Thursday, April 17, 2014

Why I Love Viniyoga

I admit it. I’m a Viniyoga snob. I won’t practice any other style of yoga, and I certainly won’t teach any other style. But I didn’t start out that way. Like most people, when I took my first yoga class I didn’t even know different types of yoga existed. I thought all yoga was the same, and honestly, I thought all yoga was a little weird.

My first yoga class changed all that, even though it wasn’t Viniyoga; it was Iyengar-influenced Hatha yoga. If you don’t know what that means, don’t worry. Neither do most of the people down-dogging next to you. Suffice it to say that Hatha is an umbrella term for the physical practice of yoga, and Iyengar is a specific style, focused on holding poses with exact alignment.

I liked my first yoga class. A lot. In fact, I liked it so much that I was afraid if my yoga teacher knew how much it was hurting me, she might not let me attend anymore. She knew of my injuries, but even though she was a well known and very experienced yoga teacher (she even co-authored a yoga book!) she didn’t know how to adapt yoga for my body. But that didn’t matter to me. All that mattered was the incredible peace of mind I received from practicing.

Then that teacher went on a month’s vacation.

Determined to keep up my practice, I went to a number of studios in the Seattle area and tried a variety of styles. Luckily for me, one of those styles was Viniyoga. I didn’t know why at the time, but for the first time, I left a yoga class feeling not only mentally, but also physically, better. Over time, I continued to experiment, but I kept coming back to Viniyoga. And then one day I knew: I was destined to teach this wonderful lineage.

Flash-forward 13 years, and I can now explain what makes this style so unique. My teacher calls it The Four Key Differentiators of Viniyoga:
  • Linkage of Breath and Movement: Viniyoga links movement with the breath, which makes each movement more powerful, mindful, and structurally integrated than non-breath-centered movement.
  • Use of Movement and Stay: Viniyoga students move in and out of poses before staying in them. Movement systematically prepares the body to hold a pose by warming the muscle groups that will be taxed in that pose. Movement also helps reprogram habitual movement patterns, so students move more functionally, even in non-yoga activities.
  • Adaptation: Viniyoga adapts poses to the practitioner, rather than assuming there is one “right” way to do a pose. The goal is to achieve the function of a pose, instead of its form.
  • Sequencing: Viniyoga teachers carefully design classes so that each pose prepares for or erases strain from the poses before and after it.
But I’ve found something even more powerful in Viniyoga—community. Viniyoga emphasizes the teacher-student relationship. With no “one size fits all” approach, a Viniyoga teacher must be present with her students, get to know her students, even care about her students to be effective. I came to love practicing Viniyoga for what it did for my mind and my body. I came to love teaching Viniyoga because it made me a more observant, caring part of my larger community.

More than anything else, that’s why I love Viniyoga.



Come visit Whole Life Yoga in Seattle, and check out Tracy Weber's author page for information about the Downward Dog Mysteries series.  MURDER STRIKES A POSE is available now at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Whole Life Yoga, and wherever books are sold.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Los Angeles Times Festival of Books Retrospective

The Los Angeles Times Festival of Books was held last weekend.  I'm delighted to say that I attended both days.  I had a signing at the Mystery Ink bookstore booth on Saturday, and another at the Mysterious Galaxy bookstore booth on Sunday.   Plus, I staffed the Mystery Writers of America booth for a while on Sunday.

I had a delightful time both days!  A lot of other authors attended, so it was fun to touch base with them.  Plus, a lot of readers were there, too, and some even bought books! 

The LATFOB is now held on the University of Southern California campus.  It's been there for about three years.  Before that, it was located at the UCLA campus.  I like both venues, but USC is certainly convenient for me since I can get there by public transportation--a subway, followed by a train.  I could even read while I was on my way and back--appropriate for a festival of books.

 A lot of different kinds of programs are held at the festival, from children's to romance to mystery and cooking and lots of other panels and presentations.  When I arrived one morning, I even got to see and hear part of the USC Marching Band.

And then there are the many booths, sponsored by a lot of different kinds of booksellers,  publishers, writers' organizations and more.  It was fun to visit a lot of them, or at least pass by them, when I wasn't scheduled to be at a booth.

I heard recently that the West Hollywood Book Fair, another favorite book event of mine, won't be held this year.  I was sorry to hear that.  But it made me cherish my time at the LATFOB even more.

And in case you're wondering... yes, I bought some books!

How about you--are there book fairs in your area?  Do you attend them?  What's your favorite part?


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Fatal Instrument

An early nineteenth century epitaph from Claremont, NH:

In Memory of
Chester and Elisha Putnam sons of
The late Capt. Solomon Putnam, who
On the morning os January 20th 1814
In the same bed were found suffocated.
A kettle of common coals having been
Placed in their room for comfort
Proved the fatal instrument of their
Deaths the former in the 27th the
Latter in the 19th year of his age.

How many roses perish in their bloom,
How many suns alas go down at noon.

This sort of accident continues into modern times: people will bring a charcoal barbeque cooker into the house when their furnace quits on a cold winter night and they are found dead in the morning.

Just in the last two days Snaps is looking a lot better.  He hasn’t vomited for over a week, though his nether end is still sometimes very soft.  His coat is looking better and he’s put on a little weight.  Oddly, he’s become a very insistent beggar for human food, which he never was before.  We’re careful not to let him have any.  We’ve put Panzi’s food in the closet in Ellen’s office, where we can close the door to keep Snaps away from it.  Panzi, not the brightest bulb in the chandelier, has to be watched carefully so we can pick up her subtle clues that she’d like a mid-morning snack.

I was killing myself – and Ellen – this past weekend, getting the ms of Darned If You Do ready to send yesterday, and had sent an email to my agent and editor saying it would come.  I got an email from my agent, one of those automatic replies, saying she was in Europe for an international book fair.  And I got an email from my editor saying not to bother sending it as she was going on vacation until the 23rd.  Remember those old-fashioned comic strips in which a character is drawn leaping back into a fall, one hand clapped to the forehead?  I missed a really excellent performance of Bach’s St. Matthew’s Passion Sunday afternoon to work on the book!

Though, really, it’s my own fault; I should have taken to heart a big sign on the wall of my office: Warning: Due Dates Are Closer Than They Appear and not let the writing fall behind like I did.

A blessed Good Friday and happy Easter to those who celebrate this season!