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Best Spot Blow Up

Thanks a bunch for blowing up the spot. Who in your staff has the gall to print information about train-hopping spots.

Thanks a bunch for blowing up the spot. Who in your staff has the gall to print information about train-hopping spots (“Best of Baltimore,” Sept. 19)? There is still a living community of train riders in this country, despite what you may falsely publish. I’m sure our “street art” scene is also thrilled with your description of active “throw-up spots for graffiti artists.” The “pesky authorities” pay attention to EVERYTHING published or spoken about where graffiti is done and trains are hopped. They care more about buffing graffiti, apprehending vandals than they do about “the best place to score real drugs.” If you were a real alternative newspaper, you might know to not publish such things and allow for actual alternative cultures to continue under the radar. Surely, after reading your clip, some uneducated art students are going to get themselves caught or killed attempting to hop a train.

Name withheld by request

Baltimore

Best Perversion of Yoga

I have been a devoted full-time yoga teacher since 2001, helping thousands of people around Baltimore and the Southeast improve their lives with the therapeutic and healing powers of yoga. Over the last decade, I have taught at most places in town, including Charm City Yoga, though I choose not to teach there anymore.

I have something important to say about “Baltimore’s Best Yoga,” Charm City Yoga, and your new category, “Best Place to do Bikram Yoga” (“Best of Baltimore,” Sept. 19).

I’ll start with your new category: Bikram yoga is one style of yoga among scores of others. WTF makes Bikram yoga deserving of its own category when none of these other styles are not?

The silliest part about this award is that, like McDonald’s, Bikram yoga is a franchise, and studios must conform to a very specific Bikram template. So giving a “Best of” to a Bikram franchise is like CP saying “McDonald’s in Mondawmin is Baltimore’s Best because it has a PlayPlace, and we think the light-skinned girl who works the drive-thru is cute.” Or regarding a Bikram franchise, “this studio has the fanciest lobby and least-smelly sweat-soaked carpet amongst its Bikram competitors.”

Bikram Choudry invented his intense 26-pose hot yoga series as a young competitive-yoga champ and prescribes it for everyone in the world. Now, clearly a young gymnastic superstar must know what’s best for old ladies . . . except that any basic fitness manual will tell you how dangerous overheating can be for pregnant women, the elderly, diabetics, and people with heart conditions.

In Bikram yoga, they put you in a 112 degree room and tell you you’re not allowed to leave or drink water. For whom is this healthy? Certainly not for Boh-drinking Baltimoreans, though in this town I have heard the binge-and-purge system of “health” touted as a reason to attend hot yoga on more than one occasion.

When yoga newcomers stumble into a hot yoga class and feel like they’re going to have heatstroke, many get scared off from ever doing yoga again. This does a huge disservice to thousands of people whose well-being could benefit from a more moderate practice.

And speaking of hot rooms, what’s with “Baltimore’s Best Yoga Studio” Charm City Yoga’s slogan: “90 MINUTES OF TORTURE, 90 YEARS OF HAPPY LIVING, GUARANTEED”? (This is actually etched on the door of their studio.)

Though they do feature some “beginner” and other classes, Charm City Yoga’s “signature style” is “hot Vinyasa.” (This is the hot room with an even more aerobic, faster-moving, and more physically extreme sequence than Bikram.)

Charm City’s “torture” slogan speaks volumes of the “no pain, no gain” fitness mentality that dominates at this studio . . . and no doubt it’s also how CCY also placed in the “Best Place to Workout” category [of the Readers Poll].

I agree that working out is necessary for good health, and most people in this town could stand to do more of it.

However, “YOGA” means “UNION”—it’s a term that refers to the mindful integration of one’s body, mind, and spirit. In other words, REAL YOGA IS NOT ABOUT “WORKING OUT,” IT’S ABOUT “WORKING IN.”

Yoga exercises are one limb of an eight-limbed system that includes ethical living, self-care, spiritual study, breathwork, and four stages of meditation. Yoga is not about “torture”—it’s about cultivating balance and quieting your mind to make space for inner peace, self-awareness, and spiritual expansion.

Yoga Asana (exercise) is so you can have good health, energy, and longevity, and meditate without pain. Asana is intended to balance the three vital forces of Rajas (power), Tamas (surrender), and Sattva (clarity).

When you practice yoga in a hot room with a “torture” mentality, the “power” dynamic dominates . . . just like in sports, aerobics, weight training, and cardio boot camp. This makes “yoga” have the same type-A imbalance as the rest or our culture, and completely misses the point of creating balance and relaxation.

Ever watch a hot yoga class let out? You’ll see two types: the muscley type-A’s, who come out red as the devil and completely overstimulated, not relaxed at all, and the skinny ladies, who look like they’re going to throw up or pass out and for whom doing this kind of extreme practice regularly is energetically depleting and harmful. Ironically, the only people for whom Ayurveda, the ancient Indian system of medicine, would recommend this practice are the fat lazy people who need the stimulation to get moving.

In a video interview, I’ve seen Mr. Bikram (a muscley “pitta” or fire type) say that Americans are so hopeless that we’re unable to ever relax unless we’re literally at the point of passing out. I believe differently because I’ve learned how to relax and taught thousands of other Americans to do the same without ever having to torture them.

I’ve also read some yoga books. Patanjali, the father of yoga, says a Yoga Asana (pose) should be a “steadfast, relaxed position” . . . in other words, it shouldn’t be so hard that you feel like you’re being tortured, or you won’t ever be able to relax. In fact, the word “asana” translates as “seat,” meaning that if you’re doing a pose right, you should literally be able to “sit” in it and meditate. The purpose of yoga, according to Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, is to “calm the fluctuations of the mind.” There’s nothing in the Sutras about passing out from heat exhaustion.

I don’t think torture is right, and I hate being associated with yoga boot-campers like Charm City Yoga and the Bikrams. I’m tired of hearing people tell me how they injured themselves in yoga class or how they “can’t do yoga” because they’ve been intimidated by you machos. I’ve been to a couple of your classes, and they made me feel like shit.

I even went to Charm City Yoga once to see a yoga musician I like, and it was so hot I left after 15 minutes of just sitting there listening, because I was dripping sweat in my eyes, and there was a pregnant lady teaching whose baby could have gotten birth defects from the heat in there, and that really upset me. I tried to breathe deeply and calm myself, but it just didn’t work.

Charm City Yoga: 90 minutes of your torture DOESN’T equal 90 years of happiness for everyone. You guys really piss me off, and I’d like my money back.

Yoga Christy Thorndill, MA, CYT, CPT, TYI

Baltimore

Don’t Trust This Doctor

In this troubled world we live in, there are those who are always looking for a simple, quick fix to the woes of the day. Some will come up with absurdly naive solutions like “love unconditionally”; others, with bumper-sticker solutions that tell you what to do but offer no real way to do it! “Quit bitchin’ and start a revolution!” Lenin wouldn’t use that slogan for toilet papers!

And then we have the person who goes by the name of “Amesh Adaila MD” (“Legalize It,” The Mail, Sept. 26)

This “Doctor’s” solution is a rotten one indeed! Why, it is so bad Wonder Bread wouldn’t put up with this baloney!

Instead of dealing with the root cause of prostitution—this doctor just deals with the symptoms! This doctor has no real scientific understanding. If I had stomach cancer, would this doctor give me Bromo Seltzer and Dilaudid? No, I would be thoroughly examined and a proper solution recommended!

In this case, the good doctor’s solution is like two left shoes—there’s nothing right about it. This doctor does not look at the root cause of prostitution and why people become prostitutes. (I said prostitutes, not “sex workers.” Calling prostitutes “sex workers” is a cheesy liberal way of ignoring the problem. Sex workers conjure up the image of a prostitute singing “The Internationale” before performing oral sex on a male John.) No prostitution is oppression of the human being who is forced into this line of sexual slavery!

Let’s see the results of our doctor’s solution. Well, first off, we would have more trafficking in human beings. Why? Because legal pimps could travel the world unencumbered by laws buying children from poor third-world families. Then let’s see—you would have more teenaged runaways forced into a life of sexual slavery. There would be a greater need for more abortions—because, well, you couldn’t have these “employees” of their pimps taking off for maternity leave!

Now, let’s take a larger look at society. What forces a human being to become a prostitute? Capitalism! No human being in their right mind becomes a prostitute. The solution is working to end the capitalist system that has the oppressive byproduct called prostitution. Karl Marx in Class Struggle in France says there are four “alls” that a communist revolution seeks to accomplish. One of the goals of one of the four “alls” is that “Oppressive relations between men and women, between different nationalities, between people of different parts of the world will be put to an end and moved beyond!” Now that’s what the doctor ordered!

We have to move away from supporting the crypto-fascistic-libertarian idea of individual rights [and] to the idea of supporting human rights. Legalizing prostitution is not the answer!

Supporting individual rights means you would prescribe narcotics to your children for recreational use! After all, it’s their individual right!

One last question or two, doc. Would you let you children grow up to be prostitutes? Would you let your spouse turn tricks if funds were low? How about your mom? Would that be OK? How about that aunt in the nursing home?

Alan Barysh

Baltimore

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