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You Know Yoga’s Gone Mainstream When It Reaches the Front Page of the Wall Street Journal

July 24th, 2008 . by economistmom

I just have to express my glee at seeing today’s front page of the Wall Street Journal.  Not over the sad story about how the states are being “slammed by tax shortfalls” (which I’m reading this morning)–but over the story on “yoga bears” and how yoga has done wonderful things for the well-being of financial professionals, who would otherwise be stressed out, angry, overweight, and dealing with back pain.  (AngryBears, take note?)

Luciano Cortese, a broad-shouldered 48-year-old hedge-fund manager, says he used to bang his desk, throw things or yell at someone when his job became particularly stressful. But since starting yoga in January, he has been taking the stock market’s jolts in stride, he says. “I just say to myself tomorrow is another day.”

Yoga is, after all, another hugely important part of my life; I teach yoga because I love to introduce it to others having been lucky enough to find it myself years ago.  Yoga’s the only way I let myself get “twisted up” over anything these days.  (Yep, that’s me up there, in “garudasana”–eagle pose.)  You should really think of me as “EconomistYogiMom.”  Ask any of my former colleagues on Capitol Hill if they valued me more as their economist or as their (bipartisan) yoga teacher! 

UPDATE (midnight, 7/26):  I don’t know how I could have let this get past me when I first posted… That WSJ article mentions a particularly enthusiastic yogi who I’ve accused of “gross exaggeration” here on this blog before:

Billionaire fund managers Paul Tudor Jones and William Gross both practice Ashtanga, an active form of yoga that involves flowing through a set series of poses. Bond-fund guru Mr. Gross, a founder of Pimco, does yoga five days a week and says some of his best ideas come when he is standing on his head, or sirsasana, supported by the forearms on the floor.

Must be all that oxygen rushing to Bill Gross’ brain during headstands, stimulating his creative thinking!

13 Responses to “You Know Yoga’s Gone Mainstream When It Reaches the Front Page of the Wall Street Journal”

  1. comment number 1 by: Brooks

    Hi Diane,

    The reason I find yoga difficult to do correctly/productively is the same reason I probably need it very much: my muscles are extremely tight and I have lousy range of motion. My girlfriend keeps saying she wants to start taking classes, so maybe I’ll give it another shot.

    Do you have any opinion on the yoga some do in a really, really hot room? Would that help someone like me with very tight muscles?

    Any tips?

    thanks

  2. comment number 2 by: economistmom

    Brooks: I personally do not care for yoga in a REALLY hot room, a la, “Bikram Yoga”–in fact, I don’t care for Bikram yoga for other reasons than the very hot room because it’s very routine (same 26 postures done in same order each time) and Bikram himself doesn’t have the best reputation in terms of the commercialization of his yoga school: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bikram_Yoga. A heated room is really nice for yoga though, especially to help open up tight muscles. If you are very tight but fairly athletic (these often go hand in hand), I would recommend you look for “Baptiste Power Yoga” classes in your neighborhood. (If you live in a large metro area, that should be easy..just google it with your city name to find studios that teach in such a style.) That’s a style of flowing/vinyasa yoga developed by Baron Baptiste (who has worked with pro football players) and that takes place in a heated room but usually not quite as hot as a Bikram room. My advice to anyone who is new to yoga is to give it time and attention before you expect to see what a difference it can make for you. It’s not an instant gratification thing, but has really long-run, profound benefits for your overall health. Kind of sounds like fiscal discipline, doesn’t it? ;)

  3. comment number 3 by: coberly

    mom

    i’d vote for the yoga teacher.

    fiscal discipline is too ill defined to even have a decent bull session about, let alone a serious discussion.

  4. comment number 4 by: M Gilleland

    I found this to be a thoughtful definition of “fiscal discipline” from what I consider a non-partisan, economic view point — and well-written to boot!
    The Skeptical Optimist: “Fiscal Responsibility” defined at last

  5. comment number 5 by: coberly

    Gilleland

    looks like an honest begining anyway.

    i shy away from absolute numbers, because i like for people to keep thinking about what they are doing instead of substituting a previously prepared number.

    at any given point in history you (the congress) can look at spending options and taxing options and make an informed guess about the value of the proposed spending, the effect of deficit spending, the trade off between growth and current needs, or even whether “growth” is exactly desireable.

    of course it could turn out that some number keeps coming up and may be a useful starting place for thought, but evidence is that it is usually a starting place for cheating.

    i guess the two obvious examples to consider are WW2 where high deficit spending seemed to be both necessary and not injurious. And BushWar2 where high defict spending appears to be both not necessary and injurious.

  6. comment number 6 by: Brooks

    Diane,

    Thanks for the advice. Nice “fiscal discipline” analogy. I’d add that, given our current fiscal outlook and the need to start making sacrifices: “No pain, no gain.”

    I’ll check into Baptiste Power Yoga. Ideally my girlfriend and I would take classes together, so if we end up preferring different styles, we’ll have to try to work out a bi-partisan solution. Negotiations could be intense. Reminds me of the “Battle of the Sexes” from game theory back in business school.

  7. comment number 7 by: Brooks

    By the way, great photo. Credit to those on both sides of the lens.

  8. comment number 8 by: economistmom

    M Gilleland: Thanks for pointing to that blog and the fiscal responsibility/discipline definition. I am intrigued enough to think that thinking about this definition is a useful exercise for people in my line of work (here at Concord). This will inspire a new thread once I have it all figured out… ;)

    Brooks: thanks. (This photo wasn’t taken by my photographer daughter but by a professional.) Shoot me an email to update me on your yoga journey, if you end up actually embarking on it!

  9. comment number 9 by: Brooks

    M Gilleland and Diane,

    Re: the definition of fiscal responsibility, I would pull back first and offer the following “big picture” definition: “Fiscal policies that maximize utility over the long term, balancing the respective interests of stakeholders in accordance with the values of most citizens.”

    The “utility” to which I refer is obviously abstract and complex, most notably because the obvious question is “Utility for whom?” There will always be conflict among the interests of various stakeholders — different economic segments, demographic segments, American vs. non-American, etc. — as well as the short term vs. the long term. That’s where values come into play. Economics helps us identify and quantify trade-offs (in general, and with regard to policy choices), but our values and priorities are the rational basis for choosing from among those policy choices, informed by what economics tells us about the likely and potential consequences (good and bad) of each policy alternative.

    The values of the citizenry, and in turn their choices among fiscal policy alternatives, may reflect varying degrees of selfishness vs. unselfishness, different views of merit vs. compassion and of majority interests vs. minority interests (e.g., most people better off, but some worse off), etc. But an assessment of the appropriateness — the morality — of a society’s values is another discussion; fiscal “responsibility” pertains to the alignment of fiscal policies with whatever those values are, regardless of anyone’s judgment/opinion of those values.

    So how much debt-to-GDP is most responsible? As with most decisions, that depends on the likely/potential consequences (trade-offs) — costs, benefits and associated probabilities and risk levels — in light of our values and priorities. Put differently, at a given level of debt, the question is whether the next marginal unit of debt (debt-to-GDP) would yield a positive or negative net present value (NPV) in terms of utility for stakeholders (weighted per the values of most citizens).

    I realize that applying my definition above is a difficult, complex, and controversial exercise, but I think it’s a useful “big picture” framework for discussion/debate. It is then up to economists and other relevant experts to help quantify the relevant respective magnitudes of various benefits/costs/risks associated with fiscal policy alternatives so that the citizenry can apply their values and decide rationally what policies they deem responsible and optimal. If we cut taxes or increase spending per candidate X’s (or President X’s) plan, what scenarios would/could we face down the road, what trade-offs, what impact on people’s lives? And given that information, does this fiscal policy fit with your values and priorities? And the same could be asked regarding a tax increase or spending cut.

  10. comment number 10 by: coberly

    well,
    as Brooks says,

    “abstract and complex”

    so abstract as to be meaningless.

    especially given the failure of “economics” to deliver any valid predictions about the effect of policy on outcomes.

  11. comment number 11 by: Katie

    Hey Brooks- I have a hard time with yoga because my muscles are way tight and I have fibromyalgia. But as much as I don’t want to sound like a game show host, “I found something that changed all that!” :)
    it’s a new yoga prop called ” The Three Minute Egg ” and I can actually do sustained poses without my wrists hurting (or crying)
    Anyway, I thought you might like to know about it to help you get back to Yoga.
    :)
    Cheers,
    Katie

  12. comment number 12 by: Katie

    Oops- here’s the website:

    http://www.threeminuteegg.com

  13. comment number 13 by: Mirtha

    well done! Thx!