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Saturday, January 20, 2007

the SYTAR conference, days three and four

with the registration activity pretty much completed by saturday, the third day of the conference, the majority of the volunteer tasks had us either working the SYTAR information desk, selling books and CD's at the exhibit hall, or standing by the doors of the function rooms to check badges and answer questions. the last assignment was the most desirable, at least to me, because it afforded the opportunity to listen to the panel discussions and/or the practice sessions with featured yoga instructors.

since i had my usual saturday marathon training commitments, i had to miss the morning's sessions, which were:

main session #6:
  • abstract presentations - moderated by karen sherman and calvin hobel


  • main session #7:
  • communication and collaboration between researchers and practitioners - david shapiro
  • an overview of clinical trials for yoga - david riley
  • the role of stress in preterm birth - calvin hobel
  • neural dynamics of emotional reactivity, mindful breathing and anxiety - philippe goldin


  • main session #8:
  • yoga as a complementary treatment for depression - ian cook, david shapiro, marla apt
  • chanting and an integrative approach to yoga therapy - swami ramananda
  • current research on yoga nidra - richard miller
  • yoga, meditation, and the psychology of health recovery - shanti shanti kaur khalsa


  • lunch break:
  • more abstract presentations - moderated by matthew taylor


  • when i checked in at the volunteer desk that afternoon, i found out that my assignments for the day were to help out at the speaker presentation in the main ballroom, then check badges at one of the practice sessions. this meant that i could look forward to getting involved in one or more of the following activities:

    main session #9:
  • yoga sutras for the health of the heart - nischala joy devi
  • respiratory conditions - richard usatine, larry payne
  • adaptive yoga for multiple sclerosis and other neurological diseases - eric small
  • overcoming insomnia and inertia - gyandev mccord


  • practice sessions:
  • the therapeutic application of yoga nidra - richard miller
  • yoga therapy for a healthy circulatory system - joseph le page
  • yoga therapy and serious illness: primary practices for self-care - gary kraftsow
  • lifeforce yoga for people with depression - amy weintraub
  • yoga for people with multiple sclerosis - eric small
  • yoga for stress-related psychosomatic disorders - rajashree choudhury


  • i managed to get assigned to the practice session with gary kraftsow, someone whose viniyoga style of yoga i've been wanting to try out. and not only was i lucky enough to listen to what he had to say, but there was also enough room for me to lay out my yoga mat and practice with the rest of the attendees. finally, the benefits of my volunteer efforts were starting to pay off!

    saturday evening's entertainment was a screening of the 3+ hour (!) documentary, yoga unveiled. it was very informative, especially for someone like me who really hadn't studied the origins of yoga and its different branches before. despite its being very educational, however, i found myself fighting to stay awake by the second hour, so i ended up bailing just as they were cueing up the movie's second disk.

    early the next morning, sunday, i had to make a mad dash back out to the LAX hilton at 7:30am. no, it wasn't because i had to help out once again; with my volunteer stint over, i was finally free to do whatever i wanted to do. with the rare chance of being able to take a class with someone non-LA based for FREE, i scanned this list:

    practice sessions:
  • the healing path of yoga - nischala joy devi
  • a breath-centered practice - leslie kaminoff
  • patanjali's stages of transformation in healing HIV infection - lisa walford
  • balance and surrender in yoga - sherry brourman
  • gross to subtle, healing all levels of being - swami ramananda, gyandev mccord
  • greeting the day in a sacred way - lilias folan


  • i decided to attend leslie kaminoff's class, not only because he was blogging about the conference on his own blogsite, e-sutra, but because i had heard lots of good stuff about this teacher from new york. and i wasn't disappointed; leslie's one of the funniest yet most knowledgeable yoga teachers that i've ever met.

    after taking a quick break for breakfast after the practice session, i dropped by the exhibit hall to check for last-day deals. i did manage to score the last demo hugger mugger restorative mat for almost 30% off retail :) not really finding anything else that i wanted to buy, i moved on to the ballroom to attend the closing session:

    main session #10:
  • classical yoga and the roots of yoga therapy - christopher key chapple
  • ancient insights for modern healing, a vision for the future of yoga therapy in the west, its scope and relevance for the modern living - gary kraftsow
  • who are we and where are we going? - open forum
  • meditation and closing - eleanor criswell, janice green


  • looking back, i got to know many people in the yoga world during those four days at SYTAR that i wouldn't have met otherwise. this network of yogis and yoginis will prove to be more valuable to me in the long run than much of the information in the sessions themselves. so all in all, i'm thankful for this enriching experience and will mark my calendar for the next SYTAR conference on march 6-9, 2008!

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