going strong after the first five classes, along with a visiting teacher who had joined her in her marathon.  Pretty cool!  It made me wonder if I could do that, too.  Scratch that - I'm pretty sure I COULD do it if I made up my mind, and maybe one of these days I will give it a go, just for fun.

It was so interesting to watch an actual class going on.  I've really never seen that before!  It's not like you can look around and check out other people while you're doing your own practice.  (Well, occasionally I peek, like if there's a cute boy behind me, but that's not the same as watching a class from the comfort of your room-temperature desk!)  It's fascinating to see how the different bodies function and respond, and I could watch it all day.

There was a live chat going on alongside the feed (which I logged onto as thedancingj, of course), and that was infinitely entertaining during the 4:30 class, because the teacher kept going over to a monitor somewhere in the room and reading the live chat comments to the class!  So all of us in the chat room were basically cheering/heckling the class and its teacher, and seeing the responses in real time.  One of the yogis in the chat room was a global yoga student who knew a lot of the people in the room, so he'd be like, "hey, Natalie (or someone) looks great!" and I'd be like "which one is Natalie?" and then suddenly the teacher would be like, "Natalie, they're talking about you, give them a wave!"  It was totally surreal to be sitting at a computer, sending in comments to a guy who was in the MIDDLE of teaching a class, and watching him respond!  I don't even remember what I wrote, but a couple of times he told his class, "the dancing J says thus-and-so..."  Then he decided that we were creeping him out.  It creeped me out a little, too!  Am I a human, or a virtual reality robot??  Started to feel like a cyborg!

And then (as if there weren't enough modes of communication going on already), I dropped Mary a note on facebook to say how much I was digging the webcam.  She wrote me write back and said she'd tell Chadd (the teacher) that I was one of the people in the chat.  I told her, "well, I don't think he knows who I am, but you could show him my facebook page or something... !"

After the 4:30 class ended, the students started coming in for the 6:30, and Chadd was setting up over by the camera.  He looked in the camera's general direction and said, "Hey Dancing J, Mary showed me your pictures!  Very lovely!"  I typed back, "Wow, thank you very much!!"  It made me feel less like a cyborg.

Then Mary taught the 6:30 class, so I got to listen to her teaching!  It was pretty interesting, especially since I was listening but not doing.  There is a world of difference between listening to someone's words while they move your body versus listening to someone's words while you sit on your butt!  Hah!  But she said a lot of great things that I really appreciated.  Some were technical things, like for example: "whatever you do, DO NOT lift your hands off the floor in cobra!" and some were life-related, like: "I am begging you, stop getting on the scale every day, those numbers don't matter."  I absolutely agreed with both of those statements!  She doesn't teach the regular dialogue, but her technical knowledge was rock solid.  Plenty of other interesting ideas and catchy phrases, like "prana, not protein!!"  I wish I could remember more of the things that she said... my tape-recorder memory is operating a little bit below par today, I guess, and anyway nothing is a substitute for a live class!

Speaking of which, better get my butt to bed so I can DO a class in the morning!  I know I've been kinda quiet lately, mainly because October and November of this year are the times when I get my butt kicked by school, but stay tuned.  I'm still out here.  :)

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L         It's a virtual standing bow!  


aHappyYogi said...

How cool isn't that?!?!? I wish I could have seen it to.

bikramyogachick said...

wow! That is so cool! I saw Mary posting on facebook about it and saw some of the pics. Not sure if I could do 8 classes in one day, doubles usually kill me. I'm amazed and impressed! Love the virtual standing bow.

Duffy Pratt said...

The marathons are impressive. For others, they show how much more capable people are than they imagine. Other than that, I think they are pretty pointless -- they are something to do for the accomplishment, and maybe the bragging rights.

I have mixed feelings about the webcasting. On the one hand, I think its a totally cool use of technology and I would have loved to see some of it. On the other hand, one of my teachers keeps emphasizing that yoga is not a spectator sport. No one cares about what you look like. Indeed, no-one is watching. The webcam would surely throw a wrench into that idea.

thedancingj said...

Duffy - your points are well taken! I'm pretty ambivalent towards the yoga marathon concept, having never tried it myself. On one hand, isn't yoga supposed to be about BALANCE, i.e. nothing in excess? On the other hand, maybe you really cannot ever have too much yoga. The people who have done them report feeling pretty amazing afterwards.

I agree about the webcam, too. Yoga is SO not a spectator sport. But watching a class online WAS awfully cool as a one-time thing only. It kinda reminded me of the parent observation days at my old dance studio. There was ONE day a year when family and friends were allowed to come in and watch class, just for fun, and the rest of the time the doors stayed CLOSED.

Danielle said...

8 classes in one day? Are you kidding me??? Holy dehydration batman! I must say, that is definitely NOT on my list of things I want to do in life - ha!

The webcast thing is pretty wild though... I wish I could've joined in the fun!