Beryl Bender Birch

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Beryl Bender Birch is the bestselling author of Power Yoga, Beyond Power Yoga, and Boomer Yoga; she is also one of the most popular yoga teachers in the United States. With degrees in philosophy and comparative religion, Beryl has been teaching the classical system of ashtanga yoga for 33 years, and training yoga teachers as "spiritual revolutionaries" since 1980. In 2000 she was named by Yoga Journal as one of their “Innovators Shaping Yoga Today” issue.

Beryl majored in philosophy and comparative religion at Syracuse University. She took her first yoga class in 1971 in California. She then spent several years on the West Coast working as a biofeedback researcher and studying the physiology of meditation. One of her early teachers was Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, the Tibetan Buddhist who founded Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado, as well as Shambhala International. Her other important teacher was Munishree Chitrabhanuhu, the first Jain monk to leave India and come to the United States at the invitation of Harvard Divinity School. These two men shaped her life, her meditation practice, and her teaching style.

In 1974, Beryl began to teach yoga and meditation to skiers in Winter Park, Colorado, working with both professional and recreational skiers. In 1980, she moved to New York City and was introduced to the practice of ashtanga yoga by Norman Allen. Allen was Sri K. Pattabhi Jois's first American student and the first Westerner to master the ashtanga series and bring it to the United States.

In 1981, Beryl began teaching ashtanga yoga to runners at the prestigious New York Road Runners Club, and eventually she became the club's wellness director. Beryl and her husband Thom, a world-class runner, pioneered the introduction of yoga to the traditional athletic community. Together Beryl and Thom taught the ashtanga yoga method of asana, pranayama, and dharana (concentration) to tens of thousands of students.

In the late '80s, Beryl was searching for a way to make ashtanga yoga more accessible to American students, and she coined the term "power yoga" (nearly simultaneously, Bryan Kest, based in Los Angeles, came up with the same term.) The words "power yoga" convey the distinction between the intense, flowing style of yoga Beryl and Thom were teaching from the gentle stretching and meditation that many Americans associated with yoga. Power yoga is a vigorous, fitness-based approach to yoga.

In 1987, Beryl traveled to Feathered Pipe Ranch in Helena, Montana, to meet and study with Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, the principle proponent of the ashtanga yoga vinyasa method, and the teacher with whom Norman Allen had studied. Beryl and Thom spent the next six months studying daily with Jois and following his tour of California. They continued their studies with Pattabhi Jois from 1987–1990.

Beryl is the founder and director of The Hard & the Soft Yoga Institute (since 1980) in East Hampton and Vermont, and a founder of the Give Back Yoga Foundation. She now teaches yoga—the Middle Path of Jina Yoga (incorporating the classical astanga eight-limbed methodology)—all over the world, guiding and inspiring students of all levels with her down-to-earth style. She currently writes the asana column for Yoga Journal. She resides in East Hampton with her six racing Siberian huskies, and she competes on the New England Sled Dog Club circuit of sprint races in Vermont, New York, and New Hampshire.

Also By Author

A Yogi in Love with Life

Beryl Bender Birch is one of the most well-known teachers of classical yoga in the United States, as well as the author of many books and audio programs on the subject. With Sounds True, Beryl has recently created the book Yoga for Warriors: Basic Training in Strength, Resilience, and Peace of Mind. In this edition of Insights at the Edge, Beryl and Tami Simon discuss the usefulness of yoga for people with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. In order to better communicate these techniques, Beryl walks Tami through basic ujjayi breathing. They also talk about the link between quantum physics and yoga, as well as the “revolutionary” role of yogis in modern society. (70 minutes)

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Valarie Kaur: Activating Revolutionary Love

Valarie Kaur is a seasoned civil rights activist and celebrated prophetic voice at the forefront of progressive change. She’s the founder of the Revolutionary Love Project and the author of the book, See No Stranger: A Memoir and Manifesto of Revolutionary Love. With Sounds True, Valarie has created The People’s Inauguration—a 10-day online program to help us reckon with all we have lost and point us toward a vision of the society we can build together, grounded in love. In this episode of Insights at the Edge, Tami and Valarie discuss “revolutionary love” as a guiding ethic for our times. They explore what it is to extend love to all people without limit and how opening our hearts in this way is both an ancient and radical act. Valerie also talks about “the heart, and the fist”, and why both are necessary in order to create the systemic, cultural, and environmental transformations our world needs. Finally, Valarie shares what we can learn from our rage and grief, as well as the importance of connecting with our joy and our ancestors as we keep showing up for the labors of love before us.

Meet the Author of Dinos Don’t Do Yoga

The Author
Catherine Bailey is the author of multiple picture books, including Harbor Bound and Mind Your Monsters. For more, please visit catherinebaileybooks.com.

Dinos Don't Do Yoga CoverThe Book
Rex is a dinosaur with a rough, tough crew. But when a yoga-loving dinosaur comes to town, Rex and his fierce friends discover there’s more to strength than big muscles and bad attitudes. This fun-filled story features timely themes about kindness, friendship, and being able to see past our differences.

 

 

 

 

Has your book taken on a new meaning in the world’s current circumstances? Is there anything you would have included in your book if you were writing it now?

Dinos Don’t Do Yoga was written back during the calm and quiet of 2018. At the time, it was simply a funny story about a grumpy T. rex. Today we are living in a very different world. Things have changed dramatically in terms of how people interact with each otherfrom social distancing to increased activism.

So now when I read Dinos Don’t Do Yoga, the relationships between the characters are more meaningful. I hope my readers see kindness, acceptance, and connection (in addition to a funny story!). I also hope that the book inspires children to explore yoga as a physical means of dealing with the stress of these crazy times. Yoga is a beautiful way to get back to a happy mental space.

After all, if dinos can do itso can we!

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Send us a photo of you and your pet, and let us know if your pet had any role in helping you write your book!

Here we have a snapshot of the world’s most annoyed cat. I decided to share this particular picture because it reminded me of the Dinos Don’t Do Yoga cover. The illustrator of the book, Alex Willmore, brilliantly contrasted the highly disgruntled Rex (complete with eye twitch!) with his blithely happy costar, Sam. I laugh every time I see that artwork!

The same is true for this photograph of myself and our family cat, Chloe. This picture was taken right after her first (and probably last) bath. In my defense, I only bathed her because she had a small flea problem. She still has not forgiven me.

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What is something about you that doesn’t make it into your author bio?

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My author biography contains all sorts of fun tidbits, but it doesn’t mention this one cool thing about me: I am kid-sized! By which I mean I’m very short for my age. You cannot tell from (most) pictures, but even though I am an official middle-aged grown-up, I am only 4’8” tall. That is about the size of the average second grader! 

So why do I mention it? What’s so great about being super small? Well, a lot of things! But best of all is that it makes me empathetic and mindful of other people’s differences. And that makes me a better writer. For example, it was easy for me to create the characters of Rex (challenged by his petite arms) and Sam (a true “outsider”) in Dinos Don’t Do Yoga. It is true what they say—great things come in small packages.

 

Dinos Don't Do Yoga Cover

Learn More

Sounds True | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Bookshop

 

Elizabeth Lesser: When Women Are the Storytellers, the...

Elizabeth Lesser is cofounder of the Omega Institute and a bestselling author. Her books include Marrow, The Seeker’s Guide, and the New York Times bestseller Broken Open. Her newest book is Cassandra Speaks: When Women Are the Storytellers, the Human Story Changes. In this episode of Insights at the Edge, Tami Simon speaks with Elizabeth about her experience in the early days of the Omega Institute, redefining “power,” and the ways that patriarchy is subtly, and not so subtly, embedded in our culture—how we can become more aware of it, and how we can make changes on the outside and inside so that in the future we can tell a different story, a story that equally embraces the power of women as well as men.

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