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This Week in Magazines: If Your Yoga Class Mandates Bowing 3,000 Times During the Night, Consider Tennis or Golf

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If you're into yoga, you might want to skip "Body, Brain and Wallet" in the Aug. 3 Forbes.

The business magazine gives ample space to allegations contained in a lawsuit brought against Dahn Yoga & Health Centers, an Arizona-based chain of 139 yoga centers, by 27 former customers who claim they were subjected to "psychological manipulation" and fraudulently induced to spend thousands of dollars on Dhan yoga classes and retreats in Sedona, Ariz., and other places. The punishing techniques, they say, included "forced isolation from friends and families, exercises like bowing 3,000 times all night long without breaks, disciplining members by sticking their heads in the toilet and making them lick other members' feet, and having them hold certain poses, like the push-up position, for 20 to 30 minutes at a time."

This opens with the claims of Amy Shipley, said to have been a "bubbly junior at the University of Illinois at Chicago, majoring in education" when she signed up for the classes in 2006. She says she morphed into a "glassy-eyed train wreck" and suffered post-traumatic stress disorder.

Dahn is also said to run Body & Brain clubs on college campuses, including Columbia University and Harvard, as well as introducing its Brain Education School Project (to supposedly improve confidence and attention spans) in Buffalo Grove, Ill., and Arlington, Mass., among about 300 schools nationwide.

Hmmm. A Dahn spokesperson calls these allegations total balderdash. Still, one would just hope that somebody smart enough to get into Harvard, or well-healed enough to get to Sedona, Ariz. (meaning many Forbes readers), might be astute enough to wonder if true peace of mind and body would actually accrue from either bowing 3,000 times during a night or sticking one's head into the toilet , presumably while sober. Of course, we know that some decent number of underclassmen and vacationers occasionally have done same after being overserved.

---After giving over its cover the previous week to a decided advocate, Sen. Edward Kennedy, opining on health care, August 3 Newsweek's cover tries to make a case for the recession essentially being over. For sure, it does insert some significant yellow flashing lights in the process. In particular there's unemployment:

Worse, the data point that means the most to our psychological well-being--unemployment--is likely to keep climbing. The loss of 6.5 million jobs since December 2007 has spurred the sharpest rise in the unemployment rate since the 1930s. As manufacturing jobs move overseas and companies struggle to further reduce costs, unemployment--which stands at 9.5 percent--is likely to rise above 10 percent. 'There's a difference between having an expansion and an economy that has recovered,' says Lawrence Summers, Obama's chief economic adviser.

It's a small nitpick but this might have included the facts that the official jobless data doesn't include: the large numbers who have either stopped looking for work, are working part-time or are facing the mini-trend of furlough days. And, of course, there is the distinct possibility that even if the recession is, technically, over, we face the prospect of significantly slower growth in coming years and, sadly, just maybe another recession not to far off.

Meanwhile, I guess one should not be surprised that the Taliban emails. An exchange with a spokesman for the Taliban (come to think of it, what are the corporate possibilities for him once this gig is over?) results in the magazine receiving answers to questions from the supposed day-to-day boss. They include:

How would you describe the Taliban's current position on the ground in Afghanistan?

Our losses are very few. It has become transparent to all Afghans that foreigners have come to our country as invaders and not for the welfare of Afghans. In every nook and corner of the country, a spirit for jihad is raging.

What is your reaction to the large increase in U.S. forces this year?

Statements about the increase in troops do not affect the mujahedin at all. In fact, Americans are demoralized in Afghanistan, and they don't know what to do. [The Taliban] want to inflict maximum losses on the Americans, which is possible only when the Americans are present here in large numbers and come out of their fortified places.

----The Aug. 3 Business Week's "The Incredible Shrinking Boomer Economy" focuses on big changes among the 79 million boomers who are saving a lot more and spending a lot less; thrift which "could stifle the economy's hoped-for rebound and U.S. growth down from the 3.2 percent it has averaged since 1965 to 2.4 percent over the next 30 years." This includes word of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide producing a "crash course in cheap chic" since it's "long appealed to the boomer yen for luxury and pampering." The result are two "cheap chic hotel chains," namely Aloft and Element. It's an attempt to bring room rates down to the $150-to-$170 range, in part cutting out full-service restaurants, room service, and valets.

---One of the more intriguing theater performances of the past year is that of Estelle Parson, 81, as the crazed matriarch of a truly dysfunctional family in "August: Osage County." In August 0, The Oprah Magazine, she talks about her lifelong craving to be a good girl. "If anybody had ever told me I had a dark side, I would've said, 'Who are you kidding?' But Violet is me, and I am her. I've learned a lot from playing her. I know it's supposed to be acting, but what is acting but having to be yourself?"

---July-August Duke Magazine has a terrific look at a Duke history professor's 15 years of research into European witchcraft. "A Witch's Brew" is the tale of Tom Robisheaux's quest to make sense of a rather common practice, with an estimated 100,000 such trials held between 1450 and 1750 in Europe (with about half in Germany).

He finds that women's central role in economies was part of the catalyst. "Witchcraft was women's work that went wrong, then, in areas like pregnancy, childbirth, the health of children, tending cattle, and the fertility of crops." Ultimately, the witch proved a variation on what he deems a bigger term, namely "the other."

"Societies almost always locate their fears, real or imagined, in those who seem to embody the opposite of all that is valued," he says.

---Slate.com has a very fun, "Somebody Call Officer Crumb! How much cash can a corrupt politician cram into a cereal box?" It's the latest in its sharp "Explainer" feature, with this inspired by last week's New Jersey corruption indictments, replete with the claim that $97,000 in cash was stuffed into a box of Kellogg's Apple Jacks.

With a variety of assumptions, the conclusion is: "$9,050,000. In order to stuff that much money into a box of Apple Jacks, you'd have to use a mix of high-denomination bills that have been taken out of circulation and a 21.7-ounce family-sized package."

---And this week's "Daddy, this makes my head hurt" offering, named after my five-year-old's request that I turn off C-Span or other favorite TV programming, is "Neocitizenship and Critique" by Evan Cheriavsky, to be found in Social Text 99, Vol 27, No. 2, via Duke University. It opens:

This essay asks how the political identity and domain of civic practice we refer to by the term citizenship is transformed, eroded, or, perhaps, disappeared in the contexts of neoliberal governance. To put the question more pointedly: what happens----what is presently happening---to the meaning and practice of citizenship with the eclipse of popular sovereignty?