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Learning how to sit with Utah yoga writer Charlotte Bell

Yoga » Charlotte Bell’s new book offers a recipe for everyone who sits too long and too poorly.

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Bell currently teaches at IWKI (International Wado-Ryu Karate-Do Institute) in Salt Lake City. Her classes are, like Bell herself, typically low-key. She describes herself as an introvert, the kind of person who might, at a party, retreat to a corner. She plays the oboe and English horn with the Salt Lake Symphony, Scherzando Winds, blue haiku and Red Rock Rondo. Her humor is quiet, too, but bendy in its own way, the equivalent of a seated twist pose compared to a feathered peacock pose.

One winter 14 years ago I attended a five-day silence retreat that Bell helped run. She talked to us about Buddha’s five precepts, the first one being to do no harm. We have bug jars here, she told us. "You can catch the bugs and put them outside." Then she paused. "And then they’ll die outside." Pause. "This works better in the summer."

At a glance

Reading about sitting

Charlotte Bell’s second book, Yoga for Meditators, is published by Rodmell Press ($14.95).

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She also made us feel better about our own fidgetiness and dread of silence by admitting that at her first 30-day silence retreat, she spent the first 10 days plotting ways to escape.

Yes, she used to think that the world would be a better place if everyone did yoga and meditated. Now, she says, she realizes that was "spiritual arrogance." What the world needs instead, she writes, is "more people respecting each other’s individual paths and preferences."

Yoga for Meditators includes tips on sitting, and 22 poses to make sitting easier — poses that open the hips, ease back tension, stretch shoulder muscles. Set a timer to remind yourself to get up every 20 minutes from your desk, she suggests, and do some of them. Or just one.

"One pose a day," Bell says, "is better than none."


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