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YOGA MATTERS                                                                              October 2010

Lois Nesbitt

Dear Friends,

Heads up!  I’ve retooled (and renamed) my newsletter to offer you essential (and practical!) tools for living fully on and off the mat. This issue includes:

The scoop on where I’ve been, what I’ve done, what I’ve learned since last writing—my chance to reflect and share what it’s all about!

My fall lineup of classes, workshops, trainings, and retreats in New York City, the Hamptons, and beyond.

Students look to their teachers for guidance. Every day I get questions about how to practice, how to stay young and healthy (and look good while you are doing so!), how to mesh yoga with other sports, how to find balance in the swirl of daily life. I think about this stuff all the time, and I’m constantly assessing what’s worked and trying out new things.  My IT LISTS will offer the best of what I’ve found, from self-pampering to service, from products for your body to food for your soul. Read on!


China Rising

I accepted my first invite to teach in China two years ago, when the world was abuzz with the Beijing Olympics.  Being an architecture geek and all around cultural snoop, I was itching to glimpse the Land of the Future. Twenty-four months and seven trips later, I have yet to see the Bird’s Nest stadium, the Great Wall, or the 10,000 Terra Cotta Warriors. Instead, I have put in seven- or eight-hour days at yoga studios grand and small, pursued by a loyal band of students and teachers who often cross the country to study with me in intensives that run seven days nonstop.  On my days “off” I commute from city to city, and the minute I am done, I hop on the first plane back home to be with all of you.

On my last visit, one teacher asked me why I bother. She had me there! It’s true that the cultural divide is huge (made worse by my inability to pronounce, read, or understand any Mandarin beyond Ni hao! (How are you?)), the travel is exhausting, and the take-home much less than I could earn by staying put in New York. 

I paused. I  thought. I turned inward. I thought of my grandfather, a Presbyterian missionary who spent twelve years creating schools for the untouchables in India.  He, my grandmother, and their children (including my dad, who was born in Dera Duhn) made two round trips by boat, an onerous eight weeks  with many stops each way. (Their first trip was before the Panama Canal, so they traveled around the tip of Patagonia.) Whatever our current views on religious proselytizing, there is no doubt that his work vastly improved the lives of many who were considered subhuman in their own culture. Only the loss of one son and my grandfather’s own disintegrating health drove them home.

I also thought of my dad, a psychiatrist and not one to travel, who put in twelve-hour days plus half of every Saturday tending to the mental ill and unstable closer to home.

I realized that service runs in the family. People everywhere are in pain of all sorts, are stressed out, are baffled by the paradoxes of modern life.  I know that the work I do to spread Anusara Yoga in China is crucial.  Students and teachers there do not have the same access to the teachings that we have here. Many are getting injured through ignorance; others crave a philosophy like ours that celebrates life and strikes a balance between the individual and the greater whole.  This stuff changes lives, over there as it has here, and I am both proud and humble to be opening eyes. In September, I began the first-ever Anusara Yoga Teacher Training in the People’s Republic of China—truly an historic moment!  Those fifteen teachers are the wave that will carry this outstanding practice to others throughout that vast nation.



“The Hamptons” No More?

When my grandfather returned to New York in the early 1930s, he found himself at prestigious Presbyterian church on the corner of Fifth Avenue and 55th Street. Thus overnight he went from serving the desperately impoverished to counseling and consoling the, well, undeniably rich!  Shuttling back and forth from China to Manhattan and East Hampton, I experience an only somewhat less dramatic contrast. China’s economy may be on the rise, but most people I meet there live frugally. Some endured the deprivation and distress of the final truly communist years, including the harsh penance of the Cultural Revolution. We all enjoy comparative ease and abundance.

While the economic downturn has had some undeniably tragic consequences round the globe, the “readjustment” closer to home continues even among New York’s most affluent. This shift has been palpable in the Hamptons during the past two summers. Still a playground of the rich, the frenzy of the heady, high-rolling nineties has partly abated.  Fewer fields sprout new houses each spring, and the local economy sputters along, ticking up and down with the stock market. We may in fact be returning to the times when there were no “Hamptons”—before the media lumped this picturesque grouping of villages under a moniker that came to stand for all that was excessive in America getting and spending. When people went to “the country” or “the beach” to escape the city’s endless pressure to see and be seen, not to make deals on cell phones in beach parking lots and maximize their face time at high-ticket charity extravaganzas.

I’d like to think that the shift will be permanent, but I suspect that the minute the economy rebounds, all of that will return at full throttle. Either way, those of us who never had the cash and prizes, felt embarrassed about having them, or wouldn’t know what to do with them if we had them are finding peace in a less frenetic world. Fewer students may sign up for private lessons, but I’m happy to see more of them in group classes.  I also see that “value” matters, and that people are willing to put out for the best.

I’m tickled that the slowdown is protecting this stunning landscape from becoming suburbia overnight.  Of course I’d like to see everyone’s property and investments rise to their former levels, including the house my dad bought out there on the eve of his own retirement, so that I would have a place to call home. On the other hand, I’ll be more comfortable when we all learn a few things from my Chinese friends—like the importance of family and long-term loyalty and the prudence of saving for a rainy day. In the meantime, you can’t put a price on an afternoon at one of the South Fork’s stellar beaches or a dip in the salty sea!


More info on all of my current and upcoming programs at Here’s the short version:


580 Broadway, suite 205
between Houston and Prince
Friday 1:45-3:15pm weekly
Tuesday 2:00-3:30pm November 9, December 7 only!


One Ocean Yoga
264 Butter Lane
Bridgehampton NY 11932
Sunday                       10:00-11:30am
Monday                      9:00-10:30am



East Hampton NY

Part One: October 15-17 and November 6-7
Part Two:  December 3-5 and January 22-23
Part Three: early 2011, dates to be announced

This life-changing program occurs amid the stunning natural beauty of fall in the Hamptons—sunlit beaches, farmstands spilling over with the harvest, evenings by the fire. These mini-retreat weekends invite to deepen your love and understanding of yoga, surrounded by others who share your passion for the best of life.  Each weekend features yoga practice, breathing, meditation, and discussions. Meals provided for all and housing arranged for those visiting from New York and beyond.
Details at


With Lois Nesbitt and Jessica Bellofatto
January 31-February 6
Tulum, Mexican Caribbean Coast

Our second-annual bliss-out by the beach will sell out, so reserve your spot today for a week in paradise with two of New York’s top teachers!


Up in the Air

Okay, I travel a lot. But so do most people I know. And travel takes its toll on our bodies, minds, and spirits. Being myself somewhat highly strung and attuned to changes of all sorts, I’ve had to find creative ways to make the long and short trips not only tolerable but fun. Here’s my lowdown:


  • Avoid connections at all costs. The U.S. airline industry is simply not up to the task of coordinating your journey.  Your hair will turn grey worrying about whether you will have time to transfer, collect and recheck your bags, wait through security once again, buy some water.  Nonstop it or stay home.
  • Hire a travel agent. I know the Internet is full of amazing deals, but hunting them down and sorting them out takes way too much time! And many tickets bought from bargain sites are riddled with conditions that make changes impossible. I can’t afford that when I’m expected to be somewhere to do something with a room of students waiting for me. And I need a 24-hour 800 number with a professional on the other end to help reroute me when all else fails. My dedicated go-to?  Alice and Keith Hyatt at Air and Marine Travel. Tops in their field!
  • Take care of yourself. Until I rack up enough miles on any one airline, I’m resigned to the misery of economy class. It’s a jungle back there, and you can’t expect overworked flight attendants to take a personal interest in the 500th passenger they’ve served that day.  Come prepared.  My survival kit:
  • MacBook Air: I know they’re phasing it out, but this is simply the most delightful laptop I’ve ever used! And while they say it weighs only slightly less than the MacBook Pro, it feels like about ¼ as heavy—and weight is everything when you don’t have an entourage lugging your stuff for you. No movies on your flight? Pick up a lightweight CD drive and you’re good to go.
  • Printed Matter: Plenty of stuff to read, from the sublime (all those serious books I plan to read at home but never settle down to) to the merely diverting (for me, that’s fashion rags. For you?). Laptop batteries don’t last forever and there’s no in-flight programming when you’re stalled on the runway.
  • Eye mask, earplugs, and shawl that doubles as a blanket.  Surgical mask if you fear for your health while quarantined with all those snifflers and sneezers. (I know this is beyond geeky, but half of Tokyo wears them out and about throughout the cold ‘n flu season!) Any collection of inflatable neck and lumbar pillows—heck, go for the full-body air mattress one former pilot designed.  Who cares? You’ll never see these people again. The trick is to create your own optimal combo of padded cell, tranquility tank, and cave. *Don’t forget sunscreen—radiation peaks up there. Top choice: Anthelios by Laroche-Posay.
  • S-t-r-e-t-c-h! Or you will feel like smushed origami when you arrive. Virgin Atlantic supposedly has in-flight yoga videos. One Chinese airline that I fly finishes off each journey with a 5-minute guided stretch based on Traditional Chinese Medicine. No matter, any movement, elongating, engaging, and wiggling will do, whether in your seat or hanging from the luggage rack while on the bathroom line. Prana (the life force) needs to move! I’m shameless about doing a full practice at abandoned gates during airport layovers and delays. Used to make me stand out, but now that everyone does yoga, little kids come show me their down dogs and I meet some great people. I envision a future where airports will have practice lounges complete with rental mats.
  • Hunger! Yes, airplane food is  joke. Stash anything that’s good for you (protein bars, apples, crudités, hard-boiled eggs) and any that makes you feel good (chocolate!). Have not found a way around the liquids embargo. Still waiting for someone to invent an inflatable water pellet.
  • Connect! Travel is, by definition, alienating. You are on unfamiliar turf, out of your ecosystem, unsupported. The best remedy for the anxiety that produces is to connect with other humans—anyone from your seatmate to the flight attendant to the lady who works the Sharper Image or duty-free.  Everything softens when we do. No one to corner? Connect back to self with a little ujayii breathing.
  • Food and inflatable water pellet




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Yoga News, January 2009